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Why I am a Messianic Gentile, Part Two

And Korach, the son of Yitzhor, the son of K’hos, the son of Levi, took …

Numbers 16:1

Rashi explains that the key reason for Korach’s rebellion against Moshe was that he was envious of another relative who received honor while he didn’t.

Envy is destructive. It prevents a person from enjoying what he himself has. When you focus on the success of another person and feel pain because of it, you are likely to do things that are highly counterproductive. Envy is one of the three things that totally destroy a person (Pirke Avos 4:28). The downfall of Korach was because of this trait. Not only did he not get what he wanted but he lost everything he already had.

-Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
Commentary on Torah Portion Korach, pg 332
Growth Through Torah

I mentioned in Part One of this two-part series, that I have many good reasons for being a student and disciple of Yeshua (Jesus) within a Messianic Jewish context. And while the status I have accepted upon myself may make me appear as a “second-class citizen” within the ekkelsia of Messiah and the Kingdom of Heaven, in fact, who I am and where I stand has been defined for me by God. Even if I sometimes chafe at that position based on my personality flaws, that does not change the will of God for my life. Any reaction that leads me to envy of the Jewish people for their distinctiveness and unique role in the plan of the Almighty will also lead to my “destruction” (though I probably won’t be incinerated or fall into a pit).

The blessings of God in my life are great. Far be it from me to cause God to take them all away:

While they were listening to these things, Jesus went on to tell a parable, because He was near Jerusalem, and they supposed that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately. So He said:

“A nobleman went to a distant country to receive a kingdom for himself, and then return. And he called ten of his slaves, and gave them ten minas and said to them, ‘Do business with this until I come back.’ But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ When he returned, after receiving the kingdom, he ordered that these slaves, to whom he had given the money, be called to him so that he might know what business they had done. The first appeared, saying, ‘Master, your mina has made ten minas more.’ And he said to him, ‘Well done, good slave, because you have been faithful in a very little thing, you are to be in authority over ten cities.’ The second came, saying, ‘Your mina, master, has made five minas.’ And he said to him also, ‘And you are to be over five cities.’ Another came, saying, ‘Master, here is your mina, which I kept put away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you, because you are an exacting man; you take up what you did not lay down and reap what you did not sow.’ He said to him, ‘By your own words I will judge you, you worthless slave. Did you know that I am an exacting man, taking up what I did not lay down and reaping what I did not sow? Then why did you not put my money in the bank, and having come, I would have collected it with interest?’ Then he said to the bystanders, ‘Take the mina away from him and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ And they said to him, ‘Master, he has ten minas already.’ I tell you that to everyone who has, more shall be given, but from the one who does not have, even what he does have shall be taken away. But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence.”

Luke 19:11-27 (NASB)

Rabbi Levi Yitzchok of Berditchev (Kdushas Levi) commented that a truly righteous person’s main goal in all that he does is to give pleasure to the Almighty. To such a person there is no difference if he or another righteous person causes that pleasure.

But if a person’s main focus is on his personal reward, he wants to do everything himself. Therefore, our verse states that Korach took. He wanted to take for himself and therefore felt resentment about the attainment of others.

-R. Pliskin, pp 332-33

coinsWe not only see the dire consequences of envy leading a person to self-aggrandizement, but that such a person has lost their focus on what is to be the true motivation of a servant of God, to please God rather than their own human desires.

If God has assigned a specific role, function, and purpose for the Jewish people, then it is foolish for we non-Jewish disciples of the Master to seek their place and their role. In having those desires and particularly in acting them out, we are rebelling against God and seeking our own personal pleasure. Not only that, we are actually denying ourselves the pleasure of fulfilling the role God assigned to us, one that really would be pleasing to God.

And they gathered against Moshe and Aharon. And they said to them, “You have taken too much power for yourselves. The entire congregation is Holy, and the Almighty is in their midst. Why do you take leadership over the congregation of the Almighty?”

Numbers 16:3

Remember that the Sages say that when a person finds fault with others he frequently is just mentioning his own faults which he can wrongly assume someone else has. Be very careful not to accept negative information about others as the truth without careful examination.

-R. Pliskin, pg 334

mirrorIt is not uncommon for people to sometimes project their own worse character traits onto another person and then blame that other person for what they don’t like about themselves. The irony is that this attribution can happen below the level of consciousness. That is, the person may truly not be aware of their negative character trait but attribute it to someone they don’t like or with whom they disagree. It’s as if they are using their adversary as a mirror to reflect their own behavioral and emotional flaws.

So, if I am to take R. Pliskin’s advice and apply it to every time I’m criticized for my stance as a Messianic Gentile, one way to interpret their criticism (though it might not be true in every case) is that the critic may be assigning me traits or motivations they themselves possess. I guess that’s why it’s a good idea for me to always be aware of what I’m doing and why I’m doing it, so I don’t start believing things about who I am and my behavior that are not true. I must also be careful in my assessment of others to make sure I’m not guilty of projecting my own flaws upon them.

That has always been the normative view of Judaism, enunciated in the rabbinic principle that “one who performs a deed because it is commanded is deemed more praiseworthy than one who does it voluntarily” (Bavli Kiddushin 31a). Actions that come instinctively fail to stretch us. Growth results from reaching beyond ourselves.

-Ismar Schorsch
“Reaching Beyond Ourselves,” pg 534, June 22, 1996
Commentary on Torah Portion Korach
Canon Without Closure: Torah Commentaries

If one desires or even covets obligation to the full yoke of Torah as a Gentile, where is the “stretch”? How are we participating in growth if we not only are doing what we want, but performing mitzvot that do not belong to us? However, if we recognize the legal structure that defines Gentile inclusion in Messianic Judaism (Acts 15) and obey those commandments, we are not only pleasing God, we are participating in our own spiritual growth and elevation (see the ancient Jewish/Christian document The Didache and D. Thomas Lancaster’s latest book Elementary Principles for more).

Going back to what R. Pliskin said about pleasing God by allowing another righteous person to perform mitzvot that are commanded of them, to encourage Jewish believers to perform mitzvot such as davening with a minyan or observing Shabbos is what fulfills our function as righteous Gentiles in Messiah. For only Jewish Torah observance will bring Messiah’s return nearer, therefore, by encouraging Jewish Torah fidelity within the Messianic community, we are helping others to be righteous, participating in our own growth as disciples, and blessing the heart of God.

At least that’s how I see myself as a Messianic Gentile (in an ideal state, and I can say, that I’m hardly an ideal person).

The arrogant person thinks, “If I honor this person, what will people think of me? Will it raise or lower my stature in the eyes of others?” But the humble person makes no calculations of this kind. He treats each person according to the Torah ideals of how people should be treated. Ultimately this only elevates a person’s true stature regardless of how other people might react.

-R. Pliskin, pg 336

HumbleI’ve met very few truly arrogant people, that is people who really think they’re the “greatest thing since the invention of sliced bread.” Most people who appear arrogant and self-assured are actually the opposite. They feel threatened and insecure when others experience success or if put in a situation where they must give deference to another. While I can hardly call myself truly humble, if I strive in that direction as a goal, then acknowledging Jewish “specialness” in covenant relationship with God does not diminish me or reduce my stature in the eyes of others. If someone else believes I am being reduced by recognizing Jewish covenant status, then that is their projection and perhaps their own personal fear.

Imagine how Gentile Christians will react when, upon Messiah’s return, they realize to their chagrin that the Church is not the center of the Kingdom of God, it is Israel. This may be at the core of why many Christians have difficulty with Messianic Judaism and the continuation of Jewish Torah observance within the Jesus-believing Jewish community. It illustrates how, over the long centuries of Church history, Christianity has reversed causality in placing itself above and before God’s covenant people, Israel.

Also your brethren the tribe of Levi, the tribe of your father, shall you draw near with you, and they shall be joined to you and minister to you. You and your sons with you shall be before the Tent of the Testimony. They shall safeguard your charge and the charge of the entire tent…

Numbers 18:2-3

After the death of Korach and the rebels, the Levites especially among the Children of Israel were demoralized and terrified. They felt their own worth and stature was lower than ever after the failed rebellion. Yet God was kind and reminded the Levites that they had a special status and duty to Hashem above the other Israelites and that they also were of the tribe of Levi, just as were Aaron and his sons, the Kohenim.

That’s what I think is missing every time someone believes that I’ve allowed myself to be put at the back of the bus in the Messianic community; the lack of realization that Messianic Gentiles have a highly important role that cannot be fulfilled by the Jewish people. Messianic Jews and Gentiles are interdependent and the Messianic Jewish ekklesia cannot achieve wholeness unless we join together in our complementary roles. We need each other.

So the next time I find myself missing donning a tallit in prayer or being present at the lighting of the Shabbos candles, I must remind myself of everything I’ve just written. Because the minute I give in to the attitude of I want to be like them” or worse, “I deserve to be like them,” not only have I insulted God and betrayed the Jewish people in Messiah, I’ve lost my way and forgotten my God-assigned purpose in life. A righteous person serves God, not his own desires. May God grant me humility and peace. May He grant this to all of us who call ourselves Messianic Gentiles.

Final note: Last year, I also wrote a two-part series on Korach and what this rebellion tells us about who we are today.

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30 thoughts on “Why I am a Messianic Gentile, Part Two”

  1. For a different viewpoint
    This is how I see the arangment:

    The Father is the head of the house and marries Israel and Judah. They have a son who will be head of his own house, he will not marry his Father’s wife. The Father restores his broken covenant with Israel and Judah with a new covenant. Their son is the body that is cut providing the blood of atonement, the living Korban.

    The son chooses a bride and gives his life for her because he loves her. She is one body, bone of his bone, flesh of his flesh, made up of those called out from every nation including some from Israel, to be seperate and echad for the purpose of being the bride of Yeshua, also instructed to present the body as a living Korban. The Bride is called the Church and will be married when she is fully grown, and they become one flesh.

    The Son is King, the bride is his Queen, Israel is the Kingdom they rule over. Israel is the head of the commonwealth of nations they rule over just as England is the head of the commonwealth of the nations her monarchy rule over.

  2. What’s more, it creates an unresolvable confusion about which of two brides represents Rav Yeshua’s Jewish disciples descended from those ancient houses of Israel and Judah. We/they belong to both bridal allegories, as well as to both “husbands”. Now, there are some folks who have experimented with such multiple group-marriage relationships, but HaShem’s Torah would view such arrangements as adulterous and therefore forbidden to persons dedicated to holiness. [;^)]

  3. Steve, you’re making me blush. If you think what I’m writing is challenging, you should try this paper, which I read the other day (I don’t necessarily support or agree with the author’s points, but I find the topic compelling).

  4. I know you don’t want to argue, so I’ll limit myself to this one comment today.

    The Father uses allegories to explain spiritual realities, Yeshua spoke in parables. Why dismiss me based on that? Maybe some people would like to see what the allegory and parable point to?

    Israel is called “my son” and “I was a husband to her” Which is it?

    G-d created man from the ground. The rib was separated from the man while he slept and then formed into a woman with what additional materiel? The woman joined back to the man. Married to what came out of his own body.

    Spiritual allegory: G-d put Yeshua to sleep, he was pierced in the side, a rib (Jewish Disciples) were separated from Yeshua, grown and formed by the ground (the chosen of the nations) into a woman. This woman is from the body of Yeshua. This the Church, the bride, or as Revelation states, the New Jerusalem.

    This is how they belong to both Husbands. “They were yours and you have given them to me”

    Peace for today 🙂

  5. I appreciate that, Stephen. Thank you.

    To my way of thinking, there’s a radical difference between a parable and a metaphor (and I’ve been reading and enjoying the older edition of Brad Young’s The Parables). I know that it’s common to think of a parable and an allegory as synonyms, but the parables of Jesus, according to Young as well as Roy Blizzard, were very closely related to the Rabbinic teachings of the Jewish sages in the time of Jesus, including the generation before (Hillel and Shammai) and the generation after (Rabbi Akiva, for example), and his teachings cannot be divorced from their ethnic, cultural, theological, and historical Judaic context. Allegories, as used by the early church fathers, were employed primarily to refactor and reinterpret the Biblical texts, especially in relationship to the Jewish people and this historic and covenant meaning of Israel in relation to God, such that “the Church” would appear to replace Israel and become the new “spiritual Israel.”

    Jesus used parables or metaphors to take complex theological concepts and make them accessible to the common people. The Church Fathers used metaphors to reinterpret (misinterpret) the meaning of the Biblical text to change the focus of God’s providence and benevolent kindness from Israel (the Jewish people) to the Church (the newly constructed Gentile Christianity). I base a lot of my opinions on Magnus Zetterholm’s book The Formation of Christianity in Antioch: A Social-Scientific Approach to the Separation between Judaism and Christianity, although Zetterholm is hardly the only historian and New Testament scholar who advocates for that position (I also wrote a review of his book).

    I’m not trying to fight either, but I suggest that the history of the so-called “early church” was significantly altered early on based on Roman Jew-hated and anti-Semitism, so that the Gentile Church wouldn’t be subject to the Empire’s retaliation against the Jews after the two failed Jewish rebellions against Rome. We live with the consequences of how the Bible has been misrepresented, even today, and it’s time to go back to Paul and to the scriptures as we have them and look again with fresh eyes.

    Peace to you as well.

  6. James, you are the most confusing person. I think sharing your confusing life on a blog is doing more harm than good. I’ve seen you change more directions than the wind and I’m convinced you still don’t know where you’re going. My advice, do what I did, shut down the blog until you can get a grip on your own life before sharing with others. Or, stick with things your 100% sure of and write on that. You have a wide reader base and writing articles for FFOZ has gained you even more. This is the kind of stuff that causes confusion and arguments in MJ and frankly it’s embarrassing. Based upon this article (and forgive me if I am wrong), I would say, make sure you don’t keep the Sabbath. Go out and mow the grass just to make sure you’re not resting on that day. Also, eat pork at least twice a week, preferably in public, so you’re not keeping kosher. Go to church, keep your mouth shut and be a good christian. I’ve cut down my visits to your blog to about once a week. Now, I think I’ll be un-bookmarking this site and I’d suggest the same for others as well. I’m a very nice, easy-going guy, but somethings just light my fire. Sorry you were the match, James. Much love, my brother. Just think about it.

  7. I’m not “required reading,” Keith. People who think I don’t make sense (sometimes life and living don’t make sense and people experience dissonance and contradiction) and who are disturbed by that don’t have to read my blog. As of 2013, there were an estimated 152,000,000 blogs on the Internet. I’m only one of them.

    It’s not my intention to do harm, it’s my intention to illustrate a real, lived experience as a person of faith. I’m not a textbook and I’m not the Bible. I don’t live a linear life and I’m not trying to say that I’ve got it all together. Clearly, I don’t.

    However, I suspect most, real, live, human beings who are disciples of the Master (or anything else) don’t have life completely settled, either.

    I appreciate that you are commenting for my sake, and maybe at some point, I’ll stop blogging, but when and if I do, that will be a decision I make in relation to my understanding of God and who I am in him.

    Cheers, Keith.

  8. James says:

    “Except that’s all allegory and ignores the actual meaning of the text, Steven.”

    Sadly that is how the “church” addresses most of scripture – especially OT prophecy and in particular any references to to Israel.

    “The actual meaning of the text” is rarely taken into account because that would allow anyone to read scripture and understand its basic message.

  9. Quoted: “If one desires or even covets obligation to the full yoke of Torah as a Gentile, where is the “stretch”?”

    I think the key word here in this sentence and probably your whole article here is “obligation”. The attitude of obligation to all of Torah for Gentiles creates confusion and blurs identity lines. A gentile believer should not desire to be Jewish nor find their identity in the commandments but rather in Yeshua. It is he that calls us to be a disciple and imitate himself as he imitates the Father.

    I found Toby Janicki’s book “God-Fearers” to be very helpful in this approach and with fleshing out the commandments given to Gentiles through Messiah. That along with the Didache approach to “do what you are able” removes an attitude of requirement and plants an attitude of obedience expressed out of love and faith toward God through love of and dedication to Yeshua. It all goes back to what motivates the heart.

    Does that make sense? Am I hearing you right?

  10. Keith:
    Some people enjoy this blog because he’s searching. Why? Because there are others like him who are searching and don’t have a church that they fit in or have been burned by groups like Hebrew Roots, Fundamentalism, or the Church in general. I honestly have been very close to calling myself Agnostic and just telling myself I’m done with Christianity, and trying to move on. Yet it’s people work from blogs like this which remind me that I do love my relationship with God and that I don’t want to lose it, even if I still can’t stand to be around a majority of Christians.

    Your words are just the type that drive me further away from Christianity, and to not allow people to grow publicly because it confuses you, is your own problem. As James said there are plenty of other blogs to read out there, and he’s not making you read this one.

    For you this blog seems to bring confusion and problems, for me it brings God back to a reality that understandable, real and something that I want to be a part of.

  11. Thanks for the support, Joshua and Jim. I’ve been considering Keith’s points and while I think there’s value in how I write, I also think he has a point. I toggle between my highly personal perspective and addressing more learned if not scholarly topics, and I can see how some people might find that inconsistent and confusing. I’m considering a solution that I’ve proposed in today’s extra meditation. Let me know what you think.

  12. James, that’s part of the problem. The other problem is some people use your blog as a teaching tool and it could confuse them (because of your connection with FFOZ). Much like when FFOZ changed their stance a few years ago. Maybe I expected to learn from this blog rather than catch a glimpse of your “dear diary” posts.

    And, Jim. You don’t know me, so don’t talk to me like you are so certain what my intentions were with my previous comment. This blog brings no confusion into my personal walk with God. I know where I stand. So back off, bro.

  13. Keith, you’re the one who came at me. You could have emailed me if you wanted to keep it private, but you chose to make it a public issue. I’ve tried to be civil about it all but frankly, if you don’t like it here, please don’t read or comment.

  14. James: Keep on going. Keep your learning experience. And keep sharing, because as Jim said, most of us are also experiencing some of the things that you write here.

    Most people think that they have it all solved. That’s their problem.

  15. *That has always been the normative view of Judaism, enunciated in the rabbinic principle that “one who performs a deed because it is commanded is deemed more praiseworthy than one who does it voluntarily” (Bavli Kiddushin 31a). Actions that come instinctively fail to stretch us. Growth results from reaching beyond ourselves.

    -Ismar Schorsch
    “Reaching Beyond Ourselves,” pg 534, June 22, 1996
    Commentary on Torah Portion Korach
    Canon Without Closure: Torah Commentaries

    If one desires or even covets obligation to the full yoke of Torah as a Gentile, where is the “stretch”? How are we participating in growth if we not only are doing what we want, but performing mitzvot that do not belong to us? However, if we recognize the legal structure that defines Gentile inclusion in Messianic Judaism (Acts 15) and obey those commandments, we are not only pleasing God, we are participating in our own spiritual growth and elevation (see the ancient Jewish/Christian document The Didache and ….*

    I think I’m too tired to try and address this the way I want to right now. But if I don’t try, I’ll probably never get around to it. There’s a bunch of different stuff going on here. First, I’ll go ahead and say I have some difficulty with the starting concept. So, in grappling with it, it seems maybe “voluntarily” implies a proud attitude of being able to take it or leave it… or not respecting the Giver of the command. I mean, that’s my effort to make the best sense I can of it. I’ve heard it before and, while there are times the best thing is to outright obey and only obey, I’m not sure this is always more praiseworthy [except, of course, we can go back to dissecting praise].

    The contrast following, about doing something “instinctively” may make sense as to possibly not stretching us, but doing all things instinctively and up to fulfillment/performance level could be, I’d think, the very best way of adhering. I think of it as comparable to the commanded “deed” or the value being written on one’s heart. And that may be true, but then there is still the fact: someone doing a deed who is commanded to do so is highly desired, particularly in the context you were writing in, James. Still, as a general statement or axiom I don’t subscribe to the saying (even though I am on board with your point).

    Come to recall, I think I’d see it differently if considering the performing of all the commandments… THE commandments, not just some commanded deed (unless it’d be an additional distinct command for someone). I do think there will be growth for all humanity when all of Israel does live all the law for enough time to grasp all that can be gleaned within it. As for gentiles (Christian/Messianic specifically), there could be a lot of growth in simply not applying the “true Jew” category to themselves/ourselves in any way (as followers of rules, not followers of rules, even as rejectors of rules or absent commands). It would be a start.

  16. It’s a Jewish principle but it’s not set in stone. Still, I think there’s merit in the idea that if we only do what we want to do to serve God, are we really serving God or just ourselves? I’ve heard Christians, when facing a tough decision, say they pray to God and when they get a sense of peace about a particular choice, that’s what they go with. But does God always give us peace about what He wants us to do, or does He just expect us to do His will, even when it doesn’t fit our personal preferences?

  17. Hi James. I fully agree with your statement. I also think that Yeshua taught the same: Matthew 21:28-31a ““What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ “‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. “Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go. “Which of the two did what his father wanted?” “The first,” they answered.”

  18. Yeah, James, when you in place of referring to [as I see it, potentially, ideally redeemed] instinct use the word “want” (not that there always necessarily has to be something wrong or suspect with what a person wants), there is more the connotation intended. But I guess, for instance, One-Law people are looking to be more praiseworthy than they perceive otherwise they, finding themselves gentiles, have opportunity to be. So, they imagine themselves to be commanded. [I admit I know nothing of congregations calling themselves “one law” first hand; I know of Messianic (so glad and thankful, the solid kind) and some imposters.]

    Also, though, there is a difference between “only” doing what we want (like people who do simply flit from how they feel one moment to the next and think “God” is all about their happiness and self-assuramce), between that and the statement about a singular obedience and praise.

    I love that parable, alfredo, in part because the son who goes and does what was asked for might not even be noticed, can forego the praise.

    I know it is also within Jewish understanding that one continues to do what is commanded until it becomes second-nature and profound.

  19. Ah, I see, alfredo, SAYING yes can be easily volunteered or knee-jerk — while doing can recognize that the command actually matters.

    Because it is commanded, comes from He who is respected.

  20. Hi Marleen. I think there are two ways to learn to do what God wants us to do… Wait until our hearts “feel” a need to do (this is what most Christians do… expecting God to let them feel right when doing things) or start doing them until they become part of their nature (this is what Judaism teaches)…

    Both ways might be correct, but I think that also both ways also require us to SEARCH scriptures in order to KNOW what God wants us to do. And I think that this is where Christians fail… they to not search scriptures using the right context… a Jewish context…

  21. It might be helpful to compare what we feel with what the Bible says. Lots of things feel good to people that aren’t within the will of God and it’s easy to say that because I want it, then God wants it for me. But service isn’t about making ourselves feel good, it’s about helping other people and obeying God. Did Jesus “feel good” about being crucified (hint: see Luke 22:41-44)?

  22. I just think, in a general sense, that the person who has been doing and learning to do what God wants, to the end that it has become part of the person’s nature,does figure in evaluating a statement as to what’s best (not that either has to be best and disregarding of what the goal is or the situation). I mean, the way the statement is worded, it seems like we’re talking about the same deed for either person or an attitude choice for the same person even though they are indeed doing the deed — NOT different deeds or a person who persists in not doing what’s called for based on not feeling like it. Maybe it’s the context of why the piece identified as Bavli Kiddushin 31a was said in the first place that indicates the obviousness in THAT regard, say in reference to unmotivated people getting moved off their tokheses, that it is so.

    There is debate in Judaism as to whether one ever should or is allowed to wonder or ask why or to understand, or if such is fairly equal to sin (to postulate or draw logical conclusions or theories or that kind of thing). I was discussing, recently, how annoying it was to learn long division by being told to put this here and that there, no reasons given, no meaning. When I taught my children long division, I explained the place values and that this set-up was a way to help us sort the numbers, etc.

    Sometimes, you can’t explain or there isn’t time or there is just the question of whether someone trusts you or cares. At that point, hopefully, the person has otherwise learned he can believe you or that you are valued in the scheme of things and should be diligently heard. As to God, hopefully, this is well grasped fairly quickly. With teachers or some parents or other individuals, this can be more dicey. They maybe have been inconsistent or ill-informed previously. Or dismissive. Trying to submit to certain parents or a husband or master can blow the mind.

    But, yes, it’s probably true that many people don’t want to search scripture to see what they can know and act on. They’d prefer to get a nebulous urge. Or, some are waiting for a kick in the pants or, variously, an offer for a wall plaque or a tax-exempt organisation in their name.

  23. Marleen said: I just think, in a general sense, that the person who has been doing and learning to do what God wants, to the end that it has become part of the person’s nature,does figure in evaluating a statement as to what’s best (not that either has to be best and disregarding of what the goal is or the situation).

    You are describing a very spiritually elevated person and in my experience such individuals are pretty rare. Our human natures tend to get in our way often, and we tend toward serving ourselves first and God second. It takes a very disciplined person to find serving God “natural” to the point where they don’t even notice it any more. For most of us, it takes a bit of effort (at least in my personal experience) and I think it is that effort that is being referred to and praised from a Rabbinic point of view.

    Again, please keep in mind that the commentary of the Rabbis is not the same as Holy Scripture, so they’re just describing principles within a certain stream of Judaism, not necessarily the absolute will of God.

    As far as what we can know from scripture and what we should and shouldn’t know, it would be my opinion, I think agreeing with yours, that most people won’t go far enough in studying the Bible to ever come across something they shouldn’t know. But then again, if God doesn’t want us know now something, would it be in the Bible? Interesting question.

  24. James said: “It might be helpful to compare what we feel with what the Bible says. Lots of things feel good to people that aren’t within the will of God and it’s easy to say that because I want it, then God wants it for me. But service isn’t about making ourselves feel good, it’s about helping other people and obeying God. Did Jesus “feel good” about being crucified (hint: see Luke 22:41-44)?

    James also said: “It takes a very disciplined person to find serving God “natural” to the point where they don’t even notice it any more. For most of us, it takes a bit of effort (at least in my personal experience) and I think it is that effort that is being referred to and praised from a Rabbinic point of view.”

    Being only recently Torah Observant in any of the commandments of G-d, the personal urging of one’s own desire to please Abba is an expression of feeling love towards Him, rather than being obedient to His desires against one’s own will.

    I have been growing more Hebraic in my interests for the last ten years, but never having been brought up to any but secular habits and disciplines tends to make obedience to a commandment a very difficult thing. My first tendencies were to drop the pagan identity of Christianity, which, never having been a church member, was not that difficult, but it was a desire based on what I saw that was wrong in Christianity as it is taught and celebrated by Mainstream Christianity.

    I first began to see that true communion had to do with the Passover, and the feast of Unleavened Bread, not merely as an occasional ritual acknowledge of His body and blood being given for us as an acknowledgement of Yehoshua’s sacrifice. I took communion frequently, but saw the depths of Yehoshua’s gift of righteousness in beginning to understand the Feasts, though I was not yet keeping them. I desired to be more like what I saw in the Scriptures.

    But a year or more ago, the Ruach intervened, and asked me to keep Shabbat. Being in regular contact with the Deity, and knowing that certain dreams and visions had been given to me for my education and guidance, I said, “Sure…I guess.” But even with my assent, putting observance into being was very difficult.

    I repeatedly forgot the sunsets, and found it difficult to even understand the preparation needed for Shabbat. And I could only keep my mind on Abba, or Yehoshua, or the Scriptures, for a half an hour before I was longing for the day to be over. It took a great deal of application of thought, and determination to recreate the pattern of my Saturdays into anything resembling a bare keeping of rest on Shabbat, much less keeping my mind on G-d…and this was despite my daily habit of many hours of research and writing that I did on various Christian forums. Shabbat would come, and all my unwillingness and rebelliousness came up, and had to be battled, and so did the world.

    It still does. I have yet to have an entire day that would be acceptable to me, although I think I managed the Talmudic requirements at least once…not that I observe those requirements, but to give you an idea of how deadly serious I am about being obedient in this. My friendships were strained for a long time, and when I officially barred the house from visitors on Shabbat that were not willing to respect it, tensions got a little high.

    You see, I couldn’t just say I wanted to keep Shabbat, as I did the Passover for years running. My friends are all Believers with genuine fruit in their walk, but they do not understand the calling to obedience that I am experiencing, and consequently, shoving it in their faces makes them feel inadequate and resentful.

    I find myself saying obedience a lot now, in speech and in writing, and I see that no matter how uncomfortable the process, I am being used to show the Hebraic side of the Bible to others.

    I have at least come to look forward to the day, and the separation of it; to prepare for Shabbat, and to attempt to refine my proper use of the day, but it is still not exactly a desire to be in compliance with the Ruach, much less G-d! It is obedience, and a very different thing altogether.

  25. We all seek to obey God as He calls us, Questor. If we are uncertain or imperfect in our observance, it is best to start out with what has been called the weightier matters of the law: charity, compassion, kindness, mercy, and justice. Being good to other people for the sake of Heaven pleases God.

  26. Keep on going Questor. It’s not easy to go against 1900 more or less years of church doctrine. Shabbat is a great time to read, learn, think, breath about HaShem. It’s also a great time to relax, sleep, eat without the hurries. Even more, it’s also a great time to forget about money, debts, work, sports, news, traffic, shopping and so one. (For these things, you have the other 6 days)

  27. James said: “We all seek to obey God as He calls us, Questor. If we are uncertain or imperfect in our observance, it is best to start out with what has been called the weightier matters of the law: charity, compassion, kindness, mercy, and justice. Being good to other people for the sake of Heaven pleases God.”

    Yes, and I agree. But having begun with weightier matters of the law as described by Yehoshua, and having practiced them for enough years to actively be pursuing charity, compassion, kindness, mercy, and justice, and being good to other people simply as a matter of my daily habits, keeping Shabbat does not seem an unreasonable thing to do, any more than keeping the moedim are.

    However, since I am in constant failure of keeping the weightier matters to my satisfaction, being merely continuously aware of falling short of doing well, it has not overly troubled me that Shabbat has not been an easy matter to accomplish. I mostly spend my time doing teshuveh, and beginning again in doing anything that YHVH or Yehoshua would like.

    alfredo said: Keep on going Questor. It’s not easy to go against 1900 more or less years of church doctrine. Shabbat is a great time to read, learn, think, breath about HaShem. It’s also a great time to relax, sleep, eat without the hurries. Even more, it’s also a great time to forget about money, debts, work, sports, news, traffic, shopping and so one. (For these things, you have the other 6 days)

    Thank you, Alfredo. I will do as you say, and revel in it.

    I am blessed by having been raised secularly, and mostly in a Pagan manner, with no exposure to church teachings, both my parents having left their upbringing behind, and the idea of G-d a forbidden topic. I even had the blessing of reading the Scriptures from the beginning of Genesis, not Matthew! All that I learned from Christianity was that I had to be perfect, and that I needed to be baptised.

    Torah never seemed strange to me, though I just thought of Torah as the commandments, and saw that a lot of them didn’t apply to me. Christianity was strange and confusing, and did not precisely welcome me. I asked too many questions that Church people did not want to answer. They were kind, but always kept me at a distance. I was lucky to find good teachers on odd channels in the middle of the night, and about five years after my baptism at 15, I began to understand what I had committed to.

    I was however, neither wise nor good, nor even well trained for a secular life, much less a G-dly one, and with no moral background to speak of, and less personal discipline, I found myself widely missing the mark on the targets I aimed for. Eventually, leaning entirely on what Yehoshua did for me and for all others who would accept the gift of Grace, I stopped viewing my inadequecies as abnormal.

    Despite my daily need to blindly crawl back up on the straight and narrow, I continued regardless of the bumps and bruises I gathered, still fascinated by YHVH and Yehoshua, and gradually began adding on, a bit here, and a bit there, a speck of the image of Mashiach that I am still trying to become like.

    I am now 59 years old, and a few things that are good have become part of me, and my daily pattern, but only because YHVH has been doing as much changing of me as I have been asking for change.

    For me, the question is not why obedience to Torah…it pleases G-d, and Yehoshua asked if we loved Him, why were we not obedient. With each commandment I approach I am doing so not in the manners, customs and traditions of the Jews, but in the simplest way the Scriptures read, and applied within my very western cultural concepts.
    Instead, my puzzlement deepens about the path I am taking with every new day I walk it.

    Why am I being drawn to a Gentile expression of the commandments in the Scriptures, and in opposition to what the Christian churches refuse to teach? Why did I start calling myself a Messianic Gentile long enough ago that when I came across the term online I was surprised and pleased to find someone else was using it? And why am I so positive that obedience is only a token of love that I can attempt to give to G-d, rather than keeping the terms of a covenant that doesn’t belong to me?

    Perhaps when Messianics understand the necessity for Torah Observance, whether as a Jew, or a Gentile, in full or in part, and we find Torah Observant Messianic Synagogues popping up everywhere, I will understand what I am doing, because I will see others doing the same thing.

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