Sunset over Greek Church

What Galatians Means to Christians Today

Some men came down from Judea and began teaching the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.”

Acts 15:1 (NASB)

Also, in the eyes of most Jews, the statement of Acts 15:1 seemed incredibly obvious. One does not come to Hashem except through Judaism.

-from Book Review: The Irony of Galatians

Even after I publish a particular blog post, I tend to obsess over it a little bit, searching for typos, finding a sentence that could be improved, that sort of thing. I try to do all this editing beforehand, but sometimes things slip by.

That includes the above-quoted statement. Today, religious Judaism is adamant that of the three monotheistic faiths in existence, they do not require others to convert to their religion in order to merit a place in the world to come. You can be a righteous Gentile and in obedience to the Noahide laws, you can have a place in the coming Kingdom. No need to actually convert to Judaism at all.

I realized that even in the days of the Apostle Paul, this was also true in some sense. It’s been suggested that some version or variation of what we call the “Noahide laws” today existed back then and was the operational guide for God-fearing Gentiles who populated the diaspora synagogues alongside the Jews and proselytes.

But I can only imagine that being a first-century God-fearer and seeing the awesome beauty of the Torah, watching Jewish men davening in a minyan, experiencing the joy of just hearing the prayers in Hebrew, contemplating the amazing link that each Jewish person had to thousands of years of the history of God’s interaction with Israel all the way back to Moses must have been an incredible lure. How many God-fearing Gentiles in response to their time in the synagogue started down the road of the proselyte ritual that culminated in converting to Judaism, so that they could say “My Fathers” rather than “their Fathers?”

I’ve been looking at Mark Nanos’ book The Irony of Galatians as it impacts my view of the actual epistle written by Paul and its intent toward the believing populations in the area of Galatia in that day. But what impact does it have on Gentile believers who worship among Jews today?

I’m specifically thinking of Messianic Jewish congregations, those few of which I’m aware that are “owned and operated” so to speak, by halakhic and observant Jewish people who are disciples of Yeshua as Messiah. What is it like to be a Gentile, a fully equal co-participant in Jewish worship and community life, and yet not to be Jewish?

For that matter, what is it like to be a Gentile believer in one of the variations of Hebrew Roots community life, be attracted to Jewish practice and the Torah, but find that the vast majority of people around you only have a so-so understanding of what that means and especially how to properly practice a Judaism (this isn’t absolutely true of all Hebrew Roots groups, but it is true of the majority of those I’ve personally experienced)?

A non-trivial percentage of those Gentiles have left either Messianic Judaism or Hebrew Roots and like some of the first century God-fearing Gentiles, proceeded with the proselyte ritual, usually within Orthodox Judaism, and converted to that identity and that faith.

They too have missed the warning that Paul was issuing to his Gentile addressees in his letter to the Galatians and allowed themselves to “desert Him who called them by the grace of Christ for a different gospel, which is really not another gospel at all.”

In a Jewish or Jewish-like worship venue, especially with the involvement of traditional Jewish worship, study, and community practices, it can be easy for some folks to confuse Judaism for faith.

That was the point of Paul saying in Galatians 2:3 that Titus, a Greek who came to faith in Yeshua, specifically wasn’t compelled to be circumcised (convert to Judaism). It’s why Paul cited Genesis 15:6 as recorded in Galatians 3:6 that it was by Abraham’s faith God reckoned to him as righteousness before Abraham was circumcised.

PaulAccording to most New Testament scholars, Paul likely wrote his letter to the Galatians before the events recorded in Acts 15 so it could appear that Paul was very much “shooting from the hip,” because the formal halakhic ruling regarding the legal status of Gentile Yeshua-believers within the Jewish worship and community context of “the Way” had not yet been issued. But Paul’s authority and assignment as the emissary to the Gentiles came directly from Messiah in a vision as we have preserved for us in Acts 9. If we can depend upon anyone to understand who the Gentiles were to be as worshipers of Messiah among the Jews, it is Paul.

His letter was a response to the confusion and dissonance that was occurring between believing Gentiles and non-believing Jews (this is according to Nanos in his “Irony” book) in the Jewish communities in the region of Galatia. The synagogue was the only proper setting for the new Gentile believers to learn Torah and thus begin to understand the teachings of the Master, and this decision was eventually confirmed in the words of Acts 15:21. But while being a Gentile God-fearer was most likely a reasonably well-defined role, being a Gentile believer of the Jewish Messiah was not, especially to those Jews who did not share in that faith and quite possibly for some who did (see Acts 15:1).

Several of D. Thomas Lancaster’s sermons in the Holy Epistle to the Hebrews series address a very simple message of the writer of Hebrews to his Jewish audience in Jerusalem. The message says to pay attention to what we have learned and not to drift away from our faith in Messiah, lest we grow cold in faith and distant from the lover of our souls. That distance can make us mistake who really loves us and like the addressees of Paul’s letter to the Galatians, we may think Judaism is our goal rather than Messiah, the living Word of God.

The traditional Christian interpretation of Galatians (I know I’m over-simplifying it) is that Paul was attempting to convince both believing Gentiles and believing Jews that the “Law was dead” and replaced for everybody by only faith in Christ Jesus, inventing a new identity in the Jewish Messiah for one and all, and eliminating Jewish identity for Jews entirely. That’s very much like throwing out the baby with the bath water.

Looking at the letter as Nanos sees it, it’s a cautionary tale specifically to the Gentiles not to confuse Jewish Torah observance and community life for the practices that accompany a Gentile faith in Messiah. Yes, many of the blessings and observances are identical for Jewish and Gentile disciples of the Master, but the identities are not. This is a warning we can heed today, especially those of us who though not Jews are still attracted to Jewish studies, the Torah, the Talmud, and the wisdom of the sages.

The main reason Nanos wrote his book was to publicize an apprehension of Paul’s “voice” that did not give rise to anti-Jewish, anti-Judaism, and anti-Torah sentiments, that enhanced the relationship between Christians and Jews rather than divide them, and in honor of all the Jewish people across the long centuries who have suffered and died because (directly and indirectly) of the historical and traditional interpretation of Paul’s letters by the Church.

Even as Nanos attempts to penetrate Christian history and tradition through scholarly means in order to contribute to righting many terrible wrongs, Boaz Michael, President and Founder of the educational ministry First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) approaches the same goal through a more “grassroots” method as he writes in his book Tent of David. This sends people back into the church with the same message, that we have been misreading Paul for a very long time and the result has been disastrous on an epic scale.

leaving-the-churchWe can correct the course of history by the grace of God, but we need to be willing to change. We need to be willing to see Paul in a radically different way as compared to Church history and tradition. We need to grant ourselves the ability to set aside our long-held preconceptions about what the Bible is saying and we need to resist two things: the desire to stay “safe” by digging in our heels and not even considering that Christian interpretive traditions could be wrong and, for those Gentiles attracted to Judaism in some manner or fashion, to resist the desire to abandon the Church, Christianity, and even Christ and embrace a fully Jewish identity through conversion.

Neither option is correct. We cannot summon the Messianic future by holding on to an interpretive tradition that was born out of supersessionism and anti-Semitism, nor can we do so by exiting Christianity and the nations entirely and converting to Judaism as our only way of serving God.

I’ve referenced Rabbi David Rudolph in a number of blog posts including An Exercise in Wholeness, Twoness and Oneness: From Sermons by David Rudolph, and Oneness, Twoness and Three Converts to describe how observant Jews, particularly in the Messianic framework, and Christians, both within the Messianic community and in the local church need each other in order to fulfill prophesy and prepare the way for the return of the King.

In my opinion, no other avenue is going to work or is in accordance with the plan of God as we see, or as I see, in the Bible.

If you are a Gentile Christian in a church and you have an awareness of the Messianic plan as I often describe on this blog, you have an opportunity to help raise awareness among other Christians. It’s not easy as I can personally attest, and most of the time, people in the local church will not want to hear your/my message. Still, the effort must be made, for who can say that by starting the process, even if you don’t see its completion, that what you began was not effective?

If you are a Gentile believer in a Messianic Jewish or Hebrew Roots community, you do not have to apprehend Jewish identity in order to be an active and vital part of God’s plan. In fact, your Gentile identity is essential to bringing that plan to fruition. If the world was populated only with Jewish people (and that may seem attractive to many Jewish people), then the prophesies we have in our Bible about our role in bringing about the Messianic Age would be impossible to accomplish. Gentiles are absolutely needed, even as Jews are needed to be part of all that God said He would do.

jewish-prayer_daveningPaul didn’t go anywhere near what I’m saying in the Galatians letter, but as I continue to ponder this epistle and the book that Mark Nanos wrote about it, the implications are there. Paul was addressing Gentile believers existing and worshiping in a Jewish religious and community space. After a long absence, we are beginning to see that process and those relationships begin anew. The Apostolic Scriptures don’t paint a very plain portrait of how those relationships should work in an ideal manner. We only have examples of the struggle to find balance and harmony, which was probably never accomplished in Paul’s lifetime and which completely disintegrated in the decades and centuries after the Fall of Jerusalem.

Whether you are Jewish or Gentile, Messiah does not require that you give up who you are and become something you are not. Jewish believers make a mistake by “converting” to Christianity and assimilating into the Gentile mainstream because God never intended “the Church” to finish the job of eliminating the presence of Jews on our planet that Hitler’s Holocaust started (I know that sounds harsh, but that’s how some Jewish people see assimilation, especially into a normative Gentile Christian identity). Jewish believers serve God by retaining a lived Jewish identity, by observing the mitzvot, by davening with other Jews, by being who God made them to be.

Gentile believers make a mistake by thinking that being a member of the nations who are called by His Name means they/we aren’t good enough for God or somehow that status makes them/us insignificant in God’s plan. If you abandon your fellow Gentile believers and especially if you abandon Messiah and convert to Judaism, you defy one of the primary reasons for your existence. God has made all of the Jews He intends to make. For some few, conversion to Judaism may be valid, but for the majority of us, the only thing we’re trying to satisfy through conversion is our own desires or to smother feelings of inadequacy.

Only, as the Lord has assigned to each one, as God has called each, in this manner let him walk. And so I direct in all the churches. Was any man called when he was already circumcised? He is not to become uncircumcised. Has anyone been called in uncircumcision? He is not to be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but what matters is the keeping of the commandments of God. Each man must remain in that condition in which he was called.

Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; but if you are able also to become free, rather do that. For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord’s freedman; likewise he who was called while free, is Christ’s slave. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. Brethren, each one is to remain with God in that condition in which he was called.

1 Corinthians 7:17-24 (NASB)

Whoever you are, don’t give up who you are, because God created you and the roles you fill for a reason, even if you can’t see what that reason is right now. Paul may have written his letter to a group of people who lived halfway around the world two-thousand years ago, but in this case, I can perceive very clearly how his “ironic rebuke” is addressed to us today. Perhaps you can hear this message, too.

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22 thoughts on “What Galatians Means to Christians Today”

  1. Hi James!
    Your posts are always encouraging. I have a question for you. I have started leading a Torah study in my dorm with the intent of guiding fellow students to read the scriptures with a Hebraic understanding. My aim is NOT to make them all Torah observant.

    With that in mind, my question is: I have told a few of them that if they want to observe the finer parts of the law like Kosher or Sabbath, then it is something they should take on ONLY if they feel God calling them to it. I remind them that they are gentiles and are not obligated to following it.

    Is that the right approach? I’ve only had that conversation once or twice, and I’m bound to have more. I just want them to understand that I am not pressuring them to anything, and merely want them to understand the beauty of God’s word in its original context.

    Thanks! Shalom.
    Genevieve

  2. Hi Genevieve,

    That’s probably the approach I’d take if I were in your situation. There are a number of things that are important to remember. Although I believe that non-Jews are not obligated to observe the Shabbat or keep kosher, there’s really nothing stopping them/us, either. This isn’t to satisfy and obligatory service as such, but a way that a non-Jewish person can “go the extra mile,” so to speak, to honor God.

    There have been some Gentiles who have used their “Torah observance” as a way to elevate themselves or take a “holier than thou” approach to Christians who do not observe the same mitzvot, but that’s definitely the wrong attitude to have in performing any of the commandments. It has to do with one’s relationship with God, not looking “cool” to other people or satisfying your own wants or needs.

    The Torah doesn’t actually say how to keep Shabbat or Kosher. There are no details listed beyond a few small items that tell a person how to rest and remember the Shabbat, and there is no information at all about how to slaughter an animal in a kosher manner. For that reason, unless non-Jewish people choose to observe the Rabbinic rulings involved in these mitzvot, they probably won’t be keeping these commandments in a manner that would be “Jewish.” This isn’t a bad thing, because the idea isn’t to be more “Jewish,” the idea is to more fully turn our hearts to God.

    A word of caution. If a person has problems with their “normal” walk with God, some hidden sin or habitual problem in their lives, it might be worth it to start becoming more obedient to the will of that in *that* area first, and then work on anything “above and beyond.”

    We also forget that it’s just as much Torah to visit a sick friend in the hospital, donate cans of food to the hungry or clothes to the needy. Even picking up a piece of litter from the ground and putting it in the trash is Torah. Chances are, if you and your friends have already been leading lives with a focus on pleasing God and serving other people, you’ve been doing a lot of Torah already. You just don’t call it that.

    -James

  3. I think it is always worth mentioning, James, how many good, sensible Jewish folks see Messianic Judaism as a means of evangelization via a ruse; as a threat in the area of assimilation. As Gentiles, our behavior can do much harm if not handled with the utmost sensitivity toward our Jewish friends.

  4. Agreed, Dan. I think that’s why some normative observant Jewish people have an easier time “accepting” straight-up Christians than Messianics. Part of the problem is the motivation of any non-Jew in taking on board any of the mitzvot. Is it for God’s glory or their own? Sometimes, even if a Gentile is drawn to some of the mitzvot for good and honorable reasons, depending on their circumstances (and I can speak to this out of personal experience), it might be better to refrain from any mitzvot that appear traditionally Jewish than to become a stumbling block for others.

  5. Genevieve said “With that in mind, my question is: I have told a few of them that if they want to observe the finer parts of the law like Kosher or Sabbath, then it is something they should take on ONLY if they feel God calling them to it. I remind them that they are gentiles and are not obligated to following it.”

    This is the problem. IF(emphasis added) a gentile is called to keep the Sabbath why remind them they are not obligated? To me that’s very discouraging. Now this doesn’t mean that Gentiles should ‘or else’ but if teachings and such are to live a G-dly life as if the Kingdom has arrived then Gentiles will be keeping Sabbath. I don’t think anyone would argue with that fact. So in this context Gentiles I don’t think Gentiles should be reminded that they aren’t obligated in this context.

  6. It’s difficult to teach the status differences in a way that people can properly comprehend them. The most common reaction is to say, “We’re second class citizens,” assuming people want to “keep the Law.” Most Christians I know actually rejoice at not having to “keep the Law” and see it as a big headache for Jewish people.

    It really takes a lot of study to discover that the status differences relative to Torah are simply a reflection of how God chose the Jewish people to be Israel and that we Gentiles who are grafted in don’t replace that or become Israel so that their “chosenness” is invalidated or rendered irrelevant.

    I believe in the Messianic age, we will all observe Shabbat. For the Jewish people, keeping Shabbat is part of the covenant sign of Sinai, and for the rest of the world, it’s a “sign” of the promise of the coming Messianic age, which we see the first fruits of but has not come in complete fullness. When non-Jews “keep kosher” or “observe Shabbos” in some manner or fashion, it is in anticipation of the coming of the Messianic Kingdom, IMHO.

  7. James said “I believe in the Messianic age, we will all observe Shabbat. For the Jewish people, keeping Shabbat is part of the covenant sign of Sinai, and for the rest of the world, it’s a “sign” of the promise of the coming Messianic age, which we see the first fruits of but has not come in complete fullness. When non-Jews “keep kosher” or “observe Shabbos” in some manner or fashion, it is in anticipation of the coming of the Messianic Kingdom, IMHO.”

    I’m in agreement. So what about the premise of discouraging non Jews which would be showing that they aren’t obligated but they will be?

    I say don’t discourage but encourage IF a non Jew wants to keep the Sabbath because the dawning of the age has come in this context.

    This is why I don’t agree with what’s going on with some Messianic Jewish organizations and/or leaders. The proper context of course isn’t salvific or being holier than thou.

  8. It seems an awful shame that some folks feel they must denigrate the Torah and those who observe it in order not to feel like “second-class citizens”. Do they think their situation or status is any less than that of son-ship within a large family? Only one can be the firstborn who inherits the whole responsibility for administering the estate (in the biblical pattern). But the others are not reduced to nothing, nor to abject poverty. They are still sons, who, as younger than the firstborn, represent part of the responsibility that the firstborn inherits. It would hardly be appropriate for them to hinder the firstborn as he learns by practicing the skills he will need to perform his administrative role, because ultimately that would be harmful to themselves. At the same time, they may develop some of these skills for themselves because they might in turn be delegated assignments by the firstborn to assist with the administration. This is the benefit of cooperation rather than the penalty of envy. So the younger sons are not there to replace the firstborn, nor to envy nor to disdain his responsibilities, but they may increase their own benefits by supportive participation.

    Imagine how history might have been different if the non-Jewish world had embraced the Jewish Messiah as if they were “gerei toshav”, “fellow travelers” who had been incorporated into the family of a firstborn Jew, and who therefore wished to conform with his administration of his household. Would their behavior include honoring the Shabbat just like others in the family and similar Jewish families? One might expect so. Would they eat the same foods and celebrate the same family events? Why not? Would they mistreat members of other Jewish families in the neighborhood, and bring shame upon their own household? Definitely not! Would they seem so very different from the younger sons of a family under the administration of a firstborn? It might be hard to tell. However, if this had been representative of the administration of Rav Yeshua’s extended household, would he not be widely respected as having accomplished the goals of the messianic kingdom?

    Nonetheless, even after twenty centuries of failure to represent Rav Yeshua properly, modern non-Jews may still ask themselves the question: “How shall we, therefore, live (now) in the light of this perspective?” A related question is, regrettably: “However may we clean up the mess produced during the preceding centuries?” Thankfully, the answers to both those questions may be largely the same.

  9. Macher, I’m not discouraging non-Jews from taking on board additional mitzvot as they feel called to do so, I just want to make sure that by doing so, they don’t suddenly start lording it over those Gentiles who don’t. There’s a terrible misunderstanding in the so-called One Law movement that it’s all about them. That is, they have a *right* to be obligated to the Torah in the same manner as the Jewish people, the “firstborn son” as PL states, and no one can do them out of their *rights*.

    But really, if our primary understanding about obedience to God isn’t that it’s all about God (and not us), then we’ve got it all wrong. You can wear tzitzit every waking moment of every day, but if you are doing so as a perceived *right*, rather than in honor of God, then what do you have? Also, and especially related to a mitzvah like wearing tzitzit, if your practice as a Gentile becomes a stumbling block to Messianic and especially non-Messianic Jews, then what are you doing? Does this please God? Mark Nanos’ book “The Mystery of Romans” describes how Paul’s epistle to the Gentiles in the Roman synagogues was a stern warning not to offend or become a stumbling block to the non-believing Jews in that community and thus further inhibit them from recognizing the identity of Messiah.

    The core question we should be asking ourselves in this conversation is, “What must I do to please God?” Notice that what pleases God may not always please us? So what? Who said it was all about us? Isn’t God the “King of the Universe?” If He is, then what we want is far less relevant than what He desires.

    Almost a year ago I wrote of this, not using the “firstborn son” metaphor, but the birthday boy. Imagine that everyone attending an individual’s birthday party wanted to “share the glory” and pretend it’s their birthdays, too.

  10. @ James my comment about discouraging wasn’t directed to you per se but you seemed to possibly agree with the premise of ‘don’t discourage but inform that’s it’s not their obligation’. Of course One Lawers for the most part from my experience have a ‘holier than thou’ attitude but I’m not talking about one law.

    To me if one is living as if the Kingdom has arrived why throw a dig and say ‘just want you to be aware Anthony you’re not obligated to keep the Sabbath’. Anthony is a member of the synagogue and since he is he wants to keep the Sabbath, he used to work on the Sabbath not he doesn’t. So there’s a fine mine between One Law people and those that want to live as if the Kingdom has arrived.

    Maybe someone can do a study about what specifically the Law of the Kingdom are universal.

    This is the way I look at it. Some will say non Jews aren’t obligated to keep the Sabbath. But the fact is non Jews will be keeping the Sabbath. So if they are not obligated now in this age, they will in the Messianic Age. Anthony says I’m living as if the Kingdom has arrived, that’s reality. Do we tell Anthony ‘you’re not obligated now so you can hold off’. Or do we say ‘it’s great that you are called to live as if the Kingdom has arrived and the heck with the leaders that say otherwise’.

    Again it’s a fine line and I’m not referring to One Law.

  11. It certainly is a fine line, Macher. Somehow, there must be a way to say that Jewish people have certain obligations to which they must comply or face judgment from God. This is what was agreed upon at Sinai. Israel was set apart from the rest of the nations and these obligations are the indicators of that selection or “set apartness”.

    The rest of us, even Gentiles grafted in through faith in Messiah, have a somewhat different status where we do not operate at the same level of obligation. Nevertheless, we have the power of choice to go beyond our status if we so desire. Not everyone will have that desire but for those who do, they are not inhibited from, for example, keeping the Sabbath. If Anthony has that desire, then let him act on it.

    Seems pretty straightforward.

  12. James said “The rest of us, even Gentiles grafted in through faith in Messiah, have a somewhat different status where we do not operate at the same level of obligation. ”

    Are you referring to the preset age? If do what about the Messianic Age?

  13. Yes, I’m speaking of right now. The Messianic Age? I know things will be different but do I have to make decisions now for what Messiah will do to fulfill promises yet to come? The Prophets speak of the Spirit of God being poured out on all flesh, which hasn’t happened yet. We will all *know God* in the manner of the prophets, even the least of us. How can I speak to all of that? I’m still trying to understand what’s going on in the current age.

  14. James said “I know things will be different but do I have to make decisions now for what Messiah will do to fulfill promises yet to come?”

    That’s not what I said. I’m referring to living as if the Kingdom has arrived because of anticipation of the promises that will come.

    Sure you have to make decisions now. Paul said in Galatians those that practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Decisions we make in the present pertain to the future, right?

  15. What I’m saying is that a non a Jew who is called to keep the Sabbath in this age isn’t making the wrong decision. And I’m not saying that if a non Jew doesn’t keep the Sabbath he will be left out. Like I said it’s a fine line. The non Jew who doesn’t keep the Sabbath now will be keeping the Sabbath in the Messianic Age. Just because he doesn’t keep the Sabbath now doesn’t mean he’ll be least, but he will be keeping the Sabbath just not now.

  16. I don’t think we have to work that hard in figuring out how to live a life that will merit entry into the Kingdom of God. Shabbat and Kosher aside, what about what we all know is good: feeding the hungry, giving clothing to those in need, comforting the sorrowful and grieving. Why is it all about what we do for us? Why isn’t it what we do for other people?

  17. Macher said: What I’m saying is that a non a Jew who is called to keep the Sabbath in this age isn’t making the wrong decision. And I’m not saying that if a non Jew doesn’t keep the Sabbath he will be left out. Like I said it’s a fine line. The non Jew who doesn’t keep the Sabbath now will be keeping the Sabbath in the Messianic Age. Just because he doesn’t keep the Sabbath now doesn’t mean he’ll be least, but he will be keeping the Sabbath just not now.

    OK, so it’s a matter of choice what we do now, like I said. Just a matter of calling.

  18. @Macher — Don’t be so sure about what may or may not be obligatory in the messianic age, because, like many aspects of Torah, the applications may be dependent on conditions that are not immediately obvious. And therefore many obligations that may apply to non-Jews at that time are not necessarily practicable at present. So it is not actually possible yet to live as if the messianic age were already fully upon us, because some of its key conditions are not yet in place (e.g., Messiah enthroned in Jerusalem, enemies defeated, and more). For now, we can only experience its ephemeral sense as an individual internalized perspective. Meanwhile, we must conform ourselves with the halakhah appropriate to the present era, which specifically exempts non-Jews from Torah obligations and “merely” recommends learning Torah from the Jews who are so obligated. That does not, in itself, need to be taken as a disincentive; but it does suggest a degree of caution about how non-Jews should approach a desire to align their behavior with that of Jewish communities locally and worldwide. And no one could argue against conformity with what has been defined as the “Noahide” recommendations for non-Jewish praxis.

    Nonetheless, I applaud the efforts of The International Christian Embassy that has for many years encouraged Christians to come up to Jerusalem at Sukkot in anticipation of the day when Zacharyah’s prophecy will be truly fulfillable. It is an excellent reminder to the world at large that such prophecies exist and that Christian support of Zionism is a proper biblical political stance, especially in the face of efforts to sanction Israel due to false accusations about mistreatment of local Arabs, and to deny the rightness of Jews returning to, living in, and being sovereign over their biblically-promised heritage land.

  19. PL said “Meanwhile, we must conform ourselves with the halakhah appropriate to the present era”

    “and to deny the rightness of Jews returning to, living in, and being sovereign over their biblically-promised heritage land.”

    I’m a Messianic Jew. What is the Halacha in this present era pertaining to denying or not denying the rightness of me as a Jew returning to, living in the biblically promise land since I’m a messianic Jew?

  20. @Macher — No halakhah denies the rightness of a Jew returning to Israel. Jewish messianists have returned to Israel successfully as Jews, despite cases in which some have been turned away, convicted of having turned to a religious stance that denies their birthright Jewish identity. There do exist injustices that have not been corrected yet; but that problem does not occur solely in Israel. Meanwhile, Jewish messianists in general have more to learn about accepting their responsibilities and their identity as Jews apart from any messianic views, without making of their messianism a separate identity apart from their fellow Jews, which is the sin of “minut”. Only after a sufficient demonstration by a growing community of Jewish messianists that they are not separatist “minim”, and that they have been wrongly calumniated as “Christians” who have sold their Jewish birthright for the proverbial “mess of pottage”, may the tide of Jewish opinion change sufficiently that certain unjust legal decisions and policies may be corrected. Much that occurs even today under the “Messianic Jewish” label provides sufficient legal evidence that some form of Christianity is being promoted. Hence the label does not convey to Israeli legal authorities what it was originally intended to convey to those who first adopted the term. Please do not attempt to use my words, which condemn Palestinian Arab and Christian anti-Zionism, as if they could also accuse Israeli law or officials of anti-messianism due to self-defense against the incursions of an inimical Christianity. The latter is not even an accurate charge; whereas the former is all too prevalent.

    However, this issue is not connected with the present topic of discussion about inferences modern Christians should or should not draw from Rav Shaul’s letter to the non-Jewish Galatian assemblies.

  21. However, this issue is not connected with the present topic of discussion about inferences modern Christians should or should not draw from Rav Shaul’s letter to the non-Jewish Galatian assemblies.

    That’s OK either way, PL. When the comment or discussion has sufficient value, even if it drifts away from the strict definition of the topic at hand, I’m most likely going to allow it.

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