Q. I am wondering what the Biblical responsibility towards Jerusalem and the Jewish people is for those who have received Christ as their Savior and live under grace. I see pastors wearing prayer shawls and holding firm to the Old Testament laws, holidays and feasts and have noticed a major influx of church leaders preaching and teaching about the Jewish people still being God’s chosen people and about how much we owe them.
I pray daily for the peace of Jerusalem, but I don’t feel led by the Lord to buy a prayer shawl or observe feasts and holidays as laid out in the Old Testament. I can’t find the requirement for any of that in the post resurrection scriptures, but, if these are things I should be addressing, I will. My outlook on this is simply stated: Either Jesus changed everything, or He didn’t. I believe He did. Can you please clarify this for me?
A. It sounds like you’re referring to a teaching that’s been gaining in popularity among Christians, called the Hebrew (Hebraic) Roots Movement. Many of its proponents claim that the Church can only achieve its destiny through Israel and advocate the return to Old covenant requirements, such as keeping the law and observing the Levitical feasts, etc.
It’s the polar opposite of another false teaching called Replacement Theology which holds that all the unfulfilled promises to Israel have been inherited by the Church.
Both these groups ignore the fundamental truth that Israel and the Church are distinctly different with different origins and different destinies. Following either one requires one to re-interpret or completely ignore clear New Testament teaching.
For example, both Acts 15:13-18 and Romans 11:25-27 reveal that after the cross Israel was temporarily set aside while the Lord focused on building the (largely) Gentile Church, and afterward He would turn His attention again to Israel.
In the meantime as far as He is concerned we who are in Christ are neither Jew nor Gentile in His sight (Galatians 3:28). To that end Paul advised us not to let anyone judge us by what we eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day (Colossians 2:16).
God chose Israel forever (Genesis 17:8) and as soon as they return to Him as a nation all the unfulfilled promises He made to them will come to fruition. Christians are not forbidden from observing the Feasts of Israel and much can be learned from studying them. But when these or other Old Covenant provisions are taught as being mandatory, the line between Grace and the Law has been crossed. The Church is not Israel and Israel is not the Church.