Messianic Judaism for the nations

Messianic Judaism for the Rest of Us

In November of 2014, the Caspari Center in Jerusalem invited me to participate in a panel discussion titled “Four Different Views on Messianic Judaism.” It wasn’t a debate, but rather just an opportunity for the panel members to express their own thoughts on the subject.

-Boaz Michael
from The Director’s Letter: “Four Different Views on Messianic Judaism,” p.8
Messiah Journal, issue 118/Winter 2014/5775

I’ve been having an interesting discussion in a closed Facebook group dedicated to Messianic Judaism in relation to my blog post Will Our Children Have Faith. Some of the dialogue addressed issues of Jewish and non-Jewish roles and responsibilities within the Messianic community and whether or not there should be any significant presence of Gentiles in Messianic Jewish synagogues.

Then the current issue of Messiah Journal arrived in my mailbox and I start reading Boaz’s latest “Director’s Letter.”

In an earlier letter presented in issue 117, Boaz said:

When I say that “Messianic Judaism is the practice of Judaism,” I mean to imply that we should regard ourselves more of a functional sect of Judaism rather than another Protestant Christian denomination.

In the current letter (pp.7-8), Boaz acknowledges:

I realize that this definition of the Messianic movement is not to everyone’s taste, and that many Messianic Jewish leaders would phrase it differently, but I believe that Messianic Judaism should be a real Judaism — not a Jewish flavored sect of Protestant Christianity.

I agree that statement would not work very well for many, most, or all Protestants, and probably not for many, most, or all Hebrew Roots Gentiles either. But here’s where I think Boaz is coming from. Remember that Boaz and his family made Aliyah and moved to Israel, specifically Jerusalem, some months ago. He stated earlier in his letter:

Messianic Judaism in Israel is faltering and fragile, and Messianic Jews here face enormous pressures. For the most part, Messianic Judaism in Israel has been raised up under the heavy influence of Missionary Messianic Jewish theology, and the Messianic congregations in Israel are sometimes more like Pentecostal churches than Messianic synagogues.

-Michael, p.7

I know nothing of Messianic groups in Israel, but I’ve attended plenty of Gentile-driven Hebrew Roots groups over the years here in the U.S., and their services are often some form of “Jewish-lite,” with a few really seeming like typical Evangelical or Pentecostal churches with a little Hebrew thrown in for seasoning (and to be fair, a few of them strongly attempt to map to a more authentic synagogue service).

But Evangelical and Pentecostal Christianity is where the movement came from decades ago and the influence of the Church on the Messianic movement can still be keenly felt, particularly, as Boaz points out, in Israel.

However, I’m building to a point which is to call out a few details about the four perspectives Boaz presents in his letter. The presenters, other than Boaz, at the Caspari Center for Biblical and Jewish Studies were Seth Ben-Haim (UMJC; MJTI), Baruch Maoz (Soli Deo Gloria), and Alec Goldberg (Caspari Center).

Mr. Maoz’s perspective on Messianic Judaism matches how Evangelical Christianity sees the role of believing Jews; that Jesus replaced the Law and that a Jewish Christian is no longer obligated to observe the mitzvot. Mr. Ben-Haim’s view is the polar opposite and coincides with Rabbi Mark Kinzer’s conception of Bilateral Ecclesiology as presented in his book Post-Missionary Messianic Judaism: Redefining Christian Engagement with the Jewish People.

Boaz’s definition of Messianic Judaism is represented by four points, which I’ll present in summary here except for point four which I’ll quote in its entirety:

  1. Peace, particularly between believing brothers and sisters and between Jews and Gentiles.
  2. Torah observance for the Jew in Messiah.
  3. Observance of the traditions in Messianic Judaism.
  4. Gentiles: I stated that, since the kingdom is represented by both Jews and Gentiles worshiping together, Messianic Judaism today should have a mechanism and broad enough self-definition to include Gentile disciples in positive and affirming ways. This is the message of Messianic Judaism for the nations.
Boaz Michael
Boaz Michael

As you can see, Boaz’s definition of Messianic Judaism is very inclusive of non-Jewish disciples, although it’s true that he didn’t specify what sort of mechanism should be used to “include Gentile disciples in positive and affirming ways.” He did mention the phrase “Messianic Judaism for the nations” which also appears on the website of Beth Immanuel Sabbath Fellowship located in Hudson, Wisconsin. Beth Immanuel is led by one of First Fruits of Zion’s (FFOZ) head teachers D. Thomas Lancaster who has also been a good friend of Boaz’s for many years. The fact that Beth Immanuel seems to have a leadership that is mostly Gentiles and presents itself as “Messianic Judaism for the Nations” may be the mechanism Boaz had in mind.

But this doesn’t change the need of Jews in Messianic Judaism to belong to wholly Jewish community and to live completely Jewish lives of performing the mitzvot and observing the traditions, just like their other Jewish brothers and sisters in other branches of Judaism.

Going back to the panel discussion, the wild card in the deck seemed to be Alec Goldberg. Boaz expected Mr. Goldberg to agree with Mr. Maoz’s understanding that Jesus replaced the Law, but he was in for a surprise:

He said, “I have come to realize that as a Jew, I am called to live out the Torah.” Goldberg explained that the prophetic-kingdom promise of the new covenant in Jeremiah 31 had revealed to him that the Torah is part of the new covenant: “I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts” (Jeremiah 31:33). Moreover, he had come to realize that the Jerusalem Council of Acts 15 which exempted Gentiles from circumcision and obligation to the Torah’s Jewish identity markers said nothing at all about exempting Jews from any aspect of the Torah. Since the Jerusalem Council did not address Jews in their ruling, he deduced that they intended Jewish believers to remain faithful to Torah.

-ibid, p.10

Actually, from my perspective now, Mr. Goldberg’s conclusions seem fairly obvious, since the problem the Jerusalem Council was trying to solve was what to do with all the Gentiles, not how has devotion to Messiah changed Jewish obligation to Torah. Jews and the Torah weren’t on the table, so to speak. Only trying to figure out how Gentiles were receiving the Holy Spirit without first converting to Judaism. The answer was that conversion was not necessary and thus Gentile Torah observance was not incumbant upon them, only an Abraham-like faith in God through Messiah. But like I said, Jews and Jewish Torah observance weren’t even on the radar screen.

At one point in his letter, Boaz wrote, “I could hardly contain my enthusiasm over Mr. Goldberg’s remarks.”

It seems that on occasion, a person’s long-held and firm beliefs can be changed thanks to regular and diligent Bible study and the influence of the Holy Spirit upon a human life.

I’m writing this “meditation” for a few reasons. I wanted to present the fact that there’s no one, overarching definition of Messianic Judaism. I wanted to show that there are Jews who (sadly, in my opinion) view Messianic Judaism in the same way as Evangelical Christianity, taking a low view of Torah, of religious Judaism, and of the traditions. I wanted to show that, at least in this one limited context, the majority of Jews present supported Messianic Jewish Torah observance as well as adhering to the traditional lifestyle of religious, ethnic, and cultural Judaism. And I wanted to show that at least one of those definitions was accepting of a Gentile presence as “Messianic Judaism for the Nations.”

I do want to make sure to add one thing:

While I truly do respect Baruch Maoz for his tireless years of service to Messiah, I cannot find much common ground with his theological perspectives. His view that the Torah is canceled and Jewish believers in Yeshua have no obligation to it has been the prevailing view among Jewish believers here in Israel. Mr. Goldberg’s words offered me hope that things are changing.

-ibid

The very first point in Boaz’s definition of Messianic Judaism is peace. While he and Mr. Maoz may disagree, there is no animosity between them and Boaz acknowledges Mr. Maoz’s years of tireless and dedicated service to the cause of Messiah among the Jewish people.

When Boaz mentioned having little common ground theologically between him and Mr. Maoz, I couldn’t help but think of my many conversations with the Pastor of the church I used to attend, and how that lack of common ground finally resulted in me leaving the Church again. The Pastor is an intelligent, well-read, and well-educated man who is faithful to God and a dedicated shepherd to his congregation. He’s a good person in the faith, but alas, we have greatly divergent perspectives, just as do Mr. Maoz and Boaz Michael.

There are some churches and some Pastors who will benefit from the inclusion of a “Messianic” within their midst but I found that my church environment was not one of them. Ultimately, we all have to be the people God made us to be and follow the path He has put before us.

But there’s hope. As Boaz said, people are changing. Jews are recognizing Messiah without the Goyishe mask the Church placed on his face nearly twenty centuries ago, and they’re recognizing that there is no inconsistency between living a Jewish life and being a Jewish disciple of the Master. Gentiles, for our part, are also meeting the “Jewish Jesus” for the first time, and once we get over the shock, are learning to accept him as who he is and accept ourselves as who we are in him.

Messianic WorshipWho we are as Messianic Gentiles isn’t exactly how the Church defines a Christian, but it’s an exciting role which leads in new and unexpected directions. The Bible, studied from within a Messianic perspective, tells a radically different story about God’s redemptive plan for Israel and through Israel, God’s redemptive plan for the world.

I don’t know how it’s all going to work out yet. There are a lot of roadblocks in the way. We must not discount the power of God to make happen what He promised He would do, even if we haven’t a clue about what comes next.

Boaz finished up his letter by saying:

Things are indeed changing, and HaShem is at work restoring his people and preparing us for the kingdom. We are part of something much larger than ourselves; we are part of what God is doing today. I went home rejoicing over the opportunity to participate in the conversation at the Caspari Center, and I thanked God for opening the door.

If God can open the door that Boaz walked through, He can open doors for the rest of us. We must be patient. We must be ready.

As you read this, I am traveling. I won’t be near a computer to approve any comments until this evening at the soonest. I’ll return when I can. Thank you.

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42 thoughts on “Messianic Judaism for the Rest of Us”

  1. James said “The answer was that conversion was not necessary”…. Thats True!! con’t “and thus Gentile Torah observance was not incumbant upon them, only an Abraham-like faith in G-d through Messiah.”

    So an Abraham like faith? through the same faith Yeshua proclaimed i.e: The Commandments of the G-d of Israel [which is what I assume you mean by the phrase “through Messiah”] and as we read more than two hundred years before Sinai, Abraham is obeying all of HaShem’s requirements, commands, decrees and laws. This is the first time we see mitzvot being obeyed when it is not apparent when HaShem revealed His mitzvot. We do not know whether He made a special revelation to Abraham, or whether Abraham was taught by someone else.

    The Talmud in tractate Yoma also noticed that Abraham kept the whole Torah:

    Yoma 28b Rab said: Our father Abraham kept the whole Torah, as it is said: Because that Abraham hearkened to My voice [kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws]. R. Shimi b. Hiyya said to Rab: Say, perhaps, that this refers to the seven laws? — Surely there was also that of circumcision! Then say that it refers to the seven laws and circumcision [and not to the whole Torah]? — If that were so, why does Scripture say: ‘My commandments and My laws’?

    Raba or R. Ashi said: Abraham, our father, kept even the law concerning the ‘erub of the dishes,’ as it is said: ‘My Torahs’: one being the written Torah, the other the oral Torah.

    So we all can see Abraham kept the Torah and some argue the Oral Torah…. Now if Gentiles our to have faith from a judaic perspective instead of the hellenistic christian perspective…. One can view Acts 15 as a ruling to encourage Gentiles to gradually take on more of the Torah as they learn it each Shabbat and through fellowship with other Jews. We can’t forget that these gentiles as a whole were into idol worship, ritualistic sacrifices to foreign gods, and had a greek mentality about sex…. minus the last part I [about sex] most gentiles already in the movement of MJ do not have that problem today.

    So if gentiles are to be apart of Judaism then the they need to gradually [Not overnight] take on the Torah and follow the ways of authentic jewish observance by observing fellow male and female Jews, who are devout in practice…..

    The distinction of a gentile (which I’m sure you may want to bring up) is presented in a way that brings unity to the movement and I must say that the FFOZ Sabbath Table Siddur is the best example of Jew and gentile distinction.

    Overall, If FFOZ keeps on this path of Orthodoxy to MJ then this will probably become the Standard for the movement, which would be a blessing. Again there Sabbath Table Siddur is the best example of distinction.

  2. TOBY JANICKI comments: From Messiah Journal

    Rabbi Eleazar’s talmudic midrash on being grafted into Abraham and the Ramchal’s mysti- cal interpretations on the roots and branches of Israel and on the seventy nations provide some interesting perspectives on the discussion in Romans 11. Paul and the sages seem to have been drawing on a similar tradition, and even the Ramchal, who lived almost two millennia after the others, had some affinities with the grafted-in theology of Romans 11. The Ram- chal’s teaching on the “age of the roots” and the “age of the branches” offers one attempt at explaining God’s selection of Israel and the importance of the conversion process.
    The Talmud and Ramchal maintain that this grafting into Abraham (Israel) takes place through human effort. A person can only ac- complish it by going through a legal conver- sion to Judaism. The individual must remove himself from the tainted root he came from and, as a disconnected branch, be grafted into the tree of Israel.
    Paul used the same metaphor, but he did not have legal conversion in view. According to Paul, Gentile believers have been grafted
    into the tree of Israel by the work of Messiah. They attain this status by submitting to Yeshua. The conversion that takes place is spiritual, not physical or legal. Paul states, “In him also you were circumcised [converted] with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ” (Colossians 2:11).
    Additionally, according to Paul, Gentile believers in Messiah who have been grafted into Israel spiritually join Israel but legally remain non-Jews. In the Talmud and in the ideas of the Ramchal, the person grafted into Israel has completely left his root nation behind and is no longer connected to it. In apostolic thought, however, the Gentile remains still physically connected to his root nation in order to help rectify it from within, spreading the knowledge of Yeshua and the gospel of the kingdom.
    Comparing apostolic and rabbinic thought demonstrates that the Master and his first disciples were thoroughly Jewish, immersed in Judaism and Jewish thought. While they sometimes arrive at different conclusions than do the rabbis, they reached those conclusions working with the same hermeneutical and exegetical tools.

    …………….

    Toby is absolutely right a non-jew (ethnically) is still a non-jew and SHOULD NEVER TRY to say otherwise….. This though still has nothing to do with….. So if your an African your an african and its the Job of the african to stay within there culture and show the Torah of G-d within that dynamic…. An African who cannot prove according to Israeli rule of who is Jewish (meaning documentation) must not lie and say there jewish all because they’re practicing Judaism, they may think and act in a manner that is somewhat jewish (which is a natural process because your practicing judaism) but ethnically and traditionally your roots are in Africa not Israel, Spiritually though your roots are in Israel, ethnically no. [this applies to indians, arabs, asians, hispanics and whites [european/american]

    lol I can’t say it anymore but the FFOZ Sabbath Siddur is a great example of distinction.

  3. What we do find strange is that by the Messianic Jews lots can be found who take Jeshua as their god. The weird thing is that when they come form Judaic roots they should know there is only One God, the God of Abraham which is also the God of Jeshua.

    We can only hope the Messianic Gentiles shall come to know the real Jesus, taking him for what he was and is, the son of God the send one from God who now sits at the right hand of God and not in god’s place on His throne.

  4. @BG — In another recent topic I described Rav Shaul’s olive tree metaphor as referring to a community of faith-filled individuals who trust HaShem. Remember the reference to branches that may be broken off and those remaining doing so only by means of their faith. So, “wild” gentile branches are not grafted into Israel nor into Avraham per that model. In other words, they are not converting to Judaism but rather they are accepting the nourishment of the tree that was cultivated by means of Torah. Their affiliation with Avraham is focused on a point in time before he was circumcised, when he had expressed faith in HaShem to leave his former place and “cross over” to a promised new one. At that stage his lifestyle and praxis may not yet have been reflective of the entirety of Torah, but only the Noa’hide portion of it. The other views of Avraham’s Torah observance, that you cited, appear to reflect his more fully developed state that we may infer occurred leading up to his circumcision and particularly afterward. However, it is his pre-circumcised state from which Rav Shaul inferred that the gentiles whom HaShem had cleansed were to remain exempt from legal obligation for the entire Torah such as is incumbent upon Jews. His reference to a metaphorical circumcision derived from the Colossians affiliation with Rav Yeshua was not intended to change their stance vis-à-vis Torah observance.

    @James — Baruch Maoz is an interesting character, and dedicated as you described, but his own presentation belies the use of the term Judaism. Hence he cannot really be deemed a representative of Messianic Judaism, regardless of whether he may label himself thusly. He unabashedly represents Jewish Christianity and not any sort of Judaism. And it appears I’ll need to chat with Boaz about his “definition” of MJ, because, while MJ certainly has implications for non-Jewish religious views and praxis, the full practice of MJ itself cannot be levied upon them; and even their voluntary participation in MJ functions must be limited even as it would be in other Jewish venues. Hence I’m not sure what label should adhere to non-Jewish religious praxis.

  5. PL, you might want to read his “director’s letter” first to make sure I accurately portrayed his point of view. I believe I did, but I don’t want you to chat with Boaz based on any unintentional misunderstanding of mine.

  6. “One can view Acts 15 as a ruling to encourage Gentiles to gradually take on more of the Torah as they learn it each Shabbat and through fellowship with other Jews.”

    Yes, this is the essence of how I view the strange walk of a Messianic Gentile, who as I do, may not have any Jews to fellowship with. None the less, becoming Torah Observant is the entire key to practicing Messianic Judaism, even if you do not take on the full covenant by getting circumcised in the flesh.

    For all Messianics, however, the idea of Yeshua as YHVH in the flesh, or as an agent of G-d in the flesh needs to be clarified…particularly for Jews.

    Even if we keep all the Torah that we can, in the Karaite manner, not taking the Mishna and Talmud as equivalently authoritative to Torah, we still have to discuss whether Yeshua is Prophet and Divine Messenger, and thus the agent or Sliach of G-d; or is Yeshua the Shekinah tabernacled in human flesh, and thus a part of G-d, just as my voice and right arm are parts of me, doing my bidding.

  7. Correct me if I missed something, but did I say Gentiles needed to convert?

    I proposed the position of ethnicity being someone’s ethnicity (ie: Jew is a Jew, Asian is a Asian etc..) the history that comes with that ethnic group is there’s.

    But if that person being non Jewish decided to observe the Torah in light of Yeshua’s expounding teachings then they have the right to do so while remaining Asian and all the history that comes with it.

    As Paul mentions those who are non Jews who gradually adhere to Torah are converted spiritually… Not to mention the fact that being of there culture they can be more effective at explaining the G-d of Israel to there people.

    Many apologies if my original statements were not this clear.

  8. BG, I don’t think anyone took your comments as speaking for Gentiles needing to convert…Messianic Gentiles like myself, however Torah Observant in most ways, will not likely become Jews officially or legally…we don’t need to, and since I take the Mosaic Covenant seriously, I don’t want to either. I like the New Covenant in Yeshua a lot better, but unlike many Christians and Messianic Believers that don’t understand what the New Covenant entails, I have noticed there is an obedience requirement built into the New Covenant just as in the Mosaic Covenant.

    I like being as I am, a God-fearer who rests in the righteousness of Yeshua, and keeps Torah in a basic, simple, non-Jewish way to love and honor G-d as best I can, being all too noticeably human and not very disciplined either.

    I am a Gentile practicing the extreme basics of Messianic Judaism in a thoroughly Gentile way, since I have no example around me to follow. I do this because the Ruach haKodesh suggested that I begin keeping Shabbat, and the rest of the commandments simply followed into my life like obedient little sheep. I truly believe that all Messianic Believers should do the same, but only because it pleases G-d, and is part of our relationship with Him under the New Covenant.

  9. @James — No worries, mate! Boaz and Haim (“Seth”) and I have informal conversations by which such clarifications may be offered freely, since we have the enviable privilege of meeting regularly at Haim’s home for the same havurah study of the weekly parashah. We even discuss your blog from time to time. [:)] I’ll have to ask Haim if he might have invited Alec Goldberg to drop by. Baruch Maoz, on the other hand, lives sufficiently far from Jerusalem that he is unlikely to care to visit, even if he were not philosophically opposed to the MJ Torah perspective.

  10. No problem, BG — The clarification is important because of widespread confusion over what exactly non-Jews are grafted into, even if it is only an analogy or a metaphor, and what does it imply of their status and position and responsibilities vis-à-vis the Jewish people and Torah-observance and halakhic conformity.

  11. @”Q” — You’ve been around this blog long enough to have read references to the actual definition of the “new covenant”. So you should know that the only definition of it is Jeremiah’s description in his chapter 31. So, then, considering what the new covenant actually entails, please tell me what is your opinion about the fact that this covenant is made only with Jews (referenced by Jeremiah in the form of the political division that existed in his era as the houses of Judah and Israel)? Hence your position as a non-Jew is one of obtaining the benefits of trusting in Rav Yeshua’s teachings and his sacrificial martyrdom solely by the free gift of grace and not because of this new or renewed covenant — in fact, not by covenantal contract at all. Does that leave you feeling at all uneasy, not to be under the new covenant but under “Grace” alone? What effect do you feel that should have on the notion of obedience, that you noted as an implication of the covenant that does not officially extend to you? I ask these questions in this way because of the way you phrased some of your last post, which suggested to me that some clarification would be appropriate, and which could open up another dedicated blog essay if James should be so inclined.

  12. @BG: I’m not entirely confident that Abraham had the same understanding of Torah as did Moses and the other prophets let alone the Talmudic sages. From my point of view, midrash makes some pretty incredible claims, retrofitting, if you will, Abraham with an apprehension of the Torah that wouldn’t exist for many thousands of years. I don’t think we can take “Abraham-like faith” and extrapolate it to Torah observance for Gentiles as proscribed by the Talmudic Rabbis for the Jewish people.

    The issue of Gentile grafting in is easily misunderstood and I believe somewhat nuanced. I think we don’t always take the perspective of Paul as a first century Rabbi into account. He was establishing that was absolutely unprecedented in the history of the Jewish people: defining the ekkelsia of Messiah such that Gentiles and Jews shared equal co-participation in Jewish community and faith life while maintaining the relative covenant relationship of the Jews and the Gentiles. As I’ve mentioned elsewhere, all of the covenants God made, with the exception of those with Adam and Noah, have been made with national Israel (except for certain individual covenants like the Davidic covenant of Kings). Sinai and the New Covenants mention the nations not at all, and we Gentiles only benefit from the blessings of the New Covenant by our association with Israel through faith in Messiah and his merit. Without Israel, we don’t have a relationship with God.

  13. @PL glad no confusion now lol 🙂

    @James – everything you mentioned I’m aware of and took into account, I’be been having a long discussion with Gene schlomovich on his latest blog post.

    Anyone can read the discussion (I can post my comments here if you’d like to clarify my position?)… The topic of Paul was brought up and the letter to the Romans…. I explained the position of Paul from a contextual aspect and historical …. (I’m willing to hear feedback from my discussion in regards to the Presmis of Romans, especially your thoughts PL If you have the time)

    James they way you explain Gentiles observance to Messianic Judaism at times gives the notion that Gentiles can pick and choose or as you like to say “aren’t required” / “obligated” etc…. But those definitions of what you and the many in MJ which hold your views never give specifics.. You may say that Gentiles shouldn’t do a Sabbath like there older Jewish brothers and sisters but then you don’t give details to explain your position (that’s what Christianity is know for saying: things like “stop sinning” but there congregations aren’t told the definition of sin, which we both know sin is defined by the Torah standards first 5 books) MJ needs to cut the Christians ties in how they view and look at the scriptures, Christianity has a Hellenistic/Antiochus mindset (the very thing that Chanukah represents a defeat of)….. As I’ve said FFOZ sabbath table siddur is the best example of distinction and unity. With Jew and gentile, that siddur is a good start to all the confusion in regards to distinction.

    Additionally the more Christianity reads Paul and refuses to adhere to what he was saying which was stop the anti-Semitism, stop the arrogance, stop the teachings of Christianity which sets its own path of what G-d says, stop trying to rewrite the book slapping Yeshua across it etc…. Christianity Is great to teach peace and love but they suck at when And how to operationalize that, because they fail to acknowledge the authority of the Torah the Sages and Israel…. But G-d continues to work in Christianity and is slowly bringing to light the dogma shoveled onto people from the “Church Fathers”.

    Also I’m not angry or mad or anything like that…. Just expressing thoughts, and I’m to constructive conversations

  14. Although the Didache wasn’t canonized, it very nearly was. The Didache was a very early set of “training materials” for Gentile novices desiring to become disciples of Yeshua and thought to have originated with those close to the Apostles if not from the Apostles themselves.

    The Didache represents the preserved oral tradition whereby mid-first-century house churches detailed the step-by-step transformation by which gentile converts were to be prepared for full active participation in their assemblies. As an oral tradition, the Didache encapsulated the lived practice by which non-Jews were initiated into the altered habits of perceiving, judging, and acting characteristic of one branch of the Jesus movement during the mid-first century.

    -Aaron Milavec
    from the Introduction, pg ix of his book
    The Didache: Text, Translation, Analysis, and Commentary

    Among the statements found in the Didache, as presented in Milavec’s book, the following is most illuminating:

    6:2 For, on the one hand, if you are able to bear
    the whole yoke of the Lord, you will be perfect;
    but if, on the other hand, you are not able,
    that which you are able, do this.

    -pg 19

    This seems to give a wide latitude to the Gentile novice and accomplished disciple relative to Torah observance. I’m taking this from my blog post First Impressions of the Didache but you will probably want to take a look at my more detailed reviews of the Milavec book The Didache in Retrospect, Part 1 and Part 2. I suspect that when the Acts 15 letter was disseminated to the various communities of Gentile disciples, it was accompanied with a set of oral instructions that expanded upon the written requirements. Over time, that “oral law for Gentiles” was possibly codified into the Didache, the early Messianic Jewish community’s standard requirements for Gentiles entering the faith.

  15. Thanks for the didache reminder James… I will look at it again…. I also thank you for reminding me that the oral Torah was still going around during that time and a gentile version as you say highly likely existed to help the Novice who wanted to be a disciple of Rav Yeshua.

    The didache to my remembrance sets a high enough bar for those newbies.

  16. That (the Didache) should also be a reminder to those in the MJ movement that if a gentile wants to adhere to the whole of Torah (that which is applicable) with respect to His/Her Jewish brothers and sisters that gentile should not be labeled a supersessionist (especially if they don’t espouse themselves as a ethnic Jew)…… Likewise the same can be said for the gentile who wants to observe the whole and see other Gentiles who don’t aspire to such… That gentile should not force their passion for adherence onto others in such a way that comes off as legalism and ritualistic.

  17. @”(especially if they don’t espouse themselves as a ethnic Jew)”

    They (gentiles) need also to not claim they are spiritual Jews.
    They may very well be spiritual and do Jewish things, but they
    are not Jews “spiritually” (or supercessionally) for feeling like it.

    That is not to say I agree a person with a Jewish father and raised
    in a Jewish manner is not a Jew [and other complications], but that
    does indeed need be addressed, well, within any Messianic Judaism.

    By the way, there are Jews of various ethnicities (e.g., Asian, South American).

    __________________________________________

    I appreciate the following question {by and to other persons}, which is essential: …considering what the new covenant actually entails, please tell me what is your opinion about the fact that this covenant is made only with Jews (referenced by Jeremiah in the form of the political division that existed in his era as the houses of Judah and Israel)? Hence your position as a non-Jew is one of obtaining the benefits of trusting in Rav Yeshua’s teachings and his sacrificial martyrdom solely by the free gift of grace and not because of this new or renewed covenant — in fact, not by covenantal contract at all. Does that leave you feeling at all uneasy, not to be under the new covenant but under “Grace” alone? What effect do you feel that should have on the notion of obedience, that you noted as an implication of the covenant that does not officially extend to you? I ask these questions in this way because of the way you phrased some of your last post…

  18. @PL “Q”— You’ve been around this blog long enough to have read references to the actual definition of the “new covenant”. So you should know that the only definition of it is Jeremiah’s description in his chapter 31. So, then, considering what the new covenant actually entails, please tell me what is your opinion about the fact that this covenant is made only with Jews (referenced by Jeremiah in the form of the political division that existed in his era as the houses of Judah and Israel)?

    Hence your position as a non-Jew is one of obtaining the benefits of trusting in Rav Yeshua’s teachings and his sacrificial martyrdom solely by the free gift of grace and not because of this new or renewed covenant — in fact, not by covenantal contract at all. Does that leave you feeling at all uneasy, not to be under the new covenant but under “Grace” alone? What effect do you feel that should have on the notion of obedience, that you noted as an implication of the covenant that does not officially extend to you?””

    The legal position is specific…Acts 15 makes it plain that conversion is not necessary for Gentiles to receive salvation. But then, salvation never was part of the Mosaic Covenant either. Salvation has always rested in the promises made to Abraham, which he received by faith in G-d, and acted upon. G-d gave salvation to the heirs of Abraham as a gift, and not as something that can be earned, but something that is retained by faith, and acting on that faith. The Blessings and Cursings are received in this world and the next by Jews based on their behavior, particularly as a nation, but the righteousness of a man in G-d’s eyes has not changed since Adam bit into the apple. Mankind has no righteousness, and no man is good. G-d either accepts us, or He doesn’t…His choice…His gift…He’s G-d. Yeshua’s advent was made particularly to bring that point out, and also to provide perfect legal righteousness to sin-beset mortal man because of Yeshua’s suffering and death in our place.

    The heirs of Abraham by blood and adoption took on the Mosaic Covenant to be a special people called out and separated to demonstrate God’s glory, and how the Israelites, by adhering to the commandments, received great blessings as individuals and as a nation, and alas cursing when they strayed from G-d will during this life. In the history of the Israelites is written out all that YHVH desires from His followers, and exactly what He does not want from His people, as is the fact that no one has ever obeyed G-d completely except Yeshua, No one can obey G-d completely in our fallen nature without G-d enabling him. G-d’s mercy and understanding has always fallen back upon G-d’s choice to give salvation to Abraham, then to Israel, and finally to the Gentiles…by faith.

    G-d loves me, not because I am good, but because He chooses to do love me. The fact that He called me is evident in my obsession with Him, and Yeshua; that I received the Ruach haKodesh, and that He works in my life, making me better and different bit by bit from everything I have ever been, and far different from what I ever thought to be when I was young and more of a fool than I am now.

    Once G-d showed Peter that the Ruach haKodesh could be given to Gentiles that were G-d fearers, the idea of just who is in the New Covenant was altered in a spiritual manner, and thus I was grafted into the spiritual root of Israel through Yeshua. I was not grafted into physical Israel by a vow made by my ancestors, and passed down to me, nor was I adopted into the family, but I became a part of Israel by a promise from Yeshua that if I sought Him I would find Him, and that I would be in Him, and He in me, just as He was in the Father, and the Father was in Him. And just like the promise to Abraham, it does not require anything of me but faith to hold onto the promises, and actions that show that I have that faith.

    My actions are a genuine attempt to adhere to the performance of the Noahide Laws, plus the fellowship requirements in Acts, and because I have heard Moses speak, I attempt to keep Shabbat, the Moedim, Kashrut, and other odds and ends of the Torah. I do not keep them in a Jewish manner because I know no Jews, and where not hemmed in by pagans, I am surrounded by Christians. Legally, I do not need to do more than follow the commandments thus given to Gentiles, but the Ruach asked, and here I am, adding on Torah bit by bit. Grace enables me to be the fallen, untaught creature that I am and still be loved by G-d, and chosen of Him, and even be among the elect of G-d…to become a son of G-d through Yeshua’s righteousness. I receive Yeshua’s legal standing with G-d just as you do, because G-d decreed that it would be so.

    Grace, however, is a very slippery word when used by most people. Christians have a tendency to believe that mental assent to the idea of Yeshua is all that is needed, and that actions do not matter to G-d…that only the heart, and its intent matter. I disagree. I think actions matter a great deal to G-d, just not in the same way that a Jew’s actions in obedience to the Mosaic Covenant matter, as a lot of the Mosaic Covenant is civic, tribal, and cultural in nature, not just morally so.

    In my eyes, the Mosaic Covenant was used to create a people to bear the oracles of G-d, to display His glory, and to instruct the world. I think that the Covenant people are very special indeed, and have great responsibilities to be the example of humanity that G-d wishes all mankind to follow. And then the Jews were given Yeshua, and a perfect example was given to all mankind. That there were Gentiles in the land that heard the good news of the Kingdom brought a handful of non-Jews into spiritual Israel, even though we have no legal claim on the current physical Israel, and made it plain that Gentiles were welcome into the New Covenant. Even a portion of the Kingdom in the future is not mine by anything but a gift…a decree from G-d. And so, mentally and spiritually, I automatically include myself in the people described as ‘Israel” in the prophecies if it pertains to the Kingdom. If it pertains to physical Israel of the current age, I see myself as a concerned spectator and enabler of its wellbeing.

    Grace matters to me in the same way grace should matter to you, and every other Jew who believes that Yeshua is the Messiah. Grace matters to you and to me because it spans the gap between all of our puny human efforts to conform ourselves to the Torah, and the perfection of walking out the Torah that Yeshua displayed. Grace gives me the ability to continuously do my level best to obey G-d, not just in the minimal ways that were required of me by the Jerusalem council, but in every way that I can do what is stated in Torah…what G-d would have all mankind do, were they able, and properly taught.

    Grace should never be presumed to be an excuse to not obey the commandments given to man by G-d, whether they were given to the Israelites, or not. Gentiles are not required to take on all of the Mosaic covenant in my view because there were not in the 1st century nor are there in the 21st century enough Jews to mentor us all, and to those that are really in Yeshua, the Ruach does the teaching and mentoring, working within our pagan society.

    When the New Covenant goes into full effect, the incorrupt body that Believers will have, Jew or Gentile, will have the commandments of G-d so written into our being that we can come to a hair’s breadth of violating it, and still be sure that we have not done so. Until then, grace ensures that I can keep on trying to do better every day without living under spiritual condemnation.

  19. @Marleen & whoever…. My articulation is not the best at times and I admit that, so if I wasn’t articulate then apologies.

    First let me say who in there right mind would use the offensive phrase of “spiritual Jew”? That’s no different then saying “spiritual white” or “spiritual black” “spiritual Indian” etc… Also I’m well aware that there are ethnic jews who are from Africa, Asia, and the other *70 nations etc…… (Thanks 🙂 )

    The reason I mentioned Numbers 5:11-31 in another blog comment, Is because Yes its quite obvious, there is no temple, there is no sacrifices, there are no priest in a temple, no sanhedrin, and so the Sotah waters process is quite moot. Not to mention this process described in Numbers 5:11-31 WAS NOT in use during the 2nd Temple era because of the Jewish people lack of fearing G-d… Which should tell you that at times it’s more then just “no temple” “no priest” yada yada yada …..Anyway, the MESSAGE found in that process though IS still RELEVANT… Again the MESSAGE… which one can deduce is that, Marriage is sacred and is to be a reflection of the unity in which the Creator intended, not just hot sex and passion laden material motives.., its sacred-ness also shows how G-d is always faithful to Israel and even when Israel cheats G-d will wait for either a return to Torah or He will just take them back Himself.. He is still with them and protecting and watching His people,… also another MESSAGE found, is that any type of immorality should be closely guarded against and if one is found to be un-faithful, then confessing that un-faithfulness should be in the front of ones mind (not to hide it)…. Thats why I said the MESSAGE is relevant TODAY…. Im sure a christian MINDSET type would read Deuteronomy 25:11-12 as well and think “Wow I’m glad we’re under grace now”, Again missing the point of the passage.

    PL raised a great question to “Q” addressing the obvious fact about the New Covenant found in Jeremiah. Which gentile christians have been influenced in there thinking to try and say that passage belongs to them or shall I say was spoken in reference to them.

    Which shows a big issue in the Messianic Judaism Movement and something Boaz Michael was quoted saying and thats:

    Messianic Judaism in Israel is faltering and fragile, and Messianic Jews here face enormous pressures. For the most part, Messianic Judaism in Israel has been raised up under the heavy influence of Missionary Messianic Jewish theology, and the Messianic congregations in Israel are sometimes more like Pentecostal churches than Messianic synagogues.

    Its the same in Israel as seen in most MJ shuls in the USA, Christianity’s THINKING/MINDSET of the scriptures, needs to be whisked away from Messianic Judaism, and those with that mindset need to really work at removing it from there theology, they need to challenge there assumptions put there by there own ignorance and the nicene “church fathers” ….. The whole grace vs law mentality is a foreign concept in Judaism, but yet Messianic Judaism has to combat this because of the influx of Some Jew but mostly gentile groups into the movement who are coming from there decades worth of christian influence in there lives…… by G-ds Spirit there is still hope that the movement as a whole will correct itself, but we must be patient.

    @James Have you ever looked at the Didache as possible just another Church doctrine document? Dated from early second century (that is long after Jesus and Paul). Also remember there were many groups in early Christianity, some more Hebraic than others (i.e.: like Hebrew roots of Today, or many the many churches in Messianic Judaism). The Didache looks to shares most of the classic Christian doctrines (Eucharist, getting eternal life through Jesus, fasting emphasis), but they may have *optionally* observed some Jewish rites and holy days. There were indeed Christians in the first and second century who observed parts of the Jewish calendar and Shabbat, similar to some modern day Christian groups (as I mentioned above), some even visited synagogues and sought advice of rabbis, but they were isolated and didn’t last long until Christianity stamped them out and consolidated itself.

  20. @BG: The Didache may not entire translate to the modern age since two-thousand years of Christian/Jewish enmity have happened since then. Remember, the Didache is a guide teaching Jewish mentors how to bring up Gentile novices in Yeshua-faith so they can qualify to be authentic disciples. It is doubtful even then, that the Gentile disciples would emulate Jewish practice and lifestyle 100% if, for no other reason, than the Roman empire would not recognize them as Jews and thus not permit them Shabbat (Saturday) as a day of rest. This is part of what led to the schism between first and second century Messianic Judaism and the then newly formed religion of Gentile Christianity. Thus we can’t read into this that it’s necessarily desirable for Messianic Gentiles to be indistinguishable from their Jewish counterparts. Also, the Didache makes clear that any additional mitzvot taken on-board by the Gentile is voluntary, where all of the mitzvot are obligatory for the Jew.

    @Marleen: It is true that I do not believe that Gentile disciples of the Master are actually named participants in the New Covenant (the Hebrew clearly says “new” and not “renewed”…it’s a New Covenant because it is written on hearts and not tablets or scrolls, even though the conditions of the covenant are virtually identical to the Sinai Covenant with some areas being expanded). We receive the beneficial blessings of the covenant through Yeshua-faith and by his merits. Even Abraham believed and it was counted to him as righteousness and this was before the circumcision and long before the Sinai covenant. In that sense, we merit the New Covenant blessings due to Abraham’s faith and that through his seed (singular — Messiah), the rest of the people of the world (all non-Jews) are blessed.

    @Q: Cornelius (Acts 10) was a God-fearer but he only received the benefits of New Covenant blessings, such as receiving the Holy Spirit, when he came to faith in Messiah. We “Messianic Gentiles” are not Noahides and the requirements for us more or less map to what we find in the Didache which I described in more detail in comments above.

    By the way, the New Covenant was actually inaugurated upon Yeshua’s death and possibly even before. If not, then Jews and Gentiles could not have received the Holy Spirit. The thing is, the New Covenant will not completely enter our world until the next coming of Messiah, so it’s a process, not a point event. We can and some say we must behave as if the New Covenant were fully enacted in our world today, as if God’s Word were fully written on our hearts and we “Know God” with the apprehension of the prophets of old.

    @BG again: There’s no such thing as a “spiritual Jews”. If non-Jews are drawn to God through Messiah Yeshua, it’s because we are designed to do so because of God. Many prophesies in the Tanakh speak of the nations being drawn to Hashem and making the pilgrimage to Jerusalem and worshiping at the Temple. We don’t have to be Jews, spiritual or otherwise, to fulfill God’s prophesies for the nations of the world.

    Relative to the Didache, there’s sufficient evidence for me to believe that the Didache is a Jewish document and not generated post-schism by Gentile Christianity. One reason is that it “sounds” Jewish and does not involve supersession of Gentiles over the centrality of national Israel and the Jewish people.

  21. James I said I NEVER HEARD of the Term “spiritual Jews” before, I’m shocked people have used such a phrase according to your experience and Marleens. The term is racist and insensitive imo.

    Maybe you can answer this James…. How come Gentiles in MJ are waiting for the Jewish leaders in MJ to decide what to do with them (Gentiles)? And aren’t these the same leaders who are still trying to “find themselves” and there’s no time table as to when all this will be sorted… So why are Messianic Gentiles waiting around to be told what to do and how they fit in G-ds Kingdom? What’s the resolution to Messianic Jews finding themselves and Messianic Gentiles finding there proper place?

    It’s important so the movement can move forward and quit answering the same questions every year about what MJ is

    Thanks for the dialogue 🙂 and that Didache feedback/perspective.

  22. It’s a very meticulously developed doctrine, BG. Interesting you haven’t heard of it; I thought about linking to bible verse and commentary, but there’s enough of that confusion out there. I appreciate your responses.

    PL, would you mind “answering” your own “question” (since “Q” has already responded) in terms of the wording you had in it (especially not missing concepts as to it being the political time of Jeremiah when there was Judah and Israel when a promise was given)? I don’t have “something to say” about that right now but am wondering what you would suggest. Also, I’m thinking that, while a lot of what “Q” says is quite nice (and actually I don’t think he says anything that isn’t nice), some of his additional wording is about a supposed “spiritual Israel” that isn’t exactly Israel [or I may not be understanding what he himself means): …the idea of just who is in the New Covenant was altered in a spiritual manner, and thus I was grafted into the spiritual root of Israel through Yeshua. I was not grafted into physical Israel by a vow made by my ancestors, and passed down to me, nor was I adopted into the family, but I became a part of Israel by a promise from Yeshua that if I sought Him I would find Him….

    [However, as you indicated, that tree matter may very well be only a metaphor. And, as Nanos has written, it might be one that has gone awry (and that doesn’t work very well anyway except maybe in a very brief and not extended way, probably both conceptually and historically — not extended, for both).]

  23. @ James “@Q: Cornelius (Acts 10) was a God-fearer but he only received the benefits of New Covenant blessings, such as receiving the Holy Spirit, when he came to faith in Messiah. We “Messianic Gentiles” are not Noahides and the requirements for us more or less map to what we find in the Didache which I described in more detail in comments above.

    By the way, the New Covenant was actually inaugurated upon Yeshua’s death and possibly even before. If not, then Jews and Gentiles could not have received the Holy Spirit. The thing is, the New Covenant will not completely enter our world until the next coming of Messiah, so it’s a process, not a point event. We can and some say we must behave as if the New Covenant were fully enacted in our world today, as if God’s Word were fully written on our hearts and we “Know God” with the apprehension of the prophets of old.”

    Yes, I agree that Messianic Gentiles are not Noahides. I mentioned the obligations of obedience of Gentiles to YHVH in the order Gentiles received the obligations from G-d (presuming they were at the time of these obligations aware of them at all)…first Noahide prior to exposure to Messianic Judaism, then the Acts 15 requirements for fellowship with Jews within the 1st Century Messianic Sect of Judaism, and then the voluntary taking on of any other remaining ethical, moral, and devotional commandments, such as Shabbat and the Moedim.

    I tend to think that the New Covenant was inaugurated on Yeshua’s death, but that no one became a part of it until Shavuot when the Ruach haKodesh was given, for without it, no one is empowered to act for G-d. Thus I entered into the New Covenant spiritually when I received the ‘bride price’ deposit of the Ruach haKodesh, but will not become part of the tribes of Israel until the Bridegroom comes. I am betrothed, but not a family member yet, and thus the distinction between remaining Gentilish, and not becoming Jewish at this time.

    Were I surrounded by an Orthodox Messianic Judaic community, I would convert even though it is not necessary, simply to be part of the family now, and risking taking the full burden of the Mosaic Covenant because I would have people to help me in the keeping of it. But even though I have promised to do as YHVH bids me in this matter, I still do not find any Orthodox Messianic Jewish Synagogue within a 60 mile radius, and Abba has not told me to find one…at least, not yet.

    In my eyes, Messianic Gentiles should be minimally keeping the commandments as given to Israel that are not civic, or tribal in nature, and that are not amongst the customs of the Jews unless they have been properly instructed in them, and encouraged by their Synagogue to do so. The obedience of Messianic Gentiles should be G-d oriented, and morally oriented first, (The whole of the Ten Commandments as given by G-d orally to Israel in Exodus: 1-17) then in order to maintain fellowship with the Jews, we should keep those laws as stated in Acts 15. I will go further, and state that Gentiles should be voluntarily keeping all the appointed times of YHVH if only in a simple, Gentilish manner as they are all fulfilled in Yeshua, and are a witness of Him. Further than that I do not go except as each individual chooses to do so, except to say that anything resembling Jewish practice in public should be limited to the halachah of the Synagogue you attend, and that Gentiles should adhere to the rules of their Synagogue for Gentiles.

  24. @ Marleen

    I am so glad that you find my writing ‘nice’…nothing like praising me with faint damns! ROTFLOL!!!!!!!

    As to your comment: Also, I’m thinking that, while a lot of what “Q” says is quite nice (and actually I don’t think he says anything that isn’t nice), some of his additional wording is about a supposed “spiritual Israel” that isn’t exactly Israel [or I may not be understanding what he himself means): …the idea of just who is in the New Covenant was altered in a spiritual manner, and thus I was grafted into the spiritual root of Israel through Yeshua. I was not grafted into physical Israel by a vow made by my ancestors, and passed down to me, nor was I adopted into the family, but I became a part of Israel by a promise from Yeshua that if I sought Him I would find Him….

    When I say ‘Spiritual Israel’ I mean the Kingdom of G-d, which has been in existence since Yeshua’s death, even though it is not in view to us poor mortals just yet. Who is in the New Covenant, and thus beginning to be spiritually changed and who will be entirely changed after Yeshua returns became known when the Ruach fell on the Gentiles in Jerusalem. Not just the Jews, but anyone who will. This is why when I read the Scriptures, I can place myself in view of the prophecies that lie in the time leading up to, and after Yeshua’s return, but not see myself as part of what Israel experiences just now.

    Physical Israel and Spiritual Israel are separated only by the veil we cannot see through just yet, though to me the view gets clearer day by day. The Jews have Physical Israel now, although not in full, and not renewed (all that nice land north and eastward that other people are sitting on), and will have Spiritual Israel when the physical is renewed under their governance, presumably with David handling the day to day matters of Government, and Yeshua dealing with what only He can deal with.

    I would like to think Yeshua would spend His time in the Temple, teaching, and I would love to be there, even if I have all the law bound into me, just so I can hear Him explain it! We Gentiles will have a place in the World Kingdom that Yeshua rules, just not necessarily in Israel…except by the allegiance we gave directly to Yeshua as King of Kings when we first made common cause with Him by becoming one of His disciples.

    I look always to that Kingdom that is already there both as a concept and a real existence that we will all come to, and somehow enter into…that Spiritual Israel that is just not quite joined to the earth we inhabit now. I don’t really care what I do there, so long as I have time to learn a lot of stuff, like classical piano, and the ins and outs of practical physics as taught by one of the angels not needed elsewhere, and maybe write some good history books, being able to talk to some of the people involved. There will be humans being raised up for a thousand years that will need sound practical teaching; there will be businesses to start and run, food to raise and process and serve…a whole new adventure beginning in love and peace and good will, even if the humans that come into the Kingdom as mortals still can sin and make mistakes. At least for most of it haSatan is bound, and won’t be bothering them, or us.

    Spiritual Israel is a very real and physical place, and the defining line between the Israel of now and the Israel of then is Yeshua’s return.
    In Spiritual Israel…in the Kingdom, there are no barriers between Believers at all. All of us will serve G-d in the way He wishes, and be assigned to tasks that we can perform in that incorrupt body that I long for so much, where there is no temptation to sin that I cannot fight off because the Torah is a part of my inner being, and when we no longer suffer the ills of being a broken human, and instead have the glories, peace and joy of being a whole, complete and incorrupt person.

  25. Shavua Tov, everybody!

    @BG — I would suggest the answer to your question, about why MGs are waiting for MJ determination of how they may or should behave, it that MGs are called alongside the covenant people to help and to learn. Until MJs can define their own boundaries, it is difficult for MGs to proceed. In past efforts, well-meaning MGs have inadvertently trampled those boundaries because they were themselves not equipped to know where they are — and even MJs who might have been expected to have the resources to know, have been uncertain, or perhaps misled by what might be called evangelical contamination.

    Among these contaminations was the notion that the same metaphor invoked by Rav Shaul to the Galatians, about spiritual (i.e., metaphorical) “sons of Avraham”, could be interpreted as a spiritual conversion to Judaism or inclusion within the covenanted Jewish people — hence: “spiritual Jews” (as those who could not be physical ones). It is a late reflection of the universalism that characterized post-Nicene Christianity to view all believers as one body without distinctions between Jew and Greek, male and female, or slave and free, thus depriving Jews of the particular distinctive position assigned by HaShem in Torah and covenant. Regrettably, this usage of such a term only obscured the true meaning of “spiritual Jew” as a physical one who had become motivated by HaShem’s Spirit.

    @James — regarding your response to “Q” about Noa’hides: actually MGs *are* Noa’hides, but not merely so because they add the insights and faith of Avraham; and thus are drawn to develop a closer relationship with Jews in order to receive enhanced blessings in a reflection of those that Jews derive from the covenant.

    OBTW, since the “new” covenant is described by the same word as describes the “new moon”, which is actually a renewal of the cyclical lighting phases on the same old planetoid as seen the prior month, it is likewise accurate to describe the new covenant as a “renewed” covenant in which the stipulations are enhanced — in this case by its emphasis on the more personal medium on which the covenant is written.

    @Marleen — I don’t know how I could answer my own question, since it was directed to “Q” as one that only a non-Jew could answer. But I would certainly not agree with his phrases about “the idea of just who is in the New Covenant was altered in a spiritual manner”, and “I became a part of Israel”. That is why I previously attempted to clarify that non-Jews may become partners with Israel, though not a part *of* Israel, and that the new covenant was not altered in any manner, spiritual or otherwise — which is why my question was explicit about the new covenant not extending to “Q” as a non-Jew, though he could obtain comparable benefits from HaShem by means of the unmerited favor of the free gift of grace (I know that phrasing of “favor/gift/grace” is triply redundant, but many folks don’t realize that they are the same meaning, and that the Greek “charis” (grace) is parallel to the Hebrew “hesed”).

    @”Q” — Please note that the “kingdom of heaven” did not begin with Rav Yeshua’s death — it was in existence from the beginning, with HaShem as King, just as in Rav Yeshua’s description of it (not to neglect visions of it in Daniel and Yeheskel). Note also that, since even the finest details of Torah remain valid until heaven and earth are replaced or renewed, which is only after a thousand years of messianic reign, so also the Torah’s distinctions between Jews and non-Jews remain valid in the millennial kingdom. HaShem’s Spirit upon and within non-Jews does not make them Jewish, nor citizens of a “Spiritual Israel” that becomes integrated within “Physical Israel” in the messianic kingdom. The phrase “spiritual Israel” refers only to Jews who are motivated by the attitudes and perspective (i.e., the “Spirit”) of HaShem. Non-Jews become a spiritual humanity when they are similarly motivated and enlightened, but they will always remain “the nations” even when they are “the redeemed nations” and come up to Jerusalem to celebrate Sukkot (and, quite likely, other occasions also).

    That having been said, I understand very well the feelings of non-Jews who so identify with the Jewish scriptures, people, and outlook that they are already tantamount to converts. No doubt, some of them will become so in actuality; but Rav Shaul explicitly discouraged non-Jews from acting on such an impulse, lest they fail to implement their high calling to demonstrate the redemption of the nations as such. After all, somebody has to fulfill the role of the foreigners in Is.56 and that of the nations in Zech.14:16. [:)]

  26. @BG: As I pointed out in the body of this blog post, there is no, one unified definition of Messianic Judaism, thus there is no one conceptualization as to the role of the Gentile within MJ. I can’t speak for all non-Jews associated with the movement, but for my part, it’s a matter of respect. If we are to consider Messianic Judaism as a Judaism, then we non-Jews must defer to how they expect us to operate within their house, so to speak. I understand that the Apostle Paul expected Gentiles to be equal co-participants within Jewish community as a benefit of the blessings of the New Covenant, but we still have to work around 2,000 years of enmity between Judaism and Christianity.

    @Questor: I’d have to disagree that the Kingdom or God or the Messianic Kingdom equates with the term “Spiritual Israel”. In the Messianic Kingdom to come upon the resurrection, Israel will once again be a fully Jewish nation and King Messiah will rule over Israel and over the nations of the world. This rule is physical and arguably spiritual, but resurrected people are solid, not “floaty ghosts” and our nations will be physical nations. The rest of our countries will function as vassal nations in relation to Israel, and national Israel will be the center of the world-wide, multi-national Kingdom of God.

  27. ….nations in relation to Israel, and national Israel will be the center of the world-wide, multi-national Kingdom of God. [James]

    Some have called this the “commonwealth of Israel” — but such wording as a whole shouldn’t be confused with “spiritual Israel.”

    [Note: I don’t think Questor has missed the fact the people and nations, and Israel, of the Kingdom will be physical?]

    Yes, PL,
    [Marleen — I don’t know how I could answer my own question, since it was … one that only [he] a non-Jew could answer.]
    I realized the question couldn’t quite be answered by you, but that you had some things in mind when you asked it. Was the mention of the political era of Jeremiah and the split of Judah and Israel a nod-slash-caution against (hope against) another common misconception (not a misconception as to there having been a separation but as to some imagined implication(s))? Thank you for your preceding response, and in advance for one to this.

  28. @PL @”Q” — Please note that the “kingdom of heaven” did not begin with Rav Yeshua’s death — it was in existence from the beginning, with HaShem as King, just as in Rav Yeshua’s description of it (not to neglect visions of it in Daniel and Yeheskel). Note also that, since even the finest details of Torah remain valid until heaven and earth are replaced or renewed, which is only after a thousand years of messianic reign, so also the Torah’s distinctions between Jews and non-Jews remain valid in the millennial kingdom. HaShem’s Spirit upon and within non-Jews does not make them Jewish, nor citizens of a “Spiritual Israel” that becomes integrated within “Physical Israel” in the messianic kingdom. The phrase “spiritual Israel” refers only to Jews who are motivated by the attitudes and perspective (i.e., the “Spirit”) of HaShem. Non-Jews become a spiritual humanity when they are similarly motivated and enlightened, but they will always remain “the nations” even when they are “the redeemed nations” and come up to Jerusalem to celebrate Sukkot (and, quite likely, other occasions also).

    That having been said, I understand very well the feelings of non-Jews who so identify with the Jewish scriptures, people, and outlook that they are already tantamount to converts. No doubt, some of them will become so in actuality; but Rav Shaul explicitly discouraged non-Jews from acting on such an impulse, lest they fail to implement their high calling to demonstrate the redemption of the nations as such. After all, somebody has to fulfill the role of the foreigners in Is.56 and that of the nations in Zech.14:16. [:)]

    PL, when I speak of the Kingdom of G-d I am describing the time period on this earth that will be only when Yeshua is back on the planet…the Millennial Kingdom, not the over-arching Kingdom of Heaven that has always existed with Abba as Creator and King. When I speak of Spiritual Israel, I am describing the entire body of Believers that have become acceptable to G-d by faith that will be a part of the Millennial Kingdom in Incorrupt form.

    In the same way that Yeshua stated in Matthew 4:17…From that time on, Yeshua began proclaiming, “Turn from your sins to God, for the Kingdom of Heaven is near!” , I speak of the Kingdom of G-d that is earthly and real, but I speak of my association to that very real Kingdom as a spiritual one at this present time, as the Kingdom has not yet fully inaugurated, and I am not yet in it, yet I am linked to it even now in Yeshua.

    In that Kingdom, the entire earth will be under Yeshua’s hand, and under Torah…a whole world population of humans being taught Torah and Torah lived out everywhere, not just in the confines of the Israel that was given to Abraham. Certainly the remainder of the peoples in other nations will be under the same laws that Yeshua decrees for all mankind, whether originally Jew or Gentile. If they must come up to Jerusalem for the pilgrimage feasts, something only a good Jew does, where is there any separation between anyone at that time under Yeshua? Surely if all humanity is under Torah, they would be circumcised, and at least outwardly acting in accordance with Torah. even if they are not having the Torah written into their hearts under the New Covenant. If not, what would be the point of the Millennium?

    The Millennium is a time period where Torah is enforced with an iron hand, and all mankind is being taught Torah, and doing Torah, even if their hearts are not in it, and they in the end rebel under a newly released haSatan. The Millennium is a period of peace and order for G-d to demonstrate to all mankind that only in relationship with G-d is there the inward obedience that brings true rest, and the fulfilment of G-d’s promises. Thus, only in the ownership of the lands of Israel would anyone be distinct as Jew or Gentile, just as citizenship in Israel will still be different from citizenship in America.

    But at that time, neither you nor I will really be human anymore…we will be Incorrupt, and probably useful cogs in the machinery of government, making sure that the laws as given by Yeshua are followed. I have no doubt that the glorified body I will receive will be circumcised just as my heart is, if physical circumcision is even a part of the body we will have. Your Jewishness and my Gentileness will be at that time only
    be in our memories as will be the mortality of our bodies.

  29. @Marleen — I didn’t have anything in mind but factual clarity when I noted that Jeremiah addressed the Jewish people with whom the covenant was made as comprising two political entities at the time, which, as we know, would be re-united the hard way by means of the exile to Babylon. Note also Yehezkel’s prophecy that was read as this week’s haftarah (Exek.37:15-28) that included binding together the two sticks representing Judah and Yosef/Ephraim/Israel.

    Now that you mention it, my citation could have had an implication against the Two-House Ephraimite heresy that mistakenly believes Gentiles to represent the ten supposedly “lost tribes” and neglects that representatives of virtually all these tribes fled southward into Judah, were taken into exile in Babylon, and returned from thence as part of a re-unified Judean people. Hence we have examples as late as in Rav Yeshua’s time, several centuries later, such as Hanna bat P’nuel of the tribe of Asher (Lk.2:36). Nonetheless, I was not expecting nor fishing for any response of that sort, though my penchant for thoroughness and accuracy might have had such an effect.

  30. @”Q” — When Rav Yeshua was resurrected with an incorruptible glorified body as a first fruit of what his disciples may expect at the “first resurrection” cited in Yohanan’s vision, or the immediately subsequent “rapture” cited in 1Cor.15:51-52 and 1Thes.4:15-17, he was still bearing his crucifixion wounds, and thus we may assume also that his circumcision had not been altered. Similarly, gentiles should not be expecting any automatic circumcision to occur upon their incorruptible bodies. When the Torah is enforced in the millennial kingdom, it will still differentiate between Jews and gentiles, such that gentiles will still not be legally obligated to Jewish requirements of Torah. They will still likewise be enjoined from some matters that belong only to Jews, just as now. Unlike the present, however, they will have a clear picture of where those boundaries exist, and they will be content and pleased with their proper roles because they will feel confident and fulfilled in the goodness of HaShem’s assignments.

    By the bye, becoming immortal is not to become inhuman. Just as we will remain Jews, gentiles, men, and women, we will remain human. We will merely have graduated to a condition that HaShem intended for humans from the time of their creation, if only we had not stumbled upon the threshold of our existence.

    Now, beyond all that, when the current heavens and earth are replaced or renewed, we don’t have a very clear picture about how matters may change, including Torah. Perhaps the egalitarianism that you envision may be a characteristic of the new creation after the old evils have been destroyed in the ultimate lake of fire. Meanwhile, however, we have a lot to learn from the existing Torah, with all of its finest details and distinctions.

  31. Thought this might be relevant to the discussion; from Likutei Sichot, Parshat Vayechi by the Rebbe: ‘Moreover, there is another significant distinction between Shemini Atzeres and Sukkos. On Sukkos, 70 bulls would be sacrificed, corresponding to the 70 nations of the world.22 Since the influence of Sukkos is drawn down in an encompassing manner, it was possible for the gentile nations to benefit from it. Therefore 70 bulls were sacrificed to refine the 70 nations.

    On Shemini Atzeres, by contrast, only one bull and one ram were offered, pointing to the singular bond between G-d and the Jewish people, as the Midrash comments:23 “This is for you alone, and not for any strangers with you.” Although the influence revealed on Sukkos has already been drawn down into this world, on Shemini Atzeres it is drawn down in such a manner that no “strangers” can receive any benefit from it. A parallel to this can be seen in the Divine service of Yosef, who despite his involvement in Egyptian society, “the nakedness of the land,” was able to cling to G-d in a perfect bond.’

  32. @ “ PL” @”Q” — When Rav Yeshua was resurrected with an incorruptible glorified body as a first fruit of what his disciples may expect at the “first resurrection” cited in Yohanan’s vision, or the immediately subsequent “rapture” cited in 1Cor.15:51-52 and 1Thes.4:15-17, he was still bearing his crucifixion wounds, and thus we may assume also that his circumcision had not been altered. Similarly, gentiles should not be expecting any automatic circumcision to occur upon their incorruptible bodies.

    That is an excellent point, one that I had not considered. Perhaps YHVH will require me to move to a place where there is a Conservative or Orthodox Messianic Synagogue, where I can convert. I have told Abba I will do as He wishes, but it is really up to Him. I have no strong desire at this time to leave my current solitary existence out on the country where I can raise my own organic food, and finish the next three years of healing from a physical condition just recently discovered, and able to be ameliorated with proper nutrition, presuming Abba allows a complete healing, of course. Perhaps this is why I have been learning Biblical and Modern Hebrew? I haven’t the faintest I idea why I began…it just seemed like a good idea! :]

    When the Torah is enforced in the millennial kingdom, it will still differentiate between Jews and gentiles, such that gentiles will still not be legally obligated to Jewish requirements of Torah. They will still likewise be enjoined from some matters that belong only to Jews, just as now. Unlike the present, however, they will have a clear picture of where those boundaries exist, and they will be content and pleased with their proper roles because they will feel confident and fulfilled in the goodness of HaShem’s assignments.

    I had not thought Gentiles would be limited to non-Jewish requirements, but that the New Covenant would be the same for all. Still, boundaries are boundaries, and I simply want to exist happily within the right ones.

    I don’t desire either rank or responsibility, nor the power that will be delegated with that responsibility, so it is a matter of indifference to me which sets of laws I keep. I will happily yield any and all of the above to the Chosen People, and just get on with enjoying life. One merely hopes that we will not be stuck in the equivalent of the Department of Motor Vehicles, or such, as I would prefer teaching, farming or even my own business, and finding a good music teacher, with access to a library.

    By the bye, becoming immortal is not to become inhuman. Just as we will remain Jews, gentiles, men, and women, we will remain human. We will merely have graduated to a condition that HaShem intended for humans from the time of their creation, if only we had not stumbled upon the threshold of our existence.

    One hopes that despite scars the rest of us do not have to bear with the visible state of our body at the time we die…I really don’t like what I see in the mirror these days, and despite renewal of one’s insides, I would like to have renewals of my outside as well.

    Now, beyond all that, when the current heavens and earth are replaced or renewed, we don’t have a very clear picture about how matters may change, including Torah. Perhaps the egalitarianism that you envision may be a characteristic of the new creation after the old evils have been destroyed in the ultimate lake of fire. Meanwhile, however, we have a lot to learn from the existing Torah, with all of its finest details and distinctions.

    As far as I am concerned, graduation into the Millennium can be tomorrow, but I sincerely doubt that matters will wind up that quickly. I am still waiting for the 144,000 Messianic Jews to be sealed, and wondering where they will come from, as the population of Messianic Jews is still rather low at this time…and we don’t know how many are actually Jewish, since the movement tends to be overburdened with Messianic Gentiles. Still, all YHVH need do is scatter a bunch of dreams and visions among the young folk of all the Jews worldwide, and we could get closer to the final wrap up very quickly.

    Until then, one can only keep going forward, step by step, learning as we go.

    I thank you, PL, for your clear and kind explanation.

  33. @”Q” — Since it is clear that you would like very much not to find yourself in the millennial kingdom’s “Department of Motor Vehicles” or its equivalent, I’m fairly confident that the just government under the Messiah ben-David will be able to assign you to something that suits your aptitudes and interests. [:)] I did, after all, suggest that gentiles would feel confident and fulfilled in their assigned position, especially considering the statement in Rev.7:17 about “wiping every tear from their eyes”.

    I’m kind-of expecting excellent medical care also to be available, so any cosmetic corrections to that incorruptible body that might be deemed significant ought to be available. And while I’m musing about practical physical considerations, it seems to me that some folks, on the other hand, will need to be reconstituted more or less from scratch, because a long decay process or a violent death left nothing to be resurrected. Consequently, HaShem’s genetic engineering department (so to speak) would need to start with the original genetic pattern known to HaShem and build an appropriate incorruptible body to house the waiting neshamah. Thus, scars, missing limbs, and other damage to the original body wouldn’t be reproduced. Under such conditions, resurrected Jews would need to be re-circumcised, in an analogous situation to that of the generation born in the desert that were not circumcised until just prior to entering the promised land. Further, bodies that had deteriorated significantly due to age while they lived will need a bit of an overhaul in order to participate in the battles to re-establish the kingdom.

    Now, perhaps it is just silliness to speculate about a practical scenario such as the above, imagining what might be necessary processes by which to accomplish the result that is envisioned in passages like the ones I cited. After all, HaShem’s advanced “technology” of creation, if we can call it that, really should not be trivialized by our attempts to extrapolate our own crude technologies toward it. But I find it something of an exercise in trusting that these promises are really going to be fulfilled in a concrete fashion.

    OBTW, just because Yohanan saw in his vision (or at least heard their number) that 144,000 faithful Jews were being sealed, we should not expect to see it on tele-vision or reported in any of the news media. I’m not sure that anyone on earth will be aware when this process is happening or when it is completed except by seeing the harm that occurs afterward. I suspect that Yohanan was made aware of it for the same reason that earlier prophets were told about the righteous remnant that HaShem has always guarded.

  34. @ PL

    I don’t consider it silliness to try and envision the very real life we will be having, nor to hope that my Incorrupt body will be rebuilt to its maximum efficiency and ability. I want to live a happy and fruitful life during the remainder of eternity, and so would like to have a capable, even newer, better version of the rapidly deteriorating body I know inhabit. As for speculating about a future that will be very new to us in some ways, and very much a mess to clean up, it is like planning for any future one is growing up into.

    How can one seek to prepare oneself for a future if we do not try to envision what it might be, under the limited information that we have? Our world will be run differently, and there will be a lot to adapt to, yet just like children being asked what do we want to be when we grow up…well, I want to be a lot of things, and do a lot of things, and thus I have to lay as strong a foundation for any and all possibilities that I can. That foundation is naturally found in the Scriptures, and with the aid of the Ruach haKodesh, I will continue to lay another brick to that foundation as soon and as often as I can.

    I often think that as the body is Incorrupt it will be more like the original Adamic version, without the inheritance of corrupted DNA. Consequently, I hope that the body we will wearing in future will be, as it were, rebuilt along the lines of what our body would have been, had Adam and Even not been kicked out of Eden, and their bodies not changed so that they would degrade.

    As to the 144,000 faithful Jews, I think we would notice a distinct upwelling within the ranks of the Messianic Synagogues, and hopefully, a fervent outgoing of these Jews into all of Israel, where ever they happen to be living, that they too might obtain what the rest of us have received with gladness. Add that happening during a time of great upheaval, and we might get a glimpse of it.

  35. @”Q” — Since MJ synagogues don’t publish membership lists, I don’t know that an upwelling within the ranks would be so visible, either. Add to that the likelihood that those who are sealed may not suddenly seek out a new synagogue to join, but may rather remain as yeast in meal within existing synagogues and fully integrated within the Jewish community, as befits a righteous remnant (even a growing one).

    You see, the rise of the MJ synagogue movement was a necessary stage that enabled MJs to extract themselves and their rabbi from churches and other Christian environments, and to form characteristically Jewish communities of learning and development. But distinctive MJ communities are nonetheless sectarian in nature and not well integrated within the larger Jewish community infrastructure (if one may talk about “larger” in the context of a small demographic like the Jewish community). As MJs shed the self-image of “minim” that has been foisted upon them, having recognized that it was never their intention to behave as factional separatists apart from their people, the need for separate synagogues diminishes and the distinctive learning about Rav Yeshua and his messianic perspective shifts to other venues in homes and conferences and dedicated yeshivot and even onto the internet.

    Now, just as the social movement referred to as MJ has numerous streams of varying quality, some of them not even worthy of the MJ label, the quality of MJ synagogue communities varies and the quality of any other source of MJ learning may vary. It remains to be developed a system by which such sources and venues may be qualified and labeled to enable potential consumers to choose wisely.

    But I’ve digressed from my original point about the likelihood that sealing the 144K may be relatively invisible.

  36. @PL

    Getting the picture on the likely lessening of MJ in their own synagogues is an interesting sidelight though. For the MG’s in MJ synagogues, one hopes that MJ’s will not leave en masse, but then also perhaps the Gentiles will have a deepening of what is the Gentilish expression of Messianic Judaism, presuming that there is any cluster of behaviors that would describe MG’s other than performance of the mitzvoth in what I would call the full Ten Commandments, plus the Moedim, plus Kashrut-style observance for all MG’s…I can’t afford to kasher my kitchen, even if I had access to Kosher foods, and since Gentile observance of Torah tends to lean towards the Karaite-ism, I doubt many Messianic Gentiles will go that far. Even so, I still see fellowship problems in any truly Messianic Jewish Synagogue. How much objection is there amongst Messianic Jews in regarding to these problems?

  37. @”Q” — I wasn’t suggesting that MJs would leave their current synagogues as a legacy for MGs to take over, though it is not uncommon in large cities for synagogues in inner city locales to be sold to gentiles to become churches as a Jewish community moves to the suburbs and builds new larger modernized facilities. The path of growth that I described would probably leave the current MJ synagogue stepping stones in place as training centers while growth might increase MJ numbers integrated within existing synagogues.

    Gentile adoption of Torah-informed principles and corresponding praxis should not be confused with Karaism (i.e., a neo-Sadducean perspective). Karaism is not “Pharisee-lite” or Torah with less halakhah. Their perspectives regarding Torah interpretation are actually rather different.

    I don’t understand what you are envisioning as “fellowship problems in any truly Messianic Jewish Synagogue”. Just as in the old saying that “good fences make good neighbors” (because they do not engage in boundary disputes), so a synagogue that knows its boundaries does not suffer from the dilution and assimilation that has inhibited proper MJ development in its formative decades.

  38. Fellowship problems within Messianic Judaism between MJ’s and MG’s relates to kashrut practices…for instance, under what rules would a MG prepare a dinner for a mixed bunch of MJ’s and MG’s?

    And would MJ’s even attend a meal not prepared by a MJ, with strictly Kosher ingredients in a kosher kitchen?

    Fellowship is very difficult if one cannot offer food to one’s guests.

  39. The situation is not so bleak as you seem to be envisioning, “Q”. Conscientious MGs can prepare kosher meals with kosher ingredients. Depending on the size of the gathering, they may even use disposable cutlery and plates. In a fellowship situation such as you suggest, within the protected confines of a community in which the kashrut capabilities of the MGs in question would be known and reliable, there need be no problem maintaining a sufficient quality of kashrut, though there might be a preference for non-meat, even vegetarian, meals. The question of “rules” for such a mixed gathering would, of course, cater to the kosher crowd — who, as the “Hebrew National” commercial used to say it, “… have to answer to a Higher Authority”.

    After all, if Kefa could manage to find suitable ways to eat with the non-Jewish congregation in Antioch — after having had the temerity to answer back to HaShem during his “sheet vision” that he had always maintained his personal adherence to kashrut standards — then it should seem reasonable that modern MJs could also find suitable means to conduct “table fellowship” with MGs.

  40. @Marleen: I think the “Commonwealth of Israel” will include those countries and people groups who will become vassal nations under King Messiah’s rule. It doesn’t mean they literally become national Israel, but they are (or will be) conquered nations to are subject to Messiah’s sovereignty.

    @Questor: I suppose this is only a matter of symantics, but while I agree that the Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of God are synonyms for the Messianic Age, what comes after I term as “eternity” since we shoot off the edge of human history as recorded in the Bible and enter into a completely new and eternal age with God. I have no idea what that will be like but it will be only then that there will be no need for the Temple and the age of the Torah, along with everything else, will yield to what comes next.

    @PL: I agree that in the resurrection we will still be human albeit immortal and indestructable. After all, after his resurrection, Yeshua ate fish, so I guess we will still eat as well, though it’s arguable that we’ll have to or that it would be possible for us to starve. However, Yeshua also taught that in the resurrection there will be no marriage so it looks like there will be some significant differences in our immortal humanity.

  41. @James — “It doesn’t mean they literally become national Israel.”

    That’s what I said: not national ethnic, nor national spiritual.

    @PL
    Yes.

    @Q
    I have been in the kind of environment PL describes.

    He said it quite well.

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