I have really been studying the nature of Yahweh's covenant people. As a family, we have been drawn to looking at scripture as our foremost guide on walking the "Way" of the Kingdom. In other words, we do not want to do things because someone tells us that it has just "always been so."
We have found that when we re-visit the way Jesus/Yeshua and his followers practiced things, many people have questioned us. Why? Mostly because they sensed that we were starting to look Jewish. I often get asked some form of the question, "So, are you Jewish now?" Right there, even in well-meaning believers, I usually sense in my spirit an assumption that if something is "Jewish" it is bad - inherently wrong. With that, I believe there is a philosophy that if SOMEONE is Jewish, that's bad.
Before we move on, let us remind ourselves that our blessed Savior and his disciples (taught ones) were Jewish and lived in the land of Israel under a governmental rule of Greco-Romans. What if we could use an umpire's mini-broom and sweep off the plate for a minute?
What if we could suspend the belief that Jewish is bad, that Judaism is inherently bad, that Jews are bad? Because, if you can't suspend such notions (right or wrong) I don't believe you could go further in this book. I'm not usually this frank, but you may want to come back for one of my lighter books. For instance, my next book will likely include more fun cartoons.
Most people would disagree immediately with the notion that there is an anti-Jewish aroma in the Church. We usually don't smell our own scent, you know.
Have you ever heard a racist try to explain to you why he's not racist? There's a whole bunch of "them people" and "those type" and all kind of verbal flippity flops; even some "God loves them's" thrown in there. Inside you're thinking, "Oh my. Racism?" I'm sorry to say, but it is like that with Jewish people. They get some sympathy, but they are often liked until someone finds out they are Jewish.
As a family, our Christianity looks more Jewish than some people's. I believe that is why people who knew us before we became slightly more Hebraic in our observance, tend to react the worst. People who meet us as "that kinda Jewish/Christian family" are generally more cool with it. It's not across the board, I have good friends who are quite supportive and want to know more. But some have essentially shunned us - not kidding. Literally shunned.
I believe that Jews in general are the most misunderstood people ever. Thus, it makes sense that Judaism is greatly misunderstood and misrepresented.
Here's the deal. If our understanding changed about Judaism, our beliefs about Jewish people would profoundly morph-ulate. In other words, we would relax more when we hear the word. I'm trying to stay away from the extreme consequences that have taken place (and continue) out of a full frontal disdain of Jews and their "isms."
Did you know that there are many forms of Judaism? Did you know that not all Jews agree with other Jews in their beliefs? There are three main "denominations" today. Conservative, Reform, and Orthodox. You would benefit if you learned the basic distinctions. There are other groups within Judaism such as Karaite. There are distinctions in practice between the Sephardic traditions and the Ashkenazi practices. Two really helpful books on this are:
But it doesn't have to be. In religion, man tends to complicate things. People make stuff up to get others to walk after them. Look at the notion of man made global warming, supposedly caused from driving cars. Some scientists have claimed that it has been proven to be a hoax. However, some politicians have put a lot of weight behind the idea. They have found that the fear of floods and landslides has been a golden instrument for collecting offerings (taxes, fees, penalties) in the name of protection, peace, and safety. Most people end up eventually fearing the fines over the rising sea waters that were supposed to be in my living room a few years ago (according to the "science). What do we do if Scientists disagree? What do we do if the religious disagree?
This same thing happens over and over with religion. Eventually, a Caesar rises to the top and gains control of it. He starts to instill certain "beneficial" rules, which happen to carry a certain penalty for the violators. In regards to faith systems, if there is a guide book that everyone can get to that speaks contrary to these new regulations.
So you would think that after the curtain has been pulled away that the religious Caesar/Priest would say, "OK, you got me. I was wrong. Let's go back to the way things were." Nope. Not usually. Usually he digs in deeper with some form of penalty for disobedience. In these cases, the obedience is given to the Emperor or Priest, often out of fear. Most choose peace and safety over going against the giant. Millions have been squashed by the giant.
Who Is This Giant?
I visited a coin store a couple years ago. I occasionally pick up a silver coin or two, nothing major. One time, I noticed some old coins. These were not the usual ones, like the ones in my jar on the mantle. No, these were ancient. I could not believe that they had coins that were two thousand years old. When I asked the clerk (I'm sorry if there is a better word for "guy who runs a coin store") about this, he was quite knowledgeable. He said that there are more out there than people realize. There was the widow's mite and... he showed me one with Caesar's head. I wanted the coin to say, "Pizza, pizza." It didn't. What it said was more substantial than that.
The store owner stated to me, "Remember the bible passage when Jesus told them to show him a coin? That's the Caesar that He was referring to." I'm not kidding you when I say, it almost dropped me. I literally had some sort of indescribably vision of that coin in the context of the time and the place. And I heard the words in my head:
"Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s." - Mark 12:17 (WEB)
I realized that I had the exact experience that the "...Scribes and... the followers of Herodus..." had. I heard the words of Jesus/Yeshua while looking at the graven face of Caesar on the coin. I tell you. It changed me. There was more than a "pay taxes or not" message there.
What exactly should we render to GOD? The short answer there is EVERYTHING, right? Well, not taxes, in this case. So, let's break it down a little. Love, worship, offerings, praise, service... our heart, mind, and strength. Here's my question. Do you realize that much of what we do within Church was given by a Caesar? Much of our obedience has been handed to a Caesar.
Do you know what that means? We have been rendering "God stuff" to Caesar. What if you could learn of all the things that the Caesars and their officers ordered, and reverse those orders? What if you could render those back to the Almighty?
I know what you are probably thinking. "What if my local church thinks nothing of Rome?" Do you yet voluntarily practice any of these formerly mandated (man made) rituals?
I don't know your church. I'm not judging your situation. The point here is that I have seen MUCH effort of the part of preachers to distance ourselves from anything we call "Jewish," yet much less effort to unplug from what can clearly be called Roman religion. Interestingly Jesus/Yeshua himself said "Salvation is from the Jews."
"You worship that which you don’t know. We worship that which we know; for salvation is from the Jews." - John 4:22 (WEB)
We live in an amazing time. A time that was prophesied about. We can get real and get with God/Elohim Himself.
We are no longer beaten, tortured, or burned at the stake for holding a bible in our hand and skipping the politics of the established hierarchy. Go boldly to the throne of grace yourself. Let Jesus be your High Priest.
We need to be able to tell what is inherently from the actual Word of Yahweh. What is from Rome? What is from the Babylonian sages known as Rabbi's.
As for me and my house, we have one Father and He is in Heaven. We have one Rabbi and he is at His right hand and He is in us and we are in Him. I think this is the time of "One New Man."
I believe this time calls for an honest look at the beauty of restored Biblical unity. I am convinced that there is one covenant and it is with His chosen people. When I agreed to that covenant through the blood of the Messiah, I was adopted. And, by the way, I am so humbly blessed, because my Father in Heaven could make children out of rocks if He wanted to. But, instead, He chose (gulp)... me.
The Creator of an unknowable universe allows me to know and share covenant communion with Him. We need to discern what comes from earthly "Fathers" and what comes from our Father in Heaven. We also need to follow a real Rabbi - the one from the Father. Does He use apostles? Yes. Does He use prophets? Yes.
It is vitally important to determine the differences (and similarities) between the Sanhedrin and Scripture, between Dogma and Doctrine.
What is THE BIBLICAL FAITH IN YAHWEH ELOHIM (GOD)?
Our Savior died at the hands of Romans on a Roman cross, at the false witness of Pharisaic Jews. We all have blood on our hands. The very blood that came from sin, came for sin... even that sin. Who killed Christ? Sinful Man. For whom did he give up His life?
Listen to the words of our Savior about the bad guys of the temple government.
Then Jesus told the crowds and his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees administer the authority of Moses, So do whatever they tell you and follow it, but stop doing what they do, because they don’t do what they say. They tie up burdens that are heavy and unbearable and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they refuse to lift a finger to remove them.
“They do everything to be seen by people. They increase the size of their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. They love to have the places of honor at festivals, the best seats in the synagogues, to be greeted in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi’ by people.
“But you are not to be called ‘Rabbi,’ because you have only one teacher, and all of you are brothers. And don’t call anyone on earth ‘Father,’ because you have only one Father, the one in heaven. Nor are you to be called ‘Teachers,’ because you have only one teacher, the Messiah! The person who is greatest among you must be your servant. Whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.
“How terrible it will be for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the door to the kingdom fromf heaven in people’s faces. You don’t go in yourselves, and you don’t allow those who are trying to enter to go in.
“How terrible it will be for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You devour widows’ houses and say long prayers to cover it up. Therefore, you will receive greater condemnation!
“How terrible it will be for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to make a single convert, and when this happens you make him twice as fit for hell as you are.
“How terrible it will be for you, blind guides! You say, ‘Whoever swears an oath by the sanctuary is excused,j but whoever swears an oath by the gold of the sanctuary must keep his oath.’ You blind fools! What is more important, the gold or the sanctuary that made the gold holy? Again you say, ‘Whoever swears an oath by the altar is excused, but whoever swears by the gift that is on it must keep his oath.’ You blind men! Which is more important, the gift or the altar that makes the gift holy? Therefore, the one who swears an oath by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. The one who swears an oath by the sanctuary swears by it and by the one who lives there. And the one who swears an oath by heaven swears by God’s throne and by the one who sits on it.
“How terrible it will be for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your mint, dill, and cummin, but have neglected the more important matters of the Law: justice, mercy, and faithfulness. These are the things you should have practiced, without neglecting the others. You blind guides! You filter out a gnat, yet swallow a camel!
“How terrible it will be for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but on the inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence. You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup, so that its outside may also be clean.
“How terrible it will be for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs that look beautiful on the outside but inside are full of dead people’s bones and every kind of impurity. In the same way, on the outside you look righteous to people, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
“How terrible it will be for you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You build tombs for the prophets and decorate the monuments of the righteous. Then you say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our ancestors, we would have had no part with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ Therefore, you testify against yourselves that you are descendants of those who murdered the prophets. Then finish what your ancestors started! You snakes, you children of serpents! How can you escape being condemned to hell?
“That is why I am sending you prophets, wise men, and scribes. Some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will whip in your synagogues and persecute from town to town. As a result, you will be held accountable for all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of the righteous Abel to the blood of Berechiah’s son Zechariah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.
Matthew 23 (WEB)
I understand that most Christians fear if we go toward Judaism, we will embrace that kind of blind zeal. But I ask you with all sincerity to visit the last two thousand years of history and tell me if you've seen similar zeal within the anti-Jewish church.
Pharisees in the Church
See, the replacement theologians have gotten it right in one small way. The Jews of THAT kind of religious (governmental) authority were definitely replaced by the "church." Read "Fox's Book Of Martyrs," "Constantine's Sword," and "The History Of The Waldenses."
To whom does your loyalty stand? During the time of Messiah, it was common for Romans to crucify Jews. It was a regular practice. When did Roman torture stop? Did Christians render the things of God to Rome out of the pure truth of doctrine, or was something else going on for nineteen centuries after the death of Jewish Jesus?
So Am I Jewish?
The short answer is "yes." But it may not be the Jewish of blood lineage (although through the dispersion, the seed of Ephraim is worldwide, so you would be surprised...). And it may not be by Babylonian Talmudic standards. So I personally stand in a weird place where, literally, Christians have told me that I am Jewish and Jews have told me that I am Not, nor will I ever be. So, maybe I'm Jew-ish?
Our identity is in Messiah, the LION of JUDAH. Great and mighty is He.
I seek to follow Him as His disciple and to edify His body as His prophet.
Who do you say that I am?
It is interesting to listen to those words of the Savior. It is interesting to know how we are perceived by others. I already know that people will perceive me wrongly. He assured his disciples of that. You, if you do something that is new or different, will be perceived differently by different people. Do not turn a deaf ear to wise counsel, but do not heed scoffing or harsh criticism. Incline your ear to the Holy Spirit (Ruach) and move in faith.
So What is Judaism?
This has been an introduction into the exploration of the question, "Am I Jewish?" In the next few pages, I will address a particular set of beliefs or doctrines of Judaism that were offered by a medieval scholar known as Maimonides (1135-1204).
He wrote Thirteen Principles of Faith. I will write on all thirteen and discuss which ones we believe in. Keep in mind, definitions vary sometimes, from person to person.
In learning these thirteen principles, we will discover more about
- what Jews believe and
- what would a Christian agree with?
- Out of 13, how many of these principles do you believe in? How many would you need to agree with in order to be "Jew-ish?" How many do you have to reject to be "Christian."
- What would Jesus do?