Bible teaching with an emphasis on Israel, prophecy and the Jewish roots of Christianity
Series: “The First Christians (2019)”
The Life and Times of Those Who First Believed in Jesus
Originally produced in 1995, The First Christians series explores the background of the customs and manners of Jesus’ day, unearthing the Jewish roots of Christianity. God chose this one people to speak to all humanity for all time. This nine program series seeks to better understand the people with whom He chose to reside on earth. From the studio, David and Kirsten Hart talk with Dr. Jeffrey Seif about the importance and modern applications for each program.
In first century Israel, a newborn was cleansed, rubbed with salt and olive oil, then wrapped in swaddling clothes (linen bandages). This birth brought with it the fullness of the covenant and redemption.
By today’s standards the first century house was small, dark and, in the winter, very cold. But in this meeting place for the family, the meals were prepared and they sat down to break bread and partake of such meaningful feasts as Passover.
In the Galilee region in the first century, fishing was the main source of livelihood. See how Peter, James and John went about it and learn about the disciples: twelve imperfect, ordinary Jewish tradesmen chosen to witness firsthand the beginning of the redemption of all mankind.
The first-century family was knit together by and depended on … olives! From picking to pressing to their use as lamp fuel, olives served as an integral part of Jewish family life. Zola presents the spiritual significance of oil, using the Lord’s parables.
Israelites considered themselves in partnership with God — they worked the field, and God provided the rain and sunshine. When we follow the process from harvesting and threshing to making the bread, we appreciate the significance of agriculture as used in the Lord’s parables and Apostle Paul’s example of grafting olive trees.
First-century Jewish people were free to attend the Temple in Jerusalem, but the adjacent Antonia Fortress cast a forbidding shadow upon the worshipers. From an original room of the Fortress, Zola talks about a new kind of kingdom which, despite the Roman authorities, was being introduced by a Jewish rabbi named Yeshua.
At archaeological excavations in Qumran, the remains of a mikvah (ceremonial bath) exemplify the importance played by that ritual. To prepare for worship, a person would step daily into the cleansing mikvah water. At the Jordan River, Zola explains how the First Christians’ baptism closely paralleled this Jewish mikvah practice. Indeed, the synagogue remained a vital part of life to those who first believed in Yeshua.
Recent archaeological excavations have unearthed indications that the traditional site of King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion was, instead, a Messianic synagogue. Ray Pritz, author of Nazarene Jewish Christianity, examines the history of Messianic Believers (Jews who accept Yeshua as the Messiah). After 2,000 years, Messianic Believers continue to share their faith. Zola joins them in their inspirational music, sung unto the Lord.
In the first century one both entered and exited the world with bandages. We witness this wrapping procedure and the accompanying burial ritual in an authentic tomb hewn out of stone. Speaking from the Mount of Olives, Zola shares Scripture that speaks of Yeshua’s victory over death. Those who first believed in Him could truly exclaim, “Death is swallowed up in victory!”