Hi there!You're probably interested in this article because you
are new to things Jewish, or you know someone
who is, and could do with some simplification of things. If this
is your first encounter with all of the "Jewish" stuff,
you may be getting the impression that an over emphasis is being
placed on the "J-word." That's understandable.
I know I did initially! And you're probably right! Enthusiasm
tends to create an over emphasis. It seems to be inherent in any
new idea, but be patient!
You may be experiencing some uncertainty, even
concern - thinking:
- This could be dangerous - Legalism lurks
- Is this necessary? It seems complicated.
- Are they trying to make Jews of us?
- I'm confused, but I'd never admit it.
- I think there is something right about this
but I'm not sure.
- How far do we go with this?
Any one of those thoughts or any combination
of them could describe the initial impressions of the typical
Christian to what has been dubbed the "Jewish Roots Movement."
A little "fear of the unknown" is
a normal, even a healthy reaction to something with which we
are unfamiliar. Don't be overwhelmed. You are not alone in your
apprehensions and you're in the good company of many other sincere
believers who have simply never been exposed to "things
Jewish." The Jewish connection to Christianity has actually
never occurred to many Christians, because the Church has
simply failed to teach us about it. That failure is now being
exposed and corrected.
To a great extent, the word Judaic is often used for
the lack of a better term (Biblical might have served
us better). The fact is, God simply utilized a nation of people
who happened to be Jews, as a vehicle to communicate His will
or word (i.e., His oracles) as a blessing to all of
mankind: "...and in thee and in thy seed shall all
the families of the earth be blessed" (Ge 28:14).
Christian - For a long time I did not know that Jesus was a
Jew. I just assumed that he was a Christian. Wait!! I was not
informed of the fact that the word Christian did not
exist until nearly ten years after the death of Jesus. The scripture
"And the disciples were called Christians first
in Antioch " (Ac 1 1:26).
Dr. Billy Graham has pointed out that the word Christian
was a term of scorn created by the public against believers
in the first century. Now I am not trying to discourage anyone
from the use of the word Christian. It should not,
however, become the antithesis of the word Jew or Judaism.
Thankfully, the Church is becoming more familiar with the
term "Judeo Christian."
Hebraic & Judaic -- Don't be confused!
These two words mean essentially the same thing. The only distinction
might be that one refers to the people and the other to their
religion. Many Hebrew words have an unusual guttural
(clearing the throat) sound. I remember when I first heard them.
I thought something guttural might be coming my way (if you
know what I mean), as when one properly pronounces the word
"Hanukkah." When one pronounces the Hebrew name for
Jesus Ye-shoo-ah], someone may think you have just sneezed.
You may question; why not just say it in English? Well, no
one language is perfect in its expression nor conveys precise
translations of thought. How ever, among the languages of mankind,
the Hebrew tongue is known to be among the purest. To the extent
that we are able, Christians want to know the exact meaning
of sacred scripture. Since a greater percentage of the Bible
was originally written in Hebrew, familiarity with some Hebrew
words facilitates better comprehension of Biblical text. If
you are a serious student of scripture, a little patience to
learn some basics of the Hebrew language will pay great dividends
to that end.
Judaizing -- Now there is a scare
word for you. Loosely, Judaising means the attempt to proselytize
to traditional Judaism. It is often used in Christian expression
to create fear in the minds of those who value the Jewish roots
of the Christian faith. There is a difference between being
Judaized and simply developing a Jewish consciousness.
Hellenize -- Not everyone knows what
this word means. It is a reference to being schooled in Greek
thought, philosophy and culture. It is believed by many that
Hellenism undermined Christian theology by severing it from
its Jewish roots and that accurate Biblical interpretation has
been sacrificed in the process.
No, we are not trying to make ethnic Jews out of anyone! Oh!
There are some zealots out there who may be trying to create
a new Jewish tribe which I satirically call the "Wanabee"
tribe - that is, while they are in fact Gentiles, they ostensibly
want-to-be Jews. Unfortunately, some are even masquerading
as Jews. Don't be fooled or turned off by these extremists.
Rest assured, you can enrich your Christian life and understanding
without changing your faith. Having said that, however, may
God hasten the day when something is judged, not by whether
it is traditionally Jewish or Christian, but by whether it is
Biblical and Christ-centered.
The two most prominent symbols of Judaism, are the candlestick
(Menorah) and the six-pointed star of David. The Menorah is
a religious symbol. The star of David is more of a political
or national symbol.
The Biblical candlestick (Menorah) has seven branches.
However, the traditional religious candlestick has nine
branches and is called the "Hanukkah Light." It is
easy to confuse these two if you are not counting. The seven
branched candle stick was introduced by God through Moses. The
"Hanukkah" light was created to memorialize one of
Israel's most important national deliverance from an evil invader.
This nine branched lampstand commemorates a miracle that occurred
during the rededication process of the temple.
The Star of David is not purely a Biblical symbol. Opinions
vary as to its historic origin. However, it is now the political
symbol of the nation of Israel, appearing on their flag, official
documents and public buildings.
Reactions that you will experience from individuals while sharing
the "Jewish roots" idea can vary. Usually Christians
are, as I was, very unfamiliar with our Judaic heritage or even
that there is such a thing. When that is the case, the listeners'
eyes may glaze over like Krispy Kreme doughnuts, wondering what
you are trying to say. Their eyes may be open but with the shades
drawn. Remember that they may be victims of either no
teaching on the subject or even historic anti Semitic teaching
by the Church. Bible teacher Bill Gothard defines per-suasiveness
as "The ability to guide vital truths around another's
mental road blocks." Such expertise will be required. Search
for and point out "things Jewish" in what they already
believe but have never realized they were Jewish. Example; the
ten commandments, saying Hallelujah, tithing, etc. Don't
be surprised by failure -- this is cutting edge stuff.
Unlike the typical church setting, there may be an unusual
amount of pageantry associated with a Jewish roots meeting or
conference. This is a form of liturgical order that serves to
impress the mind with Biblical truth in an indelible fashion.
Sometimes it may border on the bizarre but it is an effective
Biblical concept (Ps 20:5).
The Bible is not a collection of books or writings
with conflicting concepts and teaching. They (the Scriptures)
are altogether harmonious and in mutual agreement. There is
not a God of the Old Testament and a different God of the New.
The Father God did not make a mistake in creating Judaism and
then in utter exasperation send His son to correct it 4,000
years later. The Bible is a progressive revelation from which
we can become fully instructed unto righteousness and the Kingdom
of God (2 Ti 3:16).
KEEP GOING FORWARD IN FAITH
YOU'LL BE GLAD YOU DID!