This article was first published on the Facebook website here January 29th 2018.
I have often marveled at internet advertisements for exploring ancestral connections.1 The general thrust of these ads is, "If you really want to know the meaning of your life, you need to know your ancestry."
I know something of my ancestry. I know about my Jewish ancestors back to the 1860s in Romania (very little information here). I know more about my great grandparents who came to New York in the 1880s, and quite a lot about my grandfather and grandmother who initially lived in the famous Jewish Ghetto in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. I kept up with my Jewish relatives until the last uncle died in the late 1990s.
I also know a good bit about my Norwegian ancestors, going back to 1840. My happiness about my Norwegian ancestors is that in my specific case they transmitted a faith in Yeshua and were Christian Zionists from those early years. This heritage has been passed down to us. I have even traveled to Norway and met my cousins. We had a wonderful time together sharing our faith in God through Yeshua and our common understanding regarding Israel.
However, knowing about my ancestors does not give meaning to my life. The center of my life is that I am becoming like Yeshua, becoming a son of God in Yeshua. This supersedes all other aspects of my existence.
It is interesting to know about one's ancestors. One might be surprised to find that some of one's interests and orientations were passed down from generation to generation. Though I am not against this, for followers of Yeshua I don't believe this should be such a central issue. The ancestral information craze is partly a symptom of a lack of rootedness in our modern world and not knowing where to really find meaning. Interestingly, some people seek to embrace foods and art that were not in their childhood family as a practical sign of connection to their genetic roots.
Let's enjoy some knowledge of ancestry but let's find the center of our identity in Yeshua.
1 Editor's note: This article originated in a post from Dan Juster's Facebook page, that we thought you might enjoy.
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There have been comments to this article ...
7:57am 06Mar18, Marcel Racine: Yes, I understand very well what you are saying. I am a Chrisian pastor (minister), here in Quebec, Canada, serving Yeshua. However, I needed to know my roots, and based on a ancestry site, my mom's family name is Ariel (Lion of Judah), and my dad's family (Racin), both descendance of Israel. My wife and I went to Israel for a 2 week organized tour and I felt something. I just started to learn Hebrew and I am listening to Hebrew songs. I agree that we must concentrate more on the Lord than just our ancestry. But because the Jews have been scattered all around the world for several reasons, I believe that God is starting to show us our true identity. Is it for 'Aliyah' or just discovering a long family tie? I believe that for those who are discovering this, they need to find out - it is in their gut. However, I agree with you that Yeshua should be our first concentration. But, for those who are seeking the truth, they must be told to keep on until they get the complete revelation. The Lord is revealing Himself (in reality of Who He is), and, even though we derive from the Jewish roots, we are discovering that the true Messiah did come over two thousand years ago.
-- Dr Juster replies: Yes, people are coming to discover a significant Jewish ancestry and are being pulled to it by God. But that is different from folks that are spending their lives on research as the meaning of their lives.
11:13am 06Mar18, Janette Kauffman: I appreciate the article on ancestry and the statement made that our becoming a son of God in Yeshua "supercedes all other aspects of my existence". Also comes to my mind what the apostle Paul says, that, "I count all things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord ..."
12:22pm 06Mar18, Doug Morgan: One may find that the ancestor discovery using a DNA will produce information that is disappointing. One may find that one or more of your parents aren't your biological mother or father.
-- Dr Juster replies: Yes, it is not always a glorious thing. Our ancestors are not always great King warriors!
6:25pm 06Mar18, Pastor Mark: Thanks Dan! And yes this has become a craze. For me, identity issues find their ongoing resolution in and through a personal relationship with God through faith in His Son. In Messiah we all are adopted and become sons and daughters of the God of Israel. We are part of God's one and only household. He does not have two houses, just one. Whether we are ethnically Jewish or not, as believers in Yeshua, we all are equally and fully children of God. We are equally and fully identified as the children of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. One God, One Lord, One Messiah, One Spirit, One Household (I could go on) where all the children of God are not separate but equal but rather are united and equal. Ethnic identities are great but none of them can save anyone (not even Scot Irish ethnic standing LOL). So you are right, ethnicity is important but not central to the meaning of life.
5:59am 07Mar18, TP: Very balanced Dan, and true. Thank you for this wisdom. May many find their roots in Him, not in their history.
9:41pm 07Mar18, Sue Blake: My Mother was adopted so I don't know that side of my family. It has been hidden from me. I have such a love for the Jewish people there must be some connection.
-- Dr Juster replies: It is possible you will discover a connection and some find this as a reason. But some Gentiles who have searched out genetics have this amazing love but no Jewish physical ancestry.
1:35pm 11Mar18, Ruth: Some Jews do not want to be jews. Some gentiles do not want to be gentiles. We are never content! No greater identity is there than embracing the identity of father Abraham. "Faith"
-- Dr Juster replies: Yes, this observation is true.
11:33am 18Mar18, JD: It seems that many who are adopted seeking their ancestry, are often oblivious or insensitive to the possible trauma and disruption of family relations when they try to contact long-lost siblings or Moms. In most cases there was an indescribable crisis and heartbreak that precipitated an adoption decision and the wounds and memories do not need to be revisited. Adoption was the most loving decision available under those circumstances. THINK before you go there; it's not just about you! Been there.
-- Dr Juster replies: Yes, this is a very good point. People do need to be careful!
6:05pm 02May18, James Barbush: More importantly, our identity is in Christ. And we should not get wrongfully wrapped up in genealogies. However, God is a God of the generations. There are genealogies in the Bible. Certain ones attest to the heritage of Christ, as in being prophetic of His true nature and coming as Messiah. Others are genealogies of the tribes of Israel. In my experience, which I believe is God-given, I have learned that my ancestry is significant to who I am and also my descendants are affected by me and my ancestry. If the sins of the fathers can affect the 3rd and 4th generations, might positive, God-given things also affect the 3rd and 4th generations. It's a big topic.
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