Thursday, January 31, 2019

Jewish Roots Doctrines and the Two Sauls

I recently met with a friend of mine; a Jewish believer in Yeshua who runs a Messianic dance ministry.  She was telling me about the different groups within the Jewish Roots movement, and sadly she reported that they all hate each other.

Hate each other?  How is this possible when one of Yeshua's main commands was that we love one another?

And yet, we are still humans, running around in these human bodies in a world that still is corrupted.  And often we forget to die to self, as the word instructs us to do.

Anyway, my friend said that there are three main groups:  Messianic Jews, Hebraic Christians, and Hebrew Roots people.  (I knew there were differences within the Jewish Roots movement but did not know they were categorized like this).

Here is a website from a Hebraic Christian congregation that explains the difference between the first two groups:

The third group, Hebrew Roots people, can be a little harder to explain since there is such a wide range of doctrines within the group. 

One of the entities that falls into this third category is the Ephraimites.  These mostly Gentile Christians claim to be a part of the ten lost tribes of Israel, so therefore they actually ARE Israel.  This doctrine also shows up as British-Israelism, Two-House (or Whole-House) Theology, and Herbert Armstrong's Worldwide Church of God.  The doctrine is heavily based on Ezekiel's vision of the two sticks coming together in Ezekiel 37.

Also within the Hebrew Roots category are people who hold to the teaching that the Messiah's death did not complete the Moses Covenant, but instead renewed it, expanded it, and wrote it on the hearts of His true followers.  For the most part, those involved advocate the need for every believer to walk what they call a "Torah-observant life."  This means that the ordinances of the Mosaic Covenant must be a central focus in the lifestyle of believers today as it was with the Ancient Jews. 

Hmm. About a third of those ordinances are centered around temple sacrifice - an impossibility to keep today since there is no physical temple.  Didn't James say something about breaking one part of the law breaks the whole thing?  But I digress.

There are a couple people I know who adhere to this third group, and their Facebook posts are rather militant.  In fact, it was a post from one of these people that is the reason for today's post.

This person was elaborating on what she called the false teaching of the Apostle Paul.  She went as far as saying his "conversion" was actually from the Antichrist, and that all of his teachings are false and that his writings should be thrown out of the Bible.

The following is a paraphrase of her example:

King Saul (who was from the tribe of Benjamin) persecuted David and his followers.  The Apostle Paul (whose Hebrew name is also Saul, and he was also from the tribe of Benjamin) persecuted the followers of Yeshua.  Since the Hebrew scriptures are a foreshadow of Messiah, therefore because King Saul was influenced by the devil and met a tragic end, therefore Paul too was influenced by the devil and met with a tragic end.

What a dangerous way to look at the Bible!  This person clearly does not understand how biblical foreshadowing works.  Biblical foreshadows are prophetic snapshots of what is to come, not an exact detail-by-detail fulfillment.

Let me use a different account to make my point.

The LORD stopped Abraham from sacrificing his beloved son, Isaac.  However, the LORD did not stop the sacrifice of His beloved son, Yeshua.  Therefore, since the fulfillment was not exactly like the foreshadow, Yeshua could not be the Messiah.

Can you see the logical fallacy?

However, there definitely is a prophetic connection between the two Sauls, but I never saw it until I read that Facebook post.  

Consider this:

If King Saul the Benjamite (and his ultimate demise) is a prophetic picture of the glorious Sinai Covenant, which is written on stone tablets and ends in death, how much more is Rabbi Saul the Benjamite (and his ultimate redemption) a prophetic picture of the New Covenant, written by the Spirit on our hearts?

Rabbi Saul puts it like this in 2 Corinthians 3:

Our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. 

But if the ministry of death, written and engraved on stones, was glorious, so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of the glory of his countenance, which glory was passing away, how will the ministry of the Spirit not be more glorious? For if the ministry of condemnation had glory, the ministry of righteousness exceeds much more in glory. For even what was made glorious had no glory in this respect, because of the glory that excels. For if what is passing away was glorious, what remains is much more glorious.

A story of two hills.  Which is greater?

Well.  No wonder many Hebrew Roots people take issue with the Apostle Paul.  His focus is on the glorious New Covenant and not on Moses and the Mount Sinai Covenant.

So back to the conversation I was having with my believing Jewish friend.  I asked her which of the three groups she identified with, and she said “None.  I am simply teaching people how to worship Yeshua the Jewish Messiah through dance.”  She went on to tell me that one group actually fired her for associating with those from another group.


I cannot imagine that this is what the Messiah had in mind when He commanded us to love one another or when He prayed that we would be unified.

I love studying the Jewish Roots of my faith because of the richness of understanding that it brings to my faith.  But I cannot say that I fully identify with any of these Jewish Roots groups.  The congregation I attend is part of a Christian denomination, and although I am a member, I do not profess any allegiance to the denomination.

My allegiance is to the crucified and risen Redeemer – Messiah Yeshua – and to His holy Word and to His Holy Spirit dwelling within me.  

And as far as Torah observance goes, the Hebrew word Torah simply means instruction.  I believe all scripture, from Genesis to Revelation, is our instruction - our Torah, and it must be understood as a whole, complete set of instructions.  So yes, this makes me Torah observant.

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