torah service

Book Review of J.K. McKee’s “One Law for All,” Part 2

Much of this discussion has been focused around passages of the Torah detailing “one law” or “one statue” to be followed by the native Israelite and the sojourner (Exodus 12:48-49; Leviticus 24:22; Numbers 9:14; 15:15-16, 29-30). The majority of these passages actually pertain to specific legislation, where a uniform set of instruction needed to be followed. What these passages establish in a wider, theological and philosophical sense, has caused interpreters to draw a number of conclusions. Traditional Judaism widely interprets the “one law” passages as implying that the ger in Ancient Israel was only anticipated or expected to keep a minimum amount of Torah commandments, and this is followed by many of today’s Messianic Jews. Others in the broader Messianic community have held to the position that while the native Israelite and sojourner are not exactly the same, there are too many areas of equivalence, and that the sojourner was anticipated to keep the considerable bulk of the Torah’s commandments, which for many in ancient times would inevitably lead to circumcision and native status being granted.

-J.K. McKee
“Associated FAQs on the One Law Debate,” p. 130
One Law for All: From the Mosaic Texts to the Work of the Holy Spirit

This is the second part of my two-part review of McKee’s book (I published Part 1 yesterday). As I mentioned, his arguments regarding what he refers to as “Divine Invitation,” “Covenant Obligation,” and “Supernatural Compulsion” regarding how a non-Jewish disciples of the Jewish disciple should respond to the Torah mitzvot (at least within the community context of Messianic Judaism or Hebrew Roots) form the foundation of his book.

McKee advocates for the “Supernatural Compulsion” argument based on the New Covenant language found in Jeremiah 31 but, as I mentioned yesterday, since the Torah isn’t actually written on anyone’s heart yet and won’t be until the second advent, his stated motivation for a Gentile “keeping Torah” does not yet exist.

McKee dedicates about the first third of his book to explaining in great detail the passages in the Torah (listed above) related to “one law” and how the gerim or (Gentile) resident aliens among Israel were to be included and treated identically to the native Israelite in certain matters, usually related to ritual sacrifice. As McKee himself rightly states, all of the “one law” passages are conditional and do not describe a blanket commandment for Gentiles to simply enter ancient Israel and automatically be treated as a native in every single way.

I give “props” to McKee for his obviously detailed research and dedication to the topic of “one law” in ancient Israel but it almost doesn’t matter. Those passages cannot anachronistically be applied either to the Gentiles entering the Jewish worship stream of “the Way” in the first century C.E. or to we Gentile Christians, Messianic Gentiles, or Gentile One Law devotees today.

McKee even gives us the clue as to why:

…that the sojourner was anticipated to keep the considerable bulk of the Torah’s commandments, which for many in ancient times would inevitably lead to circumcision and native status being granted. (emph. mine)

I have long since asked and answered the question Whatever Happened to the Mixed Multitude and McKee has also just answered it. The commandments related to “one law” and the gerim (resident aliens) were originally created to deal with the “mixed multitude” of people (probably fellow slaves of various nationalities) who came with the Israelites out of Egypt. If they didn’t want to return to their own countries and desired to stay with Israel, what was to be done with them?

Eventual assimilation.

“You shall not detest an Edomite, for he is your brother; you shall not detest an Egyptian, because you were an alien in his land. The sons of the third generation who are born to them may enter the assembly of the Lord.”

Deuteronomy 23:7-8 (NASB)

ancient_jerusalemThis is why the “one law” passages in the Torah can never be used to justify Gentile “obligation” to Torah observance in the manner of the Jewish people among Christians in Messianic Judaism or Hebrew Roots today. They do not apply. This method of assimilation was designed to allow the resident alien, who would never be an Israelite, to enter a path so that their grandchildren would be admitted into the Israelite nation as a native. There was never an intention of a sustained multi-generational presence of Gentiles who remained Gentiles and yet were otherwise treated exactly like Israelites including in their observance of all of the mitzvot.

With the passage of time, the gerim were assimilated culturally and religiously. Doeg the Edomite, for instance, was a worshiper of YHWH by the time of Saul (I Sam. 21:8), as was Uriah the Hittite in the reign of David (II Sam. 11:11). Hence, the ger, in contrast to the nokhri, was required in many cases to conform to the ritual practices of the native Israelite. Thus, gerim were subject to laws dealing with ritual purification (Num. 19:2–10), incest (Lev. 18:26) and some of the food taboos (Lev. 17:10–16; but cf. Deut. 14:21). They were expected to observe the Sabbath (Ex. 20:10; Deut. 5:14), participate in the religious festivals (Deut. 16:11, 14), and fast on the Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:29). They were permitted to offer up burnt offerings (Lev. 17:8; 22:18; Num. 15:14ff.) and, if circumcised, even to sacrifice the paschal lamb (Ex. 12:48–49; Num. 9:14). Indeed, they, no less than the Israelites, were expected to be loyal to YHWH (Lev. 20:2; cf. Ezek. 14:5–8).

-from “Strangers and Gentiles”
Jewish Virtual Library

If you click on the link I provided just above, you can read a more detailed treatment of the subject from a Jewish point of view, but as we can see in the above-quoted paragraph, there is a long history of gerim entering Israel as resident aliens and as they married and had children, eventually their descendants were assimilated into Israel and their Gentile past was forgotten.

In order for any “one law” portions of the Torah to apply to Gentiles today relative to their (our) status among Jewish believers and our duty to the Torah mitzvot, there would have had to have been a sustained presence of Gentiles among Israel who continued, generation by generation, to remain Gentiles and yet to observe the commandments in the manner of the Israelites…

…and that population never existed. It’s as if McKee wasted the first third of his book making an argument that in the end doesn’t matter.

The later part of the book has a section called The Torah Will Go Forth from Zion and specifically analyzes the impact of Micah 4:1-3 and Isaiah 2:2-4 on the Messianic and One Law communities today. McKee does well in his description of these nearly identical portions of scripture up to a point. Then he tries to force Ephesians 2:11-12 and 3:6 into the picture.

Let’s have a look. I’ll use the NASB translation:

Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands—remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

…to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel…

Ephesians 2:11-12, 3:6

Now here’s part of McKee’s commentary (pp. 112-13)

Later questions posed in the Apostolic Scriptures, such as whether or not the nations of the Earth are somehow made a part of Israel’s polity by acknowledging the Messiah…

IsraelThis does and doesn’t seem to say that the rest of the nations of the Earth somehow “become” part of Israel, as if national Israel expands to encompass those nations, eliminating their former identities (America, Canada, Japan, China, and so on) and simply all becoming “planetary Israel” if you will.

McKee spends a great deal of time in this part of his book, which supposedly addresses Micah 4:1-3 and Isaiah 2:2-4, on the effort of including the nations as part of Israel rather than vassal nations serving Israel and her King in the coming Messianic Age, and his most outrageous statement is this:

…but it forms the thrust of what it truly means for born again Believers to truly make up the “one new humanity” (Ephesians 2:15, NRSV/CJB) that the Lord wants to see emerge. Nowhere in the Bible do we ever see the implication that the community of Israel is to remain an exclusively Jewish entity… (emph. mine)

-p. 122

I thought I was done having to tolerate the Christ at the Checkpoint anti-Israel diatribes for this year. This is the worst possible example of anti-Semitic, anti-Jewish Israel in Christian rhetoric. It’s doubtful McKee meant to come off that way. He sometimes tries to bend over backward to establish mutual respect of Christianity and Judaism. But the implications of his statement are both startling and dismaying. It’s like finding the spirit of Haman in the Church. Even the Koran claims that Israel belongs to the Jews.

And just so you don’t think I’m exaggerating, here’s a quote from the Christ at the Checkpoint Conference About Us page:

Any exclusive claim to land of the Bible in the name of God is not in line with the teaching of Scripture.

Do you see the parallels between the two statements?

McKee seems to be invoking the Wesleyan philosophy of “mutual submissiveness” and any theology that makes one party in the Messianic Ekklesia somehow superior to or even different (though equal) from another violates this principle. The idea is that Jews and Gentiles in Messiah are mutually dependent upon each other.

I actually agree with that part of it as far as it goes and as was stated by Rabbi David Rudolph in the first chapter of his (and Joel Willitts’) book Introduction to Messianic Judaism: Its Ecclesial Context and Biblical Foundations, but equality does not mean uniformity. I think McKee is forgetting that Jesus is coming back as a King! As his subjects, we will serve the King of Israel, he won’t be as submissive to us as we are to him. Also remember:

For thus says the LORD, “Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, And shout among the chief of the nations; Proclaim, give praise and say, ‘O LORD, save Your people, The remnant of Israel.’ (emph. mine)

Jeremiah 31:7 (NASB)

If Israel is the “chief” or the “head of the nations,” that means two things: 1). Israel is the leader of all the nations and the other nations of the Earth are subservient to Israel, and 2). There are other nations besides Israel in the Messianic Kingdom.

politeiaEven a quick reading of Micah 4:1-3 and Isaiah 2:2-4 lets us recognize language such as “the peoples” and “many nations” in contrast to national Israel. If we all become “Israel” and “every knee shall bow” (Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10), then there can be no other nations, only Israel with a citizenry that is multi-ethnic containing the remnant population of the entire world all as Israelis. Too many Messianic prophesies, including those cited by McKee, specifically mention Israel and the nations.

All this hinges on a single word in ancient Greek: Politeia (πολιτεία). However, I refuse to create an entire theology based on one word that’s used once in only one of Paul’s letters.

McKee’s logic is typical of the one law argument:

  1. Politeia means “citizen”
  2. Gentile believers are citizens of Israel
  3. As citizens of Israel, Gentiles must obey the same national laws as the Jews, that is, the Torah

That’s probably too simple, but you get the idea. Except that the meaning of being separated from citizenship into (or the commonwealth of) Israel is assumed. Verse 13 states, ” But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” At least in English, being “brought near” is not the same as “being made identical to.”

Also, Ephesians 3:6 speaks of Gentiles as “fellow heirs and fellow members of the body,” but “body” is not the same thing as “nation”. What body?

…so we, who are many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.

Romans 12:5 (NASB)

Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.

1 Corinthians 12:27 (NASB)

Put together, what does it all mean? I believe it means we Gentiles, though our faith in Messiah and his atoning sacrifice for humanity on the cross, have been brought into the blessings of the promise of the New Covenant, which includes the forgiveness of sins, reconciliation before God, justification, receiving the Holy Spirit, and heirs of the resurrection and a life in the Messianic Kingdom.

If I have to define my citizenship, I’d have to say that it’s in the promise of what is yet to come in the Kingdom of Messiah, and this Kingdom encompasses the entire planet which will be made up of Israel as the head of all the nations, and then all of the vassal nations that serve Israel and her King.

In that light, I can either choose to let “politeia” be a sticking point or I can factor it in to the larger Biblical panorama and let the overarching plan of God for Israel’s redemption and through her, the redemption of the world tell its own story.

Conclusion

There’s a lot more I could say (I took very detailed notes when reading McKee’s book) but the bottom line is whether or not McKee convincingly made his point that the “one law” passages of the Bible can be applied to modern Christianity as viewed through the New Covenant lens, resulting in a fused or near-fused national identity of Jews and non-Jews as a “Torah-observant Israel”.

As I mentioned, McKee did not convince me that the “one law” passages of the Torah are in any way relevant to modern believers because they were applied in a historical and cultural context that no longer exists. Therefore, “one law” cannot be factored directly into the New Covenant promises and the inclusiveness of the nations in the blessings of those promises.

While I find McKee’s application of “one law” as a “supernatural compulsion” compelling, especially given my own attraction to Jewish studies and practice, I can’t accept that the Messianic Age has already arrived, which is what would have to occur for that “compulsion” to be a result of the “Torah written on the heart.” The best I can give him here is that it is quite possible we will all be living more jewishly in the age to come, but I don’t believe that drive can be seen in the majority of Christians today.

That said, even McKee admits that Christians in the Church today are obedient to eighty or ninety percent of the Torah commandments that can be obeyed today, so perhaps the “compulsion” to obey God’s Torah is more evident than I imagine. Add to that Gentiles like me who seem naturally attracted to Jewish practices and the study of Messianic Judaism as the proper lens for viewing the Bible, and I could even say that a sort of “one law” viewpoint is one way we see evidence of the approach of the Kingdom of Heaven and the Holy Spirit preparing us for the promises of what is yet to come (not, as you can imagine, that I am advocating for “one law” as the best possible application).

And remember, even McKee says he can’t really answer when or how Christians will turn toward the Torah of Moses and the ways of God or even what that will exactly look like.

McKee’s comparison of Micah 4:1-3 and Isaiah 2:2-4 to sections of Ephesians 2 and 3 somehow establishing a worldwide citizenship in national Israel made up of a multi-cultural population just doesn’t play. In order to make it work, his protestations aside, he has to diminish God’s promises to Jews as the exclusive citizenry and possessors of Israel.

J.K. McKee
J.K. McKee
Photo Credit: Congregation Netzar Torah Yeshua

McKee’s book is an interesting but ultimately disjointed “patchwork quilt” of Evangelical and Wesleyan Christianity and Jewish practice that just doesn’t fit together (and that said, I did enjoy reading it). In denigrating certain parties within Messianic Judaism, he also reduces Jewish influence on their own  sovereignty and history, both past and future. The idea that Israel was never meant to be the sole property of the Jewish people in perpetuity completely violates God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In imposing “mutual submissiveness” as a cardinal value in Gentile/Jewish Messianic community, he misses that Kings and Kingdoms are not “mutually submissive” but in fact, Kings rule subjects and we are his subjects.

I admire McKee’s apparent effort in his scholarly investigation into the topic and his willingness to challenge the established norms typically associated with One Law practitioners. I also, as I’ve said before, appreciate his high view of the Church and his respect for traditional Christians and the history of the saints, but his even-tempered viewpoint in these areas does not successfully make all the mismatched moving parts in this theory and theology work together.

A final note. Please understand that this doesn’t mean I don’t like McKee (I don’t even know him) or that I am saying Gentiles shouldn’t appreciate or even perform some practices that are typically considered Jewish (observing a form of Sabbath, dietary restrictions, building a sukkah). There are a variety of reasons for doing so (such as being intermarried). I’m just saying, as a reviewer, that I do not believe McKee made a sufficiently convincing case based on his research, interpretation, and presentation. Your mileage may vary.

Addendum: Pete Rambo just published Part 2 of his review of McKee’s book.

Advertisements

44 thoughts on “Book Review of J.K. McKee’s “One Law for All,” Part 2”

  1. Hello James, I respect both you and J.K. Mc’Kee for both endeavoring to make the “Christian world” aware of viewing Scripture and such through Hebraic eyes if you will. I want to make a couple observations from your recent posts. Hopefully, you may address them in a future meditation, or repost if done so already. -First, The ongoing argument for promoting dialogue between Messianics and the church is a nice ideal but not readily embrazced between conregant and pastor/priest/denominational administration. Liberals are “threatened” by the likes of Dr. Michael Brown for example, and John Mcarthur too is now critiqued by certain elements within evangelical Christianity. I wonder how the Reformers of the 17th century would be received in today’s Christian climate? Dialogue seems more realized among membership i.e. Bible studies and/or Sunday school classes. 2. There seem to be 2 distinct views of church history, i.e. first few centuries. One espouses a co-mingling of Jewish Gentile worship practice, and another asserts the discord between Jew and early believer was addressed by Paul in Galatians, and the author of Hebrews. So, even before the end of century one, separation was in process. In the latter, Christ is superior to synagogue practice. The Institute for Jewish Studies which offers online courses seems to espouse this view, and are fairly dispensational in theology. Additionally, this view says nothing about religious education practice of the time beginning when children were 4-5 years-old. Disciple too was not a rare occurrence but common in that era.

    You are right to point out that the majority of Christians are disinterested in things related to Jewish roots. You may not like this next statement, but I suppose Roman Catholics did not see the need for reform posed by those proponents in the 17th century either. Is dialogue really possible in conditions like those I am referencing? If the congregant is not personally threatened by something encroaching, he or she will not see the need to act, change, or even react. Grace is preferred today over law and/or Torah seen as instruction. Obedience is defined today as hold dear or deep respect for the commands of God, usually the ten, as opposed to a concerted effort to live for God even with His aid, help and strength. Have folks like Lois Tverberg, Jeff Benner of Ancient Hebrew Research Center and Glenn McWilliams “left the church”, found a place within it, or currently on sabbatical? All 3 were formerly Protestant church members to my knowledge, McWilliams a former Lutheran minister. So, please consider both sides before coming down on McKee and one-law proponents. Sincerely, David Russell

  2. Actually, having previously adhered to a one law perspective, I have considered both sides of the debate in exquisite detail. I spent over a year struggling with the interactive dynamics between the two theological positions before making a conceptual shift in my thinking and practice. I’m not “coming down on” McKee unless you believe writing a less than stellar book review is coming down on someone. Of everything I said, my major “beef” with McKee is with his statement that Israel is not an exclusively Jewish nation. Especially given the rhetoric and violence against Jewish Israel today by Hamas as well as the worldwide media and political pundits, it’s hard to take that sort of language and not push back. There’s also the fact that my wife and children are Jewish and as a Gentile believer, I don’t see my role vis-a-vis Israel as their heritage something a can just “roll in” and claim for myself. I believe McKee is attempting to create a state of peace between Christians and Jews (and the rest of the world) but his approach is the same as those to continually “encourage” Israel to give land in exchange for peace. We’ve seen how well that worked out in Gaza to this very day.

  3. @James — Did I just read you making an association between the terms “Evangelical” and “Calvinist”? That seems almost an oxymoronic contradiction, because strict Calvinism doesn’t seem to consider that any choice is to be made and that all has been already sovereignly determined, while the nature of Evangelicalism is to preach the gospel (regardless of whether it’s the right one) so that “many and more” may become “saved”.

    Nonetheless, I believe you’ve identified key flaws in the OL argument: one being the violation of scriptures that identify Israel as distinct from other apparently-redeemed nations, another being the violation of scriptures identifying the continuing distinctive validity of Jews as the sole constituents of Israel and as the sole inheritors of the land of Israel.

  4. I may have made that mistake, yes. *ahem*

    That’s the “biggie” for me, PL. When McKee said that the Bible never intended Israel to be an exclusively Jewish state, the wheels fell off the cart. I have no idea what he’s actually thinking, but it sure sounds similar to a lot of the anti-Israel rhetoric coming from liberal churches (and other sources) these days.

  5. James,

    You said that Israel is exclusive to the native borns, however that contradicts the very fact that gentiles from the nations could join, the very fact that the nations can join Israel, is problematic for your argument. Thus, you can’t have it both ways. The only way Israel could be exclusive to native borns, is by never allowing anyone outside Israel to join, that is exclusive, but that is not what we see, instead we see a mixed multitude join the nation, they weren’t turned away, saying “no need”, as you seem to suggest. We also see, 150,000 join during Solomon’s reign. It is very normal and expected that even a multitude has joined Israel on multiple occasions. The very promise to Abraham, that he would not only be the father of one great nation, but a multitude of nations, represents this perspective easily. So, it is easy to see the validity of such a claim again, because it is nothing new. I think what throws a wrench in the argument is your view of the Messianic Kingdom, and not understanding who all the players are…

  6. I said to Jews, which in today’s context, includes those who convert to Judaism. Yes, we see a history of gerim in ancient Israel (I quoted Jewish Virtual Library in the body of my blog post in anticipation of this comment), but that was then and this is now. That process was designed to admit Gentiles into a tribal/clan driven Israel, which no longer exists. Now we have a “better promise” to become a part of through the New Covenant inaugurated by Yeshua (which the gerim didn’t have back in the day). The fact that Abraham was to be the father of many nations, not just the nation of Israel, indicates there is Israel and there are the nations, all under the rule of Messiah. Monkey wrench right back at ya.

  7. @Zion — There is a difference between “joining” Israel, which requires the equivalent of what we now refer to as “conversion”, and simply claiming to become part of “Israel” by affiliation and emulation, especially affiliation impelled by acceptance of Rav Yeshua. Rav Shaul specifically took pains to discourage gentiles from converting and taking on the entire yoke of the kingdom of heaven (i.e., Torah obligation). One might suspect that he also was reading the prophetic passages that identify other redeemed nations distinct from redeemed Israel as well as the case of the b’nei nechar foreigners in Is.56. The notion of “only native born” versus the possibility of joining is not the issue. At issue is under what circumstances is “joining” justifiable and when is it not, in keeping with the larger scriptural picture and Rav Shaul’s vehement defense of “the importance of being earnestly non-Jewish”. [:)]

  8. James this part of the article made me think about something i read yesterday from Nachmanides (Ramban) contransting Israel and the Nations. You said:

    “For thus says the LORD, “Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob, And shout among the chief of the nations; Proclaim, give praise and say, ‘O LORD, save Your people, The remnant of Israel.’ (emph. mine) -Jeremiah 31:7 (NASB)

    If Israel is the “chief” or the “head of the nations,” that means two things: 1). Israel is the leader of all the nations and the other nations of the Earth are subservient to Israel, and 2). There are other nations besides Israel in the Messianic Kingdom.” End quote.

    I do believe that Israel plays a leading role in G-d’s Redemption for mankind. Here is what i read last night:

    Captains of a cosmis voyage

    Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman was once asked: “Why must the Jews study Torah ceaselessly and practice mitzvos constantly, while Gentiles need keep only seven Noachide laws?” He answered with the following
    illustration:

    The world can be compared to a luxury ocean liner. The moment the
    passengers come on board the crew hovers over them and offers them
    comforts and amenitie. As the steward accompanies the guests to their
    staterooms, he makes one minor request: “Please take just a few
    moments to read this card which outlines the ship’s general rules and
    emergency procedures. Then relax and have a carefree voyage.”

    At the same time, the captain boards the ship, lugging a heavy
    briefcase builging with maps, charts and navigational equipment.
    Unceremoniously, the captain stations himself at the helm of the ship. He holds firm to the steering system with a grip that never loosens.
    Ever alert, the captain’s eyes study the maps and gaze out to sea to
    spot danger. Through stressful says and sleepless nights the captain’s
    vigil continues. Finally, he brings his ship safely into port.

    Thus, during the voyage the passengers are pampered while the
    captain is pressured. But when they arrive at their destination the
    passengers memely depart, whereas the captain receives praise, reward and recognition.

    Similarly, explained Rav Elchonon, the eath is a ship journeying
    through the sea of history. The nations of the world are passengers –
    while the people of Israel are captains. Thus, the Jews must deligently study the sea chart, their Torah, and use the navigational
    instruments, their mitzvos. Only then can they steer the world on a
    course toward its final Messianic destination. Only then, when the
    journey ends, will Israel, the captain of the ship, receive her
    appropriate recognition and reward.

    B”H

  9. Not to mention, sure a gentiles could join Yisrael according to Torah, but the intent was not to have all nations called to join Yisrael in regards to Torah. Meaning, the Torah included ways for those not originally formed as Yisrael (the nations) to join her. BUT, the Torah was never intended to be applied to ALL nations, for ALL nations to stream into Yisrael. HaShem simply made it possible for others to join in. But the Torah was not meant to be applied to all nations. It’s goal was to identify the nation of Yisrael as set apart from the others. They could join but the goal of Torah was not aimied at them as a people. They could join ‘the people’ yes. Then what was given to the people would apply to them.

    Meaning, just because gentiles could join Yisrael according to Torah does not mean that the Torah was given to ALL gentiles of the world to obey.

  10. I’m not sure why my quote came out messy like that, but let me try again:

    Captains of a cosmis voyage

    Rabbi Elchonon Wasserman was once asked: “Why must the Jews study Torah ceaselessly and practice mitzvos constantly, while Gentiles need keep only seven Noachide laws?” He answered with the following
    illustration:

    The world can be compared to a luxury ocean liner. The moment the passengers come on board the crew hovers over them and offers them comforts and amenitie. As the steward accompanies the guests to their staterooms, he makes one minor request: “Please take just a few moments to read this card which outlines the ship’s general rules and
    emergency procedures. Then relax and have a carefree voyage.”

    At the same time, the captain boards the ship, lugging a heavy briefcase builging with maps, charts and navigational equipment. Unceremoniously, the captain stations himself at the helm of the ship. He holds firm to the steering system with a grip that never loosens. Ever alert, the captain’s eyes study the maps and gaze out to sea to spot danger. Through stressful says and sleepless nights the captain’s vigil continues. Finally, he brings his ship safely into port. Thus, during the voyage the passengers are pampered while the captain is pressured. But when they arrive at their destination the passengers memely depart, whereas the captain receives praise, reward and recognition.

    Similarly, explained Rav Elchonon, the eath is a ship journeying through the sea of history. The nations of the world are passengers – while the people of Israel are captains. Thus, the Jews must deligently study the sea chart, their Torah, and use the navigational instruments, their mitzvos. Only then can they steer the world on a course toward its final Messianic destination. Only then, when the journey ends, will Israel, the captain of the ship, receive her appropriate recognition and reward.

  11. James,

    You are still missing the point, the point is not based on what matters now or not, the point is that the nations were able to join Israel, that in itself proves Israel is not exclusive. Its not hard to understand.

    As for your argument for “things no longer existing”, is inadequate. The Temple no longer exist, does that mean the purpose and place of the Temple is pointless or will never again serve its purpose? no. Much in the same way tribal affiliation will be restored, the tribes still matter, despite the fact that they have lost their distinctions. Thus how the Torah views gentiles inclusion and how it is possible still matters, despite the fact that the options of a Theocratic Israel no longer exist.

  12. Shilshom,

    The Torah is intended to go the nations as various prophets make this point. Second, Israel’s purpose was not to look different for the purpose of looking different, it was for the purpose of representing God on this earth and drawing the nations to the God of Israel, to serve Israel’s God, and not their own.

  13. Zion, it’s exactly the point since “One Law” points to the ancient gerim as the reason why Gentiles should observe all of the mitzvot in the modern era. Also, Israel is exclusive. The gerim (and I stated all this in my review) were never meant to be a multi-generational population of Torah-observant Gentiles living among Israel. Their descendants were always meant to be assimilated into Israel and become Israel as natives by the third generation. The Gerim compared to modern Gentile disciples of Yeshua is a comparison of apples and oranges.

  14. @PL

    There is a difference between “joining” Israel, which requires the equivalent of what we now refer to as “conversion”, and simply claiming to become part of “Israel” by affiliation and emulation, especially affiliation impelled by acceptance of Rav Yeshua.

    Sure, but I am referring to the kingdom of Messiah. Current Israel, as a nation, is not a Theocracy, and Jewish communities around the world do not speak as a governing force, only communal. To me that changes everything, its like not having a Temple, we simply cannot see that aspect of Torah fulfilled or performed…

  15. “Nowhere in the Bible do we ever see the implication that the community of Israel is to remain an exclusively Jewish entity…”

    Methinks his version of the Bible omits Jer 31:35-36

  16. Concerning Israel being exclusive:

    “For from their beginning, I see them as mountain peaks, and I behold them as hills; it is a nation that will dwell alone, and will not be reckoned among the nations.” – (Num.23:9)

  17. @Zion
    Sure hope that was a typo, I didn’t take you for the backstabing type. It’s more than a screen name like Zion, it’s my real name.

    You seem to see the Torah as HaShem’s great evangelical tool of the OC. At least that’s the way I see what you’re describing to me here. And that is exactly the point I disagree with. Your saying HaShem gave the Torah to Yisrael like he gave Messiah to Yisrael. Both ministry’s are basically the same. They call all the world to be apart of her. But this is wrong. The Torah called all ‘Yisrael’ and allowed other ‘individual’s from the nations to be His called out people from all the nations. However, Yeshua calls ALL people ‘to himself’ not to the Torah given Moses to Yisrael. Before Yisrael enjoyed the presence of the Father through Torah, today we enjoy the presence of the Father through Yeshua and the giving of the Spirit. Before ONLY Yisrael was called to worship in the mishkan, through Torah. Today all nations are called to worship in the newly make Mishkan, not by our hands but by HaShem’s. Our bodies. Our very own sacrifice that the Father has blessed us with.

    The Torah was never a general call to all nations. Messiah’s Torah is though. What Yeshua spoke is a call to all nations. But many are making what he said as something that the Father spoke to Moses.

    It never escapes me that much of Messianic theology ignores or glosses over the indwelling of the Spirit of God and the new way of ministering the Word of HaShem Yeshua engaged in and brought fourth. It always seem to dwell on things past instead of things to come, or negates that which as come as something that is only just appearing on the horizon. Here but not yet…… sigh… The reason I sigh is because I just don’t believe it. The reason I don’t believe it is not because I’ve been taught different by Christians, but because in all my time with HaShem and Messiah I have never been convicted that this is true.

    But I’d never call you a trickster or a hustler because you disagreed with me 😉

  18. James,

    Zion, it’s exactly the point since “One Law” points to the ancient gerim as the reason why Gentiles should observe all of the mitzvot in the modern era.

    Earlier you said, One Law points to Politeia, so which is it? 😛

    One Law perspective, looks to gerim as an example, for how a gentile who is now part of Israel through the Messiah, should respond, One Law, does not assume we are gerim living 3000 years ago… lol.

    Also, Israel is exclusive. The gerim (and I stated all this in my review) were never meant to be a multi-generational population of Torah-observant Gentiles living among Israel.

    Again though, Israel is open to people joining, true exclusion would not allow this…

    The Gerim compared to modern Gentile disciples of Yeshua is a comparison of apples and oranges.

    Agreed, its purpose should only serve for an example, not a doctrinal stance. As disciples of the King of Israel, our affiliation is found in Him alone.

  19. @James, you made a comment about a patchwork of various theologies that doesn’t quite fit. It seems to me that this is what theology is: You find some pieces that fit, and when the rest of the pieces don’t fit, you force them, and then you throw out anything that messes up the picture.

    When he said that churches keep 80-90% of torah, perhaps he meant that theoretically, rather than practically, as the undercurrent of antisemitism and denigration or minimization of the place of Israel violates torah big time.

    I think we can see parallels to, for example, a person seeking US citizenship. All persons residing, even temporarily, within the US have to obey its laws, yet don’ have the same privileges, such as voting or running for office. There is a process toward citizenship, and if a resident alien never becomes a citizen, his/her children born in the US will be citizens. The immigrant generation will retain much of the ways of their former country, and perhaps not speak the language well, although their children will jettison many of the foreign ways and their speech and habits will not be differentiated from others.

    Gentiles in HR claim to keep one law, but they do not dwell among us (the Jewish people) or seek to assimilate among us. Many claim they don’t need to, as they have created various theologies that make them descendants of Israel without being Jews.

    I am going to assume that the mixed part of the multitude was a small minority, 5% or less. There was no danger of the Sons of Israel being overwhelmed by foreigners with foreign ways.

    Israel has a problem now with illegal African immigrants, most of which have no interest in either the religion or purposes of Israel, but are economic refugees. These groups become sources of crime and blight, although a few do assimilate and identify with Israel.

    As far as the CATC situation, there are those, including Jews, who see these people as confused brethren, rather than the enemies of Israel. I suppose that is one weakness of religion, to believe something despite facts to the contrary because you want to believe it.

    I believe when Yeshua returns, there will be no more Christianity, and no more of a lot of things.

  20. James said:

    Even a quick reading of Micah 4:1-3 and Isaiah 2:2-4 lets us recognize language such as “the peoples” and “many nations” in contrast to national Israel. If we all become “Israel” and “every knee shall bow” (Romans 14:11; Philippians 2:10), then there can be no other nations, only Israel with a citizenry that is multi-ethnic containing the remnant population of the entire world all as Israelis.

    I certainly do not believe every nation joins Israel, Abraham was not going to become the father of all nations, but a multitude of nations. The Messianic Kingdom, will consist of nations who were spared because of God’s great mercy, and not because they serve or even want to serve the God of Israel, at the end of the Messianic Kingdom, we still have 1/3 of the nations turning against God. These are people who have not put on the resurrection and would not be considered citizens…

  21. Rabbi Sacks explains Bilaam’s words: “What then do Bilaam’s words mean? Ibn Ezra says they mean that unlike all other nations, Jews, even when a minority in a non-Jewish culture, will not assimilate. Ramban says that their culture and creed will remain pure, not a cosmopolitan mix of multiple traditions and nationalities. Netziv gives the sharp interpretation, clearly directed against the Jews of his time, that “If Jews live distinctive and apart from others they will dwell safely, but if they seek to emulate ‘the nations’ they ‘will not be reckoned’ as anything special at all.

    R. Sacks also said:

    I have argued (in Future Tense) against the interpretation that has become popular in modern times, namely that it is Israel’s destiny to be isolated, friendless, hated, abandoned and alone, as if anti-Semitism were somehow written into the script of history. It isn’t. None of the prophets said so. To the contrary, they believed that the nations of the world would eventually recognise Israel’s God and come to worship Him in the Temple in Jerusalem. Zechariah (8: 23) foresees a day when “ten people from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.’

  22. I don’t believe I said that “One Law points to Politeia” I believe I said that McKee was trying to make it go there, which I disagree with. I also don’t agree with your interpretation that “the nations” are just the nations who are not attached to the God of Israel in Messianic Days. The prophesies speak of the nations coming alongside Israel to worship God, thus there are two national “entities”, Israel as the head of the nations, and the rest of the nations who worship God.

  23. @Laluq52, Great comment about Rabbi Nachman. Now Israel carries the burden, and rather than being honored, is despised and attacked. But Israel will rule the nations and be the head and not the tail.

    McKee’s, “Israel is not exclusively for Jews,” sounds like 2-house rhetoric, which fits with some who claim he is a closet 2-houser, which is akin to illegal aliens who sneak in because there is something they enjoy or wish to appropriate for themselves without going through the long, arduous process citizenship entails.

  24. @ chaya1957,

    Thank you! It is not Rebbe Nachman but Nachmanides (the Ramban) in his work to his son Nachman. It’s called – “A Letter For the Ages”.

  25. And we should remember that those who are made the head are commanded to humble themselves and serve the most. So to believe this makes gentiles second class citizens is like saying the one whom honor and grace is bestowed is in a lower class than he who is used to bestow it upon them. Hey! you want to be the first born son who must be responsible for all the others? Or do you want to be the adopted son who was redeemed and honored by your older brother? I’ve not met many who want to be the servant, truly. Most want the gift, and run from the service. From my experience.

    Yisrael is to serve the nations with Yeshua at the head. The nations are being served righteousness and glory. How can you think them as second class? They are the ones receiving the blessings of the promise, made to Yisrael. To see oneself as second class would mean your jealous of the one who is tasked with being the servant? You want to serve instead of be served? You want to be the worker instead of the one being worked for? You want the position right next to Messiah? When there are other positions that benifit from Him without having to sit ‘next’ to him. As if he loves the others less? WHY?

  26. @ Shimshon,

    Who said that G-d fearing Gentiles are second class citizens? If this is what you believe you have missed the point of that story.

  27. NO no no….I was referring to how one law adherents commonly cry that our MJ (scriptural) postion in regards to Jews and gentiles makes them second class citizens. I think the fact I try to type in a third person without the use of ‘you’s made it seem like ‘I’ was saying this. I’m not.

    Many one law Messianics claim we make them feel like second class citizens of Yisrael with our (so called) BE expressions.

  28. Rabbi Dr. Stuart Dauermann recently wrote a blog post about how Gentiles are not second class citizens in the Kingdom. This is a difficult concept to grasp while contemplating Bilateral Ecclesiology and it’s a little easier to comprehend when also reading the comments below his missive. Of course, there will always be some who will be put off by this idea that we can be first class citizens of the Kingdom but still not the same as the Jewish citizens.

  29. @Shimshon, sorry it was a typo of your name… I was not trying to call you a shill.

    Deut 4, tells us that Israel, in keeping the Torah, will be a testimony and an example for the nations, and the nations would be wow’ed by their God.

    You said that only after Yeshua came, did He start to draw all to Him. That is not accurate, God has been drawing people to Him before Yeshua came, and the Temple was always intended for the nations to come and worship God, see Solomon’s prayers in Chronicles. Israel and Israel’s King (Yeshua) are purposed to bring the message of God to this World…

  30. @Zion, thank you. I know we have had our battles in the past but I had assumed we had both matured in these years past. I have come to appreciate your input. 🙂

    What you said about Deut 4 is true, but you seem to stop short right where the text would prove your point wrong.

    Deut 4:6…….when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’
    7 For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the LORD our God is to us, whenever we call upon him? 8 And what great nation is there, that has statutes and rules so righteous as all this law that I set before you today?

    These rhetorical questions indicate plainly that there is no other nation on earth ‘that has statutes and rules so righteous as all (Torah) this law ….

    And here is the clincher,

    That ‘I’ set before ‘you’ today.

    To further prove this point one only has to read a few verses more and we find:

    11 And you came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, while the mountain burned with fire to the heart of heaven, wrapped in darkness, cloud, and gloom.
    12 Then the LORD spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard the sound of words, but saw no form; there was only a voice. 13And he declared to you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, that is, the Ten Commandments,and he wrote them on two tablets of stone. 14 And the LORD commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and rules, that you might do them in the land that you are going over to possess.

    HaShem spoke to Yisrael, Yisrael heard the sound of words…and HaShem declared to Yisrael his covenent, which he commanded Yisrael to perform….HaShem commanded Moshe at that time to teach Yisrael …the Torah…that Yisrael might do them in the land.

    Nowhere do the scriptures indicate this Torah was given to ANY other nation. If any others of the nations wanted to join, they could. By joining Yisrael. But the Torah given Yisrael was never ‘given’ as well to the nations. In the form of commandments and rules. If one wanted to be near to HaShem and his Word one would have to enter Yisrael or they would remain far off because the Torah was never given to them as a gentile nation.

    So I don’t find your use of Deut 4 too convincing. Yes, the nations would awe at the closeness in which the living God of the universe was in relation to Yisrael. But the Torah was never intended to be ‘applied’ to all nations as given to Moshe.

  31. @Shimshon

    Nowhere do the scriptures indicate this Torah was given to ANY other nation. If any others of the nations wanted to join, they could. By joining Yisrael. But the Torah given Yisrael was never ‘given’ as well to the nations. In the form of commandments and rules. If one wanted to be near to HaShem and his Word one would have to enter Yisrael or they would remain far off because the Torah was never given to them as a gentile nation.

    So I don’t find your use of Deut 4 too convincing. Yes, the nations would awe at the closeness in which the living God of the universe was in relation to Yisrael. But the Torah was never intended to be ‘applied’ to all nations as given to Moshe.

    I think you misunderstood my point, because I completely agree with you, we cannot apply the Law of Moses, contained inside of a covenant, to those outside of the covenant, such as the nations in the general sense, unless they are under its jurisdiction, which would be if in the Land of Israel, or in the Messianic Kingdom where the entire world will be under the jurisdiction of Israel, this is basic covenant 101… 😀

    From a One Law perspective, gentiles in the Messiah are similar in relation to the Ger (a covenanted gentile) and from my understanding, have a greater position than the Ger, and is thus responsible to the covenant regulations as one being in covenant would be responsible… While I know you will disagree, this is a One Law perspective…

  32. Enter your comment here…James, Props to you for doing this book review. I thought you gave a fair and balanced review. I enjoyed reading it.

  33. Thanks, Troy. My “partner-in-crime,” Pete Rambo who is a one law proponent has been really gracious in his response to my review, especially since on his blog, he gave a rather glowing report on the book. I’ve yet to see any really serious pushback (name calling and the like) as a result of what I’ve written. I’ll probably synthesize my review into a single page and post it on Amazon in the next few days to share my assessment with a wider audience.

  34. @James… The waters seem sufficiently stirred over here… I didn’t see the need. 😉

    I was waiting on a follow-up to your question of me on my blog… I answered, but know there was a reason behind the question.

    @Troy Mitchell … Was it your albums I was enjoying so much this evening? Nearly have Yoke of the King and Light of the World memorized! Love them and love the passion and use of talent!! Blessings!

  35. James wrote: “The commandments related to “one law” and the gerim (resident aliens) were originally created to deal with the “mixed multitude” of people (probably fellow slaves of various nationalities) who came with the Israelites out of Egypt. If they didn’t want to return to their own countries and desired to stay with Israel, what was to be done with them?”

    “Eventual assimilation” Hmmm…

    I wonder… aren’t we gentiles walking that path today?

    We read in Jeremiah 31:33-34 “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

    I know.. I know that is new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah (Jeremiah 31:31)

    But aren’t we wild olive tree branches partaking of the root and fatness of the olive tree?

    Aren’t we all (Jews and Gentiles) going to be eventually assimilated into the Kingdom of Heaven, run in the millennium by Yeshua HaMashiach who in turn, will lead us into the Olam HaBa?

    At the end, I think it is all about “Eventual assimilation”

  36. Actually, I meant that in the days of Moses and even into the days of Ruth and Solomon, a Gentile could become a resident alien within national Israel and take on the requirements for the Ger that are specifically stated in the Torah. That Gentile’s descendants would be fully assimilated into Israel within three generations. Look at Ruth. Who is her grandson? David. King David, father of Solomon. Fully assimilated within three generations.

    No, we Gentiles today aren’t along that path because the Bible speaks of Israel and the nations all worshiping God in the Messianic future. If all Gentiles were destined to be assimilated into Israel in the Messianic Age and beyond, then there would only be Israel and there would be no other nations.

    Alfredo said:

    I know.. I know that is new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah (Jeremiah 31:31)

    But aren’t we wild olive tree branches partaking of the root and fatness of the olive tree?

    You missed a few steps: Here’s a summary of how the New Covenant works.

    In very ancient times, Gentiles could enter Israel as resident aliens with a strong overlap of responsibilities to God and the nation as possessed by the native-born, but their descendants would lose their distinctiveness within three generations and be fully indistinguishable from people whose ancestors went all the way back to Abraham.

    Today, we Gentiles are allowed to be grafted in to the root by our Abrahamic faith in the seed of Abraham and partake of the blessings of the New Covenant as sort of resident aliens, but probably more like citizens of vassel nations that have sworn fealty to Israel and her King. The big, big difference is that we will never assimilate into Israel and become Jewish (unless we convert) and are expected to retain our national identities perpetually. That’s why the general “one law” set of assumptions don’t fit into the New Covenant model.

    Isaiah 49: 22-23 (Stone Edition Chumash) says:

    “For thus said my Lord, Hashem/Elohim: Behold! I will raise My hand toward the nations, and to the peoples will I hoist my banner, and they shall bring your sons in their arms, and your daughters shall be carried on [their] shoulder. Kings will be your nurturers and their princesses your nurses; with faces to the ground they will prostrate themselves to you; the dust of your feet will they lick; and you shall know that I am Hashem, that those who hope to Me shall not be ashamed.”

    The haftarah portion for today speaks of the nations being very subserviant to Israel, which means we not only don’t become Israel, but we serve Israel as the head of the nations who which the rest of the nations on earth are the tail. Not very flattering, but I believe this is God’s future plan for redeeming national Israel and the Jewish people, and through them, the rest of Creation…us.

  37. @James: you wrote “The big, big difference is that we will never assimilate into Israel and become Jewish ”

    I was not talking about Gentiles being assimilated into Jews.

  38. Being assimilated into God. I know this isn’t how you mean it, but that sounds like those eastern religions where one’s consciousness is absorbed into the great consciousness and we lose all individuality. I guess the way I see it in terms of Covenants and Kings is that all of us who have been faithful will one day, in the resurrection, be citizens of the Kingdom of God, the Messianic Kingdom, but we’ll all still live in our individual nations. I imagine we’ll be saving up our vacation money for various pilgrimages to Jerusalem for the moadim. What a glorious time that will be. The Temple will then truly be a House of Prayer for all people.

  39. Yes. That might sound like those eastern religions, but you are right. I’m not meaning it that way.

    On the other hand, I see the Messianic Kingdom the way you describe it, with a little twist here and there, but in the same way in general terms.

    But, in my statement (“Aren’t we all (Jews and Gentiles) going to be eventually assimilated into the Kingdom of Heaven, run in the millennium by Yeshua HaMashiach who in turn, will lead us into the Olam HaBa?”), I was thinking a little bit further (1000 years ahead actually).

    We still have to go through the “Ama Traksin” and get to our final destination…

  40. Thank you Pete. Yes, that’s me. I really appreciate your kind words. I pray that it continues to bless you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s