Jews & Judaism

Flint Knives at the Heart of the Gospel

by Steve Ray on June 26, 2016

FlintKnife sm1.jpg

Ah, excuse me? What do flint knives have to do with the Gospel? A whole lot! Abraham believed God against all odds and as a reward he was given the special sign of the Covenant with God. And what was that wonderful sign between them?

In Genesis 17:10-11 God announces this sign to Abraham: “This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your descendants after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. You shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you.”

Ouch! Abraham gathers his 350+ men together and says, “Hey Kies, do you want the good news first or the bad news? God has finally given us a sign of his covenant but…!”

What kind of sign is that? But Abraham obeyed and at 99 years old, Abraham dropped his . . . well, anyway, he did the surgery and again demonstrated his faith and obedience to God. And so did all the men with him.

Next we read of Joshua’s bloody job after the hundreds of thousands of men with their families crossed the Jordan River to possess the Promised Land.

“At that time the Lord said to Joshua, ‘Make flint knives and circumcise the people of Israel again the second time.’So Joshua made flint knives, and circumcised the people of Israel” (Joshua 5:2-3). The place was called “the Hill of the Foreskins”

In the early Church, many of the Jews insisted that all gentiles be circumcised before they were allowed to be Christians. The Apostles, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in the first recorded Church Council (Acts 15) said “NO!”  Thanks be to God!

The whole gospel is about how Jesus came to save the Gentiles as well as the Jews. The question was, how do we get both groups into one family. Circumcision was one of the biggest issues in the way. Looked at in one way, the whole New Testament is about circumcision, how to deal with that and how to receive Gentiles into the family of God without it.

These flint knives were made for me as a generous and remarkable gift by Mike Cook of Portland Michigan. He is a “flintknapper” and primitive skills enthusiast (and also a student of the Bible!). The large one has a handle made from the jawbone of a black bear!

They are beautifully crafted and will always be a gift I treasure and which I will use in my Bible studies and apologetic work. I am overwhelmed with his skill and kindness.

I have also provided his letter about his craft and the biblical wisdom regarding flint knives and circumcision. You can read it here. Enjoy — and thanks so much Mike!

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Jesus Was A Jew – So What is That To You?

by Steve Ray on June 20, 2016

The Jewish Jesus – like he really was

 Jesus was a Jew.

This fact may escape the casual reader of the New Testament, but it is crucial to understanding Jesus and the book written about him—the Bible. Unhappily, in 21st century America we are far removed from the land of Israel and the ancient culture and religion of Jesus and his Jewish ancestors. 

 Let me ask you a few questions. Were you born and raised in Israel? Did you study the Torah with the rabbis from an early age? Have you traversed the rocky hills and dusty paths to celebrate the mandatory feasts in Jerusalem? 

 Do you speak Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic? I haven’t found anyone in my Catholic parish who has these credentials. Without this background, we are at a great disadvantage when studying the Bible and its central character — Jesus himself. 

 When we open the pages of our English Bible, we find a Jewish book! The setting revolves around Israel and the worship of Yahweh.

With one exception, the more than forty biblical writers were all Jews, and the exception was most likely a Jewish proselyte.  (Do you know who the only non-Jewish author in the Bible is? I’ll give you a few hints: he was a physician, one of St. Paul’s co-workers, and he wrote the first history of the Church.)   

 The point is, how can we understand the Bible and the teaching surrounding our Lord Jesus and salvation without understanding his people, his culture, and his Jewish identity? 

For the whole article click here.

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Some of you may have already read this since Ben Stein gave this commentary on CBS in 2005, but it is worth repeating since Christmas is approaching — and because it is good stuff.

I wanted to make sure it was accurate so I checked it out on Snopes and found it was accurate, though some people have added much to it. However, the version below is exactly what he said and you can check me out here if you wish. You can also read the words directly from Ben Stein's website too.

Stein.jpgI am a Jew, and every single one of my ancestors was  Jewish. And it does not bother me even a little bit when people call those beautiful lit up, bejeweled trees Christmas trees. I don't feel threatened. I don't feel discriminated against. That's what they are: Christmas trees. It doesn't bother me a bit when people say, "Merry Christmas" to me.

I don't think they are slighting me or getting ready to put me in a ghetto. In fact, I kind of like it. It shows that we are all brothers and sisters celebrating this happy time of year. It doesn't bother me at all that there is a manger scene on display at a key intersection near my beach house in Malibu. If people want a creche, it's just as fine with me as is the Menorah a few hundred yards away.

I don't like getting pushed around for being a Jew and I don't think Christians like getting pushed around for being Christians. I think people who believe in God are sick and tired of getting pushed around, period. I have no idea where the concept came from that America is an explicitly atheist country. I can't find it in the Constitution and I don't like it being shoved down my throat.

Or maybe I can put it another way: where did the idea come from that we should worship Nick and Jessica [I think these are movie stars he had commented on earlier] and we aren't allowed to worship God as we understand Him?

 I guess that's a sign that I'm getting old, too. But there are a lot of us who are wondering where Nick and Jessica came from and where the America we knew went to.

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Jews as Proof of God’s Existence & Faithfulness

October 2, 2015

Winston Churchill wrote “Some people like the Jews, and some do not. But no thoughtful man can deny the fact that they are, beyond any question, the most formidable and the most remarkable race which has appeared in the world.“ He is absolutely right! I have often said they are remarkable people –gifted in a […]

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Putting Us to Shame

December 25, 2014

It is Christmas day. My wife and I are on a plane to Israel. We watch as a young man. He is uttering muffled chants under his breath and bobbing up and down. His chin is wagging under his serious eyes and his black hat. His prayer shawl with the many knotted tassels is under […]

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The Jewish Cardinal

November 16, 2014

I met a new hero today, but only through the medium of a movie. It was entitled The Jewish Cardinal. After returning home exhausted from the Raising Rebels Conference in Manchester NH where I gave three talks yesterday, I was ready for a good movie tonight. My wife found this one on Netflix.  This drama […]

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How the Ancient Hebrews Viewed the Universe

September 28, 2014

This is part of Logos Bible Software. I encourage every Catholic to get this Catholic and Bible Study software. Visit http://www.logos.com/steveray

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St. Paul did NOT Write for Us!

May 18, 2014

When arguments about salvation arise between Catholics and Protestants, the Bibles are usually opened to Galatians and Romans. Are we saved by faith alone or are works involved? Protestants quickly accuse Catholics of teaching a salvation based on works and Catholics quickly point out that Protestants have swung the pendulum too far in the other […]

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How Odd of God to Choose the Jew…

May 17, 2013

…to chose the Jew; but odder still are those who choose the Jewish God but hate the Jew.

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Pope Benedict’s “First Convert” – and a Jewish Convert at that

April 20, 2013

Groucho Marx once said, “I wouldn’t want to belong to any club that would have a guy like me as a member.”  So began my witness testimony at the Easter Vigil on April 7, 2007, when my wife Barbara and I entered the Catholic Church. For a New York Jew, who’d detested the name “Jesus” […]

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Yad Vashem and “Hitler’s Pope”

January 16, 2013

Yad Vashem Controversy An inscription at Yad Vashem states that Pius XII‘s record during the Holocaust was controversial, and that he negotiated a concordat with the Nazis, maintained Vatican neutrality during the war and, formerly stated that he took no initiatives to save Jews. In 1985, Pietro Palazzini was honored by the museum, where he […]

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On this I Agree with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

December 17, 2012

Prime Minister Netanyahu:  “Over the weekend, Hamas held festivities and demonstrations in Judea and Samaria to mark 25 years since it was founded. With the approval of Mahmud Abbas, they called for the destruction of Israel and the expulsion of Jews from Jerusalem and from every point in the State of Israel. We have been […]

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Bet You’ve Never Heard of this Heroic, Selfless Woman

October 5, 2012

Remember this lady?Irena Sendler Died: May 12, 2008 (aged 98) in Warsaw, Poland  During WWII, Irena, got permission to work in the Warsaw ghetto, as a Plumbing/Sewer specialist. She had an ulterior motive.  Irena smuggled Jewish infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried. She also carried a burlap sack in the back of her […]

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Has Europe Lost it Soul?

February 2, 2012

Jesse Ray here: I found this article by Rabbi Sacks very educational and the section on “Morality and the Crisis” especially thought provoking. He explores how our current market economy was formed under the auspices of Judeo-Christian values, and he draws a compelling picture of why our current economic shake-up has a central spiritual dimension: […]

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Another Jewish Convert Explains His Conversion to Catholicism

November 7, 2011

This is a nice story. I include a paragraph to whet your appetite. About a month later it was around midnight and I turned to my wife Mary in bed and asked her what she wanted. Mary said that she didn’t want anything other than to go back to sleep. I insisted that she wanted […]

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Jewish to Evangelical to Catholic

September 16, 2011

Richard Maffeo Richard was born into a Jewish home in 1950. Twenty-two years later, he discovered Jesus is the Jewish Messiah, and served Him in evangelical Protestant churches for more than thirty-two years. In 2005 he was received into the Catholic Church. My movement in 1972 from Jewish faith to Christ was so profound an […]

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