The roots of success
The vital need for staying connected to our Jewish heritage
by Charles Gardner
Reflecting back on hazy days in July, I remember gazing with delight at the stunning clematis climbing up against a partly-shaded corner wall of our little back garden. Its mauve blooms were proudly flourishing despite the sizzling hot weather.
My wife Linda explained that it was unaffected by the dazzling sunshine because it had forged deep roots and soaked up plentiful water while rocks had been carefully placed around its base to keep the plant extra cool.
In these days of increasing pressure on believers, we need to dig deep and put down strong roots if we are to ensure a fruitful Christian life. Jesus said: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes (or cleans) so that it will be even more fruitful.” (John 15:1f)
If you want fruit in your life, you need to have a root. There has been an explosion of interest in ancestry of late, and I have a great interest in my own – my Jewish ancestors survived the Spanish Inquisition and my gentile forbears were blessed by the Jews, essentially through the (Jewish) Gospel.
Jesus is Jewish, Christianity is Jewish
Roots are in fact vital in communicating the Gospel. For both Matthew and Luke use genealogies to prove the Messiahship of Jesus. Sixties pop star Helen Shapiro was amazed when she discovered how the New Testament began in this very Jewish way.
For Jesus is Jewish. Christ- ianity is Jewish. All but one of the Bible’s 40 authors were Jewish. But because of tensions within a mixed Jewish/gentile congregation in Rome, the Apostle Paul had to correct the notion that the Jewish people were no longer on God’s agenda, explaining that their overall blindness in rejecting their Messiah was actually for the benefit of gentiles.
He further explained that we gentiles have been grafted in to the olive tree that represents Israel and “now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root” (Romans 11:17). And he added: “You do not support the root, but the root supports you” (Romans 11:18).
This is absolutely crucial to our understanding of the Christian faith. It is essentially Hebraic; we owe it all to our Judaic ancestry.
It was God’s will for the Messiah to be crucified
Tragically, the root of anti-Semitism lies with the early Church Fathers who progressively cut the Church off from her Hebraic roots which effectively meant that the nourishing sap of the olive root was no longer coursing through its branches. Not surprisingly, therefore, much of what passed for Christianity subsequently withered and died on the vine, though thankfully for us, God has always kept a remnant alive.
Many retreated to anti-Semitic dogma that branded Jews
as ‘Christ-killers’ which denies the fundamental Gospel principle that it was God’s will for the Messiah to be crucified (Isaiah 53:10, Daniel 9:26); without it, we would still be in our sins. Failure to bless the Jews (Genesis 12:3) and remain connected to our roots has been key to the decline of Methodism.
One day, as a nation, Jesus’ brothers in the flesh will recognise Him as the Messiah
But if our roots are in Christ, the Jewish Messiah, we are thus totally connected with Israel, who gave us the patriarchs, the prophets, the law, the Bible and our Saviour.
And one day, as a nation, Jesus’ brothers in the flesh will recognise him as Messiah (Romans 11:26, Zechariah 12:10, Revelation 1:7 “… every eye will see him, even they who pierced him”).
If you love Jesus, you will love the Jews
Until then, we must ensure that our roots are regularly watered by the word of God so that we too can flourish and be fruitful – even in the heat of the day in a world that has forsaken God and is rising up against his ancient people.
If you love Jesus, you will love the Jews. We are rooted to them and their destiny should also be our concern. The Gospel too is for them – “to the Jew first, and also to the gentile” (Romans 1:16). We are a wild olive shoot grafted in to the natural olive tree, sharing its nourishing sap, without which we will wither and die.
So let’s become fruit-bearing soul-winners, prioritising the Jews while also reaching the nations for Jesus!
For Jesus, the King of the Jews, is coming again – and soon! Every knee will bow before him. Attested as King of the Jews by the Magi (wise men from the East) at his birth, and by the Romans from the West at his death, he is both the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29) and the Lion of the tribe of Judah (Revelation 5:5).
Dry bones come alive!
Dozens of Hungarians who lost touch with their Jewish roots due to the Holocaust and communism are returning to their faith as the community is being rebuilt. Having not functioned for many decades, Budapest’s historic Obuda synagogue has now been restored and used for its original purpose. Quoting from the prophet Ezekiel, their rabbi explains that they are talking to the dry bones – whether of buildings or people who have lost their affiliation to Judaism – and bringing them back to life!
Iranian airman praises Jews
A former Iranian air force pilot has praised the spirit of the Jewish people for rebuilding their lives in their ancient homeland following the devastation of the Nazi genocide.
Khosrow Beitollahi, an activist against Iran’s current regime, was speaking after a visit to Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum. e is one of hundreds of non-Jewish Iranian activists in the US – a number that is growing – who are openly supporting Israel because of their desire to help rebuild Iran’s neglected and devastated landscape under the current Islamic regime.
“This criminal regime has created a failed state because it cannot provide basic water, electricity and food resources for the country’s population of 80 million,” said 70 year old Beitollahi, who lives in Los Angeles. “This regime will soon collapse and we, the patriots, will reach out to Israel, our only true friend in the region, for their help to avoid a major humanitarian catastrophe for the people of Iran.”
Whatsapp shock over missile debris
Members of an Israel based Whatsapp group were recently shocked to read: “Dear neighbours, on the front lawn is what seems to be a part of a Syrian missile!”
It turned out the debris from a Syrian anti-aircraft missile was found scattered in Tel Aviv, with an IDF source confirming: “A surface -to-air missile was launched overnight from Syria and exploded above the sea, but residents of central Israel located a number of the missile’s fragments scattered on the ground.”
Dishonest media reports on anti-Semitism
The Honest Reporting campaign has uncovered a shocking example of media bias which omits reference to anti-Semitism in an article on hate crime by American media giant CNN.
In a 1,000 word analysis of the FBI’s Hate Crime Statistics Report, CNN acknowledged that over 10,000 people reported being victims of hate crime because of their race or ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, religion or disability – the highest level in a dozen years – without even a passing reference to American Jews. The oversight is glaring when considering they comprise a mere two per cent of the US population, yet were last year targets of nearly 60 per cent of all religiously motivated offences.
Other recent articles by Charles Gardner include:
An evangelist’s regret; Stabbing at Speakers’ Corner; The secret of England’s success; Enough is enough; A dream come true.
His latest book, ‘King of the Jews’, is available from Christian Publications International or Eden Books. He is also author of ‘A Nation Reborn’ (CPI), ‘Israel the Chosen’ (Amazon) and ‘Peace in Jerusalem’ (olivepresspublisher.com & Eden) – all available from Amazon