In 1998, I was coming home from church. My wife and I weren’t members of Bethel Gospel Assembly then; we were members of the Brooklyn church where we got saved, married and baptized. Anyway, there I was, looking at my reflection in my wife’s compact mirror (because I am a tad bit vain when it comes to my hair) and I decided to get a haircut. My wife went home and I walked into this barbershop in my Sunday clothes.
By the time I left, I forgot how I got saved!
I was caught in a barbershop with the Black Hebrew Israelities. The basic premise of the Black Hebrew Israelites (BHI) is that they don’t believe the basic Gospel – that Jesus Christ died for everyone and all you have to do is believe. Let’s get started and see what Scriptures they use.
They believe that Jesus only died for Jews, citing Matt 1:21, where Jesus is prophesized to save His people from their sins. Matt. 2:2 is where Jesus is called the King of the Jews. In verse 6, He is seen to eventually govern His people Israel. Therefore, they believe that if you’re not a Jew, you’re not going to Heaven. In Matt. 10:5, Jesus tells His disciples not to go anywhere except the “lost sheep of Israel,” before they hit you with Matt. 18:11, “the Son of Man came to seek and save that which was lost.” They love to use John 4:21-22 where Jesus initially rejects the Samaritan woman’s pleas for help, telling her that “salvation is of the Jews.”
The BHI (and there are many sects. We’re only talking about the Israelite Church of God and Jesus Christ. These are the ones we all see) don’t understand the Gospel. Romans 1:16 says that the Gospel is for the Jew first and also for the Greek (or Gentile) as a matter of priority. The Jews are God’s chosen people and the Messiah had to come through them first, Matt. 1:1-17. Every word in the Bible comes through Jewish hands with the possible exception of Luke. But even in the Old Testament, God had in mind the salvation of the world, see Gen 12:3.
Acts 1:8 records Jesus’ words – go to Jerusalem, Judah and Samaria and the ends of the earth. And it’s not about just finding the Jews there, for Gal. 3:28 tell us that there is neither Jew nor Greek…” Indeed in Acts 10:34-36, 44-46; 11:1-3, 17-18, the Gentiles received God. Peter was the apostle to the Jews and Paul to the Gentiles, who are “grafted in,” -- Romans 11:11-23. In Rev. 7:9, we see the end result. All nations are represented in Heaven. There is no distinction that says all Jews from every nation, but rather, “every tribe, people and language…” To say that God can only save Jews is saying that God is weak and creates men He can’t control.
The BHI believe that they are lost refugees of the “First Jewish-Roman War.” In AD 70 they claim to have fled the Romans and settled in West Africa where their descendants were eventually picked up as slaves.
Disputing the accuracy of this alleged timeline is a waste of time. The important thing is that no matter where you end up, Jesus Christ is able to save you. If you are able to witness to one of them (and don’t end up in one of their barbershops!) reject the argument of “endless genealogies,” 1 Timothy 1:4. Keep it simple. Jesus saves. John 3:16 doesn’t make room for one set of people. The Book of Acts records the birth of the church. Revelation shows the whole world in His hands.
Let’s continue to pray for these lost young men. God loves them; He made them strong; He yearns for them to be bold for the truth. We may not be able to speak to them when they’re all dressed up and in a wolf pack mentality, but we can pray for those golden opportunities. After all, we have the Spirit of God and He can turn hard hearts into flesh. God bless you as you seek ways to speak the truth in love.