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Dr. Rickard (Ari) Levitt-Sawyer (ywl-nb yra, Ari ben Levi) has been privileged to serve as Professor of Systematic Theology and Comparative Religion, Instructor in English Grammar and Composition, Assistant Dean of Directed Individualized Studies, and Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs at Spring Valley Bible College and Seminary (Alameda, CA); as Academic Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Golden State School of Theology (Oakland, CA); and as Administrator, Chairman of Curriculum Development, and Cataloging Librarian of Grace School of Theology and Ministry (Pleasant Hill, CA). He has also conducted numerous graduate and postgraduate courses and seminars in Bible doctrine, church administration, comparative religion, and the cults since 1983. He holds a Master of Theology (ThM) in Systematic Theology, a Doctor of Theology (ThD) in Cults and Comparative Religion, a Doctor of Ministry (DMin) in Bible College Administration and Curriculum Development, a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Business and Organizational Management, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) in Church Administration (all summa cum laude), an Associate of Arts in Criminal Justice (magna cum laude), and completed 60 units toward a Master of Arts (MA) in Biblical Studies and three years of study towards a Doctor of Naturopathy (ND).
Since 1965 he has served in numerous Church leadership positions including Youth Pastor, Pastor, Associate Pastor, Teaching Elder, Director of Education, Church Chairman/Administrator, Deacon, Adult Education Chairman, and Christian Education Chairman, and presently serves as Resident Theologian of Family Bible Messianic Ministries in Parkersburg, West Virginia. Dr. Sawyer has authored numerous briefs and papers on Christian and Messianic Jewish theology, church administration, world religions, the cults, and the occult (many of which are posted on this web site), as well as a church management handbook which has been used successfully by numerous churches as a guide to reorganization for increased effectiveness and efficiency of ministry. He has been an active Bible teacher in local congregations for over 50 years, and has offered ministry consultation services since 1983. He has known Adonai Yeshua HaMashiach as his personal Lord and Savior since 1953.
In 1999 ADONAI laid it upon his heart to seek out his Jewish “roots”, as he is a physical descendant of Avraham, Yitzhak, and Ya'akov, his ancestral name (Levitt/Leavitt) suggesting probable relationship to the tribe of Levi. In the course of that quest he discovered the so-called Messianic Restoration, a rapidly growing group of Jewish and non-Jewish believers in Yeshua HaMashiach who believe that ADONAI’s Elect, whether Jew or Gentile, living before or after “the Cross,” are all one in the Body of Yeshua, and are the true Israel.
This position is in conflict with the traditional Gentile Christian teaching that the Church is distinct from Israel, and consists of all believers in Jesus Christ from the Day of Pentecost until the Rapture. This traditional position is the one that the author held and taught for over 40 years. However, the word “church” per se never actually appears in Scripture. The author now believes that the word is actually an unfortunate Gentile translation error that has caused much of the rift between Jews and Gentiles for the past 1,800 years. (See also here.)
The overarching goal of the Messianic Restoration is to reunite Jewish and Gentile believers in Yeshua HaMashiach into one Holy Family, and to offer to all who so desire, both Jew and non-Jew, the opportunity to return to the style of worship that was actually practiced by the Nazarene sect of Judaism, or “The Way,” as the followers of Yeshua were called until well into the fourth century of the Common Era. It is their belief that true Biblical faith is properly best understood as a completed and correct form of Judaism, and that “true Judaism” is that which recognizes King Yeshua HaMashiach as Israel’s Messiah. This makes perfect sense if one stops for just a moment to consider a few basic points:
• Yeshua ben Yosef, also known as HaMashiach, the Messiah (and erroneously called “Jesus Christ”) was a Torah-observant Jewish Rabbi. He taught that He had not come to destroy Torah (the “Law” — an unfortunate translation), but that Torah might be fulfilled. He also taught that not one yod or tittle (the smallest letter or even the decorative flourishes on the letters) of the Torah would pass away.
• Until the end of the first century, the Nazarene sect or “the Way” (as the followers of Yeshua were originally called) was almost exclusively Jewish, and remained predominately Jewish until well into the second century. In fact, in the early years, prior to the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15), one was required to convert to Judaism before one could be accepted as a Believer in Messiah.
• During the Millennial Kingdom, Yeshua HaMashiach will rule the earth from His throne in Jerusalem. The Temple will be rebuilt and Temple worship will be restored. This would suggest that all worship in the Kingdom may well be patterned after Temple worship. If we intend to be a part of the Kingdom, does it not make sense to start practicing that form of worship that Yeshua followed 2,000 years ago, and which He will probably institute in the future Kingdom?
• It does not take much research to uncover a huge amount of paganism that has been incorporated into “the Church” over the past two millennia. Once having become enlightened to those pagan practices, is it appropriate for a Believer to continue to observe and participate in those practices? Or is it better to reject those pagan practices and return to following the Scriptures in preference to the traditions of men?
• Once we have discovered linguistic errors in the transmission of the Scriptures, does it make sense to cling to those errors? [Such as the use of terms like “Jesus” and “Jehovah,” both of which are grammatically impossible in the Hebrew or Aramaic languages, or obvious translation errors like the words “church“ and “Holy Ghost.”]
• When we learn that modern “Christmas” is nothing more than a modified version of the Roman festival of Saturnalia in honor of their pagan god Saturn, and that Yeshua was actually born in the autumn during the Feast of Tabernacles, with absolute certainty not on December 25, does it make sense to continue observing what has become the most pagan holiday of the entire year next to HaSatan’s high holy day, Halloween? Or when we have been taught that the modern celebration of “Easter” is taken directly from the Babylonian mystery religion and is in honor of the fertility goddess Ishtar (a.k.a Astarte, Diana, Venus, etc.), after whom the Roman Catholic Church patterned their worship of Mary as “Queen of Heaven” does it make sense to continue to observe that pagan festival instead of celebrating the Resurrection at its rightful time on the Feast of First Fruits, the first day of the week following Passover?
• When we learn that there is no biblical precedent for setting aside ADONAI’s Sabbath in favor of worshipping on Sunday, that this tradition is in fact nothing more nor less than submission to the authority of the Roman Catholic Church, is there a valid reason for non-Catholics continuing to do so? Or should we be obedient to God’s commandment to “remember the Shabbat and keep it holy” — a commandment which has never been rescinded by Scripture. In fact, the practice of Sunday worship began with a decree from the Roman emperor that no work could be done on Sun-day because it was to be a day of worship of the Roman sun god (hence the name Sun-day), and carried over into the cult which Constantine developed and called “Christianity,” the Roman Catholic Church. Catholic leaders still mock Protestants who worship on Sunday, because they are only doing so out of their recognition of the Pope’s authority over them.
1. It is impossible to determine whether the error was intentionally or unintentionally anti-Semitic, but more likely the work of HaSatan to divide the Holy Community into “us” and “them” and thereby weaken the work of ADONAI’s Elect. [RETURN]