Posted by: Heather | October 3, 2010

Help! Jesus Overboard!


Matt 5:17  “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

“Man overboard!”  Panic ensues when these words fall on human ears.  When someone falls overboard on a ship, fear grips the heart.  Questions quickly follow.  Will they be OK?  Was it an accident or a willful act of injury?  Will the person die, or worse, be lost and forgotten?  These are all valid questions that need to be answered when a tragedy such as this occurs.

There are many that find themselves in a similar situation lately.  I count myself among them.  I have a passion to teach others what I’ve learned about Jesus.  The more I study, the more I see Him.  But, because my methods and subjects are a bit unorthodox to many, I find myself being labeled and misunderstood.  It’s not the first time, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.

The Hebraic roots of the faith is a subject that is very near and dear to my heart.  Over the past few years I’ve learned a few things about it.  🙂  As long as I live, there will always be more to learn.  Awhile back, I came to the realization that although I am a Gentile by blood, I am spiritually a Jew by being ‘grafted in’ to the olive tree (Romans 11). This idea is fairly common theology, even in mainstream Christianity.  In fact, it’s an idea that I’ve been taught well throughout my childhood.  I began to see that the same Jesus I credited with saving my soul from eternal destruction walked this earth as a Jew.  As such, he knew and kept the tenets of His faith, including the feast days.  The Bible I’ve read and studied daily was written by Jews, many who physically walked with Jesus while He was on earth.

As I began to mull these things over, it seemed only right to study the customs of the biblical era He lived in, thinking it would give me more insight into who Jesus actually is.   And oh my goodness, was I right about that!  It opened up a ‘can of worms’ so to speak.  Not only that, it shined light on my heart, like a dark room illuminated by a skylight on the brightest summer day.  This Jesus, that I thought I had served with vigor since early childhood, took on a brand new meaning and brought more light to my soul than I ever felt possible.  I began to learn why certain things were said in the New Testament, and how many widely held beliefs came to be.   I even learned that Jesus never one time quoted the New Testament, but quoted time after time from the Old Testament.  Although I had studied the Bible for years, it was at that time I considered myself to have truly become a ‘student of the Word’.  Never had I been more excited about what I’d found between the pages of that book I thought I knew so well!

We know the Bible as a book of prophecy, and rightly so.  Its pages contain prophecy upon prophecy about Jesus, the Messiah that came to earth to save us from our sin.  It is also the greatest history book ever written, showing us the time span from the creation of this earth to the events leading up to His birth, as well as His fulfillment of all the prophetic writings.

But for this ‘adopted’ Jew, it is much more than that.  Many people enjoy participating in the festivities, holidays and customs of their heritage, and are encouraged to do so.  As I began to study, I started to see the Bible as not only a book of prophecy or history.  It is the journal of my adopted family…my family heritage.  The Bible is the complete story, from the beginning, of the family that ended up birthing Jesus Christ, our Messiah!  It covers family stories, marriages (good and bad), sibling conflicts, dysfunctional relationships, and every other family trait imaginable, as well as their customs, beliefs, and the geographical areas they lived in.   Every aspect of the Old and New Testaments, including the customs and feasts, are a picture of Jesus Himself.

When I began to see Jesus in the pages of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus (all of places), Numbers and Deuteronomy, I got so excited I could hardly contain myself!  I saw parts of my heritage in the feasts of the LORD that I thought had been long locked away.  Excitement built as I continued to discover the family ties I never knew were there.

But even as I’ve become more excited about God and His Word, I’ve found many others are not excited for me.  They insist I’m becoming too religious, trying to ‘live by the law, or worse yet, that I’ve cast Jesus aside.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I have simply connected the Old and the New Testament in a way I never saw before, and seen it is one cohesive book, not two separate compartments.  By studying the Old Testament, it became very clear that God did not ditch ‘Plan A’ because it failed, and use ‘Plan B’ instead.  His plan is very clear from the beginning…one plan to save ‘whosoever will’.

If I choose to celebrate the feasts of my heritage, I don’t do it out of obligation.   I do it because I’ve seen Jesus there, and He has put a stirring in my heart to celebrate them that He might be lifted up.  I can be saved and go to heaven without knowing or celebrating my heritage, but it makes the journey so much more enjoyable to see the One behind it, and lift Him up so ‘all men may be drawn to Him’.

When I use a term unfamiliar to some, such as ‘shalom’, it’s not to shut out someone who doesn’t understand.  I usually use it for the benefit of those I know that have begun to connect with their heritage as well, and are as excited as I am.  If I use it around someone who doesn’t know, I try to use it in the context of an explanation.  I’m also excited about learning the language of my heritage (Hebrew), and I want to share it with everyone… to teach those that don’t know, and greet those who do.  Some people I know choose to use ‘Yeshua’ to describe our Messiah, because that’s His Hebrew name.  Others use ‘Jesus’, the English translation of His Greek name.  He is still the same Messiah, regardless of which name you’re convicted to call Him by, and He is on every page of our Bible, from Genesis to maps.

So, if you’ve been wondering…no life preserver is needed.  Jesus has not been shoved overboard on the ship of my life in exchange for vain customs.  He is not lost, injured, or forgotten.  To the contrary, He is still first, and always will be.  He is the center of everything I’ve learned.  When He tugs the string of my heart to connect with another part of my heritage, I do, and there is no condemnation in it…it exalts Him, not the ‘letter of the law’ or religion.

In fact, He IS my life preserver…the one that alerts me if false doctrine tries to make its way into my life.  By the gauge of His Word, I am kept safe.  Rest assured, my focus has not changed.  The only things that have changed are the extent of my knowledge about Him, and the depth of my love for Him.  My salvation is still in Jesus, and Him alone.

Now if you’ll please excuse me, my family heritage calls…Jesus wants me to see Him in the pages of ancient ‘His-story’ one more time.

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Responses

  1. Ms. Heather,
    Wow! Excellent as always; not unorthodox at all. Everything you write about makes perfect sense.

    • Thank you Corteney! I wish everyone shared your enthusiasm. LOL I appreciate your comment, sweetie!

  2. Glenn,

    Thank you! I am always so blessed by the depth of your comments, and how well-thought out they are. And in this case, as it has always been, I agree with you 100%. I truly believe God honors our worship, even though we may be far from the actual ‘look’ of the early church. He also doesn’t base our salvation on whether we choose to investigate our Hebraic roots or not. However, I truly think we can have a richer understanding of who He is if we look into it. Although I don’t believe God requires it of us for salvation, I am equally amazed at the number of people that are against it, simply because it doesn’t look like our Western concept of the church. I still subscribe to the idea that our differences can be good, as long as Jesus remains the focal point! It’s not our job to judge one another.

    Admittedly, the Hebraic Roots movement, as a whole, is a very diverse group. Just as there is in Christianity, there are various ‘fringe’ sects of people that fall into extremism where the end result is apostasy. This is not at all what I am endorsing. Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection was, is, and will remain the only atonement for sin…nothing we can do in ourselves can save us. Unfortunately, some that get involved in any fringe movement begin to move away from the Bible as the source of authority, and Jesus as the true Messiah. Any teaching that does this is wrong. As in everything spiritual, I advocate great caution to be sure deception doesn’t overtake truth.

    I’m certainly trying to keep my umbrella up…I just feel the need to respond when falsely accused. I haven’t quite made it to Jesus’ ability to keep my mouth shut yet. LOL

  3. The First Century Church more closely resembled Post Exilic Rabbinical Judaism than the religious exercise that we refer to as “church” today. Most of what we do in our “attempt” to worship God is more cultural than Biblical! That’s okay God looks on the condition of the heart! I am often amused and sometimes even concerned when some group declares either outright or by inference that somehow they have cornered the market on God, and that the way they worship is the only true way. I not only think that it is permissible, but even desirable for a believer to explore their Hebraic Roots. One of the biggest mistakes that we make in the attempt to exegete, is when we take a parable, analogy, or allegory couched deep in eastern culture and try to translate it into western thought. The meaning rarely survives the translation! I applaud you for being in touch with your Hebraic Roots. I think Paul said that Israel was the mother of us all. He also said that it was okay to continue or not to continue with the traditional feast and Holy days as long as whatever we decided to do was unto the Lord. God bless you for your hunger and if I may quote from the days of my mis-spent youth, “don’t let anyone rain on you parade!” BG


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