I have always been a strong
advocate of the idea that there is much to be learned
about our Christian faith by studying the Old Testament,
and especially the commandments and traditions
surrounding the Feasts of Israel. Having served
for a time as the leader of a Messianic congregation
observed these feasts in their prescribed manner,
I saw how dramatically they reveal the Messiah. In
my opinion, Christians who don't understand or
appreciate the Hebrew origins of our faith lack the
perspective this knowledge brings us.
Sadly, many in what's now being
called the Hebrew Roots movement seem to be going to
extremes with this.
It's like they're trying to become the polar
opposite of Replacement Theology. Where Replacement
Theology claims the only place for Israel is as part of
the Church, some in the Hebrew Roots movement assert
that the only place for the Church is as part of Israel.
While Hebrew Roots appears to
teach that because of the Lord's death, obedience to the
Law is a privilege and not a requirement, a number of
its teachers seem to be going well beyond that.
They claim that in fact Torah observance is a
requirement for all believers.
Some have also abandoned the Greek based New
Testament in favor of translations from Aramaic texts,
due to alleged errors in the Greek based texts.
They say those who call the Lord by His English
name (Jesus) are actually worshiping a pagan god, which
according to them makes traditional Christianity a pagan
They want us to believe that the only acceptable name
for the Son of God is Yeshua (His name in Hebrew), and
the only acceptable way to worship Him is by obeying the
Torah and observing the Feasts of Israel.
(One of the favorite tactics used by people on both ends
of the spectrum who can't find support for their beliefs
in the Bible is to say it wasn't translated correctly.
And yet the best scholars of each generation have poured
over the ancient manuscripts to give us the most
accurate translations possible. There are
about 5600 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament
in existence, and cross checking has shown their
consistency to be over 99%. In other words all
these ancient Greek manuscripts essentially say the same
additional support there are 19,000 early manuscripts in
other languages. This exceeds the manuscript base for
any other ancient book by a very wide margin.
Most reasonable people would agree that for all
practical purposes our New Testament is an accurate
rendering of these early manuscripts. Therefore
the only conclusions we can draw are that either 1) all
these scholars have somehow committed identical mistakes
in their translation efforts, or 2) they've all
participated in a massive conspiracy to mislead us that
has spanned 2,000 years, or 3) the people who say the
Bible is translated incorrectly because it doesn't
support their position are wrong.)
But even more importantly,
neither Replacement Theology nor Hebrew Roots seems to
recognize that Israel and the Church are uniquely
different and that both have roles in the fulfillment
of end times prophecies that are mutually exclusive.
Give Us Some Examples
In the Old Testament, God
promised Israel that He would return one day to dwell
among them in their land on Earth forever (Ezekiel
43:1-7). In the New Testament,
Jesus promised the Church that He would come back and
take us off the Earth to be with Him in His Father's
14:1-3). Both these promises will
come true, so Israel and the Church will fulfill
their prophetic destinies in
The purpose of the rapture of
the Church is to remove us from the time and place of
the end times judgments that will take place on Earth (1
Thes. 1:10, 1 Thes. 5:9, Rev. 3:10).
The purpose of the end times
judgments is to completely destroy all the nations to
which Israel has been scattered (Jeremiah 30:4-11)
and to purify Israel in preparation for the coming
Kingdom (Zechariah 13:8-9)
The Millennium For Israel
The primary purpose of this
Kingdom (known to the church as the Millennial Kingdom)
is to give Israel its long promised Kingdom Age,
although the entire millennial world will benefit from
the Lord returns, Earth will be restored to the
condition it was in when Adam was created (Matt.
19:28, Acts 3:21). This will include restoring peace
between man and the animals, bringing back Earth's
original garden-like environment with its world wide
sub-tropical climate, eliminating foul weather, killer
storms, earthquakes and extremes of heat and cold.
Israel will be the preeminent
nation on Earth during the Kingdom Age, and surviving
tribulation believers and their descendants from all
nations will come to Jerusalem to learn the ways of the
will settle their disputes, making war between nations a
thing of the past.
The promised land will blossom
as never before. The desert and wastelands will be
transformed into a garden paradise so lush and beautiful
that people will know its been transformed by the Lord
Everlasting joy will crown their heads while
sorrow and sighing will flee away.
The wealth of neighboring
nations will pour into Israel. Camels will be brought
Gold and incense from Sheba will adorn the Lord's Temple
Flocks from Kedar and Nebaoith will be received as
offerings on His altar there. (Midian and Sheba were
descendants of Abraham and Keturah, the wife he took
after Sarah died.
Kedar and Nebaioth were sons of Ishmael. Their
descendants are all part of the Middle Eastern Islamic
nations of today.)
The ships of Tarshish (Great Britain) will bring
gold and silver from afar.
Any nation that refuses to serve Israel will be
utterly ruined by divine decree.
Although death will still occur
among natural humans, the span of man's life will begin
increasing again to approach those of the Genesis
patriarchs. Sickness and disease, those by-products of
sin, will be greatly reduced. It appears the population
of Earth will be sustained by their return to an
agrarian economy, but with all the obstacles Adam faced
gone as the curse of
will finally be lifted.
The land will become so rich and productive that
one season's crop will barely be harvested before it's
time to plant the next one.
Every man will easily produce enough for his
family's use, and enjoy doing it. None will labor
unproductively, or for the benefit of others. Children
will grow up without fear and adults will grow old in
peace (A summary of
4:2-6, 35, 41:18-20, 60:10-22, 65:17-25, Amos 9:13-15,
Micah 4:1-8, Zech 8:4-5).
The Millennium For The Church
Meanwhile, life will be far
different in the home of the Redeemed Church.
Although the Kings of the Earth will bring us their
splendor, no unbeliever can ever set foot in the place,
nor even a believer in his natural state. Our mansions
in the sky will be built of the purest gold as will the
streets that run before them, their foundations made
from precious stones. There will be no Temple in the New
Jerusalem because the Lamb of God will dwell there and
is our Temple. The energy source that will light and
warm us is the Glory of God, and our radiance will in
turn provide light for the nations of Earth. (Rev.21:9-27)
Other than calling us Kings and
Priests, the Bible doesn't mention any kind of work for
glorified bodies will have been released from their
dimensional bonds, allowing us to appear and disappear
at will, traveling back and forth through time at the
speed of thought as we plumb the limitless delights of
God's Universe (1 John 3:2). No detail will be
overlooked where our comfort and happiness are
concerned. There will be no more death or mourning or
crying or pain (Rev. 21:4), only the endless joys
of exploration and discovery.
As it is
written: "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has
conceived what God has prepared for those who love him."
Our eternal home is not on
Earth, but it's not at the Throne of God either. Coming
down out of the heavens but never landing on Earth, our
home could be called a low orbit satellite in today's
terminology. 1400 miles high, wide and deep, it wouldn't
fit in Israel, let alone Jerusalem.
If we did touch down on Earth we'd need a space
equivalent to the area from Maine to Florida to the
Midwest in the US, or all of Western Europe from Sweden
The New Jerusalem will be over 4000 times as tall as the
world's tallest building. Being nearly 2/3rds the size
of the Moon, it simply won't fit anywhere on Earth.
One God, Two Destinies
So the destiny of Israel has its
place outside of the Church and the destiny of the
Church has its place outside of Israel. The two are not
the same and were never intended to be seen as such. The
only thing these two groups will have in common is their
belief that Jesus (Yeshua) died for their sins and rose
again on the third day (1 Cor. 15:1-4)
But just as gentiles who
converted to Judaism in Old Testament times became part
Jews who convert to Christianity in New Testament times
become part of the Church. No matter what our background
happens to be, conversion to Christianity makes us a new
creation, neither Jew nor Gentile,
part of an entirely new race of mankind.
Paul explained it this way.
purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the
two, thus making peace, and
in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the
cross, by which he put to death their hostility (Ephes.
Calling it a mystery previously
unknown on Earth. He said,
This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles
are heirs together with Israel, members together of one
body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ
Jesus (Ephes. 3:6).
In the beginning there was one
classification of mankind.
But in calling Abraham, God created a new
classification. From then on there were two, Gentiles
and Jews, and they are forever different. It remained
that way until the cross, when as Paul explained, a
third classification was brought into existence. Taking
some from among the Gentiles and some from among the
Jews, but making them different from either, God created
a new classification called the Church.
No matter what their former status was, from
Pentecost until the Rapture everyone who comes to faith
in the Lord becomes part of the Church and will inherit
the Church's destiny.
Those who chose to express their
gratitude for the free gift of salvation through living
by the Torah are free to do so.
In the same way, those who choose to express
their gratitude by striving toward the victorious
Christian life described in the New Testament are free
to do so. But anyone who teaches that either form of
expression is required to achieve or maintain their
salvation has run afoul of clear Biblical instruction to
Paul was a great Jewish
theologian who, because of the revelations he received,
had a better perspective on this than anyone before or
admonished us to go beyond “mere” salvation to battle
for victory over the flesh (1 Cor. 9:24-27).
But in some of the clearest statements in the New
Testament he said,
one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by
observing the law; rather, through the law we become
conscious of our sin (Romans 3:20).
Therefore do not let anyone
judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a
religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath
day (Colossians 2:16).
would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you
receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by
believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After
beginning by means of the Spirit, are you now trying to
finish by means of the flesh? (Galatians 3:2-3).
There's Nothing New
Under The Sun
This disagreement over the proper
response to God's gift of salvation is not new. In the
earliest days of the Church there were those among the
Jewish believers who insisted that the only path to
salvation for Gentiles was to first put themselves under
the laws and practices of Judaism.
The council of Jerusalem put that idea to naught
and authorized Gentiles to be received directly into
Still the “Judaizers” followed Paul from city to
city trying to undo what he had done. Later, Gentiles
who called themselves Christian forced whole communities
of Jews to convert to Christianity upon pain of death.
Both of these efforts were thought by their proponents
to be pleasing to God, but in the end we can see that
That's because it's not Jews or
Gentiles the Lord sees when He looks into our future.
It's Israel and the Church. Each has its unique
origin and each has its unique destiny. Whether it's
Replacement Theology or Hebrew Roots, the idea of making
either one a part of the other is man made and cannot be
supported in Scripture.