From time to time, I am asked by quite sincere Christians, “Why should I study the Old Testament when Christ gave us the New Testament?”
I’m going to break the answer down into two parts:
1. 5:17 in the King James Version translates the Hebrew to read, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, but to fulfill.” The word “law” used in the King James Version is a mistranslation of the Hebrew word “Torah.” Torah means “Teachings,” not “Law.” So, Matthew 5:17 comes more clearly into focus. Christ was saying He had not come to misinterpret the Torah; He had come to interpret it fully and completely.All of the theology (knowledge of God) is in the Old Testament and is only referenced in the New Testament, attesting to the source for everything Christ taught. If you read Psalms 37, you will find what might have been Jesus’ inspiration for the Beatitudes and The Sermon on the Mount.Matthew 22:37-40 … “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like, unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Jesus is quoting from the Old Testament! The Shema – the foundational commandment of Judaism – is found in Deuteronomy 6:5 … “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”Everything Christ taught came from “As has been written…” Without the Old Testament, the New Testament “has no legs.” It cannot stand alone.
2. The second answer to the question of does the New Testament replace the Old Testament canbe answered in this story. Imagine for a moment that you were adopted at birth. You were raised and nurtured by your adopted family with love. You know nothing about your birth parents or their family. Your adoption was a closed adoption. So, you don’t know who they are or where they are. You always wondered what the circumstances of your adoption. You cannot completely answer the questions on a medical history form. Did anyone in your birth family have red hair like you? Was either of your parents left-handed like you are? Were they allergic to peanuts like you are?Now imagine that someone approaches you one day and tells you that your birth parents have been searching for you. They love you so much, and they want to meet you. You have siblings, grandparents, and a whole family who long to know who you are and what you are like.What do you do? Do you acknowledge the love with which you were raised and believe that you have no need to know the family you came from? Or do you feel in your heart that you are incomplete without knowing about your family of origin.Clearly this story illustrates that your adopted family is the Jesus and the writers of the New Testament. Your birth family is God and his written word in the Old Testament. Can you understand that the New Testament cannot stand without the Old Testament? “New” doesn’t have to mean “Replace.” It can also mean “Addition” or “Next.”
The Sabbath was instituted by God Himself after the first six days of creation.
1 Thus, the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.
2 By the seventh day, God had finished the work he had been doing; so, on the seventh day he rested from all his work.
3 Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.
Saturday is the seventh day and, therefore, the Sabbath. Of that, there is no question! Ask the Jews, and they will tell you that they have been keeping it for millennia since they became a nation after they left Egypt.
God fed the people of Israel manna for 40 years in the desert. During those forty years, the manna never fell on the Sabbath, and they were instructed to gather a double portion on the day before Sabbath. The Lord’s directive to gather a double portion on the day before the Sabbath was issued so that the Jews did not “work” on the Sabbath day.
In Exodus 20, we see how God wants us to treat the Sabbath. These are the words that God Himself wrote on the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments: 8 Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy. 9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10 but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it, you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore, the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.
Around fifteen hundred years later, Jesus walked the earth and kept the same Sabbath, on the same day of the week. During all that time, the Jews had not lost track of the correct day, even when taken captive to Babylon for seventy years.
So why do most practicing Christians go to church on Sunday and not on Saturday? The Council of Laodicea around 364AD ruled that Christians must not Judaize by resting on the Sabbath. Instead, Christians were ordered to observe “The Lord’s Day. acheter viagra en ligne avis ” Couple this with the fact that the Papal Church has Roman origins. The Romans worshiped the sun on the first day of the week. The name Sunday was adopted because this day was anciently dedicated to the sun or to its worship.
Shabbat is a day of being, not doing. In religiously observant homes, Friday is usually a hectic time of preparation for the Sabbath. There is food to prepare, emails to answer, and business to wrap up. It can be a little overwhelming. It is considered a praiseworthy mitzvah (good deed) to prepare your home for Shabbat. Besides cleaning, this means using your best dishes, using your best linens, and wearing your best clothes. Traditionally, meals held in celebration of Shabbat should be fit for a queen. So, Friday, we hustle and bustle, but when the candles are lit, a change takes place. Shabbat is here.
Observant Jews use no electricity on Shabbat. Homes are quieter on Saturday than the rest of the week. No music, no TV, no computers, no phones. There are 39 categories of forbidden work. A few examples: One should not handle money, light a fire, rearrange books on a shelf, cut or tear anything. One day a week is set aside for being with ourselves, a day of peace. Shabbat is also a time of joy, good food, and wine. It is considered a mitzvah (good deed) to make love with your spouse on the Sabbath.
The concept of joy in the Sabbath is so crucial that any sadness is banished. Fast days are postponed a day if they should fall on Shabbat. Active mourning is expressly forbidden on the Sabbath. Funerals are put off until Sunday.
On Friday, the day of preparation, we turn on the lights that will be needed on Shabbat. Automatic timers may be used for lights and some appliances as long as they have been set before Shabbat. The refrigerator may be used, but we must disconnect the fridge light before the Sabbath begins.
I’ve talked about what we cannot do on Sabbath. Let’s look at what we should be doing to observe the Lord’s Shabbat. Practicing Sabbath is an exercise in humility. It requires us to admit the world would likely keep turning without my toil. Sabbath provides perspective: the world carries on without our efforts. We are not the most important thing in the world. That’s a bit freeing to admit.
Shabbat is not an arbitrary command. It’s a practical expression of love. Sabbath as a command removes the guilt of just being and not doing. We are intentionally present and aware. We were created to worship God. He gives us time to do that on Shabbat. Going to synagogue, studying the Torah, singing Jewish songs are all considered loving God and praising all he has done for his People.
We need Sabbath in our lives. We need moments of rest and refueling. We need an invitation to stop, reflect, and receive.
Welcome to Roots & Branches – my new monthly blog where I will share information to help you better understand the Jewish roots of Christianity based on my research and my personal experience as a Jewish Christian. In some ways, this blog will serve as an extension of my first book – Christianity’s Jewish Roots: A Study of Judaism for Christians. At the same time, it will also allow me the opportunity to share my personal perspective and experiences as a Jewish Christian woman.
One key difference between the Roots & Branches blog and my book is that my book was written in the third person. The material presented was historical and factual – with little interpretation. That is not the case with the Roots & Branches blog. I intend to discuss ideas, topics and content related to Jewish Christianity and what it means to me. Keep reading to learn why that is an important distinction.
Here is a great example. There is a great deal of interpretation and emotion tied up in labels like “Jewish Christians,” “Christian Jews,” and “Completed Jews.” My Christian friends and acquaintances, in large part, seem pleased to hear that I am a Jewish Christian and even more delighted to hear that I am a Completed Jew. On the other hand, while being polite, my Jewish friends and family slightly wince at the word Christian. Add to that, the internet, which is chock full of strongly worded negative articles on the subject. I read that I could not be a Jewish Christian; that I had to be a Christian Jew. Other articles said I was a Messianic Jew. I never expected such vitriol. So again, since the terms mean different things to different people, I am writing this blog in the first person to indicate that what you are reading is what it all means to me as a Jewish Christian woman.
Now that we got that out of the way, let’s dig into some of my story and where my journey began as a Jewish child. I grew up in an observant Jewish home.
I began my Jewish education in Sunday School at the age of three and Hebrew school from 4th to 8th grades as I prepared for my Bat Mitzvah and Confirmation. I knew Genesis and Exodus. However, I never read Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. I learned about the Jewish holy days and festivals and I also learned about Job, Ruth, Esther, and Daniel. However, I did not realize that they were part of a larger group of writings. I knew that Jews had prophets, and they were represented in a whole section of the Hebrew Bible, but I could not name them.
Of course, I knew about the Torah, the Talmud, and the commentaries. At my Bat Mitzvah, the Temple Sisterhood presented me with my 2-volume Holy Bible. I had no idea that Jews had bibles. I thought the bible was written by Gideons for Christians.
I remember Christmas and Easter breaks in school and Christmas concerts. The school band played, and the chorus sang carols. We weren’t politically correct in those days. I was allowed to sing the songs, but when the word Jesus or Christ came up in the lyrics, my parents told me not to sing those words out loud.
As I grew older, I began to question why we didn’t have Christmas trees. Eventually, I started reading about the Messiah. I noticed that my Christian friends knew that God had sent the Messiah and that He died for the sins of the people. Of course, my Sunday and Hebrew school teachers taught us that we were still waiting for the Messiah. They taught that Jesus was just a great rabbi and that His followers were wrong about His being the Messiah. Their evidence was there were still wars, and hunger, and devastating natural disasters. Our Messiah would take care of all that when he finally came. But, for the most part, my teachers didn’t want to talk about Jesus at all, not one little bit.
The more my teachers didn’t want to talk about Jesus, the more I wanted to learn about Him. As I came to know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, I stepped forward from the Hebrew Scriptures – the Old Testament into the New Testament and Jesus’ teachings. That is a natural trajectory, from old to new, from first to last. I did not feel as if I was leaving anything behind as I moved forward. I was still Jewish, and now as a Christian, I am a completed Jewish woman.
I’ve been a thirsty Christian for the last seven years. I have taken many bible studies, small groups, and Sunday school classes. I have facilitated studies of my first book. What I’ve found as both a student and a facilitator is that many Christians know the New Testament far better than the Old Testament. While I am neither a scholar nor an expert, I was always the one everyone turned to in class for clarification when our study referred to Jewish people, holidays, or scripture. The lesson I learned from their questions was that Christians were interested and wanted to know more about the New Testament.
I made a startling observation when I led studies on my book, Christianity’s Jewish Roots: A Study of Judaism for Christians. At the start of the study, I asked the participants what they hoped to get out of the class. The responses were as varied as the people in the classroom.
At the end of the study, I inquired about the key takeaways. To my delight, my students felt like a door of understanding had been opened for them. Many, perhaps for the first time, understood that Christians and Jews shared the same ancestry through Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Further, they finally understood that Jesus was a Jew – a Jewish rabbi and not only that, but all of Jesus’ apostles and all of the authors of the New Testament were also Jewish.
It was as if the Old Testament was theirs for the first time. They made a faith journey to the past. They completed their faith journey in the reverse of mine. They went from new to old, completing the circle. They were now “Completed Christians.”