The Error of Judaizing (2024 Version)

I did a two part series on this topic in 2022.  Hopefully, the key points in relation to this topic can be expressed more clearly and concisely in one message.  Several things mentioned in other recent studies will be repeated with the persuasion that doing this will make the picture very clear and serve to lessen the length of the study overall by preventing loose ends from needing to be tied up at the end.  So, here we go.

Does proper Christianity involve practicing Judaism?  It seems to be becoming more common for Christians to be attempting to keep the Jewish Feasts, the Jewish Sabbath, and other Jewish holy days as well as to emulate Jews in other ways like keeping Jewish dietary laws and other things.  We’re going to look here at why this is not proper and why this is about as serious a deception as anything can be.  But we should do this in a way so that we don’t, like many, just say “The Jewish law isn’t for Christians.  Christ abolished that.”  People who just assume that tend to not understand the whole counsel of Scripture and they don’t apply the Jewish principles to Christianity which God intended to be foundational to Christianity.  There are two ditches to fall into related to this.  We need to steer clear of both of them in order to go down the right road in Christ faithfully.

We know that God chose Abraham and raised up a nation from his seed to demonstrate His ways to the world.  We know that nation was Israel.  And as corrupt as the Israelites became, God’s righteous principles of morality and worship were still proclaimed and upheld in word among them.  And that was despite how most of the people, and especially their leadership, did not even strive to live up to the principles which the Scriptures they claimed to believe actually taught (you just have to read the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew chapters 5 to 7 to see what Jesus taught the commandments of God really signified in contrast to the shallow applications of them taught by Israel’s leadership).  

Along with the eternal moral law which God sought to incorporate into Israel, He incorporated ceremonies into His worship there also.  These things were not moral issues.  They were only righteous and holy things because God had appointed them as such for the time being.  Many things in the Law which God gave by Moses obviously fit into this category.  We will see how the Jewish Sabbath is indeed in this category, though many claim otherwise.  A moral law is inherently right and holy; a ceremonial law is only right and holy by appointment.  It’s not inherently right and holy to keep a certain day or a feast, yet when the Living God, the Ultimate Authority, tells you to do it, then you’d better do it!  He obviously has a reason, even if you don’t know it or can’t even guess what that reason might be.  In Israel’s case, He obviously wanted to teach them spiritual lessons- especially about man’s need of redemption, the coming Messiah’s mission of redemption, and the principles by which that mission must be actualized in our lives.  One example of such a spiritual lesson would be how God designed the Temple.  The entrance was on the east, so as you approached the place of worship you’d enter with your back to the sun.  This was a subtle rebuke to how the heathen idolaters would often worship the sun.  God was disassociating His worship from this.  

So right up until, and including the time of the Messiah, being a faithful Jew meant faithfully keeping both the moral and ceremonial laws of God.  (By the way: Jew= of the tribe of Judah; Judah became the foremost tribe among Israel in dominance and in population; and eventually the terms Israelite and Jew became virtually synonymous).  Nevertheless, most Jews were merely Jews outwardly.  They kept the ceremonial laws to some degree of faithfulness, but they were not submitted to God’s moral law.  They thus kept an outward form of God’s worship while they were alienated from Him in their hearts.  This might have been reflected at times through their failure to keep His ceremonial laws, but this was especially reflected by their refusal to walk in the right ways of His moral law without self-imposed conditions and limitations.  They were in most cases content to look faithful outwardly, while still pursuing the lusts of the world in secret and in ways that they were able to while still getting respect and esteem from their society as being faithful Jews- something that obviously became easier and easier the more the society as a whole declined from walking in God’s ways.  One example would be how that by Jesus’ time it was common and normal for a man to put away his wife and marry another (usually younger, more outwardly attractive wife) for reasons that were far from the standard of moral uncleanness, which was the only acceptable reason which God’s Law gave for initiating a divorce.

One ceremonial law was in a sense the basis for all of them.  This was circumcision.  It started in Genesis 17 as a command which God gave to Abraham to keep, not only for himself, but also for all the males in his household.  There were obviously several key spiritual principles involved in circumcision, but obviously Abraham did not understand all of those at the time God commanded him to perform it.  Abraham had himself and all the males of his household circumcised immediately because God told him to.  This reflected the righteous faith and unconditional surrender which Abraham already had towards the true God.  Circumcision itself obviously must be an illustration of this faith.  Circumcision was later incorporated into the Law of Moses; and it served to set the Jews apart as a people.  But outward circumcision is unprofitable for the man who does not worship God and keep His law from the heart (illustrated so clearly by the men of Shechem in Genesis chapter 34).  

The Jews as a people and the Apostles (who were also Jews by the way) came to use the term circumcision in one context to describe all of the ceremonies of the Law of Moses, the entire package of them.  One example is 1 Corinthians 7:18-19: “Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised. 19 Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God.” And in another context, the terms Jew and circumcision came to both be words used to describe an overall faithful worshiper of God.  In Romans chapter 2 the two different contexts of Jew and circumcision are brought together to make a critical point which is also very relevant to our topic.  I explain this (in italics) in the midst of the text below.

Romans 2:17-29:Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God,18 And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; 19 And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness,20 An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. 21 Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself?  thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?  22 Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege?  23 Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonorest thou God?  24 For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written (established in the Old Testament/Hebrew Scriptures). 25 For circumcision (ceremonial law adherence) verily profiteth, if thou keep the (moral) law: but if thou be a breaker of the (moral) law, thy circumcision (ceremonial law adherence) is made uncircumcision. 26 Therefore if the uncircumcision (one without ceremonial law) keep the righteousness of the (moral) law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision? 27 And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfill the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision (ceremonial law adherence) dost transgress the law (no faithful moral law adherence)? 28 For he is not a Jew (a faithful worshiper before God who is in His grace), which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh (outward circumcision is not a sure mark of faithful worship towards God): 29 But he is a Jew (faithful worshiper of God), which is one inwardly; and (true, ultimate) circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.”

Another thing to point out in relation to these things is the priority of moral law over ceremonial law.  Adherence to ceremonial law is useless, and potentially much worse than useless, when one refuses to walk in the moral law of God.  Nevertheless, carnal man often prioritizes ceremonial law over moral law, often giving greater weight to ceremonial law because of how doing this can make him feel spiritual- even though he has not really reckoned himself dead to sin to worship God from the heart and obey Him unconditionally as faithful men like Abraham did.. 

Amos 5:21-24: “I hate, I despise your feast days, and I will not smell in your solemn assemblies. 22 Though ye offer me burnt offerings and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts. 23 Take thou away from me the noise of thy songs; for I will not hear the melody of thy viols. 24 But let judgment run down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream.”  (Reference also Isaiah chapter 1).

Proverbs 21:3: “To do justice and judgment is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.”

1 Samuel 15:22-23:And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.”

Luke 10:25-37: The Priest and the Levite may very well have excused themselves from not helping the wounded man due to their ceremonial law adherence- and they may have even been going to perform ceremonial law related duties as they passed him by.  But obviously they should have foregone such duties to help the wounded man because their moral duty was greater.  And by the way, Jesus’ definition of keeping the Sabbath which got Him into trouble with the Jewish leaders was contrary to their definition because He valued the moral law of God over the ceremonial law of Sabbath keeping.  Jesus knew that it was lawful to do well on the Sabbath Day.  This was a fact that they did not recognize since their hearts were far from God.

While few or none will come right out and say it, many prove by their actions that they hope to actually use ceremonial law adherence as a substitute or a replacement for actually loving God and walking faithfully in His moral law, especially in the weightiest areas of it which matter most and which are most threatening to their natural interests.  Keep this in mind as we talk about Judaizing, and as you think about the general course of false religion, and the sense in which the Bible condemns salvation by works.  This is all related.  Why would a person be drawn to Judaism when they were not under it by God’s appointment?  Since the Jews so often abused and used out of place the ceremonial law which God gave to them to follow, how much more is a ceremony a danger when the requirement to do it has been lifted or the ceremony isn’t derived from the Bible at all?  So wouldn’t reverting to Jewish ceremonies when they weren’t binding upon you any longer be subversive to faithfulness to God?  Most definitely! 

Jesus was a Jew under the Law of Moses.  To be the perfect Lamb of God He had to keep the entire Law of Moses 100 percent faithfully, both moral and ceremonial.  He indeed did this and preached that others should do the same.  His public preaching though was virtually 100 percent in regard to the moral Law of God because of the greater significance of moral law and because of how badly Israel’s leaders had led them astray in that regard and taught licenses for unrighteous living in God’s eyes.  These supposed licenses for unrighteous living were often justified through the abuse of ceremonial law and the elevation of Jewish tradition (the Talmud).  You see in the Gospels how Israel’s religious leaders who opposed Jesus would fear more to eat with unwashed hands than they’d fear to dishonor their parents in practical ways, something which Jesus rebuked them severely for. 

Jesus did not correct the Law of Moses like some erroneously teach, but rather upheld the Law and taught its true application, vindicating it from the abuses which Israel’s corrupt leaders had done to it.  You can see this clearly prophesied in Malachi chapter 3.  Anyone who teaches that Jesus’ rebukes in the Gospels were to those honoring the Law of Moses, as if He were bringing a higher standard than the Law itself, is at best unlearned.  They need to study their Bibles closer and regard those they’ve been listening to much less.  Those who teach such things are sometimes called Marcionites, since Marcion was a second century heretic who taught that the God of the Old Testament was the devil and the God of the New Testament is the true God.  Marcion of course had to blatantly write off the vast majority of the Bible to even attempt to say this, but modern Marcionites can seem more credible because they are not as consistent as Marcion.  They will try to contrast Jesus to the Law of Moses sometimes, while still trying to say that He is also the God of Moses and of the faithful men of the Old Testament.  How they try such gymnastics is incredible, yet there are different ways this is attempted.  Those who don’t think logically and don’t look for consistency in those whom they hear teach Scripture can let such inconsistency slide.  It happens a lot not only with this heresy, but also with others. 

Judaizers think that they are opposing the Marcionites and think they have the consistent solutions to the errors of those influenced by Marcionism.  This again can seem like the case to those who listen to their arguments and swallow them without testing them to all of Scripture.  The Judaizers can seem so wise and be vindicated in their own eyes since many professing Christians have errors in other directions.  Many professing Christians rightly reject Judaizing and don’t see themselves as bound to the rituals of the ceremonial aspect of the Law of Moses.  Yet they are still often wrong because they don’t reject Judaizing on a Scriptural basis, so in avoiding being Judaized they fall prey to other errors that are about equally as bad.  They often lump the moral aspect of Moses’ Law with the ceremonial- and consider themselves bound by neither.  Thus, they have standards of living which are not consistent with Christianity; and in many cases they have no definite standard of living at all.  They think that the grace of God does away with binding to Law or think that the grace of God means that the only Law they’re under is the Law of Christ (which they don’t see as involving the moral Law of God like it really does).  They perhaps rather see the Law of Christ as some mystic and indefinite leading, attributed to the Holy Spirit, which basically leaves every man to do anything that seems right in his own eyes.  Yet they are in grave error.  The Judaizers though aren’t any better.  We ought to understand how and why this is all so in order to avoid all of these false ways.

The Judaizers will say that Jesus lived under the Mosaic ceremonies and upheld them in His teaching.  They are right in that.  Many of the Marcionites, and those who teach many of the various lawless gospels out there, might say Jesus abolished the ceremonial aspect of Moses’ Law when He died on the cross.  In a way, they are right, but it is not so simple (and many of these will also say that Jesus abolished the moral Law when He died on the cross; and of course, they are surely deadly wrong about that).  Though the ceremonial ordinances in themselves foreshadowed Christ and symbolized eternal realities, the Jews under these ordinances by God’s appointment needed atonement for their failure to perfectly keep them like we all need forgiveness at least for our failure to live up to the standard of God’s moral Law.  The key difference between these Mosaic ceremonies and the moral Law of God is that these ceremonies had a limited shelf life.  Jesus provides the substance of what these things foreshadowed and pointed towards.  But the moral Law of God can never be fulfilled as long as there are moral agents, except by being done by those same moral agents.  And even the Jewish ceremonies with their limited shelf life were things that God did not immediately discard after Jesus had fulfilled them by His death (or set in motion the fulfillment of by His death).  There was yet a due season for them being done in light of what Jesus had done and who He was declared to be through His resurrection.  God’s appointment that Jewish Christians continue to do these things was not immediately lifted after Jesus’ death and resurrection, nor even after the sending of the Holy Spirit upon His disciples on the Day of Pentecost.  And Judaizers will pounce on this obvious fact, yet they ignore how God in due time did indeed remove His appointment of these ordinances.  We are about to see how this all happened.

For reasons known to God, but we can be sure at least to keep the church anchored on its righteous Hebrew foundations, God did not straightway release the Christian church from the practice of the Jewish ceremonies.  And that is why for about 12 years after the pouring out of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, recorded in Acts chapter 2, there had never been a convert to Christianity who had not already been a practicing Jew or who had not become a practicing Jew upon becoming a Christian.  However, about 12 years after the Christian church was founded God chose to send the Apostle Peter to a Roman centurion named Cornelius, a man who feared the true God, the God of the Jews, but yet for some reason had not become a Jew through circumcision (we’ve seen how circumcision was basically the chief ceremonial law of Judaism which came to represent the entire package of the Jewish ceremonial laws).  

We read in Acts chapters 10 that when Peter preached the Gospel of Christ to Cornelius, and those who were with him, the Holy Spirit fell on them in an unmistakable way.  This shocked the Jewish Christians with Peter, and even Peter himself, because this had never happened before!  Peter had them baptized with water immediately without simultaneously circumcising them.  This was reported to the Christians at Jerusalem, who thought such a baptism to be unthinkable, until they heard Peter’s firsthand account of the entirety of that event (recorded in Acts chapter 11).  They (in general at least) accepted that the conversion of these physically uncircumcised people to Christ was genuine; and received this as proof that God had granted physically uncircumcised gentiles repentance unto life (Acts 11:18).  Then in the following verses in Acts chapter 11 you read about how there were Christians of Cyprus and Cyrene who had been living at Jerusalem, but were scattered due to persecution that arose in relation to the death of Stephen (see Acts chapters 6 to 8).  These had been preaching the Gospel to none but Jews only but they eventually spoke to Grecians (uncircumcised gentiles) at Antioch, who then believed in Christ.  The church at Jerusalem sent Barnabas to visit them.  Barnabas witnessed the grace of God upon these physically uncircumcised gentiles also.  This would obviously have been an absolute total shock to him, and to the entire church at Jerusalem, except for what they had recently heard regarding Cornelius and his household.

So the Judaizers are right that Jesus taught and practiced the Mosaic ceremonies.  If they claim that the Apostles did the same, they are right about that too.  But are they right to conclude that we yet ought to be Judaizing then?  No.  We know that following directions is very important to God.  Mankind basically fell because Adam and Eve did not follow God’s directions.  And God makes it clear to His church through Cornelius, and then those gentile Christian believers in Antioch, that He is now accepting people as Christians without conversion to Judaism (i.e. the Mosaic ceremonies).  This would be a great test for the Jewish Christians.  Would they accept God’s verdict and regard these gentile converts as brothers and sisters in Christ without seeking to bring them under Judaism?  Would they let the Mosaic ceremonies serve in the place which God regards as proper or would they exalt them to a measure which God would find improper considering the verdict which He has just given about this?  Would the gentile Christians accept this verdict about themselves, even if they felt less spiritual for not having converted to Judaism?  Would they perhaps seek the favor of the unbelieving Jews which disdained gentiles and/or the favor of the Jewish Christians which were contending with God’s verdict about accepting them without conversion to Judaism?  Though these were especially issues in the 1st century, they still have relevance to our topic which applies today. 

So then as we go on in Acts chapter 11, we see that Barnabas goes to Tarsus to seek Saul (i.e. Paul), and he brings him to Antioch, where they assemble for a whole year with the church there and teach the church.  This obviously goes very well, as the disciples are first called Christians at Antioch.  After Paul and Barnabas go on a mission trip to Jerusalem to bring funds for the poor brethren at Jerusalem (recorded in Acts chapter 12), they then return to Antioch.  They are soon then sent out on a long journey where they travel many miles and plant many churches in gentile cities which start with Jews from the local synagogues and local gentile converts who were not circumcised (i.e. Judaized) upon their conversion to Christ.  You can read about this in detail in Acts chapters 13 and 14.  At the end of Acts chapter 14 we see Paul and Barnabas back in Antioch declaring to the whole church what God had done with them on their mission trip and how He had opened the door of faith to the gentiles (Acts 14:27).  There has now been a large mass of gentiles converted to Christ without conversion to Judaism. 

And then as Acts chapter 15 begins, we have a group from the church at Jerusalem visiting Antioch, but not representing the leadership of the Apostles.  These say what the Judaizers are still saying today. Acts 15:1: “And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved.”  They were obviously saying “They cannot be Christians whom God accepts unless they are brought under the Mosaic ceremonies”.  In Acts 15:5, that will be evident.  Did these men not know about Cornelius and what the Apostles had learned through how God dealt with Cornelius?  That seems hard to believe.  But regardless, no one is going to have any excuse to Judaize gentiles after what unfolds in the rest of this chapter, so we will just read on, with my comments in italics within the passage.

Acts 15:2-32:When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. 3 And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. 4 And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. 5 But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. 6 And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. 7 And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. 8 And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; 9 And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. 10 Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? (i.e. the Jews in general had been over-scrupulous about the Mosaic ceremonies and saw exact adherence to them as near, or altogether, as a means of justification.  In that way they were impossible to bear; and I believe Peter is basically saying, ‘What need is there to even expose the gentile Christians to this realm of problems which are among the Jews in relation to these ceremonies, when God has already accepted them apart from the Mosaic ceremonies?’  Consider how he continues in 15:11) 11 But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they (i.e. the Jewish Christians are not looking to these ceremonies for our justification before God, so there is no need to bring the gentile converts under these ceremonies when God has clearly accepted them also through their living faith in Christ). 12 Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. 13 And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: 14 Simeon (i.e. Peter) hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. 15 And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, 16 After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: (i.e. in context of this quote from the Book of Amos, Israel will be brought under judgment and scattered among the nations, but God will bring a remnant back and restore His worship among these) 17 That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. 18 Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world (i.e. God intended to count physically uncircumcised gentiles among His faithful worshipers from the beginning of the world; He even intended to count them as such after He had taken Israel as His people and bound them under circumcision and all the Mosaic ceremonies.  This quote from Amos was looking forward to such a time). 19 Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: 20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. (i.e. These are entrance requirements for Christian baptism and church membership, not a summary of everything Christianity requires.  They would yet need to be taught and discipled after entering the Christian church.  The thought is basically that while you don’t have to circumcise them and make them practicing Jews outwardly for them to be Christian church members, you do need to be absolutely sure that they have indeed broken off from idolatry, fornication, and eating blood- and eating blood would also include eating things strangled since that is a way in which heathen kill animals so they can be eaten with all their blood in them.  The gentile converts need very specific instruction and warning about how these things are not consistent with Christianity.  And by the way, this is all still true today!) 21 For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day. (i.e. The books of Moses included the Book of Genesis where eating of blood was forbidden; and the moral aspects of God’s Law are taught throughout the books of Moses.  This instruction about what faithful worship (i.e. being a Jew inwardly) must necessarily involve is already known in every city and could then be known through the reading in the synagogues of nearly every city.  The lack of the need to circumcise them doesn’t relieve them of the need to follow this instruction.  Their conversion to Christ rather enables them to understand it better and to fulfill it.) 22 Then pleased it the apostles and elders with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas and Silas, chief men among the brethren: 23 And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia. 24 Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: 25 It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, 26 Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. 27 We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. 28 For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; 29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well. 30 So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle: 31 Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation. 32 And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them.”

So there you have it.  The Apostles, through the obvious implications of what God had already done among them, and through the prophecy of Scripture itself foretelling God accepting gentiles without conversion to Judaism, decreed that imposing the Jewish ceremonies upon gentiles was to cease.  At the same time, their understanding of God’s grace is that subjection to God’s law is necessary for one to be eligible for His grace.  Yet henceforth (and already at this point in Acts 15) gentiles could be Christians with subjection to moral law and Christian ordinances without also being subject to Jewish ordinances.  God chose Peter’s interaction with Cornelius as the turning point regarding this.  Since ceremonial laws are things which are only right and holy by God’s appointment, unlike moral laws which are inherently right and holy, then God can choose to cease causing ceremonial laws to be binding whenever He sees fit.  And that is obviously something which He could not, and would not, do regarding moral laws.

However, both in the 1st century and up until today, many do not accept this God-ordained verdict regarding Judaizing which we just saw evidenced.  And there are very bad reasons for this.  These are what the Book of Galatians is dealing with.  Galatians is ultimately, if you read it all the way through, an instruction on how the ceremonies of the Jewish Law are not an alternative form of justification to the faith of Abraham, how they were never intended to be such at all, and how to take them as such is to preach another gospel.  To Judaize then is to practically elevate the Jewish ceremonies to the point where they are a form of (attempted) justification through ritualistic works which serve in actuality as a (failed) substitute for a living faith in Christ.  The Book of Galatians is ultimately an exhortation to walk in the Spirit by faith in Christ in order to fulfill the Law of Christ instead of walking the flesh (heeding this exhortation is fulfilling the moral law of God, as Romans 8:4 talks about).  The Judaizers did not sufficiently value this then and they do not sufficiently value this today.  If they valued it sufficiently, they would see no need to Judaize.  Just consider what the Judaizers talk most about.  It’s not about keeping one’s heart right before God nor about practical righteous Christian living which does good to others and demonstrates proper Christian character.  Their talk rather demonstrates preoccupation with ceremony and ritual.  And whenever there is such preoccupation, especially over ceremony and ritual which God did not appoint or commanded to cease, then you will have an alternate justification system and devaluation of a living faith and practical righteousness before God.  And no one who devalues such is going to faithfully endure on the narrow way that leads to eternal life in Jesus Christ.

Continuing in the timeline of the Book of Acts, in Acts chapter 16 we see the Apostle Paul going on a second missionary journey and giving this Apostolic decree to the churches he had founded on his first missionary journey.  On that journey he recruits Timothy to join him and he circumcises him because of the Jews in the area they were in.  Perhaps he did this because Timothy should have been circumcised before.  He obviously had a Jewish mother and a Jewish upbringing, though his father was a gentile.  Even though the Jews crucified Christ despite His perfect keeping of the Mosaic ceremonies, and even though God intends Christ to be a stumbling-block to the Jews who don’t heed the entirety of their own Scriptures, Paul obviously saw something about Timothy’s case that made his lack of being circumcised an unnecessary stumbling-block to the Jews. It is obvious there was some reason this was an exceptional case.  Paul was not compromising nor violating the decree of the Apostles which he had been delivering to the churches here.

Eventually in Acts chapter 21, Paul again visits the Christians in Jerusalem and meets with the Christian leadership there.  They have been informed that he has been telling the Jews in the churches he has planted to forsake the Mosaic ceremonies.  This was a false accusation.  The leadership in Jerusalem had stuck to its decree and Paul had also been faithful to the decree.  A lot of people think that Paul was being deceptive in the passage we’re about to read, but he wasn’t being deceptive at all.  The Jewish Christians, including Paul, had continued to practice the Jewish ceremonies.  They could do this for the right reasons since God hadn’t released them from these yet.  Something would happen approximately a decade later to change this, but for the time this was the case.

Acts 21:17-26:And when we were come to Jerusalem, the brethren received us gladly. 18 And the day following Paul went in with us unto James; and all the elders were present. 19 And when he had saluted them, he declared particularly what things God had wrought among the Gentiles by his ministry. 20 And when they heard it, they glorified the Lord, and said unto him, Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are which believe; and they are all zealous of the law: 21 And they are informed of thee, that thou teachest all the Jews which are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, saying that they ought not to circumcise their children, neither to walk after the customs. 22 What is it therefore?  the multitude must needs come together: for they will hear that thou art come. 23 Do therefore this that we say to thee: We have four men which have a vow on them; 24 Them take, and purify thyself with them, and be at charges with them, that they may shave their heads: and all may know that those things, whereof they were informed concerning thee, are nothing; but that thou thyself also walkest orderly, and keepest the law. 25 As touching the Gentiles which believe, we have written and concluded that they observe no such thing, save only that they keep themselves from things offered to idols, and from blood, and from strangled, and from fornication. 26 Then Paul took the men, and the next day purifying himself with them entered into the temple, to signify the accomplishment of the days of purification, until that an offering should be offered for every one of them.”

This means what it says.  There is no deceit here at all.  Paul was acting totally consistent with how God led the Christians through the church at Jerusalem; and he had acted consistent with his own writings. 1 Corinthians 7:18: “Is any man called being circumcised?  let him not become uncircumcised.  Is any called in uncircumcision?  let him not be circumcised.”  Many Judaizers actually claim that Paul was a false Apostle and that his epistles are not God’s inspired word.  That is so ridiculous.  They don’t take into account Paul’s unity with the other Apostles; and how the same Apostles he was in unity with also wrote the Gospels.  To pit the Gospels against the New Testament Epistles and/or pit Paul against the other Apostles is insanity!

The passage we just looked at from Acts 21 happened around AD 60.  We know that Biblical Judaism centered around the Temple at Jerusalem.  And in AD 70 this Temple was destroyed by the Romans.  The Jewish Christians had already escaped Jerusalem altogether at that point.  The destruction of the Temple obviously made the practice of Biblical Judaism as a whole impossible, as the vast majority of the Jewish ceremonies require the Tabernacle, which had become incorporated into the Temple, as well as a functioning Levitical Priesthood, to faithfully perform.  The Temple has never been rebuilt to this day in spite of many plans to do so over the last 1,950 years.  And the Jewish genealogical records have been destroyed, making a Scriptural Jewish Priesthood impossible to have going forward.  God ordained that only men who could prove from these records that they were of the tribe of Levi, and descendants of Moses’ brother Aaron, were to be Priests for the Jewish nation.  And that is how the Jewish Christians were also practically released from keeping the Mosaic ceremonies.  To this day then, God’s rejection of the practice of Judaism (going forward from the first century), and the validity of Christianity, are both testified to by the fact that Scriptural Judaism is impossible to practice anymore while Biblical Christianity (which includes having local church, baptism, and communion- the Christian ordinances, basically a simplified ceremonial law of Christianity) is possible to practice anywhere on earth.  

And not unrelated to the topic of Judaizing then, what do Korah, Dathan, Abiram, Achan the son of Carmi, Abimelech the son of Gideon, the sons of Eli the priest, Absalom the son of David, Jeroboam the son of Nebat, Ahab the husband of Jezebel, the elders of Israel who opposed Jeremiah the prophet, and the leaders of Israel who delivered Jesus to be crucified all have in common?  Many of them died in special acts of God’s vengeance.  They were all certainly especially wicked in God’s sight.   Most or all of them would have professed that they loved God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and would have said that they were on His side and in His grace while they lived (though God testified otherwise concerning all of these and of many others like them).  And they were all natural Israelites.  

The seed of the women, the Messiah who was promised to crush the serpent’s head and offer redemption to mankind, has come forth through the ancient nation of Israel, not the modern one.  The foundations of the Messiah’s people are those of ancient Israel who received Him and followed Him faithfully.  The nation of Israel itself rejected its Messiah.  The nation was destroyed by the Romans after the Messiah came and the division concerning Him had been made (the leadership and the majority of the nation rejected Him).  

Jesus Himself said in Luke 12:51-53: “Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth?  I tell you, Nay (no); but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three.  The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law.”

The modern nation of Israel is bitterly at enmity with Jesus Christ and His people.  The nation of modern Israel has been founded by people who are both the natural and spiritual descendants of the people of the wicked Israelites.  With all the reporting on the terrorism by Hamas (which we do not condone but which the mainstream media has also exaggerated and has even been caught red-handed already in doing so), what you are not likely to hear is that the nation of (modern) Israel was founded by the terrorism of the Jewish people upon the Arabs who had come to lawfully inhabit that land.  These people were for the most part violently killed, driven from their homes, and displaced because they stood in the way of what the Jews wanted.  

Rather than crying out to God in repentance for dealing treacherously against Him by rejecting His Son who is the glory of (ancient) Israel, and whose bringing forth was ultimately the only reason why the Jews were ever raised up and exalted as a people by God, the natural Jews rather increased their sin by dealing treacherously with their fellow man, thinking they were privileged to do so because they are Jewish (God rebuked Israel over and over for this throughout the Bible, even often right in the Hebrew Scriptures).  

Even though many Arabs have sinned much in this conflict too, and we should never condone sin who does it, the Jews have been the greater offenders by miles as they have been the instigators, the originators of the terrorism (even terrorizing the British who took care of Palestine after the Ottoman Empire fell), and they are the ones who have violently stolen land and have oppressed those whom they have stolen from (not just in 1948, but also as a general pattern since in which they have generally gained more land, pushed the Palestinians into smaller areas, and exercised increased oppression upon them).  Consider that undeniable pattern and how the ground invasion of Gaza, and its consequences, is only a continuation of that pattern.  And that is why I think it would be naive to believe that this recent border breach by Hamas was a mistake by the IDF and not rather a plan to allow a little terrorism by Hamas in order to give Israel a pretext to go into Gaza and gain further territory from the Palestinians and exercise greater oppressive control over them.  Anyone can see that this has already been the proven pattern over the past 75 years.  

Don’t think then that siding with modern Israel is siding with God.  Christians should be against all terrorism.  And since that is so, a nation like modern Israel which was literally founded upon terrorism should be an object of reproach and moral repugnance to anyone who would be on the Lord’s side and have their hands and hearts pure from all evil.  The fact that modern evangelical Christianity has largely sided with modern Israel is a disgrace.  To make them think that they are in covenant with God in their rejection of Jesus Christ and their manifold sins (and they have surely proven that these do indeed go hand in hand- see John 3:18-21), this is not love for the Jewish people.  

And though they are not in covenant with God, to say that God yet has dealings with the Jewish nation is another matter.  And by the testimony of Scripture itself we can be sure that any dealings which God might yet have with modern Israel, and with the Jewish people as a whole, would very much involve teaching them that they don’t have the right to steal from others and oppress others because they are Jewish.  God is surely no respecter of persons.  Consider then how you are actually opposing God and falsely testifying that He is a respecter of persons when you say the Jews have an unconditional right to the land that they have stolen from the Arabs and you help them in matters related to this endeavor.  And that is even more the case since God Himself also testified that He would drive the Jews out of that same land for their rejection of  Jesus Christ and that His wrath would especially be upon them in their rejection of Him.  The very return of the Jews to that land in the manner in which it happened was in itself an act of defiance against Jesus Christ and a provocation of the God of the Hebrew Scriptures whom they profess to worship yet their heart is far from

Don’t foolishly think that you are siding with God then by siding with Israel.  And also don’t think that you are siding with Islam by seeking Palestine’s freedom from their Jewish oppressors and occupiers.  It is truly pathetic that the USA has sent over $150 billion dollars to Israel (and that is just what has officially changed hands and it is not adjusted for inflation).  

Many in the Bible were spiritually destroyed by trying to please the Jews in the sense of compromising to get their favor (Pilate, Felix, the Galatians were at least on track for this, and the recipients of the letter to the Hebrews were also evidently in great danger of this).  Why do Christians tiptoe around the Jews and are so extra careful not to displease them?  We know that Zionist Jews are extremely powerful, but Proverbs 29:25 says: “The fear of man bringeth a snare (a trap): but whoso putteth his trust in the Lord shall be safe.”  Did not God Himself see to it that the Jews were driven out of the land long ago?  Who gave them the right to come back?  Imagine the prodigal son going back to his father’s house acting like he had never really done much wrong and acting like he was just entitled to come back whenever he wanted (only in the Jews’ case it is worse because they were driven out of the land by God’s judgment; the prodigal son left his father’s house willingly).  Do not the Zionist Jews and modern Israel blaspheme Jesus Christ?  Consider how improper both Judaizing and supporting modern Israel are seeing that these things are so.

On the Sabbath: Keeping the Sabbath is the only one of the Ten commandments not repeated in the New Testament.  The Ten commandments are basically a list of some key points regarding God’s moral law which are specifically localized in relation to Israel.  The commandment about the Sabbath is only applicable to all people at all times in that it teaches the principle that we should honor the ceremonial requirements of the covenant with God that we are offered for the time in which we live.  The Sabbath itself was a matter of the ceremonial law between God and Israel.  Ezekiel 20:12 says “Moreover also I gave them my sabbaths, to be a sign between me and them, that they might know that I am the Lord that sanctify them.”  In reading Exodus chapter 16, we see how the Sabbath was introduced there (just a very short time afterwards God spoke the Ten commandments in Exodus 20).  We can see here that the Sabbath was then new to Israel.  They were not familiar with it.  God thus did not at that time severely judge the Israelites who disobeyed His command about it in their ignorance and confusion.  Sometime later in Numbers chapter 15, after there was no confusion about it and the commandment was clear as day to the whole nation, God ordered that a man be put to death who was caught gathering sticks on the Sabbath Day (and He also used this as an opportunity to teach us that there is no blood atonement that can be offered so that the presumptuous sinner can find mercy).  Since the Sabbath was specific to Israel, it would obviously be included in the ceremonial law.  The obligation to keep it would thus end in being released from the Mosaic ceremonies.  Look at the things which the Sabbath days are categorized among in this passage.  

Colossians 2:16-17: “Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body (substance) is of Christ.”

When people cling to a shadow when they could embrace the substance instead, they prove that they don’t adequately value the substance.  Though the Judaizers will deny this, that is what they are doing.  Anyone who does not adequately value the substance cannot partake of His victory over the devil on the cross.  Every aspect of darkness related to Satan’s kingdom must be renounced and fled from for refuge in the light of the realm of the Saving King whose Israel as a nation fought against- and continues to fight against this day.

Aaron’s email is: [email protected]