In “Laws of Kings”, chapter 11, topic 4, Rambam explains that the true Messiah (Mashiach) will bring about the fulfillment of the prophecy of Zephaniah 3:9. In the words of Rambam: “He [the true Messiah] will perfect the entire world, [motivating all the nations] to serve G-d together, as it is written, ‘For I [G-d] shall then make the peoples pure of speech so that they will all call upon the Name of G-d and serve Him with one purpose.’”
-from “What is the role of Gentiles in bringing the world to perfection?
With respect, the point is, I think, that although Christianity and Islam are not true, they have played a part in the Divine scheme for the redemption of the whole of humanity by spreading some sort of ethical monotheism involving an albeit incorrect idea of Messiah, Torah and Mitzvot. Although Islam and Christianity are part of the overall process leading to the redemption their imperfect ethical monotheism will be rectified through the adoption of the seven laws.
-quoted from mesora.org
It’s an interesting question. “What is the role of Gentiles in bringing the world to perfection?” It’s asked from an Orthodox Judaism perspective and particularly from the viewpoint of the Chabad as addressing Noahides (rather than Christians). I’m sure the answer is different when addressing Christianity, but let’s see what the Chabad has to say about Noahides perfecting the world.
“He [the true Messiah] will perfect the entire world”
From this we see that the culmination of Mashiach’s tasks (after he has become confirmed as “definitely Mashiach”) is his activity toward the rectification of the world and of the Gentile nations, not his activity for the perfection of Israel’s avodah [Divine service] through the observance of the Torah in tranquility. Why should specifically this be his main innovation?
In earlier eras, such as in the time of [Kings] Shlomo [Solomon] and Chizkiyahu [Hezekiah], Israel had already experienced the observance of the Torah in tranquility, even if not as completely as will be the case in the era of Mashiach. A state of perfection in the life of the Gentile nations, however, has never [yet] existed. (Source: Sefer HaSichos 5748 / 1988)
From the title of the original article, it seems as if we Gentiles have a role to play in the perfection of the world. The question actually reminded me of Jordan Levy’s recent article, “The Crowning Jewels of the Nations” (published in Messiah Journal, Issue 112) which discusses the Gentile Christian’s role in the redemption of Israel. However the Chabad responds by indicating that the Messiah will come to perfect the world (not just Israel). But there’s more.
This statement has halachic [Torah Law] implications, because (a) Jews should believe that Mashiach will perfect the entire world, and (b) Jews should endeavor to influence the nations of the world to observe the Seven [Noahide] Commandments which they have been given – as a foretaste and preparation for the perfection of the world by Mashiach. (Source: Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XXIII)
While Levy suggests that Christians have a vital and unique role is supporting Jewish return to Torah and God to thus “summon” the Messiah’s return, which will then lead to perfection of the world, Chabad reverses the order and says that Judaism and the Messiah will lead the Gentiles to perfection through the Noahide Laws.
In other words, from the Chabad’s perspective, Gentiles have no active role in perfecting the world either before or after the Messiah comes. We are just here to be acted upon by the Messiah and the Jewish people, and to be encouraged to comply with the Noahide laws as part of how Messiah will draw us all to the ways of peace. This, according to the article, is the result:
…[motivating all the nations] to serve G-d together…and serve Him with one purpose
Similarly, before the Giving of the Torah at Sinai, the Jews first had to be “like one man, with one heart” [as explained by Rashi on Exodus 19:2]. (Source: Likkutei Sichos, Shavuos, 5747 )
“To serve Him” signifies prayer. This phrase thus echoes the prophetic promise [Isaiah 56:7], “…for My House [the Holy Temple] shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations.” (Source: Likkutei Sichos, Vol. XX)
I was hoping there might be some common ground between how some factions in Messianic Judaism and some factions within Orthodox Judaism see the role of Gentiles, but I guess that was too much to ask for. I suppose this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Orthodox Judaism, as do all Judaisms, has a good reason to back away from the idea that non-Jews could contribute anything positive to the world pre-Messiah. Messianic Judaism, by definition, must engage the “Messianic Gentile” and all other Christians, as co-heirs of “the Kingdom of Heaven,” and because of that, they see the Bible and Talmud through different eyes that allow some flexibility when defining the Gentile role.
While all of the traditional Judaisms define Jews as different but not superior to Gentiles, in my previous interactions with the folks at AskNoah.org (we’ve exchanged a few emails in the past), it seems important for the Jewish administration of the site to remain in control of when, where, and how Noahides understand their role and operate within the Noahide framework. On the other hand, how different is that from when James and the Jerusalem Council were debating and establishing “halachah” in relation to the non-Jewish disciples of the Master as they entered “the Way” in droves? You certainly wouldn’t want a bunch of recently pagan Gentiles starting to make rules and decisions about a wholly Jewish religious movement that uniquely allowed Gentile membership, would you (please detect the note of irony)?
But times have changed. Judaism and Christianity are now completely different religious movements. Only through Messianism (and arguably Hebrew/Jewish Roots) is there any degree of overlap and as we’ve seen in an endless stream of blogosphere debates, the overlap can be a sort of “demilitarized zone” where just about anything can happen.
In the days of James, Peter, John, and Paul, the Jerusalem Council was the final authority and the representatives of Messiah on Earth. Although Paul and James sometimes didn’t agree, Paul deferred to the Council since he was under authority, just as the Apostles were. That authority governed not only the Jewish disciples but the Gentiles as well. But no more.
Today, Chabad (at least as far as AskNoah.org is concerned) administers this area governing the Noahides and those Gentiles who claim that status are under their authority.
In Messianic Judaism and/or Hebrew/Jewish Roots, there is no single, central authority. Yes, there are some governing bodies in Messianic Judaism (to the best of my knowledge, they don’t exist in Hebrew Roots), but their influence is localized and different congregations/worship groups adhere to different “umbrella” authorities.
In (Protestant) Christianity we say our “authority” is Jesus or the Holy Spirit, but that lacks a certain “concreteness” that is normally provided by human beings. Those of us who attend a church or other congregation, submit to the authority of the Pastor and board of directors or elders or deacons, but again, that’s pretty local. Of course, some denominations have a overseeing body that sets standards for their churches.
Who are we as non-Jewish disciples of the Jewish Messiah? What is our role relative to tikkun olam and as it is applied to the Jewish people, and in preparing the world for the Messiah’s return? Jordan Levy’s article has a pretty good answer but that answer might not “fit” everyone.
What do you think?