Roots and Culture Part 4 was published in the March 2012 issue of HM Magazine. I'll be reposting each column here around the time the following issue is released. As always, comments, suggestions and flame mail are always... entertained...
Welcome to Chameleon Church...
Roots & Culture
of Olive Trees & Wild Branches
We have established that the Punk Rock and Alternative genres established by bands like The Sex Pistols and Bauhaus have, through time, been replaced with mainstream hybrids and counterfeits like Avril Lavigne and Dave Matthews, and that the essence of these genres have been buried deep below the sands of conjecture and opinion.
I’ve shared my conviction that an understanding and application of the biblical roots of our faith would breathe new sound scriptural Life into the Covenant relationship bought for us with the shed Blood of the Lamb.
I shared how Paul, in Acts 24:14, defined Christianity as being a sect of Judaism and defended his faith by confessing that he believed “all things which are written in the Torah (‘law’) of Moses and in the Prophets” whereas for nearly 1900 years a Greek and Roman linear thought process of a Jewish cyclical concept has buried the biblical roots and essence of our faith deep below the sands of conjecture and opinion.
Paul’s teaching in Romans 11 should correct our modern perspective to the Jewish Roots of our faith, the Olive Tree of the House of Israel: “But if some of the branches were broken off [Israel], and you - a wild olive [a gentile believer] - were grafted in among them [Jews] and have become equal sharers in the rich root of the olive tree, then don't boast as if you were better than the branches [Jews]! However, if you do boast, remember that you are not supporting the root, the root is supporting you.” Romans 11:17-18 (emphasis mine)
Paul continues, “… you (gentiles) had no Messiah. You were estranged from the national life of Israel. You were foreigners to the covenants embodying God's promise (Torah). You were in this world without hope and without God. But now, you who were once far off have been brought near through the shedding of the Messiah's blood. For he himself is our shalom - he has made us both one and has broken down the middle wall of separation which divided us by destroying in his own body the enmity occasioned by the Torah, with its commands set forth in the form of ordinances.” Ephesians 2:12-15a (emphasis mine).
Did Paul just say that Jesus destroyed Torah with its commands and ordinances? It would seem so but didn’t he also say that prior to Jesus gentiles were foreigners to this same Torah but have now been “brought near”? So which one is it; foreigners or destroyed?
The “simple” answer is both.
Scripturally, the law is separated into sections, a fact well known by Paul the Rabbi. We have the oral traditions, the Covenant and the Sacrificial Law. Verse 12 speaks of Covenant while verses 14-15a obviously speaks of atonement Sacrifice as being “destroyed” by the cross and the removing of the “middle wall of separation” (a temple reference). This does not, however, “destroy” the Covenant Law and it’s observance (verse 10) with the goal being “One New Man” found in verse 16, the very foundation of this idea being within the Torah itself.
“So then, you are no longer foreigners and strangers. On the contrary, you are fellow-citizens with God's people and members of God's family.” Ephesians 2:19 (emphasis mine). Our root and culture as believers is found in Torah and Israel.
Christianity today remains a foreigner to this Mosaic Torah covenant embodying Messiah; a foreigner that has rejected the scriptural foundational root of its faith, believing that it’s “better then the branches”, and that it “supports the root” - thus estranging us ever the more from the national and spiritual life of Israel.
What does Jesus say about this?