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 TLV “For one is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision something visible in the flesh. 29 Rather, the Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart—in Spirit not in letter. His praise is not from men but from God. 3:1 Then what is the advantage of being Jewish? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? 2 Much in every way. First of all, they were entrusted with the sayings of God. 3 So what if some did not trust? Will their lack of faith nullify God’s faithfulness? 4 May it never be! Let God be true even if every man is a liar, as it is written, “that You may be righteous in Your words and prevail 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, 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 TLV “who are Israelites. To them belong the adoption and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Torah and the Temple service and the promises. 5 To them belong the patriarchs—and from them, according to the flesh, the Messiah, who is over all, God, 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.