In Part 1 of “One New Man: What Should this Mean to the Believer?” we discussed the Jewish Believer coming into the Gentile ‘belief system.’ As Christians, most often the Jewish Believers are asked to observe Sunday as their day of worship instead of Shabbat. They now follow along with the Hellenized calendar instead of the Hebraic calendar. They celebrate Easter, but not the Feast of Unleavened Bread and Passover (Pesach); recognize Pentecost, but miss the Festival of Shavuot—the Lord’s Feasts are no longer observed. The Jewish Believer is wonderfully baptized in repentance to newness of life in Christ, but the oft-repeated cleansing work of the mikveh is no longer considered relevant. They are even expected to celebrate Christmas and set aside the joyous celebration of Hanukkah. Their Jewish-Hebraic roots are now cut out of their ‘Christian’ life…
Many Gentile Believers do not realize the Jewish feasts are actually the Lord’s Feasts. We see in Leviticus 23 that the Lord Himself told Moses that they were HIS feasts—the appointed feasts of the Lord. It’s very rare for our modern-day Christian Sunday School classes or worship services to teach on this scripture, much less teach that they are God’s feasts. While the Christian Believers are being taught the layout of the Bible along with various scripture verse memorization techniques, their Jewish counterparts are memorizing the complete Torah (the first five books of the Bible).
What happened between the Jewish Believer and the Christian Believer? How did the gulf of separation become so large that the Christian Church discounted the richness of their Jewish roots of the faith?
What were some of the prophesied problems that added to this schism, and who prophesied them?
In Matthew 24:1-2, Jesus prophesied the future destruction of the temple. The Jews were driven out of their beloved city—Jerusalem—and the city was destroyed. Many Gentile Believers saw this as a complete rejection of the Jew by God.
In Romans 9:27-31, the Apostle Paul quotes Isaiah, speaking about a remnant of Jews being saved (Is. 10:22-23 & 1:9), meaning that a large portion will face destruction. Again, Paul in Romans 11:25-29 speaks of God’s love for the Jew by saving a remnant. The separation of the Jewish people was prophesied—many would die, but a remnant would be saved.
What were the problems that the Apostle Paul encountered and to whom did he write about it?
There were issues that arose among the Jewish leadership because of the newly established group of Gentile Believers in Yeshua as Messiah. In Acts 15:24, and Galatians 2:4 & 6:12, we see the Judaizers—people who wanted all males circumcised according to the Jewish law—as those who had gone out to insist the Gentile Believers must be circumcised. Paul addressed the issue of legalism that arose in the Body of Believers—the requirement to follow all the laws in the Torah (Acts 15:5). Paul presented these issues to the council at Jerusalem (Acts 15). After the council made their decision on how to instruct the new Gentile Believers, Paul was sent out with other Believers to deliver the letters of instruction.
Paul then continued to write to the churches exhorting the new Believers in their newfound faith and encouraging them in the fact that they were not bound to the law as their Jewish brothers were.
We must read these passages in context acknowledging the history of Israel, the customs of the day and the pagan practices that were insidiously creeping into the Church Body.
HISTORY HOLDS THE KEY…
There are many resources today that allow us to read and study the history of Israel and help us interpret the Bible passages for ourselves…
Why should I do that? Proverbs 25:2 says, “It is the glory of God to conceal a matter; to search a matter is the glory of kings.”
It is the history of the Jew after the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70, when the Jews were driven out of Jerusalem by Rome, and the passing of the original apostles that the serious separation between Jew and Gentile occurred. When the Jewish zealot, Bar-Kochba arose in rebellion to the Roman authority about 65 years later, this became the ‘last straw’ for Rome. They did not want to have any more mention of the Jews in the land, and as an insult to the Jew, they renamed Israel, “Palestine,” referring to the Philistines.
Rome ordered the remnant of Jews out of Jerusalem maintaining a legion of soldiers in the renamed City of Jerusalem to Aelia Capitolina (Aelia, from the Emperor Hadrian’s nomen gentile, Aelius, and Capitolina, referring to their Roman god Jupiter Capitolinus). Neither name stuck for long, and Jerusalem remained Jerusalem. Even then, the name ‘Palestine’ wasn’t used again until the British captured Jerusalem from the Ottoman Empire and began controlling most of the Middle East. Various old maps show a region of Palestine, but no country by that name. Interestingly, Jordan is included as part of the Palestine region.
Where did the Jews and New Gentile Believers Go?
The Jewish leadership of the Believers in Messiah (Christians) from the Jerusalem council basically came to an end and the Gentiles from the various communities formed the leadership of the new churches. The practice of meeting in the various synagogues, public places, and private homes continued, with the practice of the feasts of the Lord (Lev. 23) continuing for quite a while as Jew and Gentile celebrated together.
However, some confused the feasts as ‘Jewish feasts’ because Israel was commanded to observe the Lord’s feasts. Therefore, it was only natural that the new Christian faith should observe these feasts as well since Christianity came from Judaism. Unfortunately, pagan mixture crept in to the church requiring newly formed councils to arise to control and establish new guidelines. This also created difficulties for the Believers, causing a rift between the Jew and the Gentile.
The Jewish leadership (High Priest, Pharisees, Scribes, etc.) became concerned for Judaism after the fall of Jerusalem and subsequent loss of the Sanhedrin council, so they formed a council to provide guidance for the Orthodox Jew of the day. As the rabbinical leadership took control, they did not like the Gentile nor the Jewish Believers mixing in the synagogue worship preaching this Messiah of theirs, and as a result these ‘Christian’ worshipers became unwelcomed.
In the Gentile Christian churches, the Jewish Believers in Messiah became unwelcomed as well. The Gentile Believers became suspicious of the Jews in their midst. Eventually Gentile Christian philosophers reasoned the Jewish belief system out of the Christian church. They created a hierarchy system, eliminated the Feasts of the Lord with pagan substitutions (mixture), and demanded that the Jewish Believer convert to their way of thinking and doing. Where does the Jewish Believer go from here?
- What did the Apostle Paul mean in Romans 11 when he talked about the Gentile being grafted in, and the remnant Jew being chosen by grace?
- What does it mean that the Bible we have today was canonized?
- What is anti-Semitism, and do you have it… even a little?
These questions will be discussed in Part 3 of this series: The One New Man: What Should this Mean to the Believer?