Who are Judeo-Christians and What Do They Believe?
What is all of this about being Judeo-Christian? How can someone be a Jew and a Christian at the same time? And why would a Christian be a Jew? These are all good questions, and they each have a good answer.
What's in a Name?
If you are a Christian, your faith is based upon the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and the Scriptures surrounding them. Your Savior is the King of the Jews, Yeshua (Jesus) HaMashiach (the Messiah, Christ in the Greek). This is our foundation. This is what we are built upon.
The body of Messiah began with all Jewish believers. The disciples were all Jewish, and the first congregation of believers was Jewish, three thousand alone coming to belief in Yeshua on the day of Pentecost. The first believers did not follow a pope, but James the brother of Yeshua; and they were not located in Rome, but in Jerusalem. Believers in Yeshua were a sect of Judaism and they went to the synagogue and they remained practicing Jews, believing in their Messiah Yeshua, and this was all after the Resurrection. So you see, a Jewish person can be a believer, and throughout the centuries there have been many Jewish people who were also believers in the Jewish Messiah Yeshua.
What Happened to the Jewish Messiah Yeshua?
Well, other than it being a long story (centuries long), church history is far from hidden. But today, many believers do not know how we got here. As Roman persecution came throughout the years, many Gentile believers did not want to be associated with their Jewish brothers, so they distanced themselves from Judaism and the Jewishness of the Bible. Many of the church fathers began to teach this separation first by anti-Judaism rhetoric, which then turned to anti-Jewish rhetoric. Then they taught replacement theory, which is that the church (the Gentile place of worship) and the Gentile believers replaced the Jews and the synagogue.
But a lot has to do with anti-Semitism. Quite frankly, we just did not want to be associated with the Jewish people. In fact, we wanted to be better than the Jews, because we accused them of killing Jesus. We now had all the blessings of God, and the Jewish people, the chosen people of God, were no longer His people. We changed His name, Yeshua, to Jesus to conform with the Greco-Roman world. Many believers today do not even realize that Jesus (Yeshua) was a practicing Orthodox Jew. He kept the 7th day (Saturday) Sabbath (Genesis 2:1-3, Luke 4:14-21, 6:5-6, 13:10) and all of the rest of God's Appointed Times (Leviticus 23): Passover, Unleavened Bread (Luke 22), Pentecost, Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles (John 7:1-2, 37). He even kept Hanukkah (John 10:22-23). He wore a prayer shawl and went to the synagogue and paid the Temple tax. We stripped Him of His roots and we toppled our foundation. We called the Hebrew Scriptures old and obsolete, and we called the Apostolic Scriptures new and only for believers. We became anti-Torah, or as Paul used the term, Lawless.
We lost our identity, our foundation, our whole purpose for why we exist, and we also changed the Biblical Gospel message (which has to do with the true work of the Messiah in regards to Israel) into a Salvation only message (see our teaching on the good news). In doing all of this, we have recreated a Messiah that looks more Western than Middle Eastern. The Church replaced the Synagogue and Rome replaced Jerusalem. But Paul makes it quite clear that we have been grafted into Israel and they support us, not the other way around (Romans 11:17-19).
People believe that Paul was one of these church fathers that condemned Judaism, but in fact, He boldly said, "I AM a Pharisee," a Hebrew of Hebrews (Philippians 3:5)! He said the Law (Torah) is holy (Romans 7:12). In fact, Yeshua Himself said in Matthew 5:17-19, "I did not come to do away with the Torah but to fulfill it." Now, what we do not understand (because we have not been taught to understand) is that Yeshua was Jewish and that He kept the Torah because He was the living Torah, the Word made flesh. So what is the Torah? Let's take a closer look.
The Torah is the first five books of the Bible. It was written down by Moses as God gave him the revelation on the mountain at the same time He gave him the Ten Commandments. We believers accept the book of Genesis, but for the most part we do not interest ourselves with the rest. The book of Exodus speaks of the deliverance of Israel from slavery and bondage from the Egyptians, the building of the tabernacle, and the giving of God's commands. Leviticus speaks of the sacrifices and God's Appointed Times. Numbers speaks of the wanderings of Israel for forty years, but it also shows us the difference between those who believed God and those who rebelled. The last book, the book of Deuteronomy, speaks of the Torah as a whole, like a recap. But here we see that the Torah is written out like an ancient covenant or treaty of its day between God the King and Israel His people. It is also done like a Ketubah, which is a Jewish wedding contract.
So that is a short summary of the Torah. In time, we will take a closer look at these books.
Should Christians Become Jewish?
So if Yeshua was Jewish, and the early believers were all Jewish, does that mean that we need to become Jewish? Do you have to be Jewish to be a Judeo-Christian? NO! Judeo-Christians believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We also believe in Yeshua (Jesus), who is the Messiah of Israel. Yes, Yeshua is the Messiah of Israel, and He will fulfill all the Scriptures that have been prophesied about Him concerning Israel. As Judeo-Christians, we also have our beliefs in the Scriptures of Israel, the Creation, all of the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, the Ten Commandments, the Psalms, and the Prophets. We are the only people who believe this way.
Paul's message to the Gentiles was very clear: Gentiles did not need to become Jewish. Now, what Paul meant was that Gentiles did not need to become ceremonially Jewish, that is, the works (circumcision, sacrifice, and Mikvah) required of them to actually become a proselyte Jew. Paul did not mean that a Gentile could not keep Sabbath or God's Appointed Times, for we see that even at the giving of the Torah at Mt. Sinai there were those non-Jews who went out of Egypt with Israel, and they were called God-fearers. God-fearers were those who believed in the one true living God, the God of Israel (Leviticus 24:22, Numbers 9:14, 15:14-16). We see in the Gospels (Luke 7:1-5) when the Centurion asked Yeshua (Jesus) to heal his slave, the people tell Yeshua that this man loves the nation of Israel and helped build their Synagogue. We also see Peter with Cornelius in Acts 10:1-4, just to mention a few. Keeping God's Word does not make you Jewish; what it does make you is a child of God. God's word is one just as He is one, and we must not call God's word old or obsolete. What we do need to call it is holy, and we need to embrace it because Yeshua is the Word of God made flesh, that same word that created the world into being, that same Word that died for our sins. A Judeo-Christian is one who believes in the whole counsel of God and lives by it; for Yeshua tells us if we love Him, we will keep God's Commands.
So That's Why We Do That!
As Judeo-Christians, we may think that how we worship is unique to us, but we are going to look at how the church, mainly the Catholic church, took their cue from the Jewish synagogue. So let's take a closer look at what is similar between the two.
We see Jewish men wear prayer shawls, and most of them have a stitched collar around it like a stole; the priest wears his vestments with a stole.
A Jewish man will wear a head covering called a kippa; many priestly orders, monsignors, and even the pope wear a skull cap.
The Jewish people call their teacher Rabbi; we call ours Pastor. Jewish people use a prayer book called a Siddur in which they recite their prayers; believers also use a prayer book to recite their prayers. The Jewish worship service reads a portion each week from the Torah scroll. Before Yeshua's day, the reading cycle went from a three year cycle to a one year cycle. In the Catholic church, they read from the lectern, and they still use a three year cycle. They both read from a podium, and they both bless the readers who have come up to read. In Yeshua's day, we read of the sanhedrin, a group of men who made decisions based upon their beliefs. The Catholic church has the Council of the Cardinals who gather in Rome. The Jewish worship includes songs and times of fasting. The Catholic church also sings songs and has times of fasting. The Jews say a prayer called the Amidah, and we say the same prayer in a shortened version called the Lord's prayer. The Jewish people say prayers three times a day, and the church would ring their steeple bells in accordance to those three times, for they also would say prayers. The Jewish people have the Ten Commandments as their moral code, and so do we. They have baptism, Communion, feast days, and they believe in the Messiah, all things we have in common. So let's now take a closer look at what is different between the two.
First, I want to look at two Scriptures. Romans 3:1-2 says, "Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? Great in every respect. First of all, that they were entrusted with the oracles of God." Romans 9:4 tells us, "...who are Israelites, to whom belongs the adoption as sons and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Torah and the temple service and the promises." Now I point this out first because we have not been taught according to God's Word, but according to the flesh of men; our baptism came from the Jewish practice of immersing oneself in water. This is what the Greek word "baptizo" means, "to immerse." The Jewish custom of the Mikvah is a ritual cleansing where one submerges in water for religious purification and holiness. One might immerse before Sabbath or a feast day or even before marriage; Yeshua (Jesus) did not begin this practice. John baptised for repentance, not for salvation or to belong to any given faith.
Our communion is taken right from the Passover Seder. The Matza which Yeshua broke is called the afikoman. It is broken in half, and half is wrapped in a white cloth and hidden till later in the meal. This is what Yeshua lifted up and said it represented His body, and the cup that He lifted up was called the cup of Redemption, one of four cups in the Seder meal. Yeshua tells us that when we do this, the Seder, in its context, we need to remember Him. Yeshua did not start a new practice. We celebrate feast days, or holy days, but they are not Biblical days. These man-made feast days and holy days are not what God has told us to keep. Leviticus 23 speaks of these days, and as you read through it, you will see that these feast days include the sojourner who is in the midst of the Jews. These sojourners were called God-Fearers, for they were Gentiles who believed in the one true God of Israel and left Egypt along with Israel at the exodus, and they are mentioned all throughout Scriptures and even in the Gospels.
God's Biblical calendar is a lunar calendar. In the creation story, we see that there was night and then day. We also see that God creates the Sabbath, the seventh day, for He rested and made it holy. The Scripture tells us that the Sabbath was created for man and not the other way around (Mark 2:27). It was given to man at creation. Yeshua tells us that He is the Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8); this is the seventh day and not the first. He never says to keep the first day because He resurrected on that day. This too was man-made. We believe in the Messiah and so do the Jewish people; the difference is that we have made our Messiah Christian, and we have lost His Jewish identity.
The Jewish people are waiting for a Jewish Messiah, the one who has been prophesied for thousands of years through the prophets. They can not believe in our Messiah Jesus because he does not keep the Sabbath, nor Torah, nor does he gather the exiles of Israel or gain the victory over Israel's enemies or rebuild the Temple; that is what Yeshua will do when He returns because this is what has been prophesied of Him. Even in the gospels we see the angel giving the good news (Gospel) that the Messiah has been born in the city of David (Jerusalem) and His kingdom will be forever. Where will His kingdom be? In Jerusalem, not Rome, for He will sit on the throne of King David forever.
So you see, we have many things in common, but we have turned from and do not understand our Jewish roots, the roots that supported us from the beginning, and we have gone our own way, the way of man, and turned from truth, God's Word. We think that the tabernacle, or temple, has been destroyed because Yeshua came. But what we do not understand is that the temple in Heaven still exists, and we are to be a royal priesthood, yet we do not know what that all means. We must come back to Biblical living and follow the One True God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of Paul, Luke, John, and yes, the God of Yeshua our Messiah. We must remember what Paul tells us: that we have been grafted into Israel (Romans 11:17-18) and that the root supports us, not the other way around.
So, become part of our regular viewers and participate in our discussions. Learn what we have been grafted into so that we can bear much fruit for the Messiah.