Tuesday, November 22, 2011

A new religion??

Let me just say this: Yeshua did not come to create a new religion. Yeshua was not a Christian. Yeshua was not Catholic. Jesus was Jewish from start to finish!

Over the past weekend, we held a "Feast of Feasts" at our house. We invited the youth (and their families) over for an afternoon of learning and feasting - feasting on food and the Word.

The seven Feasts found in Leviticus 23 create a mural for us of God's entire redemptive plan. Yeshua fulfilled the spring feasts of Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, and Shavuot (Pentecost) with His death, burial, resurrection, and sending of the Holy Spirit. At His first coming, He was the Suffering Servant.

We are now in the long, hot summer between the feasts, where the Kingdom of God is offered to the whole world. Then someday, Yeshua will return and fulfill the fall feasts of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Shavuot (Feast of Tabernacles). This He will do as a Conquering King.

Folks like to say that Pentecost was the "birth of the church," and that we are now in the "church age." I say that it is simply the next step in God's redemptive plan, which is first to the Jew an then to the Gentile. The first believers were all Jewish. Yeshua said to the woman at the well in Samaria, You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. True, most of His brethren rejected Him as Messiah. But the early believers were the remnant who were empowered to take the good news to the rest of the world. The two loaves made with leaven that are eaten at Shavuot represent Jew and Gentile coming together as one new man in God's redemptive plan.

The word ekklesia, which is translated church in so many Bible versions, is a Greek word that means assembly. It can be a political ekklesia, a social ekklesia, whatever. It had no religious connotation at all. You can actually find the word in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Tanakh, which happened 300 years before Yeshua came to earth), being applied to the Jewish assembly.

Since about the fourth century, a dangerous theology called Replacement Theology has been taught within the church. This theology says that God is done with the Jews, and that the church is the new Israel. This theology has been responsible for the deaths of millions and millions of Jews as they were shunned, pushed out, forced to convert, or killed throughout church history - labeled "Christ killers" and being accused of all sorts of ridiculous things like killing Christian children at Passover and using their blood to make matzah. How stupid is that? Matzah is made with wheat and water, nothing else.

This theology has the capability of harming Gentiles as well. I recently read an article at aish.com, written by a former Gentile Christian who could not make sense of Replacement Theology. His heart was drawn toward the Jewish people (as is mine), but because all his studying was done through the lens of Replacement Theology, he could not reconcile Christianity. He is now an orthodox Jew living in Israel and has completely rejected Yeshua as the Messiah. He and I have had a brief exchange of emails in which he clarified his Rabbinic Jewish beliefs, and with a mildly hostile attitude, I might add. His article can be found here: http://www.aish.com/sp/so/My_Long_Road_Home.html. Sad, sad, sad!

I love the study of the Jewish roots of my faith (obviously, given the title of this blog). However, I have no fear of losing my faith in Yeshua. His amazing footprints are ALL OVER the Tanakh (old testament). Unfortunately, most of these ideas are not taught in the church, which for the most part is still entrenched in replacement theology.

Not convinced? Here is an example: does your church teach a pre-tribulational rapture of the church? This theology, made popular in the 1830s, shows a move toward a more biblical view of Israel - that God will deal with them in the end - but it still teaches that the church is entirely a separate entity from Israel. It is important to read (and understand) Ephesians 2, Romans 11, and Jeremiah 31:31. The covenants were all made with Israel, and we Gentiles were graciously allowed to be grafted into God's covenant with THEM. Scripture clearly shows the believers in Yeshua are still around in Revelation 12:17 (among other places). But that is altogether another post (or six) for another time.

I don't think the early church was entirely malicious in its formation of Replacement Theology.  After all, Israel had been completely destroyed, purged of Jewish people, and renamed Palestine (by the Roman Emperor Hadrian - who hated the Jews - and not by any Arab person).   And Israel had no homeland for centuries and centuries.  Perhaps it seemed logical to the church that they really were the new Israel.  (However, this does not excuse the historical treatment of the Jews by the church).

But now Israel is a nation again in her own homeland, a miracle, wrought by the hand of God alone!   People have been digging into the scriptures and re-examining their beliefs in this light.  Praise Adonai!

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