Joseph Herrin (01-23-2015)
Authentic Christianity! That is the heart’s desire of many believers today who have become discouraged with the sensuality and materialism of the prosperity churches; the dubious spirituality of the prophetic and apostolic congregations; and the vapid trendiness of the rock and roll, seeker-friendly, coffee-swilling, and doctrinally-flimsy houses of worship that dot the landscape of our nations. Many sincere people of God have at some point despaired of ever finding a group of fellow believers who see through the vacuity of popular modern Christianity, and who have set their hearts to walk with Christ in truth and obedience. The no-cost (and no-transformation) gospel that appeals to church-members’ desire to be entertained and reassured of heaven when they die, has produced a spiritually empty parody of Christian discipleship that has led to a mass exodus from the churches.
In an hour of apostasy, there have been increasing numbers who have recognized that somewhere along the line the church has departed from the original faith of Christ and His apostles. They have wanted to return to first century Christianity that they might reconnect with lost truths, and thereby restore spiritual health and vitality to their own lives and the lives of believers with whom they fellowship. Many look to the book of Acts, to that first church which was birthed in Jerusalem. They observe that all of the apostles were Jewish men. Indeed, for a number of years the church consisted entirely of Jewish men and women. Yahshua had declared that He was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He informed His disciples that there was a divine order to the spread of the kingdom of God. The gospel of salvation through Yahshua must be preached first in Jerusalem, then Judea and Samaria, and finally to the ends of the earth.
Recognizing the Jewish foundation from which the church sprang, many Christians have concluded that a more authentic Christianity must of necessity require a return to the Hebrew roots of the first church in Jerusalem. In one sense they are quite correct, for the Law and the Prophets were given both to the Jews and all mankind to guide them to Christ. The Old Testament foreshadows that which is brought into full view in the New Testament. All who would be disciples of Christ should be students of both covenants, for ALL SCRIPTURE is inspired by God and profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness that the man of God might be thoroughly equipped and furnished (II Timothy 3:16).
From the time I was a child I have given as much attention to the 39 books of the Old Testament as I have the 27 books of the New Testament. Over the course of many years of ministry I have found the TaNaKh, the Torah, the Nebium, the Kethubim which are also referred to as the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings which make up the Old Testament, to be as rich and valuable a teaching source as the New Testament writings. I cite both divisions of the Bible with equal familiarity, authority, and value. Christians who have judged the Old Testament to be a Jewish book that has no benefit for their lives are acting foolishly. All 66 books of the Bible are “God-breathed.” All of them are pregnant with revelation, instruction, and encouragement for the people of God, whether they be Jews, Christians, or Jewish Christians.
Jesus Christ/Yahshua the Messiah did not arrive in this world 2,000 years ago without an introduction. 1,500 years before He died on a cross to serve as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of mankind, He was foreshadowed in the Passover lambs that Moses instructed the people of Israel to slay on their last night in Egypt. 430 years before that first Passover, Yahweh promised His friend Abraham that a Seed would one day be given to him who would be a source of immeasurable blessing to all nations. That Seed is Christ, whose genealogy is reckoned back to Abraham. Yahshua’s genealogy is also traced back to David, the King of Israel who had a heart after God.
What do these men, Moses, Abraham, and David have in common? They are all Hebrews. They were all members of a nation chosen by Yahweh to be His peculiar possession in the earth. Abraham is the father of the Hebrew nation. This nation is frequently called by the name of his grandson Jacob whose name was changed to Israel. From Jacob/Israel came twelve sons. One of those sons was Judah, whose lineage was destined to bear the scepter of rule over the nation. Yahshua the Messiah, the King of Israel, was born of the tribe of Judah. He is in all ways the legitimate heir to the title “King of the Jews.”
It takes only an elementary understanding of the Bible to understand that Christianity arose out of Judaism even as the Jews themselves were called out from the nations. Yahweh has always had a “called-out” people, an elect. The Hebrew people had their beginning when Yahweh called Abram to leave his home in Aram, to depart from his father’s household, and to follow Him to a new land that would be given to Abram’s descendants as a possession. 2,000 years later Yahweh sent His only begotten Son to the earth to call out a further elect from among mankind. Yahshua chose twelve men, all Jewish, to lay the foundation for His church. This church, referred to as “the body of Christ,” was not to be made up only of Hebrew men and women. It would encompass a great multitude of Gentile believers. The word “Gentile” is a reference to “the nations.” In this sense, the phrase “the nations” indicates any who are not natural born Israelites, descendants of Abraham.
It would be folly to suggest that those members of the body of Christ who came from “the nations” have no need of, or would derive no benefit from, learning about Yahweh’s dealings with the Hebrew people, the descendants of Abraham. Yahweh spent two millennia dealing with this nation prior to calling the Gentiles to be part of the people of God. It would be equally foolish for the Jew to suggest that the Gentiles, those who are not the natural descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob, have no part or portion with them. Through His Son, Yahweh has reconciled both Jew and Gentile into one people.
“And I say to you, that many shall come from east and west, and recline at the table with Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, in the kingdom of heaven…”
And all the circumcised believers who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon the Gentiles also.
For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter…
Therefore remember, that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,”… remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Yahshua you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one, and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Yahshua Himself being the corner stone…
Hebrew and non-Hebrew are now one in Christ. Those who were once far off (the people of the nations) have now been brought near to God through the blood of the Jewish Messiah. The apostle Paul contends that both Jew and Gentile were sinners. Both needed a Savior. Both were reconciled back to the Father in the same way, the way of faith.
Romans 3:9, 28-30
What then? Are we (Jews) better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin… For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. Or is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also? Yes, of Gentiles also, since indeed God who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through faith is one.
The body of Christ is comprised of men and women from all tongues, tribes, and nations of the earth. There is no distinction. All have been made one in Christ. Nevertheless, Yahweh dealt specifically with the Hebrew nation for 2,000 years prior to sending His Son to draw all men unto Himself. The Hebrew people have a rich history of Yahweh dealing with them. The apostle Paul was a Hebrew, born of the tribe of Benjamin. He testified the following.
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.
What were these oracles? They are the 39 books of the Old Testament, the books which the Jewish people call the Tanakh. When someone speaks of the Hebrew roots of Christianity, it is these books, and all that is revealed in them, that I deem to fit the words “Hebrew roots” most aptly. Should not the Christian disciple, whether Jew or Gentile, give themselves enthusiastically to the study of these “oracles of God” that they might learn as much about their Creator and Redeemer as possible? Indeed, there is no excuse for those who neglect so great an opportunity when it is before them. From the first line of the book of Genesis, unto the last line of the prophet Malachi, there is much wisdom, revelation, and instruction to be gleaned by those who love truth.
Now, if the study of the Old Testament, and familiarity with all the words Yahweh has delivered to mankind through Hebrew men, were in fact what was in focus when people speak of the Hebrew roots of Christianity, I would be all for it. If adopting Hebrew roots meant no more than embracing all 66 books of the Bible as divinely inspired and profitable for Christians, then I would be judged as one of the most ardent proponents of Hebrew roots today. I have devoted major portions of my books and writings to discerning the types, shadows, and various parables contained throughout the Old Testament. I have sought wisdom in the historical accounts of patriarchs, kings, and prophets. I have delved deeply into the types and shadows of the Law delivered to Israel through Moses. I was even destined by God to bear the name Joseph, one of Israel’s twelve sons. Adding to the remarkable nature of this last fact is the knowledge that my parents were not even Christians at the time of my birth.
There is a growing movement at this hour called the Hebrew Roots Movement. Those who are the main actors in this movement, those who serve as teachers to tens of thousands of men and women across the world, intend much more when they speak of Christians returning to the Hebrew roots of their Christian faith than the mere study of the Old Testament. Many are stating that Gentile believers should conform themselves to the lives of their Jewish brethren. By this they mean that the Gentile believer should become Torah observant, taking upon themselves the Law as schoolmaster and guardian after the manner determined by Yahweh for the Hebrew people before the time of their promised Messiah.
In speaking of returning to the Hebrew roots of Christianity, some are suggesting that the Gentile believer should begin to study the Talmud and Midrash, giving equal or even greater weight to these rabbinical interpretations of the Scriptures than they do to the Scriptures themselves. Some are suggesting that Gentile believers should keep the dietary laws, observe Sabbaths, new moons, and Feast days. They are even leading the Gentile believers to embrace Jewish traditions that are extra-Biblical, such as wearing the kippah and the tallit, reading the daily parashot and haftarot, observing non-Biblical holidays such as Hanukkah, and adopting Jewish practice such as never writing out the name of Yahweh, replacing it with “God,” and even when using this title to not spell it out, but rather to omit the vowel as in “G_d.” People who are joining Hebrew Roots fellowships are adopting many Hebrew words in place of English (or their native language), as if speaking, singing, or writing in Hebrew is a sign of spirituality, bringing them closer to Christ and a return to authentic Christianity.
In adopting many of the traditions and symbols of Judaism, these Gentile Christians and Messianic Jews are unwittingly embracing many profane things which derive from the Kabbalah. Kabbalah is Jewish mysticism that is traceable back to Babylon. It is infused with Satanic deception. There are signs, symbols, traditions, even the observance of specific holidays, that are Luciferian and are being embraced by Christians who are seeking a more authentic Christian faith and experience. Truly, Satan is the great deceiver who deceives the entire world. Sincere believers who are fleeing from the carnality and spiritual bankruptcy of modern Christianity, are running headlong into further deception in the Hebrew Roots Movement, mistaking it for the true faith.
In this book I will address many of these components of the Hebrew Roots Movement. I will present evidence from the Scriptures, from history, and from current sources that the reader can evaluate and test for themselves. My desire is not to offend my brothers and sisters in Christ who have embraced the Hebrew Roots Movement, but rather to help those whom I might to escape the snare of the devil. My heart’s desire is expressed by John, the beloved disciple, who wrote the following:
III John 4
I have no greater joy than this, to hear of my children walking in the truth.
I would that all of God’s people might serve and worship Yahweh in Spirit and in truth.
In closing out this introduction I would speak somewhat of the intended scope of this book. One of the most profound and grievous effects of the Hebrew Roots Movement is that it is leading a large number of Christians away from a life submitted to and guided by the Spirit of Christ, and back to life under the Law of Moses. This book will NOT focus on this aspect of the Hebrew Roots Movement, as it would take an entire book in itself to address this subject responsibly and thoroughly. Such a book already exists, as I was led previously of the Spirit of Christ to write the book titled Laying Down the Law. I would urge the reader to consider this present writing to be a companion book to Laying Down the Law. I would further encourage the reader to study carefully my earlier book on the Law BEFORE reading this one which will primarily focus on the traditions, symbols, and various Hebraisms that many Christians are adopting today. The book Laying Down the Law is available to be freely read, downloaded, or printed out, at the following link:
Many of my brothers and sisters, having been informed of the intent of this present writing, and of the book Laying Down the Law, will be inclined to dismiss them out of hand, having made up their minds that observing the Law and adopting Hebrew traditions, symbols, and practices, is the will of God for all Christians. To such ones I would make the following entreaty. Please hear my testimony before you reject it. Although you may believe you have heard every possible argument on these subjects, and are satisfied that none of them are worthy, I am confident that you have not yet “heard” what I have set forth on these subjects.
In the book Laying Down the Law I have presented evidence and arguments that I have encountered from no other man. I spent many years entreating the Father to show me the truth about the role and duration of the Law that I might teach accurately and effectually His mind on this subject. Over the course of more than a decade the Father unveiled to me much of His thought on this subject. In sincerity, and humility, I declare that I have been taught of God, and have not followed the teaching of man.
I urge you also to consider the wisdom declared by King Solomon.
He who answers a matter before he hears it, it is folly and shame to him.
Before you reject my message without giving it a hearing, I would entreat you to remember the words of Nicodemus as he addressed the chief priests and pharisees.
“Does our law judge a man before it hears him and knows what he is doing?”
If you believe you are to keep the Law, then does not the Law say you should hear before you judge? If you will hear what I have to say, and afterward you still believe that it is God’s will for you to be governed by the Law, or to conform yourself to various Jewish customs, then you have lost nothing. You will have spent only a little of your time in exercising the fruits of the Spirit which include patience, gentleness, and humility. You will have treated a brother in Christ with love, and that is a far weightier matter in Yahweh’s sight than a great many things. If, on the other hand, you find that the Spirit of Christ is speaking to you through what is written, you will have gained much.
May you be blessed with peace and understanding in these days,
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