Hebrew Roots Article

My primary reason for including this article and commentary is to provide what I consider to be a balanced summary of the “Hebrew Roots” movement as well as to help clarify what it means to “reclaim the Ancient Paths”.  Most importantly, reclaiming the ancient paths does NOT mean believers are required to return to the Mosaic Law, which includes primarily the ceremonial laws, statutes and judgments.  The whole emphasis behind reclaiming the ancient paths site is simply to re-examine what we believe to ensure what we’ve traditionally been taught and believed is correct.  The fact is tradition is extremely powerful and can and very often does blind us to the truths contained in the Word of God. 

So let’s look at our main topic - the following is a short article I think does a good job of explaining the ideology of the “Hebrew Roots” movement.  This article originated from and can be found at - http://www.gotquestions.org/Hebrew-roots.html

Note: as with other internet articles I’ve used on the Ancient Paths site, I do not agree with everything this author  has to say and so will be inserting my own comments – I hope you won’t find this too distracting.

Hebrew Roots Article:

“The premise of the Hebrew Roots movement is the belief that the Church has veered far from the true teachings and Hebrew concepts of the Bible. The movement maintains that Christianity has been indoctrinated with the culture and beliefs of Greek and Roman philosophy and that ultimately biblical Christianity, taught in churches today, has been corrupted with a pagan imitation of the New Testament gospels.

Those of the Hebrew Roots belief hold to the teaching that Christ's death on the cross did not end the Mosaic Covenant, but instead renewed it, expanded its message, and wrote it on the hearts of His true followers. They teach that the understanding of the New Testament can only come from a Hebrew perspective and that the teachings of the Apostle Paul are not understood clearly or taught correctly by Christian pastors today. Many affirm the existence of an original Hebrew-language New Testament and, in some cases, denigrate the existing New Testament text written in Greek. This becomes a subtle attack on the reliability of the text of our Bible. If the Greek text is unreliable and has been corrupted, as is charged by some, the Church no longer has a standard of truth.

Although there are many different and diverse Hebrew Roots assemblies with variations in their teachings, they all adhere to a common emphasis on recovering the "original" Jewishness of Christianity. Their assumption is that the Church has lost its Jewish roots and is unaware that Jesus and His disciples were Jews living in obedience to the Torah. For the most part, those involved advocate the need for every believer to walk a Torah-observant life. This means that the ordinances of the Mosaic Covenant must be a central focus in the lifestyle of believers today as it was with the Old Testament Jews of Israel. Keeping the Torah includes keeping the Sabbath on the seventh day of the week (Saturday), celebrating the Jewish feasts and festivals, keeping the dietary laws, avoiding the "paganism" of Christianity (Christmas, Easter, etc.), and learning to understand the Scriptures from a Hebrew mindset. They teach that Gentile Christians have been grafted into Israel, and this is one reason every born-again believer in Jesus the Messiah is to participate in these observances. It is expressed that doing this is not required out of legalistic bondage, but out of a heart of love and obedience. However, they teach that to live a life that pleases God, this Torah-observant walk must be part of that life.”

Personal comments: 1) The Sabbath on the 7th Day has and will never change…the Sunday Sabbath (which is really what it is) is a corruption of God’s weekly cycle of 7th day Sabbaths established in Genesis - see Sabbath Study tab,  2)  There is no NT scripture that commands the NT assembly to practice the festivals or “feast days” (not including the Lord’s Sabbath or 4th commandment), however, as I pointed out in the study tab on “God’s Seasons”, all the festivals are God’s festivals and His seasons.  They are appointment times for key events in God’s plan for mankind that the Lord will keep.  Paul, in Col 2:16, didn’t want the church to feel condemnation for not following the “ceremonial” aspects required by the Law of Moses (having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us – Col 2:14), however, he still says they are “shadows” and types and shadows teach us important things we need to know about the Lord and His plan.  In my opinion, they help us get in tune with God’s seasons and prophetic time clock…and they will be celebrated again during the millennium period.  3) I agree totally with the Hebrew Roots perspective regarding Christmas and Easter…these are pagan based and should not be celebrated by God’s people.  4)  Lastly, I have no issue with someone attempting to live a Torah (Law)-observant life if it helps them draw nearer in relationship to the Lord, however, if it interferes with someone growing in the Spirit and in the deeper things of God then I believe the practice of these Mosaic customs should be given much less of a priority or even stopped all together.  Tassels and mezuzah etc were given to the Israelites to help remind them of the Lord and His commandments at a time when the commandments were written on stone and not on the heart…big difference!

“The Hebrew Roots assemblies are often made up of a majority of Gentiles, including Gentile rabbis. Usually they prefer to be identified as "Messianic Christians." Many have come to the conclusion that God has "called" them to be Jewish and have accepted the theological position that the Torah (Old Testament law) is equally binding on Gentiles and Jews alike. They often wear articles of traditional Jewish clothing, practice Davidic dancing, and incorporate Hebrew names and phrases into their writing and conversations. Most reject the use of the name "Jesus" in favor of Yeshua or YHWH, claiming that these are the "true" names that God desires for Himself. In most cases, they elevate the Torah as the foundational teaching for the Church, which brings about the demotion of the New Testament, causing it to become secondary in importance and only to be understood in light of the Old Testament. The idea that the New Testament is faulty and relevant only in light of the Old Testament has also brought the doctrine of the Trinity under attack by many advocates of the Hebrew Roots beliefs.”

 Personal Comments: 1)  Yeshua is the Aramaic name for our Saviour and is the most accurate, though I have no problem also using the transliterated name of Jesus.  YHWH is the revealed Name for God used in the OT, Yeshua is the NT revelation of God’s Name and means YHWH saves or our savior – see “Is Yahweh Yeshua” study tab, 2) I agree with the author that more emphasis should be given to the New Covenant vs the Old, however, our study of the Old is critical to our understanding of the New, 3) the concept of the Trinity (3 separate, co-equal persons in one) is not a Biblically sound doctrine…it was introduced by theologians (men) several centuries after Messiah.  I agree with the Hebrew Roots folks...the concept of One God does need to be restored to Christianity.

“As opposed to what the Hebrew Roots movement claims, the New Testament teachings of the Apostle Paul are perfectly clear and self-explanatory. Colossians 2:16,17 says, "Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day – things which are a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ." Romans 14:5 states, "One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind." Scripture clearly indicates that these issues are a matter of personal choice. These verses and many others give clear evidence that the Mosaic Covenant laws and ordinances have ended. Continuing to teach that the Old Covenant is still in effect in spite of what the New Testament teaches, or twisting the New Testament to agree with the Hebrew Roots beliefs, is false teaching.”

Personal Comment:  I agree the Mosaic laws are no longer relevant to the church, however, I do not agree with the author’s mainstream understanding of the Sabbath.  Though the Sabbath is also found in the Mosaic Law so are the judgments for adultery and murder etc. which are also in the 10…and these laws are still applicable to the NT church.  The popular interpretations of the scriptures referenced above are not in line with what Jesus (Yeshua) said about the Sabbath nor do they reflect an accurate antitype of the OT shadow.  See Sabbath Day Study tab.

“There are aspects of the Hebrew Roots teachings that certainly can be beneficial. Seeking to explore the Jewish culture and perspective, within which most of the Bible was written, opens and enriches our understanding of the Scriptures, adding insight and depth to many of the passages, parables and idioms. There is nothing wrong with Gentiles and Jews joining together in celebrating the feasts and enjoying a Messianic style of worship. Taking part in these events and learning the way in which the Jews understood the teachings of our Lord can be a tool, giving us greater effectiveness in reaching the unbelieving Jew with the gospel. It is good for Gentiles, in the body of the Messiah, to identify in our fellowship with Israel. However, to identify with Israel is different from identifying "as" Israel.” Comment:  Very Good!

Gentile believers are not grafted into the Judaism of the Mosaic Covenant; they are grafted into the seed and faith of Abraham, which preceded the Law and Jewish customs. They are fellow citizens with the saints (Ephesians 2:19), but they are not Jews. Paul explains this clearly when he tells those who were circumcised (the Jews) "not to seek to be uncircumcised" and those who were uncircumcised (the Gentiles) "not to become circumcised" (1 Corinthians 7:18). There is no need for either group to feel they must become what they are not. Instead, God has made Jews and Gentiles into "one new man" in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 2:15). This "new man" is referring to the Church, the body of Christ, which is made up of neither Jew nor Gentile (Galatians 3:27-29). It's important for Jews and Gentiles to remain authentic in their own identity. In this way a clear picture of the unity of the body of Christ can be seen as Jews and Gentiles are united by one Lord, one faith, one baptism. If Gentiles are grafted into Israel, becoming Jews, the purpose and picture of both Jew and Gentile, coming together as one new man, is lost. God never intended Gentiles to become one in Israel, but one in Christ.”

Personal comment:  I agree with the author here, however, we need to remember that by being grafted in to the seed and faith of Abraham we gentiles now share a common spiritual heritage with the Jews…one new man in Messiah.  Also, the Bible was written almost exclusively by Jews and as such, it would be in our best interest to learn as much as we can about their culture and even their language to fully understand the intended scriptural message.

“The influence of this movement is working its way into our churches and seminaries. It's dangerous in its implication that keeping the Old Covenant law is walking a "higher path" and is the only way to please God and receive His blessings. Nowhere in the Bible do we find Gentile believers being instructed to follow Levitical laws or Jewish customs; in fact, the opposite is taught. Romans 7:6 says, "But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code." Christ, in keeping perfectly every ordinance of the Mosaic Law, completely fulfilled it.” 

“Just as making the final payment on a home fulfills that contract and ends one’s obligation to it, so also Christ has made the final payment and has fulfilled the law, bringing it to an end for us all.

It is God Himself who has created a world of people with different cultures, languages and traditions. God is glorified when we accept one another in love and come together in unity as "one" in Christ Jesus. It's important to understand that there is no superiority in being born Jewish or Gentile. We who are followers of Christ, comprised of many different cultures and lifestyles, are all of value and greatly loved because we've entered into the family of God.”

Personal Comment:  we must have a good understanding of the difference between the Mosaic Law (with its ceremonies, customs and judgments written on scrolls) and the Commandments given by the Lord (written in stone) in order to know what commandments we are now responsible for.  Also, Acts 15 gives us some additional guidelines as gentile believers.  I agree with the author that Yeshua perfectly kept the Mosaic Law, however, it was what He did on the cross that made the difference.  What He did was take upon Himself the penalty for sin for the breaking of those laws. He took those judgments contained in the Law of Moses upon Himself…the handwriting of ordinances that were against us and nailed them to the cross…but the 10 are still intact.  Lastly, the fact that we see such a resurgence of the festivals and emphasis Hebrew roots in these days is not a coincidence…I believe it is ordained of the Lord that we as gentile believers re-focus our attention on Israel and both Jew and gentile believers move closer to that “one new man” mentioned in Ephesians 2.  Pray for the peace of Jerusalem…they shall prosper that love thee (Psalm 122:6).

Another Commentary - so here’s the big issue in my mind…we know the Bible says no sin shall enter in, as a tree falls so shall it lie, the soul that sins (transgresses the law) shall surely die (if not repented of)…but what law (commandments) is it really referring to?  A reasonable person would have to conclude it is referring to at least the 10 Commandments or essentially the “moral law”…which also are further detailed in the Law of Moses.  Anything ceremonial like dietary laws, sacrifices, special clothing, circumcision, ceremonial aspect of festivals, other customs etc would be voluntary nothing more.  However, there are things that we can do that fall under the second category that would improve, intensify, mature our relationship with our heavenly bridegroom and with each other.  Namely getting on His calendar and off of world’s calendar, recognizing His seasons and not the world’s and discovering more and more about our heavenly bridegroom (who is Jewish) by exploring and searching out the Hebrew roots of our Biblical heritage to find why Yeshua did and said some of the things He said etc.  To know Him is to love Him, to know Him more is to love Him more!  Many of the customs connected with the Feast Days (including weekly Sabbath) are symbolic and are rich in meaning and prophecy…in other words, they teach us something about God’s plan or Yeshua Himself.  A picture is worth a 1000 words and so if practicing these or studying them brings us closer to Him then why not do them???

If the Kosher laws help bring you personally closer to Him then go ahead…practice them…but don’t look down on someone who does not (Romans 14).  The NT doesn’t say anything about Gentile believers having to follow them.  Since the Apostles/early believers were Jewish they would naturally continue to follow them as part of their culture and religious tradition etc…some more zealously than others. Acts 15 may elude to the possibility of Gentiles learning about the Law (in the future) in the synagogues where Moses is read every Sabbath…but there is no mention of them having to obey these customs…again, it’s voluntary. 

The Hebrew Roots community have some wonderful info to share, but when it comes right down to it, much of what they teach is all voluntary - with the hopes that practicing these Jewish customs will lead one closer to Messiah.  As far as the festivals and wedding customs are concerned as well as observing the 7th day Sabbath (rather than the 1st day Roman Sabbath) I would have to agree…they help get us in tune with Him! 

What these folks really should be focusing on to begin with is how one gets into the Kingdom.  As far as their salvation doctrine they are like many other denominational groups…believe, repent, receive…with essentially no evidence.  Without the Holy Ghost evidence, everything else is loses its importance.

 

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