FOUND A BOOK, BUT LOST THE GOSPEL--
A REVIEW OF MICHAEL ROOD'S "A ROOD AWAKENING" AND "RAIDERS OF THE LOST BOOK"
Michael Rood completed his "A Rood Awakening" teaching tour in many cities of the United States in summer 2005. The five and a half hour seminars were based on an extensive PowerPoint slide show, with live narration by Rood and his companion Nehemia Gordon. The seminar closely follows the material found on Rood's DVD Raiders of the Lost Book. Rood is clearly thrilled that SkyAngel aired some of his programs since 2004, and he credits this for greatly increasing his following and attendance at seminars.
This review outlines the content of the seminar as presented in August 2005 in California and evaluates parts of it. About 70 attended this seminar at a hotel, which Rood called a small crowd.
The core themes of the seminar are: 1) Michael Rood has information on the Biblical texts which cannot be found anywhere except in him, 2) Jesus Christ (Y'shua Messiah) commanded his followers to obey the Torah (the written law of Moses) but not the traditions of the Pharisees (the oral law), 3) Christians who follow Y'shua must absolutely obey all the laws of the Torah, and 4) the Christian church at large does not follow Rood's teachings or command people to obey the Torah so does not know the Gospel or do God's will.
The bulk of the seminar is a detailed explanation of how the traditions of the Pharisees (also called the oral law or the Talmud, as practiced by Orthodox Jews today) differ from the written law of Moses. Rood cajoles people to stay for the "punch line" at the very end (around midnight, a very long five hours after the start)-- the command that all believers in Y'shua (Jesus) obey all the laws of Moses. He doesn't have time at that late hour to detail how or what laws to obey, but sells books by other publishers that detail how to obey the Sabbath, kosher dietary laws, and Hebrew festivals such as Passover.
Oddly, most participants seem pretty excited about giving up the freedom of the Christian faith and pledging to obey a complex package of very restrictive laws.
Before describing what is included in the seminar, it may be helpful to note what is NOT in the seminar, because this is very revealing. Three things are virtually nonexistent in A Rood Awakening (ARA)/ Raiders of the Lost Book: 1) Y'shua (Jesus) as Savior and Lord, 2) Redemption of Y'shua (Jesus) as the completely effective means of salvation, and 3) all the epistles of the New Testament. Since most all the participants of ARA would describe themselves as Christians, it is shocking to see how little they realize this huge gap.
Y'shua (Jesus) is mentioned frequently enough. But most of the time it is in the context of novelties rather than of substance and core beliefs. The things Rood says about substantial beliefs about Y'shua are very troubling.
Y'shua/Jesus is often mentioned in the long segment on the genealogies recorded in Matthew and Luke. Rood takes this teaching page by page from V.P. Wierwille's book Jesus Christ our Promised Seed, though he never acknowledges his source and leaves listeners with the impression he personally "discovered" that Matthew lists Mary's genealogy. This is not surprising, since Rood was a top level leader for over 15 years in the cult Wierwille founded called The Way International. This is a novelty because it is not a core teaching that has a bearing on salvation (and in the end it is unprovable).
Another novelty is Gordon's lengthy criticism of all who pronounce the Savior's name as "Jesus" rather than the more Hebrew pronunciation "Y'shua." While some variation of "Y'shua" is closer to Hebrew and to Greek it again is not a core faith issue. Plus, there aren't any recordings of how "Y'shua" was pronounced in the first century and it is likely that it was pronounced various ways in Israel in the first century, since people in the high priest's courtyard in Jerusalem had no trouble noticing Peter's Galilean accent.
"Y'shua" is pronounced slightly differently all over the world, and over the 35 centuries it has been in use as a name. Rood's insistence on spelling "Jesus" with a Y instead of a J doesn't translate well to other languages. The letter J is pronounced like a Y in languages such as German and Spanish, while other languages don't have a letter Y, nor a "Y" sound. nor even a phonetic alphabet at all.
MESSIAH OR CHRIST?
Gordon and Rood also condemn calling Y'shua "Christ." Rood declared, "Greeks called all their gods christos," so Christ must not be used as a title for the Messiah. This is completely false, both from the standpoint of language and from Biblical usage. First, the Apostle John himself used both words when he wrote, "(Andrew said,) we have found the Messiah, that is the Christ" (John 1:42), and "The woman said, 'I know that Messiah, called Christ, is coming" (John 4:24). John considered "Christ" and "Messiah" to be synonymous.
Furthermore, the Greeks never used the word "Christ" for their gods, or in any sacred context, or as any kind of title of honor at all. The verb form of the word meant "to rub lightly, spread." It was used for spreading oil after a bath, poison on arrows, whitewash, paint or cosmetics. The Dictionary of New Testament Theology Vol. 2 (from which this information is taken) adds, "It is anything but an expression of honor. Where it refers to people, it even tends towards the disrespectful" (pp. 334-335). For example, the compound word neochristos meant "newly whitewashed." The Greeks certainly did not choose to use the word for the Hebrew Messiah- nor did the Christians.
It was the Hebrews who chose to use the word "Christ(os)" and "Messiah" interchangeably. The Hebrews themselves translated the Old Testament into Greek in about 150 B.C. in what is now called the Septuagint, or LXX for short. (LXX is the Roman numerals for "70," which indicates their belief that 70 men translated the Torah, Writings and Prophets into Greek.) The Hebrews say that the High Priest himself chose 72 elders from Judea who were experienced in the law, beliefs and customs of the Torah and were able to translate from Hebrew to Greek (which means they were fluent in both languages). Throughout the LXX, "Christ" is used for the Anointed One, such as in Psalm 2:2.
Adding "s" to the end of Christ (or Messiah) was necessary when the words were used by Greek speakers. Nouns in Greek (and some other languages, but not English) must be "declinable." That means that the last couple letters of the noun change with how they are used in the sentence. When "Christ" or "Messiah" is used as the subject, it is spelled with an "s" at the end (e.g.: Messias). When the noun is used as a genitive (as in "followers of Messiah") it is spelled with a "u" at the end (e.g.: Christou). English shortens it to the root, "Christ," because English doesn't decline nouns. Regardless of exactly how different languages spell it- as Messias, Messiah, Mashiyach, Christ, Christos, Yeshua, Y'shua, Jesus," etc, it is the same name or title. (Rood himself has used a variety of spellings of names for Messiah and YHWH, some not matching the spellings Gordon uses.)
The Hebrew world chose to use the word "Christ," not the Greeks This translation was widely in use among Hebrews in the first century, so many Jews called the Messiah "Christ." Both Hebrew and Gentile followers of Y'shua drew their faith vocabulary and thought from the bilingual Hebrew world, not from the Gentile Greek world.
Gordon and Rood also condemn using the word "Lord" for YHWH (often spelled Yahweh). But the Hebrews, not Christians, introduced this word in the LXX just as it did "Christ." The LXX uses "Lord" (Greek- kurios) for YHWH and "God" for Elohim (eg: Genesis 3:14, Exodus 3:14)..
But in the end, it is not an important issue whether people pronounce his name Y'shua Messiah or Jesus Christ, because He answers to either whether spoken in faith. (This article uses both spellings interchangeably.)
However, since Gordon continually contrasts what he calls "the Greek Jesus" from "the Hebrew Y'shua," this suggests that Gordon and Rood are probably hiding something- that in all likelihood their idea of who Jesus Christ (Y'shua Messiah) is, is radically different than Christianity and at odds with the New Testament.
"MISSING IN ACTION"- REDEMPTION AND THE EPISTLES
The few times Rood touches on core beliefs about Jesus Christ, he says disturbing things. At the end of the seminar he briefly shows one slide that states that part of Y'shua's work is finished, that of being a suffering servant (Isaiah predicts Jesus's death on the cross using the imagery of the suffering servant). That five second mention is tucked in a long segment that declares that Jesus' important work is to convince the world to obey the Torah. The message is clear- the Savior's only real work is to "subdue" the world by commanding everyone to obey the law, by which you save yourselves.
The cross is mentioned only once, again in a brief three or four seconds. Rood tried to defend his proposition that everyone is required to obey all the laws of the Torah by alluding to Colossians 2. He said that only the enmity of the law was nailed to the cross, not the law itself. He didn't- and couldn't have- actually quoted the verse itself and displayed it on the screen, because the verse plainly contradicts him. Colossians 2 reads, "having canceled the written code with its regulations, that was against us and stood opposed to us, he took it away, nailing it to the cross" (Colossians 2:14). The law was nailed to the cross, not just the enmity as Rood claimed.
This misquote of Colossians is virtually the only reference to an epistle in the entire five and a half hour seminar. Rood frequently quotes the Old Testament, often quotes the Gospels and sometimes quotes Revelation. But it is as though the epistles don't exist in his Bible. And for good reason, because it is impossible to read the epistles, especially those of Paul, without seeing how the law of Moses ended with the redemption won by Y'shua on the cross. But according to Rood and Gordon, the redemption of Jesus really isn't a fully effective means of salvation unless believers fulfill the requirements and commands of the law.
According to Rood, the Savior/Messiah only saves us from obeying the oral law, not the written law. Y'shua is reduced to being only a rabbi or prophet like those sent to Judah and Israel who called people back to obey the Torah. The function of the "Savior" is simply to set the "rules" of the Kingdom of heaven. The Savior doesn't save anyone from anything, he just enforces the Torah while releasing people from the man-made obligations of the oral law. What Rood calls "Gospel" is just the law, which cannot save anyone because of human weakness.
THE CULTIC STRUCTURE OF A ROOD AWAKENING
Michael Rood never openly admits to being a leader in a cult called The Way International for over 15 years. But he alludes to it by admitting he was a "paid professional false prophet" for 20 years, a "rapturist" who taught the error of "ultradispensationalism." In fact, Rood still teaches some of the things he learned in TWI, such as the time of Jesus' birth, his genealogy (mentioned above), his nature, speculation that most of the NT was authored in Aramaic or Hebrew, complete condemnation of the entire Christian church, rejection of water baptism in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins, certain lingo, and other things. But he has to reject ultradispensationalism in particular in order to require believers today to obey the laws of Moses.
Although he superficially rejects TWI, Rood reproduces many of the cultic methods TWI used to gain converts. Most of the colors are different, but the pattern is the same. These methods include:
+ using novel interpretations of a handful of Scripture passages to establish Rood himself as having information available nowhere but from him
+ wholesale condemnations of all Christian churches because they either condemn or do not teach what he does. This includes contrasting his "truth" from the errors of "religion" practiced by everyone else. Rood's message is, "I know what no one else does; every other Bible teacher is dumb. Are you going to be smart and believe me, or dumb and believe them?"
+ using exotic (and unreliable) Hebrew or Greek manuscripts to "prove" his unique points
+ replacing the Gospel which revolves around Y'shua/ Jesus with obedience to the laws and principles he teaches
ROOD'S "UNIQUE" KNOWLEDGE
When Rood was in TWI, he used the 36 hour Power For Abundant Living class to indoctrinate potential new followers. While the class appeared to teach basic rules of interpreting the Bible, it used a series of novel interpretations of Bible passages to subtly lead listeners to think that TWI had knowledge no one else had. Rood uses this technique, too. His "unique" knowledge is sometimes just rehashed TWI teachings, such as the birth date of Jesus, his genealogy, and the length of his ministry.
But Rood's favorite "new" knowledge is his "discovery" of a Hebrew version of the Gospel of Matthew. This is what the title "Raiders of the Lost Book" refers to. His unproven assertion that this Hebrew version was the original version (not Greek or Aramaic) is his carte blanc to rewrite any Bible verses he wishes. Rood also makes much of his "corrected" Rabbinical Calendar of Jewish holy days, which no Rabbi before Rood and his colleagues was smart enough to compose..
Another of Rood's favorite novelties is his claim that the woman in a lead-covered basket mentioned in Zechariah 5 must be a SCUD missile which flew over Syria in 2001 (this is part of a false prophecy Rood made at that time). Rood's central claim that all believers must keep all the commands of the Torah is another "new" teaching.
Claiming unique knowledge is essential to all cult-like groups. They must use this ploy in order to motivate people to give up their current beliefs, teachers and fellowship in order to devote themselves to the exceptional new leader (in this case Rood).
Unfortunately, people are attracted to what is "new" and "different" even when it is patently false. This is why the Apostle warned Timothy that "the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths" (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
Periodically throughout the seminar Rood takes pot shots at Christian churches, teachers, and especially pastors, who he says write SkyAngel broadcasting to ask that Rood be taken off the air because of his heretical teachings. This is the same kind of constant ridicule that Rood and other leaders heaped on the Church during his years in TWI.
Rood and Gordon criticize the Church for thinking Zechariah's woman was in a basket, for not requiring believers to obey the Torah, for using the name "Jesus Christ," and for believing in "the Greek Jesus." Rood also criticized the Church for the same things that he criticized the Church for when he was in TWI: for saying that Christ was crucified on a Friday, for celebrating Jesus' birth on December 25 (both were TWI novelties). "The religious system can't count to three" Rood says about evangelical Bible teachers. (See our article on this which describes how "three days and three nights" is a figure of speech which the Bible uses as a synonym for "on the third day." This is clear both in the NT and in the book of Esther. "Three days and three nights" is an idiom for any parts of three days, and does not refer to a strict 72 hour period.)
Rood referred to evangelical churches when he said that we "inherited nothing but lies from our fathers" (Jeremiah 16:19). Rood closes the seminar by condemning all who do not require people to obey the Torah (such as the Christian Church) saying they do not have the truth and are not in the kingdom of God. According to Rood, Christian churches and ministers are those who say "Lord, Lord" but do not obey the Torah as Y'shua says, and so "miss the whole thing."
REWRITING THE BIBLE
Rood uses his novel "discovery" of the Hebrew Gospel of Matthew and similar methods to rewrite portions of the Bible. TWI used what they called "literal translations according to usage" (which sometimes contradicted themselves) and any Greek manuscript they could find- no matter how late and unreliable- to force their desired readings on particular verses. When there was no manuscript that said what they wanted, they made one up, claiming that the original Greek ":must have" said this (as with Matthew 28:19, a troublesome verse for TWI).
Rood uses his novel Hebrew Gospel of Matthew the same way. He uses it to rewrite Matthew 23, portions of the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5, and Matthew 23:16 ("you blind chairs"). Rood, like his mentor V. P. Wierwille who founded TWI, doesn't seem strong on Hebrew and Greek. So he uses Gordon to serve as his language "authority" in much the same way Wierwille used Walter Cummins.
Gordon knows enough about Hebrew and textual criticism (the use of ancient manuscripts) to sound authoritative and not make obvious mistakes. However, his bias against evangelical faith is apparent when he tries to defend the age of the Hebrew Matthew manuscripts. He admits that the earliest manuscript is from 1380 AD (assuming Gordon isn't exaggerating even this date). That sounds old to many American listeners (actually it's not much older than the printed Gutenberg Bible). In an effort to make the Hebrew manuscript sound older than it is, he mentions that many Greek manuscripts date from about the same time. But he utterly avoids stating that there are a very large number of manuscripts that are over 1,000 years older than his Hebrew copy.
We now have over 40 excellent Greek manuscripts of Matthew and other parts of the New Testament that are a full 1,100 years older than his Hebrew Matthew. We even have a very small portion of Matthew in Greek that dates to 62 AD, which is just about the time Matthew wrote it. He avoids mentioning the existence of these old Greek manuscripts and the implications of this huge age difference (which indicates the unreliability of Hebrew Matthew). Like Rood and TWI, he doesn't let the lack of reliable evidence damage his belief in his pet theory.
Besides the Greek copies, we also have manuscripts of the New Testament in other languages that are much older than Gordon's Hebrew manuscript. Here are a list of some of them, along with the date of the oldest manuscript now available (note: "IV" means the 4th century, which is the AD 300s): Old Latin (III), Old Syriac (IV), Coptic (Egyptian) (IV), Aramaic (Palestinian Syriac, V), Gothic (V), Armenian (IX), Georgian (IX), Arabic (XI), Ethiopic (XI). All these have more evidence to show they are very ancient than any Hebrew texts.
EVIDENCE THAT THE NEW TESTAMENT WAS AUTHORED IN GREEK
Gordon and Rood claim that Hebraisms (also called Aramaisms, since Aramaic was the common speech among Jews in Israel in the first century) are proof that the Gospels were originally authored in Hebrew. However, the evidence shows that the New Testament was authored in Greek (perhaps Matthew being produced in both Aramaic and Greek).
The Hebraisms are due mainly to two other factors. First, the authors were likely bilingual (a common thing among Jews in Galilee, which was called "Galilee of the Gentiles"). Some of them thought in Hebrew even as they wrote for a larger audience in Greek. As they wrote, they translated their Hebrew thought patterns and syntax into Greek words without converting them into Greek thought patterns and syntax. Second, the Gospels often quote conversations which took place in Aramaic, so Hebraic idiom was carried over into Greek that way. Hebraisms have been studied for centuries and are well understood among Bible teachers.
We see this kind of crossover of the thought patterns of one language into another all the time on the news. For instance, when bilingual political leaders from other countries are interviewed by English-speaking reporters, it is obvious to hearers that they are thinking in their native tongue, translating it into English on the fly, and carrying over their native syntax and idiom. This is also obvious when hearing some immigrants speak English. It is often amusing to hear them using foreign idiom, syntax and vocabulary such as "turn the corner around."
Greek was used universally around the Mediterranean and was known as a second language even by farmers of less hellenized areas. More than half of the Old Testament passages found in the NT are quoted from the Greek Septuagint (a Greek translation of the OT, usually called the "LXX), not from an Aramaic Targum or Hebrew text. Even the Gospel of Matthew quotes more than half of its OT passages from the LXX. Of 29 inscriptions from the first century found on ossuaries on Mt Olive, 11 are in Greek, 11 are Aramaic and 7 are Hebrew. (These and more details can be found in Edwin Yamanchi, "Greek, Hebrew, Aramaic or Syriac?" Bibliotheca Sacra, Oct 1974, pp. 320-331 and The Interpreter's Dictionary of the Bible, 1:188-9, 4:754.) The Bar Kochba letters were written by the leader of the Hebrew revolt against Rome (A.D. 132-135). Although he and his followers devoutly obeyed the Torah, the many documents found in the Kochba caves were written in Greek and Nabatean as well as in Aramaic and Hebrew, indicating that they were bilingual. By the time Matthew and most of the Gospels were written, the faith had spread around the Mediterranean world and there were more Gentile than Hebrew believers. There is no reason for the NT writers to have written in Hebrew when universally known Greek existed.
Hebrew was not used as a day to day language among most Jews in the first century, especially those who lived outside Judea. Women were not schooled in Hebrew as men were, so had no hope of understanding Hebrew Scriptures read in synagogue. After the Assyrians destroyed the northern kingdom of Israel in the 8th century BC, they deported Hebrews and settled Assyrians in their place. A century later the Babylonians destroyed the southern kingdom of Judah, deported Hebrews, and settled Babylonians there. Later many Hebrews returned to Judah, but only after two generations of forgetting Hebrew and learning Aramaic. Then Alexander the Great and his descendants ruled the area of Israel and forced Greek language and customs on the inhabitants.
The result of those six centuries of replacing Hebrew with other world languages was that Hebrews hardly understood Hebrew anymore. This is likely the reason Nehemiah records that as Levites were reading the Torah to those who returned from Babylon they were "making it clear and giving the meaning so that the people could understand what was being read" (Nehemiah 8:8). This led to the practice of making Aramaic "Targums" (which means "translations"). As Hebrews read Scriptures in Hebrew, they translated them line by line into Aramaic so people could understand them. (We have manuscripts of Targums which are bilingual, alternating Hebrew text with Aramaic translations, verse by verse.)
The Targums were developed first in Palestine, not just in foreign lands. From the 6th century BC to the present day, there have always been more Hebrews outside of Israel than in it. (For the first time in history there will be more Hebrews in Israel than in New York City in 2006, but this is still just a fraction of world Hebrew population.) This "diaspora" of the Hebrews and the dominant use of world languages in Israel over the centuries forced Hebrews to name the Messiah in Greek, Aramaic (and other) languages and use Greek and Aramaic translations in study and worship.
ACTS WRITTEN IN HEBREW?
Rood said during a question and answer time in the seminar that he thinks that all four Gospels, Acts and Revelation may have been authored in Hebrew. There is absolutely no evidence for this, and Rood admits that no ancient Hebrew manuscripts exist. This is only imagination and speculation on his part.
For example, the speculation that Acts was authored in Hebrew makes no sense at all. The great majority of conversations recorded in Acts had to have taken place in Greek, not Hebrew. (Even those which weren't in Greek were likely in Aramaic, the daily language of people, not in the Hebrew language which was relegated primarily to the temple and synagogue.) This is not surprising since Luke, the author of Acts, was a Greek and he addressed it to another Greek, Theophilos (whose Greek name means "one who loves God").
Acts 6 mentions the large body of Greek-speaking Hebrews in Jerusalem, the heart of Hebrew country (6:1). Phillip preached to the Samaritans, who hated Hebrews, their language, religion and temple, and surely used Greek or Aramaic (Acts 8). The Gentile centurion Cornelius, some of his soldiers, and his whole household could not have understood Hebrew, yet understood Peter preaching- no doubt in Greek (Acts 10).
Paul, Barnabas and others taught the many Greeks who came to faith at Antioch (Acts 11,13). Paul persuaded the Roman proconsul on Cyprus, Sergius Paulus to believe (Acts 13:6-12). Many Gentiles at Iconium believed Paul, but he barely persuaded the crowds in Lystra (who spoke Lycaonian) not to sacrifice to them as gods (Acts 14). Acts never mentions a synagogue in most of the cities Paul visited. Paul could not have communicated in Hebrew to his own coworkers such as Timothy and Titus, who were raised as Greeks. Paul spoke with the judges and jailer at Philippi, a Roman colony, though they surely did not know Hebrew. Paul's message to the Areopagus in Athens (Acts 17), and his defense when on trial before the Roman proconsul Gallio (Acts 18) were in Greek. The idolmakers in Ephesus (Acts 19) surely didn't riot in Hebrew. Paul spoke Greek to the Roman commander and centurion who arrested him in the temple (Acts 21:37, 22:25), as did Paul's nephew (23:19-21). Paul didn't need a translator. Paul made his own defense when on trial before Governors Felix (Acts 24) and Festus (Acts 25-26). Paul surely spoke Greek to the captain and everyone on the ship on his voyage to Rome (Acts 27) and to the superstitious islanders on Malta (Acts 28).
The great majority of conversations and events in Acts took place in Greek, between Gentiles, in lands hundreds of miles from Israel. No ancient sources even hint at any book besides Matthew being authored in Aramaic or Hebrew, and the author and recipient of Acts were Greeks. For Michael Rood to speculate that Acts was written in Hebrew shows either extreme ignorance or extreme disregard for historical facts and Biblical content.
Rood's claim that Revelation was also authored in Hebrew does not make any sense, either. The Apostle John wrote Revelation on Patmos about 95 A.D. after living in Ephesus (in what is now western coastal Turkey) for decades. (A church in Ephesus marks the spot where it is believed Mary the mother of Jesus was buried.) This was a full generation after Jerusalem, the temple, and much of Judea had been destroyed by Rome after the Hebrews rebelled in 67 A.D. The world Hebrew population had been about 2 million, yet about 1.1 million of them were killed in this war (see Bo Reicke, New Testament World), including the most devout Hebrews- those most likely to have a working knowledge of Hebrew. The scattered 1 million Hebrews who remained in 95 A.D. would not have been much of an audience for John.
John wrote a generation after the followers of Y'shua became radically separated from the Torah observant Hebrews. The division happened because Hebrews drove off followers of Y'shua, as we see in the book of Acts, because believers realized they had no foundation basis for fellowship with those who rejected the Messiah, and because the Roman government declared followers to Messiah to be an illegal religion separate from Judaism. All the writings of John (His Gospel, Revelation and three letters) were written to followers of Jesus the Christ (Y'shua the Messiah) spread around the world. John and his readers knew Greek, but very few people in the world were competent Hebrew speakers.
REPLACING THE GOSPEL OF Y'SHUA WITH OBEDIENCE TO LAW
Rood's primary message is that all believers in Y'shua Messiah must obey the law of Moses. While TWI rejected this law, it did promote "universal" laws such as the law of believing and the law of tithing. For example the "law of believing" stated that when anyone, whether believer or atheist, had strong confidence that something would happen, that thing would occur.
Both Rood and TWI ended up making Jesus Christ an afterthought, not at all central to their message.
WHY PARTNER WITH NEHEMIA GORDON?
Half of the ARA/ ROTLB seminar is presented by Michael Rood and half by Nehemia Gordon. It is obvious that Rood feels a close partnership with him. Why does Rood partner with Gordon, and what does this mean?
Michael Rood goes out of his way to state that Gordon is not a believer in Y'shua Messiah. Rood speaks pridefully of Gordon's beliefs, as though it is a special mark of honor and credibility that Gordon does not follow Y'shua as Messiah or Lord.
Gordon describes himself as a "Hebrew Scripturalist" who does not follow Jesus Christ ("Y'shua Messiah") and does not follow the traditions of the Pharisees as detailed in the Jewish Talmud. He claims to have been trained as a Hebrew text scholar at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and was a translator of a published edition of part of the Dead Sea Scrolls (DSS). Rood claims that Gordon's translation of part of the DSS sells for $5.000 a copy.
Gordon says his view of Y'shua has changed, and that he now thinks Jesus had one message- to persuade people to obey the commands of Torah and to consider themselves free from the oral law.
In other words, according to Gordon, Jesus was at best a teacher (evidently not even a prophet) who called people to obey the Law in much the same way that rabbis called people to obey the Law. But to Gordon, Y'shua is far below the status of Moses the Lawgiver, because Moses met God on Sinai and delivered the Law. Moses the gave the law, Y'shua only directed people to obey Moses. Y'shua serves Moses, not the other way around.
Evangelical Christians would not create a close teaching partnership with Gordon, because he rejects the very core of the New Testament Gospel- that Jesus (Y'shua) is Messiah and Lord, the fulness of the Godhead in bodily form, the only name under heaven by which we must be saved (Acts 2:28, Colossians 2:9, Acts 4:12). From the New Testament perspective, he does not have the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, the forgiveness of sins or eternal life.
But Michael Rood apparently enjoys full teaching partnership and fellowship with Nehemia Gordon. Why?
Because the core of both Rood's and Nehemia's message is the same- their "Gospel" is that people must carry the burden of obeying the commands of the Law. Jesus only saved people from the oral law, not the written Law. To both of them, the person and work of Y'shua Messiah, Jesus Christ, is not the essential core.
Whenever the Apostles preached, the "punch line" at the end was always Christ-centered: "(Jesus is) both Lord and Christ.... Repent and be baptized, everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ so that your sins may be forgiven" (Acts 2:36, 38). "There is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12). "the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.... All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through His name" (Acts 10: 36, 43). "Through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through Him everyone who believes is justified from everything you could not be justified from by the law of Moses" (Acts 13:38, 39).
Rood's "punch line" is the very opposite from that of the apostles. Rood consciously does not emphasize- or even mention- Christ's redemption, believing in him as Lord and Christ, forgiveness, being justified by faith, or being baptized in water. Rood even consciously leaves out Scriptural references to Jesus Christ. For instance, Rood paraphrased part of 1 John, "this is love for God, to obey His commands." In context, He was using John to "prove" that believers in Y'shua must obey all the commands of the law of Moses. However, Rood conveniently neglects to quote what the Apostle John says those commands are: "And this is His command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us" (1 John 3:23).
Rood ignores parts of other passages which point to Jesus also. He cites the part of Revelation 12:17 which says, "keep the commandments of God," but ignores the rest of the verse, "and hold to the testimony of Jesus." He systematically avoids references to Jesus Christ and redemption. In contrast, the writings of John constantly emphasize faith in Jesus Christ, redemption and loving others, not obeying the law of Moses, though you'd never know this by listening to Michael Rood.
Rood directs people away from Y'shua the Christ and his cross and resurrection, and commands people to do the impossible and the unnecessary- obey the law of Moses. By doing this, he opposes the Apostles and the New Testament.
Rood also oversells the Torah by repeatedly stating that it is "easy" to follow all its commands. The apostle Peter says the opposite- that circumcision and the law of Moses are "a yoke that neither we nor our father have been able to bear" (Acts 15:10). He was clearly speaking of circumcision and the written law (15:1,5), since these are named, but the oral law is not.
No one who understands Y'shua's sermon on the mount (Matthew 5-7) can think the law is easy. Y'shua says that lust is adultery, anger is murder, adultery is the only reason for divorce (Rood apparently has not publically disclosed the reason for his divorce) and loving your neighbor includes loving your enemies. No one who takes Y'shua's teaching seriously thinks the law is easy to fulfill.
Rood also doesn't seem to realize that whenever people try to obey a legalistic system of laws like those in Torah, it breeds disagreements about how to fully obey them. His followers will end up making up contradictory sets of oral laws about how to fulfill the Torah laws, just as the Pharisees and rabbis have done for centuries.
TWO KINDS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
Rood thinks righteousness is important, for he quotes Matthew 5:20, "unless your righteousness exceeds that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven." But he avoids detailing the important NT teaching that there are two kinds of righteousness- righteousness that people earn by obeying the law, and righteousness that is given to those who have faith in Y'shua the Christ.
The Apostle Paul states, "No one will be declared righteous in (God's) sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Christ Jesus to all who believe" (Romans 3:20-22). No one can perfectly keep the Law (not even the written law), so no one can become righteous by trying to observe it. The law only shows us our sin. The only way to become righteous is to receive it as a gift from God.
(For more on the purpose of the Law, see "Does Obeying the Laws and Commands of the Old Testament Please God?" by John Juedes.)
A Rood Awakening/ Raiders of the Lost Book is an entertaining presentation that claims to be about discovering a Hebrew version of the Gospel of Matthew. Actually, it is about a lost Gospel. Those who fall prey to the cultic methods and teachings will likely lose the gospel assurance that righteousness is not earned by obedience to the law, but rather is received by faith as a gift of God in Jesus Christ (Y'shua the Messiah). There are some positive aspects of recognizing the Hebrew roots of the faith. But Michael Rood and Nehemia Gordon go beyond deepening faith in Y'shua to the error of reducing faith and salvation in the Messiah to just another worthless form of works righteousness and bondage to the Law.
Dr. John Juedes, 2005
See related article by John Juedes about Michael Rood: "Michael Rood, Doomsday Prophet " and " Does Obeying the Laws and Commands of the Old Testament Please God?"
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