Hebrew Roots of the Faith
If we really thought about it we suppose most people who grew up in the church (like we did) would realize that Y’shua (Jesus) was Jewish as were all of His disciples. It’s just that we never really THINK about it and when we do take the time to think it through, many times we are shocked to realize that Y’shua and His disciples kept the weekly Jewish Sabbath and they kept God’s feasts outlined in Leviticus 23. In fact, references to these events are throughout the gospels and the other New Testament writings, but because they are not called “the feast of tabernacles” or “the feast of unleavened bread” but just “the feast,” we don’t see them for what they are UNTIL we begin to research these feasts and then they jump off the pages of the New Testament.
Why is this important? Well, can you really understand what was happening on the pages of your Bible without understanding the events around which Y’shua did and said certain things? Can you really understand the events on the pages of your Bible without understanding the times and seasons which many times were a catalyst of events and even a fulfillment of them? After having spent several years doing just that, we can tell you that the answer is a resounding, “No!” If you read long enough on this website, you’ll see what we’re talking about.
Y’shua and the disciple’s entire reference point and worldview were determined by their Jewish heritage. Much of their life’s events were dictated by the Word of Yahweh (God’s name) and determined the cycles of the Hebrew calendar. This was the reality of their time. OUR American Christian mentality and worldview had absolutely NO bearing on who they were, what they did and what they wrote in what is now our Bible. We can’t tell you the shock this was when we realized it!
So, Y’shua lived in a manner that was based upon His Hebrew “roots.” Is it possible that our walk is supposed to resemble something like this, too? We submit to you that the answer to that question is “Yes.” There is plenty of Biblical basis for this answer, at which we will look, but let’s begin with just one eye-opening Scripture:
“the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” I John 2:6
If we aren’t to do this, to walk as He did, to look like Him in our daily lives, then why were we told to do so? Just how important to God are His feasts, the weekly Sabbath and the whole “Hebraic-ness” of believing in the Messiah? (See Are the Feasts and Sabbath Applicable to New Testament Believers?) We submit to you they are very important, in fact, they are eternal; God said so.
“These are the appointed times of Yahweh, holy convocations (Hebrew: mikrah = rehearsals) which you shall proclaim at the times appointed for them… (Lev. 23:4)
It is to be a perpetual statute throughout your generations in all your dwelling places.” (Lev. 23:14, 21, 31, 41)
Like the kids say, “What part of forever did you not understand?” Perpetual is never ending. “Throughout your generations” is never ending. Just when does a holy rehearsal that is to last perpetually end? It doesn’t. As we will see later, we were grafted into a Hebraic vine, and what applied to them applies to us. More importantly, go read Leviticus 23 and you can see that Yahweh (also YHWH, God’s name) calls the feasts listed in that chapter are HIS feasts, nowhere are they spoken of as those of the “Jewish people.”
If you doubt this, think about this: do you think that a Jew who comes to belief in Messiah is supposed to become a gentile? Or would they become a Jew who has come full circle by accepting faith in the promised Messiah? The gentiles were blessed to be included but historically, even that happened long after the offer was extended to the Jewish people. We’ll look at all of this in a few minutes.
What about the Sabbath? How important is it to God? Let’s just see what YHWH said about His Sabbath in His Word.
“…This is that which Yahweh hath said, Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto Yahweh… for today is a Sabbath unto Yahweh: today you shall not find it (manna) in the field. Six days ye shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is the Sabbath, in it there shall be none…See, for that Yahweh hath given you the Sabbath, therefore he giveth you on the sixth day bread of two days; abide ye everyman in his place, let no man go out of his place on the seventh day. So the people rested on the seventh day.” (Lev. 16:23, 25, 26, 29)
“Remember THE Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of Yahweh your God (Elohim)…” (Exodus 20:8-10)
So, the SEVENTH day is the Sabbath Yahweh proclaimed in His Word. We still have a seventh day of the week, don’t we? And it isn’t Sunday! All we have to do to see if we are reading this correctly is to check with the Jewish people who have handed down their traditions since they left Egypt with Moses, and they still celebrate the Sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday because YHWH measures days from evening to evening.
“…And there was evening and there was morning, one day…
And there was evening and there was morning, a second day…
And there was evening and there was morning a third day….
And there was evening and there was morning a fourth day….
And there was evening and there was morning a fifth day….
And there was evening and there was morning the sixth day…
And by the seventh day God completed His work which He had
done; and He rested the seventh day from all His work which
He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and
sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which
God had created and made. (Genesis 1:5, 8, 13, 19, 23, 31, 2:2-3)
If it’s okay for us to change the day that GOD blessed and sanctified (set apart) where does it tell us so in the Bible? If the Bible tells us God’s will, where did He give us permission to change what HE told us He’d set up and set apart? All you have to do is get a Strong’s concordance and read all the Sabbath Scriptures to see if you can find ONE giving you permission to change this day. While you are reading them, you can also see how YHWH said He feels about keeping His Sabbath.
“Well, that’s OLD Testament!” you say. Yes, it is. But let me ask you this: when did YHWH say that the “Old” Testament was obsolete? If it is no longer important to Him, don’t you think an event of the magnitude of changing YHWH’s “set apart” day would have been proclaimed so that everyone would know it was okay to change it?
Y’shua talked about keeping the commandments (See Lawlessness Study for a complete look at that) but we’d like to remind you that when Y’shua was walking this earth and teaching, there was no written “New” Testament!! The writings of the disciples turned apostles didn’t happen until long after Y’shua’s resurrection and ascension to heaven! Therefore the ONLY command-ments Y’shua could possibly be talking about are those found in the OLD Testament!
He even said:
“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets (the “Old” Testament); I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. (Greek: ginomai = to cause to be) For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and so teaches others, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-19)
So, based on this, how strongly do you think Y’shua the Messiah feels about the “Old Testament,” HIS “Living Word” which HE gave?? (John 1:1-3)
So why is all of this important to understand? Because God is preparing His Bride for the wedding day. When Y’shua left this earth, He left a Bride that was Jewish in nature and practice. In fact, the engrafting of the first group of gentiles documented in Acts 10 through Cornelius’ household didn’t happen until somewhere between 48 and 50 A.D.! At least FIFTEEN years after Messiah ascended to heaven!! Those first formative years, the body of those called out (ekklesia) was largely made up of those who had grown up following the practices outlined in the Old Testament; the JEWS! Like the Messiah and his disciples/apostles, they lived life as Jews; they followed in the footsteps of a JEWISH Messiah, not an American Gentile Christian one.
This is also important to understand because the ekklesia has yet to fulfill its instructions from Y’shua through the apostle Paul:
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to every one who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16)
Even Paul, not one of the original twelve disciples but hand chosen by God nonetheless, was Jewish and clearly stated this.
I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be!
For I too and an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin… (Romans 11:1)
So, what’s the big deal about all of this? The big deal is returning to the way YHWH set it up in the first place, before men decided to change what He said, before our traditions – the things that make us comfortable – caused us to rationalize away what YHWH clearly put on the page. We have a choice: do we believe what men have told us, do we stick with our traditions and what is comfortable, or will we be courageous enough to read what YHWH said and simply DO IT HIS way?
You see, we believe that YHWH has quite a purpose that He intends to bring about with our obedience and that our obedience to His word is crucial to His plan. Information on His name being Yahweh (YHWH) and not Jehovah or simply God (See His Holy Name) has started to pop up everywhere, even in Christian circles. Information on His feasts and interest in them is growing. Why? Because Yahweh has a vested interest in us knowing this information; He has a plan and this information is apparently crucial to it.
We also believe He intends to keep His promise to Abraham and to bless the Jewish people with the knowledge of their Messiah, but the way we are currently portraying Christianity has absolutely NO draw for a Jewish person; indeed, American Gentile Christianity is largely offensive to them.
Was this God’s plan? Were we supposed to alienate the descendants of Abraham and the beneficiaries of the Abrahamic covenant? You may be thinking, “Well, WE, the believers in Messiah, now replace the Jews in God’s affections. WE are now the children of the covenant.” Oh, really? Well if you are right, then YOU HAVE NO COVENANT!!! Because if you are right, then God broke His eternal word to Abraham and you have NO GOD YOU CAN TRUST for you “eternal salvation covenant” either!
Go read Genesis 15:12-21 when YHWH made the “Abrahamic covenant” and you will see that Abram was ASLEEP!! God cut the covenant WITH HIMSELF and made Abram and his descendants the beneficiaries, JUST AS HE did through Messiah. PROVIDING THE COVENANT OF SALVATION ALL BY HIMSELF and made those who believe in Messiah the beneficiaries. Abram’s descendant’s are still on the earth, so the covenant is still valid. If not, then GOD LIED and you have no assurance of Him keeping His word that your covenant of salvation is eternal, either. Get a Strong’s concordance and read all the covenant Scriptures where YHWH says that he’s made an ETERNAL covenant with Abraham and his descendants.
So, now that we’ve established the covenant with Abraham is still valid, what does that have to do with us understanding and practicing the “Hebrew roots” of Christianity? It has everything to do with it! We are to walk in the Hebraic manner of our Messiah, who lived all of the things we’re talking about in this article, but we are also to tell it “to the Jew first” and we are to “provoke them to jealousy” in order to move them to see their Messiah! How can we do that if what we practice has no reference point for them?
Paul wrote about this:
I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous.
Now if their transgression be riches for the world and their failure be riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be!
I am speaking to you who are Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle of Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if somehow I might move to jealousy my fellow-countrymen and save some of them.
For if their rejection be the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? (Romans 11:11-15)
Is YHWH a respecter of persons? Acts says He is not. Therefore, if Paul said moving the Jews to jealousy was to happen through his ministry when writing instruction for godly living to the believers in Rome, it is to happen through ALL of our ministries, which are our lives of service to YHWH. A minister is a servant of Yahweh’s. (minister = Strong’s #1249 Gk: diakonos = an attendant, a waiter (at table or in other menial duties)
Remember when we mentioned previously that we were grafted into a Hebraic vine? This picture which Paul gives us also comes from Romans 11:
And if the first piece of dough be holy, the lump is also; and if the root be holy, the branches are too.
But if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive, were grafted in among them and became partaker with them of the rich root of the olive tree, do not become arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you.
You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I might be grafted in.”
Quite right, they were broken off for their unbelief, and you stand only by your faith. Do not be conceited, but fear;
For if God did not spare the natural branches, neither will He spare you.
Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.
And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in; for God is able to graft them in again.
For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more shall these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree?
For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery, lest you be wise in your own estimation, that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; (Romans 11:12-25; bold/underlined emphasis: The Way of the Messiah.)
Here Paul clearly states that we are wild olives grafted in AMONG the Jews and we became partakers WITH them, and that we don’t support the root, but it supports us. From this verse it is easy to see that we were never supposed to be “different” from the Hebraic nature of our faith! We were to become a part of what they did, how they lived, what they practiced, etc.
Why, we wondered, have we not known this information before? There are several reasons, but we’re going to deal with the historical one, one that can be traced and corroborated if you choose to do the research.
It has been our observation and experience that modern day Christians don’t know much Biblical history and they certainly don’t know much history from Biblical times that is not written in the Bible! So, knowledge of the history of the Jews is foreign to us. We think this is unfortunate because some of it is very important to us in order to understand what we’ve been talking about.
After the ascension of Y’shua to heaven, to the right hand of YHWH the Father, the disciples (now apostles) continued in the work Y’shua instructed them to do only after they obeyed Him by waiting in
Prior to this catastrophe,
…to the Jew first and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16)
When it became clear that the Romans were going to attack
He had prophesied the destruction of
But when you see
While researching, we found this in one source:
“According to Eusebius in The History of the Church (page 156), there were fifteen bishops of the church (all Jewish) who either stayed in
“The surviving Jewish community considered the believing Jews to be traitors. And since many of the Jewish believers were no longer in
“The Second Jewish Revolt came about in 132 A.D. and lasted three years before it was crushed by the Emperor Hadrian in 135 A.D. Hadrian completely destroyed
“The surviving Jews were sold into slavery and
We learned that once the
But the clincher, in my opinion, was the relocation of the believing Jews to the nation of
“Y’shua was born into a Jewish family and lived His entire life as an observant Jew. (my note: find one “Law” that He didn’t keep) His followers were Jewish; they worshipped on the Jewish Sabbath, attended Synagogue and kept the Feasts. They acknowledged Y’shua as Messiah and wrote the NT Scriptures we live by today.
“The Jewish believers in Y’shua were successful in spreading the gospel to the Gentiles. Over time, with their relocation out of
(…and the Greeks seek after wisdom: 1 Corinthians 1:22; our addition to the quote)
“Furthermore, their attempt to merge Greek philosophy with the Tanakh (the Jewish word for the Old Testament) resulted in their adopting teachings and perceptions that were often more Greek oriented than Jewish. This means they were not biblical!
“For example, the Bible teaches that God created a world that was good for our enjoyment. (Genesis 1:31) Although the world has been cursed by sin, we are to experience the grace of God in this world and express His grace in our lives to our community by works of loving kindness. The primary structure ordained by God for expressing His grace was, and still is, marriage and the family. We were to bless God for all things that were good and worship Him with our body, soul and spirit in this present world.
“Plato taught that the physical or material world was bad. In view of this, he presented the idea that we should be otherworldly minded and seek escape from this world. While Y’shua said, “The meek shall inherit the earth” (Matt. 5:3) Plato could have led the church choir in singing, “This old world is not my home, I’m just a passing through.” Although Y’shua said, “Go into all the world and make disciples” (Matt. 28:19), the Gentile church adopted Platonic philosophy and retreated to the monastery.
“God said, “It is not good that man should be alone” (Gen. 2:18). But the church viewed marriage as an inferior way of life and glorified celibacy. Instead of priests marrying and raising godly families (my note: as the Jewish priests did) they became monks in order to deny the sinful desires of the flesh. To be spiritual was to be single and miserable.
“Whereas the Bible says, “Whatever you do, do it as unto the Lord” (Col. 3:23), the church made a division between the sacred and the secular. The sacred was what happened in the church building on Sunday while everything else was secular. As a result, people were to act “spiritual” on Sunday, while free to live for themselves the rest of the week.
“Salvation became a way of escape from the evils of this world rather than the means of redeeming the world.
“Instead of being kingdom conscious, the church became heaven conscious. Faith became a matter of right thinking rather than right acting. (1) [All bold lettering is my emphasis, not the author’s]
This author clearly traces the historical separation of Christianity from its Hebraic roots and one of the reasons why the “Gentile church” today is ignorant of these roots. YHWH made an everlasting covenant with the descendants of Abraham. We, as the “sons of the living God,” are a part of that covenant, but in a way (historically for the “Gentile church”) we’ve never seen before.
Now that YHWH is calling to “him who has an ear to hear” it’s time to begin to investigate the Hebraic roots of Christianity, to being keeping the feasts and Yahweh’s Sabbath, to begin to study the Bible in light of this information and to return to walking as the Messiah walked.
For more information about just who the “sons of the living God” turn out to be in Biblical history, read: Are Two Houses Scriptural? also on this site.
1) How the Cross Became a Sword by Richard Booker
This is an excellent book on how Christianity became separated from its Hebraic roots.