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The Jewish roots of Christianity

Home » July 1998

Volume 20, Number 7

Zola Levitt
Zola Levitt

This newsletter has held that there really is no “peace process” because the Palestinians do not want peace. What they want is the land of Israel — all of it with no Israelis in their way. That was our position in 1991 with the Peace Conference in Madrid, and in 1993 with the handshake on the White House lawn. It has been our position every day of all those years, and it is our position now. A.M. Rosenthal of The New York Times has been featured in our letter any number of times. His insight and honesty about the situation in Israel is instructive.

Land for Something

by A.M. Rosenthal, The New York Times

In the years of negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians, two labels became popular around the world — “Peace Now” and “Land for Peace.” As concepts, both failed.

“Peace Now” was a lapel button, not a plan for ending the 50-year war of Arabs against Israel. Wars do not end “now,” when somebody calls a rally. They end when one side wins, or both think they will never get a better deal than the one on the table.

“Land for Peace” had a nice ring to it. But the majority of Israeli and foreign Jews believed, and still do, that the Arabs would take the land and break the peace.

Now the Government of Benjamin Netanyahu is demanding that as the price for transfer of any more land, Palestinians do what they have steadily been unwilling to do, or unable. That is: Fulfill promises to end the wars of hatred and terrorism against Israel and abandon the goal of the annihilation of the Israeli state.

Reciprocity, Mr. Netanyahu calls it — step-by-step carrying out of promises, matched by step-by-step transfer of some more West Bank territory, including land linking Palestinian areas. To fit a button or headline, call it Land for Something, or Peace for Security.

By now, the Palestinian movement may not even be capable of fulfilling those promises.

So much hatred, so much glorification of terrorist bombers — as happened yesterday — so many oaths to destroy Israel have been made, so many children taught with maps that Israel does not even exist, that the Palestinian movement may not be able to reverse itself.

To say so is not cynicism, only to state a logical possibility.

But Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is negotiating on the premise that it is still possible Palestinians will abide by those promises, for reciprocity.

The Israelis have a list of steps they want Palestinians to take: cancel the death-to-Israel covenant through official action, not Yasir Arafat’s mouth; recapture and extradite terrorists released by prison revolving doors; reduce the Palestinian army from 40,000 to the agreed 25,000; punish incitement to war.

Mr. Arafat’s Palestinian Authority already is recognized by Israel as controlling the lives of more than 90 percent of Palestinians, every city on the West Bank and about 30 percent of the land.

In the territory left are not population centers but security zones for which Israeli soldiers died and no Israeli government can bargain away: the hills over the Jordan protecting Israel from attack, land belts guarding Israeli water, roads essential to Israeli military mobilization.

Washington says it agrees with reciprocity, which it calls parallelism. But the U.S. can kill it by continuing to break an important promise of its own.

On Jan. 17, 1997, Secretary of State Warren Christopher wrote Mr. Netanyahu reiterating U.S. policy that Israel had the right to “identify” its security arrangements. He said Israel’s borders should be “directly negotiated” with its neighbors. That letter helped Mr. Netanyahu get his Cabinet’s reluctant support to give up Hebron.

In practice the Clinton Administration has broken its word. It keeps sending warning signals that if it is not happy with Israeli land offers, Washington will make public its own proposals.

This nicely helped freeze the talks. Palestinians are not stupid enough to budge until they see what goodies for them may be in Secretary of State Albright’s bag.

She is not happy with Israel. The Arabs tell her they did not support the U.S. against Saddam at the U.N. because of their distaste for Mr. Netanyahu.

Oh, come off it. The Arabs passionately supported the U.S. in 1991, when Saddam threatened their oil wells, plus necks. Israel’s negotiating policy was never mentioned. Did she expect them to give her the real reason they deserted the U.S. this time: its Saddam policy was weak in head and knees?

Neither Americans nor Israelis know whether this time Palestinians will keep their promises, which always are reversible, once they get more land.

But we know that for Israel what counts is not so much percentages of empty land as the hills, roads and water it needs to stay alive. If the U.S. tries to make those acre-by-acre decisions for Israel, it will fail, and so will chances of peace.


Dear Zola & Staff,

I’m writing this to you so that maybe you can “spread” the word on this. I recently went to Israel for the first time and since I really wanted to go with your group but could not afford it, I booked a tour through a tour agency here in Dallas.

When I got to Israel we found our guide was a born Israeli, and of course, Jewish. Our trip originally was called “The Holy Land” but upon arrival he informed us that it was now entitled “Blue and White” tour. And then he proceeded to give us a complete NEW list of sights we would see — which were NOT the sights I had paid for. In retrospect, I think he was trying to show us just the Jewish Israel and not any of the Christian sights in Israel we as Christians wanted to see.

Therefore, if anyone is interested in going to Israel, you should save longer if you have to, and go with Zola or at the very least another Christian tour group and not get into the same situation as I did.

I learned my lesson the hard way. I am not a world traveler and this was my very first trip outside the U.S. and one which I had looked forward to for quite a while. I finally threw a huge fit in order to get to see any Christian sites which I had originally paid for and still we missed quite a few of the Christian sites which I probably will never get to see now.

I hope someone planning on going to Israel will spend the little extra your tour costs and go see Israel the right way — with Zola!



Dear S.N.,

I have always taken the view that some tour of Israel is better than no tour of Israel. I have not wanted to say our tours are the best, since there are others probably just as good. But with that said, it just breaks my heart that there are so many agencies and churches, well intentioned or not, trying to take tours to Israel and disappointing their passengers. I am discouraged with tours by liberal churches which end up celebrating the Palestinian side of Israel, and missing the biblical significance. I’m tired of hearing of people simply not getting value for money from airline tours and travel agency excursions. There is a way to do this. And we have done it successfully for 25 years. It is average for us to find that 100% of our pilgrims have a wonderful time and feel that they got more than they paid for.

Since Israel has been in the news day in and day out for so long, it has naturally become a tourist site of interest. This has attracted all sorts of enterprising tour operators, many of whom don’t begin to know this complex land or how best to visit it. Our tours are not the cheapest in the market for very good reason. They are invariably well attended, also for very good reason. And in the manner that I do almost all of my giving to my own ministry, since I know how the money is used, I do all my touring of Israel with my own agency! I can recommend it to you.

Dear Zola,

What a blessing it was to see your program with Dr. Schroeder! My husband and I could hardly wait until the next day to buy his book. I have always believed that because our God is not a God of confusion but a God of order, that there was an answer to the six days which would not conflict with science.

It took two days to get the book, “The Science of God” and about four to five days to get the second book, “Genesis and the Big Bang.” We are still reading and still amazed!

Quite a few years back, I took the courses you offered from the Institute of Jewish-Christian Studies and loved them. A great blessing would have been missed had I put them aside and not followed through the entire courses. I am very proud of my diploma. Thank you Zola. Knowledge is being increased during these times, and, God is using you to help accomplish this.

God bless you,


Dear M.J.C.,

Thanks for the good words. For the benefit of other readers I’ll reiterate that Dr. Schroeder’s book, The Science of God, is a best-seller available in any secular bookstore. As a matter of fact, I heard from Dr. Schroeder on that very subject recently:

“Zola, Thank you for the invitation to talk with your group in September. I’d love to accept. I’ll rely on Cynthia to set the proper timing. I must clarify that my pleasure in having The Science of God on a bestseller list is of course that thank God it made it, but also that a book 100% based on the Bible from start to finish can reach that level. As Bob Dylan wrote, “the times they are a’ changing.”

Gerald Schroeder”

Dear Zola,

As a Biblical Scientific Creationist, I want you to know that not only will I no longer support you but I will tell others of your endorsement of non-Biblical science. Please see I Tim. 6:20–21. I am sorry that Satan has so blinded your eyes as to make such a poor and ill advised choice.

—Dr. G.S.M., Creation World View Ministries

Dear Dr. G.S.M,:

Is this really the reaction of a scientist? If you are truly a creationist, shouldn’t you at least be interested in other views by competent scientific researchers on your subject? And why are you so angry with me? Do you always shoot the messenger? I was not at creation, and I don’t really know exactly how it happened. And I, along with Dr. Schroeder and you, are merely trying to study the evidence and the Scriptures to come up with a theory. I wouldn’t be quite so quick to condemn your fellow man. Please see I Tim. 6:20–21.

Dear Zola,

Hi Zola, You just keep on finding the most interesting facts, info and people! I got the books by Dr. Schroeder and am enjoying them ever so much. There has been no mention of his belief or not in Jesus; so my prayers for him join yours about that. This is indeed such a sensitive and dedicated man — and such a mind! What a devotion to God as he knows him. And what a gift to us all, Jew and Gentile, for this presentation of old, scholarly details and how they dovetail with knowledge and current updated scientific facts and discoveries, all to flesh-out Holy Scripture. To read this is to “stand in Awe afresh” at the magnificence and simplicity of our God. It stresses anew Jesus’ remarks about every jot and tittle being fulfilled.

Something it also brings to my mind — this is one more of the billions of blessings bestowed upon the world by one of “God’s People.” It would be impossible to count and list (though God knows) the contributions in all fields of endeavor made by Jews. And Zola, you know this I’m sure, few Christians have such deep respect and reverence for Scripture.

Please convey to Dr. Schroeder my thanks and gratitude for explaining what has been something I only could regard as, “I believe — someday I’ll understand” for my attitude toward the seeming inconsistencies in Scripture. When we see the many translations and read God’s warning about changing words — this stresses the reason why He gave that warning, “Every jot and tittle” is exact.

Again, thanks so much. Love your shows! Regards to Ken Berg and Tom McCall. You are all the best!


Dear P.M.,

Thank you for your very sensitive observations about God’s People. It had occurred to me that Dr. Schroeder, a dedicated Jewish Bible scholar, is being used of God. I’m sure you have seen the letters unkind to Judaism that appear in our newsletter. We receive them on a daily basis. But God continues to use the People He chose in spite of all opposition.


We are looking forward to more information on Dr. Schroeder’s theory of the creation. Thank you for having the courage to open our minds to new ideas. We also support PM Netanyahu and his efforts against Arafat. We have admired him for many years even before he became PM. We’re saving our money and hope to be with you in the Holy Land in 2000. Your “Levitt Letter” is always on the reading shelf of our waiting room in our business and many of our clients have appreciated it.

God bless you and your ministry.

— M. & R. P.

Dear M. & R. P.,

Thanks for all of your welcome thoughts. Please know that Dr. Schroeder and I are preparing a booklet containing the transcripts of the programs, an essay by him, and a layman’s view by me to further explain his ideas. That booklet should be ready by the end of the summer. As to Netanyahu, he is guilty of holding Israel together and giving as little away as possible to her enemies. If I could go to the judgement seat guilty of such works, I would gladly do that. Thanks for your support.

A Note From Zola

Dear Friends,

You are really a very responsive audience. We received just bags of mail in answer to several issues we’ve been discussing in this letter and on TV recently.

First, for those of you who wrote saying your particular editions of Gundry’s A Survey of the New Testament do not contain the anti-Israel passages that we cited, the answer is a learning experience. The book we criticized is the third edition. The first edition was issued in the 70’s when the Israeli’s were still considered “nice people.” That is the period when the press was praising them every day for winning wars, tilling the land, etc., etc.

Nothing has changed in Israel, but now the press has portrayed the same Israeli people as some kind of oppressors of Arabs. That means they no longer qualify as “nice people,” and therefore cannot belong to “the church of the nice people.” And by that I mean the church made up of those we imagine to be born again believers even though they do not claim this for themselves. Ronald Reagan, Ollie North, Charlton Heston — virtually anyone tall and handsome — is an appointed member of the church of nice people. I think you know what I mean.

In the manner that we appoint people to the church, we also disqualify them. Liberals, media people, and unfortunately authors of textbooks about the Bible, fall into this obnoxious political correctness when it comes to Israel. And that is why your early versions do not have those passages. The new passages were invented for the new membership.

This church of nice people does not use the Bible, and therefore has little knowledge of Israel and no affinity for the Chosen People. They are also prey to whatever the media tells them to believe.

With all that said, my answer to why an author like Gundry did not knock Israel in the 70’s was that they had not yet “fallen from grace” in the media. Small-minded members of the church of nice people back then accepted them and now condemn them.

Once again, nothing in Israel has changed.

As to a number of Catholic people who wrote in response to my complaints about the weakness of the Vatican’s apology for its behavior in the Holocaust: I understand you are supportive of your church, but where the Chosen People are concerned, much more sensitivity is needed.

When I asked why the Vatican does not recognize Israel, some of you objected saying that there were some sort of relations between the Pope and the Nation of our Lord. Well, one visit in a century and the occasional passing priest acting as a diplomat, does not make a relationship.

My question is why the head of a Christian denomination does not visit Israel once a week. Or, more to the point, why is the Vatican not in Israel rather than Rome, Israel’s worst enemy. I see no communication between the hierarchy of the Catholic Church and the Israeli government, but Yassir Arafat was recently cordially received at the Vatican.

Why is the Vatican more friendly to Moslems than to Jews? Was Jesus Christ a Moslem? Why does the Vatican want to “internationalize” Jerusalem, which is to say take the Jewish capital away from its people and cause the Moslems and the sacramental Christians to have equal sway over that holy city? I could go on and on. I have dear Catholic friends with whom I argue all the time. Rather like the Mormons, the Jews themselves and other sects I could select, the people one by one are godly and fine. But the church, or rather their hierarchy, is in grievous error almost all the time.

Of course I should not single out the Vatican as particularly being down on Israel when virtually all of the liberal Protestant churches, CNN and ABC to mention two networks, The New York Times, The Dallas Morning News, etc., etc., and a billion Moslems would like to see an end to the place also. They won’t get their wish, since the Lord means to return to the Land He loved and never really left.

You’ll see what we mean when you walk in His footsteps. Join us in Israel this September as we celebrate her 50th Golden Anniversary! Our Fall Festival Tour also coincides with the celebration of Rosh haShana, or the Feast of Trumpets. Should we hear that trumpet sound and the Rapture occur while we are in The Land, our flight home will be only a domestic one!

Our Deluxe Israel Tour will be September 11 – 26 and covers Israel from the beautiful Galilee in the north, to the stark desert region of the Dead Sea in the south, and the Holy City of Jerusalem in between. Our Grand Tour is September 15 – 26 and will include a visit to Mt. Nebo and the ancient Nabatean city of Petra, as well as two luxurious nights at Eilat on the north shore of the Red Sea.

For a free tour folder, call 1-800-WONDERS (966-3377) or drop us a note.

Your messenger,

For all of you concerned about the textbook being used at Criswell College and Dallas Baptist University (and many other bible schools, we are learning) the following article is important. Our ministry theologian, Dr. McCall, has discovered that the strange idea that the 4,000 fed by our Lord in Matthew 15 were Gentiles is being taught systematically in order to try to subvert the dispensational view of the Bible. It is also being taught to serve the sensitivities of those who are anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, Replacement theologians, or would otherwise prefer a wholly Gentile Church. Our theologian is equal to such distortions, as the article below will demonstrate.

The Feeding of the 4,000 — Were They Gentiles?, Part I

By Thomas S. McCall, Th.D

Tom McCall

There is a growing revisionist opinion among New Testament scholars that the second miraculous feeding (the 4,000) was done by the Lord deep in the Decapolis region, so that His ministry on this occasion was predominantly among Gentiles. Both Matthew and Mark describe the event as separate and apart from the feeding of the 5,000 at an earlier time.

Was Jesus On The Border or Deep in the Region of Decapolis?

Map of Decapolis

Mark especially gives the location of the event as having occurred in “the midst of the borders of Decapolis” (Mark 7:31, ASV), which suggest that it was on the fringes of the Decapolis area on the east side of the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River. Other translations render it “within the region of Decapolis” (NASB) and in “the midst of the region of Decapolis” (NKJV), and suggest that the miracle was deep within the Decapolis area. How one translates this passage, and the location of the feeding of the 4,000 makes a lot of difference in understanding how broad the ministry of Christ was among Gentiles. Several commentaries indicate that Jesus and His disciples had gone far into the Decapolis region and were surrounded by Gentile cities.

What Is The Decapolis?

Decapolis (10 cities) was primarily on the Golan Heights and on the east side of the Jordan River in the area that is now part of the Kingdom of Jordan. It was populated by Gentiles in the time of our Lord, and was largely pagan in religious practice. They were cities of Greco-Roman culture. It is so described in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, II, p. 815 under “Decapolis”:

“The name given to the region occupied by a league of ‘ten cities’ (Mt 4:25; Mk 5:20; 7:31). The Greek inhabitants were never on good terms with the Jews; and the herd of swine (Mk 5:11ff) indicates contempt for what was probably regarded as Jewish prejudice.”

The revisionist commentaries would have us believe that Jesus ventured deep into this Gentile area of Decapolis so that He could have a broader ministry among the Gentiles. They see this as a harbinger of the great Gentile influx later as the apostles preached throughout the Roman empire. For instance, Robert H. Gundry in A Survey of the New Testament (p. 187) assumes that the Feeding of the 4,000 was a major accomplishment in the ministry of the Lord among the Gentiles:

Read Matthew 15:21-28. ‘And they glorified the God of Israel’ (15:31) shows that the four thousand whom Jesus now feeds are Gentiles. Together then with the preceding Gentile woman and, earlier, the centurion and the Magi, they represent the great mass of Gentiles who are flocking into the church of Matthew’s time.

The only argument Gundry gives that the 4,000 were Gentiles is that they glorified the God of Israel. That logic makes no sense at all. Whom do Jews glorify when they read the Torah in the synagogues? To say that one has to be a Gentile to glorify the God of Israel is devoid of all reason. Nevertheless, he argues that the Syrophonecian woman, the centurion in Capernaum, and the Magi at the birth of Jesus combine with the 4,000 who were fed miraculously to constitute a great mass of Gentiles involved in Jesus’ ministry. If you didn’t have the 4,000, you would only have the five Gentile exceptions (but the three Magi might also have been Jews). Gundry and his revisionist colleagues must go to some lengths, then, to attempt to prove that the 4,000 were Gentiles. The facts, however, simply do not bear out this contention.

Jesus’ Rule of Ministering Only To Israel

If the 4,000 who were fed by the Lord were Gentiles, Jesus would have been departing from His announced rule that His ministry was only to Israel: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 10:6); But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel (Matthew 15:24).

This rule had only the individual exceptions mentioned above, which proved the rule. Christ’s entire earthly ministry was restricted to the Jewish people. There is no reason to believe that the 4,000 were any different from the 5,000 fed before. They also were Jewish people from the Sea of Galilee area who came to hear the Master.

Does ΟΡΙΩΝ (Orion) Mean “Border” or “Region”?

If the 4,000 were Jews, where was it that Jesus fed them? What was the site of this second spectacular and miraculous feeding? A closer reading of the Gospels shows that the text states that He was by the Sea of Galilee “in the midst of the border (οριων or orion) of Decapolis.” That is, He was near the Decapolis border close to the Sea of Galilee. Much hinges on the translation of the Greek term οριων, orion. Some try to translate it broadly as referring to a “region or district.” However, one of the standards in Greek translation is A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament, by G. Abbott-Smith. This manual has the following entry on the word on page 323: orion, -ou, to (<oros, a boundary), [in LXX chiefly for גבול;] a boundary, bound; chiefly in pl., and so always in NT.” Thus, the word is derived from oros, which means “mountain”, a frequent boundary between geographical regions. It refers to a limit, a boundary or border of an area. Some try to make this mean that Jesus went into the heart of Decapolis, but what the word indicates is that He came to the border of Decapolis, not into the region.

It was also a “desert” area, and not close to any supply of food. All of these descriptions would put the site in the Jewish area of the Tetrarchy of Phillip near the Sea of Galilee, and north of the hill where Decapolis began. Jesus further indicates that it was within walking distance of their homes, but they needed to be fed in order to have the strength to make their way home. There is nothing to suggest that they were Gentiles. This whole area north of the Decapolis border was Jewish. The only town that had Gentiles in it was Julius, a pagan town not far from Bethsaida, close to where the Jordan River enters the Sea of Galilee. The adjacent map shows where the Tetrarchy of Phillip and the Decapolis border is located, and the approximate locations of the two miraculous feedings.

The weight of evidence is that the location of the Feeding of the 4,000 was in the Tetrarchy of Phillip just north its border with the Decapolis, perhaps not far from the mountain town of Gamala, which became famous as “the Masada of the north” during the war Israel had against Rome later in the First Century. It was far enough away from the shore of the Sea of Galilee that it would be considered a desert area, but close enough so that the Lord could go conveniently from there to the shore and take the boat to the other side.

In our next article, we will discuss whether the Lord ever ventured into the Decapolis region, the implications of the Feeding of the 4,000 miracle on the Kingdom ministry of Jesus to Israel, and the ministry among the Gentiles that came about later in the Book of Acts, after the death and resurrection of Christ.

Zola’s Travel and Speaking Itinerary

August 1 – 2
Speaking at
Calvary Chapel of Salt Lake
7136 S 1700 E
Salt Lake City, UT
801-944-5188 for information
September 4, 5
Jewish Roots ’98 Conference
Pueblo Christian Center
2039 Alma
Pueblo CO 81004
Contact Michael Marks at 719-275-2580 for information
October 13 – 14 speaking at
Midnight Call Ministries
Atlantic Coast Prophecy Conference
Columbia, SC
800-845-2420 for information

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