Why Study the Hebraic Roots of Christianity?
GOD'S CHOSEN PEOPLE AND HIS PURPOSE
"Remember you do not support the root but the root supports you."
There is a group of people on the earth who comprise less than 1% of the world’s population and should not by all human standards significantly affect the rest of the world. But they have and they still do and they always will. They are Jews. Many nations and kingdoms have tried to exterminate them: Egypt under a Pharaoh who did not know Joseph (one of the Patriarchs Jacob’s twelve sons tried unsuccessfully for years to exterminate them. He went so far as to make a law that all women of Israel, after giving birth to a child; if it was a boy; they were to cast the child into the Nile River.
The Philistines tried to destroy them; as the twelve original tribes plus Ephraim and Manasseh made their way across the wilderness to the Promised Land during the Exodus. Assyria, the capital being Ninevah, in 721 BC took the 9 and 1/2 tribes living on the west side of the Jordan River along with the 2 and1/2 tribes living on the east side of the Jordan River into captivity and relocated them to the area of land between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea. In 160 or so BC under Alexander the Great began to transform or so change their culture that they became almost unrecognizable to the extent they became known as Gentiles. That was the end of the kingdom known as “the house of Israel” They had succeeded and separated themselves from King Rehoboam, the son of King Solomon of Judah and had followed a new leader, an Ephraimite (of the tribe coming from Joseph’s youngest son Ephraim who’s name was Jeroboam in 933 BC.
After they were captured and taken to Assyrian occupied lands, they lost their Hebraic identity and became known as gentiles. Even the land in Canaan they had formerly occupied became known as Galilee of the Gentiles. As a result of that deportation, they would eventually become known as the “lost tribes of the house of Israel”. By the time of Yehshua they had become known as the “lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Only a small number (a remnant) from each of the northern tribes had remained loyal to Rehoboam and his rule over “the house of Judah”. Due to circumstances that erupted in the land in connection with lions, did there even remain a religious people that was there when Yehshua came. They were the Samaritans. Only these Samaritans managed to survive in the land but through Jeroboam the Ephraimite their Torah had been significantly altered from the Jerusalem Torah and still is to this day.
Two major differences being where they went in observance of Passover and the other appointed feasts and on different dates. By the time Y’hshua had come the Samaritans and the Jews had grown to hate one another. When Y’hshua preached that they were to love their enemies these two groups were who he was referring to. The Church in general misunderstood or expanded that teaching to include even Muslims to the extent we have a President that has come to understand that the God of Islam and the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the God of the Church of Jesus Christ is the same God under different names. This past year, the Pope accepted the God of Islam by repenting and apologizing concerning a quote he had used that a former Pope had said in the 1500’s AD that Islam was an evil religion.
In 586 BC came the Babylonian Empire that eventually conquered Jerusalem and Judea and took the elite of the people to Babylon where they began a process to change or transform the Jews into Babylonians. One of those taken to Babylon to serve the seventy year sentence God handed down as a result of the people not observing the seven year Sabbath rests for the land; came the prophetic writings of a man by the name of Daniel and the miraculous exploits of three of his companions.
Daniel 1:6-7 Now among them from the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah. (7) Then the commander of the officials assigned new names to them; and to Daniel he assigned the name Belteshazzar, to Hananiah Shadrach, to Mishael Meshach and to Azariah Abed-nego.
King Number twenty from the tribes of Judah at the time the house of Judah was destroyed was King Zedekiah. King Zedekiah had his sons killed in front of his eyes and then had his eyes put out, was taken to Babylon where he died. From the death of Zedekiah until the days of the Messiah there was never a king on the throne in Jerusalem with the credentials that he was of the tribe of Judah.
Then came the Persian Empire and a man by the name of Haman possibly a Amalekite, the Prime Minister of the Persian King Ahasuerus, a Jewish virgin girl by the name of Esther and her uncle we know as Mordecai. The Amalekites hated Jews more than any other nation that historians tell us.
Rome following on the heals of the Greek empire originating with Alexander the Great and finally Antiochus Epiphanies assisted in the removal of the inherited customs of the nation of Israel, especially Judah. The Jews were cast out of Rome around 48 AD and again many died. In my opinion, that is the reason that Paul wrote his now famous letter to Rome around 54-61 AD, less than twenty years before Rome would destroy the Temple and once more kill multitudes of Jews, driving a wedge between the few Messianic Jews left there along with the Gentiles because the church in Rome by that time was almost completely in the hands of the Gentiles. It was never to return to or rediscover its Hebraic roots seen in the Jews.
The Crusades came along after Constantine (a gentile) came to power in Rome around 321 AD Constantine supposedly converted to Christianity. But it was an extremely warped form of Messianic Judaism established by Y’hshua. Constantine changed the Torah standards so the pagans could feel comfortable also. Much change was inaugurated into the original. Thousands of Jews along with many Muslims were murdered because they would not convert to Rome's type Christianity. But more on that later.
Lets jump ahead about a thousand years where we find the Spanish Inquisition of 1492 when all Jews were ordered to leave Spain. Some Jews say that Christopher Columbus saw it coming and that is why he asked for the ships from Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. Some say Christopher Columbus was of Jewish heritage along with many that sailed away from Spain with him. It is a legend of the Jews that they were on board the eve before the 9th day of Ave which is the same day that not one but both Temples were destroyed in Jerusalem.
Hitler in the late 1930’s came on the scene. In WW II he murdered some six million Jewish men women and children during what has become known as the Holocaust. His mentor or hero was none other than Martin Luther, the renowned saint of the Catholic Church; the founder of the Lutheran Church. Hitler was quoted as saying what Martin Luther had started in his attempt to rid the planet of the Jews; he was going to finish.
But it wasn't over then or is it over now. Today the Palestinians, possible descendants of the wicked Philistines as well as the rest of the Arab world surrounding Israel such as Iran, Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt do not recognize Israel's statehood declared in 1948 and have sworn to destroy them as well as the U.S. by driving them into the Mediterranean Sea and destroying us by any means they can come up with.
How have the Jewish people survived? Why have they survived? There is only one reason: because more than 5000 years ago, God set them apart (sanctified them) to testify of His integrity and give credence to the absolute authenticity of His scriptures. The world still calls them Jews. God however calls them a special treasure to Himself.
Psalm 121:4 "He that keeps Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps..."
(Zechariah 2:3-10 NASB) And behold, the angel who was speaking with me was going out, and another angel was coming out to meet him, and said to him, "Run, speak to that young man, saying, 'Jerusalem will be inhabited without walls because of the multitude of men and cattle within it. 'For I,' declares the LORD, 'will be a wall of fire around her, and I will be the glory in her midst.'" "Ho there! Flee from the land of the north," declares the LORD, "for I have dispersed you as the four winds of the heavens," declares the LORD. "Ho, Zion! Escape, you who are living with the daughter of Babylon." For thus says the LORD of hosts, "After glory He has sent me against the nations which plunder you, for he who touches you, touches the apple of His eye. "For behold, I will wave My hand over them so that they will be plunder for their slaves. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me. "Sing for joy and be glad, O daughter of Zion; for behold I am coming and I will dwell in your midst," declares the LORD.
GOD'S PURPOSE FOR THE CHURCH WAS NOT TO REPLACE ISRAEL
God was, is and shall always be serious about Israel. The church was not created to replace her but rather to enlarge her. Consider carefully the words penned by the apostle to the Gentiles (non-Jews) in the city of Ephesus:
And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience. Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest. But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you saved). Ephesians 2:1-5
‘Therefore, remember that formerly you Gentiles (non-Jews including the other tribes out of the loins of Jacob, evn Ephraim and Manasseh) in the flesh remember that you were at that time separate from the Messiah, excluded from the commonwealth (citizenship) of Israel and strangers (aliens) to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in this world." Ephesians 2:11-12
But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. and He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. Ephesians 2:13-18
The first recorded Gentile to come into the church was a man named Cornelius (a Roman Centurion and his family [Acts 10).
Now there was a man at Caesarea named Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian cohort,) a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, and gave many alms to the Jewish people and prayed to God continually. About the ninth hour of the day he clearly saw in a vision an angel of God who had just come in and said to him, "Cornelius!" And fixing his gaze on him and being much alarmed, he said, "What is it, Lord?" And he said to him, "Your prayers and alms have ascended as a memorial before God. Acts 10:1-4
He was not allowed in until some ten years after Jesus' ascension into heaven. Remember, the Great Commission was to begin in Jerusalem, then advance throughout Judea, and Samaria and then go to the utter most parts of the earth. Cornelius was before Peter's visit a referred to in the scriptures as a “stranger” or an “alien” but more than that a “God fearer.” He obviously practiced some of the things that the Jewish people practiced from the Torah. In other words he followed the Torah life style to some extent. After all, he was worshiping at the time of the evening prayers, the ninth hour or about three PM. Why the uttermost parts of the earth? Because God had promised the people of Israel that if they did not follow His instructions after entering the land He promised to Abraham and his descendants; that was where He would scatter them to.
And the LORD shall scatter you among the nations, and you shall be left few in number among the heathen, where the LORD shall lead you. Deuteronomy 4:27
And the LORD shall scatter you among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other; and there you shall serve other gods, which neither you nor your fathers have known, even wood and stone. Deuteronomy 28:64 KJV
'I would have said, "I will cut them to pieces, I will remove the memory of them from men," Deuteronomy 32:26 KJV
Do you ever hear someone say they are a Benjaminite or Reubenite or a Gadite? Only in recent years have we heard of the re-establishment of the tribe of Levi, the priestly tribe. Do you know any people named Cohen? Cohen comes from the Hebrew word priest. But here this and hold onto it. There was always hope left to the ones that were to be scattered. For God always leaves hope in judgment.
And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you shall call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD your God has driven you, And shall return unto the LORD your God, and shall obey his voice according to all that I command you this day, you and your children, with all your heart, and with all your soul; That then the LORD your God will turn your captivity, and have compassion upon you, and will return and gather you from all the nations, wherever the LORD your God has scattered you. If any of you be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from there will the LORD your God gather you, and from there will he fetch you: And the LORD your God will bring you into the land which you fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and he will do you good, and multiply you above your fathers. And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart, and the heart of your seed, to love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, that you may live. And the LORD your God will put all these curses upon your enemies, and on them that hate you, which persecuted you. And you shall return and obey the voice of the LORD, and do all his commandments which I command you this day. Deuteronomy 30:1-8 KJV
THE PURPOSE OF THE BLESSING OF ABRAHAM
FOR THOSE PEOPLE IN THE CHURCH!
Now one can see where Paul was coming from when he said the following:
So then they which be of faith (Jewish people were called the people of the Word) are blessed with faithful Abraham. For as many as are of ‘the works of the law’ are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that continues not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, [it is] evident: for, the just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, the man that does them shall live in them. Christ has redeemed us (‘those of the works of the law’) from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed [is] every one that is hung on a tree: That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Nations through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. (Galatians 3:9-14 KJV)
Notice Paul is more or less referring to himself as a Non-Jewish person or grouped in with them even though he was of the tribe of Benjamin. He talks about himself doing well in the ‘traditions of the Jew's religion’ but I don't believe he ever referred to himself as a Jew (of the tribe of Judah because he said he was of the tribe of Benjamin. The reason he connected with the Non-Jewish people might have been for the following reason:
500 BC The Return from Babylonian Captiviy
Revision of the Talmud Bavli (The Babylonian Talmud) by Rabbis Ravina and Ashi. Here is found the declaration by these Rabbis that from the time of the exile to Babylon until then, all people of non-Jewish descent would be referred to as gentiles or non-Jewish. They may have been descendents of one of the northern tribes taken during the attack on the ten tribes of Israel. These folks became known as ‘the house of Israel’, or ‘the lost sheep of the house of Israel’. I feel that even those belonging to the tribe of Benjamin were included. Yehshua came to seek and to save that which was lost. The house of Israel was lost to the Assyrian forces in 721 BC.
Sha’ul however, did claim to be a Hebrew, never denied he was a Pharisee and did say he was a practicer of the Jews religion.
For you have heard of my conversation in time past in the Jews' religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it: And profited in the Jews' religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. (Galatians 1:13-14 KJV)
Though I might also have confidence in the flesh. If any other man thinketh that he hath whereof he might trust in the flesh, I more: Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock of Israel, [of] the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee; Concerning zeal, persecuting the church; touching the righteousness which is in the law, blameless. (Philippians 3:4-6 KJV)
THE CHURCH IS NOT AN INDEPENDENT CREATION
The church is not an independent creation. We have been grafted into Israel, to that unique people with whom God made covenant and through whom He has imparted to the world His truth, His grace and His love in His written and Living Word (Torah). Therefore once again, if we claim to be gentiles then we must line up with what Paul said:
‘Remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root that supports you." Romans 11:18
You can never have a flourishing branch if it is grafted into a withering root
Judaism is not a withered or dead root; it is living and essential to our true biblical identity! At the very foundation of this nation of people is an "everlasting covenant with Abraham"; a covenant initiated by God Himself. The reader would do well to spend some time reading and meditating on the scriptures found in Genesis 12 through 17. This covenant between God and Abraham was and is binding, unconditional, everlasting and literal. It includes the three fold provision.
1. Provision of Land: (Genesis 15:18; Numbers 34:1-12; Joshua 1:1-4; Ezekiel 47:15-20)
2. Establishment as a Nation: (Genesis 17:18-19; 22:17; 28:13-14; 35:10-12; II Sam 7:12-13)
3. Supernatural Blessings: (Genesis 22:18; Jer. 31:31-34; Zechariah 12:8-10; 13:1; 8-9).
Since the fourth century the Church has been divested (stripped) of her Hebraic heritage and consequently significant issues of Biblical interpretation, doctrine and theology have been handicapped. Catholic scholar, Edward H. Flannery rightly declared,
"An over-Hellenized, over-Latinized Christianity needs a re-Judaising process to bring it back to its founding Jewish roots and renew it more in keeping with its own inherent ideals."
A NEW COVENANT, NOT A NEW RELIGION
On the day of Pentecost in the city of Jerusalem, Fifty days after the resurrection of Yahshua the community of believers that we now commonly call the Church was born (empowered) by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in fulfillment of the promise of Jesus that he made just before His ascension.
"When the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, He will testify about Me, and you will testify also, because you have been with Me from the beginning. John 15:26-27
This community of believers was intrinsically Galilean, as well as Jewish of course. Its members steeped in the teachings, the culture and the traditions of the Torah that Jesus Himself followed and taught when He walked this earth. The Torah that had been created by His Father was what they observed and practiced. While there may be numerous religions on the face of the earth besides Christianity, only one was created by the same God we worship as the Jews do. Living according to the Torah was born in the heart of God and given to Moses on Mt. Sinai. Therefore Christianity is essentially Jewish, having been birthed from the root of Messianic Judaism. The words Messianic and Christian mean the same thing “anointed ones”. They both mean followers of Christ or Messiah under the anointing known as grace. Christ and Messiah are also synonymous words.
Important Note: There was a significant difference however between the Torah that the Jewish Pharisees had than the Torah that the Samaritans had and still have. Plus the Pharisees in the time of Yeshua, placed more influence on the Oral Trah, generated by themselves called the works of the Law or the Traditions of the elders. Pharisaic Judaism was/and still todays is, steeped in traditions; many of which nullify much of the Word of God. One needs to remember that Yeshua said very plainly to the people of Judah that:
“I have not come to destroy, remove or misrepresent the Law or Torah. On the contrary he said I have come to fulfill it or present it correctly.” (Matthew 5:17 KJV)
Another way of saying it, He came to shed light on an understanding of the word that was prior to his coming, shrouded in darkness.
Leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, [by] the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Nations; The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matthew 4:13-17 KJ)
THE OLDER TESTAMENT IS NOT ABOUT JEWISH THINGS
The Bible is not about things Jewish or Christian. It is about things divine, eternal and universal and therefore applicable to all. However understanding it correctly requires, even demands, a deep awareness and comprehension of the people, nation and culture through whom God chose to reveal His ways and His Word. Therefore, the more biblical you become, the more Jewish acting you shall appear to others.
The study of the Hebraic Roots of the Church is not some new fad; neither is it some divergent trail from the heart of biblical theology. It is a major thrust into the restoration [remember that word] of all things which is to happen in the last days as prophesied by Peter in his great sermon recorded in Acts 3, specifically verses 21 through 22:
Repent ye therefore, and be converted (rehabilitated, converted, renewed, restored) that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of “refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;” (21) And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. [the restoration of the tabernacle of King David]. (22) For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me (Moses); him shall you hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. (Acts 3:19-23 KJV)
So, Why study the Hebraic/Jewish Roots of Christianity?
A. Jesus was / is a Jew.
His true Hebrew name is Yeshua or Yahshua, which means "Salvation or Salvation of God." He was born, raised, lived and ministered as an observant Jew (again, Torah observant, not necessarily Rabbinical), obedient to the commandments of the Father given on Mt. Sinai to Moses. Jesus observed carefully and diligently every instruction given to the nation of Israel. Without understanding the nation, the culture and the people among whom He lived and ministered, we will never fully understand all that the New Testament teaches and will in fact, as shown by church history, seriously misinterpret significant portions of it. In the course of our study, remember this important principle: Our purpose and goal is: "to make us more like Him, not less; it is to bring a greater humility and deal with our 'Christian" arrogance. (Romans 8:28-29) ' ...To be conformed into the image and likeness of His son.."
"...but If you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root but the root supports you. " Romans 11: 18
B. The Church was empowered in Jerusalem and from there the Messiah
will rule and reign in time to come.
The first members of the newborn community were all thought to be Galileans [the Jews called them Gentiles or Goyee]. After hearing Yehshua they began to live a Jewish lifestyle like he showed them, and continued to attend synagogue. Nowhere in scripture do we find that they abandoned their unique identity as the chosen people of God or the lifestyle that set them apart from the other nations. For the first three hundred years of its new life in the Spirit, the church was uniquely Jewish controlled. It was not until the "great divorce" demanded by Constantine in the fourth century (around 325 AD) that the church and Israel went their separate ways. The day of restoration has come! (Acts 3:21, Amos 9:11-12 & Acts 15:15-17)
C. To rightly divide the Word of Truth.
In reference to II Timothy 2:15 The apostle felt it necessary to exhort his disciple, Timothy, to study in order that he would rightly teach the Word of God (Torah, Psalms, Prophets or Writings – the TANAKH). If that is true, then it stands to reason then that there must be a great potential to wrongly teach the Word of God. Listen to what Peter said to some folks that supposedly new the Torah though they were descendants of those scattered through the nations.
Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. And account [that] the longsuffering of our Lord [is] salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all [his] epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as [they do] also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know [these things] before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. But grow in grace, and [in] the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him [be] glory both now and for ever. Amen. (II Peter 3:14-18 KJV)
You cannot take the scriptures out of their context and correctly present your exegesis (explanation). As we proceed through this course of study, this principle will be abundantly demonstrated but let us consider at this point one simple example of incorrect thinking. In many theological circles, Judaism is virtually considered a synonym for legalism. However, Romans chapter 4 makes it supremely clear that Abraham came to God by FAITH, four hundred years before the Torah (the Law) was given to Moses. The foundation of Biblical Judaism is faith, not legalism. The Torah is the body of instructions God gave to His people; not a legalistic set of rules to enslave them. The Bible is the divinely inspired Word of God, given to us in the form of a Jewish book and must be studied as such. To attempt to interpret it through 21st century western eyes and mentality is spiritually and intellectually inappropriate. (It is spiritual and intellectual suicide).
D. To equip ourselves to fulfill the exhortation to provoke to jealousy.
For I speak to you, the nations, since I am an apostle of the nations, (I glorify my ministry), if somehow I may provoke to jealousy my flesh. [Benjaminites: Romans 11:1; Philippians 3:5], and may save some of them. For if their casting away is the reconciliation of the world, what is the reception, except life from the dead? (Romans 11:13-15 LITV)
The giving of the Torah is celebrated every year at Shavuot (Pentecost) as the greatest gift God gave to the Israelites, that He should reveal His ways and His heart to them. The Scriptures are a deeply sacred trust, which are to be studied and obeyed. In Hebrew thinking, knowing is doing. Academic knowledge of the Torah, the Prophets, the Psalms is not enough. What matters is what you put into practice in your life.
Evangelical Christians are prone to declare their allegiance to the Scriptures as the infallible, inspired, inerrant Word of God. We quote portions by heart and vehemently defend this doctrinal position. But how consistently are we living that which we have declared to be true? The Corinthian church was told:
"Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies." (I Corinthians 8:1)
What does Paul mean by love. How are we to love? Who do we love? Well we say immediately, we are to love both God and man. OK! How? Jesus said this:
"If you love Me, you will keep My commandments (John 14:15)
"If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father's commandments and abide in His love. (John 15:10)
Pretty plain isn't it looking at it from a Jewish perspective. Listen to John the apostle as he expands on the same subject:
By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. (I John 2:3 NASB)
The one who says, "I have come to know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him; (I John 2:4 NASB)
and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight. (I John 3:22 NASB)
The one who keeps His commandments abides in Him, and He in him. We know by this that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us. (I John 3:24 NASB)
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. (I John 5:2 NASB)
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome. (I John 5:3 NASB)
And this is love, that we walk according to His commandments. This is the commandment, just as you have heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it. (II John 1:6 NASB)
WHAT DOES IT MEAN THAT THE CHURCH'S ASSIGNMENT IS TO PROVOKE THE JEWS TO JEALOUSY?
What does it mean to "provoke to jealousy"? When your life and mine becomes such a visible demonstration in word and practice of the truths of God’s precious Word that our example provokes someone to come to us and ask, "Why do you live like you do?" We have then "provoked someone to jealousy." The context of this exhortation in Romans 11 is clearly with relationship to Israel, but not limited to them. The bottom line is this: My relationship to God should be of such a nature that my very life makes others hungry to know Him in a deeper way. Where are the Baptists provoking the Presbyterians to a deeper love of God? Where are the Methodists provoking the Pentecostals? To make it more personal, who are you provoking to good works, to a passion for the Lord by your everyday life?
Israel’s population today is in fact largely secular but within her ranks are some of the most deeply spiritual and committed believers in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that one might find; men and women who provoke us to a deeper walk with God. Thousands of Christians visit the land of Israel yearly. Tragically, many only see the sights and never interact with Israelis, never have the precious opportunity to "let their light shine", to express love and extend friendship to the local people. Some are admittedly hesitant to do so knowing that they have no basis for conversation because of their ignorance of Judaism and the Jewish way of life. The opportunity to be among those who begin to heal the breach and bridge the gap between Christians and Jews is one of the most important reasons for studying the Jewish roots of Christianity. To major in the multitude of issues that unite us rather than those that divide us is enlightening and inspiring. It also equips us to become "provokers" not only to the Jew but also equally to our fellow believers within the Christian community and in the world around us whatever nation we come from.
To ‘provoke the Jew to jealousy" is to encourage and inspire him/her to rediscover and re-commit to their precious and awesome identity, calling and relationship to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It's to stir a hunger in them for a deeper relationship with the God who has kept and preserved them through the centuries and for the truths of His word first delivered to them. It is not a license to stuff their hands with tracts and attempt to "convert" them to a Westernized, Hellenistic form of Christianity. With Jew or Gentile alike, our purpose is to let our lives so exhibit the joy, the peace and the power of a living and growing relationship with the Lord; that others who observe us are stirred to seek that same relationship. The promise of the Scripture is unmistakably clear: "If you seek Me with all your heart, you shall surely find Me." Jesus said, "You are the salt of the earth..." Salt makes thirsty. With the help of God, may our lives make others thirsty for His presence. As they seek Him, He Himself will lead them into all truth.
1. Consider the statement: "The more biblical you become, the more Jewish you will appear to
be to others." How would you explain this statement to a friend?
2. Why must we study the Hebraic Roots of Christianity?
3. Explain the term "grafted in."
4. At this point in your life, before proceeding further into our study, what is your personal understanding of
Judaism? We will evaluate this understanding at the end of the course and you will have opportunity to
comment on your own initial comprehension and how it was changed and/or modified.
5. Describe in your own words the difference between something being reformed something being restored.
Give at least one example of each.