I find it to be ironic that I am saying "do not trust internet scholars" while I am writing this on the internet. But a few years ago I ran across an internet radio program (and it is internet based because it lacks in so much scholarship it could not be carried on terrestrial radio) called "The Rob and Caleb Show". I have noticed first of all how they have tried to back bench my old show with my former co-host, JJ Roxx, in how they mix the brand of humor we had with the exact same theology I had back when I was young in my walk. But recently it has gotten so blatant, that when I started video recording my radio programs they decided to start doing the same. Both these things could be coincidence. But then Caleb decided to start wearing a suit for every show a month after I started wearing a suit during the recordings of my program. I used to plug my Brutal Planet coffee mugs, then they had to get coffee mugs made and plug them on their program. Caleb is trying so hard to be the old me (bad theology and all) that he has even bought the same kippa I wear, and quoted an article I wrote a few weeks back citing it as an email that was sent to him of someone asking him a question and decided to respond with my experiences as though they were his. When I was in political talk radio we used to call these people "back benchers". It is actually rather sad. But I think they have recently really hurt themselves as of recently and it is one of the many reasons my friend Marty refers to these two as Wayne's World, because they have the scholarship equivalent of Wayne and Garth.
But they recently started a new segment where they make fun of gematria values of words that correspond to the number of shows they have done. Now the thing that is hilarious is that these two call themselves scholars every 30 seconds, and one claims to have a degree in near east languages, yet he butchers the Hebrew every time he makes an attempt to say a word. I played the most recent clip of theirs to an orthodox friend of mine, who was born and raised in Israel and he had to laugh at how bad Rob's Hebrew was yet says he has a degree in the Hebrew language. But the thing that really exposed them was their goofing on gematria values claiming that the Hebrew letters do not have numerical equivalents. WHAT!!?? I know it is rather shocking, such a claim. But a self professed "scholar" claims that Hebrew letters do not hold numerical values. Well, I would have to ask Mr Rob Vanhoff how do you get numbers in Hebrew? The fact is, he doesn't know, yet he is a "scholar" in the Hebrew language which is laughable. Out of all the Hebrew classes I have taught and have taken in the past 11 years, one of the first things an instructor will tell you is that the letters also represent numbers. This is a known fact If you wish to say the number 1 in hebrew you say Aleph, if you wish to say the number 2 it is Bet, this is very basic stuff.
This is not the first time I have heard ridiculousness from these two individuals. A year and a half ago, they railed against me for supporting Andrew Gabriel Roth's Aramaic English New Testament and being an Aramaic primist. Now anyone who has read any Jewish literature, knows that in every piece of Jewish literature (including the Tanach) you will find words that are from another semitic language and even greek at times. Greek words are found a half a dozen times in the Hebrew Scriptures and Aramaic chapters are found all through the Hebrew Scriptures. This is how everything from the Tanach to the Mishna to the Gemara to the Zohar has been written. So Mr Vanhoff being the "scholar" he thinks he is, finds a greek word and a Hebrew word in the Khabouris Codex and uses that to say "see see it cannot be originally in Aramaic because there is a greek word here pointing to greek primacy". When actually such a thing fortifies the Aramaic primacy because the Hebrew Tanach follows the same model. If they had a basic understanding, barebones basic, they would know that their "scholarly textural criticism" causes them to get egg on their face as they do every week.
These two are the model of babies on Messiah and Torah. The babies in Messiah and Torah, don't realize the basic premise of "the more you learn you start to realize the less you actually know". When someone is self professed scholar, I can tell you that is the first indication one should run for the hills because an actual scholar i even quicker to say, he knows much less than he realizes. When a person is young in their walk they think they have it all figured out. They may get onto youtube and do podcasts each weak attacking Christian ideals or other teachers and these two kids do just that every week. As you all know it is rare I ever speak out against anyone. I just teach instead what I believe. But I am writing this not so one goes out and attacks these two babies in Messiah, but instead to show you guys what to look out for and to realize the internet is not the best place for research.
Look,when I started out, I would attack each week just like these guys did. A lot of my time was spent behind the keyboard and then talking about it on the radio. I thought I was a renegade out there speaking "truth" to the masses. In all honesty I was feeding nobody, and helping no one. I had an ego almost as big as these two. When a person matures that ego is shed, and they strip that ego away. A person then realizes what they don't say is actually more important than what they do say. They realize bringing the body together by teaching "why it is we do what we do as Jews" helps the body much more than finding a target every week. And we find out it is intellectually lazy to look for enemies and to "expose" than it is build. Babies in Messiah, I get it, they feel like they have been lied to by their former religious institution and they then have a lot of anger but hopefully after appropriate mourning that anger goes away and a person looks to build bridges and not burn people at the stake. It is basic spiritual maturity.
We have a problem in the internet age, of people who get a little bit of knowledge and then think they are ready to teach. And the internet sadly gives them an avenue to do just that and they can change their name without consequence and make up credentials which a majority of their listeners, they know, are too lazy to check. Brethren, let me give you some pointers on furthering yourself in your walk.
I hope and pray this is helpful. I am sorry to pick on Rob and Caleb but the fact is these two are the perfect model of what not to be in the Guf HaMashiach and we can use their example as what not to be and what to look out for. The last thing we need are more spiritually dead people with the internet egos and false accolades. Be careful my friends.
On a daily basis I receive text messages and emails about eschatology. Many wanting me to put my stamp of approval on their theories. I have not put a stamp of approval on any of these theories nor do I entertain them. I have heard hundreds of "G-d told me" stories and "it is irrefutable" rhetoric in my days as a teacher of Judaism.
This is nothing new, it has existed during the days of Yeshua, these theories have been thrown around in the Messianic faith and in Christianity as well as Judaism for a long long time. For even the magi were looking for a Messiah during the birth of Yeshua. Yeshua's talmudim even asked him when it was all going down. He said, that he didn't know and only the Father knew. Those are striking words. And I ask, what makes us think we are smarter towards the mind of the Father than he himself? Is it our egotism? Maybe. Is it fear of uncertainty and a psychological method to make us feel we have some sort of control? Possibly. Or is it our mindset? That is very possible.
I have done one episode, that was 2 hours long, of my radio show,on Revelation. Now I take a different approach than most and I look at the Aramaic word play and I look at the numbers mentioned and I have personally concluded a majority of the book of Revelation is not about things happening on the news or around the world, but rather that it is a sod level text that is talking about the battle we face with our own yetzer hara (evil inclination). Am I right? Who knows. I am not a prophecy teacher. Nor do I claim to have an insight into things that people do not also possess.
But when we look at rabbinic writings such as the tractate in the Talmud where it notes Moses being ten cubits tall, or when the man who was with a prostitute was slapped in the face by his tzitziot, we have to ask, how are these to be interpreted? Literally? Or is there a message and a idiomatic and homiletical way in which a premise is being presented to us? We can also see the story of Lilith as such. Not a literal, historical thing but rather a parable.
With sod level texts such as Revelation and Daniel, it is easy to merge our thoughts into those writings and try and make them fit with events happening on the news or the states of nations. It is so easy to take numbers and symbols and say, "this is what is talking about." This is why on YouTube you have over 3,000 candidates for the anti-messiah and each person makes a beautifully produced argument for their theory. But we also have to ask, how much of our western mind are we putting into these theories? Every political figure that ever lived was called the anti-messiah. Every singer, every war general etc.
The fact is when a person immerses themselves into eschatology they are going into a world that is the antithesis of Philippians 4:8, there walk is no longer about how to live for Hashem internally, but rather on secret codes, and searching out evil and chasing evil and condemnation of self and condemnation of others. Especially when a person searches it out not from an internal perspective but as secret codes and targeting their enemies of their ideology and theology and political persuasion. Let us know, that Hashem is not going to pat us on the back if we figure something out in the realm of eschatology instead he will be asking, "why didn't you spend your time learning about me and loving your brother as yourself?".
Every generation since Noah has exclaimed, "we are in the end times", maybe even if we are we use this time to graft ourselves closer to Hashem. If we really want Yeshua to return soon we should make out lives a living sacrifice and become servants as opposed to self professed intellectuals. For in Judaism when we see tribulation come we increase in our tzedakah, we seek out Hashem as opposed to the ones who set out to destroy Him for the Messiah says, "where your treasure is, there is your heart." If one os dead set on searching out evil then the evil is what will attach itself to that person. Live your life for Hashem.
Many of you are familiar with a parody song I did 6 years ago (back when I was a part of the sacred name cult) called "Checkin' Into Betty Ford" which was a parody of the Guns N' Roses version of Knocking on Heaven's Door. Recently I recorded another parody, and it is in the mixing stages right now and will be released sometime at the end of May. It is a parody of another Guns N' Roses song called Chinese Democracy and it is about the verse Luke 10:18-19 where the Satan is likened to a snake and a scorpion and the Jewish metaphor Yeshua was using there.
Now I played the rough cut of the parody for a few friends, and I got some who loved it and said it was the coolest "Messianic" parody they had heard, they loved the lyrics and the energy of the song. And two others gave me a cold look and said, "why are you using satanic music when you should be glorifying G-d?" Seriously? I asked for scriptural citation of this position and rabbinic ruling on this matter of certain kinds of music being sanctioned by Hashem and others belonging totally to the Satan. And they failed to bring anything of the sort to my attention. They just said, "well it sounds evil, therefore it is evil." John 7:24 says, "Do not judge by an outward appearance, but rather judge with a judgement of righteousness". Showing the lyrics to these individuals they said, you cannot marry darkness with light. My next question, that I did not vocalize was, "Have you ever been to a Hasidic congregation? Their music is loud, and every one in the synagogue is singing along with loud yells and screams."
Now first of all, I wouldn't play loud guitars in the synagogue. There are no thundering drum solos. My experience in Christian bands I had played in when I was younger is that even though we said it was for G-d playing in churches and youth centers and these kinds of things, the fact is we were putting on a show for self glorification. The intention may've started out right but as soon as you hit the stage.....it is something different that is the reality, and this may give slight credence to my friends' argument. But at the same time, during that period of my life, I would see contemporary bands and the egos were still there, certain ones who did old time 1800s worship songs in that style. So it is not the music itself. Now lets look at the other end.
I used to hang out with the rock band Disciple, now one argument that was brought to my attention was timing structure and tones etc that are demonic and that rock music is demonic. But the Scripture says G-d cannot be against himself, and that everything comes from Hashem. Let's keep this in mind. Now, I remember 2 specific Disciple shows, I saw them in China Grove, NC at Godstock. And they had a show with Lucerin Blue, and the kids that were at this show had the full on black outfits, they had the dyed hair (this is when goth was real big) and they were coming to see a metal show. Then halfway through Disciple's set they played a praise and worship song called "Thousand Things" and you saw these same kids, crying and accepting the Messiah of Israel in their life at this moment. It was amazing. Another was at a place in Marion called The House, these kids were moshing to the music then when Disciple played "One More Time" Kevin (the lead singer) gave a sermon and the same outcome, 30 kids accepted the Son of G-d.
Now my question is, would these same kids have done that going to say an Ari Goldwag, Alan Goodis, Joshua Aaron, or a Yaakov Shwekey concert? One would be hard pressed to say yes to this. The times of King David, the Psalms make note of the loud clashing of cymbals and the roar of the sounds he would make in his music. By every account he would have been the heavy metal guy of his day. Many, who grew up in Christianity don't believe that, they think his style would have been more like Amazing Grace or Rock of Ages or any of those old time hymns. When the reality is most of those were songs that had were played in the bars and later religious lyrics added to them. Each person, has a divine spark from Hashem, each person has a style of music they connect to. That has the ability to influence them through the words of the songs when they listen to them. My old friend Joseph Israel may be able to affect the people who are drawn to a reggae culture, but for me....reggae was never my thing.
In the 90s I was in high school and my best friend, Aaron and I were rockers. We would go to so many concerts we couldn't count them all, we saw the Scorpions, Motley Crue, Van Halen, Extreme, Page and Plant. There were too many to count. And I played music back then and was in many bands even through college. Then I got asked to sing in one of the bands I played lead guitar in when I was trying to show our lead singer how to sing a song we wrote called Hero and how to do the scream at the beginning. This was a Christian band I was in called Echelon, and I remember playing the lead riffs and singing the whole song in practice to show our lead singer how to do it. Our drummer threw down his sticks afterwards and said, "Chris, you need to sing that one." So we wrote more songs and our singer then bowed out, because he felt that I was a better fit to sing these songs. Though, considering these guys were about 5-7 years younger than me they told me at times my voice was, "too 80s". I always got a chuckle out of that, because that was my influence, and they never had an issue with my lead guitar parts that were full of squeals and two hand tapping straight from the Eddie Van Halen playbook. Now, I could do some of the slower songs but our rhythm guitarist was much better with those than me and I would hand over the mic to him for those, and there was good flow in that way of letting the person who sang certain songs better take the reigns.
Now during this time Christian rock was big and rock in general was still around, Kutless and Jonah33 just made it on the scene, we were really influenced by GS Megaphone at that time. It was a different sound, it was like if Guns N Roses met Jonah33 which is kinda how the GNR song "Oh My God" sounded at the time. But I was able to flow between a Gary Cherone kind of style to an Axl Rose kind of style and do it well, because at the time I had an incredible range. We pressed maybe 200 CDs and made an untitled EP from the 4 songs we laid down in a church a friend of ours ran sound from. Those 200 CDs are still circulating from person to person today, and I wish someone would have uploaded them to the internet somewhere because I no longer have my copy. The reason however, I make note of this is because there were certain styles I couldn't sing. If you asked me to sing Michael W Smith, it would sound horrible.
Now today, I am not a musician but I like to lay down tracks every now and then in the studio as neat little surprises for people and when they are completed I post them on my website for free. And also, I realize the Christians are blessed with musicians that play the style of music I do to reach those individuals. In the Messianic faith however, we do not have any, though there is some great music out there, I think Joshua Aaaron is incredible as well as Sharon Wilbur. But, there isn't anyone writing songs that you can turn up loud in your car stereo and pump your fist for Hashem. I have spoken with many incredible musicians who are Messianics, one was in a very popular secular band, who had a heroin overdose, then because a Christian rock singer, and now is a Torah observant believer in Yeshua and he put out a 5 song EP with some incredible Messianic lyrics but it is not marketed to the Messianic community, it is marketed to the secular community, and he told me, "Christopher, I did this album with a member of Salvia for goodness sake, it is not going to be received by the Messianic community because of the people in my band, and because this kind of music is frowned upon in our faith, so I am doing a solo acoustic album for release on a Messianic label." That broke my heart. There are many out there with the same story. There is another guy who played for a popular band in the 80s and early 90s, who was their bass player who gave me a similar story and he is not even making music now and has resorted to playing for the band at his schul, and he has expressed to me, "My heart is not in it, this style of music doesn't connect to me." I understand that totally.
I think there is a schism in the Messianic faith and a paranoia that is not based on Scripture that has cause at least 4 people I know who are incredible musicians to never release anything under a Messianic label because of the backlash they would receive. I cannot stand rap but I would love to see Messianic rap artists, I can't stand country but I would love to see Messianic country artists as well as rock, metal, screamo, etc. I'm sorry, Paul Wilbur, though a nice man and incredible musician doesn't do it for me. And there are others out there who are the same way. We need to be excited about hearing Hashem's message, we should have an energy for Him, and the fact is the Messianic faith has gotten so paranoid of many things that they even refuse to to acknowledge that a style of music that certain individuals do not like, does not mean it is demonic. For does not the Scripture say, in Mark 9:40 "for whoever is not against us is for us"?
I am not asking that the songs I write and produce be accepted by the entire community or that you should even like it. But I am seeing a trend of amazing songs (that I have had the pleasure of hearing from other Messianics) be given the opportunity to show that even though it is not your thing, Hashem can do amazing things with these people though the individual spark He has put within them. Let them scream the name of Yeshua and pay testimony to him in the passion they have for him and stop trying to muzzle these artists. G-d used a Pharisee, a tax collector, a fisherman, a wanderer in the desert, a man who didn't speak well to lead the children of Israel to the holy land and many other "social misfits" and those who were not accepted by the believing body despite the most important commandment. Do we in turn bring that commandment to naught? Or do we think business as usual is the trend we should continue?
Theological Insights from Rabbi Eved Banah the North American Rebbe of Ani Judaism