Moshiach Rabbeinu

rabbeinu1Believe it or not, this week’s message was not inspired by the fact that the Catholic Church has chosen a new Pope; it just offers a convenient contrast. As you probably know, there is, in their beliefs, a doctrine of papal infallibility. When the Pope teaches the rules, he is always right.

It is natural to assume that Judaism has something similar. This is especially true, given the Torah’s demand that we listen to the Rabbis and Judges, and not deviate “right or left” [Deut. 17:11] from what they say.

-Rabbi Yaakov Menken
“Everyone Makes Mistakes”
Commentary on Torah Portion Vayikra
Project Genesis

I’ve been hesitating about writing this particular “meditation” because it has the potential to be rather controversial. As part of my conversations with Pastor Randy, we’ve been discussing what is Torah? That’s an amazingly difficult question to answer. It’s not just the Five Books of Moses, and I believe that it should be at least the entire Tanakh (Old Testament). I believe a great deal of the New Testament and certainly the epistles of Paul should be considered midrash on Torah, specifically in relation to the teachings of Messiah.

As I’ve said before (and will say again when I publish “Four Questions, Part 4” tomorrow), Pastor Randy believes that the Torah is too difficult to observe perfectly and in fact, has always been too difficult to observe. This is pretty much what most of Christianity believes, and along with that, the church sees the primary purpose of Torah as always pointing to Jesus. Once Jesus came, the purpose of Torah expired and grace was substituted.

I don’t happen to believe this, and my understanding is that Jewish people, including those who are disciples of the Master, remain obligated to the Torah of Moses.

But I’m not here to talk about the Torah as such (I’ll do that tomorrow), but rather how it is applied through Rabbinic interpretation and authority. This is the really touchy part. As Rabbi Menken writes, there’s a tendency to view the sages in a manner similar to how Catholics view the Pope, as infallible and that all Rabbinic rulings are automatically correct. But is that really true? Rabbi Menken continues.

We see from this week’s reading, though, that this is definitely not the case. The Torah prescribes special atonement for when the High Priest, the King, or the Sanhedrin [Lev. 4: 13-21], the High Rabbinical Court, makes a mistake. In other words, the Torah highlights for us that it is possible for the Sanhedrin to be mistaken.

This is not about a small matter, either. The commentaries say that the mistake described here is one in which the Sanhedrin teaches that it is permitted to do something, and the Sanhedrin later realizes that the behavior is prohibited — so much so that a person committing the act deliberately would suffer the punishment of Kares, spiritual excision [the exact definition of this is disputed, but severe]. Even in matters of religious law, where the Sanhedrin’s supreme authority is undisputed — even there, they could make a mistake.

So why, then, does the Torah tell us to listen to them? They could, after all, be leading us in the wrong direction!

That is an extraordinarily good question. It’s also the question that comes to the minds of just about all Christians, including many people in the Hebrew Roots movement who believe that the Bible contains everything necessary for a Jew to observe Torah without relying on external interpretation or additional instructions.

Based upon a proof from a Baraisa, the Gemara had concluded that a lechi post is not valid if it is not recognizable from the inside, although it is visible from the outside. Yet, the Gemara proceeds to inform us that the halachah is that such a lechi is valid. Immediately, the Gemara asks, “We have disproven the validity of such a lechi, and yet the halachah rules that it is valid?!”

The Gemara continues to resolve this halachic conclusion, based upon yet another Baraisa which validates such a lechi.

This give and take, where the Gemara proves one point of view, and then immediately concludes the halachah according to the opposite opinion is relatively uncommon. A computer check reveals that it appears only five times in Shas (here, Kesuvos 41b-twice, Bava Kamma 15b-twice, Bava Metzia 22b).

Daf Yomi Digest
Distinctive Insight
“It is disproved – but yet it is the Halachah!”
Eruvin 10

That didn’t help. I admit, the complexities of Talmud escape me most of the time and yet religious Judaism in all of its variants, depends on these rulings, laws, and judgments for so very much.

My question is basic. Is literally every single ruling, judgment, halachah, and word of every sage everywhere across time valid and binding in religious Judiasm, or is it possible that at some point, the sages have gone too far?

Kapparot is a custom in which the sins of a person are symbolically transferred to a fowl. It is practiced by some Jews shortly before Yom Kippur. First, selections from Isaiah 11:9, Psalms 107:10, 14, and 17-21, and Job 33:23-24 are recited; then a rooster (for a male) or a hen (for a female) is held above the person’s head and swung in a circle three times, while the following is spoken: “This is my exchange, my substitute, my atonement; this rooster (or hen) shall go to its death, but I shall go to a good, long life, and to peace.” The hope is that the fowl, which is then donated to the poor for food, will take on any misfortune that might otherwise occur to the one who has taken part in the ritual, in punishment for his or her sins.

-Richard Schwartz, Ph.D.
“The Custom of Kapparot in the Jewish Tradition”
JewishVirtualLibrary.org

Solomons-TempleThe Torah, particularly the book of Leviticus, provides an extremely detailed description of the various sacrifices to be given at the Temple in Holy Jerusalem, and under what circumstances a Jew must present said-sacrifices. To the best of my knowledge, none of them involve the use of a chicken as described by the modern rite of kapparot. Dr. Schwartz details some of the Jewish objections to this practice.

Some Jewish leaders felt that people would misunderstand the significance of the ritual. The belief that the ceremony of kapparot can transfer a person’s sins to a bird, and that his or her sins would then be completely eradicated, is contrary to Jewish teachings. For, if the ritual could remove a person’s sins, what would be the need for Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement?

The Mishneh Brurah, an eminent contemporary commentary on Rabbi Joseph Caro’s classical codification of Jewish law, explains the significance of the ritual. Judaism stresses that a person can’t obtain purity from sin, and thus obtain higher levels of perfection, without repenting. Through God’s mercy, we are given the Divine gift of repentance, so that we might abandon our corrupt ways, thereby being spared from the death that we deserve for our violation of the Divine law. By substituting the death of a fowl, one will (hopefully) appreciate G-d’s mercy and be stirred to repentance. By no means, however, does the ritual and the slaughter of the bird eradicate one’s misdeeds, even though the bird is donated to the poor.

If a Jewish person is a disciple of the Master and has studied and accepted the teachings in the Apostolic Scriptures, he or she understands that this particular ritual is not meaningful or necessary. The sins of anyone, Jew or Gentile, who has accepted Jesus (Hebrew: Yeshua) as Savior, Lord, and Messiah, have been forgiven. He died, paying the price for our sin as the ultimate atonement, and when we repent (and we must repent) of our own sins, turning away from them, and turning to God, we are forgiven once and for all without the need for further sacrifices.

So how are we to reconcile the rulings of the sages in relation to the kapparot involving chickens during Yom Kippur and the reality of the Messiah? The better question is, how are Messianic Jews to reconcile this along with any other Jewish practices that seem to contradict the teachings and life of the Master?

The Messianic Jewish Rabbinical Council has established official halachah for its member synagogues and individual members, but that’s hardly a universal standard. On the other hand, how halachah is applied across the rest of the religious Jewish landscape is not entirely consistent either. For example, we can point to the radically extreme differences between how the Haridim vs. Reform Judaism live out Jewish lives they believe are consistent with observing Torah.

It’s obvious that Messianic Judaism has to make a few “adjustments” to how some of the Rabbinic rulings are applied, but even given that, are we to understand that all of the remaining body of Mishnah is fully correct and fully valid? If we accept that the Torah doesn’t change (and there are those who debate even that), can we accept that Jewish interpretation is adaptive and evolutionary across time and culture? I had a recent Facebook conversation that included the following:

There are enduring realities in the Torah…the Shema is one…The pursuit of Justice is another…however there are changes in the way Torah is embraced…David recognizes that G-d wants a contrite and broken heart, not burnt offerings (Psalm 51) Micah gives the same notion (Micah 6)…so there is an evolutionary understanding of the nature and character of G-d that takes place…

David is specific…”burnt offerings you do not desire”…but a contrite broken heart….quite removed from the harsh Levitical code of bloody sacrifices…and those scriptures reflect evolving understanding of the nature and character of G-d…Jesus in the John 8 narrative lays aside the penalty that the Torah prescribes and challenges the lack of personal holiness/integrity of the woman’s accusers…

Part of the problem is that we can “interpret” the Bible to mean just about anything. If we give the Rabbinic sages (or anyone) carte blanche to establish binding interpretations and halachah for their specific streams of Judaism, are they always consistent with God’s intent for the Jewish observance of Torah?

There’s no way to know for sure. Well, there’s one.

Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples, “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so do and observe whatever they tell you, but not the works they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger.

Matthew 23:1-4 (ESV)

phariseesEven as Jesus confirmed that the scribes and Pharisees did indeed have the authority to create binding halachah upon the Jewish people of his day (see the paper Matthew 23:2–4: Does Jesus Recognize the Authority of the Pharisses and Does He Endorse their Halakhah? (PDF) by Noel S. Rabbinowitz, JETS 46/3 (September 2003) 423-47 for details), he also criticized them for failing to follow their own rules. However, he didn’t agree with each and every one of their rulings.

Again he entered the synagogue, and a man was there with a withered hand. And they watched Jesus, to see whether he would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse him. And he said to the man with the withered hand, “Come here.” And he said to them, “Is it lawful on the Sabbath to do good or to do harm, to save life or to kill?” But they were silent. And he looked around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, and said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” He stretched it out, and his hand was restored.

Mark 3:1-5 (ESV)

Now when the Pharisees gathered to him, with some of the scribes who had come from Jerusalem, they saw that some of his disciples ate with hands that were defiled, that is, unwashed. (For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they wash their hands properly, holding to the tradition of the elders, and when they come from the marketplace, they do not eat unless they wash. And there are many other traditions that they observe, such as the washing of cups and pots and copper vessels and dining couches.) And the Pharisees and the scribes asked him, “Why do your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat with defiled hands?” And he said to them, “Well did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written,

“‘This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me;
in vain do they worship me,
teaching as doctrines the commandments of men.’

You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men.”

Mark 7:1-8 (ESV)

So what does all this mean?

  • There are some modern Jewish rituals and customs that contradict the reality of the risen Messiah.
  • Jewish ritual and tradition is not applied with universal consistency across all religious Jewish communities and across time.
  • Historically, Jesus affirmed the right of the ancient Pharisees and scribes to establish binding halachah for Jews.
  • Historically, Jesus refuted some of the halakhic rulings by the Pharisees and scribes and offered correction and criticism when necessary.
  • At least one modern Messianic Jewish body has offered an adaptation to Jewish halachah that is more consistent with the reality of the risen Messiah.

Oh. We know one more thing:

The nations will send their emissaries to the King Messiah, and the King Messiah will teach the world how to live in peace, and how to want to live in peace. Then, everyone in the world will enjoy eternal peace, for as long as this world will last. The great Rabbi, Rav Shlomoh Freifeld, of blessed memory, said in a talk he once gave that I attended that the Messiah will be a great teacher.

-from “What is the Messiah Supposed to Do”
BeingJewish.com

He will restore the religious court system of Israel and establish Jewish law as the law of the land (Jeremiah 33:15).

-from “Mashiach: The Messiah”
Judaism 101

It is my understanding that one of the things many Jewish people believe the Messiah will do is to teach Torah, to teach the correct interpretation of Torah and how it is to be lived out. According to BeingJewish.com, as we saw above, he will even teach the Gentiles peace.

So what am I getting at?

This is Rabbi Menken’s solution to understanding the puzzle.

One answer has to do with the power of unity. Different customs and practices are wonderful, but there has to be underlying agreement on “the basics.” One of the problems with calling different Chassidic groups “sects” is that a sect is “a dissenting or schismatic religious body.” Chassidic groups may be led by different Rebbes, but they don’t rewrite the rules. The disagreements of today are disagreements about shapes of branches on individual trees within a massive, unified forest.

And there is another answer, which requires still more humility. It is all well and good to say that everyone is fallible — but who is more likely to be making a mistake? The Torah gives leadership to people who dedicate themselves completely to Torah study, to learning the Torah’s “way of thinking.” Such people are inherently less biased by the latest news reports and the wise opinions of the chattering class, as we are. We recognize that it is much less likely that they will make a mistake, and that is why we trust their guidance.

torah-tree-of-lifeIs there a “unified forest” of Torah? I think there must be, otherwise there is nothing for Jews to observe except traditions (the shapes of branches on the individual trees); there is no root, no foundation, no sense of an absolute God who has core standards that are as unchanging as He is. Beyond a certain point, we can’t simply re-invent the Bible to fit our modern sensibilities so that they agree with whatever “politically correct” causes that may be popular this week, this month, or this year. If we did, our faith (and our God) would be no more consistent or eternal than the shifting viewpoints of a political party or social agenda.

Rabbi Maurice Lamm says in “What is Torah” published at Aish.com:

In fact, far from being enslaved by the law, Jews were enamored of it. We cannot take our leave of the subject of Torah without expressing this most characteristic sentiment of Jewish literature – the love of Torah.

You may ask: can a people “love” a law? Yet, that is the exquisite paradox inherent in the concept of Torah – it is respected and studied and feared, while it is loved and embraced and kissed. All at once. There is no good in this world – no ideal, no blessing, no perfection, no glory – unless it is associated with the law.

To Jews, the Torah is “light”; it is the “glory of the sons of man”; it is the energizing sap of life for “the dry bones” (Ezekiel 37:4) which symbolize the “people in whom there is not the sap of the commandment.”

To Jews, the law is mayim chayim, refreshing, life-restoring, living waters to Jews; the sweetness of honey and milk, the joy and strength of wine, and the healing power of oil. It is an “elixir of life” that brings healing to all.

In Acts 15, Peter called the Law a burden but in Acts 21, Paul defended his observance of the Law. We also see in that same chapter that many of the Jews in Messiah were zealous for the Law.

And God, through Moses, said this about the Torah.

“For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.”

Deuteronomy 30:11-14

I think that for the Jewish people, there is an “ideal” Torah, a Torah that God intends for His people Israel. As we’ve seen in the record of the Bible, all things being equal, human beings will mess up a free lunch. We take everything God gives us and turn it on its side, we fold, spindle, or mutilate it, drag it through the mud, drag it through our biases, prejudices, and personalities, drag it through our theologies, our doctrines, our translations, and eventually on the other side, we come out with some approximation of what God wants us to say, do, and be.

How close are all of our approximations to the desires of God, how near is our fidelity to the original? Opinions vary widely. It’s not that we are dishonest and it’s not that we don’t want to do His will as opposed to our will (most of the time, anyway), but we are human beings. Everything we are as flawed, mortal beings gets in the way of everything He is as a perfect, immortal God.

That’s where Messiah comes in. Being human and divine, he can provide (and has provided) the correct “interface” for us. He is a teacher. When he comes, whatever we’ve gotten wrong, he’ll help us understand correctly.

If there’s an answer to how the Law is infinitely accessible, and a delight, and a light, and to be loved by those who have received it from Him, that answer comes on the clouds with Messiah. God is a teacher.

16 thoughts on “Moshiach Rabbeinu”

  1. Greetings Charles. My short answer, if I understand the intent of your question correctly, is that the Law doesn’t save. It never did. What saved Abraham is what saved Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, David, and all of the other Jewish people who were faithful to God…faith. God gave the Jewish people the Torah and expected them to obey it, not because obeying the Law is “magic,” but because when God tells us to do something and we love Him, we do it.

    Jesus encapsulated the two greatest of the Torah commandments with his words in Mark 12:28-31. Verses 33 and 34 go on to say:

    And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions.

    Burnt offerings don’t save. Love and faith save. But if God asked the Jewish people to offer burnt offerings because of love and faith, then out of devotion, they would do it. But the offerings all by themselves don’t have any special power. Faith and acting out of faith is what matters.

    James, the brother of the Master, in his famous epistle, said that faith without action is dead. For the Jews, their love of God and love of neighbor was directly tied into their observance of Torah. Going back to Romans 2, Paul says that we Gentiles, when we do good, we show that we have the weightier matters of Torah written on our hearts, which is also loving God and loving our neighbor. In fact, we love God in many ways by loving our neighbor.

    My “morning meditation” tomorrow is much more focused on the Torah so you may get a clearer picture of my perspective then. This blog post addresses the history of Jewish interpretation of Torah and development of rituals, customs, and rites (halakhah) in the days since the destruction of Herod’s temple. There’s a terrific controversy in Christianity about how this is not a good thing and the usual criticisms about “Pharisees” and “Rabbinic Judaism” typically get brought up. I’m trying to discuss the relevancy of halakhah in Jewish life today, especially in the lives of Jews who are disciples of Jesus within a traditional Jewish worship and lifestyle context.

    My answer may not be what you expect, and I know that people won’t always agree with me, but these are incredibly important questions to address, especially since Jesus is coming back as the Jewish Messiah King who will rule from Jerusalem in Israel, which will be elevated to the head of all the nations. We Christians need to start getting our heads around that. It’s going to come as quite a shock for some folks.

  2. I agree with you wholeheartedly that salvation is by grace through faith, in the Father and in His Messiah, Yeshua. No one is righteous enough to earn their salvation on the merit of their own good deeds. In fact, the wages of sin is death, and all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God and have earned destruction, if anything.

    Having said that, however, repentance is essential component of salvation, as you have pointed out. We are forgiven when we repent, turning to God and from sin, by faith.

    I guess the question becomes, ‘What is repentance?’ and ‘Is repentance different for Jews and for Gentiles?’ ‘Are there different definitions, biblically speaking?’

    You often distinguish between Jews and Gentiles, but this is not consistent with the spirit of the Brit HaChadasha.

    Where does anyone ever lay out different definitions of love for Jews and Gentiles in the NT, for example, as you are doing? Where does Paul say, “weightier matters of Torah” in Romans 2?

    What does Paul say?

    ‘God shows no partially, but will judge Jews and Gentiles alike according to their deeds.’ (vv. 6-11)

    ‘Whoever sins without the Torah will be judged for it, and whoever sins with the Torah will be judged by the Torah. It is not the hearers of the Torah who are righteous before God, but the doers of the Torah who will be justified.’ (vv. 12-13)

    Sin is sin, whether you are a Jew or a Gentile. There is only one definition. ‘Sin is the transgression of the law. (1 John 3:4)’

    ‘Gentiles who do what the Torah says in spite of not having the written code, I.e. not having received it with Israel at Sinai, show the work of the Torah is written on their hearts.’ (vv. 14-16)

    ‘Those who are born into the covenant community of God who boast in the Torah while hypocritically breaking it are as uncircumcised before God.’ (vv. 17-25)

    ‘When those who are not by nature/inherently/born (Gk. physeos) circumcised, I.e. not Jewish, do what the Torah requires, they will ultimately judge those who are by birth circumcised, who have the Torah yet breaking it.’ (vv. 26-27)

    ‘Being Jewish is about more than just physical circumcision. It’s a matter of the heart. By the Spirit, not [MERELY] by the letter.’ (vv. 28-29)

    The new creation in Messiah is the one who keeps the commandments of God, by faith working through love. (Cf. Galatians 6:15, Galatians 5:6, 1 Corinthians 7:19)

    As John says,

    ‘By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome. For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. (1 John 5:2-4, ESV)’

  3. ‘Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.’
    – 1 John 2:4-6, ESV

    Or did Messiah Yeshua walk one way for Jews and another way for Gentiles?

  4. Repentance is repentance. I distinguish between Gentiles and Jewish believers based on the Sinai covenant but obedience to the Law is not the means to salvation. I never said that. “Weightier matters of the Law” I’m borrowing from Matthew 23:23 as an expression of the Torah mitzvot I believe all of humanity has or should have written on our heart, Jews and Gentiles alike.

    As far as vv. 6-11 is concerned, out of our faith, we have behavioral obligations. Consider Matthew 25:31-46. Yes, what we do matters. Also consider the epistle of James.

    I assume your plethora of quotes is meant to convince me that there is only “one law” for the Jew and Gentile. There is one God, one Shepherd, one Salvation. one Savior, but I have no intention of whitewashing Jewish people and turning them into Gentiles to fulfill a particular theology. Acts 15 and Acts 21 are clearly indicators that the expectations for the Gentile disciples relative to the Torah of Moses, are not identitcal to the Jewish people.

    I have more to say on the specifics of Torah in today’s morning mediation, which I’m just about to publish, Charles.

  5. Lest you misunderstand, James, I am Jewish, and I appreciate your efforts to protect us. I do not say that Jews should become Gentiles, and I do not say Gentiles should become Jews, but rather every person must be born again into the Kingdom of Heaven. We therefore become one new man in Messiah Yeshua, Jew and Gentile together—Israel. The Kingdom has a law. It is not different for one segment of the population or another. One citizen of Israel has the same obligations before God as another, whether Jew or Gentile. God shows no partiality, but in every nation whoever fears Him and does what is right is accepted with Him. The obligation is to keep the commandments of God by faith in the Son of God, working through love. All must not neglect the weightier matters of the Torah, and, also, whoever breaks on of the least of these commandments in the Law and the Prophets and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be great. Go, therefore, into all the world and make disciples of all nations teaching them to observe whatsoever I have commanded you. The obligation is not for Gentiles to take on all manner of Jewish tradition, but the Commandment of God. The obligation for Jews is likewise to the Commandment of God. I don’t say that tradition is inherently wrong. I don’t say Jewish people must leave their culture behind them. Sometimes tradition is beneficial, but let everyone who names the name of the Lord, Jew and Gentile alike, depart from iniquity, as defined by God in the Law and the Prophets and elucidated by Messiah Yeshua and his shlichim. Let everyone who believes in Yeshua receive the Torah on their hearts and in their minds so that may do it. Let us receive Ruach Elohim, so that we may be careful to keep His Way, to walk united in Messiah Yeshua, even as he walked.

  6. Charles, that was the best summary and I totally appreciate it, it sums up the truth in a nutshell, so to speak. May the truth go forth! Shalom

  7. As for Acts 15, this is not a set of different instructions for Gentiles. But salvation is by faith, for Jew and Gentile alike. We believe they will be saved the same way we will be saved. The Torah is not the yoke that we nor our fathers have been able to bear, but rather, specifically, the Torah “according the custom of Moshe.” So it is that Paul recalls his words to Peter in Galatians, that Peter did not live “like a Jew.” The followers of Messiah Yeshua inherently cannot submit to all of the traditions of Judaism. To do so would be to disobey the Master and the Commandment of God. In separating himself from the Gentiles, Peter was submitting to Jewish halachic rulings that are not in step with the gospel, and requiring Gentiles to do likewise. Gentiles should start with the four prohibitions in Acts 15—which people are cut off from Israel for breaking—so that they can join the assembly and learn the Commandment of God, which is read in every city every Sabbath. They do not need to become Jewish and submit to the Oral Torah, they simply need to have faith in God and His Mashiach and let obedience to the Commandment working through love be the expression of that faith.

  8. Wow. Now I know what it’s like to be tag teamed. 😉

    I suppose I could generate a lot of effort to try and refute the both of you, but that would take a lot of time and in the end, I wouldn’t convince you of anything, anyway. A whole lot of my blog posts provide the various nuts and bolts of what I believe and why. My recent Return to Jerusalem blog series peels Acts 15 like an onion and even then, I didn’t go as far as I could (For an even more detailed analysis of how Acts 15 “deconstructs” into an incredibly lengthy description of mitzvot for the non-Jewish believer, see Toby Janicki’s article The Gentile Believer’s Obligation to the Torah of Moses in Messiah Journal 109 pp 45-62).

    As for how you both interpret the Bible and define the Gentile believer’s obligations to God, please go ahead and follow your conscience (and Charles, since you’re Jewish, obeying the mitzvot is sort of a no-brainer in your case). Just don’t expect me to agree with your interpretation of scripture or to generate a back-and-forth debate that could last for several days in order to “defend” myself.

    Blessings on both of you.

  9. Not precisely a no-brainer, James, because my father is not Jewish, nor was I raised really keeping the Torah, but to some extent, though I lived worse than the world in most cases for many years. It is a no-brainer because it is clearly what Yeshua teaches. If I could come to faith and submission to God in my mid-twenties, if I can search for God and His will and apply myself to learn and to do what He requires, in spite of opposition in my own family, then anyone can, Jew or Gentile, though certainly there are advantages to being Jewish. We are not called to do what is easy or natural for us. We are called to the narrow Way, a Way which few people find. As the Master says, many will say in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and did many mighty works in your name, and I will say to them, depart from me you workers of lawlessness. I never knew you.’

  10. Charles, I’m delighted that you have come to faith in Yeshua as the Moshiach, the Son of God. I really am. From my point of view, you are also halachically Jewish since your mother is Jewish. Even if you never lived a religious Jewish life, you are still Jewish and unlike me, you were born into a covenant relationship with God (this is all my personal opinion for you are certainly free to disagree). That’s all I meant when I said “no brainer.” To me, if you’re Jewish, your first, best response is to learn the expectations of God for the inheritors of the Israelites at Sinai as an integral part of coming to faith in Moshiach.

    As for me, I don’t believe that being grafted in vis-a-vi Abraham and the New Covenant also makes me “grafted in” to Isaac, Jacob, the twelve tribes, Moses, Aaron, Joshua, David, and so forth. I actually wrote an eleven part blog post series (no, I don’t expect you to wade through all of that) just to try to come to grips with what the New Covenant is supposed to be, how it connects to the previous covenants God made with Israel and/or the rest of the world, and what that’s supposed to mean to me as a non-inheritor of the Israelites.

    I’ve come to a sort of peace about it all, which from your perspective, you are free to disregard. You are also perfectly free to believe as you will and to live your life of faith in accordance with your beliefs. I just reserve the right to live my life of faith by how I understand what God expects of me. I don’t expect any personal decision I’ve made to apply to you.

    That’s all.

  11. Forgive me, James, but that doesn’t sound very impartial. It sounds like maybe Peter should have instead said, ‘God does show partiality, and in every nation whoever fears Him and does what is right for his nation is accepted with Him.’ The fact is what is right is what God says is right, and on the love of God and the love of neighbour depend all these things that He has said. Love is love, whoever you are. ‘By this we know we love the children of God, when we love God and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments, and His commandments are not burdensome.’ Of course, if you’re not the High Priest, you are not to do what only the High Priest is instructed to do, but other than limited examples such as this, what is right is right for everyone. What is wrong is wrong for everyone. Or which commandments in the Torah do not apply to Gentiles in Messiah?

  12. For the sake of love, James. Because I perceive you are failing to connect important dots, and I hope that I might be of encouragement to you and others by bringing the Word to remembrance.

    ‘…contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.’
    – Yehudah (Jude) 1:3, ESV

  13. Actually Charles, I feel bad dumping all this in your lap. There’s no way for you to know that this is the umpteenth time I’ve had the identical conversation with someone on the whole “One Law” thing and especially with the assumption that I’m not connecting “important dots.”

    I actually was involved in “One Law” for over ten years but a series of events occurred (not the least of which is being intermarried) that made me start to examine my assumptions starting almost three years ago.Nearly two years ago, I came to a final conclusion and started my current blog out of that decision. In that time, I’ve had online discussion after discussion after discussion on the debate that you want to have with me today. Sorry to “go off” on you like this, but I just don’t want to rehash what for me is already “well-hashed” material.

    I don’t find “One Law” sustainable in terms of me personally, in terms of my Jewish wife and children, and in terms of the Bible. I know you want me to prove it to you, but I’ve written literally hundreds of blog posts on the subject. I don’t expect you to go through all of that, but how many times do I have to say the same thing in different ways?

    I appreciate that, from your point of view, you want to help me, but after a great deal of praying, reading, talking, emailing, blogging, and blog commenting, I really don’t think God’s plan for my life is for me to behave like an ersatz Jew. My wife is Jewish. That’s who she is. I’m not here to compete with her. I’m here to be a disciple of Jesus and to follow God’s plan for my life. You may disagree with how I interpret that and I realize that, but I believe I know who I am in relation to God. You are responsible for living your life in relationship to God as you understand it.

    Those two perceptions are not the same. God willing, Messiah will come soon and in our days and teach us all where we’ve made our mistakes and how we can do things better.

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