HaY'Did Learning Center UPDATE July 14, 2000
Shalom, Y'All! I would like to introduce you to a special teacher and friend out of Houston, Richard Booker and his lovely wife, Peggy. Richard and I have talked on the phone for several years, but finally we met in Denver at the Bridges for Peace Conference a few weeks ago. I wanted to share this article with you, and we'll be sending along another article about his school and ministry, The Institute for Hebraic-Christian Studies in Houston. If you live in Houston area, please contact Richard about fellowshiping and/or studying with his group. Shalom, Tom and Cheryle Holeman
Should Christians Learn about Jews
and Jewish Traditions?
Copyright 1998 IHCS Institute for Hebraic-Christian Studies 4747 Research Forest Drive, Suite 180-330 Woodlands, TX 77380 Phone: (936) 441-2171 Fax: (936) 494-1999 e-mail: email@example.com Internet: http://www.rbooker.com
Why should Christians
learn about Jews and Jewish traditions? The answers to these
questions cannot only be informative and enlightening, they can
also be somewhat challenging because they force us to rethink
centuries of tradition and stereotyping regarding Christianity
and Jews. Most do not
realize there was a vital connection between Christianity and
Judaism that was severed by the Christian church centuries ago.
Once that severing took place, biblical Judaism and biblical
Christianity, which God intended to be one, went their separate
ways with tragic consequences for both.
Returning to Our Roots
We are living at a time when the Lord is calling both Jews and Christians back to their biblical roots. The biblical root of Christianity grew from an everlasting covenant God made with Abraham. Christians become part of that covenant through faith in Jesus.
There were 2,000 years of Hebrew history, culture, language, traditions and customs that formed the root of Christianity. We may not like it nor want to acknowledge it, but Christianity is nourished from that Hebraic/Jewish root.
A Jewish rabbi from Tarsus, known as the apostle Paul, wrote these words to the Christians in Rome, "Do not boast against the branches (Jews). But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root (the Hebraic origins of our faith), but the root supports you (Christianity) (Romans 11:18)." The root is the origin, the cause, the source that establishes and gives life to that which is attached to the root. The more we can learn about our Hebraic/Jewish roots, the more blessed we will be in our Christian lives.
A Fuller and Clearer Understanding of the Bible
While Christians in America view life with a Western mind and worldview, the Bible was written by Abraham's descendants who had an Hebraic culture, language, and worldview. This presents a real problem and challenge. We have a Middle-Eastern book that we seek to understand from our Western culture. Our Western perspective can easily cause us to misunderstand the Bible. Furthermore, our mind has been more influenced by Greek philosophy than biblical, Hebrew thought. This is why we must study the Hebraic/Jewish roots of Christianity.
The Bible is a Hebrew book, telling the story of the Hebrew people. Jesus was a Hebrew Lord. We, on the other hand, are Western people sharing a very diverse and sometimes controversial heritage that comes from many sources. If the Bible is going to be understood in our day, we must develop 'Hebrew eyes' and 'Hebrew attitudes' toward life.
When we read the Bible through Hebrew eyes, our understanding becomes much richer, deeper, and clearer with more detail than we could ever imagine. We gain new and powerful insights and clarity of vision because we are perceiving the Bible through the eyes of the writers. We see truths that we just cannot see with our Western eyes no matter how honorable our motives and intense our desires.
Exciting New Insights About the Teachings of Jesus
While Christians have a good understanding of the divinity of Jesus, few know Jesus the man. Every culture makes Jesus over into their own image. Westerners get upset when they discover that Jesus was not a European. Religious groups get upset when they discover that Jesus was not a member of their denomination. The PLO is trying to make Jesus into a Palestinian. Jesus was a Jew born into a Jewish family in the Jewish village of Bethlehem in the land of Israel. His heritage was Hebraic and He kept all the laws of God.
JESUS l Read the Jewish Scriptures l Spoke Hebrew l Wore Jewish clothes l Ate only biblically kosher food l Kept the Jewish Sabbath l Celebrated the Jewish feasts l Followed Jewish customs l Lived His entire life as an observant Jew
Jesus' followers were Jewish. The New Testament tells us that they worshipped on Saturday (the biblically appointed day), attended the Synagogue and kept the feasts. They acknowledged Jesus as the Jewish King and Messiah, wrote the "Jewish" New Testament, and lived Torah-observant lifestyles (Acts 21:20). Jesus and His early followers were deeply rooted in the rich Hebraic soil of their ancestors. They thought, taught, and lived out of this soil. God planted Christianity in this soil and we must return to it in order to be biblically nourished.
Clarification of Paul's Writings
Paul is one of the most misunderstood persons in history. Both Christians and Jews believe Paul was an anti-"Law" Jew who established a Gentile brand of Christianity that was different from his ancient faith. We learn otherwise when we study Paul's writings from his Hebraic-Jewish roots. The greatest misunderstanding of Paul's writing relates to his views on Law and Grace. For centuries, the church has taught that, in the First Testament, the Hebrews were saved by Law, but in the New Testament we are saved by grace and faith. From a Western view, the Law was understood as a legalistic system of rules which the Hebrews had to keep in order to be saved. Grace was understood as freedom from the Law. Judaism with its Law, and Christianity with its grace, were placed in opposition to one another. This is a Western view, but it is not Paul's view, nor is it what he intended us to understand from his writings.
TORAH l The Hebrew word for law is Torah. l It means to teach, instruct, guide, and direct. l Torah is teaching people the way to walk with God. l It does not mean a legalistic set of rules one must follow in order to be saved.
The consequence of this unfortunate misunderstanding has been a disaster for the church. Christianity became a "lawless" religion in which people believed they could simply confess a creed and live as they pleased. The entire New Testament is Torah teaching us how to walk with God in order to live an abundant Christian life.
A Better Follower of Jesus
Another exciting benefit of studying our Hebraic/Jewish roots is that we will be a better follower of Jesus. Jesus said to two of His followers, " ... 'O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ (Messiah) to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?' And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself" (Luke 24:25-26). Luke recorded this story and went on to say. "Then their eyes were opened and they knew Him. ... And they said to one another, 'Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?' " (Luke 24:31-32).
When we learn our Hebraic/Jewish roots, the Spirit of the Living God will open our spiritual eyes to know Jesus more clearly and more intimately. God's words will burn within our hearts with a fresh fire that cannot be quenched.
How You Can Learn More
The Institute for Hebraic-Christian Studies (IHCS) offers courses that help Christians understand more clearly the historical and cultural Hebraic/Jewish-Christian connection in the Bible. If you would like to learn more about your Hebraic/Jewish roots, contact IHCS.
Institute for Hebraic-Christian Studies 4747 Research Forest Drive, Suite 180-330 Woodlands, TX 77380 Phone: (936) 441-2171 Fax: (936) 494-1999 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Internet: http://.rbooker.com
PO Box 804
Independence, KS 67301
(316) 331-7712 "To train, educate and equip for study, both the Jew and the Non-Jew in the rich Hebraic Biblical heritage of the Bible."
"You do not support the roots, but the root supports you." Romans 8:18
email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org