Sins of our Forefathers, Part 1

Laying the Foundation

Today all we hear is the sins of our founding fathers and how we should reject all that they did. But what about the sins of our forefathers who passed on their religious beliefs?  To answer this question we must look back with eyes that see clearly. So let’s take a closer look into church history. I think you may be amazed at what you are going to hear. But first we must establish a foundation.

 Moses, before  he died, spoke to the children of Israel and once again repeated the Ten Commandments to them.  Deuteronomy 5:8-10 says this about the sins of the fathers, 

“You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth.  You shall not worship them nor serve them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, inflicting the punishment of the fathers on the children, even on the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me,  but showing favor to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”

Messiah Yeshua

Yeshua was Jewish, born of Jewish parents, with a Jewish genealogy, from  the line of David. During the life of our Messiah, He never once told  His followers who were Jewish that He was beginning a new religion. Not once did He ever say, “Do not keep the Commandments, or the Sabbath, or the Biblical Feasts of God” mentioned in Leviticus 23. No! He said just the opposite. Matthew 5:17-19, “Do not presume that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.  For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke of a letter shall pass from the Law, until all is accomplished!  Therefore, whoever nullifies one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, 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.”

We have a long way to go before God’s Word has accomplished all that it needs to accomplish and heaven and earth are still here and so every stroke of the pen is still enforced and has value. As far as the Sabbaths, In Mark 2: 27-28 says this,  “Yeshua said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath.  So the Son of Man is Lord, even of the Sabbath.”

And regarding the Biblical Feasts, we see time and time again Yeshua keeping the Feast days; John 7:37-38, Yeshua at the Feast of Tabernacles, John 2:13-23, Yeshua keeping Passover. 

The Apostles

During the life of the twelve Apostles, who were Jewish, did they ever say, “We are beginning a new religion, or do not keep the Commandments, or the Sabbath, or the Biblical Feasts of God”?  On the day of Pentecost when Peter stood up and preached to thousands of Jewish people who were in Jerusalem for the Feast, not once did Peter tell the crowd that they were beginning a new religion. On that day 3,000 Jewish believers accepted the Messiah, and shortly after in Acts 4:4 5,000 also. Not Peter or any other Apostle, ever started any new religion. All those on Pentecost went back to their homelands, and still worshiped in the synagogue on the Sabbath, but now their lives were complete because of Yeshua the Messiah.

God Fearers

All throughout the journey in the wilderness there were people who sojourned with Israel because they saw and knew that Israel believed in the One True God. They did all that the Jewish people did. In fact God commanded it so. They lived like them and worshiped like them. In the days of the Messiah, there were still people who clung to Israel, they were called God Fearers. Luke 7:1-10 tells us this story.  We will look at verses 2-5,  “Now a centurion’s slave, who was highly regarded by him, was sick and about to die.  When he heard about Yeshua, he sent some Jewish elders to Him, asking Him to come and save the life of his slave.  When they came to Yeshua, they strongly urged Him, saying, “He is worthy for You to grant this to him;  for he loves our nation, and it was he who built us our synagogue.”

We know or should know that after Yesua’s victory on the cross over Satan, that he would do everything in his power to destroy that victory,  and we will see as we go on in time that he did just that. But the powers of evil will never undo what Yeshua did on the cross, no matter how much the devil does to destroy that truth. 

God is truth and His truth is eternal, but we must search for truth, for truth is not with man, but with God.

James

James Hatzaddik, (The Righteous), was the brother of Yeshua. James was a Nazarite and he was the first Bishop of Jerusalem, (Episkopos in Greek). A bishop was an overseer or elder of a congregation. A Nasi in Hebrew, was a prince or the head. We see Paul in 1 Timothy 3:1-7  explain the duties of an overseer. “It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, skillful in teaching,  not overindulging in wine, not a bully, but gentle, not contentious, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity  (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?),  and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into disgrace and the snare of the devil.”

 James was the head of the Jerusalem Congregation, and the head of the 1st Council called the Jerusalem Council, which we will see in a moment. Tradition tells us that James was appointed by Yeshua, prior to Yeshua’s ascension into heaven. James, now was the steward of the throne of David. In 62CE James was martyred along with five other of his disciples. In reading the Book of James, you will never find him telling his readers not to obey the Commandments or not to keep the Sabbath or the Biblical Feasts of God.

Paul

Paul, during his lifetime, never said that he was starting a new religion, nor did he ever say, “ Do not keep the Commandments, or the Sabbath, or the Biblical Feasts of God.” No, he never said any of this because the Jewish people would have never thought to not keep the Commandments and Sabbaths of the Lord.

When Paul went to the Gentiles, which was part of God’s plan from the beginning, he spoke to them about the One True God. These people were pagans. They worshiped many gods. They had no knowledge of the One True God. They had no knowledge of the Messiah Yeshua, but when they came to believe, then  they too, worshiped right alongside the Jewish people in their synagogues. There was no new religion. There was just one form of worship, just as God is One. 

Jewish Form of Worship

We must realize that churches as we know them did not come for many centuries later as we will see as we go along. The only form of worship was Jewish.

“Synagogue” is a Greek word that literally means a gathering of people, like when the believers would meet at Solomon’s Portico, Act 5:12, “At the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all together in Solomon’s Portico.” But it can also refer to the place of assembly. Synagogues were used for a variety of communal needs: such as schools, for communal meals, as courts (Acts 22:19), as a place to collect and distribute charity (Matt 6:2). Worship also took place in first-century synagogues.  Synagogues today are not like the synagogues in the days of the apostles.  Nonetheless, reading and interpreting the Torah and the Prophets are well attested to in first-century synagogues (Acts 15:21), along with communal prayers, (Matt 6:5). We know that Paul went to the synagogue and preached, but we also know that in many places where there were no synagogues, believers met in houses. Over these congregations was an overseer and Paul appointed many of them as we see in Acts 14:23, “After appointing elders for them in every congregation, Paul  and Barnabas, with prayer and fasting, committed them to the Lord in whom they had put their trust.”

Also in Titus 1:4-5, “To Titus, my true son in a common faith: grace and peace from God the Father and Messiah Yeshua our Savior. For this reason I left you in Crete, that you would set in order what remains and appoint elders in every city as I directed you.”

So now let’s look forward, beginning with the Jerusalem Council, which took place around the year 50 Common Era. The question that was being asked was, “Do Gentiles who are coming to the faith need to be circumcised?”  This question is what Paul dealt with throughout his whole ministry.  Paul called it, “My Gospel.”(Romans 2:16,16:25) It was given to him by God, because he was chosen to go to the Gentiles. Ephesian 3:2-10 tells us this, “If indeed you have heard of the administration of God’s grace which was given to me for you;  that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before briefly. By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Messiah,  which in other generations was not made known to mankind, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit;  to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Messiah Yeshua through the gospel,  of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power.  To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Messiah, and to enlighten all people as to what the plan of the mystery is which for ages has been hidden in God, who created all things; so that the multifaceted wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places.”

Paul died defending his gospel which was simply Gentiles did not need to go through the ritual of  becoming Jewish, which  circumcision was a part of, nor did Gentiles need to be circumcised to be saved, for circumcision did not save us, but the shed blood of Messiah did. When reading the Epistles of Paul you must keep in mind that this is the background for all he taught, and you need to place this background into interpreting his teachings. Paul did not start a new religion for Gentile believers, Paul tells us in  Philippines 3:3-6, “For it is we who are the circumcision, who worship by the Holy Spirit and glory in Messiah Yeshua and have not depended on the flesh— though I myself might have confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he might depend on the flesh, I far more—  circumcised the eighth day; of the nation of Israel; from the tribe of Benjamin; a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the Torah, a Pharisee;  as for zeal, persecuting Messiah’s community; as for Torah righteousness, found blameless.” Paul did not say I used to be.  

Next we will  look at the Jerusalem Council.

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