Nazarene Seal of the Church of Jerusalem
How Many Distinct Symbols Do You See?
One, two, three? The answer varies, depending on your perspective: What may surprise you is that the Star of David is NOT really a distinct symbol in and of itself.. Hmmm…
Most people readily recognize that the Star of David, the national symbol of Israel, is apparent in the symbol. However, what is less intuitive is that the Star of David is NOT an additional or separate part of the overall symbol…. it is rather MADE by the combination of two other symbols.
What is commonly recognized as the default (modern) symbol of Christianity, more notably GENTILE believers, turned 90 degrees..
What is commonly recognized as a MENORAH with a triangular base, a distinctly JEWISH symbol.
So what is there to be learned from this, and why should it excite you??? Consider what Paul, a Hebrew of Hebrews himself, says:
Ephesians 2:11-22 11 Because of this, be mindful that you Gentiles from the first were of the flesh, and that you were called uncircumcision by that which is called circumcision and is a work of the hands in the flesh. 12 And you were at that time without The Messiah, and you were aliens from the government of Israel and strangers to The Covenant of The Promise and you were without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now you are in Yeshua The Messiah, when from the first you were distant, and you have come near by the blood of The Messiah. 14 For he is our peace who made the two one, and he destroyed the wall that was standing in the middle. 15 And he has canceled the hatred by his flesh and the law of commands in his commandments, that for the two, he would create in his Person one new man, and he has made peace. 16 And he has reconciled the two with God in one body, and in his crucifixion he has killed the hatred.17And he came preaching The News of Peace to you, to the distant ones and to those who are near, 18 Because in him, we both have access by One Spirit to The Father. 19 Therefore, you are not strangers, neither guests, but inhabitants of the city of The Holy One and children of the household of God. 20 And you are built up upon the foundation of the Apostles and of the Prophets, and he is The Head of The Corner of the building-Yeshua The Messiah. 21 And the whole building is constructed by him and grows into a holy temple in The MarYah (Lord Yahweh). 22 While you also are built by him for the dwelling of God in The Spirit.
You see, God has made ONE NEW MAN from TWO distinct parts…. Jewish and Gentile believers in ONE BODY of MESSIAH.. Many in the Church today feel that “The Gentiles” as the Church have somehow replaced national Israel and the Jewish people in terms of the covenant promises of God… i.e. Replacement Theology and this has in turn affected how many read and interpret the Bible in regard to Israel.
So why does this symbol have anything to do with that?? The Evangelical Press News Service (EP) released an article in July of 1999 that quoted the following:
A Messianic Seal from the Christian church in ancient Jerusalem has been rediscovered after 2,000 years. This ancient symbol was found on Mount Zion. It is believed to have been created and used by the Jewish believers who called themselves Nazarenes in the first Messianic Church. Three companies — Olim Creative Products of Tiberias, News About Israel (NAI) of Jerusalem, and Christian Floral Delivery of Colorado — jointly announced the discovery of this ancient symbol, which has been copyrighted by NAI. It consists of three separate but integrated symbols: a menorah at the top, a star of David in the middle, and a fish at the bottom. In each of the renditions of the three-part symbol the star is created by interlacing the stand of the menorah with the tail of the fish. The Messianic Seal was found etched or inscribed on eight ancient artifacts. The artifacts were presented to Ludwig Schneider, editor in chief of NAI’s magazine Israel Today, in 1990. They came from Tech Otecus, an elderly monk who lived as a hermit in the Old City of Jerusalem. Otecus said that in the 1960’s he had personally excavated about 40 artifacts bearing the Messianic Seal from an ancient grotto located in the immediate vicinity of the Upper Room on Mount Zion. What was once the main entrance to the grotto is now covered with a jail-like heavy wire mesh enclosure. Its door, leading down into the ancient baptismal place, is tightly secured with a heavy chain and lock. According to Schneider, the last remaining entry to the grotto was sealed shortly after he excitedly told the priests at the local monastery about the discovery of the Messianic Seal. Schneider photographed eight artifacts which were given to him by Otecus, and showed the pictures to the curator of the Israel Museum. “When he had carefully studied my pictures,” Schneider recalled, “the curator immediately promised me that these artifacts and their unique symbol were an important find. He told me that the museum already had seen other artifacts bearing the same three-part symbol from some other sources he did not specify.” According to Bob Fischer, president of Olim Creative Products and co-author with local historian and artist Reuven Schmalz of their book, The Messianic Seal of the Jerusalem Church, the ancient three-part symbol has, since 135 AD, been suppressed by various Israeli groups or agencies, such as the Israel Museum and Orthodox rabbis in the Old City of Jerusalem, while simultaneously being buried for these nearly two millennia by the church. According to Fischer, at least two of the eight artifacts were obviously ceremonial pieces which may well have been used by James the Just, the brother of Jesus, who is said to be the first Rabbi of the church, or perhaps even by one or more of the Twelve Apostles. One of the eight artifacts is a brick-sized block of well-worn local marble. This piece bears an etched version of the Messianic Seal with a Taw (the last letter in the ancient Hebrew alphabet that looks exactly like a sign of the cross) in the eye of the fish symbol, as well as the ancient Aramaic lettering proclaiming the use of this artifact as a stand to hold a vial of anointing oil. The ancient Aramaic is transliterated as, “La Shemen Ruehon” (For the Oil of the Spirit). Another of the eight artifacts is a small, almost intact, vial which could well have sat on top of the marble stand.
Commenting on what he characterized as the “monumental importance” of this archaeological discovery, Fischer said, “Beyond the historical background of the Nazarenes, the first Jewish believers who founded the Jerusalem Church, the Messianic Seal itself proclaims to the world the pervasive Jewishness of Jesus Christ and the decidedly Jewish foundation and roots of the church founded in His name. The Messianic Seal of the Jerusalem Church,” Fischer continued, “strikes at the very roots of anti-Semitism while proclaiming a compelling message that restores unity: Jew with Jew, and Jew with Gentile. The importance of this discovery cannot be minimized. The Messianic Seal is not only just the key to understanding the Dead Sea Scrolls, it can and should shake the foundations of the church and orthodox Judaism with its incredible message of unity and love. It breaks down barriers that have existed for millennia and points the way toward restoration.”
Yes, this symbol does give us an understanding, visually, of how the EARLY church viewed itself. When we understand that this was a prominent SYMBOL for Messianic followers of Jesus (as opposed to the more modern Christian use of the fish by itself), we may infer their understanding that Gentile believers were grafted into and were spiritually a part of Israel by means of faith in Yeshua of Nazareth, the Son of God. Instead of just the Jewish people being the “covenant” people of God (i.e. ISRAEL), now BOTH Jewish and Gentile believers in the Messiah could be part of the SAME FAMILY of FAITH, the SAME INHERITANCE, and the SAME OLIVE TREE by the CROSS. Paul says that the (Gentiles) have been BROUGHT NEAR by the blood of Messiah… are no longer STRANGERS and FOREIGNERS of the household of God (the Children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob). Now, the (Gentiles) are fellow citizens that are being fitted into the holy temple that is founded upon the prophets, apostles, and (Yeshua) Jesus the Messiah Himself (who, if you have not taken the time to notice, are ALL Jewish).
This symbol may cut cross-grain with the notion that somehow the church has “replaced” Israel in God’s operation and promises. Instead, God has called (the predominantly Gentile church) to come along side those of Israel who do not believe (yet) to intercede for them, witness to them of Jesus as the Messiah, help materially, and bless them till they find their restoration as a nation of priests unto the Lord. It vitally re-establishes the fact that the “CHURCH of (Yeshua) Jesus” should be the strongest ally of the Jewish people and Israel itself–especially given the world tide against them. It reminds us that the Gentiles are grafted as a “wild” BRANCH into a Jewish vine. The (Gentiles) did not replace the vine–and, more importantly, not ALL the Jewish branches have fell off either, only some… (Romans 11:1124)Some branches have remained, all throughout history, and many Jewish people today are embracing Jesus (Yeshua) as the true Messiah.
Gentile believers in the Jewish Messiah have been BROUGHT NEAR, MADE MEMBERS of the COMMONWEALTH of ISRAEL (the HOUSEHOLD OF GOD), by our faith in Jesus. Jewish believers in the Jewish Messiah have been BROUGHT to true fulfillment of the LAW by their faith in Jesus as well. Both groups (as Paul says further in Romans) are under the condemnation of sin and both groups need salvation by faith in Jesus, the Messiah, based on His atoning work. We are one family now by this common faith– what Paul also calls the “One New Man”. It is the ONE NEW MAN that this symbol of the “early” (predominantly Jewish) church so clearly illustrates. The Gentiles believers have become a PART of the same heritage that Israel has… our spiritual roots are NOT in Rome, Tulsa, Colorado Springs, or Constantinople… IT IS IN JERUSALEM!
Though Gentile believers are not called to live Jewish or Hebraic lifestyles culturally in this age, their identity as believers in (Yeshua) Jesus is forever tied to ISRAEL and the Jewish people.. and as the FULLNESS or MATURITY of the GENTILES is being witnessed, The need to be ever watchful of what the role should be as the Church in this hour to Israel and the Jewish people (Scripture has much to say about this). It also reminds us that the Gospel is to the “Jew” first … and that we are nearing the time of history when the LORD is going to lift the veil off Israel and Jewish people as a whole– the coming day when “all” Israel will be saved. The full return of all of Israel to their Messiah should be a primary prayer focus for the Church of Jesus (Yeshua) …
“La Shemen Ruehon” (For the Oil of the Spirit)