This is rare. So rare that this alignment of events begs answers to questions most never ask. Today, all around the world, Christendom acknowledges in some way the first coming of the Jewish King of Creation. Last night, Jewish people began their annual celebration of Chanukah, the Festival of Lights commemorating the rededication of the Temple in Jerusalem after the Maccabean Revolt. As recorded in John 10, Jesus observed this very Jewish holiday.
Christmas or Chanukah, it makes no difference. Religious tradition has all but obscured what should be so plainly evident.This time of year, Gentiles and Jews enjoy their respective holidays oblivious to what the Bible teaches concerning the convergence of a potentially unifying force. This force at one time challenged the status quo and rocked the world. What force am I talking about? Jews and Gentiles united by a common faith in Yeshua HaMashiach, Jesus the Messiah!
Ephesians 2:14 – He Is Our Peace Luke 24 records two meetings. Lessons were delivered by Messiah during those gatherings that fueled a cataclysmic revolution throughout the Roman world. In both settings the glorious story of the coming of the Son of God was declared. It is a story that was set in stone long before time began. It is this story that Jesus’s first disciples told so convincingly that when Paul (a Jew), Timothy (a Jew) and Silas (a Gentile) arrived in Thessaloniki the residents complained to the authorities. “These men who have upset the world have come here also!” (Acts 17:6)
Jewish and Gentile believers were at one time united in devotion and service in Messiah. This was at the heart of God’s game plan for the triumph of the Good News over the brokenness of our world. The Serpent of Old knows full well what happens when believing Jews and Gentiles get their act together and tell the story of the Uniter from the very beginning. Satan has pulled out all of the stops to keep that unified witness from taking hold. His devilish strategy has always been to cause those who God created for unity to question, “Indeed, has God said…?” (Genesis 3:1)
Like Adam and Eve, much of Christendom has continued to listen to the Deceiver instead of clinging to the One who created all things (John 1:3). After His ascension to His Father’s side, it only took about 100 years for Yeshua’s followers to take a deadly wrong turn. One of those who led the Church astray was a Jewish believer by the name of Melitos of Sardis. He lived not long after John, the last of the Apostles, died.
“Israel was precious before the Church arose, and the Law was marvelous before the Gospel was elucidated. But when the Church arose and the Gospel took precedence the model was void, conceding its power to the reality… the people (Israel) was made void when the Church arose.” – Melito of Sardis, 2nd Century
Read that once again, very slowly. “Israel was made void when the Church arose.” Is that what the Bible teaches? In a very short period of time, this idea became part of the bedrock theology of Gentile Christendom. Words have meaning. According to Melitos, Genesis 1-3 established humanity’s problem. The New Testament, which in Melitos’s understanding replaced the Old, provides God’s solution. According to this narrative, everything between Genesis 3 and Matthew 1 is irrelevant. There is no longer any need to consider Israel or the Jewish people as integral to God’s plan for all of history. This is what Melitos’ words meant to the early Church Fathers who followed in his footsteps. But, once again I must ask, is this what the Bible teaches?
Romans 11:25-32 – All Israel Will Be Saved
Most of the early Church Fathers, men revered by much of Christendom, succumbed to this idea. Justin Martyr (165 AD), Irenaeus (202 AD), John Chrysostom (407 AD) and Augustine (430 AD) were not alone in their growing hatred for the Jewish people. Why were the Jews hated? It was for their supposed crime. The Jews killed Christ. It was Constantine who inaugurated institutional anti-semitism within the Church at the first Council of Nicea in 325 A.D.
Down through the Church Age, Satan has led an insidious attack within the walls of the Church against the God of Israel (physical Israel, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob). Another god has taken His place, stealing the Original’s throne in order to reign over the Israel of God (spiritual Israel, i.e. the Church).
About a month ago, one of the professors at Israel College of the Bible recommended a book during a discussion about what we are doing at Disciple Daily. I had explained to him that we are training disciples to use the narrative of the entire Bible told through twelve key Bible stories as a key disciple making strategy in one’s disciple making toolkit.
The God of Israel & Christian Theology chronicles the development of the standard Christian narrative upon which the theological understanding of the majority of self-identifying Christians rests. Here is the model of the standard narrative.
Creation For Consummation – Man was created for a fully realized relationship with God.
The Fall – Man chose to rebel against God, destroying man’s ability to enjoy this relationship.
Redemption In Christ – God’s eternal plan to restore His relationship with mankind though Jesus occurred.
Final Consummation – Those who choose to accept Christ’s work on their behalf will live forever in His presence, as was originally intended in the Garden of Eden.
Notice what has happened in the standard model. Any need for understanding the biblical narrative from Genesis 4 through Malachi 4 is completely eradicated. The Jewish people have become a complete side note to HIStory. It cannot be denied that most of the Church has some knowledge of the great stories of the Old Testament. But understanding their importance and being able to connect them with the life of Messiah and the Birth of the Church, that is another matter altogether. The standard model also explains why most of Christendom completely ignores Revelation. It too is connected to the Jewish people and the original narrative taught so effectively by Jesus’s first disciples, men and women who upset the entire world.
You may be thinking, “what’s the big deal?” This morning, while reflecting on the recent United Nations resolution against Israel, I realized that the time for political correctness in the Church has passed. Plain speaking should now be the normal practice. There is no longer time to dance around what is happening because we are fearful of offending others. This is how I see it. Christendom is to blame for the lack of biblical literacy among the people of the United States. This directly impacts the way the people of this nation understands history. Consequently, our nation abstained from this critical vote. How could this have happened in a country where so many church goers have at one time understood the importance of the Jewish people and the nation of Israel at this time in world history?
The following quote from The God of Israel and Christian Theology sums up the problem. It is crude and it is crass. These are not my words. But they struck me with the force of a hammer. They ring true. If you are offended, please know I actually toned this down a bit.
“Is Abraham, the father of the Jewish faith, a piece of human excrement, perhaps, the excrement that the System proper must flush away?”
The standard model supports and enforces supersessionism, i.e. replacement theology, the idea that because of Israel’s willful rebellion against God, the blessings once owned by physical Israel (the Jews) now belong to spiritual Israel (the Church). This is not what Scripture teaches. “The standard model goes hand in hand with a further migration of Christian doctrine into the interior world of spirit” versus physical. More than ever for most of the Church, “Jesus’s redemption (now) means deliverance from a history in which the Jewish people have a role to play.”
Don’t misunderstand me. I don’t hate Christmas. What I hate is what it has come to represent for so many. It is an engineered holiday created many years ago to answer an important question, a legitimate question. Who is Jesus and what importance is He to me? The Church Fathers, because of their understanding of the standard model biblical narrative began to teach that Gentiles no longer have any need to read or study all that the Law, Prophets and the Writings said of Yeshua. The result is that Jewish people see Jesus as the God of the Gentiles. They want no part of Him. As far as they are concerned, Jesus is the reason they have been so persecuted down through the ages. In their minds, Jesus is the cause of the Holocaust.
Satan has been successful, up to this point. He has been driving a wedge between Jews and Gentiles in the way that they look at the Bible, the whole Bible. This impacts the way that both Jews and Gentiles see what really happened in the past and what is happening today. It influences they way Jews and Gentiles see what is in store for the future of the world and all that live upon it.
Matthew 28:18-20 – What Are Believers To Do?
Addressing this problem is one of the primary reasons Disciple Daily exists. We disciple people through the use of twelve key Bible events, twelve Bible stories. They start in Genesis, progressing through the Hebrew Scriptures and conclude in Revelation. Teaching people the Bible in this manner forces Jews and Gentiles alike to consider how God selected and used the Jewish people to bring the Light of the World to all people. We are teaching disciples of Messiah Jesus to tell the entire story of the Bible all around the world. We are asking you to help us in this endeavor.