chopped liver

What am I, Chopped Liver?

For the conductor with the neginos, a psalm, a song. May God favor us and bless us, may He illuminate His countenance with us, Selah. To make known Your way on earth, among all the nations Your salvation. The peoples will acknowledge You, O God; the peoples will acknowledge You — all of them. Regimes will be glad and sing for joy, because You will judge the peoples fairly and guide with fairness the regimes on earth, Selah. The peoples will acknowledge You, O God; the peoples will acknowledge You — all of them. The earth will then have yielded its produce; may God, our God bless us. May God bless us, and may all the ends of the earth fear Him.

Psalm 67 (Stone Edition Tanakh)

Forgive the somewhat whimsical title for today’s “morning meditation” along with the equally whimsical “featured image.”

When I read the above quoted Psalm on Shabbat, I was reminded that God has a redemptive plan, not just for Israel, the Jewish people, but for all the people of all the nations of the earth, that is, the Gentiles.

I suspect God has had this plan since before the creation of the universe, but we definitely know He had it when this Psalm was written, long before the birth of Yeshua (Jesus).

I strongly advocate Jewish return to the Torah mitzvot, whether they are Jews in the Messianic movement or otherwise. I strongly advocate for Jewish places of congregation and worship in Messianic Judaism, synagogues and communities by and for Jewish disciples of Messiah. I strongly believe in and advocate for the idea that without God’s plan of redemption for Israel, there can be no hope of redemption for the goyim.

All that said, there are times when I feel all of that Judaism weighing heavily upon me. In advocating for the Jewish right to cleave to their Messiah King and to have possession of their own Land and their own Torah, I don’t want to lose sight of the fact that God also recognizes and loves the rest of humanity, a non-Jewish humanity.

prayingGranted, there’s nothing in that Psalm that directly says “God so loved the world” (John 3:16), but it does say that the (Gentile) regimes will “be glad and sing for joy” because God will judge among us fairly. We will all acknowledge the God of Israel and the “earth will then have yielded its produce.”

The harvest is great, but the workers are few.

Matthew 9:38 (Delitzsch Hebrew Gospels)

Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.

1 Corinthians 15:18-20 (NASB)

“Produce.” “Harvest.” “First fruits.” It seems that it is not only the Jews who are counted among the harvest, but the rest of us as well, all of us who trust in the promises of God as demonstrated by Messiah.

A person who comes to Torah on his own volition does so because of the beautiful and elevated ideas he hears about Torah principles. He made his decision on the assumption that those who follow the Torah will act towards him in accordance with all the Torah laws pertaining to interpersonal relations. If someone cheats him financially or in any other way wrongs him, he will not only suffer a monetary loss. Rather, he might also feel disillusioned with his decision to accept Torah as a way of life.

-Rabbi Zelig Pliskin
“Act with love and kindness towards converts,” discussing Bamidbar (Numbers) 5:6
Commentary on Torah Portion Naso, p. 312
Growth Through Torah

While Rabbi Pliskin is discussing converts to Judaism in this above-quoted statement, and while I don’t believe we “Messianic Gentiles” are called to Torah obligation in the manner of the Jewish people, I don’t think it’s entirely inappropriate or inaccurate to say that, in a way, we also come to the Torah, as it applies to us, “because of the beautiful and elevated ideas” expressed in the “Torah principles.”

I don’t feel put upon or mistreated by any Messianic Jews as such, but I do need to remind myself periodically that we non-Jews also have a role to play. More than that, I need to provide some much-needed perspective to who we non-Jews are in Messiah.

While I recently wrote that the identity of the Messianic Gentile, both in ancient and modern times, may be ill-defined by design, I’ve also offered my opinion on what I think we’re here for.

desert islandBut in addition, I believe that even one non-Jewish disciple of Yeshua could be stuck on a deserted island with nothing but his or her Bible, yes, adequate food, water, and shelter, but no other human companionship, Jewish or otherwise, and still have a relationship with a loving and caring God because of the faithfulness of Messiah. I think there are times when Messianic Jews should advocate for Gentile devotion to God and express the clear knowledge that God does cherish even the goyim. I believe the door should swing both ways within the ekklesia of Moshiach.

It is easy to focus on the differences among people and to consider yourself as separate from others. Truly no two people are exactly alike. But there are many common factors among people. By focusing on the fact that every human being is created in the image of the Almighty you will have greater identification with others and this will lead to greater unity.

-Rabbi Pliskin
“With unity there is a blessing,” p.316
Commentary in Torah Portion Naso, discussing Bamidbar (Numbers) 6:24

I suppose when Rabbi Pliskin wrote “differences among people,” he could and probably did mean “differences among Jews,” but in saying that “every human being is created in the image of the Almighty,” he opened the door to all of humanity, Jews and Gentiles alike.

While I have advocated for a strong recognition of the covenant distinctions between Messianic Jews and Gentiles, we also must counterbalance that knowledge with our unity in Messiah’s ekklesia. We may be in many ways separated from each other by those covenant distinctions, but while we are not a homogenous population, there aren’t two Messianic ekklesias, there is one, just as God is One and yet has many diverse names and many distinctive qualities.

Recently, Derek Leman wrote what I consider to be a pair of “bookends” on his blog: Why Non-Jews Are Drawn To Messianic Judaism and On Messianic Judaism As A Home For Jewish Believers.

Each blog post advocates for its named subject, Gentiles in one and Jews in the other.

In both Jewish and non-Jewish zeal to promote and elevate the Jewishness of Messianic Judaism, I’m glad to see some noteworthy Messianic Jewish writers and teachers specifically addressing both sides of the coin.

I think one of the reasons Gentile believers exited Jewish community nearly twenty centuries ago and why there are some Hebrew Roots promoters in the modern age who not only advocate but demand equal obligation to Torah as some sort of right, is as an attempt to create a significant and meaningful Gentile identity in the body of Yeshua-believers.

In the end, the first and second century believing Gentiles may not have been able to find that identity in Jewish community, so they made the worst possible decision and not only separated from the Jews, but “demonized” everything Jewish, reimaging the Jewish Messiah as the Gentile Christ, and warping everything ever taught by Yeshua and the Apostles, specifically Paul’s teachings.

the crowdI believe that many so-called “One Law” advocates cling to their views because the dissonance of differing and distinct roles and identities of Jews and Gentiles in the Messianic ekklesia is too difficult to bear. This probably also explains why a number of we Messianic Gentiles have mistakenly converted to some form of Judaism, Messianic and otherwise, in an attempt to find meaning and purpose in the service of God among Jewish community.

However, as a non-Jew and a devotee of the Jewish Messiah King, I do have meaning and purpose in the redemptive plan of God for our world. Yes, it’s first to the Jew and only afterward, to the Gentile, but it is to the Gentile at a specific point in that plan.

The plan has already entered our world and it has been slowly unfolding for the past two-thousand years. That plan has included an untold number of Gentiles and as important as Jewish Torah observance and devotion to Moshiach is, the plan will never be complete without the rest of us.

I just needed to remind you and especially me by saying all this. Thanks for reading.

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212 thoughts on “What am I, Chopped Liver?”

  1. A Hindu was given the Gittas.
    A Buddhist was given the sayings of the Buddha.
    A Muslim was handed the Koran.
    A Jew has the Tanakh.
    A Messianic Jew has the Tanakh and Gospels.
    A Greek inherited the Collegium.
    A Gentile believer of Messiah has _________.

    It’s the only category in history I can think of that was given a faith and no religion out of it. So it either has to culturally appropriate Jewish religion (like MGs) or detach completely and fabricate one of its own (ie: Catholicism).

    Maybe identity will be answered in the Messianic Eon. I’ve heard from many that salvation should be enough, but long-term for any movement, I don’t think being saved is “dayeinu.” People can have life and still live it aimlessly, or not know what they live for, how to live, how they relate, etc. We see it all the time. This is why I think it is so common that we find ourselves criticizing Christendom for creating a setup in which the moment of salvation is the apogee of one’s spirituality and everything else afterwards is just coasting. Barring any appropriation or fabrication to fill the void, I don’t see how it can be otherwise when the holy book we borrow defines billions not by what they are but in terms of what they are not.

    Remembering the repentance of Judah always helps me. According to Rabbi Fohrman, at the end of Genesis Judah came to say to himself, “yes, my father loves Joseph more, and as much as that hurts, I’m ok with that. I can deal.” I guess that’s the source of his greatness that he eventually merited kingship and why G-d had a heart for favoring David.

    Sadly, Judah never lived to see that come to fruition. I don’t think it’s something that we will have answered in our lifetimes.

  2. Then Jesus said to her, “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” And her daughter was healed at that moment.

    And then the woman replied: “O praise the Most High. But more importantly than life; am I still a dog in your eyes? I need to know what to teach the daughter you saved.”

  3. Drake said:

    Sadly, Judah never lived to see that come to fruition. I don’t think it’s something that we will have answered in our lifetimes.

    Since God is a God of the living and not the dead, in a way, I guess he did live long enough, but you’re right. There are questions about who we non-Jews are in Messiah that we simply can’t access.

    Drake said:

    And then the woman replied: “O praise the Most High. But more importantly than life; am I still a dog in your eyes? I need to know what to teach the daughter you saved.”

    To quote Alfred Lanning (played by actor James Cromwell) in the film I Robot (2004), “That Detective, is the right question,” or at least a very interesting one.

  4. “…Gentile believers exited Jewish community nearly twenty centuries ago and why there are some Hebrew Roots promoters in the modern age who not only advocate but demand equal obligation to Torah as some sort of right, is as an attempt to create a significant and meaningful Gentile identity in the body of Yeshua-believers.”

    One thing those of us who advocate for Jews and their covenant distinctiveness tend to neglect is that early gentile (and Jewish) believers experienced much persecution at the hands of non-believing Jews. Remember, Christianity was a long way off from being “triumphant” as it sought to create a separate identity–out of devotion to Messiah and necessity. Refusing to participate in paganism/idolatry gave them many problems in their own culture and families. Being excluded from Jewish community and protections (thru had a legal right to obstain from Emperor worship) had dire consequences for these folks early believers. This was not an easy time for Christians.

  5. Chopped liver we may be, there are still those of us Messianic Gentiles who want some acceptance by Messianic Jews as being in the plan of G-d for the Messianic Kingdom, but how does our changed Spiritual state in Yeshua get recognized by Messianic Jews? I keep seeing an idea of a Messianic Synagogue exclusively for Messianic Jews, but I see no daughter Synagogues being fostered among the Messianic Gentiles by Messianic Synagogues in a practical way.

    We read the Scriptures old and new, read all that is best and bright and beautiful from the sages, add on Torah observance because the Holy Spirit leads us to, and yet, everything we read is about another people that we are not a part of, and whom most of us do not get to associate with due to the sheer problem of numeric scale for those of us that want to learn to be among the Gerim Tsaddikim.

    Yes, there are Jews who want Gentiles to stay Noahides, or Messianic Noahides, if there is such a thing, since idolatry is a real problem in the various Christian denominations, but I don’t see that as the solution for those of us floating with no more mooring to Judaism than the Scriptures we are hanging tightly onto with the support of the Ruach haKodesh. There are Jews who do not think that Torah Observance can be for anyone but a Jew…which makes it very hard for them to share the Light of G-d entrusted to them.

    I have read, though I am not aware of just where I got the idea from that Gentiles, not being a part of the Mosaic Covenant actually have a unique status among Jews for adding on Torah observance, even if they do not convert. I cannot help but wonder if this is true, for when I read the Tanakh and the Brit Chadashah, I do not want to have to keep reminding myself that what is said and promised in those Scriptures is thought by many Jews as having nothing to do with me. I do not assume that I am a part of the Israelite Tribes, but what am I then? Why does G-d choose to speak to me through Jewish writings when I am a Gentile?

    Indeed, when I read the Scriptures, they speak to my heart, and the Ruach teaches me through them, so why should I not take all that is promised there for me…even though I am not a Jew? There is a real change that is made in Messianic Gentiles who are listening to the Ruach haKodesh, and then attempt to live in all the righteousness that we can read of in the Scriptures by adding them onto our lives. That change that was wrought in me when I received the deposit of the Ruach within me at my initial immersion after coming to belief made me different from other Gentiles, and it make Jews different from Non-Messianic Jews also, because it makes them connected on a personal level with the Deity.

    Shaul called it being grafted into the cultivated vine of Judaism which is supported by the root of Yeshua, and YHVH. It is a spiritual matter, not a physical one, so becoming a convert is not really the only point at issue, is it? The spiritual state that we have acquired in Yeshua should become part of the discussion about just who and what Messianic Gentiles are, not just our halachah and hash’kafah, for those can be learned. This spiritual state is a gift of G-d, and should figure into the conversation, and be acknowledged by Messianic Jews, should it not? Where the Ruach has entered into us, changed us, and made us want to follow Torah, why is not this important?

    We were not made Jewish at our immersion into Yeshua physically, but something very important happened, and needs to be addressed by Messianic Jews as a whole. We became just as righteous in Yeshua as any other person…Jewish or not. Somehow we Gentiles were made acceptable to G-d. Why then are we not associated with Messianic Jews in some real way?

  6. Hey man. Why not leave the Tetragrammaton out of posts? The sages scrambled and babyproofed it for a reason.

  7. @drake82dunaway — I’m going to assert that your list is faulty in several aspects. Let me begin to describe in what aspects by noting that Jews have much more than Tenakh. We have, first and foremost, a Covenant and Teachings, from which are derived culture and praxis. These enabled us to produce a subsequent literary tradition that included prophetic and other literature. The latter came to include apocryphal, mystical literature, apostolic commentary, allegorical fiction, and historical and legal responsa. Jewish messianists may resort to all of these, though they have justification to emphasize the apostolic writings that comprise the history of Rav Yeshua and his early disciples along with letters of prescriptive commentary to guide inter-communal interactions between would-be gentile disciples of a Jewish messiah and his Jewish ones. These gentile disciples were granted not merely a basis for faith but also a relationship with potential Jewish guides and some behavioral guidance within the apostolic literature. Further behavioral guidance was elaborated in a document called the Didache. Gentile messianists were not left with merely some sort of blank as indicated by your list. Jews in Rav Yeshua’s era did not subscribe to a religion, but rather had a culture that included a core of common practices. Subsequent Roman Imperial Christians who rejected the Jewish relationship and the apostolic practical guidance found it necessary to fabricate a religion and to appropriate and re-interpret a portion of the Jewish literature to exclude its particularly Jewish character. This is whence the void arose. The Torah does not define gentiles by what they are not, nor did the apostles. The literature that was produced by Jews and directed to Jews defines Jews as a subset of humanity-at-large, and in relationship to it. It incidentally describes that notion of humanity-at-large. Those non-Jews who appropriate that literature really should not complain that it is lacking in details about them, because it was not written for that purpose. A large portion of the apostolic letters actually does attempt to address the issue of desirable non-Jewish behavior, deriving it from the generalities in Torah and evoking comparisons with its prescriptions for Jewish behavior. However, there was at that time no perceived need to define a religion or religious ceremonial behavior for gentiles. They had been given a metaphorical analog for sacrifices and the repentance, restitution, forgiveness, and atonement associated with them. They could even present physical sacrifices and offerings at the Jewish Temple, if they so desired, because that relationship also was already established. They had been given patterns for communal study, discussion, prayer for praise and for practical petition such as for healing, and general fellowship that included communal meals. Given their relationship with Jews and the Jewish G-d, was their identity as cleansed, forgiven, elevated (e.g., “sanctified”) *humans* (!) somehow insufficient? Did they need a label to “make a name” for themselves, as was cited as one of the motivations for building the ancient tower of Babel? Did they need to invent a religion to usurp the place of Jews and deny Jewish chosen-ness? It seems to me indicative of a certain level of insecurity, a lack of faith that HaShem cares for the whole of the family of Adam that He made in the beginning. One could consider that only as a redemptive afterthought did He separate out some of them as Jews with covenantal priestly responsibilities toward the rest of the family.

    The Canaanite woman who requested healing for her daughter overcame a significant challenge of faith when Rav Yeshua invoked the common notion of gentiles as wild dogs outside the realm of cultivated territory where civilized children were nurtured and fed. She altered the metaphor to invoke instead the image of domesticated family pets with access to special tidbits at the hands of those very children. Her faith in Rav Yeshua’s capabilities and character overcame her fear of rejection, to claim a place “near the table”, in relationship with the family, justifying her request. Rav Yeshua commended her faith and her justification; and we need to recognize in this exchange of metaphors that it is not a literal denigration of the position of non-Jews relative to Jews nor to HaShem. While Rav Yeshua unambiguously declared his purpose as targeted to the lost sheep of Israel, Rav Shaul clarified that non-Jews could be like faith-filled “sons of Avraham”. Consider that these remained part of Avraham’s household, sharing in its blessings, even though Yitzhak was the one to whom the covenant would apply. Thus we may recognize the blessings shared by non-Jews through their relationship with Jews, which through Rav Yeshua include the redemption that grants access to HaShem the Most High. I’d have to suggest that this far exceeds the reception that might be granted either to dogs or to chopped liver.

  8. “Jews in Rav Yeshua’s era did not subscribe to a religion, but rather had a culture that included a core of common practices.”

    That comes off as a dodge. Jews had an existential category, covenant relationship with a Deity, national history in relation to said Deity, holy books, a temple, a caste, and it altered their behavior separating them from groups around them. I understand the historical nuance – I do! But for all intents and purposes they had a religion.

    “These gentile disciples were granted not merely a basis for faith but also a relationship with potential Jewish guides and some behavioral guidance within the apostolic literature.”

    Or: G-d never spoke about gentiles at length in any holy books, and so the Jewish community was justifiably perplexed by their identity until circumstances forced a vast gamut of rough guesses across the Mediterranean, very little of which was written down, growing mostly outside of Paul’s supervision.

    Where did G-d say from the fire and smoke that Gentiles have to study and have communal meals? He didn’t. If a gentile does not show up to chavrusa or communal meals, has he broken some commandment somewhere? Of course not.

    Besides, the Didache is not part of any canon, the last I checked. And its admonition to “do what kashrus you can bear to attain a higher gentile level of spirituality” runs counter to MJ’s position that optional Torah observance does not somehow confer higher spirituality to gentiles.

    So no. Billions of human beings from distinct backgrounds mixed into one pot, families ruptured from their past, cultures wiped out by monotheism, history forgotten, realizing one’s past is a lie, all being uniformly told to get along at meals and respect elders? I don’t see how those things flesh out either national roles or identities for 70 banners in a future age. I just don’t. Salvation, social ethics, yes. Not identity in relation to G-d. Maybe I’m missing something?

    “She altered the metaphor to invoke instead the image of domesticated family pets with access to special tidbits at the hands of those very children.”

    I’m not sure I accept the metaphor of “domestication.” Dogs in Arab countries today are altogether despised, people throw things at them, shew them to the other side of the road. The whole “family pet” thing we latch onto in the west I don’t think was a big deal in those days. Calling someone a dog in that part of the world is still seen as a grievous insult. Flipping the metaphor from bad dog to good dog, does not really change anything. How could a gentile ever see personal holiness as anything other than an abortive quest after such an ostensibly horrific statement? A statement that applied to the woman’s daughter, whom she would have to teach one day.

    In Mary Shelly’s “Frankenstein,” the scientist cobbles together a golem of sorts. He gives him life, and if I remember correctly he even confers him immortality. So in short, he delivered him from death. But at the same time, the monster does not have a name or memories, lacks an identity, the villagers reject him, the church would consider him an abomination, and his very existence is an embarrassment to Dr. Frankenstein’s profession. And so he wanders.

    Gods do two things in religion; deliver from death and lend purpose to life. And Shelly pointed out correctly that even though Dr. Frankenstein was able to deliver from death, in his inability to confer identity he was still no god. Contrarily, in Blade Runner, doomed replicant Roy Batty found at the top of Tyrell Corp. a non-god who could create identities but not grant life. Life and identity go hand and hand. It’s helpful to know one’s isn’t a fabrication. Dr. Frankenstein had a life; his monster survived.

    “Given their relationship with Jews and the Jewish G-d, was their identity as cleansed, forgiven, elevated (e.g., “sanctified”) *humans* (!)”

    You wonder why Christianity is collapsing under a cheap “get saved and coast” model. Cleansed, forgiven, elevated…now what? How does that translate into life?

    1. Appropriate Judaism to attach to something real or…
    2. Detach from Judaism and create a Supersessionism and fabricate that Peter was the first pope to link your calling to something real.

    The Frankenstein statement does not represent my official position on things, but I one would have to really contort NOT to stumble over such thoughts. As Judaism was shifting from a fertility religion in J and E sources to the higher ethical religion of the Deuteronomist and P, it seems unlikely they could have anticipated these questions. I don’t fault them.

    There is a G-d, and I am not him. I don’t have to think it’s fair. Life isn’t fair. The universe isn’t fair. Loving Joseph more than Judah was not fair. Never explicitly revoking the statement that a woman’s daughter is a dog is not fair. Passing over Ishmael whose only crime was his birth is not fair.

    But there is a certain kind of test in the Bible. It comes when G-d tells you to stand off from him, to not approach holiness, gives no clear indication he will ever lift the ban and you have to remain in your distance loyally while watching others approach, knowing that in your lifetime this will never change. Adam and Korah both failed at this, because being made to stand off from holiness once you have seen its light smacks of rejection. While overcoming the yetzer hara is the gauntlet of the reprobate, this test of isolation is the worst trial in the Bible for anyone for whom G-d is important, but evidently something every upright is called to do.

    Just don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining.

  9. @questor: “Chopped liver we may be, there are still those of us Messianic Gentiles who want some acceptance by Messianic Jews as being in the plan of G-d for the Messianic Kingdom, but how does our changed Spiritual state in Yeshua get recognized by Messianic Jews? I keep seeing an idea of a Messianic Synagogue exclusively for Messianic Jews, but I see no daughter Synagogues being fostered among the Messianic Gentiles by Messianic Synagogues in a practical way.”

    As a non-Jewish believer, I understand your perspective. As an intermarried, I see how non-Jewish believers, and all of our demands and insecurities, affect Jews, hence, how many desire “Jewish only” space. I won’t try to convince you here, because comprehending it requires a lot of study, and deep relationship with actual Jewish people. And no, I don’t mean people who have recently discovered they are Jews, or those who have no Jewish relatives. Rather, Jews as a people group who (speaking from my own experience) fundamentally think and act differently from Christians, or people from a Christian cultural background, including messianic Gentiles.

    I’ve recently developed a 3-part class for my congregation where I attempt to 1) show the “problems” in MJ, from both the Jewish and gentile perspectives. 2) Why the problems are so common (and, particularly striking to me, predictable!) 3) what ancient paradigms have shaped our understanding of who we are, who the Jews are, and what our expectations are, and 4) illustrate a historical event that I believe gives us a better understanding of God’s intent regarding our identities, purposes, and roles. There are many “a-ha moments” as we explore these things.

    I will not speak for the Jews, so thankfully I was given permission to use a framework created by a well-known, respected, and brilliant congregational rabbi who has been involved with MJ from the beginning. I added my own titles to his descriptions of: “8 common problems all MJ synagogues face”.
    Some of them are: Got Messianic Judaism, Angry Birds, Ima-Jew2, Family-Tree Shakers, One New Man-ity, The Leavened Gentile, and so on. The “problems” range from Gentiles who see MJ as the elite religion and/or think it’s meant for all believers; are angry with or disaffected from the church, their priest/pastor; believe Christianity is pagan; think “God told them” they are Jews; have found a distant relative “with a big nose who ate strange foods” and therefore think they are Jewish; think Paul’s “One New Man” means all believers are now Jewish; Gentiles who believe they are more Jewish than the actual Jews are, and that maintaining distinctions means they are being denied their covenantal “right” to Jewish things. There’s also the condescending Gentiles who think Jewish identity is a novelty.

    What struck me about these descriptions given by a seasoned Jew in the movement, was how accurately they expressed what I’ve witnessed or experienced. So, I then offer the gentile perspective based upon my own experiences and they virtually line up with the rabbi’s. It’s pretty startling.

    After exploring 2 ancient paradigms, that always shock the class due to their graphic nature and the fact that this is virtually unknown to most believers, we eventually land on the role of the non-Jewish believer in relationship to Jewish people. It’s too difficult to reproduce here but the point is that we cannot understand our role at this point in time without considering the scripture and also the past 2 thousand years of HISTORY! Yes, we must mine the information and be able to think metaphorically at times, but we are there, and many non-Jewish believers missed their role and failed in their jobs because of identity confusion/arrogance/insecurities and so on.

    To sum up the issue, we must predicate everything on Trust of the beautiful, sovereign, wonderful and almighty God who created us within certain distinctions, and always for mutual blessing.

  10. @drake — I think you’re missing the point that HaShem spoke to us Jews the specific information we required to conduct His experimental pilot program for human redemption that began with our community. The Torah would have had to be a whole lot longer to accommodate all the information required for the entirety of 70 nations across the rest of humanity. He picked on us because of the special quality of faith He observed in Avraham our forerunner, and that’s not our fault! You really have no basis to complain that the “holy books” that we preserved regarding the part we were assigned to play are focused primarily on us and not on everybody else. We’ve shared their information as widely as possible, but there hasn’t really been quite as much gratitude expressed as might have been considered appropriate. You really have no evidence that HaShem didn’t tell anybody else about what gentiles should be doing; it’s just that nobody else managed to write that down and preserve it across the centuries in the manner that Jews did with the Torah and the literature which that spawned. That’s not our fault, either! The Torah even mentions a few non-Jewish individuals of whom we became aware because we noted that HaShem had spoken to them also.

    Further, your mention of a “canon” suggests a very parochial view of Jewish literature, when you complain about the Didache. And what can you be thinking about the authority HaShem vested in Rav Shaul when you dismiss his instructions for gentile assemblies that study and share communal meals, just because they weren’t accompanied by fire and smoke (and mirrors?)? Someone who ignores those instructions or misses a meeting does not need to be liable to the punishments of hellfire. Their absence would cause them to miss out on certain communal blessings, and maybe even some individual ones. Isn’t that punishment enough?

    If you feel that there is a lack of fairness or justice in the world, whether for Judah or Joseph or Ishmael or a Canaanite woman’s daughter, I put it to you that you are correct to note that you are not HaShem. You lack the information that He has available to inform His judgments. There is no limitation on who may enter the mindset of the kingdom of heaven and who may thus approach HaShem, given compliance with pre-requisites like repentance, so there is no suitable basis for the resentment you seem to be expressing in the manner of Korach, merely because not everyone is granted the same assignments for their service to HaShem. The valuations that we place on things or jobs or people are not necessarily consonant with how He views them, just as a “widow’s mite” just might be more valuable to Him than what may appear to someone else to be a most highly valuable contribution. But if we do indeed trust Him, we accept as factual that He is the source of all that is truly just; and that if we have any difficulty recognizing that, then our perceptions require some adjustment. It is we who have suffered perceptual distortion and dropout since our exile from the primordial Garden.

    Do you feel that an instruction like that in Micah 6:8, to “do justice, love mercy, and to walk humbly with your G-d”, which is addressed to humans in general and not merely to Jewish ones, is insufficient? If so, you haven’t thought it through thoroughly enough. Similarly, the instructions to gentiles in the apostolic writings, that are derived from HaShem’s Torah principles, should be sufficient if considered, deliberated, and elaborated in the same manner as Jews have done with Torah instruction. That does not mean appropriating Judaism, nor detaching from it supercessionistically and fabricating something out of bits and pieces of pagan praxis.

    It is true that the false practices and values by which the majority of gentile civilizations have conducted themselves thus require some radical redefinition of the identity structure of any individual who seeks to conform instead with the values and principles that HaShem provided for Israel’s enlightenment. Such a new identity does not need to be based on Israeli cultural religious praxis, but only on the godly principles that it will share with Jewish civilization and that will enable these individuals to enter the kingdom-of-heaven mindset. Is that really such a problem?

  11. @Sojourning: To be fair, it made a lot of sense for Jewish people to hold animosity toward Gentiles who were operating in Jewish space given that the (Gentile) Roman empire was occupying the Jewish homeland. Gentiles were welcome in the synagogue typically either as God Fearers or proselytes, but the status of the Gentile disciples of Messiah was, as I’ve stated before, highly unstructured and uncertain.

    A perfect example of Jewish fears regarding a mass influx of Gentiles into Jewish community can be found in Acts 13:4-52 On the surface, that bit of scripture seems to paint the Jewish people in question in a pretty dim light, but I can see a lot of anxiety and maybe outright fear behind their acts of persecution.

    I think we have some of those same feelings in certain areas of Messianic Judaism today, exacerbated by 2,000 years of Christian-Jewish enmity.

    @Questor: I hope I was successful in communicating that I don’t think we’re chopped liver at all.

    As far as synagogues with a mixed Jewish/Gentile population, they are actually the norm, and Beth Immanuel in Hudson, Wisconsin seems to be a Messianic congregation lead primarily by non-Jews, so it can be said to be a “Jewish” environment offering “Messianic Judaism for the nations”.

    I don’t see that having other synagogues being by and for Jews as such a bad thing, given what I wrote above.

    As I said in the body of this blog post, Gentiles really are drawn to (Messianic) Judaism, in part, because of the beauty of the Torah. It’s just that, in my opinion, the Torah is applied differently to us than to the Jewish people based on those covenant distinctions I’ve written about at length in other blog posts.

    I still read and study Torah using traditional modern Jewish commentaries, both in book form and online, and those materials were written by and for Jews.

    Messianic Judaism in all its forms is still trying to figure out what to do with us. Jewish disciples of the Master didn’t know what to do with us in their day, so why should it be any easier now?

    @PL: I’m convinced that the Didache was a guide for Jewish disciples to make Gentile novices into disciples of Yeshua, but obviously, it fell into disuse when Gentiles exited the ancient Messianic Jewish community. Do you see it as something useful in defining the identity and role of Messianic Gentiles today?

    @Drake: In your response to PL, you noted, “But for all intents and purposes they had a religion.” The idea that religion as an entity separate from all other aspects of life, is a relatively recent idea. Back in the day, a Jew’s devotion to Hashem, the Torah, and the Temple was inseparable from any other part of their existence, hence it was more part of their culture and lifestyle, just as the various pagan religions were fully integrated into the lifestyles, commerce, government, and families of the various Gentile cultures in and around the ancient near east.

    The trick, as I see it, was how to sit the Gentile Yeshua-believers down at the same table and in the same community as the Yeshua-believing Jews and integrate them as social equals. Just figuring out how they/we fit into the New Covenant promises was a chore for many believing Jews (Acts 15:1-2, Galatians 2:11-21).

    As far as the Didache proscribing Torah observance for the Gentile, I’ve always read that as voluntary, since it assigns to direct obligation for observing the mitzvot and not penalty for non-compliance, as the Torah does a non-observant Jew.

    While I set aside the vast majority of the mitzvot for reasons I’ve previously stated, including for the sake of peace in the home, there are scores of Messianic Gentiles who are at least somewhat observant as they feel they are led. As long as that’s understood to be voluntary rather than obligatory and not as an indication of supersessionism, I can see it as acceptable practice. Certainly First Fruits of Zion has produced a great deal of material in the past several years supporting and encouraging some form of “Jewish” observance for Gentiles.

    You said:

    Billions of human beings from distinct backgrounds mixed into one pot, families ruptured from their past, cultures wiped out by monotheism…

    The current essay I’m reading in the Nanos-Zetterholm book addresses just this point: the disruption Paul’s teachings caused among the formerly pagan Gentiles who became Yeshua-believers in terms of their families, businesses, communities, and cultures. This may have been terrifying for many of the ancient Messianic Gentiles to be cut off from their past, even though it was for the sake of their faith in the God of Israel through the Jewish Messiah.

    This is a topic relevant to us today as we non-Jews who are in (Messianic) Jewish community or, like me tangentially associated with it, are attempting to figure out who we are.

    To all: This is a very interesting conversation and one I think needs to happen more often. I’m not trying to start a riot or a revolution, but in our zeal to define and establish the Jewishness and the Judaism of Messianic Judaism, since it’s inevitable for non-Jews to be attached to the movement for a variety of reasons, then we non-Jews have to try and establish who we are, not only in community, but in relation to God.

    Christian history assumes a distorted narrative of taking over Jewish covenant or replacing it with a “new” covenant made with the nations (which is Biblically unsustainable). Now that we Messianic Gentiles have come to the realization that the Bible doesn’t say what we were taught it said in Sunday School, we need to renegotiate our relationship with the New Covenant and what that means to God and to us.

    If we’re ever going to come to some sort of peace with Jews in Messiah, let alone the larger world of Jews and (Gentile) Christians, we have to first come to peace with ourselves and realize that in spite of all the social wrangling happening between Jews and Gentiles in MJ, that God does relate to and love each and every non-Jew in Messiah, even has He loves and cherishes the Jewish people.

    All human beings are made in the image of God, and God made a provision, through the faithfulness of Messiah, for all human beings to be reconciled to Him. That cannot be emphasized strongly enough. This whole “we Gentiles are being left out” stuff has got to end. Even if it’s uncomfortable for some Messianic Jews to incorporate non-Jews into community, that doesn’t mean that we are at all being rejected or “left out” by God.

    Even though the covenants were made only with Israel, and even though we non-Jews are only able to receive the blessings of the New Covenant through the faithfulness of Israel’s Messiah King, in the end, each of us as individuals decide whether or not to acknowledge God and then in acknowledgement, how we intend to respond to God with our lives. No other person or group can inhibit that relationship unless we let them.

  12. “He picked on us because of the special quality of faith He observed in Avraham our forerunner, and that’s not our fault!”

    No. Nobody said anything about that being your fault. In fact, it seems it is to your spiritual merit.

    “@Drake: In your response to PL, you noted, “But for all intents and purposes they had a religion.” The idea that religion as an entity separate from all other aspects of life, is a relatively recent idea. Back in the day, a Jew’s devotion to Hashem, the Torah, and the Temple was inseparable from any other part of their existence, hence it was more part of their culture and lifestyle, just as the various pagan religions were fully integrated into the lifestyles, commerce, government, and families of the various Gentile cultures in and around the ancient near east.”

    As I wrote, I’m aware of that. Fish don’t know that they are wet. Ancient faiths were more encompassing and not detachable like Christianity inherently is to a modular American. I get it. But by today’s terms, that’s still a religion, just a more demanding one. “Religio Licita,” in fact. That is: a pattern of socially mandated collective expression built around a truth, pact, or event a people shared with a divinity, situated in a cosmic order and world order and predominantly transmitted generationally.

    “As far as the Didache proscribing Torah observance for the Gentile, I’ve always read that as voluntary, since it assigns to direct obligation for observing the mitzvot and not penalty for non-compliance, as the Torah does a non-observant Jew.”

    MJ cannot sustain the schizophrenic attitude it has toward the Didache. You cannot say “doing this will NOT elevate your spirituality over gentiles who do not,” and then “do as much as you can bear,” and then “Doing that is cultural appropriation” in one theology. It’s not fair to gentiles to bait them with the false hope that G-d registers their sacrifices for Torah. Using the Didache to spread false hope to gentiles who love Torah life can shatter a person’s faith in the long-run. In fact, it’s a favorite gateway drug for One-Law votaries due to its invitational observance language. MJ should forthwith cease using it and prevent any uncertainty by defaulting to Paul alone if they truly want to man the barbicans. Its continued use elevates my spite for debacles that could have been avoided.

    “There is no limitation on who may enter the mindset of the kingdom of heaven and who may thus approach HaShem, given compliance with pre-requisites like repentance, so there is no suitable basis for the resentment you seem to be expressing in the manner of Korach…”

    Korach led an unsuccessful coup. But you wouldn’t be the first religious person to tell me I’m hellbound for thoughts. I actually come here because James is able to commiserate to a degree. I wrote in my last post:

    “While overcoming the yetzer hara is the gauntlet of the reprobate, this test of isolation is the worst trial in the Bible for anyone for whom G-d is important, but evidently something every upright is called to do.”

    I thought you would see that as a ringing declaration of a difficult but real submission to eating my vegetables in a situation I find less than favorable, and accepting my limitations. I guess that was ingenuous for thinking that conclusion would be sufficient.

    “All right then, I’ll go to hell” – Huckleberry Finn

  13. “If you feel that there is a lack of fairness or justice in the world, whether for Judah or Joseph or Ishmael or a Canaanite woman’s daughter, I put it to you that you are correct to note that you are not HaShem. You lack the information that He has available to inform His judgments.”

    I don’t know if G-d really has to be fair. He could kill us all and use our bones for chalk and it would be fair because he is G-d. I don’t think he’d do that, but then again, I have not exactly resolved where he fits into Euthyphro’s Dilemma.

    G-d is always just in the absolute, just not maybe to you or I as we see it. I agree. And he doesn’t owe anyone a thing.

    What if G-d loved gentiles less? What if he did have favorites and discards? We would still have to follow him. What if G-d commanded the Shoah from this throne like he did Babylon? He’s still on the throne. Whether or not those statements are true, they still make for the best test of faith I can imagine – enduring hope love unrequited. G-d had to endure it with Israel.

  14. Well, now, Drake … Euthyphro’s Dilemma … hmmm…. For those who aren’t familiar with this question, it ponders whether something is good because G-d says so, or whether G-d says so because it is intrinsically good in itself (to paraphrase Euthyphro and Socrates, though they had to contend with multiple gods who could disagree with each other). it seems to me that the “good in itself” lemma posits a notion of something of higher authority than HaShem, effectively removing Him from the role of the “Most High”. This is already a notion that wasn’t quite available to ol’ Euthyphro, because even the chief god Zeus wasn’t omnipotent or omniscient, and certainly wasn’t qualified as the arbiter of morality. So I’m not sure his question is even meaningful at the level of a true “God of Gods”. In that sense, HaShem could get away with being entirely arbitrary, because whatever He defined to be good or fair or right would have to be the proper definition. This presumes that the arbitrariness was limited to an initial definition which was consistently maintained forever after.

    However, HaShem also created humans in His own image, including having endowed them with some sense of these definitions, however flawed and inconsistent it may be at present. Hence we struggle with our observations to which we attempt to apply this sense, even knowing that our observations are limited to incomplete information. Those of us who have chosen to trust HaShem accept that He is altogether Just and Righteous, not to neglect Compassionate and Merciful, and fully qualified in the role of “Judge over All things” (which, conveniently, He also created in the first place). We do not subscribe to the view (attributed to Voltaire or Sartre?) that if there is a God, then He must be the Devil, which essentially places human moral judgment above that ascribed to G-d, because of the unpleasant events experienced by humans that are attributed to His doing.

    One problem with which humans must contend is that of jealousy or envy, whereby we look at someone else and feel slighted if we don’t have all the same stuff that they have. Under such influence, we may fail to ask ourselves whether we have already more than enough, or even everything that we need, to achieve our own happiness. Does the fact that someone else is different somehow diminish us? Does the notion of equal value demand that everyone must be the same? Or does the existence of exceptional individuals instead challenge us to strive to become better ourselves? And, does the notion of “better” mean to be like someone else; or does it depend on more fundamental definitions that someone else has also applied, perhaps more diligently or thoroughly than we have done? What do we really mean when we think of the notions of fairness or justice?

    Yacov ben-Yosef, in Jam.4:1, talked about a source of quarreling that could be found in our own fundamental desires that may be unfulfilled, perhaps because they were wrongly motivated in the first place. Thus it behooves us to ask ourselves what it is we really want, why do we want it, what are we expecting to happen in order that we might get it, and whether an objective evaluation of these desires and events would view them as conforming with HaShem’s desires or not. Rav Shaul invoked an analogy in Rom.9:21 of a potter making a clay vessel. He was undoubtedly thinking also of corresponding passages in Tenakh, such as Is.29:16, Is.45:9, and Jer.18:4 & 6. A more modern wag suggested that the problem with a “living sacrifice” (viz:Rom.12:1) was its tendency to keep crawling off its altar instead of staying put where it could fulfill its purpose. All of these analogies challenge us to consider HaShem’s purposes above our own, and that by this means alone will we succeed in experiencing the benefits that He offers, which exceed what we would achieve by pursuing our own purposes. And *that*, boys and girls, is the crux of faith and trust.

  15. You’re quite welcome to enjoy your Eastern European delicacy of chopped liver, Peter, but my own tastes favor more Mediterranean delicacies.

  16. PL: I don’t really care that Israel has first place. Irrelevant to me. Fundamentally, though, as a non-Jew, the more I read the Bible (the national literature of Israel) the more I am smitten with the beauty of the literature… the less I relate to its deity. You’ve never been told all your life that the Bible is for every man and speaks to everyone who reads it. You’ve never been told that the Bible is about avoiding hell, and then come to find out it’s about some collective salvation when you don’t really have a collective and the bible never gives you one, (who is my family of the earth?). Imagine being told your whole life that Jesus came to save you, when in fact he called you a dog and never explicitly rescinded the statement? That it was the sick who needed medicine, but that he prioritizes your salvation less than a group already better off? What actually binds me to Him, other than how strong my faith is on a particular day?

    This jarring paradigm shift can make you feel like an interloper pretty fast.

  17. @Drake — So you feel slighted that Rav Yeshua might compare you with a dog, either a wild one or a domesticated pet? How do you feel about being compared to a wild olive branch? On the other hand, how does it feel to be given the privilege of a key to the heavenly palace, by the very same Rav Yeshua whose actual mission was to be sent only to Israel’s “lost sheep”? Isn’t that a valuable bonus? (A number of Samaritans apparently thought so.) Is the glass half empty or half full? OK, so you’re disappointed to learn that you’re not sitting in the proverbial “catbird seat”; that you’ve been previously misinformed about what and who the Bible is all about. Your situation could have been worse — you could have been ignored altogether and left to suffer the consequences. Do you discount Rav Shaul’s encouragement to Timothy that HaShem remains faithful even when humans are not, because He maintains His own integrity to keep His promises, and that the promise implicit in Rav Yeshua’s resurrection applies to all who trust HaShem (viz:2Tim.2:13)?

    I don’t know which of the “families of the earth” would lay claim to you or you to it, but you could envision your position similarly to those folks who hate it when a census form demands that they categorize themselves by a racial group. Under the heading of “Race”, they select the option “Other” and write “Human” in the accompanying blank space. Alternatively you might identify with some national grouping, because many modern nations developed from some source family that might even correspond with one of the notional 70 nations cited in rabbinical writings. Your pen name suggests a possible Scottish connection, but perhaps that’s misleading. I have occasionally wondered about what distinctive characteristic cultural traits of various “nations” might survive into the millennium because they could be incorporated into a redeemed identity and were not actually contrary to HaShem’s principles as revealed in Torah. However, I don’t have the data or experience to pursue that question, and I suspect it would best be pursued by members of a given national “family” who had pursued the implied recommendation of Acts 15:21 and learned enough of Torah to become able to make accurate comparisons. Perhaps you might like to take up such a challenge, Drake?

  18. James:
    Sometimes in our defense of the Jews, and specifically the Jewishness of Jesus and the apostles, I think we can inadvertently promote an image of the “Imperially protected, powerful, and Jew-persecuting Christianity of the fourth and subsequent centuries” onto the NT era and nascent Christianity. Luke T. Johnson calculates: “Next to nearly seven million Jews in the empire were certainly fewer than one hundred thousand messianists. In an era that treasured antiquity, Judaism traced a history of two thousand years; messinests were literally born yesterday…. They [believers] were David to non-messianists’ Goliath.”

    Almost all of the Apostles were martyred and later in Rome it was mainly gentile believers who’s horrific deaths in the colosseum provided entertainment for the Romans. The early Jewish believers and later gentile believers were virtually powerless, and I think we forget that. It is said that more gentile Christians were persecuted after Constantin’s conversion than before. Anyway, it’s more complicated than how it is sometimes portrayed, and that’s the point I was trying to make.

  19. Just to dovetail off of what PL said, while human beings can be biased and inconsistent, if we have faith in God, then we must accept that he is ultimately just, merciful, and loving. While Israel is the “apple of His eye,” so to speak, He also “so loved the world” that He sent Yeshua to be the instrument of not only Israel’s redemption, but that of all humanity, all people everywhere and across time.

    That we Gentiles may not always feel accepted within Messianic Jewish community (or for that matter, even in some churches) doesn’t mean that we are being rejected by God…just by other human beings.

    I suppose it’s a matter of faith that I believe that God loves me, a non-Jew, and that He desires the best for me.

    In Christianity, this isn’t even a question, but as I said before, as Gentiles who have some sort of connection with Messianic Jewish community, we have to keep reminding ourselves that we have worth, too.

    @Drake: The Bible does, for the most part, speak of collectives of human beings, nations, not just individuals, but to the degree that you and I are citizens of a nation not Israel, we can see that God’s intention is to redeem the non-Jewish citizens of all the nations. Since we’re “in the mix,” so to speak, that intention includes both you and me.

    At Sinai, the Israelites responded to Hashem “as one man” that they would obey His Torah. But each person was still an individual, they just happened to also be united as a nation. While it is unlikely that each individual in the U.S. or any other country will repent and turn to the God of Israel through the faithfulness of Messiah, the offer is extended. All we have to do is say “yes” and to allow our lives to conform to God’s plan for us.

    @Ro: Yes, the author of that article makes a lot of good points that indeed are relevant to what we’re talking about here.

    @Sojourning: True. No worries.

  20. @SWJ — You’re certainly right to insist that fourth-century Imperial Christianity should not be projected backward onto the persecutions of the first century. But I would take issue with Luke T. Johnson’s portrayal of messianists against non-messianists. The Jewish messianists had no lesser connection to prior Jewish history than other Jews. Indeed, they had a very special affinity for subtle hints within the prophetic literature, and based their concept of the promised messiah on even the earliest portions of Bereshit. Rav Yeshua’s disciples were no David versus a Goliath of other Jews, but we do have records of a significant amount of factionalism in that era leading up to the Hurban (and even afterward). In addition, the Roman occupation crucified tens of thousands of Jews in their quest to maintain quiet among people who were not particularly amenable to foreign gentile rule and its conflicts with Jewish religious and political sensibilities. Rav Yeshua’s disciples suffered from Jewish quislings and from Jewish zealots (e.g., anti-messianists such as was Rav Shaul before the Damascus-road incident), and their claim to redeem gentiles without converting them was suspect and cause for further skepticism (as James noted previously in citing Acts 13). But one actual martyrdom and a few attempts at a second one, recorded in Acts, pales in comparison with what occurred to Jews at Roman hands during the Hurban that was done shortly after the narrative of Acts ends, and then again about 65 years later with the failed Bar-Kokhva revolt. Consequently it may be understandable that there were fewer Jews facing death in the Coliseum afterward, because they had been already decimated and scattered in exile. During the post-Hurban period until the revolt, we see the beginnings of truly anti-Jewish teaching among gentile Christians, despite the fact that they weren’t any better received in the Empire than Jews were. Indeed, as Mark Nanos points out, those who tried to resist the common political paganism were under even greater pressure, lacking the authorization of a “religio licta” (i.e., a “licensed” non-Roman religion). But both factions were known to slander the other to attempt to achieve some slightly more favorable position under Roman occupation. This is the primary period under which apostolic martyrdom increased, along with that of other Christians. By the time when Roman Imperial Christianity arose, anti-Jewish sentiments that began under the Roman occupation before the invention of Christianity had been absorbed already into the gentile Christian community. Indeed, one hypothesis for the increase in this anti-Jewish sentiment among gentile Christians would invoke the psychology of the Stockholm Syndrome, in which the views of persecutors are absorbed and emulated by their victims as a strategy attempting to minimize that persecution. Now, while that may well explain how post-Nicene Christianity came to be formulated, it does not excuse it.

  21. @PL:
    I was not attempting to “excuse” any bad behavior–none of which is “justified” by believing Jews or Gentiles, since we are to be known not by our weaponry, but by our love– rather, I was attempting to bring up the fact that it was a complicated issue for quite sometime.

    Since messianic Gentiles are understandably preoccupied with exploring and pointing out the nuances of “the Jews” in the first century, and all the rancor that has developed since the “triumph” of Christianity, often Christians and (certainly Christianity), gets painted with a very broad brush, as if it appeared in Acts chapt 2 and was immediately the dominant, powerful, and somewhat Jew-hating religion it later became. It was neither powerful nor dominant, and it could be argued on many levels that it was Jew-loving in the beginning. After all, in cities where there had been no Jewish presence, there were few gentile converts.

    Anyway, I’m not at all unsympathetic towards the different perspectives of the Jewish parties, believing or otherwise. I know there was a lot of suffering at the hands of the Romans, and the Greeks before them. Jews knew they shouldn’t be under foreign rule, that it constituted judgment by God, and there was no doubt fear and tension. I even understand the perspectives of the judaizers (if they were Jews and not Gentiles, that is) because it seems to be a reasonable assumption on their part from that time period.

  22. I have two points and a question.

    First, although only a portion of Scripture is addressed to Gentiles, that portion quotes or alludes to the Tanakh quite extensively. If the writers did not consider the Tanakh relevant to Gentiles, it is difficult to account for this practice. For them, the Tanakh is an authoritative text for all followers of the Messiah. The issue, of course, is in what way it is authoritative, an issue that may be too complex for a blog comment.

    Second, Judaism is not “Tanakh-only.” Post-biblical Jewish writings (e.g., the Mishnah, Midrash, and Talmud) have been absolutely essential in shaping Jewish practice and thought.” Without post-Tanakh writings (including the Pesach Haggadah), Jewish practice and thought would be virtually unrecognizable. What would a synagogue service, a Pesach meal, or tefillin look like apart from Jewish tradition?

    It seems to me that traditional Jewish writings do not apply directly to Gentiles, except insofar as it would help them to conduct themselves with a deep level of grace with an observant Jewish spouse, relative, or friend, or in a Jewish setting. (I’m not saying that Gentiles have nothing to learn from these writings, only that they were not intended to shape Gentile practice and thought.)

    So my question is whether Gentile followers of Messiah are thinking about practices and thought as they are found in the Tanakh or Jewish practices and thought as shaped by post-biblical Jewish tradition?

  23. First two noted and already understood (including your caveat about gentile relationship to the Tanakh being complex, highly indirect, nuanced, etc).

    “So my question is whether Gentile followers of Messiah are thinking about practices and thought as they are found in the Tanakh or Jewish practices and thought as shaped by post-biblical Jewish tradition?”

    Either, I suppose. But you kind of answered your own question with your penultimate paragraph.

    Outside of the Tanakh, I guess I would like to ask about the Didache as well.

    Why is the Didache so enshrined in MJ circles when it urges gentiles to food purity, ie: “do what you can bear”, whilst MJ proper maintains that it’s of no benefit to gentiles whatsoever? Is it just venerated for the nostalgia of a time when both religions were joined at the hip? After reading it, I can see how Christians might be misled to believe that there is some sort of “higher path” for them.

    If one follows Paul, would that simply mean that the Didache is just wrong on food admonitions? If so, why glom onto it? I mean I see its historic value, but FFOZ and others seem to use it very heavily.

    Just curious.

  24. @ckinbar:

    “…traditional Jewish writings do not apply directly to Gentiles, except insofar as it would help them to conduct themselves with a deep level of grace with an observant Jewish spouse, relative, or friend, or in a Jewish setting. (I’m not saying that Gentiles have nothing to learn from these writings, only that they were not intended to shape Gentile practice and thought.)”

    I cannot tell you how nice it is to read this.

    Although I believe there are valuable things to learn from Jewish writings, and I’ve had the pleasure of learning due to “my Jews”, if I wasn’t intermarried, I wouldn’t separate the meat and dairy, or worry if the candles were lit 18 minutes before sundown, or refrain from going out to lunch on Saturday afternoons, or take the extra time and expense to locate and purchase kosher meat and wine, and the list goes on.

    While I don’t believe Gentiles need to (or even should) engage rabbinic Judaism “religiously”, on the other hand, the Jewish people cannot help but do so if they are to remain connected to, or re-connect to, their people. For example, my husband cannot access his own history, family, and people apart from enter acting with Judaism, but that is not my story.

    The issue that I’ve seen brought up in these discussions, and would appreciate your thoughts on, is that some in the Messianic world say it isn’t proper for Gentiles to do things like Shabbat for example, apart from the traditions Jewish people created around it.

    Of course, everything gets out of whack by our competitive nature.

  25. Messianic Gentiles, from all that I have read, heard and discussed, really want in their heart of hearts to know what a Messianic Jewish Synagogue and Messianic Jewish Community did, in practice, teaching, and evangelizing, during the first thirty years after Yeshua’s death, when the Apostles were doing the teaching and evangelizing, and one could still ask questions of the Jerusalem Messianic Assembly.

    The Korban reshaped Jewish thought in violent opposition to the nascent Christianity that the surviving, soon to become Rabbinical Jews found in the Messianic Jews, and the growing population of Gentiles that were welcome to them, and who eventually pushed aside all thought of Judaic ways to become Christianity. Everything written by what became Rabbinical Judaism is about how to be a good Jew, and to maintain that Jewish heritage wherever Jews might find themselves, while how to be a good Messianic Believer was shaped by Greco-Roman philosophy into Catholicism. This was and is somewhat unnecessary for a Messianic Gentile these days to know, since we are seeking to know the practices of Judaism prior to Yeshua.

    I don’t think we actually want to adapt all the practices of that early, countrified, unsophisticated Judaism…we simply want to know what it was, so we can make our own decisions as to our praxis as Messianic Gentiles. Being Gentiles, little is required of us by covenant, and in Yeshua, grace is given for all the mistakes we make. Still, Messianic Gentiles want to get as close to the heart of G-d as we can. If we could know what was basic Judaism in 6 BC, we would be able to see our way a lot more clearly to adhering to it as much as the Ruach haKodesh leads us to. The Great Commission was given to make disciples of Yeshua throughout the world, not disciples of Malmonides, however much we admire him.

  26. @Sojourning With Jews

    Thanks for your affirmation (I need all I can get).

    Re: Your question about non-rabbinic Torah observance by Gentiles. Personally, I don’t see the problem with it, as long as it not considered obligatory (either theologically or by peer pressure),

  27. Never refer to it as you believe it is spurious to use it? Or it’s just not your area of interest? Again, just curious.

  28. Drake,
    Mark Nanos has done some work on trying to show that there were gentiles in the Greco-Roman world who might have called themselves dogs (due to some philosophy) or who called each other dogs in certain circumstances. Also note that the daughter was demon possessed — I don’t think this happens easily. In a “pagan”/polytheist world, these people weren’t “dogs” simply for not being Jews (though being a Jew would involve learning different things). Still, even if this had been a statement on all gentiles, there was now to be a way out.

  29. These are good questions and they raise another one in my mind – did HaShem ever intend fit us to have two different faith practices?

    Add to what pay of the Tanakh, Rav Shaul said that all scripture is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness.

  30. @Ro Pinto

    “Did Hashem ever intend fit us to have two different faith practices?”

    I think this has been discussed before on James’ blog. Actually, there are more than two. Hashem has ordained distinct practices for different groups, even within Israel – for females, males, and priests, for example.This is why priests who worked in the Temple on Shabbat were not liable to the death penalty.

    “And what part of the Tanakh?”

    It is very sad that two thousand years have passed and the Church has not addressed this satisfactorily. Gentiles who see the value of Torah are left to their own devices to figure out how it applies to them.

  31. Are you telling us, Marleen, that Mark Nanos has identified an historic precedent within some ancient subculture for a form of address comparable to the modern African-American slang expression: “Yo, dawg, whut’s up?”? [:)]

  32. PL wrote: “Given their relationship with Jews and the Jewish G-d, was their identity as cleansed, forgiven, elevated (e.g., “sanctified”) *humans* (!) somehow insufficient?”

    Gentiles are sanctified…you keep saying that.

    *Job and Enoch were gentiles and prophets, and so was Balaam. They prophecied. They were gentiles before the coming of Yeshua, and they already had the spirit of prophecy.

    *We also maintain that gentile G-d Fearers had a share in the world to come before Jesus. We have examples.

    *Gentiles could lead ethical lives in the OT.

    *We also maintain that gentiles are not consecrated to the Temple in the way Jews are to the cultic site of the Mishkan or its tools and procedures. Before or after Jesus.

    So…

    How and in what way does Jesus belief sanctify gentiles?

    *If you say the Holy Spirit, you need to look no further than the prophets of the gentiles.

    *If you say they gained a place in the Olam HaBa – what of the G-d Fearers before Jesus?

    *Gentiles are called to lead ethical lives in the NT.

    *If you claim Temple, Aaron still remains the religious functionary in the Messianic Age. That is clear.

    In a real and substantive way, how does Jesus belief sanctify the gentiles beyond patterns that already existed? Just greater numbers maybe, like that prosaic Christian argument that the Temple worked at saving souls until Jesus made it available to people who couldn’t make the journey?

    People keep throwing these words around. But I know how a Jew is sanctified. Convenants, being bound to a cultic site, guardianship of the holy books, the most true prophets, etc.

    If Jesus convened a gathering on the Mt. of Olives and entered into a pact with all the leaders of the world before his execution, I could see that. But really, I don’t know what ties a gentile to Jesus other than what he believes on any given day. And even that had wiggle room.

    I’m, not saying this to be snarky, it’s just something everyone keeps saying and I don’t see.

  33. @Ro Pinto — Since the Tenakh doesn’t even specify for the sake of Jewish praxis the details of how to lay tefillin, nor how to construct them, nor how to tie tzitzit on the corners of appropriate garments, nor exactly how to conduct a Passover seder, nor a great many other such details, the profitability of all these scriptures for developing doctrine, reproof, correction, and instruction in righteousness must refer to other, more generalized, categories of behavior. Of course, in the course of exercising the authority outlined in Torah to apply it in each generation of Jews, these particularly Jewish customs came to be specified in detail. I believe that Rabbi Kinbar has expressed an appropriate lament in noting that during the past two thousand years the gentile segment of the ecclesia has not done similarly in any appropriate manner. Hence, while modern Jewish messianists are drawing on the richness of Jewish literature and traditional culture to recover and to update an authentic Jewish praxis for MJ, their gentile counterparts are faced with the challenge of starting almost from scratch to do similarly for non-Jewish praxis.

    Incidentally, for Drake’s benefit, that’s why some folks have been so anxious to mine for literature such as the Didache to seek clues that might suggest what praxis was recommended for ancient gentile disciples of Rav Yeshua. They are seeking an ancient starting point for developing a suitably authentic modern gentile praxis that differs from that of Jews, so as to support their continuing distinctiveness, even if they must also draw from the same literary and cultural wellsprings as do modern MJs.

  34. Rabbi Kinbar brings up an interesting point. While the Torah and subsequent Jewish writings do specify many behavioral/lifestyle responsibilities of the Jewish people in their covenant relationship with God, there is a startling lack of information about non-Jewish responsibility in Messiah.

    Traditional Judaism points Gentiles to the Noahide Laws, but I’m not sure this concept existed in the days of Paul or earlier. Messianic Judaism points Gentiles (sometimes) to the Didache to illustrate that the Apostles or their immediate disciples had a clear plan for training non-Jewish novices to be Messianic disciples. However, as was pointed out earlier, the Didache was never canonized and we have a lack of information regarding how widespread the use of this training method was in the early Messianic movement (or if it was used at all).

    Humans like structure for a given context. We want to know who we are and what we’re supposed to do across specific situations. We usually know what we’re supposed to do at our jobs, when we go grocery shopping, when we go to a baseball game, when we visit our parents, when we go to the movie theater.

    But as “Messianic Gentiles,” the question of who we are and what we’re supposed to do, specifically in Jewish community as well as outside of it, is not well defined. Maybe it is completely undefined, except in each local community, but those standards vary widely from one congregation to the next. There is no central authority to which we can turn that defines Messianic Gentile praxis globally.

    As a Gentile individual, I can read the Bible, I can read Torah commentaries, I can pray, I can try to live my life loving God and loving my neighbor as myself, doing charity, speaking to others with kindness, but that doesn’t particularly define me in community. I think that’s the struggle we non-Jews who are attempting to relate to some form of Jewish social context or structure continually face, and sometimes we tend to get a little frustrated.

    The various expressions of Messianic Judaism, in defining themselves, to some degree, define the Gentiles among them as “not us,” that is, not Jews, but being a “not” doesn’t tell us what we are. I’m not sure Paul ever answered this question so it’s not surprising that we can’t seem to arrive at a satisfying answer either.

    So far, the only thing I can arrive at is that, not being particularly obligated to much in the way of behavioral requirements, we are free to create as much variability in our praxis as we desire as long as it is within the bounds of the general moral and ethical principles defined in the Apostolic Scriptures as applied to Gentiles (and as long as it doesn’t step all over Jewish identity and praxis).

    As Rabbi Kinbar points out, the Torah and the Tanakh, as well as later Jewish literature, are of no particular help to us.

  35. “Humans like structure for a given context. We want to know who we are and what we’re supposed to do across specific situations.”

    Fair enough. But all the traditions of Judaism are built around ACTUAL COMMANDMENTS. All the ones appertaining to gentiles are negative, ie: “don’t have sex with livestock and don’t bow to idols.” How do you build traditions off of prohibitions?

  36. That’s the problem, Drake. It was the same problem Paul encountered at the beginning of Acts 15. That’s why he and his detractors turned to the Jerusalem Council, not just for guidance, but for a legal ruling. Unfortunately, only Luke’s bare summary of that ruling has survived to give us a smallest hint of what the details of that ruling might have been. Even with that ruling, there’s some indication that not all Jews in Messiah accepted it, or for that matter, Gentiles into their communities, at least as social equals.

    Galatians 2:11-21 chronicles such a difference of opinions between different groups of Messianic Jews in regard to table fellowship with Gentiles.

    What are the actual commandments directed at non-Jewish disciples of Messiah? There aren’t many compared to the richly developed Torah mitzvot. How can we build traditions for the Gentiles in Messiah?

    As I mentioned, we can build them at the personal level, the family level, and even at the level of the local congregation, but based on the Bible, we don’t seem to have enough information to build halachah for non-Jews in Messiah that we can apply globally. But then again, is there one standard set of behaviors that applies to all Christians on the planet, regardless of denomination let alone the standards of their local churches?

  37. @Drake — I didn’t quite state your overgeneralization that “Gentiles are sanctified”. What Kefa’s vision in Acts 10 revealed was that, contrary to popular opinion, some gentiles were being “cleansed” by HaShem. Immediately subsequent events confirmed that revelation by the outpouring of HaShem’s Spirit. How were they being cleansed? Apparently, it was by hearing of Rav Yeshua, repenting of their former behaviors that were contrary to his emphasis on Torah, trusting in the symbolic sacrifice represented in his martyrdom, and thereby attaining atonement. Such a pattern continued to be applied subsequently.

    Your question about how gentiles, particularly gentile prophets like Bil’am, became eligible to interact with HaShem’s Spirit prior to that is akin to the question of how did Jews do so. The Jewish answer may be found in the Sinai covenant, which also derives from the covenanted promises to Avraham, but Torah does hint in addition that the teachings of Shem and Eber affected many more folks than merely their descendant Avraham. So apparently some of the ancient lore was adequate for these early “Noahides”, and their own processes of repentance and sacrifice to HaShem.

    I don’t think that either pattern of faith was limited to how someone was feeling or believing on any given day. If one actually trusts that something or someone is trustworthy, presumably for good reasons, those reasons that are the foundation of their faith do not vary or shift from day to day, regardless of momentary circumstances. Now, we no longer possess any sufficiently detailed record of how these ancient Noahides behaved to be considered acceptable to HaShem, but we do have sufficiently detailed literature on how faith in Rav Yeshua works, which indicates that something more than mere ethical behavior is required. While gentiles are not secured by a covenant, as Jews are, they can nonetheless rely on HaShem’s faithfulness to promises regarding Rav Yeshua. It was not necessary for Rav Yeshua himself to enter into any covenant with the leaders of the world’s peoples. As individuals come to trust in the promises regarding his efforts on their behalf, they begin to benefit from HaShem’s faithfulness.

  38. Being the mother of a polyglot who (especially) loves to translate Hebrew writings of Jewish rabbis from the past, I have the pleasure of discussing her discoveries (of their perspectives), and reading her work, like I was last night. A Jew, who’d become a believer in the 19th century, had passionately written to his fellow Jews trying to untangle their misconceptions about Yeshua, Peter, Gentile inclusion, and the NT.

    Particularly striking was his contention that via Yeshua we Gentiles have been cleansed and have become full “converts” (ger tzedek) regarding access to God, salvation, acceptablity, yet all without circumcision since, he points out, ““[we] are not the seed of Abraham.”

    He calls us: “uncircumcised proselytes” which also aligns with some other things I’ve been reading lately. Gentiles cannot “become” what we are not, and placing the yoke of Torah upon us is not proper.

    He reiterates that we aren’t to be kept outside the fold, yet again, we aren’t to be yoked with Torah as Jews are: “The yoke of the Torah was placed upon the necks of the children of Israel, not upon the necks of any other people, and Saul and Barnabas argued and disputed with the zealous believers who came from Judaea for the purpose of casting the yoke of the Torah on the uncircumcised Gentiles who were turning to HaShem.”

    Also striking to me was that via his writing I noticed the emphatic nature of Acts 15:28 & 29 “For it seemed good to the Ruach HaKodesh and to us not to lay any heavier burden on you than the following requirements…”) and also, it hit me: the recipient’s profound joy over this acceptance (recorded in verse 31). They were “delighted” and “encouraged“.

    Yet today, “Torah observant” Gentiles (from my experience) are neither delighted nor encouraged with this ruling of the Holy Spirit and the Apostles, as given in Acts 15. Instead, I’ve seen anger, jealousy, and arrogance.

  39. @drake: regarding your desire for specific commandments and practice, I’d like to suggest we non-Jews have our hands full of them. We (collectively) just don’t want the ones we were clearly charged with anymore, and for those of us growing up in Christianized cultures (particularly America) it has not been as noticeable how weighty our calling is. Until now, that is.

    Of the very few “requirements” the Holy Spirit gave the to Apostles re gentile Torah commands, one was to: obstain from sexual immorality.

    I would suggest that our country (USA) dedicated to God by early “fathers” and founded upon Judeao-Christian ethics and morality, has not only fallen down on this issue, but we export our immorality all over the globe. Will we be held accountable?

    All of the trendy “new” sexual behaviors are anything but new. They, and worse, were all going on in the first century and Paul was, apparently, unconcerned about political correctness.

    It’s firmly established what constitutes “sexual immorality” (Lev 18 & 20) and in those passages not only is all Israel charged with this, but all who sojourn with them. Interestingly, the apostolic decree is written listing the commandments in the same order as they appear in the Torah.

    If we non-Jews were to live holy lives free of sexual immorality, and unwaveringly stand upon these commandments, teach them to others, and oppose the many churches who are falling like dominos as they permit and celebrate sexual deviancy and immorality, and show how these are founded upon, and cannot be separated from, the eternal Torah itself, then we would have our hands full doing what we are charged with, and our entire world would be far better off (that is, if you believe there are consequences for sexual immorality) than non-Jews learning rabbinic traditions about Shabbat and kashrut.

    Anyway, just my perspective.

  40. “Yet today, “Torah observant” Gentiles (from my experience) are neither delighted nor encouraged with this ruling of the Holy Spirit and the Apostles, as given in Acts 15. Instead, I’ve seen anger, jealousy, and arrogance.”

    I don’t think it’s a vice to be put off somewhat by the NT’s lack of information. Namely, access to what?

    “access to God, salvation, acceptablity,(sic)…”

    Which existed among G-dfearers prior in the OT (Job, Enoch), gentiles from time to time did already evidence prophecy, and upright gentiles did have a share in the world to come for ethical monotheism. Elijah was sent to the widow in Sidon. So again, Jesus belief gave what “new access”? At the risk of sounding crass (I’m not trying to) it seems odd to frame the argument in terms of “new access” when it’s pre-existing access.

    Even Proclaim Liberty had to pull out of the “sanctification” language he was using. It says in the prayers that G-d sanctifies Jews with his commandments. Hmmm…

    “Yet today, “Torah observant” Gentiles (from my experience) are neither delighted nor encouraged with this ruling of the Holy Spirit and the Apostles, as given in Acts 15. Instead, I’ve seen anger, jealousy, and arrogance.”

    The gentiles present in that story had the benefit of living among Poskim, who probably filled in a lot more blanks and seldom wrote any of it down.

    By birth I was not chosen. Fine. Unless I convert, I will never be as holy as a Jew. And a Jew will never be as holy as a Levi. I’m fine with that. I choose G-d even though he never chose me, and any just G-d should somehow register that. Now…as for the rest of my life and what I teach my children if I ever get married…knowing how life looks would be pretty darned helpful. Even James Pyles, who is by no means a firebrand and quite moderate, acknowledges this disconcerting lack of information. How do you build a “tradition” around negative commandments only? I think the Bible makes a very good case for Protestant minimalism when it comes to Gentiles, which nobody here is fain to admit. Pray. Be saved. Go to heaven. The end.

    My future son: “Why do we do this custom?”
    Future me: “Well gee, I dunno.”
    Son: “Is it in the Bible?”
    Me: “No.”
    Son: “Is it derived from a positive commandment on gentiles?”
    Me: “Not really…I just made it up.”
    Son: “So why do it?”
    Me: “Because you will be blessed. I promise.”
    Son: “But I can be blessed in other ways, why do this?”
    Me: “…”
    Son: “What is this service – of yours?”

    Or I could just lie to him and tell him that a medieval saint in our family had a vision to validate it. File that under winning formulae for tradition into perpetuity.

    Being told to be grateful and shut up and eat your peas every time these questions are raised can’t go on forever. And as for being compared to Korah for asking these questions? Korah had the benefit of Moses and G-d, a Torah, with access to Moses on all matters of life. Moses even invited him to come and smooth things over and Korah denied him to his face! Korah had no ambiguity as to his station; he and his Kohathite confederates were given a station, enumerated for him in very explicit detail like everyone else in the camp. And yet I point out the NT’s paucity of information and naturally arising questions and it’s, “O, rebels we!” The gentiles in Acts had the benefit of a Beit Din of Spirit-endowed believers and Paul next to the standing Temple, living in the capital of monotheism. If I wanted to know about golden age of classical culture, living in the age of Pericles in Athens would be a surefire way.

    I’m grateful for the life, but we gentiles are all still waiting on the knowledge. And it stings. It’s like a small blanket that either fails to cover your feet, or fails to cover your shoulders, and so you toss restlessly all night. How do we relate to G-d other than my belief levels for that day?

    I’ll continue to toss money at hobos and believe in G-d. But that is currently the terminus of my religious expression. It’s all I can squeeze out. I’m exhausted. Laus Deo.

  41. “I would suggest that our country (USA) dedicated to God by early “fathers” and founded upon Judeo-Christian ethics and morality…”

    That’s a myth. G-d never spoke from the whirlwind and co-signed with John Hancock in pascal blood. Treaties have be ratified. I can proclaim a treaty and say you are a party to it, but if you never signed it, what validity does it have?

    While I disagree with homosexuality, it’s not the worst thing facing America. It’s the pride it stands on.

  42. @drake:

    “By birth I was not chosen. Fine. Unless I convert, I will never be as holy as a Jew.”

    Perhaps the disconnect is that I completely reject every bit of this thinking, and it does seem to be the foundation of many gentiles who struggle with the things you bring up.

    I believe Israel is holy for one reason only: God says so. They are not without sin any more than we non-Jews are, and it isn’t, in my opinion, about favoritism, as in “I like you better”. They have been selected for a purpose– that we are not able to perceive the full measure of.

    I believe they were chosen because God loves them–but also because He loves me.

    And you.

    And James.

    And so on.

    Being Jewish means one is born into the covenant and they cannot “un-Jew” themselves, like it or not. We, on the other hand, are those He went into the orphanage to collect personally. He did not select my whole family nor my whole people group i.e., Irish, English, Scottish, etc (a “veritable UN” 🙂 ).

    We non-Jews don’t have the yoke of Torah because it is not why we were selected! In other words, we have a different job description that being bound to Torah as Jews are would prohibit us from enacting. Problem is, the church went the path of supersessionism instead of recognizing this, and we are left with the confusion brought on by that.

  43. Besides, saying G-d chose America sorta undermines the whole exclusivity claim of Jews. The constitution is not the Torah as it has no divine party. I’m not sinning of I plead the 5th.

  44. [:)] PL,

    I believe the response of the woman with the demon possessed daughter was repentance, acknowledgment that Yeshua knew what she or her daughter had been up to; her wording put the concept or philosophy and practice behind her (while repurposing the word from it) in the sense that she no longer clung to the mind frame she had been involved in and instead prefered and chose to receive from Yeshua, the Jew of Jews, and accept her humble (probably embarrassed) spot. Speaking so (whie a few people picked up on it) could have been a way that didn’t unduly further embarrass the woman in public or put her on “the” spot. [This last part is purely speculation on my part. It’s an understanding that builds on the purpose of parables.]

  45. Sojourning:

    I get the vibe you think that “holiness” means more valuable or loved more or something. Or maybe you are thinking holiness = righteousness. My understanding of holiness is that it outlines cultic/ceremonial status for approaching a divinity in 3D space. It can also have analogous representations in the mind and self in terms of virtue, maybe, but holiness is set-apartness for a divinity around a physical space.

    The Cohen Gadol is holier than the Leviim, the Leviim are on equal par with the King as they are both annointed. Those are holier than regular tribesman. Tribesman are holier than gentiles. Concentric rings, outward. The bible makes clear that the priests are the most holy and gentiles the least.

  46. I am nearly seventy years old and one of the most important lessons I’ve learned is that hasty decisions and sped-up process are, almost 100% of the time, deeply flawed. The more significant the issue, the longer and more thoroughly it should be weighed, even if it takes years or generations.

    I am fairly confident that the shape of Messianic Gentile relationship to the Torah would be clearly defined by now if it has been a subject of concern for the past 2,000 years. IMO, this neglect will be overcome one careful step at a time.

    I believe that biblical history teaches us to think in terms of generations.We are in a relay race. This generation of Messianic Gentiles and Jews will be blessed if we accomplish our own work and pass the baton on to the next generation, not cursed because we don’t make it to the finish line on our own.

  47. “I’ll continue to toss money at hobos and believe in G-d. But that is currently the terminus of my religious expression. It’s all I can squeeze out.”

    I lied. I sit in the back at shul. 🙂

  48. @Questor –
    “Being Gentiles, little is required of us by covenant, and in Yeshua, grace is given for all the mistakes we make.” Grace was always given for the ‘mistakes’ (ie sin). The entire sacrificial system is grace. G-d wanted a relationship with His people, but sin prevented them coming into His presence.

    @PL and Rabbi Kiinbar
    I agree that the Christian church has not done its job. They saw no need because they wanted nothing to do with the Jews and that is wrong. They/we have spent millennia misunderstanding and misquoting Shaul and building doctrine, teaching, and traditions based on this errancy. I don’t believe we should have separated from each other.

    I would also like to say that I study with two Jewish rabbis – Rabbi Neil Lash and Rabbi Matthew Salathe (who helped translate the Tree of Life Version). I learn a lot from the both of them and they pull not only from Torah but from the sages.

    The desire to study the Tanakh and the sages is not merely to get a set of traditions, but to truly understand the Torah of HaShem and let Him incorporate that into my life. As I mentioned, Christianity went down an errant path. The sages have wrestled with the Torah a lot longer than Gentiles and should be respected and their teaching sought after.

    @James-
    First, thank you for sharing my post.

    Second, you said, “So far, the only thing I can arrive at is that, not being particularly obligated to much in the way of behavioral requirements, we are free to create as much variability in our praxis as we desire as long as it is within the bounds of the general moral and ethical principles defined in the Apostolic Scriptures as applied to Gentiles (and as long as it doesn’t step all over Jewish identity and praxis).

    The first word that comes to mind is ‘chaos’. I don’t think we should be doing whatever is right in our own eyes. Everything in G-d’s creation and in His Torah speaks of order. Everyone in covenant knew who they were and what was expected of them. There was even defined behavior for the foreigner and the sojourner. But at what point do we become like Ruth when we pledge ourselves to the Creator and His people?

    @PL –
    Regarding Gentiles being cleansed, Rabbi Matthew suggested that something that is unclean (common) can never be clean. (I wrote an article based on this teaching – Is Everything Now Clean?.) Rabbi Matthew suggested that the issue of Peter’s dream was that there was a mistaken understanding that Gentiles were unclean, like pigs, dogs, catfish, crawling things.

    I love wrestling with everyone here and appreciate all input! Wish I had more time to join in these conversations.

  49. @Drake
    “The priests are the most holy and the gentlies the least.”
    What I find amazing about G-d is that when a leper is brought back into the camp, he/she is in a sense elevated. He is anointed in the same way as the high priest. That, to me, is amazing grace.

    Then there is the opportunity of a nazir to also be elevated in ‘holiness’ by his vow. As the high priest, he cannot be in the presence of a dead body, not even his mother or father.

  50. I think definitionally, reconciliation is different than sanctity, but at this point we’re at idle pedantry.

    Also, I’m not sure that nazirite vows were applicable to gentiles.

    I gotta head home from the office. Cheers.

  51. I don’t think we should buy into the notion of certain foreign nations/cultures/anti-cultures that corruption comes from the west and especially from “the great Satan.”

  52. @Ro Pinto — I have just a small clarification for you: the notions of “common” and “unclean” are different. Some kinds of unclean things can never become clean. Some that were clean and have become unclean can be cleansed. Things that are common are potentially able to enter either state, but have not yet done so, and their future state depends on how they are treated or handled or processed. For example, an animal that is a candidate to provide (or to become) kosher food can be wrongly slaughtered, or it may be found to be “blemished” or “torn” (treifah”) and thus become not-kosher (unfit for Jewish consumption). That which was a common animal has become irrevocably unclean, but it did not start out that way. Its potential was uncertain until processed and tested. Perhaps, in some analogous manner, that is also true of people; and those whose status was uncertain (and maybe didn’t appear very promising) turned out better than expected.

  53. Sojourning invoked the example of the USA as one representing non-Jewish pursuit of a righteous commonwealth, whereupon Drake debunked it as a myth because it did not meet his criteria of revelation from G-d signed in blood. I think perhaps I shall criticize Drake’s expression of what might be called “covenant envy”. Non-Jews do not have to have a heavenly covenant to rely on promises that HaShem has made to all those of the family of Adam who will turn from selfish sin and seek His righteousness. The founders of the American experiment were, by and large, of a religious outlook that was informed by biblical Christian concepts, which means that they, however inadvertently, were drawing on the righteous principles expressed in the Tenakh. They drew also on the best of European Enlightenment thinking, which incidentally also drew on such principles. Thus they formulated laws and a system of government that have been a shining light to the world. They have been blessed above many other nations because of these notions.

    However, as any good pessimist like Drake will point out, they also have been far from perfect in their application of these principles, and in recent years they have turned away from those principles to favor others which are contrary to those initial principles, having an appearance of righteousness that is not at all righteous; and they are presently suffering negative consequences for these shortcomings and errors.

    Nonetheless, I will suggest that there *is* a generalization that may be extracted from a statement made by HaShem to Israel in 2Chron.7:14, which says: “[If] My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”. How can this specific statement be generalized beyond its application to Israel? We must begin to answer by asking how may any people, who are not by nature HaShem’s people (“lo-Ammi”, as even Israel was portrayed temporarily in the metaphor presented by Hosea), nonetheless become so affiliated with HaShem that they may consider themselves as His? The answer may be found in the subsequent clause “who are called by “My Name”, when the Hebrew is parsed to recognize that a name represents a purpose and not merely a label. HaShem’s “Name”, that is, His purpose — or at least one of them — is to redeem all of the descendants of Adam who suffer from the estrangement caused by deceived rebellion at the foundation of their species’ existence. Those who would “seek first the kingdom of G-d”, as Rav Yeshua’s would-be disciples are enjoined to do, are seeking to think and to act as HaShem’s people — not by lighting candles or wearing tzitzit — but by reforming their society and civilization to conform with righteous principles that support HaShem’s humanity-redeeming purpose. In this manner all of humanity possesses the opportunity to become HaShem’s people, even as Israel has been the first-fruits of such attempts at redemption.

    The USA has an opportunity at present to test the hypothesis I’ve presented above, to turn in repentance and be healed of its current maladies. Many other nations could do likewise, though it seems unlikely that any of them will do so — particularly if the assessment is correct that we are now entering the period of unpleasantness depicted in Yohanan’s vision, presented in his book of Revelation. Modern Israel is engaged, in some degree, in a similar process as we recover from almost two millennia of exile. I must say, from personal observation, that such redemption is far from easy, nor does it progress smoothly or reasonably. It is always an uphill battle, trying to overcome innate human self-centeredness and the pessimism that comes after disappointments of historic proportions.

    If, now, we turn from such global or national-scale considerations to more individual ones, we can consider individual redemption and kingdom-seeking. Rav Yeshua taught that the kingdom of heaven was and is immediately accessible. And, while he did say that greatness within it derived from doing and teaching Torah diligently in all its finest details, he did not exclude non-Jews. Non-Jews who conform themselves diligently to the (Noahide?) precepts of Torah that apply to them as members of humanity-at-large, which they may learn by means such as indicated in Acts 15:21, should be eligible to pursue all the benefits that this kingdom may offer, even if they never light a single Shabbat candle nor touch a tallit. Might they wear a tallit without fringes, or say blessings for what HaShem has provided for them? Why not? Jews have developed many helpful tools that encourage Torah-informed spirituality, though tailored to represent a number of specific Jewish distinctives. If non-Jews may learn from these examples, they also may tailor-out the Jewish distinctives, perhaps even depicting their own themes, such as of wild olive branches (more about that another time), so long as they do not at the same time introduce symbolic confusions or misrepresentations. But, above all, the goal that must be emphasized by such tools and techniques is the redemption of attitudes and moral behaviors that conform with HaShem’s instructions in Torah. It is by means of these that the conduits of blessing are opened.

  54. OBTW, Drake — I wasn’t “pulling out” or withdrawing my prior references to gentile sanctification. I was saying that not all gentiles are sanctified in any automatic manner, and that they have opportunity to become sanctified. Sanctification, setting-apart, and holiness are different from the notion of “cleansing” that I cited, and represent a much longer-term proposition; even as you note in your invocation of the commandments as the means of HaShem’s sanctification of Jews. The commandments set the Jewish people apart from others, by their very existence; but individual Jews must internalize the meaning of those commandments to experience personal purification. I leave it to you to ponder how gentiles may internalize appropriate aspects of HaShem’s Torah instructions to achieve varying degrees of sanctification or purification or redemption. I did summarize some of them above in my post of June 4, 2015 at 9:18 am, hypothesizing how some initial cleansing may have occurred. But I view therein the beginning of a process.

  55. @Sojourning: Regarding the 19th century Jew who wrote on Gentiles being cleansed and becoming “ger tzedekim,” are you at liberty to say who this was?

    Also, it is true that while we don’t have all of the Torah mitzvot to observe, simply living a moral, ethical life, obstaining from sexual immorality in all its forms, avoiding lashon hara (a really difficult thing for most of us), doing charity and kindness to our fellow human being, whether we like or agree with them or not, all this should keep our hands full. We have no lack of activities we can perform for the sake of the Holiness of His Name.

    @Drake: I think that Gentile Yeshua-believers have one up on the God Fearers in that we have access to the blessings of the New Covenant through the faithfulness of Yeshua. It’s only our Yeshua-faith that grants us the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which will be made completely full in the Messianic Age, and the promise of the resurrection in the world to come.

    Yes, a Jew is born into the covenants whether they want to be or not, but we must choose to have faith in God and to accept the faithfulness of Messiah to humanity. Once accepted, we enter into the fold, we are grafted in, we receive blessings, we are privledged to serve.

    It’s not a matter of “get saved and go to Heaven,” as you say. It’s a matter of entering into a life of holiness and service to both God and man. We need to stop trying to figure out “what’s in it for us,” and start figuring out what we can do for others in His Name. Yeshua taught repentance and then doing good to others. We should do those things.

    Being holy just means being set apart for God’s service. We may not be Priests or Levites or Jewish in general, so we don’t have those roles, but we have a role to serve others and, as I’ve said before, one of the special roles of the Messianic Gentile is to repent of the history of our Christian forefathers in attempting to separate Jews from the Torah and instead to encourage *Jewish* return to the mitzvot in preparation of Messiah’s return.

    That’s a nobel purpose indeed.

    @Ro: I’m not suggesting make up rules for ourselves as we go along. It’s just that our obligations are so specifically defined as are those of the Jewish people. I mentioned to Drake above some of our obligations to God and to human beings. Is it so bad to observe the mitzvot of charity, sexual morality, prayer, worship, kindness, compassion, visiting the sick, and so on?

    @PL: You inferred that we Gentiles might also be called by Hashem’s Name. As I recall, Amos 9:12 speaks of “all the nations who are called by My Name,” which I believe must be we non-Jews who have faith in Hashem through Yeshua.

  56. Oh, one more thing. I’ve been “called out” on a blog in the Hebrew Roots space saying that I believe the Bible describes non-Jews in Messiah as having one foot in and one foot out of a relationship with God. This isn’t quite accurate. Particularly the Apostolic Scriptures are clear that non-Jews in Messiah are equal to Jews in Messiah in being redeemed and in receiving the Holy Spirit. This was made clear to Peter at the end of the Acts 10 narrative.

    I’m only saying that our specific role in Jewish community is not well defined.

  57. Thanks, James — I had forgotten about the Amos 9:12 reference (which incidentally follows the “fallen tent of David” reference in v.11). It invokes the same notion for which I attempted to flesh out the implications of what is meant to be called by HaShem’s “Name”.

  58. “Sojourning invoked the example of the USA as one representing non-Jewish pursuit of a righteous commonwealth, whereupon Drake debunked it as a myth because it did not meet his criteria of revelation from G-d signed in blood. I think perhaps I shall criticize Drake’s expression of what might be called “covenant envy”. ”

    Proclaim Liberty:

    I didn’t actually think you would go the rout of resurrecting that old American dominionist/Manifest Destiny BS propaganda from the 1800s that says G-d chose America, founded it, etc. I’m a conservative, but even I don’t believe that. Many of the founders were Deist and skeptics. You might quote that the majority of Americans were ethical Christians as did Alexis de Tocqueville. And I’m sure it’s a generally nice thing that a population be godly, but the farcical notion that there was some repercussive blood treaty like Mt. Gerezim or Ebal is absurd!

    I sat there as Boaz Michael debunked that in one of his sermons.

    So no, I don’t “envy” your covenant. I just wish gentiles weren’t handed a bunch of negative commandments and told that we have to somehow build a tradition around them and make up our religion from nowhere. It’s silly. Name one positive commandment Gentiles have that happens in a physical time or space. Nope. Just “don’t bow to idols or have sex with cattle,” and off with ye. Now today, a largely traditionless monolith is fixated on homosexuality and not playing cards. Hmm…Gotta be a coincidence…

    “Drake: I think that Gentile Yeshua-believers have one up on the God Fearers in that we have access to the blessings of the New Covenant through the faithfulness of Yeshua. It’s only our Yeshua-faith that grants us the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, which will be made completely full in the Messianic Age, and the promise of the resurrection in the world to come.”

    Again, the gentile prophets like Job had the Spirit. Right? I see reconciliation from sin in that mix. Just not how somehow gentiles were made “more holy” than Enoch or Job. I’m going off the Milgrom definition of holy. Holy or sanctified are specific words with specific meanings. Maybe Jesus belief it’s a gentile metaphor for holiness, but I don’t like the false hopes engendered in word abuse.

  59. @drake:
    “Besides, saying G-d chose America sorta undermines the whole exclusivity claim of Jews. The constitution is not the Torah as it has no divine party..”

    I replied to this yesterday but apparently never hit “send”

    I never said that God chose or covenanted with America. But it is beyond question that many of those who came here dedicated this land to God. They built a society based upon Godly principles and pursuits, (including education and our justice system) although obviously not perfectly. It’s in the historical record and accessible in English.

    BTW, I also never mentioned homosexuality since there’s a lot more than that “trending” these days.

  60. Now, Drake — I didn’t resurrect any dominionist manifest destiny propaganda, nor did I say that HaShem chose America, nor did I ever suggest anything like a “repercussive blood treaty” that you deem farcical and absurd; and I don’t think the presence of a few Deists or skeptics managed to detract from the overall good result that was the founding of the USA. What I suggested was that the pacts represented in the American Declaration and Constitution included sufficient positive characteristics that enabled HaShem to “shed His Grace on thee”, as the song expresses it. Could other modern gentile disciples of Rav Yeshua do any better? Perhaps so. I could only wish for them to get the opportunity to try. They’ve already got a good starting point from which they might springboard to greater heights. Americanism isn’t a panacea, nor, as we know already, is “Christianism” as it has been expressed generally so far. But there are elements in both that might yet be redeemed; and they extend beyond merely “a bunch of negative commandments”.

    You are on really shaky ground to point to a few exceptional ancient gentile individuals mentioned in Torah who interacted with HaShem’s Spirit as if to equate their condition to that which is now available to Rav Yeshua’s gentile disciples. By the way, “Job” actually may have been the “Iob” ben Issachar cited in Gen.46:13, hence Jewish in the primordial sense; but we can still point to Henoch and Melchitzedek and Bil’am, whose overall spiritual life and benefits must remain a mystery to us (though Henoch appears in much later Jewish literature as Metatron, so we know that he at least ended up with a good job in heavenly realms [:)]). Otherwise, all we know about Henoch ben-Yered is that in some undefined sense he “walked with Elohim” (the Hebrew might be rendered better to describe him as conducting himself in accordance with Elohim) and was thereby taken by “Elohim” out of the realm of ordinary existence after merely 365 years, while his contemporaries were living for eight or nine centuries. Bil’am, on the other hand, was not at all such an exemplary character. Despite his susceptibility to revelations from HaShem, he shows himself as a bit mercenary, and ultimately as willing to contravene HaShem’s intent to bless the people of Israel, by teaching the Moabites how to ensnare Israel in sexual idolatry so as to curse themselves. Midrashic speculation does not envision him as reaping any positive reward for that little stunt.

    I can envision a bit more I might add to this conversation, but Shabbat is approaching and I must prepare.
    Shabbat Shalom

  61. “Nonetheless, I will suggest that there *is* a generalization that may be extracted from a statement made by HaShem to Israel in 2Chron.7:14, which says: “[If] My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

    Actually, Boaz Michael used this exact verse as a textbook example of Christian Americans thinking the Bible is about them. He went on to say that while it would be a generally good thing what 2 Chron. describes, you cannot translate it into national outcomes as there was no causal pact of blessings or curses as outlined in Deuteronomy. Honduras and other nations are heavily Christianized and humbled and made of good people (I translated for missionaries there for a brief stint) an it’s by no means blessed. In the slums of Tegucigalpa and La Ceiba, you can barely sift the humanity from the squalor.

    You cannot suggest that Israel is chosen and exclusive, and then that it is not. Everyone getting a trophy in effect means nobody really does. For as much as you defend Jew/Gentile distinction, I would think that this exclusive covenant you enjoy would be paramount. And yet here is “envious Mr. Korach” defending a redoubt that’s technically yours.

  62. @Drake: In one of the essays he wrote for Paul Within Judaism which I reviewed, Mark Nanos uses the term ““chronometrical gospel” to describe what the advent of Yeshua “brought to the table,” so to speak, for both Jews and Gentiles.

    While we have a Biblical history of non-Jews like Job and Enoch who were righteous men, they seemed to be the exception rather than the rule (as far as we know) and except for the covenant with Noah, we know of no covenantal relationship that God had with non-Jews (or anyone else) prior to the Abrahamic covenant and certainly not like the Sinai covenant.

    Since Yeshua is the mediator of the New Covenant, it brings to Israel, and through Israel to the nations, the opportunity to reconcile whole populations of Gentiles to God, and they could do so without having to become proselytes and take on board the Torah mitzvot.

    I won’t pretend to understand all of the subtle nuances. This topic is worth a lifetime of study and as Rabbi Kinbar pointed out earlier, it may take multi-generations studying this matter from a Messianic Jewish educational perspective, to finally be able to grasp more precisely how Gentiles figure into God’s overarching redemptive plan for the planet.

    The plan however, is time-bound and unfolds across history with Messiah’s contribution as bringer of “previews” of the fulfillment of the New Covenant promises (see Lancaster’s “Holy Epistle to the Hebrews” sermon series for details) being a great big piece.

    @Drake and PL: I can’t see Balaam as a “righteous Gentile” in any sense. Sure, God spoke to him, and sure, under God’s direction Balaam could not curse but only bless Israel, but he was also the author of the plan to use the Moabite women to seduce the Israelite men into illicit sex and idol worship:

    Behold, these caused the sons of Israel, through the counsel of Balaam, to trespass against the Lord in the matter of Peor, so the plague was among the congregation of the Lord.

    Numbers 31:16 (NASB)

    As far as the commandments relevant to Gentiles all being negative, that’s simply a matter of wording.

    In the Babylonian Talmud tractate Shabbat 31a, Shammai says to a potential convert, “What is hateful to you, do not to your neighbor; that is the whole Torah, while the rest is the commentary thereof; go and learn it.”

    Referencing Levitucus 19:18, in Mark 12:31, Yeshua says the same thing but rendered as a positive commandment: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”

    I suggest understanding the commandments incumbent upon the Gentile Messianic disciples may be a matter of rewording what is negative to what is positive. The commandment not to worship idols can be reworked to say something like “You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him.” (Deuteronomy 13:4).

    Or “You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5 – which is the basis for the first of the two greatest commandments uttered by Yeshua).

    I realize I’m quoting from the Torah and I’m also saying that Gentile disciples are not obligated to the mitzvot of Moses as are the Jews, but in this case, I believe that loving and serving God is an obligation all human beings bear as we are created in His Image.

    Israel is chosen and exclusive, and yet one of Israel’s great responsibilities is to be a light to the nations, through Yeshua, and to bring the nations to God as the nations and not requiring they/we become Torah observant Jews.

    The people of the earth are special to God, but we are special in a different way than Israel. There’s some overlap, but Israel remains distinct, even within the ekklesia of Messiah.

  63. If gentiles, and America, are to get real serious about a sort of Torah of sexual conduct but without being Jews… oh come on. *Nobody* wants that [*no doubt some do]. Our values are not the same as the sexual rules in Torah. People have learned more since then. There is a benefit to being a Jew in that there is some tempering of how things were. Drake is right on some of this. And, for instance, when we try to meddle on such things overseas, what we get is the introduction of laws to kill homosexuals. Rapists or paedophiles not so much.

    And right now we have a known mother who harbored a son who at least molested several of her own daughters and a babysitter self righteous and deluded enough to be against judging her and the husband or her son but for judging homosexuals. What an irony that all these years the tactic has been to say gay people want to corrupt your children and are pedophiles. Oh, maybe their son is gay — disproving the idea that if you isolate gay people they won’t reproduce. Or wait, maybe the dad is gay too and Josh wasn’t really isolated. I mean really, we have to prove this, dont we? Meanwhile, all of this stuff goes on all the time everywhere. We’re not exporting this corruotion.

    What we are exporting is their bizarre demand for privacy while subjecting their kids to the eyes of the world. But they have a right to their celebrity status and sanctimonious attitudes, right?

    And the part of what Jesus and the disciples taught that “we” (conservatives) really really don’t want to implement is generosity. So, those who present themselves as the morality police in fact love money. Laws, intrusion, and war for all y’all, and hoarding for the rich.

  64. Your outrage is justified. It is disgusting that the wealthy are ceded enormous influence in politics and given such deference and honor in certain religious cultures. Yet, if the book of James is still counted among the Scriptures, the rich are instructed to “weep and howl for your miseries which coming upon you”, etc. (James 5:1). In our time, the merely “wealthy” are generally richer than the rich that James had in mind.

  65. “Israel is chosen and exclusive”

    Well, Yeshua said “I have sheep that are not of this fold”. Are they chosen and exclusive too? Does this “other fold” have a covenant with Yeshua and is it the same covenant that God made with Israel?

  66. Steven, in a previous comment, I said:

    The people of the earth are special to God, but we are special in a different way than Israel. There’s some overlap, but Israel remains distinct, even within the ekklesia of Messiah.

    As far as we non-Jews having a direct covenant with Yeshua, you won’t find that anyplace in the Bible, and particularly not the New Covenant language in the Tanakh/Old Testament (Jer. 31, Ezek. 36). The New Covenant was made exclusively with Israel.

    I’ve written about how the New Covenant blessings are applied to non-Jews through the faithfulness of Yeshua. It specifically has to do with one of God’s promises to Abraham, how that fits in with the overarching New Covenant model as well as God’s promise that God’s promise that the Spirit will be poured out on all flesh, that is, everybody, Jew and Gentile alike.

    We are the sheep of the other fold, but how we are gathered in isn’t because of our own merit, but only through the promises God made to Abraham and to Israel.

  67. “the New Covenant blessings are applied to non-Jews through the faithfulness of Yeshua.” I think you meant to also include the Jews.

    The New Covenant Blessings are applied to both Jews and non-Jews through the faithfulness of Yeshua, and that most certainly is in the bible. “that no man should boast”.

    I don’t understand your point “but Israel remains distinct, even within the ekklesia of Messiah.”

    What does he mean when he said they would no longer be of two folds, but one fold?

  68. Steven, you might want to read my review (two parts) of Rabbi Carl Kinbar’s commentary on Ephesians 2 and the meaning of “one new man”.

    I’ve also been pondering the following, though not specifically as a response to your queries:

    This is the actual time of the “footsteps of Mashiach.” (The final age prior to Mashiach’s advent.) It is therefore imperative for every Jew to seek his fellow’s welfare – whether old or young – to inspire the other to teshuva (return), so that he will not fall out – G-d forbid – of the community of Israel who will shortly be privileged, with G-d’s help, to experience complete redemption.

    Compiled and arranged by the Lubavitcher Rebbe, Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, of righteous memory, in 5703 (1943) from the talks and letters of the sixth Chabad Rebbe, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Schneersohn, of righteous memory.

    OK, this is Chasidic mysticism and not scripture, but as much as anything else, it points to what I believe is the role, not only of every Jew, but of every non-Jewish disciple of Yeshua who has repented of Christianity’s dark history of forcing Jews to give up the Torah in favor of the Goyishe Jesus as if Moshiach and Torah were mutually exclusive.

    If (Messianic) Jewish Torah observance means anything, and given the number of admonitions God gave Israel, warning them to not disobey, I’d say continued Jewish observance is quite important, then a Jewish “revival,” so to speak, may indeed be a precursor to the return of Messiah and the completion of the Messianic Age entering our world.

    If Israel and her King have been instrumental in being a light to the nations, bringing us to faith in Hashem, then we should return the favor and restore the light that shines on Israel’s path, the Torah (Psalm 119:105).

    If Israel’s redemption is contingent upon making teshuvah and returning to the mitzvot, and if the redemption of the nations is contingent upon the redemption of Israel, then it is in our own best interests to support and encourage Jewish Torah observance in other to usher in the Messianic Era.

  69. ” I’d say continued Jewish observance is quite important, then a Jewish “revival,” so to speak, may indeed be a precursor to the return of Messiah and the completion of the Messianic Age entering our world.”

    I would say that is a certainty since Yeshua said “you will not see me again until you say blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord”. If Gentile believers can in anyway support that, I say YES.

  70. That’s it! Twenty years of trying to figure out my place in THIS CHAOTIC MESSYANTIC NIGHTMARE is OVER! Tonight I think I am going to ditch religion and grill up some pork chops!

  71. Steve Petersen said:

    “Apparently God didn’t care enough about us Goyim to give us a religion.

    That’s it! Twenty years of trying to figure out my place in THIS CHAOTIC MESSYANTIC NIGHTMARE is OVER!…”

    Good Sabbath to the lot of you! 😦 ”

    This is incredibly sad to see.

    Not only did the One Holy God provide—an incredibly expensive—way to bring non-Jews near, He routinely gets treated with contempt for His gracious gift to us, because it differs from the “other’s” (i.,e., Jews) gift. (Pretty sure this is called coveting)

    This is one reason why (among several) I believe “Torah observance” is improper for those who are not Abraham’s seed. I also believe that if those of us who love the LORD truly appreciated how ethnic what we now call “religion” was (and which didn’t exist in ancient times in the terms we think of) we would be so astounded at His sovereignty we would be profusely thanking Him for His amazing graciousness.

    (BTW, since it has been brought up already in this thread (I think), this is an all too common example of why many Jews in MJ are discouraged and some want to restrict gentile inclusion)

  72. It is becoming apparent, at least in this discussion, that there many a Messianic Gentile who would like to have a Gentile version of what Jews have, not because they want exactly what Jews have, but, as Drake said, “What am I going to tell my children?”

    Those same Messianic Gentiles want some acceptance from Messianic Jews in this lifetime, and not in the Kingdom where the point will be moot for us, as we all be Incorrupt at that time, with the Torah written on our hearts…even we Messianic Gentiles.

    In looking at how I, as a Messianic Gentile, observe Torah as it applies to me as a Gentile is pretty simplistic. The Noahide laws plus the added Acts 15 additions to the Covenant that Gentiles should keep may be written in the negative, but with each negative commandment, there are positive ramifications that need acknowledgement. And, being Messianic, we also have to heed what Yeshua wanted us taught by the Apostles…to become Yeshua’s Disciple.

    Now, being Yeshua’s Disciple as a Gentile is not as onerous for Gentiles as it is for a Jew as we are under different covenants, but I’ve often noticed how a lot of what Yeshua described in the carrying out of the commands is iterated quite extensively by the Apostles as they sought to tell Gentiles how to do what is in the Torah without having specific halachah, or attempting to keep the entirety of Torah.

    “‘You are to love Adonai your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. This is the greatest and most important mitzvah. And a second is similar to it, ‘You are to love your neighbor as yourself.’ All of the Torah and the Prophets are dependent on these two mitzvot.” “Matthew 22:37-40 (CJB)

    Shaul taught extensively on how to live like a Disciple of Yeshua, but he did not mention much in the way of what specific commands were to be carried out. He described to Jew and Gentile alike how to live like a good Jew without being particularly or specifically Jewish in halachah and praxis, yet we know that the first generation of Messianic Gentiles went to the Synagogue on Shabbat. We are pretty sure they kept the Moedim to the extent permitted by the local Jews, and many made pilgrimages to Jerusalem to give sacrifices, even though there is nothing covenanal requiring them to do so as yet, as there will me in the Messianic Kingdom.

    We know from the Brit Chadashah that The newly Messianic Gentiles were continually charged with keeping themselves sexually and spiritually clean, to walk in honesty, and kindness and compassion, to do teshuvah when they failed, and continually strive to be more like Yeshua. They gave alms for the poor, and shared with each other as their companions had need, and collected funds for the Jerusalem Assembly.

    The First Generation Messianic Gentiles were not all striving to be like good Jews…they were attempting to get their lives in line with the behavior and teaching of a perfect Jew, Yeshua, and by his example, and a commandment that Yeshua gave to his Disciples…to love one another as he loved us.

    THE SEVEN CATEGORIES OF NOAH

    THEFT

    1) Against stealing
    2) Against committing robbery
    3) Against shifting a landmark
    4) Against cheating
    5) Against repudiating a claim of money owed
    6) Against overcharging
    7) Against coveting
    8) Against desiring
    9) A laborer shall be allowed to eat of the fruits among which he works (under certain conditions)
    10) Against a laborer eating of such fruit (when certain conditions are not met)
    11) Against a laborer taking of such fruit home
    12) Against kidnapping
    13) Against the use of false weights and measures
    14) Against the possession of false weights and measures
    15) That one shall be exact in the use of weights and measures
    16) That the robber shall return (or pay for) the stolen object

    JUSTICE

    17) To appoint judges and officers in each and every community
    18) To treat the litigants equally before the law
    19) To inquire diligently into the testimony of a witness
    20) Against the wanton miscarriage of justice by the court
    21) Against the judge accepting a bribe or gift from a litigant
    22) Against the judge showing marks of honor to but one litigant
    23) Against the judge acting in fear of a litigant’s threats
    24) Against the judge, out of compassion, favoring a poor litigant
    25) Against the judge discriminating against the litigant because he is a sinner
    26) Against the judge, out of softness, putting aside the penalty of a mauler or killer
    27) Against the judge discriminating against a stranger or an orphan
    28) Against the judge hearing one litigant in the absence of the other
    29) Against appointing a judge who lacks knowledge of the Law
    30) Against the court killing an innocent man
    31) Against incrimination by circumstantial evidence
    32) Against punishing for a crime committed under duress
    33) That the court is to administer the death penalty by the sword
    34) Against anyone taking the law into his own hands to kill the perpetrator of a capital crime
    35) To testify in court
    36) Against testifying falsely

    HOMICIDE

    37) Against anyone murdering anyone

    ILLICIT INTERCOURSE

    38) Against (a man) having union with his mother
    39) Against (a man) having union with his sister
    40) Against (a man) having union with the wife of his father
    41) Against (a man) having union with another man’s wife
    42) Against (a man) copulating with a beast
    43) Against a woman copulating with a beast
    44) Against (a man) lying carnally with a male
    45) Against (a man) lying carnally with his father
    46) Against (a man) lying carnally with his father’s brother
    47) Against engaging in erotic conduct that may lead to a prohibited union

    LIMB OF A LIVING CREATURE

    48) Against eating a limb severed from a living animal, beast, or fowl
    49) Against eating the flesh of any animal which was torn by a wild beast … which, in part, prohibits the eating of such flesh as was torn off an animal while it was still alive

    IDOLATRY

    50) Against entertaining the thought that there exists a deity except the Lord
    51) Against making any graven image (and against having anyone else make one for us)
    52) Against making idols for use by others
    53) Against making any forbidden statues (even when they are for ornamental purposes)
    54) Against bowing to any idol (and not to sacrifice nor to pour libation nor to burn incense before any idol, even where it is not the customary manner of worship to the particular idol)
    55) Against worshipping idols in any of their customary manners of worship
    56) Against causing our children to pass (through the fire) in the worship of Moloch.
    57) Against practicing Ov
    58) Against the practice of Yiddoni
    59) Against turning to idolatry (in word, in thought, in deed, or by any observance that may draw us to its worship)

    BLASPHEMY

    60) To acknowledge the presence of God
    61) To fear God
    62) To pray to Him
    63) To sanctify God’s name (in face of death, where appropriate)
    64) Against desecrating God’s name (even in face of death, when appropriate)
    65) To study the Torah
    66) To honor the scholars, and to revere one’s teacher
    67) Against blaspheming

    Acts 15:19-21 (CJB) “Therefore, my opinion is that we should not put obstacles in the way of the Goyim who are turning to God. Instead, we should write them a letter telling them to:

    68) Abstain from things polluted by idols (a reference to Kashrut to allow table fellowship by avoiding Treif foods as well as the appearance of Idolatry)

    69) From fornication (already alluded to in both Idol Worship and Illicit Sexuality)
    70) From what is strangled (a reference to Kashrut to allow table fellowship)
    71) From blood (a reference to Kashrut to allow table fellowship).
    72) For from the earliest times, Moshe has had in every city those who proclaim him, with his words being read in the synagogues every Shabbat.” (To learn Torah, as referenced in the Blasphemy laws, and has Gentiles sanctifying the Sabbath, in order to learn Torah.)

    Every one of these commandments has their counterpart in the Torah, which we are supposed to learn, because we love G-d, and want to become more righteous day by day. Add on all the ramifications of loving your neighbor as yourself, which covers Honoring your Father and Mother), and the practice of seeing to each other’s general welfare, and you have the majority of Torah already.

    What Gentiles do not do and should not do is what Jews are to do to separate themselves from the remainder of the world, as the holders of the oracles, and the object of demonstration of how G-d deals with those He loves, even though they are the apple of His eye.

    These are the Commandments for the Gentiles, and are a subset of Torah, and are the commandments I am in process of adding to my observance of G-d’s laws. These commandments have a history back into time, even keeping Shabbat dates from Creation, and Tithing from Abraham (to Melchizadek). All of these commandments can be taught to our children, mostly without anything much in the way of Halachah, and yet reference everything in the Scriptures.

    Were Messianic Gentiles to take on this as their focus in the Torah, and walk after Yeshua on the straight and narrow path, would we not be Gerim Tsaddikim? For that matter, since I am already seeking to do these commandments now, in my own Gentilish way, am I not already doing as I should to be Ger Tsaddik?

  73. Paul taught concerning gentiles and Torah:

    “Yes, God will pay back misery and anguish to every human being who does evil, to the Jew first, then to the Gentile; but glory and honor and shalom to everyone who keeps doing what is good, to the Jew first, then to the Gentile. For God does not show favoritism. All who have sinned outside the framework of Torah will die outside the framework of Torah; and all who have sinned within the framework of Torah will be judged by Torah. For it is not merely the hearers of Torah whom God considers righteous; rather, it is the doers of what Torah says who will be made righteous in God’s sight. For whenever Gentiles, WHO HAVE NO TORAH, do naturally what the Torah requires, then these, even though they don’t have Torah, FOR THEMSELVES ARE TORAH! For their lives show that the conduct the Torah dictates IS WRITTEN IN THEIR HEARTS.”

    This scripture says so much: 1) God does not show favoritism between those who he gave the Torah and those he gave no Torah. 2) that Jew and Gentile are not waiting for the future world to come, for Torah to be written in our heart 3) That Gentile believers with the Holy Spirit should be doing naturally what the Torah requires right now 4) that all humans will be paid for our evil or good without favoritism

  74. @Drake — Shavua Tov! I can see that the discussion has continued quite enthusiastically while I was away for Shabbat.

    Regardless of any misapprehensions that Christian Americans may have read into 2Chron.7:14, I was drawing from it a “kal v’homer” argument that if HaShem is willing to recognize national repentance among Jews who are the least of peoples, without citing such response as based specifically on the covenant He holds with them — though that covenant could present some expectation that they ought to exercise repentance as they have been taught — then how much more will He recognize repentance among other peoples who have not been taught so well. James’ citation from Amos 9:12 confirms my inference that other peoples can be called by HaShem’s “Name” in the manner I derived from the nature of the Hebrew phrasing.

    I thought we had already, in previous exchanges within this discussion, thoroughly disposed of the misconception that HaShem’s exclusive and distictive covenant with Israel may be interpreted as viewing the rest of humanity as merely so much “chopped liver”. Moreover, you seem to be unfamiliar with the characteristic attitudes exhibited by Korach for which I previously invoked a comparison with your own. Korach cited the fact that all of HaShem’s people were holy as a justification to argue that Moshe and Aaron were no more qualified than anyone else for the exclusive leadership positions they held. In fact, he wished to deny the correctness of Moshe’s representation of HaShem’s revelation of Torah and its details of implementation. For example (as Midrash would describe it), he challenged the notion of a single blue thread in the tzitzit, by means of the exaggerated question whether an entire blue garment would somehow be more kosher if it had tassels with just one more blue thread. It wasn’t sufficient for him that he and his clan held an exalted role in the Israeli priesthood, but HaShem had singled out Moshe (and Aaron) for roles that were even more exalted. He couldn’t be happy or accepting of a situation that was already excellent and exactly as HaShem intended. He had to try to degrade it and demand it be different (in his own favor, of course).

    While I did not argue for America as a chosen nation, let’s not neglect that there can be more than one kind of purpose for which a nation might be singled out. Indeed, we have some scriptural examples of non-Jewish individuals about whom HaShem stated that He chose them for a special purpose. Some of these purposes were not pleasant ones, such as to demonstrate His power upon those who would resist His Will. Choosing a nation for the purpose of making a negative example of it is not a pleasant prospect, but it is what HaShem did with Egypt. Choosing America to demonstrate the blessings of HaShem upon a gentile nation that attempted in some measure to pursue His ways would not be in any degree a denial of the purposes for which Israel was chosen. America is just as likely to demonstrate the reverse as well. Ancient Israel has already done so, as a covenanted national group. America demonstrates a non-covenanted nation. One might consider it an additional stage in HaShem’s staged plan for human redemption. I cannot speak for Honduras, nor for its peoples’ humility nor their state of national repentance, except to note that being “heavily Christianized” is not necessarily the same as incorporating HaShem’s principles well and thoroughly into the government and its people. I do not have the data that would be required to analyze their national condition and discern what may be affecting their ability to receive any particular aspect of HaShem’s blessing. Of course, in the millennial messianic kingdom, as Zechariyah envisioned it, we find an example of behavior relative to Israel that will affect the amount of rainfall and drought in nations surrounding Israel. To what degree that principle will extend to other nations across the globe remains to be seen. Some have proposed that a similar principle is already in effect, under the scriptural rubric: “I will bless those who bless you, and those who curse you I will curse” (Gen.12:3, Gen.27:29). Extending HaShem’s blessings, already demonstrated upon covenanted Jews, also to qualified gentiles is not the same as “everyone getting a trophy”.

  75. Interesting list, including your combination in theory and in your own life — Noachide, Acts 15, and additional teaching of Yeshua, plus the reading of Torah. The illicit sexual conduct section is insufficient (and I’m sure you know this, I’m not implying you don’t know better).

    It’s strange, to me, that there is a general prohibition of a man lying carnally with a male, then also specifically with his father, then specifically with his father’s brother (still a male). Also against so doing with his father’s wife. A woman or female or girl could well ask, “What am I, chopped liver?” Why is doing so with his wife’s daughter or his brother’s or sister’s daugher (or the daughter of his wife’s brother or sister) or his own daughter not delineated? At least his sister is mentioned (and his mother, sheesh). In Torah, more is spelled out. And sometimes it says things like doing one such thing is like doing another (though they would be and are different delineations on a list).

    Of course, none of this clearly covers sexual harrassment (except as it could be shown to be erotic conduct in the forbidden pairings, which isn’t enough in more than one way). And paedophilia and molestation aren’t listed as we understand. No one on earth is to touch my child (male/female); and females are not fair game to a not-forbidden male. [And on this Noachide list, hardly any male is forbidden.]

  76. @Steven — I realize you’re already feeling a bit left out, so I want to be very careful in presenting this question, but what makes you think that the “other sheep” to which Rav Yeshua referred in Jn.10:16 are not also Jews? Considering his statement in Mt.15:24, about being sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel (and his instruction to his disciples in Mt.10:5-6), might he not have meant Jews in the Hellenized diaspora as the other sheep that needed to be gathered into one flock?

    If, on the other hand, he actually did mean to refer presciently to the gentiles who would be admitted later, then the answer to your question would seem to be that the gentile sheep are *not* also chosen in the same sense that Jews were chosen, nor are they participants in an exclusive covenant such as is binding upon Jews. They are not enfolded into the same covenant that HaShem was to make with the houses of Judah and Israel that reiterated the Sinai covenant but written of the heart and not merely on parchment or stone. They are rather the beneficiaries of HaShem’s unmitigated gracious lovingkindness that depends on HaShem’s faithfulness to his promises in Rav Yeshua — for example, that “whosoever” trusts in his symbolic sacrifice will obtain everlasting life — rather than upon any binding covenant.

    Sojourning is quite right about not coveting the grace given to Jews such that the grace given to non-Jews is insufficiently valued. It is not favoritism or partiality that motivates HaShem to faithfully keep his special promises to Avraham and to the Jewish people who inherit the corresponding covenant. And kudos to Questor for his detailed summary of Noahide principles that provide some of the religious guidance that others here have been asking for. I think these precepts illustrate how much of Torah is embedded already in what most non-Jewish Rav-Yeshua disciples would consider righteous, hence they may perceive why Rav Shaul referred to them as demonstrating that they are already a kind of Torah in themselves even without the specific guidance of Torah as delivered to Moshe. If this much of Torah is being written already on their hearts such that they diligently do these things and teach them to other gentiles, they may enjoy the greatness that Rav Yeshua described for such disciples in the kingdom of heaven. They should not grieve that Jews must learn a larger volume of Torah to fulfill their own responsibilities under the covenant.

  77. @PL “I realize you’re already feeling a bit left out”

    Not me, I have the Holy Spirit and the promise of sitting down with Yeshua in his throne, how could I be left out? The covenant with Abraham was that he would be “the Father of many nations” not the Father of many Jews. He is my Father.

    “an exclusive covenant such as is binding upon Jews.”
    Yes exclusive, but we know, “They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, which refused to hear my words; and they went after other gods to serve them: the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant which I made with their fathers”

    And “They kept not the covenant of God, and refused to walk in his law”
    Why would anyone be jealous of covenant breakers or feel left out of their great apostacy, that would make no sense? But, we can give thanks that God will show them grace “for his own names sake”.

  78. While gentiles don’t need to “grieve” that they aren’t required to learn more directly from Torah or directly from or the same as Jews, there should also be a caution against limiting understanding to a finite list [and particularly a deficient list (apparent in the Noachide), but actually any list as an end all]. A variety of backward and perverse societies can be built and pushed on people without that warning or intrinsic cautionary knowledge. Not to mention, good relationships thrive on learning more (and caring) — about reality and ourselves and each other, and God (when there is revelation or insight).

  79. @PL:

    “They [non-Jews] are rather the beneficiaries of HaShem’s unmitigated gracious lovingkindness that depends on HaShem’s faithfulness to his promises in Rav Yeshua — for example, that “whosoever” trusts in his symbolic sacrifice will obtain everlasting life — rather than upon any binding covenant.”

    Thank you, this is truly lovely PL.

    @Steven:

    “Why would anyone be jealous of covenant breakers or feel left out of their great apostacy, that would make no sense?”

    I frequently see a dynamic with certain non-Jews that leaves me cold. Thinking Jewish identity is the ideal and/or superior, “it’s all good”—so long as they can find a way to wedge themselves in and claim it for themselves, which is done by a fanciful reading of Paul, or via a mystical dream or vision (i.e., “God told me I’m Jewish”).

    When these gentiles hear someone (either a Jew, or non-Jew) defend distinction between Jew and gentile, especially re Torah obligations, they then have a meltdown and begin trashing Jews for their imperfect and sinful nature. It’s strange to see Jewishness elevated and then kicked to the curb by the same person in a matter of moments, but I also see the impact this has on actual Jews, and I can’t help but get defensive for them.

  80. Thanks so much for that food for thought from the book of James/Jacov, ckinbar, and your point of view.

  81. Indeed, Steven — and we Jews paid dearly for our sins in the Assyrian decimation of the northern kingdom of Israel and the subsequent exile of the southern kingdom of Judah in Babylon. Thankfully, HaShem’s grace then re-gathered us to our land, with His consolation ringing in our collective ears as written in Is.40:2 – “Comfort ye, comfort ye My people. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, that her sentence has been served and her punishment is paid, that she has received from HaShem’s hand doubly for all her sins.” Since the time of Ezra, we have not repeated those covenant-breaking errors, and HaShem has emphasized the principles of Jer.31:34-36 (35-37 in some versions) –

    Thus says the Lord,
    Who gives the sun for light by day
    And the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night,
    Who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar;
    The Lord of hosts is His name:

    “If this fixed order departs
    From before Me,” declares the Lord,
    “Then the offspring of Israel also will cease
    From being a nation before Me forever.”

    Thus says the Lord,
    “If the heavens above can be measured
    And the foundations of the earth searched out below,
    Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel
    For all that they have done,” declares the Lord.

    Hence we see Rav Shaul’s comments to the Roman assemblies (Rom.11): “I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? “Lord, they have killed Your prophets, they have torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they are seeking my life.” But what is the divine response to him? “I have kept for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice…. I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. Now if their transgression is riches for the world and their failure is riches for the Gentiles, how much more will their fulfillment be! But I am speaking to you who are Gentiles….”

    We Jews have spent another 18 centuries in exile since then, giving gentiles more than enough time to fill up their own cup of iniquities, while we have suffered because of their sins as well as our own; and by HaShem’s grace we are re-gathered yet a second time to our land, still recovering from lameness and blindness and yet giving birth to a nation and to life-giving technologies while we struggle with cleansing ourselves of unbelief and rigidity and a list of further shortcomings too long to cite here. Nonetheless we are being filled with HaShem’s Spirit as a righteous remnant has been preserved and continues the struggle. Your citation of our ancient covenant-breaking is old news hardly worth mentioning at this stage. We remember our history right well, and it is always before our eyes in our daily prayers. We’ve learned, however, to keep a weather-eye on gentiles who cite this history, because it has been so often used to initiate persecutions against us and to shore up their own faltering sense of spiritual self-worth.

    Avraham did indeed have many sons who were not inheritors of the covenant along with Yitzhak. And HaShem is G-d over many nations and not only the Jewish one. We can only hope that the non-covenanted sons of Avraham will dedicate themselves to cling to HaShem’s covenant with the Jews in the manner of the “foreigners” in Is.56, that they will fulfill the blessing to Avraham that they will bless themselves in relationship with his Jewish offspring and particularly in the one seed that was Rav Yeshua, and that in his messiah-ship they will inherit this promise as Rav Shaul envisioned in Gal.3:29.

  82. @Marleen “Interesting list, including your combination in theory and in your own life — Noachide, Acts 15, and additional teaching of Yeshua, plus the reading of Torah. The illicit sexual conduct section is insufficient (and I’m sure you know this, I’m not implying you don’t know better).”

    Actually, there are dozens of ramifications one could come up with under every Noahide category to match Torah…I have yet to compare my abridged list of Noahide + Acts 15 + Yeshua – likeness to the actionable laws of the 613 Torah Commandments within the Diaspora, though I keep reminding myself to do so. I eat only clean foods…but I have no access to a kosher butcher, and don’t worry about it. Kosher-lite as I keep it seems indicated in the Acts 15 notion of not eating meat sacrificed to Idols, but that is only my notion.

    Just think of all of the commandments to purity, right thinking, right speaking, of doing love to one another, and treating each other with kindness and consideration; of speaking our G-d’s name in prayer and blessing as He commands (As I do when I say the Shema, covered under Sanctifying G-d’s Name), which Shema is not on my list as a commandment to all Gentiles, yet is part of my daily actions. I blow the shofar on Erev Shabbat, because I want to, and like to, as I was raised with bugle and cornet in my family, and I slide into that action very readily. When I speak out to an ever-listening G-d that Israel should hear me say that YHVH is Elohim, and echad…well, not all Jews are doing the same, and need to. Still, the point is the truly “Jewish” actions, the outward markers of identity and heritage as defined by Torah, and described at length in the sages are unnecessary to a Gentile unless he is taught them at his/her synagogue, and is planning to convert.

    Anything that Yeshua did that was good, and just, and righteous, I believe he wants me to do in imitation of him to the best of my ability, including avoiding all that is wrong and wicked, again to the best of my ability, but I don’t think wearing a kippoh when not asked to, or a prayer shawl, or zsit zsit is for me or any Gentile because they are not part of my tradition, but if I went into a Synagogue, I’d wear a cap or hat or something out of respect for their traditions.

    I have not married in, so my traditions are exactly what I choose them to be, and until a Messianic Synagogue comes to my immediate vicinity (or I to it, as G-d wills), I am unlikely to do more than bump into the odd Modern Orthodox Jew at the store, (which I did last week, and eagerly asked him if there was a synagogue nearby, which was answered in the negative.) picking up a few things just before candle lighting on Erev Shabbat, even though I don’t light candles yet, and then raced home outrunning the sunset as I suppose most Sabbath keepers do.

    Even so, I was not attempting to list every type of sin to avoid, or every righteous action to take, but when I get to the 613 law comparison I have long been planning to do, I will happily post the updated list here.

  83. Actually, as I was thinking about this conversation, I realized that having been raised a Catholic and attending a Catholic church when I was young (the service was still in Latin), there are a lot of traditions that were very similar to that in Judaism, and some that (I am guessing) intended to counter Judaism.

  84. @QuestorQ

    It seems to me that you are falling into the trap of modeling your construct on two lists of mitzvot (one for Noahides and the other for Jews) that were both developed by the rabbis. As a Jew, I receive these traditions handed down by the rabbis, including the sharp distinction between the two lists. You are received the traditional lists, but using them in a way that differs radically from their rabbinic purpose and the process by which they were developed..

    The concept of “Noahide Laws” is a post-biblical rabbinic concept that bears some vague similarities to the ruling for Gentiles in Acts 15. It does not have biblical authority, so I’m not sure why you would want construct 613 laws from it. Also, the number 613 is rabbinic enumeration; there is not a complete agreement on what the 613 actually are. For example, the Rambam and the Ramban differ on whether there is a command to make Aliyah.

    Also, referencing Marlene’s comment about forms of sexual immorality, the rabbis developed ways to address gaps in the written Torah, based on the larger principles that are inherent in the Torah. These do not appear in the lists of 613.

    That said, the rabbis who construed the Noahide Laws did not demand or expect the nations to have a relationship with God, only to avoid blaspheming him. Therefore, IMHO, some of the laws you derive from it are in no way inherent in the concept.

    If your desire is to develop a biblically-based list of commandments for non-Jewish followers of Messiah, may I suggest that you follow a process similar to the one followed by the rabbis? Men like the Rambam and the Rambam did not work as individuals starting from scratch. They worked within the framework of a tradition that had developed, one generation of Sages at a time, over many centuries. Messianic Gentiles have only recently become aware of the need for a similar product; it would be wise to develop it through a similar process.

    (Pardon any typos: my grandson is waiting for me on Skype.).

  85. Steven said:

    And “They kept not the covenant of God, and refused to walk in his law”
    Why would anyone be jealous of covenant breakers or feel left out of their great apostacy, that would make no sense? But, we can give thanks that God will show them grace “for his own names sake”.

    Steven, you make the same point every time you visit my blog. You point to those portions of scripture where God admonishes Israel for disobediance as if these represented a permanent rejection of Israel by God. And yet you ignore those times when God tells and expects Israel to repent and return to Him:

    You shall keep My sabbaths and reverence My sanctuary; I am the Lord. If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments so as to carry them out, then I shall give you rains in their season, so that the land will yield its produce and the trees of the field will bear their fruit. Indeed, your threshing will last for you until grape gathering, and grape gathering will last until sowing time. You will thus eat your food to the full and live securely in your land. I shall also grant peace in the land, so that you may lie down with no one making you tremble. I shall also eliminate harmful beasts from the land, and no sword will pass through your land.

    Leviticus 26:2-6 (NASB)

    “It shall come about, if you listen obediently to my commandments which I am commanding you today, to love the Lord your God and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul, that He will give the rain for your land in its season, the early and late rain, that you may gather in your grain and your new wine and your oil. He will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied.”

    Deuteronomy 11:13-15

    It seems that Jewish obedience to the Torah and devotion to God will result in Hashem relenting of any punishments, such as exile, He has visited upon Israel and instead, He will bless Israel, the Jewish people, and their Land. This is one of the reasons I’m so zealous about we “Messianic Gentiles” supporting and encouraging Jewish return to the Torah.

    Further, you ignore the New Covenant prophesy stating that God will one day put a new heart and a new spirit into the Jewish people whereby they will naturally be obedient to God, will never sin again, and will be perpetually forgiven of past sins.

    “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the Lord, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

    Jeremiah 31:33-34

    Verse 31 states that this covenant is made specifically with the House of Judah and the House of Israel, which today is the Jewish people, all of them, so we can’t say that God went back on His Word and transfered all this to the Gentiles.

    Paul even confirms that this is exactly what’s going to happen.

    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

    In composing verse 27, Paul quotes from Isaiah 59:20,21; 27:9 (see Septuagint); Jer. 31:33,34, so he definitely is confirming the ultimate outcome for Israel when the New Covenant promises reach fruition, that all of Israel will be saved!

    I know Christian commentators, scholars, and other pundits have tried to dance around the plain meaning of all Israel, but if we take this at face value, it means God, through the “Deliverer from Zion” will “remove ungodliness from Jacob,” that is, Israel, the Jewish people, and “take away their sins” permanently.

    Israel will fully and completely return to God and in fact, will be more devoted to God and the Torah than in any time in the history of the Jewish people.

    Since this covenant is made only with the Jewish people, it is only through our (Gentile) devotion to their Messiah King that we are, by God’s incredible mercy, granted any of this covenant’s blessings at all. But as I wrote in today’s morning meditation there is abundant evidence in the Bible that Gentiles too receive the Holy Spirit upon coming to faith, and are saved through the same process and promises that save Jews in Messiah.

    No, we don’t become Jews and take up the Torah, nor do Jews abandon Torah and become Christians. But by the Spirit, we enter the ekklesia of Messiah and apprehend the coming promises of the New Covenant age now, in the present world. They haven’t reached their full outpouring yet. One day, we really will tell prophesies and have an apprehension of God greater than the prophets of the Tanakh.

    But none of that will be possible for the Gentiles if Christians insist that Jews be written out of the Bible and replaced by the Goyim. From God, through Messiah come the New Covenant promises to Israel and then from Israel, to the world.

  86. (Just returned from talking with my grandson by Skype.)

    Good point. I’m not so familiar with Catholicism, but your comment doesn’t surprise me, since they started from a similar starting point and have similar ideas about process.

  87. Hope you enjoyed your talk with your grandson, Carl. I’m fortunate that mine (and his soon-to-be-born sister) live only 5 minutes away.

  88. James said “You point to those portions of scripture where God admonishes Israel for disobediance as if these represented a permanent rejection of Israel by God.”

    No, I never pointed to Gods words that state that Israel and Judah have broken the covenant “as if these represented a permanent rejection of Israel by God”.

    Didn’t I recognize God’s grace toward Israel? It is not possible to teach both a permanent rejection of Israel and Gods grace towards Israel.

    The covenant that God made with Israel is not in danger from gentiles “stealing it for themselves”. The covenant can only be threatened by its parties. One of those parties is God, he does not threaten the covenant.
    The one major threat to the Covenant is Israel. Israel did not repent as some would pretend. If Israel had repented, Yeshua would have gathered them. The martyr Steven did not seem to beleive Israel had repented.

    “Stiffnecked people,with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You continually oppose the Ruach HaKodesh! You do the same things your fathers did! Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who told in advance about the coming of the Tzaddik, and now you have become his betrayers and murderers! — you! — who receive the Torah as having been delivered by angels — but do not keep it!”

    But, I’m all for the “Jewish Revival” you advocate and the gentile believers support and encouragement of it. What can I do to help?

  89. Steven said:

    But, I’m all for the “Jewish Revival” you advocate and the gentile believers support and encouragement of it. What can I do to help?

    There’s no one suggestion I can make. A lot of times, it depends on circumstances and opportunities. In my case, being married to a Jewish spouse, I have the opportunity to help her become increasingly observant by making it easier for her to go to shul and encouraging any step she takes in the direction of performing a mitzvah.

    Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting out of her way or taking care of some chore or task so she can feel free to spend time in Jewish community.

    I don’t know what you could do, if anything, to directly impact a Jewish person in encouraging their increased observance. If nothing else, just speaking as if Jews returning to the covenant in a positive way might help.

    Other than that, employ a lesson from Thumper’s father (as related by his mother) from the film Bambi (1942) which also connects to this week’s middah: silence.

  90. “just speaking as if Jews returning to the covenant in a positive way might help”

    How can we do encourage a “returning to the covenant” when those like Pl believe “Since the time of Ezra, we have not repeated those covenant-breaking errors”

    How can I remain silent ? I am not comfortable pretending on the one hand that Israel is righteous while rejecting messiah and thereby God, while on the other hand employing Israel to return to God.

    Any call to return to the covenant can and will be held against me because it highlights the fact they are not in the covenant.
    You can return to someone you left, you can not return to someone you are with and faithful to.

    Do you see the dilemma we face?

  91. I see the dilemma you face, Steven. We all make choices. You asked my opinion and I gave it to you. I never said it would be what you like or what’s easy.

  92. James, well I’m glad you are encouraging Israel to return to the covenant. As the scripture says, “don’t allow God to rest until he establishes Jerusalem, and makes it the praise of the earth”

  93. @Steven:

    “But, I’m all for the “Jewish Revival” you advocate and the gentile believers support and encouragement of it. What can I do to help?”

    For starters, stop saying God has permanently rejected Israel.

    Not only does this oppose scripture itself, as James explained so well, but the schizophrenic construct you’ve created that can, on the one hand, make God permanently reject Israel—in spite of His promise to never do such a thing—and, on the other hand, you complain that this capricious, unfaithful, deceitful god didn’t love Gentiles enough to give us a “religion”, and prefer to follow rabbinic Judaism which was created by the Jews God supposedly rejected…well, these attitudes don’t play out so well for the Jews historically. Others who are perhaps less conflicted than you, have use the jealous vitriol of confessed believers and have made the Jews pay dearly.

  94. In theological discussions, it is all too easy to lose sight of God’s primary motivation toward humanity. So, before this discussion dies out, I’d like to thank and express my appreciation to everyone who expressed their love, and affirmed God’s love, for Jew and Gentile alike.

  95. @Sojourning: Just to continue to emphasize my point, if God rejects Israel, the rest of us are toast since there’s no provision for transferring all of those covenant promises to another nation while leaving Israel behind.

    @Carl: Thank you for saying that. That is exactly my point.

  96. @Sojourning, “stop saying God has permanently rejected Israel”

    I never believed that nor said that. Also, you must have your “Stevens” mixed up since there are at least 2 of us on this thread and you are mixing up what each of us has said. The “the schizophrenic construct” is yours alone.

  97. “@Sojourning: Just to continue to emphasize my point, if God rejects Israel, the rest of us are toast since there’s no provision for transferring all of those covenant promises to another nation while leaving Israel behind.”

    Yes, James, thank you. And, I held tenaciously to this even when I had no clue how exactly the Jews fit in to scripture (yeah, I know, sounds crazy now) and, prior to ever hearing the term” replacement theology.” If they’re out, How could we possibly have any chance?

  98. @Steven:
    “I never believed that nor said that. Also, you must have your “Stevens” mixed up since there are at least 2 of us on this thread and you are mixing up what each of us has said. The “the schizophrenic construct” is yours alone.”

    I looked and there are actually 3: Steve Peterson, Steven, and Stevens.

    If I wrongly attributed any quote from one of the others to you, I humbly apologize. I confess to being in a state of coming off of meds after surgery. 🙂

  99. @Carl

    I am not really into lists, so it is only an idle thought now and again to examine which of the Torah commandments we are to keep for those that want or need a list to point to. Christian friends often want to know what they are bound to do under Act’s 15 and Yeshua’s command to love G-d and one another…I simply give a way to begin thinking about it under our Gentile Covenant as it has come to be known and described.

    Noahide commandments were what Abraham practiced, more or less, since he knew Noah and passed them down into the family…the honoring of G-d above all, and trying to not break relationship laws with anyone as practiced in the various countries he traveled through. Rabbinic legend and literature have the tale of a school for prophets well before there was one in Israel, just as every tribe has its record keepers, shaman, and teachers.

    Taking the Noahide pronouncements are merely a convenience in listing similar laws to what is in Torah, and I don’t care if they were derived from Judaism or not…in reality, the Ten Categories, plus Acts 15, plus the learning of Torah, and the adding on of Yeshua’s preferred style of doing love and being obedient to God covers anything I need to do, and the Ruach haKodesh is the one who teaches me. I highly recommend that source for everyone, along with the Scriptures, old and new.

  100. PL:

    Geez, you recapitulate the entire story of Korach to me plus a well known tale of how he used the tzitzit, all in order to maintain your notion that I and others who raise these questions are some modern resurgence of the same failed rebel. Very ad hominem.

    This also tells me you haven’t really read a word I’ve typed.

    Let me be clear: I don’t envy anything you have for its own sake. I think you are qualified quite well to interpret the Torah, just like Moses was. I don’t care. Good for you! Wonderful! Your relationship with the Father is outstanding. If you are first in G-d’s love, I am actually totally OK with that. *shocked face!*

    You seem to think that people who raise these questions care about rank or advancement, and really on that front, I don’t care. I hope to see Aaron and only Aaron serving in the Messianic Age, and Jews and only Jews observing Temple Pesach in the Messianic age (unless it’s somehow allowed, like Solomon modifying aspects of the Torah). But certain fundamental questions about life the Bible does not answer for Gentiles AT ALL. PERIOD. So let’s play this out your parallel that Gentiles who worry about this are all Korach and Paul is their Moses: In order to challenge a religion from Paul, Gentiles would first have to actually receive a religion from Paul to rebel against. Korach had no ambiguity about what to teach his child regarding his role in the kingdom.

    There was a failed attempt to derive Noahide Laws as a way of life, which were a relatively recent invention and designed to prevent another flood, not bring gentiles close to G-d in daily living. Mr. Kinbar knocked away the Didache as I suspected he would. See a pattern here? Gentiles grasping for something holy to live life by and each time coming up dry?

    I was astounded to log back on here and see this debate still happening. I thought it would have died with Shabbat.

    At any rate, enjoy your pork chops, Steve Petersen. All your best efforts throughout those 20 years were in vain. G-d did not register your observances or sacrifices probably any more than he did mine. It’s something I still reel from time to time when someone reminds me.

    I totally understand your desire to ditch religion. I’ve taken a more receded place in MJ over the years. Like you, I will probably never go back to church again either. But I encourage you to keep faith, even in absence of religion, if that’s the road you choose. Still pray.

    Few people in study ever get to the bottom of (what I can only describe as) a design flaw in Gentile monotheism, but in my darkest hours, I tell myself that not all roads are easy, faith is lonely, and that there might be yet some queer reason that G-d chose to hobble us in being able to relate to Him. Perhaps there’s something in the suffering or the struggle that he desires to see emerge from the angst, the pain, the torment. Perhaps this very desolation of identity and self is how the G-d of Israel wrestles gentiles to make them prove their worth. Maybe one day he will make us holy and not leave us like this for another two eons; either not knowing Israel or not knowing how we relate to G-d, or His gatherer of the Jews.

    There are those among us who would insist your place is in church and to return. I’ve always taken that statement for the slap that it is. I cannot imagine a punishment crueler asking a person to wade into an atmosphere of blithe rejoicers who know nothing of what you’ve experienced, when all you want to do is tear your hair out. At the end of the day, nobody can make you.

    But even still — keep the faith. Never stop believing.

  101. For the sake of clarity, let me emphasize that this response is to “Stevens” rather than to “Steven” —

    First of all, you needn’t encourage Jews to “return to the covenant”. I was quite serious about Jewish adherence to the covenant since Ezra. Before that time, idolatry was a serious problem in Israel. That problem is virtually absent since then; and we now have “other fish to fry”, so to speak. Returning in repentance, from errors and shortfalls from the righteousness that is demanded by the covenant, is not because of breaking or leaving the covenant; it is a response of obedience to HaShem because of the covenant. Now, Israel has never been monolithic. We have always faced the problem of a dichotomy between a remnant that pursues HaShem’s ways and a contingent of varying size who are ignorant, discouraged, weary, uncaring, or otherwise too weak in character to pursue HaShem without a lot of encouragement. For this reason we see prophetic exhortations of the sort that appear in Is.35:3 to “encourage the weary and strengthen the feeble”.

    Second, your reference to Israel “rejecting Messiah and thereby G-d” is wrong on several counts. Let’s deal with the false accusation of “rejecting messiah”. The tens of thousands of Jewish Rav-Yeshua messianists cited in Acts 21 (and that was just in the Jerusalem area), who were all zealous for Torah, show that the “rejecting messiah” claim is bogus. It represents later anti-Jewish polemic. The speech given by the martyr Steven references history prior to the messiah and was also an “in-house” peroration. Taking it out of its context and generalizing elements of it as anti-Jewish accusations is a technique of that later antagonistic polemic. Yes, there were still many who did not accept Rav Yeshua, and almost a century later many fell into Rabbi Akiva’s error of following Bar-Kokhva as a messiah. There have been a couple of other false messiahs since then, as well. However, arguments over the identity of the messiah are not the same as rejecting the messiah, and most of the rejection that has occurred within the past 19 centuries has been directed against the anti-Jewish “Jesus” who clearly is not the Israeli rabbi Yeshua ben-Yosef. One of the interesting phenomena during the past century, and especially during the past four decades, has been the Jewish rediscovery of the authentic rabbi Yeshua and his messianic qualifications.

    Third, Israel has not “rejected G-d”. Indeed, in order to remain obedient to G-d Jews have had to resist the Christian anti-Jewish “Jesus” at the cost of their lives, far too many times during most of 15 centuries of Christian hegemony. “Jesus” is not Rav Yeshua; and Rav Yeshua is not G-d. Let me put a finer point on that last statement, because it challenges a typical Christian misconception. There is only one G-d, and there is no other beside Him (Is.45:21). The Messiah is not G-d; he is the ultimate Jewish king in the line of King David. As such, he is an executive representative for G-d. In modern terms we might say he exercises a “power of attorney” for G-d in some matters. Rav Shaul’s incidental description of Rav Yeshua’s neshamah in Phil.2:5-11 makes it clear that he did not view Rav Yeshua as being a part of G-d, nor a second G-d, nor a demigod of any sort. His description there is strongly reminiscent of the depiction of Metatron (the glorified Henoch) that we see in slightly later Jewish literature; however their roles are quite different. Unless Rav Shaul was seriously mistaken, or otherwise unrepresentative of the views of Rav Yeshua’s first-century disciples, the “divine messiah” was HaShem’s appointed representative to provide a means of salvation and enlightenment — not a first-lieutenant or second-in-command sort of assistant G-d, nor a disguised form of G-d Himself. Consequently, Jewish disciples of the admor Rav Yeshua, who fully embrace his mastery, his messiah-ship, and his salvation, should nonetheless recognize that he is not “the-one-and-only-accept-no-substitutes” HaShem.

    In sum, you must understand the nature of the actual problem if you wish to have any hope of encouraging the people affected by it to pursue a proper solution to it. Portions of gentile humanity need to acquire Jewish knowledge about HaShem and His plans for redemption. Portions of the Jewish people need encouragement to repent and pursue redemption (for which they also may be lacking suitable knowledge). Other portions of the Jewish people need more accurate knowledge about how to succeed in pursuing an ongoing redemption and conduct of life that is informed by HaShem’s instructions in Torah. To each must be provided the encouragement appropriate to their need; and those who wish to provide such encouragement need to learn to discern the condition of any one to whom they may speak.

  102. @Drake — I previously suggested the analogy of Korach as a glass half-empty rather then half-full kind-a guy. But let me try a different reference. You seem not to feel an appreciation for a message like: “My grace is sufficient for you”, as had to suffice for Rav Shaul with respect to a problem with which he suffered. Even that, of course, is the minimalistic reflection of something much greater, such as described in Eph.2 under the notion of “surpassing riches”, or Rav Shaul’s citation of Is.64:3 (v.4 in some) in 1Cor.2:9. I was not suggesting that you were some sort of “modern resurgence of [a] failed rebel”. What I *was* suggesting was that you were making a similar mistake with regard to an attitude seen in his example. His story is not a club with which to beat people, but rather is an illustration from which to learn. You seem to be a hard fella to cheer up when things don’t need to be really quite so bad as you’ve described them.

  103. PL said “Let’s deal with the false accusation of “rejecting messiah”
    “For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain.
    And, ““The very rock that the builders REJECTED has become the cornerstone!”
    And, “He is despised and REJECTED of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

    You said “Israel has not “rejected G-d”
    My response “If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, they had not had sin: but now have they both seen and hated both me and my Father.”

  104. @drake:
    “in my darkest hours, I tell myself that not all roads are easy, faith is lonely, and that there might be yet some queer reason that G-d chose to hobble us in being able to relate to Him. Perhaps there’s something in the suffering or the struggle that he desires to see emerge from the angst, the pain, the torment. Perhaps this very desolation of identity and self is how the G-d of Israel wrestles gentiles to make them prove their worth. Maybe one day he will make us holy and not leave us like this for another two eons; either not knowing Israel or not knowing how we relate to G-d, or His gatherer of the Jews.”

    Or, perhaps you are missing the forest for the trees?

    Those of us in the 21st century have advantages, that have gradually gained in momentum, that no other gentile believer has ever had.

    Sure, “we’ve” had both New and “Old” testaments for most of the last 2k years, however, “we” had virtually no access to them for the majority of that time. Sermons were pretty much all there was, and they were in a language the people didn’t understand (Latin). Over time that changed and “we” slowly began to gain access via Martin Luther’s translation and others. Still, Bibles were expensive, and how were people to understand it, except by what the “experts” said? Experts who were shaped by, and largely responding to, medieval Catholicism.

    The Catholic stronghold eventually abated, and Protestantism gained autonomy and its own authority as it struggled with not only traditional church (read Catholic) doctrines and dogma, but with an interest of what the scriptures were actually saying, in the framework of the historical context.

    The fact that so many Christians today long for a more “real” version of their faith and Messiah is, in my opinion, a success story that should be attributed to Protestant (Evangelical) Christianity, at least in part, since we grew up hearing our pastors say: “Don’t take my word for it, I’m not God. Read the scriptures for yourself”, not under a system that must remain unchallenged because it claims to be the mouthpiece of God on earth.

    But that trend began (in America) long before in 1642 when America’s early settlers, aiming to avoid the civil abuses that were part of life in Europe, enacted the first law establishing grammar schools. The “Old Deluder Satan Law” stated that one chief objective of Satan was “to keep men from the knowledge of scripture, as in a former time” and therefore they insisted upon teaching children to read since illiterate people cannot judge the practices of their government against the Bible.

    With all of the positive changes in Christianity, tragically, the problem of supersessionism went unchallanged, and in some areas it was nurtured.

    And then, the Holocaust.

    Today, we non-Jewish believers have easy and free access to the whole of scripture to read and assess, and we benefit from great strides in archeology and scholarship that help give us more clarity of Jesus’ life in first century Israel, that believers on the “other side” of the Shoah did not have.

    I like what Rabbi Kinbar says about it being more generational than personal. And, maybe God thinks we should be able to connect a few obvious dots?

    Perhaps one main point of the church has been to lovingly surround the Jewish people in their distress (being outside of their land, as well as the horrific abuses they’ve been subject to by non-Jews) and that our love and protection would carry them back into their land and create a zealousness in them for their God, they would turn and repent, be renewed by Him, and “we” would never be rejected, but be called better than sons and daughters. I dunno, I read that somewhere.

    Instead, we have a bunch of folks preferring to take on Jewish identity and learn rabbinic traditions and then complain that God left them with “nothing”, whenever someone mentions distinction.

    Having a Jewish family has given me almost 30 years of trying to figure this out, and I’m no expert, but I’m very certain we aren’t them, and we also aren’t an accident.

  105. Yes, Steven — You are ignoring the distinction between the rejection that was necessary for Rav Yeshua to be martyred and then resurrected, and the widespread acceptance that was behind the observation in Acts 21 a few years later that there were tens of thousands of Rav Yeshua’s Torah-zealous Jewish disciples in the Jerusalem area alone. “For it pleased HaShem to bruise him, to put him to grief, and the chastisement for our peace was upon him.” (Is.53:10)

  106. “They,” Steven, doesn’t have to refer to everyone. Certain most powerful leaders are what were involved.

  107. PL and Marleen,

    You both seem to think everything is just “hunky-dory” and the Jews all love Yeshua and are calling out “blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” and if you are right, he should have been here.

    But, the truth is we will not see him again until the Jews repent by believing in Yeshua and are baptized in the name of Yeshua and receive Ruach hakodesh.

    If it is just a numbers game and only a small minority or remnant needed to accept Yeshua we would have seen him long ago. Why, if I’m wrong and you are right, go into all the synagogue’s and preach the *real* Yeshua who came -crucified, buried, resurrected and sitting at the right hand of the Father. If you are right and *they* have not rejected messiah, we can all rejoice together.

    I think the Jews need to repent and recieve Yeshua, But, this is my last post on this tread. I understand you do not agree with me, feel free to have the last word. I will continue to take PL’s advice and strive to learn. Peace, I’m away for now

  108. “Perhaps one main point of the church has been to lovingly surround the Jewish people in their distress…”

    I agree. That would be noble! I can second that.

    “Instead, we have a bunch of folks preferring to take on Jewish identity and learn rabbinic traditions and then complain that God left them with “nothing”, whenever someone mentions distinction.”

    Politely, I think you’ve got the sequence reversed. I’ve been downwind of the sparse information regarding gentiles long before “MJ” ever entered my life. It dogs many people from within Christianity, some of whom drop out to investigate other religions as a consequence of that nagging intuition. I think the sense of being “left with nothing” to go off of is what drives our eisodus into Judaism, not the other way around. I don’t think people one day decided it would be neat to do Jewish stuff and then sophomorically object after it becomes obvious they cannot stay. Christians do seders all the time for fun and then leave it. People that want to meaningfully do it for the rest of their lives at great personal sacrifice are being driven by more than just a touristic urge to do “Jewish stuff.”

    And if you read my last posts, you will see that I never objected to Jewish distinctions — only a dearth of information on our end.

    James’ next article is about the Holy Spirit. Often times we are told “G-d did not leave you with nothing! You have the Spirit! That should be enough!” His article then goes on to say that the same Spirit seldom appears in many, also suggesting that many will seem to have it (or in fact have it) and not be redeemed. So for Gentiles who never heal anyone or prattle in foreign languages or see the future and who never have a brush with such phenomena (which seems like most), that scenario means no religion, nor an encounter either. At which point you are told you are “wicked for wanting signs.” No experience. No praxis.

    I don’t really have a dog in the fight anymore, but I wish — and this would be refreshing — if more people would stop feigning like the answers are somehow obvious with widely known aphorisms like, “You are a human in the Image of G-d! You have the Holy Spirit! It should all be enough, and everything is obvious!” Things one says to people who want fire insurance or bushmen in a missionary hospital whose hope is “going to heaven forever.”

    If some could just drop their defenses and simply admit, “Gee, I don’t know… The situation seems pretty messed up, you’re right, I wish I had an answer…Maybe one day G-d will show us how to live in this world,” then that would be refreshing.

    James Pyles has that kind of honesty, which keeps me coming back to his blog.

  109. “Hunky-dory”, Steven, is not what was suggested, neither by myself nor by Marleen, as near as I can tell. If you receive notification of this reply, you might consider avoiding either-or scenarios and strive to acquire a bit of nuance. Funny thing, though, is that the Hallel psalms are a regular feature in traditional Jewish prayer, including Ps.118:26 (“Blessed is he who comes…”). So Rav Yeshua is welcome to come at any time of his own choosing, and those who pray such verses regularly so as to have etched them into their memory are that much more likely to recognize him when he does so. Those who already have recognized him can continue to pray that more and more will meditate on the meanings that may attach to those words and join with the ones who have done so.

  110. I tend to think broad statements of general wisdom become platitudes when they are crammed into gaps requiring specific answers.

    Telling a mother whose son died of aggressive brain cancer that “G-d has a plan” might not answer her plight in theodicy.

    Telling a retarded kid that “he’s made in the image of G-d” might not sooth him once he becomes aware of the real gravity of his condition, his short life span, and everything he’ll never do. And it might not reflect well on the prototype of the image.

    Telling believers who have never had a memorable encounter with the HS that “Religion should mean nothing; all Gentiles have the Spirit!” probably will not resonate.

    There is this certain tendency to reply to nuanced questions that pine for real resolution by piling on the general wisdom you do know. But most people who delve deeply into religion are, like Miguel de Unamuno says, burdened with Wisdom rather than knowing. So just admit you don’t know. It’s more becoming than clubbing people with aphorisms and repeating your priors.

  111. @Steven: Two Stevens? I checked and based on email address and blog URL, there’s only one Steven commenting here. As Sojourning pointed out, it’s not difficult to separate Steven and Steve Peterson, and based on email address and IP address, “Steven” and “Stevens” are the same person.

    If your general point is to say that at present, the majority of Jewish people in the world do not recognize Yeshua as the Messiah, I’d have to agree with you. Does that mean God has rejected all of His people Israel or even those who do not acknowledge Yeshua, I’d have to say not. The Sinai Covenant is still in full effect, so every Jew who ever lived was born into a covenant relationship with God. Add to that the promise of the New Covenant that God will forgive all Israel and restore all His people to Him, and you can see God has great plans for the Jewish people. No wonder the Gospels (properly interpreted) are called “good news.”

    How is God going to do this and does this forgiveness work for all Jews past, present, and future, even those to were martyred, singing the Shema, clinging to Hashem all the while rejecting Jesus as a false god? I don’t know. I don’t have an understanding of the exact “mechanics” God will employ to fulfill His promises to Israel. I only know that He promised to do it and I have faith that he will finish what He started.

    Drake said:

    I was astounded to log back on here and see this debate still happening. I thought it would have died with Shabbat.

    This apparently is an important topic to discuss, Drake. As I write this, it’s up to 130 comments.

    I totally understand your desire to ditch religion. I’ve taken a more receded place in MJ over the years. Like you, I will probably never go back to church again either. But I encourage you to keep faith, even in absence of religion, if that’s the road you choose. Still pray.

    I know that feeling all too well. Truth be told, there are probably a large number of non-Jews connected to the Messianic movement in some manner who feel exactly the same way, if we’d care to admit it.

    James Pyles has that kind of honesty, which keeps me coming back to his blog.

    Thanks, Drake. I’m honored.

  112. @Steven:

    “I think the Jews need to repent and recieve Yeshua…”

    I agree with you, Steven.

    I also believe non-Jews were/are supposed to play a roll in that happening. However, very few Jews have met their Messiah over the last 1800 years. The common response to this maddening dilemma? Well, they are stiff-necked you know, and they’re eyes remain veiled.

    I believe they would know their Messiah if **WE** turned to God, and if **WE** repented for the historic failings of **OUR** people (the non-Jewish “chosen ones” i.e., Christians) and humbled ourselves for past sins that we didn’t even commit.

    Nobody I know is interested.

    Instead, we continue doing the same ol’ thing—trying to convert them—and shake our heads in amazement of their “blindness” when they refuse. What is the definition of insane again? Oh yes, it’s doing the same damn thing over and over again and expecting different results.

    Many Americans saw their vote for Obama as proof they weren’t racist, and many Christians think worshiping with Jews, or taking what is theirs, makes their statement of “I love the Jewish people” true, but it is actually a self-serving proclamation for most.

  113. @Drake:

    I’ve been downwind of the sparse information regarding gentiles long before “MJ” ever entered my life. It dogs many people from within Christianity, some of whom drop out to investigate other religions as a consequen”

    Well, this makes sense to me Drake, and imo it all traces back to replacement theology. We’re in church reading ancient Jewish scripture and yet in many of the sermons and studies we’re taught to overlook that, and instead apply it to our non-Jewish-modern-American-selves.

    I love “application” as mush as the next person, but let’s be real for a minute, if you’re not raised with the supplanting apparatus, you’re likely to pick up on the disconnect far more quickly and wonder how it makes any sense, hence, go look elsewhere. This is tragic, but should also be expected, since historically, many Christians didn’t (and some still don’t) know Jesus is a Jew.

  114. Steven/Stevens/other steve?

    You can’t, the “church” can’t, no one can, actually collapse all place, time, etc. into one, blame everyone because you’re impatient.

  115. One doesn’t know whether G-d intended any angst over anyone’s identity as a Gentile, but I daresay He was aware of the problem we would face as each of us attempted to get closer to the truth of what G-d wants for us. As soon as anyone looks into the facts that underlie the Scriptures, Tanakh and Brit Chadashah, you have a certain sense of unreality when you compare what you find to what the Christian Church has been saying for the last 1800 years. In search of the truth, one becomes very un-churchlike.

    G-d gave rules out to the Israelites when He needed to shape them into a specific example of how to live, and we, presumably, are to figure out a way to adapt ourselves to the rules given, since we are not supposed to adapt the rules around ourselves. The Scriptures are full of rules, and good advice, and instructions on how to live, and how to please G-d at the same time. The rules, advice and instructions are not hard to follow so long as you ignore what other people’s ideas are on the topic, but of necessity, you have to learn to do without people to a certain degree when they don’t agree with you on how you are living your life and why.

    It’s an uncomfortable and lonely reshaping of yourself into something you never wanted or expected. It is a very narrow path that leads to truth. Don’t turn back.

  116. @Sojourning: Actually, in many ways, Christianity has been its own worst enemy in taking the good news of the Jewish Moshiach to the Jewish people. In that, the Church, by presenting a sanitized, Goyishe Jesus in place of Messiah, has actually prevented Jewish people from repentance and recognition of how Yeshua plays a major role in Israel’s ultimate redemption.

    @Everyone: Since we’re discussing, debating, and agonizing over the Gentile role in Messianic Jewish space and what sort of commandments are specifically assigned to us, I thought the following quote might be helpful:

    Every person has unique talents, skills, knowledge, and resources.

    Utilize these to help others in ways that are uniquely yours. Learn from the kind deeds of other people, but don’t compare yourself with anyone else. Others will be able to do things that you can’t. And only you will be able to do certain things.

    Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

  117. “It’s an uncomfortable and lonely reshaping of yourself into something you never wanted or expected.”

    This is a very astute comment, and sad, because it should not be a lonely journey but a multi-generational pursuit by the Messianic Gentile community

    There is fertile ground, beginning in Shaul’s, letters for shaping a “Messianic Gentile.” In fact, you could look at his letters as, at least in part, to do exactly that, and their inclusion in the Apostolic Writings as the Holy One’s primary way of construing Gentile identity.

  118. @James:
    “the Church, by presenting a sanitized, Goyishe Jesus in place of Messiah, has actually prevented Jewish people from repentance and recognition of how Yeshua plays a major role in Israel’s ultimate redemption.”

    I agree James.

  119. Carl (quoting Questor in part) said:

    This is a very astute comment, and sad, because it should not be a lonely journey but a multi-generational pursuit by the Messianic Gentile community

    There is fertile ground, beginning in Shaul’s, letters for shaping a “Messianic Gentile.” In fact, you could look at his letters as, at least in part, to do exactly that, and their inclusion in the Apostolic Writings as the Holy One’s primary way of construing Gentile identity.

    I feel the loneliness and isolation as well Carl and it makes me wonder why this particular journey is necessarily lonely. You suggest (If I’m reading you right) that this “multi-generational pursuit by the Messianic Gentile community” should be a group exploration, so why are there so many Messianic Gentiles out there who feel marginalized, restricted, and alone (although I can also imagine there are quite a few Messianic Jews who feel isolated as well)?

    As far as the “multi-generational” part goes, not many people can set aside their immediate desires and requirements for the sake of future generations. Especially in the instant gratification culture of the 21st century in western nations, if something takes longer than the time required to reheat a cup of coffee in the microwave, it takes way too long.

  120. I appreciate the comments, James.

    Admittedly, taking a multi-generational (or even a decades-long) view requires a lot of toughness and discipline. It means that I must put one foot in front of the other every day of my life to achieve what I can achieve, but never see the final product, not even close. I’ve been doing this for over four decades now. If I had demanded immediate gratification, I would have achieved far less than the little I have done. (Fortunately, I had a mentor – a Gentile, by the way- who instilled some patience in me.)

    Still, I am one of those Messianic Jews who feel isolated, since there is no congregation of Messianic Jews here in Austin. Actually, there are very few places where you can find one. I am fortunate to have a network of friends, colleagues, and students, mostly elsewhere. But that is not the same as a local community.

    IMO, it will take at least a few generations to establish a decent number of healthy congregations for Messianic Jews or for Messianic Gentiles . Emphasis on the word “healthy.”

    Beyond that, I wouldn’t compare my situation to yours. I have received a tradition that has been built, generation after generation, for some time now. I do not believe that it descends from Sinai, but from generations of very wise Sages. (It could have used a woman’s touch, but at least the Sages used both hemispheres of their brain.) Whatever its faults–and it certainly has them–it is my tradition. it shapes my thoughts and life in service of the Messiah.

    But you are just starting a tradition, if you choose to recognize it. It shouldn’t be so hard. But it becomes that much harder — and failure is virtually guaranteed — for anyone, Jew or Gentile, who submits to the fast-food mentality.

    Next January, I will turn 70. I have accomplished far less than I imagined I would. Some things did not work out so well for me and mine. But, In my better moments, I remember the mishnah, “Who is rich? He who is happy with his portion.” (Avot 4.1, I think). It surprises me that I have more of those moments of contentment the past few years, and they last longer now, even though the horizon is getting closer every day.

  121. Carl said:

    Still, I am one of those Messianic Jews who feel isolated, since there is no congregation of Messianic Jews here in Austin. Actually, there are very few places where you can find one. I am fortunate to have a network of friends, colleagues, and students, mostly elsewhere. But that is not the same as a local community.

    Yes, I had you in mind when I made my statements above.

    I suppose we could compare our situations to all of those Christians who have waited for Yeshua to return, hoping it would be in their generation, or perhaps for the many, many Jews who, suffering from numerous severe persecutions, kept crying for Moshiach now!

    They are all part of this multi-generational task of repairing the world and paving the way for Messiah, so in a sense, our small efforts to define and refine both Messianic Jewish and Messianic Gentile community and how (or even if) they overlap, is part of that “repair job.”

    That actually makes a good deal of sense, not only because we live in a broken, fallen world, but because of the damage traditional Christianity has done to the Bible and particularly to the Apostolic Scriptures, using it as a weapon against the Jewish people rather than a chronicle of God’s love for Israel and His plan to redeem the world, but only through Israel.

    It seems a lot of “fixing” needs to be going on.

    You make a good point relative to the presence/absence of tradition for Jews vs. Gentile believers. Actually, we too have traditions but they are the traditions of the Church, and as such, they don’t presuppose Gentiles as part of Messianic Jewish community but rather, Church culture and community as a “stand alone”.

    Right now, we are only beginning to face the fact that Messianic Gentiles have no established tradition or halachah. People in the Hebrew Roots movement take the easy way out and simply borrow (or steal) Jewish traditions, some of them anyway, but that’s just avoiding the reality of the task facing us.

    Who are we and where do we fit in?

    In today’s review of Paula Fredriksen’s essay “The Question of Worship: Gods, Pagans, and the Redemption of Israel” from the Nanos/Zetterholm volume, the matter comes up again with no clear resolution.

    Fredriksen suggests that Paul believed Messiah’s return was imminent given that large numbers of Gentiles were turning to Israel’s God. As she describes it, it’s easy to see why Paul might have had that impression. But if this is true, Paul (this is my opinion) may simply have felt there was no need to establish detailed halachah for the Gentile disciples besides what was required for table fellowship between Jew and non-Jew, because Messiah would be returning any second and he would sort out the role of the non-Jew relative to Israel.

    Obviously that never happened, and since Gentile Christians have avoided this conundrum for nearly twenty centuries by avoiding Judaism, it was never resolved.

    So it’s up to us, the Gentiles, perhaps with some help from within the Messianic Jewish community, to determine what our traditions are to be.

    I was baptized in the Boise River in August 1999 by the congregational leader of the little, local Hebrew Roots group my family and I were attending at the time, and I’ve just now discovered that I’m only at the very beginning of a long journey of discovery.

    You said:

    Next January, I will turn 70. I have accomplished far less than I imagined I would. Some things did not work out so well for me and mine. But, In my better moments, I remember the mishnah, “Who is rich? He who is happy with his portion.” (Avot 4.1, I think). It surprises me that I have more of those moments of contentment the past few years, and they last longer now, even though the horizon is getting closer every day.

    I have a friend who is terminally ill and his decline is over some matter of years. When we speak, he sounds a lot like this. There is something about watching the approach of “the horizon” that focuses our attention on who and what is really important.

    I never thought these comments would “go the distance” but it’s been a more worthwhile conversation than I had ever imagined. Even though it’s on the Internet and anyone can access it, I wish I could target it to every Jew and Gentile in Messiah worldwide and say “See! This is where we’re at! This is the path before us!”

    There’s something about facing the start of a long road trip that’s both exciting and daunting. That’s exactly the way I feel now.

  122. Carl wrote:

    James, I appreciate your comments so much. They are both realistic and visionary. It warms my heart to know you.

    Wow! Likewise.

  123. Please forgive me, I know this isn’t a popular topic, but I’d appreciate some feedback.

    I just don’t see the greatest potential for God’s “chosen Gentiles” to appear to be more Jewish. I understand the frustration expressed, and have felt a great deal of it myself, however it’s self-focused and not something that would bring God glory, imp. (Is God the God of Jews only?)

    We messianic Gentiles have come to a place of understanding that Jews are central to the scriptures, covenants, and to redemption itself, yet don’t seem to understand that Gentiles have a different identity, on purpose. This was more difficult to perceive in Paul’s day, but we have the advantage of the historical record.

    Having the benefit of hindsight, would Christians having a stricter halachah and possessing more rabbinic traditions about Shabbat and kashrut have created the potential of distinction for mutual blessing?

    Would “chosen Gentiles” looking more Jewish have saved Jewish lives over the past 1800 years in the diaspora? I tend to think not, and believe God was up to something far more profound. What went wrong, imo, is not that we began worshiping on Sunday or began our our holidays. Our grievous sin and shortcomings are with a triumphant, competitive, “zero-sum thinking” to use Mark Nanos’ argument.

    Instead of looking for our “own” path within Judaism (many scholars point out Christianity is already a “Judaism”) or lamenting the way things turned out, perhaps Jews and Gentiles–who are joined in devotion to the Messiah–are supposed to remain connected to our respective traditions, recognizing their limitations and flaws and yet also remaining in fellowship with each other? Doesn’t this have the most potential for dramatic change? Would this not be an astounding witness to each of our respective groups? (Christianity and Judaism?) rather than everyone swapping identities which is so common?

  124. James said “Right now, we are only beginning to face the fact that Messianic Gentiles have no established tradition or halachah. People in the Hebrew Roots movement take the easy way out and simply borrow (or steal) Jewish traditions, some of them anyway, but that’s just avoiding the reality of the task facing us.

    Who are we and where do we fit in?”

    Ruth said “We messianic Gentiles have come to a place of understanding that Jews are central to the scriptures, covenants, and to redemption itself, yet don’t seem to understand that Gentiles have a different identity, on purpose. ”

    From what I can see, Messianic Gentiles are, or rather will be, a kind of Praetorian Guard to the sanctity of Judaism, except in this sense, it is the Ruach who has assigned us, not the Roman Nobles to Caesar, and one hopes that the New Guard will not turn on what it is guarding out of impatience.

    The one thing that Messianic Gentiles have in common is a respect for the Jews as Jews, and a snarling response to anyone who attacks Judaism. What we do not yet have is a specific code of our own that keeps us together as an international community, and this is where the Messianic Jews must act in conjunction with the Messianic Gentiles. I think we Messianic Gentiles must adopt much of Messianic Judaism ways of obedience and community…not their halachah or their appearance (if it is distinctive) or traditions, but their pursuit of Torah, including the wisdom of the Sages, even if we treat the Talmud as a commentary, and not the Inspired Word of G-d.

    Messianic Gentiles are supposed to come close to the Jews, or we can’t help them. However, Messianic Jews cannot forever keep us at a far distance, and simply hope to be left alone. The key will be some consistent adherence to Torah as Gentiles, in a plain, rather, puritanical way, and not a Jewish way. Both Messianic Gentiles, and Messianic Jews must look not to how we appear to be observing Torah, but the actual fact that we are observing Torah because we most of us already do observe Torah except for laying Tefillin, wrapping ourselves in Tallitot and Tzitzit, and wearing Yarmulkes.

    We might not have a specific list of Torah Commandments we are keeping, nor need one since we are not Covenant bound, but if Messianic Gentiles become uniformly Sabbath observant at home, observe the Moedim at home, observe the ten categories, and eat only clean foods, even if we are not kashering our kitchens, we will be in more compliance with Judaism than most Jews. Should that not be enough for loosely linking with every Messianic Jewish Community worldwide…particularly if we are not asking for membership in their Synagogues?

  125. @Questor:

    “The one thing that Messianic Gentiles have in common is a respect for the Jews as Jews, and a snarling response to anyone who attacks Judaism.”

    I wish this was true Questor, however, in my experience, it isn’t. Often the “messianic gentile” knows little more about the history of the Jewish people and their “issues” than church-going gentiles do. Most are involved with MJ because they are trying to meet their own needs which range from thinking MJ is the elite religion, it makes them feel superior to “regular” Christians, they are trying to find a way to claim Jewish identity for themselves, or simply think they are attending “Jewish Church” which gives them warm fuzzies that they are so progressive.

  126. I like most of what you said, Q, not that that’s what matters [: )] — but I will say these two things: the “categories” you listed seem good; “plain and puritanical” is scary. Think of current-day Mormon “prophets” for example. I know, not everyone sees examples like these. But they are in the news to see. We don’t even have to look that far, though. There have been charismatics and so called messianics who claim puritanically their right to very backward attitudes on marriage, etc.

  127. Sorry to have used the word puritanical, Marleen…I was thinking of simplicity of idea, rather than ways of doing things. The Puritans were notorious for specific, non-Catholic (and non-Pagan) behavior in the 1700’s…very ideologically simple, in many ways, and very sola scriptura as well, in the simplest, literal meaning of the words they read.

    Ruth, I don’t think a true Messianic Gentile is other than a person reading the Bible, and trying to walk it out in Yeshua’s footsteps, by doing as he did, and as he taught. Just the thought of a Jewish ‘church’ makes me feel ill, and I doubt that people pretending to be Jewish a few days a year count as Messianic Gentiles.

    It’s why the scattered few of us don’t have any other name, nor any community. The few of us that are really seeking to follow Torah to the extant a non-Jew can without pretense of Judaism are the people who will defend Judaism’s right to be Jewish, and we are the ones who will fullfill the prophecies by not being Jewish, yet righteous.. I doubt that most Hebrew Roots/Sacred Name members posturings as Jews is anything at all like a genuine attempt to daily observe those things that I think a Messianic Gentile should observe of Torah that are not Jewish identity markers, nor Jewish means of worship or ritual.

  128. @Sojourning (and everyone else): I think a lot of the angst Messianic Gentiles experience has to do with attempting to operationalize a form of halachah for Gentiles within, as you say, a Judaism.

    I know that Mark Nanos has referred to the original Gentile disciples as acting “Jewishly” but not being Jewish. The issue is who and what are non-Jews within Messianic Jewish space. This would include non-Jewish Messianics who do not directly involve themselves in MJ synagogues (which includes me since there are no such resources locally).

    The traditions of the Church were first created for the purpose of deliberately separating Gentile worshipers from Jewish worshipers and from Judaism. Instead of Gentiles operating within a Judaism, they abandoned and disdained Judaism, and formed a brand new religion absent of almost all Jewish influences: Christianity.

    Fast forward to the present. Messianic Gentiles suddenly discover that they don’t have a defined role in Jewish space, whether they exist there directly or tangentially. Rejecting the One Law supposition that Jewish tradition also belongs to the Gentiles, and realizing that the existing traditions of the Church are largely anti-Judaism if not anti-Semitic, the question then becomes, “what are we, chopped liver?”

    The answer is, “No, of course not,” but then what are we?

    As I mentioned to Rabbi Kinbar in some recent comments above, that’s what we’re here to find out.

    The interesting thing is that our “halachah” may be quite a bit more flexible than anything incumbent upon observant Jewish people (and different observant Jewish groups, consulting different poskim, don’t always respond to the mitzvot in precisely the same manner, so variability exists within Judaism as well).

    In some recent comments on his blog post Paul Was Too Jewish For The Synagogue, Derek Leman was explaining to someone what he meant by “law free”.

    In the body of the blog, Derek wrote:

    The synagogues had a sort of liberal, “law-free” approach to welcoming Gentiles. Do as much or as little of Torah as you like. Honor the God of Israel, but you don’t have to leave off showing honor to the city gods. Come nearer to God and be among the righteous Gentiles who will enter into life in the age to come.

    In answering a query from one of his readers, Derek responded:

    “Law-free” means free from the parts of the Law that apply only to Israel (Sabbath, food laws, circumcision, tzitzit).

    That at least gives modern Messianic Gentiles a place to start in understanding how we are allowed to develop our own halachah.

    I was in a synagogue many years ago and was listening to a Jewish man, who had been secular most of his life, explain how he started performing the mitzvot. He was in Israel and talking to a Rabbi about how overwhelming it was to want to be religious but not know how to become observant all at once.

    The Rabbi explained that this fellow should just choose one mitzvah, learn how to perform it, and when he was comfortable in this one mitzvah, to choose another and learn that one. It would be like choosing lighting the Shabbos candles as the first mitzvah, lighting them with the proper blessings each Erev Shabbat, and having accomplished that after a number or weeks, choosing laying tefillin, and so on and so on.

    Of course, I’ve just mentioned two of the mitzvot that specifically apply to the Jewish people and that doesn’t help us very much.

    We know (or strongly suspect) that the Roman Centurion Cornelius prayed at the set times of prayer. We also know that God commended Cornelius for giving charity to the Jewish people. We know many other things that Paul commanded his non-Jewish disciples in his various letters, which generally map to devotion to God, treating others kindly, giving to charity (especially to Israel), helping the needy, and so on.

    If we need traditions or some sort of organization to our “religious” lives, these are all very good places to start. Chances are, you are doing some or even most of the Gentile “halachah” already.

    By the way, I don’t think there’s anything stopping non-Jews from lighting the Shabbos candles as a matter of personal conviction or even keeping some form of Shabbat. First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) has even produced a guide book for Gentiles called The Sabbath Table which I have used myself.

    I don’t necessarily think that non-Jews are commanded to observe the Shabbat, particularly in a specific manner, but I don’t think, various poskim aside, that we are forbidden to have a Shabbos rest either. In this case, FFOZ’s Aaron Eby has devised a sort of “Shabbat halachah” for the Gentile that, if we so choose, we can take advantage of.

  129. @James:

    “I know that Mark Nanos has referred to the original Gentile disciples as acting “Jewishly” but not being Jewish”

    There’s a profound difference between pagans of the first century and Gentiles–even non believers– who’ve been raised in a Christianized nation though. If we compared ourselves to our various ancestors of that time period, I think most any Christian would seem rather “Jewish” by comparison.

    “The traditions of the Church were first created for the purpose of deliberately separating Gentile worshipers from Jewish worshipers and from Judaism. “

    True, but as mentioned before, this happened gradually, and from necessity. Gentiles who had come to faith in Yeshua were rejected from the Judaisms of the time–without “becoming Jewish”–and were cut loose from the legal religious protections Jews had with the Roman Empire. Gentiles really didn’t have a lot of choice here. However, the rancor that developed and that was later coupled with the eventual triumph of Christianity, wound up being quite detrimental for Jews.

    “Instead of Gentiles operating within a Judaism, they abandoned and disdained Judaism, and formed a brand new religion absent of almost all Jewish influences: Christianity.”

    According to many 2nd temple era scholars (Jewish and Christian) neither rabbinic Judaism nor Christianity would be what they became without the “other”. That is the crux of my argument, because many messianic Gentile’s perspective is that Judaism is the same thing today as it was in Yeshua’s day (or Moses’) and therefor is the pure and undefiled religion sent straight from God, and Christianity is not. I don’t share this view, however. I think both have flaws and neither is perfect. However, my husband cannot access or connect with his identity, family, or people, without interacting with and engaging r. Judaism on some level. And, I cannot understand my own life and walk with God apart from Christianity.

    Anyway, I don’t view MJ as a place to get my spiritual needs met. I assumed it was a place to nurture Jewish needs, and was also hoping it would be a place where I could connect with other gentile believers actively trying to right the wrongs of the past, and learn how to better love the Jewish people. Sadly, I haven’t met many of these folks, and it’s common for Jewish needs to be pushed aside as Gentiles overwhelm many of the Jews in this movement.

  130. Sojourning Wrote:

    “Instead of looking for our “own” path within Judaism (many scholars point out Christianity is already a “Judaism”) or lamenting the way things turned out,”

    How is Christianity a Judaism when the only thing they have in common are the golden rule, One G-d, and modesty laws? If that’s true, then Islam is a Christianity.

    “…perhaps Jews and Gentiles–who are joined in devotion to the Messiah–are supposed to remain connected to our respective traditions…”

    What traditions? Which? Where did they come from? Where and specifically how can they be traced to anything that happened in the Bible? What event, flashpoint or theophany validates them? Judaism has the benefit of its traditions stemming from actual dictums at Mt. Sinai, and so the halachah is actually tethered to something not of this world.

    Ex: It’s a hallmark of MJ that the New Covenant is a non-transferable covenant with Israel, not Gentiles. In Christianity the Eucharist represents the Last Supper and participating in it “as though we were there”. But there is a problem. The Last Supper was a seder (a meal which Gentiles are not supposed to keep) involving the initiation of the New Covenant, to which the Gentiles were not party – instead from which they passively benefit. So the entire observance is illegitimate as it falsely reenacts New Covenant events as something “other than” a seder, with cosignatories “other than” the Jews. Furthermore, covenants are not optional. Parties must keep them. But for Gentiles, the Eucharist does not carry the weight of a mitzvah.

    Today, communion does nothing but perpetuate the notion that we are participants in the New Covenant and not simply beneficiaries. It’s an appropriation of covenants built into liturgy. Yet strangely, Paul seemed to have adapted Pesach as a makeshift practice for gentiles in 1 Cor 11, but again it seems optional as one can bow out under various circumstances. All this seems to incorrectly construe Gentiles as covenant parties and not simply beneficiaries. I’m confused as to why Mr. “To them belong the covenants” would give to Gentiles a covenant meal to which they were not party, repeating a covenant affirmation to which they were not party. That seems like letting a sojourner eat of the Pesach lamb, botching the the covenant relationship.

    On flipping prohibitions into positives: sex laws and thought commandments seem to be the only thing leveled at Gentiles. As I said, you cannot build a tradition off of bedroom no-nos. Flipping the prohibition on idolatry simply tells you that monotheism is true, but it does not lend a tradition into time or space. That leaves us with the “thought commandment” of the Golden Rule, which is a universal value, not something that can be concretely tethered to a time or a space. So whether or not one flips it from positive to negative or vice versa, an axiom for the whole human race meant to govern our thoughts is lovely but shapeless, and it does not translate into a stable orthopraxy, nor a “respective tradition,” as Sojourning puts it.

    In listing these problems, my overall point is this: traditions in all religions must have a real and legitimate connection to a real event that G-d did that relates intergenerationally to the doer.

    “I understand the frustration expressed, and have felt a great deal of it myself, however it’s self-focused and not something that would bring God glory, imp.”

    Again, I reiterate that asking these questions is NOT selfish, as it does not just encompass me, nor does it just encompass MGs and their jilted hangover from their one-night-stand with something real, but the question covers 2.5 billion humans worldwide in how they live their lives. Replacement theology is not going to die. Because – for better or worse – it fills a void and it serves an actual need that humans have when relating to their Deity, a need that was left wide open by the Bible we currently have. And it will not die until these fundamental questions are answered (swiftly, soon and in our days). In the duress of empire, I don’t think Paul had time for beta testing before roll-out. If he did, we don’t have his notes.

    I’ll still give to charity and pray when I can muster the gall (I’m not always on the best speaking terms with the Mighty Re-arranger). I’m not going to let this angst get the better of me, but darn it, Sojourning, I feel I have to forcefully counter your stance that such misgivings are unfounded.

  131. @ Sojourning

    A slight correction: You wrote, “According to many 2nd temple era scholars (Jewish and Christian) . . . ” Actually, they are scholars of early [post-biblical] Judaism and Christianity; otherwise, you’ve correctly stated the growing consensus of scholarly opinion. (I have a doctorate in Early Judaism and am very familiar with current scholarship.)

    Thanks for your comments about tradition. You wrote, “I think both [Judaism and Christianity] have their flaws and neither is perfect. However, my husband cannot access or connect with his identity, family, or people, without interacting with and engaging r. Judaism on some level. And, I cannot understand my own life and walk with God apart from Christianity.”

    Your approach is more crucial than people imagine. Every rejection of an entire body of tradition (be it religious, cultural, or other) is based on its real or perceived flaws.

    You have written about embracing tradition despite its flaws. That’s the way I see it, too. Jewish tradition is rich and deep. I do not excuse its flaws or reject it because of them. It is my tradition, just as my extended family is my family despite their flaws (and mine)..

    BTW, those who adhere to a Sola Scriptura approach to the Bible do not have the high ground here. Its origins (not in the Bible, for sure), development, and results are, too say the least, no improvement over our traditions.

  132. Rabbi Kinbar:

    Thank you for the correction. I am not a scholar but a very interested—and invested—gentile believer and, obviously, dreamer. 🙂

    I know you understand that it wasn’t easy for me to arrive at the realization I have about our respective “traditions”, since I have experienced God as an evangelical-sola-scriptura-non-creedal–totally–immersed–Southern–Baptist, who loved 1980’s style apologetics. (Walter Martin, whoot whoot!) 🙂

    But my husband and family? Zero Christian culture/knowledge. We hit more than one brick wall, to be sure. But for me, there was no getting around his family that contains founders of Cedars of Lebanon (or Sinai?), and synagogue, a president of “Women for Reform Judaism”, an uncle who abandoned his rabbinical studies and became a lawyer who played a pivotal role in American Jewish history, and even those family members who eventually rejected Judaism (and some who rejected all religion and faith, for various reasons) did not suddenly stop being Jewish. I confess, that took awhile to sink in.

  133. @drake

    You wrote, “What traditions? Which? Where did they come from? Where and specifically how can they be traced to anything that happened in the Bible?” and “traditions in all religions must have a real and legitimate connection to a real event that G-d did that relates intergenerationally to the doer.”

    Do you believe that the same standard applies to commandments that are issued apart from tradition?

  134. Hey, drake.

    I understand your frustration to some extent. In fact, as you potentially have raising children ahead of you, I really do understand that in an accute sense (while that’s in my past unless I have grandchildren in my future). That is when there is a sharp, inescapable focus on “space and time” (as you put it). I would encourage you not to be too compelled about backing away from a tradition that commemorates the “last supper.” While it is a tradition that there are two nights of Passover, actual Passover was on the night after Yeshua died. Prior to that was preparation day. And I don’t see anything wrong with remembering the night Yeshua took the bread and was betrayed. Start your own tradition for you (and your family and whoever you may be with); it could be as simple as putting matza on a matza plate by Tuesday night (to me, it’s important to know it was Tuesday [and there is no “good” Friday or Maundy Thursday], not later in the week) and recounting the story or aspects anywhere from Palm Sunday (if you like that label, but the day was still significant even if you don’t) through the fact Yeshua died the day following the eve he was betrayed, and he was buried. You don’t have to make a ceremony of the matza in a communion form. But if you want to do something with bread and wine as a memory, I see absolutely nothing problematic about that.

    I know that’s not the same as having fifty people with a formal service and a leader with a sense of script. That’s okay.

  135. I am in awe of your wisdom and respect the culture of study that allows this discussion. I can grasp bits of the conversation, and my heart swells with emotion as I try to absorb what I am reading. I am a jew, a jew by choice, and it is where I belong. I find that my Jewish Studies compliment my history. And over time as I try to make sense of this mixed up world I have come to believe in the energy of our universe is the bond that we all share. Now, I am fulfilling the obligation to say Kaddish each day. I do it for my father in law. It is not a requirement for me, as my father in law is not my direct linage. I am allowed to say kaddish each day by my choice, and I do it for the respect of my father in law and his tradition, and because there is no one else in the family who will do this. As we share together the services, I am reminded of the psalms that I learned as a child. I am bound together with all caring people everywhere. And I trust that each in our own way will find peace as I truly believe there is only one God. My simple words fall so far below the level of this discussion, I think you for the opportunity to learn.

  136. Mr. Kinbar:

    “Do you believe that the same standard applies to commandments that are issued apart from tradition?”

    How do you mean? Could you perhaps give an example?

    Here is what I believe and what I’ve come to understand about religion and what is required in them, something that I think Heschel said best. I’m paraphrasing, BTW. One can only ever paraphrase and understate a rabbi steeped in the phenomenological (waka waka!).

    1. The mitzvot come from G-d.
    2. They are the thoughts of G-d.
    3. To do a mitzvah is to plant the thoughts of G-d in time and space.
    4. Doing the thoughts of G-d repeatedly is formative to the soul.
    5. Doing the thoughts of G-d makes the world as G-d thinks it should be.
    6. As the soul conforms itself to the nature of the mitzvot, it is also conforming itself to an Age where the mitzvot live.

    Now, that said, I’m not a cooky One-Law or some such person that runs around thinking that all rabbinic things are bad. Kippas and seders are very rabbinic by necessity. In fact, I love rabbinic writing, philosophy, and musings on life and eternity. Furthermore, I believe G-d gave the Jewish people the right and ability to fluidly adapt Torah to life as it changed. Slaughter laws changed as the people entered the land. The Davidic era re-purposed the Leviim. The Torah allowed slavery while setting an internal time bomb against it in much the same way the US Constitution did. I respect the authority of the rabbis down the kitniyos – even though I think it’s stupid. Because ultimately it’s about preserving collective memory.

    Furthermore, I believe that Oral Tradition came first based on my understanding of critical source theory. What survives in written form is the prompt, CliffsNotes and summary of all Israelite storytelling, a collective story once known to all but fossilized into text as a back-up whenever Israel feared extinctional calamity. Ezra, the Chazal, the Gospels. And what were once the bare summaries became elevated by the Church for “inerrancy” in a more modern world where premium was placed on text. Yet the text we have is nothing more than the impression left by a vast and fluid river.

    And while I believe the Exodus might have been smaller, “I believe with perfect faith” that something happened to a man called Abram and the Jewish people at Sinai that has never left them the same since. And those events serve as the mouth of the river. First came the covenants, which spawned the mitzvot as the conditions of the covenants, then came the Oral Law, halachah on how to apply it to life, followed by the varied hashkafa, art and philosophy.

    But at the source of that river three things are true: 1. they are based on an miraculous event that happened in history, and 2. the commandments are not negative or inner soul commandments only; they are positive and can be worked into life as traditions and processes. 3. They must be perceived of as duty, not optional. For example, Catholic tradition came with centuries of enforcement, soul consequences for not taking communion, etc.Tradition at it’s source has to be based on a genuine connection to something enduring (like Sinai, like the mitzvot, thoughts of G-d). Commandments cannot be only negative or inner either, otherwise you get modern Christianity as a religion of “don’ts” as it has from its intrinsic design in the NT.

    So you say: “Formulate a tradition, Drake. People might continue it after you are gone.” That seems fair. But then there is the son who asks why. To what actual commandment is it tethered? None? What event am I supposed to reckon as though I were there with my ancestors? Given the paucity of positive commandments on Gentiles, that essentially means that the vast majority of his faith was “made up,” unanchored to anything he reads in his holy books, nor originating from the thoughts or deeds of G-d. Jewish tradition is based on something – however far removed. “I do Purim because we were spared in exile. I do Pesach because it happened to us by the hand of G-d.I keep sabbath because we were told to by G-d to commemorate creation and the march of time.” I think that tradition will ultimately collapse if it is perceived as optional or superfluous. How many Shakers are there left in America? This is probably why the Catholic Church had to threaten those who did not take communion with the gravity of mitzvah and validate their traditions by inventing the miraculous deeds of Medieval saints. All rivers of tradition need 1. a tributary from the divine to be legitimate, 2. be positive and not just negative or inner soul commandments as with Paul’s left us with 3. and must be tied to duty if it’s to last. Traditions need to be formulated around “something,” and something real at that.

    As bad as they are, Triumphalism and Replacement Theology clear the space for concrete, divine events in history that supposedly relate to gentiles, hence their mass appeal. It tells Gentiles that the New Covenant was between them and G-d, and that a real transfer of sorts took place, and there are positive commandments for you. In that false construct, there is actually a “something that happened to us,” followed by commandments from G-d-visited saints from which to form a tradition. The votary now knows he is entrusted with the thoughts of G-d (commands), and all other traditions he builds around it will be stems and variations of something outside of history. Catholicism did not become the preserver it is by accident, right or not.

    I’m not so naive as to suggest all Judaism is purely from Mount Sinai. Looking at your fingernails in the light of Havdalla is a flight of fancy based on where it’s derived, sure. But G-d told Israel to hallow shabbos. And so it’s mystical expression hallows something historical, positive, divine, and duty. And Judaism incorporates many things in the Jewish experience over history, scattered sparks, Luria, etc., as it should. But the HEART of it remains tied to and event either at Sinai or Life of Messiah, tied to mitzvot, and to a time when you found yourselves in the wake of literal power. Sure tradition is a long and unfolding process, but it was sparked by an event from a single Mover. Religion is the profane mimicking the sacred in history in however many removals or iterations. Asking me and other goys to invent tradition when so little happened to us or was told to us would just be the profane mimicking itself. The extrapolations would be too tortured.

    Jewish mystics that I read often pine over the “blank spaces” in the Torah and how Elijah or Messiah will fill them in to be better lived out. Apparently they’ve exhausted their tradition and again feel the need for an event to redefine it. Lot of that going around. I can assure you, goyim have far more blank space. Having those spaces filled in is how I define rescue and redemption beyond simply avoiding hell. Maybe the Catholics are on to something when they suggest purgatory.

    Marlene: your warm sentiment is well-received. You write:

    “But if you want to do something with bread and wine as a memory, I see absolutely nothing problematic about that.”

    But this is a problem. I am fully aware that most likely the Pesach in the Gospels was probably a mock one. It was common in the era. That said, what the bread in wine rehearses is the giving and receiving of the New Covenant. However, G-d never gave the New Covenant to Gentiles, he gave it ONLY to Israel. Gentiles are beneficiaries, not parties. So the entire ceremony in 1 Cor. 11 seems like a misappropriation. How can a gentile receive a cup representing a covenant which he has not been given? That’s the same as a gentile eating the Pesach lamb!

    I’m just carrying Exodus logic to its conclusion.

  137. Drake, the tendency to turn facts into abstractions (read ‘spiritual’) can be seen as a form of mis-integration. We will get no meaningful from people who do this. Google DIM Hypothesis. It may interest you if you are interested in the belief in objective reality.

  138. If I can throw out a few thoughts based on this discussion:

    1) Hokey Smokes people! 156 comments? Do you realize how hard it is to keep up with you and jump in to address something some 10+ comments ago?

    2) I think many of us here are working with different understandings of the same phrases. For example: “Messianic Gentile” seems to be understood as “Christian” and as “Independently Identified Messianic” (which is just about anything anyone wants it to be) and “a non-Jew adhering to Messianic Judaism.” These are three very different groups of people with vastly different world views and values. When one uses the MG phrase and another replies in such a way that indicates they hold a very different understanding of the people being discussed, it’s kind of frustrating to continue the discussion.

    3) MJ needs to continue to work out who they are. It appears that most Jews in the MJ movement did not grow up within MJ but either as Christians, as secular Jews, or as Conservative or Reformed Jews. This alone is a significant cause for MJ to sequester itself for a time to work on developing their own shared understandings. To get frustrated about their need to withdraw and focus on such things is irresponsible. BUT to be pushed out because you’re somehow a threat or your presence is offensive – well that’s unfortunate. What would be good to ponder is that there are a seriously devoted group of people standing WITH MJ, willing to submit to MJ, and encouraging the development of the shared understandings. If we continue to be pushed away and told to return to a form of worship that we find little to shared understanding with, we risk a repeat of the early days of the assembly of Messiah; when the non-Jews were zealous in the small bit of knowledge they had mixed with what seems to be a difficulty in being accepted by Judaism at large causing a serious identity crisis which resulted in the highly anti-Semitic and anti-Torah brand of Christianity that survived the struggles. I think it wise to ensure that we don’t end up here again. Please, don’t push us beyond what we can bear so that we fall hard and repeat the same foolishness. We are begging for leadership, for structure, for acknowledgement as part of the plan of HaShem for His Kingdom.

    3) MGs need to continue this difficult walk with dignity and mercy. Why would someone who is not one of us want to include us if we’re jerks or wearing our hearts on our shirtsleeves all the time? Yes it’s a hard road. Yes we’ve suffered much; many of us have been assaulted and/or threatened, we’ve lost job opportunities and promotions, we’ve lost friends, our families have turned away from us, we’ve been misunderstood and misrepresented, we’ve been incredibly lonely. But when it’s all said and done, is this beautiful faith and practice we are discovering/reviving/developing *not* worth all of that? Wasn’t Rav Shaul also one who struggled with the beauty of the message of Gentile Inclusion? And yet, for some frustratingly crazy reason he simply couldn’t put it down. We can’t either. Many of us try, some on a fairly regular basis. 😉 So let’s do something different. Let’s encourage one another, love one another, bear one another’s burdens, let’s walk with grace and dignity and beauty. We can. We do. And while our MJ brothers figure out who they are and what that means, let’s just keep doing the do as we have been but with one added “do” to our list – to stick together more than we have and let our wounds heal without picking at the scabs. When one is struggling or those wounds are festering, let’s love one another and encourage them, build them up and remind them of *why* we’re on this crazy road.
    Let’s become the people our brothers want to include. Let’s find our inclusion because we are beautiful people, not because they’re obligated to take these fools under their wings. Let’s become a desirable people, a trusted people, a people of character and faith.

  139. I’ve come to bemoan college trust-fund brats for their PC campus life centered identity politics. Trigger warnings and microagressions, self reidentification and cues, a panoply of ethnic, gender and racial categories, and offense taken at passive aggression.

    How the blazes did I (we) ever end up in the same quagmire?

  140. Drake, you are articulating my feelings and frustrations extremely well and bringing really profound insights to this whole conversation. Keep it up. Any chance you might be on Facebook?

  141. I think we’re navel-gazing in the truest sense. A navel is an irregularity corrugating an otherwise smooth surface whereupon a breach was sealed at birth by urgent necessity; an anatomical souvenir of a day nobody remembers.

    Christianity has a navel, and it’s this very topic.

  142. Sojourning said:

    There’s a profound difference between pagans of the first century and Gentiles–even non believers– who’ve been raised in a Christianized nation though. If we compared ourselves to our various ancestors of that time period, I think most any Christian would seem rather “Jewish” by comparison.

    Granted. However, I’m trying to get at the idea that the traditional Church may not be the best model for non-Jewish believers in Messiah to follow. You know I’m not suggesting that Gentiles take on the Jewish mitzvot, particularly the “sign” behaviors, but I still think that we get more mileage out of studying the Bible as a pro-Israel, pro-Judaism document rather than one that is interpreted to replace Judaism with Christianity.

    I’m split about the necessity of creating Christianity in the late 1st and early 2nd centuries and going forward. While what you say is true, the flip side is that Christianity didn’t create an overlapping expression of worship and halachah for the Gentile believer that naturally and logically derived from Judaism, but instead, Christianity was created to directly oppose and negate Judaism.

    If, as I’ve suggested in previous comments, Gentiles are to be responsible for developing our own halachah that is respectful of the Jewish author of our faith, then we have to reinvent what it means to be a non-Jew in Messiah. That may take years, decades, or not happen at all prior to Messiah’s return.

    @Drake: You make good points about how many Christian traditions rewrite Jewish history to create a narrative that negates the “Jewishness” of Messiah, this teachings, and his activities. That said, and as I mentioned above, particularly in my conversation with Rabbi Kinbar, recognizing how Christianity poorly reflects the true intent of the Apostolic Message to the Gentiles, we may have to continually review Paul’s instructions to his disciples in order to gain even a tenuous grasp of what our traditions are to be.

    Even then, we’re likely to come up with multiple variants based on personal bias and individual interpretation. I’ve mentioned the acceptability of variations of praxis in both Christianity and Judaism before, and it may turn out that we will have to accept some sort of variability in Messianic Gentile praxis as well. Sure, many things will obviously be carved in stone, such as no murder, no theft, feed the hungry, and the like. Other areas might not be so apparent.

    Perhaps our traditions don’t always have to take the form of commandments but rather personal convictions. I keep a sort of kosher based on Leviticus 11, not because I necessarily believe certain foods are forbidden to me, but as a matter of choice and conviction. Of course, it’s also the way my wife eats and since she’s the better cook and I eat what she prepares (and she’s Jewish), it all works out.

    My individual praxis is driven by family praxis. I observe Pesach, Shavuot, and Sukkot in the manner of my wife. We don’t celebrate Christmas and Easter for the same reasons. However, there may be some non-Jewish Messianics who do have celebrations centered around the birth and resurrection of Messiah which may look like how more traditional Christians celebrate Christmas and Easter to one degree or another.

    @Cohencycles: Welcome to my humble blog. I’m glad you’ve found something of interest here. Please feel free to read what I’ve produced, the conversations some of my blog posts generate, and to add your own comments.

    Lisa said:

    Hokey Smokes people! 156 comments? Do you realize how hard it is to keep up with you and jump in to address something some 10+ comments ago?

    I know exactly what you mean and I’m the blog owner. I really need to keep up. 😉

    Drake said:

    Lisa W: making Tikkun Olam helps.

    I think repairing the world is at the center of who we are in Messiah. If we’re looking for something to do to honor God as Gentile believers, I can think of no better place to start. There are an endless number of ways we can participate in the world to help heal its wounds.

  143. Drake – You are verbalizing many of the same things that our family has discussed over the years. Please know that there are many of us “out here” who struggle with the same things you are articulating.

    Everyone – Why are we talking about inventing our own halacha? I have asked this question next in several forums and maybe even here, and generally people avoid it. In fact, I can’t think of a single time when, in serious discussion, my next thought has been addressed. Here’s what I’m wondering:
    We read about the outsider who sojourns with Israel in Scripture, I’m thinking particularly in the Torah and the Prophets. When we look at these gerim and their relationship to and within Israel, isn’t there something we can glean for our understanding of the included Gentiles in the first century and for ourselves today? I know that ger was understood as proselyte in our Holy Master’s day, that’s not my question. My question is – these non-Jews who came from somewhere else and attached themselves to Israel, there are provisions for them in the Torah and in society, is there not something MJ can glean from here in addressing how they’d like to deal with us? I mean, imagine history without Yael or Uriah or Ruth, and in some opinions even Caleb. They weren’t second class citizens and they didn’t claim to be something they weren’t and yet there doesn’t seem to be an insecurity about Jewish identity with these people in the community. There is provision made for these non-Jewish sojourners by Moshe, and there is indication that HaShem is pleased when there are non-Jews in the Jewish community through the Prophets.

    If MJ can find a way to accept us, is it wrong for us to abide by proper halacha regarding us? If so, why? (I’m not talking about non-Jews taking on matters specifically directed at Israel, let’s not beat that dead horse.) Wouldn’t abiding by Jewish halacha that applies to us help keep us from wandering off & licking our wounds and later either abandoning HaShem completely or making up something totally new (again)?

    If we are all striving to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, if we are all lovers of the Word of G-d, if we are all seeking Him in truth and with great passion – why is it any surprise that we non-Jews would lean toward a “Jewish application”? Is there another revelation of G-d somewhere that we should be looking to? As far as I know, there is only one document containing HaShem’s self-expression to humanity and one religion in that document. As we non-Jews learn His heart, it shouldn’t be hard to understand that our hearts would begin to love what He loves and who He loves, or that we would want to do the things that are pleasing in His sight. MJ leaders, please help us as we seek to honor YOUR G-d and don’t throw us out with the bathwater.

  144. And yes, as to Tikkun Olam – if everyone focused on their own tikkun and joining together to repair the world, the world would certainly be a better place!

    There is much we can do to work on our own tikkun and this is a huge part of our Holy Master’s teachings and the Apostolic writings. A non-Jew separating meat and dairy shouldn’t cause such trouble when instruction in righteousness and spurring one another on to love and good works begins to take up more of our focus.

    Then again, I’m an idealist. That’s why this life sometimes hurts so much.

  145. Lisa asked:

    Why are we talking about inventing our own halacha?

    The short answer is because no one else is going to do it. The longer answer is that we’ve been waiting for Messianic Judaism to provide us with a niche in their space and develop our role including halachah, but that’s not going to happen. The closest expression of this is represented in the educational materials produced by First Fruits of Zion, but if that was the completely answer to Messianic Gentile angst, we wouldn’t be having this conversation (which has obviously struck a nerve in my readership).

    I don’t know that we can directly apply how Gentiles were absorbed into Israel in the Torah or the Prophets since that process doesn’t presuppose the New Covenant and how our status is changed in Yeshua. It might be better, as Rabbi Kinbar suggested, to take another look at the Apostolic Scriptures to see what we can glean from Paul’s teachings to his generation of non-Jewish believers.

    Keep in mind, developing or re-developing behavioral and ritual praxis for Messianic Gentiles isn’t the same as the basic requirements for us to be devoted to God and to do kindness and charity to others around us, nor is it a means of securing reconciliation and sanctification. If our hearts are turned to God in prayer and worship, then we are in relationship with Him through the faithfulness of Messiah.

    But the question keeps coming up about what should our specific practices and traditions should be? How “Jewish” looking should they be or is that even appropriate? In my opinion, this isn’t about working “out our salvation with fear and trembling,” so much as it is developing a lifestyle that is reflective of that “working out.” For Jewish people, it’s pretty well documented but for Messianic Gentiles, not so much.

    Then again, I’m an idealist. That’s why this life sometimes hurts so much.

    I think this life hurts so much because it’s not the life we will have after Messiah returns, defeats all of Israel’s enemies, returns all of the Jewish people to their Land, and establishes a worldwide reign of benevolence and peace. That’s the life we long for. We want Moshiach now!

    In the Messianic Age, the New Covenant promises that we will all have a filling of the Holy Spirit that is unprecedented, and we will have an apprehension of Hashem greater than the Prophets of old. We will know God! from the greatest to the least of us.

    We will also know exactly who we are and the life we must lead in Him. Until then, just has the Jewish people have derived their halachah from scripture and study, we will probably have to do the same.

  146. @James:
    “the flip side is that Christianity didn’t create an overlapping expression of worship and halachah for the Gentile believer that naturally and logically derived from Judaism, but instead, Christianity was created to directly oppose and negate Judaism.”

    Most of what I’ve read says that what we know as Christianity dates back closer to the 4th-5th century. While RT themes can be seen in early writings such as Melito of Sardis, it wasn’t official doctrine or dogma until later. Hence, the need for Chrysostom to deliver his vitriolic

  147. I’m traveling and therefore am responding on my iPhone and didn’t realize I hit the “submit” button prematurely, so I apologize.

    I also meant to add regarding ancient Jews is that I found it interesting that Shaye Cohen (The Begiining Of Jewishness) says there was no clear outward distinction between Jews and non-Jews from what scholars can tell by the descriptions given. So I wonder how much we assume things based on what we experience now and read it back into that time and space.

  148. @James:
    “the flip side is that Christianity didn’t create an overlapping expression of worship and halachah for the Gentile believer that naturally and logically derived from Judaism, but instead, Christianity was created to directly oppose and negate Judaism.”

    Most of what I’ve read says that what we know as Christianity dates back closer to the 4th-5th century. While RT themes can be seen in early writings such as Melito of Sardis and others, it wasn’t official doctrine or dogma until later. Hence, the need for Chrysostom to deliver his 8 sermons against the Jews.

    RE the fact that Christian practice doesn’t resemble Judaism, my understanding is that they both developed in tension with (against) each other. Therefore, my question is, how much of what is now considered “Jewish” didn’t exist in the early centuries? From where I’m at in my studies, it’s complicated.

    Obviously Jews didn’t wear the clothing that is now associated with the religious Jews, and other traditions developed over time too.

    I’ve read several examples of Christians originally learning things from Jews and then those things were later abandoned (by Jews), such as reciting the 10 commandments or praying with their hands in the position we now consider “Christian” (hands positioned together in front of you and pointed up). Perhaps rabbi Kinbar can shed some light here.

  149. I’m going to go out on a limb (pun noted) here and say the new covenant is given to gentiles but only through or via Israel (as already indicated before Yeshua). I haven’t read all the new posts, by the way. [I loved your (drake) Waka, waka! by the way. Fozzie Bear?]

    Jesus said to remember him and that “moment of truth” in his life (and in history). And Judas was cut off, same crux in time. A tree I see from my back yard has made me think the branches put in are a hunk of the tree, in other words not so much as depicted by Calvin (I think it was) who showed little sprigs falling off (for the sake of his take on triumphalism). At certain points in the growth of a tree, the tree is established and big enough (but not so huge that it’s base is immutable) that a portion can be (sometimes has to be) spliced and a different piece of tree grafted in (the piece may be a branch, but it contains branches); it all goes on to mature further from there.

    And Paul said to be mature. Instructions help people to grow up. And then they understand more fully and can make decisions without having to wait for instruction (and without hating the instructor).

  150. @Lisa:

    “many of us here are working with different understandings of the same phrases. For example: “Messianic Gentile”

    I agree, the terms are difficult. Some gentiles think participation in MJ makes them “Jews”. “Messianic Gentile” seems more popular now, but while these folks often know some Jewish tradition and teachings, they often are still not anymore sensitive to Jewish perspectives, or know much more about Jewish people and history, than a “Christian” does.

    “To get frustrated about their need to withdraw and focus on such things is irresponsible. BUT to be pushed out because you’re somehow a threat or your presence is offensive – well that’s unfortunate.”

    I’ve been present in (some of) these discussions (about preventing Gentiles from the congregations) and have advocated for gentile inclusion, and created a class to ease the very frustrated Jews who were ready to exclude Gentiles who aren’t married to–or somehow intimately involved with–a Jew. I’ve had quite a “wake up call” regarding how difficult it is to convey how our (very predictable) behaivior impacts Jews in MJ. It isn’t that Jews are offended by gentile presence, since most Jews I know love gentile Christians very much. It’s that Gentiles almost never “get it”. That is, they want Gentiles who will love and support them in their identity, yet most Gentiles are looking for a way to adopt a more Jewish identity. (I am, of course only speaking from my own experiences).

    I don’t blame them for not wanting to spend their limited resources of time, space, finances, and (vast amounts of) emotional energy to create a space to meet Gentile demands, when they are trying to focus on issues they cannot explore or heal or in church or synagogue.

    As an intermarried I see “up close and personal” how we gentiles impact Jews in this movement. Things that most Gentiles don’t see because most of them aren’t in close enogh to Jews that they will ever hear their frustrations and hurt; I’ve cringed on more than one occasion.

    Often, they will pull away from their covenant responsibilities to avoid the excesses they see with non-Jews trying so hard to be “Jewish”. Gentiles also excel at telling Jews how to be Jews, or complain that they are “only” Gentiles, etc. And, many Jews are leaving MJ as a result of out of control Gentiles.

    My question is, will it still be MJ if the Jews leave?

  151. I don’t see any great “Jewishness” at 0 CE in the Ten Categories (except they held unusual instructions other than basic moral law), Shabbats, Moedim, Eating Clean, and studying Torah. Until you get to the halachah on Purifying themselves for Worship Purposes, Tefillin, Tallitot & Tzitzit, and the order of service relating to Worship at Synagogue or the Temple, things don’t actually ‘look’ Jewish. Their clothing was according to custom where they lived, and is that way now…the Uber Orthodox and various Chassidim ghettoes have deliberately chosen to be obviously Jewish.

    I know that the pagans in 0 CE saw a great difference between what Jews did and did not do, but I am no longer a pagan. I don’t do anything that a Messianic Jew would cringe over that I can identify because I believe in their G-d, and I pay attention to what they have written about what their G-d wants. They might shake their head over me not complying with their halachah, but that is irrelevant to what I do and believe, because I am a Gentile, and grafted into Israel through Yeshua, I know G-d doesn’t care about my halachah, or He would have left more directions for all the Non-Jews in the world.

    Doing the first five big items…Performing the mitsvot relating to the Ten Categories, Shabbats, Moedim, Studying Torah, and eating clean foods don’t require any particular ceremony for Gentiles, and no particular rules…just remembrance, attention, and a willing heart, with the added explanation made by the apostles on how to live righteously…not Jewishly. The rest can be left in the capable hands of those that are Jewish, and have a tradition they want to keep.

    All one need do is read the Tanakh and the Brit Chadashah, and one can get a very good glimpse of what is important to Abba, and what Yeshua was teaching. Abba wants to be first above all other beings, and recognized so; He loves those who honor his Shabbat and Moedim; and those who do not walk in moral lawlessness. Yeshua emphasizes obeying Abba, and doing love to one another…no rules or halachah there either. It is man who devises halachah for others to live up to, so that everyone can be SURE that they are being sufficiently obedient.

    I know I cannot be sufficiently obedient to the ever changing standards of mankind, and G-d’s standard of perfect hasn’t changed any, which is why I rest in Yeshua. I suggest everyone else begin to do the same, according to how the Ruach haKodesh leads them, to obey what G-d desires to the extent that each one of us understands what G-d wants of us.

  152. Ruth said “That is, they want Gentiles who will love and support them in their identity, yet most Gentiles are looking for a way to adopt a more Jewish identity.”

    Gentiles who want a Jewish Identity will need to convert, and every Messianic Gentile should be told so plainly. Celebrating Jewishness in holidays is nice for anyone, but if you are not willing to take on the halachah, and seriously study and adopt them as your way of life, you are simply playing foolish games, and as you said Ruth, ‘not getting it’…that Jews want support of their Jewishness without having a bunch of wannabe-Jews pretending to be Jewish rather than becoming Jewish.

    I don’t want to be Jewish. I want to be considered a Righteous Gentile, and thus able to attend services, have fellowship, and support Messianic Judaism because that is what Yeshua would want. I’d also like to be able to ask questions about a lot of things, because I would enjoy the discussions.

    I want Messianic Judaism to recognize those Messianic Gentiles that are adding on Torah as quickly as they can without the intent to convert. If there were a Messianic Synagogue nearby, I would want it run by Messianic Jews for Messianic Jews, and allowing Associate Membership to Gentiles based on adding on Torah without the intent to convert, but meeting some minimal standard to become associated, hopefully along with the classes you speak of on how not to offend the synagogue you want to join. Sitting quietly and listening to your elders is just common sense, and if a Gentile is being offensive, that Gentile should be told…so that no Messianic Jews leave Yeshua on their account.

  153. Shavua Tov, everyone! — I’ve lost track of to whom exactly I might be responding with the following observations, but someone invoked a biblical example of gentiles in Israeli space and wondered if there might be a modern analogue for modern non-Jewish disciples. Let me suggest that there does exist a modern analogue for people like Uriyah the Hittite who participated in King David’s army, or Yael the Kennite who was able to make convenient, if gruesome, use of a tent peg. Some of you who have read my comments over some period may have become aware that I work part time as an armed uniformed volunteer Israeli Border Policeman. As such, I commonly work with Israeli Muslim Arabs and Druse fellow officers. We must all conform to the same standards and procedures for the work we share in common. However, these officers do not participate when the religious Jewish officers like myself take a break during a shift to daven shaharit, mincha, or ma’ariv prayers. If one of the Muslim officers should pause to pray as Muslim do, I do not participate with him, either. But at the end of the break we continue our shift in common service. Uriyah the Hittite may have followed some similar praxis during his service in the army of Israel under King David (though I have no idea how Hittites may have worshipped, especially if they had become non-idolatrous G-d-fearers under Israeli influence). Yael, on the other hand, may have something more in common with my neighbor from a nearby Arab town, who operates a green-grocer shop. He is not technically an Israeli citizen, but some of his clientele are Israeli Jews. We share certain of life’s pleasant little business interactions, but not much more than that. Nonetheless, we are all constrained by certain principles that are incumbent upon all civilized humans, such as honesty and decency (and, presumably, no idolatry).

    Now, regarding gentiles in MJ religious space, we should note that the actual practice of MJ, during the past four decades in which MJ has existed and has been trying to define itself, has included a great many gentiles — so many, in fact, that their numbers frequently overwhelm the Jews who are seeking appropriate MJ self-definition. Much of the current discussion has been about gentile would-be disciples seeking appropriate MG self-definition because they have realized that it is not appropriate for them merely to copy MJ attempts at self-definition. Some minority of them may operate within MJ religious space for one reason or other, thus having justification to conform in some degree with Jewish praxis that is superfluous for the majority who do not operate in Jewish religious space. But all of them have chosen to pursue discipleship to an Israeli rabbi whose views on Torah affect them because they seek to understand the Jewish documents that outline how Jews may approach HaShem and enact godly behavior. They do this because they also seek the blessings and the truth of the Jewish G-d Who is actually the Creator of all humanity, and the benefits of similarly godly behavior and attitudes. Hence they must determine how much of the Jewish example is suitable for them to adopt and emulate, weighing the possible consequences of too much or too little. Previous discussions have shown how “too much” is detrimental to the Torah’s definition of a distinctive identity for the covenanted Jewish people, and “too little” deprives gentiles of the Torah’s godly civilizing and character-redeeming influence. This suggests to me that a balance of both these purposes is to be sought, and that the primary distinctives should be ceremonial rather than moral.

    However, it’s 1am here and I’m rambling rather than offering concrete suggestions, so I’ll sign off for now.

  154. @Drake

    Forget my original question. The moment has passed.

    You write that the mitzvot are “the thoughts of G-d.” Surely you mean that mitzvot are expressions of God’s thought, not collectively equivalent to all of them?

  155. SWJ ~

    I appreciate the glimpse into your experiences.

    I am not convinced that the majority of non-Jewish participants in this discussion are of the type who would use the term “Messianic Gentile” in an inappropriate way, and I’m not convinced that any of us here are anything but aware and sensitive (according to our awareness) of the delicate time that MJ is in. I don’t think that anyone who would use the MG term would somehow try to self-identify as a Jew, that seems like an oxymoron. I’m sure that there are some, but I’m not sure that they represent a majority or even a large minority. But that’s just my experience and my perspective.

    That Gentiles “almost never get it” is what it will be. Jews will “almost never get it” when it comes to understanding the Gentile position. Just like a marriage, a man won’t “get it” regarding being a woman and vice versa. There *are* MGs who support the MJ identity and distinction as well as are willing to come under the MJ headship. BUT MJ needs to develop that and while they do so, it’s imperative that they address the MG issue and not leave us out in the dark feeling ostracized too long.

    Someone pointed out to me yesterday that if the MG identity within MJ isn’t addressed we run the risk of perpetuating the fringe groups further because a lack of boundaries and definition leaves room for well intentioned yet uneducated people to make up their own stuff, just like in the past.

    “Will it still be MJ if the Jews leave?”
    This was a discussion topic several weeks ago. When the leader of our discussion group asked this question and after what seemed like a very long pause, someone asked what that question meant so we could better understand trying to understand – does that mean that all the MJs abandoned Yeshua, or does that mean they went back into the traditional churches? Does that mean they’ve been “raptured”? How can we play out this hypothetical situation without knowing why they left?
    If the leave because there are too many Gentiles, that’s not a likely scenario. We all know too many MJs who are not in a headspace that includes leaving MJ or doing anything other than developing MJ in a very positive way (and most of them are welcoming of respectful MGs). Our group was a mix of MJs and MGs and others who came to learn from the discussions. Our discussion group leader wasn’t sure what the question was intended to get us to discuss or understand so we were all left somewhat confused. That is how I still feel about the question.
    Is the question to address those *some* MJs who want to leave because they feel like they can’t be MJs while MGs are present, because MGs don’t “get it”?

  156. @Lisa:

    “Jews will “almost never get it” when it comes to understanding the Gentile position. “

    Actually, (again, from my experience) they do.

    The problem, is 1) Jews know they are to be distinct from non-Jews; yet Gentiles in the movement are usually seeking a Jewish identity, or lamenting being Gentile. 2) Jews maintaining distinction always angers and offends Gentiles, who assume Jews think they’re superior; While this may be true for some, it isn’t what I’ve witnessed. Rather, they know they are supposed to be distinct from non-Jews.Therefore, it’s awkward for them as they don’t want to hurt the Gentiles, who do get offended and aren’t shy about conveying it.

    As a result, Jews either back off, which allows Gentiles to overwhelm the Jews, or they exclude Gentiles who aren’t married to Jews because it takes so much of the limited resources available. There’s always (as in weekly) a huge emotional upheaval, and frankly, from my experience they
    are weary of trying to make this work for Gentiles, they wanna make it work for Jews.

    There’s a wide range of gentile perspectives I’ve encountered, from thinking MJ is–or should be– “Jewish church”, to those who feel very strongly that anything less than orthodox is unacceptable, to everything inbetween.

    I’ve encountered Gentiles who had a policy of firing any employee who broke Shabbat, for example. Others who think we should be like J4J and missionizing Jews.

    I understand you’re very sure of what you believe and write, and without question, so is every gentile I encounter in this movement. (I include myself here too, btw) But what I’m trying to point out is that all of our dogmatic and bossy assertions– no matter where we land on the scale– are not helping the Jews in this movement. What I’m saying is that many of them are frustrated and giving up. Many Gentiles seem to think MJ exists for Gentiles, Jews don’t think that.

  157. Is the question to address those *some* MJs who want to leave because they feel like they can’t be MJs while MGs are present, because MGs don’t “get it”?

    Maybe some MJs feel that way, but there are other reasons.

    Along with a number of MJ friends and colleagues, I believe that congregations of all kinds should be free to determine their vision, membership requirements, and which non-members are capable of supporting the fabric of congregational life.

    We advocate MJ congregations with Jewish family membership (at least one Jewish parent), like “mainstream” synagogues, most of which have a number of intermarriages and regular Gentile attenders and visitors. The main point is that the vision and fabric of congregational life is neither up for grabs or frequently challenged.

    In the Messianic Movement, there is a very different ethos: everyone feels free to select which congregation they want to belong to (often in the guise of “God told me”). The idea that congregations should determine their own make-up is considered un-caring and divisive. IMO, this is partly a manifestation of American individualism.

    At the same time, MJ leaders share the responsibility. It doesn’t take long for them to figure out that few congregations made up preponderantly of Messianic Jews will grow large enough to support their leader full-time.

    Virtually all Messianic congregations where individuals (Jew or Gentile) simply walk in the door and stay, are largely (sometimes almost completely) Gentile in make-up. This is especially true of congregations in areas where there are few Jews to begin with. Jewish practices are usually, or perhaps inevitably, reconfigured to the point of being somewhat unrecognizable. Most MJs who take their Judaism seriously feel quite alienated in that kind of environment. They also feel the need to guard themselves lest they speak or act “too Jewish” and thus offend the Gentiles (and some other Jews, too). As a traveling speaker, I have experienced enough Messianic congregations to know what I’m talking about.

    That said, no congregation that walls itself in can be spiritually healthy. Congregations that have a distinct vision must have a strong and persistent determination to maintain living relationships with those who have a different vision, theology, or idea of congregational fabric.

    P.S., I also believe that it is not viable, in the long term, for largely MG congregations to restrict leadership positions to Jews even when there are equally or more qualified MGs. It will not work sociologically or psychologically. A large percentage of MG children who mature in that kind of environment will leave as soon as they can.

  158. Sojourning said:

    I also meant to add regarding ancient Jews is that I found it interesting that Shaye Cohen (The Begiining Of Jewishness) says there was no clear outward distinction between Jews and non-Jews from what scholars can tell by the descriptions given. So I wonder how much we assume things based on what we experience now and read it back into that time and space.

    Be that as it may, the trajectory Christianity traveled from Judaism described an increasing degree of departure from it’s source over the long centuries, to where now, although some may say that practicing Christianity is “Practicing Judaism,” the resemblance if faint at best.

    I also understand that both Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism evolved, to some degree anyway, in response to each other, which contributed to widening the gap between them.

    Of course history is complex and there are always exceptions. I’m aware of Christian Pastors who, in the middle ages, studied kabbalah (few modern Christians realize that the Church has a rich history of mysticism as well as does Judaism). There have always been Christian sabbatarians. Nevertheless, the Church, as a mainstream institution, developed in opposition to Judaism which it continues to believe was replaced by the grace of Jesus Christ. To worship the Jewish King, the Church expects Jews to turn away from Torah and, from a Jewish perspective, directly disobey God.

    You as much as anyone can see why this can be so crazy-making.

    Sojourning asked:

    My question is, will it still be MJ if the Jews leave?

    I don’t think you can have a Judaism without Jews. At best, you’d have a group of “Messianic Gentiles” seeking to honor God, follow Moshiach, and respect the distinctiveness of the Jewish people.

    Carl said:

    P.S., I also believe that it is not viable, in the long term, for largely MG congregations to restrict leadership positions to Jews even when there are equally or more qualified MGs. It will not work sociologically or psychologically. A large percentage of MG children who mature in that kind of environment will leave as soon as they can.

    So far, we’ve been discussing the challenges facing this current generation of “Messianic Gentiles” in establishing identity, role, and meaning, but you bring up a good point. What about the children? Will the next generation, as they reach maturity, continue to identify with their parents’ vision, especially when that vision is often indistinct, as we’ve acknowledged in this conversation?

    It would be all too easy for them to move to the Church, the Synagogue (if they’re Jewish or they convert), or simply to leave the faith altogether.

  159. Definitely old school cool, Drake. I like it and am old enough to have heard this on the radio (oldies stations) for decades. But what does it have to do with what we’ve been talking about?

  160. Just like Nedab and Abihu, I thought I would inject a little LEVIty.

    Bunch of stiffs and squares on this blog.

  161. Ah hah! Got it. I must be too literal a person in not picking up “MGs” and “Messianic Gentiles.” Still a great tune after all these years.

  162. Questor?

    Was that noachide list an actual list from an official site?

    If it is, I’d have to say the whole concept of being a noachide, like passing the counsel of choosing that identity on to people as a realistic direction… I’d think that’s really not something to do. I know that’s not quite what you are doing, because you add what Jesus said and some other things. But I’m wondering if it was an official communication in a book or on a website. Because I, then, wouldn’t want to entertain the notion in conversation — outside the world wide web, like with people I meet — that it’s an innocuous ideology to teach.

  163. Marleen, the list is from an unofficial Noahide site as being logically derived from the seven categories that all G-dly humans are supposed to derive their rules for living from. However, since all humans are under the Noahide covenant, or if not following them, are against G-d, I don’t see following any of the Noahide directives as an identity at all. They are a basis, at most, for Gentile G-dly behavior. Every one of the directives listed is similar to Jewish rulings on the same matters, and thus are wholesome.

    Identity of a person derives from the group they are in communally. I am an American, for instance. I am a Messianic Believer. All of the rules in the Noahide tradition are within the rules for both American’s and Messianic Believers, but I am unaware that there is any Noahide Community of any kind except in virtual reality. I have never inquired into it.

    As an Observant Messianic Gentile, I follow all the Ten Categories of Judaism (including observance of Shabbat), add observance of Moedim, and eat only clean foods, though I am unworried about Kosher Status; and then add on everything that Yeshua and the Apostles spoke of. Indeed, my Messianic observance is of Judaism, less the identity markers of Judaism which primarily relate to ritual observance and worship…so naturally, the Noahide directives are automatically included. But the Noahide Directives are not the basis for my identity, and should not be for any Messianic Believer…Abraham and Yeshua ha Mashiach are the only possible sources for my spiritual identity, and for any Messianic Gentile.

    The list of Noahide Categories and specific commandments within each category I gave was to help Drake see that the rules that he makes a part of his observance of Messianic Gentilism have a basis in both history and lead directly to the Mosaic Covenant, just as the Abrahamic Covenant was a follow on to the Noahide Covenant that was given on top of the Adamic Covenant. Gentiles, if attached heart and soul to YHVH, are under the Abrahamic Covenant, and the promises guaranteed to Abraham that lead to the New Covenant under Yeshua.

    Thus my identity is firmly established as a righteous Messianic G-d Fearer as I am observant of Messianic Judaism to the extent I believe G-d wants me to be doing at this time. I have come alongside Messianic Judaism…and of necessity, fall within their Identity to a degree, and have no difficulty in celebrating their Heritage without attempting to pass myself off as Jewish in origin. I am grafted into the tree of Judaism through Yeshua, and must look to where Yeshua came from…Judaism.

    Separating myself from my pagan background is very difficult, and painful. I still have friendship ties within Christianity, though they are growing more tenuous, as we have very little of note to discuss these days, and without sharing the small moments of life…such as how I transgressed Shabbat one day, or was guilty of lashon hara in this particular, or that, or what neat little insight I grabbed from a Judaic website on the week’s parshah.

    Soon, if my friends do not follow me at least so far as into the beginning of FFOZ’s teachings about the Jewish part of their Jesus, I will not have any friends, as we will have nothing but the weather to talk about, as I don’t have time or inclination to keep up with the Christian world. How that will affect me in future leaves me sad, and puzzled as to how to proceed. However, it does not change the direction in which I am going.

  164. I just guess I have some “problem” with the “Noachide” — er — thing. The general categories are decent. But it’s kind of a “low bar” and worse; some people could actually digress or devolve with that. I’m not saying that’s what you’re doing (and I appreciate you sharing your perspective). When I was in a messianic congregation, no one talked about that (there would have been no reason to teach people those standards, everyone was beyond that). And I was very glad the rabbi had quite a lot of respect for women, not only “acting” nice and giving a nod because current culture calls for it but teaching from the heart.

  165. Questor, there were a couple of notions in your recent reply to Marleen that I thought worthy of a response, because they represent some all-too-common misconceptions.

    The first of these was: “Gentiles, if attached heart and soul to YHVH, are under the Abrahamic Covenant, and the promises guaranteed to Abraham that lead to the New Covenant under Yeshua.”

    I’m not sure whence you derived such a notion, but Rav Shaul’s comments in Gal.3 do not go so far as to include his gentile readers in any covenant. He calls them “heirs in accordance with a promise”. He doesn’t actually specify which promise or what they might be inheriting. He doesn’t use a definite article in the Greek text as if to indicate “the” promise, as if it meant the one that led to the actual covenant that only Isaac and his descendants would inherit. There is, in fact, another promise to which Rav Shaul did more explicitly refer in Gal.3:16, just a few verses prior to the v.29 reference to heirs. That promise appears in Gen.22:18 – “and in your seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because you have obeyed My voice”; and the Rav emphasizes the word “seed” with a singular meaning to reference Rav Yeshua whose ministry is certainly an inheritance for all the metaphorical “sons of Avraham” who demonstrate his quality of faith in trusting HaShem’s promise regarding the messiah’s provision of redemption. Thus I’m suggesting that the promise or promises that are in view for faith-filled non-Jews to inherit comprise the blessing for all nations resulting from Avraham’s faith and their own Avraham-like faith, and what I previously described as: “HaShem’s unmitigated gracious lovingkindness that depends on HaShem’s faithfulness to his promises in Rav Yeshua — for example, that “whosoever” trusts in his symbolic sacrifice will obtain everlasting life — rather than upon any binding covenant.”.

    I want to elaborate a bit on that notion of “faith-filled non-Jews” in discussing the second statement which was: “I am grafted into the tree of Judaism through Yeshua…”. Recently I’ve had a couple of occasions that required me to clarify Rav Shaul’s olive-tree grafting analogy that he described in his letter to the Roman assemblies in Rom.11:17-24. He wrote about wild olive branches being grafted into a cultivated olive tree, that could thus share in the nourishment obtained from the roots of that tree. He also wrote about the possibility of branches, either native or wild ones, becoming broken off of that tree, and even being re-grafted back onto it. Many people mistake the exact elements being symbolized in this analogy, and thus draw false conclusions about its meaning.

    The first element to understand is that this tree represents all those who share faith in HaShem, who trust Him. Verse 20 is the key that shows the definition of this tree, because unbelief is the mechanism that breaks a branch off of the tree, and faith is the mechanism by which one remains on the tree. At one time, the only branches on that tree were the natural native ones, which is to say Jews. The cultivation of that tree represents the principles of the Torah covenant that inculcated faith into the entire culture of the Jewish people – thus Jews were a people who had been acculturated to the notion of faith or trust. Being broken off of the tree refers to a loss of faith or a rejection of it. Being grafted onto the tree represents acquiring faith (or regaining it if it had been lost or rejected). Wild branches represent non-Jews from cultures that were not acculturated to faith in HaShem. They were not naturally accustomed to it, but they could learn faith by means of the teachings of Rav Yeshua and thus be “grafted” onto the tree of faith to which they were not native, “contrary to nature” (meaning by means of deliberate intervention by a gardener). The sap of the tree must then represent the nourishment of Torah knowledge, perspective, and insight that Jews have cultivated for many centuries to elaborate the meaning of a life of faith. The root of the tree is thus the source of this nourishment, the Torah.

    It is important also to understand what the tree is not. For example, though the tree is Jewish by nature, the tree itself is not Judaism, nor Israel, nor the body of Jewish people. The tree is naturally Jewish because the faith it represents was at one time virtually the sole province of the Jewish people and they were the only branches on the tree. But grafting wild branches onto the tree does not make them Jewish, nor does it make them Israelites or Jews. It makes them faith-filled wild branches – gentiles with Jewish-styled faith in HaShem’s promises.

    Now there is another analogy or metaphor that may cause one additional confusion. Rav Yeshua has been compared to the Torah, because he so thoroughly embodied and enacted its principles and its wisdom. In fact, his statement in Jn.14:6 about being “the way and the truth and the life” employs a phrase commonly used to describe the Torah, and it appears that he was putting himself in the place of the Torah and speaking on its behalf when he said that “no one comes to the Father but by me”, meaning that no one approaches the Father except by means of the principles expressed in Torah. This intimate relationship between Rav Yeshua and the Torah then opens the door to viewing him also as the root of the olive tree in Rav Shaul’s metaphor. Some would mistakenly infer, then, that to be united with Rav Yeshua and members of his body, as described in Eph.5:30, must also mean that they are embedded in the root of the olive tree. However, that mystical notion does not fit the olive-tree analogy, because not all of Rav Yeshua’s disciples are so intimately bound up with Torah, as we see in Acts 15 where gentile disciples are specifically exempted from obligation to keep the whole of Torah in the way that Jews are obligated to do (as we see mentioned in Rav Shaul’s comment to the Galatian assemblies in Gal.5:3). Thus, even if we do associate him with the olive-tree root in some manner, that does not apply to us as his disciples unless we can also claim to equal his knowledge of Torah and his obedience to it. Anyone who tried to claim such would have to be suspected of a lack of humility, at least, and perhaps a bit of foolish self-delusion.
    ——————–

    Now, this analogy doesn’t quite answer the questions about Torah observance for non-Jews, though Acts 15 offers a starting point to differentiate between two discipleship types, and perhaps it also explains Rav Shaul’s reference to two different versions of gospel: one addressed to the circumcised, and the other to the uncircumcised (viz:Gal.2:7), neither of which is to be dismissed as merely so much “chopped liver”. [:)] It may be suggested, however, that an acculturation to faith certainly does occur as wild branches reside on the tree and absorb Torah nutrients, and receive treatment from the Gardener (e.g., pruning) comparable to that given the native branches. Moreover, by faith does it become possible to set aside insecurities, so as to enable facing the discomfort of working to distinguish between applications of Torah which apply to everyone (including wild branches) and those which apply only to someone else (i.e., only to the native ones). We can also consider what might be the implications for this analogy in the present era when so many wild branches come from cultures that have been already at least partially accustomed to the notion of faith in G-d, even if that faith has been contaminated with views that are contrary to Torah or Jews or Judaism or related notions.

    Acts 15:21 hints at the responsibility for non-Jews to learn Torah, even after it had just been clarified that their legal obligations to specific performance were very limited. Why then to learn? I would suggest that making the distinctions I described in the above paragraph requires a depth of Torah understanding, because even common principles of Torah might result in different praxis for Jews and for non-Jews to obey. For example, I recently was looking closely at the text of Is.56 (vs.2&6) to consider the characteristics of how the “foreigner”, who is being commended by HaShem for clinging to His covenant, actually approaches the Shabbat. He is described only as keeping from profaning it; whereas Jews are elsewhere commanded to actually sanctify it and guard it. This suggests some sort of difference in the specific behaviors associated with it. I’m still grappling with what that may mean, and how gentile obedience and compliance to this may thus differ from what I know as my Jewish responsibilities and praxis. But it does show that what constitutes obedience for one may be disobedience if another tries to do the same rather than what is appropriate to his or her categorical situation.

    I’m not sure how the above perspectives and definitions should affect your adopted praxis, “Q”, particularly since your rural isolation from either MJ or MG-associate congregations doesn’t place you into actual conflict with anyone, if I’ve understood correctly how you’ve previously described your situation. That, of course, is the sort of venue that tests one’s assimilation of Torah, which can only be refined in the rough-and-tumble of actual, real-life, “derech-eretz”, communal application. Or, to put the question in terms of one grade-B martial-arts movie: “How strong is your kung-fu?” Can it influence your friends to want to share in the authentic perspective of first-century gentile disciples to the Israeli Jewish Rabbi Yeshua ben-Yosef? Can it accommodate their learning curve? How well does it shape your own?

  166. @PL: That’s a lot to digest but one thing to pull out of your narrative is that the Romans 11 tree is Faith rather than Judaism or Israel. Faith is “natural” to the Jews because of their covenantal relationship with God but “not natural” for Gentiles because we have no direct covenant relationship. That said, we can learn faith and thus be grafted in and nourished within the ekklesia of Messiah.

    @Everyone: Ro wrote a commentary on her blog about this conversation. I think the nearly 200 comments made here are a bit overwhelming to keep up with and she seems to have summarized her feelings on the matter on her own “home ground.” I thought I’d share the link to her musings for anyone who’s interested.

  167. Thank you everyone for this discussion. I have had guests visiting the last few days and I am not able to get back to this discussion with the attention that I would like to.

    I do hope we can continue these discussions through the discussion option on other posts that our gracious host, James, shares with us.

    I have many thoughts but as James pointed out – around 200 comments is tremendous! Those other thoughts will surely come out in further dialogue as time marches on.

  168. @James — So you’re trying to hint that maybe we’ve had already a little too much “chopped liver” to suit the average ability to digest it? Maybe we should try a little egg salad? Or is it time to bring out the bi-carb, or at least some club soda?

  169. Hardy har har, PL. Actually, I’m pleased this conversation has “gone the distance” and spawned some excellent comments as well as inspired more “morning meditations.”

  170. There are — still, I suppose — cultures scattered here and there that need to be told the VERY basics of appropriate behavior. I read, in the early 2000s of Christian missionaries going somewhere that the people worshiped a volcanic mountain or the god of that mountain. And I don’t remember all the details but there were problems in their culture (one that they circumcised females and were, as nature lends, otherwise brutal or at least overpowering toward and discounting of how life is going for women and girls [boys too, as seen in Rome]). I don’t think the missionaries ruled out polygamy (particular since there were existing families so involved), but I’m certain they taught more than what is on the Noachide list. For instance, you dont just hyperventilate about no men, no men, I SAID NO MEN, “don’t touch me.” Daughters and nieces and children are off limits. Rape is wrong ( and, no, you don’t get to define it as “so long as I support any resulting child, and especially if I’m so magnanimous as to support the mother [and maybe exercise my prerogative to demand sex of her the rest of her life or so long as we both shall live] then it isn’t rape and I’m a good person). Selfishness is evil. And so on.

  171. Messianic Gentiles look to Abraham for the promise of blessing that comes through him, even to Gentiles, through Abraham’s Seed Yeshua by faith, and through Abraham’s seed Israel by blessing the Children of Israel. This covenant is to Abraham, and the heirs of his body through Isaac and Jacob, but I still benefit under that covenant even though I take part only by faith in the promise, and action towards Abraham’s children, whom I am careful to bless.

    The Abrahamic covenant governs not only God’s unique relationship with Israel but also His relationship with the nations of the world as a direct result. The covenant was made only with G-d making the promises, and is the only covenant that makes specific promises for the Gentiles. The three main aspects of the Abrahamic Covenant: The Land, the Descendants or Seed, and the Blessing each lead into later covenant agreements. The Land is further expanded into the Land Covenant (Deuteronomy 29:1-30:20), the Seed is developed into the Davidic Covenant (II Samuel 7:11b-16; I Chronicles 17:10b-14), and the Blessing comes through the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34), which is only able to be accessed only through Yeshua.

    The Gentiles were promised a blessing for blessing the Jewish people as well as a curse for cursing the Jewish people. The Abrahamic Covenant contains both physical and spiritual promises for the Jewish people; but as it pertains to the Gentiles, only the spiritual promises apply. The physical promises such as the Land or circumcision apply only to the Jewish people. Spiritually then, my identity lies here, even though my physical community is primarily of pagan Christians. The putative Olive Tree of Israel is a spiritual tree, not a living physical one, and the root that supports it is YHVH. In Yeshua, I am given the opportunity to be fed from the sap of that Spiritual Tree, even though I am a wilding. When I gave myself to G-d through Yeshua, I received the Ruach ha Kodesh…a font of sap, so to speak, and more promises via Yeshua based on his actions, not mine.

    Certainly, I need to have faith, and act on it, but the faith is a gift, just as the Holy Spirit is. I also need to bless Israel to the extent that I can, and help to protect Israel however I can. I am given the ability to do so by the Ruach haKodesh… another gift, and all this triggered by a mere willingness to be a part of all that is promised, and to receive it from G-d…to accept what is given, and then to act on it as I am led to by the Ruach haKodesh, and given the ability to by the Ruach haKodesh.

    I am given a lot and promised even more through Abraham and Yeshua. I have no rights under the Abrahamic Covenant with Israel, as to the land, or to Israeli Identity through his bloodline, and do not claim it, but none the less I am the beneficiary of these covenants spiritually, and thus do derive an indirect covenant with G-d.

    A promise from G-d, even if given indirectly, but without conditions, is still a covenant that G-d has given, and will keep.

  172. After browsing through all of the comments I figured I merited to comment myself. I won’t say anything intelligent that might strike up controversy, but I will say that I like the name of the title.

    Peace.

  173. @Questor: It is true that the promises of God to Abraham are at the heart of the non-Jewish connection to the New Covenant blessings. As part of blessing Israel, we are to be blessed which I think links back to the New Covenant and our turning to Hashem, the God of Israel.

    However, for much of the Church’s 2,000 year history, it hasn’t been so good at giving blessings and thus has unlikely been not receiving them, at least not in abundance. I believe all of that is in the process of changing.

    @Troy: Thanks. 😀

    @Drake: The same.

  174. You know what? For all the emphasis on circumcision (and gentiles not being circumcised), we could all the more campaign against females being circumcised [female genital mutilation] in the world. Even though that’s not on the Noachide “list” quoted earlier in this comments section, it seems to me intrinsically compatible.

  175. While you’re campaigning against female genital mutilation, Marleen, you might also campaign against the slander inherent in using the word circumcision in connection with it. The two have nothing in common. Circumcision is not in any degree any kind of genital mutilation, and its function (even apart from its religious purpose) is hygienic rather than sexual. The sole purpose of female mutilation is anti-sexual.

  176. Thanks for that, PL. I agree, although some proponents (of FGM) claim what they are doing is for hygienic reasons (of course the realities don’t bear that out as the practice increases infections and other problems). I was thinking that too, that the word connection is problematic and troublesome. Slanderous is also appropriate. I came across someone Jewish online (so maybe it’s not a certainty the person really is a Jew) who is against male circumcision (the whole tradition and teaching) and has reasons and rationale as to how that’s not against Judaism. The terminology of “male genital mutilation” was used — and I find this dismissive of how extreme FGM is and an exercise in self focus, selfishness and diversion from worthy causes!

  177. By the way, there is such thing as male genital mutilation. And normal circumcision ain’t that. Mark Nanos has talked/written about some of this in ancient Rome.

    Also, of course there are times a non-Jew might be circumcised to alleviate a health/hygiene problem [by the way, the Lancet article some years ago(based on faulty data) promoting circumcision to protect against HIV is bull pucky].

  178. I said earlier, there are people of ” …cultures [also quasi cultures] scattered here and there that need to be told the VERY basics of appropriate behavior. I, later in that post, spoke of rape.

    For the backward among our seemingly civilised societies (like the U.S. and Norway), rape is not sex between different races. Time to take down the Confederate Flag and stop defending “nostalgia.”

  179. “Developments in recent years have convinced Aids activists, scientists and campaigners that it is possible to halt the epidemic by 2030. These include the distribution of antiretroviral drugs – by June this year 13.6 million people in low- and middle-income countries were receiving the medication which keeps people alive and well. Studies have also shown that the drugs hugely reduce transmission of HIV. Other tools now available to stem the tide of the epidemic include circumcision, which also protects against infection.”

    http://www.theguardian.com/society/2014/nov/18/aids-unaids-epidemic-action-needed-2030

  180. When the study (without proper controls) was conducted, part of what accounted for lower rates of infection (not the only error when drawing conclusions from an experiment that isn’t well planned) was the fact that recovery time was included in the frame that was compared between men who got the circumcision and men who didn’t. So, obviously, a man not engaging sex at all because he’s in pain or bleeding or something is going to have less opportunity to contract HIV. What’s even better at not spreading AIDS is abstinence in a sense of self control, rules against rape, rules against polygyny and child abuse (including curing oneself by having sex with a virgin — I guess so long as you’re circumcised), giving a crap about your wife if you are infected and she is not… you know, stupid stuff like that. Interesting condoms weren’t mentioned. I can see that offering a surgical procedure to get people into the local clinic would be helpful (even if that’s really the most good accomplished with it in relation to AIDS). It is very important to get the drugs distributed as women have little control over whether or not someone is going to have sex with them in many cases.

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