Urgency of this time
back to our faith roots
By Birgit Barandica, November 2010
And hereby we do know that we know him,
if we keep his commandments.
1. John 2:3
Once more it became clear to me, downright perceptibly clear, how important it is to return to God's word - His entire word, which does not only consist of the New Testament. Jesus (Yeshua, as is His name in His original Hebrew language) was Jewish (still is), He emanates from a Hebraic-Jewish bloodline. In His earthly life He addressed solely Jews who believed in the one God - the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Abram was called the Hebrew (Genesis 14:13) even before God changed his name to Abraham ("Father of many nations", Genesis 17:5). His grandson Jacob was given the name of Israel by God Himself (Genesis 32:29); the people of Israel originate from his bloodline, and Jesus came from the bloodline of Jacob's son Judah.
The first Christians were all Jews. The apostles were all Jews and the New Covenant (Brit Chadashah, the New Testament) was mainly written by Jews. The Holy Spirit fell first on a Jewish-Messianic congregation, which only after this opened up to the world. The first time "Christians" are mentioned in the Bible is in Acts 11:26 - some 40 years after Jesus' resurrection.
Jesus is the fulfillment of the entire Old Testament, the road to redemption kept by God for us people from the very beginning on. Actually, the word "testament" doesn't really fit here. A testament usually refers to someone dead - it is the legacy he or she leaves behind to their posterity after their death. But the God of the Bible is very much alive! If that were not so, Resurrection would have never taken place, and this article would be completely useless!
What we call "Old Testament" is in reality the first Covenant God made with His chosen people Israel (Genesis 17:7). In Jesus, Yeshua, God renewed this covenant and ultimately extended it to the whole world. So the New Testament would be better expressed by using the term New or Re-newed Covenant.
As Christians, we must know our Biblical/Jewish background - how else are we to correctly understand Jesus' teachings and His life on earth? It is Jewish-Hebraic Israel that God has His longtime history with at first - not with us Gentiles (people of the nations). Yet this article will show how we as non-Jews fit in there anyhow - and we do fit in!!
Jesus has never initiated a new religion, as we can hear at times; and He never threw scriptures overboard, either! Just the contrary - in Matthew 5:17 He says, "Don't think that I have come to abolish the Torah or the (words of the) Prophets. I have come not to abolish but to complete." And in Luke 16:16-17 He says, "Up to the time of Yochanan (John) there were the Torah and the Prophets. Since then the Good News of the Kingdom of God has been proclaimed, and everyone is pushing to get in. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one stroke of a letter in the Torah to become void", (both scriptures are from "the Jewish New Testament" according to the translation by David H. Stern).
The Torah is the first of three parts of the Tenach, and in the Septuagint (which is the originally in ancient Hebrew written bible translated into the ancient greek Koiné) it comprises the five books of Moses - Genesis (Hebrew: Bereschit = Beginnings בְּרֵשִׁית), Exodus (Hebr.: Schmot = Names שמות), Leviticus (Hebr.: Wajikra = And He called ויקרא), Numeri (Hebr.: Bamidbar or Bemidbar = in the desert בַּמִּדְבָּר), Deuteronemy (Hebr.: Devarim = Words דְּבָרִים). The other two parts of the Tenach are the Prophets (nevi'im נְבִיאִים) and Scriptures (ketuvim כְּתוּבִים). So Tenach is what we know as the 'Old Testament' - better said 'First Covenant'.
And torah isn't really well translated with "law", either. It actually means instruction, teaching. The incorrect translation often leads to wrong assumptions, to the effect that one thinks more of prohibitions, threatingly wagging index fingers and punishments rather than of a "manual to a successful life".
The "stroke of a letter", as Jesus said, refers to the ancient Hebrew written language. In Matthew 5:18 is says that no "jot or one tittle shall" pass from the law. It is actually a "yot", for the j-sound does not exist in Hebrew. The "yot" is the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet and a "tittle" is a little stroke that distinguishes between two very similar letters. If such a yot or stroke (tittle) was missing, the pronounciation was difficult to recognize, which at the same time could make the meaning of the word unrecognizable, it could even falsify it.
With His statement Jesus did not mean that torah isn't valid anymore - just the contrary, He clearly says that despite scripture and gospel, men are trying to force their way into heaven no matter what (so nothing has really changed since then...!); yet whoever is trying to (deliberately) disobey God's instructions will not be making it, for disobeying God's instructions is as if you'd be taking away a yot or tittle of His word thus making it unrecognizable.
What kind of guilt a person is loading upon him or herself by taking away such a yot or tittle in the spiritual sense! To me, taking away a yot amounts to omitting a complete word, meaning the significance of what God intended to tell us. While taking away a tittle amounts to falsifying the word or the significance thereof. Just think for a moment: on one hand, like this, they themselves wouldn't get any closer to God and on the other hand, they would deny the chance to somebody else of getting to know God's instructions; it would be completely impossible for him since the Word is then unrecognizable which would cause him to learn something wrong...
If this is done deliberately... Since the fall of man it is kind of "normal" for us people to dodge God's word, thus trying to see if we can't get salvation any other way than given by God, or if there isn't anything additional to His truth.
In the old convenant, He has specified aninmal sacrifices; they kind of provided a direct contact to Him. However, since Yeshua's sacrifice on the cross, they are not necessary any longer. And since the Romans destroyed the temple in 70 AD, the Jews don't sacrifice either anymore - there is no place anymore where to sacrifice.
This is why the significance of sacrificing vanished in the course of the following centuries. Nowadays, sacrifices are done out of a very different motivation than back then. More in the sense of abandoning something in order achieve a personal interest.Sacrifices don't exist anymore because God has said so (at least not in our western culture).
Yet back then, it didn't by far mean that the Lord would need those sacrifices in order to move something for people. Ultimately, they ministered to themselves! It would go beyond the scope if we talked more about it here, so for now just this: there are different kinds of sacrifices - sin sacrifice, guilt sacrifice, food sacrifice, thank sacrifice, burnt sacrifice. The high priest had to perform the ritual.
Some sacrifices could be brought as to one's sole discretion, while others were ordained at particular times. They had a redeeming character, but they were not perfect - time was not perfect. So for the time being, they only indicated toward the perfect sacrifice. They were valid only for one year, which is why they continuously had to be renewed over and over. And also, the ministering priests all died at some point. The animals were offered, whether they wanted it or not and they were dead, once and for all after being offered (since also animals come from this sin-soaked side of life).
Yeshua, God's Son, came at the perfect time, when certain necessary events came together at a specific point in time so that He was able to accomplish His intentions. HE is sinless, because He came directly out of God's Kingdom! He loves us so much that He offered Himself - voluntarily He gave Himself as the sacrificial Lamb, just as John the baptist realized: "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!" (John 1:29) - our redemption!
The Jews of those days understood the significance of these words very well, which is why a fight arose among them that split them into two groups: into the group of those who believed Yeshua as God's Son, and into the group of those who became outraged and bristled at them just because of it.
Yeshua died, but He was raised from the dead and He lives forever! And we are allowed to partake in that eternal life, if we by faith call upon this sacrifice! None of the sacrificial animals was able to do that, but only Him! Thus HE is the very fulfillment of the First Covenant!
And at the same time, HE is now our high priest, as it is said in the book of Hebrews. A priest is the one who performs the immolation, so we don't need to do anything else to be saved - "It is finished," Jesus said on the cross!
His fulfillment can also be seen in His name 'Yeshua' which in Hebrew means Salvation (Matthew 1:21). In the Tenach, the word 'Yeshua' can often be found in its meaning of Salvation. It is thus being seen as the foreshadow of the Messiah in the Renewed Covenant. And the book of Isaia speaks prophetically very clearly of the person of Yeshua.
This is God's plan of redemption which He announced right after the fall of man, saying that the "seed of the woman" (in the person of Yeshua) would "crush Satan's head" (Genesis 3:15). It became necessary for God to chose "His" people, to "educate" it, single it out - which is the meaning of holy. Among others, He provided for the bloodline of Judah to come into existence so that Yeshua could be born from there.
True salvation is only to be found in Yeshua, just as to the meaning of His Hebrew name! He is the truth (John 14:6). You can read about this in detail in the book of Hebrews (chapter 9 and 10, but read preferably the entire book!). Permanent, eternally valid forgiveness and salvation was brought to us by Him, which is what makes HIM the perfect sacrifice and the sacrificial instructions of the first covenant became invalid! Therefore the Renewed Covenant (and no testament).
Still, all other instructions are as valid today as they always were - no stroke or tittle has been removed of torah, just as Yeshua said! Keeping torah does not bring salvation or redemption (it was never meant as such), but it brings BLESSINGS!
By sending the Ruach ha'Kodesh, the Holy Spirit, on Shavuot (Pentecost) God's redemptive plan has been made known to the whole world. God couldn't have thought of any better moment in time than this one, for Shavuot is one of the three pilgrimage feasts at which believers from all nations flocked to the temple of Jerusalem. The city was literally bursting at the seams and exactly at that very moment, the Lord sent the Ruach for everyone to notice - on that day alone, 3000 people came to faith (Acts 2,41b)!!! In the time to follow, the church grew daily and fast (verse 47). Outside this feast, such a growth could not have taken place.
Yet Israel itself remains what it has always been: God's chosen people! Read Genesis 17:7, " I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you" (also the following verses). Just like God Himself always was and is and is to come (Hebrews 13:8), so was and is and will Israel always be His beloved people, of which we as believers in Yeshua are forming part now: we are grafted in as it is described clearly in Romans 11:17-24 based on the example of an olive tree.
Grafted in is a botanical term: you slightly slit a tree on one of its branches and put the branch of another tree on it: this serves as refinement - to explain this process in a nutshell. The people back then understood this sort of example very well, because the majority of them were somehow familiar with the grafting in process, which often had to do with olive trees, since olives up to now are part of the staple food in Mediterranian countries.
In a figurative sense it means that now, we form part of the Jews! Paul explained it to the believers in Rome based on the noble olive tree (the Jews), onto which, wild branches (believers of the nations, also called Gentiles) are grafted in and that they now are being nourished by the roots and saps of this noble tree. This also explains in a nutshell, that in the spiritual sense, Jewish blood is now flowing through the vains of the Gentile believers - they are now forming entire part of it and thus, the Jewish forefathers are now also their forefathers. Paul tells the Galatians, "If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise (3:29).
To the congregation in Ephesus Paul explains that Yeshua now created both, Jews AND non-Jews, to the ONE NEW MAN (Ephesians 2:13-16)!!!!
Worship and prayer
Here is a wonderful song by Joel Chernoff along with this verse:
Jew and Gentile
(C) 1999 Galilee of the Nations Music/ASCAP
//: Jew and Gentile, one in Messiah, one in Yeshua, one in the olive tree.
Jew and Gentile, one in Messiah, one in Yeshua's love. :\\ x2
Help us Father, to love one another, with humble hearts, forgiving each other,
Heal our wounds, bind us together, so the world might believe.
Since faith in the Mashiach Yeshua (Christ Jesus) began to spread rapidly in the world as it was known back then, the Gentile believers began to outgrow the believing Messianic Jews fast in numbers. So, very slowly and subtly, things began to shift because by the time, there were less and less Jewish-Messianic scholars who were able to pass God's word on, completely and in a godly manner. The number of those believing leaders without Jewish roots and tradition (e.g. in what a person grows up with) grew faster and faster, which contributed to a general lack of biblical knowledge.
At first, Jews who believed in Yeshua enjoyed high esteem among the people (Acts 2:47). Yet very soon, they were being rejected by their own brethren and reproached for allegedly betraying their faith. Since they at that time still outnumbered the Gentile believers, they still had a spiritual home; they were still a homogeneous group consisting of Jews and non-Jews. Yet by and by, all believers were being persecuted. In 64 AD, persecution of Christians had its first sad peak in the burning of Rome caused by emperor Nero.
But instead of standing together, the Gentile believers gradually began to withdraw from their Jewish-Messianic brethren, thinking that like that, they wouldn't be persecuted any longer. After the destruction of the temple in 70 AD, a so-called "Jew's tax" was introduced by Rome which was to be paid also by Jewish-Messianic believers and correspondingly also by Gentile believers. This tax 'allowed' them to live by Jewish traditions, which was outlawed at that time. To make a longer story short: the Gentile believers broke with their Jewish-Messianic brethren in order not to pay this tax anymore. They even withdrew from Jewish traditions completely, in order not to be associated with the Jews howsoever.
In the meantime, the group of non-Jews outnumbered the Messianic believers and like this, the very non-Jews gradually began persecuting Messianic Jews: they reproached them for having crucified and murdered the Savior. Like this, Jews who turned into believers only had two possibilites: either they had to give up their Jewishness completely and get baptized into the Christian community, or they went along with the small group of those who did not give up their identity, however like this they were confronted with hostility from both sides.
Yet also the Gentile believers were being persecuted. But this did not stop them from denigrating their Jewish-Messianic brethren, which gradually turned into a downright hatred. This persecution had its first tragic peak in the Nicaean Council by emperor Constantine in 325 AD. A council is a convention of church leaders, clerics, with authority in resolution. In this very case it was the first Roman Catholic Council of its kind in the small town of Nicaea which nowadays is Turkish, in comparison to the first Apostolic Council that took place in Jerusalem more or less in 49 AD (Acts 15), by which even a geographical seperation to the Jewish-Messianic faith was established.
Constantine, who was the first Christian emperor, thus making Christianity acceptable after a very long period of persecution on one hand, yet on the other hand remained the head leader of a mystic cult presumedly from Persia, called Mithraism, which had spread widely in all of the Roman Empire during the first two centuries. This can clearly be seen in the continuation of his title "Pontifex Maximus" (highest priest). Doesn't that ring a bell? In that time, all Roman emperors had this title; you can compare it with the British crown where the respective monarch is also the head of the Anglican Church of England.
Subtle dislocation of facts
Yet after declaring the empire Christian, Constantine should have renounced this title, which he did not do though. After his death, this title was not observed at first, but Pope Leo the Great (440-461) picked it up again and Pope Gregor the Great (590-604) turned it into an inherent part of papal titles, which has remained until today.... This should really make you wonder...
In the second and third century, the hatred toward Jews had exaggerated so much that also emperor Constantine was completely caught up by it. Though all Biblical feasts were being observed as given by God in Leviticus 23, yet Constantine abolished them. In 321 AD, he displaced the Shabbat, the God given resting day on the seventh weekday to Sunday, the first day. But this very day was reserved for rendering homage to the sun-god Sol (which can still be seen in the names of some languages, like "Sunday" in English or "Sonntag" in German).
The same way, he developed a so-called "feast calendar", introducing Christmas on one hand (since birth days were never of big significance to the Jews, Jesus' birth was never celebrated in the first two centuries, either) and on the other hand, separating Jesus' Resurrection from the Biblical feast of Firstfruits (on the first week day after the Shabbat following Pessach), thus turning it into "Easter" (later, this feast was being constituted for a second time after introducing the Gregorian calender which is still valid today). Like this of course, Pentecost doesn't take place on the God given Shavuot either, which is being observed fifty days after Pessach. Though there are also fifty days between Pentecost and Easter, but now, they are being observed as something independant. This intensified more and more after the later renewal of the calandar, for neither Pessach nor Shavuot were playing a major role anymore. Like this of course, the significance of both feasts and God's plan for them are being misconceived completely, thus getting lost eventually:
Foreshadow of the New Covenant
For Yeshua's sacrifice is the fulfillment of Pessach! Pessach means to pass by, pass over and reminds of the salvation of the people of God from Egyptian slavery: by the blood of a sacrificed lamb, which according to God's instruction was to be brushed on the posts and upper bars of each entrance door, the Israelites were saved - the Lord passed by or passed over those houses that had this blood brushed on their doors, not allowing the death angel to execute the verdict.
So Pessach indicates toward the salvation of the whole of mankind by the Messiah - it is virtually a foreshadow of the actual event in the Renewed Covenant: our redemption through Yeshua's atonement death on the cross and His resurrection!
Many Old Testament events are casting their shadows before New Testament events, thus reflecting God's ultimate plans! And Yeshua, who got His name by God Himself (Luke 1:31), refers to scriptures of the First Covenant with almost everything He said. As already mentioned, John the Baptist calls Him the "Lamb of God", which means that God Himself had chosen this sacrifice. And indeed, Yeshua did accomplish this eternally valid salvation by His blood which He voluntarily shed on the tree!
So animal sacrifices are no longer needed. I think it is indicative that the temple has not been rebuilt yet after being destroyed in 70AD by the Romans (as the temple had already once been rebuilt after being destroyed by the Babylonians who conquered Jerusalem in 598 BC). Did God wisely hinder this from happening up to now?
In the same way, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit is the fulfillment of Shavuot. Yet because of the separation of the feasts, it is no longer recognizable. Like this, Constantine did achieve the complete separation of Christianity from its roots. Just imagine a natural tree though - without roots it eventually tips over! And it happened with the Christian church...
Dangerous mix of believe systems
Christmas came into being in order to change the birthday of Sol invictus, the "invincible sun-god", as Mithras was also called, into the birthday of Jesus on December 25 at winter solstice (also called Saturnalia). But this act only gilded heathen traditions (more details to this subject in the article "Christmas???"). Those who came from the background of the Roman polytheism, which based on the Greek cult of the gods, or Mithraism (both were a vast majority at that time), were to find to Christianity more easily. Yet many, if not the majority, did not really cut off their heathen background. It was to make it easier for them by maintaining the same date, yet it only came to a mix of believe systems which remains until today. This relativation of God's Word causes many people to not realize salvation anymore. What a tragedy!
It is easy to see here that a new external "paint" of a foul thing (in this case the Christianising of the heathen December 25) does not modify it from within! And because the church leaders back then did not get an appropriate instruction of the Word of God anymore, the Biblical message was more and more watered down.
The action of 'watering down' has several consequences: on one hand, the original is not being taken in serious anylonger, it is being relativated and often loses its significance completely. On the other hand, external influences can easily penetrate, such as New Age stuff or thoughts of other religions and/or ideologies. Like this, the original is being falsified.
Yet God means what He says! Also concerning Israel He has spoken very clearly in several parts of His word. For example in Isaiah 41:8-9, "But you, O Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend, I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, 'You are my servant'; I have chosen you and have not rejected you."
And in Amos 9:14-15 we read, "I will bring back my exiled people Israel; they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. They will plant vineyards and drink their wine; they will make gardens and eat their fruit. I will plant Israel in their own land, never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,says the LORD your God."
These two promises only confirm what God had promised His people already long before. To Abraham, with who He had made the covenant, He said, "I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you" (Genesis 17:7).
And in Judges 2:1: "I brought you up out of Egypt and led you into the land that I swore to give to your forefathers. I said, 'I will never break my covenant with you.'"
"Everlasting" and "never"... what is the meaning of these words? Can a person disable what God is saying? He, about who it is said that He is the same yesterday, today and for ever, is not contradicting Himself! He does not lie, whatever He says is valid for all times! Should we then impute interpretations to Him as to our own discretion and turn His Word around?
The Biblical feasts are expressing this eternal validity very well! In all of them, Yeshua is the fulfillment par excellence, they express all of God's intentions! The spring festivals (Pessach, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits and Shavuot) refer to His first coming which is fulfilled already. The fall festivals (Rosh HaShana, Yom Kippur and Sukkot) refer to His second coming. The majority of prophecies concerning His imminent return have already been manifested, only a few are still outstanding (the feasts of Chanukka and Purim are also based on biblical grounds, yet are not requested by God in Leviticus 23).
In Leviticus 23 the Biblical feasts are explained in detail; in all descriptions you read, "This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live" (NIV), which means: these feasts are valid for ever - as a reminder for us until their fulfillment is complete. And it is complete with Yeshuas' return. This goes especially for the fall festivals.
These ordinances are valid even for the later adjoining Gentile believers - meaning us believers who have no natural Jewish roots. In the entire New Covenant, no word can be found on abolishing these feasts - just the contrary: we read that even Jesus Himself observed them! He celebrated Shabbat (for example Mark 1:21) the same as Pessach (for example Matthew 26:17) and even Chanukka (feast of lights or dedication, John 10:22). On what grounds were they then abolished?? It was a mere human decision that had absolutely nothing to do with God... Here you can learn more about the festivals and their explicit indications to Messiah Yeshua.
We should really stop here for a moment and check our traditions. None of the so-called "Christian" feasts can be found in the Bible, not the least mention... So why are we celebrating them anyway? Because we are used to them for so many centuries, thus thinking they are kind of eligible? Because Christmas as the "festival of love" despite all the annoying hustle and bustle is ever so "pleasantly contemplative"? What is really behind them?
Even though it might be difficult at times to critically look at things we hold dear, we should reflect on them in order to see what is really hindering us in observing and celebrating the Biblical feasts... A Bible which is actually the basis of our Christian faith! So much got lost by not observing these feasts...
These festivals are anything but sacred, where everything is just solemn and piously serious. No idea why this thought is going around... I guess the reason for it is partly in that those who argue like this, have never really participated in a Biblical festival. Yet the Bible speaks at so many places of being joyous, to be joyful in the Lord, to dance, sing, make music and even make "joyful noises", as said in Psalm 100:1. This, however, is never quiet. Which means Bible feasts are - JOYful - apart from Yom Kippur, which deals with sin, forgiveness and repentence, and fast is ordained. Yet even here it becomes joyful when thinking of God's mercy!
How amazed was I when I participated for the first time at a Seder celebration! This is the first Pessach evening, held also by Yeshua and His disciples before His crucifixion, where He introduced the Lord's Supper during the symbolic menu to remember the deliverance from Egypt. You celebrate at a huge festive dining table, inbetween a big dinner indicating at the same time toward the wedding supper of the Lamb (Revelation 19:9)! Well and both incidents are happy and joyous, aren't they?!
In Hosea 4:6 God says that His people are being distroyed because of lack of knowledge. Although there are people who think that Christians are unwordly naive, ignorant and simple-minded, just the contrary is true: God wants us to learn and get knowledge, so we won't naively get lost in this world! I think that it is critical and imperative to get to know our so-called church history, and not to simply adopt traditions or proceed with them, just because we grew up in them and have so many beautiful memories with them. Nothing against traditions, but if they dwell above their actual meaning, then they become dangerous!
In the meantime, I personnally tend to not celebrate Christmas, Easter and Pentecost at all anymore. Instead I celebrate the biblical feasts - based on the fact that in Yeshua everything is already fulfilled, in expectance of His soon return! This is what I am celebrating!
In the meantime, this makes much more sense to me than "only" to celebrate Jesus' birthday... Last year (2009), I consciously did it for the first time in my life and was incredibly blessed by it! Biblical traditions - all of a sudden, everything became alive and I felt such a joy and closeness toward Yeshua, Jesus, like never before!
Impacts caused by the disastrous Replacement TheologyWell, I cannot find this statement to be true in my Bible... Just the contrary: Paul made it very clear when he told the Romans, "I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile" (1:16).
On one hand, the "Nicene creed" originates from the Council of Nicaea and is still being prayed by many denominations up to today, and on the other hand, emperor Constantine decided very consciously to break all ties with the Jews. He called on the bishops, "We wish to have nothing in common with this abhorred people, for the Redeemer has shown us another way", (Eusebius, Pamphilus, Ecclesiatical History, Baker, Michigan 1991).
This is how the church left its roots; Antisemitism intensified dramatically and some few years after the Council of Nicaea, one of the "church fathers" - John Chrysostom (347-407), could say, "How dare Christians have the slightest association with the Jews, the most abjected people who ... are lustful, predatory, greedy, malicious villains? Are they not inveterate murderers, destructors, demon-possessed people, who by virtue of (litereally!) debauchery and drunkenness have adopted the nature of swines and voluptuous horndogs? God hates the Jews and has always hated them. And I also do hate the Jews", (Flannery, Edward H.: The Anguish of the Jews; Macmillan, New York 1965).
I can't read these words out loud, they make my stomach turn...
Later councils forbid the Jews to be on the streets on Christian holidays, "…..since their presence would be of a special offense for Christians", (Baron, David: The Shepherd of Israel; Morgan & Scott, London 1915). Doesn't that sound kind of familiar again nowadays? A special torture for the Jews were the forced baptisms, where their children were often forcefully snatched away from them, baptized and placed into Christian families. Pogroms mounted and eventually resulted in the greatest of all abominations - the Shoah, the Holocaust.
This is how the disastrous Replacement Theology came into being, which says that Christians allegedly have replaced the Jews as God's chosen people, because "the" Jews had rejected the Messiah. Therefore, the Christian church is now the "spiritual Israel" and all Old Testament blessings promised to the Jews apply now to the church. And all curses would continue to apply to the Jews... What a disastrous, cruel and arrogant presumptuousness...
It is a slap not only into the face of God's people but into the face of God Himself...
Hence, we Christians and consequently the whole world have accordingly been wrongly taught and therefore been betrayed throughout all past centuries - with a lot of horrible results for many people. This awareness must sink in first... I can well relate to the fact that it might throw people out of kilter, hurting them so much that they don't want to ponder on it and rebel instead. Yet this doesn't change reality....
So let's not stop at this painful disappointment - it wouldn't be of any help to anybody. Yet let us now, better late than never, check on the truth, which is available to everyone of us! Let's do it by consciously reading the Bible ourselves. Getting background knowledge is also important. And listening to those who were given wisdom and knowledge by God: "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God" (Romans 10:17, KJV).
In the article "Christian? Messianic?" you will find many useful links to Messianic ministries with lots of excellent teachings of longtime Bible teachers. There are those with a Jewish background the same as with Gentile backgrounds. Like this, the topic will be highlighted from all available aspects.
The so-called dark Ages, marked by disastrous crusades and inquisitions, could arise only because of this heresy. It is also the reason for so many separations and even schisms among the church: because of the watered down teachings on one hand, and the neglect of the Holy Spirit on the other hand, there was no unity any longer, which Paul originally told the Ephesians: "Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace" (4,3 - NIV).
Even German reformer Martin Luther (end of the 15th century), who knew the Biblical truth and uncovered the feigned attitude of his church, which ultimately made him translate the Bible for all people to have access to at last - even he was so influenced by this Replacement Theology that he even didn't think of questioning it... Like taking it for granted, he went on with this disastrous way of thinking. He is considered to be the "greatest antisemite" of his time... There is a book written by him called "On the Jews and their lies", where he speaks in the most horrific and disgusting way about God's people. Even in Nazi times, many powerful figures (even from church circles) have referred to Luther's attitude in order to support Hitler's procedure. A very unpleasant truth pushed aside by many - til today many people don't want to know about it. If you mention it, a very frequent reaction is outrage, rebellion, strife. When I heard first about it several years ago, words failed me, I couldn't believe my ears and put the subject aside for quite some time...
It is not surprising that even today, a big number of Christians of whatever denominations are influenced, often unknowingly, by this disastrous teaching. It is done by not passing the Word on to Jews, by holding on to so-called "Christian" traditions, although they are lacking every Biblical foundation, and it is also by insisting on theological discrapencies and a hidden or even very open rejection of Jews and Israel.
Isn't that terrible and isn't it understandable therefore that after THESE centuries' long parameters of "Christians" in charge that Jews had a lot of horrible problems with "Christianity" and still very often have? The picture of the cross turned into a symbol of fear for many of them - being unable to see the dedicative, saving love of the Messiah...
I ask all of you urgently to read Romans 9-11 intensively! There, Paul addresses mainly non-Jews and is speaks very clearly of the continuation of Israel as God's people. He explains the grafted in process and reveals pride as being a reason for being grafted out again. This subject is immensely important, for the contrary attitude despite Paul's very clear words has led to this disastrous Replacement Theology by which our thinking and attitude is very often being shaped and by which the whole world has got a wrong picture of Christian-Biblical faith.
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You will surely have recognized that I distinguish between "Christianity" and "Christian faith". Christianity (sometimes also called Christendom) refers to a generality, where it is no guarantee that everybody has a personal relationship to Jesus Christ. Yet exactly THIS is the most important thing: my very personal relationship to the Son of God - after all, it was HE who gave this sacrifice for us! This is why Christian faith expresses personal trust of the individual. So it is something very active to do, and not merely a simple opinion. And it isn't a private matter either of which one shouldn't speak. Yet unfortunately, many people take it as such...
Unfortunately, faith in Christianity is often only a lip service. "I am baptized after all," is what many people are saying, thinking that this alone makes them Christians, which they consider enough, they don't need anything else. Others go to church services out of tradition, yet don't personnally believe in what they are hearing there. So why do they waste their time in an environment in which it is exactly about that: about eternal life in the Kingdom of God?
This critical difference however, is hardly recognized by outsiders. It is the reason why even confessing Christians up to this very day, are being reproached these lapses of the church (lapses caused by humans), and why so many Jews feel a downright hate toward Christians (even confessing Christians). "Jesus is the God of the Christians, but not ours," they argue. And because Christianity has separated itself from its Jewish roots, those horrific atrocities against Jews could arise, which confirmed a lot of them in their rejection toward Christianity. Consequently, this is also the reason why many Jews, who recognize Yeshua as their personal Messiah, disgustingly never join a 'Christian church', but stay among themselves. It is as if their mistrust has entered their genes...
But, praise be to our good Lord, this does not always happen and especially in these present times, God is opening the eyes of many people worldwide! More and more Jews recognize Yeshua as their personal Messiah (ha'Mashiach - the Annointed One) and more and more Christians find their way back to their Hebraic-Jewish roots. Many congregations are coming into being in which both, Messianic Jews and Gentile believers celebrate and worship God together in a very biblical way, with joyful singing, dance, banners, etc! Seldom have I experienced God's presence as intensively and joyfully! Not only individuals but also whole traditionally Christian churches find back to their Hebraic roots.
So on one hand, the Messianic movement appears to be relatively young, yet on the other hand, it is already 2000 years old when the first Jews bacame believers in Yeshua and the believers of the nations came joing them!
At this point, I'd like to refer again to the video clip that I have linked above, "Jew and Gentile", which speaks of Yeshua's love that binds us. Hence this plea toward God to help us in our mutual forgiveness and acceptance, so that the process of unification can be hastened. This, in turn, brings a lot of unbelievers to faith. Ludwig Schneider, founder of news magazine Israel Today, once said that here, the circle of salvation history comes to a close. Well, and I guess this means that it's not long before Yeshua returns!
So let's take up our Jewish heritage again! The tip of the scales is the Jewish people of Israel - this comprises the nation as well as state and land. According to Micha 4:7, Romans 11:26, Zecheriah 12-14 and other scriptures in both First and Renewed Covenant, Jesus won't be returning as the sacrificial Lamb as which He came at His first coming, but He will return as the Lion of Judah (Revelation 5:5) and reign the world as King of kings and Lord of lords (1 Timothy 6:15) from Jerusalem!
The founding of the state of Israel in 1948 and all political situations arising ever since in this context are being explained in detail in the Biblical endtime prophecies. Who attentively observes current events, comparing them to Biblical knowledge, will notice that the whole development of mankind is leading to the soon return of our Jewish Messiah!