Hope of Israel Ministries (Ecclesia of YEHOVAH):
Christianity, Paganism, Torah Faith, and the Return of the Lost Tribes
The message of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God has been turned into a Hellenistic, dualistic, message of escape to heaven. Salvation has come to mean saving your soul, and as many other souls as you can, as quickly as you can. All who "receive Christ," which means asking him to come into your heart as personal Lord and Savior, supposedly have instant eternal life. Unfortunately Christianity, in almost all of its forms, is rank paganism!
by Dr. James Tabor
I am convinced that we are living in a period of history when we must speak plainly, even bluntly. YEHOVAH God is calling his people Israel back to the Land, after 2500 years of Exile. Many thousands of Christians sense a pull toward the Land of Israel, the people of Judah, and the Torah. By all indications we are close to living in the period of the "restoration of all things spoken by the Holy Prophets," the chief sign of which is the union of Judah (part of those known as "Jews") with the Lost Tribes who have been scattered among the nations and have come to think of themselves as Gentiles.
Historic Christianity, as it developed in the 2nd century onward, is far removed from the true Biblical Faith. Many Christians who are oriented more directly to the Bible are beginning to realize this. Christianity became a new, almost wholly pagan, Greco-Roman mixture of ideas. Although Christianity held on to the so-called "Old Testament" (though they added apocryphal books from the Greek Septuagint), fundamentally a great apostasy, or "falling away" occurred. There are three great pillars of Biblical faith: YEHOVAH God, Torah, and Israel. Christianity ended up repudiating all three. It is no surprise, accordingly, that many of those truly descended from Judah repudiated Christianity. How could they do otherwise?
The pure teaching of the One Creator God (YHVH), was perverted in various ways: the Trinitarian idea of YEHOVAH God in three Persons; the blasphemous idea that Yeshua the Messiah was actually the LORD (YHVH) God of Israel; the adoptionist notion that Yeshua became God, and is now worthy of worship ("Two Powers in Heaven"). Obviously Noah, Abraham, Moses, and the Prophets knew nothing about such things, nor did Yeshua the Nazarene, for that matter. The historical Nazarene affirmed the Shema and rebuked those who even called him "good" All forms of the God-Man idea are rank paganism and have no place in Biblical faith.
The Torah, which the Scriptures uphold as YEHOVAH's eternal Way, spoken directly by Him to Moses, and affirmed by the Prophets, was declared by the Christian Church to be null and void, abrogated, taken out of the way, and finished. David had written, "Oh how I love Your Torah, it is my meditation all the day," and millions of Christians were taught to actually despise the very Law of YEHOVAH God. It was viewed as harsh, restrictive, primitive, and wholly lacking in spirituality. Yeshua had declared that not a letter of Torah would be abrogated, but his words were subsequently ignored.
To keep the Commandments of YEHOVAH God was labeled, horror of horrors, as "Judaizing," a sin that would certainly damn one's soul to eternal Hell. The "Old Testament" was relegated to inferior status, and in popular thinking did not remotely measure up to the higher ethical standards of the "loving Heavenly Father" of Christian imagination. The Christians lost touch with the Hebrew language and modes of thought, and with the long and fruitful history of rabbinic exegesis and understanding of Scripture. Greek methods of interpretation were applied to a Greek text of both Old and New Testaments. The Hebraic roots of the movement were totally severed.
Israel, the beloved and chosen "apple of God's eye," was totally displaced and replaced with the doctrine of the new "spiritual Israel," the largely Gentile Christian Church. All the promises of the Prophets about YEHOVAH's Plan for the Restoration of Israel were now applied, through allegory, to the Church. The descendants of Judah were seen as a despised, pitiful, God-forsaken race, possessing no spirituality, and hopelessly damned in their unbelief. The teaching of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God, so tightly bound together in Scripture with the fortunes of Israel, was made into a dualistic, Hellenistic, "hope of heaven" after death.
Unfortunately, it did not end here. Christianity took up every pagan way with a vengeance: holidays, customs, dress, habits, rituals, polity, superstitions. The list is endless. Christians came to worship "Jesus," a Greco-Roman type of Savior God with long hair and effeminate features. The Judean mikvah became "baptism," a mystical initiation into the body of the Messiah. The Kiddush became the mass, eating the body and blood of a deity. Churches became indistinguishable from the idolatrous temples of Greco-Roman culture. The Spring fertility festival became Easter, and the Winter Solstice celebration became Christmas. The Sabbath became Saturday and Sunday. YEHOVAH's Holidays, such as Passover and Shavuot were labeled as "Jewish" (now a "dirty" word), void of all relevance for the "new Israel." Humans were deified as "Saints. " By any Torah standard Roman Catholicism under the guise of "Christianity" became hopeless idolatry and superstition, clearly an example of what is called the "way of the nations" (Jeremiah 10:2; Leviticus 18:3; Deuteronomy 12:30). Christianity became "mystery Babylon the Great," incorporating into one unified system the politics and religion of ancient paganism.
Alexander Hislop's classic work, The Two Babylons, published in 1916, had it essentially right. Most would say he was a bit extreme. By Torah standards he was too tame -- after all, this Great Whore is drunk with the blood of all the saints. This is no pretty and innocent matter. Millions of decent people, both "Jewish" and "protestant," were killed over these very matters.
Those who take up "Abrahamic faith" must clearly come out of Babylon. Anyone who affirms openly YEHOVAH God as One and no other, expresses love for Torah, and solidarity with the people of Judah, will all too quickly be labeled as a heretic and a "Judaizer," despite the indisputable fact that in these areas the Nazarene himself would have to be called the same.
Liberal Protestant Christianity, and the new post-Vatican II Catholicism, would deplore the moral failings of the historic Christian Church, while affirming some overall "social good" brought to the world by Christian culture. These modern, liberal, forms of Christianity are almost wholly oriented to social ethics. They have no serious interest in the Scriptures as the Word of YEHOVAH God, that is, as the objective revelation of the Creator. They generally reject supernaturalism, and affirm a natural, scientific world-view, but with plenty of room for "mystery" and the "transcendent." They reject the strictness of Torah ethics -- particularly on areas like sexuality, women's rights, capital punishment, and so forth. Their eschatology is an affirmation of human possibilities through social progress.
The Evangelical Christians, through their Biblical orientation, have made a partial return to the Faith. Many of the most abhorrent elements of the great apostasy were rejected since the Reformation. But many more positive elements of the Faith, from the Hebraic perspective, still need to be recovered. As far as the fundamentals, the Christian evangelicals have them wrong, largely based on a misinterpretation of the New Testament itself, now read through 1990 years of non-Judaic tradition. This is an extreme charge, but it can be substantiated.
Most of these churches continue to affirm the Trinity, with Yeshua and the holy spirit as separate persons of the Godhead. Indeed, they often make this the test of the faith. They hold that the "Old Testament" or Torah has been replaced by the New, and though they give attention to it as Scripture, to actually follow the Torah would be seen as "Judaizing" or trying to "earn your salvation by the Law." Many hold that Israel has been replaced by the Church, and most all would say, when pressed, that "Jews" are damned to Hell unless they accept the Messiah.
The message of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God has been turned into a Hellenistic, dualistic, message of escape to heaven. Salvation has come to mean saving your soul, and as many other souls as you can, as quickly as you can. All who "receive Christ," which means asking him to come into your heart as personal Lord and Savior, have instant eternal life. Those who "reject Christ" are eternally doomed in Hell. The figure of the Messiah, and what you decide about him, becomes the one great question of life, despite the fact that 99% of humans on this planet throughout history have never heard such a message -- before or since the time of Yeshua the Messiah.
There are tiny segments and pockets of the evangelical spectrum which reflect views closer to the Truth of the Scriptures. Some have rejected, or seriously modified, the God-Man doctrine, but they are usually viewed as heretical and even dangerous. Others affirm that YEHOVAH's promises to Israel continue to be valid, and accordingly, support the establishment of Israel in the Land as the beginning of the Restoration spoken by the Prophets. A few are beginning to seriously explore the Hebraic, Judaic, roots of early Christianity as well as the wider tradition of halachic Judaism.
As for the New Testament, it should not be forgotten that no one in the early Church had one. In fact, that would be true for everyone in the entire Biblical tradition, from Enoch to Ezra, and from Yeshua to Paul. The great error is to equate the documents of the New Testament with what those documents themselves, and everyone mentioned in them, call The Holy Scriptures. In other words the TANAKH, consisting of Torah, Prophets, and Writings are the ONLY Scriptures which were used even by the early followers of the Nazarene. The New Testament documents must always be interpreted in the light of the Holy Scriptures, not the other way around.
Maimonides said that Christianity in all of its forms is paganism. I have spent the last 25 years studying the movement from an historical perspective, in the context of Greco-Roman history, and I have to agree. And yet Maimonides recognized that since the Christians at least claim the inspiration of the Holy Scriptures (which they call the Old Testament), and included these texts in their Bible, a weakened form of Torah faith has been spread around the world. Rabbi Jacob Emden (1697-1776) made much the same point -- that the Gentile world has come to know something of the God of Israel through the spread of Christianity, but what is lacking is that Christianity ignores the Torah based words of its own founder.
The irony of this is that so-called "Gentiles," many of whom we are convinced are from the Lost Tribes of Israel, by a process of investigating the roots of their own Christian faith, are coming in touch with true Christianity, Torah faith, and the people of Judah. This is surely all through the Hand of the One who orders history to bring about His ultimate purposes. YEHOVAH God has intended that the weakened form of Torah Faith represented by Christianity, especially through the Bible, would finally reach the Lost Tribes and take root. This process in turn will be instrumental in awakening them to their true heritage and purpose. It is in the areas of the world where the Lost Tribes are scattered that we find, among Christians, the strongest commitment to the Biblical text and a desire to restore the true Biblical faith.
Christians have been taught for centuries that the Church has replaced Israel as the Chosen nation -- taking over her mission and applying it to the world instead of only to the descendants of Israel. In a related way, the dozens of prophetic texts which promise the full and complete restoration of Israel have been allegorized and applied to either the Church or to salvation in heaven. The sad tale of Christian history certainly belies any such transfer of the Plan to the Church. Not even the New Testament supports such displacement interpretations. Certainly, it is beyond any doubt that the Hebrew Prophets know of no such shift in the Abrahamic Plan. Accordingly, those who take the Biblical revelation seriously must thoroughly reject all forms of replacement theology.
According to both Torah and Prophets Israel went into exile because of her sins, and YEHOVAH God (YHVH) actually hid His face from her. However, this "hiding of the face" is neither rejection nor replacement. On the contrary, the very purpose of the Exile is to prepare for the full restoration of ALL Israel! Exile is always understood as a temporary measure of discipline, for a set period of time. The promises to the Twelve Tribes scattered among the nations are absolute and unconditional. YEHOVAH God has not -- and will not -- cast off or reject His people Israel.
There are over forty separate sections of the Hebrew prophets which deal specifically (and in the greatest detail) with this theme of the full and unqualified restoration of ALL Israel. The cumulative impact of these texts is overwhelming. Though scattered to all nations, sifted like wheat, YHVH declares "My eyes are on all their ways," and "not the least grain will fall to the ground" (Jeremiah 16:17; Amos 9:9). Both Israel and Judah (all Twelve Tribes) are brought back to the Promised Land and reunited (Ezekiel 37:15-23). This great return actually rivals the Exodus from Egypt (Jeremiah 16:14-15)! The Messiah appears at this time and actually completes the Restoration (Isaiah 11; Jeremiah 23; Ezekiel 36).
The conversion of Israel leads to the turning of all nations to the knowledge of YEHOVAH and His Way for all humankind. The Messiah regathers all Israel prior to the return of YEHOVAH God's Shekinah Glory to Jerusalem when the nations seek YEHOVAH (Isaiah 11:10-12). It is at that time the "earth becomes full of the knowledge of YHVH as the waters cover the seas (Isaiah 11:9). The Torah goes forth from Jerusalem to all nations; the nations stream up up to the Land to learn the Way of YEHOVAH God (Isaiah 2:2-4). Notice Jeremiah 3:15-18:
"At that time they shall call Jerusalem the Throne of YHVH, and all the nations will be gathered to it, to Jerusalem, for the name of YHVH; nor shall they walk anymore after the stubbornness of their evil heart. In those day Judah will walk with the house of Israel, and they will come together from the land of the north to the land that I gave your fathers for an inheritance."
Unless and until all Israel is restored to the Land, there is no Messianic fulfillment, and there will be no realization of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God.
The reign of the Messiah regathers ALL Israel, which in turn leads to the return of YEHOVAH's Shekinah Glory and the turning of all nations to YEHOVAH God and the Torah (Isaiah 2, 11; Zechariah 14:9; Daniel 2, 7). Isaiah chapters 40-66 lays out the grand scheme in great detail. The descriptions of these last things are not all rosy and pleasant to read. There will be an incredible amount of strife and violence marking the arrival of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God. It will not come easily. The nations that oppose YEHOVAH will be utterly broken. But the purpose behind this overthrow of the present world order is clear:
"That they may know that You alone, whose Name is YHVH [YEHOVAH], are the Most High over all the earth" (Psalm 83:18).
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Preparing the Way for the Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah!
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