Saturday, January 22, 2011

How I Began My Journey Into Hebrew Roots

A few people have asked me recently how this all started and why I am embracing my Hebrew roots. What does that even mean, right? Well, even though that is a long story, I will try to at least give a background, as in the preface to a good book. By the way, I read those prefaces and introductions! I personally love the story behind the story as it explains the motivation behind the author's writing. Here is my attempt.

The first Passover I observed piqued my interest in all the Feasts of the Lord described in Leviticus 23, as the celebration was so rich in symbolism and meaning. All of the elements of a Passover Seder have deep significance and it is a wonderful telling of redemption, one in which I enjoy remembering. I love how the story of Exodus parallels our spiritual birthing process and redemption.

The Hebrews were in slavery to Pharoah which parallels our slavery and bondage to sin. I love how God not only rescues them from slavery but in the process is wooing their hearts. Not only does He want them out of Egypt, but more so I think, He wants Egypt out of them! It is only then that they will follow Him out of bondage and into the wilderness. The first three plagues were experienced by both the Egyptians and the Hebrews and then in the 4th - 10th plagues He makes a distinction between them. By the way, as a side note, Isaiah 46:10 says God "declares the end from the beginning". That was a new revelation to me! Since then, I have been looking at the beginning to help me understand the patterns that may help interpret the end of the story. Most people would never dream of reading the end of the chapter of any book to understand the end, they would go to the first chapter and keep reading. I wonder how we could even think we could possibly understand the end of His story without a firm grasp of the beginning?  It is my opinion that Adonai already told the end of the story in these books and Exodus is particularly pertinent I would think.

So, getting back to my story. Passover is a retelling of this redemption story. All the elements are there. There is baptism (crossing through the Red Sea), redemption on the other side as new creations. Then as they traveled, both the homeborn (Hebrew) and the stranger (mixed multitude that also came with them), Adonai took them and gave them His Torah, His Laws at Mt Sinai. There is the pattern. Redemption first, instructions after. Most people think of Torah negatively, but it really means instruction or teaching, not just rules and law. There at the foot of Mount Sinai they entered into covenant with Adonai, which is a picture of the Ketubah, the marriage covenant written down describing each person's part in the covenant. There is so much detail and depth here that I could write pages and pages on just this story!

I have always been interested in end time prophecy. But more so in the last few years after receiving some dreams from the Lord. I really began studying the Feasts of the Lord:  Sabbath, Passover, Firstfruits, Weeks, Trumpets, Day of Atonement and Booths (Leviticus 23) in depth initially because of my interest in prophecy. As I studied I realized that these Feasts were described as "mow'ed" which are divine appointments and rehearsals for things to come. God has a calendar! That alone was revolutionary to me!!! And He is always faithful to keep His appointments. These appointments are not for the Jews alone as He says they are not "Jewish Feasts", but they are HIS Feasts and we are invited to join in and keep that appointment. He so wants to meet with us! He reveals so much to us through these Feasts. Yeshua completely fulfilled the spring Feasts of Passover (His death), Firstfruits (His resurrection) and Weeks (Pentecost) to the very day. As the passover lambs were led into the temple for slaughtering as they had done for thousands of years, Yeshua was being slaughtered and hung on a tree. So too, I have no reason to believe that God will not keep His other appointments and completely fulfill the fall Feasts to the very day. These fall Feasts are rehearsals of things to come in the end of days. That is another book in itself!

As I studied these Feasts and Hebrew words and meanings I began celebrating all of them and it was amazing all that I was learning! I was completely enthralled with it all. Sad too that I feel I had not been taught any of the significance of these in my 25 years of going to Bible believing churches. In a way, if I am to be honest, I kinda felt jipped! I felt like a huge amount of incredibly deep and meaningful celebrations and heritage was taken away from me because I was taught these were "Jewish" celebrations. If we are grafted into the Olive Tree of Israel as Romans 11 clearly says, then we too have that heritage! Abraham is our father and we are His children, if we have given our lives in submission to Yeshua and have been redeemed by His blood.

I began to read other books related to the Feasts and the King of the Jews (see Recommended Reading list on my blog). The more I read and researched the Jewishness of Jesus and the Hebrewness of the Bible, I was astounded at how it helped me understand passages that were fuzzy to me before. I also realized and had to repent, that while I never would have considered myself a "Jew hater" by any means, I had read the Bible through "anti-semitic glasses" which I didn't even know I had on and which really hindered my understanding of the text. This is hard to describe really. On another post, I hope to give some concrete examples from biblical texts. There were several passages that I unknowingly had an anti-Jew or anti-Pharisee bias that I didn't realize and it turned the meaning of these scriptures upside down. My theological boat was rocking. But I didn't mind since Yeshua was the one doing the shaking!

I have enjoyed reading and researching the history and culture of the pre-70 AD synagogues (before the destruction of the Temple and believers started to scatter). I wanted to understand how those believers operated and what they believed before they basically split into Jews going one way and Gentile believers going another. Many factors involved here. I also came to understand that there were heretical teachers (Marcion, etc) that did a lot of damage and helped to keep the split between Jew and Gentile going. Kind of like Darwin's influence, once the damage was done, it was basically irreversible. The Roman Emporer, Constantine, also helped by officially declaring Sunday the new Sabbath in "veneration of the Sun" and the decree of the Council of Nicea was very antiSemetic indeed. Understanding the history of this time period helped me to see how the present was shaped and by whom. I didn't like what I saw. The reformation didn't go far enough...but that is another post!

In the midst of this study, I completely fell in love afresh with my very Jewish Messiah and began to feel more a part of His family as I understood His traditions and celebrations. I began celebrating the Sabbath and doing other things which I am sure has totally confused my friends (!). I am not doing them in a legalistic way, but out of love and what I feel is obedience to what He is calling me to right now. I have begun to worship and call "home" a Messianic fellowship where Jews and Gentiles worship together as one in Messiah. I LOVE IT!

What I am finding is that as I chose to walk in these ancient paths, celebrating the Feasts, Sabbaths and walking in these ways others deem "Jewish", (I consider them biblical and God's Word doesn't change) I am hearing Him speak to me more clearly than ever before. I am experiencing His presence, His peace....His Shalom! The word Shalom doesn't just mean peace, it means blessing in every area of life, fullness, wholeness, completeness. There are abundant blessings to all those who walk in His ways as they truly are higher than ours. Yeshua took the punishment for our disobedience, but didn't take away the blessings for obedience.

Recently I learned that my maiden name is an actual Hebrew word which means "proven". There are indications that on the maternal side I may have some Jewish ancestry as well. Interestingly, and yet not surprisingly, many drawn to their Hebrew roots find out that there is such ancestry previously unknown to them until they started digging. Yahweh is doing an amazing thing in our day, which is the fulfillment of prophecy. He is drawing Israel, those dispersed among the pagan nations, the 10 northern tribes if you will, back to Torah, back to Himself. He is causing those to remember who and whose they are and shed the pagan practices they have adopted as their own and return (teshuvah or repent) to Yahweh and observe the commands. I was recently asked if I was Jewish. My response? Yes, I am in my heart. Living within me is my Jewish Messiah, Yeshua. He was a Torah observant Jew and He calls me to follow Him and walk in obedience, which is the demonstration of my love for Him. An apt response considering all He has done for me. Romans 2:29 comes to mind, "but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the HEART, in the Spirit, not in the letter, whose praise is not from men but from G-d."

The New Covenant in Jeremiah 31 clearly states that the law would then be written on our hearts. That filling of the Ruach HaKodesh is what gives us the desire, knowledge and power to obey His Word. The ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy will take place in its fullness when Yeshua comes again but we can experience that now as we walk in the Spirit by faith which will never contradict His Law/Word.

Okay, there is your preface! I promise the next post won't be that long :) In any case, I hope that answers a few questions!


  1. Gail,

    So well said. I have prayed for years for G-d to show me what all this has to do with me. At the same time there seemed to always be some well meaning person ready to tell me "it isn't for us". We have, as "Christians", inherited a tradition of anti-semitism unaware, talk about a generational curse, wow.

    Keep searching, He is there to answer.

  2. Joanne,

    So glad to have a kindred spirit walking this ancient path with me:) Amen to your comments!

    Shalom, shalom....SHALOM to you and your household!