The Kingdom of God was preached to us by Yeshua. Even if you don’t believe He was/is the Messiah God promised, He did preach about God’s kingdom. He never created a new religion.
So if Yeshua was Jewish, preached about Jewish law and customs, stuck totally to what the Torah tells us (there wasn’t any other scripture then: Duh!!) and never created or spawned a new religion, why is it that we have Judaism and Christianity today?
Shouldn’t we just have Jews that don’t believe He was Messiah and Jews that do? We have Hasidic, Orthodox, Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist and Messianic Jews; if you look close, you would think the difference between the Orthodox and Reform Jews is enough to be two totally different religions.
Within Christianity you have Catholics (Eastern and Western), Protestants, Methodists, AME, Amish, Episcopalians, Baptists (Southern and others), Lutherans, et.al. ad infinitum.
But if the Jews all follow the Torah, and the Christians all follow Jesus, how can there be so many different types? With such divergent beliefs?
The answer is because these religions, all of them, are not from God. They are from mankind. They are the improper and sinful (yes, sinful and blasphemous, actually) creations of people who think they know more than God.
God has no religion. He told us how to worship Him and how to get along with each other. His laws, rulings, regulations and commandments are for everyone who chooses Him as their God. He separates the Levite only, to behave differently in some respects, because they were chosen by God to minister to Him so they have to be a little bit more “holy” in their lifestyles. Other than the Levites, everyone lives the same rules all the time, and they live them the same way.
When Yeshua taught, He taught what was in the Torah. Nothing more, nothing less. Why His teachings were so influential is because He taught not traditions and rules above what God wanted, but he interpreted and explained the existing rules with a depth of understanding that no one else could have. He is the living Torah, and He was there when the laws were given to Moshe. He was there from the beginning, and He could not possibly teach anything different than what is in Torah because He IS Torah! Yochanan (John) tells us in the very first line of his Gospel that the Word became flesh. If Yeshua taught anything other than what is in the Torah, or even implied that we should do something different, he was teaching against Himself. He said that a house divided against itself cannot stand- how much more so if someone teaches that what He is saying and stands for is wrong?
What happened is this: in Yeshua’s time there were two types of people: Jews and pagans. Next, we had Jews who rejected Yeshua as their Messiah (more for political reasons than any other), Jews who accepted Him as their Messiah (news flash!: they both lived and worshipped the same way), Gentiles and pagans (if you will allow, I will use the term Gentile here to identify a person who is not born Jewish but is in the process of converting to a Jewish lifestyle.) It stayed that way for the next 200 years or so, with more and more pagans accepting Yeshua and, thereby, becoming Gentiles (as I am using the term.)
Here’s a revelation: at the beginning of what we (today) call “Christianity”, if you were a pagan and accepted Yeshua as your Messiah, you were converting to Judaism. Paul did NOT convert to Christianity, the “Elders of the Church” were not Christians (haven’t you ever wondered why the Bible calls that chapter in Acts, “Paul’s Conversion” but it never relates the term “conversion” to any of the other disciples?), and the fact is there never was a “church” in Jerusalem at that time. There was no “church”- there were only temples. Some were pagan and some were Jewish. It’s only in recent times that the word “Temple” is understood to be a Jewish place of worship. The same is true for the word “Synagogue”. The definition of that Greek word is not a Jewish place of worship, but a gathering, or grouping. Again, only the modern cultural meaning of “Synagogue” is a Jewish place of worship.
Back to the lesson. So, we have the “mainstream” Jews, the Messianic Jews (which includes the converting Gentiles) and the pagans. That’s it. Since there were so many more pagans than Jews, it is obvious the number of Gentiles would grow faster than the number of Jews as Messianic Judaism grew.
Now we come to Rome during the time of Constantine. Please allow me to simplify the whole Council of Nicene thing to this: Constantine made being a Believer in Yeshua acceptable and popular. However, the “mainstream” Jews had ostracized themselves from Rome (a couple of rebellions will tend to do that) so the followers of the Christ (as He was just starting to be referred to at that time) were on the A list and the non-followers of the Christ were lower than whale poop, so far as the Roman government was concerned. It is only natural (not acceptable, but natural) that the Gentiles would shy away from the more obvious “Jewish” religious practices to stay below the radar, so to speak. The Elders of the Messianic movement did not require these Gentiles to do a full and complete conversion to the Judaic practices, so there was a growing difference in the worship practices between the Messianic Gentiles, the Messianic Jews and the Jews that did not accept Yeshua. This continued to grow until the difference became a span, then a chasm, then (ultimately) a spiritual and religious schism that has only grown over the past two millennia. And the driving force behind this were the traditions and rules that people created.
Thanks be to God that His will will be done, and we can see this today as the “Church” is beginning to recognize their roots in Judaism, that they do not need to convert to Judaism to be saved, and that they need to support and help the Jewish people to know and accept their own Messiah so that He will return (read Matthew and you will see why I say this.) The influx of Jews returning to the Land is being supported today by many Christian groups, and the Messianic Jewish movement is, from my experience, still composed more of Gentiles returning to the ways God said we should live than Jews who already live that way.
The “Church” is also just beginning to realize that Jews who accept Yeshua do not have to convert to Christianity in order to be saved. There is still Replacement Theology, there is still an ungodly amount of anti-Semitic teaching in the Christian world, and there is still an ungodly amount of anti-Messianic teaching in the Jewish world. But we are making tremendous progress towards overcoming that.
When all is said and done, the Tribulation is over, the Enemy is in the Lake of Fire, the new world and the new Jerusalem have settled, all the Christians that will be there will be amazed when they are expected to live as Jews. Not as Jews live today, because the Torah is so often ignored in lieu of Talmudic Halakha (how to walk; regulations), but live as God said we should live- in His Torah. The Torah will be the only guide, the only law, the only way. That which the Christian world (for the most part) has been teaching is done away with will be the only thing there is. Read Jeremiah 31:31 if you want to know why I say this.
What does this all boil down to? It boils down to this: if you expect to be in the Olam Haba (the world to come), you’d better get comfortable living as the Torah says you should. It’ll make things much easier on you.