All posts by Richard Booker

When God Shows Up

By Dr. Richard Booker

God shows up when people want Him to show up. As the holy Word of God declares, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you …” (James 4:8). When God shows up, things happen. When God shows up His people recognize His holy presence, His holy power, His Holy Spirit. When God shows up He gets our attention. He does the unexpected and the extraordinary beyond our control. Our religious familiarity turns into a holy awe of our holy God.

When God shows up He turns an ordinary bush into holy ground. He starts a fire that cannot be consumed. He turns an ordinary cloud into a pillar of divine guidance by day and a pillar of fire by night. When God shows up a mountain is engulfed with smoke and fire and shakes and quakes at the presence of the Lord. When God shows up He surrounds our enemies with an unseen host of angels. When God shows up He gives us victory against all odds.

When God shows up water turns to wine. The blind are made to see; the deaf are made to hear; the lame are made to walk; the mute are made to speak; the dead are brought to life; the storms are calmed and even the wind and the sea obey Him.  When God shows up the mighty wind of His Spirit shakes a building and tongues of fire appear on 120 disciples who changed the world. When God shows up a religion about God turns into a relationship with God. Kingdom life replaces churchianity.

When God shows up the comfortable are disturbed and the disturbed are comforted. Sick people are healed, burdens are lifted; sinners become saints, rebels become righteous, mourning is turned to joy, death and disease turn to life and health, darkness turns to light, worldliness turns to holiness, lust turns to love, greed turns to generosity, pride turns to purity, haughtiness turns to humility, complaining turns to praising, weakness turns to strength, creeds turn to deeds, bondage turns to deliverance, hopelessness turns to hope, stress turns to rest, troubles and trials turn to triumph, defeat turns to victory, gloom and doom turns to glory and gratitude, brokenness turns to wholeness, apathy turns to action, hate turns to forgiveness, poverty turns to prosperity, doubt and unbelief turns to faith; self-centeredness turns to others centeredness.

When God shows up people are consumed by the zeal of God. The holy fire of God burns inside them. They can’t stand in His presence. When God shows up people faint, swoon and fall to the ground, they crawl on the floor, they lift their hands, they shout, they sing, they dance, they shake, they tremble, they weep, they laugh, they speak with other tongues, they prophecy, they hunger and thirst after righteousness, they lay hands on people, they pray, they study, they love, they bless, they share, they do strange things because when the Divine touches the human soul; people are going to respond in unusual ways that can’t be explained by the ordinary.

Religious people can’t understand the presence of God. They criticize and ridicule what they can’t understand. But a person who has had an experience with God is never at the mercy of someone who only has a doctrine about God. We should learn to discern the difference between the Holy Spirit, demonic spirits and the flesh. But we should never judge or criticize people who have had an encounter with God we have not had nor understand.

When God shows up the Valley of Dry Bones turns into the miracle of modern Israel. When God shows up holocaust survivors gathered to their ancient Promised Land defeat millions of their enemies from five surrounding nations. When God shows up the desert begins to blossom like a rose; a dead language turns into everyman’s Hebrew, an ancient capital is liberated in 6 days, anti-Semites turn into Zionists, Jews and Gentiles turn into one new man, people who are black, white, brown, red and yellow turn into people who are color blind because there is no color in the Kingdom of God.

When God shows up, the holy blood of Jesus and the Living Waters of the Holy Spirit wash away the color line, the ethnic line, the gender line, the age line, the cultural line, the political line, the economic line, the social line, the language line, the denominational line and the doctrines line. Like a powerful spiritual tsunami, the overflow of God’s life in us, through us and out of us changes the course of our life and all that is in our path. Nothing is ever the same. When God shows up, everything changes.

THE CHARGE THAT CHANGED THE WORLD

While the world is celebrating Halloween on October 31, God was celebrating something so much more important that few Christians know about.

You see, it was October 31, 1917 that the Australian Light Horseman made a miraculous charge across open desert and captured the wells at Beersheba. Why did this charge change the world?

In World War I the British and her allies were trying to liberate the Holy Land (then called Palestine), from the Turks and their German allies. The problem was they had to go through Beersheba to get to Jerusalem. The British and her allies had to go through Beersheba because the water wells were at Beersheba. In World War I the military still used horses and horses need water. But the Turks were in control of Beersheba and had built fortified trenches to protect the city.

Without Beersheba, the British and her allies could not liberate the Holy Land, Israel would not be reborn, Jerusalem would not be liberated and prophecy not fulfilled.

After failing several times to take Beersheba, British and Australian commanders determined that they would make one last effort to attack Beersheba with the Fourth Light Horse Brigade. Australian Lieutenant-General Harry Chauvel gave the command. It was just before dark with just enough daylight to make the charge. If the charge failed, the outcome of the war could have been completely different. Failure was not an option.

The Light Horseman were mounted infantry. They always rode their horses a certain distance and then dismounted to charge their enemy by foot. This is what the Germans and Turks expected them to do. But not this time.

I don’t want to give away the story except to say that the Light Horseman did a maneuver they had never done which so surprised the Germans and the Turks, the Light Horseman were able to capture the wells at Beersheba. During the battle, of the 800 Light Horseman in the charge, 31 were killed, 36 wounded and 70 horses died.

The result of the victory was that was that the way to Jerusalem was open for General Allenby to liberate Jerusalem in December and drive the Germans and Turks from the Holy Land. This also made possible the implementation of the Balfour Declaration on November 2 giving British support for the rights of the Jewish people to establish a state in their ancient homeland. This victory at Beersheba is as significant as the liberation of Jerusalem in the six day war in 1967. Without it, Bible prophecy would not be fulfilled. The victory is being re-enacted each year in Israel to celebrate THE CHARGE THAT CHANGED THE WORLD.

There is a great movie about this event entitled, “The Light Horseman.” It won the Australian Academy Awards some years back. It is family friendly. You would be greatly blessed by watching this movie. I am sure you can order it through Amazon.

www.amazon.com/Lighthorsemen-Peter-Phelps/dp/B000CJ2E5I

It is a great way to learn about one of the most important event in God’s redemptive history for Israel and the world.

 

YOM KIPPUR IN THE TIME OF JESUS

By Dr. Richard Booker

According to the Talmud (Jewish oral traditions put in writing), the destruction of the Temple did not come as a total surprise to the Jewish people. The Talmud records four ominous events that occurred approximately forty years before the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. These four events were a warning to the rabbis of the impending doom of the Temple. According to Jewish traditions, all four of the following signs came to pass as recorded in the Talmud (Yoma 39a, b). Here is what happened.

  1. The Lot marked for the Lord did not come up in the right hand

In Leviticus 16, on the Day of Atonement, the High Priest was to present two goats before the LORD. He would then cast lots over the goats to determine which would be offered to the LORD and which would be led into the wilderness as the scapegoat. The goat on which the LORD’S lot fell was offered as a sin offering. (See Leviticus 16:5-10.)

The religious leaders considered it a good omen if the lot marked “for the LORD” was drawn by the priest in his right hand. But according to traditional Jewish writings, for forty years prior to the destruction of the temple, the lot “for the LORD” appeared in his left hand. This bad omen caused great fear of impending doom.

  1. The scarlet thread tied to the door of the Temple on the Day of Atonement stopped turning white after the scapegoat had been cast over the cliff

Jewish tradition says that the High Priest tied a crimson wool thread around the horns of the scapegoat and sent him off into the wilderness accompanied by a priest. The priest was escorted for twelve miles to a designated place where he pushed the goat over a cliff bearing Israel’s sins. A portion of the crimson thread was attached to the door of the temple before the goat was sent into the wilderness. When the goat was pushed off the cliff and died, the thread on the door at the temple was said to turn from red to white. This was a divine sign to the people that God had accepted their sacrifice and their sins were forgiven.

This sign was based on Isaiah 1:18 which says, “ … though your sins are as scarlet, they will be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they will be like wool.” Rabbinic writings tell us that for forty years prior to the destruction of the temple, the thread stopped turning white.

  1. The westernmost light on the Temple candelabra would not burn was a bad omen that the light of the Temple was going to be diminished

Further signs of doom were that the western most light on the temple candelabra would not burn. This was a bad omen that the light of the temple was going to be distinguished.

  1. The Temple doors would open by themselves

Furthermore, the temple doors would open by themselves. The rabbis saw this as a sign that the temple was going to be destroyed by fire as God’s judgment for their ungodliness. This was based on their understanding of Zechariah 11:1 which says, “Open your doors, O Lebanon, that fire may devour your cedars.”

The obvious significance of these signs is that they began to appear forty years prior to the destruction of the temple. This was when Jesus was crucified. It was a most dramatic way for God to demonstrate that Jesus was the ultimate human reality of the Day of Atonement. His death provided the once-and-for-all forgiveness for sin. “It is finished.” Thank you Lord for your love and mercy!

For more information on the Day of Atonement

and all the feasts, see Dr. Booker’s book,

Celebrating Jesus in the Biblical Feast

Click Here

www.rbooker.com

 

Understanding Israeli Politics

Now that’s an oxymoron. No one can understand Israeli politics.

It is more confusing than American Politics.

But here are some basic facts to help you sort it out.

The Israeli Knesset consist of 120 members. The people vote for parties not for an individual as we do in the US. In order to have a seat in the Knesset, a party must meet the current threshold of 3.25% of the overall vote. The leader of the party decides who will be seated in his party in the Knesset and he or she assigns a ranking to them to determine their place on the list.

The Prime Minister must have at least 61 seats in order to have a majority. Since no party has these many seats, the main party has to have the support and cooperation of the parties that have less representation. This means that the parties with less representation can make demands on the Prime Minister in order to get their support.

While it is expected that the parties want something in exchange for their support, sometimes their demands are extreme and only represent their self-interest and not the national interest for the good of the country. This means that the Prime Minister and the main party is often hostage to the whims and demands of the smaller parties to the detriment of the country.

While the Almighty will decide who will be the next Prime Minister (Daniel 4:17), the President of Israel will talk with the leading candidates and decide which one he thinks has the best chance of forming a working, stable government. He will then give that person the chance to do so. If he or she cannot do this, Israel will go to even a third election.

The recent voting numbers are as follow:

33 seats Blue and White:  Liberal led by Benny Gantz
31 seats Likud: Conservative – led by Bibi Netanyahu
13 seats The Joint List: Anti-Israel Arab Party
9 seats Shas: Ultra-Orthodox
8 seats Yisrael Beytenu: Ultra Conservative led by Avigdor Lieberman
8 seats UTJ: United Torah-Judaism – Orthodox
7 seats Yamina: Conservative led by Ayelet Shaked and Naftali Bennet
6 seats Labor-Gesher: 4.80% – Liberal
5 seats Democratic Union: 4.34% – Ultra Liberal

THE KING IS IN THE FIELD

The Meaning of Elul in the Life of the Believer
By Dr. Richard Booker

We have now entered the Biblical/Hebrew month of Elul. Elul has 29 days and is the sixth month on the sacred calendar and the last month on the civil calendar. It is a month of preparation leading up to the High Holy days of Rosh Hashanah (Yom Teruah–Trumpets) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement).

According to the Jewish reckoning of time, it was the month of Elul when Moses ascended the second time to Mount Sinai to receive the second set of the Ten Commandments and intercede in repentance for the sin regarding the Golden Calf (Ex 32; 34:27-28). The traditional understanding is that Moses ascended on the eve of Elul and descended on Yom Kippur, a total of forty days.

As a result, observant Jews today seek God with more kavanah(focus and purpose) during the forty day period from the beginning of Elul to Yom Kippur. This is a special time of reflection, prayers, forgiveness and repentance when the people search their souls and seek God with their whole hearts in preparation for the High Holy Days.

In Hebrew, Elul is written with the Aleph, Lamed, Vav and Lamed. It is an acronym for the Hebrew phrase, Ani le dodi ve dodi li which means, “I am my beloved’s, and my beloved is mine” (Song of Solomon 6:3). In times past, many of us used to sing our love song to God, “I’m my Beloved’s and He is mine, His banner over me is love.”

Because the name Elul suggest a loving, intimate relationship with our Creator, Jewish sages have likened this forty day period when a king leaves his palace and throne and goes out into the fields to meet his people and relate to them on a personal basis. He is still king, but he has left his throne to be with his people. He is accessible to them and greets them with love and acceptance as one of their own in a way he could not do in his palace. But his presence is only for a short time and he returns to his palace where he is no longer accessible.

To prepare for the king’s coming, in this case the presence of God, the shofar is blown on the first morning of Elul until the morning before Rosh HaShanah, except the shofar is not blown on the Sabbath.

The Encyclopedia of Judaism says that the shofar, “calls upon sinners to repent, awakens thoughts of God’s sovereignty, justice, and redeeming power, and expresses the Jew’s hope that God will before long ‘sound the great shofar’ to herald deliverance and the ingathering of the exiles in the land of Israel.”

Rabbi Wayne Dosick comments that the sound of the shofar “serves as a warning to people to wake up out of their lethargy, to scrutinize their deeds, to improve their conduct, it serves as a prelude to God’s judgment; and it serves as a reminder that one day the Kingdom of God, the time of Messiah, will be announced to the whole world.”

Moses Maimonides, one of the greatest of Jewish sages wrote of the significance of the shofar, “Awake O you sleepers, awake from your sleep! Search your deeds and turn in repentance. … Look at your souls, and better your ways and actions. Let everyone of you abandon his evil ways and his wicked thoughts and return to God so that He may have mercy upon you.”
WOW – this is seriously seeking God. The good news is that the Lord has promised that He will reveal Himself to us if we will seek Him with our whole heart and soul (Deuteronomy 4:29). God makes this promise because He loves us and wants to have a personal relationship with us. But we must seek Him and want that love relationship with Him.

For those of us who acknowledge Yeshua/Jesus as our King, we recognize that God loves us so much that He left His palace and throne in heaven and came to the field of our planet to reveal Himself to us. He was still God in heaven, but He prepared for Himself a body and entered the human race to be with us, to relate to us on a personal basis. He came out of Himself as one of our own. He was the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us. We see a clear example of this when God appeared to Abraham in the form of a man in Genesis 18. The idea that God reveals Himself to us in ways we can relate to is seen throughout the Hebrew Scriptures. It is NOT an invention of the New Testament writers.

Through the person of Jesus of Nazareth, God became accessible to us on a personal and intimate basis that was not possible as long as He stayed in His palace in heaven. Yeshua/Jesus is our “King in the Field.” Everywhere Jesus went He greeted people with love and acceptance, except for the establishment of His day which refused to accept His announcement that the Kingdom of God, the time of Messiah had come. While the people loved and welcomed Jesus, the establishment crucified Him because He exposed their hate and hypocrisy. But even this was predicted by the prophets in such places as Isaiah 53, Psalm 22, Zechariah 12:10, etc.

Because Jesus was perfect without sin, death could not hold Him! After fulfilling the Sign of Jonah, Matthew 12:40, Jesus was resurrected and spent the next forty days teaching and showing Himself to His disciples. Did I say FORTY days? That’s right. The King in the Field spent forty days with His people. He then returned to His palace in heaven where He took His rightful place on the throne next to His Father as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Now if that is not enough, here is some more exciting news. Before Jesus ascended to heaven, He gave us a great promise. He said, “If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:15-17).

Yeshua/Jesus promised that He would give us the Holy Spirit who would live in our hearts. The presence of the King in the Field would be with us always. As believers, we do not have to wait for a special month or time of the year for the King to be in the field to greet us. He lives in the field of our heart. He is not just with us; He is in us and we are in Him. The two of us have become one in a spiritual union. In this way, we always have access to our King. But we must prepare the field of our heart everyday by turning away from sin and the cultural bread and circus that hinders our love relationship with our King.

To enjoy His manifest presence living in us we must hear the sound of the shofar of God, the voice of His Spirit, calling us to an ever-deeper relationship with Him. May the King manifest His life, His love and His power every day in the field of your heart.

The Hebraic Roots of America Part 3 of 3

Do you know that America was founded on the Hebraic roots of Christianity and the Laws of Moses?

Dr. Richard Booker

     There were three great influences that shaped the Pilgrims and Puritans understanding of how to govern and how to live. All three were based on their connection to their Hebraic-Jewish roots. This is why America should be called a “Judeo-Christian Nation.” If we want to “Make America Great Again” we must rediscover the faith of those who made America the greatest nation in the history of nations.

In this three-part series, you will discover what the Pilgrims and Puritans understood had to be the foundation of the new nation. This information is taken from my book, Christians, Jews and Israel: Standing Together in Troubled Times which you may order from our on-line store.

The Hebrew Language

     The third major influence on the Pilgrims and Puritans was the Hebrew language. Since the Pilgrims and Puritans were so connected to the Hebrew people and the Hebrew Bible, they naturally studied the Hebrew of the Bible. They believed that God spoke the world into existence in the Hebrew language and that Hebrew is the language of heaven and the original mother language of all languages spoken by Adam and Eve. Hebrew was not a common language at this time but was the language of the Bible.  

Since there were no radio, television, internet or other time stealers, the favorite pastime of the clergy was to study Hebrew. Can you imagine your favorite pastime is studying Hebrew? Many of the leading citizens in the colonies were versed in Hebrew and some were scholars. A number of the signers of the Declaration of Independence had a basic knowledge of Hebrew. Let’s see some examples of this thinking.

William Bradford was the governor of Plymouth and a scholar. He had mastered Latin, Dutch, French and New Testament Greek, but at Plymouth he studied Hebrew by candlelight. Bradford said “that he studied Hebrew so that he might be able to speak in the most ancient language, the Holy Tongue in which God and the angels spoke.” He explained “that he wanted to see with his own eyes the ancient oracles of God in their native beauty.”21

I have a book that shows copies of Bradford’s notes in his own handwriting where he wrote the Hebrew and his English translation below it. 

     Regarding the exceptionalism of America, Bradford wrote, “Thus out of small beginnings, greater things have grown by His hand Who made all things out of nothing, and gives being to all things that are; and as one small candle may light a thousand, so the light enkindled here has shone to many, yea, in a sense our whole nation; let the glorious name of Jehovah have all the praise.”22

On November 22, 2005, Rabbi Howard Berman gave a sermon at the Back Bay Interfaith Community Thanksgiving service and commented, “The Pilgrims were the first to sense that America had a unique destiny in human history … as Governor Bradford wrote, ‘just as one small candle may light a thousand others, and lose none of its own light, so too will we – but few in number – become a beacon for all people!’”23

Puritan leader, Cotton Mather, said of Bradford, “He was also well skilled in history, antiquity, philosophy and theology. But the crown of all was his holy, prayerful, watchful, and fruitful walk with God.”24

     The Ivy League colleges such as Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Columbia and others were established for the purpose of educating the Puritan ministers. As such, the Presidents of the Universities were Puritan ministers, and most were Hebrew scholars. Along with their Biblical studies, all of these colleges offered required courses in Hebrew beginning in the freshmen year. They actually studied the Hebrew Bible in Hebrew. In some instances, seniors gave their graduation speech in Hebrew. WOW!            

One of the most influential Puritan leaders was Cotton Mather. His father, Increase Mather, was President of Harvard, a Hebrew scholar and also taught Hebrew. Cotton Mather was also a Hebrew scholar beginning his study of Hebrew at age 12. When he graduated from Harvard at age 15, he gave his graduation speech in Hebrew and often used Hebrew phrases in his correspondence. Needless to say, Cotton Mather loved the Hebrew language. He scolded his students for spending more time smoking their tobacco than they did studying their Hebrew.

Yale also had a strong curriculum in Hebrew required of all its students. Yale’s seventh President, the Reverend Ezra Stiles, was such a Hebrew scholar he was called a “Hebraician.”25 While pastoring the Second Congregational Church in New Port, RI, Stiles studied Hebrew with the local rabbis and became so proficient that members of the Jewish community often came to Stiles to translate for them. He dialogued in Hebrew with Jewish scholars from Europe who could not speak English.

He not only read the Bible in Hebrew, he also read the Mishna, the Kabala and Jewish commentaries in Hebrew. During his term at President at Yale, Stiles offered Hebrew five days a week because he wanted every student at Yale, as he put it, “to know something of the holy tongue, lest he be entirely ignorant of the holy language when he got to heaven.”26

Samuel Johnson was the first president of Kings College, later renamed Columbia University. He said that “Hebrew was essential to a gentleman’s education.” He also said, “As soon as a lad has learned to speak and read English well, it is much the best to begin a learned education in Hebrew … the mother of all language and eloquence.”27 

Some of the college seals had inscriptions in Hebrew. For example, the Yale seal shows an open book with the Urim and Thumim used by Aaron, the High Priest, in communicating with God. The Columbia seal has the Hebrew name for God and the Hebrew name for one of the angels. Dartmouth has the Hebrew words for “God Almighty” in its seal.

The Hebrew language was so popular that a story was circulated that said certain members of Congress proposed that Hebrew be the official language of the colonies. How I wish that would have passed as I would not have to go to Ulpan to learn Hebrew.

The Pervasive Influence of the Hebraic Roots 

The Pilgrims and Puritans connection to the Hebrew people, the Hebrew Bible and the Hebrew language was so pervasive, it influenced their whole lives. For example, the Book of Psalms was the book used for their songs of praise. This is why in 1640, the Psalms was the first book printed in the colonies. It was translated directly from Hebrew into English. The preface to the Psalms contains the first words printed in Hebrew in the colonies. Since there was no Hebrew font available, the printer carved the Hebrew words on wood.

     For more information on the Hebraic roots of America, please order Christians, Jews and Israel: Standing Together in Troubled Times. How about getting copies for your family, friends, co-workers and Bible teachers.

 

 

 CLICK HERE to Order $10 Plus S&H

The Hebraic Roots of America – Part 2 of 3

Do you know that America was founded on the Hebraic roots of Christianity and the Laws of Moses?

Dr. Richard Booker

      There were three great influences that shaped the Pilgrims and Puritans understanding of how to govern and how to live. All three were based on their connection to their Hebraic-Jewish roots. This is why America should be called a “Judeo-Christian Nation.” If we want to “Make America Great Again” we must rediscover the faith of those who made America the greatest nation in the history of nations.

In this three-part series, you will discover what the Pilgrims and Puritans understood had to be the foundation of the new nation. This information is taken from my book, Christians, Jews and Israel: Standing Together in Troubled Times which you may order from our on-line store.

The Hebrew Bible (Old Testament)

     The second great influence on the Pilgrims and Puritans was the Hebrew Bible. Unlike traditional Christianity in England which considered a relationship with God strictly on a personal basis, the Pilgrims and the Puritans believed they were called by God to establish a national covenant in the new land with the God of the Bible as the Hebrews did at Mount Sinai. They wanted to be a “nation under God.”

     When the Pilgrims and Puritans read the Hebrew Bible, they saw that God and His chosen people entered into a national covenant at Sinai. Their clear intention in the new world was to do likewise. They wanted to establish a new nation that had a covenant with God that would be based on the moral laws of God given at Sinai. The citizens of this new nation would willingly agree to live by the laws which would constrain their natural evil impulses.

John Adams, the second President of the United States said, “We have no government armed with power capable of contending with human passion unbridled by morality and religion. Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.”6

In his book, Judaism and Democracy, Louis Witt gives the following warning, “Democracy presupposes a moral basis and background. Democracy is moral before it is political. That people may rule, there must prevail among the people justice and righteousness and a passion for liberty for oneself and one’s brothers. Without these virtues a people, even when living under a democracy in form, will find itself living under tyrannous masters in fact.”7

Before the Pilgrims disembarked from the Mayflower, they made a compact among themselves that they called, “a covenant” in which they agreed to live by the ordinances and laws they passed for the common good of the community. This covenant was modeled on their separatist congregation in England. We know of this covenant as “The Mayflower Compact.”

In his book, The Puritan as a Colonist and Reformer, Ezra Hoyt Byington records that the colonist in Salem wrote these words in their covenant, “We covenant with the Lord and one another, and do bind ourselves in the presence of God, to walk together in all His ways, according as He is pleased to reveal Himself unto us in His blessed word of truth.”8

John Winthrop was a Puritan minister and served as the Puritan governor of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Using Biblical language, right from the Torah, he said, “If we keep this covenant, we shall find that the God of Israel is among us, but if we deal falsely with our God, we will be consumed out of the good land where we are going.”9 The Biblical covenant the Hebrews had with God and the moral laws given at Sinai was the basis for governing the Puritan communities.

     The Hebrew Bible with its teachings on the Ten Commandments and the holy laws of God was their guide. The Torah instructions on justice, morality and ethics were the foundation of the judicial and legislative enactments of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. These moral laws of God would be enshrined as the legal code of the new nation.

While the Puritans had a perfect model in the covenantal laws of God given at Sinai, they, like us, were not perfect in implementing those laws. In their religious zeal, they often neglected grace, mercy and compassion. This is best seen in the Salem “witch trials” in 1691-1692. In their efforts to apply Exodus 22:18 to rid the land of sorcerers, they clearly applied the letter of the law to the exclusion of the spirit of the law. While we may be quick to judge them for their human failings, the Pilgrims and Puritans laid the moral foundation for what would become the greatest nation in the history of the world.

There is some discussion today about American exceptionalism. Historically, Americans have believed we have a special responsibility to be a light of justice, goodness and freedom to the world. Now new voices are saying we are just like any other country.

Let’s read what the founders said. As the Puritans prepared to sail to the new world, John Winthrop said to them, “ … we must consider that we shall be as a City upon a hill, and that the eyes of all people are upon us.”10 Regardless of what some might say, America is exceptional because it is the only nation in history born as a democratic republic based on Judeo-Christian values from the Bible.

These Judeo-Christian values found their expression in the Declaration of Independence and the US Constitution. It was these Judeo-Christian values that inspired Thomas Jefferson to write in the American Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

Puritan leader John Davenport said to the first assembly of New Haven in 1639, “Scriptures do hold forth a perfect rule for the direction and government of all men in all duties which they are to perform to God and men as well as in the government of families and commonwealth as in matters of the church.”11 The assembly unanimously agreed with Davenport that the Word of God would be the only guide consulted in organizing the affairs of their government.

Following John Davenport’s speech, the Connecticut legislature in 1655 established governing laws based on the teachings in the Torah. They adopted a legal code containing 79 statutes, 38 of which contained biblical references from the Hebrew Bible. The Massachusetts Bay Colony and the Pilgrim Colony at Plymouth had similar laws governing themselves.

Abraham I. Katsh was a revered scholar and pioneer in Jewish studies. In his classic work, The Biblical Heritage of American Democracy, He noted the Jewish undertones of the Pilgrims and Puritans and said that “many classic Hebraic values became woven into the fabric of American civilization.” He further said, “There can be very little doubt that the Puritans were almost solely influenced by the Hebrew Bible.” He added “The Bible became for the Puritans a call to individual and national righteousness.”12

Regarding the Puritans connection to their Hebraic roots, Katsh writes, “The knowledge of the Hebrew language enabled the Puritans to breathe more deeply of the spirit and meaning of the Old Testament. This particular Hebraic type of idealism, as the Puritans chose to interpret and apply it, not only dominated their theology but permeated the pattern of their daily life. It helped them to discipline their minds; it fortified their will; it confirmed in divine terms the principles for which they stood; and these were the factors which enabled them to survive.”13

     In his book, Landmarks and Goals, Jewish scholar and historian, Abraham Aaron Neuman wrote, “Puritanism was, in essence, the Hebrew Spirit in the Christian conscience.”14

In The Indestructible Jews, Jewish historian Max Dimont wrote that “The Puritans regarded themselves as Hebraists and took the Old Testament as their model of government.”15

Katsh explains, “Since Puritanism was essentially a return to the Hebraic concept of a “compact or covenant” with God, it followed that the laws, regulations, ordinances by which the Puritan society was to be governed should be those contained in the Hebrew Bible.”16

“The Puritans accepted the concept of covenant with God as the bedrock of their society and its legal structure. The most series implication of this concept of covenant was its exaction of righteousness and moral behavior. And since the boundaries of the moral behavior of the individual and the body politic were scarcely perceptible, the ethical laws regulating the activity of the community as a whole were virtually indistinguishable from those pertaining to the individual.”17

“Throughout the period of colonization in New England, the Mosaic rulings and Biblical laws were considered the supreme authority in any question requiring the citation of a precedent. … For therein, the colonists felt, was found to be the model of society as they envisioned it. From these initial efforts, Hebraic laws and principles extended and prevailed throughout the colonies, and still later, in the national system of American constitutional law.”18

Author and Scholar, P. Marion Simms, in his book, The Bible in America says, “The American people owe more to the ancient Hebrews than to any ancient people. More than to either the Greeks or the Romans, because to the Hebrews we owe our ethical and spiritual ideas.”19

One more quote by John Adams. This is from a letter he wrote to F. A. Van der Kemp dated February 16, 1808. He writes “I will insist that the Hebrews had contributed more to civilize men than any other nation. If I was an atheist and believed in blind eternal fate, I should still believe that fate had ordained the Jews to be the most essential instrument for civilizing the nations.

“They are the most glorious nation that ever inhabited the earth. The Romans and their empire were but a bubble in comparison to the Jews. They have given religion to three-quarters of the globe and have influenced the affairs of mankind more happily than any other nation, ancient or modern.”20

     We will continue to explore this Hebraic connection and the founding of America in Part 3 by discovering the remarkable role the Hebrew language in the lives of the Pilgrims and Puritans. For more information, please order Christians, Jews and Israel: Standing Together in Troubled Times. How about getting copies for your family, friends, co-workers and Bible teachers.

 

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The Hebraic Roots of America – Part 1 of 3

Do you know that America was founded on the Hebraic roots of Christianity and the Laws of Moses? 

Dr. Richard Booker

     There were three great influences that shaped the Pilgrims and Puritans understanding of how to govern and how to live. All three were based on their connection to their Hebraic-Jewish roots. This is why America should be called a “Judeo-Christian Nation.” If we want to “Make America Great Again” we must rediscover the faith of those who made America the greatest nation in the history of nations.

In this three-part series, you will discover what the Pilgrims and Puritans understood had to be the foundation of the new nation. This information is taken from my book, Christians, Jews and Israel: Standing Together in Troubled Times which you may order from our on-line store.

The Hebrew People

     The first great influence was the Hebrew people. Because of the popularity of the Thanksgiving holiday, all Americans have heard of the Pilgrims. Anyone who has studied American history knows something about the Puritans. But few know the connection the Pilgrims and Puritans had to the Hebrew people, the Hebrew Bible (what Christians call the Old Testament), and the Hebrew language. For example, it is likely that the Thanksgiving celebration of the Pilgrims was based on the Feast of Tabernacles in Leviticus 23:39.

Modern Christians would be shocked to know that the Pilgrims did not celebrate Christmas because of its pagan origins. But they did consider Sunday to be a Sabbath day of worship and rest. In their worship services, they followed the tradition of Orthodox Jews in separating men and women.

     It’s important that we know how totally and completely the Pilgrims and Puritans were connected to the Hebraic-Jewish roots of Christianity. It is that connection that brought Judeo-Christian morals and ethics to America that made America great.

     But first, let’s clarify who were the Pilgrims and Puritans? They were Bible believing Christians who did not like the fact that the secular British government, ruled by a secular king, also ruled over the Christian Church of England. The king dictated church doctrines and practices that benefited him and forbade those that didn’t.

As you would expect, this corrupted the organized Church of England. That is why it is important, that from a control standpoint, political organizations and religious organizations should not be governed by the same entity. This was the reason the founding fathers included the idea of a “Wall of Separation” between Church and State.

     The misinterpretation and misapplication of this important principle has led to God being removed from any entity connected to the government. This is why American is collapsing. As a Democratic Republic with self-government, America cannot survive without the moral foundations upon which America was built. The Pilgrims and Puritans understood that human beings are corrupt and that it was not wise for the government to dictate what people should believe and how to practice their faith. They never had the thought of removing God from the government or separating faith and politics.

     They experienced this in England and knew it was not good. As a result, the Puritans and Pilgrims didn’t like a secular king telling them what they could believe and how they could practice their Christian faith. They wanted to study the Bible for themselves, establish their own beliefs as they understood the Bible, and decide for themselves how to live out their faith.

     In other words, they did not want freedom from religion; but freedom of religion. They acknowledged God as their sovereign; not the King of England. How many of you know that the king wouldn’t like that? They wanted freedom of conscience to believe and live as they understood the Bible; and not what the King of England told them to believe and do. This is why our great Declaration of Independence says that our basic human rights come from God not government. Of course this is a threat to those in our country who want the government to be God.

     This desire for freedom of conscience threatened the king who was not going to tolerate this dissent. King James I vowed to “make these deviants conform or he would harass them out of the land or else do worse.” The more they sought religious freedom; the more the king persecuted them. Using biblical terms, we might say that God hardened the King of England’s heart.

The Puritans thought they could purify the corrupted Church of England from within. The Pilgrims believed otherwise. They didn’t see any hope for change as long as the king was the head of the church. So the Pilgrims separated themselves from the Church of England. This is why they were called Separatists.

Incidentally, the English word “Church” is not even in the Bible. King James required those who translated his version of the Bible into English to use the word “Church” instead of congregation or community or covenant people because he needed to be in charge of an establishment called the “Church of England.”

Because they were persecuted, the Pilgrims fled England to Holland and then twelve years later they left Holland, bordered a ship called the Mayflower and sailed to America on September 6, 1620. Sixty-six days later they arrived at Cape Cod and at Plymouth Rock on December 11. Over the next twenty years, 16,000 Puritans crossed the ocean and founded the Massachusetts Bay Colony.

Now speaking the truth in love, there was no Koran on the Mayflower. The Pilgrims and Puritans brought with them the Bible in one hand and a musket in the other. The Bible they had was “The 1599 edition of the Geneva Bible.” It was called The Geneva Bible because the reformers had to flee England and went to Geneva where they made this translation. This Bible has recently been reissued. I have a personal copy.

It was the Geneva Bible used by the Pilgrims and Puritans that built America. It was the first Bible to have chapter and verse numbers and commentary, many of which were negative towards a monarchy. It was the Bible of freedom and liberty. It was the Geneva Bible that inspired the inscription on the Liberty Bell which is a direct quote from Leviticus 25:10, “Proclaim liberty throughout the land unto all the inhabitants.”

     The Pilgrims and Puritans so identified with the ancient Hebrews and were so connected to their Biblical Hebraic roots; they called themselves “Christian Israel.” They did not think of themselves as replacing Israel and the Jewish people in God’s covenant but re-enacting the Exodus story. They did not have a replacement theology but what I call a “re-enactment theology.”

     Since the word Hebrew means to “cross over,” the Pilgrims and Puritans thought of themselves as re-enacting the Exodus story. They were fleeing England which represented Egypt; the King of England was Pharaoh, they were crossing the Atlantic which was their Red Sea; America was like the land of Israel, the Native Americans were their Canaanites, and they, like the Hebrews, were entering into a national covenant with God in their new Promised Land.

Gabriel Sivan in his book, The Bible and Civilization writes, “No Christian Community in history identified more with the People of the Book than did the early settlers of the Massachusetts Bay Colony who believed their own lives to be a literal re-enactment of the Hebrew nation. They saw themselves as instruments of Divine Providence, a people chosen to build their new commonwealth on the covenant entered into at Mt. Sinai.”5 Since the Pilgrims and Puritans were a persecuted religious minority, they had what I call a “sympathy of kinship” with the Jews of their time.

         We will continue to explore this Hebraic connection and the founding of America in Part 2 by discovering the remarkable role of the Hebrew Bible in the lives of the Pilgrims and Puritans. For more information, please order Christians, Jews and Israel: Standing Together in Troubled Times. How about getting copies for your family, friends, co-workers and Bible teachers.

 

 CLICK HERE to Order $10 Plus S&H

Who Killed Jesus?

It is the season for Passover and Easter. I tremble when I think that on Easter Sunday preachers around the world will stand in their pulpits and blame the Jews for killing Jesus. In times past, this false teaching inflamed the ignorant masses of European Church goers who left their pews to kill the Jews in their community because they “killed Christ.” Thankfully Christians are more enlightened in our world today, still the erroneous teaching will be preached from millions of pulpits by well-meaning but misinformed preachers. May God forgive them because they know not what they do.

So who really killed Jesus? There is the theological answer and the human answer. Christians certainly understand the theological answer; it is the human answer that we have misunderstood that has caused much suffering for the Jewish people throughout history. In this article, I am clarifying the human answer.

There are two human parties involved in the death of Jesus. They can both be summed up in two words, “the Establishment.” The establishment, the people in power, always kills the prophets and revolutionaries of their day. Jesus was both a prophet and a revolutionary. He threatened their position of power, position and wealth. So they had to get rid of Him.

The first of the two establishment’s responsibility for the death of Jesus was Rome. By Rome, I mean the government of Rome, not the people of Rome. The Roman people had never even heard of Jesus. The Roman people lived in Italy and throughout the Roman Empire. They certainly didn’t live in Israel where Jesus lived and died. Even though the Roman government in Israel crucified Jesus by the hands of Pilate and a few Roman soldiers, we cannot hold the Roman people responsible for the death of Jesus. Modern Italians did not kill Jesus. They were not part of the crowd in Jerusalem shouting, “Crucify Him.”

The New Testament is clear that Pilate took it upon himself to put Jesus to death. Luke reads, “So Pilate gave sentence that it should be as they requested” (Luke 23:24).

The second human establishment that killed Jesus was Jerusalem. By Jerusalem, I mean the Jewish religious and political leaders in Jerusalem. As a citizen of the United States, I often use the word “Washington” to speak of the political center of the USA. When I say “Washington” I am not referring to the American people but the American government. Likewise, when the New Testament says that the “Jews” killed Jesus, it is not referring to the ordinary Jew who lived in Israel and Jerusalem. It is referring to the Jewish political and religious leaders over the Jewish people, that is, the Jewish government operating under Roman rule.

In the time of Jesus, there were over 20 Jewish sects in Israel. They all had different views about the Messiah and constantly argued among themselves. There was not “one voice” that spoke for the Jews. Jews who lived in the north were called “Galileans.” They were hard working country folk who talked with a country twang. Peter’s Galilean ascent gave him away as a disciple of Jesus (Luke 23:59). The establishment in Jerusalem considered the Galileans uncultured and unsophisticated.

The Jews who lived in the south were called “Judeans.” There was no love lost between the Galileans in the north and the Judeans in the south. The Judeans were more cosmopolitan than the Galileans. They considered themselves to be high-bred, sophisticated and cultured. They were well-educated and looked down their nose at the Galileans.

When the New Testament talks about the Jews killing Jesus, it is referring to the Judeans, specifically the Jewish establishment in Jerusalem who owed their allegiance, position, power and influence to the Romans. While there were some influential Pharisees at the highest level, the Jewish establishment consisted primarily of the Sadducees.

The Sadducees represented a very small group of powerful religious leaders. They were the priests who oversaw the activities at the Temple and greatly profited from the merchandising at the Temple. It is this group that desired to crucify Jesus because they were jealous of His fame and was afraid He would upset their comfortable relationship with the Roman government ruling over them. Matthew 27:18 says that Pilate knew that the Sadducees handed Jesus over to him because they were envious of Jesus. The high priest and his followers handed Jesus over to Pilate because it was the “politically correct” thing for them to do.

John 11 reads, “Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, ‘What shall we do? For this man works many signs. If we let Him along like this, everyone will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.’ And one of them, Caiaphas, being the high priest that year, said to them, ‘You know nothing at all, nor do you understand that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish’ ” (John 11:47-50).

When the high priest had Jesus arrested at night, the ordinary Jerusalemites were in their homes preparing for Passover meals and sleeping. They did not know what was happening. They would have surely protested because many of them believed in Jesus. In fact, Jesus had so many followers in Jerusalem that the Sadducees had to wait until night to arrest Jesus for fear of an uproar by the people. While most Jews in our world today say you can’t be Jewish and believe in Jesus, all the first century followers of Jesus were Jewish. And there were many thousands of them.

Matthew writes, “ ‘You know that after two days is the Passover, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.’ Then the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders of the people assembled at the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas, and plotted to take Jesus by trickery and kill Him. But they said, ‘Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people’ ” (Matthew 26:2-5).

The high priest did what politicians do today. He rented a crowd. He instructed and coerced his own followers, all with a vested interest in the establishment, to get a crowd and assemble them. These people are the “multitude” mentioned in the New Testament story. Matthew writes, “But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitudes that they should ask for Barabbas and destroy Jesus” (Matthew 27:20). At the right moment, they were instructed to cry out, “Give us Barabbas, crucify Jesus” (Matthew 27:21-22).

This was a completely different crowd of people who earlier greeted and cheered Jesus when He rode into Jerusalem. Their response to Him was, “… Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the LORD! Hosanna in the highest” (Matthew 21:9)!

When Pilate pretended to absolve himself from being responsible for the death of Jesus, the “rent a crowd” said, “…Let His blood be on us and our children” (Matthew 27:25). Because of this statement, Church leaders have erroneously believed that the Jews, as a collective group of people, pronounced a curse on themselves forever. Therefore, they are the “Christ killers.”

But as we have just learned, this was the Sadducees and a small mob crowd they assembled in order to influence Pilate. Their self-curse was fulfilled 40 years later when Titus burned the Temple and destroyed Jerusalem. Since the Sadducees were the priests administering the Temple, they and their families and their power, position, privilege and fortune came to an end.

Most Jews did not live in Israel during the time of Jesus. They were scattered throughout the Roman Empire. They had never heard of Jesus so they were certainly not guilty of killing Him. Furthermore, as we have just read, many of the Jews in Jerusalem believed in Jesus, they certainly didn’t kill Him.

After Jesus was resurrected He appeared to two of His followers on the Road to Emmaus. They had been in Jerusalem and were eye witnesses to the events surrounding Jesus. Here is what they said, “and how the chief priests and our rulers delivered Him to be condemned to death, and crucified Him” (Luke 24:20).

Jesus suffered and died for our sins. God could have used any ethnic group to carry out the execution. In His redemptive plans and purposes and time, it was a petty Roman bureaucrat and a small handful of corrupt priests who actually put Jesus to death. Christians should continuously thank God for His redemptive love demonstrated through the death of Jesus as our Passover Lamb. We should also ask forgiveness from our Jewish friends for blaming them for His death.