Monday, September 17, 2018

Jacob and Esau - Two Brothers, Two Nations in Conflict, Two Destinies

When Isaac’s wife Rebekah was pregnant with twins, she became concerned because the babies were struggling with each other in the womb. So Rebekah inquired of the Lord.

And the Lord said to her: Two nations are in your womb; two people will come from you and be separated. One people will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger.” – Genesis 25:23, Holman

Her two sons represented two nations engaged in a cosmic struggle. Esau was born first and then Jacob came out grasping Esau’s heel. As the firstborn, Esau was first in line to inherit God’s promise given to his grandfather Abraham and then his father Isaac:

The Lord said to Abram: Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who treat you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” – Genesis 12:1-3, Holman

From Abraham would come the nation of Israel and Jesus the Messiah, the savior of all mankind, who will return to rid the world of evil and establish a righteous kingdom on earth. Being the vehicle through whom God saves the world is a magnificent inheritance!

However, Esau was not interested. After returning from a hunt, Esau was exhausted and hungry and wanted some of the lentil stew that Jacob had cooked. Jacob asked him to sell his birthright in exchange and Esau agreed. “So Esau despised his birthright.” Genesis 25:34

That seemingly small incident has echoed through history. Esau came to represent people who do not value the promises of God for an eternal inheritance. For them, this world is enough. They are satisfied with this life’s fleeting pleasures – money, sensuality, power, fame, even a bowl of stew. They willingly trade the eternal for the temporal.

Jacob, on the other hand, wanted a spiritual inheritance. Jacob represents the people who value the promises of God for an eternal inheritance. They trust and worship God, knowing there is life and reward beyond our existence on earth:

By faith Abraham, when he was called, obeyed and went out to a place he was going to receive as an inheritance. He went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he stayed as a foreigner in the land of promise, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, coheirs of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” – Hebrews 11:8-10

The struggle between Jacob and Esau that began in the womb has continued through history. This is the perpetual conflict between God’s chosen nation, the spiritual Israel, and the worldly kingdoms that arise to oppose it.

Esau was the founder of the nation Edom and his grandson Amalek founded the Amalekites. The Amalekites were the first nation that attacked Israel after God brought them out of Egypt, but were defeated by God’s hand under the leadership of Moses and Joshua. Edom refused Israel safe passage through its territory on threat of war.

King David defeated and thoroughly subjugated Edom and placed garrisons throughout the territory. However, when David’s son King Solomon fell into idolatry later in life, God raised up the Edomite Hadad to harass the kingdom of Israel.

When Jerusalem was destroyed by Babylon as a judgment for its rebellion against God, the Scriptures record that Edom cheered:

Remember, Lord, what the Edomites said that day at Jerusalem: ‘Destroy it! Destroy it down to its foundations!’” – Psalm 137:7

This was a fulfillment of the prophecy in Obadiah, which was spoken to Edom (Esau):

"You will be covered with shame and destroyed forever because of violence done to your brother Jacob. On the day you stood aloof, on the day strangers captured his wealth, while foreigners entered his gate and cast lots for Jerusalem, you were just like one of them." – Obadiah 1:10-11

In the story of Esther, Haman tricks King Ahaseurus of Persia into signing an edict to destroy all the Jews living in his kingdom. Queen Esther, who happened to be Jewish, exposed Haman’s plot and persuaded the king to sign a counter-edict that allowed the Jews to defend themselves on the appointed day of attack. In the end, the Jews prevailed over their enemies and Haman was put to death. Haman is identified in the story as an “Agagite.” The only other reference to the name Agag the Bible is to an Amalekite king. In other words, Haman, who tried to kill all the Jews in Persia, was a descendant of Amalek, grandson of Esau. Thus the back-and-forth struggle between Jacob and Esau continued.

Romulus, the founder of Rome, was also descended from Esau according to Jewish tradition. The legend of Rome’s founding tells a story of the twin brothers Romulus and Remus who were abandoned on the river Tiber, suckled by a she-wolf and then raised by a shepherd’s family. Later, they established the city of Rome, but quarreled, and Romulus killed Remus. Does this theme sound familiar? Twin boys quarreling, one wanting to kill the other? Notice also the similarity to Moses who was abandoned on a river in Egypt.

The Roman Empire grew over centuries and eventually seized control of Israel in the time before Christ. Esau had gained the upper hand. The Roman general and emperor Titus, also descended from Esau according to the Talmud, destroyed Jerusalem and the second temple in 70 AD, which was a second fulfillment of the prophecy in Obadiah above.

More than two centuries later, the Roman Emperor Constantine supposedly converted to Christianity and made it the official religion of Rome. Thus began the unholy mix of worldly power and religious authority that entered into the Roman Catholic Church. It carried on Rome’s spirit of empire through wars and conquests over the centuries – the Crusades, the Inquisition, etc. The Roman Catholic Church is actually a pagan religion and political empire beneath a veneer of Christianity. That’s why we see reports from around the world of the Catholic priesthood’s massive-scale pedophilia, homosexuality, abuse of nuns and occultism. It is a false mimic of Christ’s Church designed to lead people away from Him. But it is still Rome; it is still Esau.

Today the spirit of empire and opposition to God’s kingdom operates quietly and secretly from the scenes in the Catholic Church. I believe the Vatican is the prophetic second beast of Revelation and the Pope is the false prophet:

"Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; he had two horns like a lamb, but he sounded like a dragon." - Revelation 13: 11

The beast looks like a lamb (Jesus is the Lamb of God), but speaks like a dragon (Satan).

The Vatican is also the primary force advocating for the division of the Holy Land through the UN and various peoples and nations. It wants to take control of the Old City of Jerusalem and move the Vatican there, making Jerusalem the religious capital of the New World Order, which is the beast kingdom described in Revelation.

The Vatican will enforce the mark of the beast and worshiping of the image of the beast. Those who comply will never be able to repent and will go into the lake of fire.

When Jesus Christ returns, He will lead the armies of heaven to defeat the beast, the false prophet and the earthly armies that oppose Him:

Then I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies gathered together to wage war against the rider on the horse and against His army. But the beast was taken prisoner, and along with him the false prophet, who had performed the signs in his presence. He deceived those who accepted the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image with these signs. Both of them were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur. The rest were killed with the sword that came from the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds were filled with their flesh.” – Revelation 19:19-21

In this way, Jesus will bring righteousness and peace to the earth and establish His rule from Jerusalem. Jacob will ultimately prevail over Esau.

Everyone in the world is either a Jacob or an Esau. This is our choice. A Jacob trusts God for an eternal inheritance in His Son Jesus Christ, but an Esau believes only in what this world has to offer.

“‘I have loved you,’ says the Lord. But you ask: ‘How have You loved us?’ ‘Wasn’t Esau Jacob’s brother?’ This is the Lord’s declaration. ‘Even so, I loved Jacob, but I hated Esau. I turned his mountains into a wasteland, and gave his inheritance to the desert jackals.’” – Malachi 1:1-3

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

The Hebrew Roots Movement Is a False Gospel

Without realizing it, I have been observing the Hebrew Roots movement for around 13 years. I had some friends and acquaintances with a peculiar focus on the Jewish roots of Christianity, the Old Testament and especially the Torah, eating kosher and observing Hebrew feasts. It didn’t occur to me then that this was a broad movement, but I now see it is. I witnessed problems with their philosophy that motivated me to look more closely at the Scriptures. It’s clear to me now that the Hebrew Roots movement is exactly the same doctrine that the Apostle Paul saw creeping into the church at Galatia when he wrote:

I am amazed that you are so quickly turning away from Him who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel.” – Galatians 1:6, Holman

The Hebrew Roots movement believes that Christians – followers of Jesus Christ, or Yeshua HaMashiach for those who prefer Hebrew – are required to keep the law of Moses. In support of this, they cite what Jesus said in Matthew 5:

Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished.” – Matthew 5:17-18, NASB

Did Jesus mean to say here that his followers must keep the law of Moses? That’s a possible interpretation if you look at the passage in isolation and don’t with clarify it with other Scriptures speaking to the same issue. But there are many other passages in the Bible that fully contradict the Hebrew Roots interpretation. Moreover, the only way to understand any given verse is to read it in context of the whole Bible. This is how we receive the whole counsel of God. Scripture interprets itself and all Scripture is the inspired words of God, not just the quotes of Jesus. Otherwise we risk misinterpretation and falling into error and deception.

So let’s examine other Scriptures that address the law.

In Acts 15 we read about a dispute in the early church where some Jews were teaching Gentile believers in Antioch that they must be circumcised to be saved. Circumcision was required of all males by the law of Moses. The Apostle Paul and Barnabas opposed this teaching and the matter was escalated to the apostles and elders in Jerusalem. Some of the believers who were Pharisees stood up and said:

It is necessary to circumcise them and to command them to keep the law of Moses!” – Acts 15:5, Holman

After assembling and considering the matter, the apostles and elders decided circumcision was NOT necessary and wrote to the believers in Antioch:

For it was the Holy Spirit’s decision—and ours—to put no greater burden on you than these necessary things: that you abstain from food offered to idols, from blood, from eating anything that has been strangled, and from sexual immorality. You will do well if you keep yourselves from these things.” – Acts 15:28-29, Holman

Here the apostles of the early church clearly affirmed that believers are not under the law of Moses. Abstaining from blood – and by extension strangled animals because that method of killing does not drain blood from the carcass – was a command given by God to Noah and all mankind after the flood when God started to allow animals to be eaten. That was about 800 years before the law of Moses was established. Idolatry is an offense to our Creator and sexual immorality pollutes our bodies and souls. None of these four requirements put Christians under the law.

Why then was the law introduced? Did it serve a purpose? Yes, and still does! The Apostle Paul explained in Romans:

Now we know that whatsoever things the law says, it says to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” – Romans 3:19-20, King James 2000

The purpose of the law is guilt, condemnation and judgment. It sets a moral standard by which we all fail, proving that we are indeed sinners. The law is a death sentence:

Once I was alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died. The commandment that was meant for life resulted in death for me.” – Romans 7:9-10, Holman

The only person who ever kept the law perfectly and was declared righteous before God is Jesus Christ. That is why Jesus said in Matthew 5 that He came to fulfill the law. He was the only One who ever did! Furthermore, Jesus’ righteousness is the only righteousness we can ever hope to have:

But now, apart from the law, God’s righteousness has been revealed—attested by the Law and the Prophets—that is, God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, to all who believe.” – Romans 3:21-22, Holman

Did the Apostle Paul abolish the law then? No, he upheld the law, just like Jesus:

Do we then cancel the law through faith? Absolutely not! On the contrary, we uphold the law.” – Romans 3:31

The law exists to produce guilt and condemnation. That is why both Jesus in Matthew 5 and the Paul in Romans said they upheld the law. Therefore, once a person is convicted of sin by the law, he can turn to Jesus and find forgiveness by faith:

Therefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster.” – Galatians 3:24-25, King James 2000

Then you might ask, how do we live righteously, if not by the law? The answer is by faith in Jesus Christ, as it states above in Romans 3:22. The Spirit of Christ, the Holy Spirit, dwells in us, leading and empowering us to walk in God’s righteousness:

I say then, walk by the Spirit and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh… But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” – Galatians 5:16,18, Holman

The Holy Spirit is a Person, God’s Presence in us. Just as God’s Presence used to dwell in the temple in Jerusalem, now He dwells in our bodies. By contrast, the law is text, a written code. It does not dwell in us. We listen to and follow a Person. The Spirit will convict us and show us how to walk righteously, if we trust and obey Him. He will use Scriptures to enlighten us, even elements of the law, but we do not follow the law. We follow God’s Spirit in us.

How do we know if it is God’s Spirit? By the fruit it produces:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith, gentleness, self-control.” – Galatians 5:22-23, Holman

In contrast, the works of the fleshly and the world bring:

sexual immorality, moral impurity, promiscuity, idolatry, sorcery, hatreds, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambitions, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and anything similar. I tell you about these things in advance—as I told you before—that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” – Galatians 5:19-21, Holman

You see, God wants our character and values to reflect His. That is what He is growing in us. He is not telling us to obsess over a slew of rules and regulations.

Furthermore, the Apostle Paul wrote Galatians to a church that initially received the pure gospel of Jesus Christ, but was being influenced by false teachers to turn to the law of Moses.

O foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ has been openly set forth, crucified among you? This only would I learn of you, received you the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now made perfect by the flesh?” – Galatians 3:1-3, King James 2000

The Galatians thought they had to observe Hebrew feasts and holidays:

Do you want to be enslaved to them all over again? You observe special days, months, seasons, and years. I am fearful for you, that perhaps my labor for you has been wasted.” – Galatians 4:9-11, Holman

They thought they had to be circumcised:

Take note! I, Paul, tell you that if you get yourselves circumcised, Christ will not benefit you at all… I wish those who are disturbing you might also get themselves castrated!” – Galatians 5:2,12, Holman

It is clear Paul was very concerned that the Galatians were falling away from Jesus Christ to embrace the law. This cuts to the heart of the Hebrew Roots movement. It is a false gospel that drives people away from salvation in Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach). Those who embrace the law cease to follow God’s Spirit and instead pursue the law by works of the flesh. They either become self-righteous and proud, like the Pharisees, or they fall under crippling guilt and condemnation.

The Hebrew Roots movement is a part of the great falling away that Paul prophesied would happen at the end of this age:

For that day [the Day of the Lord] will not come unless the apostasy [falling away] comes first and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction.” – 2 Thessalonians 2:3, Holman

I can also say from experience that there is a powerful religious spirit driving this movement and keeping people in bondage. To those who have embraced the Hebrew Roots doctrine, I urge you to repent because your salvation is in jeopardy and time is almost up.

ADDENDUM - 9/10/2018

Below are a couple responses I wrote in a back-and-forth dialog with someone coming from the Hebrew Roots perspective. Hopefully they will further clarify this issue.

Hello ---------,

Yes, I confess the same. And yes, the principles of the law inform our morality and choices. I said so in my comment.

But we are not under the law if we are led by the Holy Spirit — if we are in Christ. We follow a Person, not a written code, because the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life!

-------, do you teach that God requires Christians to be circumcised, keep kosher and celebrate Hebrew feasts? If you say these things are optional, then I have no issue. If you say they are required, then my comment above is for you.


Hi -------,

I can see you are intelligent and well-read in the Scriptures. You know enough to know that one can go round-and-round the mulberry bush on these issues. 

I used to be trapped in legalism for a long time - not the Hebrew Roots, law-of-Moses variety, but my own form. It nearly wrecked my faith. The provision Jesus gave us to walk with Him and to walk in righteousness is the Holy Spirit. The Spirit comes first. The Spirit leads us into all truth. The Spirit tells us what to do and what not to do, if we learn to hear and trust his voice. It's not our carnal minds trying to noodle it out with the law. That's the old way and it failed and produced condemnation. We have trust the Spirit. Yes, we read the Scriptures, including the Torah, because it's God's word. However, it is the Spirit who enlightens our minds and shows us the way. "Christ in you, the hope of glory." We trust the Person first, not the letters on the page. In John 5, Jesus scolded the Pharisees because they studied the Scriptures diligently and thought that they have eternal life in them, but the Scriptures testify about Jesus and they refused to come to Him to have life. 

In the story of Acts 15, don't you see that the Hebrew Roots movement are one and the same as the party of the Pharisees in verse 5 who stood up and said: "It is necessary to circumcise them and to command them to keep the law of Moses!" Okay, you say no to circumcision, but you are still pushing for the law. While it was the Apostle James who responded, all the apostles in Jerusalem were involved in the decision. That would imply Peter and John too. They emphatically decided that believers in Christ are NOT under the law of Moses. The Pharisees were wrong. This was the teaching of the early Christian church. I'm not sure why the apostles gave those four particular requirements. They seem arbitrary to me, but must have been addressing some issues they believed important to highlight. The prohibition against drinking blood, and by extension eating strangled animals because the blood coagulates in the carcass, goes back to what God commanded Noah after the flood. That precedes the law, which may be why it was called out. Of course, those four requirements are not the sum total of what it is to walk with God. Again, we have the Spirit to lead us.

If we are not trusting the provision Jesus Christ gave us to walk with God, then are we really trusting Christ?

Regarding food and health, I personally avoid pork and rarely eat it (once or twice a year) because it is unhealthy. But so are GMO foods, canola oil, high-fructose corn syrup and vaccines, which I avoid for the same reason. I have never heard God's Spirit tell me not to eat pork. I do it for common sense health reasons, though I can appreciate why it was forbidden under the law.

I hope this helps.