Archives For Jewish Roots

I had just finished lunch and was watching the news yesterday—Resurrection Day—when Fox-favorite, Pastor Robert Jeffress shared a few thoughts on the resurrection. To be honest, I was excited to hear his thoughts knowing that so many unbelievers would be watching. Most of it was solid, but having spent a good part of my life seeking to expose how Yeshua was a victim of Identity Theft, I nearly fell out of my chair when I heard this completely unbiblical comment.

Within five weeks of the alleged resurrection of Jesus, you had 10,000 Jews in Jerusalem who suddenly gave up their most cherished beliefs, 1,400 years of their religion to follow a new religion of this rabbi named Jesus.

According to Pastor Jeffress:

  1. The Jews just happened to flock to Jerusalem
  2. They gave up their beliefs
  3. They turned their back on the Old Covenant Scriptures
  4. They followed a man who broke from Judaism to start a new religion.

I have a lot of respect for Pastor Jeffress. He has taken some bold stands (Standing w/ Donald Trump is not one of them.) But I was surprised to see his lack of understanding of the Jewish roots of the New Covenant. And if you are wondering why I am so upset about it, just think: Certainly any Jewish person watching him yesterday, would wrongly assume (as I once did) that to believe in Jesus—the Jewish Messiah—you must leave Judaism and join a new religion!

Let’s set the record straight.

Shavuot/Pentecost

1. The Jews were in Jerusalem for Shavuot—which most believers call Pentecost. God chose that day to pour out this Spirit, because he knew there would be thousands of Jewish pilgrims. Some Christians actually believe that this was the first Pentecost, when in fact it has been going on since Moses (Lev. 23). It is the last of the Spring Feasts and commemorates, according to tradition, the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai.

Fulfilled their Beliefs

2. The Jews that embraced Yeshua did not “give up their beliefs”—far from it! Yeshua fulfilled their beliefs. They had been yearning for Messiah. If we just read Luke 2, we get glimpse through the eyes of Hannah and Simeon, of how Israel longed for her Messiah. John sends messengers to Yeshua in Matthew 11, asking if he really is the Jewish Messiah. Yes, he did not come as many supposed—a conquering king—but they did not need to give up their belief in the God of Israel to believe in the Messiah of Israel.

Hebrew Scriptures are God-Breathed

3. Jeffress claims that these Messianic Jews turned their back on “1,400 years of religion.” What happened 1,400 years before? I can only assume he is referring to the Law of Moses being given in 1312 BCE. What utter nonsense! Paul uses the Old Testament constantly to prove his claims in the New Testament. Some have even said the New Testament is merely a revelatory commentary on the Old Covenant. Without Zechariah and Daniel, you can’t understand Revelation. When Paul says, “All Scripture is God-breathed,” (2 Tim. 3:16) there was no New Testament—he was referring to the Hebrew Scriptures. Nowhere in the New Covenant is there even a hint of the Jewish believers rejecting the Hebrew Scriptures—or Moses.

In Acts 21 we see Paul going to make a sacrifice at the Temple, at the urging of the apostles, to put to rest the very things Jeffress is claiming. Paul was falsely accused of leaving Judaism and Jewish tradition and teaching other Jewish believers to do so.

Then they said to Paul: “You see, brother, how many tens of thousands of Jews have believed, and all of them are zealous for the Torah. They have been informed that you teach all the Jews who live among the Gentiles to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs. What shall we do? They will certainly hear that you have come, so do what we tell you… Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses… Then everyone will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the Torah. (Acts 21:20-24)

Paul refers to himself as a ‘present tense’ Pharisee many years after coming to faith, just two chapters later.

No New Religion

4. Lastly, when did anyone in the New Covenant say they were starting a New Religion? When Peter has his revelation in Matthew 16, he says, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God,” as opposed to, “You are birthing a new religion, foreign to us as Jews.” For nearly the first decade they didn’t even preach to Gentiles—they thought the Gospel was just for Jews! Only when the Holy Spirit fell on the Gentiles in Cornelius’ house, shocking Peter, did they start receiving Gentiles.

If Yeshua started a new religion what in the world were they doing in Acts 15 at the Jerusalem Council discussing whether or not Gentiles had to convert to Judaism? This would not have even been an issue if Jesus started a new religion.  And, if indeed He started a new religion, that invalidates the entire Old Covenant. Where was God hiding all that time?

Yes, a New Covenant was made—and that according to Jeremiah 31:31 was with Israel primarily—but not a new religion. Islam is a new religion; Mormonism is new religion. The coming of Messiah was a fulfillment of the Jewish prophets.

Changes? Yes.

Now, were there some changes? Absolutely. No longer was there a need for a Temple as Yeshua became the once-for-all-time and all-sin sacrifice. We have the revelation of the One New Man, that people from every nation can enjoy salvation through Yeshua without becoming Jewish. And of course, no longer would there be a hierarchy, but every believer would become part of the priesthood. We see the introduction of apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers and of course the Great Commission. But these were not new decrees, but fulfillments of the Hebrew Scriptures.

Yeshua said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matt. 5:17)

Again, if Jewish people stumble, let them stumble over Yeshua the man, not over our clumsy presentation of Him and His message.

Note: We live in a different time from the First Century. A time when, through mass media, someone can reach millions, but not one of the millions can reach that someone. Ideally I could pick of the phone and call Dr. Jeffress, but being a megachurch pastor and a media figure, understandably, he doesn’t have the time to answer every question or call or email. I did tweet to him and hope for a dialogue. I do apologize for venting, but my venting comes from a deep desire to see Jewish people come to faith and my anger is that his message (and what an opportunity to reach Jewish people!!!) only solidified the lie that you can’t be Jewish and believe in the Jewish Messiah. thanks for commenting

 

 

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We take a look at Galatians 3:28 and share why it is misunderstood and tell you what it really means.

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Christ Killer has become a common moniker for Jews during these past 1,900 years. Under this theme, Jewish blood has flowed down the streets of not only Jerusalem, but numerous other European cities as well. But can an entire race of people be blamed for the death of Yeshua?

The church father’s were intent on pinning the blame on all Jews. Here is just a small sample:

 “The true image of the Hebrew is Judas Iscariot, who sells the Lord for silver. The Jew can never understand the Scriptures and forever will bear the guilt for the death of Jesus…they bear the guilt for the death of the Savior, for through their fathers they have killed Christ.” —Augustine

“The blood of Jesus falls not only on the Jews of that time, but on all generations of Jews up to the end of the world.” —Origen 

And if so, why isn’t anyone calling for the death of all Italians? It was Pontius Pilate, the Roman who gave the death order and Roman soldiers who callously mocked, beat and nailed him to the cross. Yes, the Jewish leaders were involved but Pilate carried it out.

And we must ask ourselves, did these Jewish leaders reflect the feeling of the Jewish people? It is recorded that these leaders were afraid of the multitudes of Jews who loved Him.

But when [the Sanhedrin] sought to lay hands on [Yeshua], they feared the multitudes [of Jews!]. (Matt. 21:46 NKJV)

Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him.  “But not during the festival,” they said, “or there may be a riot among the people.” (Matt. 26:3-5)

“They arrested him at night and tried him in secret so that on the morning of the crucifixion the majority of the population of Jerusalem appeared to have been astonished and dismayed to discover he had been condemned: ‘And a great multitude of the people followed him … who mourned and lamented him.’ (Luke 23:27 NKJ)[1]

Yeshua was taken to the home of Pilate by Jewish leaders, not the Jewish people.

“Then the detachment of soldiers with its commander and the Jewish officials arrested Jesus.” (John 18:12)

“Then the Jewish leaders took Jesus from Caiaphas to the palace of the Roman governor.” (John 18:28)

Nowhere in the New Testament does it claim the entire city was calling for His death, but a crowd of people, out of about a half a million who were in the city at the time… and even the crowd had been worked up by the religious leaders. Yeshua was loved by the Jewish masses and they came from all over the region to hear Him teach and be healed of their diseases.

“And wherever he went—into [Jewish] villages, [Jewish] towns or countryside—they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged him to let them touch even the edge of his cloak, and all who touched it were healed.” (Mark 6:56)

Part of the problem is the way the phrase, “The Jews” is interpreted in the book of John. More often than not, it is referring to the group of men who brought Yeshua to Pilate. In John 18 it does not use that phrase—the Jews—but ‘Jewish religious leaders’ and ‘Jewish authorities.’

The problem with the way many use the term the Jews, is that it makes it appear as if all of the Jews were involved in Yeshua’s arrest. Scripture makes it clear that a very large number of Jews followed Yeshua, even some high profile leaders like Nicodemus.

“When he had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, ‘Who is this?’ So the multitudes said, ‘This is Yeshua, the prophet of Nazareth.’” (Matt. 21:10, 11)

Many of the people believed in him, and said, “When Messiah comes, will he do more signs than these which this man has done?” (John 7:31)

Nevertheless, even among the [Jewish] rulers many believed on him.” (John 12.42)

When John uses the phrase the Jews, referring to those who arrested Yeshua, it can be proven that he meant leaders. For instance:

“Now it was Caiaphas who advised the Jews that it was expedient that one man should die for the people.” (John 18:14)

John says Caiaphas advised the Jews… Who were the Jews? We need just return a few chapters to see:

“Then the chief priests and the Pharisees called a meeting of the Sanhedrin…Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, ‘You know nothing at all!  You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.’” (John 11:47, 49-50)

So when John says that Caiaphas said this to the Jews, he was referring to the Sanhedrin—just 70 men, the Jewish ruling council—not all Jews!

John records it was the leaders who shouted for Him to be crucified. “As soon as the chief priests and their officials saw him, they shouted, “Crucify! Crucify!’” (John 19:6)

In the other accounts, where it mentions the crowd joining in, it seems clear they were manipulated by the leaders, as Matthew writes, “But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowd to ask for Barabbas and to have Yeshua executed.” (Matt. 27:20) We are not told the means by which they persuaded the crowd but bribery would have been the common resource of the time. (They had paid witnesses to provide false evidence at the trial the day before.)

And clearly this persuaded crowd did not represent the people of Israel, as there were approximately 100,000 Jews living in Jerusalem, and because it was Passover, there could have been upward of another 500,000 visitors in Jerusalem at that time. Do we really think there were 600,000 Jews at Pilate’s Jerusalem Palace?

This may is not a minor issue, as so many Jews have been falsely blamed for the death of Yeshua, even killed as part of this accusation of being Christ-killers. It is important to emphasize that it was primarily the Jewish leaders who were jealous of Yeshua and went to Pilate. The multitudes loved Him.

The entire Jewish nation has been blamed for the actions of a small group of jealous, politically-oriented leaders and a manipulated crowd. But it must be pointed out that not all the leaders were jealous of Him.

“Yet, at the same time, many even among the [Jewish] leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue.” (John 14:42)

These Jewish leaders believed, but were afraid. Nicodemus was a Jewish leader, a member of the Sanhedrin, in fact. He was initially scared to be caught even speaking with Yeshua and so met with Him in secret, but eventually he became one of His most ardent followers.

“Now there was a Pharisee, a man named Nicodemus who was a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, ‘Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the signs you are doing if God were not with him.’” (John 3:1-2)

It is entirely false to claim:

1) That all Israel rejected Yeshua.

2) That the Jews, or even the Romans for that matter, were responsible for killing Yeshua.

Yeshua said that it was His decision to die.

“The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (John 10:17-18)

 

[1] Is the Church Israel Now? Mike Moore, March 29th, 2012.

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Part 1

Seven hundred years before Yeshua, Isaiah spoke of the birth of a son that would be a sign from God. Many believers claim that he was pointing to the miraculous virgin birth of Yeshua. Certainly, Matthew thought so. We take a look at the prophecy in context and then in part 2 give our conclusion about the version birth.

 

Part 2

In part 2 we take a look at the Hebrew word ‘almah’, that Matthew translates as ‘virgin’. The rabbis say it simply means young woman and has nothing to do with a virgin having a baby. Let’s take a look!

 

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