East Texans explain who's a Jew and teach Hebrew Roots 101

By Angie Kelley

HAWKINS, Texas--More than 60 people gathered at Hawkins Community Center July 14 for a day of fellowship and teaching amid a smorgasbord of potluck food and snacks prepared by those who attended.

Nearly a fourth of those who came were unfamiliar faces to the group that sponsored the seminar.

The community center was set up classroom style to provide space for Bibles and other books and laptop computers and to lend an atmosphere of learning and fellowship.

The Sabbath day's activities began at 10:30 and were opened in prayer by Ron McKown of Lorena, Texas. Gary Smith of Tyler, Texas, led the group in a short song service.

The morning message, "The Hebraic Roots of Christianity," was a two-hour slide presentation by Tim Kelley of Hawkins. Mr. Kelley discussed Christianity's connection to the "lost ten tribes" as well as myths concerning ancient Israel.

Who are Jews?

Some of the myths he addressed:

  • Jews were God's chosen people.
  • All Israelites are Jews.
  • Because the Israelites failed to follow God's instruction (the Torah), and because they rejected Jesus, they have been cast off from being God's chosen people.
  • The Jews seek salvation through the law and have no desire for a savior.
  • The Israelites have been replaced as God's chosen people by "spiritual Israel" or "the church," which is composed of "gentile Christians."

Other topics Mr. Kelley discussed:

  • The difference between Jews and Israelites.
  • Ephraimites.
  • The Israelites and the 10 lost tribes.
  • Christianity's relationship to Israel and why it matters.

Beginning with Abraham

He concluded with these points:

  • God began 4,000 years ago doing a work through the descendants of one man, Abraham.
  • Abraham's descendants--Israel (not just Jews)--have been given a calling, an irrevocable commission, to teach about God's salvation of grace through the Messiah and about how He expects His redeemed people to conduct themselves.
  • Israel performed its calling through both blessings and curses. After the curses God promised to restore Israel to Himself.
  • Just as Joshua ("God is salvation") the Ephraimite and Caleb the Jew were the two witnesses that eventually led the children of Israel into the Promised Land, Ephraim (Israel) and Judah will join together once again (Ezekiel 37:15-28), and the two will be the great witness of God's power to all the other nations.
  • The restoration will be the greatest witness of all that God is the all-powerful Elohim who can do as He said He would do.
  • Students of the Scriptures should study Hebrew roots to love the birthright, "lest we continue to despise our birthright by calling ourselves gentiles and reap the hatred of our Father, just as Esau is hated by God," said Mr. Kelley.
  • Israelites should recognize who they are.
  • They should understand that their brother is Judah.
  • They must become a part of the Messiah's olive tree of Israel.

The morning presentation was followed with a potluck meal, after which Jim Cowan of Big Sandy gave a Bible study called "How Long Was The Messiah in the Grave?"

The heart of the earth

Mr. Cowan addressed the following questions:

  • Was the Messiah's resurrection a resurrection from death or from the tomb?
  • Does Matthew 12:40 tell us what "heart of the earth" means?
  • What was the sign of Jonah the prophet?
  • How did Messiah fulfill the sign of Jonah?
  • On what day of the week was Messiah crucified?
  • Why does Luke 23:54 use the word preparation by itself with no explanation as to what was being prepared?
  • Does the Bible ever use the word Sabbath to designate a holy day?
  • Why do many translations render John 19:14 "now it was the preparation day of the Passover" rather than "the preparation for the Passover"?

To receive a copy of the notes and a tape from the conference, write Mr. Kelley at 294 PR 7904, Hawkins, Texas 75765, U.S.A., or For more about Mr. Cowan's study, write him at 705 N. Tyler, Big Sandy, Texas 75755, U.S.A.

East Texas Fellowship will sponsor another Sabbath seminar on Aug. 18 at Hawkins Community Center, on Lynch Street.

Gary Smith will make a presentation titled "Repentance" from the Hebraic point of view.

For more information about the August conference, write Mr. Kelley at one of the above addresses.

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