by Robert I Holmes & Delta Vines
Let us say at the outset that we have a love and respect for Israel. We love the Jews, all Hebrew people and are in no way trying to incite anti-semitism. We have many friends who are fulfilled (completed) Jews, and even some who are still in the traditional way of things. Robert is of Gentile ancestry and Delta is of Jewish ancestry. We have nothing against Jerusalem, or any of the holy sites. We have a deep love for the Jews; and for Jerusalem, and Eretz Israel (the land of Israel), as this is the place Yeshua/Jesus lived, taught, died for our sins, and rose in victory over death.
However, we are drawn to raising the issues in this article because of things taking place in the Body of Christ today. We are addressing Christians, especially leaders: not our Jewish brethren. Any comment made herein is not a reflection of the rightness, or legality of Jewish people observing their Hebraic tradition, or of the Laws of Moses. The following things are for Christians to consider.
The Modern Phenomena
Both our nations (USA and Australia) have prayer movements. In a certain stream of these prayer movements, intercessors are bringing out the seven branched Menorah, the flags of Israel, banners with all sorts of names of God in Hebrew and re-establishing Judaic dancing. Blowing shofars and waiving banners begins innocently enough.
Some Christians have taken their interest in Judaic celebrations further. Some are participating in the Pesach/Passover Sedar. Others are observing all the feasts of Israel again (more on this in a future article). Many are not doing this simply to understand the type (shadow) or significance of such things contained in the Old, or "First" Testament. Indeed, it is largely being done out of "romantic" ignorance, or out of insecurity.
There is one prayer movement we know of, galvanizing thousands of believers to face Jerusalem at certain times of the day from certain parts of the world (as though it were a city being set apart like Islam does with Mecca). They are positioned to pray through the gates of the city, as though this will transform the nation. Prayer should certainly be made for Jerusalem, especially for her peace (Psalm 122); but nowhere in Scripture are we told to pray TOWARD Jerusalem! This is obscene!
We have observed reconstructed models and representations of the Tabernacle of Moses/Temple of Solomon. This is done to explain certain rituals, or to explain deeper prophetic meanings and symbolism for Christianity. Apart from misapplying Scripture the restoration of the tabernacle refers to the one built by David NOT by Moses, it also leads dangerously toward legalistic adherence to form and ritual once again.
There have been Arks of the Covenant built. The intent may be to honor G-d; however, the Ark was to be regarded carefully. It is of concern to us that these things may be being handled more as trying to be "Jewish" instead of honoring G-d. We do not wish to "tempt" G-d by mishandling these reproductions. For example:
- In 1 Samuel 6 we are told of the plagues of boils and mice in the Philistine cities that housed the Ark for a time.
- Even looking upon some object was forbidden by death. In 1 Samuel 6 we are told of 50, 070 men whom G-d struck down for LOOKING at the Ark! (vs. 19,) Another warning is in Numbers 4:20.
- Only those from the Tribe of Levi ( i.e. Kohath) were to carry the Ark (1 Chronicles 15:2, Deut 10:8)
Even well intentions were not excused. When David first tried to bring the Ark to Jerusalem, he did not know the laws to be followed. Uzzah was struck dead by G-d when he touched the Ark accidentally in trying to steady it. (2 Samuel 6)
Other activity is downright sickening. There are now Christians actively supporting the idea of adult circumcision as a method of becoming more "Jewish", or having some type of an increased covenant with G-d. [We acknowledge that some adults are circumcised for health reasons, we are not referring to this]. This is not even done in Judaism to an adult convert!
How far do we go brethren? In discussing this matter with Jews (Rabbi's and Hebrew students) and with Christians (both teachers, apostles and prophets) we have discovered almost universal concern over this matter.
Distinguishing Jew and Gentile
There are indeed entire segments of Christian faith, (admittedly off to the side of Orthodox "center" and considered by some to be a sect), who do not even understand the distinction between Jews and Christians. These dear people do not comprehend the difference between the Old and New Testaments (both are the writings of Jews largely), and the Old and New ovenant. They adhere to certain rituals such as consumption of certain food, and avoidance of others; rigid observance of days of rest; slavish adherence to tithe (and the invention of "double tithe") and so forth.
Christians have certainly been grafted into the Jewish root-stock, but we are not required to become "Jews" in any sense. These Christians have not thought about the results of the sacrifice of Yeshua/Jesus on the cross it's perfect, completed, redemption. (While on the cross, Yeshua/Jesus said, "It is finished" John 19:30) That includes the washing away of all our human efforts to EARN salvation. We must not simply put on Judaic rituals or become "born again Jews". The words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 7 are well put; especially verses 19-20: "For neither circumcision counts for anything nor uncircumcision, but keeping the commandments of God. Each one should remain in the condition in which he was called".
This distinction was very well addressed by the writer to the Hebrews who notes that:
- The priesthood has changed. We have a new priesthood (of Melchizadek), no longer the old one of Aaron or Levi (Hebrews 7:11,12).
- There is a new and better hope (in Christ) and an abrogation of the old law (of Moses) (vs. 18,19).
- There is a change of Covenant. The old is ineffectual in making us holy; there is a new and better covenant of salvation in Yeshua/Jesus (vs. 22). The old one is obsolete and passing away (Hebrews 8:13).
- The Jews offer worship in a sanctuary that was a type or shadow (it is no longer standing). Followers of Yeshua/Jesus offer worship in the true heavenly sanctuary (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:5 & 9:11).
- Moses had a ministry that contained glory, but Christ has a more excellent ministry (vs. 6) that is based on better promises (vs. 11).
- We enter, not with the imperfect blood of goats, but with the eternal, once and for all sacrifice of perfect Blood of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9:12).
It is our conviction that Christians need to once again clearly understand their position in Christ.
1. On Circumcision
- Jesus said that circumcision was not from Moses but from the Patriarch Abraham (John 7:22). It was a sign of the Old Covenant observed by the Hebrew people. Church leaders said it was not necessary for Gentile Christian believers to observe this (Acts 15).
- Paul said circumcision is only of value if you keep the whole law (Romans 2:25).
2. On Keeping Sabbath
- Jesus walked long distances on Sabbath; His disciples picked grain; He healed the sick and raised the dead, delivered people from demons and preached on the Sabbath. He is Lord of the Sabbath (Mathew 12:8). The day was made for man, not man for the Sabbath (Mark 2:27). This is also part of Jewish tradition, written in Mekhilta, Ha Tissa: 5 "the Sabbath was given over to man and not man to the Sabbath."
- The writer of Hebrews said that there remained a Sabbath rest in Christ that we should labour earnestly to enter (Hebrews 4). But he also pointed out that many were trying to do this in the flesh, and bringing the weight of the law upon themselves. [We acknowledge the perfect wisdom contained in taking a day off, but repudiate the idea of legalistically/ritually keeping Shabbat or Sunday for Christians]. The truth is that every day is holy in Yeshua/Jesus.
3. On Keeping Festivals
- The Festivals described by Moses were established for the Jews. God said no Gentile should observe Passover unless he become circumcised, therefore, becoming a Jew (Exodus 12:48). This is not to say the Feasts of the Lord are wrong to acknowledge, as Jesus kept all the festivals, for He was a Jew. (Passover - John 6:4; Tabernacles - John 7:2; Trumpets - John 5:1). These are part of the covenant G-d made with the Jews through Moses.
- Our covenant, however, is one spoken of by the prophet Jeremiah (chapter 31: 32-34) in which G-d promises a better covenant to His People. It is one not of rituals. It is one where His law is in our minds and on our hearts, for we know Him, and He forgives our sins. This was done through Yeshua/Jesus willingly going to the cross in place of our sins. Paul was also clear about not, "Being enslaved again by observing special days, months and seasons" (Galatians 4:10) We may worship on any and every day of the week!
4. On restoring the Tabernacle/Temple
- Consider the efforts to restore a temple in Jerusalem (the temple building, the sacrifices, the priesthood). Some might view this event with excitement. But from a Christian point of view, the sacrifices make a mockery of the cross and sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
- Even from a Jewish point of view, consider Ezekiel's Temple (described in chapter 40 and following). A door replaces the veil in the Holy of Holies, in which there are no sacrifices. The Yom Kippur yearly sacrifices for atonement will no longer be made. For Believers, Messianic and other wise, that is confirmation of a final collective sacrifice having already been made by Yeshua/ Jesus.
Christians should love all people of every tribe, nation and tongue. This includes people who speak Hebrew, call themselves Jews and worship ADONAI. They need liberation from the bondage and fear of laws and religious observances (as do very many Christians)! Yeshua/Jesus came first for the Jew and then the Gentile. The first Christians were Jews. The assurance of salvation through grace alone comes only in Yeshua/Jesus.
The Bible specifically promises that in the last days, "When the fullness of the Gentiles has come" that the Jews will be saved (Romans 11:25). We believe in a mighty revival coming to the Jews. But we do not believe that Christians should once again become Jews enslaved to the law. Paul urged Christians not to come back under the law, to avoid submitting ourselves to even one part of the law, having started in the Spirit we should not end in the flesh (Galatians 3:1-3).
Those wanting to participate in the robes, sacrifices, letter of the law would be saddened to know what they are doing is akin to Replacement Theology. This may seem to bring the Jews and Christians closer - but the effect it is having is just the opposite. To observe these things out of respect for the Jews, and to learn more from them, is one thing. To bring yourself under is another.
From God's point of view, there are no longer Jews or Gentiles, (Galatians 3:28); neither Scythian nor Greek (Colossians 3:11). Therefore, every effort must be made to bring people out from religious captivity, into the freedom of Grace. Out from bondage to legal observance, into the wonderful light of the cross. Out from creed, culture and tribe into the family of God.
Saints we need to press into Jesus, moving away from the law into a life of grace. We are promised life in Him, not death under the law. We have freedom to express our worship in many and various ways, not restricted by the Law of Moses. In Jesus every day is holy, every person is holy, every place is holy. Let us remain in the freedom purchased for us by the precious blood of Jesus, and not be caught up in the Judaizing of Christianity.
Source: Storm Harvest - www.storm-harvest.asn.au