The Siddur (which in Hebrew means “order” and refers to the Jewish prayerbook) has been used for centuries by Jewish people to help worshipers offer prayers to God in a way that is consistent with the teachings of the Torah and other sacred Jewish literature.

In one place, the Siddur directs every Jew to include in their daily prayers the following words:

רבון כל העולמים

.לא על צדקותינו אנחנו מפילים תחנותינו לפניך כי על רחמיך הרבים

“Master of the world,

It is not on the basis of our righteousness that we lay our requests before Your presence, but because of Your great mercies.”

This prayer (among many others) shows that the Judaism which emerged after the destruction of Temple in 70 CE continued to uphold this basic Jewish teaching – that keeping the commandments of God, although very important, is not the basis for the covenantal relationship between God and His people.

The Apostle Paul, expecting a positive response, reminded Peter that it was common knowledge among the Jews that Torah-keeping was not the basis for right standing before God. In so doing, he challenged Peter to accept Gentile God-fearers who believed in the Jewish Messiah as citizens in the Kingdom of God alongside Jews, without going through a conversion. We read in Galatians 2:15-16:

We are Jews by birth and not sinners from among the Gentiles. We know that a man is not justified by the works of the Torah but through faith in the Messiah Jesus.

The modern Jewish Siddur, therefore, holds this in common with the Jewish Apostle Paul — that the basis for a right relationship with God is not Torah (no matter how wonderful and good it is!), but the grace and mercy of Israel’s God.

A proper understanding of grace is essential to understanding how God relates to each of us.

BEGIN YOUR JOURNEY OF DISCOVERY

26 COMMENTS

  1. A query please. Yesterday I taught our youth group about Jesus entry into Jeruslame and the cleansing of the temple. We watched a DVD by a Bible teacher I have known and trusted a long time, looking at the model of Jerusalem in Jerusalem. He told us that in Solomon’s temple the Holy Place was also called ‘My Father’s House’ which is what Jesus said when he cleared the temple. Were the money changers actually dealing in that area rather than the outer courts and is that a link? Just need to confirm please.

    • Money changers were located in the Court of Gentiles that were part of the Herodian Temple. The issue was not the money in the temple, but the money changes in the place for the Nations (I think). But probably more too.

      • Yes that is what I always thought so was quite surprised. The guy that said it has completed over 50 tours to Israel and is a sound teacher especially about the land.

      • The whole point of the Old Testament is the The Lord Jesus. If you deny Him, whatever else you do is worthless.

        • May the whole world come to the knowledge of truth, discover Yeshua in the Hebrew Bible and live a faithful life to God according to His example in the Apostolic Writings.

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  2. The problem seems to be about fear of the Lord versus fear of men. I can see the fear of the LORD in the Jewish prayer. Grace? Why did Paul call them the circumcision instead of Jews?

    • Kat, terms like “the circumcision” or “people of the circumcision” are used in various places in the Bible to identify the followers of YHVH, while “uncircumcision” or “the uncircumcised” are used to refer to the nations (aka, the rest of the world). “The uncircumcised” is also used as personal reference.

  3. In Ezekiel 43:12 (the Jewish Study Bible) we read: “Such are the instructions for the Temple on top of the mountain: the entire area of its enclosure shall be most holy. Thus far the instructions for the Temple.” Therefore, everything associated with the Temple was “my Father’s house” not only the Temple proper.

  4. Grace is a FALSE RELIGIOUS WORD. In the Scriptures the Hebrew word “chen” is GRATITUDE, and the Greek word “charis” is the same = GRATITUDE. I do NOT use this religious CON word “grace” at all, NEVER. The believers in God’s TRUTH must LOVE the TRUTH, and learn to refuse any philosophy… God of Israel wants RELATIONSHIP … NOT religion. Adoni YHVH Elohiym bless you in Yeshua, the Anointing One ps John J

  5. An important aspect of the “Cleansing of the Temple” is that Jesus was acting as a Rabbi and using concrete examples to help understand what He was attempting to proclaim. Specifically, Jesus was able to stop the normal Temple functions, since there would not have been money changers to convert money to the Temple shekel or animals for sacrifice. Thus Jesus was also proclaiming that He was taking over the purpose of the sacrifice and there would not be a need for the temple.

  6. The interpretation of the statement “It is not on the basis of our righteousness that we lay our requests before Your presence, but because of Your great mercies” included in daily prayers as shifting the covenantal relationship between the Jews and their God to being based on God’s mercies rather than on the Torah seems to read this statement too broadly. This statement is included in daily prayers which most likely included prayers of petition, and/or prayers of penitence and confession, and/or prayers of intercession – all of which ask God for something. Therefore, the statement seems to be intended

  7. I had often thought when Jesus clean the temple of the money changers and those that sold the animals. there is more to the statement than what is stated. why would Jesus say you have make my Fathers house a den of thieves, the only reason i can see that he made that statement is because the animals were not perfect they could have a a blemish that would go unnoticed by some people and or they were charging way to much for the animals for the scarifices. first of the Temple was not the place to have the animals in the first place. they should have brought the animals from home if they lived close buy or sold the animal and bring the change to the temple. with the fact if there were small blemishes with the animal they were not stealing from the Levites but from God.
    we cannot lay any righteousness but Jesus can lay his righteousness to cover us at His fathers feet. our righteouness is nothing but filty rags. full of sin.

  8. Grace=Unmerited favour of our God which can we can never earn by good works or scripture reading though they are necessary and right, but find in/through our Lord Jesus Christ which is what I believe Dr Eli is stating. Prayer must be sincere and from the heart to have any real meaning. Thank you Dr Eli for leading us to think upon these matters.

    • Colin, “unmerited favor” is a definition of mercy, but it cannot be the same as grace. Try fitting “unmerited favor” in place of “grace” in Galatians 5:4 and John 1:14, for instance. It doesn’t work. How can it make sense to refer to Yeshua/Jesus as being “full of unmerited favor”

    • Hebrews 4:16 is an especially good test, referring to grace and mercy as being different. It appears to me that “charis” is being used in the NT, at times but not always, to mean something very different than mercy. Maybe something like “the empowering presence of God”, perhaps.

  9. I have tried for years to find the etymology of “grace” defined as “the unmerited favor of God”. YEARS! it is not in the Scriptures, instead I define grace as “divine empowerment for holy living.” If you follow every instance of grace given in the Bible, you find that.

  10. Interesting that this is a daily Jewish requirement. I’ve included these words in my prayers because through Yeshua’s sacrificial death I can approach the throne of God freely; even though my righteousness is as dirty rags to God as Isaiah says. That is grace to me.

  11. Eli, can you comment on the idea put forth by Pastor John above that both the Hebrew and Greek words for grace are connected to the concept of gratitude? It fits for me that receiving God’s grace fills me with gratitude and also empowers me, gives a huge internal motivation and love to respond with a righteously lived life but I am wondering about whether this is found in the etymology of the chen/ charis words themselves or flows out of our response and becomes attached to the meaning in that way.

    • The Hebrew word chen is best translated as favor/acceptance. For this word, gratitude is indirectly connected. But for Greek charis, gratitude is directly connected. Charis is not the most frequent translation of Chen in the Hebrew Bible, but it is sometimes. I think Pastor John’s point was that the word “grace” (nowadays anyway) seems to connote something very different than it used to, and it is now no longer a good definition for these words.

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      • Thanks so much for your response! I understand what you are saying. I think the grace vs works dichotomy is more relevant to Luther’s response to where the RC church was at and would be better understood that way rather than an OT/ NT divide. Grace is ever present in both testaments. What other words are used to translate Chen ? Anyway, I really like this expanded understanding of the concept…..divine empowerment,gratitude.i have already shared it with several people!

        • The Greek words that translate chen in the Septuagint from most frequent to least are: areskeia (complaisance), eleos (compassion), eucharistos (well favored/grateful), and charis (graciousness).

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