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The Lubavich movement and the Messiah

T

'The Messianic era is a redemptive process which culminates in the

perfection of society.o So says Rabbi Boteach in an article praising the

late Lubavitcher Rebbe who died on 12th June. Rabbi Boteach describes the

late Rebbe as one who 'more than any other religious leader of his time

spread the message of Godliness and goodness to the four corners of the

earth.'

 

On the other hand Dr Jacob Neusner describes him as 'the most successful

false Messiah in the history of Judaism.' Who is right?

 

According to Lubavitch teaching, 'God has long been ready to bring Messiah

and Messiah is anxious to come. Until now his path was obstructed by the

imperfections in the world.' In other words the condition of the world and

particularly of the Jewish people hastens or delays the coming of the

Messiah. This is illustrated by a story from the Talmud which says that the

Messiah will come 'Today if you would only listen to his voice.'

 

'The Lubavitcher Rebbe has declared that in our generation this stipulation

has been satisfied. Our generation is in fact turning toward God to listen

to his voice. There is no reason for the Messiah, who is already impatient

to come, to delay his arrival any longer.'

 

Another story about the coming of the Messiah concerns the Baal Shem Tov,

the founder of the Hassidic movement of which Lubavitch is a part. According

to this story the soul of the Baal Shem Tov ascended to the heavenly abode

of the Messiah and asked him, 'Master when are you coming?' Messiah

answered, 'When the wellsprings of your teachings shall spread outward.' In

other words when the Hassidic teaching has reached Jews all over the world

then Messiah will be ready to come. Lubavitch claim that they have

accomplished this task by spreading their philosophy all over the world. The

collapse of Communism has enabled them to reach the former Soviet Union with

their ideas.

 

The conclusion is that Jewish people should prepare for the coming of the

Messiah who will bring peace to Israel and the world and fill the earth with

goodness. As he is a Messiah of 'flesh and blood' not a supernatural figure

arriving from heaven, this process will take place by natural not

supernatural means. Rabbi Boteach describes the Messiah as 'a Messiah of

flesh and blood, visible and tangible, a man whom others will follow.'

 

Many followers of the Lubavitcher Rebbe believed that he was the Messiah,

some even hoping that he would rise from the dead. But today the Rebbe is no

more and his followers are disappointed. Rabbi Boteach writes: 'Now every

morning I look deep into the soul of the Creator and ask: Where is my Rebbe,

and why have You taken him away? He was so necessary, and we are all so

impoverished without him.'

 

The problem is that the Messianic hope in Judaism always ends in

disappointment, which is why some Rabbis prefer not to speak too much about

the Messiah. The simple reason is that God has already sent the only Messiah

he has any intention of sending and that all hopes of another coming are

bound to end in disillusion and deception. In many ways Lubavitch teaching

is a recycling in Jewish form of the New Age deception which is sweeping the

earth:

 

A New / Messianic Age is coming, bringing peace and knowledge of God

 

A Messiah is coming who will be a great human leader who will bring this age

to pass.

 

This age will bring a change of consciousness and behaviour. We must prepare

for this now by doing the prescribed religious deeds and repeating prayers

so that we will gain merit.

 

This programme appeals to the longing of the human soul for a better world

and the hope that we can do something to bring this to pass by performing

acts of righteousness. It contradicts completely God's programme which was

to send the Messiah at His appointed time, not because we deserved Him, but

for the precise opposite reason, because of our sins and inability to put

ourselves right by ourselves:

 

'For when we were still without strength at the right time Messiah died for

the ungodly.' Romans 5.6

 

Jesus, Yeshua, the real Messiah, came in fulfilment of specific prophecies

written in God's word. He was born to a virgin (Isaiah 7.14) in Bethlehem

(Micah 5.2), fully human and fully divine (Isaiah 9.6). He preached a

message of good news to the poor bringing release to those in captivity to

sin and sickness (Isaiah 61.1-2). He laid down his life as a sacrifice for

the sins of the world, was executed as a transgressor, although without sin

himself. He prayed for those responsible for his death, was buried in a rich

man's tomb and rose again from the dead on the third day (Psalm 22, Isaiah

53, Zechariah 12.10, Psalm 16.8-11). All this happened before the

destruction of the Second Temple as prophesied in Daniel 9.25-26.

 

He told his disciples to go into all the world and preach the Good News and

that when his teaching has spread to the ends of the earth, he will return

(Matthew 24.14). Some other signs of the approach of his return and the end

of days include:

 

The restoration of Israel as a Jewish homeland and a conflict in the Middle

East involving all nations (Ezekiel 36-39, Zechariah 12-14, Revelation

16-19). An increase in wars, famines and earthquakes leading to a time of

great trouble on the earth (Matthew 24, Luke 21). False cults bringing

religious confusion and false prophets and false Messiahs (Matthew 24). A

breakdown of traditional values and decency (Matthew 24.12, 2 Timothy 3.1-9).

 

At his return He will fulfil the prophecies of the Reigning Messiah (Messiah

ben David). He will come in the clouds of heaven (Daniel 7.13, Mark 14.62)

and every eye will see Him (Zechariah 12.10, Revelation 1.7). He will come

with the believers of all ages (Zechariah 14.5, Revelation 19.14). The point

of his return will be the Mount of Olives just outside Jerusalem (Zechariah

14.4, Acts 1.11). He will bring an end to the world conflict which will be

raging over Jerusalem and which will be threatening the world with the final

holocaust (Zechariah 12-14, Revelation 16-19). He will destroy the 'Babylon'

world system responsible for all corruption and wickedness on earth and for

the end time tribulation (Jeremiah 51, Revelation 18). He will set up godly

rule from Jerusalem bringing peace and justice to the nations of the earth

(Isaiah 2.1-4, Revelation 20).

 

The answer to the Jewish quest for the Messiah is to be found in Tenach

(Bible) and not the Rabbinic writings, in the Messiah who has already come

and whose soon return we are eagerly awaiting, Yeshua ha Mashiach, Jesus the

Messiah.

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