Archives For Jewish Roots

A breakthrough discovery was found at Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem’s Old City. In brief, archaeologists have dug deeper into what some believe to be the tomb of the Messiah and they found a cross on it. If it is the tomb of Yeshua, the cross would have been added much later. At the time of His death and resurrection, the cross was not a symbol of the faith, but rather the fish is probably the earliest symbol. Some of the first Greek-speaking believers turned the Greek word for fish, Ichthus, into a creative acronym for “Jesus Christ, God’s Son, Savior.”

Was the Cross a Symbol?

However, at the time of His death, the cross was a symbol of execution. It would be like wearing an electric chair around your neck. It became more popular in the late second and third centuries, finally adopted by the anti-Semitic Emperor Constantine as the official symbol of political Christianity.

Helana

Helena, mother of Emperor Constantine, who sought to identify the significant biblical sites in the fourth century.

So what does this conclude? More than likely that Constantine’s mother, Helena, who in 326CE went throughout the Holy Land with a delegation seeking to identify places considered holy, identified this as Yeshua’s tomb. She is also credited with finding the original cross (which of course, she did not). Locals who told the delegation that Roman Emperor Hadrian had built a pagan temple over the tomb to declare the supremacy of the Roman state religion over the New Testament faith led her to this place. This is the emperor who changed the name of Judea to Palestine and sought to destroy the existence of Jewish life and culture in 135CE. Hadrian’s pagan temple was destroyed (though some of its remains have been identified) and Constantine had a church built above the tomb.

It is important to note, that Constantine popularized the idea of building shrines or church buildings, not as dynamic houses of praise and worship, but as memorials.

“The great era of church buildings began with Constantine’s patronage of the church in the fourth century. He commissioned basilicas to signal his support of the new religion and to advertise his reign.” source

The slab on the tomb pictured goes back, it is believed, not to the first or even fourth century, but to the Crusades (1099CE). What this says is that at least a thousand years ago, the Crusaders thought this to be the tomb of the Messiah. “We can’t say 100 percent, but it appears to be visible proof that the location of the tomb has not shifted through time, something that scientists and historians have wondered for decades,” said Fredrik Hiebert, National Geographic’s archaeologist-in-residence.[i]

Definitely COULD be Yeshua’s

Furthermore, this tomb is consistent with the way that wealthy Jews, such as Joseph of Arimathea, buried their dead. However, it doesn’t prove that Yeshua was the Jewish person buried there. Of course, there are no bones in this tomb! Approximately a year after burial (when the body had completely decomposed) the bones would be collected and placed in a stone box called an ossuary.

Ossuary, where bones of the deceased were stored and placed in the tomb.

Ossuary, where bones of the deceased were stored and placed in the tomb.

While I am not a fan of the practice of building church structures over places of significance (often people come from all over the world just to touch a stone or light a candle, assuming there is spiritual power apart from relating directly with the Father through Jesus), I can’t help but be moved at what might be the burial spot of Yeshua.

“We may not be absolutely certain that the site of the Holy Sepulchre Church is the site of Jesus’ burial, but we certainly have no other site that can lay a claim nearly as weighty, and we really have no reason to reject the authenticity of the site.”[ii]

When the researchers removed the marble slab that for centuries had covered the tomb for its protection, that were stunned to find it completely in tact.

First Ever Photographs of Tomb

Clearly the archeologists were moved, as we can see in the short movie. The marble slab revealing the tomb had not be seen by a human for centuries and had never before been photographed. Before resealing, the team will spend the next five months gathering data. It will be interesting to see if they find any markings or graffiti connecting it to Yeshua.

As exciting as this finding may be, nothing compares to the intimate relationship with Yeshua that is available to anyone, anywhere, who puts his or her faith in Him.

 

i http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2016/10/jesus-christ-tomb-burial-church-holy-sepulchre/

ii ibid

 

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I am writing to you from JFK airport in New York (10 days ago) as Rosh Hashanah comes to a close. I was supposed to fly to San Diego and give one message and get home to Israel before Rosh Hashanah, but then I was invited to Orlando to promote our new show on God.tv, “Out of Zion.” I really didn’t want to go, but Elana said, “If you go, you can fly through Richmond on the way back and spend Rosh Hashanah with the girls.”

Chabad Richmond

And that is what I did. What a great day it was to be with my parents, my sister and my daughters. We went to the Orthodox Jewish synagogue with my parents. This was not the Conservative synagogue in which I grew up, but the far stricter, “Chabad” stream. And this synagogue has a special place in my heart. The rabbi’s father was the rabbi when I was a kid. After I came to faith in Yeshua, my parents asked me to meet with him, and we did, weekly. His goal was to convince me that Yeshua was not the Messiah and that I should simply become an Orthodox Jew.

Yankl Kranz (in the picture) was a dear, sweet man with good hopes for Richmond. He used to drive a huge ‘bookmobile’ trying to get Jewish kids to read Jewish books. It was a library on wheels. We really enjoyed each other. He died young and his son, Yossel, took over for him. Yossel and I have a bit in common. We are both American Jews, rabbis of sort, and we both married beautiful Israelis. He is a fantastic communicator and unlike in Orthodox Judaism in Israel, he doesn’t put guilt trips on the more secular Jews, but seeks to draw them in at whatever level they are willing to enter.

Theological Divide

However, despite the similarities there is a great theological divide. Though his sermon was well written and quite humorous, his basic point, as we were beginning the High Holy days—days where our sin is highlighted and we seek forgiveness—was not “Repent”. But the opposite. “You are far more righteous than you think. Don’t say I don’t keep kosher, say, I keep kosher most of the time. Don’t say, I don’t keep the Sabbath, but say, I keep the Sabbath most of the day.” He does not see us as sinners.

He characterized Jeremiah as depressed, not understanding that he was broken over the sinful state of the Jewish people as he saw prophetically that they were about to be conquered by the Babylonians and their Temple destroyed (586 BCE).

“If only my head were a pool of water and my eyes a fountain of tears, I would weep day and night for all my people who have been slaughtered.” (Jeremiah 9:1)

Orthodox Judaism fails to understand that the Torah is not a set of rules to please God, but that our inability to keep the Torah revealed to us that we are sinners in need for forgiveness (Gal. 3, Rom. 7). While we should strive to keep the Ten Commandments, each time we read them we realize how far we fall short. Isaiah said that “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.” (Is. 64:6) To be clear, the analogy is referring to a woman’s monthly cycle.

We have Sinned!

Both Daniel and Isaiah cried out, “We have sinned” but modern Judaism (really post 2nd Temple Judaism created by Yochanan Ben Zakkai [read this about that guy!!] after the 2nd Temple was destroyed) says, we can earn forgiveness through:

  1. Giving
  2. Repentance
  3. Prayer
  4. Good works or mitzvot 

It is during this season however—the Ten Days of Awe between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur—that we sing Avinu Malkenu, Our Father and King. The very second line is:

Avinu malkeinu chatanu l’faneycha

אבינו מלכנו חתנו לפניך

And no, it does not mean, “Our father in heaven, we tried really hard.” It means, “Our father in heaven, we have sinned before you.” This cry is the cry of the Hebrew prophets. And God answered by sending us a Moshia (Savior) who was qualified to take the punishment we deserve, as Isaiah said, “So the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Is. 53:6)

In the same way that a judge doesn’t reward a murderer for the people he didn’t kill or the thief for how much he didn’t steal, God will not turn a blind eye to our sin just because we do some good things. But Yeshua came, and according to Isaiah, He took our punishment.

But he was pierced for our transgressions,
he was crushed for our iniquities;
the punishment that brought us peace was on him,
and by his wounds we are healed.

Yeshua came to make us holy, not through our keeping most of the Sabbath, but through His death and resurrection. Here is a video I made related to this.

May this be the Yom Kippur season that the we see the words of Zechariah come to pass:

 “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.

Please consider a special gift this Yom Kippur to help us reach Israelis with the message of the Messiah. Thank you!

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Feast of Trumpets

Ron Cantor —  October 2, 2016 —  Comments

Has the Church replaced Israel? Has God rejected his people, Israel? Why does Paul talk so much about the Jews and Israel in Romans? Check out our new series on Romans 11.

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