There is an interesting story on Breaking Israel News (BIN) of how a group of Orthodox Jews from an organization called the Yad L’Achim recently prevented a Christian missionary group from baptizing several Jews in the Sea of Galilee. There was no mention of the name of the Christian organization.
The plan was to transport the Jews from Tel Aviv to Tiberias for the baptism.
According to BIN the organization decided to baptize the Jews on the sabbath believing it would hinder any opposition as the Old Testament law limits travel on the sabbath for Orthodox Jews.
But apparently there was away around it, or they just ignored the prohibition against travel and about 15 students who attended a Yad L’Achim religious school in Tel Aviv made their way to the spot that the Jews were preparing to load a bus to Tiberias.
Some orthodox Jews were wearing shirts, “Jew stop! Christianity is not our way.”
There was a bit of a confrontation at the bus between the missionaries and the members of Yad L’Achim and because of the standoff, the Jews seeking baptism decided they would drive to the Sea of Galilee in their personal cars.
However, the trip was eventually called off when it was discovered that members of Yad L’Achim were waiting at the site on the Sea of Galilee chosen for the baptism.
It is a puzzling development how Christianity is today looked upon as a religion separate from Judaism.
Because it isn’t and the early church did not consider itself a different religion. In their minds they were simply embracing Christ as the Jewish Messiah which made them very Jewish.
Though the Jews largely rejected Christ, Orthodox Jews are still expecting their Messiah to show up and many of the signs that they consider indicators of his imminent arrival are the same ones that Christians look as signs paving the way for Christ’s second coming.
A couple years back, there was a billboard (see above) in New York City proclaiming a dead rabbi, Menachem Mendel Schneerson, from Brooklyn, New York as the Jewish Messiah. The word Moshiach means Messiah in Hebrew.
Schneerson who died in 1994 was considered one of the most influential rabbis in the 20th century. But if you look closer at that poster, though dead this group of Jews expect Schneerson to return and in the bottom right corner they proclaim that people should greet his arrival with “acts of goodness and kindness.”
It’s ironic that while Christians await the “second coming” of Christ, this group of Jews referred to as “Chabad messianism,” or “Lubavitch messianism,” is looking for the “second coming” of Schneerson. There is some debate in these circles of whether Schneerson actually died.
Though some Jews have proclaimed this rabbi the Jewish messiah, does that make this group a completely different religion?
No. They are still part of Judaism.
And though many in the church today consider Christianity to be a different religion, the early church didn’t.
In a sermon leading up to his martyrdom, Stephen referred to Israel as the “church in the wilderness”:
38 “This is he who was in the [a]congregation in the wilderness with the Angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers, the one who received the living oracles to give to us, (Acts 7:38 NKJV)
While most Bible versions translate it as the “congregation in the wilderness” in fact, it is the Greek word “ekklēsia,” the same word translated church throughout the New Testament.
In Stephen’s mind, Israel was the same as the church and in his letter to the Galatians, the Apostle Paul refers to the church as the Israel of God:
16 And as many as walk according to this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God. (Galatians 6:16 NKJV)
For those early believers, the church is Israel and Israel is the church.
Of course, the big issue was the gentiles being saved and coming into the church. And when this became an issue in the early church, at a conference called to discuss the problem (Acts 15:15-17), James cited a passage out of Amos that talked of gentiles embracing Jehovah (Amos 9:11-12).
This Old Testament passage was not talking about gentiles becoming part of a new religion, but rather embracing the God of Israel, literally becoming part of Judaism. The early believers, clearly saw that prophecy being fulfilled in their day through the church.
The theology is very simple. According to the Apostle Paul the gentiles were grafted into Israel (Romans 11:11-24). The church is part of the true Israel of God.
- Group baptism of Jews in Sea of Galilee stopped at last minute: Breaking Israel News
Chabad messianism: Wikipedia