Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Jewish Sabbaths, Holy Feasts and British Israelism...

by Diane M. Hoffman

Continuing from my previous post on the subject of the Jewish Sabbath and Holy Feasts from chapter 21 in the book “24 Hot Potatoes in the Church Today”, I pick up from where I left off, showing again the email received from the reader in black with my response in green…
I said in my earlier post that not many readers of the "24 Hot Potatoes in the Church Today" are particularly  interested in the subject of the keeping of the Law ordinances, especially Christians... however some are because of the wrong teaching that is going around about Christian having to keep the Sabbaths and Holy Feasts. And there are enough of them getting lost in what should be a simple Gospel that the subject has to be addressed. "But I fear lest by any means as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ." (2 Corinthians 11:3).

To people who are in the movement of British-Israelism this subject matter of the keeping of the Sabbaths and Holy Feasts does come up as part of their belief system. These latter folks believe that present day Anglo-Saxon people are direct descendants of the ancient Israelites, and have thus inherited all God's promises to Abraham and his descendants.
Most of the teachings that are being passed on to Christians and non-Christians alike come from sub-groups or hybrids of this movement. 
From the reader's email:
“I am surprised that you as a Ph.D. in Theology seem unaware of the true history of the Israelites because Jesus knew where they were when He sent His Apostles to them in Matthew 10:6 and lots of large churches nowadays (eg Philadelphia Church of God) can easily prove where they are now by tracing their movements through history and comparing that with which nations received the massive promises of wealth and power made by God to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David and of course they are mainly us the Anglophones plus several other European nations especial Dan and Reuben in Denmark, Holland and France.”
First of all, I want to be clear that just because someone holds a Ph.D. does not mean that person cannot have differences of opinions. Nor does it mean that such a person cannot have another understanding of an issue.
As one can see from the reader, the issue of the belief in British-Israelism (now apparently changed to Christian-Israelism) is quite complex and deep in philosophical misinterpretation and understanding of scriptures.  
In Matthew 10:6, quoted above by the reader, Jesus is actually saying to His apostles to not go to the Gentiles nor the Samaritans but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  They were lost spiritually. The Gospel came to the Jew first, then the gentiles (Romans 1:16). That’s what Jesus is referring to here. Notice Jesus said “the lost sheep of the house of Israel – not the lost tribes of Israel, and especially not the ten lost tribes. Who is the house of Israel?  The 12 tribes. Within these are lost sheep.
The Jews or Israelites were spread around the region. Paul calls himself a Jew, an Israelite and a Hebrew (Acts 21:39; Romans 11:1;  Philippians 3:5). He was of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
The apostles are told to go to cities and towns and heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils, and given certain instructions. They are given warnings of persecutions and then, in verse 23, they are told: “But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come.”
So we see that the Lord is speaking of the Jews/Israelites within Israel. And, of course many had already gone to other countries throughout Europe East and West. Paul speaks of his journeys to Asia Minor and Rome and Spain. There is no mention of Britain or British anywhere in the Gospels, although eventually Jews/Israelites made it up there too and all around the world over the centuries.
In the discourse of Stephen in chapter 7 of the book of Acts, after summarizing the story of the Israelites from Abraham to Solomon, he ends by saying: “You stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? And they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers who have received the law by the disposition of angels and have not kept it.” (verses51-53).
Who is Stephen addressing? The Hebrews/Jews/Israelites. “Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.” (Acts 6:9)
 Back to the book of Matthew, later on at this same time (chapter 11), Jesus begins to upbraid the cities wherein most of his works were done because they repented not. All cities and towns mentioned are local. Throughout the ensuing chapters, we see that the disciples are with Him.
The passage of scripture continues at verse 11 of Matthew 10: “And into whatsoever city or town ye shall enter, inquire who in it is worthy and enter, and there abide till ye go thence (from there).”
In the book of Acts, during the first journey of Paul when they were in Pisidia, we read that the Jews were against what was being preached by the apostles/disciples: “and the next Sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with envy and spoke against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.” (Acts 13:44,45).
The Gospel is clear that Jesus died on the cross to make us children of God. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes on Him shall not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16)
His work on the cross replaces the work of the Law which no-one could keep and which was temporary and a shadow of things to come. It is God's grace and mercy that saves alone through repentance and faith - not grace and mercy + works.
In another post, I will expand further on the British-Israelite movement./dmh
 Diane M. Hoffmann, B.Th., M.Th., Ph.D./Th.
Author of "24 Hot Potatoes in the Church Today"
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