supernal torah

Discovering Myself by the Light of Torah

Question:

I came across your site and wow–I really want to become Jewish. My mother was a fairly devout Italian Catholic and my father an Anglican skeptic who never went to church. I was always so confused. But now your site has really turned me on to Judaism, a real coming home for me. What’s my next step?

Response:

Your next step is to become a better person. Develop greater faith in your soul, in your destiny, and in your Maker. Do more good, reach out to more people. Learn more wisdom, apply whatever you learn, and make life worth living.

But you don’t need to become Jewish to do any of that. Plenty of wonderful people doing beautiful things in the world are not Jewish, and G‑d is nonetheless pleased with them.

-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
“Should I Convert to Judaism?”
Chabad.org

My wife was reading this in an email newsletter from Chabad last Friday afternoon. As I came home from work, I passed by her and happened to glance at what she was viewing on her computer. I briefly saw the title and was intrigued (since she’s already Jewish and conversion is a non-issue for her). Later on, I looked up the article and read through it.

The full content of what Rabbi Freeman wrote is astonishingly applicable to the debates we see happening between the Messianic Jewish and Hebrew Roots (particularly One Law/One Torah) movements. I recently became aware of an online dialog discussing whether the One Law/One Torah movement should or should not be considered a “Judaism”. Some of the more well-known pundits in that space were saying “no” based on the requirement to distance themselves from the large body of Talmudic authority and rulings (subsequent commentary indicates the opinions being expressed are more complicated, but that has little bearing on what I’m presenting here).

This is in contrast to how First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) Founder and President Boaz Michael recently defined Messianic Judaism in his “Director’s Letter” in the Fall 2014 edition of Messiah Journal, p.10:

To me, Messianic Judaism is not just a Jewish-flavored version of Christianity. If I was asked to define Messianic Judaism, I would say, “Messianic Judaism is the practice of Judaism coupled with the realization that Yeshua of Nazareth is the Messiah, the New Testament is true, and the kingdom is at hand.”

Rabbi Stuart Dauermann in a recent blog post, quoted the first five of The Hashivenu group’s seven core principles, which also defines Messianic Judaism:

  1. Messianic Judaism is a Judaism, and not a cosmetically altered “Jewish-style” version of what is extant in the wider Christian community.
  2. God’s particular relationship with Israel is expressed in the Torah, God’s unique covenant with the Jewish people.
  3. Yeshua is the fullness of Torah.
  4. The Jewish people are “us” not “them.”
  5. The richness of the Rabbinic tradition is a valuable part of our heritage as Jewish people.
Boaz Michael
Boaz Michael

Rather than emphasizing the sufficiency or the primacy of scripture to the exclusion of all other considerations or practices as does One Law/One Torah, Messianic Judaism can be thought of in the manner of the other branches of Judaism in accepting, in addition to the primacy of Torah, all of the history, traditions, customs, wisdom, and interpretations of the great Jewish sages as part of their legacy, heritage, and lived daily experience, and added to all that, “the realization that Yeshua of Nazareth is the Messiah, the New Testament is true, and the kingdom is at hand.”

In his reply to the non-Jewish writer who was inquiring about conversion to Judaism, Rabbi Freeman continued:

You see, there’s Judaism and there’s Jewishness, and the two are not one and the same. Judaism is wisdom for every person on the planet and beyond. We call it the Torah, meaning “the teaching,” and it’s a divine message to all human beings containing the principles that much of humanity has already accepted as absolute truths. The idea that human life is beyond value is a teaching originating from Torah, as is the related concept that all human beings are created equal. So too, the right of every individual to literacy and education was brought to the world through Torah. And world peace as a value and goal was preached exclusively by the Torah and its prophets thousands of years before it became popular in the rest of the world. And of course, the idea that there is a single, incorporeal Being who creates and sustains all of reality, and is concerned over all that occurs with each individual, thereby giving each person, creature, event and object meaning, purpose and destiny–this is a core teaching upon which everything else rests, and the central teaching of the Torah.

That’s Judaism. Then there is Jewishness. To be Jewish means to belong to an ancient tribe, either by birth or by adoption (a.k.a. conversion).

I invite you to click on link I provided above and read R. Freeman’s entire commentary (it’s not very long). He says some amazing things about the comparison and contrast of Judaism and Jewishness. It seems, on some level, anyone who is responding to God through the basic presentation of the Torah and the awareness presented by Judaism can access God through that template, that is, through the relationship Israel has with God as understood through the Torah, but that “Judaism” isn’t the same as “Jewishness”.

Tribes have rituals. So do Jews. Males of the tribe wear particular items of clothing, such as tzitzit and kippot. Women keep a certain mode of modest dress and married women cover their hair. Men also wrap leather boxes containing parchment scrolls on the heads and arms every morning, while robed in woolen sheets with more of those tzitzit tassels. In our services, we chant ancient Hebrew and read from an ancient scroll. We have holidays that commemorate our tribal memories and establish our identity as a whole. Certain foods are taboo and other food is supervised and declared fit-for-the-tribe. Nope, you can’t get much more ancient-tribal than any of that.

The point is, none of that ritual stuff was ever meant as a universal teaching, except perhaps in a more generalized way…

Now, what I’m saying is not very PC nowadays. We live in a world of hypermobility. Not just because we own our own cars and reserve our own tickets online to go anywhere, anytime–but because we imagine our very identities to be just as mobile as our powerbook. Pick me up and take me anywhere. Today I’m a capitalist entrepreneur, tomorrow an Inuit activist, and the next day a Californian bohemian. And we can mix and match–today, you can be Italian, Nigerian, Chinese and Bostonian all in the same meal. So who is this Freeman character to tell me which tribe I belong to and which not?

To be frank, because this Freeman character considers the hyper-identity scheme to be a scam, a mass delusion and a social illness. You can switch your clothes, your eating habits, your friends, your social demeanor, your perspective on life and maybe you can even switch to a Mac. But G-d decides who you are, and the best you can do is discover it.

It almost seems as if Rabbi Freeman were borrowing his arguments from those I’ve recently heard expressed in Messianic Judaism, but maybe it’s the other way around. If indeed we consider Messianic Judaism as another branch of Judaism alongside the other branches, it stands to reason that how they think of “Judaism” and “Jewishness” should be similar, in this instance, to the Chabad among the other Judaisms.

At the same time, there are also Jewish disciples of Yeshua; their Jewishness remains significant, and it is central to their unique identity. Unity in corporate prayer between Messianic Gentiles and Jews is a beautiful and powerful testimony of Yeshua’s greatness. Such unity can only exist in a setting in which members are aware of their respective roles within the people of God.

-Aaron Eby
“Declaration of Intent for Messianic Gentiles,” p.47
First Steps in Messianic Jewish Prayer

Stand aloneOne of the “issues” that comes up, and Boaz Michael discusses it in the aforementioned “Director’s Letter” from Messiah Journal, is that Messianic Judaism has some difficulty in identifying the role of the Messianic Gentile within Jewish community. This, as I’ve mentioned before, is also one of my personal challenges, although I am not involved in face-to-face Jewish (or any other kind of) community at present. Still, every time I do “Jewish stuff,” it is prudent of me to be mindful of that community and to at least try to imagine what my role as a Gentile should be.

Gentiles who devote themselves to Yeshua of Nazareth are not only disciples; they are his subjects, and he is their King…

These Gentiles are no longer separated from Messiah or “alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenant of promise” (Ephesians 2:12). Instead, they share in the inheritance and the destiny of the whole nation. In keeping with this identity, the God-fearing Messianic Gentile should not hesitate to join the Jewish people in formal prayer.

As Messianic Gentiles engage in these prayers, they must not lose sight of their own important and esteemed position as the crowning jewels of the nations.

-ibid

I previously wrote a two-part review of Mark D. Nanos’ paper ‘Paul’s Non-Jews Do Not Become “Jews,” But Do They Become “Jewish”?: Reading Romans 2:25-29 Within Judaism, Alongside Josephus’ which discussed some of the distinctive differences between “Jews” and “Jewishly” as it might have been perceived by the apostle Paul (and Nanos’ paper is now freely available online at the Journal of the Jesus Movement in its Jewish Setting (JJMJS) website).

I received a number of pointed responses based on the controversial nature of the topic, but then, the idea of Gentiles operating in Jewish religious and communal space as equal co-participants tends to get controversial.

If I can take Rabbi Freeman’s commentary and adapt it to the Messianic Jewish and Gentile framework, then it seems, as the Rabbi suggests, that Gentiles are perfectly free to take the higher principles of the Torah as universal, but should reserve those rituals that are specifically “Jewishly” for the “tribal” Jewish people as the Rabbi defines them.

R. Freeman finished his response with the following paragraph.

I believe that what G-d wants from each person is that s/he examine the heritage of his ancestors, discover the truths hidden there and live in accordance with them, knowing that this is what his Creator wants from her/him. The truths are there because all of human society was originally founded upon the laws given to Adam and to Noah, along with those laws that all the children of Noah accepted upon themselves. These truths are found by examining one’s heritage through the light of Torah. The Jewish Tribe are the bearers of that light. But you don’t need to become Jewish to partake of it. Light shines for all who have eyes.

Granted, he isn’t writing with the Messianic Gentile in mind and our status in relation to Israel through our devotion to Messiah Yeshua isn’t the same as a Noahide, but I believe his basic point is essentially the right one. Jews, as tribal members (although Israel isn’t truly tribal in the modern era, they inherit was belongs to the tribes as their descendents), are the original possessors of the Torah including all of the tribal rituals assigned to them by God. The rest of us, once we are drawn to Israel by the light of Torah and the light of Messiah, discover the truth of the Torah by its light from within our own national and ancestral contexts. This is why a Gentile approaching Messianic Jewish prayer does so along a somewhat different trajectory than a Messianic Jew.

Torah platesThis is why my upcoming personal Shabbos Project is traveling a somewhat different path and why I’ve had difficulty in attempting to interpret the path as it applies to me. I’ve come to a sort of peace with it now that Shabbos is approaching and I no longer feel intimidated about having to “get everything right”. The point of the experience is to experience God, not to worry about my level of observance. I’m not going to look anything like an Orthodox Jew nor should I ever try. I want to honor God and enter His presence and with that uppermost in my mind and heart, the rest will take care of itself with a little judicious preparation.

In some ways, I’m facing the Shabbat for the first time and already I’m discovering more about myself and who I am through the Shabbat and the light of Torah, which is the portrait Rabbi Freeman has so aptly painted.

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30 thoughts on “Discovering Myself by the Light of Torah”

  1. James,

    I came across your site and wow–I really wanna become a Noachide!

    A little early morning humor…

    In all seriousness, I do enjoy this site and, in a weird way, am thankful for it. It gives me the chance to say things like the following:

    I’m reminded of an email response I once received from David Rudolph in which he provided a rebuttal to One Law–or rather he outsourced a rebuttal to One Law by citing to the following (I may have the exact references wrong but it refers to the same works and authors):

    (1) Jewish Law in Gentile Churches: Halakhah and the Beginning of Christian Public Ethics by Markus Bockmuehl;
    (2) The Book of Acts in its Palestinian Setting by Richard Bauckham
    (3) ” ‘One Law’ and the Messianic Gentile” (Messiah Journal 101 (2009)
    (4) “Divine Invitation: An Apostolic Call to Torah” (FFOZ, 2010)

    Now, I’ve read those and would summarize the rebuttal as follows:

    David Rudolph believes (and Bockmuehl, Bauckham, FFOZ) that the Jerusalem Council was not a first-century denunciation of idolatrous practices that were all contextually linked in first-century pagan rites and simultaneously a call for non-Jews to sever ties with pagan spheres of influence–RATHER, Rudolph believes that the Fourfold Decree of the Council is based on Leviticus 17-18 and proto-Noachide Laws.

    Here’s why that’s nonsense:

    (1) non-Jews wouldn’t have associated pniktou (things strangled) with Leviticus (because that term doesn’t appear there) or Noachide Laws (which we have ZERO evidence existed in First-Century, see Wedderburn) but rather with pagan temple rites (see Philo, Special Laws 4.122);

    (2) if the Decree did refer to Leviticus then the non-Jews would think the Council was calling them proselytes because in Lev 17-19, in all cases referred to by Rudolph, the Septuagint uses “proselutos”;

    (3) non-Jews would’ve associated porneia with eidoluthota–a pagan contex (Rev 2:14, 20; 1 Cor 5:11; 6:9; 10:7-8). After all, the basic meaning of eidolothuton is something offered to a cultic image/idol (see Savelle, A Reexamination, also Proctor, also Witherington’s Socio-Rhetorical Commentary);

    (4) lastly, if the Decree was intended as Noachide (i.e. moral law) then that would beg the question “what/where is a complete list of good which Gentiles must enforce with moral laws?” In other words, the Decree would’ve created more questions than it answered. Because to avoid moral relativism one must resort to Revealed Law in Torah and then one may not categorize Torah into moral and immoral laws (also see Savelle and Wedderburn.

    Shalom,

    Peter

  2. Rabbi Freeman wrote: “Judaism is wisdom for every person on the planet and beyond. We call it the Torah, meaning “the teaching,” and it’s a divine message to all human beings containing the principles that much of humanity has already accepted as absolute truths.”

    Coming from Chabad, this is a shocking statement. In point of fact, neither Chabad nor any other form of Orthodoxy I know of believes that the Torah is meant for non-Jews (apart from the Noahide laws). In their way of thinking, the issue is not only who received the gift of the Torah but who has the capacity to understand it. The founding and central document of Chabad, the Tanya, specifically states in its first pages that Gentiles do not have the same kind of neshama as Jews and are therefore not capable of learning the deep things of Torah; they will inevitable misunderstand them. I have also heard this stated in person by an Orthodox teacher and second-hand from a Gentile who was further instruction when it began to touch on areas that are intended only for Jews, who alone have the quality of soul to understand them.

    To be frank, I don’t know much of what is in the rest of the Tanya because I so profoundly disagree with this kind of distinction between Jews and Gentiles. IMO, this supposed distinction comes from a very dark place. I lost any motivation I had to learn more of what the Tanya has to say.

    The profound difference between Jew and Gentile is found in what Christians describe as “calling,” NOT in the area of capability.It is essential that Messianic Jews understand clearly why, and in what way, we were designated to be a source of blessing to the rest of humanity. (See Genesis 22:18, 26:4, and 28:14.) It is equally essential for Messianic Gentiles to understand the same thing, otherwise those who are attracted to Jewish spirituality will blur the line between those who have this calling and those who do not.

    James, I believe that you have a very healthy personal relationship with the Torah, specifically in its traditional Jewish expression. You can learn from its wisdom at the same time that you are very conscious that Talmud, Midrash, and all that followed in the tradition was created by, and intended for, Jews. You see it as a source of blessing while understanding that it is not meant for you in the same way as it is meant for Jews.

    R. Carl Kinbar

  3. @Questor: Thanks.

    Peter said:

    In all seriousness, I do enjoy this site and, in a weird way, am thankful for it. It gives me the chance to say things like the following…

    Self-expression isn’t one of your problems, Peter. Actually, my upcoming review of Aaron Eby’s book “First Steps in Messianic Jewish Prayer” maybe something you’ll appreciate. It publishes tomorrow morning, if you’re interested. Yes, there will be parts you’ll disagree with, but I think the book is a “must have” for anyone interested in the traditional prayers including their origins and development. It even comes with a minimalist siddur with the prayers in English and Hebrew.

    As far as the whole Acts 15 debate goes, I’m not going to waste your time and mine on attempting to address your points. We both know we’re not going to convince each other and that we’ve speaking more to an audience, the regular readers plus those who “surf in,” than to each other.

    Nevertheless, I went through Acts 15 in some detail in my six-part Return to Jerusalem series (the link leads to part 1) if you or anyone is interested. It’s heavily based on D. Thomas Lancaster’s Chronicles of the Apostles Torah Club series from First Fruits of Zion, and I understand that they’re not exactly your cup of tea.

    @Carl: I was kind of surprised myself, although Rabbi Freeman, as one of the public and online “faces” for the Chabad, seems to be more accessible to a wider audience, so I imagine he crafts his messages very softly and carefully for the sake of their reputation.

    You said:

    The profound difference between Jew and Gentile is found in what Christians describe as “calling,” NOT in the area of capability.It is essential that Messianic Jews understand clearly why, and in what way, we were designated to be a source of blessing to the rest of humanity. (See Genesis 22:18, 26:4, and 28:14.) It is equally essential for Messianic Gentiles to understand the same thing, otherwise those who are attracted to Jewish spirituality will blur the line between those who have this calling and those who do not.

    I agree with what you say about Israel’s role as a blessing for the nations, which is clearly spelled out in the Abrahamic covenant. There’s another aspect to Gentiles who are attracted to the Torah. One response, and a very typical one, is “blurring the line” between Jews and Gentiles in the Messianic movement, but there’s another extreme, that of feeling pushed away. This is the extreme many Gentiles in Hebrew Roots point to when encountering people like me and messages like today’s blog post.

    I mentioned reviewing Aaron’s new book in tomorrow’s blog post, and one of the points I make (will make) is that he is attempting to strike a balance between inviting Gentiles into Jewish prayer without blurring identity and distinctiveness, which isn’t an easy thing to do. My developing relationship with the Torah is an ongoing attempt to find that balance, but I don’t know if it’s a place Gentiles have been in nearly two-thousand years. In Boaz Michael’s “Director’s Letter” in the latest edition of “Messiah Journal,” he states one of the greatest challenges facing Messianic Judaism is the role of the Gentile. Rudolph and Willits also include this in their book “Introduction to Messianic Judaism,” and I believe it’s a profound truth, not just of the movement, but of the fundamental meaning and relationship of Jews and Gentiles in Messiah.

    On an even more basic level, the search for our role isn’t just the distinctiveness of Jewish vs. Gentile, but our very identity as disciples of the Master and children of God. It’s the search for the Divine in each one of us. In that, regardless of our DNA or ethnicity, we must discover ourselves as sacred individuals and recognizing that, come to the realization that every human being on the planet is sacred and holy to God. When we treat ourselves or anyone else with disrespect (and I’m as guilty of this as anyone), we are desecrating something holy.

    I think that’s the meaning of Torah for all our lives, it’s the teaching that God has given us to learn over our lifetimes. Blessed is the person who takes this teaching, learns it, embraces it, and then walks where it leads for it leads to the Messiah and who each of us is uniquely in him and of him.

  4. * The Rabbi is just putting that guy off. If one really wants to convert, they will not stop pursuing it and it will happen.
    * Everyone is Jewish, they just don’t know it yet. (a “soul” is a level of attainment with the creator, but in corporeality we have actions we have to go through and one of them is conversion.)
    * Also, if Messianic is Judaism, then quit “riding the fence” and join Judaism. That’s my never to be humble opinion. (joking tone here)

  5. James, you wrote: “I agree with what you say about Israel’s role as a blessing for the nations, which is clearly spelled out in the Abrahamic covenant.”

    The essential passage is 15:8-13. “Messiah Journal” will be publishing my article on those verses (and especially their sources in the Tanakh) beginning with the next Issue. I think you will find it relevant to the rest of your reply to my comment.

  6. James, My source is a personal friend. We may or may not agree on everything he says, but he brings down halakkah & always sources it. He brings a different view than many Rabbis and is very pro-non-Jew, unlike many Rabbis. He actually is fighting for non-Jews to be treated well… you’d have to listen to him more to get to know him. He has a huge heart. Rabbis pushing non-Jews away is not in the non-Jews best interest. But they won’t tell you that, as you see…

  7. sorry I need to clarify: “Rabbis pushing non-Jews away is not in the non-Jews best interest. But they won’t tell you that, as you see…” Meaning, from the Rabbis view point it is not in the Jews best interest. You see Jews believe that non-Jews can have a portion of the world to come, so the Rabbi is just throwing out crumbs. Now Christians may have a different belief. This is from Judaism point of view.

  8. Should I google your sources & see if I can come up with some smut? 🙂 Dig deep & listen to the man personally.

  9. Did I say “smut?” 😉

    There’s so much “information” on the web that it’s prudent to check them out. Actually, I disagree with this gentleman’s opinion that all Gentiles must convert to Judaism based on the Apostle Paul’s position in his epistle to the Galatians. His opinion also goes against the prophesies that both Israel and the nations have a place in the Messianic future and in the world to come. If we all convert to Judaism as our only option, then there will be no Gentiles in those futures.

  10. Being Torah Observant in a non-Jewish way, since we are outside the tribe, is the key, I think. Taking on the trappings of Orthodox Messianic Judaism in a Jewish way simply irritates most Jews, Messianic or not. Tsit-tsit on a tallit are specific tribal identity markers for Jews, as are laying Tefillen a part of ritual that Gentiles do not require to worship G-d.

    One can identify with and support Israel, and all Believers in YHVH without dressing up as a Jew, or pretending to be one.

    But attraction to Torah for Messianic Gentiles is Holy Spirit driven…Abba wants us to be as obedient as we can be, without losing our own identity.

    Walking, thinking and copying Yeshua’s mindset and actions as a good disciple should does not require us to mimic Yeshua’s tribal dress, customs and culture, whether 1st Century, or 21st Century.

    It is our hearts that are to change, and our behavior…not our appearance.

  11. I agree with all of Torah and keep Gods seventh day Sabbath. However your language in here of Torah being Jewish I do not agree with. It is not a jewish thing it is a God thing, its Gods words not Jewish words. Juda is one of the 12 tribes of Isreal. Gods word is not ascribed to the Judeans it is ascribed to all people of the world and it was presented to all 12 tribes of Isreal. Judah is not special, as we know God is not a respector of persons. Also all strangers that came into Isreal were adopted into Isreal and when they were adopted in they kept and followed Torah and had access to the promises of Abraham and Isreal. Naturally now Yashua is our high priest but I think you should consider these statements. Any statement stating that Gods Word is Jewish comes only out of pride.

  12. @Marcus — I see that we need to bring you up to speed on info that has been clarified previously in this blog. Briefly, since the return from the Babylonian exile 2500 years ago, the surviving remnants of all twelve of the tribes began to be re-gathered into the territory from which they had been exiled, which was known as the Kingdom of Judah. Since that time, all Israel has been known as “Judeans” or Jews. This reunited people had been divided for a few centuries as the sister kingdoms of Israel and Judah, which is why Jeremiah addressed these two names in his prophecy about the new covenant in chapter 31. He was, however, still referring to solely the entirety of the Jewish people whose ancestors had been rescued from Egyptian slavery and given the Torah at Mount Sinai as the means by which they would conform themselves with HaShem’s covenant that embodied His promises to Avraham. This covenant and the so-called “new” covenant were both made solely with the Jewish people for the express purpose of fulfilling those promises. That is not a source of pride but rather it is a reflection of HaShem’s faithfulness; and it is a responsibility that Jews have held in trust for 3500 years (regardless of many occasions when even we were unsuccessful at keeping it fully).

    According to our historical records in Torah and the Prophets, the number of “strangers” absorbed into the Jewish people known as Israel has always been few. But, while Rav Shaul strongly emphasized that non-Jewish disciples of Rav Yeshua should not convert to Judaism (described in terms of the requirement for males to become circumcised), he took great pains to insist that their reliance on the sacrificial martyrdom of Rav Yeshua was sufficient to cleanse them from iniquity (if they would cooperate with its implications).

    The halakhic decision of the Jerusalem Council of Emissaries, described in Acts 15, clarified gentile freedom from legal obligation under Torah, while still expecting that they learn Torah so as to understand how a number of its principles are nonetheless applicable to guide them toward uprightness. While they do not become members of the Jewish people or the Jewish covenant(s), they are enabled to receive HaShem’s gracious unmerited favor and thus obtain benefits similar to those that Jews receive via these covenants. Indeed, righteous gentiles can obtain a commendation from HaShem even higher than that of Jews, because they alone are able “to go above and beyond” what is required of them vis-à-vis HaShem’s Torah, whereas Jews can only, at best, rise to meet the challenges of what they are expected to do.

    So, while the Torah is a reflection of “G-d’s words”, it was given to the Jewish people to administer and interpret and apply — and it thus continues to be very much an exclusively Jewish literature, even though its benefits and blessings extend outward from the Jewish people to encompass the entirety of humanity.

    As for the phrase “respecter of persons”, I answered that about 10 hours ago in my response to you under James’ essay entitled “The Faithful Servant”.

  13. @Marcus

    In re-reading this blog, and the comments, I was reminded that everyone worldwide who read the Scriptures…Tenakh and Brit Chadashah…automatically include themselves as a part of Israel when they become Beleivers in Yeshua, even though they are not Jewish, and do not wish to become so.

    They merely want to be Children of G-d.

  14. Marcus, you’re a classic supersessionist, a Christian who believes that he has replaced the Jewish people in all of God’s covenant promises and has to put his boot on Jewish necks to prove it. You are clearly unfamiliar with Jeremiah 31, Ezekiel 36, and all of the other prophecies about the New Covenant, which was made only with the house of Judah and the house of Israel. We Gentiles are never mentioned in the New Covenant language, and it takes a bit of investigation to discover how we’re connected at all.

    Christians aren’t Israel. We were never intended to be. If what you say is true, then it violates prophesy including Amos 9:11-12 which specifically distinguishes Israel and the nations called by His Name in the Messianic Era. If we all become Israel, then there are no nations called by God’s Name, thus Amos becomes a false prophet.

  15. Epistle to Romans 10:12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.

  16. Not really unless you take a single verse out of context and ignore the rest of the Bible, particularly the aforementioned Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36. It’s the problem some Christians have when they start with Paul and read backwards rather than starting with Genesis and reading forward. Oh, here’s my opinion on Romans 10 for reference.

    Marcus, we could keep this up all day long and never convince each other to change our minds, so if you are somehow imagining you’re going to dazzle me with some sort of hermeneutical brilliance, that’s unlikely to occur. Also, please keep in mind, you chose to comment on my blog uninvited, and while I like to think of myself as a gracious host, there’s only so much productivity we can get out of a back and forth debate like this. If you haven’t done so already, please read my comments policy and remember, posting comments here is a privilege, not a right.

    Thank you.

  17. YOURE……NOT……..SPECIAL………ALL HAVE COME SHORT OF THE GLORY OF GOD. Maybe you need to do some reading on the blacksliding of Judah and where in Jeremiah God said they were worse than Isreal. All the tribes of Isreal were sinning against God. What God does hate is PRIDE. Ezekiel 16:49? Proverbs 6:16 Juuuuust maybe you should consider them. First on the list?……PRIDE

  18. YOU……..ARE………NOT………SPECIAL. Nothing is out of context. You need to do some reading on Gods views on pride….no wait let me spell it this way so you dont miss it. PRIDE…first check Ezekiel 16:49 and then Proverbs 6:16. Whats first on the list? Oh and wait.
    Proverbs 11:2 When pride cometh, then cometh shame: but with the lowly is wisdom.
    Proverbs 13:10 Only by pride cometh contention: but with the well advised is wisdom.
    Proverbs 29:23 A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.
    Hosea 5:5 And the pride of Israel doth testify to his face: therefore shall Israel and Ephraim fall in their iniquity; Judah also shall fall with them.
    You know when God gave his law and holy days to Isreal he said that they were his feasts, Gods feasts. Not Isreals feasts. They were Gods and they were for all mankind. His law and rightousness is for all men who seek him and obey him because if you read his word you know God resisteth the proud and gives grace to the humble. All he cares about is that you fear him follow him and do rightousness and love him with all your heart and love your neighbor as yourself.
    Your Torah lesson for today.

  19. Marcus, I suppose we could reduce this conversation to name calling if you desire. Is that sort of behavior really how you choose to follow God and do righteousness? Do you have any other point to make before I close off your end of the dialog? I’ve been patient with you, but that patience has limits.

  20. Oh really!! Name calling??? Where??? and what is your statement to me? Putting my boot on Judahs neck??? oh man the pot calling the kettle black. lmao!!! What am I a Nazi SS officer? look in the mirror pal.

  21. Sorry if the truth hurts

    Note from the blog owner: Further posts from this commenter will not be accepted on this blog due to violation of the comments policy.

  22. Concerning the issue of pride and the unique calling of Israel.

    First of all, I can’t imagine why James, who is not Jewish, is accused of pride because he asserts that Jews have a unique calling that differentiates them from Gentiles. Would a man be proud if he asserted that women have a unique calling?

    That said, as a Jew I also assert that Jews have a unique calling. The readers of this blog are also familiar with the great number of scriptures and arguments that support his argument. But I would like to highlight one factor that relates specifically to the sin of pride.

    The Tanakh is a most unusual Holy Book in that it not only includes, but emphasises, the sins of its own people. Its entire account of Israel’s history is permeated with Israel’s idolatry and other sins that anger God.

    Yet there is a parallel narrative woven into the fabric of the Tanakh that is epitomized in Hosea 2:19-20 – “And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. Then you will know Hashem.” Shaul’s comment that “All Israel shall be saved” is right in line with Hosea’s prophecy, for salvation and the knowledge of God cannot be separated.And we understand that this all depends on the merit of Messiah.

    We understand that Israel, burdened with our sins past and present, remains a people God created to be a source of blessing to the nations. We understand Shaul’s statement that “Messiah has become a servant to the circumcision [aka “the Jews”], in behalf of the truth of God,, to confirm the promises to Fathers, and for the nations to glorify God for his mercy” (Romans 15:8-9a).

    I do not deny that some Jews believe that our uniqueness rests on something inherent in us as a people. Of course, there is no biblical basis for that belief. What I claim, and what all of my Jewish friends believe, is that we are unique solely because of God choice, which he made and maintains despite our sins.This does not glorify Israel; it glorifies God, who is ever faithful to his promises.

    Hosea was not proud because he uttered God’s words of betrothal to Israel. Shaul was not proud because of these statements he made about the Jews.

    Far from producing pride, these things humble us and stimulate our love for God and his Messiah and a desire to fulfill our calling.

    R’ Carl Kinbar

  23. Thanks for the comment, Carl. It’s far too easy for some folks to take a few verses out of context and make them say whatever fits their theology. Hopefully I’m not guilty of the same thing but that’s why I try to continually study.

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