On March 22, 1965 Columbia Records released Bob Dylan’s Bringing it all back home, his first folk-rock synthesis to hit the market. Classics included “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” “Maggie’s Farm,” Mister Tambourine Man” and “It’s all over now Baby Blue.” Described as “the most influential album of its era,” it was ranked #31 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
The album title speaks of coming back to one’s roots or foundations. The Beatles encouraged their listeners to do something similar in their 1969 Rooftop Concert (www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6gKe9Fr2ok) – to “get back to where you once belonged.”
This newsletter is a call for the Body of Messiah to get back to its roots. It is time for believers in Yeshua to bring it all back home – to get back to the apostolic and biblical foundations of our Messianic faith.
Just to make it clear – we’re not talking about wearing head coverings or fringes, doing Davidic dance or eating chopped liver. No emphasis here on esoteric Hebrew word studies, mysteries of the Hebrew calendar or trying to find one’s own potential Jewish DNA.
We are talking about something even more revolutionary – getting back to the Bible and reading it honestly and fairly.
The Bible – a Jewish book
This central point is so obvious that it shouldn’t need to be stressed. But a fast glance around the room known as the Body of Christ reveals that this point is as hidden as an elephant cowering under a throw-rug.
The entire Bible (excluding most probably Job, Luke and Acts) was written and passed on by Jews. As Paul says, “What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way! First of all, the Jews have been entrusted with the very words of God” (Romans 3:1-2). Note that the Apostle is saying that there is a present value and advantage in the national and spiritual calling on the sons of Jacob.
Yeshua Himself emphasizes that the Bible and its message of salvation is part of an ongoing Jewish spiritual inheritance: “Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22).
Paul agrees here, stating that all Gentile believers in Yeshua “have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings” and as a result “they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings” (Romans 15:25-27).
- That was the clear perspective of Yeshua, Paul and all the original believers in the apostolic message – a Jewish Bible, a Jewish Messiah, a Jewish message, and a Jewish matrix. The Bible not only WAS a Jewish book; it still IS a Jewish book.
The Hebrew Scriptures and the Gospels – overwhelmingly focused on the Jewish people
There is a hymn “Free from the law – oh happy condition” (www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/1001, author Philip Paul Bliss). This hymn was a popular one in the predominantly Gentile Protestant wing of the Body of Messiah. Yet how can it be said that the Gentiles are now free from the Law of Moses, since they were never under the Law of Moses to begin with? “He has revealed His word to Jacob, His laws and decrees to Israel. He has done this for no other nation; they do not know his laws. Praise YHVH!” (Psalm 147:19-20).
Paul’s perspective on this is exactly the same: “Remember that at that time you were separate from Messiah, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God (‘atheists’ in Greek) in the world. But now in Messiah Yeshua you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Messiah” (Ephesians 2:12-13).
A quick survey of the entire Hebrew Scriptures and the four Gospels shows that over 92% of those scriptures focus exclusively on the Jewish people. The history recorded there is Jewish history, and is taught as such in Israeli schools. The commandments are given by Jewish prophets to the Jewish people for application in the Promised Land. The enduring dynasty of Judah’s kings and queens is all Jewish. The prophecies in what is called the Old Testament focus over 92% on the future of the Jewish people (both the difficult and the glorious parts), as well as on God’s contemporary take on Jewish obedience and disobedience.
For some of us this is revelatory and amazing. And for most followers of Yeshua these facts are revolutionary in nature.
- What would happen if these scriptures were taught with the same emphasis they had when they were written? What would happen if the Body of Messiah actually allowed the Scriptures to speak what they were written to say? What would happen if the Bible were unleashed – allowed to speak its own mind?
- What would happen if every preacher and teacher taught that these Scriptures overwhelmingly refer to the Jewish people, and that the biblical prophecies and promises still have a priority reference to the sons and daughters of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?
- What if Bible teachers FIRST applied these passages to the Jewish people, their history and destiny, and only THEN applied the scriptural principles for the benefit of their audience?
“For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable/without repentance” (Romans 11:29).
“I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today”
In the old TV cartoon ‘Popeye,’ a character name Wimpy would often declare, “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for a hamburger today!” All kids knew that Wimpy was only postponing the inevitable, and that he probably never would pay back what he owed.
In the same way, many Christian preachers borrow the Scriptures, ignoring their Jewish focus, and never really intending to ‘repay the loan’ to the Jewish people. They never make room in their plans to one day teach about a future (or even a present) for the sons and daughters of Jacob.
Part of the reason that many preachers shy away from teaching what the Bible clearly teaches is simply ‘Tradition’ – the stranglehold of anti-Semitic Replacement Theology on the Body of Christ.
There is also a fear that if they teach the Bible accurately to their people – that so many of the passages actually refer to the Jewish people – then their people will turn a cold shoulder to the Word of God.
Pastors who want to minister to the needs of their people tend to see the Jewish focus of the Scriptures as a stumbling block that needs to be gingerly side-stepped. To put it plainly, they feel that if they teach God’s heart for Israel, His ways and strategies with the Jewish people, His covenant faithfulness to the Jewish people – their own people would get turned off, and they would be out of a job,
So a decision has been made in the pulpits of most Christian churches: the Bible will be taught, but not as a Jewish book. It will not be taught as referring to the Jewish people’s priority in the biblical drama of history. The Jewish people’s exile will be stressed, but not their restoration. The eternal order where Gentiles move and have their being will be stressed, but not the Jewish nature of Messiah’s kingdom and its Israel-based geographical priority.
Instead, the Scriptures will be taught as ‘principles’ and ‘lessons’ for individual Gentile Christians. The focus will be on Christians and their destiny, but no stress will be given to helping Christians to understand Jews and their destiny. The priority has shifted away from Romans 1:16 and 2:5-11 (which teach an apostolic Jewish priority) to a rather different priority for the Gentiles – “You will say, ‘Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in’” (Romans 11:19).
Today the majority of Christian teaching has incarnated what Paul warned against in Romans 11:18 – Gentiles boasting against the natural Jewish branches, arrogant toward the calling of the Jews, and considering themselves as superior to the Jewish people. Paul’s warning has morphed into Christian reality.
Weakening the body by not discerning the body
Paul speaks to believers in Corinth and sadly notes that when the body is not properly discerned, sickness (both physical and spiritual) results, and God’s judgment is at the door (1 Corinthians 11:29-31).
Paul explains in another places that the Body of Messiah is a Jewish building with a Jewish prophetic foundation (“the commonwealth of Israel” built on the foundations of the Jewish apostles and prophets – Ephesians 2:12, 20).
When the preaching and teaching of the Body of Christ (in all of its many and diverse streams) is based on identity theft – ignoring or belittling the gifts and calling of YHVH on the Jewish people – it is not a stretch to comprehend that the spiritual warnings in Genesis 12:3 (“He who belittles you, scorns you or holds you in contempt” – meqalelecha in Hebrew) have telling relevance to the spiritual health of the Christian church.
What can be done?
- “What must I do?” (Acts 16:30)
- “For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it” (Hebrew 2:1)
- “He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need” (Ephesians 4:28)
If you are a teacher of the Word or a pastor of people, a conference speaker, a leader of a movement or a small group leader – whatever your calling and station, please seriously consider this short word of exhortation.
Teach the Word as it is written. If it speaks about Israel, go with the flow. If it speaks spiritual lessons to Israel, teach it as it is written. If it calls the Gentiles to rejoice over YHVH’s covenant faithfulness to Israel (Psalm 117), then teach it as it says it and let the chips fly.
Let your people know that the same God who rules the waves and silences the superpowers is the same God who is guiding Israel back to her homeland, even in unbelief (Ezekiel 37:8-13), in order to fill her with His Holy Spirit and transform her into the most astounding army the world has ever seen.
Let your people know that this same YHVH who split the Red Sea and sent the Ten Plagues, who brought the Jewish people back from Babylon and is bringing the children of Isaac back from Exile a second time in our day (Isaiah 11:11), is just as mighty when it comes to your own people’s needs and petitions. He has proven Himself faithful to His covenant with Israel, even when Israel has failed. So He will prove Himself faithful to each and every believer who calls on Him, even when that believer trembles in his/her faith or resolve.
This is the proper way to use the Scriptures (see 2 Timothy 2:15 and 3:14-17). This is the plan that YHVH Himself created, and the way He wants Jews and Gentiles to relate to each other. The One New Man teaching of Ephesians 2:15 can only stand without tottering, when it stands on these understandings.
- Let’s stop robbing God (see Malachi 3:8), because that is exactly what happens when the Church robs the Jewish people of their Word, their destiny and their covenant future.
- Let’s teach the Word with accuracy, with honor and with fairness. Let’s prepare for a new reformation – one which will lead to the Jewish-connected restoration of all things (see Acts 3:19-26, especially verse 21)
“In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now He commands all people everywhere to repent” (Acts 17:30).
How should we then pray?
- Pray for believers and prophetic intercessors worldwide to tap into God’s heart about these issues
- Pray for revelation on Bible teachers, pastors and teachers of the Word about these issues
- Pray for the raising up of Ezekiel’s army speedily and in our day
Your prayers and support hold up our arms and are the very practical enablement of God to us in the work He has called us to do.
In Messiah Yeshua,
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