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The Remnant of God #2

The Development of Judaism and Christianity


         Editor of "Acts" magazine, a publication of
       The Church of God, Seventh Day, Meridian, Idaho



     In 1985, the number of Christian denominations worldwide
surpassed 22,000, with an average of five new ones organized each
week. Over the centuries there has been a stream of rabbis,
preachers and prophets claiming to "have the truth." Today many
religious sects and denominations claim to "have the truth," and
that you can only find God's salvation by joining and staying
with them. Others claim that they are "THE remnant Church" not
just part of the remnant. Some are subtle in emphasizing this
claim, while others are more bold. People are encouraged and
taught to put their trust, time, and money into these "religious
institutions." Such organizations often exert control and
direction over the spiritual lives of their members, through
charismatic leaders or prophets who have the final word on
"truth."
     One factor that causes people to seek a "true religion" is
an inner need and desire for acceptance by God and others. People
with unresolved "self-worth issues" are attracted to groups that
present a message of religious superiority. These people want to
join and belong to such organizations, hoping to certify their
standing with God and others. Being validated by what is
considered "truth" breeds a strong sense of commitment and pride,
even to the point of blind obedience. As people are
indoctrinated, it becomes very difficult for them to leave those
organizations because of their own unfulfilled spiritual needs.
     For whatever reason, the growth of religion in these diverse
directions is typical of the lack of direction from the Word of
God and specifically from the understanding of Christianity's
Hebrew roots. Without being rooted in the Old Testament
Scriptures, religious organizations began to drift theologically
with every new thought the mind conceives. "But let him ask in
faith, nothing wavering. He that wavereth is like a wave of the
sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think
that he shall receive anything of the Lord. A double-minded man
is unstable in all his ways." (James 1:6-8).
     There exists in today's world animosity among the different
religious organizations as to who meets the criteria of true
orthodoxy Christianity. There are people like "The Bible Answer
Man," a self-appointed defender of the faith, who attempt to
determine the authenticity and theology of orthodox Christianity.
If your organization does not fit into their theological box then
you are part of a cult or a heretic. Jesus says, "Judge not, that
ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be
judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to
you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy
brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own
eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the
mote out of thine eye; and behold, a beam is in thine own eye?
Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and
then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy
brother's eye." (Matthew 7:1-5). 
     A deeper and more subtle problem exists with most of the
"defenders of truth."
     From a broad Biblical perspective, the ones defending what
they consider truth may be the very ones who perpetuate false
teaching like the trinity, antinomianism and burning forever in
hell, to list just a few. This like the old saying that says "the
pot is calling the kettle black." There is very little difference
between the pot and the kettle. There is very little difference
between the different Christian factions, when they are both
apostate by doctrine. Before you become upset with this
statement, please read the rest of the article and it will become
clearer. 

     God has always had a remnant from the time of the fall
of Adam in the Garden of Eden. The remnant of Israel is a
continuation of that remnant and is based on the Abrahamic
covenant with its promises and blessings. Remember God has always
had a remnant and always will have a remnant. The remnant
represents those who remain faithful to God and His covenant.

     What has happened is that out of the ethnic Israel, two
apostate religious paths have pursued, while there still existed
a small remnant of the faithful. We will examine both apostate
religious paths so we can better understand what makes up the
faithful remnant of Israel.

     In the first century AD, Christianity was well-connected to
its Jewish roots, and Jesus did not intend for it to be any other
way. After all, Jesus is Jewish and the basis of His teaching is
consistent with the Hebrew Scriptures. Before the First Jewish
Revolt in 66 AD, Christianity was BASICALLY a SECT of Judaism, as
were the Pharisees, Sadducees and Essenes. This did not mean that
there were no battles within Judaism itself between the sects.
Pharisaical Jews battling Christian Jews goes all the way back to
the stoning of Stephen in about 34 AD and continued for the first
three hundred years of the Christian Jews existence. 
     The wounds that were inflicted by the Pharisaical Jews
(called Rabbinical Jews after 70 AD) in those first three hundred
years were as deep as the wounds inflicted on both sides of
Christianity during the Protestant reformation. Unfortunately,
the rift between the Rabbinical Jews and what we now call
Christians, has acted to obscure the fact that Christianity is a
legitimate branch of Judaism. In fact, it was the legitimate
remnant of Israel in the beginning. In fact, given Christianity's
relative success, one might rightly argue that Christianity is
the main branch of Judaism and Rabbinical Judaism is the schism.
This fact tends to be rejected by both the "Church" and
Rabbinical Judaism. The reasons they both reject this argument is
because they both theologically moved in opposite directions down
two apostate religious paths. 
     In the middle of the two apostates remains the remnant of
Israel, "...the remnant of her seed, which keep the
commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ."
(Revelation 12:17). 
     Some might call the remnant, Messianic Jews or Hebrew-roots
Christians, but for the purpose of this article, they will be
referred to as Christian Jews.
(The Messianic groups or Hebrew-root groups also have much ERROR,
depending who is leading the specific group, and from where their
theology sprang from. Some are very "protestant" fundamental in
teaching, such as the immortality of the soul and going to either
heaven or hell at death, as well as various "trinity" teachings,
i.e. God is one being who can manifest Himself as one, two or
three, at the same time or different times. This "trinity" idea
is what the local Messianic group here in Calgary teach - Keith
Hunt).

     Separation between Judaism and Christianity began as a
result of religious and social differences. There were several
contributing factors:

1. The Roman intrusion into Judea, and the widespread acceptance
of Christianity by the Gentiles, complicated the history of
Christian Jews;
2. The Roman wars against the Jews not only destroyed the Temple
and Jerusalem, but also resulted in Jerusalem's relinquishing her
position as a center of Christian faith in the Roman world; and
3. The rapid acceptance of Christianity among the Gentiles led to
an early conflict between the Church and Synagogue;
4. As the Christian faith to the Gentile world grew in numbers,
so did their influence, which ultimately disconnected
Christianity from its Jewish roots.

THE DEVELOPMENT OF APOSTATE
CHRISTIANITY 

     Not all Christianity is apostate. There still remains a
remnant of Christianity that believes in obedience to the law and
in salvation only through Messiah. (See Revelation 12:17; 14:12).

     In saying this, let us look at a brief history of the first
four centuries of Christianity to discover why today most of what
we call Christianity is really apostasy. This is not an
indictment against people, but it is an indictment against a
religious system that can barely be distinguished from the world.
     After the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem in 70 AD,
many Gentile Christians interpreted the destruction as a sign
that God had abandoned Judaism, and that He had provided the
Gentiles freedom to develop their own Christian theology in a
setting free from the influences of Jerusalem. After the Second
Jewish Revolt (133-135 AD) put down by the Roman Emperor Hadrian,
theological and political power moved from Jewish Christian
leaders to centers of Gentile Christian leadership such as
Alexandria, Rome, and Antioch. 
     This change influenced the early Church Fathers to
make anti-Jewish statements as Christianity began to disconnect
itself from its Jewish roots.
     As the Church spread far and wide within the Roman Empire,
and its membership grew increasingly non-Jewish, Greek
(Hellenistic) and Roman thought began to creep in and completely
change the orientation of Biblical interpretation through a Greek
mindset, rather than a Jewish or Hebraic mindset. This would
later result in many heresies that would ultimately make it the
apostate church.
     Once Christianity and Judaism began to take separate paths,
the chasm became wider and wider. Judaism was considered a legal
religion under Roman law, while Christianity, a new religion, was
illegal. The resulting persecutions and frustration of the
Christians bred an animosity towards the Jewish community, which
was free to worship without persecution. Later, when the Church
became the religion of the state, it would pass laws against the
Jews in retribution.

     The antagonism of the early Christians towards the Jews was
reflected in the writings of the early Church Fathers. For
example, Justin Martyr (160 AD) in speaking to a Jew said: "The
Scriptures are not yours, but ours." Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyon
(177 AD) declared: "Jews are disinherited from the grace of God."
Tertullian (160-230 AD), in his treatise, "Against the Jews,"
announced that God had rejected the Jews in favor of the
Christians. Origen of Alexandria, an early church father and
philosopher (185-254 AD) began to interpret and teach that all of
God's covenants with Israel were now the sole possession of the
Christians.
     In the early 4th century, monumental changes occurred that
would bring about the total separation of apostate Christianity
from Judaism. Eusebius wrote that the promises of the Hebrew
Scriptures were for Christians and not the Jews, and the curses
were for the Jews. He argued that the Church was the continuation
of the Old Testament and thus superseded Judaism
(supersessionism). The Council in Enlvira (Spain) in 305 AD made
declarations to keep Jews and Christians apart, including
ordering
Christians not to share meals with Jews, not to marry Jews, not
to use Jews to bless their fields, and not to observe the Jewish
Sabbath. 
     Constantine (306 AD) became the first Christian Roman
Emperor. He issued the Edict of Milan n 313 AD making
Christianity the state religion, allowing the apostate church,
Roman Catholicism, to flourish unbridled until the Reformation.
     In 321 AD, he decreed all business should cease on "the
honored day of the sun" and substituted Sunday for Saturday as
the day for worship. Out of the Council of Nicaea 325 AD), came a
declaration that new believers accepting Jesus must renounce
everything Jewish. As a result, Christianity dropped Jewish
practices and began to reinterpret the Bible in a way that
affirmed their "new religion" and practices. By the time of
Augustine (354-425 AD), the Roman Catholic Church was teaching
that the Church was to have dominion and authority throughout the
world. It was the most oppressive period toward those who were
not part of the apostate church, Roman Catholicism.

     After 321, the writings of the church were no longer
defensive and apologetic, but aggressive, directing its venom at
the Jews.
     Hilary of Poitiers (291-371 AD) wrote: "Jews are a perverse
people accursed by God forever." Gregory of Nyssa (394 AD).
Bishop of Cappadocia: "the Jews are a brood of vipers, haters of
goodness..." St Jerome (347-407 AD) describes the Jews as
"...serpents, wearing the image of Judas, their psalms and
prayers are the braying of donkeys." At the end of the 4th
century, the Bishop of Antioch, John Chrysostom said of the Jews,
"the synagogue is not only a brothel and a theater; it is also a
den of robbers and a lodging for wild beasts. No Jew adores God
... Jews are inveterate murderers, possessed by the devil, their
debauchery and drunkenness gives them the manners of the pig.
They kill and maim one another..."

     Much of what we see in Christianity today is a result of
what happened approximately 1600 years ago in Rome by the Roman
Catholic Church. 
     Aside from the false teaching of replacement theology, the
apostate church began to teach heresies and Hellenistic paganism.
     It is one thing to reject the Jews, but it is still another
to reject all of the teachings of the law. The apostate church
changed everything that was in the least amount associated with
Judaism. The SABBATH observance was changed from Saturday, the
seventh day, to Sunday (a pagan day to worship the sun). ALL of
God's FEAST days were replaced with PAGAN holidays like Christmas
and Easter. The apostate church has gone so far as to declare
that the Ten Commandments have been done away with. (Yet some
hold and teach the Ten Commandment, but the 4th one was changed
from the 7th day to the 1st day, they say - Keith Hunt).
     The Protestants are a mirror image of Roman Catholicism when
it comes to anti-Semitic views and the Law. (Again, it is only
some "fundamental" groups that hold this wild theology against
the Jews and the Law - Keith Hunt).

THE DEVELOPMENT OF RABBINIC
JUDAISM

     The apostasy of the Christianity was one path that deviated
from the remnant of Israel. Another apostasy was that of Judaism
itself. Over a period of centuries, Judaism evolved into what is
called Rabbinical Judaism. Rabbinical Judaism gets its name from
the Hebrew word Rabbi, meaning teacher.
     
     With the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD and the
subsequent scattering of Jewish people (Diaspora), Judaism began
to take a radically new path down the road of apostasy. It was in
response to this event that Judaism and Christianity began to
part company and developed along separate paths. Without the
Temple or sacrifices, the Sadducees (the priests), simply faded
out of existence, and Zealots who brought the revolt that lead to
the destruction of Jerusalem disappeared. The Essenes, on the
other hand, went into a self-imposed exile, and lived in
communities in the desert, waiting for the restoration of a pure
priesthood and the Tabernacle of Moses. This left the Pharisees
alone to carry on the Jewish faith. One of their leaders, Rabbi
Johannan Ben Zakkai, escaped the destruction of Jerusalem by
being carried out of the city by his disciples in a coffin and
pretending to be dead. 
     After the war ended he received permission from the Romans
to establish a new Rabbinical School in the city of Yavneh, away
from Jerusalem, and it was from this place that Rabbinical
Judaism emerged. Zakkai taught his followers, "do not be grieved
(at the Temple ruins), for we have another means of atonement as
effective as this. And what is it? Deeds of compassion, as it is
said in Hosea 6:6, 'For I desire mercy not sacrifice.'" With the
destruction of the Temple and the sacrificial system for sin, the
rabbis began to look for new explanations and developed a new
teaching to replace the need for blood atonement. They began to
de-emphasize sacrifice for sin, and instead began emphasizing
performing good deeds as a substitute.
     The one who became the real father of Rabbinical Judaism was
Rabbi Akiva. With what must be considered demonically inspired
wisdom, he developed a long-range plan over many years to
establish Rabbinical Judaism as the only true expression of
Jewish faith. The crowning act was to proclaim a cruel, ruthless
military leader, Simeon Ben Kosiba as Messiah, thus starting the
bloody uprising against Rome in 132-135 AD. Rabbi Akiva changed
one letter in Kosiba's last name and called him Bar Kokhba, which
means "Son of a Star," referring to Messianic prophecy in Numbers
24:17. "I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; a
Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel,
and batter the brow of Moab, and destroy all the sons of tumult."
     Through the revolt, Akiva would accomplish his main task: to
establish Rabbinical Judaism as the only accepted Judaism. He
knew that especially the Messianic Jews would not be able to
accept Bar-Kokhba as the Messiah, and therefore, in this way they
could be blamed for the failure of the revolt, excommunicated
forever from the community of Israel.
     To reach his goal he was willing to sacrifice the lives of
millions of his own people. This revolt against Roman rule may
well have been the greatest disaster in Jewish history. The Jews
were not only exiled from Jerusalem, but now they were forbidden
to inhabit the land of Judea.
     Due to the exposure to the Hellenist culture and the
scattering of Israel throughout the known world, distinct sects
within Judaism began to emerge. Gradually, the older temple-based
religious practices totally gave way to more decentralized
understanding of Judaism. A more liturgical and synagogue based
religious practice became acceptable. 
     As the basis of Jewish history, the Torah (the Law), which
contains the foundational beliefs and values of Israel, had
always been authoritative. The Rabbis of Rabbinical Judaism added
the Talmud and the Mishnah. Hence the Rabbis refocused Judaism
away from the temple ritual into a religion based on inference,
deductions, comparison, scriptural interpretation and logical
reasoning. They no longer focused on the scriptures and the
scriptures only.
     Even though, Rabbinical Judaism is the powerful force behind
most of Judaism today, there are reform sects within it. Like
Roman Catholicism with its heresies, pagan holidays, and
anti-Semitic teachings, Rabbinical Judaism has produced
theological errors and practices. Like the Protestants in
Christianity, reform sects of Rabbinical Judaism still continue
to teach and practice theological errors with their heresies,
Jewish mysticism, and Hellenist philosophy.

     In the sixteenth century there was the development of
Kabbalah, Jewish mysticism. In the seventeenth century, Hassidism
began forming, with its mystical way to finding God. During the
eighteenth century, Reform Judaism began to develop, rejecting a
study of the Jewish prophets and belief in a personal messiah. In
the nineteenth century, Conservative Judaism began to adapt
Jewish law to modern conditions. Also during this time was a rise
of Modern Orthodoxy, where the Torah was reaffirmed and not
judged by modern external cultural criteria. In the past century,
we find the development of Reconstructionism and Humanism forms
of Judaism.

     As you can see from this brief historical overview,
Rabbinical Judaism as it is observed today is quite different
from the Judaism of 2,000 years ago, the Judaism before the
destruction of the Temple. It is a Judaism that has produced
theological differences in understanding and practice.
     What is it about Rabbinical Judaism that makes it an
apostate religion outside the realm of the remnant of Israel?
     There are several things.

     First, Rabbinical Judaism rejects the need for the Atonement
Sacrifice. One of the greatest blind spots in rabbinical Judaism
is in regard to the blood atonement. Perhaps this lack of
understanding came about as Jewish religious leaders over the
years attempted to distance themselves from Christian doctrine.
     But at the time of Jesus, the Jews certainly understood and
practiced blood sacrifice. After the destruction of the Temple in
70 AD, rabbis under the leadership of Rabbi Johannan Ben Zakkai
began to look for an alternative approach to God, since the
Temple was no longer available to make sacrificial offerings.
     Rabbinical Judaism today teaches that 'acting, prayer and
good deeds give us access to God. But Jewish prophets taught that
we are all sinners and deserve to die. We come into the presence
of a just God only when the death penalty has been paid. "For
the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to
you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is he
blood by reason of the life that makes atonement." (Lev 17:11).
     If there is no atonement, there can be no redemption, no
forgiveness of sin, no way to approach and be in the presence of
a holy God. Rabbinical Judaism now teaches that sacrificing
animals was a primitive tradition and as far as God is concerned,
the rabbis claim, blood sacrifice has no significance. It is one
of the strongest rabbinical doctrines that goes against the
teaching of the Jewish prophets. Blood atonement can be found in
literally every book and section of the Bible. It was the blood
of a lamb that kept the firstborn males of Israel from being
killed for their sins. When the Jewish people understand the
significance of an animal dying that they might live, they will
understand the importance of Jesus, the Lamb of God, who died for
their sins. 
     Not recognizing the need of atonement makes Rabbinical
Judaism an apostate religion.

     Second, due to the exposure to the Hellenistic culture, many
paganistic practices and traditions were incorporated into
Rabbinical Judaism. To be included in the Sanhedrin in Akiva's
days, a rabbi had to be a "master of sorcery," something, which
of course God explicitly forbids in the Law. He also had to be
able to prove from the Bible that a reptile is a clean animal. In
other words he had to be able to "prove" that the Bible means the
opposite of what it says. "It is not in heaven" was a phrase
that became a guiding principle. It means that what the majority
of the Rabbis declare to be right is right even if it is wrong.
In fact, they taught that God laughs when men outwit Him! This is
the same attitude that the Papacy has that the Pope has the power
of God on this earth and the right to change laws. In this case,
Rabbinical Judaism believed the rabbis had that right. You can
see why both Rabbinical Judaism and the Roman Catholic Church
were apostate religions.

     Finally, there is an anti-Messiah teaching inherent in the
heart of Rabbinical Judaism. The (Official proclamation of the
Chief Rabbinate of Israel, 1998) stated: "There are Christian
groups that call themselves "Messianic Jews" whose faith is
totally alien to the Jewish faith, and members of these groups
who were born to Jewish parents have a status of apostates who
removed themselves from the Jewish Nation." 

     At the heading of one web site, the following statement
appears:

     ATTENTION JEWS WHO FOLLOW CHRISTIANS SCRIPTURES OR THE MAN
     CHRISTIANS BELIEVE IS A MESSIAH YOU HAVE BEEN RAPED OF YOUR
     RELIGION. THEY HAVE LIED TO YOU. COME HOME!!! 

     This shows the animosity that Jews have toward the Messiah.
This is not just the rejection of the first coming of Jesus to
this earth, but it is a rejection of any future hope of the
Messiah coming. They have perverted the Old Testament Scriptures
by their inferences and radical interpretive reasoning. They have
distorted the prophecies given by God to prophets like Isaiah and
Jeremiah, to appear to be referring to Israel and not the
Messiah. For them there never was and never will be a Messiah!
This is the madness of the devil to discredit the Heavenly
Father's power of redemption through the Messiah. As the rabbis
teach, God will laugh, but not because He has been outwitted, but
because He knows the future of those who reject His grace and
mercy through the Messiah, Jesus Christ. "But the meek shall
inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance
of peace. The wicked plotteth against the just, and gnasheth upon
him with his teeth. The Lord shall laugh at him: for he seeth
that his day is coming." (Psalm 3711-13).

CONCLUSION

     Both apostate religious paths have been paved broad and lead
to destruction. There is still a calling of God on both groups.
God will give everyone a chance for salvation. 
     The remnant of Israel has always existed and God will use it
to proclaim the gospel message around the world. "And he said
unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and
nations, and tongues and kings." (Revelation 10:11). God will
empower the 144,000 and the two witnesses to get the remnant
message out. "And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven,
having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on
the earth and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and
people, Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to
him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that
made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of water."
(Revelation 14:6,7). 

     The remnant of Israel has the message for the whole world,
"keep the Commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus
Christ." (Revelation 12:17). This message is a call to return to
the God of the Bible, the God of creation, the God of Abraham,
Isaac and Jacob and the God of the coming Messiah to reign on
this earth as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. It is a call to
discover the roots of our religious faith and heritage.
     The remnant of Israel is not part of apostate Christianity
or Rabbinic Judaism. It is natural branches believing Israel)
with the wild shoots (believing Gentiles) making up the olive
tree which is the remnant of Israel. Yes, unbelieving Israel can
be grafted in as well when they believe. Together we are the
remnant of Israel, studying the Bible, asking God's Spirit to
reveal the truth of His Word, reflecting our Jewish roots and
most of all, recognizing Jesus as the Messiah. We are no longer
Jew or Gentile, going our apostate paths, but we stand united as
one in the remnant of Israel.  
     "There is neither Jew not Greek, there is neither bond nor
free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in
Christ Jesus." (Galatians 3:28).

                      ................

TO BE CONTINUED


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