Weekly Sabbath Survey
Hebrew Perspective – Part One — 1-7-2017
From time to time, readers question the whole Jewish thing I do. I’ve been asked if I’m Jewish or wanting to become a Jew. I’m not Jewish by birth, but by being a grafted in Believer in the Jewish Messiah. I believe we don’t have to necessarily change our Earthly affiliations. God will show us. I honestly no longer identify with a building or have any interest in belonging to a “church” or synagogue. I “belong” to Jesus and to His people wherever they are. I believe a church is where two or three are gathered in His name. I’m most interested in attaining “the mind of Christ” which happens to be a Jewish mind. I can’t change my Gentile DNA, but I believe I can become a spiritual Hebrew. I can be Messianic rather than what most “Christians” are today. It is true, of all the changes we make in life, changing our MIND is one of the most difficult. But right here at the beginning of a new year seems the perfect time for me to throw out a challenge concerning that whole mind changing thing. Especially in the case of considering a more Hebrew-type of faith and practice.
Here’s what we are up against: It is a matter of where our ‘faith’ came from. It has its roots in the first followers of Jesus. But it morphed with the years, changed, and in time came to be called “Christianity”. I think of Christianity as an olive tree. It has roots and top branches that should produce good olives. But we continually DENY and IGNORE our roots in an ancient Hebrew culture and faith. So our roots now draw from another source besides Jewish. We’ve got a MIX. And many of us don’t seem to see that as a problem. The fruit we make is something less than the Jewish olives of the First Century “Believers in The Way.” Our olives are still wild because we are not fully grafted into the cultivated Jewish olive tree. Our olives (our spiritual accomplishments) are small. The material success of some churches and mega ministries is dubious at best.) The Age we are in now demands better!
If the roots aren’t right, the fruit isn’t either. We have an unstable foundation and keep building on it anyway. We get our building up, but is isn’t right. Even if we just forget about the whole Jewish thing, how can any of us say Christianity or more correctly “Churchianity” is NOT One Big Mess? The foundation is made up of our fundamental beliefs. If we believe Christianity is the religion Jesus started, or His human form was something other than a totally observant Torah-keeping Jew, or any number of other false beliefs, we are off into the woods as lost as Hansel and Gretel.
I often refer to “The Gentile Mind Set” or “The Greco-Roman Belief System.” I was reading a book recently and the author called it “The Western Cultural Perspective.” It means the faith we claim as our own began as part of an ancient Asian culture. It came from a God who said He is the same yesterday, today and forever. But rather than go over to that faith in our thinking and practice, we high-jacked it from the first Believers, and drug it over to our side of the planet. It went from the Middle East to Western Europe, courtesy of Constantine and the Roman Empire. There, the faith of Jesus was mingled with Celtic, Stonehenge and other pagan beliefs. We read the Sacred Text, think of it and understand it like Westerners. Over a lot of time, we have crafted it into something in our minds that bears only some resemblance to what and who Jesus and His friends were. (I know this is an awful truth for some of us to hear!)
The Scriptures, both Old and New, should be interpreted according to ancient Hebrew understanding. (This is the way Jesus and His first followers understood it and lived it.) The Holy Book is not Greek. The Greek methods of study are simply inadequate. Some scholars in various disciplines have come to believe Hebrew may be the original language of Earth. It is very much a spiritual language. But the battle is uphill to make sense of a spiritual document by reading it like it is Greek philosophy or a Roman legal agreement. We have modern translations that in some places skew the text even worse than the older versions did.
Jewish scholars can study their Torah at four levels understanding. Greeks (that’s us) study their Bibles at one, maybe two levels. With the Jews, ALL are expected to study the Scriptures. A person may stop at whatever level they wish and go no further. With us, it’s two levels: clergy and laity. Some Bible scholars among us get up to other levels. Seminarians are taught that lay people only get confused if they study too much. So there’s no shame in using your Bible once a week to look up the sermon verse. The failure to make room for the various levels makes for SO MUCH arguing among us. Both persons may be right, just at different levels of understanding. But our system doesn’t allow for that. We all have to believe alike (which is usually whatever the preacher is saying), or one of us has to leave and, of course, start another church!
Part Two next week
Charlene Reams Manning, Believer in the Lord Jesus Messiah
Copyright August 2016
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