“For it is unbecoming beyond measure that on this holiest of festivals we should follow the customs of the Jews. Henceforth let us have nothing in common with this odious people…We ought not, therefore, to have anything in common with the Jews…our worship follows a…more convenient course…we desire dearest brethren, to separate ourselves from the detestable company of the Jews…How, then, could we follow these Jews, who are almost certainly blinded.” Council of Nicea, 325 CE
This was an ordinance of the Catholic Church that distinguished the celebration of Passover from Easter. The separation of the Jew and Gentile was taking place insidiously over the past two centuries, but with the coming of Constantine the schism was decisive and final. In the prior decade Constantine forbade Jews from living in Jerusalem and ordered them not to proselytize.
Nicea, with its theological anti-Judaism, laid the groundwork for anti-Semitic legislation of later church councils. The Council of Antioch (341 CE) prohibited Christians from celebrating Passover with the Jews. The Council of Laodicea in the same century forbade Christians from observing the Jewish (and biblical) Sabbath. (Some Christians had been observing both Sunday and the Sabbath.) Christians were also forbidden from receiving gifts from Jews or matzoh from Jewish festivals and “impieties.”
It wasn’t all bad news in those early centuries. Judaism was not a “prohibited sect,” according to the Codex Theodosianus of 438 CE. Rabbis were entitled to the same privileges as Christian clergy. Jews were not to be disturbed on their Sabbath or Feast Days. Their synagogues were not to be attacked, violated, burned, or confiscated. However, conversion was a one-way street. Jews could convert to Christianity, and were encouraged to do so. However, Christians were forbidden to convert to Judaism. Also, Jews were forbidden to own Christian slaves, but Christians could own Jewish slaves. Christians were forbidden under penalty of death to marry Jews. Jewish tribunals were considered valid only in matters purely religious. The Fiscus Judaicus (Jewish tax) from earlier centuries was maintained, a tax which only Jews were required to pay to government authorities.
The few protections offered by the Codex Judaicus were relatively short-lived. It wasn’t many decades until attacks on Jews and their synagogues became commonplace. The Jew was a second-class citizen, somewhat protected by law, but merely tolerated, something akin to the dhimmi status that is given to non-Moslems in Islamic countries. However, these were the “good old days” compared to the horrors that would be inflicted upon Jews in later centuries by the “Church triumphant.” Rav Shaul (Paul) commanded the Christians to “provoke the Jews to jealousy” with righteous living. Unfortunately, Christians kept only half the commandment; they provoked the Jews.
To some in the church this is a new era where the gospel receives a deeper and more replete authority in the world and for others of the Kingdom of Messiah it is interpreted as a day of infamy. Chamberlain states
More Christians were killed (by other Christians!) in the first century after the Council of Nicea than had been killed by pagans in the century before Nicea.
Have you ever wondered what the Church would look like today had this split from her Jewish roots never happened? Even more profound is the attitude and treatment of the Jews by the established ecclesiastical bodies and how that would effect their acceptance of the Messiah? The hatred that the Romans had for the Jews was carried on by the Church. I have made two trips to the Holocaust Memorial in Washington, DC. In the permanent exhibit are two films, one is about the rise of Nazism and the other, on antisemitism. The films are each about 15 minutes long. Within 2 minutes of the film on antisemitism the first mention of the Church is made and thus remains the main character(culprit) for the balance of the picture. Overcoming this sentiment from the Jewish community is one of the chief obstacles on the way to the salvation of Israel.
Jews all across Israel and the world will sit down for the traditional Seder dinner commemorating the miraculous exodus of the Israelites form Egypt. Each year, more Christians join in whether with their Jewish neighbors or at Seder dinners of their own.
Wayne Hilsden, senior pastor of King of Kings Community in Jerusalem, said that Christians have a precedent for observing the Passover: Jesus’ last supper was a Passover Seder with his disciples.
The first few Seders I participated in were enlightening. It actually formed part of the foundation of my intercession for Israel. The article continues:
Christine Darg, president of Exploits Ministry, has led Passover conferences in Israel and in countries around the Middle East for Christians over the past 14 years.
“We gain a deeper revelation of the principles and precepts of our God by observing the (biblical) feasts, all of which are types and shadows of Messiah,” Darg said. “Every element of the Passover meal and Seder points in some way to Him. The striped and pierced unleavened bread speaks of Him as the sinless one who was pierced and wounded for our sins and sicknesses.”
Darg noted the striking parallels between Passover and Jesus’ death. The process of the Passover sacrifice began in the temple at 9 a.m.; Jesus was bound to his cross at the third hour, 9 a.m. The temple sacrifices continued until the the evening sacrifice at the ninth hour, or 3 p.m., when then the high priest would cry out, “It is finished.” At the ninth hour Jesus also cried from the cross, “It is finished!” as he died.
The Lord’s Supper was (is) the Passover meal. What a great point of contact for your unsaved Jewish friends? Also, a wonderful time keep the unity of faith with our Messianic brethren. Drag admonishes us,
“The church historically never should have distanced itself from its Hebraic foundations,…It is important to commemorate the death and burial of Jesus, the Lamb of God, and to celebrate the resurrection of Yeshua as the first fruits from the dead at the appropriate season, at Pesach, rather than during the pagan spring holiday named after a fertility goddess.”
This doesn’t mean that Christians don’t or shouldn’t also celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Most do observe Easter, but many call the holiday “Resurrection Sunday” instead.
As part of the reparations of the Body of Messiah to Israel then, celebrating the Biblical feasts can be an easy first step. As with most things in our maturing as believers, more revelation comes in the doing. No room for legalism here, let the Holy Spirit lead us. Maybe, after centuries of ostracizing the Jew we can begin to recover that relationship that was never intended to be broken and facilitate the salvation of Israel.
John Paul is is an Associate Editor for Voice of Revolution, overseeing Jewish Issues.
“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”. Matthew 5:10 (NKJ).
“But I say to you who hear: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you and pray for those who spitefully use you”. Luke 6:27-28 (NKJ).
These commands were put into practice recently in Israel at a hearing of accused attacker Jack Teitel. Many are familiar with how Ami Ortiz nearly lost his life opening a Purim package in March 2008. The Ortiz family was targeted because of their open faith in Messiah Yeshua. The current legal proceedings are to determine if Teitel is ‘legally competent’ to stand trial. Almost 3 years to the month of the attack, Ami was in the court room for these hearings for first time face to face encounter. Leah Ortiz writes about the account that
There were several recesses during the long hours, when Teitel was taken out of the courtroom and then returned, hands and feet shackled, and surrounded by guards. We were forewarned not to approach him or talk to him. When he would come out, we would go near to the door of the courtroom, and Ami would sit on a barrier which is used to keep the media separated from the prisoners, which is in itself pretty high. When he sat on it, his head nearly touched the ceiling, and from that perch and vantage point, he watched Teitel. Ami remained very calm, and took seeing Teitel for the first time in person very well. He said that he felt OK, and it didn’t seem to throw him off his equilibrium to see his attacker.
Suddenly, a recess was called, and Teitel and the guards came out, and proceeded to walk in our direction. I looked at him directly in his face, and for the first time he made eye contact with me. His eyes searched my face for my reaction to him. I just looked at him, and he saw no hate in my face, because I refuse to hate, even though my poor son has suffered and continues to suffer from his hatred and violence. He looked at David the same way, searching his face for a reaction. Then Chaim called out to him, “How did it feel to see Ami Ortiz in Court today?” Chaim said that Teitel turned around and looked at him with a demonic look that chilled him to the bone. He said he had never experienced anything like that stare before.
The impact of this demonstration of the character of Messiah by the Ortiz family hopefully will be realized in all of Israel. Opportunity for Israelis to see the transforming power of the message of Yeshua exists as this case unfolds. This case and others that involve ‘harassment’ of individual citizens of Israel by the hands of anti-missionaries has come to the attention of the local secular news. On the Maoz Ministry blog a 3-part video series has been posted showing the local news segments. (The Ortiz story is on part 2). It is encouraging to see the secular station actually use the Maoz film footage. So not only does following the words of Yeshua get media coverage but a Messianic congregation is seen as a legitimate positive expression of one’s Jewishness. The conversation of religious tolerance and freedom is disclosed benignly for the Messianic community and malevolently for the anti-missionary establishment. This is a diametric shift in the spiritual atmosphere in the modern Jewish State witnessed in this generation. This is new territory for the gospel in Israel. Moving forward, we can expect to see deeper restoration for the nation as promised in Scripture (Ezekiel 37:26-28), albeit she faces an existential threat from her enemies. Below is the video mentioned:
It is typical for this writer to pray that the Jewish people see their Messiah in the Biblical feasts, particularly Pesach (Passover) and Yom Kippur. With an increasing volume the light of Israel’s Redeemer will be shown through the believers in ‘erets’ Israel (land of Israel).
John Paul is is an Associate Editor for Voice of Revolution, overseeing Jewish Issues.
This is ostensibly because she fostered some children from another Messianic Jewish family when their parents passed away. The Gur hold this up as some kind of proof of missionary kidnapping of children. This was a legal fostering according to Israeli law and in full accord with the wishes of the family. However be that as it may, Israeli law is not always as important to the Gur and other Haredi groups who often hold Israeli civil law as inferior to the law of their rabbinical courts. These rabbinical courts may very well serve their own communities adequately, but their rulings are not legally holding for other Israeli citizens who are from other communities, such as the Israeli Messianic Jewish community.
It was great to see Polly’s neighbors who know her best stand in her support. But there are ways we can help also even if we do not live in Israel. It is time for the Body of Messiah, especially in America, to shift their funds from certain aid groups to directly nurture the growth of our Israeli brethren. Subsequent to 1967, the resurgence of believing Jews in the land has lead to many organizations that not only further the gospel of the Kingdom of Jesus, but also provide humanitarian aid, even to Palestinians. Would it not be best for the generosity of Christians to be expressed through the ones who can give a voice of eternal hope to the recipient?
The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews does not function as a Messianic Jewish group. The founder is a traditional Rabbi and does not have gospel purposes in mind. While preparing for this post, I listened to a recent podcast of ‘The Line of Fire’ with Dr. Michael Brown and quest Ron Cantor. They graciously gave attention to this issue and is recommended for the reader. (The discussion starts at about 1 hour and 19 minutes in the podcast).
So what are the alternatives for Evangelical supporters of Israel? I’m glad you asked, and we have some suggestions for you. Make it a matter between you and the Lord and follow His leading.
By channeling our giving to Israel in this manner our hearts and our treasure will be in line with the Father’s will of salvation by his Son Jesus. The conflicts that may arise by these funds going to the enemies of the gospel will be mitigated.
The import of this is even beyond the physical and natural needs that will be ameliorated. It is one aspect that leads to the salvation of Israel. The seminal influence in Israel for this is the Messianic community of believers. Let us do all we can with our funding of the gospel to ensure this promise even to generations to come.
John Paul is is an Associate Editor for Voice of Revolution, overseeing Jewish Issues.
One of the goals that pertains to the Israel & the Jewish People category in this magazine is to assist in the development of Messianic believers in the LAND of Israel. This will transpire in several ways. A grievous issue that affects most Jewish believers in Israel is the anti-missionary movement. For most gentile western Christians persecution for our faith is non-existent. But for believers in Israel it can take the form of a “double portion” for how they are treated. How can one Jew call another Jew a ‘Nazi’? Is this not beyond insult? But this type of accusation, and even physical attacks, often take place. Below is a quote from an eyewitness at a protest of a Messianic congregation in Ashdod,
Growing up as a Jew, I never in my life would have thought that I would one day be compared to Hitler. But that’s just what happened tonight.
I was informed that there would be a ‘rally’ against Messianic Jews (Jews who believe that Yeshua is the promised Jewish Messiah) in the town of Ashdod, Israel.
At first we thought our dear Pnina was to have her bakery targeted again. The poor woman just wants to make cookies and cakes, but because of her faith in Yeshua, she’s been endlessly harassed for years.
But no, this time the rally was in another part of town outside a Messianic Jewish congregation.
I honestly didn’t know what to expect. Maybe a few demonstrators? I was shocked by what was in place when I arrived.
The Ashdod police had the entire street closed off. Police check-points stopped cars that wanted to enter the area. In front of the congregation were police barricades, a stage with a podium, a long table, with banners and signs that read: “Yad L’Achim”. I soon realized this was going to be some well organized hate-fest.
Within half an hour the entire street was packed with hundreds and hundreds of ultra-orthodox men and boys dressed in black.
Soon, ‘rabbi’ (I use that term very loosely) after rabbi took to the stage to condemn the plague that is Messianic Judaism. Missionaries, they called us. Then came the comparisons to Hitler. We’re here to destroy the Jewish people, to steal Jewish souls to lead all Jews away from Judaism and on and on and on.
It is hard to conceive of the pain this would cause. The Messianic believers of Israel contribute in all areas of life (for example, serving in the IDF and paying taxes) in building the land of Israel, yet here they are accused of actually ‘destroying’ it. I see in these Jewish believers the future hope of national Israel. All that the western gentile church has done for the modern state of Israel is greatly appreciated. However, I am making an appeal that our first obligation is to these Messianic believers and through them to assist the nation both naturally and spiritually.
Secondly, let us commit to pray for Yad L’Achim and other anti-missionary organizations. How many Rabbi Saul’s (the Apostle Paul) are in their ranks? Let us pray for their children that they may see the Light of their Messiah. The Jewish people have enough enemies already, this internal war is not necessary and is grievous. And don’t forget in your prayer for the persecuted church to include our Jewish brothers and sisters in the land of Israel.
John Paul is is an Associate Editor for Voice of Revolution, overseeing Jewish Issues.
Most of us have heard at least one or two stories from Jews who believe in Jesus about the often anguished process that brought them to this place.
For many it involved being disapproved, rejected, and sometimes disinherited by those they had loved the most. It meant starting all over in life. They had espoused a worldview so apparently opposed to the one they had grown up with — and apparently in direct contradiction to the religious education that their families had provided, if they grew up in families that endeavored to pass on the Jewish faith — that many who survived the process have referred to it as “repenting.”
This word suggests a profound “turn” away from something and toward something else. Perhaps at a deeper level, as we look at the “re” part of the word — it means a “turning back” or “turning again.”
Jesus’ parable that has come to be known as “the prodigal son” springs to consciousness. It is every person’s story — not just the story of Jewish people. But as a people, Israelis and/or Jews, on a one-by-one, individual basis — because God made us individuals — have to get beyond some outrageous slings and arrows to be able to make this pivotal turn.
Many of us have only a glimmering of the longest-running, most depraved, and most irrational group hatred in the world — anti-Semitism. Perhaps we have been able to look briefly at the ghastly photography of the concentration camps. Before this Jews were blamed for the Black Plague in Europe. They were accused of using the blood of Christian children or of clergy to make Passover matzah (unleavened bread). The irrationality and depravity of this sad history is detailed in Dr. Michael Brown’s What Do Jewish People Think About Jesus?
Some of us have heard later in our lives something which all too many Jewish children experienced way too early in theirs — the ridiculous charge that has been leveled against many unsuspecting Jewish children by bullies or — worse! — classmates whom they had thought were their friends — that they (personally!) “killed Jesus.” This charge was often made before physical abuse commenced or was threatened. We remember one woman’s rendition of this terrible experience from her childhood. Apparently more articulate than most shocked and defenseless children would have been, she cried out to her accusers: “I’m 11 years old — how can I kill your God?”
When we consider the unique longevity of anti-Semitism, which is spoken of in the Book of Esther, written some 2500 years ago, together with its depravity and violence, we begin to discern that something more than “your basic” hatred or distrust of a people who are different has been at work down the centuries.
God has singled out the Jewish people as His instrument for world redemption, He has promised that they will always remain on the earth as a distinct people — despite their sins and failures — and the devil himself has marked them out for destruction. Ultimately, it is through the Jewish people that the knowledge of the one true God has come to the world, through the Jewish people that the Messiah has come, and through the Jewish people that the message of the Messiah went to the nations. And it is the Jewish people in Jerusalem who will ultimately welcome the Messiah back to earth to set up His kingdom (see Matthew 23:37-39). That’s why the devil hates them so!
—What Do Jewish People Think About Jesus? by Dr. Michael Brown
The turn toward Israel’s own Yeshua/Jesus in the heart of each Jewish person requires an enormously determined setting aside of what s/he knows about Jewish history that can only flow from deep resolve.
But in terms of Jews’ own inner circles — for most the nuclear families in which they grew up — the arrow that the accuser of the brethren has slung at their Jewish hearts is the dreaded accusation of “disloyalty” — to the cultural traditions of their own families and to the traditions of their larger people-group family. Many of the details from the play-turned-movie Fiddler on the Roof have disappeared from memory. But we still recall the song about “Tradition.” The Jewish culture is one that has particularly prized tradition. That adversarial arrow zings into the Jewish heart with the message: “You’re a Jew — how can you believe in Jesus?” And the poison on the tip of this arrow is the tortuous history of the Jewish people.
The story of Jews who have managed as adults to come to terms with what Jewish children have so long been taught — “We’re Jews; we don’t believe in Jesus” — and then to “turn again” toward God and His Christ in spite of this cultural expectation — is the story of their having overcome the adversary’s long-running and all-too-successful practice of shooting the “disloyalty” arrow into the history- and tradition-sensitized Jewish heart.
The painful history and the tradition-immersed quality of this, “our Lord’s nation,” have run deep. It is our reading of Scripture and our strong sense that Heaven rejoices to see so many Jews increasingly finding the courage and the “lion heart” to look deeply at things that matter and to “turn again” to the One who was foretold by their prophets and sent to them by their Father. Our understanding of Scripture also assures us that God’s purposes will come to fruition in the Jewish people.
Christine Colbert is a writer and editorial consultant, and is part of Or HaOlam Messianic Congregation in Overland Park.
Dr. Brown is quoted in a Charisma Magazine article from Troy Anderson entitled A Jewish Awakening? Below is a section from the article that includes the quote:
Michael L. Brown, president of FIRE School of Ministry in Concord, N.C., says what is happening today among Jewish youth in Israel is similar to what occurred among Jewish young people in the U.S. during the Jesus movement. “There are now Israeli youth rallies for Jewish believers in Jesus that can draw 1,000 people or more,” says Brown, who is Jewish. “That is unprecedented.”
A campaign to raise awareness of the 53rd chapter of Isaiah from Chosen People Ministries, which included billboards and a full page ad in the New York Times promoting a free book explaining the chapter, also featured a public open-mic debate with Dr. Brown at a Marriott in downtown Manhattan on July 15th. The debate began with a presentation from Brown on Isaiah 53, and followed with an opportunity for anyone in attendance to challenge his presentation. Below is a report from Dr. Brown, including live excerpts from the presentation and comments/challenges from some of those that came to the mic:
Reaction from Jewish counter-missionaries (those that actively oppose the message of the gospel being spread to the Jewish people) to the campaign and debate included the following from 5 Towns Jewish Times:
Last Thursday night, Chosen People Ministries held a poorly attended public debate at Manhattan’s Marriott East Side, featuring top missionary lecturer Dr. Michael Brown, author of a five-part book series which purports to answer Jewish objections to JC. Among the few Jews who attended were several countermissionary experts, including Rabbi Moshe Shulman, executive director of Judaism’s Answer (www.judaismsanswer.com). Shulman engaged Brown in collegial exchange and scored several points in refuting Brown’s scholarly allegations that Isaiah 53 definitively supports the messiahship of JC.
Commenting afterwards, Rabbi Shulman noted, “Debates with Jews about the messiah are not new. Over 500 years ago, the Spanish Jewish communities suffered such indignity as part of the Inquisition. Today it’s more subtle, and Jewish apathy is furthering missionary inroads into Russian, Israeli, Bukharian, Persian, and American Jewish communities. The Orthodox can no longer claim to be immune. And what’s happening here is equally unfolding in Israel with little resistance or outrage.”
The chapter, according to the translation in The Times, speaks of a singular “suffering servant,” which Glaser maintains is a reference to Jesus.
Isaiah 53 is a standard polemic text that missionaries use, said Rabbi Tovia Singer of Outreach Judaism.
“Isaiah 53 is the fourth Servant Song which began in Isaiah 41,” Rabbi Singer explained. “In the first three Servant Songs it identifies the servant who suffers at the hands of the nations as Israel. Isaiah introduces the servant of G-d, both in the singular and plural, who endured tremendous pains, but who is ultimately vindicated in the Messianic days… The chapter [is] molested, ripped out of context and mistranslated and presented to Jewish people who know nothing about the faith that they are being asked to abandon.”
In response to allegations such as these from counter-missionaries that the campaign should elicit “resistance and outrage” from Jewish people, and that the 53rd chapter of Isaiah is “molested, ripped out of context and mistranslated” by Messianic missionaries, Brown said the following:
When you hear almost hysterical charges like these from Rabbi Singer, you can only ask yourself why the counter-missionaries are protesting so loudly. Could it be that Isaiah 53 speaks for itself so clearly?
Really now, why would a Jewish rabbi get so upset when we tell our Jewish people to take their Bibles (in Hebrew or in a good Jewish translation) and read Isaiah 53 for themselves? Are we being criticized by professional counter-missionaries for encouraging fellow Jews to read their Bibles, pray, and think for themselves?
In reality, the greatest evangelistic tool we have is not our gospel literature or our arguments or our debating abilities. It is just the text of the Tanakh, the Hebrew Scriptures. Countless thousands of Jews have embraced Yeshua as the Messiah based on their study of Isaiah 53, and we are confident that many thousands more will come to faith as well.
Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is considered “the most famous rabbi in America” by Newsweek magazine and is the international best-selling author of 23 books. He has appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, was a spiritual adviser to Michael Jackson, and has his own take on spirituality and religion (see biography here).
As a Jewish believer in Jesus, Dr. Michael Brown is active in Jewish evangelism, debating rabbis on radio, TV, and college campuses. He is a radio show host, author, seminary professor, and ministry leader. He holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern Languages and Literature from New York University (see biography here)
Join us for a stimulating debate on issues of Jesus, Judaism, Christianity, and religion.