Shema Yisrael Adonai Elohaynu Adonai Echad
"Hear Israel,Adonai is our God, Adonai is One"
Go to: Overview
Go to: Part One: The Sabbath Day
Go to: Part Two: Rebbe Y'shua Observed and Continued Sabbath Observance
So now we come to the question: since HaShem ordained Shabbat before the Rebellion in Eden, before Noach, before Avraham and before Moshe, and since we know that Rebbe Y'shua observed the Sabbath and ordered his talmidim and their followers to continue observing it for all time... What happened to Shabbat?
That's the topic of this section of the study. I hope you have read parts one and two first as this section builds on that information. Shabbat was one of the casualties of the events we will discuss. We're not losing our focus, we're just expanding the topic a bit to more fully understand what happened.
The people of first century CE Judea largely sided with the talmidim of Rebbe Y'shua, however the elders of Israel rejected his Messianic claims, and they held the authority of Moshe (Matthew 23:2). What the elders of Israel decide on various topics matters!
The people were caught up in the spiritual whirlwind of miracles and the hope of national redemption, but the rabbi's had to consider the practical aspects of what Rebbe Y'shua's claims would mean. Did he meet the spiritual and lineage requirements? Was he in a position to fulfill the political and courtly requirements? Rebbe Y'shua's essential doctrine was harmonious with the other rabbis, no problems there. Even where they disagreed with him they acknowledged his case was valid both Scripturally and rationally. They accepted him as a fellow Parush rabbi (John 1:38). So why did they reject him? There were two main reasons.
Rebbe Y'shua's egalitarian teachings concerned them. He wanted to empower the people, even women, to return to and maintain a personal relationship with HaShem. The rabbis were not convinced they were ready for that. Since the Babylonian captivity the Rabbis had exercised ever greater authority in religious and social matters. Prior to that individuals were much more autonomous. They rabbis reasoned that the Assyrian (circa 722/721 BCE) and Babylonian (587/586 BCE) successes of the past were the result of that freedom. The people had grown weak in their observances and the P'rushim (Rabbinic Judaism) had arisen to guide the people so that such a thing would not happen again. It was ironic that the Essene teacher of Righteousness led his followers in the wilderness because the P'rushim were not build secure enough "walls!"
Since the days of Babylon the people had recited from siddurim (prayer books) developed by the elders, they read Torah according to the parsha schedules devised by the elders, when doctrinal questions arose the people looked to them for answers ... the Jewish people had gradually allowed the elders of Israel to dictate how they were to live and worship as Jews. Most one-on-one communion with HaShem had been gradually lost. The elders amassed such control with good intentions, generally. They genuinely cared for the people and they took their responsibilities very seriously. The alienation that occurred was not intentional. By the time of Rebbe Y'shua many sincere Jews were seeking to rectify this and to that point most of these had failed. Notable exceptions were people like Hillel (born in Babylon c.110 BCE, died 10 CE in Jerusalem).
The elders of Israel, living under the yoke of the Roman Empire, had to decide whether these largely uneducated and beaten down people were ready to take personal responsibility in religious and political matters. There was so much chaos and debate already and the people were confused and frightened! Just see how the various messianic movements had lead them astray! Rebbe Y'shua was after all just one of several claimants to the Throne of David (Navi Daniel had specifically pointed this that generation for his coming). If the elders supported his bid to the throne (i.e. agreed that he was haMoshiach) and they were wrong, if the people did not stand when the time came... if it didn't work for whatever reason... then Rome would doubtless destroy the City and its Holy Temple and possibly even genocide the Jewish people! The elders would have to be convinced!
And how would his egalitarian movement impact their authority if they went along with it? Would the people stop listening to them? That would surely lead to chaos! And OK yes, to the loss of their positions within the community. These were understandable concerns. It did nothing to alleviate their concerns when Rebbe Y'shua not only called several of their interpretations into question, but even publicly claimed to be the Messiah without their endorsement or even asking for their approval! That opened a whole different set of concerns!
Rabbis always disagree, its said "Ask 8 rabbis a question and you'll get 10 answers," but he was claiming the authority of Melekh, King of Israel! Were that so, then everything would have to be submitted to his authority! The elders would have to be convinced and they were not!
Rome would not tolerate such an outrageous claim! "We have no king but Caesar!"
If the elders of Israel accepted his claim, and he was not the foretold Son of David, there was no doubt that Rome would surely crush the Jews for rebellion and possibly even exile them from Holy Jerusalem! Or worse. Remember, these the days of Caligula (August 31, 12 CE - January 21, 41 CE)! How could they risk opposing the Roman occupation? The elders would have to be convinced and they were not!
On the other hand, if he was really was haMoshiach he would re-establish Jewish nationhood and sovereignty! The Hope! Through him HaShem would bring in a truly golden age and Rome, with all it tyranny and perversions would fall! Eretz Israel would be free...
But then... in their interviews this man had been quite harsh with the elders, calling them "whited gravestones" and "blind men leading the blind" ... What would become of their authority under his reign? Their privileged positions? Surely they had to consider this as well.
What a soul-wrenching decision they faced! If they accepted his claims the chief Jewish authorities of the day would have to voluntarily submit themselves to his rule and literally place their lives and fortunes into his hands. To their credit they sincerely questioned him and debated his doctrines seeking the truth of his claims, but in the end they decided to withhold their support while some of their members actively opposed him. This was their error however it was an understandable one.
Then, once the man from Nazareth had been executed on the stake it must have appeared their decision was vindicated. HaMoshiach doesn't die like a common criminal! He reigns! The relief they much have felt, not at his death but that the issue had finally been resolved. Maybe Rome would back off now. Maybe HaShem would send the real Moshiach now...
But there was a groundswell of popular Jewish support for the Nazarene even after his execution! Reports came in that this contender had risen from the dead! His talmidim were carefully studying the scriptures, looking for insights into what had happened. Things had not gone as they had expected either! But there was something about this man... Something none of them could shake. And even his talmidim were now performing miracles! Instead of just one miracle man there were now several of them and even the Goyim are seeking conversion!
For many years the movement continued to grow among the Jews despite rabbinic opposition and warnings of what they perceived as heresy. More and more Jews joined the Messianic Movement, but many did not, and the debate over whether this man was indeed the Nazarene (haMoshiach) threatened to split if not destroy Judaism. It seemed everyone was taking sides.
More and more Gentiles were approaching the rabbis seeking conversion into Judaism. Conversion had always been allowed but these numbers were staggering! When the rabbis asked why they were seeking conversion they referenced Rebbe Y'shua and the rabbi were beside themselves. Even if they convinced the Jews not to follow this man, that he had not met the requirements etc. still the converts, if allowed into the fold, would soon overpower the traditional Jews and undermine everything!
And if that happened, what would happened to the rabbis that rejected his bid? So the rabbis increased their efforts to protect traditional Judaism and Rabbinic authority.
They tried various options. They forbade Jews from speaking about this topic, from even mentioning the name of Rebbe Y'shua. But that was not effective:Acts 5:28 "We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name! Look here! you have filled Yerushalayim with your teaching; moreover, you are determined to make us responsible for this man's death!"And so things continued. Some embraced Messianic Judaism, others did not. At first the Gentiles who believed were able to convert to Judaism through the traditional channels. Soon however the Messianic elders, led by James, had to establish their own battei din (Jewish religious courts) in order to welcome the Goyim into Derech HaShem Meshiykhiyyim, the Messianic Way of HaShem (Acts chapter 15). Both camps were fully Jewish, both observed Shabbat and the biblical holidays, sacrificed at the Temple and so on. Both camps agreed on the essential Rabbinic doctrinal issues and Traditions... but they were gradually growing apart as a people.
29 Kefa [i.e. Peter] and the other emissaries answered, "We must obey God, not men.
30 The God of our fathers raised up Yeshua, whereas you men killed him by having him hanged on a stake.
31 God has exalted this man at his right hand as ruler and deliverer [Greek: soter], in order to enable Isra'el to do t'shuvah [i.e. repentance] and have her sins forgiven.
32 We are witnesses to these things; so is the Ruach HaKodesh, that God has given to those who obey him."
33 On hearing this, the members of the Sanhedrin were infuriated and wanted to put the emissaries to death.
34 But one of the members of the Sanhedrin rose to his feet, a Parush named Gamli'el, a teacher of the Torah highly respected by all the people. He ordered the men put outside for a little while
35 and then addressed the court: "Men of Isra'el, take care what you do to these people.
36 Some time ago, there was a rebellion under Todah, who claimed to be somebody special; and a number of men, maybe four hundred, rallied behind him. But upon his being put to death, his whole following was broken up and came to nothing.
37 After this, Y'hudah HaG'lili led another uprising, back at the time of the enrollment for the Roman tax; and he got some people to defect to him. But he was killed, and all his followers were scattered.
38 So in the present case, my advice to you is not to interfere with these people, but to leave them alone. For if this idea or this movement has a human origin, it will collapse.
39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop them; you might even find yourselves fighting God!" They heeded his advice.
40 After summoning the emissaries and flogging them, they commanded them not to speak in the name of Yeshua, and let them go.
41 The emissaries left the Sanhedrin overjoyed at having been considered worthy of suffering disgrace on account of him.
42 And not for a single day, either in the Temple court or in private homes, did they stop teaching and proclaiming the Good News that Yeshua is the Messiah.
As Rebbe Y'shua had foretold at Matthew 23:36 - 24:3...
In 70 CE the Roman legions, under Titus, brutally attacked the city of Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple. The majority of Jews, including the talmidim of Rebbe Y'shua, were forced to flee Judea for their lives. Thousands died and millions were left homeless and landless. Jewish Judea was renamed Philistia (after the Greek sea faring Philistines) to erase all evidence that the Jews had even been there. That was the intention.
The Diaspora changed everything.
Having lost the Holy Temple again Judaism was forced to drastically restructure. No longer could one observe Torah's sacrificial requirements. It was no longer possible to observe all 613 mitzvot because some of these require the Temple. The "sacrifice of praise" would have to replace the blood sacrifices and the local synagogue replaced the Temple.
The Jews looked to the rabbis for direction. Israel's sages reinforced Rabbinic authority, the use of memorized prayers and so on. They set the established service orders and developed various codes of conduct and beliefs such as:The Rabbinic elders laid the foundation of what today is known as the Orthodox Movement (although as a distinct Movement it was not officially established until the 1800's).
Rambam's Thirteen Principles of Judaism
I believe with perfect faith that God is the Creator and Ruler of all things. He alone has made, does make, and will make all things.
I believe with perfect faith that God is One. There is no unity that is in any way like His. He alone is our God. He was, He is, and He will ever be.
I believe with perfect faith that God does not have a body. Physical concepts do not apply to Him. There is nothing whatsoever that resembles Him at all.
I believe with perfect faith that God is first and last.
I believe with perfect faith that it is only proper to pray to God. One may not pray to anyone or anything else.
I believe with perfect faith that all the words of the prophets are true.
I believe with perfect faith that the prophecy of Moses is absolutely true. He was the chief of all prophets, both before and after Him.
As Meshiykhiyyim we fully agree with this. Everything Rebbe Y'shua did and taught was based on Torah and the Covenant established through Moshe avinu.
I believe with perfect faith that the entire Torah that we now have is that which was given to Moses.
I believe with perfect faith that this Torah will not be changed, and that there will never be another given by G-d.
I believe with perfect faith that God knows all of man's deeds and thoughts. It is thus written (Psalm 33:15), "He has molded every heart together, He understands what each one does."
I believe with perfect faith that God rewards those who keep His commandments, and punishes those who transgress them.
I believe with perfect faith in the coming of the Moshiach. However long it takes, I will await His coming every day.
I believe with perfect faith that the dead will be brought back to life when God wills it to happen
Sadly the rabbis banned the Messianic Movement, closing the door to further discussion and attempts at reunification. Their rulings forced the Meshiykhiyyim to stand alone. Still Rebbe Y'shua's reforms clearly influenced mainstream Judaism and these influences can be seen throughout the various Jewish movements. Doctrinally the Meshiykhiyyim reside somewhere between the Conservative and Orthodox movements. Our doctrine is much closer to that of these movements than the Reform and Reconstructionist doctrines.
The Diaspora forced the rabbis to make the religion more family orientated and less hierarchical, while at the same time maintaining their authority. They succeeded and Judaism and the Jews survived.
For the Meshiykhiyyim things were different. In some ways harder (since they had been isolated from the main Jewish body) but in some ways easier. Unlike other Jews the Meshiykhiyyim had already breached the ethnic wall of separatism. In their company were converts who knew the Goyish world. For these converts the Diaspora opened new doors to sharing their faith in Rebbe Y'shua and in a sense a return to the familiar. They may not be accepted by the other Jews, but many Goyim welcomed them.
But this was a road fraught with unseen dangers!
The Jewish Meshiykhiyyim, whether Jewish by birth or by conversion, were more and more often being greeted by slammed doors from their non-Messianic brethren. The non-Messianic Jewish hierarchy in part blamed the Messianics for the destruction of the Temple (saying, they were always inciting incidents and claiming that a Jewish king had arisen to oppose Roman authority). Most traditional Jews now wanted nothing to with the Meshiykhiyyim! Hadn't they done enough damage already?
For their part, many Messianics blamed Jewish orthodoxy (saying, had they accepted haMoshiach we'd be living in the Kingdom by now!). The two sides had seemingly severed all possible ties.
As the Way Jewish Movement moved into new communities they began merging with the local cultures, seeking peace and acceptance. Many of the Gentile converts (and many of the born Jews) didn't see this clear violation of both Torah and the teachings of Rebbe Y'shua as the grave danger it was/is. The Meshiykhiyyim intermarried with locals, began adopting their customs, and predictably they gradually lost their Jewish roots and culture through assimilation.
"With anti-Semitism raging throughout the Empire it's certainly easier and safer to blend in" ... and "We're not welcome at the shuls anyway so why identify as Jews, a people universally hated ..."
Forgetting the Jewish traditions their beliefs gradually became less biblical.
During the later 1st and into the later 2nd centuries CE this assimilation process continued. The talmidim of Y'shua converted a great many Gentiles to the Way, but as they did, the movement was gradually losing its biblical foundation. More and more the Meshiykhiyyim came to resemble their Pagan and Heathen neighbors. Without a background in Jewish religion and practice and without qualified rabbis and Torah teachers, the Torah-based underpinning of the Movement was quickly collapsing.
From the earliest days assimilation presented a major problem for the Meshiykhiyyim. What was essential and what was optional in Rebbe Y'shua's reforms? What was divine mandate and what was merely cultural? Considering the orthodox rejection and increasing Roman persecution, to what degree should the born Jewish talmidim maintain their Jewish identity and, more consequently considering then present realities, to what degree should the Gentile converts be required to conform to those Jewish standards?
In matters such as circumcision, forbidden foods, Shabbat observance and so many other issues, these were vital questions!
As time passed the Messianic talmidim more and more often found themselves without proper Torah-based elders to help navigate these difficult questions. This is a common topic in the New Testament, especially in the Book of Acts, as such issues were being hammered out. For those living in the Diaspora however such books were hard to come by, even if one could read. At that time there was no recognized cannon of New Testament Scripture yet and so really, weren't those just opinions anyway?
The Way communities were steadily losing cohesion both internally and without. There was no recognized authority, just various ever debating individuals and sects. Without qualified rabbis to maintain the Torah foundation everything seemed all up for grabs!
Once while visiting Galatia Rav Paul had publicly accused Rav Peter and others of going too far in this mixing of cultures. Its clear from Rav Paul's writings that he was keenly aware of the differences between Jewish orthodoxy and Jewish Messianic Halakha (interpretations and rules), however its equally clear that some established balance must be maintained. One could not simply ignore Torah as some of these talmidim doing! Rav Paul opined: "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?" -- Romans 6:1.
In this section of Rav Paul's Letter to the Galatians we glean important insights into how Derech HaShem became the Gentile Church! They abandoned Torah!Galatians 2:11 Furthermore, when Kefa [i.e. Peter] came to Antioch, I opposed him publicly, because he was clearly in the wrong.In part one of this series, and somewhat in part two, we looked at how HaShem had ordered His people to remain apart from the Gentiles and not adopt their ways. Most of the woes described in the Tanakh have to do with the Jews embracing Pagan religions and doctrines after merging too closely with their cultures. Historically assimilation has been a real problem the Jews, as it is today.
12 For prior to the arrival of certain people from [the community headed by] Ya'akov, he had been eating with the Gentile believers; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, because he was afraid of the faction who favored circumcising Gentile believers.
13 And the other Jewish believers became hypocrites along with him, so that even Bar-Nabba [i.e. Barnabas] was led astray by their hypocrisy.
14 But when I saw that they were not walking a straight path, keeping in line with the truth of the Good News, I said to Kefa, right in front of everyone, "If you, who are a Jew, live like a Goy and not like a Jew, why are you forcing the Goyim to live like Jews?
The Messianic talmidim were now facing the same dangers. How could Judaism survive with unbridled assimilation? By the same token, living among the Goyim as they were one would not wish to appear standoffish nor condescending. That would only invite further persecution and drive people away from HaShem and Rebbe's reforms.
And remember, throughout this period the Roman Empire was waging a veritable war against their own people. Persecution, public executions, floggings... certainly the best way to survive under such conditions was to not be noticed! To stand out. To fit in... to assimilate...
But at what cost?
In order to lessen the persecutions on the community and to attract more talmidim some Messianics began knowingly compromising the Jewish teachings and Traditions so they would be more palatable to the Pagans. Others, for similar reasons, followed the path out of ignorance; they didn't know the true teachings but began devising their own doctrines (arguably with good intentions).
Soon, rather than being one Messianic Jewish Movement as established by the Rebbe, there were several rival sects, each claiming to be true Way! There were self-proclaimed Messianic groups embracing Gnosticism, Egyptian and Syrian mysticism, the Roman mysteries and so on. Soon it became all but impossible to identify the true from the counterfeit. As written:II Timothy 4:3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears.Soon the leaders of the rival factions began producing publications expressing their beliefs and their followers declared their words to be holy writ. These things had to be done in the shadows of course and so often these works were often published under assumed names. An example of these include:
There were many such works.
- The Apocryphon of John
- The Apocalypse of Adam
- The Reality of the Rulers, Also known as The hypostasis of the Archons
- The Thunder-Perfect Mind
- The Three-fold First Thought (Trimorphic Protennoia)
- The Holy Book of the Great Invisible Spirit (also known as the (Coptic) Gospel of the Egyptians)
- The Three Steles of Seth
But many remained genuinely devoted to Rebbe Y'shua and his Movement. Seeing this rise in what they regarded as heresy they sought to maintain the true roots of the Way. They worked hard to defend authentic Messianic Judaism from the rising tide of Gnosticism and the other heresies. Many of these people died as martyrs. Their sincerity can not be questioned. They were however also products of their environments.
Unwittingly, without contact with the Jewish roots of the Tree, they too had embraced Torah-contrary beliefs. Piece by piece the Messianic Movement was dying. Through intermarriage with Gentile women, through the acceptance of unbiblical assumptions, through compromise, and through conversion, Gentiles had now become the majority force within the Movement and they lacked proper Torah education. Without that foundation it was just a matter of time until the Movement would be fully supplanted.
During the first two centuries CE some of the talmidim leaned more toward Essene asceticism and Mandaeism (the religion established by the talmidim of John the Immerser). Following the events at Masada (971-73 CE) the original Essene Brotherhood had largely left the stage. Others took up their names and established an essentially Gnostic imitation of their movement (John the Baptist was an Essene). This blending of the monotheistic Essene holiness movement with the anti-materialism of Gnosticism appealed to some people for whom the material world seemed ready to implode at any time. These movements (the Ebionites etc.) are condemned in the New Testament by John the Beloved (for instance at I John 4:3).
Another significant strand of the early talmidim wanted to return to the orthodox Pharisee doctrines. Seeing the rise of the Roman-backed anti-Torah tide within the Way communities, various "loyal opposition" Nazarene sects arose. Among the most historically noted of these leaders was Bishop Arius (250 CE or 256 – 336). He forcefully sought to stop the Pagan deification of Y'shua, alas he failed in the end. He was arguably authentic Messianic Judaism's lack best hope to maintain control of and restore the Movement to its biblical roots.
The Roman-based talmidim stressed Rav Peter's authority because he demonstrated his willingness to embrace Greek thought and devalue Hebrew culture and tradition (Galatians 2:11). Once the Universal Church was established it declared Peter its first pope completely ignoring the fact that Rebbe Y'shua's brother (Galatians 1:19) James the Just led the original Messianic beit din after his execution and Peter does not wield and real authority in the New Covenant community. With the growing emphasis on Rav Peter's contributions these early restoration movements typically focussed more on the authority of of James. But it was all for naught. The Way was clearly abandoning the religion of Rebbe Y'shua. Many of these talmidim eventually abandoned the dying Way Movement and returned to Jewish orthodoxy. Arguably this move had positive influences on non-Messianic Judaism. We hope so.
As in all power struggles one party eventually prevails. This time it was the Roman Papacy. They had something the other groups lacked: the Emperor of Rome!
While there were countless sincere Meshiykhiyyim seeking to establish religious purity and doctrinal truth, there were others who focused on politics and the power of religion. During the first three centuries CE religion was a powerful social bond and that power was seated in Rome, heart of the Empire. Those living in the outlying regions of the empire engaged in interesting debates and discussions, but in the end it was Rome that mattered and to Rome a new religion looked to establish itself.
To survive and prosper in Rome one obeyed Roman law and embraced its culture, especially its religious cults. Religion formed the social and political heart of the empire. Ones religious allegiances mattered in Rome and they determined ones rank within society. The creators of the new religion understood this well.
What was equally clear was that the Romans hated the Jews. Rome prided itself on its polytheism and intellectual inclusivity. It was widely believed that all of the gods smiled upon Rome because Rome embraced them all...
Well not all of them! Since first contact the Jews had stubbornly refused to have their God join the Roman pantheon! The Jews insisted that the God of Israel stood alone! That He alone was sovereign over all the earth and that there was none with Him! The absolute, indivisible Oneness of the Torah's God forms the very heart Avraham's revelation.
And THAT was unacceptable! It infuriated the Romans who regarded themselves as the most inclusive and progressive people alive! How dare the Jews believe such a thing!
This was a real problem for a once Jewish sect seeking close alliance with Rome!
Further, the memory of the sacking of Jerusalem remained fresh in their minds. Rome had only done what it had to do to oppose these terrorists! The Jews had made Rome look petty by forcing the empire to such extremes! Rome would not take such humiliation lightly!
As the Messianic Jewish Movement first made itself known in Rome the government had opposed it harshly, murdering many talmidim in truly gruesome ways! But the creators of the new religion knew that could be turned around.
All they needed to do was demonstrate that they were not like those other Jews, the "Christians" (a more Roman sounding name) were different! They were reasonable! And they had much to offer the Empire... if only they could get their foot in the door...
To appease Rome and begin infiltrating its power bases certain leaders among the faltering Way Movement began holding meetings with like-minded people. The reworked the Way teachings into doctrines that more acceptable to Rome, less Jewish. A bit of change here and bit of change there until soon the Way had become a wholly different religion from Judaism.
In defense of these doctrinal changes the new religion produced forgeries and psuedo-scriptures. For instance forgeries like the Book of Barnabas sought to replace the Jewish Shabbat:Barnabas 15:9 Wherefore also we keep the eighth day for rejoicing, in the which also Iesus rose from the dead, and having been manifested ascended into the heavens.Here the Nicolaitan plagiarist writes in effect that 'Like you Pagans, we also gather on the day of the Sol Invictus the sun god.' Sell people on the book and they had their doctrinal support! With so many books floating around and no established cannon to rely on, who could say what was true?
Only those who knew Torah and such people were now few and far between outside of established Judaism. And the rabbis wanted nothing to do these mashugana Goyim.
From early on Nicolaitan leaders like Ignatius of Antioch (107 CE) were busily at work trying to redefine the Way in terms the Romans would accept. To this end he wrote:"Be not deceived with strange doctrines, nor with old fables [i.e. the Torah], which are unprofitable. For if we still live according to the Jewish Law, we acknowledge that we have not received grace… If, therefore, those who brought up in the ancient order of things have come to the possession of a new hope, no longer observing the Sabbath, but living in the observance of the Lord's Day, on which also our life has sprung up again by him and by his death.But HaShem says:Exodus 12:14 And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to Adonai throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.
Such Goyish pseudo-talmidim were openly promoting heresy! Still many of the Messianic talmidim maintained their faith in Torah and in the teachings of Rebbe Y'shua. Rav John the Revelator warned that this heresy was taking root within the movement:Revelation 2:9 I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and I know the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but are the synagogue of Satan...The Nicolaitan heresy refers to the mixing of God's Torah Truth with Pagan error. This process began very early on. In part four, the Rise and Fall of the Universal Church, we will go into more detail on this.
2:15 So hast thou also them that hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate....
3:9 Behold, I will make them of the synagogue of Satan, which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie; behold, I will make them to come and worship before thy feet, and to know that I have loved thee.
The Nicolaitan founders of the new religion considered the Jewish doctrines of Torah and Rebbe Y'shua to be nothing but "old fables," outdated myths from a backwater province that should be outgrown and discarded. They intended to create something new and enlightened: a Universal Religion that would unite the world under the flags of a Holy Roman Empire!
These were the architects of an entirely new religion that had little in common with the doctrines of Rebbe Y'shua and the Sacred Torah he cherished. And yet as Prophet John foretold in Revelation chapters two and three there were always true Jews seeking to reform and restore fallen movement. But it was an uphill struggle!
Another noted Nicolaitan opined:"Furthermore, I do not suppose that you need to learn from me how ridiculous and unworthy of any argument are their [i.e. the Jews'] scruples about food, their superstition about the Sabbath, their pride in circumcision, and their shame in fasting" (Letter to Diognetus, 125 AD).
Note the absolute arrogance as this famed "Church Father" derides those who maintain faith in and obediance to the Sacred Scriptures of HaShem! God calls His Sabbath eternally sacred and this Nicene Christian founder calls it a ridiculous superstition!
The obvious question then is: Should we side with the One True God, Creator of Heaven and Earth, Who revealed His Torah to Moshe, Who declared Shabbat eternally sacred, Who was praised and obeyed by Rebbe Y'shua and his talmidim... or should we accept the arrogant teachings of Roman Pagans who deliberately altered the teachings of Rebbe Y'shua for their own purposes and who changed the biblical day of worship to that of Sol Invictus?
You decide.Joshua 24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve Adonai, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve Adonai.
Even generally respected men like Justin Martyr intentionally misrepresented the Bible's teachings in order to remove Rebbe Y'shua's teachings from its roots. Read his words carefully:"On the day called Sunday all who live in the cities or in the country gather together in one place, and the memoirs of the Apostles or the writings of the prophets are read... But Sunday is the day on which we all hold a common assembly, because it is the first day of the week on which God made the world; and Jesus Christ our Savior on the same day rose from the dead."
What's wrong with this? Only God's word!Genesis 2:1 Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.
2 And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made.
3 And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.
These early Nicolaitan heretics could not support their doctrinal changes scripturally and so in some cases they wrote allegedly inspired books (like the Gospel of Barnabas quoted above), altered the words of what later became the New Testament, or simply cited as evidence verses not found in the Scriptures as though they were!
As most people were illiterate these lies were seldom discovered and the people became ever more deeply indoctrinated.
As the new Church's power increased disagreeing with the Pope became hazardous to ones health! A few years later the Vatican outlawed the reading of the Bible by anyone but priests and monks in order to stop opposition to their unbiblical teachings! In time their doctrines came to be accepted as orthodoxy. But there were always within the Church who remembered the Truth, or at east who knew that the Church was not teaching it.
By the time the Protestant Reformers rose to oppose the Vatican so much had been forgotten and so much error had been accepted as Christian Orthodoxy that -- although their intentions were doubtless good -- they didn't understand how deeply the Way had been compromised. The Reformers focused on obvious heresies: the selling of indulgences, the transformation of Mary into a veritable goddess... but they missed the more serious errors, the Oneness of God among them.
Despite these heresies, Rebbe Y'shua promised us:Matthew 28:19 Therefore, go and make people from all nations into talmidim, immersing them into the reality of the Father, the Son and the Ruach HaKodesh,
20 and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember! I will be with you always, yes, even until the end of the age."
Rebbe Y'shua's Torah teachings were supposed to guide the Way "even unto the end of the world." Yet within 300 years his doctrine had been so compromised that most people could not determine what he actually taught and an age of darkness descended.
The persecutions endured by the Way were severe and history is written by the victors: In the end the Vatican won and Shabbat was lost to most Believers. The Roman Papacy deliberately and fundamentally altered the Derech HaShem taught by Rebbe Y'shua into something not supported by the Bible. They changed many of the essential doctrines, replaced the biblical holidays with Pagan ones...
However all the writings of the Church fathers combined can not alter the simple and obvious fact that Rebbe Y'shua and his followers like all other religious Jews, honor Shabbat as the eternally observed day of rest in honor of God our Creator.
There were several reasons why the followers of the Way allowed their movement to be usurped by the Roman Pagans and allowed Shabbat to be stolen from them. Some were Roman converts who genuinely didn't know any better. Others accepted the claims of others rather than study these things for themselves... but perhaps the main consideration was that embracing the newly emerging Roman religion meant an end to the persecutions.
By embracing the Nicolaitan teachings of the Vatican the Believers made it clear to Rome that they were no longer Jews, that they, like the Romans, now renounced God's people completely. Now they too rejected the Shabbat of HaShem. They too had turned their backs on the Jews and they hoped that by doing so they had saved their own skins.
History does repeat.
Anti-Semitism became a Christian virtue as the historic Passion Plays make clear. That this is true can be demonstrated in their own words:
Tertullian (200 AD) wrote:"We solemnize the day after Saturday in contradistinction to those who call this day their Sabbath.
Shabbat was not replaced by a symbolically better day (i.e. because Y'shua rose on a Sunday morning), it was replaced in contradistinction of the Jewish practice. This quote also demonstrates that Sabbath keeping was still an issue as of the third century CE. At that point in time there were still followers of the Way who were trying to maintain Shabbat but the leaders and elders of the emerging Universal Church maintained their heretical work without respite until Shabbat was all but forgotten... except by the Jews.
In their ongoing efforts to transform the Way the Church employed direct lies:"The Apostles further appointed: On the first day of the week let there be services and reading of the holy Scriptures and the oblation, because on the first day of the week our Lord rose from the place of the dead" (The Didascalia, 225 AD).
Where did the Apostles EVER say this? They didn't and that's not why Shabbat was stolen from the Talmidim!
Eusebius of Caesarea even directly equates Sunday observance with the Day of the Roman Sun God (Sol Invictus):"The day of the light... was the day of his Resurrection from the dead, which they say as being the one and only truly holyday and the Lord's Day."
This is very telling! The Way became the Church under the tutelage of Roman Pagans and was fundamentally altered into what Rome hoped would be the Universal ("catholic") religion.
Every holiday celebrated by the Nicene Christian faith without exception has its origins in Paganism. For instance:
Easter was celebrated long before the resurrection of Rebbe Y'shua as Ostare, Ostara, Ostern, Eostra, Eostre, Eostur, Eastra, Eastur, Austron and Ausos.
It was sacred to:
- Aphrodite from ancient Cyprus
- Ashtaroth from ancient Israel [Baal's consort]
- Astarte' from ancient Greece
- Demeter from Mycenae
- Hathor from ancient Egypt
- Ishtar from Assyria
- Kali, from India
- Ostara a Norse Goddess of fertility.
Its no wonder the Universal religion abandoned the biblically mandated Sabbath!
The change from the Jewish Reform Movement of Rebbe Y'shua to the Universal Religion formalized by Emperor Constantine (who was a lifelong worshiper of Sol Invictus and only converted to Christianity on his death bed) took about 300 years.
The abandonment of God's Sabbath was finalized in 364 CE.
As the Catechism of Catholic Doctrine says on page 50 (3rd edition):
Question: Which is the Sabbath day?As authentic Messianic Jews
Answer: Saturday is the Sabbath day.
Question: Why do we observe Sunday instead of Saturday?
Answer: We observe Sunday instead of Saturday because the Catholic Church, in the Council of Laodicea (A.D. 364), transferred the solemnity from Saturday to Sunday.
...we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews -- John 4:22And Shabbat is the only day ever declared holy by the God of Israel
"And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made."
Here Ends The Fourth Commandment:
Honoring the Day of HaShem
For more detail on Shabbat read the complete study using these links:
Go to: Part One: How the Sabbath Day was Given.
Go to: Part Two: Rebbe Y'shua Observed and Continued Sabbath Observance
Go to: Part Three: How the Sabbath was Stolen.
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