A little over two weeks ago, Answers in Genesis, a ministry I love, promote, financially support, and am blessed by, posted The Dangers of the Hebrew Roots Movement. Please read the previous posts in the series, as I am answering the allegations one by one.
answering answers in genesis, part one
answering answers in genesis, part two
answering answers in genesis, part three
answering answers in genesis, part four
answering answers in genesis, part five
answering answers in genesis, part six
So how should Bible-believing Christians view the claims of the HRM [Hebrew Roots Movement]? Is it simply an up-and-coming movement destined to become another Christian denomination, albeit one with a strong emphasis on Jewish culture and practices? Or are some of its teachings dangerous and divisive, worthy of correction and rejection? The remainder of this article will call attention to some of the serious errors promoted by the HRM. Again, keep in mind that the HRM is not monolithic, that is, its followers often disagree on how much of Jewish culture and beliefs should be appropriated. So each point in the following critique may not apply to every person in the HRM.
We have already discussed the mistaken use of the “Jewish” adjective to describe Hebrew Roots believers. We have already shown that Hebrew Roots believers seek to understand and apply Biblical teachings, and not Jewish teachings. There is not a single Hebrew Roots believer that I know that advocates Judaism. This identity confusion on the part of the author continues to be repeated throughout the article. For the rest of this series, I will focus on what the author terms “serious errors.”
Many of the most serious errors of the HRM [Hebrew Roots Movement] stem from its misunderstanding of certain biblical covenants. Chief among these misunderstandings is the notion that “the law” was intended to be binding on all people throughout history. Part of the rationale behind this notion stems from certain statements from Jesus.
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. (Matthew 5:17)
If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. (John 14:15)
The HRM makes much of the fact that Jesus said he did not come to abolish the Law and that he stressed the importance of keeping commandments. In their view, this means that the law must still be in force today—even on Gentiles, although they were not under the law in Old Testament times (Ephesians 2:11–13).
The Scripture states that the Law is binding on Israel. The following are just a few examples, but many more exist in Scripture.
Therefore the children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, to observe the Sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. Exo 31:16
And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good? Deu 10:12-13
Remember His covenant forever,
The word which He commanded, for a thousand generations,
The covenant which He made with Abraham,
And His oath to Isaac,
And confirmed it to Jacob for a statute,
To Israel for an everlasting covenant, 1 Chr 16:15-17
We have previously seen that many who might be descended from the ten dispersed tribes of Israel are intermingled among the Gentiles to the four corners of the earth. Torah applies to them, even as Gentiles, as children of the covenant.
Before the advent of Jesus, there were Gentiles with no hidden Israelite roots who wished to join themselves to the One God of Israel. Ruth is only one example. They did not convert to “Judaism,” as the religion of Judaism did not exist in the same way then. They joined themselves to Israel, and became subject to the same Law that Israel was covenanted under:
One law shall be for the native-born and for the stranger who dwells among you. Exo 12:49
One ordinance shall be for you of the assembly and for the stranger who dwells with you, an ordinance forever throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the stranger be before the Lord. One law and one custom shall be for you and for the stranger who dwells with you. Num 15:15-16
A “stranger” is in Hebrew, Strong’s H1616, ger, a sojourner, from the primitive root guwr, “to sojourn.” The ancient Hebrew pictographs are of the gimel, the foot, + the vav, the tent peg, + the resh, the head of a man. The picture being painted is of a walking man, i.e., a traveler, a foreigner, one who is outside his own country. Now perhaps Torah means to make this distinction, that only certain laws – the laws surrounding the above admonitions – are to apply to strangers, while the remaining laws, especially those beginning with some variation of, “Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them …” are only for the native- born. That would mean examining every command in Torah and placing it in its proper category. But then what are we do with this passage:
“Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the Lord your God and carefully observe all the words of this law.” Deu 31:12
Even the stranger within the gates is to hear and carefully observe all the words of this law. Webster’s says of “all:”
The whole, entire, total amount, quantity, or extent of; every member or part of; the whole number or sum of.
And since many of the laws of Torah make clear the difference between right and wrong, and good and evil, surely what is right and wrong, and good and evil, is universally right and wrong, good and evil; and should apply to all mankind. And the Scripture does indeed confirm that this is so:
He who instructs the nations, shall He not correct,
He who teaches man knowledge?
The Lord knows the thoughts of man,
That they are futile.
Blessed is the man whom You instruct, O Lord,
And teach out of Your Law,
That You may give him rest from the days of adversity,
Until the pit is dug for the wicked. Psa 94:10-12
This section forms the central portion of the Psa 94 chiastic structure, with the instruction of the Lord out of His Law for men and nations, the matching elements.
But even if Gentiles “within the gates” of Israel, with no Israelite roots, are to hear and observe all the words of the Torah, isn’t that only for the Old Testament? What about the disciples of Jesus?
“Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Mat 5:17-19
Therefore, whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” Mat 7:12
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” Mat 7:21-23
“If you love Me, keep My commandments.” Joh 14:15
“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” Joh 14:21
Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” Act 17:30-31 (Paul preaching to Gentiles of Athens)
Do we then make void the law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the law. Rom 3:31 (Paul to Gentile Romans)
What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? Certainly not! Rom 6:15
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. 1 Cor 6:9-10 (Paul to Gentile Corinthians (Greeks))
Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing, but keeping the commandments of God is what matters. 1 Cor 7:19
All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. 2 Tim 3:16-17 (Paul to Timothy, a Greek)
But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. Jam 1:22-25
Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked. 1 Joh 2:3-6
Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness. 1 Joh 3:4
For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome. 1 Joh 5:3
“Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city.” Rev 22:14
It sounds to me like keeping commandments is for the disciples of Jesus also, whether Jew or Greek; of Israelite roots, or of Gentile roots, especially when you consider this passage prophesying of the new birth, which did not happen on the stage of history until after the resurrection of Jesus:
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; I will take the heart of stone out of your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will keep My judgments and do them.” Eze 36:26-27
The difference being, the disciples of Jesus do not allow that their commandment- keeping is what saves them, for salvation is found no where else but in the grace of God, through faith in the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ on the cross (that righteousness is of faith).
But God has something even greater in mind. He had a purpose to have two separate peoples, Judah and Ephraim, Jews and Gentiles/ Christians, two witnesses to Him in the earth for an appointed time. (See the one house). But that time was not to be forever. When the purpose of the two is completed, He will make them one people in His hand:
Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “As for you, son of man, take a stick for yourself and write on it: ‘For Judah and for the children of Israel, his companions.’ Then take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel, his companions.’ Then join them one to another for yourself into one stick, and they will become one in your hand.
“And when the children of your people speak to you, saying, ‘Will you not show us what you mean by these?’— say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Surely I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will join them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand.”’ And the sticks on which you write will be in your hand before their eyes.
“Then say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God: “Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again.” Eze 37:15-22
The chapter goes on to identify their one king, as David His servant, their prince forever. Surely this is a prophetic reference to Messiah Yeshua in His millennial reign and beyond! The reunion of the two peoples is set by this prophecy in Ezekiel to be for the latter days. If Christians have not traditionally kept obedience to Torah, it was because they were sovereignly blinded to this truth until the appointed time, just as Jews have been sovereignly blinded to Messiah Yeshua until the appointed time (Rom 11:25). Who are we to say that the appointed time has not arrived? And in fact, it has. The time of Ephraim’s prophesied punishment was ended in 1998, if they were taken away in exile by the Assyrians in 721 BC (please see Restoring Israel’s Kingdom for a complete discussion of all the prophets say about Ephraim’s punishment and his restoration and reunion in the latter days).
But the unity of the one people of the one God does not begin with the latter days and the return of Ephraim:
For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, for the same Lord over all is rich to all who call upon Him. For “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Rom 10:11-13
There is one salvation or justification for the one people of the one God, with no distinction being made between the Jew or the Greek (Gentile).
For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 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 neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Gal 3:26-29
Whoa, did you see that? In Messiah, there is neither Jew nor Greek. If you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed! Biology, genetics, and DNA testing is thrown right out of the window, and any who belong to Messiah Yeshua are enfolded within the one people of God – Abraham’s seed!
[You] have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him, where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcised nor uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave nor free, but Christ is all and in all. Col 3:10-11
Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands— that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from 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. For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, by destroying in His own body the enmity occasioned by the Torah, with its commands set forth in the form of ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity. And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God. Eph 2:11-19
Believers who were at one time Gentiles according to the flesh, are Gentiles no longer! They are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the household of God. Messiah Yeshua, 2000 years before the latter days which are now upon us, made us one new man with His people, the commonwealth of Israel! We are not to consider ourselves Gentiles any longer. When we see an instruction anywhere in the Bible for the seed of Abraham or the children of Israel – that is our identity, that is who we are by the blood of Messiah Yeshua who has grafted us in among His people (Rom 11:17). His word applies to us!
answering answers in genesis, part eight
answering answers in genesis, part nine
answering answers in genesis, part ten
answering answers in genesis, part eleven
answering answers in genesis, part twelve