Recently I heard another story about people when asked where their groceries come from answered, “From the grocery store”. I have always found it surprising when people say that. They may understand that the food is not produced in the grocery stores, but they give little thought to all the background that is behind that product to get it to the grocery store.
When I heard this comment a few days ago, it got me thinking.
I “got saved” more than 40 years ago. Up until almost 10 years ago I did not think much about the Jewish background of “Christianity”. Everything changed after I made my first trip to Israel in 2013. I came back from that trip stunned. For several months I could not even express what I had seen, much less understand it.
Someone asked me, “What was the highlight of your trip, Grace?” I couldn’t answer. I stared at that person for a several seconds, then said, “Chris, I can’t answer your question. I feel as if I am standing in front of an incredible stained glass window. You are asking me to remove one pane from that window to try to explain the whole thing. I can’t do that. It would not explain anything and in trying to do so I will ruin the whole picture.”
My visit to Israel was more than a paradigm shift, it was life changing. I started to see the Hebrew/Jewish background and context of my faith. I started to ask questions.
“What is this thing we do on Sunday mornings, and why is so different from what we read in the book of Acts?” I asked my husband.
I read several books on the history of the “Christian” church through new lenses.
I no longer thought of “Christianity” as a different “religion” from Judaism. I began to understand the continuum. “Christianity” was never intended to be a new religion. The Bible that I had been studying for so many years is Jewish, start to finish.
What an exciting, enlightening, enriching journey it has been for the past few years.
Jesus did not suddenly pop into history; He came through thousands of years of preparation in history—Jewish/Hebrew history. (it is His Story minus one s=history).
We skip the vast richness of our faith when we just pick up Jesus and don’t understand all the development of His-Story behind it.
Here is my analogy:
- So many people pick up their food at the grocery store, but don’t know all the background that went in to getting it there. Yes, the food is nourishing but mostly unappreciated for what it took to get it to the grocery store.
- So many people pick up their Jesus at church-and yes he is nourishing, and saving, and secured our future, but the taste is bland without savoring the cultivation and care it took for him to arrive.
A partial list of what I have learned since studying Jesus in his context
- Jesus, Yeshua, was, and is a Jew
- Replacement theology is wrong
- Yeshua did not start a new religion
- Our faith is Jewish, start to finish
- The law was not abolished
- Yeshua’s “fulfillment” of the law did not abolish it
- Yeshua never broke the law–that would have disqualified him as the Messiah
- Gentile believers were expected to attend synagogue and learn the Torah (Acts 15)
- Yeshua did not change the food laws
- The gospel is “Repent. The Kingdom of God is at hand.”
- Heaven is not the goal, nor our home
- Sabbath did not get changed to Sunday
- Sabbath keeping is the 4th commandment
- Paul was a faithful Jew all his life.
- He did not “convert” to Christianity or get his name changed on the Damascus Road
- Pharisees are not all hypocrites
- Yeshua was a Pharisee
- “Binding and Loosing” are legal terms, meaning prohibiting and permitting
- “An eye for an eye” is a legal term having to do with monetary compensation for loss
- The Sanhedrin is the high court, like the supreme court in the United States
- “Old” and “New” Testament names are misleading
- The Bible does not teach “original sin”
- The “evil eye” is stinginess
- “Treasures in heaven” is a euphemism for “Treasures with God” and does not refer to a place
I would love to hear your comments, questions, additions or corrections. I am still learning.