In recent years the Holy Spirit has been wonderfully restoring Christians to their once lost, biblical Hebraic heritage. In this process, some believers have progressed far beyond in-depth biblical studies, to regularly researching Talmudic and other ancient Jewish texts. Other Christians are being discipled electronically by Israeli rabbis specializing in end times messianic studies — but from a traditional (anti-Yeshua) viewpoint.
Rabbinic scholarship and insights of respected Jewish sages can be helpful in studying the Word of God. But too often these supplementary writings can dazzle Gentile Christian seekers of deeper truth. Sadly, some Israel-loving Christians are being captivated by Jewish teachings that have a form of godliness — yet deny The Power thereof. Before long, they find they’re not as sure as they once were that Jesus is the only atonement for human sin. They question the meaning of His statement, “Nobody can come to the Father but by Me.” (John 14:6) Aligning with traditional rabbinic belief that Jews inherit a special covenant of salvation, some Christians have lost faith in Jesus altogether and converted to Judaism.
To be sure, there is a good measure of wisdom and benefit to be gained from traditional Jewish study of the Word. But never at the expense of studying the Word itself! For how good and right can it be to regularly ingest the teachings of spiritual leaders who deny — often passionately — that Messiah has come in the flesh? Is it possible to sit regularly at the feet of anti-Messiah rabbis and not at the same time sit at the feet of an anti-Christ spirit?
The Word of God addresses this matter, as it also occurred in the early church. For Christians seeking deeper knowledge of their Hebraic roots, here are five questions to consider. These considerations should help you stay on track with sound doctrine and the whole counsel of God, living in the fullness of His Spirit.
1. Is the spirit driving the teaching or teacher from God — or from an antichristian spirit? “Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God, but every spirit that does not … is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist.” (1 John 4:2-3, 2 John 1:7-8) This does not mean nonbelieving Jews have nothing to offer or teach believers. But it does mean you should exercise cautious discernment in what you learn from such teachers.
2. Are you consuming the Bread of Life or Leaven of the Pharisees and Saducees? (Matthew 16:6) The bread of life is the pure word of God. Centered on Yeshua, it nourishes and matures your spirit, soul and body. But leaven or yeast, which serves as a metaphor for pride, merely puffs up. This is why the apostle Paul writes that knowledge for the sake of knowledge puffs up. (1 Corinthians 8:1-3) Extra-biblical Jewish teaching may intellectually stimulate or fascinate you. To what extent does it also empower you fulfill the Greatest Commandment or Great Commission? (Matthew 22:37-38, 28:18-20)
3. Are you studying much but not walking in greater truth and Holy Spirit power? This was the situation for some who studied under false teachers in the early church. (2 Timothy 3:7) Keep in mind that the goal of your instruction is love. (1 Timothy 1:5) Remember that truth without love is not full truth. Do you know and love Yeshua better as a result of non-Yeshua centered Jewish studies?
4. What is the clearly expressed position of your Jewish teacher toward Jews who follow Yeshua? His or her attitude toward Jews who believe in Jesus will generally reflect the extent to which he or she may be influenced, consciously or unconsciously, by a spirit of antichrist. To my knowledge, practically all non-Messianic Jewish Israeli groups reaching out to, or discipling Christians, intentionally distance themselves from Jews who follow Yeshua. The mere mention of our existence can enrage them.
5. Are you praying for, and speaking into, the salvation of your Jewish teachers? God’s call on Gentile believers is to provoke Israel to jealousy for her Messiah. To be sure, He has invested great treasure in Israel. You can rightly enjoy and benefit from some traditional Jewish knowledge and wisdom. But Israel’s greatest treasure is the Savior of Humankind, who she still corporately rejects. If your Jewish teachers reject Yeshua, and even if they’re possibly wolves in sheep’s clothing, God loves them passionately. His heart’s desire is that they be saved. (Romans 11:28, 10:1) Is that yours?