Hebrew Roots Apologetics, if you are Torah Observant and a Yeshua follower, you have some experience with HRM apologetics! Just explaining to your relatives requires some.
Brian wrote this at a time when we were coming under some mild persecution in our small local community. The pastor of a local traditional Christian church started a series to protect his flock against what he believed to be a threat. Us. Our group. Our understandings. Our faith walk.
We wrote the following to this pastor, in hopes of getting him to understand that we were not a threat and truly not that different than him. We have edited slightly for the blog format. Looking for Hebrew Roots / HRM apologetics, we hope this will help!
We thought we would share it here, as our beliefs remain the same. We hope that it may help you if you are looking for some apologetics to help you explain your beliefs, also known as your apologetics.
What We Believe – Saved by Grace
We believe in the Bible in its entirety—no more, no less. As Moses said in Deut 4:2 (NASB);
“You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you.”
This theme is repeated in Revelation 22:18, 19 (NIV),
“I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.”
Grafted-In & HRM Apologetics
Without a doubt, the Bible was written by Hebrews, for Hebrews (as well as us), in the Hebrew language (mostly), and in a Hebrew culture.
We think it makes sense to understand the history, culture, and language of the Hebrew people. We come from mainstream, evangelical, conservative Christianity, where there is little understanding or emphasis on the Hebrew perspective. We believe there is great value in understanding these things.
For example, Hebrew is an action language; Greek (and English) is more abstract. Culturally, Jesus and Paul were Hebrews first, then Jews. We think it’s beneficial to understand their “Hebrew-ness.”
Why all the Hebrew Language – you don’t speak Hebrew!?
We do use some different terminology. We call Jesus “Yeshua,” as that was His Name. If you went to some other country where they spoke a different language, you’d still want to be called by your name, not some transliteration.
We refer to God the Father as “Yahweh” or “Yahovah” (no one really knows how to pronounce it correctly), represented by the Tetragrammaton “YHWH” (used over 7,000 times in the OT) or “Elohim.” But, we are not offended if someone doesn’t use those terms.
Sabbath and the Feasts and Grace
We observe the Sabbath from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday—the seventh day (Ex 20:10). We have found nothing in
Scripture to indicate otherwise. We don’t actually need something called Hebrew Roots apologetics, we just need the Scriptures!
We celebrate the Biblical festivals (detailed in Leviticus 23), rather than human-made holidays.
Moreover, we eat according to the prescription of Leviticus 11.
Indeed actually have a lot in common with traditional Christians
Other than that, we have much more in common with most Christians than you might think.
We believe we are saved by grace, through faith in our Savior (Messiah), Jesus Christ (Yeshua ha Mashiach).
We try to live a life pleasing to Him, and as much like Him as possible. So, we observe the Sabbath as He did.
“And He came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and as was His custom,Luke 4:16
He entered the synagogue on the Sabbath, and stood up to read.”
Yeshua Kept the Festivals
He kept the festivals.
“And He said, ‘Go into the city to a certain man, and say to him, “The Teacher says ‘My time is at hand; I am to keep the Passover at your house with my disciples.”Matthew 26:18
He taught against man’s traditions (Matt 15:1-20, Mark 7:1-23). He taught us to obey all of the Torah.
“Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and so teacher s others shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.’Matthew 5:17-19 NASB-
Another example can be found in Matthew 23:1-3 (NIV).
The Truth Lies in the Scriptures – Save by Grace
“The teachers of the
Law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you.
But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach.’”
They taught Torah—they just
didn’t live it out.
Most, if not all Christians, believe that the Old Testament prophesies Jesus’ birth, death, resurrection, and ascension. It is difficult to separate the Law, and the Prophets from these prophesies.
Jesus Himself said to the Pharisees,
“But do not think I will accuse you before the Father. Your accuser is Moses, on whom your hopes are set. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?”John 5:45-47 NIV
To confirm the definition of the word “fulfill” in Matthew 5:17, I looked in the expansion of Strong’s Concordance in the back of my NASB Hebrew-Greek Study Bible, Lexical Aids to the New Testament, edited by Spiros Zodhiates, Th.D.
What about the Greek? Saved by Grace?
The Greek word used to define “fulfill” is
“Pleroo” (Strong’s # 4137). It states regarding this specific passage, “When Jesus said that He came not to destroy the Law or the Prophets but to fulfill, He meant that He came not only to fulfill the types and prophesies by His actions and sufferings, but also to perform and fully enforce and explain it by His doctrine.”
The preponderance of evidence in the record we have of Jesus’ life clearly states He believed in and lived out Torah.
How Long is Forever?
Middle Eastern covenants were sometimes conditional, and occasionally unconditional. But, they were always forever. An additional covenant would not negate a previous one.
God promised Noah He would never again destroy the earth by a flood. This covenant was not negated by the covenant at Sinai—we see the rainbow to this day. Each covenant stacks on top of the previous one, without replacing any earlier promises.
In fact, when we read “New” Covenant in the “New” Testament, the word “new” is better translated as “renewed’—as in the next covenant, not an entirely new one.
In fact, Jeremiah told us,
“’ This is the covenant I will(Jer 31:33
make with the house of Israel after that time,’ declares the LORD. I will put My Law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”
Strong’s # 8451 defines “Law” in this passage as “Torah—a precept or statute, especially the Decalogue or Pentateuch.”
The New Testament isn’t new; it’s just true.
We all know the quote from 2 Tim 3:16, 17.
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Don’t Forget Context What Hebrew Roots Apologetics is all about.
However, the previous two verses are compelling:
“But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”(2 Tim 3:14, 15 NIV).
What Holy Scriptures was Paul referring to, that Timothy had known since infancy but the Old Testament? Once again, we can’t ignore the Torah.
Isaiah 2:2,3 (NIV) reads
“In the last days the mountain of the LORD’s temple will be established
as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to
it. Many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the
house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us His ways, so that we may walk in his paths.’ The
Law (Strongs #8451 – Torah) will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.”
A Biblical Principle – Saved by Grace
Micah 4:1, 2 repeats the theme. God spoke the universe and all it contains into existence with His Word. He could have established any rules and requirements for his creation that He desired. Would such a Creator set in motion his Instruction, only to, later on, send His Son to die for us—and say “never mind!” And would He then tell us that in the Millennial Kingdom he would re-establish the original set of rules? Doesn’t that seem a bit absurd?
It is our concerted opinion that God intended us to keep His Torah forever. It is hard to understand how we have to point this out as a part of our HRM apologetics!
The Old Testament contains the word “forever” 252 times. We all believe Him when He said: “For I, the LORD do not change.” (Malachi 3:6 NASB). In the New Testament, He said: “Jesus is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8 NIV). We take Him at His Word.
Please understand that we fully believe this: “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life; no one comes to the Father but through me.” (John 14:6 NASB) There is absolutely no way to “earn”
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is a gift from God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”(Eph 2;8,9 NIV).
Saved by Grace HRM Apologetics
Abraham was saved by faith, and then came the commandment of circumcision. God “saved” the children of Israel out of bondage in Egypt, asked them to be His bride, and then gave them the instructions to live by. How did they react? “The people all responded together, “We will do everything the LORD has said” (Ex 19:8 NIV).