Jonathan Cahn and the Hebrew Roots Movement

August 5, 2015 at 7:31 AM 8 comments

SabbathkeepersThough I thought my last article on the Sabbatical Year cycle (Shemitah) was actually going to be the final one, it turns out I was wrong. What I failed to point out is found within the dangers of the Hebrew Roots Movement. Admittedly, it is easy to get sucked into this movement because Gentile Christians tend to believe that we are somehow connected to Jews in a spiritual sense. I’ve heard more than one Christian exclaim that they are “spiritual” Jews. This is based on a faulty interpretation of Romans, especially chapters nine through eleven.

Christians may pick out a verse or two from Romans 9 – 11 and miss the context completely. In much of that section, Paul is talking about what it means to be a true Jew. He says that a true Jew is not one outwardly (he says that early on, in Romans 2:28). He later defines what makes a true Jew and compares a true Jew with a false Jew. Just because someone was born as a Jew does not necessarily make them a true Jew in God’s eyes. However, Paul is also clear that a Gentile is never considered by God to be a “Jew.” Please read Romans 9 – 11 in one sitting. Read it through several times to get the feel and flow. In fact, I would strongly encourage you to read the entirety of Romans in one sitting.

One of the reasons (and I failed to point this out), that Jonathan Cahn is so widely accepted today is because too many Christians (Gentiles) want to see themselves as Jewish. For some reason, we think that being Jewish is better than being simply a Gentile Christian. Paul (and the writer of Hebrews) makes this abundantly clear that this is not the case and that spiritually, there is no Gentile, Jew, male, female, slave or free (Galatians 3:11; 3:28) when it comes to salvation. Jesus destroyed the partition that had previously separated everyone with respect to salvation.

But in today’s world, the Hebrew Roots Movement is out to rebuild that partition. It does so by elevating Judaism over and above Christianity. Moreover, it insists that Christians have been removed from their “roots” (Judaism) and need to get back to them. These people ignore the findings of the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15.

“The premise of the Hebrew Roots movement is the belief that the Church has veered far from the true teachings and Hebrew concepts of the Bible. The movement maintains that Christianity has been indoctrinated with the culture and beliefs of Greek and Roman philosophy and that ultimately biblical Christianity, taught in churches today, has been corrupted with a pagan imitation of the New Testament gospels.

To remedy this situation, the growing Hebrew Roots Movement teaches that we need to move back toward Judaism. This often starts with the correct belief that if we as Christians would learn more about the world of Judaism and begin to see the Bible through Jewish eyes, we would have a greater understanding of the Bible. This is true. There are many idioms, figures of speech, and more that are specific to Jewish culture within the pages of Scripture. The more we know about those things, the greater our understanding of God’s Word will be. But from there, it is somewhat easy to become caught up in the whole “Jewish” thing; seeing yourself as a “spiritual” Jew, wanting to buy a Bible that has “Jewish” roots to it, and even buying a yarmulke if you’re a man.

Those involved in the Hebrew Roots Movement often adopt a Jewish outlook on life. Many Hebrew Roots congregations are made up mainly of Gentiles and are led by a Gentile “rabbi” (usually a Gentile who calls himself a Messianic Christian). This movement back to Judaism was dealt with at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 and that should have been the end of it. Instead, we see this leaven working its way through the visible Church today.

But this is also why Jonathan Cahn’s books are doing so well and I have neglected to mention this previously. Cahn tugs at the heart-strings of Christians who want to identify with Judaism because Jesus was/is Jewish. Who among us would not want to go back to the time of Jesus and follow Him around, admiringly receiving everything He said and did? We would want to be like Him, right? But what many forget is that Judaism was the first phase in God’s plan and the festivals, the law, etc., were fulfilled by Jesus. This does not mean that since Jesus obeyed the law to the nth degree, Christians don’t have to do so. On the contrary, Christians are obligated to obey every aspect of God’s moral law. However, it is clear from Scripture that Christians are not obligated to observe Jewish festivals!

The festivals, the feasts, the Sabbatical Year cycles (Shemitah), the passover and everything else associated with Judaism was given only to the nation of Israel. No other nation was expected to observe the things that Israel observed. Foreigners who became part of Israel were expected to observe at least some of the ceremonial laws, but not those outside Israel.

Christianity is the fulfillment of Judaism and it takes us beyond it. As a Christian, I can and should study the festivals, the feasts, and the rest in order to gain greater insight into Jesus. I should not study those things in order to begin observing them or implementing them in my own life. Jesus fulfilled all. Those who trust in Him are empowered to live a life that obeys God’s moral law, but there is no obligation for Christians to become Jewish or to observe those things that are specifically Jewish-oriented.

America was not founded by God, but because Jonathan Cahn makes a case for it, it must be true, right? America was allowed to come into existence and it will go out of existence in God’s timing. We are not spiritually connected with Israel anymore than Christians are spiritually Jewish. This belief is a complete misread of God’s Word, in my opinion.

I firmly believe Jonathan Cahn is pushing a form of Hebrew Roots theology. Yet, it is patently clear from Paul (a pharisee of pharisee, a Hebrew of Hebrews) that Judaism is a “type” of what was fulfilled in Jesus and was a shadow of what is to come.

“As opposed to what the Hebrew Roots movement claims, the New Testament teachings of the Apostle Paul are perfectly clear and self-explanatory. Colossians 2:16,17 says, ‘Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day – things which are a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ.’ Romans 14:5 states, ‘One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.’ Scripture clearly indicates that these issues are a matter of personal choice. These verses and many others give clear evidence that the Mosaic Covenant laws and ordinances have ended. Continuing to teach that the Old Covenant is still in effect in spite of what the New Testament teaches, or twisting the New Testament to agree with the Hebrew Roots beliefs, is false teaching.”

Yet, it would appear that many of today’s Christians would tell Paul he is wrong. We do not need to observe the festivals, the new moons, the Sabbath days as the Jews of old did. America is not in trouble because we failed to observe these things. If so, then Paul is lying to us and of course, he’s not. America is in trouble because just as declared in Romans 1, the people of this nation have progressively become worse and worse in their desire to rebel against God and His moral law. This is also outlined in Psalm 2.

The capstone of this rebellion is seen when the leaders of any nation (or the individual people of it) being to reject and persecute Israel and Jews. The BDS movement (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) against Israel is a case in point. The people involved in that will reap God’s wrath (Genesis 12:3). Avoid that movement and those people but pray for them.

Our nation’s leaders have thrown Israel under the bus and have clasped hands with Iran, one of Israel’s most virulent enemies. Those who approve what our nation’s leaders have done will reap the same consequences as our nation’s leaders.

Jonathan Cahn’s writings appeal to people who see themselves as being “spiritually” united with Israel in some form. For those people, there is nothing I can say that will rouse them from their blindness. God will have to do it if He chooses to do so.

Christian, if you turn to any form of the Hebrew Roots Movement, you are going back to Judaism, something you should avoid. This is what Paul fought against in his letter to the Galatians. Yet, this error persists today. America has no spiritual connection with Israel. I’m not even sure how a “nation” can be connected “spiritually” with another “nation” in the first place. How does that work?

Learn about Judaism to gain greater depth and insight into God’s Word. However, avoid becoming involved in the Hebrew Roots Movement in any form. That includes the erroneous teachings of Jonathan Cahn.

Entry filed under: christianity, israel, Judaism, Religious - Christian - End Times, Religious - Christian - Prophecy, Religious - Christian - Theology, salvation. Tags: , , , .

True Meaning of Sabbatical Year Cycles from the Old Testament Pastor Jim Staley of Passion for Truth Ministries Indicted


  • 1. Jason  |  September 2, 2015 at 10:29 AM

    I think the author of this article misunderstands Hebrew Roots or at least how I understand it. The people I have heard talk about Hebrew Roots are talking about understanding the Bible as a whole and not only Grace. Every one I have heard has said we are saved only through the blood of Jesus, but would add that even Jesus said, “sin no more.” What is sin? How can we say abortion or gay marriage is wrong but ignore other laws of God? I feel the definition of sin by every evangelical is fuzzy. In one breath they say “do not have pre marital sex” but dismiss the God appointed feasts and festivals which we are repeatedly told to keep forever. If any law is applicable to both Jew and Gentile, then I would say they all are. I would also say the idea of Dispensationalism sounds more like evolution than solid theology. God never changes. I also believe that there are numerous examples suggesting we are grafted in. Arguably the whole book of Ruth is making this point since Jesus was a descendent of a Gentile (Ruth). She was grafted in and we are grafted in. So what is sinful for them is sinful for us. Not to say we are justified by works. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, all the fathers were justified by faith. I also would not say I am better than another for trying (emphasis on trying) to do as God has called me to do, but I am just a man trying to have a relationship with a God that is holy, holy, holy. By trying to follow the law, I do not feel better but only see how much I fall short and am in need of the grace of a loving God.


    • 2. modres  |  September 2, 2015 at 11:02 AM

      Hi Jason,

      Thanks for taking the time to stop by and share your thoughts.

      You’re really talking about separate things though.

      Sin is lawlessness. John tells us this in 1 John 3:4, when he states, “Everyone who practices sin also practices lawlessness; and sin is lawlessness.”

      Sin is simply not obeying God’s commands. At the same time, the “God appointed feasts and festivals” that Israel was to keep forever were given ONLY to Israel. It’s really that simple. Paul makes a careful and clear distinction between those who are of Israel in Romans 9-11. He essentially states that just because someone is born an Israelite, it does not make them truly an Israelite anymore than the Pharisees were, as Jesus pointed out. Yes, they were descendants of Abraham, but so what? Their hearts were not “circumcised” and they felt no compunction to obey God. By the same token, there were others who were also Israelites who WERE true “spiritual” Israelites because of the fact that their hearts were circumcised. Paul is very clear on the matter.

      As far as Dispensationalism, the reality is that it seems clear enough that God revealed Himself and His will over time throughout His Word and in history and in increasingly different ways. A careful reading of just the book of Genesis bears this out quite clearly. It doesn’t mean God changed. It simply means that He chose to reveal Himself and His will in calculated measures. Part of the reason for that is that whatever God revealed to humanity, He also, by virtue of that fact, revealed to Satan. Some things God played closer to His chest until the time was right to reveal things. Certainly, God did not reveal the entirety of His plan of redemption all at once, did He? The essence of Dispensationalism is that God revealed His plans incrementally. There is such a thing as “hyper-Dispensationalism” with which I vehemently disagree. I consider myself a normative Dispensationalist, but Dispensationalism did not save me. Jesus and His work of redemption has done that. Dispensationalism is simply a name given to something, much the way the word “trinity” (though not found in Scripture) describes the Godhead.

      For instance, if we consider just one brief section of Zechariah 9:9-10, we see this play itself out.

      Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion!
      Shout, Daughter Jerusalem!
      See, your king comes to you,
      righteous and victorious,
      lowly and riding on a donkey,
      on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
      I will take away the chariots from Ephraim
      and the warhorses from Jerusalem,
      and the battle bow will be broken.
      He will proclaim peace to the nations.
      His rule will extend from sea to sea
      and from the River to the ends of the earth.

      Clearly, in the above two verses, there does not appear to be a GAP of time between them. The Messiah comes and – according to the verses – seems to immediately begin to reign. This is not how things worked out though and God chose not to reveal the gap of time that would occur between those two verses. In fact, we are still living IN that gap. So the Jews who came after Zechariah had written even to the time that Jesus walked the earth had no real understanding of Messiah’s earthly mission. They were looking for Someone to come and rule. Jesus came and died. He will return as King, Ruler, and Judge at the end of this age.

      Yes, Gentiles are grafted IN as Paul says, but we can also be grafted OUT. Some take that to mean that these Gentiles would then lose their salvation, yet this is clearly not what Paul is talking about. He is referring to a state of blessedness before God, not salvation. The grafting in is not our salvation, but our participation in being blessed. Paul also says we owe a debt of gratitude to the Jews because salvation comes from THEM.

      If you have decided you need to follow the law, then you need to follow every bit of it. You cannot pick and choose nor can you fall. You have essentially done what many today are doing by reverting BACK to placing yourself under the Law, the same Law from which all have been freed.

      This is part of the problem with the Hebrew Roots movement. It is one thing to endeavor to learn as much as possible about the Hebrew culture, especially during the time that Jesus lived. It provides us with a rich picture of life during that time, including the many figures of speech and metaphors used by Jews in that culture.

      While it might START there, it usually moves a person to go more in depth into all things Hebrew. You find that you want to “live” as Jesus lived, observe the ceremonies He observed. For myself, I even began studying the Hebrew language (again) and started to purchase commentaries by Jewish writers because I thought they had greater insight than others.

      As Paul warned to the Galatians, it can soon lead a person to a point where the person actually adopts a Jewish lifestyle and can then easily get sucked into thinking that this is the “preferred” way of life, the one that God wants us to live. In reality, it isn’t.

      Paul continued to be a Pharisee in mindset, but only so far as he believed it was true to who he was and he celebrated the ceremonies and the laws only so far as he believed he gained greater insight into the Lamb of God. He did not continue to do those things because he somehow felt that in them was “true” salvation. If we read carefully his epistles, it is impossible to come away with a view other than the one that says while he appreciated the laws and the ceremonies, he still counted them all as loss for the sake of gaining Christ.

      One thing may help you understand something. You are not Jewish (if you are a Gentile). You have no obligation to obey the laws of Judaism anymore than anyone else. Paul and others wrote that the law cannot save. Under Christ, we are freed to obey the law yes, but the law Paul is speaking of is the MORAL law of God, not the ceremonial laws of God (which were given ONLY to the nation of Israel.

      This is why I believe there is so much confusion today. You implied it yourself in your statement, “What is sin? How can we say abortion or gay marriage is wrong but ignore other laws of God? I feel the definition of sin by every evangelical is fuzzy. In one breath they say “do not have pre marital sex” but dismiss the God appointed feasts and festivals which we are repeatedly told to keep forever.”

      Again, God gave the Law to Israel, which incorporated both moral and ceremonial laws. The moral laws God gave are never to be set aside, therefore premarital sex, homosexuality, stealing, murder, etc., are to be obeyed without question. The ceremonial laws were clearly and distinctly given to the nation of Israel ONLY. They were not somehow, given to America as well. America has no spiritual connection with Israel and the only real connection that Gentiles have with Israel is because of SALVATION since salvation comes from the Jews (John 4:22).

      I fully agree with you that faith justifies everyone whether it was before the cross of Christ or after it. We are justified by faith, not works. However, it is by our works that we are not only known but rewarded in the afterlife (1 Corinthians 3:12).

      There is a separate and distinct program for Gentiles and the nation of Israel that is also very clearly delineated in Scripture. The problem though is that many obliterate this distinction through allegorizing the text. They teach that the Church is the new Israel and in order to be right with God, all the laws (moral AND ceremonial) must be obeyed and observed.

      Brother, this is a clear and complete misunderstanding of Paul’s teachings throughout his epistles. I’m sorry to say that people like Jonathan Cahn have it completely wrong. He has successfully twisted Scripture to mean something it does not mean and he is selling lots of books. Why is that? Because people too often today go by emotional virtue and even though they like to deny that they are saved by works, there is an element within many that believes that observing all the rules, regulations, ceremonies, and laws goes a long way in saving us.

      Read 1 Corinthians a few times to get the complete gist of what Paul is saying. He essentially sets the ceremonial laws aside for the Christian.

      At any rate, thanks again for writing. May the Lord bless you richly.


  • 3. Sherry  |  August 5, 2015 at 4:04 PM

    Yes, that’s him. That comment by his attorney got to me, too. Ofcourse, today, it won’t have anything to do with him as a pastor. He’s a heretic, anyways, so his sheeple will still follow glassy-eyed and with smugness that they are better than we gentile believers. It seems they want to build the dividing wall that Christ tore down…

    Funny how these false teachers are always getting caught doing that which is shameful; its as though God is trying to wake people up to the frauds! Well, at least he didn’t get caught in some sex type scandal which is the usual red flag (which is ignored, too).


    • 4. modres  |  August 5, 2015 at 4:26 PM

      Yes, it’s amazing how they get caught and are punished. Then they start all over again “wiser,” more “discerning,” filled to the brim with “compassion,” and never “judgmental” for as long as they all shall live! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

  • 5. Sherry  |  August 5, 2015 at 8:00 AM

    Reblogged this on The X Mass H8rs Blog and commented:
    The foundation for the HRM came from a dream that a man named Jim Staley had concerning the Church’s foundation being cracked because we have left the Jewish observances. The Church was not founded on such things but on the Prophets and Apostles, with Christ as her cornerstone. To say that its cracked because of man makes God subservient to man. Its difficult to debate this group-I’ve tried. Its as if they fear leaving this group means they are denying their Lord. Those of us who do not observe the abominations of religious paganism called X Mass, Easter and Lent are continually being lumped in with this heretical hell-bound cult.


    • 6. modres  |  August 5, 2015 at 9:04 AM

      Thanks for this info, Sherry. I’ll do some research on Jim Staley as I did not know that. Yes, I agree completely. In fact, the entirety of the Hebrew Roots Movement is designed to do exactly what Paul fought against with the Galatians – to place Christianity UNDER Judaism.

      Amazing how many of these “movements” begin with one person and spread from there. Regarding your own beliefs involving Christmas, etc., I’m sure it’s frustrating to be lumped together with this group.

      Thanks for helping to spread the word!


      • 7. Sherry  |  August 5, 2015 at 3:56 PM

        YW! Thanks for letting me share your posts.


    • 8. modres  |  August 5, 2015 at 9:10 AM

      By the way, would this be the same Jim Staley that you’re referring to here?

      If so, looks like Mr. Staley is in trouble for allegedly cheating elderly folks out of millions and actually confessed to it in federal court. Apparently, he defrauded people to the tune of over $3 million and managed to pocket just under $600,000 for himself!

      I love what his attorney says though: “The attorney stressed that the crime ‘had nothing to do with his role as a pastor’.”

      Right, of course not. His role as financial planner was separate from his role as pastor, just like my role as a human being is separate from my role as a Christian? What?

      He faces six to eight years in jail. He’ll probably look back at this as “suffering for Christ” or “persecution” of the godly, etc.

      I’m just flabbergasted, but I know I should not be (sigh)…


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