• What JGIG Is:

    Joyfully Growing In Grace engages in an examination of beliefs found in the Hebrew Roots Movement, Messianic Judaism, and Netzarim streams of thought and related sects.

    The term “Messianic” is generally understood to describe Jews who have come to believe in Yeshua/Jesus as their Messiah. Jews who are believers in Jesus/Yeshua typically call themselves Jewish/Hebrew Christians or simply, Christians.

    Many Christians meet folks who say they are ‘Messianic’ and assume that those folks are Jewish Christians. Most aren’t Jewish at all, but are Gentile Christians who have chosen to pursue Torah observance and have adopted the Messianic term, calling themselves Messianic Christians, adherents to Messianic Judaism, or simply, Messianics. Some will even try to avoid that label and say that they are followers of "The Way".

    These Gentiles (and to be fair, some Messianic Jews) preach Torah observance/pursuance for Christians, persuading many believers that the Christianity of the Bible is a false religion and that we must return to the faith of the first century sect of Judaism that they say Yeshua (Jesus Christ) embraced. According to them, once you become aware that you should be 'keeping' the edicts and regulations of Mosaic Covenant Law, if you do not, you are then in willful disobedience to God.

    It has been my observation that Christians who adopt the label of Messianic identify more with the tenets of Judaism than they do with the tenets of Christianity. Many reject the label of Christian altogether and some eventually even convert to Judaism.

    1 Thessalonians 5:21-22 says, "But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil."

    Joyfully Growing in Grace examines the methods, claims, and fruits of the Hebrew Roots Movement, Messianic Judaism, and Netzarim streams of thought and related, law-keeping sects.

    To borrow from a Forrest Gump quote, “Law ‘keepers’ are like a box of chocolates - ya never know what you’re gonna get!” The goal of JGIG is to be a resource to help those affected by the Torah pursuant movements to try and sort out what they’re dealing with. Make use of the tabs with drop-down menus found at the top of this site – there’s tons of info there, and it’s very navigable.

    Be sure to click on the many embedded links within the posts here - there's lots of additional and related information for you to access that way, as well.

    Welcome, and may God grant you wisdom and discernment as you consider all of these things.

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Headlong into Heresy

I have a confession to make.  The past month or so has been greatly frustrating for me in regard to standing up for the truth of the freedom that Christ purchased for us at the Cross.  The moderator at the mom’s digest I subscribe to has continued to allow for false teaching to be posted, while she has repeatedly denied the posting of  direct questioning of that false teaching.  Most recently a subtle reference to the practice of Kabbalah was permitted to be posted (4 known levels of meaning for each Hebrew letter – Go ahead . . . Google that phrase and see what comes up).  There is no mistaking the connection of the practice of mystical Judaism (rooted in the Occult) to what was allowed to be posted.

So here’s where I find myself in regard to my attitude:  Part of me is shocked.  Shocked that such obvious headlongerror is lapped up by not only by the moderator of the mom’s digest, but also by many in the Body of Christ today.  After the shock comes frustration.  Frustration that even when error is exposed, folks will still follow after false teaching and promote its propagation.  After the frustration comes the resignation.  Resignation that no matter how conclusively one can prove that specific teachings/doctrines are false, there are those who will still choose to remove their heads from their shoulders and willingly and purposefully march headlong into heresy.

So part of me feels like I’m banging my head against a brick wall (though I know that’s not true because God says that His Word does not return void), another part of me is just tired,smi20 and most of me is just grieved.  Grieved that so many are so willingly deceived, even when sound evidence is presented to them, including Scriptural, linguistic, and historical evidence . . . and they still insist on marching headlong into heresy.  Not only that, but then accusations of being hateful, divisive and/or unloving come from those that have placed themselves in the High Places.  Interesting.  (Did she just say High Places???)  Yes I did.  Those of you who are familiar with your Old Testament and adhere to the false teachings/doctrines to which I refer are there.  You either don’t know you are there or refuse to recognize where you are in light of all the “hidden knowledge” and “deeper meaning” you find there.

I do understand there is a spiritual component here . . . deep error, once accepted, tends to be spiritually binding and blinding.  Thus deepens my grief.  I can almost taste the frustration that Paul must have felt as he wrote, “You foolish Galatians!  Who has bewitched you?” (Galatians 3:1a)  An integral reading of all of Galatians should be sufficient to clear up the false teachings found in the Hebrew Roots Movement and related belief systems/sects.  Indeed, an integral reading of the whole of Scripture should do the same.  Remove the linguistic and historical acrobatics that the HRM and its related belief systems/sects engage in, and one lands squarely in he Gospel of Christ, the Gospel of Grace, not the Law of Moses.

So that’s why not much original content here at JGIG lately. I’m grieved and a little angry and my head hurts (and my heart). Those in the HRM and its related belief systems/sects are probably thinking, “She’s starting to see it!”  No.  I see even more clearly the errors of what you believe and where those errors come from.

I also understand that when the Gospel of Jesus Christ is proclaimed and defended, the Enemy is sure to show up. Recognizing the emotional components of this battle that are of the Enemy and also those that are of God, I choose to press in to Who God is and what His Word says.

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.

Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should. (Ephesians 6:10-20)

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. (Ephesians 4:14-16)

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.  And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains.  Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.  Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity.  Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.  (Colossians 4:2-6)

When I can again speak with conversation that is full of grace, seasoned with salt, and not speak salt seasoned with grace, you’ll see original content here.

Grace and Peace,


Edited to add 8/23/13:  Grace has won in my heart, and I have written more, as you can see below =o).  I continue to pray for the women and the leadership at the mom’s digest above, that they may see the simple Truths of the Gospel in walk in the Freedom for which Christ has set us free .  Major W. Ian Thomas, in the introduction to Classic Christianity, writes this:

There are few things quite so boring as being religious, but there is nothing quite so exciting as being a Christian!

Most folks have never discovered the difference between the one and the other, so that there are those who sincerely try to live a life they do not have, substituting religion for God, Christianity for Christ, and their own noble endeavors for the energy, joy, and power of the Holy Spirit. In the absence of reality, they can only grasp at ritual, stubbornly defending the latter in the absence of the former, lest they be found with neither!

They are lamps without oil, cars without gas, and pens without ink, baffled at their own impotence in the absence of all that alone can make man functional; for man was so engineered by God that the presence of the Creator within the creature is indispensable to His humanity. Christ gave Himself for us to give Himself to us! His presence puts God back into the man! He came that we might have life—God’s life!

There are those who have a life they never live. They have come to Christ and thanked Him only for what He did, but do not live in the power of who He is. Between the Jesus who “was” and the Jesus who “will be” they live in a spiritual vacuum, trying with no little zeal to live for Christ a life that only He can live in and through them, perpetually begging for what in Him they already have!

Below are links to posts regarding Grace and Law and the Hebrew Roots Movement, and links to resources that preach the Gospel ‘full preach’ whish help to establish those in Christ in the Grace, Gift of Righteousness, and New Life they have in Christ.  Grace and Peace to you!


Believers in the Hebrew Roots Movement:  Are They Lost?


If you’re someone or know someone in the HRM or a related Law-keeping sect questioning what you believe, a clear presentation of the Gospel can be found HERE.  For more resources regarding the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements see the Post Index and the Articles Page.  General study helps, discernment, and apologetics sites can be found HERE.  Good, foundational studies with a special emphasis on Old Covenant/New Covenant Truths can be found HERE.  Be sure to check out the Testimonies Page, as well.   Make use of the tabs with drop-down menus found at the top of this site – there’s tons of info there, and it’s very navigable.  May God guide and bless you as you seek His Truth.


Doublemindedness in the Hebrew Roots Movement – The Use of Kabbalah and Gematria

The doublemindedness of those in the Hebrew Roots Movement who rely upon Jewish Sages and Scholars to uncover “hidden revelation” or to “peel back the layers of prophecy and bring deeper understanding to the Scriptures” is stunning.

Looking to Jewish Sages and Scholars by default makes use of Kabbalah and Gematria, as Kabbalah and Gematria are where the Sages and Scholars acquire portions of their “wisdom” and “insight”.  This reliance in the HRM is almost universal, from the mainstream to the outer fringes of the movement.  That a number of unsuspecting believers is being lured into a belief system with ties to the Occult is deeply troubling.

Some will balk at this assertion.  If, however, one takes a hard look at the Talmud and Jewish Sages and Scholars, and looks at all of the contributing elements affecting them throughout history, one cannot escape at the very least the influence of Kabbalah on Talmudic scholarship and teachings.  I hesitate to offer too much documentation for the charge, as I don’t want to open wide a portal here at JGIG into anything having to do with the occult  (see “Note to Readers” below).

Other than a supposed superior take on the language of the New Testament as a main pillar in the Hebrew Roots Movement, (see Hebrew Roots Movement – Messin’ With the Word) another self-touted pillar in the HRM is their claim that they have purified their form of worship to be free from all pagan influence. They make much of the pagan practices they say have permeated the Church, and how we, as believers, should determine to set ourselves apart from such practices.

Yet significant portions of HRM teachings and doctrines come from the “wisdom and insight” gleaned from the aforementioned Jewish Sages and Scholars, with their “wisdom and insight” coming from the Talmud, which in turn is influenced by Kabbalistic teachings, which are rooted in the Occult.

From an Ed Nelson (a Hebrew Roots Movement apologist) review of a book by Brad Young, “Meet the Rabbis: Rabbinic Thought and the Teachings of Jesus” (entire review can be read HERE):

Brad H. Young is well-known for his scholarly research on the life of Jesus and his contributions to the Jewish-Christian dialogue. Author of “Jesus the Jewish Theologian” and “Paul the Jewish Theologian”, in his latest book, “Meet the Rabbis: Rabbinic Thought and the Teachings of Jesus”, he continues to illustrate the place and value of rabbinic teachings for understanding the New Testament and the historical Jesus.

. . . The New Testament documents and the historical Jesus are verifiably Hebraic in origin and mission, Young says. In this vein, he takes a pre-first century and first century approach within the rabbinic traditions of Jewish faith to explain the New Testament and present the historical Jesus.

“I want readers to begin with what they know about the teachings of Jesus,” Young says, “and by associative method, to introduce them to the world of Jewish Torah learning.” His enthusiasm spills, “I believe that Christians particularly will enjoy studying the Talmud because ancient Judaism is the root that nourishes the branch.”

In reality, it is Jesus who is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last . . . the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star. (See Revelation 22:12-16)  Our nourishment comes from Jesus Christ, who purchased us at great cost at the Cross.  I don’t see anything in the Scriptures about ancient Judaism holding such a lofty place as Jesus Christ.  For a study in the Talmudic view of Jesus Christ, click HERE.  Back to the review from Ed Nelson:

Through the book Young is careful to introduce the Torah-based wisdom of the Second Temple Era sages and post-temple era rabbis. “Like the rabbis,” he writes, “Jesus viewed his teachings on Torah as fulfilling the original purpose of the divine revelation from Mount Sinai.” Yet, he claims, “Jesus’ interpretation does not make Torah observance easier” but often “more stringent.” He explains, saying that “Jesus urges his followers to control their thought process as well as their actions.”

The above paragraph puts the emphasis on what we  have to do to observe Torah, in fact making the already impossible absolutely unattainable, as the emphasis is not now just on our actions in relation to Torah obedience, but also our thoughts in relation to Torah obedience.  God loves us far too much to assign us such a task.  An excellent article by a Jewish Christian regarding this concept can be found HERE.  New Covenant thinking according to Scripture is partially about how we become new creatures in Christ, going from spiritual death to spiritual life, which Jesus Christ accomplished at the Cross and with His Resurrection.  

Christ met ALL that the Law requires of us.  It is the Holy Spirit who sanctifies us, renewing our minds and hearts to conform progressively in our thoughts and actions to the requirements of God and His righteousness.  This sanctification is evidenced by the demonstrable Fruits of the Spirit in our lives, not by how well we keep the Law.  Beware of any teaching which takes the focus off of Christ and what He did and puts the focus on you and what you have to do for God to be acceptable to Him.  More from Ed Nelson’s review:

Chapter 11 is the heart and soul of the book. In this section are annotated lists of names of sages and rabbisof the Tannaic and Amoraim periods from 20 B.C.E. to 500 C.E.. Because of their immersion in oral tradition, Young calls them “walking books” of commentary on the Torah. These rabbis, depicted in charts and lists, were major links in “the chain of Torah learning from one generation to the next.”

The Issue Measured Against Scripture

Understand that the above is an example of the theological workings within the Hebrew Roots Movement mindset.  There is no mention of the Church (Body of Christ) as depicted in the Epistles, no mention of the repentant, redeemed believer being a new creation in Christ having passed from spiritual death to spiritual life, no mention of the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit in the believer’s life.

Brad Young refers to the Talmud above.  What exactly is the Talmud?  Basically, it’s a compilation of Rabbinic commentary and opinion about the Tanakh (Old Testament Scriptures).  Rabbis, (Sages and Scholars – mentors in spiritual and philosophical topics who are renowned for profound wisdom) over time, have expanded upon and debated the Scriptures, adding to the mix a good portion of “Oral Tradition” as well as allowing the use of Kabbalah to creep into and influence the final outcome.  For a basic overview on the definition and structure of the Talmud, click HERE.  For a basic grasp on the different facets and sects of Judaism, click HERE.  For an enlightning website “What Jews Believe”, click HERE.

Do you begin to see a fatal disconnect in the HRM belief system here?

Here is “Joe” or “Josephine” Christian, drawn into the Hebrew Roots Movement, in part because they have a desire to reject anything pagan.  Over time, by studying HRM doctrine, they come to believe that they are commanded to hold to the practice of Torah observance.  In turn, to support HRM doctrine, they are led to the “wisdom and insight” of the Sages and Scholars who in turn have drawn from the well of Kabbalah, which is rooted in the Occult.  How can the Christian reconcile those sources and their practices with what Torah observance requires of them?  Torah categorically prohibits the people of God from participating in any form of divination, [the practice of attempting to foretell future events or discover hidden knowledge by occult or supernatural means] meaning all practices rooted in the Occult, which would obviously include Jewish Mystical practices such as Kabbalah and Gematria.

When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, do not learn to imitate the detestable ways of the nations there.  Let no one be found among you who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, who practices divination or sorcery, interprets omens, engages in witchcraft, or casts spells, or who is a medium or spiritist or who consults the dead.  Anyone who does these things is detestable to the LORD, and because of these detestable practices the LORD your God will drive out those nations before you.  You must be blameless before the LORD your God.  (from Dueteronomy 18:9-13) 

Warnings against such practices are contained in the New Testament as well:

As I urged you when I went into Macedonia, stay there in Ephesus so that you may command certain men not to teach false doctrines any longer nor to devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These promote controversies rather than God’s work—which is by faith.  The goal of this command is love, which comes from a pure heart and a good conscience and a sincere faith.  Some have wandered away from these and turned to meaningless talk.  They want to be teachers of the law, but they do not know what they are talking about or what they so confidently affirm.  (from 1 Timothy 1:3-7)

In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.  For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine.  Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.  They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths.  But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.  (from 2 Timothy 4:1-5)

For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group.  They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain.  Even one of their own prophets has said, “Cretans are always liars, evil brutes, lazy gluttons.”  This testimony is true. Therefore, rebuke them sharply, so that they will be sound in the faith and will pay no attention to Jewish myths or to the commands of those who reject the truth.  To the pure, all things are pure, but to those who are corrupted and do not believe, nothing is pure. In fact, both their minds and consciences are corrupted.  They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.  (from Titus 1:10-16)

Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.  Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.  Outside are the dogs, those who practice magic arts, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices falsehood.  I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David, and the bright Morning Star.  (from Revelation 22:12-16)

Is it not stunning that the Hebrew Roots Movement, in is its determination to avoid paganism, finds it acceptable to make use of practices with roots in the Occult to support their belief system? 

Kabbalah and Gematria Defined

I’ve gone back and forth on how much information I’m willing to include here regarding Kabbalah and Gematria (Hebrew numerology).  From the entry “Kabbalah” in an upcoming glossary here at JGIG:

Kabbalah (Kabalah, Caballa, Qaballah)Note to readers: It is my intent to NOT detail too much about the occultic aspects of the Hebrew Roots Movement.  Not wanting this site to be a potential gateway for exposing someone to facets of the occult, references to and descriptions of Kabbalah, etc. will be limited. 

Part of the reason for this is that *I* choose not to expose myself to the in-depthstudy of such things.  For me, this is discernment at a very basic and important real-life level of application.  There is no value in passing on information beyond something along the lines of “this doctrine/practice is rooted in Kabbalah/Gemetria” and leaving it at that.  Those practices are from the Pit, and while we need to recognize them when they cross our paths, a quick recognition and prompt rejection is what God calls us to. 

That said, basic definitions to facilitate that recognition will be provided here at JGIG, including Hebrew Roots Movement – The Use of Midrash, which examines the hermeneutical methods adopted by the HRM.

From Wikipedia (entire article is available HERE)“Kabbalah (Hebrew: קַבָּלָה‎, lit. “receiving”) is a discipline and school of thought discussing the mystical aspect of Judaism. It is a set of esoteric teachings meant to define the inner meaning of both the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible) and traditional Rabbinic literature, as well as to explain the significance of Jewish religious observances.[1] 

. . . According to the Zohar, generally considered the foremost kabbalistic text, Torah study uses four levels (PaRDeS) of interpretation (exegesis) of its text:[2]

  • Peshat (lit. “simple”)—the direct meaning.
  • Remez (lit. “hint[s]”)—the allegoric meaning (through allusion).
  • Derash (from Heb. darash: “inquire” or “seek”)—midrashic (Rabbinic) or comparative meaning.
  • Sod (lit. “secret” or “mystery”)—the inner meaning—a foundation of the kabbalah.

One Concept of Kabbalah

Kabbalah is considered, by its followers, as a necessary part of the study of Torah — the study of Torah (the Law of God) being an inherent duty of observant Jews.[3] Kabbalah teaches doctrines that are accepted by some Jews as the true meaning of Judaism while other Jews have rejected these doctrines as heretical and antithetical to Judaism.

The origins of the actual term Kabbalah are unknown and disputed to belong either to Solomon ibn Gabirol (1021 – 1058) or else to the 13th century CE Spanish Kabbalist Bahya ben Asher. While other terms have been used in many religious documents from the 2nd century CE up to the present day, the term Kabbalah has become the main descriptive of Jewish esoteric knowledge and practices. The Kabbalistic literature, which served as the basis for most of the development of Kabbalistic thought, divides between early works such as Heichalot and Sefer Yetzirah (believed to be dated 1st or 2nd Century CE) and later works dated to the 13th century CE, of which the main book is the Zohar representing the main source for the Contemplative Kabbalah (Kabbalah Iyunit).

According to Kabbalistic tradition, knowledge was transmitted orally by the Patriarchs, prophets, and sages (Hakhamim in Hebrew), eventually to be “interwoven” into Jewish religious writings and culture. According to this tradition, Kabbalah was, in around the 10th century BCE, an open knowledge practiced by over a million people in ancient Israel,[4] although there is little objective historical evidence to support this thesis.

From the same Wikipedia article regarding Gematria: 

. . . Among its many pre-occupations, Kabbalah teaches that every Hebrew letter, word, number, even the accent on words of the Hebrew Bible contains a hidden sense; and it teaches the methods of interpretation for ascertaining these meanings. One such method is as follows:

As early as the 1st Century BCE Jews believed that the Torah (first five books of the Hebrew Bible) contained encoded messages and hidden meanings.  Gematria is one method for discovering its hidden meanings. Each letter in Hebrew also represents a number; Hebrew, unlike many other languages, never developed a separate numerical alphabet. By converting letters to numbers, Kabbalists were able to find a hidden meaning in each word. This method of interpretation was used extensively by various schools.

There is no one fixed way to “do” gematria. Some say there are up to 70 different methods. One simple procedure is as follows: each syllable and/or letter forming a word has a characteristic numeric value. The sum of these numeric tags is the word’s “key”, and that word may be replaced in the text by any other word having the same key. Through the application of many such procedures, alternative or hidden meanings of scripture may be derived. Similar procedures are used by Islamic mystics, as described by Idries Shah in his book, “The Sufis”.


I found this portrayal of Kabbalah at My Jewish Learning.  An excerpt from “Kabbalah: Origins of a Sprirtual Adventure” :

Basically, kabbalists wanted to transform Judaism into a more profound inner experience; an experience, so they believed, that could not be attained through a rational and intellectual approach to religion. For them Judaism was a system of mystical symbols reflecting the mystery of God and the universe, and their aim was to discover keys to the understanding of this symbolism.

Let’s engage in a little experiment with the paragraph above, shall we?  Let’s substitute the term “Hebrew Roots Movement” for “Kabbalah”, “Christianity” for “Judaism”, apply HRM thinking to the mix, and see what we get:

Basically, the Hebrew Roots Movement wanted to transform Christianity into a more profound inner experience; an experience, so they believed, that could not be attained through a rational and intellectual approach to religion [echos of the “Greek thought vs. Hebraic thought” issue]For them, Christianity was a system of Hebraic symbols reflecting the mystery of God and His Torah, and their aim was to discover keys to the understanding of this symbolism.

Interesting how those paragraphs mesh together conceptually . . .


First Fruits of Zion would be considered to be a “mainstream” Hebrew Roots Movement organization.  Notice below how they defend Orthodox Judaism and mysticism while trying to distance themselves from Kabbalah.  Keep in mind that Judaism does not in any way, shape, or form support Christianity, but rather vilifies the core beliefs of the Christian faith.  Following is part of this discussion regarding “Benefits of the Synagogue Liturgy” at First Fruits of Zion.  An FFOZ writer states:

“. . . Revelation [the book of] is filled with mystical symbols and teachings. The example cited above is an instance of gematria (numerology). Thus we cannot dismiss Jewish mysticism off hand without casting off our own Scriptures.

“I am concerned about the accusation expressed by many Christians that Orthodox Judaism is replete with Kabbalah, and this Kabbalah is occultic or satanic. To be honest, this sounds to me like a witch hunt or blood libel inspired by centuries of anti-Jewish sentiment. I do not by any means believe that devout Orthodox Judaism represents an occultic religion. I do not mean that all people who are critical of Jewish mysticism are anti-Semitic—it is just that there are anti-Semitic people out there that look for any excuse they can to villianize Jewish people, and it does not take much to trigger and evoke anti-Judaism that lies dormant in a significant segment of our society. It is something we must guard against.  [While I agree that Judaism may not be replete with Kabbalah, it is at the very least influenced by it.  And Kabbalah IS occultic.  And if it is not from God, it IS from Satan.  Bringing that to light is not Anti-Semitic, it’s discernment.]

“Kabbalah has many forms.  ‘Pop’ kabbalah, such as the type embraced by celebrities and the Kabbalah Centre is a joke, and it is pagan, and it is indeed occultic. Disciples should denounce and dismiss it. The problem with it is that it lacks Torah as a foundation.  [So, if “Pop” Kabbalah had its foundation in Torah, it would be okay??]

“Neither ‘pop kabbalah’ nor traditional forms of kabbalah will be present in our siddur for several reasons. Kabbalistic prayers and songs will not be included whatsoever. I do not recommend that people study Kabbalah or pray kabbalistic prayers. I myself do not study Kabbalah or pray kabbalistic prayers.  [By allowing Rabbinic literature to seep into their teachings, FFOZ, while not overtly recommending forms of Kabbalah, by default is allowing Kabbalah to shape their doctrine, based on what we know about Rabbinic literature.]

“Even healthy mysticism is a dangerous topic.  [“Healthy” mysticism?]  Until modern times, mystical study was traditionally restricted to advanced Torah scholars advanced in age and study. Without a solid Torah foundation, mysticism can easily [lead] to heresy and error. That is one important reason that FFOZ and I do not recommend that people study it.

“I myself continue to struggle to understand the peshat (plain meaning) of the Scriptures.  [Notice “peshat” is the first part of “PaRDeS” – see “Zohar” in above Wikipedia article]  I do not even feel qualified to delve into healthy forms of mystical study.  [Again, “healthy”?]  And if I ever get to the point where I feel the need to do so, there is enough mysticism in the books of John, Jude and Revelation to keep me busy for a lifetime.

“We as a movement need to stay away from mental exercises and occupy ourselves with texts that we can understand plainly and that have a practical impact on the way we live out Torah as disciples of Yeshua.

“Allow me to repeat: ‘Pop Kabbalah’ IS occultic, non-biblical, and must be condemned and avoided. As I have previously stated, neither I nor FFOZ endorse or encourage study of any kind of Kabbalah.”  [Yet FFOZ continues to rely on Rabbinic sources as foundational, which are, at the very least, influenced  by Kabbalah.  If  you do the following searches at FFOZ, as of this writing, these are the results:  “Rabbinic” = 53 results, “Sages” = 69 results, “Scholars” = 40 results, “Rabbinic literature” = 20 results.  Doublemindedness.]


Those of you in the Hebrew Roots Movement recognize certain terms and concepts in the article excerpts above.  Do you see the disconnect in avoiding all things pagan while at the same time embracing the “wisdom and insight” of the Sages and Scholars knowing what you now know?  Does it unnerve you to know the true origins of such things?  Do you perhaps recognize a need to investigate further where the teachings and doctrines you have become familiar with and hold to really come from, and, more importantly, where those teachings and doctrines are taking you?

Jewish Sages and Scholars to “Restore” First Century Christianity?

As if engaging in or relying upon a methodology influenced by the Occult weren’t enough, the Hebrew Roots Movement has another major problem in attempting to interpret the Gospel and New Testament doctrine through the “wisdom and insight” of Jewish Sages and Scholars:

Jewish Sages and Scholars have absolutely no interest in establishing the Messiahship and Deity of Jesus Christ.  They are Rabbis.  Their religion is Judaism.  Judaism is focused on what man has to do to meet the requirements of a Holy God rather than on what God has done through the Messiah to meet His requirements of us through His work at the Cross.  They are still looking for a Messiah that has already come.  They do not practice Christianity.  They are not born again and they do not see the Scriptures through eyes that see and ears that hear enabled by the Holy Spirit.

That the Hebrew Roots Movement would rely on the “wisdom and insight” of Jewish Sages and Scholars to try to restore Christianity to its first century moorings is indeed puzzling.  The New Testament is full of accounts of dramatic changes in worship and the living out of one’s new life in Christ after the work of Jesus at the Cross.  The Church (Body of Christ) was established, basic structures of spiritual authority were framed, giftings of the Holy Spirit were poured out upon God’s people – Jew and Gentile alike, now one in Christ – for the furthering of God’s Kingdom.  It was evident that God was doing something quite different after the Cross in and through the lives of His people.


So Where Does the Study of Numbers Fit in, Scripturally?

Numbers obviously have significance in the Scriptures.  There is a sense of great order and consistency in God’s Word, and some of that is brought about by God’s use of numbers.

From  “Running us in Circles – Why Gematria is occultic and unbiblical – The Inter-mixing of Occult and Christian Terminology and the resulting confusion” at XFOC :

When someone finds the word “Gematria” on the internet, and clicks on it or on the reference pages, are they likely to be led into the freeing truth of “Salvation by faith alone through Jesus Christ”, and how to learn to walk with Him ?

Or are they likely to be led to read books and sources about Gematria and numerology that are anti-Christian – whether by intent or default – because they are leading people AWAY from Jesus Christ, and into a spirituality that ultimately receives information from demonic sources ?

Philosophy that is not Christian – does not automatically have to lead someone towards something which is specifically demonic. But in the case of Gematria, most of the time, that will be the case – unfortunately.

. . . Then there are the issues that arise when God gives his own evaluation of certain numbers – such as 7 being the number of God, and 6 being the number of man.

Those who are Christians who study Biblical numerology often have the same goal:

1. to make sure that God receives credit for what He has done, and

2. to ensure that nothing would detract from the Glory of God, or the accuracy of his Word, the Bible.

Many studies of Biblical prophecy also involve the use of numbers, simply as part of the study.  So – to a certain extent – there is a system of numbers that would seem to apply to the study of the Bible, at least on some levels.

God is the God of Order, who created the universe. This would include mathematical laws and universal constants, so to find or apply some of those concepts to the Bible would not be a surprise, since God is consistent, and the physical laws of the universe He has made would be a demonstration of His glory as well.

The problem comes in when man tries to make something up which is not in the Bible, or when Satan decides to try to corrupt that system.  . . . One of the things that Satan specializes in is the ability to attempt to reverse, or invert – whatever God has established. Satan devises clever counterfeits.

For this page, Gematria is defined differently than “numerology”.  We define numerology as being itself “biblically neutral” – within the strictest confines of the narrow definition of the word itself.

[If] someone wishes to see if the Bible has certain mathematical patterns, and wants to know if that vindicates the Bible, we would only say: go for it. But the concern for us remains that attempts are being made to bypass the plain message of the Bible, and the words that we already understand in plain language.

. . . While Christians should study the Bible, they should stay away from sources that propose to acquaint them with Biblical systems– through anything other than Christian sources, and especially when the sources are from the Occult or the demonic side of spirituality. This is not to prevent anyone from learning, but it is to prevent us from going astray.

Knowledgeable Jewish sources – in some cases – should be given credit for a preferential understanding of 1) the Old Testament Mosaic law on the plain face of the Old Testament and 2) an understanding of the various feasts in the O.T.

Other than these specific areas, we would urge all to be very cautious and wise. There is a good deal of occultic material that is specifically Jewish, that dates back many hundreds of years. It is based on the premise that Jesus Christ is to be rejected as Messiah, and that God still communicates with His chosen people through Gematria, which is an exclusive means of salvation to them. This is a false teaching.

. . . We need to continue to examine the claims of the Kabbalah and any other text according to the Bible. Gematria . . . is something that falls under the category of what is occult and witchcraft, and is taught based on a system of numerology that is a counterfeit system. [Bolding mine.]

Though I may not agree with everything in the full article above (or the website from which it came), the insight offered there regarding the place of the study of numbers in Scripture within appropriate bounds is of value in helping to keep things in their proper perspective.



The Body of Christ, by definition, should not be exclusionary within itself according to Scripture.  God does allow for differences in opinion on secondary disputable matters (Romans 14) and distinguishes between different parts of the Body that are necessary for the functioning of the Body (1 Corinthians 12-14).

However those that seek to be “set apart” within/from the Body of Christ based on “unique revelation” or “hidden truths” that have been “revealed to them” using questionable resources and/or methods should be met with extreme caution.  Resources and/or methods determined to be occultic in origin should be rejected outright.

Those of you who are curious about and are flirting with the Hebrew Roots Movement – be alert.  Not all is as it seems.  Ask the hard questions.  If you are steered anywhere other than toward the Exaltation of Jesus Christ and His completed work at the Cross, step away and take a serious, critical look at the HRM and how (and WHY) it differs from orthodox (small ‘o’) Christianity.  If you’re in the Hebrew Roots Movement (Messianic Christianity, Hebraic Roots, etc.) please consider taking a fresh look and prayerfully . . . and Scripturally . . . re-examine the things you’ve been taught by those in the HRM.

May God grant you wisdom and discernment as you consider all of these things.


Other articles of interest:

If you or someone you know is in the HRM or a related Law-keeping sect and are questioning what you believe, a clear presentation of the Gospel can be found HERE.  For more resources regarding the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movements see the Post Index and the Articles Page.  General study helps, discernment, and apologetics sites can be found HERE.  Good, foundational studies with a special emphasis on Old Covenant/New Covenant Truths can be found HERE.  Be sure to check out the other testimonies on the Testimonies Page, as well.   Make use of the tabs with drop-down menus found at the top of this site – there’s tons of info there, and it’s very navigable.  May God guide and bless you as you seek His Truth.


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