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The Danger Of The Hebrew Roots Movement

The Danger Of The Hebrew Roots Movement

What is the Hebrew Roots Movement (HRM)?

It is a modern day form of Judaizing that is spreading in the church.   Its impact is being felt in all areas of Christendom of those who call Jesus Lord. For those who are like the Bereans and study the scriptures comparing this movement with the Gospel given to the NT church, they would see bright flashing danger signs. Sadly, many are being deceived. Amazingly, this is happening even in assemblies. I personally know of two believers who fell into this false teaching. As a result they left their assemblies and went to fellowship at a Messianic/Hebrew Roots congregation.  The HRM is similar to Messianic Judaism (MJ). MJ is more Christ-centered than HRM; however, both are based on the same root error.

The central theme of the HRM is the belief that all believers must “keep the Torah”(Mosaic Law), which is contained in the first 5 books of the Old Testament.  This would include worshipping on Shabbat (the Sabbath), keeping the Levitical feasts, and obeying all the dietary laws (no pork, shellfish, etc). Some groups go as far as saying that all male believers must be circumcised.  Those in the movement believe the Church has strayed from the true teachings and Hebrew concepts of the Bible. The HRM maintains that Christianity has been indoctrinated with the culture and beliefs of Greek and Roman philosophy and that ultimately biblical Christianity has been corrupted with a pagan imitation of the New Testament gospels.

Interestingly, the HRM is composed of mostly Gentiles.  Another mark of this group is avoidance of anything that they deem to be “pagan”. This would include holidays in Christianity (Christmas, Easter, etc.), and learning to understand the Scriptures from a Hebrew mindset. They erroneously teach that Gentile Christians have been grafted into Israel, and so this obligates followers of Christ to obey the Torah.  They claim doing this is not required out of legalistic bondage, but out of a heart of love and obedience. However, they teach that if you are truly born again, you will desire to obey the Torah.

There are also many in the HRM who insist that believers must use only the Hebrew names for God and His Son (YHWH, instead of Lord, Yeshua instead of Jesus). Some will teach the heresy that Jesus means “hail Zeus” in the Greek.

The arguments I hear from many in the Hebrew Roots Movement and Messianic Judaism as to why all followers of Yeshua (Jesus) must observe the Torah/Mosaic Law go something like this: “Yeshua told us to make disciples!!”, “Yeshua told us to teach His commands”. “Yeshua kept the Torah and said He did not come to take it away”, so clearly, we must teach Gentiles to keep all of the Torah!!!” The most common OT passage quoted as support for this law-keeping theology is the Exodus 12 passage regarding the alien living amongst Israel—that they were also expected to keep the Torah in ancient times.

LET’S DEAL WITH THE ALIEN PASSAGE

Using Exodus 12:49 as “proof” that all believers must follow the Torah is shoddy scholarship at best that picks and chooses passages that seem to support their theology, while excluding others. The Hebrew Roots Movement seems to have key scriptures that appear to prove their point, regardless of context or full exegesis, no different from Jehovah Witnesses and Mormons who memorize scripture to evangelize, without truly understanding the meaning and context of the verses.

For instance, one verse pointed out to me more than any other by those who believe all believers must obey the Torah is:

“One Law (Torah) shall be for the native-born and for the stranger who dwells among you.” Exodus 12:49

Seems clear until you look at it in context. It is referring to those in Egypt who left with the Israelites. These were non-Hebrews who became convinced, probably during the Ten Plagues, that it was time to hightail it out of Egypt. (Ex. 12:38) They recognized that YHWH was the true God and desired to be united with the Hebrews. The Hebrew word (גר) translated stranger or alien, can also be translated as “convert” in Modern Hebrew.

In other words, they were non-Hebrews seeking to be united with the Israelites. God was merely telling them that if they wanted to be part of God’s people, they had to obey the same rules they did. To better understand the context of verse 49, let’s take a look at verse 48.

“And when a stranger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to the LORD, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it.” Exodus 12:48

We see here that in context it is referring to non-Jews who were living amongst Israel wanting to keep the Passover. So the inference is that non-Jews living amongst them could choose NOT to keep the Passover, and NOT be circumcised nor required to adhere to all ceremonial customs in theTorah. These verses prove that the Torah was for Israel, and not for the Gentiles (nations).

But even looking at v. 49 alone, “One law shall be for the native-born and for the stranger who dwells among you” it is clear that is not referring to the entire Gentile world, but those “who dwell among” Israel – who live in an Israeli community.

However, the New Testament makes it clear that believers in Christ do not enjoin themselves to Israel or an Israeli community, but become part of the church.

“Having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man (the church) from the two (Jew & Gentile), thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity” Ephesians 2:15-16

In Part 2 of this article, I will talk about the fundamental change that the death of Christ brought about for the Jew and Gentile.  We will also look at exactly how the false teaching of the HRM makes a mockery of Jesus’ finished work at Calvary.

 

Bryan Baker

Bryan was saved as a result of the ministry of the Yonkers Gospel Mission in 2000. He now fellowships at Dean Street Bible Chapel in Freeport, NY. Last year, Bryan started a ministry on Facebook to reach out to those who are caught up in the Hebrew Roots Movement cult. The name of the group is called “Biblical Christianity Vs. Hebrew Roots Theology”.  He is also an itinerant speaker at assemblies in the NY tri-state area.

8 Responses to The Danger Of The Hebrew Roots Movement

  1. J. Sergeant

    Excellent article. I am familiar with this, as I got in involved in this cult a few years ago. They have a large presence on the internet and Facebook. I praise God for the prayers of my family and friends that opened my eyes to this error. They ar so subtle in their deception. They say things like, “We just want to educate you about the Hebrew roots of you faith” Sounds like a good thing, right? The problem is once they do that, they slowly introduce their false teachings.

    • Paul Ebenezer

      Hi J. Sargeant,
      Just wondered; Have you found strength and comfort in identifying with a solid Assembly fellowship in your area since 2014?

      Peace in Christ,
      Paul

      “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is For brethren to dwell together in unity!” Psalm 133:1

  2. Duane cotton

    Non Torah compliant believers in messiah will say that Hebrew roots doctrines are dangerous and though it is good to keep the feasts it is not necessary as Christ did everything for us and fulfilled the law and by complying with the Torah we somehow miss what Christ did on the cross.

    My response to this is, Everything you say is invalid when you practice Pagan rituals or keep holidays that were not kept by earlier followers of Messiah. Both Christmas and easter(ishter) were practised by Babylonians honouring Pagan deities. It’s in the history look it up. Changing Tamus’s name to baby Jesus doesn’t make the celebration of Christmas less pagan due to the nature of how the holiday is celebrated. It’s celebrated exactly how the Babylonians celebrated the day to honour Tamus. This is just one example from many.

    Then there is the fact that pope Gregory changed the Saturday sabbath which was observed by all followers of Yeshua even after his ascension,to Sunday (Pope from A.D. 590-604 demanded that all secular activities should cease on Sunday so that the people could devote their time to prayer.) this was done as pagans being converted found it easier to accept the Sunday worship paradigm as they identified with the name sun as sun worshippers.

    The fact is all Sunday worshipping fellowships have catholic roots and by extension Pagan roots. Practices such as lent, the Eucharist have roots in Egypt and pagan worship as does the inclusion of the trinity model which is found in the major pagan systems throughout history. It was easy for the Romans to convert pagans to their version of Christianity as they had a triune model that they could identify with as it would have been similar to their own. In their model Christ replaces Tammuz or Osiris(egypt’s version)Mary replaces Ishtar and their version of the Father replaces the sun god or as others may know him, Baal. The same Baal that the God of the bible,YeHoVaH hates.

    You going to follow Yeshua’s customs and practices which honoured the Father or those that were adopted by the Romans and the Catholic Church who were influenced by pagan religions? The very term Christian means being Christ like. It is to follow Messiah.

    I chose to no longer refer to my self as Christian because of the way the term has grown in obscurity and ambiguity. It is a far cry from what it once was.

    “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men” (Matthew 15:8 – 15:9 KJV)

    I now simply identify myself as a Torah observant follower of Messiah because that is what I am. I observe the practices Messiah and his disciples maintained even after the day off Pentecost.

    Torah means instruction. To be Torah observant or Torah compliant is to do as God instructs. For those of you who did not realise, the very first commandment is Shema(hear and obey)

    Yeshua(Jesus) did just that and he is the author and finisher of “our faith”. By our, I mean those that follow what Messiah taught.

    Oh, and here’s a fun fact, Ishtar is pronounced as Easter.

  3. Carla Hereford

    I find this disturbing. I’m interested in the family that I have been adopted into. Why would I not want to know their beliefs and ways, like Ruth? Torah instructs us in the ways of God. Jesus lived according to the 10 commandments plus the ones He added. He came to save the Jews, taught the disciples how to handle us gentiles so that we could come to know Father and the disciples were of different backgrounds but were Jewish. So I don’t see what the argument is. I keep my eyes on Father as best I can and He has never indicated to me that I am out of His will by learning it.

    • Sarah

      You are not adopted into a “Jewish” family, you are adopted into Christ. ” There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Galatians 3:28 “And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again” 2 Corinthians 5:15. You are right that Jesus followed the law – he fulfilled the law. To argue that you have to live exactly as Jesus did means you don’t acknowledge…..what Jesus did! No, you are not under the law, and no, you will not be crucified on a cross. “Before the coming of this faith, we were held in custody under the law, locked up until the faith that was to come would be revealed.” Galatians 3:23 I would challenge you to read the book of Galatians, and keep your focus on JESUS, not the torah.

      • Rachel

        So so your saying not to keep your focus on the word of God? Didn’t Jesus focus on the Torah? So there really isn’t choosing because Jesus is the Torah

  4. Colleen Wandmacher

    It is so very sad that you can tell believers to be Bereans, but they still follow the teachings of men. And instead of quoting Scripture to prove a point, they parrot what their teachers have told them. A study of the New Testament so very easily disproves what the HRM teachers say, but will anyone study it, setting aside the fine-sounding but deceitful teachings of men? Those of you who follow the teachings of the HRM teachers, please, please read Romans (especially 4:13-5:1, 6:14, 7:8, 8:2, 8:3-4, 9:30-33, 13:8-10,14:17-23), Galatians; Philippians 3:1-11; 1 Corinthians 5:6-8; 2 Corinthians 3:5-11; Hebrews (especially 4:1-11, 8:7, 8:13, 10:9) Colossians 2:9-23; Acts 11:11-18, 15:1-11; 1 Timothy 4:1-5; Deut. 16:5-15 (noting where God tells them to celebrate). Don’t allow yourself to be blown about by every wind of doctrine any longer.

  5. Colleen Wandmacher

    One additional remark I’d like to make is this: When you study the Torah, think of how the shadow of things pointed to the reality of things, and how that reality is found in Jesus, our Lord and Savior. And be grateful that you are not under the Law of Moses, unless of course you are able to obey it perfectly, not ever failing to obey.

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