What’s Love Got to Do With It?
“What’s Love Got to Do With It?”
By Lonnie Lane
If you are reading this, you just clicked on the “One New Man” tab on this website, so you must have some interest in Paul’s mention of the issue of relationship between Jews and Gentiles in the Body of Messiah. He said, speaking about Yeshua, “For He is our peace. Breaking down the barrier that separated Jews and Gentiles He united the two sections… so that in Himself He might create the two into one new person and thus make peace and through the cross reconcile them both in one body to God.” (Ephesians 2:14, 15 Berkeley Version) What do you think Paul’s “one new person” looks like?
Following the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. the church too had to decide what to make of that verse. This was not the first time the Jews were banished from their Land. But God had restored them after being captured by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. Now at the hands of the Romans they were ousted again. What was the church to do with all those Scripture verses having to do with the Promised Land now? All 365 of them to be exact.
By the beginning of the second century Jewish Believers in Yeshua were sufficiently out-numbered by Gentile believers. By then, it was expected that any Jews who believed would, of course, become “Christian.” That is, they would be assimilated into the present day culture of the Church. “Neither Jew, nor Greek” was interpreted to mean we’d all be the same. And that “same” would be Gentile in character, custom and creed.
And so, not long after the fall of the Temple and the scattering of the Jews from Jerusalem, “Replacement Theology” was born. This was the belief that the church had replaced Israel in God’s eyes. How could this have happened when Messiah Yeshua and all who followed Him were Jewish? Without Jewish leadership in the church, when ideas foreign to the Old Covenant, upon which the Gospel was founded, were introduced there was no one to bring the needed correction.
By the time the Emperor Constantine institutionalized Christianity early in the fourth century, making it the official “Gentile” religion of the Empire, it was hardly recognizable as the humble and Hebrew grass-roots revival made up of followers of the carpenter-Messiah Who had revealed sin for what it was and Who took a stand against oppressive leadership that dominated the common folk.
One of the beliefs that supported Replacement Theology was the idea that “all” the Jews except the disciples rejected Jesus. With no Bibles available to any but the church leadership who were unlikely to share it and even then in it would be in Latin, there was no awareness apparently that it was only Jews who believed in Yeshua for the first 15 years or so. Or that the 12, then the 70, the 120, the 500 and then the initial 5,000 after the Resurrection when Peter preached his noteworthy sermon, were all Jews who remained Jews even after they believed. So also were those who “were added daily to their numbers.”
While it’s true that most of the Judean leaders rejected Him, the “am haEretz” (the people of the Land), to a great extent were followers of Yeshua. The Book of Acts records that many of the leaders, that is priests and Pharisees, came to faith in Yeshua after His resurrection. Estimates vary upwards from 500,000 Jewish Believers in Yeshua in the first century. If “all” the Jews had rejected Him, who told all those Gentiles throughout the Roman Empire about Him? Paul couldn’t have been everywhere to have told them all. All the Jews did NOT reject Yeshua.
Does it really matter that the Gentiles correctly recognize how many Jewish believers there were in the beginning? It does if drawing the wrong conclusion led to further compounded errors which we want to avoid in the future. As it has been said, “To not understand the lessons of history is to repeat them.” So what is the lesson to be learned from this misunderstanding? Thinking that all the Jews had rejected Yeshua, led to the idea that all Jews were consequently under the wrath of God, never to be restored to Him again.
This belief gave license to anti-Semitism and has resulted in great suffering for the Jews by those who considered that in persecuting the Jews they were siding with God on the matter. The assumption that God sanctioned persecution of the Jews has brought immeasurable torment, misery and a terrifying death to untold millions of Jewish men, women and children.
This, however, is not just about the fate of those Jews but also about the ultimate destiny of those who persecuted them. God had told Abraham that He would bless those who blessed him and his descendents and He would curse those who cursed them. (Gen. 12:3) What do you think is the eternal fate of those who have hated what (whom) God loves; specifically, who have hated the Jews whom God loves? Might many (or all?) of those who thought they were doing the work of God be eternally separated from Him though they expected rewards in His presence?
It sounds familiar, does it not? Like Palestinian youths who are being taught that they will be rewarded by Allah in heaven for giving up (read: blowing up) their own lives in order to kill Israelis today? Our hearts cry out to God against this demonic deception for both Jewish and Palestinian souls to know His Truth.
Satan is a liar. One lie that he often seems to be able to get across is that to hate the Jews is to be on God’s side. It couldn’t be further from the truth. Satan the liar has been trying to make it look like God is the liar from the beginning. He wants to discredit His Word. God’s character rests on His promises to Abraham: for sons through whom the whole earth would be blessed, who would survive as long as the moon and stars existed, and for designated land that would be theirs forever. (Gen. 12:2,3; 17:7,8; Jer. 31:35-37)
Satan has been trying to annihilate the Jews and to rob them of the Land God gave them throughout history. Today is no exception. (See your local media for examples.) Men still believe they are on God’s side while cooperating with the devil’s plan and purpose to try and dethrone God.
In addition, God’s most powerful Directive for the well-being of mankind, apart from His Son who is His Word in human form, was given at Sinai to the Jews amidst an awesome and terrifying display of His authority, holiness, majesty and power. It is that word that Satan has sought vehemently to discredit. He has either caused God’s people to disregard it as invalid, to fear it as legalism so that their “Torah phobioa” keeps them from even reading it, or to encumber it so that a weighty and burdensome body of laws surround the original intent of the Lord making it almost unrecognizable.
Yet, following Torah as God gave it to them, Israel would be people of shalom, which is great peace, well-being and health in every aspect of life. Every provision was made in Torah for such a life. No one would have to worry about being deceived or lied to or having anything stolen from them; their spouses would never be unfaithful; their children would be lovingly obedient; their cleanliness and food restrictions would keep them free from the diseases others had and should anyone get sick, provision was made for spiritual renewal as well as physical healing; financial provisions were made: loans without interest and all debts canceled every 49 years; and they would be protected from their enemies. Above all, they would have the highest worship experiences on earth with the glory of God in their midst.
Israel was the only nation in the world whose constitution and customs did not socially or anthropologically or even politically evolve. They were designed and defined for them by God Himself who imparted these instructions to them as His definition of how the Community of God is to live. Regardless of how seriously any Jew may take it or not today, or how much orthodoxy has exceeded what was written, the Jews were defined by Torah.
It was Torah that made them more than an extended family with a common memory and common hope. It was Torah that gave the Hebrews what was among the peoples of the earth the highest of moral values. The way they regarded marriage and the raising of children as holy, their honesty and deference toward each other, and their philanthropic tendency all came from Torah. It was all God ordained.
Torah was perfect in its prescription for life. The problem was that the people were unable to live it out perfectly. God’s solution was to send His Perfect Son Who kept it perfectly! He was the Word embodied. As the Word of God who became flesh He was Torah Incarnate. He completed it in that He completely and entirely satisfied its requirements. When He said He came to fulfill it, He didn’t mean that He canceled it, but that He made it now possible for us to keep it IN HIM.
The best example is how “the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them… (so that) there was not a needy person among them.” (Acts 4:32, 34) What was happening here is not some new church concept, but rather it was straight out of Torah which exhorted them to share with those in need, to leave some gleanings in the field for food for others, to not keep your brother’s cloak as a pledge as he may have need of it to keep warm, to provide for the poor, and on and on.
In other words, love one another, care for one another, be accountable for one another’s welfare. As Yeshua said it, the ultimate message of Torah is: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Now that the disciples were “in Yeshua,” they were able to keep the Spirit of Torah which is love.
But with no Jewish Believers to bring that perspective, in time the church, thinking that God was through with the Jews, drew the conclusion that Torah was meant for the Jews exclusively and did not extend to the Gentile Believers. They saw it as obsolete laws only and not as the loving ways of God for His people to be lived out in grace by the power of the Spirit. Again, one false conclusion lead to other compounded errors.
In time, the church considered that to keep any part of Torah was offensive to God. So to celebrate the Sabbath on Saturday or Passover or any of the Feasts of the Lord, or to circumcise their sons or keep kosher dietary laws, became reason for excommunication if you were supposed to be a Believer or even at times, cause for being burned at the stake as a heretic.
The Spanish Inquisition which while begun by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, was largely carried out by church leadership for 350 years. Forcing Jews to convert or die was the order of the day. “Beginning in January 1481, over 700 ‘heretics’ were burned at the stake in eight years (though some sources put the figure closer to 2,000). In less than 12 years, the Inquisition condemned more than 13,000 “conversos,” or (those forced to become) converts, for secretly practicing Judaism.
During the entire period of the Inquisition, which lasted until 1834, more than 341,000 people were tried and found guilty of religious crimes: 32,000 were killed by burning, 17,659 were burned in effigy, and 291,000 were given lesser punishments.” Most of the victims were Jews who were following Torah. (Israel: Triumph of the Spirit, by Delilah Shapiro, p.23)
Grieve the Holy Spirit and He withdraws. Since it was the Holy Spirit that inspired men to write the words of the Scriptures, including Torah, to take a stand against Torah is to have the Holy Spirit withdraw His presence. It is the Holy Spirit who “recalls all things” that Yeshua said to us and teaches all men the things of God. So without His presence, there is no anointing to understand Truth which is only spiritually apprehended. We can see then that it is no coincidence that the church’s decision to move away from the Word of God which He had given to the Jews coincided with the beginning of the Dark Ages.
It can be said that the Dark Ages with all its superstition and fear, the filth and ill-health, the plagues which devastated Europe, as well as the loss of freedom under despotically controlling church leadership, was all a result of anti-Semitic, anti-Torah misinterpretations of God. Had the church lived in the Light of God’s entire Word, they would not have led the world into darkness.
So what’s all this have to do with “one new man,” let alone the title of this article? What does love have to do with it? Now that you see how far the church had departed from its true Hebrew fathers and their understanding of God, you can appreciate that any move of Gentile Believers toward loving the Jews or valuing Torah would have to be the work of God Himself. A major cause for this theological paradigm shift was that Israel became a nation once again.
It is unheard of in all of history that any other people had been ousted from their national homeland only to be reinstated in that same land 2000 years later, let alone having survived as a people during that time altogether. But for the same people, with the same religion, the same laws, the same language, history, customs, holidays, and original “folklore” to return to the same Land is unprecedented. By God’s great grace, Am Yisrael Chai!! The people of Israel live!! Needless to say, this was the Lord’s sovereign doing.
With the re-establishment of Israel, Jewish people also began coming to recognize Yeshua as their Messiah in numbers also unprecedented since the first century. And in doing so, they are proudly maintaining their Jewish or Hebrew Heritage. At the same time, God moving within the church in more power was becoming evident. As correlations can be observed between physical and spiritual occurrences, what happens to Israel often has its affect in the church.
When the Israelis captured the Temple Mount and it was once again in Jewish hands in 1967, it so happens that the Charismatic renewal began about the same time in America. This resulted in the Holy Spirit being once again back in the Body of Messiah world-wide in a recognizable and empowering way. Both of these events ushered in a renewed interaction of God with His people and a new understanding of the unfolding of prophetic history related to Israel.
Now, here comes the “one new man” part. An extraordinary thing is taking place today: Gentiles are now being drawn to keeping the Sabbath (on Saturdays) as a day of rest, to keeping Passover and observing the Seder, to celebrating the Feasts of the Lord, and to studying Torah. Thousands travel to Israel each Fall to join the Feast of Tabernacle celebration held in Jerusalem and even during these difficult days, Christians are often the only visitors who continue to travel to Israel to love and strengthen the Israelis and who support Israel in prayer and financially with their whole hearts.
What’s love got to do with it? Everything. How is it expressed? Just as Yeshua lived it, as the Embodiment and Fulfillment of the Spirit of Torah, caring for others more than for Himself, lovingly obeying the Father at all costs, in the complete freedom of the Spirit, fully living by grace in the Truth of the full counsel of His Word. What we see beginning to happen today is a resurgence of love and respect for the Spirit of Torah among both Jewish and Gentile Believers. Perhaps that still sounds idealistic and we can’t yet wrap our arms around it.
We don’t fully understand how it all fits together yet. But we do see God’s Hand in what’s taking place right now. This is not about being Jewish it’s about being God-ish! And God is love. It’s not about keeping laws it’s about having the character and values of God be so a part of us by His grace that we are increasingly being recreated in His image!
Perhaps we are beginning to see what “one new man” looks like, people of every tongue and nation, who with all their hearts are following the One who is the Torah-Made-Flesh. It just may be that we are taking the final steps toward restoration of the true Community of God, as God Himself defined it, as He re-establishes the spiritual “culture” in which the Bride dwells and awaits her Bridegroom. “Let it be so. Come, Adonai Yeshua.”
If you have any questions or comments you’d like to address to Lonnie, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org and she will be glad to respond to you. Use this same address to contact Lonnie about speaking engagements. Please put “To Lonnie” in the subject line.
Lonnie Lane comes from a family of four generations of Jewish believers, being the first one saved in 1975. Lonnie has been in church leadership for many years, and has planted two “one new man” house fellowships one with her brother Michael Lane in the Philadelphia suburbs and the other in Jacksonville, Florida, where she now lives near 6 of her 8 grandchildren. Lonnie is the author of “Because They Never Asked.” She is the Producer of Messianic Vision’s radio and TV shows and the International Prayer Co-Coordinator for Messianic Vision’s intercessors.