Bible teaching with an emphasis on Israel, prophecy and the Jewish roots of Christianity
Series: “The First Christians”
The Life and Times of Those Who First Believed in Jesus
Produced on location in Israel, this 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 series seeks to better understand the people with whom He chose to reside on earth.
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 and dependent upon — olives! From picking to pressing, to use as fuel in lamps, olives served as an integral part of 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, God provided the rain and sunshine. Follow the process from harvesting and threshing to the making of bread, and appreciate the significance of agriculture as evidenced in the Lord’s parables and the Apostle Paul’s application to the grafting of olive trees.
The first century Jewish people were free to attend the Temple in Jerusalem, but the adjoining Antonia Fortress cast a forbidding shadow upon the worshippers. From an original room of the Antonia Fortress, Zola talks about a new kind of kingdom which, despite the Roman authorities, was being introduced by a Jewish rabbi named Yeshua.
From the archaeological digs in Qumran, we consider many religious voices of the first century. The remains of a mikvah (ceremonial bath) exemplify the importance that ritual played. To prepare for worship, a person would cleanse himself daily in the mikvah water. From the Jordan River, Zola explains how the First Christians’ baptism closely paralleled this Jewish practice. Indeed, the synagogue remained a vital part of life to those who first believed in Yeshua.
Recent archaeological digs have unearthed fascinating indications that the traditional site of King David’s Tomb on Mount Zion was in fact a Messianic synagogue. Ray Pritz, author of Nazarene Jewish Christianity, examines the history of the Messianic believers. After 2,000 years we find that 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!”
The last program in The First Christians is a musical review of the entire series. Zola joins Zipporah Bennett as she plays and sings her songs in Hebrew, with English translation. Zola also plays his own music on an ancient double reed instrument called the rauschpfeife.