Christmas, Israel, Main, News, Religious
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The Jewishness of Christianity


Joseph and Mary traveling to Egypt by Gentile da Fabriano (1370-1427) Credit: jean louis mazieres/Flickr/Creative Commons
Joseph and Mary traveling to Egypt by Gentile da Fabriano (1370-1427) Credit: jean louis mazieres/Flickr/Creative Commons

Two recent articles speak to a divide, that exists in some parts of Christianity. The first involves the Mayor of the Norwegian town of Strand, Irene Heng Lauvsnes, who asked the Klippen Pentecostal Church to take down the star of David that was on display as part of its Christmas celebration in a local municipal park.

The church has held ceremonies in the park for years and traditionally used the Star of David to symbolize the star that informed the magi of the birth of Christ. But this year, the mayor asked the church take it down because the Star of David symbolized the state of Israel and the Jews, and apparently some were offended.

Writing for the Dagen Daily, editor Vebjorn Selbekk noted:

“Municipal Christmas bureaucrats obviously do not want a Jewish or Israeli mark on their Christmas. Then we almost have to remind them of some key facts about why we celebrate Christmas at all. [Christmas] is marked by the fact that a Jewish boy was born to a Jewish mother in a Jewish stable in a Jewish city in a Jewish country.”

Vebjorn Selbekk, Dagen daily

The second story involves Fabio Tuiach, a municipal politician in the city of Trieste, Italy, who found himself mired in controversy when the city was about to award Liliana Serge honorary citizenship in Trieste.

Serge is Jewish, a holocaust survivor and also a member of the Italian senate. The problem erupted when in an interview prior to the ceremony, Serge stated that Jesus was a Jew.

This caused Tuiach, who considers himself a devout Catholic, to be so offended that he abstained from the vote honoring Serge.

Tuiach said he was offended because he does not believe that Jesus was a Jew.

In an interview with the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, Tuiach said that “people are forgetting what Christianity really is.”

And I think to some extent he is right. But unfortunately, he is the one who doesn’t understand what Christianity is. Fortunately, some Catholics quickly pointed out that the Bible clearly states Jesus was Jewish.

Fundamentally, Christianity revolves around believing Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. We know the church was initially made up of thousands of Jews who believed Jesus was the Messiah.

After the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the gentiles, the early church had to wrestle with the fact, that non-circumcised gentiles were becoming part of this group who believed Jesus was the Jewish Messiah.

They resolved this issue by understanding that the gentiles acceptance of Jesus was actually a fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies (Amos 9:11-12).

The Apostle Paul explains this by using the analogy of an Olive Tree (Romans 11), which he likened to the true Israel of God. There were those in the Old Testament who believed in the coming Messiah Jesus, such as Jacob and Isaac. They are part of the Olive Tree.

And there were also those who didn’t believe. This not only included some Jews in Paul’s day, but also historical Jews such as Esau. These Jews who did not believe were broken off and the gentiles, likened to wild Olive branches, who accepted Jesus were grafted into the tame Olive Tree (Romans 11:17-21).

The church is simply a continuation of true Israel.

This is why the Apostle Paul referred to the church as the true Israel of God (Galatians 6:16) and in his speech just before he was martyred, Stephen referred to Israel as the church in the wilderness (Acts 7:38).

Based on Old Testament prophecies, Paul added that there was a day coming when there would be a mass acceptance of Jesus as the Messiah by the Jews (Romans 11:26).

This leads me to Dr. Steven Greene’s interview with Rabbi Eric Tokajer on the Charisma Podcast Network. A Messianic Jew, Tokajer spoke of the growing number of Jews in Israel who are embracing Jesus as the Messiah.

Tokajer said:

“Years ago, when I became a Jewish believer, there were only a handful of Jewish believers in Israel. Now there are thousands, probably somewhere around 10,000 that are Jewish believers born in Israel. There are others that came from outside that live there, but when I became a believer, there were almost none.

“Now, there are hundreds of groups that meet together around the land that are sharing the Good News, which is part of end-times prophecy being fulfilled as God is regrafting the natural branches into the Olive tree.”

Rabbi Eric Tokajer, in interview with Dr. Steve Greene

Sources:

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