Tear Out The Dividing Page!

how-to-study-the-bible

When Christians distance themselves from their Hebrew roots it’s like cutting the branch off that they stand on.

The entire Bible is built on Hebrew themes and context. The New Testament, while written primarily in Greek, is an explanation of so many of the things that the Old Testament laid the foundation for. God used the Hebrew people as a means of revealing His character to the nations. God instituted His feasts, first among the nation of Israel, as a way to teach His redemptive plan seven times a year. Yeshua (Jesus) is our Hebrew savior. He taught using the Hebrew text and customs for illustrations. He was given titles understood best in the Hebrew context (Lamb of God, Messiah, the Word, Son of Man, etc…). He used people of Israel, His disciples, to take His message to the world and seek and save the lost.

Romans chapter 11 makes it pretty clear that non-Jewish believers (gentiles) were grafted into the tree of faith that God had been growing through the nation of Israel. We didn’t become an entirely new tree. We entered into a covenant relationship that existed for over a thousand years before the first “Christian” church ever met. Jesus came to bond the nations through His sacrifice.

Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called “the uncircumcision” by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands— remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

Ephesians 2:11-13 (ESV)

We have been adopted into a family of faith, that is rich, and so beautiful. To know our Hebrew roots unlocks so much of the magic in the Bible. To disregard the importance of our spiritual ancestry is to walk blindly towards key elements of our faith. That single page that divides the Old and New Testament is a relic and a unhelpful distraction from reality. The Bible is one unified story from beginning to end. To live exclusively in Matthew to Revelation is like only knowing half the story. Same goes for those who stick so tightly to the Torah and rarely venture to the teachings of Jesus and His apostles. God gave us seven beautiful feasts to learn from and celebrate year around. He gave a law that reveals so much about who He is and what holiness looks like. And He spoke hundreds of prophecies about our Savior, His plan for our lives, and the course of the world. The story of Israel is the story of us. We can see life experiences through theirs. It’s time for that page that divides our Bibles to be torn out, physically, mentally, and emotionally. Because Jesus tore it out spiritually.

…for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

Galatians 3:26-29 (ESV)

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Sunlight and Roots part #2

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I was told once, by a landscaper that I worked for, that the best way to strengthen your lawn is to water it less often. At first, that made no sense to me. It sounded so counter-intuitive.  But I took him at his word and sure enough, it worked beautifully. When you water heavy, but far less often, it makes the roots grow deep. Doing this in the spring and early summer prepares them for the heat of the summer and makes them better prepared to weather droughts.

We all go through phases in our lives that resemble scorching hot summer seasons and droughts. The heat is turned up to sweltering levels. We feel exhausted and beat down. Maybe its because we’ve been burnt by someone else. Or perhaps things seem to be stacking up beyond what we can handle. Circumstances might seem hopeless and way out of our control. Life can beat us up and beat us down. But if our roots have grown deep, it won’t matter how frizzled we get on the surface, because we’ll be built to last.

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.

2 Corinthians 4:8-10 (ESV)

The Apostle Paul had spent his life for the gospel. He had been met with more than just sarcasm and ridicule. His last several years were spent wading through that long hot summer but they were the most fruitful of his life. Arguably, he did more than any other for the spread of the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. Who knows, you and me may be able to trace our salvation back to someone he lead to Christ personally. The only thing that kept him going through those difficult years was his faith in the One that saved him.

Hard times are going to come. They may last for a long time. We may, like Paul, be called home in the midst of that dry hot season of life. But that can be the most glorious time of our life if we’re rooted in Christ. He won’t ever leave your side. He won’t ever give you more than you can handle through Him. And He will always use those times for His glory, for your good, and for the good of others. If you’re walking through the luscious spring rains of life, soak it up and dig deep. You’ll need those deep roots again.

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

Colossians 2:6-7 (ESV)

When our roots are deep, they can draw off of the never ending source of living water that can feed our souls, heal our hearts, bind our wounds, and break our chains. Jesus knows what it’s like to be hated, to be mocked and ridiculed, to be beaten, and to experience the worse kind of pain. But His love never diminished through it all. And His Spirit lives in us.

Peace to you brothers and sisters!