As Jew growing up in West Texas life is a little different. It was dry. Not only were we short on water, but we were also short on Jews. Not that there are ever many Jewish people just walking around, unless you happen to be on a Hollywood Set, in Brooklyn or the Other Holy Land Israel. I have since lived all over the U.S. and other countries. From the North East to the Deep South. One thing has been made very clear. There aren’t many Jews in the Bible either. At least that is what you would think if you were to spend much time in your average protestant Church.
Sure you have the Israelites. Sure Charlton Heston lead them out of Egypt. But then Jesus came and started the Southern Baptist Convention right?!?! I don’t mean to pick on the Baptists. You can plug in what ever denomination you like and the analogy still fits. My point being that the vast majority of Churches look at the Bible with no contextual separation between their lives and the lives of the people who make an appearance in scripture. In other words, they (ok, lets drop the act, you I’m talking to you friend) you more often than not come to the Bible with understanding, seeking faith, not faith seeking understanding.
I frequently speak in Churches on various topics ranging from the Passover to defending our faith against secular atheism. Regardless of the topic I often tell this little analogy. Imagine you picked up a book detailing the daily life of an Amish person in rural Pennsylvania. Having never spent any time on a Pennsylvania Dutch farm you were unfamiliar with many of the terms being used. Terms like yoke(horse/ox collar), Dabber Spring (run fast), Denki (thank you), Fraa (mother), Gaul(horse). Names were also unfamiliar so you began to change the names so they were easier to remember. The descriptions of clothing articles were also foreign so these began to change to more familiar articles in your mind. Even the games being played didn’t make much sense, so these also found associations.
Upon your finishing of the book, a friend asks what it was about. You begin to retell the main bullet points in the book. However, you plug in all of your replacement terms, names, and descriptions so that your friend understands just what the heck you’re talking about. The problem being that your friend in the end has the view that the Amish are basically like him. When the truth is that they couldn’t be more different.
I hope you know where I am going with this, but just in case let me spell it out. Jesus is a Jew. His actual name is Yeshua. He was not a Southern Baptist; he wasn’t a Catholic. His last name isn’t “Christ”. He had more in common with the Sadducees and Pharisees than he did you or I. He was a Rabbi. Those who followed him did not “Convert” to Christianity. They didn’t pray a prayer to accept him into their hearts. They looked on Him and declared “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!
Let’s talk about Yeshua’s brother Jacob. No not James. Jacob. Yes, Jacob(Yacov) was his real name. Jacob interestingly enough was Yeshua’s brother. He didn’t believe that Yeshua was anything special while he was traveling around teaching, and performing miracles. He in fact did not believe that Yeshua was the Messiah. Yet something peculiar happened. After Yeshua was crucified his disciples doubled down on the belief that Yeshua had risen from death. This ultimately lead to their own martyrdom. Let me ask you a question. If you were a skeptic like Jacob before Yeshua was killed. Why would you suddenly change your mind about him being the Messiah? What event could declare to you beyond doubt that he in fact was who he claimed to be? For Jacob, Yeshua’s brother, it was this. That he had seen his brother tortured and murdered, and three days later alive again. The resurrection turned the tide in Jacob’s heart and mind so that it was now undeniable. . . .Yeshua was and is the promised Messiah to the Jewish people.
My purpose in writing this to you is to challenge you to re-think the context of what you believe. I challenge you to stop being lazy in your reading of the Holy Scriptures. I challenge you to read the Bible from a Jewish perspective and if you don’t know how to do that there are many great resources available to you by Jewish scholars such as Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum and Dr. Michael Brown. My friend you are missing so much. Stop forcing the Bible into the presupposition that its stories and characters happened in any-town USA. Begin an incredible journey into the history of the world and its future through the eyes of God’s chosen people, Israel.
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