Introduction to Messianic Judaism: The Last and Greatest King

messiah-prayerThe Messiah precedes creation, precedes the nations, precedes the election of Israel, precedes the historical reality of the Jewish people. Apart from the Messiah these other realities would not be. They are because the Messiah first is, and because the Father wills them to be through the Messiah. The Messiah who is himself the gospel is before all. When he is born in the flesh as Jesus of Nazareth, and is “apocalypsed” in Israel, he comes to “his own” people (John 1:11). Before he belongs to this people, they belong to him. Because the messianic gospel is prior to all, the apostle Paul can declare that this gospel was announced beforehand (proeuengelisato) to Abraham (Gal 3:8) and that its content — blessing to the nations and resurrection from the dead (Rom 4) — was the same in the time of Abraham as it is in the time after the Messiah’s historical arrival, for the Messiah himself is that content.

-Douglas Harink
“Chapter 26: Jewish Priority, Election, and the Gospel” (pp 273-4)
Introduction to Messianic Judaism: Its Ecclesial Context and Biblical Foundations

Like yesterday’s morning meditation, I’m not sure I’m receiving this essay in the way the author intended. For much of the past week in the comments section of my blog posts, I’ve been trying to defend the primacy of the Messiah, of Jesus, above all things. If not for the coming of Jesus and his presence both in our world and in the Court of Heaven at the Father’s right hand, we non-Jewish believers would have no relationship with God at all, and certainly no avenue to salvation and the life of the world to come. We would still be “alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace… (Ephesians 2:12-13)

In debating Messiah with my friends and associates in the Hebrew Roots movement, we have been debating the avenues by which Gentiles are brought near to God. In the ancient days of Moses, a Gentile could become a resident alien among Israel but not a tribal member. They were aliens and foreigners, with no more rights than the widow or orphan. Only by intermarrying with a tribal member and having offspring would the third generation of their union be considered “Israel.”

But then, the Gentile distinctiveness of their line would vanish, fully assimilated and absorbed into Israel.

If that was the fullness of God’s plan, then all Gentiles who desired to join in the blessings of the covenants God made with Israel would have to join with Israel in the way of the Ger and their family line as people from the nations would cease to exist. There would be no way for the people of the nations to come and worship God and remain as people from among the nations. Only Israel would have the privilege. The rest of the world would be shut out.

But that was not God’s plan.

…hear in heaven your dwelling place and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to you, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and that they may know that this house that I have built is called by your name.

1 Kings 8:43

…and many nations shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

Micah 4:2

“Thus says the Lord of hosts: Peoples shall yet come, even the inhabitants of many cities. The inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the Lord and to seek the Lord of hosts; I myself am going.’ Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’”

Zechariah 8:20-23

I know you’ve read all that before and quite recently, but it bears repeating, if only to drive the point home that God has always had a plan for the Gentile to bow to Him and worship Him without becoming a citizen of national Israel.

The problem is, in Hebrew Roots, the Torah tends to precede the dominance and Kingship of Messiah. For many in Hebrew Roots, the Torah has become so central, so important, so vital in their practice, particularly the ceremonial portions of Torah, (wearing tzitzit, laying tefillin, keeping kosher, observing Shabbos), that Messiah has become eclipsed and overshadowed.
Simchat TorahTorah is the foundation of scripture to be sure, but is it greater than the living Word? In Jewish mysticism, the Torah was at creation and was required for creation, but we know, as Dr. Harink wrote, that Messiah preceded everything and is over everything including the Torah.

The priority of the gospel — that is, the priority of the Messiah — is also declared in the New Testament in respect to Israel’s Torah. In the Gospels Jesus displays an authority over the Torah that is noticed by all those who see his deeds and hear his words. That authority is nowhere more evident than in the familiar section of the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:21-48) where Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said…but I tell you…” The point here, as Jesus himself makes crystal clear, is not that his authority cancels (katalusai) the Torah and the Prophets; rather, Jesus by his own authority fulfills (plerosai) the Torah and Prophets (Matt 5:17). By his authority he authorizes their ongoing authority in Israel until “all is accomplished” (Matt 5:18), that is, until the messianic age arrives in fullness. But it is just as clear in the Gospels that the authority of the torah and the Prophets is subordinate to and dependent upon the authority of the Messiah as the Lord, and that their authority consists in their being read in the light of, and as witness to, the singular, normative messianity that is enacted by Jesus of Nazareth in his life, death, and resurrection.

-Harick, pg 274

When I was in the Hebrew Roots movement, I was taught that the Torah was the written Word while the Messiah was the living Word. They were interchangeable and basically equal to one another. The human life of Messiah was the personification of Torah in the flesh.

However, as we see from Harick, the Messiah must be in harmony with the Torah but ultimately, the Messiah must be King over all, including the Torah. We must worship Messiah, not Torah. We must bow to the King, not his scrolls.

This is not to say that the Torah becomes meaningless for Israel. Quite the contrary.

To observe Torah, then, is not primarily or essentially to “obey the rules”; it is, rather, to participate through concrete bodily practices in the very goodness and order and beauty of creation brought about by God through preexistent Wisdom and revealed to Israel in Torah.

-ibid, pg 275

We all observe Torah and participate in goodness, order, and beauty, Jew and Gentile believers alike, however, we do so in ways that illuminate and distinguish the Israel of God and the people of the nations who are called by God’s Name. Really, only a tiny fraction of the mitzvot are reserved to Israel alone. In most circumstances, Jewish and Gentile believers share equal responsibilities to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, comfort the widow, and to honor God in worship and prayer.

Woman in the darkBut above all the mitzvot is the one who is greater than the mitzvot, that is, King Messiah, Son of David. If he had not come and done a new thing in the world, we among the nations would be left out in the dark, locked out of the Kingdom, gnashing our teeth, shivering in the cold, and awaiting certain destruction.

We elevate Torah over the King at our own peril and we all should know that the Torah has never been greater than Messiah, for only faith in Messiah can save. Only the Messiah can reunify what has been separated, and only he can bring final peace in the world.

His messianic mission to the nations is for the sake of Israel; his solidarity with Israel is for the sake of the nations (Rom 11:11-12). The mystery of the gospel is messianic peace between Israel and the nations, a peace that is even now, in the single messianic “day” that reaches from the Messiah’s arrival in suffering to his arrival in glory…

…Jews and Gentiles together in the messianic theopolitical reality called the ekkesia — where Jews as Jews practice Torah, the telos of which is given in the Messiah, and Gentiles as Gentiles work out their own salvation in fear and trembling in the Messiah…

-ibid, pg 279

I suppose it’s only fitting that I end the last review at the end of the David Rudolph and Joel Willitts book with the conclusion written by Joel Willitts. We saw how David Rudolph began the book with is personal story and an exercise in wholeness, as I called it.

Willitts describes himself as an “outsider” to the Messianic Jewish movement while also maintaining close ties to this community, especially through his close friendship with David Rudolph, forged in their days as doctorate students at Cambridge.

It is because of our friendship and my continued interest in the Jewish context of the New Testament that the present book has emerged. It’s two parts neatly paralleled my relationship with David and his community on the one hand, and my passion for reading the New Testament and its message in more thoroughly Jewish ways on the other.

-Joel Willitts
“Conclusion” (pg 316)

Christians typically have no problem keeping Christ as the head of everything, the King above all Kings, and conversely subordinating the Torah way too far below where it needs to be and Israel along with it. In some ways, it’s Gentile Christians like Dr. Willitts who are the bridge between two worlds. As Messianic Judaism is the linkage between Messiah and the larger Jewish community, Gentile Christians with a passion for the “Jewish New Testament” connect that passion back into the church.

Mark is an intelligent guy without formal theological training. He is a mature Christian and intellectually curious. Mark asked me what I was writing and I mentioned this book. He had heard of Messianic Judaism before, but like most Gentile Christians he knew nothing about it. So I began to describe what the book was about. After giving Mark the big picture, he asked the million-dollar question, “So what is its significance to our church?” Mark’s “our church” is my church; it is a larger seeker-sensitive suburban Chicago upper-middle-class church full of Gentile Christians…What a great question.

-ibid, pg 317

It is a great question. It’s a terrific question.

unityAs I imagined Willitts and his friend Mark talking about “Introduction to Messianic Judaism” at their church and discussing what it all means to their church, I thought back to my weekly conversations with Pastor Randy in his office and the significance of those talks to our church. I also thought back to Boaz Michael’s book Tent of David, and I saw that the latter part of the Rudolph/Willitts book (part 1, Chapters 1-12, was written largely by Jewish authors and Part 2, chapters 13 through the end, was written by mostly Christian scholars) and the focus of Michael’s TOD book were virtually the same.

“So what is its significance to our church?”

I don’t want to simply replicate all of the answers Willitts provides, but as you might imagine, the purpose of Introduction for Christians is to do what it has done for me. It informs its Christian audience of what Messianic Judaism looks like on the inside, letting us hear the voices of Messianic Jews tell their story and how they understand the Bible.

It also opens the doorway to a post-supersessionist church, a topic near and dear to my heart, whereby Christians can see and enter into a world of believing Jews and Gentiles who work together, worship together, and love God together, without either side having to surrender the specialness and unique calling God has provided for each branch within the ekklesia of Messiah.

Willitts also discusses the reimaging of church planting and missions using an Israel-centered interpretation of the New Testament, reminds Gentile Christians that we are the branch, not the root, and makes us aware of our responsibilities to the individual and communal requirements of the needy, the poor, the sick and injured among Messiah’s people Israel, and particularly among those who are disciples of Christ.

Willitts ends the book with his personal translation of Galatians 6:16:

Peace on them, and mercy also on the Israel of God.

I hope this series of reviews of David Rudolph’s and Joel Willitts’ book “Introduction to Messianic Judaism” has spoken to you on some level, whether you are Jewish or Gentile. I hope that you can see their intent was to build a bridge between our different worlds. For nearly two thousand years, the Jewish people and Gentile Christianity have traced divergent trajectories across the plane of human history, but God has always planned to bring all people to Him through Messiah Yeshua, Christ Jesus.

This can and will be done without requiring the Jewish people to surrender their Torah, their Talmud, their lifestyles and their shalom as Jews. This can and will be done without requiring all of the people from all of the other nations of the earth to acquire a lifestyle, a culture, a language that is Jewish, without converting to Judaism, and without being told that not being Jewish and not living the lifestyle and observing the mitzvot of the Jewish people somehow makes them…makes us second-class citizens in the Kingdom of God and in the world to come.

We can all be exactly who God created us to be and we can all be delighted that God made us the way He did. The Jewish person is no more loved by God than the Gentile Christian and the Gentile Christian is no more loved by God than the Jewish person. We are all one in Messiah, two unique streams of people within a single Messianic body, bringing infinite diversity in infinite combinations to the “feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 8:11) with the King of Israel as the King over all.

Deeper than the wisdom to create is the wisdom to repair. And so, G‑d built failure into His world, so that He could give Man His deepest wisdom: The wisdom to repair.

-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
“Repair”
Based on letters and talks of the Rebbe, Rabbi M. M. Schneerson
Chabad.org

Blessings.

149 days.

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21 thoughts on “Introduction to Messianic Judaism: The Last and Greatest King”

  1. James, when you refer to believing Jews are you limiting that to Messianic believing Jews, or all Jews who are believers in God?

    Are you saying that Jews with a sincere faith in God — but who do not acknowledge Jesus as Messiah, and may in fact actively oppose him as such, also have a place in the world to come?

    BTW: I finished the book. Thank you. Email me how you want it returned.

  2. Definitely some stuff in this article that I agreed with, and some stuff I’m hesitant to agree with. But just for my own understanding, you draw a pretty sharp distinction between “Israel” and “Gentiles” or “Israel” and “The Church,” because you hold to a bilateral ecclesiology — which we’ve debated/discussed before, and so it’s probably not profitable to go about debating again. But just for my own information, you said the following:

    // We all observe Torah and participate in goodness, order, and beauty, Jew and Gentile believers alike, however, we do so in ways that illuminate and distinguish the Israel of God and the people of the nations who are called by God’s Name. Really, only a tiny fraction of the mitzvot are reserved to Israel alone. //

    I’m genuinely curious, which verses from the NT lead you to believe that there are certain commandments for Israel, that non-Jewish believers shouldn’t be keeping? (Let’s leave circumcision out of it for a second, and agree to just disagree on that one) Specifically, where in the NT do you see that tzizyot are only reserved for “Israel” and not for “Gentiles”? And/or where do you see in the NT that the food laws are only reserved for “Israel” and not for “Gentiles”?

  3. Daniel said: James, when you refer to believing Jews are you limiting that to Messianic believing Jews, or all Jews who are believers in God?

    Relative to the context of the Rudolph/Willitts book, “believing Jews” are those who believe that Jesus (Yeshua) is the Messiah.

    In an ultimate sense, when we do not support Messiah, we fail to support God and thus oppose Him, even if we have faith in God the Father. It’s a dicey subject to address because the Jewish people have so many reasons *not* to have faith in the Christian Jesus and yet they have a deep and abiding faith in the God of Heaven. However, I can’t sanction a “two-path” plan to salvation.

    Frankly, I don’t know what to say about the Jewish people who have given their lives for the sake of God and yet have resisted “converting to Christianity” because of their faith in God. It seems too cheap to dismiss those Jewish people as “worldly” and “of the flesh” because they think the guy to whom they attribute all of the pogroms, persecutions, and inquisitions against the Jews cannot possibly be the Messiah.

    The answers are coming, but I don’t have them right now.

    Rob Roy said: I’m genuinely curious, which verses from the NT lead you to believe that there are certain commandments for Israel, that non-Jewish believers shouldn’t be keeping? (Let’s leave circumcision out of it for a second, and agree to just disagree on that one) Specifically, where in the NT do you see that tzizyot are only reserved for “Israel” and not for “Gentiles”? And/or where do you see in the NT that the food laws are only reserved for “Israel” and not for “Gentiles”?

    Thank you for commenting, Rob. I probably deeply offended Zion and Dan B. last week with some of my comments, so I wasn’t sure if anyone would come around for my final “Introduction to Messianic Judaism” review today.

    To answer your question, let’s start with a basic statement. The Torah and all of the mitzvot it contains was given to the Children of Israel, the actual descendents of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob at Mount Sinai by God through Moses.

    There is another statement that says Israel is meant to be a light to the world, to lead the rest of the nations to knowledge and faith in the God of Heaven.

    The quotes I included in today’s and yesterday’s “morning meditations” specifically define Israel and the nations as two separate entities and yet also define both entities as worshiping God in the Messianic age. At no time do these passage require the nations to cease being the nations and to merge into Israel as a condition of worshiping God.

    Everything, and I mean everything flows through Israel. Without Israel, there is no Gentile connection to God via the covenant blessings of Israel. Even Jesus said that “salvation comes from the Jews” (John 4:22).

    So when Jesus commanded his Jewish disciples to make disciples of the nations, on the one hand, this is part of the fulfillment of prophesy, but on the other hand, the mechanism wasn’t clear. We have some idea that at least some of the streams of Judaism (the Pharisees, whose belief system is closely related to that of “the Way”) made converts and then Jewish disciples from people of the nations, but it was not made explicit if this was the mechanism by which Messiah expected his Jewish disciples to make Gentile disciple.

    Except we know from prophesy that the whole earth will worship God, not just Israel, so by definition, it must mean that the whole earth does not, and indeed cannot become Israel as a condition of fulfilling prophesy and fulfilling the Messiah’s command.

    It is a given that the Jewish apostles and disciples did not see them having to give up being Jewish, being Israel, or observing the Torah according to the commandments and traditions in order to be Jewish apostles and disciples of the Messiah.

    But what about the Gentiles? What mechanism should be used to bring them in? Convert or don’t convert?

    Acts 10 and Cornelius was the original “template” for Gentiles being able to receive the Holy Spirit without having to be circumcised, the act that defines a Jewish (male) person as a Jew on the eighth day or life or when converting to Judaism.

    Acts 15 formalizes the halachah for the Gentiles stating that they don’t have to be circumcized and to formally convert to Judaism (becoming Israel) in order to receive the Holy Spirit, receive salvation, and enter into the Kingdom of Heaven as “resident aliens” of Israel.

    Your question assumes that all Gentiles who come to Messiah automatically take up a completely Jewish identity via the mitzvot but that’s not the assumption the Apostles made. It would have been unthinkable for them to make such an assumption unless the Gentile was converting to Judaism. So what did the Gentile have to do to distinguish themselves from the pagans? The short answer is in the four apostolic decrees. The much longer answer is in what we find when those decrees are “unpackaged.”

    I don’t have the details of that “unpackaging” right in front of me, but Toby Janicki did a pretty good job of it in his article, “A Gentile Believer’s Obligation to the Torah” in Messiah Journal issue 109.

    My answer is that we can’t assume that the Jewish apostles automatically expected that the Gentiles would either immediately or eventually take on an identical responsibility to the Torah with the Jewish people. In fact, Acts 15 illustrates that they didn’t make that assumption. It certainly wasn’t obvious that this was the lifestyle the Gentiles would assume. Yes, we were and are expected to learn Torah, but to what end…to assume the lifestyle of the Jew, or to learn the different between right and wrong and to live a holy life of worshiping God as distinguished from pagan worship or atheism?

    Assume no Torah obligation unless it is stated. It isn’t stated that the Gentiles ever became indistinguishable from the Jews in the NT. If it isn’t stated why assume it? What is stated is very straightforward: to love God with all our resources, and to love our neighbor (everyone else) as we love ourselves. That doesn’t presuppose wearing tzitzit or laying tefillin. I know that other historical research published by FFOZ cites examples of Gentiles buying kosher meat, and I believe there is one record of the slave of a Jew being permitted to lay tefillin in prayer, but again, we don’t see the obligation.

    Show me an example of a Gentile believer in Jesus in the New Testament that could not be distinguished from a Jew in his/her religious behavior. I don’t believe you can find one.

    I’m not trying to be cranky or mean, but I really, really don’t see that I’m supposed to imitate Jewish people in my worship of God and my kindness to other human beings to the point where I become absolutely indistinguishable from Jewish people.

  4. Woah James. I thought we were putting the “Bilateral Ecclesiology” issue to rest? At least, I personally am putting it to rest, seeing as I don’t have the time or desire to engage in a lengthy rebuttal of your analysis above. I’m happy to agree to disagree on the issue of bilateral ecclesiology.

    I did think it was interesting that when I asked you which verses in the NT support your belief that certain commands (ex. tzizyot, the food laws, and I assume the 7th day Sabbath) are “reserved for Israel alone” you didn’t appeal to any of the traditional passages that a Christian might cite on these issues. Are you in agreement then, with the rest of “One-Torah” believers, that the Torah’s instructions aren’t abrogated for Jews or non-Jews in passages like Mark 7, Acts 10, Romans 14, Colossians 2, etc?

  5. It’s difficult to answer your question without invoking a lot of information, so I’m sorry if I went overboard, Rob.

    I don’t know that I agree with the basic “One Torah” assumption that the 613 mitzvot are to be equally and identically applied to Jewish and Gentile believers if only because we have no illustration of that post-Acts 10 or Acts 15 in the New Testament. The question then is, how does the Torah apply to the non-Jewish disciples of the Jewish Messiah King?

    I can’t assume that all the Torah applies to Gentiles because there’s not only no indication of such, but there are indications of the opposite. I also don’t always have the time to look up and give a “lengthy rebuttal and analysis” of Mark 7, Acts 10, Romans 14, Colossians 2, etc, except to say there is no automatic interpretation of those scriptures that require Gentiles to become identical to Jews or to have the Torah applied in an identical way.

    It probably makes more sense to view Post Acts 10/15 Gentiles in the NT in terms of “zero-Torah” and then build from that point by observing what they did/didn’t do and then trying to draw conclusions about requirements from there. It won’t give a perfect picture by any means, but it might be more illuminating in the long run.

  6. // I also don’t always have the time to look up and give a “lengthy rebuttal and analysis” of Mark 7, Acts 10, Romans 14, Colossians 2, etc, except to say there is no automatic interpretation of those scriptures that require Gentiles to become identical to Jews or to have the Torah applied in an identical way. //

    I think you’re misunderstanding what I’m asking. The chapters I quoted above aren’t used to prove that Jews and non-Jews should be keeping the same commands. Rather, these chapters are used to argue that God abrogated certain aspects of the Torah for *both* Jews and non-Jews. Based on your blog post above, and previous posts, I get the sense that you believe the traditional understanding of these chapters is in error — that these chapters have been misunderstood and do not actually abrogate the Torah’s instructions for either Jews or non-Jews.

    I was just wondering if I was understanding you correctly.

  7. Rob, I have to admit that I’m getting the feeling you’re trying to lead me down the garden path, so to speak, and then spring something on me, so forgive me if I’m a little cautious. I also get the feeling I am continuing to misunderstand what you are asking and the intent behind it. Hopefully, you can clarify.

    You said: Rather, these chapters (Mark 7, Acts 10, Romans 14, Colossians 2, etc) are used to argue that God abrogated certain aspects of the Torah for *both* Jews and non-Jews…I get the sense that you believe the traditional understanding of these chapters is in error — that these chapters have been misunderstood and do not actually abrogate the Torah’s instructions for either Jews or non-Jews.

    This statement seems a tad awkward, since it assumes (again) that the original intent of Torah was that it be applied to both Jews and non-Jews. I don’t know that there is a good reason for God to have cancelled portions of the Torah for the Jews as a consequence of the arrival of Messiah. Why would you think otherwise?

  8. ;o) Not trying to lead you down the garden path of logic brother. Just trying to understand your take on these verses/chapters. I’m not asking you to exegete them. My intent was only to understand a little better why you hold to a bilateral ecclesiology, and based on your comments, it seems it has more to do with your particular understanding of Acts 15, and not all that much to do with the verses that Christianity has traditionally used to support the belief that Yeshua abrogated Torah observance.

    My curiosity is satisfied. See. No big “Gotcha!” moment. That’s not how I roll. ;o)

  9. For the sake of argument, I don’t believe that any of the scriptures you cited cancel the kosher laws for Jewish people (they all seem to deal with food and drink). In this case, I suppose I must concede and say that I agree with many Hebrew Roots followers that Jesus and Paul supported continued Jewish observance of the Torah, including kashrut. As far as Gentiles go, the closest thing we find prior to Acts 15 about God addressing Gentile food consumption is Genesis 9, specifically verses 3-5. If kashrut didn’t originally apply to the Gentiles but only to the Children of Israel and their descendants, then it could not be abrogated for non-Jews as it didn’t apply to us in the first place.

  10. Agreed with Rob Roy that there is much in this post that I agree with, and some that I’m hesitant on.

    Totally agree, Messiah, while being the Living Torah is sovereign over Torah. Torah is a manifestation of Him and as such, reveals the reality above/behind Torah. He is and always must be over all. (Not all Hebrew roots believe as you paint or are according to your experience. Admittedly, many over-correct, when getting out of the popish ‘Jesus’ ditch.)

    My question… You say, “In debating Messiah with my friends and associates in the Hebrew Roots movement, we have been debating the avenues by which Gentiles are brought near to God. In the ancient days of Moses, a Gentile could become a resident alien among Israel but not a tribal member. They were aliens and foreigners, with no more rights than the widow or orphan. Only by intermarrying with a tribal member and having offspring would the third generation of their union be considered “Israel.””

    And, you say, “To answer your question, let’s start with a basic statement. The Torah and all of the mitzvot it contains was given to the Children of Israel, the actual descendents of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob at Mount Sinai by God through Moses.”

    I am not sure this ‘third generation’ idea can be supported by Scripture. That sounds like oral tradition. In fact, there was a ‘mixed multitude’ at the base of Mt. Sinai at the giving of the Torah. No distinction was made. You even quote Paul in Ephesian 2:12-13 when he says, ‘NOW you have been brought near…’ Not some future even if we can go become a Ger, etc. ect…

    Understand, I don’t want to be a Jew. I don’t want Talmud and I don’t want to take anyone’s birthright.

    I DO want to ‘walk as He walked.’ In that, He walked Torah. He kept feasts, ate kosher, worshiped on Shabbat and wore tzitzits. The written Torah is all that I am responsible for. I suspect He walked many parts of the oral tradition, but I am NOT required to enter in to that…. THAT is where I believe the distinction is between Jew and grafted-in foreigner. Oral tradition.

    You mention another area you wrestle with that I also wrestle with… What of those who have a genuine deep belief in God, but do not know Messiah? Righteous men who walked Torah, even died for it, but never accepted Yeshua as Messiah? I’ve wrestled with the opposite side, What of my Godly father who, in ignorance, rejected Torah, but followed Jesus and walked righteously? I’ve come to equate the two positions as having half of the story and believing as best they could with what they had.

    Let me explain. The ‘Jesus’ presented by christendom is decidedly UN-Jewish and as such, SHOULD be rejected by Jews because that construct IS a false messiah. Likewise, christendom’s rejection and teaching of the abolishing of Torah is a FALSE teaching and many have walked that way in utter ignorance. Both processes set up a false denial of the other half of the truth.

    I have come to believe that our Father has allowed this for a period of time in order to bring greater glory to Himself in the end by binding these two sticks together so that neither is ‘right.’ Both arrive at the throne only through His grace and mercy and the big ‘reveal’ in the soon coming day, will leave both christians and Jews who come to fullness of knowledge (Messiah AND Torah) marveling at the wonders of our King! Romans 11:33-36!!

    Christians will forever be grateful to Judah for protecting Torah and Judah will be gratefull to Christians for taking Messiah to the ends of the earth. Both will acknowledge and appreciate the sacrifices of the other. Both will repent of their own blindness. The Father alone will be glorified.

    For those who have gone before who only had half the picture? I believe Abba is merciful.

    Sorry. I didn’t mean to write a book.

    Blessings.

  11. Pete Rambo said: I am not sure this ‘third generation’ idea can be supported by Scripture. That sounds like oral tradition.

    Nope. It’s in scripture:

    Do not despise an Edomite, for the Edomites are related to you. Do not despise an Egyptian, because you resided as foreigners in their country. The third generation of children born to them may enter the assembly of the Lord.

    Deuteronomy 23:7-8

    Pete said: …there was a ‘mixed multitude’ at the base of Mt. Sinai at the giving of the Torah. No distinction was made.

    Which would have made them Gerim and would explain all of the portions of Torah directing the Children of Israel not to oppress the widow, the orphan, and the stranger (Ger), since the Ger wasn’t granted full rights along with Israel and their offspring wouldn’t be considered Israelites until the third generation.

    Ephesian 2:12-13 doesn’t describe the ancient Ger. It’s a description of the Gentiles who have been brought near by their faith in Messiah, not because they stood at the foot at Mt. Sinai. If receiving the Torah was all it took to bring a Gentile to God right then and there, then Messiah would be redundant and even useless. This is why I struggle to support Jesus as the King and the focus of our lives as believers. We don’t have faith in the Torah, we have faith in Messiah…or our faith is in vain.

    I DO want to ‘walk as He walked.’ In that, He walked Torah. He kept feasts, ate kosher, worshiped on Shabbat and wore tzitzits.

    Was that the most important thing to the Messiah? What about feeding the hungry? What about clothing the naked?

    “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”

    Matthew 25:41-46

    Jesus isn’t condemning anyone for not wearing tzitzit, keeping the feasts, eating kosher, or worshiping on Shabbat. The Torah that was most important to him is as described above. Verses 31-40 of that same chapter describes who Messiah praises, and it’s not the Gentile who wears tzitzit and doesn’t mow his lawn on Shabbos.

    I’m not saying that observing the Shabbat is a bad thing or that it’s wrong for a Gentile to keep Lev. 11 “kosher” (it’s more complicated than that, of course), but if we think that displaying the specific behaviors that make us look “Jewish” to the rest of the world is what pleases him the most, we’ve got a problem, since we are ignoring most of what the Torah actually says (and I won’t even get into how it’s probably impossible to observe only the “written Torah” without accessing at least some of the Talmud).

    You mention another area you wrestle with that I also wrestle with… What of those who have a genuine deep belief in God, but do not know Messiah? Righteous men who walked Torah, even died for it, but never accepted Yeshua as Messiah? I’ve wrestled with the opposite side, What of my Godly father who, in ignorance, rejected Torah, but followed Jesus and walked righteously? I’ve come to equate the two positions as having half of the story and believing as best they could with what they had.

    This is a tough area and although I mention it from time to time, I can hardly render a decision about how all this works from God’s perspective. I do know that God is just and He is merciful and His understanding surpasses ours well beyond our imagination, so it is in His hands. I don’t have to have all the answers.

    We are going to disagree about what it is for a Gentile believer to “follow the Torah.” In my understanding, we already follow most of it, even if we’ve never even heard of a tallit or tefillin. To me, if a Christian has never heard the word “Torah” but has a heart for God and out of that, displays chesed to his or her neighbor and even strangers, gives charity to the needy, feeds the homeless, shows compassion to the grieving, visits the sick in the hospital and the lonely elderly in retirement homes, they are doing more “Torah” than most people and indeed, are pleasing to Messiah.

    Sorry about writing another book.

    Blessings.

  12. “Do not despise an Edomite, for the Edomites are related to you. Do not despise an Egyptian, because you resided as foreigners in their country. The third generation of children born to them may enter the assembly of the Lord.

    -Deuteronomy 23:7-8

    Check it out a gain James. It speaks of Israel residing as foreigners in THEIR country. It does not describe any ritual of conversion….

  13. Dan, I wasn’t describing conversion as such since you can’t convert to a tribe. However, it does say that the third generation of the Edomite and Egyptian [who are living among Israel] may enter the assembly of the Lord [be considered Israelites]. This probably occurred through intermarriage and while their fathers and grandfathers would not have had full rights within Israel, this third-generation would. The principle is based on Israel living as foreigners in other countries but the principle is the basis used for integrating non-Israelites into Israel.

  14. James, So if they were living in other countries for more than 3 years they were still be counting as Israel, right? Thanks for accepting the OL stance…..

  15. Three years isn’t three generations, Dan. Grandpa Gentile and Dad Gentile were not considered “Israel” but “resident aliens.” Grandson was accepted into the “assembly of the Lord” and the consequence is that Grandson was totally cut off from being a non-Israelite and his descendants totally assimilated into Israel. That’s not how “One Law” sees the status of the Gentile Hebrew Roots person since that person (as I understands it) retains their identity as a Gentile. Even in One Law, the Gentile believer doesn’t actually become Jewish, as you well know.

  16. I meant 3 generations…Bad morning… The Passage also speak of “entering the assembly of the Lord.” Do you think that the assembly of the Lord is comprised only of Jews?

  17. I think, given the historical and tribal context of Deuteronomy 23, it was talking about the Children of Israel. We can’t lift that out of the time of Moses and just plunk it down into the time of Paul or later without introducing a lot of anachronism.

    Sorry you’re having a bad morning, Dan.

  18. “I think, given the historical and tribal context of Deuteronomy 23, it was talking about the Children of Israel. We can’t lift that out of the time of Moses and just plunk it down into the time of Paul or later without introducing a lot of anachronism.”

    This is inaccurate, James, since the covenant community changed from its inception. The first covenant community was Abrahams household. I believe, thinking in terms of Jew-Gentile is anachronistic. We need to incorporate to the discussion the term “covenant member.” I don’t think, you, being a gentile will think of yourself as outside the covenant.

  19. OK, Dan. The third generation from the original Ger would have been able to enter the assembly of the Lord, that is, Israel. That third generation and beyond would have been full covenant members with Israel as Israel. They were no longer Gentile. The original Ger was not Israel but a “resident alien” who met certain requirements in order to be a resident alien. They were not to enter into “the assembly of the Lord.” It would be like me gaining resident alien status in Israel on a work Visa or because I am married to a Jewish wife who made aliyah. My resident alien status wouldn’t make me an Israeli citizen and certainly wouldn’t make me a Jew. It would just mean I could legally live there.

    But as you say, the covenant community and how it all worked out “changed from its inception.” By the time of the Messiah’s appearance on earth and beyond, it became possible, through faith, for the Gentile to come near and be grafted in without becoming Israel and and without losing their distinction as a person from the nations (i.e. Gentile).

    You, as a Jewish person, can make aliyah to Israel. As a Jewish person, you have a right to be buried in a Jewish grave in Israel if you so desire (Heaven forbid you should expire, Dan). As a Gentile and even a disciple of Messiah (and especially because I’m a Christian), I have no such rights, so you and I are not identical units in that respect. We are identical in that we have equal access to God and to salvation and redemption thanks to our faith in Messiah.

    As far as my understanding of covenants and where I fit in, I spent six-months, a lot of reading, and eleven blog posts trying to figure out what it all meant from the foundation to building my model and I’ve managed to come to a sort of peace with the whole matter, though much of it still seems shrouded in mystery.

    In the meantime, I’ve reread Chapter 2 of Galatians in anticipation of my meeting with Pastor Randy tomorrow night and the sorts of questions I believe he’s going to ask about the “freedom” “we” (presumably the freedom Paul and the Jewish and Gentile believers in the “church” in Antioch had in Jesus Christ that differed from the rest of Judaism, at least according to the traditional Christian playbook) enjoyed in Messiah, so I’ll be twisting myself into a theological pretzel on the other side of the equation for 90 minutes of one-on-one dialogue.

  20. “OK, Dan. The third generation from the original Ger would have been able to enter the assembly of the Lord, that is, Israel. That third generation and beyond would have been full covenant members with Israel as Israel.”

    Just like you said: AS ISRAEL, not as Jewish…..Today, there are many non-Jews who live in Israel. THEY ARE GENTILES. I only bring up anachronism, because you did….

    “The original Ger was not Israel but a “resident alien” who met certain requirements in order to be a resident alien.”

    What requirements did the “resident alien” Israel in Egypt had to meet?

    “But as you say, the covenant community and how it all worked out “changed from its inception.” By the time of the Messiah’s appearance on earth and beyond, it became possible, through faith, for the Gentile to come near and be grafted in without becoming Israel and and without losing their distinction as a person from the nations (i.e. Gentile).”

    The slaves and strangers in Abraham”s household (The first covenant community) did not become members of his immediate family.

    Hope you have a good meeting with pastor.

  21. What requirements did the “resident alien” Israel in Egypt had to meet?

    The relevant question is what process did the Gentile who lived as an resident alien among the Children of Israel have to meet across a multi-generational time frame, and I believe the Torah answers that question rather well. But the process of a Gentile turning to God through the Jewish Messiah in the days of James, Paul, and Peter (and beyond) is different. No multi-generational requirement. Through faith, we Gentiles are accepted as who we are right now and are redeemed through Messiah by God.

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