How Will Christians Perfect The World?

mikdoshIn “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?
AskNoah.org

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

This “meditation” bridges my recent blog posts Provoking Zealousness and Practicing Messianic What? Now that I think about it, I’m sure Distinctions and Messiah and the Temple of God also factor in.

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)

rainbow-forestWhile 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 [1987])

“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.

up_to_jerusalemToday, 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?

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15 thoughts on “How Will Christians Perfect The World?”

  1. Only Torah keeping Jews can usher in the messianic age…therefore it means one must convert to Judaism (in the Biblical sense) which is what has always been done. A christian or any hybrid that believes G-d became a man and sacrificed himself to himself to atone for ones past, present and future sins is not true Judaism/Israel- so I believe in HaShem’s original plan – One G-d, One Torah and one people of many nations and races – B’H ushering in the messianic age then the world to come

  2. Greetings, Yael.

    Only Torah keeping Jews can usher in the messianic age…

    Actually, that’s what I was trying to say here, Yael, with the proviso that Christians are responsible to support and promote Torah observance among the Jewish people.

    …therefore it means one must convert to Judaism (in the Biblical sense) which is what has always been done.

    Not sure where you’re going with that one, I’m afraid. Can you elaborate what “convert to Judaism in a Biblical sense” means in contrast with how conversion is performed in the various modern Judaisms today?

    A christian or any hybrid that believes G-d became a man and sacrificed himself to himself to atone for ones past, present and future sins is not true Judaism/Israel…

    You might want to read Daniel Boyarin’s book The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ. While Boyarin, a Professor of Talmudic Culture at UC Berkeley, does not personally believe Jesus is the Messiah, his research supports why it is very credible to believe many Jews in the late Second Temple period not only believed Jesus was the Messiah, but was a divine figure and even the Son of God.

    I gather that you have a traditionally Jewish point of view toward Christianity and I’m OK with that, but given your wording and the fact that you’re posting a comment here, I believe you are not exactly the most traditional of Jews. Care to elaborate a little on your background?

    Thanks.

  3. “A christian or any hybrid that believes G-d became a man and sacrificed himself to himself to atone for ones past, present and future sins is not true Judaism/Israel”

    “Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you.”

  4. I am Jewish and married to a christian who now converted to Judaism (B’H) I mean convert to Judaism and be a Torah Jew…not one who beleives the Rebbes are holy etc…I do not care if one believes Yeshua or shneerson is the Messiah- as long as they do not believe theyare G-D. I follow MJ a little because I went to one for a year or two…but it is Christianity just the same. – Judaism is not just about matzo ball soup and black hats…HaShem gave us His holy Torah to connect to Him…Judaism is not centered around Moshiach – the Torah only speaks of him 2 times…therefore how can MJ/christianity be centered around him? It doesn’t make sense to me. I believe in Torah Judaism- I believe Rabbi Asher Meza explains it best – check him out 🙂 shalom
    Steven…drinking blood and all is very pagan…the G-D I serve never required a bllod sacrifice but obedience.
    James that is another thing I did not like about MJ…they said over and over that the Rabbis changed the law…blah blah blah…all through the Tanach HaShem showed us the way to Him…obedience to Torah and repentance. Plus all these “rabbis” who never went to Yeshiva, and a lot converted then they say Torah is for Jews not gentiles and all this other nonsense…it dosnt make sense

  5. I believe Rabbi Asher Meza explains it best – check him out.

    Thanks. I will, but it’ll have to be tomorrow. Gotta get to bed soon.

    I am Jewish and married to a christian who now converted to Judaism (B’H) I mean convert to Judaism and be a Torah Jew…not one who beleives the Rebbes are holy etc…

    James that is another thing I did not like about MJ…they said over and over that the Rabbis changed the law…blah blah blah…all through the Tanach HaShem showed us the way to Him…obedience to Torah and repentance.

    That’s a complicated subject within Messianic Judaism. Interestingly enough, it was part of what I talked about with the Pastor of my church earlier this evening, and there are different opinions about “Rabbinics” within the MJ (as opposed to Hebrew Roots and its variants) framework.

    I’m a Christian married to a Jew (but I’m not going to convert to Judaism), so I guess we have (sort of) something in common. She’s not “Messianic” so things can be interesting at times.

    Is the Torah for Gentiles, Yael? Another of this evening’s topics of conversation.

    Time for bed. Good night.

  6. Yael, I’m not going to jump down your throat. 🙂

    I find it very interesting what you say “HaShem gave us His holy Torah to connect to Him” but that same Torah (book of the law) is used as a testimony AGAINST Israel. Is that hateful to point it out? I don’t mean to be hateful I actually DO believe what Moses said after he wrote down the law and command it be placed in the side of the Ark.
    :
    “That Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying,

    Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.

    For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the Lord; and how much more after my death?

    Gather unto me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears, and call heaven and earth to record against them.

    For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days; because ye will do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands.

    And Moses spake in the ears of all the congregation of Israel the words of this song, until they were ended.”

    If Israel believes and follows the Torah, it is aware of the prophecy that in the latter days Israel would “utterly corrupt” themselves and provoke G-d to anger and will bring evil upon themselves.
    I understand it is not the portion of the Torah Israel likes to hear along with the portion about the curses that come following such disobedience. But, such is the Torah! Shalom

    Blessing and cursing, life and death. Choose life….found only in Messiah Yeshua. Can’t apologize for G-d, his message, or his son. Just Can’t!!!

  7. Hashem said i set before you life or death…life was found in His Torah. Please tell me where in the TORAH it says Moshiach will save us from our sins, or give us eternal life.
    James, I believe Torah is for all who wish to follow the G-D of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. those who choose to do that become Israel. I believe the majority of Jews except Joseph Telushkin, Dennis Prager and Rabbi Asher Meza (those are who I know) are going against Torah by NOT being a real light unto the Nations and teaching/showing the way of the one tru Monotheistic religon of Judaism. We were not chosen but appointed to take on this task. I do not ascribe (nor does Hashem) to the notion that you are a Jew no matter what you believe and if you follow Torah or not. Or that the Jewish soul is more elevated than the gentile one (from the Tanya) This goes against the Torah and everything that the Rambam taught. the Torah and the 13 principles of Judaism are my foundation.

  8. OK Yael, I was able to locate something on the web that seems to present Rabbi Meza’s position.

    There are certain problems with this understanding, at least from my point of view, because it requires that everyone who isn’t Jewish to convert to Judaism in order to be considered righteous. As I’m sure you know, this is a minority position in Judaism and usually non-Jews are discouraged from converting (for a lot of historical reasons). From a more traditional Jewish perspective (again, you know all this, but there are people who are reading these comments who don’t), it is believed that non-Jews are considered righteous if they obey the 7 Noahide Laws. From a Christian point of view, anyone is considered righteous when they come to faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior, regardless of being Jew or Gentile.

    Do Joseph Telushkin and Dennis Prager support universal Gentile conversion to Judaism? I hadn’t heard that.

    This is going to be one of those “agree to disagree” situations, since my faith cannot support abandoning Jesus and converting to Judaism (and as a personal aside, my wife, who is Jewish, says that she can’t see how conversion to Judaism would be effective in such a small town as our’s, since there isn’t a large enough Jewish community to adequately support a convert).

    It is also true that not all Gentiles who encountered the God of Israel and acknowledged Him as God converted to Judaism. Consider Naaman, the great general of Aram as we see him in 2 Kings 5:

    Then he returned to the man of God, he and all his company, and he came and stood before him. And he said, “Behold, I know that there is no God in all the earth but in Israel; so accept now a present from your servant.” But he said, “As the Lord lives, before whom I stand, I will receive none.” And he urged him to take it, but he refused. Then Naaman said, “If not, please let there be given to your servant two mule loads of earth, for from now on your servant will not offer burnt offering or sacrifice to any god but the Lord. In this matter may the Lord pardon your servant: when my master goes into the house of Rimmon to worship there, leaning on my arm, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, when I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon your servant in this matter.” He said to him, “Go in peace.”

    2 Kings 5:15-19 (ESV)

    I have no idea what happened to Naaman after that, but if he retained the knowledge that the God of Israel is the only God for the rest of his life, who’s to say that his faith was not counted to him as righteousness?

  9. I believe he teaches keeping the Torah makes you righteous not just conversion. And everyone is entilted to have faith in whatever they want. I encourage and even dare to watch his you tube videos on who is Jewish, Living a Lie, and Messianic Jews. Let me know what you think

  10. I believe he teaches keeping the Torah makes you righteous not just conversion.

    I guess I’m guilty of not stating a complete thought. Yes, the idea is that if a Gentile converts to Judaism, that person would be keeping the Torah.

    I may or may not get to watching the videos you suggest as time allows, but in a very personal sense, when I want to know who is Jewish, I look at my wife and children. When I want to see someone who isn’t Jewish, I look in the mirror.

  11. I’ll let the link stand (actually, it’s not an active link but can be copied and pasted into a web browser’s address bar) since it abundantly describes where you’re coming from.

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