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947. Appreciating our Jewish Roots

It’s time for the Church to embrace and enjoy its rich heritage.

IT’S WORTH CONSIDERING

Ever since I learned the truth about the origins of Christianity, I have wanted to share the joy of what I have discovered. The Jewish roots of Jesus and the faith of His followers offer great insight and meaning to the things we take for granted. Such a discovery answers the “why” questions and places events into a context that adds richness and meaning. Most churches, at least here in the U.S., have Americanized the gospel, as well as Christ Himself, to such a degree that we don’t even try to imagine why Jesus said why He did. Nor do we bother to understand what was happening back then from a Jewish perspective.

For example, we assume that in honor of Jesus’ resurrection, His followers worshiped on Sunday instead of on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. The truth is that this represents only a small part of why Sunday was chosen. The other reason stems from the consequences of the two revolts of the Jews against Roman rule, the first in 70 A.D. and the second around 135 A.D.

After the first revolt, the Romans imposed a tax on all Jews. When the Roman version of our April 15th rolled around, Christians regretted that they were considered a sect of Judaism. After the

messianic cross

second revolt, Judaism became an illegal religion. Church fathers worked to set Christianity apart from Judaism so they could continue to worship in relative freedom. It was at this time that they started distancing themselves from their Jewish brothers and sisters.

Prior to the second revolt, followers of Jesus worshiped at a synagogue on Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, and at a house church on Sunday, the Lord’s Day, the first day of the week. After 135 A.D., Christians started calling Sunday the Sabbath and they ceased their Saturday worship. The reason was very practical. Making this change would make it easier to convince Rome that their religion was separate for Judaism.

After 135 A.D., Christians ceased to observe the Jewish feasts and festivals. They also switched from a lunar calendar to a solar calendar. This meant that Easter would not be celebrated on the same day as Passover. This is why the two “holidays” can be as much as five weeks apart.

AS I SEE IT

So far, the reasons for distancing themselves from their Jewish beginnings were practical and necessary for their survival. You would think that inwardly, they would have a great respect for their Jewish roots despite the separation. That probably was the case initially, but as more and more Gentiles were accepted into the fold, things gradually changed.

A few centuries later, when Christianity became the official “state religion, many of the “Christians” developed a resentment towards Jews for not converting. Taking a page from the Roman

Constantine silver medallion

playbook, they imposed a tax only Jews had to pay. Jews were forbidden to own property, and regularly endured persecution. This, of course, further divided Jews and Christians to the degree that the Jews’ relationships with Muslims became more tolerable than their relationships with Christians.

For example, in 687 A.D. the Muslims were searching for the exact location of the former Jewish Temple so they could build the Dome of the Rock directly over it. The

Dome of the Rock

Jews, in an act of revenge for their treatment at the hands of the Christians, helped the Muslims identify the exact spot. As the rift between Jews and Christians widened, so did the tendency for Christians to blame the Jews for Christ’s death.

 

It wasn’t until the 1950s that Christianity began to return to its Jewish roots. Messianic congregations, some all Jewish, and some consisting of Jewish and Gentile believers in Yeshua came on the scene. More and more Christians became interested in Israel and tours of the Holy Land became popular. Yet, the Church has a long way to go in coming to grips with its Jewish roots.

This is why I wrote The Israeli Connection and Becoming One. One way or another, Jesus will do whatever is necessary to educate His Church as He builds it. Israel and her people are still at the center of all that God holds dear. We would do well to align our hearts with His, and gaining an understanding of our Jewish roots will get us headed in the right direction.

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ON THE LIGHTER SIDE

Actual church bulletin announcement:

– At the evening service tonight, the sermon topic will be “What Is Hell”? Come early and listen to our choir practice.

 ATTRIBUTIONS

Inclusion of photographs and/or images in no way implies the endorsement of this newsletter or its information by the photographer or designer.

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