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Should we teach on Jewish-related topics in our churches?

In most New Zealand Churches today, there are very few Jewish people.  So, wouldn’t it be fair to ask: “Should we intentionally teach Jewish-related topics in our church?”  It seems that most pastors and ministers in New Zealand would probably answer this question “No”.  Teaching about Israel can sometimes seem confusing theologically and contentious politically.


To make things more complicated, many pastors have been confronted by members of their own congregation that seem to nag them to teach more about Israel and in some cases adopt dogmatic positions about Sabbath, eating kosher or observing feasts. Without a proper understanding themselves, many pastors simply resort to dismissing these issues.


Yet, if not addressed, these topics can cause disruption and broken fellowship and we quickly forget that Jesus says that we are to be known by our love for one another. 


Here are four reasons why I believe Jewish-related topics should be clearly taught in our churches here in New Zealand:


  1. Understanding the historical and cultural background of the Bible’s authors and their audience in biblical times will help us tremendously in understanding the Scriptures correctly.  

  2. Many pastors and teachers themselves aren’t confident enough to teach on Jewish-related passages or topics because they themselves were never well taught in this area.  However, to understand the meaning the author meant to convey, we must teach the full counsel of God in its grammatical and historical context. The fact is, the more we know of the Old Testament, the more likely we’ll understand the New Testament.  Far from undermining the message of the Gospel, it supports and even bolsters it.  The Old Testament consistently demonstrates that salvation is by grace through faith, and the New Testament teaches that Jew and Gentile alike are to walk in the faith of Abraham. 

  3. Pastors should ask themselves how these seemingly ordinary members of their church became focused on this “Jewish stuff”.  Is it because they were exposed to good balanced teachings in their church about these topics? Or, more likely, is it due to the lack of teaching on these topics? The reason many people are so passionate about Jewish things and frustrated with their church is that they discovered that the narrative of Israel is interwoven throughout the Old and New Testaments, yet very little is taught in the healthy balanced framework of their local church. Therefore, they started looking elsewhere, typically on the web, and became exposed to a wide-variety of ideas, some good and some very bad! These people often feel like they were denied Biblical teachings by the very ministers who were supposed to bring clarity and understanding to the Bible.

  4. Finally, it is important to recognise that more than one-third of the Bible is prophecy, and the context of the majority of prophecy is Israel, not only in the past, but in the future. But, as any student of prophecy will tell you, you can’t understand the future without understanding the past. And without understanding the future, it’s difficult to endure the trials of the present.


This is why Celebrate Messiah is committed to serving the local Body of Christ and supporting pastors and churches.  If handled well, these potentially destructive issues can deepen our faith, solidify the message of salvation by grace through faith,  strengthen our confidence in the Scriptures and prepare us for the blessed hope of His soon coming return. 


By Zohar Gonen




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