I was saved at an early age and grew up in church. My journey has allowed me to see various parts of the body of Christ, but in March of 2014, the Lord began preparing me for something that would happen during my birthday weekend that year. April 15-20, 2014, I attended a Passover Conference, and the Lord changed my life. During that conference, I saw a Menorah, and the Lord spoke to me and said to learn what this means. I didn’t even know what a menorah was, but I went down to the bookstore and found a book with a menorah on the cover, and that began my journey into discovering the Jewish roots of my Christian faith.
This process had seeds laid years earlier without me even knowing it back when I had watched Pastor Larry Huch teach on the feasts of Israel, it made no impression at the time, but the messages planted seeds. My initial reaction to the invite to a Passover conference was I’m not Jewish. I say all of that to lay the foundation for this post. Many of us as believers in Jesus do not understand our connection to Judaism and the land of Israel. In the book of Romans, Paul explains the importance of our covenant roots.
Romans 2:28-3:4 LSB “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh.29 But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God. 3:1 Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision?2 Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God.3 What then? If some did not believe, does their unbelief abolish the faithfulness of God?4 May it never be! Rather, let God be true and every man a liar, as it is written, “That You may be justified in Your words, And overcome when You are judged.”
The Old Testament repeatedly talks about the circumcision of the heart and God allowing Gentiles to come into the fold of Israel if they walk as Israel does. God’s plan was always reconciliation through Jesus. But look at the rhetorical question Paul answers, there is a benefit to being Jewish.
Yes, there is neither Jew nor Greek in Christ – we are all one, but that does not mean that there is not an ongoing blessing and purpose for the Jews. Paul elaborates later on in his letter to the Gentiles in Rome.
Romans 9:4-5 LSB “who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons, and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the temple service and the promises,5 whose are the fathers, and from whom is the Christ according to the flesh, who is God over all, blessed forever. Amen.”
To Israel belongs adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the Torah, the Temple services, and the promises. As Paul laid out Christian theology, he wanted to make sure that the Romans understood God’s plan, purpose, and blessing for Israel. There is no new covenant without Israel, God promised a new covenant to them, and we are brought into it through the blood of Christ (Ephesians 2:11-22). Paul wrote to the Galatians that we are blessed with Abraham. Paul is easily misunderstood when he speaks against the law, or he seems to at least, but the reality is, he is speaking against a legalistic observance that has no love behind it. Paul echoed the same sentiment Jesus did in the Sermon on the Mount; it’s the heart behind your actions that matters to God.
As I have mentioned before, if God can break an everlasting covenant with Israel, what stops Him from breaking His covenant with the Church? God has not broken His covenant with Israel, and His covenant with the Church is the grafting of the Gentiles into the Jewish olive tree.
I believe in, and I teach, the Jewish roots because I believe in the blessing of Abraham, found in Genesis 12:1-3 and upheld throughout all of Scripture and thoroughly explained by Paul in Romans nine through eleven. I teach the Jewish roots because I believe that God is a covenant-keeping God, and I teach the Jewish roots because Jesus is Jewish, and so are all the leaders of the first-century church. Any teaching that negates the Jewishness of Jesus or God’s covenant with Israel is wrong and should not be followed. If we are going to follow Jesus, we must recognize we are following a Jewish rabbi and that there are Jewish roots in our Christian faith.