God never intended a separation between the church and the Jewish people. The church, therefore, has not replaced Israel.
The early church concentrated on the New Testament, thereby ignoring and not fully understanding God’s plan for the redemption of the world through Israel. While prophecy plays out before our very eyes, today’s church, for the most part, still ignores the importance of Israel in the End Times. Today’s church has forgotten that the first church was all Jewish, and that we Gentiles are grafted in (Romans 11:17).
The Jewish people believe that God, Yahweh, is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – and so do believing Christians. The original testaments were written by Jews. Without the Jewish people, God’s chosen nation, we would not have The Bible or, ultimately, Jesus the Messiah. We owe them a great deal.
How did all of this come about from a historical perspective?
Jesus was crucified, buried, and rose from the dead in approximately 30 A.D. The Romans considered Christianity just another of the many sects of Judaism extant at the time. In fact, most early Christians continued to worship in synagogues with their non-believing Jewish brethren until they were expelled by the Rabbis in the latter part of the first century. Christian worship then continued in small groups meeting secretly, usually in private homes. Secrecy was necessary, not only because of Roman persecution, but also because of the antagonism by the Jews who did not accept Jesus as the Messiah, and felt threatened by “these Christians.”
The inevitable result of all this was the development of a hierarchy in the Christian church. Christian communities began to designate their most learned and distinguished members as presbyters or priests, and by the early second century there were bishops. A clergy had developed.
Although many early Christians were Hellenized Jews, the movement began to spread to non-Jews. By the mid-second and third centuries, the church had essentially become all Gentile. The church continued to be mercilessly persecuted by the Roman emperors, especially Diocletian (284-305 AD) for their failure to worship the pagan gods. By this time, the Jews were gone from the church, and had themselves been dispersed worldwide after the rebellions of 70 and 130 AD. Christianity finally became accepted in 312 AD when Emperor Constantine took it under his personal protection.
The Christian clergy, which at that time advised Constantine, were virulently anti-Semitic and propagated the theory that God had abandoned the Jews and that the Christian church had become the designated heir to the blessings of God, and thus, had replaced the Jews. This erroneous thinking has continued to the present time.
In order to counteract this anti-Semitism, we Christians should form personal bonds and relationships with both Messianic (believers in Yeshua) and non-Messianic Jews to encourage dialogue and understanding.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:17, “Do not think that I came to abolish the law or the prophets. I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.” In Ephesians 2:14-15, Paul says, “For he himself is our peace who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall.” This refers to the wall in the temple, which separated the court of the Gentiles, from the court of the Jews. Ephesians goes on to say, “By abolishing in his flesh the enmity, which is the law of commandments contained in ordinances, that in himself he might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace.”
The word “law” means “teaching,” and without the Old Testament we would have no foundation for Christianity at all. Many people take the word enmity and presume it means that Jesus did away with the law, but as noted above, Jesus came to fulfill the law!
How then can we recapture the great roots of Judaism that we have lost?
A good beginning to recapturing our Jewish roots would be to learn about and observe the seven feast days: 1. Passover (Pesach), 2. Unleavened Bread (Chag Hamotzi), 3. First Fruits (Yom Habikkurim), 4. Pentacost (Shavu’ot), 5. Trumpets (Yom Teru’ah) 6. Atonement (Yom Kippur), and 7. Tabernacles (Sukkot). God said in Leviticus 23 that the feasts are His feast days and they foretell about Jesus. Jesus has fulfilled the first four feasts and we can look forward to his fulfillment of the last three feasts in the very near future.
Mainly, we can recapture our Jewish roots by embracing our Jewish brethren in Christian love and respect.