For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written,
“The Deliverer will come from Zion,
He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.”
“This is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.”
–Romans 11:25-27 (NASB) quoting Isaiah 59:20,21; 27:9 (see Septuagint); Jer. 31:33,34
The restoration of the Jewish people back to their land means that once and for all they will truly fulfill the prophecies of being a light to the nations, and HaShem’s salvation will extend to the ends of the earth. The Gentiles’ eyes will be opened, and their hearts will be directed to the people of Israel. They will flock to Jerusalem to worship the God of Israel.
“Light to the Nations,” p.49
Messiah Journal issue 118/Winter 2014
Yesterday, in Part One of this series, I presented Toby Janicki’s argument, or a portion of it, supporting the necessity of all Jewish exiles returning to the Land of Israel and having sovereignty over their Land under King Messiah as absolutely necessary for the Jewish people to fulfill their role of bringing the knowledge of ethical monotheism and the awareness that the God of Israel is the God of all Creation to the rest of the nations of the world, that is, the Gentiles…us.
But that seems to conflict with what the Church believes about their own mission of bringing the Gospel Message of Jesus Christ to the world. Nowhere in Christian theology are the Jews required for Earth’s salvation and rather, it is the Church that is supposed to be God’s primary agent for the redemption of all, including the Jews.
They can’t both be right, can they?
Before I answer that, I want to present more from what Toby wrote from Messiah Journal and then add another interpretation of this theme from another First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) author.
Although Toby didn’t draw the comparison, when I read his above-quoted words, I couldn’t help but think of Romans 11:25-27, since it seems obvious, at least to me, that when Jewish Israel is fully restored, the time of the Gentiles will indeed come to an end. But does that mean the end of the Church?
Perhaps so, for as Toby says:
When Messiah returns, Isaiah the prophet tells us that the nations will make pilgrimage to Jerusalem and that the Torah will go forth from Zion. Then the Jewish nation will teach Torah to the nations in the greatest capacity ever known…
Toby quotes from Isaiah 2:2-3, Micah 4:1-2 and Zechariah 8:23 in support of his assertion as well as from the following:
Jerusalem will ultimately prepare a lantern for the nations of the world, and they will walk by her light. What is the reason? “Nations will come to your light.” Likewise, it says [in Isaiah 2:2], “The mountain of the house of the LORD will be established [as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; and all the nations will stream to it].”
-b.Bava Batra 4a
You may think I (or Toby) am playing “dirty pool” by quoting the sages but the above-quoted passage seems to support what the Bible tells us. Of course, one interpretation is that when the prophets mention “the nations,” they aren’t talking about Gentile Christians but unbelieving Gentiles being brought to God (through coming to faith in Jesus). But the prophets don’t distinguish between two groups of nations, believing and unbelieving, and instead lump them (us) altogether.
You may explain this by either saying the Church is the “new Israel” or “spiritual Israel” in place of physical, tangible Israel and the Jewish people, or explain it away by saying all those Gentiles of Yeshua (Jesus) faith become Israel along with the Jewish people, thus forming a single nation composed of Jews and non-Jews.
My personal opinion is that neither of these explanations are correct, but where does that leave Gentile disciples of the Master?
Before I get to that, I’d like to use more of Toby’s article to support the absolute requirement of Messiah in God’s redemptive plan. At present, you could get the impression that besides his role of gathering the exiles and establishing Jewish sovereignty over national Israel, he really has little to do with being “a light to the nations.”
Yeshua, as a member of the Jewish nation, is the quintessential expression of being a light to the nations. He has brought Torah and the knowledge of God to the four corners of the earth.
This is the first place where I could insert the role of “the Church” in spreading the knowledge of God to the nations. Strictly speaking, in post-Biblical times, Judaism hasn’t been very active in recruiting proselytes, primarily because of a learned distrust of Gentiles. Christianity (representing Messiah, albeit from a highly non-Jewish point of view) has been quite active and at times aggressive to the point of violence in recruiting converts, particularly by forcing Jews to “confess Christ,” at least historically.
In spite of her crimes, there has always been a remnant of faithful Gentiles in the Church who have sincerely desired to share the good news of the Gospel with anyone who would listen. Even the Rabbinic sages have reluctantly admitted that Christianity and Islam have historically played a role in spreading knowledge of HaShem to an unbelieving and pagan world.
But as I’ve previously said, referencing Toby’s article, the role of Israel and even Messiah as a “light to the nations” will not reach fruition until national Jewish Israel is completely restored.
When Messiah inaugurates the Messianic Kingdom and sits on his throne in Jerusalem, he will truly be “a light for the nations” in its purest form. HaShem tells the Messiah, “I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6). Messiah “will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his Torah” (Isaiah 42:4). His righteous influence and rule will reach the ends of the earth.
But if the Messiah and Israel will only fulfill their mission to be a light as the Messianic Age is established, what’s been going on for the past nearly two-thousand years? In my opinion, both Christianity and Judaism have been setting the stage, so to speak, for the Messiah’s return. Both religious streams, though not perfectly, have been building the scaffolding and laying the foundation stones for the coming construction of the Kingdom of God. We are to live as if the Messianic Kingdom were already here, though the King himself is in a distant land, tarrying there while we longingly wait for him.
The creation and continued existence of the modern Jewish state is one of the really big steps in Israel fulfilling her role, for the nation must exist before the Jewish people can return from exile. There has to be a Jerusalem for Messiah to ascend to the throne.
I believe Messianic Judaism is also a necessary step, for the movement in its various branches and flavors, in providing a platform for both Jews and Gentiles in Messiah to receive the Torah (see Acts 15:21 for Torah study as related to Gentiles) as it was intended to be taught to each of our people groups, and to comprehend through the Messianic lens the true intent of God and his plan of redemption, a plan that absolutely requires the nation of Israel to be made up of His chosen and treasured people, the Jews, with a remnant of those from the nations standing alongside, supporting Jewish teshuvah and return to the Torah, to Messiah, and to HaShem.
So we see that the unification of this now-exiled Shechinah is an important prayer in Jewish liturgical life. We also look forward to the unification of God’s name in the coming Messianic Era every week in synagogue liturgy after the recitation of the Aleinu. In the prayer entitled Al Ken, we quote Zechariah 14:9 when we say:
And it is said, “And HaShem shall be king over all the earth. On that day HaShem shall be one and his name one.”
“Hareini Mekasher ‘I Hearby Join’,” p.71
Messiah Journal issue 118/Winter 2014
A common thread running through many of the articles contained within the current issue of Messiah Journal is the restoration of Israel and the return of the exiled Jewish people to their Land as ruled by King Messiah. Jordan, in her article bringing “deeper insights into an original Messianic prayer,” offers a more “mystic” viewpoint on the matter.
Jordan, citing a number of Biblical and Rabbinic sources including the famed Paul Philip (Feivel) Levertoff, mystically compares Messiah to the bread of life, the true light, and the Shechinah or the Divine Presence, what most Christian Bibles translate as “the Glory of the Lord.”
Continuing to discuss the Al Ken prayer, Jordan states:
Is HaShem not already one? Should we look forward to a day when he will be one? Is that day not already upon us? Scripture tells us that, in a sense, it has not yet arrived, for the Shechinah must unite with the Father, and this cannot fully happen until the Shechinah–which is within the people of Israel and with the people of Israel in exile–is reunited with all the people of Israel who are in the land, who are welcoming and calling back the Messiah to rule. On that day HaShem will truly be one, fully reunited with his Shechinah, and his name will be unified, the yud and the hey with the vav and the hey. The Shechinah and HaShem (the Messiah and the Father) will be inseparable, as they were during the act of creation (see John 1:1-10).
Jordan approaches the same concept as does Toby, but from a radically different direction. While Christians believe only we possess the indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God by virtue of our faith in Messiah, referencing the mystic interpretations of Messiah as bread and light, the sages believe that within each Jew is a portion of the original manna (bread) from God and the light of God as supernatural indications of the special and chosen nature of each individual Jew and as the entire nation of Israel as a whole.
It would seem then that the various necessary components of God’s redemptive plan, in some way, are all in “exile,” separated from one another, requiring reunification. This even includes Messiah as Shechinah, HaShem as the overarching “Ein Sof” God, as well as the Jewish people and even, I believe, the Gentiles.
I’ve mentioned before that I believe we Messianic Gentiles have a highly specific role to play relative to the Jewish people and national Israel. I believe the Christian Church in all its incarnations, has also been playing a role, preparing many Gentiles for the return of Messiah, though their particular conceptualization of who Messiah is and what he will do is (in my opinion) severely flawed.
Nevertheless, as I’ve also said before, I know of many in the Church who are true tzaddikim, righteous, holy people who do good to others and who revere God. They are the remnant of the righteous Gentiles in the ekklesia of Messiah, those who will see the face of Messiah and who do his will.
But what about the worldwide Church and what will happen to her with the coming of King Messiah and the establishment of his throne in Jewish Jerusalem? What happens to “Christianity” as a religion when they/we discover and realize that it is national Jewish Israel that is the light to the world and God’s primary agent in His plan of redemption.
I’ve previously presented my answer in blog posts such as The Church When Jesus Returns and When Jesus Returns Will We Go To Church. I believe that we Gentiles who maintain our faith into the Messianic Era will join with the other Gentiles in the ekklesia of Messiah and alongside Israel, taking our rightful place as the crowning jewels of the nations.
Of course, we’ll have to give up a few things, like the idea that “ekklesia” means “church”, that God wants us to wear tiny replicas of an ancient Roman form of execution, and that Jews have to stop being Jews and abandon the Torah in order to become disciples of the Master. We will have to stop being so arrogant in believing that this thing called “church” saves us. We will have to realize that it is OK for Jewish Israel to be uniquely chosen by God and that her being chosen doesn’t make her better, it just gives Israel a special role and mission from God, one the rest of us must choose to respond to if we intend to also be part of God’s plan.
As Toby said toward the end of his article (which he reminded me of yesterday):
As Jewish believers and as Gentiles who are grafted in members of the commonwealth of Israel, we participate with greater Israel in spreading the light of Messiah and Torah to the nations.