The Equality Puzzle, Part 2

Part 2 in a four-part series. Go to Part 1 before continuing here.

While Christians and Jews rarely get hung up on who is obligated to what under usual circumstances, there is a “middle area” where Christians and Jews meet and sometimes enter into conflict. Of course I’m talking about Messianic Judaism which, in its ideal, is a form of normative Judaism (modern traditional Judaism and the traditional church will disagree with me here) that allows halakhic Jews who have come to faith in Jesus as the Jewish Messiah, to give him honor and to worship God in a wholly religious Jewish context and environment. It could be thought of as a Judaism like other sects of Judaism in the 21st century, but one acknowledging that the Messiah has already come and will come again.

As I said, the rest of normative Judaism in our world completely rejects any suggestion that Jesus could possibly have been (or will be) the Jewish Messiah King and thus (for the most part) rejects all Jews who “believe in Jesus.”

Christianity sometimes struggles with Messianic Judaism as well, since the phrase “under the Law” is virtually a curse word in most churches. “Jewish Christians” who continue to observe the mitzvot are considered to be a slap in the face to Jesus Christ and his bloody, sacrificial death on the cross, which, after all, was supposed to have freed all men from the Law.

OK, not all churches believe in such supersessionist ideas and many churches are slowly progressing forward, but for a large number of “average Christians,” Messianic Judaism is at least a mystery if not an actual affront to their concept of the work of Christ.

Somewhere in the midst of all this is a group of Gentiles who believe in Christ as Lord, Savior, and Messiah, but who disdain not only the church as a whole, but even the name “Christian,” preferring to refer to themselves as “One Law” or “Messianic Gentile” or some other circumlocution.

Last week in Journey to Reconciliation, Part 1 and Part 2, I said that many people who make up the Hebrew Roots/One Law movement became disillusioned with the traditional church and feel that some form of “Judaism” is the key to returning to the true intent of Christ and the “grafting in” of non-Jewish believers into the Hebraic root. However, it becomes amazingly confusing when large groups of Gentile Christians start attempting to absorb and live out Jewish religious customs and identity markers, often without a very good understanding of the underlying traditions, definitions, and methods of operationalization of a Jewish religious lifestyle.

In other words, many One Law practitioners are only “quasi-Jewish” in appearance and otherwise don’t typically conform to actual Jewish religious behaviors. In any event, a group of Christians practicing modern Jewish Halacha is not the same thing as the first pagan goyim abandoning idolatry and starting to worship in a First Century church established by the Apostle Paul.

It gets even more confusing when, confronted with hundreds of years of Jewish Rabbinic judgments, rulings, and education, some Hebrew Roots Christians either decide to toss the Talmud out altogether or reinvent it for their own purposes. However, any attempt to live out even the semblance of a Jewish lifestyle, either without the Talmud or using it in a drastically altered version, is ultimately doomed to failure.

The ability to even understand how to enact the basics of Torah doesn’t exist without some form of interpretation. Whether you choose to believe in the authority of the Rabbis to make halakhic rulings or not, they did establish a standard of Biblical interpretation and behavior that has served to safeguard the Jewish people for the past 20 centuries. Granted, the Rabbis never intended the vast majority of the Talmud to ever apply to non-Jewish people, but once you commit yourself to a Jewish lifestyle, it becomes impossible to avoid significant encounters with the Talmud.

Any Gentile who chooses to pray with a Siddur has encountered the Talmud and probably the Zohar. Any Gentile who dons a tallit gadol has encountered the Talmud. Any Gentile who attempts to “keep kosher” beyond the limits of Leviticus 11 has encountered the Talmud. The Rabbinic Sages and their rulings are so integrated into modern Judaism that for all intents and purposes, they are modern Judaism. You cannot adopt any item or element from modern Jewish religious and worship life without encountering and adopting some aspect or ruling of the Sages.

There’s no such thing as a “Bible-only” Jewish life (there’s no such thing as a “Bible-only” Christian life either, since we too have a rich history of tradition and ritual…we just pretend their is). Any understanding and implementation of the mitzvot at all is heavily interpreted and filtered through hundreds of years of Rabbinic commentary.

I mentioned in another blog post that, while Rabbis discourage non-Jews from taking on Jewish identity customs such as wearing kippot, they also recognize that we non-Jews may want to adopt the underlying intent of those markers. There are some Gentiles who refrain from wearing a kippah outside of an authentic Jewish synagogue setting, but who honor God by covering their heads with a hat or similar article when in public. There’s nothing wrong with that.

The Messianic educational and publishing ministry First Fruits of Zion has written an overwhelming number of books and articles outlining the appropriateness and desirability of Christians keeping significant portions of the Torah, including the correct Halacha involved, so it’s not as if we Gentile believers are cut off from the beauty of wonder of the traditions and prayers. However, it is one thing to be a grafted in branch being nurtured by the “civilized” root, and another thing entirely to say that we now own that root and that it is totally ours to do with as we please.

We cannot throw out the Jewish lifestyle without exterminating the historic link that connects Judaism (and thus any Jewish application to Christianity) back 2,000 years to the days of the Messiah’s earthly existence. We cannot take the Jewish lifestyle and morph it into something that pleases we Christians better without destroying the authenticity and the “Jewishness” of that link. In our ignorance or our arrogance, (or both) we are continuing to do what we did in the darkest days of the history of the church; invalidate and destroy the history of the Jewish people and claim its “first fruits” as belonging only to us.

If anyone in Christianity desires to address some form of “Torah observance,” it hardly makes sense for us to reinvent the wheel by redesigning Halacha. If we want to “keep kosher,” for example, the standards for keeping kosher are well established. We don’t need to “fix” them or rewrite them. How could we do better? Where do we get the authority to try to take Jewish life and “Gentilize it?” If some Christians want to pray with a siddur, then you will have to get used to the idea that most of the prayers were written post-Second Temple, and a significant portion of the content originated with the ancient Jewish Sages.

Actually, I don’t blame “One Law” Christians and even the more moderate “Messianic Gentiles” (a category to which I probably still belong, although I think of myself as “Christian”) for being confused as to what aspects of Torah are allowable and which are considered “forbidden” to Gentiles by the Jewish people.

(I suppose now would be a good time to mention that Judaism can’t actually walk into some Gentile’s home or congregation and say, “You can’t do that. Only we can do that.” If any non-Jews refrain from Jewish dress or practices that uniquely identify the Jewish people, it would have to be out of respect for the Jews and the desire to honor the Jewish forefathers who brought the first Gentiles into faith and discipleship under the Jewish Messiah King. If you choose not to show that type or level of honor, then I guess you’ll do as you please.)

For people who are intermarried and interfaith like me, it’s a little simpler in that, having a Jewish spouse, whatever Jewish practices the Jew in the home performs, the non-Jew is involved. Thus if my wife should choose to light the Shabbos candles and say the blessing, I, as her husband, would be able to enjoy the full flavor of the Shabbat entering our home. Of course, I’ve blogged many times in the past about the conflicts and dissonance that can also be involved in an intermarried home, so in some sense, a husband and wife who are either both Christians or both Jews (or both Messianic Jews) have certain advantages.

In the home, there is no problem for the Christian who loves welcoming in the Shabbat, praying with the Siddur, and even wearing tzitzit and tefillin in prayer since, in privacy, it is between the Christian and God. In public, it becomes more “dicey” as I’ve already mentioned, especially once the Gentile individual or group purposefully adopts Jewish practices and dress and then deliberately alters time-honored Halacha and tradition because they believe they have the “right,” and what the Jewish people have established either doesn’t fit, or isn’t “good enough” somehow.

As I said, this issue is already hopelessly confused, which is one reason why I simply put the brakes on my own “One Law” religious practice, put my tallit, my kippah, and everything else “Jewish” in a box, and hit the “Reset” button. If a Christian has to adopt Jewish practices in order to feel religiously significant, spiritually closer to God, or validated in their faith in Jesus, then something is terribly wrong.

O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith – just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? –Galatians 3:1-6 (ESV)

Some people get so involved in adopting or adapting the “mechanics” of modern Judaism into their lives that they effectively forget that Jesus does matter. In fact, they forget that he matters more than anything because without the Messiah, we Gentiles could never become Christians and as such, enter into a covenant relationship with the God of Abraham.

But if the Torah is not our “keys to Heaven” so to speak, and if focusing on the mitzvot or our own adaptations of Halacha are not the most significant things in our lives, then on what do we base our hope? Where does our treasure lie? Are we always, as Christians, the “little brother” tagging along behind the older and “cooler” Jewish Messianics?

Absolutely not! But if not, then who are we and, in terms of anything “Messianic,” where is our significance, our role, our purpose in God’s Kingdom. We’ll cover that in Part 3.

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57 thoughts on “The Equality Puzzle, Part 2”

  1. I want to thank you for this discussion, as so much of it describes the journey I’m on. Does anyone fully understand what the experience/role of the gentile believer was in the 1st century assemblies? How can one experience the grace (so great a grace) of the Messiah without the context within which the law leads one to require God’s grace? A simple expression is that we are saved by grace, through faith–and this is a gift of God, but that we then are called to live a holy life to please God and this means to follow the (applicable) commandments, such as the Sabbath, the Ten Commandments, the dietary laws, and especially the two commandments that Christ gave us, and to celebrate the feasts. I don’t pretend to know how to do this authentically in community, so I do this mostly in (relative) isolation, with periodic visits to both Messianic groups and church–neither of which fully meet my vision. This is not a complaint against either–I have great peace with God in my walk, it is just that it would be wonderful to have a “structure” out there that had already worked this out. Maybe that is the call of our time.
    One question: I see in your writings some “ambivalence” with respect to their being “another” path to salvation for Jews. My reading of scripture leads to the conclusion that the only path is to believe in your heart that Yeshua came, died for our sins, was raised from the dead, and will come again. Am I imagining this or can you share your understanding?

    With Love,

    Don

  2. Greetings Don and thanks for commenting.

    Not sure I know how to best answer your question. On the one hand, if I accept the traditional Christian viewpoint that only by rejecting all other religious paradigms, including Judaism and accepting Christianity and Jesus Christ that one is saved, then I have to come to the conclusion that all Jews who came before Jesus were condemned and all Jews who came after him, but who didn’t accept him as Messiah were also condemned.

    And yet, there were many Jews who, in the darkest days of the church, were tortured, maimed and even murdered by Christians and yet refused to “confess Christ” because from the Jewish point of view, to do so would be polytheism, idolatry, and total abandonment of the God of Israel. How do we reconcile that? I don’t know.

    I recently asked such a question but no one even tried to answer it.

    I’ve been in Jewish synagogues during Shabbat services and there is true love, worship, and devotion to God in the manner I’ve experienced in some churches. The Jewish people love God, but the Christian Jesus has been presented to them as a wholly non-Jewish “Gentile Messiah”. Given all that I have said, I find it a true miracle of God that any Jews come to faith in Jesus as the Jewish Messiah King at all.

    I’m not prepared to render a dogmatic answer and sweep untold millions of Jews into the pit for the sake of traditional Christian theology, and yet, I don’t know how to answer your query, Don. It’s a mystery I continuously ponder, even as I ponder my Jewish wife and my three Jewish children (none of them are believers at this point).

    If someone wiser than I am has the answer to this, I’m certainly willing to listen.

  3. You need to be careful, you are going over the deep end. Believing in Yeshua does not mean to accept Christianity. Mark Kinzer, the guru suggests “Unrecognized mediation.” Check it out. I think unknowingly you are letting yourself to be sucked in to this black hole,,,,,

  4. Hi Dan. I figured you’d comment by the by. All I can say is that this four-part series (I didn’t mean to write so much but it just sort of “happened”) is an entire unit. You might want to reserve your judgment until you’ve read all four parts (part 3 tomorrow and part 4 on Wednesday).

    I do have a question. Are you suggesting that Yeshua and Christianity are incompatible when you say, “Yeshua does not mean to accept Christianity?” Are you one of those who say that all Christians everywhere are “evil”?

  5. Nor at all. But even you have to admit that the Christianity of today is not the Christianity of the 2nd-4th Centuries. Why do i have to adopt the tenets of Christianity in order to accept Yeshua as my Messiah?

  6. I’m not suggesting that you change one single thing about you, Dan. Of course, you will never re-capture what existed so many hundreds of years ago in churches Paul established. Both Judaism and Christianity have continued to develop and evolve within their own theologies, customs, traditions, doctrines, and so on.

    Actually, you do accept many of the tenets of Christianity if you accept Yeshua as your Messiah:

    You probably believe that he was born of the virgin Miriam (Mary).
    You probably believe that he is the Son of God, the anointed one, the Messiah.
    You probably believe he was tempted in the desert by the Adversary after fasting for many days.
    You probably believe he was whipped, tortured, and painfully executed.
    You probably believe that on the third day, he rose again from the dead and taught his disciples for many days afterwards.
    You probably believe he ascended into Heaven and sits on the right hand of God the Father.

    That sounds a lot like what Christians believe, Dan. I for one, would never ask you to stop being Jewish and in fact, I cherish your Jewishness and your unique covenant relationship with God. I am saying that somewhere between you and me is the Jewish Messiah King we both worship and glorify. That much, at least, we have in common.

  7. Nice post James and I know the only answer to the problem you’re blogging about begins with an H, as in humility, but there are precious few who utilize it.

    I’m interacting with Christians who are opening up to see the beauty of Torah and that it hasn’t been “nailed to the cross”. I’d like to ask your opinion though because I’ve run into a quandary and in the interest of not leading them astray I’d like to know how I encourage them to respect the Jewish interpretations (i.e., Talmud, halakhah etc) of the commandments, yet NOT thereby lead them to think they are now Jewish for keeping them in the Jewish way? Doesn’t that lead to more Christian usurpation?
    Because of all the craziness and identity crisis’ of gentiles trying to look/be Jewish etc, I tend to think it MIGHT be preferable for Christians desiring to keep kosher and to celebrate sabbath to do so in their own “Christian” or “biblical” way but then again, that leads to them saying they have the right to change, fix, alter etc. Or saying they’re “kosher” simply because they stopped eating pork-chops and shrimp.
    Not sure which is worse?

  8. “You probably believe that he was born of the virgin Miriam (Mary).
    You probably believe that he is the Son of God, the anointed one, the Messiah.
    You probably believe he was tempted in the desert by the Adversary after fasting for many days.
    You probably believe he was whipped, tortured, and painfully executed.
    You probably believe that on the third day, he rose again from the dead and taught his disciples for many days afterwards.
    You probably believe he ascended into Heaven and sits on the right hand of God the Father.”

    I don’t believe that these are tenets of Christianity. I think, biblically, these are tenets of Judaism. Christianity does not have a patent on them.

  9. Dan said, “I don’t believe that these are tenets of Christianity. I think, biblically, these are tenets of Judaism. Christianity does not have a patent on them.”

    I agree Dan, hence what we have in common and why I discourage anyone from summarily “disposing” of Christians and Christianity.

    Lrw79said, ” I’d like to ask your opinion though because I’ve run into a quandary and in the interest of not leading them astray I’d like to know how I encourage them to respect the Jewish interpretations (i.e., Talmud, halakhah etc) of the commandments, yet NOT thereby lead them to think they are now Jewish for keeping them in the Jewish way? Doesn’t that lead to more Christian usurpation?”

    That’s a tough one and it’s at the heart of what I’m trying to communicate here. On the one hand, there are Christians who find great beauty and wonder in many of the Jewish traditions and practices, but on the other hand, those who begin to engage some of those practices become confused about what it means about them and about the Jewish people.

    I think developmentally, that anyone new to “Hebrew Roots” becomes temporarily enamored with the “Jewish stuff.” There’s a certain novelty in seeing the Jewish festivals and practices as somehow accessible to the non-Jew that makes us lose perspective for a moment or two (or day, or month, or more). I remember losing my own perspective for quite awhile and was rather appalled with myself when I came back to earth, so to speak, and realized what I had done.

    I’m not sure what the best course of action to take is, but if you are talking to fellow believers about Judaism and the “Messianic applications” of certain Jewish practices, you should also fold in equal portions of caution and “identity clarification” in with your explanations. Not to “blow my own horn” or anything, but you could point them to What Are The Jewish Covenant Signs or similar material to help them see both sides of the coin. As Christians, there is nothing we can do or should do to diminish or water down the role of Judaism and the Mosaic covenant signs and markers that were established between God and the Jewish people. We can connect to the Judaism of the Messiah and still retain who we are as Gentile Christians.

    That’s about the best answer I can give you within such a limited venue as this comments section. You might consider pointing them toward First Fruits of Zion and particularly The Torah Club, since that material (particularly Volume One) is geared toward the “beginner” and it is all written with the “balance” between practice and identity firmly in mind.

  10. Thanks James. Actually, the receptiveness to Torah has been opened further due to FFOZ materials.
    But again, I’m not sure which approach leads to gentile security in their gentile-ness.
    I’m not a fan of gentiles donning Jewish garb and presenting themselves as Jews for a number of reasons.

  11. You said, “But again, I’m not sure which approach leads to gentile security in their gentile-ness.”

    I think that’s a sort of “weakness” in the Messianic Jewish movement and the materials they produce. There’s been a huge about of content generated about Judaism, Jewish practices, Torah, halachah, and the like, but little or no information about how cool it is to be a Gentile Christian and what a wonderful future we have in the Kingdom of God. About the closest thing I’ve seen recently addressing it is Toby Janicki’s book God-Fearers, but I don’t think it’s specific enough.

    Especially part 4 of this series will touch strongly on this issue and Boaz Michaels’ forthcoming book “Tent of David” very specifically addresses the role of the Gentile Christian in restoring the fallen booth of David (see Acts 15:15-18). I’ve read an early manuscript of the book but it’s currently undergoing further revisions. I think it’s just what we non-Jews who are attached to the Messianic movement need to help focus us on matters of role, function, and identity, not only with the Jewish people but with other Gentiles and the church.

    Until Gentile Christians learn to be delighted with who we are and recognize that we have not only a unique role but a critical role in God’s plan for tikkun olam and the redemption of national Israel, there will always be some folks out there who feel as if they’ve been “ripped off,” either by the church or by Jews in the Messianic movement.

  12. I suppose we’re both “skewing” in different directions then, Dan. I didn’t say that Gentiles couldn’t attend a Passover seder, build a sukkah in their (our) backyard, or fast on Yom Kippur. However, as you well know, God included each of those activities when He gave the Torah to His people Israel at Sinai.

    Long before I became religious in any sense, a Jewish friend of mine invited me to her seder (we were in college at the time). She said it was a mitzvah for her to invite a Gentile and to share the telling of the Exodus. I was honored to attend my first seder. It certainly didn’t make me Jewish however, nor did it mean that Passover suddenly “belonged” to me. It’s OK for certain covenant signs to belong exclusively to the Jewish people and it’s OK for Jewish people to share their uniqueness and to pass on knowledge of ethical monotheism to the rest of us.

  13. You are still avoiding the point. The festivals are God’s festivals. they are not the “Jewish” festivals nor are they the Gentiles, Muslims festivals. Next thing you are going to say that God gave the Bible only to the children of Israel…

  14. “The festivals are God’s festivals. they are not the “Jewish” festivals nor are they the Gentiles, Muslims festivals.”

    Dan, why do you choose ignore the scriptures? Does your aversion to Judaism and the heritage of your own Jewish people ever make you weary?

    John 5:1 – “Some time later, Yeshua went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals.

    John 6:4 – “The Jewish Passover Festival was near…”

    John 7:2 “But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near…”

  15. Levit. 23: “…The Lord’s appointed times which you shall proclaim as holy convocations- MY appointed times…..”

    Sorry, brother, cannot find the word “Jewish” there…..

  16. Dan, I showed you where you CAN find it and you showing me where it’s not mentioned instead?

    Your answer reminds of a joke about a drunk who was searching on his hands and knees one night for a lost quarter by the only street light that was working in his town. When a policeman asked him why he’s searching for the lost coin there and not elsewhere in town he answered “because I can see better next to this street light!”.

    So it is with you, Dan.

  17. Dan, you keep telling people that they’re theologically in over their heads. I didn’t know that you were such a scholar and theological whiz-kid compared to everyone else. Why are our opinions less informed than your’s? I really want to know.

  18. “Levit. 23: “…The Lord’s appointed times which you shall proclaim as holy convocations- MY appointed times…..”

    Sorry, brother, cannot find the word “Jewish” there…..”

    @ Dan – Agreed.

    @James – There seems to be a fundamental error in your views concerning both Jews and Gentiles, in my opinion. From what I have been reading, you sum up all gentiles into the same group. In other words, you do not make a distinction between Gentiles who are in covenant with God, or with Gentiles who are not in covenant with God, they are one in the same in your views. You also do this concerning Jews. Side note: Covenant identity markers are different than Jewish Identity markers and sometimes they are intertwined, people need to be more careful when defining their terms. I think if you were able to see this distinction both between covenant relationship and non-covenant relationship, you would have a much better understanding, at least from a One Law point of view.

  19. Zion said, Covenant identity markers are different than Jewish Identity markers and sometimes they are intertwined.

    Yes, Rabbi Kinbar pointed that out to me about a week ago in the comments section of this blog and I agree, sometimes they’re intertwined.

    I agree, there is a difference between Gentiles who are in a covenant relationship with God (Christians) and those who aren’t, such as atheists. However, I don’t think that makes Christians either Jewish or “Israelites,” nor to I think it eliminates all distinctions between Christians and Jews.

    Now the interesting part, given Sinai, is that (in my humble opinion) that all Jews are in a covenant relationship with God, even those Jews who disregard their covenant responsibilities. I know you may disagree with me on this, but the Biblical record seems to indicate that when the Jewish people were “unfaithful” to God, He didn’t abandon them or release them from the covenant, He visited upon them various penalties that were defined within the covenant.

    Of course, there will ultimately be consequences for all of us in covenant relation to God (Christian and Jew alike) who are disobedient, but that’s up to God, not me. I don’t believe though, that God abandons or disregards any Jew, even if that Jew doesn’t “keep Torah” in the manner that you, I, or anyone else believes they should.

    As you correctly pointed out, there is a difference between a Gentile who is in relationship with God and one who isn’t. However, there are also differences between Gentiles who are in a covenant relationship with God (Christians) and Jews who by definition, are in a covenant relationship with God. I’m still a little fuzzy about how applying the “Messianic” or “Davidic” covenant to a Jew ratifies that relationship, but I imagine someone in that relationship, like Gene, could clarify that for us.

  20. “Levit. 23…. Sorry, brother, cannot find the word “Jewish” there…..””

    Zion, see my reply to Dan (and the accompanying joke) to see where you CAN find it. Why is this so difficult and why do people must deny the heritage of the Jewish people?

    John 5:1 – “Some time later, Yeshua went up to Jerusalem for one of the Jewish festivals.”

    John 6:4 – “The Jewish Passover Festival was near…”

    John 7:2 – “But when the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles was near…”

  21. However, I don’t think that makes Christians either Jewish or “Israelites,” nor to I think it eliminates all distinctions between Christians and Jews.

    You are mistakenly applying Christian as a race to Jews… there are more Christian Jews, than Messianic Jews. Don’t confuse religion with race, it does not apply well or look well on your part. Now that being said, I do not think gentiles are Jews, or become Jews, that ignores scriptures and it is a form supersessionism. But that does not mean gentiles are not part of Israel on a national level. There is a difference between individual and national, I will go into that more below.

    Now the interesting part, given Sinai, is that (in my humble opinion) that all Jews are in a covenant relationship with God, even those Jews who disregard their covenant responsibilities. I know you may disagree with me on this, but the Biblical record seems to indicate that when the Jewish people were “unfaithful” to God, He didn’t abandon them or release them from the covenant, He visited upon them various penalties that were defined within the covenant.

    God maintains the covenant corporately, but that does not mean individual Jews cannot be cut off from their people, as the scripture is clear this can happen, and more than likely has and will. Or there would be no reason for the Jewish people to need the Messiah. John Hague teaches this type of doctrine that Jews will be saved without need of the Messiah, nonsense. The Gospel to the Jew first!

    Of course, there will ultimately be consequences for all of us in covenant relation to God (Christian and Jew alike) who are disobedient, but that’s up to God, not me. I don’t believe though, that God abandons or disregards any Jew, even if that Jew doesn’t “keep Torah” in the manner that you, I, or anyone else believes they should.

    Well God defined what covenant relationship is, He also defined how one maintains that relationship and how one breaks that relationship and how one can be reconcile even after breaking that relationship, but there still is the ability to no longer be in covenant. No one is forced into covenant.

    As you correctly pointed out, there is a difference between a Gentile who is in relationship with God and one who isn’t. However, there are also differences between Gentiles who are in a covenant relationship with God (Christians) and Jews who by definition, are in a covenant relationship with God. I’m still a little fuzzy about how applying the “Messianic” or “Davidic” covenant to a Jew ratifies that relationship, but I imagine someone in that relationship, like Gene, could clarify that for us.

    It is important that we know what these differences are without blanketing someone into a corner, and again you confused Christians with Gentiles, that would make Christianity racist, that is not good. Christianity is a religion anyone can participate in, as most believing Jews do. Now being in covenant with God for a gentile is defined in the scriptures, this is where One Torah for the natural born and the gentile come into play. Even in that, there are still some distinctions, even if they are minute, and they are specific, one well known distinction, is that the gentile cannot own land, which also tells us and confirms, that a gentile/convert never becomes a Jew. So even the Torah maintained the distinctions between Jew and Gentile while at the same time maintaining ‘One Torah’ for the native and stranger. These are not at odds, or we would have to conclude the scriptures are at odds. What we can see is that gentiles who are in covenant, are part of Israel and are to be treated as a native born and to have One Torah, minus the few exceptions. They are not Jews, but they are part of the nation as gentiles, or better yet remaining Gentiles. Nothing wrong with being a Gentile. 😀

  22. One Torah and as you say, applied somewhat differently depending on whether or not a person is Jewish or a non-Jew. Like it or not, there *is* an ethnic/racial/cultural component called “Judaism” that is distinct from you and me as Gentile Christians. That a Jew identifies himself as “Messianic” or “Christian” doesn’t make him any less a Jew. This is exactly the point I’m trying to get across in this “Equality Puzzle.”

    I was actually having this conversation with the missus the other day. She’s Jewish because her mother was Jewish (my mother-in-law passed away many years ago). That also means my wife’s siblings are halachically Jewish, whether they choose to acknowledge that fact or not. One of my brothers-in-law is a “devout Christian” who doesn’t even like to acknowledge that his mother was Jewish. However, if he were to walk into our local Chabad house tomorrow and the Rabbi knew who he was and knew about his background, he could join a minyan and daven with the other Jewish men right then and there.

    Frankly, Jews *are* born into the covenant. It’s not a matter of choice. How a Jew responds to the covenant is a matter of choice, but being Jewish really isn’t.

    Non-Jews, on the other hand, are born with lots of choices. We can choose to enter into a covenant relationship with God by becoming a disciple of the Jewish Messiah (i.e. becoming a Gentile Christian). We can also make a lot of other choices including converting to Judaism, adopting some other religious form, or just having no covenant relationship with God at all (God is still aware of all human beings and desires that we all come into relationship with Him, of course).

    Gentile Christians and Jewish Christians/Messianics connect through the Messiah. We are brothers and sisters in the faith and equal in God’s love of us, but my citizenship in the Kingdom does not make me an “Israelite.” As far as the Ger is concerned (I know we’ve had this conversation before), in order for that “status” to be applied to the non-Jewish disciple of the Jewish Messiah today, it would originally have to have been intended for the Ger to be a multigenerational status where the Ger and his descendents were always intended to be non-Jewish/non-Israelite, and both history and the Torah plainly say that it is not. The Gerim were a means for their descendants to enter into Israel and fully assimilate into the nation, leaving their Gentile status behind. Since a covenant relationship with God for the Gerim completely bypassed the Messiah, modern non-Jewish people claiming a “Jewish-like” obligation to the mitzvot, are invoking (and I’ve said this before) a process whereby Jesus doesn’t matter.

    I tend to take an Occam’s razor approach to my faith. It doesn’t have to be more complicated than me becoming a disciple of the Master as outlined in the Gospels and Epistles. The key to my covenant relationship with God comes from Jesus, not Moses. That said, the mitzvot we find in the Torah and the God of Israel, are open to all of us:

    “I said clearly in Part 2 of this blog series that there is nothing preventing the Christian who finds meaning and beauty in the Torah from adopting many of the mitzvot in their worship lives. Please, you can joyously light the candles on Shabbos, pray the Shema, and daven facing toward Jerusalem. You can even feed the hungry, visit the sick and imprisoned, help a lame person cross a busy street, and give abundantly to charitable causes. All of these are Torah mitzvot and if performing these deeds brings your heart closer to God, who am I as one lone Christian to tell you that they are forbidden you?

    Oh wait.

    What did I say? What were those mitzvot again?”

    In all the ways that are important, the Jewish and non-Jewish disciples of the Jewish Messiah King are alike. We can both respond to God by doing His will, by feeding the hungry, by visiting the sick, by comforting the grieving. And if you also want to order your beef from a kosher butcher, that’s OK, too. What’s the problem?

  23. I just read an article written by Rabbi Shlomo Riskin on The Jewish Week’s site that may apply to this conversation. Granted, Rabbi Riskin isn’t “Messianic” but as the founder of the “Center for Jewish-Christian Understanding and Cooperation in Israel,” he is deeply involved in developing a bridging relationship between Christians and Jews. I think it’s a worthwhile read.

  24. Since a covenant relationship with God for the Gerim completely bypassed the Messiah, modern non-Jewish people claiming a “Jewish-like” obligation to the mitzvot, are invoking (and I’ve said this before) a process whereby Jesus doesn’t matter.

    This is the core of our disagreements, so I will focus on this. I don’t think any covenant can bypass God… God has always been, since the beginning, the core of any entrance to covenant relationship. To say that a gentile coming into the Mosaic Covenant has bypassed the Messiah is contradicting scripture and it pits God’s covenants in conflict to each other, I am guessing that you believe that any gentile who came into Mosaic Covenant before the Messiah is fine and dandy, but any gentile after that, has disregarded the Messiah… Which makes the Mosaic Covenant obsolete, are you willing to make that claim? Which leads me to an ultimate question, which needs to be clarified:

    What covenant or covenant’s are Gentiles part of, due to faith/conversion in Messiah?

  25. Non-Jews, back in the day of Moses, had the option to attach themselves to the God of Israel. As such, there was no conversion process in that day, so they agreed, like the Children of Israel, to do what the Torah commanded. However, it was with the specific intentthat their descendants (probably the third generation) would lose their non-Jewish/Israelite identity and be absorbed into the tribes, probably through intermarriage with tribal members. The example of the Gerim isn’t appropriate for today’s non-Jewish believers in the Jewish Messiah as an illustration of non-Jews who are commanded to be fully Torah observant, because the role of Gerim was never meant to be multigenerational beyond the third generation. It was a process. It was a means to an end. It wasn’t an “end” unto itself.

    Also, the Davidic covenant ratifies the Mosaic covenant such that we non-Jews can now attach ourselves to the God of Israel without becoming Gerim; without being part of a plan for our descendants to be assimilated into national Israel. Comparing the “Gerim process” as it existed thousands of years ago to the process of a non-Jew becoming a non-Jewish Christian today is comparing like apples and oranges. The Gerim process not only does not exist in modern times, it is completely unnecessary.

  26. Thank you for clarifying more of your position, although I think there is a contradiction in terms of today versus previous time, I won’t rehash.

    I am interested in more clarification on what covenant or covenant’s you think Gentiles are now part of because of Messiah?

  27. I am interested in more clarification on what covenant or covenant’s you think Gentiles are now part of because of Messiah?

    To me, it seems obvious that we are part of the Davidic (Messianic) covenant. I hate to harp on John 3:16 since it is used to excess by the church as a quote, but those words make it quite apparent that a large part of the Messiah’s purpose on Earth in the First Century CE was to provide a way for all non-Jewish people everywhere to enter into a covenant relationship with God through the Messiah while being able to retain their (our) non-Jewish identity. That is, we enter into a covenant relationship with God but we don’t have to convert to Judaism and take on board the full yoke of the Torah (vis a vis the Sinai covenant):

    So when they were sent off, they went down to Antioch, and having gathered the congregation together, they delivered the letter. And when they had read it, they rejoiced because of its encouragement.Acts 15:30-31 (ESV) (See Acts 15:22-29 for context)

    Look: I, Paul, say to you that if you accept circumcision, Christ will be of no advantage to you. I testify again to every man who accepts circumcision that he is obligated to keep the whole law.Galatians 5:2-3 (ESV)

    Again, I’m not saying that non-Jews can’t take on a significant amount of the mitzvot (most Christians do already without realizing it), just that we are not obligated to the mitzvot as are the Jewish people.

  28. To me, it seems obvious that we are part of the Davidic (Messianic) covenant.

    Are you referring to the Davidic covenant described in 2 Sam 7?

  29. Actually, no. I use the terms “Davidic” and “Messianic” to refer to the covenant that allows the nations of the world to enter into relationship with God through Jesus Christ and doesn’t require us to specifically be the Children (descendents) of Jacob. I suppose that I’d have to inventory various areas of the Tanakh to illustrate it (and it’s getting late, so I don’t have the time for that now) but one good example of non-Jews who are called by His Name being included in the Messianic kingdom is this:

    “In that day I will raise up
    the booth of David that is fallen
    and repair its breaches,
    and raise up its ruins
    and rebuild it as in the days of old,
    that they may possess the remnant of Edom
    and all the nations who are called by my name,”
    declares the Lord who does this.

    Amos 9:11-12 (ESV)

  30. So you come to a covenant conclusion by piecing parts of the bible together? There is no actual covenant that I can read about? Anyways, I am interested in how you view this, so I am looking forward to the conclusions. By the way, your view does not fit Christianity or Judaism, so I am wondering how you came about this?

  31. What? We Gentiles don’t have a covenant relationship with God through Jesus Christ? That’s news to me. I always thought that Jesus himself said it in Mathtew 26:26-29. And by “piecing together,” I mean finding all of the different references to the Messiah and the Messianic Age, which aren’t collected in any one place anymore than the specific conditions of Torah law isn’t collected in a single block of text in the Five Books of Moses.

    I don’t know if you sleep, but I do. We’ll pick this up in the morning sometime. G’night.

  32. ““In that day I will raise up
    the booth of David that is fallen
    and repair its breaches,
    and raise up its ruins
    and rebuild it as in the days of old,
    that they may possess the remnant of Edom
    and all the nations who are called by my name,”
    declares the Lord who does this.
    -Amos 9:11-12 (ESV)”

    That is not a covenant, that is a prophecy…But, then, You are known to shape Scriptures to fit your agenda….And you are chastising me on theology?…….

  33. You’re right, Dan. That’s a prophesy, not a covenant. But I think it adequately describes Jewish/Gentile attachment to the God of Israel and is a vision of the future fulfillment of the covenant.

    I notice you didn’t comment on Matthew 26:26-29 (see above). I’m pretty sure that Yeshua was talking about a covenant there.

    What can I say about the covenant that Jesus established on earth for all human beings? Ezekiel 47:21-23, Isaiah 2:1-4, Isaiah 11:10, Isaiah 56:1-8, Micah 4:1-5, and Mark 16:16 for starters.

  34. What? We Gentiles don’t have a covenant relationship with God through Jesus Christ? That’s news to me. I always thought that Jesus himself said it in Mathtew 26:26-29.

    Well that is why I am puzzled by you, Judaism and Christianity both claim which covenants Gentiles are part of, Judaism says gentiles are automatically party to the Noahide covenant, unless they take part in conversion. Christianity believes they are part of the New Covenant as Yeshua said:

    Luke 22:20
    And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood.

    And by “piecing together,” I mean finding all of the different references to the Messiah and the Messianic Age, which aren’t collected in any one place anymore than the specific conditions of Torah law isn’t collected in a single block of text in the Five Books of Moses.

    Where do you come up with this theology? Who believes this? This means you can piece together anything and make it say whatever you want it to. As Dan pointed out, none of the scriptures you have posted thus far minus Matthew 26, have described a covenant, instead they are prophecies, so please enlighten me on why you are rendering those verses as covenants?

    James, if you want to make a good argument against One Law, don’t waste your time on equality issues, which is only a symptom or an effect and skewed at best, it is not the cause or root of the problem, instead deal with the covenant issue, that is at the very foundation of One Law. If you can prove that gentiles are not in covenant with God, and/or more specifically, not party to the Mosaic or New Covenant, which both involve the Law of Moses and being party to Israel, then One Law, falls apart. If Gentiles are not party to either of those covenants, then they definitely are not in anyway responsible to keep the Torah and all the covenant identity markers associated with it. This is at the core, solidly prove this, and you will have an excellent argument on your hands.

  35. Zion, I’m not sure what I said above (you may have missed it since we posted more or less at the same time) is invalid in describing the covenant that Jesus established for all humanity. Here’s a repeat:

    What can I say about the covenant that Jesus established on earth for all human beings? Ezekiel 47:21-23, Isaiah 2:1-4, Isaiah 11:10, Isaiah 56:1-8, Micah 4:1-5, and Mark 16:16 for starters.

    You’re correct in that a tighter expression of the covenant Jesus established is a worthy study. The problem with One Law is that it completely bypasses the idea that Jesus established anything new when he came to earth or that his presence was revolutionary in that it opened the door for all of humanity to come into relationship with God for the first time since the fall.

    If Jesus didn’t establish a new covenant that allowed Gentiles to have equal access to God with the Jews, then his sacrifice was meaningless. This is one of my big problems with OL: the negation of the Jewish Messiah even as they call themselves “Messianic.”

    As for equality, I didn’t come up with this issue. There’s a One Law blog in particularly (you’ve been known to comment on it approvingly from time to time) has brought up the issue of Jewish exclusivity and even racism. Others have commented that Messianic Jews are racist when claiming any portion of the Torah as uniquely applying to only the Jews. The matter of equality seems at the heart of many One Law complains against Jews who are Messianic. I only wrote this series in response.

    I hope you’ve read Parts 3 and 4 in the series since they address the matter of how indeed we Gentile Christians are equal to the Jews in every way that really matters and that we also have duties, responsibilities, and privileged that are unique to us. Gentile Christians are not inferior to Messianic Jews. We are just different, with different roles and responsibilities as assigned to us by God.

    Thanks for the suggestion to investigate further my understanding of the “Messianic Covenant.” That’s a great area for me to study, learn to better comprehend, and then write about here as a “morning meditation.”

    Peace.

  36. “I notice you didn’t comment on Matthew 26:26-29 (see above). I’m pretty sure that Yeshua was talking about a covenant there.

    What can I say about the covenant that Jesus established on earth for all human beings? Ezekiel 47:21-23, Isaiah 2:1-4, Isaiah 11:10, Isaiah 56:1-8, Micah 4:1-5, and Mark 16:16 for starters.”

    Why do you keep shooting yourself in the foot?

    Where is the distinction here between Jews and Gentiles?

  37. “We are just different, with different roles and responsibilities as assigned to us by God.”

    Yadda, Yadda, Yadda…..The regular cop out…..

    What is the use to read parts 3 and 4 when we see you falling on your face in parts 1 and 2?

  38. The problem with One Law is that it completely bypasses the idea that Jesus established anything new when he came to earth or that his presence was revolutionary in that it opened the door for all of humanity to come into relationship with God for the first time since the fall.

    These are details of theology, that still come after the root issue, which is covenant, deal with that, and this is also solved. But as for what you are saying, I see the other side, if all of humanity finally had the door opened, that means 4000 years of humanity is screwed before the Messiah, that creates just a little bit of a theological issue, don’t you think? Arguments of what all is new, are found all through Christianity as well, so if you have an issue with One Law, then you first have an issue with Christianity.

    If Jesus didn’t establish a new covenant that allowed Gentiles to have equal access to God with the Jews, then his sacrifice was meaningless. This is one of my big problems with OL: the negation of the Jewish Messiah even as they call themselves “Messianic.”

    Then by your very conclusion, Jesus sacrifice is meaningless for all those before Him, do you not see a problem in this type of thinking? Your conclusions end up with, until Jesus came, gentiles were screwed.

    As for equality, I didn’t come up with this issue. There’s a One Law blog in particularly (you’ve been known to comment on it approvingly from time to time) has brought up the issue of Jewish exclusivity and even racism. Others have commented that Messianic Jews are racist when claiming any portion of the Torah as uniquely applying to only the Jews. The matter of equality seems at the heart of many One Law complains against Jews who are Messianic. I only wrote this series in response.

    Yes, if you understand the root, which is Covenant relationship, then you will understand the equality issues. The reason it is racist is due to our view of covenant relationship. If we are in covenant relationship, then BE and DIT groups are racist towards gentiles who are in covenant relationship with them, if we are not in covenant, thus not responsible to the rules of the covenant and the identity markers, then the fault is on One Law, it really is as simple as that, the rest is details.

    I hope you’ve read Parts 3 and 4 in the series since they address the matter of how indeed we Gentile Christians are equal to the Jews in every way that really matters and that we also have duties, responsibilities, and privileged that are unique to us. Gentile Christians are not inferior to Messianic Jews. We are just different, with different roles and responsibilities as assigned to us by God.

    I did read it and I do try to understand the views of the other side, in my opinion though, I still think they miss the point, but don’t worry, I will continue reading and trying to understand where maybe I have not.

    Thanks for the suggestion to investigate further my understanding of the “Messianic Covenant.” That’s a great area for me to study, learn to better comprehend, and then write about here as a “morning meditation.”

    Agreed, as I said, if you want to tackle or take on One Law, this is the place to do it, tackle the covenants.

  39. @Dan and Zion: You seem to believe that the covenant the Messiah made with the nations of the world somehow cannot stand on its own merit but must be universally tie all non-Jewish people back to the ancient covenants that are specific to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You also don’t address how the Messiah’s gift to humanity is revolutionary and is something that had never occurred before (otherwise, why did he bother to come without restoring national Israel?). One Law continues to discount the uniqueness of the Messiah and thus the uniqueness of we Gentile disciples who have come to faith in him at his command (see Matthew 28:18-20). You both say that we among the nations who have entered into a relationship with God through the Jewish Messiah are only “special” or “unique” or “good” if we become “quasi-Jewish” and that being people of the nations and disciples of the Master isn’t “good enough.”

    It’s only racist if we believe that not being Jewish isn’t good enough, Zion. If we acknowledge the special role (sorry Dan) that God has assigned to the non-Jewish disciples, then the fears of racism and elitism disappear, and we can truly celebrate alongside our Messianic Jewish brothers and sisters the gifts of God, and our partnership with each other and with the Creator in repairing the world and summoning the return of Messiah.

    Rosh Hashanah is in just a few days, gentlemen. While we’ve been paying attention to each other and our own differences of opinion, God has been waiting for us. If we were to have to give God an accounting of how we’ve behaved over the past few weeks (let alone over the entire year), how would we fare in the eyes of the King of the Universe?

    I write about this all in tomorrow’s “meditation”.

  40. “@Dan and Zion: You seem to believe that the covenant the Messiah made with the nations of the world ”

    What covenant? Scriptures please…..

    “You both say that we among the nations who have entered into a relationship with God through the Jewish Messiah are only “special” or “unique” or “good” if we become “quasi-Jewish” and that being people of the nations and disciples of the Master isn’t “good enough.””

    This is not what we say…Don’t put words in our mouths…..It is the BE and DI crowed that promote distinction…At least be honest…..

    “It’s only racist if we believe that not being Jewish isn’t good enough, Zion. If we acknowledge the special role (sorry Dan) that God has assigned to the non-Jewish disciples, then the fears of racism and elitism disappear, and we can truly celebrate alongside our Messianic Jewish brothers and sisters the gifts of God, and our partnership with each other and with the Creator in repairing the world and summoning the return of Messiah.”

    Tell this to Boaz and Kinzer…Don’t use this double talk on us…..

  41. What covenant? Scriptures please…..

    Matthew 26:26-29 for starters. You’ll have to wait until I can more closely look into the rest since Zion did have a valid point.

    Besides, if you are saying that I don’t have a covenant relationship with God through Jesus Christ, then I and every Christian who has ever lived is pretty much screwed. Is that what you’re really saying, Dan?

    This is not what we say…Don’t put words in our mouths…..It is the BE and DI crowed that promote distinction…At least be honest…..

    You know me well enough to know I’m not lying in anything I’m saying, Dan. The worse you could accuse me of is being mistaken, but I’m not deliberately generating falsehoods just to justify my opinion. Why would I do that?

    To be fair, I know that you, Zion, and other OL proponents are being just as honest and aren’t deliberately distorting scripture as a means to an end. But let’s be fair. A substantial (but not all) number of people involved in OL left the church because, on some level, they felt dissatsified or disillusioned with the church. They also tend to feel hurt of victimized by Christianity and respond to anything having to do with Christians with anger and the desire to totally isolate themselves from the origins of their faith (most Messianics in any form came to faith in Jesus through the Christian church). A lot of these non-Jews, on some level, feel superior to the church only because they “keep Torah” and the idea that Messianic Gentiles and Messianic Jews aren’t 100% identical in role and purpose is highly upsetting to them.

    And yet, what injustice is being done to the Jewish people by creating the mistaken impression that Jews no longer have an identity of their own in the eyes of man or God, and that identity must be forcably shared with (One Law) Gentile Christians.

    All I’m suggesting that it doesn’t have to be this way. The Gentiles who see themselves as “Messianic” don’t have to exist in isolation from the larger church of the Messiah, nor to they have to put themselves at odds with normative Judaism. I’m suggesting reconciliation and in some cases, reunification, not isolation and adversity.

  42. Gene:
    “Zion, see my reply to Dan (and the accompanying joke) to see where you CAN find it. Why is this so difficult and why do people must deny the heritage of the Jewish people?”

    I (almost) always agree with this sharp cookie, and am always glad to see him weigh in on a blog, however, I have to disagree here and say that the “appointed” times are God’s– not “Jewish”. But let me explain…

    Saying they’re “Jewish” implies that the Jewish race inventeded them, just as other peoples have customs and traditions unique to them. Looking from a non- biblical POV is the only way one could make that argument. But we’re all conversant biblically here so we need to understand the origin is God and it factors in to understanding Him and His ways.

    The Jewish people do have customs and traditions that belong to them, but the biblically appointed times and the idea of clean and unclean animals etc are Gods and we need to explor these things understanding that if we ever hope to understand Him.

    God had the plan! And, He revealed much of it (over time) to His special creation (Jews) who are the vessels of His revelation and blessings based on the covenants He made w/ them. But God is the source and we all belong to Him. I’m (a gentile) not subject to the Jewish ways and laws, but I AM subject to Gods ways and Laws. See the diff?

    It’s also problematic because it sets the Jewish people (and the religion) as the source, therefore, infallible, or at best creates the assumption that Jewishness is the highest attainable position to be. Ergo, freaky insecure Gentiles trying’ to rip off Jewish identity.

    Gene, in short, I disagree that pointing out they are Gods appointed times takes away anything from the Jewish people.

  43. “Matthew 26:26-29 for starters. You’ll have to wait until I can more closely look into the rest since Zion did have a valid point.”

    Really? Yeshua was talking to 12 Jewish boys…Or have you forgot?

    “Besides, if you are saying that I don’t have a covenant relationship with God through Jesus Christ, then I and every Christian who has ever lived is pretty much screwed. Is that what you’re really saying, Dan?”

    No, that is not what I am saying. You have a covenant with God because you are grafted in to the covenants that were given to Israel…..Can you quote one covenant where it specifically given to Gentiles or Christians?

    “To be fair, I know that you, Zion, and other OL proponents are being just as honest and aren’t deliberately distorting scripture as a means to an end. But let’s be fair. A substantial (but not all) number of people involved in OL left the church because, on some level, they felt dissatsified or disillusioned with the church. They also tend to feel hurt of victimized by Christianity and respond to anything having to do with Christians with anger and the desire to totally isolate themselves from the origins of their faith (most Messianics in any form came to faith in Jesus through the Christian church). A lot of these non-Jews, on some level, feel superior to the church only because they “keep Torah” and the idea that Messianic Gentiles and Messianic Jews aren’t 100% identical in role and purpose is highly upsetting to them.”

    If by saying that you are backing away from the notion that this is a specific teaching of OL, then tank you…And BTW, the Gentiles who left the Churches and joined MJ did it for the same reasons that Gentiles who joined OL, or you disagree?

    “And yet, what injustice is being done to the Jewish people by creating the mistaken impression that Jews no longer have an identity of their own in the eyes of man or God, and that identity must be forcably shared with (One Law) Gentile Christians.”

    Common, James…Our Identity is in Messiah, not Judaism or Gentilism…How many times you heard me saying this? and I am Jewish…Albeit, not an elitist….

    “All I’m suggesting that it doesn’t have to be this way. The Gentiles who see themselves as “Messianic” don’t have to exist in isolation from the larger church of the Messiah, nor to they have to put themselves at odds with normative Judaism. I’m suggesting reconciliation and in some cases, reunification, not isolation and adversity.”

    Again, you have the wrong address….Tell it to Boaz and Kinzer…..

  44. Zion: As far as I can tell, with the exception of the covenant made with Noah and the initial one with Abraham, all the covenants are made with the Jews. Both “old” and “new” are with Jews.

    However, as James has pointed out, the bible clearly teaches that He will gather in many from the Nations and it doesn’t say they will suddenly become Israelites or Jews:
    “he says: “It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved of Israel; I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

    “He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law”

    Where is there evidence that He doesn’t love his original non-Jewish creation? Have you ever thought that maybe it was the us, the mass multitude, that He selected the Jewish race to bring knowledge of salvation to?

  45. Really? Yeshua was talking to 12 Jewish boys…Or have you forgot?

    Moses was talking millions of “Jewish boys” at Sinai, so there you have it. Oh, and Jesus also said this:

    “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”Matthew 28:18-20 (ESV)

    So if you connect the “new covenant in his blood” with what I just quoted and you notice that the Gentiles received the Spirit (see the end of Acts 10) in the same manner as the Jews (see Acts 2), you do see how the covenant relationship with Jesus began to bear fruit among the Gentiles who came to faith in Yeshua. Remember how amazed Peter was when Cornelius and his household received the Spirit? He was totally unprepared for the consequences of the covenant of the Messiah with the non-Jewish people. Notice that what Cornelius and his household (all non-Jews) had to do. They had faith in God through the Messiah, they received the Spirit, and they were baptized in water. At no point did anyone cause them to wear tzitzit or lay tefillin as a requirement of their faith. They got to *stay* non-Jews *and yet* they had a covenant relationship with God, but only through the Jewish Messiah and not because of Sinai.

  46. Lrw,

    However, as James has pointed out, the bible clearly teaches that He will gather in many from the Nations and it doesn’t say they will suddenly become Israelites or Jews.

    Gather them into what? I agree gentiles do not become Jews, this is a fundamental teaching of One Law. To say that a gentile can become a Jew is an error in and of itself and is also a form of supersessionism. God accepts gentiles as they are, always has, in other words, gentiles are not wrong for being Gentiles, embrace it. The question you need to ask yourself, is what were you brought into, what covenant have you joined, and why are the nations waiting for His Law, what Law?

    Where is there evidence that He doesn’t love his original non-Jewish creation?

    I did not know it was ever a question? Who made such a claim?

  47. So if you connect the “new covenant in his blood” with what I just quoted and you notice that the Gentiles received the Spirit (see the end of Acts 10) in the same manner as the Jews (see Acts 2), you do see how the covenant relationship with Jesus began to bear fruit among the Gentiles who came to faith in Yeshua. Remember how amazed Peter was when Cornelius and his household received the Spirit? He was totally unprepared for the consequences of the covenant of the Messiah with the non-Jewish people. Notice that what Cornelius and his household (all non-Jews) had to do. They had faith in God through the Messiah, they received the Spirit, and they were baptized in water.

    Agreed, now how does this invalidate gentiles obedience to the Law?

    At no point did anyone cause them to wear tzitzit or lay tefillin as a requirement of their faith.

    Would it make sense to have them immediately keep the lesser commandments without delay? What you are arguing is a known logical fallacy, known as “Arguing from Silence”.

    They got to *stay* non-Jews *and yet* they had a covenant relationship with God, but only through the Jewish Messiah and not because of Sinai.

    Exactly, whats wrong with that? Brought into covenant because of Messiah, since you did mention the New Covenant, which still has the Law of Moses attached, we are left with still needing to obey the Torah.

    And what is the problem, take Christian gentiles for example, they already obey much of the Torah, and not just any part, but the greater parts… Now Yeshua said that the Greater commandments should be done without neglecting the Lesser, thus the lesser should be taught as well.

  48. Would it make sense to have them immediately keep the lesser commandments without delay? What you are arguing is a known logical fallacy, known as “Arguing from Silence”.

    What you’re saying then is that, because we see no evidence that non-Jewish disciples ever were obligated to wear tzitzit, lay tefillin, etc., that they must have done so? A “smoking gun” would be nice, but we don’t have that. Not observing a behavior doesn’t mean that it must have occurred. If there are identity markers that are exclusively Jewish and are reserved for only Jewish people, I’m OK with that. As you say Zion, the Torah is being obeyed by the Gentile disciples.

    And what is the problem, take Christian gentiles for example, they already obey much of the Torah, and not just any part, but the greater parts… Now Yeshua said that the Greater commandments should be done without neglecting the Lesser, thus the lesser should be taught as well.

    Agreed up to a point but look at the context. The “lesser” commandment that Jesus was addressing had to do with the Temple which currently does not exist. Even in the late Second Temple period, non-Jews who desired to do so sincerely, were allowed to make offerings at the Temple. Even Orthodox Jews today believe that when a Third Temple is built, that Gentiles will make offerings there.

    Really, except for specific identity markers and covenant signs (and there aren’t that many of them), not only do I agree that Christians should keep the Torah, I’m saying that Christians *do* keep the Torah. Even you have said there are certain exceptions to Torah observance for non-Jews, such as Gentiles not having a physical inheritance to specific pieces of Israeli real estate. Are we really so far apart just because I believe I’m not *obligated* to wear a tallit gadol during prayer or a kippah when I go out in public?

  49. “Are we really so far apart just because I believe I’m not *obligated* to wear a tallit gadol during prayer or a kippah when I go out in public?”

    Yes, you are James that far apart. This is because this is NOT about Torah or any specific Torah observance. Instead, this is a “rights and equality” issue.

  50. Yes Gene, but what I’m trying to promote is reconciliation and unity even among those of us with differing opinions.

    Blogs and blog comments all run together in my head after awhile, but I read earlier today something someone said about this passage:

    And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” But he did not answer her a word. And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.Matthew 15:21-28 (ESV)

    The gist of the person’s statement was that the Canaanite woman didn’t get in the Master’s face, didn’t demand her rights, didn’t say, “I can have anything you can have,” and didn’t even attempt to claim whatever Jesus was giving to the “lost sheep of Israel” as someone who was not “Israel.” “Rights” and “equality” weren’t in her vocabulary when she approached Jesus.

    She was humble. She had faith. She persevered. And her daughter was healed.

    Would that all of us could approach God in that way. *Then* we’d all have something in common. If fact, I think that’s exactly what we’re supposed to have in common.

  51. What you’re saying then is that, because we see no evidence that non-Jewish disciples ever were obligated to wear tzitzit, lay tefillin, etc., that they must have done so?

    No, I made no such claim, I pointed out how you were arguing from silence, and how it would be absurd to immediately make a new convert jump into all the commandments at that moment… can you imagine, lol, who does that even today? That was my only point.

    A “smoking gun” would be nice, but we don’t have that. Not observing a behavior doesn’t mean that it must have occurred.

    Agreed, I never made that claim. On the other hand, I will point out the fact, that these converting gentiles, were being introduced to Judaism, and in doing such they were going to at some point learn the Law of Moses… We read about that in Acts 15, we also read about a starting place for Jewish and Gentile association, there had to be that to even begin the fellowship that was going to be occurring, especially in large numbers…

    On the other hand, you might believe like Kinzer, that Paul set out to create a new religion for Gentiles called Christianity to keep Jews and Gentiles apart and then Paul appointed Peter as the Pope, and then we are simply going to have to disagree.

    If there are identity markers that are exclusively Jewish and are reserved for only Jewish people, I’m OK with that. As you say Zion, the Torah is being obeyed by the Gentile disciples.

    Agreed, just make sure we do not confuse cultural and covenant identity markers.

    The “lesser” commandment that Jesus was addressing had to do with the Temple which currently does not exist.

    There are many commandments that would be considered lesser.

    Are we really so far apart just because I believe I’m not *obligated* to wear a tallit gadol during prayer or a kippah when I go out in public?

    Agreed, me neither, but at the local synagogue I have been asked to wear a kippah so I do so out of respect, but these are not covenant identity markers, these are Jewish cultural markers, and there is nothing wrong with them and I respect them.

  52. …but at the local synagogue I have been asked to wear a kippah so I do so out of respect, but these are not covenant identity markers, these are Jewish cultural markers, and there is nothing wrong with them and I respect them.

    Wearing a kippah is considered a sign of respect for God for any male in a synagogue, Jew and Gentile alike. I wore one every time I worshiped at our local Reform shul. I wore one many years ago when I visited the Jewish synagogue in Venice, Italy.

    Agreed, I never made that claim. On the other hand, I will point out the fact, that these converting gentiles, were being introduced to Judaism, and in doing such they were going to at some point learn the Law of Moses… We read about that in Acts 15, we also read about a starting place for Jewish and Gentile association, there had to be that to even begin the fellowship that was going to be occurring, especially in large numbers…

    My best guess is that the non-Jewish disciples of Paul’s day probably behaved more “Jewish” than most modern Christians would feel comfortable with. When you’re learning anything new, you are very likely to imitate your mentors. So it (probably) was with the newly minted non-Jewish disciples of the Jewish Messiah. Many had their first worship experience in a synagogue so they did what they saw others doing. If they ate together, the fare, by definition, would have been kosher. If there was a tradition of covering their heads among men, the male Gentile disciples would have done so.

    But exposure to a synagogue setting and worshiping with Jews doesn’t necessarily mean the Gentiles would have behaved in an identical manner to the Jews. Let’s take my history of worshiping at the Reform shul in my town.

    I wore a kippah. I used a siddur. I stood up when everyone stood up and sat down when everyone sat down. I didn’t always understand what was happening. My Hebrew was non-existent. But I listened and I learned and I tried to remember, no matter how awkward I felt sometimes, that I was there to worship God and to make sure my children knew who they were as Jews (my wife couldn’t always be there with us, so there were many times when it was just me and my Jewish children going to synagogue).

    I didn’t wear a tallit gadol because it wasn’t expected of me as a non-Jew to do so. I think the Rabbi would have called me up for an aliyah (which is extremely unusual) but I declined because I had no idea what I was doing (this offer would never have happened in an Orthodox synagogue). I had oneg with everyone else afterward so whatever level of kosher they kept, for that meal, I kept it too. Given that this was a Reform synagogue, everyone, including the Rabbi, drove to shul in the morning and drove back home after services.

    I worshiped with Jews, was exposed to the Torah, listened to the discussion, but I was not identical to the Jewish people there. Though I behaved in a substantially similar manner during worship, those things that were specifically Jewish were reserved to the Jewish members. I don’t think it ever occurred to me to think of them as being “unfair” or “racist” or “exclusivist.”

    It was their synagogue and I was a guest. My sons had their opportunities to each be the hagbah. I was very proud of them. Only my daughter chose to have her Bat Mitzvah (and thus having her first aliyah) in that synagogue and I was very proud of her. At no time did I have a problem with them having those privileges because they are Jewish.

    I don’t know by any direct scripture in the Bible, that the non-Jewish disciples did or didn’t read from the scrolls, wear tzitzit, or anything else. I only know the Bible is silent on those matters. And I only know my own experiences worshiping among Jews and being exposed to the Torah and the mitzvot.

  53. ” And I only know my own experiences worshiping among Jews and being exposed to the Torah and the mitzvot.”

    And yet you have the chutzpah to consider yourself an authority to teach these things…..

  54. I’m being honest and defining my own experience. Dan, I’m not passing myself off as a teacher or authority of any kind (I describe myself here). Welcome to my free speech rights. I believe I’ve been honest and forthright about everything I’ve said.

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