Part 1: Hebrew Roots Movement vs. Christianity
The Hebrew Roots Movement (HRM) has slowly but increasingly made an impact on the lives of many believers who are dissatisfied with the eroding spiritual condition they see within their congregations.
My first contact with Messianic believers was in the early 1970s in Miami Beach, Florida. They were a small group of Jews who had come to know their Messiah but did not hold to the teachings of the current Hebrew Roots Movement. They referred to themselves as Messianic Jews but their views were more in line with orthodox Christianity. Then in the 1980s I began to see that there were a few teachers who began introducing the teachings that today have evolved into the HRM doctrine.
In the earlier years (1980s-1990s) of the Hebrew Roots Movement (HRM), I noticed that many of its teachers were very coy in their approach towards Christians. Not fully venting their disdain for orthodox Christianity and its tenets. The reason was an obvious attempt to woo Christians before pointing out the flaws they believe Christians hold as compared to their theology and interpretation of the scriptures.
There is in fact a great gulf fixed between Christianity and the Hebrew Roots Movement. And I would like us all to understand certain critical points that HRM teaching is presenting in contrast to orthodox Christianity. But first let me state that there is a wide spectrum of beliefs within the HRM; some hold many of orthodox Christianity’s teachings and some have gone so far as to forsake Christianity completely for Judaism. We have on the extreme, certain ones who teach that Jesus is not God; some teach the apostle Paul is a heretic. While some teach that we should reject certain books of the New Testament as the inspired Word of God, there are some who teach we should reject all of the New Testament. We understand why they take on such views, because the New Testament scriptures do not support the HRM view. As a consequence, there are now more and more supposed new translations of the Bible that support HRM views and are now being widely distributed. This particular version, Hebrew Roots Bible, is presented on their website with this sensational declaration:
THIS IS MORE AMAZING THAN THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS !
Followed with this statement:
“After almost 2,000 years, the Original Bible restored!”
My question is this, if we believe God to be omniscient and omnipotent, why did it take Him so long to get us this translation? It is evident to me that many of the newer translations are being proffered by those who seek to make merchandise of God’s people. The “changes” made in these newer translations were necessary because the scriptures that believers have used for hundreds of years do not support the HRM doctrinal position. Therefore, of necessity they must present a “new”translation which after 2000 years they claim, finally reveals what apparently the Holy Ghost was incapable of revealing. All of these implied “authoritative” claims and teachings ignore the fact that Jesus said the Comforter was to be given to be our instructor:
John 14:26 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
John 16:13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.
1John 2:27 But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him.
The “anointing” that abides in the believer is the Holy Ghost:
Also, we have self proclaimed Hebrew and Greek scholars in the HRM who take advantage of the majority of believers who are not familiar with biblical Hebrew or Greek. Many believers are intimidated into submitting to the “perceived” authority of these teachers because of their own unfamiliarity of these languages. Let’s consider that it was God who gave to mankind language (Gen. 11:1). And it was also God who gave men the language variations (Gen. 11:7-9). The point I’m making is that God transcends the language barrier in revealing the truth in all “tongues” to men of all nations:
John 14:16-17 16 And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; 17 Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.
Revelation 5:9-10 9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;10 And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.
Revelation 14:6 6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,
Nowhere in scripture do we find the command to learn Hebrew or Greek to be able to obtain the love of the truth. It is possible to gain insight to certain points by understanding Hebrew and Greek (which we shall touch on later), but the precepts of God’s Word are communicated to us by the Holy Ghost in whatever language we speak and not through the “words” of man’s wisdom:
1Corinthians 2:13 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.
The argument ignores this fact:
Matthew 16:17 17 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.
It is God alone by divine revelation and not man’s ability (whether in Hebrew or Greek) that can write His word upon our hearts (Jeremiah 31:31-34, 2 Corinthians 3:3). The fallacy of this argument is extended by the HRM teachers to include, that not only are people unable to have the Spirit of God reveal the truth to them as a result of not having a command of Hebrew and Greek but because they view the scriptures with a “western” mindset rather than having a “Hebrew mindset”.
Well, my question would be which Hebrew mindset? Understand that the Hebrews at the time of Christ did not receive the truth although they had, I assume, a pretty good command of biblical Hebrew and of course they most certainly had a Hebrew mindset:
Matthew. 13:13-15 13 Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand.
14 And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Esaias, which saith, By hearing ye shall hear,and shall not understand; and seeing ye shall see, and shall not perceive: 15 For this people's heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.
Even the apostles who were Hebrews having a Hebrew mindset and a command of the Hebrew language of their day, did not begin to fully understand the things concerning the kingdom of God until they had received the Holy Ghost:
Luke 24:44-45 44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. 45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And it was not until the first day of the resurrection, that they received the Holy Ghost:
John 20:19-22 19 Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. 20 And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the LORD. 21 Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. 22 And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost:
one of the more prominent HRM teachers (Monte Judah) advocates that maintaining a Hebrew mindset, would include, holding the Jewish sages of history in the “highest” regard. This of course would include Hillel the Elder, who was the leader of the Sanhedrin at the time of Christ’s birth. Hillel was esteemed so wise, that he was able to Amazingly, countermand the “written” Law of God (Deuteronomy 15) in declaring “Prozbul” (yes,
Google it) and thus circumventing the Mosaic Law for the convenience of debt holders and proclaiming it as an advantage for those seeking loans. How does this not violate what is clearly “written” here?
Deuteronomy 4:2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.
And should we honor Caiaphas the high priest who succeeded Shammai, the successor of Hillel and then his own father Annas as leader of the Sanhedrin? It was Caiaphas, who oversaw the mockery of Jesus (Luke 22:54, 63-71) and the condemnation of Jesus before Pilate and Herod (Luke 23:1-26) and he pronounced the final edict that sealed Christ’ fate (Mark 14: 55-64). My point is that down through history, the sages have been the persecutors of both Christ and His followers from the beginning (Acts 4:1-18, 5:17-18, 27-28, 40-41). Although, the scriptures teach that we should honor the elders that labor in the word and doctrine with double honor (1 Timothy 5:17), I’m sure that the apostle Paul did not have the persecutors of the Lord and His church in mind here. If we look through history, the sages of Israel did not receive the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Why therefore should we honor those who do not honor the Lord Jesus Christ, when we are clearly commanded to honor the Son as we honor the Father?
John 5:23 That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.`
This precept is of the utmost importance in contrasting HRM and Christianity. You will notice that HRM teachers continually advocate that we refer to God as Yahweh or Yah/Yaw because that was His original name in the Bible and this would reflect a Hebrew mindset (as HRM teachers claim). And they insist we refer to the Son of God as Yeshua, Yahshua, Yehoshua but never as Jesus (Jesus is considered by them to be the name of a pagan god). The HRM teach that it is sacrilege to address God by any name other than the Hebrew name, Yahweh or Yah/Yaw. But it is evident they have not considered that the “fathers”, the “patriarchs”, such as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, did not know God by the name of Jehovah (YHWH/ Yahweh) and nevertheless, God established His covenant with them:
Exodus 6:2-4 2 And God spake unto Moses, and said unto him, I am the LORD: 3 And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them. 4 And I have also established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers.
It is “written” and very obvious that the father of the faith (Romans 4:11-16) entered into covenant with God even though he did not know His Hebrew name. Let me point out, that HRM teachers reference the Son only “occasionally”. Their emphasis is on the Father and therefore they continually speak in praise of Yahweh or Yaw/ Yah; I am not decrying praise to the Father, who rightly is worthy. But let’s look at some scriptures in addition to (John 5:23) that paint a different picture of God’s will for believers in regards to the name of the Son:
Matthew 12:21 And in his name shall the Gentiles trust.
Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.
Mark 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
Luke 21:12 But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name's sake.
John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.
John 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
Acts 2:38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
Acts 4:7 7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?
Acts 4:10-12 10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. 12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Acts 4:17-18 17 But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.
18 And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.
Acts 5:40-42 40 And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. 42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.
Acts 8:12 But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.
Philippians 2:9-11 9 Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:10 That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11 And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
1 John 5:11-13 11 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. 12 He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the
Son of God.
These are only some of the many scriptures that make it plain that we are to glorify the name of the Son of God. We have a command of God to be witnesses for the Son of God. Nevertheless, the HRM is teaching that believers are to testify for Yahweh and teach the Law of Moses. All of these scriptures I have just listed are proof that we should honor the name of the Son of God. I listened to Brad Scott (another prominent HRM teacher) on a conference call, flatly state that we (believers) are not called to bring people to Jesus but to teach them the Law (Law of Moses). He teaches this in spite of what is “written”:
Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other nameunder heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
This is why we should listen to and obey what is “written” and not what HRM teachers such as Brad Scott teach when they say we are not called to lead men to Jesus but rather teach them the Law.
And Jesus said this regarding the call of all believers:
John 15:26-27 26 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: 27 And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning.
Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
We are to lead men to Jesus Christ even as John the Baptist did:
Acts 13:24-26 24 When John had first preached before his coming the baptism of repentance to all the people of Israel. 25 And as John fulfilled his course, he said, Whom think ye that I am? I am not he. But, behold, there cometh one after me, whose shoes of his feet I am not worthy to loose. 26 Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent.
As John the Baptist was called and fulfilled his ministry in testifying to all who Jesus was, we too are called to fulfill our ministry to be witnesses of Jesus Christ.
Luke 24:46-48 46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behooved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem. 48 And ye are witnesses of these things.
Acts 5:31-32 31 Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.
32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.
Therefore, we must lead people to Jesus. And contrary to Brad Scott’s teaching, that we should teach people the keeping of the Law of Moses, we should teach people to “do” the sayings of Jesus Christ (Luke 6:46-48, John 14:23-24). I would like to address in a series of papers some of the points that differentiate what the scriptures plainly proclaim as opposed to the teachings of the HRM. I would like you to follow the order of the papers as they will be presented as “precept upon precept”(but you are free to read in whatever order you wish). Let’s begin by addressing the argument, according to Brad Scott and the HRM in general, teaching that we should be stressing to believers to keep the Law (Law of Moses). The next paper is titled “Keeping the Law”.