The Hedgerow of Lies 3

The fall of Hebrew religion broadly follows a path we can recognize.

First was the inherent issue of henotheism: There may be other gods, but ours is the one to whom we are responsible. The notion that all deities are tied to the land, or a particular activity, or a particular nation/tribe — that notion goes all the way back to the beginning just east of Eden. This makes our Creator one of many, and denies that He could be the one true God of all things. So the single biggest problem of Israel during the Exodus, Conquest and the initial period after was henotheism. They kept fearing the various deities they might be offending by not giving them their due worship as “owners” of the land and various activities. How could Jehovah object? The whole concept of monotheism went right over their heads despite pointed words from Moses (Deuteronomy 4:35, 39).

Second was the general trend that, before Christ, the awakening of the primacy of the heart was inherent in the culture, but didn’t filter down that well. So Scripture assumes heart-led consciousness, but notes how poorly it worked out in actual practice. This was a problem across the entire Ancient Near East (ANE); the learned knew it well, but commoners struggled with it, at best. On top of this, God notes through His prophets that Israel was probably one of the worst among nations He could have offered His covenant.

So the history of Israel post-Conquest is a roller-coaster ride of limited obedience punctuated by periods of idolatry. Finally it became so endemic that He kept His threat to send them into exile, sold into slavery under pagans. In Babylon, they were introduced to materialism as a part of religion. In Babylon, the concept of material wealth as the primary mark of divine favor was a bedrock of Babylonian culture and religion. It was simply the way things were done in Babylon.

The Medo-Persian conquest of Babylon brought no relief from that. Instead, it reinforced the ancient henotheism as a doctrine of the imperial Zoroastrian teachings. In the minds of Hebrew people, the position claimed for Zarathustra was associated with Jehovah, and the ancient image of God was covered in a lot of pagan concepts. Meanwhile, the Persians did little to mitigate the materialism of Babylon.

Coming home to Judea, we see in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah the results of how they were infected with these pagan influences. These two men of God constantly faced basic false assumptions about what God expected and how He operated. Further, the image of the nomad shepherd man of God was gone, replaced by the hedonistic Persian potentate as the symbol of manhood. It’s not that the Persians were so hedonistic themselves, but it was the net effect they had on the Hebrew people. We also see the Babylonian and Persian cosmopolitan mixing was misunderstood, and brought misty visions of Solomon’s profligate pagan marriages into the picture again. You may recall in Esther how the Persians demanded that a woman must forsake her background and adopt her husband’s religion and culture (a man is master of his household), something already part of Moses’ Law. But this was largely forgotten among the Returnees who mixed with local pagans and made no such demands of their local wives, but played it off like Solomon.

Again, it was not so much what Babylonian and Persian cultures actually were like, but the peculiar mixture of moral flaws in those cultures that the Hebrews picked up. The Hebrews were impressed by certain external impressions of those cultures. This shallow absorption left them wide open for the next wave of influence, Hellenism.

I’ve hit Hellenism hard enough in my writing here, so all we have to do here is note that it’s based largely on the impressions left on the Greeks by Plato and Aristotle. Again, it’s not so much what those men taught, as what the Greeks made of it. So it was in turn that Hellenism as an influence on the Hebrews was another layer or two removed from the actual teachings of the Greek philosophers. The primary outcome was the emphasis on logical analysis of the Torah versus the ancient Hebrew mystical approach, with the resulting legalism. They knew better than to abandon the written Scriptures and Jehovah, but they began making of it something those Scriptures never meant to say. The image of God was redefined by Aristotelian logic, so that He was nothing more nor less than their logical construct of Him. He was no longer a Person, but was a concept, a collection of attributes. The only characterization they had of Him was a smart-aleck Jewish rabbi.

And the mystical law expressing the will of a real Person became a tome of objective truth subject to semantic wrangling. The whole idea of Scripture as “propositional truth” comes from this concept. Thus, Old Testament religion was replaced with Judaism, something entirely different from what Moses taught. But to ensure no one dared question their new religion, they came up with the wild lie that their crap was a separate oral teaching of Moses not written down. Further, it took precedence over the written record. There were two Torahs, the old written and the newer Oral Torah. Jesus called this the “tradition of the elders” and it was eventually codified as the Talmud.

How do we explain the hostility and tactics of Jews in persecuting the early churches? In their eyes, Jesus justly died for blasphemy. Because His teachings rested on the Old Testament, the whole thing becomes Jewish property. To the Jews, there was no such thing as a secular citizenship. If you mucked around in the Old Testament, you were messing with their national identity. The very public insult that they had murdered the Son of Jehovah was very much under their legal authority under Roman Imperial law, even if Rome limited the penalties they could use. As you can see, it wasn’t a matter of religion, but of politics from the beginning.

Jews converting to Christ were still Jews, and subject to Sanhedrin power to punish. Gentiles were a more difficult matter. At first, Judaizing was simply an attempt to bring Jewish Christians back under Judaism. Force quickly failed, especially as Christianity spread among Gentiles, so they began sending out fake Christian teachers who would start off with the common teachings of Jesus and slowly move the ideas back toward various aspects of Talmudic teaching. These teachers went all over the place behind the Apostles.

From there, we see the blossoming of Gnosticism as closely related to the Jewish insistence that Jesus could not have been the Son of God. Records indicate that there remained a core of Jewish spies working to pervert Christian doctrine in different ways. A major inroad was the rise of Alexandrian Christians, Jews who converted to Christ with a very strong background in the very core of academic Hellenism that had taken root in Alexandria, Egypt. Some of them made the full conversion, as evidenced by the Letter to the Hebrews. Many did not, and these others became part of the Early Church Fathers, whose writings show a drift away from heart-led faith into cerebral reasoned religion.

You could connect writings of the Early Church Fathers with some of the rabbinical writings about Christians at that time. It requires reading between the lines sometimes, but you can detect a sense of Jewish scholars ready to engage in outright espionage against the early churches. To the degree these rabbis still clung to the false Messianic Expectations of ruling the Gentile world, their favorite target was Christianity. If they couldn’t be captured and enslaved, then the only thing left was to destroy the one thing Jews threw away and insisted that no one else could have: genuine ancient Hebrew mysticism, particularly as Christ taught it.

Taking advantage of their initial success from the early days before the last Apostle died around 100 AD, they helped to provoke several early debates about doctrine. As a hierarchy evolved, they infiltrated and steered things anywhere but back to the actual teaching of Jesus, focusing instead on governing the religion. At several critical points in Church History, major decisions showed the same kind of influence preventing genuine reforms and repentance, and we have evidence that Jewish agents were working in the shadows. We know the names of some of them, but there is plenty of historical debate to obscure the issue, in part because too many historians regard Jewishness, and even Kabbalism, as impertinent to their actions.

As you surely know from my teaching against activism, nothing in this summary here is meant to provoke hostility against Jews. Rather, it is to note their institutionalized hostility to Christianity.

About Ed Hurst

Avid cyclist, Disabled Veteran, Bible History teacher, and wannabe writer; retired.
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5 Responses to The Hedgerow of Lies 3

  1. forrealone says:

    How totally sad and also disgusting that the chosen people of God not only turned their backs on, spat upon, and then murdered our Lord; but then became a knowing and participating instrument of Satan. There is no innocence in any of it.


  2. Iain says:

    “He was no longer a person but, was a concept, a collection of attributes”. This brings to mind the popularity of the “names” of God, such as, Jehovah Jireh etc. And, again the “names” of Messiah, Lion of Judah etc. Americans are weirdly proud of this as it says “look at us, we systematically searched the Bible and found all these and put it on a poster and Facebook, glory in our devotion” depersonalizing God into, as you put it a concept, a collection of attributes. It makes me want to vomit but, I still go to the local bible emporium searching for t shirts. I did find one with Proverbs 3:5 on it in a rather beautiful script. People compliment it, at which point I tell them it’s true meaning if it fly’s over their head to bad, if it causes them to reflect on the meaning, I toss on a little growth medium if I don’t lose them there, they are marked for further development. The Lord guides my steps, it’s early day’s yet and I am an apprentice. I truly believe their are more of us out there, lone stalks of wheat in a field of tares. My calling is to find them and bring them into the family, I have a strong empathy for them, for as they are so once was I.
    Great is the Lord Most High All Glory, Honor, Majesty and Praise are His alone and in His name I shall fulfill my mission or go down in shame, in the name Jesus Christ our Redeemer, Amen and Amen.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Jay DiNitto says:

    Iain – Just curious, what do you tell them the real meaning is?


  4. Iain says:

    I guess “real meaning” is probably not the best choice of words but, I ain’t no wordsmith. The complements tend to be about the look of the shirt, so I direct them to what it says. The scripture is pretty much literal. Whether or not I expound on it depends on what the Lord tells me about who the person in front of me is. If I feel the bubbling of the Spirit I may say something like “look, your reason can justify any evil as good but, in your heart you know it’s wrong. God is telling you to heed his voice as He speaks to your heart, do not rely on reason because you can wind up in a heap of trouble if you do”. I don’t have anything prepared I just go with it, the whole thing is loose and mushy but fits where it needs to.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Pingback: A Book to trust #17 Biblical archaeology vs Historical science or study #2 Relevance of Biblical record – Unmasking anti Jehovah sites and people

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