Rabbi Schneider - The Revolt (Judaism After Jesus)
God bless you, and Shalom, beloved ones. My name's Rabbi Schneider. Welcome again to a very important edition of Discovering the Jewish Jesus. We are in a series in which we are exploring how Judaism and Christianity separated from each other. Did you know that the first believers in Jesus were still considered Jews? They considered themselves Jews, and the larger Jewish world recognized that they were Jews, even though there was a lot of animosity between the different sects in Judaism. Today it's a different era because today Jewish people look at Jewish people like myself that believe in Jesus as no longer being Jewish. And Christians often times don't understand the Jewish or Hebraic roots of their faith in Jesus. But the true context of our faith in Yeshua, beloved, it's a very Jewish thing.
In fact, Jesus said in the last chapter of the Book of Revelation that He was the offspring or the root of David. And in Matthew, 5:17-18, as I've often quoted in this series, Jesus said He didn't come to start a new religion. He said, I did not come to abolish the law and the prophets, but to fulfill or fill them up with meaning. And so knowing that when Jesus came He came as a Jew, lived as a Jew, died as a Jew, His apostles were all Jews. He was ministering only to Jewish people while He walked on the earth in the flesh 2,000 years ago. Knowing then that this movement of Christianity started out so Jewish, how now has it come to the place where Jewish people don't look at Christians as having anything to do much with Judaism, and conversely, Christian people are alienated from understanding the Jewish roots of their faith.
We've been looking at what has happened over the centuries that has led to this division. So today I'm not gonna go back. I just want to pick up where I left off last week. We've covered so many things, both historical and theological. But I'm just begin right now, church, with where I left off last week. I was talking as I ended the last broadcast, on the subject that one of the things that led to the separation of the movement of Judaism vs the movement of those that have put their faith in Jesus, the King of the Jews, is the fact that the Gospel went to the Gentiles. You see, in the Jewish world of Jesus' day, the religious Jewish leadership considered Gentiles unclean, and they wouldn't associate with them.
We read that last time in Acts, chapter 10, after Peter had the vision to take and eat the unkosher animals in the sheet that he saw in his trance. We saw that Peter understood the meaning of that to be that he wasn't to consider Gentiles unclean any longer, and he was to go share the Gospel with them. We see this further evidenced in Acts, chapter 15, where there was a big debate in Acts, 15, of the church at Jerusalem. And they were saying, Well what are we gonna do because we know that God is accepting Gentiles to Himself now because they're being baptized by the Holy Spirit, and we can't deny the evidence that the gifts of the Spirit are coming upon them.
So what do we do? Do we make them get circumcised and become Jews? And there was a lot of debate about what to do with these Gentiles that had put their faith in Jesus. And finally after much debate, James, who led the church in Jerusalem... Again, James was Jesus' half-brother. James said, No, we're not gonna trouble those that are turning to God from amongst the Gentiles, but instead, he said, we're just gonna write to them a letter. And he said this in verse 19 of Acts, 15: Therefore it is my judgement that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles. It's really fascinating.
Just think about this. In Jesus' day it wasn't a question as to whether a Jew could still be a Jew if he believed in Jesus. That was not the question. That was just assumed. But the question was really the opposite. Can a Gentile have a relationship with the God of Israel through Jesus without getting circumcised and keeping the Law? You see how much things have changed? Let me say it again. Today the question is, is a Jew still a Jew if he believes in Jesus? I get that question all the time. How can you say you're a Jew when you believe in Jesus? Aren't you a Christian? I get that both from Jewish people and from Gentile people. They think if you're, if you believe in Jesus, you're no longer a Jew.
But in the world view of Jesus' day, if you believed in Jesus as a Jew, it had nothing to do as to whether you were a Jew or not. That was an assumed given. The question in Jesus' day was, can a Gentile, can someone that wasn't born Jewish, believe in Jesus without becoming Torah observant and keeping the laws of the Torah, and being circumcised. So it's a total different paradigm. So again, this debate takes place in Acts, 15. James says, No, we're not gonna require the Gentiles that have put their faith in Jesus, we're not gonna require them to get circumcised. We're not gonna require them to become Torah observant, to go under the law.
Even just as a side note, beloved, I don't believe that I'm under the law or any, of you under the law. We're saved by grace. But instead this is what James says. Listen to this: Therefore it is my judgement that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles, but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols, from fornication, from what is strangled and from blood. Now why these four areas? I believe that these four areas of, of eating unkosher, drinking blood, eating meat that was sacrificed to idols, fornication, etc. These four areas would have made it so difficult for Jewish people to have any fellowship with their now Gentile brothers and sisters at all, that James is saying these are the boundaries. But other than that, he said, we're not gonna restrict them.
Notice what the next verse says: For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him since he is read in the synagogue every Sabbath. Now I know that I'm on dangerous ground here. I'm starting to lose some of you. So let me just kind of synchronize what I've said and make it very general and then we're gonna move on. One of the reasons that the movement of Judaism and the movement of those that followed... When I speak of Judaism, I'm speaking now of traditional Judaism. One of the reasons that those that were practicing traditional Judaism and those that put their faith in Jesus separated from each other is because those that had put their faith in Jesus and were following Him began to receive Gentiles into a relationship with God.
Remember the first followers of Jesus were all Jewish. They understood that God was including the Gentiles. They began then to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, fellowship with Gentiles, etc. Now that becomes a huge problem for the traditional Jewish community because they thought that we as Jewish people, we shouldn't have any association with Gentiles. We read about that in Acts, chapter 10. So now we have these Jews that are fellowshipping the Gentiles, and the Jewish people that were not following Jesus said, We can't even get close to you 'cause we can't have anything to do with Gentiles. So a, a big divide is happening because of this. Then additionally, we still have a lot of confusion in the first church.
So the first church gets together in Jerusalem, which was the mother church. It was led by James, Jesus' half-brother. And they begin to discuss, listen, it's obvious that God has now brought Gentiles into relationship with Him. In other words, God isn't just relating to the Jewish people, we see that now God has also accepted Gentiles that put their faith in Him through Jesus. So the question is, we know as Jews that God gave us the Torah, the first five books of the Bible. Now that we have these Gentiles that are putting their faith in the God of Israel through Jesus, do we require them to keep the laws of the Torah, and do we require them to be circumcised? And after a lot of debate, it wasn't an easy matter to resolve.
James, Jesus' half-brother that's leader of the church, stands up and says, No, we're just gonna write to them to abstain from things sacrificed to idols, from drinking blood, from eating what was strangled, and from fornication. And then he goes on in the next verse and here's the key. He said: For Moses, get this now, church, is being read in the synagogue every Sabbath. I believe that what James was inferring was this. These Gentiles that have now come into relationship with the God of Israel are gonna get more understanding as to who the God of Israel is because Moses, the revelation in the, in the Tanakh, in the Old Testament, is being preaching in the synagogue every Sabbath.
And what was going on, church, is that many Gentile believers that put their faith in Jesus, get this now, would go to the synagogue on the Sabbath to learn more about who the God of Israel was. And so the Gentile church was learning and growing in terms of understanding who the God of Israel was because they were going to the synagogue on the Sabbath, not because they were under the law, but because they wanted to learn more about the revelation of the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ. But what happened that interrupted that process was this.
Remember I said on last week's broadcast in around, in, in the 60 to the 70 A.D. mark, the Jews in the 60s and to the 70 A.D. mark, the Jewish people living in Israel began to rebel against the Romans because the Romans were keeping them under their, their thumb. As a result of this, the Romans came in, invaded Jerusalem, and destroyed the people, the Temple and the Jewish people scattered. Now the Romans were so upset with the Jewish people's rebellion from approximately 66 to 70 A.D. that in addition to destroying the Temple, they also leveled a tax against the Jewish people, just to punish them for being Jewish because of their rebellion. It was called the Fiscus Judaicus Tax.
Now think about this. The Romans, to punish the Jewish people for rebelling against them, taxed the Jewish people just for being Jewish now. Now how did the Romans determine who was Jewish? They decided, the Romans decided that they would determine who was Jewish by, by penalizing, taxing anybody that did Jewish things, anybody that kept the Sabbath, anybody that associated with Judaism. So where do you think the Romans went to find the Jews? They went to the synagogue on the Sabbath. Now think again now, Gentile believers were now going to the synagogue because they wanted to learn more about the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ.
So now that there was a tax by the Romans against anybody that was Jewish just for being Jewish, and the way that the Romans determined that was by anybody that associated with Jewish things. And the way that the Romans found those that were associating with Jewish things was by going to the synagogue, what happened? Gentile believers in Jesus, beloved, no longer would go to the synagogue because they didn't want to be considered Jewish so that they wouldn't get taxed. Now as a result of this, listen now, this growing Gentile church had less and less information about the God of Israel, about the holy days of the God of Israel, about the mind of the God of Israel.
So now we have all these Gentile churches that are growing and they have no understanding, no information and no revelation about all that had been written in the Scriptures in the Old Testament. Remember, Jesus said, in the Book of Matthew, He said, Every scribe that becomes a disciple of Mine, will be like the owner of a mansion that's able to bring out of that mansion things old and things new. And Jesus said, I did not come to abolish the law and the prophets, but fulfill. And everybody that teaches out of the Hebrew Bible will be called greatest in the kingdom of God. So Jesus never wanted the Gentile church to be separated from understanding the Hebrew roots of their faith or from the Old Testament Scriptures. He wants the church to be grounded in the Word, both Old and New Testaments.
But now that the Gentiles withdrew from the synagogue because they didn't want to be taxed with this Fiscus Judaicus Tax, they had no information, very little information about the revelation that God had given before Jesus, and as a result of that, the church started looking less and less Hebraic. It started looking less and less Jewish. So when Jewish people would look at the church, if they didn't look Jewish at all, in, in a few hundred years, because the church had got separated from her Jewish roots. And so I hope this is beginning, beloved ones, to make sense.
Remember, at the same time that the Gentiles withdrew from going to the synagogue so they could learn about the Jewish roots of their faith, at that same time, remember Jewish believers in Jesus were being driven out of the synagogue because they were being cursed as being heretics and sectarians, and I talked about that in last week's broadcast as well. A lot of information... I know this broadcast today was little bit more complex than some of the others in this series, but I hope, beloved ones, that you're getting a little bit of the point. Let's continue on now. We're looking at how the movement of traditional Judaism and the movement of those that followed Jesus who said He was the King of the Jews, separated from each other.
Remember, Jesus said in John, 4:22: Salvation is from the Jews. So how did the movement that followed Jesus, the King of the Jews, get separated from traditional Judaism? The next item that I want to bring to your attention is what is called, beloved, the Bar Kokhba Revolt. It happened in 132 A.D. What happened was that there was a Jewish general, and he began to lead another revolt against the Romans. Remember, the Jewish people were upset with the Romans because the Romans were governing Israel. Even though they were allowing the Jewish people some freedom to practice their religion, the Romans were still controlling almost everything. And the Jewish people got so fed up again with the Romans interfering in their lives that they went through another revolt.
Remember the first one happened from 66-70 A.D. Now in 132 A.D. there's another revolt. And during this revolt there was a Jewish general that they began to call Bar Kokhba, which means son of light. And this, this, this Jewish general that was leading the revolt against the Romans, some of the Jewish people began to say he was the Messiah. And there were some Jewish believers in Jesus that were actually part of the revolt. But when the peoples began to hail this Bar Kokhba, this Jewish general as Messiah, the Jews that believed in Jesus withdrew because they said, Our Messiah told us that He was the only Messiah, that many false Messiahs would arise, and that when they do, we need to not follow them but withdraw.
So Jewish believers in Jesus withdrew from the Jewish people in following this Bar Kokhba. And when the Jewish believers withdrew, they began to be looked at by, as traitors by all the other Jews that were following Bar Kokhba in the revolt. And so this alienated once again even more, listen now, the traditional Jewish community from the Jewish people that had believed in Jesus during these days, because remember, when the New Testament was written, Judaism wasn't a singular movement. There was the Sadducees we read about in Scripture. There was the Pharisees. We know from, from historical sources there was the Essenes. Then we have the Jews that believed in Jesus. They were known as the Nazarenes.
And so we had all these different movements within Judaism. And even though the Jews that believed in Jesus were rejected by the Pharisees, they were still considered Jews. But as time went on, the movements began to fragment away from each other so much that eventually the Jews that believed in Jesus were kicked out of the synagogue, were cursed, and no longer considered Jews. And this last episode that I discussed of this revolt in 130 A.D. when the larger Jewish community followed Bar Kokhba, who they were calling the Messiah, and the Jewish believers withdrew at that point 'cause they said, We can't follow a false Messiah. That even pushed them further away from the Jewish community at large and isolated them.
Well this spirit, beloved, of separation continued with the emergence of a name that we're all familiar with, Constantine, who was leading, beloved, the Roman Empire. And Constantine, we read, said he had a vision of the Cross, and that he was supposed to conquer in the name of the Cross. Well Constantine was also an anti-Semite. So Constantine unified the Roman Empire under Christianity after he said he had a vision of the Cross and was supposed to conquer in the name of the Cross. So he's unifying the Roman Empire under Christianity, but Constantine is an anti-Semite. So now the biggest expression of Christianity on earth under Constantine, the Roman leader, is an anti-Semite movement which further divides, beloved, the Jewish people and Judaism from the movement that we call Christianity. I'm gonna pick up on this next week.
Beloved, I really want to encourage you. I know today was a little bit more technical. Join me next week. We're gonna get into some material that's much easier for you to understand and relate to. But I know that many of you could identify that which I taught today. Beloved, in this series we've talked about historical and theological reasons that the traditional Jewish movement has separated from the movement of those that believe in Jesus, and why it is today that Christians don't understand that Judaism birthed Christianity, and often times how Jewish people don't see us that believe in Jesus as being Jewish any more, speaking of Jewish people like myself. Beloved, I want to say in closing, I made some comments about the Torah today. I'm not under the law. You're not under the law. We're all under grace and Jesus is our Messiah and Savior. I love you, and until next week this is Rabbi Schneider saying to you, Shalom.