We have a picture of what being a follower of Messiah means that is shaped more by the tradition of men than the Bible.

That may be why so many people have a hard time understanding Bob Dylan, a thoroughly Jewish musical superstar. He doesn’t fit in our neat little “Churchie” concept of what it means to be wedded spiritually to Jesus-Yeshua, the Son of God, the future King of Kings, the Redeemer of the world and mankind, the Savior.

What am I talking about?

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I’m talking about an amazing new biography, “Bob Dylan: A Spiritual Life” by Scott Marshall and published by WND Books.

That it is even arguable that Dylan thoroughly embraced the God of Abraham, Isaac, Israel and Jesus is hard for me to believe after listening to his music all these many years. In fact, it’s hard to think of an artist, even one of lesser stature, that has been so consistent in his lyrical imagery and inspirations – before his so-called “Jesus years” and after.

The reviews for the book have been overwhelmingly positive in the entertainment and non-entertainment press. The interviews with the author have been informative and provocative. And the content of the book is so compelling, engaging and persuasive.

Yet, even the author’s strongest conclusion comes down to this: “Bob Dylan’s spiritual journey remains on an unshakeable monotheism.”

While that’s undeniably true, you have to discount so much of the Dylan story, the body of musical work and what those closest to him have to say, not to go further.

Here’s the way I would put it: Bob Dylan found his Hebrew Messiah. His name is Jesus-Yeshua. He doesn’t need to go to church on Sunday to confirm that in my mind. I’m not his judge. No man is. But I have no doubt about his commitment from which he has never backtracked one inch.

What commitment was that?

How about this one?

From the title track of “Saved” (1980):

I was blinded by the devil,
Born already ruined,
Stone-cold dead
As I stepped out of the womb.

By His grace I have been touched,
By His word I have been healed,
By His hand I’ve been delivered,
By His spirit I’ve been sealed.

I’ve been saved
By the blood of the lamb,
Saved
By the blood of the lamb,
Saved,
Saved,
And I’m so glad.

Yes, I’m so glad,
I’m so glad,
So glad,
I want to thank You, Lord,
I just want to thank You, Lord,
Thank You, Lord.

By His truth I can be upright,
By His strength I do endure,
By His power I’ve been lifted,
In His love I am secure.

He bought me with a price,
Freed me from the pit,
Full of emptiness and wrath
And the fire that burns in it.

I’ve been saved
By the blood of the lamb,
Saved
By the blood of the lamb,
Saved,
Saved,
And I’m so glad.

Yes, I’m so glad,
I’m so glad,
So glad,
I want to thank You, Lord,
I just want to thank You, Lord,
Thank You, Lord.

Nobody to rescue me,
Nobody would dare,
I was going down for the last time,
But by His mercy I’ve been spared.

Not by works,
But by faith in Him who called,
For so long I’ve been hindered,
For so long I’ve been stalled.

I’ve been saved
By the blood of the lamb,
Saved
By the blood of the lamb,
Saved,
Saved,
And I’m so glad.

Yes, I’m so glad, I’m so glad,
So glad, I want to thank You, Lord,
I just want to thank You, Lord,
Thank You, Lord.

Can someone point out to me a more heartfelt, clear-cut, unambiguous expression of the acceptance of forgiveness by grace in any musical form?

Honestly, this is the full-throated gospel message.

Where’s the confusion? The ambiguity?

Did Dylan subsequently leave some doubt in anything he has ever said or written? I sure haven’t seen it.

I just read in one review that Dylan hated the term “born again.” How about his song, “The Garden,” from the same 1980 album. He actually cites the term from John chapter 3:

Nicodemus came at night so he wouldn’t be seen by men
Saying, “Master, tell me why a man must be born again.”

Here’s what Dylan said about the term in interviews, which evidently some found confusing:

“Being born again is a hard thing,” Dylan said. “You ever seen a mother give birth to a child? Well it’s painful. We don’t like to lose those old attitudes and hang-ups.”

100 percent true.

In a later interview with Rolling Stone there’s this interchange:

Q: “People have put various labels on you over the past several years: ‘He’s a born-again Christian’; ‘he’s an ultra-Orthodox Jew.’ Are any of those labels accurate?”

A: “Not really. People call you this or they call you that. But I can’t respond to that, because then it seems like I’m defensive, and, you know, what does it matter, really?”

Q: “But weren’t three of your albums – Slow Train Coming, Saved and Shot of Love – inspired by some sort of born-again religious experience?”

A: “I would never call it that. I’ve never said I’m born again. That’s just a media term. I don’t think I’ve been an agnostic. I’ve always thought there’s a superior power, that this is not the real world and that there’s a world to come. That no soul has died, every soul is alive, either in holiness or in flames. And there’s probably a lot of middle ground.”

Q: “What is your spiritual stance, then?”

A: “Well, I don’t think that this is it, you know – this life ain’t nothin’. There’s no way you’re gonna convince me this is all there is to it. I never, ever believed that. I believe in the Book of Revelation. The leaders of this world are eventually going to play God, if they’re not already playing God, and eventually a man will come that everybody will think is God. He’ll do things, and they’ll say, ‘Well, only God can do those things. It must be him.'”

Q: “You’re a literal believer of the Bible?”

A: “Yeah. Sure, yeah. I am.”

Q: “Are the Old and New Testaments equally valid?”

A: “To me.”

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No inconsistency here, as far as I am concerned. The Bible does not say we must wear a label of “born again.” The words are not used in the Bible as an adjective we must wear. And, nowhere in the Bible will you find the phrase “born-again Christian,” which suggests this is a process for Christians to go through.

Jesus the Messiah did not come to start a new religion called Christianity. I make this point emphatically – and I would like to think persuasively – in my latest book, “The Restitution of All Things: Israel, Christians, and the End of the Age.” What He came to do was offer a lifeline of salvation to all mankind – through Himself, His sacrifice on the cross and His resurrection. There’s nothing wrong with the term “born again.” But it is not a label we must wear on our lapel to be welcomed into the Kingdom. Rather, it’s a process of renewal we should experience when we encounter the One True Living God through Jesus the Messiah.

One more thing to ponder: Do Jews who accept Jesus as their Messiah need to become, by definition and tradition, “Christians”?

Was Jesus a Christian? Is He? Or is He the Jewish Messiah who will rule and reign over the entire earth from Jerusalem as King of Kings? Does one stop being Jewish when one accepts the Jewish Messiah? It’s a ridiculous question shaped by tradition, not common sense. All of Jesus’ original followers were Jewish – and didn’t stop being Jewish throughout their lives.

So why should Bob Dylan be expected to do so?

Media wishing to interview Joseph Farah, please contact [email protected].

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