The commandments and doctrines of men are of no effect against the indulgence of the flesh.
Practicing Yahweh’s commandments, by faith, results in life.
The commandments of Yahweh are positively effectual when practiced by faith.
Colossians 2:20-23 says that the commandments and doctrines of men are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh.
We see story after story in the mainstream press of the painful results of men overtaken by the indulgence of the flesh. The flesh has an insatiable appetite for all things sensual. The word sensual simply means those things that titillate the senses. Face it. Our bodies are nothing but sensually focused. But the body is simply the means to gratify the sensual appetite. The sensuality that must be satiated is in the inner man. It is the center of man –the inner man – that our English Bibles translate into the
“heart” of man.
Yahshua said what comes out of a man defiles that man; it is what proceeds from the heart of man. So the important factor is the consistency of the heart of a man. What is the consistency of the inner man? That is determined by a man or woman’s choice.
To make that choice, in the positive, one must be a believer in the God of the Bible, Yahweh is His Name. HE is the ONE who has shown us the wickedness of heart by revealing to us HIS standard of
righteousness through HIS Word. Every man or woman will come to the understanding that their practices are lawless – transgressing the Law of Yahweh. Even if they never see a
Bible or one is read to them, the Almighty Creator will reveal each person’s sin, and need for HIS salvation to them, just as HE did to Abraham.
The Book of Galatians tells us that the Scripture preached the gospel to Abraham. At the time of Abraham there was no written Word. They had no Bible. We place Elohim/God in a box when we limit HIS ability to our sensual capabilities of sight and sound. The Scripture –Yahshua, the LIVING WORD preached the gospel to Abraham. Abraham believed HIM, obeyed, and it was accounted to HIM as righteousness. We are made righteous by
believing what Yahweh has said. True belief, however, results in doing what we believe. One can say they believe that eating a balanced diet will make their life better, but if they do not eat balanced their belief is merely intellectual assent. It is not true belief. True belief acts on belief.
Please understand. I am not singling out any one man, who has fallen, as a subject of ridicule, as if he is the only man that has ever fallen through unbelief. As well, I am not pontificating from a position of sinless perfection myself. I simply want to put the emphasis where it belongs: The commandments and doctrines of men have no value against the indulgence of the flesh.
The professing church has, for all her existence, fallen back on her own power to maintain herself. She professes to be following Messiah, while looking to HIM as the Author and Finisher of her faith, but all the while relying on the “fences” she erects, and in her own determination of what is acceptable to Yahweh.
A Biblical understanding of the concept of church, being the body of Messiah, will show it to be in existence since the Beginning. The concept of church is the same as synagogue. Each word embodies the concept of a gathering of people, especially those who profess faith in the God/Elohim of the Bible. Since the Garden there has been a church and man has known what is acceptable to Yahweh. HE has never left man to “figure it out” for himself.
HE has told us. But, beginning in the Garden, man improvised, attempting to put his own stamp on Yahweh’s instructions and that resulted in a fall from grace that has passed sin and death down throughout the generations of mankind.
Falling from grace is absolutely not what man, who understands the fearful aspects of falling into the hands of the Living Elohim, desires. But an accurate Biblical understanding of grace is vital to the follower of the Biblical Messiah. Grace, according to the Strong’s Greek Lexicon, is the Greek word “charis” which means “the divine influence on the heart, with the reflection in the life.” Grace is the work of the Holy Spirit, who is Elohim (divine) to change our hearts and continually working to transform us into the very image of Yahweh’s own Son. We know that Yahshua (called Jesus in traditionalism) is the Living Word (from Genesis to Revelation) and we know that HE said the Spirit would not speak on HIS own but only remind the converted believer of what Yahshua said. We also know that Yahshua only spoke the Words of HIS Father. The Spirit “writing Yahweh’s Law on our hearts and putting HIS Law in our mind is the realization of the New Covenant, promised in Ezekiel 36 and Jeremiah 31. The Spirit speaking the Words of Yahshua, who spoke the Words of the Father, and causing us to walk in HIS statutes and commandments, is grace at work, implementing the New Covenant in the life of a true convert to Messiah Yahshua. So, falling from grace, is not submitting to the work of the Spirit of the Living Word, writing God’s Law on the heart and putting it in the mind, and instead following after the commandments and doctrines of men that are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh. By implication the commandments and doctrines of the Father are of great value against the same indulgences.
The commandments and doctrines of no value against the indulgences of the flesh are the established non-biblical traditions and understandings of the Word of Yahweh. Eve began it (maybe Adam did but we only read Eve’s words) when she added, “…nor shall you touch it” to the commandment of the LORD. That set her up, and us, to fall from grace. Yahweh, throughout the annals of time, has warned HIS people against this “replacement” theology. By adding a little of man’s wisdom here and there, including the replacement of the commandments of Yahewh with improved upon commandments of men, we are practicing syncretism that Yahweh has explicitly forbidden. Aaron did it when the golden calf was fashioned to worship a god that was no god at all, and then declaring the practice a feast unto the Yahweh. The professing body of the Yahweh Elohim has continued to do that for all time, in spite of the fact that the Yahweh sent many prophets (man killed them) and HIS Son to warn men to return to the Truth. Consider the practices of the professing church that have their roots and rituals established in paganism. Consider how the professing church calls these pagan practices a “feast unto the Yawheh (they call Him “the LORD”.”
We, just as Adam and Eve, have made ourselves easy prey to the enemy, Satan, by our continued practice of syncretism. Syncretism in the modern professing church is no different than it was at any other time in history. We erect our own fences, initially out of good intentions, and those fences take away from actual faith in Yahweh and a submission to the Yahweh and HIS work of grace. Once that has been done it is easy to begin to look at other things that are in opposition to righteousness of Elohim as established in Scripture. We begin to consider these traditions of men as foundational. However the problem is that the foundation is built upon shifting sand instead of the Rock of the Truth of Yahweh’s Word. Everything becomes subjective to man instead of being subjective to Yahweh’s Word. The result is a mindset that makes it impossible to “hear” the voice of the Spirit, who only speaks Words that are purely the commandments of Yahweh. We are so steeped in our traditions that we can’t, or don’t want to hear the Truth. The lie has become comfortable. But when the trial comes the lie is of no value against the temptation. Yahshua said we shall know the Truth and the Truth shall set us free, when believed and acted upon. Yahshua “Sanctify them by Your Truth, Your Word
is Truth,” in HIS prayer for us to our Father.
The result of non-biblical traditions, practiced by professing believers, is that the commandments of Yahweh become of no effect in our lives. Yahshua was very pointed in HIS warning to the Scribes and Pharisees. HE said, “You have made the commandment of Elohim of no effect by your traditions.” Of no effect, means that the intended affect of practicing the commandments of Yahweh, by faith, is nullified by non-biblical traditions. This leaves a man or woman easy prey with no defense against the wiles of the devil. Yahshua, in dealing with Satan’s temptation, used Deuteronomy to do combat with the enemy. The Word, believed and acted upon, had an effect on the enemy. The Word of Yahweh left HIM powerless. Yahshua not only believed the Word, HE was the Word, and HE practiced the Word. It is the same for us. If we practice the commandments and doctrines of Elohim and eschew the commandments and doctrines of men we will leave the enemy powerless in his schemes to derail us. To use the Word of Yahweh effectively against the schemes of the devil we must study the Word of Yahweh, in its entirety, in context, and allow the Spirit of Elohim to write it on our hearts and cause us to walk in HIS precepts. Victory is only accomplished through faith in Messiah, the LIVING WORD.
The fall of other men, who have been looked upon as pillars of the faith, is a warning to all who profess to be followers of the Messiah. We must examine ourselves to see if we are of the faith, as Scripture commands us to do. The faith must be in the Biblical Messiah who is the Scripture. There will be no contradiction or shadow of turning. We examine ourselves in light of HIS Word and by this we know that we are being led by the Spirit, who is Elohim, or by our flesh – the ways of man. We are warned by the Scripture: The ways of man seem right to him but they end in death. Sin brings death. Sin is rejecting the commandments of Yahweh – Lawlessness, according to the Word. The professing body, all over the world, is awaking to this Truth. HE is calling us all to come out of our Egypt. Will we respond?
The Scriptures teach us that we are to continually examine ourselves to see if the things we are doing in our expression of faith and practice of ministry is consistent with Yahweh’s Word. It is essential to our obedience to HIM to ascertain if we are in HIS will. The commandment of Messiah to go into all nations, making disciples, and teaching them to obey HIS commands is an order from our Almighty Commander and Master. Our efforts to accomplish this commanded task must then be weighed against HIS Set Apart Scriptures, containing HIS commandments. It is with this in mind that I examine the expressions of ministry to youth that I’ve experienced as an elder, a children’s ministry teacher and as a
manager of a “Christian Rock “Radio station.
This thesis was originally written to set forth the mission statement that I believed Yahweh wanted for WCVM Radio, one of the radio stations I managed. However, I believe this is an accurate model for a mission statement for all youth related ministry. I will, Yahweh willing, cite Scripture references to support my presentation of issues and resulting conclusions.
Mission Statement of a Scriptural Youth Ministry:
Dedicated to returning the body of Messiah to the truth of Yahweh’s Word in knowledge and application, raising children to grow into a mature life in Messiah, bringing families together in the truth of Scripture and fostering a community dedicated to repairing the generational breach that fragments and weakens the body of Messiah.
Scriptures the Yahweh has laid on my heart in formulating what I believe is HIS current vision for the ministry:
Malachi 4:4-6: “Remember the Law of Moses, MY servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Yahweh. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse.”
Deuteronomy 6:6-7 “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.”
We are not Elijah, just as we are not Messiah. However, we are to understand that these Scriptures speak to us and teach us the things that we are to do to please the Master, Yahusha Messiah, by faith. The Law of Moses, spoken of in Malachi
4, is the Law of Yahweh Elohim – HIS gentle loving instruction. The Law of Moses is the commandment and the statutes and judgments of Yahweh, spoken of in Deuteronomy 6, that are to be taught “diligently to your children.” It is a Father’s job to teach the Scriptures to their children and it is the responsibility of the children to sit at their father’s feet and learn. There requires submitted hearts on the part of fathers and children.
2nd Timothy 3:16: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of Elohim, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man (or woman) of Yahweh may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
We know from Ephesians 2 that we are not saved by works, but by grace through faith, that is a gift of Elohim, but, it further states that we are created in Messiah for good works that HE prepared beforehand that we should walk in, or do. The good works that HE has “prepared beforehand” are found in the Scriptures that Shaul/Paul spoke of to Timothy in Chapter 3 Verse 16.
Isaiah 58 speaks of Yahweh’s concept of fasting and the result of it. We can see by a careful reading of the chapter that fasting brings about a denying of self and a focus on the good of others by undoing heavy burdens, loosing bonds of wickedness, freeing the oppressed, breaking every yoke, sharing bread with the hungry, remembering the poor and clothing the naked. Fasting is to do away with the selfish nature of man that says I want it my way when I want it and no one else matters. The result of selfishness brings division and a despising of the body of Messiah, and Messiah HIMSELF. According to 1st Corinthians 11, a denying of self, in consideration of the Messiah and others in the body, brings about blessing and an edification of the entire body. Isaiah 58 further states that if we do this denying of self we will call on Yahweh, and HE will answer; “You shall cry, and He will say ‘Here I am.” Reading on in Isaiah 58 we see that if we do these things “If you take away the yoke from your midst, the pointing of the finger, and speaking wickedness, if you should extend your the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul, then your light shall dawn in the darkness, and your darkness shall be as noonday., “Yahweh will guide you continually, and satisfy your soul in drought, and strengthen your bones; you shall be like a watered garden, (see Psalm 1) and like a spring of waters, who waters do not fail.” And here comes some specifics that I believe speak to our mission even more directly. “Those from among you shall build the old waste places; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the Repairer of the breach, the Restorer of Streets to Dwell In.” The capitalization of the titles repairer and restorer refer to Messiah Yahusha. But the Scripture is clear that it is speaking to those who have a wrong idea of fasting.
The idea of fasting, held by those the prophet Isaiah was addressing, was one of selfishness, according to the first four verses. That certainly would not include Yahusha Messiah. While it is true that HE is the Repairer and the Restorer, we have HIS Spirit indwelling us as born again children of the LIVING ELOHIM and we are to reflect HIS character and nature; that of restorers and repairers. It comes from denying self, picking up our cross and following HIM for who HE is, according to HIS Word and not our own opinion. It is then that we will be focused on what HE wants and the good of our brothers and sisters. It is then that the generational breach will began to be repaired. The division of the body along the lines of age groups is rooted in selfishness and isolationism. Each group wants it their way without the encumbrance of the other groups. Parents want to pass their children off to the youth leader and the kids don’t want the “old man” ways in their modern, “more relevant” expression of themselves, and it goes on from there.
HE – Messiah – ultimately does the repairing and restoring but HE can only accomplish that through our submission to HIM and to one another according to the truth of HIS Scripture. The generational breach is a division of the body, and when repaired and a restoration takes place, the body as a whole is strengthened.
Ephesians 4:1-6: “I, therefore, the prisoner of the Master, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling which you were called, with all lowliness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in the hope of your calling; one Master, one faith, one baptism; one Elohim and Father of all, and through all, and in you all.”
1 Peter 5:5-6: “Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to you elders. Yes and all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for ‘Elohim resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’ Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of Yahweh, that HE may exalt you in due time.”
The conclusion of these Scriptures is clear that we can only accomplish any good thing for the Yahweh in knowing and applying HIS Word – the entirety of HIS Word –from Genesis to Revelation. HIS Word does not contradict itself, because HE HIMSELF is the Living Word. HIS Word does not change because we know – from HIS Word – that HE is unchanging. So if we are to have an impact for HIM on the listener it must be in accordance with, and with the application of Scripture; for both young and old. The body of Messiah only functions when it is not divided, but is united in the truth of HIS Scriptures.
According to Malachi 4 HIS Scriptures tells us that there is an imperative turning of “the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers.” There is the necessity of honoring Messiah by humbly submitting to HIM and to one another according to HIS Scripture. There is, however, an emphasis put on the submission of youth to their elders. Why? It is because of the innate rebellion in people and especially in the young. By nature we are not submissive people. Our flesh will not submit to anyone. When we are born as a child into this world, and begin to grow, the first area we have to learn to submit in is to our parents; specifically our fathers. When a young person does not learn to be submissive to their earthly father they find it very difficult to submit to the Heavenly Father, let alone those elders they will find in authority over them in the Assembly. Submission to authority is a requirement of Elohim.
We will never be submitted to HIS authority if we are not submitted to the authority of parents and elders. Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, says the Scriptures, and those who practice it will not inherit the kingdom of Yahweh (Galatians 5).
Specific to radio ministry, where is the division and rebellion?
It is in the youth sub-culture that says that the young have to be reached on a different level with different vehicles that they alone can understand. I heard it said at the Rock Summit in Columbus, Ohio that the kids were not interested in our theology but were more interested in our passion. Right away the non-interest in theology – the study of Elohim – puts us in a position of fragmentation because unity is only found in a desire for the truth of who HE is. The non-interest in theology is rebellion against Yahweh because there is no interest in learning of HIM; according to the truth of who HE is. It is also rebellion against elders and parents who try to counsel the young to learn of Elohim, through the truth
of HIS Word, and then to apply it to their lives. Our slogan at WCVM, formerly Indiana – Michigan’s version of The Effect – was “It’s your music,” and “Your music – your mix.” We are promoting bands, and making disciples of bands. It appeals to the flesh that simply wants entertainment and is not interested in the things of Elohim. By giving the youth what they want we are fostering a divided body due to retained innate selfishness. By not presenting the truth of Elohim to address these issues and by maintaining status quo we are a part of the problem of childishness, division and rebellion.
Is our passion the most important tool we have?
According to some people involved in the youth ministry it is. I do not believe that, however. Our passion is simply an emotion. We can be passionate about many things. We can be passionately wrong. If we have a passion it must be for Yahweh, and Yahusha as HE really is, according to Scripture. Emotions will deceive us, if we let them, but the Truth of Elohim is factual and only spiritually understood; not emotionally driven. When believed and applied it will transcend emotion and bring about transformation into the image of Messiah. This accomplished will result in the emotion of love for HIM, HIS Word, and for the body, of which we are a part.
Putting away Childishness
Children are childish by nature. Left to themselves they will not grow up but will remain childish in their understanding and behavior. That childishness will be present into physical adulthood; only expressed in different forms. I once attended a men’s conference taught by Pastor Ken Graves. His focus was on little boys becoming men. I am going to borrow from his comments as I believe they are valid and pertinent to the issue at hand. He looked at 1st Corinthians 13:11. 1st Corinthians 13:11: “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” Pastor Ken asked what was noticeably missing from this verse. The answer: adolescence.
According to Scripture there is no other stage of a person between childhood and adulthood. There is a time to grow up and to leave childish understanding and behavior behind and go on to maturity in the Messiah, according to HIS Word. The problem with the Youth Sub-culture is that it is stuck in childishness. It is driven by childish desires and appetites. It is led by childish adults who have never put away childish things. It has a childish understanding of Scripture. It represents the Good News in a childish, selfish expression. This childish understanding and behavior is then taught by youth to other youth who gr0w up into physical adulthood and still have childish understanding and behavior. This has been happening for a few generations. Especially since the idea of a generation became defined as the next group to reach the teenage years. We now have generation X and then generation this and generation that, each with its own distinct
culture and demands of how they need to be tolerated and communicated with.
The De-evolution of Music and Society through generational rebellion
Pat Boone recorded Fats Domino’s Blueberry Hill. His more mainstream production and sound softened the otherwise sexually immoral song. The result: most radio stations would play it when they wouldn’t play the same song by Fats. Pat prettied it up. That’s the way it’s been with the Christian music scene adopting the same methods and attitude of the secular rock music scene, in the past. But now it is not prettied up very much. It is very difficult, if not impossible, in some instances, to hear and see the difference between a hard rock secular band and a so-called “Christian band.” Other than not hearing swearing and songs that speak of adultery and other, as yet, unacceptable behavior for professing believers, there seems to be not much of a difference. BUT, most kids don’t listen to the lyrics – by their own admission – and they are simply hearing music performed by bands that look like and sound, and act like the ones they hear on secular radio. Of what eternal-Scriptural value is that?
The rebelliousness of youth has been an increasingly troublesome part of society for the last century. In my fifty years of life I have been a part of it and I’ve witnessed it through the last few decades. I could be described as a music lover. I am a musician. My first recollections of music were in the late 50’s and early 60’s. That puts me in the early years of rock and roll music. I remember hearing the Everly Brothers on the radio when they were just hometown boys in Kentucky. I remember when the Beatles first came on the music scene. I experienced the rise of the pshycodelic music scene of the Beatles, as they evolved, and the Rolling Stones and others. I saw the malaise of the rebellious youth (I was one of them) in the 70’s rock and roll drug and alcohol scene. It was in this era that I witnessed the overt movement toward satanic involvement in the music scene. The music, and the lyric, progressively turned more anti-Creator as the rock music scene has come into the 21st Century. Each, a phase, seemingly on a decade by decade time-frame, has reflected the further rebellion of secular youth only to be imitated in a few years by the “Christian youth.”
As the de-evolution of society – represented in pop-culture and music – rapidly increases, the more rapidly the assimilation of the rebellious attitudes represented in music, dress, and selfishness become part of the Christian, and or Messianic youth sub-culture. It is now to the point that you can barely tell the difference. We have allowed the children to “find their own way,” and “figure it out for themselves,” and to decide how best to reach a generation of kids who are headed down a path to destruction. This flies in the face of Scripture that tells parents to teach the children in the way they should go. Children are not to be left to figure things out for themselves. They are to be submitted to authority, primarily parents, then elders, and ultimately to Yahweh and the authority of HIS written Word. The problem is that the Word is de-emphasized. Instead we have replaced it with a learning of the ways of world so that the kids and we can immerse in the pop-culture and reach youth with what we think they can understand. The result: doctrine is redefined as something other than the Word of Yahweh.
Youth are redefining doctrine
Sound Scriptural doctrine is essential in the life of a taught one of Messiah. It is what we need to be equipped for the good work that Elohim has prepared beforehand that we should walk in. Doctrine is the SET APART SCRIPTURE and is not left up to each subsequent generation to modify to fit their fads and self-invented sub-culture.
I attended the 2005 Calvary Chapel Pastors Conference in Hartford City, Indiana. One of the speakers, Chuck Lind, pastor at Calvary Chapel in Olympia, Washington, really solidified some of the things that the Yahweh was laying on my heart in the ministry of WCVM radio. He said that the professing body of Messiah has become focused on youth ministry to the point that the value and ministry of the older brothers and sisters in the church has been set aside. His question, “Why are we letting the youth define our doctrine?” His emphasis was in the music that is produced by youth, but his point encompassed all aspects of the youth ministry. Specific to music he quoted lyrics from “Big House” by Audio Adrenaline and some praise chorus. It hit home! He’s right!
Audio A was a “Christian” youth band several years ago, but then they are more the mainstream and the music they produced then was more defining the doctrine of the modern “church.” It is very flesh oriented and barely contains Scriptural doctrine, if at all. Doctrine is Scripture, according to 2nd Timothy, and Scripture is seldom found in songs and in the messages presented at youth concerts, events, or on the air. Keep in mind that the kids who are producing the newest wave of youth oriented “Christian” music are the future leaders of the professing body of Messiah. They will be the ones who teach doctrine and lead the professing believers in seeking Yahweh and HIS righteousness. Is it not the responsibility of parents and those in leadership positions – elders – to be teaching them Scriptural
doctrine? And isn’t that doctrine to include children honoring and obeying parents, submitting to elders, putting away childishness, submitting to Elohim, and following HIM?
Where is the youth ministry now?
The goal now, according the Christian rock label and radio people is to make the young Christian bands more “street credible” by looking and sounding more like the secular bands. The same tattooed, pierced bodies, dressed in the same seemingly dirty, ill fitting clothes, and duct taped or masking taped eyeglasses, greased up and or uncombed (and sometimes unwashed) hair is the representation of what a young Christian should Biblical Youth Ministry look like. They look and act like a rebellious street punk. But I thought we were to be salt and light and by our following Messiah we would be showing the people a better way than what they are currently living in the world. Aren’t we to be new creations in Messiah? Yes it is an inward thing, but there is to be a transformation that becomes obvious on the external, because of the internal change. The aforementioned characterization of young professing believers is born of childish thinking and attitudes that are not jettisoned, as a child enters into adulthood. This, fueled with the sin-nature of rebellion, worsens in each successive generation.
What will it take for Scriptural change?
In order for this to change there has to be a turning of” “the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers.” There has to be a “putting away of childish things” and a growing into spiritual adulthood. This cannot happen in our current expression of reaching youth for Messiah and subsequent discipleship. Parents and elders need to be leading young people, not into more childishness, but into mature, spiritually taught ones of Messiah. Children need to be submitted to parents and elders; to learn of Yahweh and apply HIS Word, and grow. It is incumbent upon parents, youth leaders, and elders to know Scripture, apply it to their rearing of children, and teach it to the young. We will not look like the rebellious world if we do that. Looking like the world is more than just clothes! It is the rebellion against Yahweh and against authority that is evident is what is said and what is done. If we are in Messiah, truly, and have a received a love for the Truth, we will be different. Our lifestyle, submitted to HIM and HIS Word, will produce something that will be a welcome sight in the eyes of those who want a change, and a foolish sight to those who want to remain in their childish rebellion to Elohim.
Honor and Obedience
Ephesians 6:1-4: “Children, obey your parents in the Messiah, for this is right. ‘Honor you father and mother,’ which is the first commandment with promise: ‘that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.’ And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of Yahweh.” Children honor their parents by submitting in humble obedience to them. It is a commandment of the Yahweh Elohim from HIS Set Apart Scriptures. You can find these verses of, quoted in Ephesians by Paul, in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5.
Submitting to parents (I’m not talking of parents who are telling their kids to do Lawless things) is submitting to Yahweh. HE gave us the commandment to do so. That commandment comes with a promise of long life. If we love our children we will train them and admonish them in Yahweh and not be satisfied to leave them in childish rebellion. Children are by nature rebellious. It is up to parents and elders to not cater to their childishness but to train them to put off childishness. Children need to be taught to submit. They need to know Yahweh to truly do it. Faith comes by hearing the Word of Elohim. That is why we must teach them the whole counsel of Yahweh Elohim. In their childish understanding and expression they cannot lead un-saved children to Messiah, or disciple them in the Yahweh Elohim, or keep themselves from the sin that is lurking around every corner. It is up to us, whether they like it or not! We need to foster youth inclusion in adult activities in the body, where appropriate. We need to encourage youth to minister alongside adults in a submitted, learning role. In radio broadcasting we need to present this message on the air in a way that speaks to parents, youth leaders, pastors, and youth of all ages. The music and message must be compatible with reaching all ages in the family. Our focus needs to be on family, the body of Messiah, and Scriptural truth, not just on youth. This will be a factor in repairing the breach and restoring the body to a Scripturally accurate reflection and expression.
Perhaps you have heard of the term Replacement Theology. However, if you look it up in a dictionary of Church history, you will not find it listed as a systematic study. Rather, it is a doctrinal teaching that originated in the early Church. It became the fertile soil from which Christian anti-Semitism grew and has infected the Church for nearly 1,900 years.
What is Replacement Theology?
Replacement Theology was introduced to the Church shortly after Gentile leadership took over from Jewish leadership. What are its premises?
Israel (the Jewish people and the land) has been replaced by the Christian Church in the purposes of God, or, more precisely, the Church is the historic continuation of Israel to the exclusion of the former.
TheJewish people are now no longer a “chosen people.” In fact, they are no different from any other group, such as the English, Spanish, or Africans.
Apart from repentance, the new birth, and incorporation into the Church, the Jewish people have no future, no hope, and no calling in the plan of God. The same is true for every other nation and group.
Since Pentecost of Acts 2, the term “Israel,” as found in the Bible, now refers to the Church.
The promises, covenants and blessings ascribed to Israel in the Bible have been taken away from the Jews and given to the Church, which has superseded them. However, the Jews are subject to the curses found in the Bible, as a result of their rejection of Christ. If you hear a Christian, a minister, or a Church doctrine that ascribes to one of these points, then knowingly or unknowingly they have swallowed the Replacement Theology pill. I say unknowingly because the doctrine is so systemic, most Christians have been brought up in it and hove no idea that these premises are contrary to Scripture.
How do Replacement Theologians argue their case? They say:
(Note: I have added my rebuttal to each of their points.)
Rebuttal: Later, in this Teaching Letter, we will look at the fact that the New Testament references to Israel early pertain to Israel, not the Church. Therefore, no promise to Israel and the Jewish people in the Bible is figurative, nor can they be relegated to the Church alone. The promises and covenants are literal, many of them are everlasting, and we Christians can participate in them as part of our rebirth, but we shouldn’t consider that we have taken them over to the exclusion of Israel. The New Testament speaks of the Church’s relationship to Israel and her covenants as being “grafted in” (Rom. 11:17), “brought near” (Eph. 2:13), “heirs” (Gal. 3:29), “Abraham’s offspring (by faith)” (Rom. 4:16), and “partakers” (Rom. 15:27), NOT as usurpers of the covenant and a replacer of physical Israel. We Gentile Christians joined into what God had been doing in Israel, and God did not break His covenant promises with Israel (Rom. 11:29). From the time of Genesis, God’s goal has been the redemption of the world. God created man to be in close fellowship with Him, as seen in the Garden of Eden. However, because of our sin, we have separated ourselves from Him, and we are in need of His forgiveness to be in His Presence. God’s efforts throughout history is like a Redemption Train,” that has been traveling through time, collecting passengers who get on board by doing it God’s way. God is the engineer of this train; His Holy Spirit is the power and life moving it forward, touching hearts and calling people along the way; and we Christians believe that Yeshua, the Messiah, is the conductor who makes the way for people to get on board. Of course, God is One God, and He is doing all of this for us humans because He loves us. As fellow passengers, we have no right to judge or decide who is on the train and who is not. That is God’s decision according to His plan and promises. His instructions in the Bible are quite clear. It is up to us to understand them and be obedient to them in order to gain access to board the train. Yeshua said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no man comes to the Father but by Me” (Jn. 14:6). There is no other way apart from Yeshua. And, we know from Romans 11:28-29 that God loves His covenant people, Israel, and He is calling them to repentance, just as He is calling the Gentile world. Moreover, Yeshua Himself made it clear that He came for the whole House of Israel, to the Jew first, and
then the Gentile (Matt. 10:6, 15:24; Rom. 1:16). There is not a dual covenant. God’s promises in the Bible for Israel and the Church are inclusionary, not exclusionary, and open to any and all who understand God’s plan and purpose. No one is prevented from getting on God’s “Redemption Train,” if they do it His way.
2. To be a son of Abraham is to have faith in Jesus Christ. For them, Galatians 3:29 shows that sonship to Abraham is seen only in spiritual, not national terms: “And if you be Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Rebuttal: While this is a wonderful inclusionary promise for Gentiles, this verse does not exclude the Jewish people from their original covenant, promise and blessing as the natural seed of Abraham. This verse simply joins us Gentile Christians to what
God had already started with Israel.
3. The promise of the land of Canaan to Abraham was only a “starter.” The real promised Land is the whole world. They use Romans 4:13 to claim it will be the Church that inherits the
world, not Israel. “For the promise that he should be the heir of the world was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.” Rebuttal: Where does this verse exclude Abraham and His natural prodigy, the Jews? It simply says that through the law alone, they would not inherit the world, but they would acquire it through faith. This is also true of the Church. This can be confirmed by Romans 4:16, which says, “Therefore, the promises come by faith, so that it may be by grace, and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring – not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.”
4. The nation of Israel was only the seed of the future Church, which would arise and incorporate people of all nations (Mal. 1:11): “For from the rising of the sun, even unto the going down of the same, My Name shall be great among the nations, and in every place, incense shall be offered to My Name, and a pure
offering for My Name shall be great among the nations, says the Lord of Hosts.” Rebuttal: This is great, and shows that the Jewish people and Israel fulfilled one of their callings to be “a light to the nations,” so that God’s Word has gone around the world. It does not suggest God’s dealing with Israel was negated because His Name spread around the world.
5. Jesus taught that the Jews would lose their spiritual privileges, and be replaced by another people (Matt. 21:43): “Therefore I am saying to you, ‘The kingdom of God will be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits of it.’” Rebuttal: In this passage, Jesus was talking about the priests and Pharisees, who failed as leaders of the people. This passage is not talking about the Jewish people or nation of Israel.
6. A true Jew is anyone born of the Spirit, whether he is racially Gentile or Jewish (Rom. 2:28-29): “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh; But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” Rebuttal: This argument does not support the notion that the Church replaced Israel. Rather, it simply reinforces what had been said throughout the Hebrew Scriptures [the Old Testament], and it certainly qualifies the spiritual qualifications for Jews or anyone who professes to be a
follower of the God of Israel.
7. Paul shows that the Church is really the same “olive tree” as was Israel, and the Church is now the tree. Therefore, to distinguish between Israel and the Church is, strictly speaking, false. Indeed, people of Jewish origin need to be grafted back into the Church (Rom 11:17-23). Rebuttal: This claim is the most outrageous because this passage clearly shows that we Gentiles are the “wil d olive branches,” who get our life from being grafted into the olive tree. The tree represents the covenants, promises and hopes of Israel (Eph. 2:12), rooted in the Messiah and fed by the sap, which represents the Holy Spirit, giving life to the Jews (the “natural branches”) and Gentile alike. We Gentiles are told to remember that the olive tree holds us up and NOT to be arrogant or boast against the “natural branches” because they can be grafted in again. The olive tree is NOT the Church. We are simply grafted into God’s plan that preceded us for over 2,000 years.
How did the position of the early Church Fathers affect the Church?
Let us look at a brief history of the first four centuries of Christianity, which established a “legacy of hatred” towards the Jewish people, which was against the clear teaching of the New Testament.
(For a complete history of Christian anti-Semitism, send the equivalent of US$1 to your nearest BFP National Office and ask for a copy of the Israel Teaching Letter (#779806), “Where Was Love and Mercy,” or download a copy from our Bridges for Peace website, found under the Israel Teaching Letters button at www.bridgesforpeace.com This teaching is also a chapter of my book, Lessons From the Land of the Bible with 13 other great teachings including “Lessons from the Olive Tree,” which can be ordered from your nearest BFP national office.)
In the first century AD, the church was well connected to its Jewish roots, and Jesus did not intend for it to be any other way. After all, Jesus is Jewish and the basis of His teaching is consistent with the Hebrew Scriptures. In Matthew 5:17-18 He states: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” Before the First Jewish Revolt in AD 66, Christianity was basically a sect of Judaism, as were the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes.
Separation between Judaism and Christianity began as a result of religious and social differences. According to David Rausch in his book, A Legacy of Hatred, there were several contributing factors:
the Roman intrusion into Judea, and the widespread acceptance of Christianity by the Gentiles, complicated the history of Jewish Christianity;
the Roman wars against the Jews not only destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem, but also resulted in Jerusalem’s relinquishing her position as a centre of Christian faith in the Roman world; and,
the rapid acceptance of Christianity among the Gentiles led to an early conflict between the Church and Synagogue. Paul’s missionary journeys brought the Christian faith to the Gentile world, and as their numbers grew, so did their influence, which ultimately disconnected Christianity from its Jewish roots. Many Gentile Christians interpreted the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem as a sign that God had abandoned Judaism, and that He had provided the Gentiles freedom to develop their own Christian theology in a setting free from Jerusalem’s influence. Could it be He was showing us that Temple worship was no longer necessary as His Holy Spirit now resides in us (I Cor. 6:19), not in the Holy of Holies? After the Second Jewish Revolt (AD 133-135) put down by the Roman Emperor Hadrian, theological and political power moved from Jewish Christian leaders to centres of Gentile Christian leadership such as Alexandria, Rome, and Antioch. It is important to understand this change, because it influenced the early Church Fathers to make anti-Jewish statements as Christianity began to disconnect itself from its Jewish roots. As the Church spread far and wide within the Roman Empire, and its membership grew increasingly non-Jewish, Greek and Roman thought began to creep in and completely change the orientation of Biblical interpretation through a Greek mindset, rather than a Jewish or Hebraic mindset. This would later result in many heresies, some of which the Church is still practicing today.
Once Christianity and Judaism began to take separate paths, the chasm became wider and wider. Judaism was considered a legal religion under Roman law, while Christianity, a new religion, was illegal. As Christianity grew, the Romans tried to suppress it. In an attempt to alleviate this persecution, Christian apologists tried in vain to convince Rome that Christianity was an extension of Judaism. However, Rome was not convinced. The resulting persecutions and frustration of the Christians bred an animosity towards the Jewish community, which was free to worship without persecution. Later, when the Church became the religion of the state, it would pass laws against the Jews in retribution. The antagonism of the early Christians towards the Jews was reflected in the writings of the early Church Fathers. For example, Justin Martyr (c. AD 160) in speaking to a Jew said: “The Scriptures are not yours, but ours.” Irenaeus, Bishop
of Lyon (c. AD 177) declared: “Jews are disinherited from the
grace of God.” Tertullian (AD 160-230), in his treatise, “Against
the Jews,” announced that God had rejected the Jews in favour of the Christians. In the early 4th century, Eusebius wrote that the promises of the Hebrew Scriptures were for Christians and not the Jews, and the curses were for the Jews. He argued that the Church was the continuation of the Old Testament and thus superseded Judaism. The young Church declared itself to be the true Israel, or “Israel according to the Spirit,” heir to the divine promises. They ound it essential to discredit the “Israel according to the flesh” to prove that God had cast away His people and transferred His love to the Christians. At the beginning of the 4th century, a monumental event occurred for the Church, which placed “the Church Triumphant” over “Vanquished Israel.” In AD 306, Constantine became the first Christian Roman Emperor. At first, he had a rather pluralistic view and accorded Jews the same religious rights as Christians. However, in AD 321, he made Christianity the official religion of the Empire to the exclusion of all other religions. This signaled the end of the persecution of Christians, but the beginning of discrimination and persecution of the Jewish people.
Already at the Church Council in Elvira (Spain) in AD 305, declarations were made to keep Jews and Christians apart, including ordering Christians not to share meals with Jews, not to marry Jews, not to use Jews to bless their fields, and not to observe the Jewish Sabbath. Imperial Rome, in AD 313, issued the Edict of Milan, which granted favour to Christianity, while outlawing synagogues. Then, in AD 315, another edict allowed the burning of Jews if they were convicted of breaking the laws. As Christianity was becoming the religion of the state, further laws were passed against the Jews:
The ancient privileges granted to the Jews were withdrawn.
Rabbinical jurisdiction was abolished or severely curtailed.
Proselytism to Judaism was prohibited and made punishable by death.
Jews were excluded from holding high office or a military career.
These and other restrictions were confirmed over and over again by various Church Councils for the next1,000 years.In AD 321, Constantine decreed all business should cease on “the honoured day of the sun.” By substituting Sunday for Saturday as the day for Christian worship, he further advanced the split. This Jewish Shabbat/Christian Sunday controversy also came up at the first real ecumenical Council of Nicea (AD 325), which concluded Sunday to be the Christian day of rest, although it was debated for long after that. Overnight, Christianity was given the power of the Imperial State, and the emperors began to translate the concepts and claims of the Christian theologians against the Jews and Judaism into practice. Instead of the
Church taking this opportunity to spread its Gospel message in love, it truly became the Church Triumphant, ready to vanquish its foes. After 321, the writings of the Church Fathers changed in character. No longer was it on the defensive and apologetic, but aggressive, directing its venom at everyone “outside of the flock,” in particular the Jewish people who could be found in almost every community and nation. During this period,
we find more examples of anti-Jewish bias in Church literature written by church leaders:
Hilary of Poitiers (AD 291-371) wrote: “Jews are a perverse people accursed by God forever.” – Gregory of Nyssa (died AD 394), Bishop of Cappadocia: “the Jews are a brood of vipers, haters of goodness…” – St. Jerome (AD 347-407) describes the Jews as “… serpents, wearing the image of Judas, their psalms and prayers are the braying of donkeys.”
At the end of the 4th century, the Bishop of Antioch, John Chrysostom (Golden Tongued), the great orator, wrote a series of eight sermons against the Jews. He had seen Christians talking with Jewish people, taking oaths in front of the Ark, and some were keeping the Jewish feasts. He wanted this to stop. In an effort to bring his people back to what he called, “the true faith,” the Jews became the whipping boy for his sermon
series. To quote him, “the synagogue is not only a brothel and a theatre; it is also a den of robbers and a lodging for wild beasts. No Jew adores God… Jews are inveterate murderers, possessed by the devil, their debauchery and drunkenness gives them the manners of the pig. They kill and maim one another…”
One can easily see that a Judeo-Christian who wanted to hold on to his heritage, or a Gentile Christian who wanted to learn more about the parent faith of Christianity, would have found it extremely difficult under this pressure. Chrysostom further sought to separate Christianity totally from Judaism. He wrote in his 4th Discourse, “I have said enough against those who say they are on our side, but are eager to follow the Jewish
rites… it is against the Jews that I wish to draw up my battle… Jews are abandoned by God and for the crime of deicide, there is no expiation possible.” Chrysostom was known for his fiery preaching against what he saw as threats to his flock, including wealth, entertainment, privilege and outward adornment. However, his preaching against the Jewish community, which he believed had a negative influence on Christians, is inexcusable and blatantly anti-Semitic in its content. Another unfortunate contribution Chrysostom made to Christian anti-Semitism was to hold the whole Jewish people culpable for the killing of Christ. In the fifth century, the burning question was: If the Jews and Judaism were cursed by God, then how can you explain their existence? Augustine tackled this issue in his “Sermon Against the Jews.” He asserted that even though the Jews deserved the most severe punishment for having put Jesus to death, they have been kept alive by Divine Providence to serve, together with their Scriptures, as witnesses to the truth of Christianity. Their existence was further justified by the service they rendered to the Christian truth, in attesting through their humiliation, the triumph of the Church over the Synagogue. They were to be a “Witness people” – slaves and servants who should be humbled.
The monarchs of the Holy Roman Empire thus regarded the Jews as serfs of the chamber (servi camerae), and utilized them as slave librarians to maintain Hebrew writings. They also utilized the services of Jews in another enterprise – usury, or money lending. The loaning of money was necessary to a growing economy. However, usury was considered to endanger the eternal salvation of the Christian, and was thus forbidden.
So, the church endorsed the practice of lending by Jews, for according to their reasoning, their Jewish souls were lost in any case. Much later, the Jewish people were utilized by the Western countries as trade agents in commerce, and thus we see how the Jewish people found their way into the fields of banking and commerce.
So, by the Middle Ages, the ideological arsenal of Christian anti-Semitism was completely established. This was further manifested in a variety of precedent-setting events within the Church, such as Patriarch Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria, expelling the Jews and giving their property to a Christian mob. From a social standpoint, the deterioration of the Jewish position in society was only beginning its decline. During this early
period, the virulent judeophobia was primarily limited to the clergy who were always trying to keep their flocks away from the Jews. However, later, the rank and file, growing middle class would be the main source of anti-Semitic activity.
The result of these anti-Jewish teachings continued onwards throughout Church history, manifesting itself in such events and actions as the Crusades, the accusation of communion host desecration and blood libel by the Jews, the forced wearing of distinguishing marks to ostracize them, the Inquisition, the displacement of whole Jewish communities by exile or separate ghettoes, the destruction of synagogues and Jewish books, physical persecution and execution, the Pogroms. Ultimately, the seeds of destruction grew to epic proportions, culminating in the Holocaust, which occurred in “Christian” Europe. Had the Church understood the clear message of being grafted into the Olive Tree from the beginning, then the sad legacy of anti-Semitic hatred from the Church may have been avoided. The error of Replacement Theology is like a cancer in the Church that has not only caused it to violate God’s Word concerning the Jewish people and Israel, but it made us into instruments of hate, not love in God’s Name.
Is the New Testament anti-Semitic?
Was it Intended That the Church Treat the Jewish People with
While the New Testament has been used by Gentile anti-Semites, even within the Church, the writers of the
New Testament were Jewish, and therefore their arguments, even critical ones, were from the vantage point of being an intra-communal debate, not inter-communal accusation. Even where the criticism is harsh, it is directed towards a particular group or sect of Jews because of their practices, which needed correcting. For example, even though Yeshua spoke harshly to the Pharisees, He nevertheless said of them, “The teachers of
the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach” (Matt: 23:2-3). He was distressed that they were “missing the mark” in their self-righteousness, which is something all of us need to be careful of doing.
The clear teaching of the New Testament is that the Church was and is to love and honour the Jewish people. In Ephesians 2:11-18, we are told that “by the blood of Messiah,” we Gentiles are “made near” to the commonwealth of Israel, the covenants, promises and hopes given to Israel. In Romans 11:11-12, 25, we are told that “blindness in part” has come to the Jews so that the message would be forced out into the nations. Nevertheless, we are told that a time would come when “all Israel would be saved” (v. 26), because the gifts and callings of God towards Israel and the Jewish people were given without repentance (v. 29). God’s relationship with Israel and the Jewish people is everlasting.
We Gentile Christians are told that the Jews are “beloved for the sake of the Patriarchs” (Rom. 11:28). They are a chosen people who fulfilled their calling and brought the Gospel to the world. They were chosen to:
Be obedient to God’s Word and demonstrate to the world as “a light to the nations.”
Hear God’s Word and record it – the Bible.
Be the human channel for the Messiah.
The Jewish people have fulfilled their role. The promise to the world through Abraham was that, “in you will all the nations on the earth be blessed” (Gen. 12:3). They were to be a light unto the nations and, while they made mistakes as we all do, they did demonstrate the power of God on earth, they did hear God’s Word and record it so that we have the Bible, and they were the human channel for the Messiah, who was born, ministered, died, rose from the dead, ascended to heaven and will return to Jerusalem, Israel, in a day yet to come.
God made an everlasting covenant between the land of Israel and the Jewish people that must be fulfilled and completed or His Word, the Bible, will be proven a lie, which it is not. God will never forget or annul His ancient people. If God will not fulfil His promises to Israel, what guarantee do we have that He will fulfil His promises to the Church? (See Jeremiah 31:35-37).
Are Jews, Jews, and is Israel, Israel in the New Testament?
Do They Still Have a Covenant with God?
ABSOLUTELY. THE BIBLE IS CLEAR ON THIS.
The Jews are Israelites, not Gentiles (Rom. 9:4).
To Israel still belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship and the promises (Rom. 9:4).
The gifts and calling of God for Israel are irrevocable (Rom. 11:29).
There are 77 references to Israel in the NT and none of them refer to the Church. Try replacing the words, “the Church,” where Israel is mentioned and the passage is rendered unreadable and silly, e.g., Rom. 10:1, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.” If you put “the Church” where Israel is mentioned, then it is redundant. The Church is the body of saved believers, so how could Paul’s prayer be for the Church to be saved?
Psalm 105 has a sevenfold affirmation of God’s promises of Canaan to Abraham. This is an everlasting promise, as was Genesis 12:1-3.
Jeremiah 31:35-37 speaks of the everlasting nature of God’s promises to and for Israel, the Jewish people, which is as sure as the sun that shines by day and the moon and stars that glow in the night.
The end-time prophecies, which speak of the return of the House of Jacob to their land (Israel) and its restoration, have overwhelmingly been fulfilled in Israel and the Jewish people in the past 120 years. (See, Isa. 11:11-12; Eze. 37:1-14; Eze. 36; Eze. 35:1, Isa. 43:5,6; Jer. 16:14-16; Isa. 60:9-11; Isa. 49:22-23, etc.).
The Gospel and Yeshua came “to the Jews first, then the Greek” (Rom. 2:9,10; Matt:10:5-7;15:24). There is a distinction in roles between the two. Galatians 3:28 says: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” This is speaking of everyone’s standing before God as equals, because we are all sinners saved by God’s grace and the atoning work on the Cross. Nevertheless, our roles here on earth are definitely distinct; e.g., men and women, mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, etc. all have distinct roles to play. Likewise, Jews and Gentiles have distinct roles to play.
What is the Role of the Church?
“On this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it” (Matt. 16:18). The Church is built on the testimony and understanding of Peter, who is Jewish, that Yeshua was the Messiah. Ephesians 2:11-14 indicates that Israel and the Jews (we) were chosen, but Gentiles (you) were also included.
The Church is related to Israel and partakers of the covenants, promises, and hopes, but we have not been called to usurp them. Our relationship is as “grafted in” (Rom. 11:17); “brought near” (Eph 2:13); “Abraham’s offspring” (by faith) (Rom. 4:16); “heirs” to Abraham’s promise as adopted sons (Gal. 3:29) and “partakers” (Rom 15:27).
To the world, the Church is called to preach the Gospel to all nations and make disciples (Matt. 28:19-20); to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength; and to love our neighbour as ourselves (Mk. 12:30-31).
To the Jewish people, we are called to show God’s love “for the sake of the Patriarchs” (Rom. 11:28), for without them we would not have had God’s Word or our Saviour who was a Jew from Israel. We are to show God’s mercy (Rom. 11:31). We are to give our material gifts to help them (Rom. 15:27). We are to pray for them and for Israel (Ps. 122:6). We are to be watchman on the walls to protect them (Isa. 62:6,7). We are to help with the aliyah (immigration) to Israel and the building up of Zion (Isa. 60:9-11; Jer. 16:14-16; Isa. 49:22-23).
According to Romans 11, we are two distinct groups, both grafted into the same tree, which are the covenants and promises given to Israel; grounded in the same root, the Messiah; drinking of the same sap, God’s Holy Spirit. We do not hold up the tree, but the tree holds us up, and we are forbidden from boasting against or being arrogant to God’s covenant people the Jews (Rom. 11:17-18).
What Happens When the Church Replaces Israel?
When the Church chooses to replace Israel and the Jewish people in God’s eternal plans, the result is negative:
The Church becomes arrogant and self-centred.
It boasts against the Jews and Israel.
It devalues the role of Israel or has no role for Israel at all.
These attitudes result in anti-Semitism in word and deed
Without a place for Israel and the Jewish people today, you cannot explain the Bible prophecies, especially the very specific ones being fulfilled in Israel today.
Many New Testament passages do not make sense when the Jewish people are replaced by the Church.
You can lose the significance of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament, for today. Many Christians boast of being a New Testament (NT) Christian or a NT Church as in the Book of Acts. However, the Bible of the early Church was not the New Testament, which did not get codified until the 4th century, but rather the Hebrew Scriptures.
You can lose the Hebraic/Judaic contextualization of the New Testament, which teaches us more about Yeshua and how to become better disciples.
The Church loses out on the opportunity to participate in God’s plan and prophecy for the Church, Israel and the world today.
What Happens When the Church Relates to Israel?
When the Church chooses to relate to Israel and the Jewish people in God’s eternal plans, the result is positive:
The Church takes its proper role in God’s redemptive plan for the world, appreciating God’s ongoing covenant relationship and love for Israel and the Jewish people.
We can see the consistency of God’s redemptive plan from Genesis to Revelation as an ongoing complementary process, not as disconnected snapshots.
We show love and honour for God’s covenant people, not contempt.
We value the Old and New Testaments as equally inspired and significant for the Church today.
Bible prophecy makes sense for today and offers opportunities for involvement in God’s plan for Israel.
We become better disciples of Yeshua as we are able to appreciate the Hebraic/Judaic roots that fill in the definitions, concepts, words and events in the New Testament that are otherwise obscured. Why? Many were not explained by the Jewish writers of the New Testament, because they did not feel the need to fill in all the details that were already explained in the Old Testament.
Had the Church understood this very clear message from the beginning, then the sad legacy of anti-Semitic hatred from the Church may have been avoided. The error of Replacement Theology is like a cancer in the Church that has not only caused it to violate God’s Word concerning the Jewish people and Israel, but it made us into instruments of hate, not love in God’s Name. Yet, it is not too late to change our ways and rightly relate to the Jewish people and Israel today. Through Bridges for Peace you can read, study and learn more, and also give to demonstrate God’s exhortation to us to bless His Covenant People, whom He still loves. Not only do we need to learn and do for ourselves, but we need to teach others so as to counteract the historical
error that has been fostered in the Church for nearly 2,000 years. Thank God, He is a God of mercy, redemption and second chances.
Shalom from Jerusalem,
Did Paul nullify food laws here? Did Paul refer to the Scriptures as a doctrine of demons? What is the doctrine of demons spoken of here? Forbidding to marry? Abstaining from certain foods?
1 Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,
Is the doctrine of demons here referring to the Torah? If so, God’s word is a doctrine of Demons. Is this possible?
2 speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron, 3 forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from foods which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.
These two things are the doctrine of demons: forbidding to marry and abstaining from foods. These were both the doctrine of the Gnostics of the Greek world. They forbid to marry, of which the Torah says the opposite and they were on various diets, including vegetarianism. Both these issues were to bring the body into submission though starving the flesh. These were not Torah commands, but practices of the pagan world.
Also note that the issue emphasizes that they were commanding to abstain from foods that God had created to be received with thanksgiving. In alignment with the Torah (law), this would be the foods that Yahweh already deemed clean. This would not however include those that He already deemed unclean. The unclean was NEVER to be received with thanksgiving, but was actually considered an abomination. Was this a temporary truth, or are we taking away from the eternal Word of God, in declaring all foods OK, even those the LORD determined unacceptable for consumption.
4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it is received with thanksgiving; 5 for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.
Is this verse then making all foods ok to eat? It does, only if you take it out of context. If taken in context. No food that is already ok’d by the word (Leviticus) is to be refused, because God already told you what foods are good. If you receive them with thanksgiving, it is sanctified, no matter what the Gnostics say.
6 If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed.
Good doctrine is God’s word, which Timothy followed, who was circumcised, by Paul.
7 But reject profane and old wives’ fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. 8 For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.
Another reference to the Greek religious groups who had many fables and were health and wellness nuts (very similar to the New Age movement of today.) Biblical Godliness was the ideal, above all the doctrines of the world. At any rate, this cannot be used to ok the eating of all foods, in contradiction to the existing Word of God.
If these arguments lead us to the conclusion that these verses cannot be used to support our theology concerning food issues, what is there to support this theology? Is this thus a doctrine and commandment of men that is held over us by tradition? Or is this belief directly supported by Scripture. We must hold our teachers accountable to some standard. God has given and preserved that very plumb line. The “church” has continually cast away that plumb line for thousands of years and our faith has deteriorated and deviated from the truth. We are the modern day Pharisees, Scribes, Sadducees, Essenes, etc, who hold to the tradition of our elders and compromise the truth of the written Word of God. We are where we are because we are the lawless church. We are reaping the harvest of a church without law.
This is an excerpt from an article entitled Major Misconceptions written by Gary Hoffman.
Did Paul quit keeping Torah for a better, less burdensome life as a follower of Jesus?
15 And after those days we packed and went up to Jerusalem. 16 Also some of the disciples from Caesarea went with us and brought with them a certain Mnason of Cyprus, an early disciple, with whom we were to lodge. 17 And when we had come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. 18 On the following day Paul went in with us to James, and all the elders were present. 19 When he had greeted them, he told in detail those things which God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry. 20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord. And they said to him, “You see, brother, how many myriads of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law;
Note: tens of thousands of Jews believed and were still zealous for the law. This is a positive statement. We are commonly lead to believe that only very few Jews followed Jesus and we also assume that the law was done away with. The Biblical record is contrary to this line of thinking.
21 but they have been informed about you that you teach all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs.
This is a false accusation. Paul did no such thing. He actually upheld the Law of Moses.
22 What then? The assembly must certainly meet, for they will hear that you have come. 23 Therefore do what we tell you: We have four men who have taken a vow. 24Take them and be purified with them, and pay their expenses so that they may shave their heads, and that all may know that those things of which they were informed concerning you are nothing, but that you yourself also walk orderly and keep the law.
Either this was all a front to fake out those accusing Paul, or he actually did regard the Torah as fully in effect even to the point of vows.
25 But concerning the Gentiles who believe, we have written and decided that they should observe no such thing, except that they should keep themselves from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality.”
This issue is discussed in the Acts 15 verses.
26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day, having been purified with them, entered the temple to announce the expiration of the days of purification, at which time an offering should be made for each one of them. 27 Now when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews from Asia, seeing him in the temple, stirred up the whole crowd and laid hands on him, 28 crying out, “Men of Israel, help! This is the man who teaches all men everywhere against the people, the law, and this place; and furthermore he also brought Greeks into the temple and has defiled this holy place.” 29 (For they had previously seen Trophimus the Ephesians with him in the city, whom they supposed that Paul had brought into the temple.) 30 And all the city was disturbed; and the people ran together, seized Paul, and dragged him out of the temple; and immediately the doors were shut.
These again are false accusations which no way support that Paul nor any Jew who followed Yahshua ever abandoned the Law, vows, or the temple offerings. (The hair of a person who was completing a Nazarite vow, was to be shaven and burned in the temple as an offering (Numbers 6:3-15). This section of verses support that Paul was keeping Torah and are not support text for his abandoning the “old law” for the new grace.
This is an excerpt from an article entitled Major Misconceptions written by Gary Hoffman.
Did the LORD through Paul nullify the Law for the Gentiles?
1 And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”
The issue that stirred the disciples to go to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders was that certain Judeans were saying that the Gentiles had to be circumcised to be saved. They were applying the Jewish oral law called the “ritual of the proselyte,” which meant that you had to become an Israelite, in order to be saved. The only way to be saved, according to the traditional view was to go through the ritual of circumcision. They believed that you were not and could not be saved outside this ritual. This meant that you were now a part of Israel and thus saved. This was in contradiction to the written law, which said that one must be joined to Yahweh.
2 Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question.
The question of circumcision as necessary for salvation. To transform the Jerusalem council into something more is adding to the text.
3 So, being sent on their way by the church, they passed through Phoenicia and Samaria, describing the conversion of the Gentiles; and they caused great joy to all the brethren. 4 And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders; and they reported all things that God had done with them.
“These things” are that God had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles 14:27. Yahweh saved gentiles who had not gone through this ritual. He did it by His power through faith.
5 But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.”
Now in Jerusalem some from the Pharisees said that it is necessary that they be circumcised and keep the Law of Moses. The issue here is not whether the Gentiles should follow Torah after receiving the Holy Spirit, but that they must follow all Torah including circumcision in order to be saved and receive the Holy Spirit, etc… They could not believe that a Gentile could go through this transformation until they had converted to Judaism. This is the essence of the Judaizers. It was not an issue making a “no law for the Gentile” rule, but a clarification of the doctrine of “by grace you have been saved, not of works…” which was the Torah way. See Hebrews 11. It was grace in the Torah for the patriarchs and it is Grace for the gentile.
6 Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter. 7 And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: “Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. 8 So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, 9 and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.
Peter states the case for the Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit by faith. They received the same Holy Spirit that Paul and the other Jews received, even before
they did one thing in alignment with the Torah. God sees the heart. Salvation was always a heart issue and still is, and He saved them because of their heart,
not because of their fulfilling the law. This was the same heart issue of Deuteronomy 6 and Matthew 26:37-40. It is the same way to Yahweh. It was and is
and always will be a heart Issue. With the right heart we then follow Yahweh’s commands. To say that the Gentiles had to do anything else to Attain
salvation is false.
10 Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
What is the yoke and whose neck is it on? Note: The Jews were into evangelism prior to Jesus. They knew that they were to be a light to the Gentiles, all the
way back to Abraham. The problem was that they required the Gentiles to follow Torah and be circumcised in order to be completely converted or accepted into Judaism. And this did not even make you an equal with a Jew. As a reminder again, the Herodian era Jews even erected a fence around the Temple that no Gentile, convert or not, could go beyond. This was the middle wall of partition spoken of in Ephesians 2:14. The yoke is likely the burden of conversion by works. The yoke was possibly the burden of trying to evangelize while making the Gentile keep the law first, when God saved them irregardless of keeping the law. Keeping the law was a life long transition of the true convert who came by faith to the LORD. Once accepted by Gods grace He gives each
the power to pursue a life of obedience to His law.
11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.”
Paul points out that all are saved in the same manner. Just like Adam, Abraham, Noah, David, etc… were saved by faith, so are we and so are these Gentiles. SAME WAY as always. Saved by grace. Check out Strong’s definition of grace: The divine influence upon the heart reflected in the life.
12 Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles. 13 And after they had become silent, James answered, saying, “Men and brethren, listen to me: 14 Simon has declared how God at the first visited the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name. 15 And with this the words of the prophets agree, just as it is written:
God has taken individuals out of the gentiles as a people for His name. The Gentile was coming out of from among gentiles and into the household of Israel. God did not bring the Jew out of Torah to become more like the gentiles, but was opening a door that the Gentile could enter into the faith of the Jew. The Gentile was expected to come OUT of the pagan life and into the Torah life, which is the same today. The question is what does Torah life mean or even look like?
16 ‘After this I will return And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down; I will rebuild its ruins, And I will set it up; 17 So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord, Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name, Says the LORD WHO DOES ALL THESE THINGS.’ 18 “Known to God from eternity are all His works. 19 Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to God,
The important word here is “turning”. Do not trouble those from the Gentiles who are turning to God. This is an “in process” transition of repentance. These are NEW believers who are coming out of their pagan life without God and placing their trust in the God of Israel. Do not trouble them by telling them they have to be circumcised and keep the law to be saved, when God has decided that they already are.
20 but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood.
Are these the four things that a gentile must do forever? Does this make sense? What about all the other things like the 10 commandments? Or is this it? This statement cannot be an all encompassing standard for the gentile follower of Jesus. It is however the four main elements in most pagan temple worship. It is a first step away from the pagan world of cult worship. It is very important to note that all four of these commands are Torah commandments given to Israel concerning the separation from pagan idolatry. Is it possible that the council was giving application of the law to these new converts? Giving them a “most important” list of things to do as they are coming out of paganism.
21 For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.”
The key and summation of this issue is in this verse. One that few ever remembers reading in this context. What does this mean? To paraphrase: The Torah/law/word of God is preached every Sabbath in a systematic weekly reading schedule. If you come to the synagogue each week, you will learn the word of God. It will all be covered. Yahweh has redeemed these Gentiles from death. They have received the Holy Spirit. They have been chosen by Gods grace “period”. As they turn and come out of their pagan life, they will here the truth of God’s Way each Sabbath as they gather with the congregations. They will be fed the word regularly. They will learn how to live over the long haul. They will grow, as they learn and apply the Word of God to their life. This is the same rule of evangelism today. The new, weak believer needs milk first, then hopefully moves on to eating meat. The new convert will choke on meat. The Gentiles are being saved by faith. God looks at the heart and is giving them the Holy Spirit. Don’t burden the disciples with making them have these new converts be circumcised and keep the whole law as they are turning to God. At least get them out of the pagan worship system for now. They will hear the word weekly as they assemble with us. They will learn how to live through the teaching of God’s law. In time the same God, who has saved them by faith, will transform the rest of their lives, through the Holy Spirit whom they have received. And God forbid that they have to go through the ritual of a proselyte
22 Then it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, namely, Judas who was also named Barsabas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren. 23 They wrote this letter by them: The apostles, the elders, and the brethren, To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: Greetings. 24 Since we have heard that some who went out from us have troubled you with words, unsettling your souls, saying, “You must be circumcised and keep the law”—to whom we gave no such commandment— 25 it seemed good to us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men to you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 men who have risked their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have therefore sent Judas and Silas, who will also report the same things by word of mouth. 28 For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: 29 that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well. Farewell. 30 So when they were sent off, they came to Antioch; and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the letter. 31 When they had read it, they rejoiced over its encouragement. 32 Now Judas and Silas, themselves being prophets also, exhorted and strengthened the brethren with many words. 33 And after they had stayed there for a time, they were sent back with greetings from the brethren to the apostles.
These verses are not license to break the commands of the God of Israel.
This is an excerpt from an article entitled Major Misconceptions written by Gary Hoffman.
Did God, through this vision to Peter nullify the food laws here? Is this the issue within the context or has our tradition become more authoritative than what is actually written in the Scriptures. One of the most powerful yet simple ways to narrow down the actual meaning of a verse is to understand the context of the particular section of scripture. This is sometimes very clear and sometimes takes extensive research into the history, culture and language. In this section of Scripture it is a combination of knowledge of history, but like Mark 7 it is predominantly an issue of context.
1 There was a certain man in Caesarea called Cornelius, a centurion of what was called the Italian Regiment, 2 a devout man and one who feared God with all his household, who gave alms generously to the people, and prayed to God always.
Cornelius was “one who feared God” or literally “a God fearer”. A God fearer was a designation for a gentile who committed himself to following Yahweh, the God of Israel, but who was not circumcised, yet. Because the traditional ritual of becoming a proselyte (a gentile who became an Israelite through a circumcision ritual) was essential to being a member of Israel, a God fearer was still considered a gentile. He was to be treated as a gentile and all the man made rules for interaction with gentiles applied to the God fearer. This was contrary to what the Hebrew Scriptures taught. The Torah stated that anyone who joined themselves to Yahweh was a child of Yahweh See Isaiah 56.
3 About the ninth hour of the day he saw clearly in a vision an angel of God coming in and saying to him, “Cornelius!”4 And when he observed him, he was afraid, and said, “What is it, lord?” So he said to him, “Your prayers and your alms have come up for a memorial before God. 5 Now send men to Joppa, and send for Simon whose surname is Peter. 6 He is lodging with Simon, a tanner, whose house is by the sea. He will tell you what you must do.” 7 And when the angel who spoke to him had departed, Cornelius called two of his household servants and a devout soldier from among those who waited on him continually .8 So when he had explained all these things to them, he sent them to Joppa. 9 The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour. 10 Then he became very hungry and wanted to eat; but while they made ready, he fell into a trance 11 and saw heaven opened and an object like a great sheet bound at the four corners, descending to him and let down to the earth. 12 In it were all kinds of four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, creeping things, and birds of the air. 13 And a voice came to him, “Rise, Peter; kill and eat.”
Peter is in a trance, has a vision and is told to kill and eat animals. This is a vision. These were not real animals, but a vision. Visions were usually something with a deeper meaning than what was seen. Daniel and Joseph are two who had visions. In Josephs for instance the sickly wheat did not literally eat the healthy wheat. Same with the sickly and healthy cows. The dreams were metaphor for what God was telling Joseph.
14 But Peter said, “Not so, Lord! For I have never eaten anything common or unclean.”
Peter says no to the LORD? How can Peter say no here? He can if the voice is contradicting a clear mandate in the Torah. The only standard for obedience that Peter had and which we have to determine proper action is the written Word of Yahweh. Peter also confirms that even after 10 years as a follower of Jesus he still has never eaten anything common or unclean. Now, the LORD is either changing the food laws here or He is using this vision to make a very specific point. Also note that Peter here did not interpret any of Jesus’ words to nullify the food laws, for he was still maintaining them. Peter did not interpret Mark 7 as authorization to eat unclean meats.
15 And a voice spoke to him again the second time, “What God has cleansed you must not call common.” 16 This was done three times. And the object was taken up into heaven again.
This happens three times and the vision ends. The question is: what did God cleanse and what did Peter call common or unclean? In context this in relation to Cornelius as we will see. This was the Gentile who submitted himself to Yahweh and His Torah. This was not a food issue. We will also see that the issue was not about what Peter was eating, but who Peter was not eating with. One important note here is the word usage of Peter for common and unclean are koinoo for common and akathartos for unclean. The LORD in His response clarifies the issue by only using the word koinoo for common. This is another verification that His intent and emphasis were not on food.
17 Now while Peter wondered within himself what this vision which he had seen meant, behold, the men who had been sent from Cornelius had made inquiry for Simon’s house, and stood before the gate.
Peter was pondering (he was perplexed) this vision and wondering what it meant. It was not obvious. Was God telling Peter that He could now eat any animal and that he was now making all animals ok to eat. Was the unchanging Creator, now rescinding what was recorded by Moses as His law? Was God telling Peter that he could go out and now eat all things?
18 And they called and asked whether Simon, whose surname was Peter, was lodging there. 19 While Peter thought about the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are seeking you. 20 Arise therefore, go down and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.”
Peter was still thinking about the vision. He was seeking the meaning of the vision which he had seen. He was waiting for God to reveal the true meaning of the vision.
21 Then Peter went down to the men who had been sent to him from Cornelius, and said, “Yes, I am he whom you seek. For what reason have you come?” 22 And they said, “Cornelius the centurion, a just man, one who fears God and has a good reputation among all the nation of the Jews, was divinely instructed by a holy angel to summon you to his house, and to hear words from you.” 23 Then he invited them in and lodged them. On the next day Peter went away with them, and some brethren from Joppa accompanied him. 24 And the following day they entered Caesarea. Now Cornelius was waiting for them, and had called together his relatives and close friends.
We know that Cornelius is a Gentile God Fearer and a devout man, with a good reputation among all Jews 9:1-2. Remember, Cornelius was not a full convert to Judaism according to the traditions of the elders that Jesus has such a problem with in Mark 7. He was treated just like a gentile. As we will see, this means that a Jew could not fellowship and eat with him in his home, because he was considered common. Because of this view, which was in contradiction to the written law, the Jews even went to the extreme of building a middle wall of separation in the temple area. This wall kept the gentile god fearer and the proselyte from coming near the temple itself. This was in total contradiction to the torah of God, which allowed even the gentile to bring sin offerings to the LORD’s alter in the tabernacle. There was a big problem with the oral traditions and commands of men, as there is today.
25 As Peter was coming in, Cornelius met him and fell down at his feet and worshiped him. 26 But Peter lifted him up, saying, “Stand up; I myself am also a man.” 27And as he talked with him, he went in and found many who had come together. 28 Then he said to them, “You know how unlawful it is for a Jewish man to keep company with or go to one of another nation.
Peter acknowledges the traditional law. Note: this is not a command of Torah, but one added by the Jews. The Greek word here for unlawful is equal to disgusting, detestable or forbidden.
But God has shown me that I should not call any man common or unclean.
Peter explains his interpretation of the vision. His interpretation has nothing to do with the food laws of Leviticus, but with gentiles. No MAN is common or unclean. We cannot read into this anything more than what Peter determined this vision to mean. It was his vision. We must consider the implications of determining a meaning of this vision other than what Peter clearly stated. We are adding to the word of God, if we do. This would be like me telling you a deeper more significant meaning to Joseph’s dream and of Daniels interpretation of the king’s dream. It is ridiculous to think of. Yet because of tradition, we allow this to happen here. We simply cannot add more revelation to this vision than what Peter received.
29 Therefore I came without objection as soon as I was sent for. I ask, then, for what reason have you sent for me?” 30 So Cornelius said, “Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing, 31 and said, ‘Cornelius, your prayer has been heard, and your alms are remembered in the sight of God. 32 Send therefore to Joppa and call Simon here, whose surname is Peter. He is lodging in the house of Simon, a tanner, by the sea. When he comes, he will speak to you.’ 33 So I sent to you immediately, and you have done well to come. Now therefore, we are all present before God, to hear all the things commanded you by God.”34 Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. 35 But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. 36 The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ— He is Lord of all—
Peter again clarifies His interpretation of the vision, that God shows no partiality between the Jew or the Gentile who fears God and works righteousness. The Messiah is LORD of all who fear God and work righteousness. He shows no partiality, they are one in the same. This is clearly an issue about the oneness of the Jew and the Gentile through faith in Jesus. The vision was NOT about food! The context and the conclusion of Peter make this very clear. His interpretation also, though in disagreement with hundreds of years of oral Jewish law, does not contradict the Torah. Again, we have missed the point of this incredibly important section of Scripture.
This is an excerpt from an article entitled Major Misconceptions written by Gary Hoffman.
When someone finds out that my family chooses to eat Biblically or keep certain parts of the Law, the typical response is to quote several portions of Scripture. The following scriptures are typically used as proof text against our decision to maintain a Biblical diet.Mark 7:1-23
Did Jesus nullify food laws or any of the Law Here? Did Jesus make ALL FOODS (those previously listed in Leviticus as unclean and an abomination the LORD) now OK for followers of Jesus to eat?
1 Then the Pharisees and some of the scribes came together to Him, having come from Jerusalem. 2 Now when they saw some of His disciples eat bread with defiled, that is, with unwashed hands, they found fault. 3 For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands in a special way, holding the tradition of the elders.
The issue here was concerning a traditional manner of washing hands that was not addressed in the written Torah. This was one of the many thousands of man made additions to the Scriptures that the religious leaders of the day came up with in order to keep the Torah. This was called the oral torah and later put in a writing called the Mishnah. During the time of Jesus these teachings were elevated as equal to the written Torah of Moses. According to these man made laws it was necessary to go through a ritual washing of the hands that nullified any possibility of being “defiled” by a food or an item that may have come into contact with something or someone that was by this same law unclean. It is important to note that this was not a commandment of the LORD as written by Moses, but of men or “the tradition of the elders”. This was called a “fence” and was erected, in order that one stay far away from breaking a written commandment. These fences were not in the Scriptures given to Moses, but the fabrication of men. This whole section of Scriptures is specifically focused on this man made law and this is the context and subject of Jesus rebuke. This is NOT and could not possibly be an issue of written Levitical food laws. The context of this entire section is an excellent example of how the context clearly establishes the point of the text.
4 When they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other things which they have received and hold, like the washing of cups, pitchers, copper vessels, and couches. 5 Then the Pharisees and scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashed hands?”
The issue that these Pharisee’s and scribes had with Jesus was that He and His disciples were not following the man made rules and regulations of the religious institution of His day. Again the subject of this dispute is clearly established in the text. This was NOT an issue of following the rules of the written law, but an issue of following the traditions of men, as these Pharisees and Scribes clearly state.
6 He answered and said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: ‘This people honors Me with their lips, But their heart is far from Me. 7And in vain they worship Me, Teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’
To confirm that this is the issue, Jesus uses a quote from the prophets to cement the issue and the error of these men. He condemned them for teaching that their man made traditions were simply man made traditions. His biggest dispute was that they had made these into doctrines that were elevated to that of the law itself. Jesus did not accept these as authoritative, but condemned those who teach and enforce these rules or dogma. Their contention here was in no way suggesting that Jesus broke the laws of Moses, but the commandments and doctrines of men.
8 For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men— the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.”
Jesus goes further in His accusation in implying that they not only made new doctrines that were not Scriptural, but they also laid aside the actual commandments of the LORD (the Torah) to do so. This is the leaven of the Pharisees and the heavy yoke that Jesus spoke of in other texts. The Torah that was given by the mouth of God at Sinai, when observed according the manner in which it was written was never a heavy yoke or legalism.
9 He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.
They not only lay them aside, but reject Yahweh’s word. (Torah or OT). This is where the danger of our man made traditions leads. It becomes our law and we reject Gods law. We become submissive and fear men while rejecting the written law of God. We elevate the traditions of our fathers in higher esteem than that which came from the very mouth of God Himself.
10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother’; and, ‘He who curses father or mother, let him be put to death.’ 11 But you say, ‘If a man says to his father or mother, “Whatever profit you might have received from me is Corban”—’ (that is, a gift to God), 12 then you no longer let him do anything for his father or his mother, 13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do.”
They even override and make the commandments of no effect through their UN Biblical tradition. Men begin to pursue and focus on these and their importance replaces the original writing in which they are seeking to uphold. I believe that the sole emphasis of this portion of Scripture is a warning anyone who has a doctrine that supercedes the written commandments. I believe that this is the warning for the church today. I believe that we need to ask the LORD to reveal in us any doctrines that we adhere to that He may look at in the same way he is looking at this oral law of the Jews.
14 When He had called all the multitude to Himself, He said to them, “Hear Me, everyone, and understand: 15 There is nothing that enters a man from outside which can defile him; but the things which come out of him, those are the things that defile a man. 16 If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear!”
The importance of context must be noted here. This verse has a context in which it is set. To pluck this verse out of this context and interpret it outside of the surrounding verses would be in extreme opposition to the writers intent. I will note that most who use this verse to say that Jesus abolished the food laws must remove it from the surrounding Scripture to do so. This verse simply CANNOT be support text for eating what ever we want.
A study of the word uses here is also in support of this being a different issue than food. The following is a word study on the key word defile. The question is: “Is this the word used to describe unclean foods or any other designation as found in the OT. NOTE: that the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew OT from Jesus day) never uses this Greek word. Thus it is NEVER the word used in any of the OT passages for “unclean”
DEFILE – 2840 κοινόω [koinoo /koy·no·o/] v. From 2839; TDNT 3:809; TDNTA 447; GK 3124; 15 occurrences; AV translates as “defile” 11 times, “call common” twice, “pollute” once, and “unclean” once. 1. to make common. 1a. to make unclean, render unhallowed, defile, profane. 1b. to declare or count unclean.
“to profane cultically” “to deprive of the capacity for fellowship with God” “to make common
“However, “unclean” in the OT and every instance in Leviticus, especially chapter 11 is represented by the Greek word akathartos which is used numerous occasions in the NT. It is used exclusively in the Gospels in association with demons or literally “unclean (akathartos) spirit, and predominantly in the rest of the NT in the same manner. A good question as a side note is the following: Did the writers of the Septuagint know more about the spiritual issues concerning these unclean animals than simply dietary in nature?
This is the word used in the NT for In all but 5 instances for “unclean spirit”. It is used also to translate a quote from 2 Cor 6:17 from Isaiah 52:11.
The use of koinoo instead of akathartos here is added (very significant) support that Jesus was not implying that all foods, including those already established as unclean (akathartos) are now clean, but simply denouncing the authority of the traditions of men. His point is that food that God already determined to be acceptable can not be made common or unclean by mans influence. Basically your laws are changing the Laws of God.
17 When He had entered a house away from the crowd, His disciples asked Him concerning the parable. 18 So He said to them, “Are you thus without understandingalso? Do you not perceive that whatever enters a man from outside cannot defile him,
“Whatever” here cannot thus be an all encompassing statement, outside of the context of this argument. Within the context it cannot mean that now all things, including the ones already addressed in Leviticus, are OK as food. It is simply a misunderstanding of ours because of our tradition and the interpretation of men. For the very reason Jesus had to set these religious leaders straight. Their problem is our problem: we have taken the tradition of men and made it into doctrine. A doctrine which we so boldly and vehemently hold to. We cannot make the same mistake as the one group of people that Yahshua so seriously chastised. We MUST look into our own lives and see where our traditions and doctrines are the same, i.e. where “our interpretation” and other teachers (even our church fathers) have a system in place that overrides the Word of God. Look close, they are to numerous to count. We are in bondage to our own traditions and refuse to follow God’s teachings. We are doing the very thing that Jesus is opposed to here. And interestingly we are using the very Scriptures that rebuke this theology to support our breaking of the Law.
NOTE: The NIV ads in parenthesis: (in saying this Jesus declared all food “clean”) this is an extremely disturbing addition to the Word of God, designed to sway the reader to make a conclusion that is no where evident in this passage. These Greek scholars “knowingly” chose to create doctrine that is non existent.
Another important note to point out here is that the dietary prohibitions in Leviticus list certain animal’s ad food and certain others as NOT FOOD. To say that there are unclean foods and clean foods is missing the emphasis of the LORD. He is clearly saying that some animal meat is not to be considered food. What God has determined as clean to eat is food and what He has determined as unclean is not food. The issue with the Pharisees and Scribes is that they are making what God has called food, unclean by contact with a gentile or a gentile’s food ware, which was not possible according to the Law.
19 because it does not enter his heart but his stomach, and is eliminated, thus purifying all foods?”
The process that purifies all foods is our own body system. This portion of text is clearly concerning the God given processes of the body to eliminate the byproducts of food through the excretion of waste. Not about changing food laws or about making what is not food now food.
20 And He said, “What comes out of a man, that defiles a man. 21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, 22thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness. 23 All these evil things come from within and defile a man.”
This is and always was and always will be a heart issue. Is your heart clean? These things all come from your heart. It is these that make us (koinoo) common and deprives us of the capacity for fellowship with God. This points to the focus of this section of Scriptures is about evil things and not food. It is not saying that what we eat is of no concern.
We must read the Word of God and check all our interpretations of a verse, first with the context or the sentence, then the paragraph, then the chapter, then the book, then with the NT, then with the OT. If there is any deviation or contradiction, WE are the ones who are wrong in our interpretation, not the writers or the Creator.
Let us not forget that there is one law and one law giver (James 4:12.)
This is an excerpt from an article entitled Major Misconceptions written by Gary Hoffman.
Last month, we explored the first 1,000 years of Christian history in relation to the Jewish people and Israel. What we discovered wasn’t a pretty picture! And, it only became worse. While the first 1,000 years displayed judeophobia, it was primarily limited to the clergy who were always trying to keep their flocks away from the Jews. However, later, the rank and file, growing middle class would be the main source of anti-Semitic activity, spurred on by the Church and its edicts. The pattern had been set.
This month, let’s consider these questions:
Why did historical events such as the Crusades and the Inquisition ultimately focus on persecuting Jews?
Did you know that Martin Luther was sympathetic toward the Jewish people in his early years and then became the source of vile anti-Semitism in his later years?
Did you know that Adolph Hitler found precedent for his evil actions against the Jewish people right out of the annals of Church history?
What can we do to change the last 1,800 years of historical anti-Jewish attitudes and actions of the Church? So, let’s continue our pilgrimage on this trail of contempt.
The First Crusade began in the year 1096. This was a period of strife for the WesternChurch. There were two Popes, one considered an anti-Pope who was claiming the position. When one died, the other, Urban II, needed a unifying cause. So, he called for a Crusade, or Holy War, against the Moslems in the Holy Land, who were persecuting Christians and desecrating the holy places and Jerusalem. In the summer of 1096, an undisciplined rabble of 200,000 peasants and artisans assembled in France. However, there were no Moslems near at hand. So the “champions of the cross” turned their attention to the Jews, who, in their eyes, were just as much “infidels” and enemies of Christianity as the Moslems. They found they could begin the Crusade on the spot. Cruelty, instead of charity, began at home.
As the Crusaders marched through Europe on their way to the Holy Land, they literally raped, pillaged and plundered the Jewish communities along the way. Faced with the wild cries of the Crusaders, “The Jews crucified our Savior, and they must return to Him or die,” the Jews had the alternative of baptism or death. Thousands preferred the death of martyrs. While the Church did not officially sanction this activity, it nevertheless took place with very little to stop it. Many local clergymen and bishops did give some Jews protection and refuge from the rabble. Unfortunately, others actually participated in the executions.
For example, at Mainz, in Germany, the Archbishop invited 1,300 Jews into his palace for refuge. This proved to be an invitation to slaughter, for under his supervision, they were all killed. He even shared in the spoils confiscated from the corpses. Incidentally, Emperor Henry IV heard of this massacre, confiscated the property of the Archbishop, and permitted the Jews who had been forcibly baptized in his realm to return to Judaism. When the Crusaders finally arrived in Jerusalem three years later, they were 600,000 strong. They besieged the city and on July 15, 1099, broke through the walls. They killed the Moslems in the city, along with many Christians whom they mistook for Moslems because of their Middle Eastern appearance. The herded the Jews into their synagogues. Crusaders with shields decorated with large crosses placed wood around the synagogues and burned alive all inside as they sang, “Christ, We Adore Thee!”
Is it any wonder that, for the Jewish people, the cross is a symbol of hatred and death, not love, reconciliation and salvation? The cross has literally been taken and used as a sword against the Jewish people. In all, there were nine Crusades. The last was in 1291, when the Moslems once again took possession of the Holy Land.
The Fourth Lateran Council
In 1215, the Fourth Lateran Council of the Church was held. During this council, the doctrine of Transubstantiation was crystallized. Transubstantiation is the doctrine that the flesh and blood of Christ becomes present in the consecrated host (bread) and wine. This doctrine is still believed in the Catholic Church today. This doctrine, together with other statements of the Fourth Lateran Council, became a new source of Christian anti-Semitism.
Host Desecration: For centuries to follow, accusations of host desecration by Jews were circulated. The “Host Desecration Libel” is that the Jewish people would try to steal a consecrated host and then stab, torment, and burn it in an effort to recrucify Christ. Many illustrated stories showing this fabricated phenomenon were circulated, particularly in Germany, during the 1400s and 1500s. This teaching is not dead. Let me share a personal example. In the mid-1970s, the children of a Catholic friend came home from a parochial school (in Boston, MA) with this story told them by a nun trying to teach them respect for the communion host (bread wafer): “A Catholic boy and a Jewish boy went into a Catholic church, and the Jewish boy talked the Christian boy into stealing a communion host. They took it home and went into a closet and stuck it with a pin. The host began to bleed, filled up the closet with blood, and drowned the boys!” This is a variation of the old blood libel charge, particularly since the culprit in the story is a Jew.
Blood Libel: An offshoot of the host desecration libel is the “blood libel.” The blood libel contends that Jews murder non-Jews, particularly Christians, in order to obtain blood for the Passover or other rituals. It was also purported that Jews needed to drink Christian blood so that their appearance could remain human looking, and Christian blood would also help eliminate the distinctive foetor judaicus, “Jewish smell,” which was converse to the “odor of sanctity” possessed by Christians. Another version of this accusation is that Jews would kidnap Christian babies, kill them, and grind up their bodies to cook in their matza (unleavened bread) for Passover. These libels are easily refuted when one has only the slightest understanding of Jewish dietary laws. Jewish people are forbidden to eat the blood of any animal, much less human blood or flesh. The fact that such a doctrine could come into being shows complete contempt and ignorance of Jewish lifestyle, and the lack of any Christian-Jewish relations and dialogue. Again, these accusations can still be found today. Not too many years ago, a young boy was kidnapped in a town north of Minneapolis. JoAnn Magnuson, our BFP Education Director in the US, has a copy of a flyer that was put on windshields in the area claiming that Jews had kidnapped the child for their Passover rituals. It sounds absurd that such a thing could be claimed in the 1990s, but anti-Semitism does not die an easy death.
Distinguishing Marks: Another canon promulgated by the Fourth Lateran Council required Jews to wear a distinguishing mark. The form of the mark varied in different countries, but usually took the form of a badge, or a three-cornered or pointed hat. In this way, Christians could be sure not to inadvertently come into contact with Jewish people. Even in Medieval art, Jews were depicted in paintings and woodcuts with a circle on their clothing or wearing pointed hats. It is important to realize that during this period, many lay and ecclesiastical authorities tried to protect the Jewish community from persecution. Much of the anti-Semitism was now promoted by a rising middle-class. However, the attitudes were based on Church teaching of the past.
The next historical event to blemish world history is the infamous Inquisition promoted by the Church in Spain and Portugal. According to Canon Law, the Inquisition was not authorized to interfere in the internal affairs of the Jews, but to seek out Christian heretics who had backslidden. However, this law was rescinded on the grounds that the presence of Jews caused heresy to develop in the Christian communities.
In the mid-1400s, the Spanish Inquisition began to identify and prosecute backsliders in the Church. It then spread to the Jewish community. Its first focus was the tens of thousands of Jews who had been forced to be baptized. These baptized Jews were known as Conversos or New Christians. Because of this, they were considered Christians and expected to behave as Christians, even though conversion was not their choice. If a mouse is caught in a cookie jar, this does not make him a cookie. So too, force-baptizing anyone does not make him a Christian. Many of these New Christians took upon themselves a Christian facade in order to live and work in the Christian society of Spain and Portugal.
Others did not, and were persecuted for their faith. Many were still practicing Jewish customs, such as lighting candles on Friday evening, changing the linen on the Sabbath, abstaining from pork and scaleless fish, observing the Feast Days, etc. According to the Inquisition Laws, to be caught practicing any one of 37 Jewish customs was grounds to be brought before the Inquisition Court. Christians were to watch for these signs and report any such backsliders. Once before the court, there was no way out of punishment:
If you confessed and did not repent, you were burned alive.
If you confessed and repented, you were publicly humiliated. Any subsequent slip-ups resulted in certain death.
If you did not confess, even if you were innocent, you were tortured until you confessed and then were burned.
The Church was not allowed to execute the victim, so they passed them to a secular arm of the Inquisition Court. Blood was not allowed to be shed, thus burning was the execution of choice. This they justified by a text from John 15:6, “If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered, and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”
Incidentally, all their property was confiscated, enriching the Inquisition Court. Finally, practicing Jews (not Conversos) were eventually brought to the Inquisition Courts, as it was believed that they were Judaisers and a bad influence on the Conversos. They too were tried and burned. The Inquisition in Spain lasted from 1481-1820. Over 350,000 Jews suffered punishment.
Finally, we hope for a breath of fresh air. Reformers recognized many errors inherent in the Church and challenged the leadership, the Pope, the bishops, the priests — the whole ecclesiastical body. The Reformation brought about complex and even contradictory repercussions to the evolution of anti-Semitism. One branch of Protestantism, namely the Calvinists and their offshoots, proved less judeophobic than Catholicism until the 20th century.
The other branch, Lutheranism, developed a continuing strain of anti-Semitism due to Luther’s later anti-Jewish views. An immediate consequence of the Reformation was to aggravate the position of the Jews in regions that remained Roman Catholic. The popes were determined to restore order by the strict application of Canon Law. This naturally affected the Jewish people negatively. One result was that from the second half of the 16th century, ghettos were introduced, at first in Italy, and afterward in the Austrian Empire. The ghetto was actually the name of an island in Venice that was an abandoned foundry. The Jews of Venice were rounded up and moved there so they could be separated and watched. This practice spread to other parts of the Catholic world. Adolph Hitler reinstituted the ghetto in the Third Reich for the same purpose. G. E. Roberti, an 18th century Catholic publicist, stated: “A Jewish ghetto is a better proof of the truth of the religion of Jesus Christ than a whole school of theologians.”
Martin Luther: Martin Luther is the father of Lutheranism. During the first period of his ministry, 1513-1523, Luther often condemned the persecution of the Jews and recommended a more tolerant policy toward them, based on the spirit of true brotherhood. In 1523, he wrote a pamphlet, “That Christ Was Born A Jew,” in which he argued that the Jews, who were from the same stock as the founder of Christianity, had been right in refusing to accept the “papal paganism” presented to them as Christianity. He added, “If I had been a Jew and had seen such fools and blockheads teach the Christian faith, I should rather have turned into a pig than become a Christian.”
However, when they did not accept his version of Christianity and convert, Luther turned increasingly hostile to the Jewish people. By the 1530s in his Table Talk Series, he referred to them as “the stiffed-necked Jews, ironhearted and stubborn as the devil.”
Finally, it happened. He printed two pamphlets, in 1542, “On the Jews and Their Lies,” and in 1543, “On The Shem Hamephoras” (The Ineffable Name). These two pamphlets contain some of the most abhorrent and vile language ever written against the Jewish people. Five hundred years later, Hitler found many of his ideas and justifications for his treatment of the Jewish people and the Holocaust in these writings. After all, if the father of the LutheranChurch, who was a German, stated these things, who was to argue with him? For Luther, it was certainly a case of “sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind.”
The Enlightenment And Emancipation
As we move into the era of Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries, we find the Jewish people still suffering from a legacy of prejudice. As long as Christianity held unchallenged sway in Europe, Jews could exist only on the margin of European social life, and were not even allowed to own property. The term, the Wandering Jew, found its definition in the fact that the Jewish people were forced from city to city, and country to country. For this reason, the Jewish people gravitated to occupations of the intellect, commerce and the arts, professions they could take with them if forced to leave.
Not being able to buy property, they often put their wealth into jewelry or other easily transportable commodities. This and their vocation in banking and money lending, forced upon them by Church authorities since the 12th Century, gave them an undeserved reputation of being obsessed with money.
They became the scapegoat for the ills of the world. When the people of Europe were dying from the Black Death (Bubonic Plague), the Jews were blamed for poisoning the wells. Lacking knowledge regarding germs and disease, and seeing most of the Jewish people free from infection (which was due to their dietary habits and cleanliness), the conclusion of the non-Jewish citizens was that the Jews were the source of the problem. After all, the Jews were still being pictured as evil and prompted by the devil to do evil deeds. Or, they were caricaturized as creatures with pointed tails, horns, and devilish features.
As we move into the era of Emancipation, the newer 19th century version of anti-Semitism arose on soil, which had been well watered for many centuries in Europe by Christian theology and popular myths about the Jewish people. For centuries, Christians had persecuted Jews for theological reasons, and this “teaching of contempt” had set the seal on the most ancient of all anti-Semitic themes: that the Jews were a uniquely alien element within human society and the enemy of the modern secular state. The end of the Medieval era of faith and politics did not mean the end of anti-Semitism.
The Pogroms Of Russia
From 1881 to 1902, there was a series of pogroms against the Jews of Russia. The Pogroms were a series of attacks, accompanied by destruction, the looting of property, murder, and rape, perpetrated by the Christian population of Russia against the Jews. Civil and military authorities stood by and watched, and at times participated. The Church was silent at best, and even endorsed some of the attacks. It was during this period that we find the infamous publication, The Protocols Of The Learned Elders Of Zion. The Protocols, first printed in Russia in 1905, is a supposed conversation between Jewish leaders on how they were to take over the world. The original publication was printed under the auspices of the secret police on the press of Czar Nicolas II of Russia, who made no secret of his personal membership in the anti-Semitic organization, the Black Hundreds. Even though this booklet has been proven over and over again to be false, it can still be found in print around the world and in many languages.
It is difficult to assess the full scope of the pogroms and the number of victims they claimed because of a civil war affecting Russia at the turn of the century. However, partial data is available for 530 communities in which 887 major pogroms and 349 minor pogroms occurred; there were 60,000 dead and several times that number of wounded. (Dubnow, History of Russia.)
This brings us to the Holocaust, the culmination of 1900 years of bad teaching in Christian society. The Holocaust was Hitler’s Final Solution of the Jewish people. Germany was one of the most enlightened, intellectual, and cultured societies in the world at that time. Yet, this so-called Christian society stood by and watched the extermination of the Jews of Europe, and some even participated.
Six million Jews including 2,000,000 children were violently murdered by Hitler and the Nazis. His Final Solution was to rid the world of the “Jewish vermin,” as he portrayed them in literature, speeches, and films. Hitler concluded that there was an evil in society and the common denominator was Jews who could be found in every city and in every country of Europe. To Hitler, they were an ever-present and evil burden to society. They were the killers of Christ. They needed to be controlled and segregated from the rest of society and wear distinguishing badges. They should only work in menial tasks and be barred from medicine, the arts, sciences, law, education, etc. Their synagogues and prayer books should be burned, their property confiscated, and ultimately, they should be killed. Doesn’t that sound vaguely familiar? Every one of these persecutions had a precedent in earlier centuries when the Church controlled politics. Hitler really did not do anything new, he only did it on a grander scale, and more “efficiently.” Sadly, he learned his lesson from Church history.
Hitler and his agents were certainly not true Christians. Nazi philosophy was influenced more by pagan mythology. But most Nazis were members in good standing in either Lutheran or Catholic churches. They perpetrated these acts in a historically Christian nation…and there was a deafening silence from the Christian world. Even during the decade before the Final Solution exterminations began, the “Christian West” rejected Jewish emigrants fleeing from the growing Nazi menace, and even prevented them from going to Eretz Israel,their ancestral homeland. These decisions resulted in the death of millions.
Father Neimoeller, writing of this sad chapter of history, said: “First they came for the Communists and I did not speak out – because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the Socialists and I did not speak out -because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak out for me.”
The Holocaust in all of its severity is unique to the Jewish people. While non-Jews were killed in Hitler’s killing machine, they were killed for political or social reasons, such as being mentally ill, prostitutes or homosexuals. The Jewish people as a whole were targets: mothers, children, peasants, doctors, musicians, rabbis, professors, etc. None were exempt, and they were all exterminated JUST BECAUSE THEY WERE JEWS. Fortunately, there were some Christians who acted with compassion to hide or help Jews to escape, e.g. Corrie Ten Boom and the Christians of Le Chambon in France. However, their numbers were far too few to make a significant difference.
Hitler is gone. Nazi Germany has ceased to exist. However, the “apple of God’s eye” (Zech. ), the Jewish people, are alive, and Israel is a fact.
Anti-Semitism In The Last 50 Years
From this historical account, it can be seen that the concept of Christian-Jewish relations is a very recent phenomenon. The effort to build genuine Christian-Jewish relationships has only begun in a serious fashion during the last 40 years. Forty years out of nearly 2,000 is not a long time. Much of this effort is in response to the Holocaust; nevertheless, it is happening. Will it last? Only if you are a part of making it last. There is still a battle to be fought. Anti-Semitism isn’t gone, and can be seen or heard in every community. While some would have you believe the world is becoming a better place and anti-Semitism is on the wane, this is not true. Since 1990, anti-Semitic acts around the world have increased, even showing up in places where hardly any Jews live, such as Japan.
We also see how Israel receives a great deal of media reporting that is tainted with a perpetually negative bias. Israel has become a bastion of self-determination for the Jewish people, and many in the world cannot accept it. A “weak underdog” Israel was more acceptable. But a strong Israel, on equal par in the world, is unacceptable. In my estimation, world opinion of Israel is trapped in the old pit of anti-Semitism. After World War II, as the facts of the Holocaust came to light, many enlightened individuals and groups began to speak out for the Jewish people, albeit too late to save the 6,000,000 who perished. While it was no longer “fashionable” to be anti-Semitic, that did not make the problem go away…it only drove it underground. Currently, it is showing itself in world opinion of Israel, as people and governments have transferred their anti-Semitic feelings to a national or political level in the disguise of righteous indignation against the “aggressive ZionistState.” The new anti-Israel, or anti-Zionist trend, is nothing more than the old anti-Semitism in new clothing.
How can we counteract this? We can take a stand, know our facts, and be a collective Christian voice of support and encouragement. This is something that hasn’t been done during all Church history. Yes, there have been Christian individuals who spoke out, but now I believe we have a chance to make a difference because we can show solidarity as a group.
What Should This Mean To Us?
The Jewish people know this history well, while most Christians often ignore it. We prefer to forget about it, because it is an indictment against us. Rev. Dr. Edward Flannery, in his book, The Anguish of the Jews, says that “the only chapters of Christian history known by the Jews were recorded on pages the Church has torn out of the history books and burned.” What does Paul mean in Romans 11 when he points out that the Jewish people are “beloved for the sake of the Fathers,” and that “by our mercy, they will receive mercy?”
It is grievous to think that Satan’s greatest tool against God’s covenant people, the apple of His eye, has been the Church. To say that these historical churchmen who did these terrible things were not real Christians is not accurate, for many of them were. Let us learn a lesson from Martin Luther. No one can doubt his devotion to the Lord, yet he wrote and spoke some of the most terrible anti-Semitic material in history. Like Luther, some of the greatest anti-Semites started out as great supporters of the Jewish people, and then became disappointed when Jews did not fulfill Christian expectations. Apparently, their love was not genuine, but had an ulterior motive. Anti-Semitism is sin and we must constantly guard against it in our hearts and lives. I fully believe that anti-Semitism is the epitome of evil, and the fight against it is a spiritual, as well as a physical, battle. Since the Jews are a God-called, covenantal people, to fight against them is to fight against God. This may be understandable for those of the world, but a tragic error for Christians who believe in the God of Israel. As Ogden Nash wrote, “How odd of God to chose the Jews, but not so odd as those who chose the Jewish God and spurn the Jews.”
Now that we have heard the truth on this subject, it is time for the Church to grow up and learn to respect God’s covenant people, our elder brothers, and Judaism, the parent faith of our faith. Isaiah the prophet said, “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord; Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn; look to Abraham, your father and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him, he was but one, and I blessed him and made him many. The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins…” (Isa. 51:1-3). Paul says, “…if the root is holy, so are the branches. If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: you do not support the root, but the root supports you” (Rom. -18).
Paul is clear about God’s natural branches, the Jewish people, when he says of them in Romans , “They are beloved for the sakes of the Patriarchs, for God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable.” Christians need to remember, it was by the Jewish people, God’s Chosen people, that Jesus was born, and we received our salvation. They were chosen to live in God’s land, Israel, to worship God and be blessed by Him, thus showing the world the blessedness of serving the one true God. They were also chosen to receive and record God’s Word so we could have the Bible. Yes, they should be loved for what they have given to us, not hated.
As Gentile Christians, we have a Jewish connection. In Ephesians 2:11-13, Paul tells us that we Gentiles have been “brought near” by the blood of Jesus to the covenants of the promises, hopes and faith of Israel, and even made citizens of Israel. Further, we must remember that Jesus was Jewish. His actual name was Yeshua, and He was a rabbi who taught in the synagogues. His disciples and the writers of the New Testament, except Luke, were Jewish, and the apostles and early disciples were Jewish. They worshipped on Shabbat, celebrated the feasts, and attended Synagogue.
Paul tells Christians, “that by our mercy they shall receive God’s mercy.” This love and mercy towards the Jewish people is more than a warm feeling of appreciation. As Christians, we have a debt to Israel. In Romans 15:27, Paul says we need to demonstrate our love and mercy with action, when he says, “For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessing.” In Matthew 25, Jesus Himself takes a stand on this issue when He equates how we treat His brethren, the Jewish people, with how we treat Him. In verses 34-40, Jesus says He was hungry, thirsty, a stranger, in need of clothes, sick and in prison. He then declared that His disciples attended to all of these needs. They answered, “Lord, when did we see You in these situations?” And, He replied, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these My brothers, you did for Me.”
Zechariah 2:8 says of God’s love towards the Jewish people, “He that touches you, touches the apple of His eye.” Today, we can read the Bible for ourselves, and see God’s love for His people, Israel. Therefore:
It is time for Christians to break with historical anti-Jewish teachings, and make a change for the future. We must act, not out of guilt, but in a humble spirit of love.
It is time to reinforce God’s covenant WITH His people, and show tangible love and respect to the Jewish people around the world.
It is also time to join God in His plan for the nation of Israel today, as He is literally moving heaven and earth to fulfill His prophetic promises of Messianic blessing, as we await the soon coming of the Lord.
As Christians, let us take up the challenge and put aside the anti-Jewish hatred of generations, wherever it may be found around us — be it in our communities, in our churches, in our families, and yes, even if it rises up in our own hearts.
The destiny of the Church is intertwined with the future of Israel and the Jewish people. For too long, Christians have been silent. For too long, the Jewish community has had to fight its battles alone. It is time for each one of us to speak up for the people who gave us the Bible and our salvation.