A Jewish Vow
Some of the Cowboy Churches here in Texas insist that their preacher preach with his Stetson on his head. When I first came to Texas and hung out with the old cattlemen, they always removed their hats when they entered the church. Now if you want a good fight, just get these two groups together and ask them whether it’s wrong or right to keep your hat on in church on Sunday.
Culture changes over time and from place to place, but one thing doesn’t change. We all like to defend and fight our cherished traditions. In AD59 when the Apostle Paul returned to Jerusalem, many Jews in the city believed he had rejected his Jewish ethnicity and culture. Were they right?
“They said to him, ‘Brother Paul, look at how many Jews, thousands, have believed in Jesus, and all of them are zealous to obey the Law. Now it has been reported to them that you are teaching all the Jews living among the Gentiles to rebel against Moses and against all our Jewish traditions. They’ve heard that you’re teaching parents not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs.
What shall we do about all this? Certainly, it’s common knowledge that you have returned to Jerusalem, so here’s our suggestion. There are four men with us who have taken a vow. Take these men, join in their purification rites, and pay their expenses so that they can shave their heads and begin to keep their Jewish vow. Then everybody will know that there’s no truth in the reports they’ve heard about you, but that you continue to practice and follow the Law.
Of course when it comes to the Gentiles who have believed in Jesus, we’ve already written our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality. The next day Paul took the men, purified himself with them, and went to the Temple to give notice of the date when the days of purification would end and the offering would be made for each of them.” Acts 21:20b-26
I was taught as a teenager in Bible class that Paul was wrong to take this Jewish vow and that’s why he got arrested and thrown into prison. The teachers who taught me like this didn’t understand Luke or Paul’s point of view.
Before the destruction of the Temple in AD70 thousands of Jerusalem Jews were zealous to maintain the culture and way of life Moses laid out for the Jewish people. They were Jews who believed that Jesus, a Jew, was the Messiah and Savor who fulfilled their Scriptures. There are still Jews today who remain true to their Jewishness and believe that the most influential Jew of all time died and rose again for them.
This weekend, Mary and I were with a Polish evangelist who had just returned from conducting a camp in Israel with his team. He wasn’t telling them not to be Jews, but to receive the ultimate Jew. He’s planning on returning to do a camp for Palestinians and then the next year get the two groups together.
LORD, bless this Polish believer who is seeking to bring reconciliation through the power of Jesus. Break through the cultural arguments over religion and culture and help us to allow Luke to teach us the truth about Jesus.
For more from Dave Wyrtzen please visit TruthEncounter.com!