The tenth chapter of John tells us that the enemy has come to steal, kill and destroy. One of the biggest ways the enemy has done that is rebuilding the wall of separation between Jew and Gentile. Ephesians 2:14-16 NKJV “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, (15) having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, (16) and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.”
Jesus did not come to start a new religion, He came to point the way back to God and create open access to Him. Jesus came to end the sacrificial system and uphold the teaching of the Torah. This is why when He gave what is known as the sermon on the Mountain He affirmed the Ten Commandments and brought it into the heart attitude, He didn’t do away with them.
Today, I am starting a series on the Jewish Roots of our faith. There is too much to get into to cover in one post, so if you have questions keep tracking with the series as we will cover different topics and go more in depth as we go on.
We know Jesus was Jewish and He came to fulfill the law but that doesn’t necessarily mean He came to do away with what we call the Old Testament. Both Old and New Testaments in the original language make distinction in teaching, law, and legalism. Our modern translations translate all three words as law. With this understanding we see as we approach Scripture Jesus came to do away with the sacrificial system, being a once and for all sacrifice. We will get more into this when we talk about Passover in a few weeks and He sent Holy Spirit to empower us to carry out the teachings of Scripture, we will get more into this when we talk about Pentecost.
What I want us to see this week is how the Church went from being one with Jewish people to being against them. Even after the Ascension of Jesus, for many years the Church stayed connected to its roots, the feasts were celebrated, even by Gentile converts, believers went from house to house and to Synagogue. In the midst of this, the early believers suffered major persecution for following the teachings Rabbi Yeshuah (Jesus).
Fast forward to A.D. 312 during the reign of Constantine. Constantine was a power hungry ruler and he could not gain control over these Jesus followers so Christian history has it that in the midst of battle Constantine saw a cross come from the sky, gave his life to Jesus and won the battle. There is a historical problem; the monument to that victory does not contain a cross. Constantine made a deal with the believers, I’ll make the persecution stop if you allow me to make some changes to the way ya’ll do things. This was the beginning of the end of the power in the Church.
The ridding of the Jewishness of the Church began with the Council of Nicea in A.D. 325. If you have heard of the Nicene Creed, chances are you haven’t heard of the Council that proceeded it. There were other Councils as well; Antioch, France, Toledo and others. These Councils outlawed celebrating the feasts of the Lord and called them Jewish feasts, instituted Easter to replace Passover and banned honoring the Sabbath. Anyone caught violating these Councils would be punished by death. Constantine kept his position as a Priest in Paganism and ruled the Church, he converted many Pagan temples to churches, thus the design of our churches today. He outlawed home meetings and changed worship style. Thus the Church early believers knew was no more. As time went on the divide got worse. When Martin Luther restore the understanding of justification by faith he also saw one new man in Romans and zealously tried converting Jews, when it did not work he became angry and filled with hate towards the Jews, and the divide between Christians and Jews continued to worsen.
There is too much history to go in depth on a single blog post, if you would like to read further I recommend Dr. Michael Browns book, Our Hands Are Stained With Blood. Paul said in Romans 11:18 that we don’t support the root, the root supports us. We have been grafted in to Israel. Galatians three tells us that those who believe are blessed with believing Abraham, Abraham the father of the twelve tribes of Israel. Jesus comes from the Tribe of Judah and is the lion of the tribe of Judah.
This series is not about legalism, Jesus was against a legalistic understanding of the teaching of Scripture. Jesus never offended one part of Torah, yet, some teachers of that day got mad at Him for healing on the Sabbath, it wasn’t a violation. As in that day, so it is in ours that people have taken the joyousness of the Torah and the Prophets and made them all legalism and have wrongly said they do not apply. Many say we are not under law but grace, this is a false understanding, we are not under legalism but Jesus carried forward the teaching of the Old Testament.
The phrases Old and New Testaments aren’t accurate, it is more accurate to say First and Renewed Covenant. Jeremiah wrote that a day was coming when the Torah would be written on the hearts, that’s what Jesus spoke of in Matthew five through seven.
As David said restore unto me the joy of salvation, that is the aim of this series; to restore the joy in reading and studying the entire bible, to understand and restore the joy of feasts and Shabbat, to understand and align with the blessing that comes in participating in God’s calendar of Firstfruits as well as laying the foundation to understand the Hebrew weapons of spiritual warfare.
In wrapping up this introduction, I bring us back to John 10:10 CJB “The thief comes only in order to steal, kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, life in its fullest measure.” The lie that the enemy has presented to the Church is that Sabbath rest is a burden, celebrating feasts is legalism. Think about it, how can God throwing a party be legalistic. There is no difference in legalism of Jesus’ day and that of ours. We need to shun all forms of legalism including the lie that the Torah which means teaching of God is legalistic.
My prayer for us is that as we go through this series a joyous fire is ignited in us to return to the roots of our faith and that we see these things for how God meant them and not what the enemy has turned them into. I pray that you will have eyes to see the joy as I began to see it in 2014, I pray you don’t have the blocks I did when this was first introduced to me in 2012. I encourage you to read Romans nine through eleven to help set a foundation for where we will be going in these next weeks. You can also check out the bookshelf that has a section of material on Jewish Roots. I pray this series will be a blessing to you, cause hunger to rise in you and that you would have a desire to start your own journey in this area. If you have questions as we go along, ask in the comments, let’s learn on this journey together.