Remember back in the Old Days when we were first leaning about relationships between boys and girls? We would be attracted to each other, fall hopelessly in love, and within a few weeks or so one would dump the other for a different beau. The argument always came down to, “Who dumped who first?”
When Yeshua (Jesus) started His ministry, announcing the Good News to the Jewish people, many Gentiles began to believe in God’s plan of salvation. They accepted Yeshua, along with (probably) hundreds of thousands of Jewish people throughout the Middle East and Asia at that time, as the Messiah of God. As such, they began to live the lifestyle that Yeshua preached, which was a Jewish lifestyle. Yeshua was a Jew, and followed the commandments in the Torah, as Jews are expected to do. Despite what many Christian churches try to tell you, He died being a Jew, and when He was resurrected He was still a Jew. His Disciples were Jews and lived according to Torah, as did Shaul (Paul), which he confirms in his letters to the (what was really) Messianic communities he began. The Gentiles that were accepting and following Yeshua’s teachings were given 4 immediate changes to their (prior) Pagan behavior (Acts 15) , which was only the starting point for them. James said that they would learn the words of Moses in the synagogue every Shabbat, which clearly indicates it was expected of these converts to Judaism that they would, eventually, follow the lifestyle outlined in the Torah just as Yeshua, His Disciples and the early Jewish followers of Yeshua did.
But that’s not what happened. What happened was a combination of misunderstanding of many of Shaul’s letters (no real surprise there- he wrote like a Pharisee, which he was, meaning his logic and statements were drawn out and somewhat convoluted), geopolitical activities that made being Jewish in a Roman controlled land dangerous, and human’s trying to enforce their will on people who didn’t know any better (I am referring to the early “church” elders.) The “Judaizers” , as they are called, that Shaul talks about in Galatians were trying to get the new converts to accept circumcision as a necessary part of salvation. Shaul blasted them for that, and much of what he wrote seems to say the Torah is not important, but instead the Spirit is how one should be led in his or her worship of God. That is, of course, correct, but he didn’t mean to ignore the Torah. Shaul was saying to let the Spirit lead you to obey the Torah, but not to gain salvation through obedience; what Shaul meant was that we should be led to be obedient to God as a thankful and loving expression of faithfulness.
As things got politically worse for the Jews, those Gentiles becoming Jewish decided that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to embrace Torah as much as the Jews, since they were being targeted by Rome. So they stepped away from total observance of, or even trying to observe, Torah.
In other words, the Gentiles that were now worshiping the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (instead of the Roman gods) decided that they were going to worship their own way, and break from traditional Judaism.
In other words, the Gentile Believers dumped the Jews.
As time went on, the (now called) Christians began to separate even further from their roots; their leaders changed the Sabbath day, created their own holidays, canonized the writings of the Jewish Disciples without a single Jew on their Council, and even started to denounce living a Jewish lifestyle, announcing officially that if you were living a Jewish lifestyle you couldn’t be “saved.”
Today, the separation between Christian worship of God and Jewish worship of God is so different it is almost at opposite ends of the pole. Thank the Lord that the proper Spirit, the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) of God is beginning to lead Christians back to Him and to the proper worship of Him. The Messianic Christian and Hebraic Roots movements are making headway in the Christian world. People are beginning, in these End Days, to know the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as He wants them to know Him. More and more churches are supporting Israel and wanting to observe Torah for the correct reasons.
The correct way to observe Torah is not as a means to gain justification, and not as a means to prove ones worthiness for salvation, but because that is what God said we should do. Through observing Torah we will earn blessings (Deuteronomy 28), but more than that, God has given us the Torah so that we can have life eternal; the life we gain through Torah is not gained by performing the actions correctly (what Shaul calls “legalistic” observance) but because of our heartfelt desire to please God and the simple fact that observing the Torah demonstrates by our actions our thankful and loving faithfulness.
That is what Christianity lost when it dumped the Jewishness of it’s worship. It cut itself off from the very root that feeds it. In my not-humble-enough opinion, the main reason there are so many different Christian religions is because they have no root, no foundation upon which to settle themselves. They are, as Yeshua warned, a house on sand, being shifted and blown in all directions because they are not solidly rooted on the Rock of God’s Word.
Until Christianity comes back to the root, it will forever waiver, change and grow further away from God. Judaism is not a religion, it is a way of life; it is not a set of rituals and rites so much as it is the form of worship God commanded. Christianity thinks it is grafted onto the Tree of Life, but it has mutated itself so much that it is no longer even the same species.
I pray that the Prodigal Son returns soon.