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Completing the Reformation: Restoring the things lost by replacement theology

 

14 Nov 2014

21 Cheshvan 5775

“Let the Lion Roar” made a great start in alerting us to the damage caused by replacement theology (RT) so we can make the necessary changes and return to the original condition of the Church. There are some additional things not mentioned in the movie we can all do that will help mend the damaged caused by RT. These things may not seem profound in themselves, but they are all things we can do on an individual level that can help complete the Reformation.

Restore the Sabbath. Many Christians are surprised when I say this because they believe they are already observing the Sabbath on Sunday. Even some major businesses like Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby close on Sunday so their employees can attend services and be with their families, so why would I ask my readers to restore the Sabbath? I say this because Sunday is not the Sabbath. The actual day of rest that God gave us falls on Saturday, not Sunday. In the course of church history, men influenced by RT changed the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday. One of the reasons the early Church gave for this change was the fact that the Lord was raised on Sunday, and Sunday was also the day God began the work of creation, not Saturday. The attitude of the early Church to the Sabbath can be seen as follows:

The sabbath symbolizes Moses, and Christians hope not in Moses but in Christ; the Christian does not think himself pious for keeping one day idle, but for keeping a continual sabbath. The sabbath was given for the hardness of the Jews’ hearts—(Dictionary of Christian Biography)

The fathers did not regard the Christian Sunday as a continuation of, but as a substitute for, the Jewish Sabbath, and based it not so much on the fourth commandment, and the primitive rest of God in creation, to which the commandment expressly refers, as upon the resurrection of Christ and the apostolic tradition. There was a disposition to disparage the Jewish law in the zeal to prove the independent originality of Christian institutions. The same polemic interest against Judaism ruled in the paschal controversies, and made Christian Easter a moveable feast. Nevertheless, Sunday was always regarded in the ancient church as a divine institution, at least in the secondary sense, as distinct from divine ordinances in the primary sense, which were directly and positively commanded by Christ, as baptism and the Lord’s Supper. Regular public worship absolutely requires a stated day of worship.—(The History of the Christian Church)

It is a fact of history that men changed the day of worship from Saturday to Sunday, but there is no Divine mandate for this change. God never changed the day the Sabbath falls on. If the Lord of the Sabbath never made the change, who are we to change God’s calendar on our own authority? As we can see from the second quote, this change resists the Jewish law since it sought to “prove the independent originality of Christian institutions.” It’s time to end this travesty and restore the Sabbath to Saturday, but this won’t be easy.

Restoring the Sabbath to Saturday may make many people uncomfortable. Saturday has a special place in our hearts, but not as a day of rest and worship. For some, Saturday has become a day of recovering from the excesses of Friday night. Others occupy Saturday with Little League practice, soccer games, shopping, and generally doing whatever we want. The original intention of God to make this as a day of rest and devotion to God has clearly been effaced. In order to restore the Sabbath (and also help complete the Reformation) we must be willing to set these things aside and make Saturday the Sabbath again. This has many advantages for those who will pursue it and no disadvantages, unless you count missing out on your former Saturday activities as a disadvantage. When we observe the original Sabbath, we are really obeying the command of God to honor the Sabbath and keep it holy (Exodus 20: 8-11). And the testimony of Scripture is clear about this; obedience brings blessing. Obedience also brings us closer to Him, can there be any higher reward than that? As we approach Yeshua’s return, God is realigning the misshapen and deformed beliefs the church has embraced in RT to its original defaults.

This course of action may not be accepted by all my readers. Many people may be loath to make this change because they want their Saturday for themselves. Some may hide under RT’s argument that this change would be counted as legalism, which is something we shouldn’t do since we are under grace. Some may just say “Saturday or Sunday, what’s the difference?” To all these objections I ask this: What’s really in your heart? Is your heart devoted to God and doing the things that please Him, or following the flawed doctrines of men who arbitrarily changed the day of rest to Sunday? Without Divine sanction, how can we ever say that changing the Sabbath day is acceptable? When we honor the Sabbath and keep it holy, it is a witness to the world of our covenant with God, marks us as a peculiar people, brings honor to God, and it allows the world to see the Father’s will is being done on earth as it is in heaven. Where is the disadvantage in any of this?

Restore the name Yeshua to the Son of God. Some people may argue that this is just splitting hairs. After all, what does it matter if we call the Son of God Jesus or Yeshua as long as we know who we are talking about? Some may argue that the name Jesus was wrongfully appropriated by unenlightened people in the past, and that it should be our job to reclaim the name and restore it to its proper place of veneration. Whatever your conviction, I won’t be dogmatic about this, but I would like to explain why I believe this has merit. The names of Yeshua and Jesus have different origins. According to Derek Frank, the trend to replace Israel:

had even gone so far as replacing meaningful Hebrew names with Gentile ones. We can only speculate about the extent of the demonic strategy that lay behind the stripping of these names. Especially because there is power in honoring the name of Yeshua, Jesus real name, which means “God is salvation.” (Escaping the Great Deception, p. 18)

The first reason we ought to restore Yeshua as the name of the Son of God because we need to end the work of RT and complete the Reformation. “Yeshua” is our Savior with His Jewish identity intact, but He became “Jesus,” who was a Savior who did not have a clear Jewish identity, which was something RT wanted. If RT had influenced Martin Luther to believe the Church now possessed the covenants and promises, he may have had this non-Jewish Messiah in mind when he believed that the Jews would “come over to us” when they heard the good news of the Gospel. On the other hand, “Yeshua” reminds us that the Son of God was Jewish, and so when we are saved, it becomes clear that we are in communion with Him, and that we are grafted into the tree of the people of Israel. In other words, it helps remind us that we go over to the Jews when we become believers, they do not come over to us.

The second reason we should consider this is because “Jesus” has become associated with many bad things in the Jewish community. RT has so altered the teachings and perception of Jesus that the Jews have now come to associate persecution and violent aggression with the name of Jesus and the church. It has hardened many Jewish hearts against the Gospel and caused them to turn away from the truth. Referring to Yeshua as the Son of God allows us to break with the past and move away from the bad things that have been associated with the RT’s version of Jesus. In this sense, Yeshua and Jesus couldn’t be more different. RT’s version of Jesus created by the church demanded forced conversions and total repudiation of Jewish identity. On the other hand, Yeshua humbly knocks at the door of our heart and allows us to decide whether we will open the door. When I use the name Yeshua, I mean the authentic Messiah of Scripture who knocks at the door; the same Yeshua who makes Jews and Gentiles into one flock. I also prefer Yeshua because it is more faithful to the original. I encourage everyone who finds value in this to begin using Yeshua as the way to refer to our Savior. Let us work together to end RT, complete the Reformation, and introduce Yeshua to the Jewish community and the world.

The sins of RT are a matter of historical record; therefore part of completing the Reformation and healing our relations with the Jewish community must take this into consideration. Even a cursory reading of history shows how the visible church mistreated, demonized, and persecuted the Jews in the name of Jesus through the centuries. The sins and errors of our ancestors are clearly part of this problem; sins committed in the past leave a legacy that can still have detrimental effects on us today and keep us from reaching our full potential. Confessing the sins of the fathers must not be confused with our personal confession when we first believed. Our initial confession forgave the sins we committed, but the entanglements of the sins of our ancestors remains in force until they are confessed and their power is broken. Don’t take this lightly; the sins of the past can be powerful influences in life as this portion of Scripture shows:

In the thirty-eighth year of Azariah king of Judah, Zechariah the son of Jeroboam reigned over Israel in Samaria six months. And he did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, as his fathers had done. He did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin.

2 Kings 15:8-9 (ESV)

If you read about the kings of Israel, you cannot help but notice that the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat are constantly mentioned as their downfall. The sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat still had an adverse effect long after he died. Not only that, it appears that unresolved sins of the past can also increase in intensity:

And Judah did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins that they committed, more than all that their fathers had done.

1 Kings 14:22 (ESV)

The only way to stop the effects of sins committed in the past is to confess the sins of our ancestors. Confessing the sins of the past is the first step to departing from them and breaking the power they have to affect us today and our posterity. The Scriptures tells us:

But if they confess their iniquity and the iniquity of their fathers in their treachery that they committed against me, and also in walking contrary to me, so that I walked contrary to them and brought them into the land of their enemies—if then their uncircumcised heart is humbled and they make amends for their iniquity, then I will remember my covenant with Jacob, and I will remember my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land.

Lev 26:40-42 (ESV)

When the Babylonian captives returned to the land of Israel, Nehemiah and the people confessed and broke with the sins of the fathers (Nehemiah 9: 1-38). They did not want to repeat history; they wanted to be free from the entanglements of sins in the past so they could be a holy and righteous people for the Lord. Derek Frank includes a testimony on page 106 about this also in his book “Escaping the Great Deception.” We need to confess these sins so our walk will not be affected by past sins. When we are free from the power of past sins, we can walk before the Lord and be perfect. This good witness provokes the Jews to jealousy so that they will want what we have (unlike the fruit of RT, which dives the Jews away). This helps complete the Reformation because it reunites Jews and Gentiles again in one flock, which was the original condition of the church Yeshua established (John 10: 16).

Having said all this, everything I have mentioned is within the power of every reader to perform. You must decide whether the true Sabbath will be honored in your home, whether you use the name Yeshua to refer to our Savior, and whether you will confess the sins of your ancestors and break their power. If you would like to craft a prayer to confess the sins of your ancestors, you can use the prayer of Nehemiah 9: 1-38 as a template which you can customize for your own circumstances. Pray about these things, and if Yeshua leads you, pursue these things fully.

May the Lord Yeshua bless you, my beloved.

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Build your sukkah: Reports of the Old Testament’s demise are greatly exaggerated

This post is a continuation of my review of the movie “Let the Lion Roar,” and I want to elaborate more on replacement theology’s error of New Testament (NT) primacy, which is to prefer the NT over the Old Testament (OT). Although Derek Frank does not specifically address this aspect of replacement theology in the “Let the Lion Roar” movie, he almost sounds like he alludes to it in this quote from the accompanying book “Escaping the Great Deception.” In this book, Derek Frank says:

The father of lies has misrepresented the gospel by luring the body of believers away from its Jewish roots. Bending the truth as he did in Eden, he has managed to convince Gentile believers that the original Hebraic context was irrelevant. Restoring the Gospel from the Great Deception will leave us dissatisfied with partial truth and make us hungry for it as a whole. (p. 63)

It would have been wonderful if he was addressing replacement theology’s NT primacy error, but the context makes this impossible. Nevertheless it remains true that replacement theology prefers the NT over the OT, and just like Derek Frank says about the Great Deception, NT primacy also “has managed to convince Gentile believers that the original Hebraic context was irrelevant.” Consequently, many Christians and the Christian culture in general have become unwitting adherents to this error. Consider this experience I recently had.

Yesterday I visited a local Christian bookstore to ask about books and/or audio/visual resources to help people become more knowledgeable about the feasts of the Bible. This store had plentiful resources for apologetics, church history, sermon helps, marriage, personal finance, Christian living, witnessing, etc., but only one wall poster and one DVD for the feasts. I then pulled a handbook for Christian living off the shelf to see if it had anything to say about celebrating the feasts of the Bible. There was no mention of celebrating the feasts at all, and I could not help but see the preference for the NT at work. It’s like the OT is not as worthy of our attention and observance as the NT, and that is wrong.

Those who prefer the NT over the OT argue that we are no longer under the law, but under grace. It is true that Yeshua came to deliver us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us (Gal 3: 13), but does that mean we can disregard the OT as a guide for the believer today? Absolutely not!

The OT has much that we need to know in order to live a life that is pleasing to God, but when we use the terms OT and NT, we inadvertently help perpetuate the error that the shelf life of the OT has somehow expired. Scripture is Scripture, and that is how we ought to regard all of it without preferring one portion of it over another. Paul wrote that “All [emphasis added] Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” 2 Tim 3:16-17 (ESV). We should remember that when Paul wrote those words, the NT canon was incomplete. He included all of Scripture in this pronouncement (e.g. the Law and the Prophets). If Paul tells us that there is profit in all of Scripture, do replacement theology adherents have greater revelation than Paul? That cannot be true. But can replacement theology be in error? Yes indeed.

The OT was the guide that Yeshua had when the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Far from disregarding it, Yeshua perfectly fulfilled the law. If He can live a life that is pleasing to God based on the OT, then there must be vital information we also need to mine from this source. I have heard it said that the OT is the NT concealed, and the NT is the OT revealed. This is true. The NT and OT are one Word of God woven together in a seamless fashion. Yeshua guided His life by the Scriptures, and He did it in the way that was acceptable to God, not like the scribes and Pharisees who followed manmade doctrines. He understood the things that God freely gave Him. As an obedient Son, Yeshua was in Jerusalem at the appointed feast times. If He honored and reverenced the feasts of the Lord in the OT, are we better? Didn’t He say we would do the same works as He did?

Think about this; Yeshua was able to properly understand the Law and the Prophets. He saw the NT in the OT, but that is only possible with the right teacher. Yeshua was not taught by man; He was taught by the Father. Yeshua was one with the Father, so He had the same spirit with God. This allowed Him to understand the Word of God. We must remember that the Law is spiritual (Rom 7: 14), therefore it can only be understood when we have the same spirit that Yeshua had. As Paul wrote:

For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

1 Cor 2:11-13 (ESV)

The Scriptures contain His thoughts toward us; we need His spirit to understand them.  Having the mind of Christ gives us understanding the world will never arrive at. This was why Simeon and Anna knew who the baby Yeshua really was (Luke 2: 25-38). This is why Yeshua commended Simon for knowing who He really was (Matt 16:16-17). It allows us to see the NT in the OT. Yeshua’s preaching was in demonstration of the spirit and power because He had God’s spirit. This was why Yeshua was able to teach with authority, and not as the scribes.

Let’s also ask ourselves this: Can we really prefer the NT over the OT if the OT still has “unfinished business?” The OT contains prophecies and events that have yet to be fulfilled just like the NT (e.g. Revelation), so it seems dangerous and unreasonable to disregard the OT if its business has not been completed.

The one who prefers the NT over the OT may ask “does the OT have “continuing application and relevance” for today’s believer?” Yes it does, and this can be easily shown when Yeshua was asked about the greatest commandment:

And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”

Matt 22:35-40 (ESV)

Now notice this: These commandments are in the Law (Duet 6: 4 and Lev 19: 18). If the we are no longer under the Law because of grace, and consequently it has nothing to say to a believer under grace, does that mean that since these two commandments are also found in the Law, that they are not to be regarded as guides for our lives today? That doesn’t agree with the words of the Lord or the writings of the Apostles. For example, John exhorts his audience “For this is the message that you have heard from the beginning, that we should love one another” 1 John 3:11 (ESV). The Lord Yeshua affirmed these commandments and the Apostles echoed it. Since this is so, it can be stated with confidence that the OT still has continuing application and relevance for today’s believer. This is where the feasts come in, and why they are still relevant to believers today.

All the males in Israel were required to appear before the Lord three times a year (Exodus 23: 17): The appointed times were for Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. When the Jews assembled in Jerusalem some two thousand years age, they witnessed the fulfillment of the Passover when Yeshua was crucified; they witnessed the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy that the Lord would pour out His spirit on all flesh during Pentecost; but Tabernacles has yet to be fulfilled. You may ask, what’s so special about the Feast of Tabernacles? The Feast of Tabernacles is a dress rehearsal for the return of the Messiah! At some future Feast of Tabernacles, the assembled Jews will witness the Lord return to the Mount of Olives and begin His thousand year rule among us. Not only that, the Feast of Tabernacles will happen at its appointed times during Yeshua’s millennial reign with international participation with Jews and Gentiles:

Then everyone who survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths [Tabernacles]. And if any of the families of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, there will be no rain on them. And if the family of Egypt does not go up and present themselves, then on them there shall be no rain; there shall be the plague with which the Lord afflicts the nations that do not go up to keep the Feast of Booths. This shall be the punishment to Egypt and the punishment to all the nations that do not go up to keep the Feast of Booths.

Zech 14:16-19 (ESV)

This “unfinished business” ought to be high on our minds, but the nefarious work of replacement theology has convinced many people that the feasts of the OT are expired and consequently they pay them no mind. This is so wrong, and we need to reacquaint ourselves with the feasts and what they were about. This is especially true since we are in the midst of four blood moons. The first has already occurred during Passover 2014, the next will be 8 October 2014 during the Feast of Tabernacles, with the final two blood moons will occur on Passover and Feast of Tabernacles in 2015. The last blood moon will be a super moon visible over Jerusalem. It’s no accident that these blood moons appear on Jewish feast days; serious events are about to occur that point to the coming Tribulation. We need to be like the wise virgins and prepare beforehand for these things (Matt 25:1-13).

The only sure refuge we will have in the coming Tribulation will be in the Lord Yeshua Himself. This is the time to draw close to God and be about His business. If you have not received God’s forgiveness for your sins, I would strongly urge my reader to repent and be reconciled to God while there is still time. We have this precious promise: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” 1 John 1:9 (ESV). Give Him your whole life and everything it contains; don’t hold anything back from Him. Confess your sins and failures, and He will give you forgiveness, love, mercy, and make you into a new person. Believe in Him, and you will live forever. Come to the Lord and see that He is good! And then tell me about your experience so I can rejoice with you.

Completing the Reformation must also include doing away with the preference for the NT and regarding all of Scripture as valid for us today. Every jot and tittle in God’s word is there by design; it has a purpose, and does not return to God void. Focusing on only part of the Scriptures leaves a believer spiritually anemic and frustrates the purpose of God to fully equip every believer. The Lord does not want believers who are spiritually weak and sickly; He wants strong, mature believers who eat solid food, and this happens when we avail ourselves of all the Scriptures.

To give you a taste of the Feast of Tabernacles, I recommend visiting with a Messianic Fellowship and participating in the feast with them. When I started going to the feasts, it was like I was going home after a long absence. These have been wonderful experiences, and I encourage every reader to also experience the feasts for themselves. You are going to do it in the millennium anyway, why not get started now?

Here are some resources that will help get you started:

Leviticus 23: Passover, First-fruits, Feast of Weeks, Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Feast of Tabernacles.

Blood Moons: Decoding the Immanent Heavenly Signs by Mark Biltz (also in DVD)

Information about the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot):

http://www.chabad.org/holidays/JewishNewYear/template_cdo/aid/4126/jewish/Sukkot.htm

How to build your tabernacle (sukkah):

http://www.chabad.org/holidays/JewishNewYear/template_cdo/aid/420823/jewish/How-to-Build-a-Sukkah.htm

Keep calm and build your sukkah the sukkah

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