Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
Who Hijacked the Messiah?
The most ingenious conspiracy of all time was hatched during the first century of the present era when the Gentile world and the Roman Empire pulled off the most incredible "robbery" of all time -- they "stole" Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah, and completely changed him into a Roman-pagan "god" who today in his Roman form is worshipped by untold millions of unsuspecting peoples around the world. How did it happen? Who pulled off the most amazing "heist" of all history? How was it accomplished?
by HOIM Staff
In the year 3 B.C., according to historians and scholars, a Jew was born in the town of Bethlehem. He grew up in the town of Nazareth, near the sea of Galilee, and observed the basic teachings of Judaism of that time -- including the annual holy days of YEHOVAH God. He was circumcised on the eighth day, according to the law. His parents observed the laws of purification (Leviticus 12:2-8), and since he was a first-born male child, they offered a sacrifice at the Temple, a pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons. His parents were righteous, and observed the laws of YEHOVAH God as revealed in His Word, given through Moses.
This child grew up, and waxed strong, and "increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man". When he was thirty years of age, he began his ministry, calling disciples to follow him as he taught the truths of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God (John 3:23; Mark 1:14-17; Matthew 9:35). This was the spring of year 28 of the present era. He preached for three years, doing miracles and amazing works, attested to by his disciples, who wrote the books of the New Testament, and even validated by Josephus, the Jewish historian of the first century, who wrote of him:
"Now, there was about this time, Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works, -- a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day" (Antiquities of the Jews, XVIII, III, 3).
But after three years, the wicked and hypocritical religious leaders of the nation out of fear and envy had him put to death on the tree, and he died, giving his life for the sins of mankind. The prophet Isaiah had foretold of him some 742 years previously:
"Who has believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? For he shall grow up before him like a tender plant, and like a root out of a dry ground; he hath no form nor comeliness, and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, and we hid as it were our face from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
"Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:1-6).
But as the prophet also foretold, after he was "cut off out of the land of the living" (Isaiah 53:8), he was resurrected from the grave, saw his "seed" or spiritual progeny, and "prolonged his days" (v. 10), and was "satisfied" with what he had accomplished (v. 11).
The Teachings of the Messiah
What was the essence of his message, his teaching? Did he come to abolish the laws of Moses, and the commandments of YEHOVAH God? No, to the absolute contrary. When he met ten lepers who stood afar off, asking him to have mercy on them, he commanded them: "Go shew yourselves unto the priests" (Luke 17:12-14), just as the law of Moses commanded them to do (Leviticus 14:1-32). As they obeyed his command, on the way they were healed -- cleansed of their leprosy (v. 15). This certainly does not sound like he repudiated the laws of Moses in any way.
Did Yeshua the Messiah then come to do away with the very Law YEHOVAH God gave His people at Mount Sinai? He himself said, in the famous Sermon on the Mount, "Think NOT that I am come to destroy the Law or the prophets: I came not to destroy [do away with, or abolish], but to fulfill" -- fill up to the brim and running over (Matthew 5:17). He added, "For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in NO WISE PASS FROM THE LAW, till ALL be fulfilled" (Matthew 5:18). Not a "jot" or a "tittle"? What's that? A "jot" is the Greek word iota and means "a very small part of anything" (Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, #2503). A "tittle" is the Greek word keraia and refers to the apex of a Hebrew letter, something horn-like, or the "least particle" (Strong's #2762).
Clearly, then, if we believe the Messiah, he did not come to abolish even one whit -- not one iota -- not even the least particle -- of the Law of YEHOVAH God which his Father gave to Moses and Israel in the wilderness of Sinai.
"Mosaic Law" to be Restored
Yeshua the Messiah did not abolish any of the Laws of YEHOVAH God. He came to magnify them, and make them even more honorable and binding -- even in spirit. He said it is not only wrong to commit the physical act of adultery, but it is wrong to lust after a woman in your heart (Matthew 5:28)! Divorce and remarriage, he said, is wrong, except for the cause of "fornication" (porneia in the Greek language) -- that is, sexual immorality, adultery, whoredom, etc. (see Matthew 5:31-32). He also taught that men ought not to swear at all, although in Moses' time men were permitted to swear an oath but only to or by the LORD (Matthew 5:33-37). Thus, rather than abolish the Law of YEHOVAH God, the Messiah came and made it even more binding!
The Messiah did, however, rebuke the Pharisees of his time for adding their own human traditions and man-made laws TO the laws of YEHOVAH God, thereby making them burdensome and virtually impassible to observe (Matthew 23:4). The Messiah had no dispute with the laws of YEHOVAH God, which are holy, just and good -- and eternal (Romans 7:12, 14; Psalm 111:7-8). He did, however, rebuke the Pharisees for the "traditions of the elders" which they had added to the laws of the Scriptures (Matthew 15:1-2). Among these traditions of the Pharisees was washing the hands scrupulously and ritualistically, before eating (same verses). Yeshua declared this particular human tradition or ordinance was not binding upon YEHOVAH's people (Matthew 15:11-20). Other "traditions of the elders" involved the scrupulous washing of pots and pans and dishes and other things (Mark 7:3-5).
The Messiah said these "traditions of the elders" were useless customs or traditions (Mark 7:7-23) which really attempted to circumvent the Laws of YEHOVAH God, in many cases. These things were nowhere commanded in the "Law of Moses," or the Law which YEHOVAH God gave through Moses, but were things added to the requirements of Judaism by the "elders" in the century or so before the Messiah was born. They were burdensome requirements, put upon the people by the elders, traditions of men, which even involved rigorous requirements which forbad doing even good works, and healing, on the Sabbath day (Matthew 12:1-13; Mark 2:23-28; Luke 6:1-10). Thus the Messiah set us an example. He showed us that all the Laws of YEHOVAH God of the Torah are binding, today -- even more binding -- but the "traditions of men" imposed upon the Jews during his life-time were not binding at all, and only should be followed if and when they conformed to and did not conflict with the Laws, or Torah, or the Word of YEHOVAH God itself!
The Teachings of the Early Church
After the Messiah ascended to heaven, to be at the Father's right side (Hebrews 4:14-16; 9:24; 10:12), the apostles continued to follow in his footsteps. They also taught observance of all the commandments of YEHOVAH God. Paul exhorted the church at Corinth, in Greece, to observe the feast of the Passover and Unleavened Bread (I Corinthians 5:7-8). When the question came up whether adult Gentiles should also be circumcised in the flesh, to become followers of the Messiah, the headquarters church in Jerusalem said it was not necessary (Acts 15:24). They reminded the Gentile brethren that, however, they should abstain from pollutions of idols, fornication (immorality), and eating blood (Acts 15:20), since these were commonly done in Gentile lands and would be special temptations to them. They did not feel the need to write to them concerning observing the basic points of the Law or Torah, however, because, as they stated, "For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues EVERY SABBATH DAY" (Acts 15:21).
This scripture clearly tells us that the Gentile converts to the Messiah were still attending the Jewish synagogues in most of the world, and were looked upon by most of the Jews as merely another branch of Judaism! There was no separation between the two except in those synagogues where the Jewish leaders persecuted the followers of the Messiah!
The attitude of the early, apostolic church of YEHOVAH God towards the LAWS of YEHOVAH God is revealed in the writings of the New Testament. Paul himself referred to YEHOVAH's Law as "holy," "just, and "good" (Romans 7:12), and "spiritual" (v. 14). He writes that the DOERS of the Law shall be justified, not the hearers (Romans 2:13). He declared, "Do we then make void the Law [Torah] through faith? God forbid: yea, we ESTABLISH THE LAW" (Romans 3:31).
James, the chief apostle at Jerusalem, wrote in his epistle, "If ye fulfill the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, ye do well: But if ye have respect to persons, ye commit SIN, and are convinced [convicted] of the law as transgressors. For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all" (James 2:810). This law James is talking about is not the Ten Commandments. They don't specifically prohibit respect of persons, or command us to love our neighbor as ourselves. However, these laws were also part of the Law of Moses! In the book of Leviticus, dealing with the Levitical priesthood primarily, these other vital points of YEHOVAH's Law are set forth. In chapter 19, YEHOVAH commands, "thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Leviticus 19:18). In this same chapter, YEHOVAH commands us not to show respect of persons (verse 15). Thus James is referring to the whole law of YEHOVAH God -- the Torah -- when he speaks of the "royal law" which we are to obey!
The apostle John, the apostle of "love," said the same thing. He wrote, "And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth NOT his commandments, is a LIAR, and the truth is not in him" (I John 2:3-4) John went on, "Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for SIN IS the transgression of the LAW" (I John 3:4). John also wrote, in the same vein: "And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight" (I John 3:22). How plain that there is complete unanimity, unity, and agreement between the Messiah, Paul, and all the early apostles as to the need to observe the LAW of YEHOVAH God -- the Torah - and to keep ALL YEHOVAH's commandments!
"Zealous of the LAW"
When Paul returned to Jerusalem after having been away for many years, he and his group were received gladly (Acts 22:17). He then met with James and the leaders of the headquarters church at Jerusalem (verses 18-19). After they heard about Paul's remarkable exploits and the things YEHOVAH God had done among the Gentiles through his ministry, they glorified the LORD, and then said a most interesting thing: "Thou seest, brother, how many thousands [Greek, myriads, which literally means ten thousands] of Jews there are which believe; and THEY ARE ALL ZEALOUS OF THE LAW" (Acts 22:20). In other words, these Jewish brethren, or "Christians," were very zealous to obey the laws of YEHOVAH God -- very diligent to avoid sin. These remarks were made in 60 A.D., almost thirty years after the death of Yeshua the Messiah on the tree! Obviously, the Law of YEHOVAH God was not done away with or abolished!
Paul himself, at this point, to show that his teachings in no way conflicted with the laws of YEHOVAH God, or the laws YEHOVAH gave to Moses, then went to the Temple of YEHOVAH God, and purified himself after the manner of the law, joining with four men in the church who had taken a Nazarite vow (Acts 22:21-25). We read: "Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them. And when the seven days were almost ended, the Jews which were of Asia saw him...." (Acts 22:26-27).
Remember, this was almost thirty years AFTER the death of the Messiah on the tree. Yet here we find the apostle Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, performing a VOW according to the law of Moses, a purification ceremony, which involved seven days of purification! The law concerning the Nazarite vow, when a man separates himself to serve YEHOVAH God, is given in the book of Numbers, chapter 6. Clearly, even nearly thirty years after the crucifixion of the Messiah, Paul himself honored the law of YEHOVAH God, the Torah, as did the whole church of YEHOVAH God in Jerusalem, composed of thousands and even tens of thousands of converted, obedient Jews in the faith!
But today, we look at the world of "Christianity," and we find a world that is almost totally at odds with the faith, belief, and practices of the early New Testament Church of YEHOVAH God! Today we see a vast array of so-called "Christian" churches, which have repudiated the laws of YEHOVAH God, rejecting the Holy Days and trampling on the weekly Sabbath Day which the Messiah observed all his life on earth, and which throughout history have treated the Jews with anti-Semitic, vicious, hateful antagonism!
What happened? Why is the visible Church of YEHOVAH God today so far removed in faith and practice from the original Church of YEHOVAH God, founded by the Messiah and the apostles?
Not only that, but the "Jesus" who is preached today, throughout the world, is far different from Yeshua the Messiah of the Bible. The "Jesus" of the churches today, we are told, did away with his Father's Law -- he taught, they tell us, that YEHOVAH's Law is abolished, and now we are under "grace." This "Jesus" is pictured as wearing long hair, down to his shoulders -- yet the Bible tells us it is a SHAME for a man to wear long hair (I Corinthians 11:14). The Jews in the Messiah's day did not wear their hair long, like a woman. It was looked upon as a sin -- an act of rebellion.
Whatever happened to the REAL Yeshua the Messiah of the Scriptures? How is it that the strong, manly, devout, Jewish Messiah of the Bible, who cast the thieving money-changers out of the Temple (John 2:13-17), was replaced by a sallow-complected, effeminate, pale, skinny scarecrow of a fellow with a negative, depressing personality, hanging on a cross?
Great Apostasy Prophesied
Almost as soon as YEHOVAH God established the New Testament Church, which accepted the New Covenant relationship with the Messiah, Satan entered in and once again tried to infiltrate the Church and subvert it and lead it astray, even as he did Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Unknowingly, one of the first evangelists, Philip, baptized a great pagan religious leader who professed repentance and acceptance of the message of the Messiah -- one Simon Magus, whom the Samaritans looked upon as "the great power of God" (Acts 8:5-11). Simon himself was baptized (verse 13). Later, however, when Peter came to Samaria, Simon tried to purchase an apostleship from him by offering him a bribe. Peter rebuked him, saying, "Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God...For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity" (Acts 8:12-23). This was very likely in 32 A.D.
Church historians tell us that this wicked Simon went on to start his own competing version of "Christianity," which was a Samaritan "blend" or amalgam of his own teachings about the Messiah, and paganism combined. In his version of "Christianity," he borrowed the increasingly popular "name" of the Messiah, in its Greek form, and put it on his pagan practices, claiming the laws of the Torah were abolished and that the Messiah did away with all those old "Jewish" laws, customs, feast days, and the weekly Sabbath. He perverted the gospel, and claimed he himself was a "reincarnation" of the Messiah and a great apostle.
Says the early Church historian Eusebius, who lived in the time of Constantine, in the fourth century,
"...even Simon the Magus with very many others was won over by his words. Such a name had Simon obtained at that time by the sorceries with which he got his dupes into his power that he was believed to be the Great Power of God, but now even he was struck dumb by the miracles that Philip performed by divine power, and slipped in: he actually received baptism, in his hypocritical pretence of belief in Christ. It is an astonishing fact that this is still the practice of those who to the present day belong to his disgusting sect. Following in their progenitor's footsteps they slip into the church like a pestilential and scabby disease, and do the utmost damage to all whom they succeed in smearing with the horrible, deadly poison concealed on them" (Eusebius, The History of the Church from Christ to Constantine, p.73-74).
Eusebius goes on to relate, later, that Satan the devil, "the enemy of man's salvation, in a wily attempt to capture the imperial city [Rome] in time, brought there Simon who was mentioned earlier, and by lending his own weight to the man's artful impostures took possession of many people in Rome and led them astray" (p. 85-86).
Eusebius quotes Justin, who lived soon after the original apostles, and who wrote of this same Simon, as follows:
"After the Lord was taken up into heaven the demons put forward a number of men who claimed to be gods. These not only escaped being persecuted by you, but were actually the objects of worship -- for example Simon, a Samaritan from a village called Gittho, who in Claudius Caesar's time, thanks to the art of the demons who possessed him, worked wonders of magic, and in your imperial city of Rome was regarded as a god, and like a god was honored by you with a statue in the River Tiber between the two bridges. It bears the inscription in Latin, SIMONI DEO SANCTO. Almost all Samaritans, and a few from other nations too, acknowledged him as their principal god, and worship him. And a woman named Helen, who traveled around with him at that time and had previously lived in a brothel, they call the First Emanation from him" (p. 85-86).
Eusebius describes the teaching and success of this apostolic impostor Simon Magus, and in so doing gives us a horrible glimpse into the workings of the mind of Satan, and his master plot to subvert and destroy the true Church of YEHOVAH God, by replacing it with his own widespread, easy, popular version of "Christianity"! He writes of this diabolical figure who rose up just a few years after the Church itself began:
"Simon, we are given to understand, was the PRIME AUTHOR OF EVERY HERESY. From his time to our own those who follow his lead, while pretending to accept that sober Christian philosophy which through purity of life has won universal fame, are as devoted as ever to the IDOLATROUS SUPERSTITION from which they seemed to have escaped: they prostrate themselves before pictures and IMAGES of Simon himself and his companion, the Helen already mentioned, and give themselves to worshipping them with incense, sacrifices, and libations" (ibid., p. 86-87).
As long as the original apostles were alive, the success of Simon was limited. But the seeds of apostasy and heresy which he sowed with such great success, especially in Samaria and in Rome, the capital of paganism and the Empire, sprouted and bore evil fruit in the generations to come, as his neo-pagan form of "Christianity" infiltrated the nominal and lukewarm churches throughout the Empire.
The apostles were very concerned that this type of thing would occur. Paul warned the church at Ephesus, the major capital city of Asia Minor, "For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them" (Acts 20:29-30).
"Another JESUS" Foretold!
Paul warned the church in Corinth, "But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtlety, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he that cometh preacheth ANOTHER JESUS, whom we have not preached, or if ye receive another spirit [masquerading as the holy spirit, but a demonic spirit!], which ye have not received, or another gospel, which ye have not accepted, ye might well bear with him" (II Corinthians 11:3-4).
By 58 A.D., the apostle Paul marveled that the churches in Galatia were already departing from the true faith. He admonished them, "I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto ANOTHER GOSPEL: which is not another, but some pervert the gospel of Christ" (Galatians 1:6-7).
Seeing how rife and surreptitious the fledgling but powerful and growing pernicious apostasy was already in his own day, the spirit of YEHOVAH God inspired the apostle Paul to warn that in the LAST DAYS before the appearance of the Messiah, that the "mystery of iniquity" which was "already at work" in his own day -- the secret, underground, hidden, invisible flames of apostasy and heresy -- would in the end time burst forth with renewed energy and vigor, "with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth that they might be saved" (II Thessalonians 2:7-10). The world would suffer "strong delusion" in the end times, Paul wrote, "that they should believe the lie" -- the same old "lie" Satan the devil has always palmed off on mankind, to worship him as "light bringer," that man himself is already a "god," and there is no need of the Creator -- all the world's religions are fine, and good, and should dwell together in mutual respect, acceptance, and "unity."
Paul prophesied that in the "last days" there would be a "form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away" (II Timothy 3:1-5). The great existing religious entity would merely be a "form" -- a shell -- a hollow pretense! It would be a fraud, a sham, a masquerade - which the apostle John speaks of as the "synagogue [or assembly, Greek] of SATAN" pretending to be the universal, real, only true "church of God" (see Revelation 2:9; 3:9). This great false church, masquerading as YEHOVAH's true Church, was begun almost two thousand years ago by Simon Magus, the arch heresiarch, and continues down to us today, as the "mystery of iniquity," but which YEHOVAH God calls in His Word "the synagogue of Satan," and "the great HARLOT" (Revelation 17:5).
In essence, Satan's church, and his world Empire centered at Rome, co-opted the Messiah - they spiritually "hijacked" the Jewish Messiah, Yeshua of Nazareth, and carried him off to Rome, where they completely changed him -- repudiated his teachings, renounced his Jewishness, rejected his Father's Law, the Torah, and his message of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God to come -- and replaced these vital elements of the true gospel with their own "laws" and customs, introduced pagan holidays and days of worship and renamed them "Christian," brought in worship of images and pictures, just as Simon Magus did, and pictured the Messiah as a Roman "saviour" instead -- with aquiline features, brooding blue eyes, the very image of the pagan Adonis or Apollo, the pagan god of revelry and wine!
Alexander Hislop describes the descent into paganism this way:
"The festival, of which we read in Church history, under the name of Easter, in the third or fourth centuries, was quite a different festival from that now observed in the Romish Church, and at that time was not known by any such name as Easter. It was called Pasch [Passover], or the Passover, and...was very early observed by many professing Christians...That festival agreed originally with the time of the Jewish Passover...That festival was not idolatrous, and it was preceded by no Lent. 'It ought to be known,' said Cassianus, the monk of Marseilles, writing in the fifth century, and contrasting the primitive Church with the Church in his day, 'that the observance of the forty days had no existence, so long as the perfection of that PRIMITIVE CHURCH REMAINED INVIOLATE.' Whence, then, came that observance? The forty days abstinence of Lent was directly BORROWED from the worshippers of the Babylonian goddess....To conciliate the Pagans to nominal Christianity, Rome, pursuing its USUAL POLICY, took measures to get the Christian and Pagan festivals AMALGAMATED, and, by a complicated but skilful adjustment of the calendar, it was found no difficult matter, in general, to get Paganism and Christianity - NOW FAR SUNK IN IDOLATRY -- in this as in so many other things, to SHAKE HANDS" (The Two Babylons, p.104-105).
In the first few hundred years of the Church, the vast majority of members were seduced by the devil's clever campaign to insert paganism into the mixture. Millions were lead astray. The apostle Paul had predicted it would happen. He warned, "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto FABLES" (II Timothy 4:3-4). Peter himself warned, "There shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies...And MANY shall follow their pernicious ways" (II Peter 2:1-2). He added, "Through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you" (v. 3). The apostle John warned, "Many false prophets are gone out into the world" (I John 4:1). He declared, "Ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists" (I John 1:18). He warned in his second epistle, "For many deceivers are entered into the world" (II John 7). The conspiracy was so strong already, he said in his third epistle, written in A.D. 90, that one church leader, Diotrephes, loved to have the preeminence, and refused to accept envoys sent by John himself, and cast out of the church -- excommunicated and disfellowshipped -- those in the church who would accept and receive them (II John 9-10).
Even in A.D. 66 the conspiracy was so strong that Jude, the brother of the Messiah, felt compelled to write to the church and exhort them to "earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. For," he wrote, "there are certain men crept in unawares...turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only LORD God, and our Lord Jesus Christ" (Jude 3-4).
Hurlbut in his Story of the Christian Church writes about this subtle but massive change which overtook the visible church during the end of the first and beginning of the second century.
"For fifty years after St. Paul's life a curtain hangs over the church, through which we strive vainly to look; and when at last it rises, about 120 A.D. with the writings of the earliest church-fathers, we find a church in many aspects VERY DIFFERENT from that in the days of St. Peter and St. Paul" (p. 41).
At the end of the first century, Hurlbut writes, "Heretical opinions were arising, and sects were forming, the germs of which had been noted and warned against by the apostles, but their full development came later" (p. 44). Originally, he points out, baptism was by immersion, but by 120 A.D. pouring water upon the head had become a custom. "As long as the church was mainly Jewish," he notes, "the Hebrew Sabbath was kept; but as it became increasingly Gentile the first day gradually took the place of the seventh day" (p. 45).
The Conspiracy Grows
Church government itself became perverted. During the early church, the titles "bishop" and "elders" were applied freely to the leaders of the church, Peter calling himself an "elder" (I Peter 5:1). The apostles and elders convoked the first church council in A.D. 51 (Acts 15). But by 125 A.D. bishops were everywhere ruling over the church, each with his own diocese. By 150 A.D., "The episcopal form of government became dominant and universal" (p. 60).
"When we enquire why this particular form of government was adopted, a government from above by bishops, in preference to one by the ministry as equals, we find that the analogy of the IMPERIAL GOVERNMENT furnished a plan naturally followed in the development of the church" (p. 61).
In 313 A.D. Emperor Constantine put an end to persecutions of the vast numbers of "Christians" in his empire, by his famous "Edict of Toleration." In 323 A.D., when he became sole emperor, he enthroned "Christianity" as the religion of the state. The vast church by then had become an "intellectual faith," with a hard and fast system of doctrines and practices, many of them stemming from paganism. Doctrine became more and more the "visible test" of "Christians," and the "Apostles' Creed" was composed long after the true apostles were dead and buried. Says Hurlbut, "It was two generations after Constantine when images began to appear in the churches; the early Christians having a horror of all that might lead to idolatry" (p. 75). He adds that under Constantine, "The ministers of the church soon became a privileged class, above the law of the land" (p. 76). "The first day of the week was proclaimed as a day of rest and of worship, and its observance soon became general throughout the empire" (p. 77). Says Hurbut of this time:
"The services of worship increased in splendor, but were less spiritual and hearty than those of former times. The FORMS AND CEREMONIES OF PAGANISM gradually crept into the worship. SOME OF THE OLD HEATHEN FEASTS BECAME CHURCH FESTIVALS with change of name and of worship. About 405 A.D. images of saints and martyrs began to appear in the churches, at first as memorials, then in succession revered, adored, and worshipped. The adoration of the Virgin Mary was substituted for the worship of Venus and Diana; the Lord's Supper became a sacrifice in place of a memorial; and the elder evolved from a preacher into a priest.
"As a result of the church sitting in power, we do not see Christianity transforming the world to its own ideal, but the world dominating the church. The humility and saintliness of an earlier age was succeeded by ambition, pride, and arrogance, among churchmen....
" ...But the church and the state BECAME ONE when Christianity was adopted as the religion of the empire, and out of the unnatural union arose two evils, one in the eastern, the other in the western provinces. In the east the state dominated the church until it lost all energy and uplifting life. In the west...the church gradually usurped power over the state, and the result was not Christianity but a more or less corrupt hierarchy controlling the nations of Europe, making the church mainly a political machine" (p. 79-80).
Will Durant, in his epochal work The Story of Civilization, volume III, "Caesar and Christ," wrote of the early history of the Christian Church. He concluded that the new "Christian" faith was not really all that new after all. Seeing how the "Christians" imbibed of the traditions and customs of the pagan world, and declared them to be "Christian," he wrote:
"Christianity did not destroy paganism; it adopted it. The Greek mind, dying, came to a transmigrated life in the theology and liturgy of the Church; the Greek language, having reigned for centuries over philosophy, became the vehicle of Christian literature and ritual; the Greek mysteries passed down into the impressive mystery of the Mass. Other pagan cultures contributed to the syncretist result. From Egypt came the idea of a divine trinity....The Mithraic ritual so closely resembled the eucharistic sacrifice of the Mass that Christian fathers charged the Devil with inventing these similarities to mislead frail minds. Christianity was the LAST GREAT CREATION OF THE ANCIENT PAGAN WORLD" (p. 595).
What gift did Rome itself give to the seething mass of syncretic elements now blended together into an apostate "Christianity," virtually identical in many aspects to its pagan predecessors? Writes Durant:
"Despite over-reachings and setbacks, the Roman see [bishop] increased its power with almost every decade. Its wealth and ecumenical charities exalted its prestige...It took the initiative in repudiating and combating heresies...it gave its attention to organization rather than theory; it built and governed and let others write and talk. Cyprian rebelled; but it was he who, in his De Catholicae Ecclesiae Unitate, acclaimed the see or seat of Peter (cathedra Petri) as the center and summit of Christendom...By the middle of the third century the position and resources of the papacy were so strong that Decius vowed he would rather have a rival emperor at Rome than a pope. The capital of the Empire naturally became the capital of the Church.
"As Judea had given Christianity its ethics, and Greece had given it theology, so now Rome gave it organization; all these, with a DOZEN ABSORBED AND RIVAL FAITHS, ENTERED INTO THE CHRISTIAN SYNTHESIS. It was not merely that the Church took over some religious customs and forms common in pre-Christian Rome -- the stole and vestments of pagan priests, the use of incense and holy water in purifications, the burning of candles and an everlasting light before the altar, the worship of the saints, the architecture of the basilica, the LAW OF ROME AS THE BASIS OF CANON LAW, the title of Pontifex Maximus for the Supreme Pontiff, and, in the fourth century, the Latin language...The Roman gift was above all a vast framework of GOVERNMENT, which, as secular authority failed, became the structure of ecclesiastical rule....The Roman Church followed in the footsteps of the Roman state [not the footsteps of the Messiah or the apostles!]; it conquered the provinces, beautified the capital, and established discipline and unity from frontier to frontier. Rome died in giving birth to the Church; the Church matured by inheriting and accepting the responsibilities of Rome" (Durant, ibid., p. 618-619).
So what really happened to the true Church of YEHOVAH God described in the pages of the New Testament, in the writings of the original apostles? Church history itself relates that the vast visible church became co-opted by the pagans, who, seeing a good thing, immediately began to subvert, seduce, and pervert it into their own shape, form and image, adding certain elements from the new "Christian" faith to their ancient, ages-old primal pagan beliefs, practices and festivals. In essence they "hijacked" the Messiah and changed his religious truth into a blend of pagan syncretism - something vile, abominable, and polluted and utterly corrupt in the sight of YEHOVAH God and the Messiah!
The Hijacking of the Messiah
The Roman Empire, actually fearing for its very existence from the threat posed by this new, energized, vital faith that was emanating from Judea -- this "new form of Judaism" which had such an attraction for Gentile believers -- decided to disguise its fight against this new "enemy" of the state. When the church could not be conquered by force, it was conquered by stealth. The conspiracy, hatched in the mind of Simon Magus, and embraced by members of the Roman Senate, and certainly by the Roman Emperor himself, in the time of Constantine, grew irresistible. Constantine, for one, saw that the survival of the Empire depended on the Empire's "taking over" the leadership of the new faith, embracing it, and making it an "ally." Thus Satan seduced the church on the one hand, by offering the "carrot" of wealth and power, and brandishing the rod in the other hand, as the threat of persecution and punishment for activities contrary to the interests of the state. Constantine, in 323 A.D., finally achieved the prize -- the union of Church and state - by declaring the "Roman Catholic" Church the official religion of the Empire!
Rabbi Simcha Pearlmutter, in his book The Tents of Shem, describes the process:
"Hence what began as a Jewish influence on vast numbers of gentiles, polarizing them to the Jewish National Hope [of a Messianic King], was subtly re-orientated rather than trampled upon by Rome. Just as the Roman master plan called for the ultimate forced exile of all Jews from their homeland, the emphasis became focused upon the particularized exile of the One Special Jew, Rabbi Yeshua Himself. It was most important to divorce this now 'dead and harmless god' from his people, his habits, his nation, his identity, his local address. Since few dead people answer back, it is not difficult to put new words, new messages, new meanings, into their mouths. Who can deny their authenticity? A local Jewish Messiah who threatened his influence even after death to attract and polarize members of all nations to the Jewish cause had to be defused. But rather than downgrade Him or mock Him, which could only exalt His memory, increase His heroism, and further identify Him with Jews and Judaism, He would now be upgraded, or, as we say today, 'kicked upstairs,' made chairman of the board. He had to be resurrected in a NEW IMAGE. Remove His Kippah, His talit, His tzitzit. Take off His tefrllin. Uncover His nakedness and leave Him naked in but a loin cloth....Even Yeshua, the name, was too Jewish....Thus the key to the success of the Roman plan involved the KIDNAPPING OF CHRIST, the key Jew forced into exile and made King of Heaven" (p. 53-54).
Thus the Roman plot was to adopt, co-opt, and kidnap Yeshua the Jew, the Messiah, and turn him into a Roman "god" -- and to "kick him upstairs," and make him a part of the "Trinity," a pagan concept dating back to time immemorial. They even changed his name, rejecting the Jewish name Yeshua, and added a Roman "J" to the Greek form Iesous so that the world would pronounce his name "Jesus," instead. They stripped him of his Jewishness, repudiated everything Jewish about him, rejected the Torah and the Jewish Scriptures, which he taught, rejected his message of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God, and declared that the Church/Roman Empire was the "Kingdom of God"!
Thus the very Hebrew Messiah was hijacked, and surgically altered, and then reintroduced to the world, by the Romans, saying, "Here is your Messiah! Worship Him!" But the Jews, knowing that the true Messiah would not denounce the Torah or the Laws of YEHOVAH God, could not accept this pagan perversion or caricature of the true Messiah. What made it even more difficult was the incredible persecution brought upon the Jews by the so-called "Christians," who hounded, harassed, impaled, butchered, and spilled their blood in the "name" of the "Christ"!
Very few, down through history, have been unable to see through the masquerade, the deception, the ruse. Generally, only since 1967 and the Six Day War have many Jews begun to see the reality of the true Jewish Messiah in Yeshua -- the one the Western world calls "Jesus."
Says Rabbi Pearlmutter, "To be even more specific, for a Jew to have truly accepted the real Yeshua and to have shared with Him a common destiny, a uniting of souls, that Jew would be obligated to unequivocally reject totally and thoroughly any identification with the Christian mirrorimage of Messiah" (p. 55). The "Christian" Messiah, or that of the professing Christian-Catholic Western world, taught according to the "Church" that heaven is the reward of the saved, that the wicked will burn forever in the flames of a ghoulish hell fire presided over by the Devil himself, that to be "saved" you merely need to "accept Christ," that good works are not required for salvation, that worship must be done on Sunday (not the "Jewish" Sabbath!), that Easter and Christmas, etc., are the festivals of the Church, approved by the Messiah, and not those old "Jewish" holy days of Passover, Shavuot, Sukkoth, and so forth. In other words, the "Christian mirrorimage Messiah" is "ANOTHER JESUS" that the apostle Paul warned would be preached to the world (II Corinthians 11:4, II Timothy 4:3-4).
Even today many "Christians" believe that they will be "raptured" to heaven to escape the time of trouble which will shortly erupt upon the face of the earth. Yet they believe that the Jews are condemned to remain on earth, to suffer the full fury of Satan the devil! As Rabbi Pearlmutter writes:
"... more recent church dogma finds it necessary to invent a modern 'cop-out,' the sudden disappearance from earth of all true Christians while Israel again suffers its usual and expected bloodbath. Some even go so far as to see themselves enjoying a sumptuous feast around a banquet table, Christ, of course, at the head blessing all his faithful followers and encouraging them to partake in the gaiety of the occasion so that their ears will not be filled with the noise of dying Jews. And still they wonder why we stubbornly refuse to give honor to such a messiah" (Tents of Shem, p. 58).
The basic "Christian" message to the Jew has been, over the millennia, "Save your life and die," "Renounce your Torah, your Law, your Bible, your prophets." "Accept 'Christ' instead." "Forget any thoughts of a kingdom of YEHOVAH God on earth, and seek heaven as your reward." "Throw away the Sabbath, holy days of God, your Scriptures, your calendar, the oral law, and all your customs and traditions." "Become one of us -- an ignorant and childish dupe and moron." "Be baptized in the church -- or die an eternal, fiery death!"
As Rabbi Pearlmutter says:
"Given such a choice, what normal, sane Jew could agree?" (p. 58).
A very good question, indeed! Since when do you have to renounce the Scriptures, the Torah, the Law of YEHOVAH God, and the Word of YEHOVAH God, in order to become a true Christian? The Messiah himself put it plainly, when he said: "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4).This principle is so important that YEHOVAH God inspired to be recorded twice. We read in Luke: "It is written, that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God" (Luke 4:4).
Satan the devil is the source behind the great conspiracy of the Roman world to pre-empt the true faith of Yeshua the Messiah, to subvert it, and to make "Christ" their own hero, Saviour, and Messiah, while altering totally his teachings, doctrine, and message!
The Western world of "Christianity" gave the Jew little choice. To accept their version of "Christ," the Jews had to deny and repudiate the Torah -- the very Law that the Messiah said he came not to destroy, but to fill full to the brim (Matthew 5:17)! What a quandary! They were placed between a rock and a hard place. To accept the paganized "Jesus," they had to reject the very Word of YEHOVAH God, of which the true Messiah was reflective of in the flesh (John 8:32; John 1:1-3, 14). To accept "Christianity," they had to deny the holy days of YEHOVAH God, and the true Sabbath, which is the very "sign" YEHOVAH gave to identify His own people (Exodus 31:12-17). In such a sticky situation, what was a rational, reasonable person to do? To accept the "hijacked Christ," who was a debased, anti-Jewish, pagan creature, meant to deny the very essence of Jewishness -- the Torah and history and customs of the Jews -- and the true teachings and doctrines of Yeshua the Messiah!
So to "accept" Christ they had to repudiate the Messiah! What a "sticky wicket" -- what a conundrum! What CONFUSION! But "God is not he author of confusion" (I Corinthians 14:33). YEHOVAH God does not and never did endorse the "Westernized" version of Yeshua the Messiah, presented to the world by mainstream "Christianity." That is a false "Christ." A false Messiah! A Satanic impostor! A sham -- a fraud -- a shill!
Isn't it time we took another look at the REAL Messiah of the Bible? Isn't it time we rejected human tradition, and religious dogmas of erring religious institutions, and got back to the pure, simple, undefiled faith of the Scriptures, taught by the apostles of the first century? Isn't it time we rejected the false doctrines, heresies, and abominable teachings of those who "wormed their way" into the church, and crept in "unawares," who slipped in stealthily, and kicked out the true Messiah and substituted their own pagan mirror-image of "Christ" instead?
The apostle Paul warns us, "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good" (I Thessalonians 5:21). He warns that those who do not "love the truth" will be deceived in a massive delusion, and will believe lies (II Thessalonians 2:10-11). According to the Phillips Translation, Paul declared, "Evil is already insidiously at work" (v. 7). An evil "lawless man" is soon going to rise up, who will be "armed with all the force, wonders and signs that falsehood can devise. To those involved in this dying world he will come with evil's undiluted power to deceive, for they have refused to love the truth which could have saved them. God sends upon them, therefore, the full force of evil's DELUSION, so that they put their faith in an UTTER FRAUD, and meet the inevitable judgment of all who have refused to believe the truth and who have made evil their playfellow" (vs. 9-12).
Let's face the facts, honestly -- squarely. Jesus Christ, or Yeshua, was indeed a Jew. He lived like a Jew. He observed all the laws written in the Torah. He wore fringes in his garments, according to the Law (see Luke 8:43-48; Mark 5:25-34; Matthew 9:20-22; also, Numbers 15:38-41; Deuteronomy 22:12). It is reported that Daniel Boone, the famous pioneer and explorer in early American history, who was a very observant Christian, wore fringes in his garments, out of respect to this commandment.
How well do you know the true Messiah, who came upholding the laws and commandments of YEHOVAH God? How well do you know the true Yeshuah ha Moshiach (Yeshuah the Messiah) who observed the Torah, and taught that we should follow in his steps (Matthew 4:19; Matthew 28:19-20; John 13:15; I Corinthians 11:1; I Peter 2:21)?
The apostle John declared: "He that saith he abideth in him, ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked" (I John 2:6). Isn't it time we got to know the true, Biblical Jesus -- whose REAL NAME is Yeshua the Messiah? Isn't it time we all truly set our hearts and minds and souls to get back to the true faith which was once delivered to the saints (Jude 3)?
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Proclaiming the Good News of the Soon-Coming Kingdom of YEHOVAH God Here On This Earth!
Hope of Israel Ministries
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