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When I was growing up as a starry-eyed Christian Zionist, I thought that being a Jew was out of my reach, because one had to be born a Jew genealogically to be one of God's Chosen People. I had no idea that even Jews dispute the definition of a Jew.
I had read biblical statements about being "cut off from among your people," and I had read about "Ruth the Moabitess" who was said to convert to Mosaic Judaism, saying, "Your God shall be my God." I had even read in the New Testament about non-Jews being converted. But fortunately, it never occurred to me that I could simply convert to Judaism and suddenly--presto!--I was "Chosen." I was certainly a likely candidate for conversion in those days--thanks to my evangelical training.
I now look at Jesus' words in Matt. 23:15 and say to myself: "Whew! That was a close call."
"Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you travel about on sea and land to make one proselyte; and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves."
God spared me from becoming a "son of hell." Yet today there are more Christians converting to Judaism than the other way around. John Hagee and others are teaching Christians that Jews are already "saved" if they are just good followers of Judaism, even without accepting Jesus as Messiah. That, of course, is rank heresy, and I often wonder if he is getting paid to popularize such things, or if he really is that ignorant of Scripture.
Give it another five years--if things continue as is--and no doubt we'll be seeing the other evangelists get on the same heresy band wagon.
The truth is this: The Bible is the record primarily of Israel and Judah, and it shows that the vast majority of them were unbelievers. God's judgments were always directed at them, but when the prophets came to them with the Word of God, they were stoned, beaten, and killed. They were not killed by foreigners. They were killed by real, genealogical Israelites and Judahites and usually led by disgruntled Aaronic priests of the tribe of Levi--because the prophets told them that they were teaching the traditions of men, rather than knowing the mind of God. They were religionists, not true believers.
The people of that day strongly disagreed with the prophets who contradicted their teachings and practices. The prophets were vastly outnumbered, and the people probably asked the familiar question: How can so many great scholars and learned priests be wrong?
It's tough being a maverick who contradicts the popular trends of the day. But this is what separates the believers in God from those who believe in the Church.
Scripture has never taught that anyone is chosen just on account of his genealogy. The law itself taught that some sinners could be "cut off from among their people." In other words, they could lose their citizenship in the nation and would no longer be considered members of their tribe. One law in particular is of overwhelming importance. It is the Law of Sacrifice found in Leviticus 17:1-7. This law prophesies of Christ, who was the true Sacrifice.
It is too long to quote, but you all have Bibles. Read it for yourselves. It says that any man who sacrifices an animal and does not bring it to the door of the tabernacle (or temple) will be "cut off from among his people." Verse 5 says,
"The reason is so that the sons of Israel may bring their sacrifices which they were sacrificing in the open field, that they may bring them in to the Lord, at the doorway of the tent of meeting to the priest, and sacrifice them as sacrifices of peace offerings to the Lord, and the priest shall sprinkle the blood on the altar of the Lord at the doorway of the tent of meeting..."
In other words, to kill an animal sacrifice and dedicate it to God was not enough. The important factor was WHAT THEY DID WITH THE BLOOD. It had to be applied properly in order to be effective.
In the New Testament, the priests unwittingly offered up Jesus as a Sacrifice to God. He was not crucified by Romans, for the law had to be fulfilled to the letter. Romans were not called to make sacrifices to God. The Jews want to blame the Romans, because they know that this would prove that Jesus was NOT a proper Sacrifice, and it would thus undermine His entire purpose in dying as a sacrifice for sin. No, the New Testament record is clear that He was crucified by the priests.
But the real question for us at the moment is WHAT DID THEY DO WITH HIS BLOOD? The law clearly states that the blood of the sacrifice had to be sprinkled on the altar before the tabernacle, or temple. This all prophesied that the important factor in Jesus' Sacrifice was what you do with His blood. If you do not apply it to the "altar" you will be "cut off" and lose your citizenship in the Kingdom of God.
Hebrews 10:22 speaks of having your HEARTS sprinkled with His blood. Your heart is the true altar and the ONLY altar that is acceptable for the blood of the Lamb of God. Any Jew or any Israelite, regardless of genealogy or tribe, who refused the blood of Jesus Christ upon his heart was no longer a citizen of the Kingdom of God. He was in violation of the Law of Sacrifice and was NOT justified in the sight of God.
This goes directly against this modern heresy that says a Jew is saved through the Old Covenant and apart from Jesus Christ. Peter and Paul would have been appalled to hear such a thing.
There were two kinds of Judahites in those days: those who were in rebellion and openly revolted against King Jesus, and those who followed Jesus. As the King of the tribe of Judah, Jesus was the "prince of the tribe." This means He held the right of tribeship itself. Only those who followed Him were true members of that tribe. Those who conspired against Him were not true Judahites, for they had committed a capital crime and were cut off from the tribe.
Jesus' disciples and those who followed Him later remained as true "Jews." They were a minority, to be sure, but after a huge divine pruning had taken place (in the eyes of God), they were the only ones left as tribal members.
Unfortunately, because the rebellious ones were still in the majority and held the temple and leadership of the political structure, the Romans continued to consider them to be the true Jews. And so it continued to this day. Those who were cut off from their people are known to the world as "Jews" (i.e., Judahites) when in fact, they are NOT SO in the eyes of God (Rom. 2:28, 29).
The real tribe of Judah formed the nucleus of believers. They were soon expelled and scattered from the boundaries of Judea. They went everywhere with the gospel making converts of other peoples. Soon the genealogical Judahites were vastly outnumbered by the Greeks, Romans, and other people. They came to be called "Christians." With a new label, it was soon forgotten that the Church was actually the tribe of Judah in the eyes of God. It was Judah with many proselytes from other nations. But it was still Judah.
But yet today we are supposed to believe that those who are yet in revolt against both the Father and the Son are somehow the true "Jews" and are "chosen" by God regardless of their hatred for Jesus Christ. Sorry, I don't buy it any more. I learned the Scriptures when I grew up. I studied the law and found out the reasons why rebellious "Jews" are not of Judah. It's not a matter of genealogy; it's a matter of biblical law.