Many Jewish families when they were persecuted in Spain, Russia, England and so on, were forced to flee and often lost all their belongings and started new lives in other countries – South America was a popular destination and you will still hear Ladino, a dialect of Hebrew and Spanish, spoken in many places as well as Yiddish, a dialect of Hebrew and German. South Africa was another popular choice.
My grandmother Hannah, while still a teenager married a wealthy sheep farmer in his thirties. He was mostly interested in having a good life with much gambling. There was no time for religion. My mother, the youngest of the five children from that marriage had told me how her mother’s family had come to settle in the Eastern Cape. Regrettably I was too young to appreciate it and the details escape me. Of my father’s family I know even less.
I had no religious upbringing at all. Often people simply assume the dominant religion of the society they were brought up in, and become Moslems, Hindus, and indeed Catholic and Protestant Christians.
So then would Jewish people naturally become Christians? Not at all, there are many reasons for that as I will cover in a future post.
Because I eat kosher foods and keep Passover and the other feast days people assume that I had to be Jewish. So they wonder how I became a Christian. I have often wondered if I was Jewish but it does not seem likely.
How then did you become a Christian? By Serendipity! As I described in my biography, our family life had deteriorated and Social Welfare took me away and I was placed in an inner city boarding school. It was a tough environment, like going from the frying pan into the fire, but it was here that I learned about Christianity. The Dutch Reformed Church was the dominant denomination in the white community of South Africa. It is a Protestant denomination. And in the boarding school we had to “go to church” twice every Sunday, and attend Sunday school and later catechism classes which were preparation for becoming a member of the church. There were other denominations, one more orthodox and the other more charismatic. I had no idea what these terms meant until years later.
I was quite surprised to learn that Jesus was actually Jewish and called Yeshua.
The Bible’s Authority
The bible makes no apologies. It simply states that God created the universe and everything in it. It records the creation story in the book Genesis, meaning origin or beginning.
We read about Adam and Eve not obeying God and were sent out of Eden. God said to the serpent who had caused the problem:
“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” Gen 3:15
How is God going to do this? What is his plan?
If you are given God’s plan in advance and you watch him implementing it exactly step by step, you start to understand that he is in charge and in control. God does not try to convince you he is God, but the more you see him action, the more your confidence in him grows.
We tend to think of projects taking short periods of time but God’s plans often take thousands of years to come to fruition. For his plan he is going to select a person and move him to a geographic location where he wants him. Then make a nation to descend from this man, he will teach this nation his ways, he will select from this nation a king to start a kingdom governed from Jerusalem, the location he had chosen and promised to the man he had chosen to be the father of many nations; from this same nation, he will let a man be born whom God will anoint as king over that kingdom, that man will put the evil powers to shame by dying as our Passover lamb, this man will come back and rule the world from that location.
First he scattered the nations:
“So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel —because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.” Gen 11:8-9
Then God selected Abram
The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. “I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
God selected Abram as we saw above, then he selected the nation Israel (God changed Jacob’s name to Israel) to be his nation:
When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided all mankind, he set up boundaries for the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel. For the LORD’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted inheritance.
God certainly knows what he is doing and he is taking his time!
We will look at other aspects of God’s plan in future posts – I know I tend to get carried away!