During my morning Shachrit recently, I ran across a fascinating footnote in my siddur on the subject of the Shema:
“ ’The Lord is One’: among the many meanings of this phrase are: (1) there is only one God; (2) God is a unity, indivisible; (3) God is the only ultimate reality; (4) God is One despite the many appearances He has had throughout history; and (5) God alone is our King. . . “
As a Messianic Jew, by far one of the most often heard criticisms of our faith by mainstream Jews relates to the concept of a “triunum” God, that we can understand Him as able to be “three mints in one” (for those of you who are old enough to remember Certs commercials’ two mints in one.) Although each of the above descriptions discusses this issue, I was shocked that point number (4) has been discussed by Jewish scholars. I understand if the typical Jewish person may not have this depth of understanding, but if our rabbis and scholars have bantered this possibility around, and given Jewish intellectual curiosity, why hasn’t this avenue of thinking been more deeply explored in Jewish circles vis-à-vis Yeshua?
Or has it? Maybe not so much until recent years? Maybe moreso now?
I’m not in the circles to know, but am hopeful. Perhaps we are entering a time when the walls of fear may be tumbling. When highly regarded Jewish professors of Jewish Studies such as Daniel Boyarin and Amy-Jill Levine, and other mainstream scholars, are understanding more deeply the Jewishness of Yeshua, and teaching this to Jewish people through classes and writings, a major step toward overcoming fear of the very subject is being accomplished. On my own faith walk, being a victim of anti-Semitism was a stumbling block. Living with my grandmother who vividly remembered the pogroms, not to mention my own studying the Crusades and the Inquisition in particular, I had to overcome an emotional barrier of the fear of even saying the name Jesus to be able to receive Him. Even if the fear is irrational, it exists in our people and is deeply embedded over millennia. Once the emotional barrier falls, the veil is lifted and we are able to see spiritual truths, perhaps over a period of years, but the journey to Him can begin.
As I was on my way back from my jog and feeling a little tired, these thoughts, all inspired by that one footnote, were swirling in my head. Just then Steve McConnell’s beautiful “Tair Eretz/Nagila V’nis’m’cha” started to play in my headset. It starts slowly and then takes on new life as it builds to a joyous fast paced tempo with the words, “Show us your glory, let us rejoice and be glad in You.” As the song accelerated to this pace, it literally lifted me up to new strength and encouragement. I no longer felt tired, but rather, was skipping and smiling along the beach, renewed in Him. The music and words, at that moment, caused me to feel overflowing with uncontrollable, unstoppable, joy in Him, as the words, “We rejoice in His Salvation, in Yeshua,” filled my soul. What a glory we experience through Him!
I later reached out to Phil Bromwell to help me with the Hebrew in the song. He went one better by sending me a copy of the CD liner notes for that song from Steve McConnell’s 2004 “Yeshua” album:
“Ta’ir Eretz is from the daily shacharit blessings. Nagila v’nis’m’cha is from the Ahavah Rabba prayer which precedes the Shema. Translation: In your holy great and revered name we trust.
Nagila v’nis’m’cha b’shuatecha.
Nagila v’nis’m’cha b’Yeshua.
We rejoice and are glad in your salvation.
We rejoice and are glad in Yeshua.”
Not only had my new morning Shachrit routine provided the footnote that I shared above, but also, unknown to me during my jog, was the underlying inspiration for this amazing song!! Once again, our Abba had orchestrated the pieces together so beautifully.
As I reflected on the siddur footnote and the song, it saddened me to realize that so many of my Jewish brothers and sisters do not know Yeshua, have not yet experienced this inexplicably intimate joy, this enigmatic personal relationship with God that literally brings Yeshua into your life to lift you up when tired, soothe you when struggling, walk, even jog alongside you, dwell in every breath you take. Yet, knowing that Jewish scholarship is at work, that there are brave Jewish educators and leaders willing to dig deeper, beyond the historical and traditional boundaries in search of truth, I remain encouraged. I just have to work on my patience and ability to persevere.
How blessed to be living in these times. Stay the course. Be inspired. So much is at work. So much is at stake. Perhaps we are on the brink of a tumultuous war in Europe, which is not to be minimized. To the contrary, it is a reminder that the time is now, for we don’t know what tomorrow may bring. Each of us may have less impact in that war, but great opportunities here and now for those who do not yet know Yeshua. Perhaps we may also be on the brink of a Jewish awakening in Yeshua. In that “war” each of us can be “instrumental”. Soldier on.