I have been a believer for as long as I can remember. When I was little, I read and re-read the Bible story book, and eventually read the Bible itself. Although it was divided into an “Old” Testament and a “New” Testament, I had always considered it to be one book. The “Old” part was as much a part of my faith as the “New” part. [In honor of our Jewish brothers, in the future I will call the “Old” testament, the Tanakh, or will reference one of its 3 parts – the Torah (the Five Books of Moses), the Writings or the Prophets)].
It was probably 1974 or so that I found a church, where it was evident that they knew more than I did about a relationship with God. We eventually recognized that what was written in the Torah should not be ignored, and the church began to celebrate the feasts described in the Torah. We did not pretend to be Jews; we recognize that we are Gentiles, but we also recognize that there is a blessing that goes with following the directions of the Torah.
Fast forward to 2019. My husband and I, along with others in our church, made a trip to Poland early in that year. When we returned, we made a presentation to our church about our experiences. A friend who heard us encouraged us to come to a Jewish community he had joined – the Torah Minyan. We came, and never left. We still attend, mostly via zoom, even though we now live in Southern Oregon and can only visit Los Angeles occasionally. We are venturing out to find others of like faith in our new community, and expect that it will be a continuing process.
For the past several years I have also been learning Hebrew as well as venturing into a study of Jewish mysticism (Kabbalah). From my so far limited study, I have concluded that there is virtually nothing in the New Testament that does not have its counterpart in the Old Testament (will talk about this more in the future), and that we as Christians have SOOO much to learn from our older brothers in the faith. Every year as we re-read the Torah, I find new revelations and wonder if this can possibly be the same book I read the year before.
I intend to use Lisaslamp to describe some of these lightbulb moments, and perhaps even to engage in additional discussions about these matters. However, I want to make several introductory statements of what I believe, and which I will assume to be true in future discussions (I have not included scriptural references here, but will in the future):
- We, as Christians, have been GRAFTED IN. The root of our faith is with the people of Israel. We are privileged to be sojourners with the Jews, and should regard our ability to be included in God’s promises as a precious gift. I am most grateful for the acceptance I have found from my Jewish brothers and sisters. The Torah makes it clear that the same rules apply both to the children of Israel and to the strangers or sojourners in their midst (that would be us).
- Christians do NOT replace the Jews. Anyone who holds to replacement theology needs to re-read their bible. It is clear that the children of Israel, to whom the promises have been made, remain the chosen people, and that even when they turned away and found the curses to be their portion, the promises from God have always been there to allow for restoration. It should be noted as well, that if God were willing to punish his chosen people when they turned away from Him, what makes us think that he would not do the same and more to us if we turn away?
- Jesus was a Jew. He did not establish a church. He worshipped in the synagogue. His disciples were Jews. The New Testament was written by Jews. Although there are a few accountings of ministry to non-Jews in the Gospels, it was really not until after Jesus’ death, that the door clearly opened to allow the gentiles in as well. It is well and good to continue to worship in our own churches, and to preach the Gospel of Jesus; however we need to recognize that the New Testament would not exist without the foundation of the Tanakh and the Jews.
- IMHO, Christianity should never have been split off from Judaism. From the reading I have done, it actually appears that this was done more for political reasons than religious reasons. Christianity has actually always been a (what some would term an illegitimate) branch of Judaism. But the more we can re-establish a relationship with our Jewish brothers and sisters, the more we will find our own place in God.
- The Bible makes it clear that those who bless Israel will be blessed, and those who curse Israel will be cursed. I pray that we recognize this and do everything in our power to see that our country supports and blesses Israel. This includes a recognition that even if the United States is larger and more powerful, we do not have the right to dictate to Israel how it governs itself, or how it relates to its Arab neighbors.
And with this introduction, I wish you all a good and sweet New Year, and pray that you be inscribed in the book of Life for another productive and God filled year.