Returning to God in Time for Sukkot

If Yom Kippur can also be a time of repentance and mourning for non-Jewish disciples of Yeshua (Jesus), then I suppose I’m late.

On the other hand, as PL recently commented:

That having been said, Sukkot is coming up, and you should probably give some consideration to how much you are willing to pursue practical enactments of the anticipated messianic era in which Zachariah envisioned the requirement for gentiles to celebrate Sukkot and the aspects of it that imply redemption for the nations. The above essay seems to indicate that you’ve pulled away too far, and perhaps that you’ve begun to acknowledge it.

I heard somewhere (I can’t recall the source thanks to my leaky memory) that if Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur can mark a season of repentance and renewal for the Jewish people, then maybe Sukkot serves that purpose for the nations.

No, I’m not attempting to reintroduce myself into Jewish space, but I can’t ignore the (Biblical) fact that God also wants to include the Gentiles in the Kingdom of Heaven, that is, the Messianic Kingdom of redemption of the world. And while we are not nor shall we ever be Israel, there has to be a way to return to God that is appropriate for the non-Jew and that doesn’t involve directly (or maybe even indirectly, if such a thing is possible) using any form of Judaism as the Gentile’s conduit to repentance and reconciliation with God.

But where to begin?

Actually, I did begin and then stopped. I thought about looking at the practices of Yeshua and how he related to the Father as well as what Paul taught the Gentiles of his day, thinking this could provide some sort of baseline for the 21st century non-Jewish disciple of Rav Yeshua.

followBut while more traditional Christians have no trouble conceptualizing how to follow in the footsteps of Jesus, the fact remains that the Master almost never interacted with non-Jews and when he did, he wasn’t always civil about it. Yeshua was (and is) a Jewish teacher who gathered a Jewish following in the first century of the common era, in the then Roman-occupied Holy Land. He came, at that place and time, for the lost sheep of Israel, not the lost sheep of the nations.

For the nations, Yeshua never came directly. For us, he sent Paul instead (Acts 9).

So what did Paul teach? The answer to that question would fill a book, probably many books, and many books have been written with Paul as their subject, some complementary (Christian) and some with disdain (Jewish). And almost certainly, the vast majority of those books got Paul and how he related to Jewish people, Judaism, and his Gentile pupils all wrong.

Probably one of the very few books that may have gotten Paul right, or at least come as close as we can given the Apostle lived and died nearly two-thousand years ago, was the Nanos and Zetterholm volume Paul Within Judaism (and I still owe Mark Nanos a book review on Amazon).

Don’t think that my returning here to write, even occasionally, means that I think myself worthy of being read. It absolutely doesn’t mean I think myself a teacher. But PL is right. In pulling away from the inevitable strife caused by the presence of a non-Jew (and particularly me) in Jewish space, specifically Messianic Jewish space, I’ve also pulled away from paying much attention to God.

In attempting to hack my 61-year-old body to perform younger at the gym and in more practical physical applications, I’ve used that effort to insulate me from “hacking” my relationship with God, particularly continual repentance and reconciliation.

At this late date in the Jewish High Holidays, there’s no way I can even beg the forgiveness of all those I’ve upset and offended online and in person, but I’ll take this opportunity to humble myself before all of you anyway.

I’m still covered in “filthy rags” as it were. Still in need of a lot of work. I’ve always known that, but the issues over a busted computer (long story) and various other stressors this weekend have brought that realization to the forefront.

I know now that as flawed and imperfect as I am, what kept me moving forward or at least prevented me from moving backward, was writing this blog. Even as I kept falling on my face time after time, each new blog post was my effort to pull myself back up and keep on running the race (with apologies to the writer of Hebrews 12:1-3).

unworthySo I’m telling you that I’m not a better person, at least not better than I was a month, two months, or six months ago. I’ve taken some steps to cull a few of the more negative influences I’ve encountered in the blogosphere and in social media, if for no other reason, than to reduce the level of conflict I experience, but I don’t think I’ve benefited significantly from that as yet.

So where does that leave me?

Non-Jewish disciples of Jesus find their home (this is a generalization, not an absolute statement) in more or less one of two places: Most of them find a home in some sort of Christian church. No surprise there. A significant minority find their home in either an expression of Messianic Judaism or in some version of Hebrew Roots.

None of that helps me.

What’s left?

Well, even if I found myself on a deserted island somewhere thousands of miles from anyone else, there would still be God.

Assuming in a communal and spiritual sense, that’s actually my situation, what’s to be done?

The answer returns me to the Apostle Paul and what he taught. If Jewish avenues of connection aren’t available to me in forging a relationship with God, then Paul certainly must have taught his Gentile students how they could turn to Hashem.

How did they?

Here’s what little I have so far. I put this together a few months ago:

What Did Paul Teach?

What we do/don’t do:

  • Gentiles weren’t to be circumcised.
  • Gentiles weren’t to convert to Judaism.
  • Cornelius prayed at the set times of prayer.
  • Cornelius gave charity to the Jewish people.
  • Paul preached that the Gentiles owed charity to the poor of Israel.
  • Pray for Jerusalem.
  • The Jewish PaulExamples 1 Cor 5:11 and 13. Purge evil from among you and no slander or backbiting.
  • Practice repairing the world a little every day.
  • Restore Jesus and Paul and their teachings to their original Jewish context.
  • Teach the centrality of Israel in the restoration of the world.

Who we are:

  • Gentiles can call Abraham their Father (Rom. 4:11).
  • [Many of the contributors of the Nanos/Zetterholm volume say that Gentile believers had an “anomalous identity” and “occupied a social and religious no-man’s land”. Gentile identity defies classification.]
  • Gentile believers are neither proselytes nor God-fearers.
  • Like converts, we make an exclusive commitment to the God of Israel, but unlike converts, we do not take on Jewish ancestral practices (kosher food, shabbat, circumcision, and so on).
  • While we retain our native ethnic identities, we no longer worship our native gods.
  • Paul saw us as part of Abraham’s seed (Gen. 17:4-5, Gal. 3:29, Rom. 4:13-18), and yet Israel is also Abraham’s seed.
  • Nanos says we are not guests nor proselytes but full members alongside the Jews (members in what…the Kingdom of Heaven probably).

All this is pretty disorganized and needs a lots of fleshing out.

While I’ve missed the boat as far as Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are concerned, it’s still not too late to at least get back on the road in time for Sukkot (what most Christians think of as the “Festival of Booths”).

I apologize for involving Jewish online resources, but in a lot of cases, I have no choice since Paul operated on this calendar and, as PL pointed out in the above-quoted statement, even we Gentiles will be operating within such a calendar or observance in Messianic Days.

walking outPreviously, I’ve drawn some ire, both in blog comments and via email, by citing or quoting from specific Messianic Jewish resources that were written for a non-Jewish audience in mind, so I’m going to do my best to avoid mentioning them as I chronicle my journey of return.

That’s regrettable, since a lot of how I understand my relationship with God, Paul, Yeshua, and the centrality of Israel (and not the Church) in national Israel’s redemption and the redemption of the world through her, is from those resources.

But one of my goals for this blog (it always has been actually) is to not promote conflict. Sometimes the only way to avoid conflict is to avoid interacting with some people and groups who, unfortunately, I have a tendency to irritate and provoke (and I apologize and ask forgiveness of all those folks too, but even if they forgive me, repentance and forgiveness don’t automatically mean reconciliation…sometimes, you just can’t go home).

I don’t want “morning meditations” to be like so many other blogs in the online religious space that go out of their way to generate conflict, disagreement, and even raw hostility.

I’m not teaching, declaring, or demanding. I’m just sharing my personal and spiritual experiences (such as they are) day by day (or perhaps more periodically).

What did Paul teach his Gentile disciples and how can I apply (if it’s possible) that to my own life? What can I learn from those few other non-Jews, such as Cornelius, who worshiped God outside of Judaism and within their own non-Jewish households?

Since the Jewish Messiah and becoming his disciple (through the teachings of Paul) is at the core of this exploration, I don’t know that any examples of non-Jews we see in the Tanakh (what Christians call the Old Testament) are relevant or even appropriate.

NoahOne notable example might be Noah, since he preceded any notion of Judaism and was considered “a righteous man, blameless in his time,” and “Noah walked with God” (Genesis 6:9 NASB).

Noah prayed to God, God spoke with Noah, Noah obeyed God, and Noah sacrificed to God, so what he did (apart from building an Ark and gathering a bunch of animals together) isn’t entirely out of the ballpark.

But for the most part, I’ll be spending my time in the Apostolic Scriptures, hoping some vestige of these ancient trails can point me to my way home as well.

29 thoughts on “Returning to God in Time for Sukkot”

  1. James wrote, “Previously, I’ve drawn some ire, both in blog comments and via email, by citing or quoting from specific Messianic Jewish resources that were written for a non-Jewish audience in mind, so I’m going to do my best to avoid mentioning them as I chronicle my journey of return.”

    I don’t understand this. In your words, James, you are a Messianic Gentile. So why would you not want to quote such sources? There will always be people who disagree with this or with that. Who agrees with anyone on everything??? So you can’t use the resources you believe and have learned from because of critics? This doesn’t make any sense to me. It’s your blog; therefore, you should be able to express yourself in a meaningful way on it without critics outlawing your sources.

    On another note, one of the things I’ve loved about your blog has been the Jewish sources you’ve used. It has given me a good and valuable taste of such writings that I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise.

    Admittedly, I missed the big blow-up that led to your quitting the blog for the most part. It must have been a doozy for it to have had this kind of effect on you. And I for one wish it hadn’t.

    May your name be inscribed for a good and sweet year. A late Rosh Hashana blessing.

    1. Thanks, Linda. There were a lot of events that resulted in me ceasing regular submissions to this blog, and I have to accept responsibility for the vast majority of them. Perhaps I said (or rather wrote) some things that, even without intending to, rubbed others the wrong way. I’ve tried to make amends, but I suspect I’ve simply pushed too many people away and, as I said in the blog post, there’s no going back.

      The best way not to irritate someone is to not engage them or their group. So I intend to take a very individual and independent journey rather than citing other sources and risking misinterpretation and again, causing conflict where I never intended to.

      Am I a Messianic Gentile? Given the sometimes touchy nature of Messianic Judaism, I wonder if I should use “Messianic” to refer to myself at all. I recall a few years back, Derek Leman felt that non-Jews couldn’t be “Messianic.” However, the Bible records the lives of many non-Jewish people who, through the teachings of the Apostle Paul, became disciples of Yeshua, so I don’t think anyone can object if I consider myself also a disciple.

      That said, discipleship is difficult and requires a great deal of dedication and discipline. I don’t think a lot of people get this, including me.

      Blogging in any religious space is a lot like walking through a mine field. You just never know when one wrong move is going to result in an explosion. That’s why I’m emphasizing that I’m doing this writing only to help me process my reintegration into a relationship with God. I’m not trying to step on toes, Jewish or otherwise, or incise anger, invade someone else’s space, or misrepresent anyone else’s work. I’m doing this very much as a “lone wolf”.

      Thank you for your kind words and your blessings. Maybe next year will be better.

  2. As an aside, you haven’t missed Yom Kippur. It starts at sundown this Tuesday.

    I agree with the above comment. James, you are respectful and courteous in your posts and your comments. You’re not guilty of wrongdoing just because other people took offense at you having a different opinion. You’re also not guilty for defending your viewpoint just because other people got ruffled by your audacity for persevering in your different opinion!
    I truly hope you’re able to make peace with yourself over your critics. Your blog is definitely not like the others out there, and I hope you continue to write.

  3. I don’t understand why it’s too late for Yom Kippur… Not til Wednesday. My heart aches for us on this walk we are on, not really fitting in anywhere.

    Michele On iPhone voice-recognition software; please forgive spelling. Siri-ously.

  4. Yeah! Welcome back. I have missed your blog. You can glean from Jewish sources, after all, the writers of the New Testament are Jewish. Enough of us ‘lone wolves’ and we become a virtual pack. Hehehe..welcome back, ‘Alpha’, your pups have missed you. (smiley face)

  5. Shanah Tovah, James — Without starting an entire chain of deep exploration into the concept, perhaps I might ask what definition of “G-d fearer” caused you to list this category together with “proselyte” as inapplicable to Rav Yeshua’s gentile disciples? It might be viewed, perhaps, as too generic, but I would certainly include gentile disciples within this description.

    I think I share Linda’s sentiments regarding the various sources you might choose to cite as representing one or another position that touches on issues relevant to MJ or specifically to the position you wish to explore as a non-Jewish disciple. But I do understand not wanting such citations to become an excuse to engage acrimonious debate or criticism. On the other hand, a bit of lively discussion can add a bit of spice to one’s intellectual life, n’est-ce pas?

  6. OBTW — I’ll suggest that the framework of inclusion that fits Nanos’ assertion of gentile disciples as full members alongside Jews is the same one that Rav Shaul invoked with his olive-tree analogy in Rom.11: that is, a community of faith in HaShem. I’ll suggest further that the framework of the “Kingdom of Heaven” concept might differ from this somewhat, despite a potential for large areas of overlap.

  7. OK, I posted that last one prematurely, without really envisioning that the “overlap” had to be inclusive — That is, all those operating in a KoH framework must also be within the CoF framework, but I imagine that most of Rav Yeshua’s Jewish audience to whom he was encouraging their soon participation in the KoH were already within the CoF. Hence one could be inside the latter but still outside the former.

  8. Brother James Pyles, I’ve always thought that you are doing superbly well though G-D might know the best of you. However, I think you are working yourself journey back home and this probably has touched G-D’s heart. Without a hint of doubt, I still love your struggling with your every facet of life, I mean, you are truly unique in that as you have a non-messianic Jewish wife and children. I mean, this will tremendously impose you a lot of stressful burden though this will also you to become more knowledgeable about the Scripture and about God certainly. I think you are doing great out there, though I might not have seen you face to face as I am an world apart from you. I wish you a year of great blessings! May the Lord of Hosts, not tarry and come quickly!

  9. @Kari: I know I haven’t missed Yom Kippur, but it’s only two days away. As you well know, observant Jews spend months preparing for the High Holidays. I don’t think a couple of days will do it justice.

    Sukkot begins a week from this evening, which is still not a lot of time, but a week is better than nothing and I can spend that time in mental and spiritual preparation.

    As far as peace goes, I really need to come to peace with myself and with God.

    @Michele: My feelings about Yom Kippur are in the statement I made to Kari above. Really, I’ll be fine.

    @Cynthia: Thanks.

    @PL: My understanding of God-fearers, at least in ancient times, is that they worshiped the God of Israel but had no covenantal standing before Hashem. Proselytes, as you know, were non-Jews who were in the process of converting to Judaism or who had converted and thus gained a covenantal standing before God along with born-Jews, as well as the promise of the resurrection and a place in the world to come.

    Gentile disciples of Rav Yeshua are able to access some of the blessings of the New Covenant through the Master’s faithfulness and the graciousness of God. If being a God-fearer was sufficient, then why did God-fearers come to faith in Yeshua in droves? We no longer have to convert to Judaism in order to merit the resurrection and have standing before Hashem.

    This brings up an interesting question regarding a comparison between a modern Noahide in the synagogue and the “Judaically aware” Gentile who is a disciple of Yeshua.

    Regarding your comments on Nanos and Romans 11, are you saying that non-Jews are equal to Jews in the community of faith rather than “associate members?”

    @sagacio: Thank you for your kind words. However, I know myself pretty well, including all of my character faults, so I have a reasonably good idea of where I’m not doing so well and how far I have to go to become a better person.

    1. @James — Yes, I’m saying that Rav Shaul’s olive-tree analogy incorporates non-Jews into the community of faith and gives them equal access (at least potentially) to the nourishment of which Jews of that community were previously the only partakers. Both native branches and grafted ones were equally susceptible to being broken off for denial of faith, which must be viewed as a kind of equality and a kind of shared responsibility. That doesn’t change the identity of their distinctive origins.

      I would suggest that what drove the droves of G-d Fearers to Rav Yeshua was the depth of fulfillment available to them in his perspectives on Torah, and the unlimited atonement and acceptance that he represented. However, they still had no “covenantal standing before HaShem”, which is why I suggest that the category of “G-d Fearer” still applies. Through Rav Yeshua, they received blessings comparable to some that are guaranteed to Jews by the Jewish covenant, but by the free gift of grace alone rather than because of covenanted promises. Of course, the covenanted promises themselves also represent HaShem’s graciousness, but at the moment we’re considering the benefits derived by gentile disciples specifically.

      Your proposed comparison between a modern Noahide and a gentile Rav Yeshua disciple would be an interesting question to discuss, though it might require a bit more space than a reply here. In both cases it would be important to consider also that individual behavioral quality and conformity with religious ideals varies, and socio-historical ramifications tend to affect any relationship with a Jewish synagogue community.

  10. PL said:

    I would suggest that what drove the droves of G-d Fearers to Rav Yeshua was the depth of fulfillment available to them in his perspectives on Torah, and the unlimited atonement and acceptance that he represented.

    Which suggests that there was/is a qualitative difference between being a God-fearer in the synagogue and a disciple of Rav Yeshua, at least relative to unlimited atonement and acceptance.

    However, they still had no “covenantal standing before HaShem”, which is why I suggest that the category of “G-d Fearer” still applies.

    Well, yes and no. As you say, even Gentile disciples of Yeshua are granted some of the blessings of the New Covenant. Can we say the same for those God Fearers outside of Messianic discipleship?

    1. So, James, me-lad, whoever suggested that all G-d Fearers are the same? Just as one could theoretically be a G-d Fearer, and seek to trust and honor HaShem, but not yet understand that the kingdom of heaven offers an immediately accessible intimacy of relationship with HaShem, other G-d Fearers embraced the knowledge of that good news and its benefits. Is it really so different within the covenant community, where most Jews are still unable to embrace the genuine admor Rav Yeshua (for a variety of socio-historical reasons) but a significant number have begun to do so? Thus not all Jews are alike in the spiritual benefits they access, and even so not all gentile G-d Fearers were alike (and might likewise differ even today if the term “G-d Fearer” were still in common use).

      @ “Q” — Clinging to HaShem’s covenant (or taking hold of it) in the manner cited in Is.56 is not the same as “having covenantal standing”. The spiritual responsibilities before HaShem to which gentile disciples may well adhere are not covenantal responsibilities, because they are not defined by a covenant — even though they may provide some set of benefits comparable to or related to those pertaining to the covenant that applies to, and which binds, Jews. Now, it is possible to view that distinction as being more theoretical or formal than it is a practical one. Receiving the Rua’h haKodesh has been likened in the apostolic writings to receiving a down-payment of the blessings of the messianic age, but it does not constitute a contract or covenant, neither of betrothal nor of anything else. Not all promises are sealed with covenants; and I’m not sure we should consider every promise made to someone by HaShem as a “verbal contract”, in modern legal jargon, simply because HaShem’s long-standing record of faithfulness makes His word just as reliable as any contract.

  11. PL: “However, they still had no “covenantal standing before HaShem”, which is why I suggest that the category of “G-d Fearer” still applies.”
    James: “Well, yes and no. As you say, even Gentile disciples of Yeshua are granted some of the blessings of the New Covenant. Can we say the same for those God Fearers outside of Messianic discipleship?”

    I don’t think so.

    It seems rather strange that a person could be a member of the Community of Faith, study Torah, seek to slowly add to their lives the prayers, Kashrut, Moedim and Shabbats of Judaic Religious worship…(whether in the Synagogue or not)…and still be considered by others or themselves as having no covenant standing before G-d.

    God Fearers came to Yeshua soon after the time of his death to become Gerim Tsaddikim, made totally righteous in Yeshua, by Yeshua’s righteousness, and receiving a small portion of the Ruach haKodesh as part of a spiritual betrothal contract binding all Believers in Yeshua to Yeshua as his future Bride.

    Isaiah states that G-d wants the nations to take hold of the Covenant, and hold His Shabbats to be holy and separate, but not to come under the Covenant to take part in the Blessings G-d holds for righteous Jews. In Yeshua we have those Blessings already, if not the specific promises to the Israelites.

    As part of Yeshua’s betrothed Bride, the Gentiles in Yeshua who are seeking to learn and apply Torah must have some Covenantal standing before G-d, even as we have some Covenantal responsibility to be Talmudim of Yeshua, to walk in Yeshua’s Jewish ways bit by bit, to study Yeshua, and attempt to be more like him. However, I do not believe that such minimal Covenantal standing and responsibility as part of the Betrothed wife of Yeshua changes any of the rights, promises, responsibilities or privileges of the Israelites in haAretz.

  12. @PL

    It is disheartening to find that you not see any covenantal blood bond to those who hold onto YHVH through Yeshua, when YHVH through Yeshua’s death gives all who will eternal life within the New Covenant, not just those who are descended by blood from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, nor those that come under the Sinai Covenant as a proselyte. It is Yeshua’s blood that the New Covenant is made in, and it is extended to Gentiles by evidence of the Ruach haKodesh.

    Acts 2:39 (CJB)
    39 For the promise is for you, for your children, and for those far away — as many as Adonai our God may call!”

    Acts 10:34-48 (CJB)
    34 Then Kefa addressed them: “I now understand that God does not play favorites,
    35 but that whoever fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him, no matter what people he belongs to.

    36 “Here is the message that he sent to the sons of Isra’el announcing shalom through Yeshua the Messiah, who is Lord of everything.
    37 You know what has been going on throughout Y’hudah, starting from the Galil after the immersion that Yochanan proclaimed;
    38 how God anointed Yeshua from Natzeret with the Ruach HaKodesh and with power; how Yeshua went about doing good and healing all the people oppressed by the Adversary, because God was with him.
    39 “As for us, we are witnesses of everything he did, both in the Judean countryside and in Yerushalayim. They did away with him by hanging him on a stake;
    40 but God raised him up on the third day and let him be seen,
    41 not by all the people, but by witnesses God had previously chosen, that is, by us, who ate and drank with him after he had risen again from the dead.
    42 “Then he commanded us to proclaim and attest to the Jewish people that this man has been appointed by God to judge the living and the dead.
    43 All the prophets bear witness to him, that everyone who puts his trust in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.”
    44 Kefa was still saying these things when the Ruach HaKodesh fell on all who were hearing the message.
    45 All the believers from the Circumcision faction who had accompanied Kefa were amazed that the gift of the Ruach HaKodesh was also being poured out
    46 on the Goyim, for they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Kefa’s response was,
    47 “Is anyone prepared to prohibit these people from being immersed in water? After all, they have received the Ruach HaKodesh, just as we did.”
    48 And he ordered that they be immersed in the name of Yeshua the Messiah.

    Ephesians 1:13-14 (CJB)
    13 Furthermore, you who heard the message of the truth, the Good News offering you deliverance, and put your trust in the Messiah were sealed by him with the promised Ruach HaKodesh,
    14 who guarantees our inheritance until we come into possession of it and thus bring him praise commensurate with his glory..

    That New Covenant in Yeshua’s blood gives to all who will eternal life in Yeshua haMashiach…unless of course, we are dissuaded from such a course of action by suggestions that YHVH is not trustworthy to honor the words He Himself set in the mouths of the prophets from Abraham to Shaul without a specifically designated covenant with those not coming directly under the Sinai Covenant. Even so, promises were made for trust extended by Gentiles to the Father, and the Ruach haKodesh marks those promises more than any commitment a man can make, since when the Ruach haKodesh comes within, the Ruach ha Kodesh also changes, and makes new.

    Gentile and Jews alike are to take hold of YHVH’s Word in the Scriptures as a binding promise given in good faith through Yeshua’s redemption of those who commit themselves to him, and that promise is borne out by the measure of the Ruach haKodesh we have received because of our commitment to Yeshua, and through him, YHVH, even as it was in the house of Cornelius.

  13. Questor said:

    It seems rather strange that a person could be a member of the Community of Faith, study Torah, seek to slowly add to their lives the prayers, Kashrut, Moedim and Shabbats of Judaic Religious worship…(whether in the Synagogue or not)…and still be considered by others or themselves as having no covenant standing before G-d.

    The thing is, there’s nothing the Bible that states there is a direct covenant relationship between God and the nations, at least nothing outside of Genesis 9 Further, neither Jeremiah 31 or Ezekiel 36 mentions any groups except the House of Judah and the House of Israel as being direct objects of the New Covenant.

    This drove me nuts for months when I first realized there was no “smoking gun” pointing to Gentiles having a part in the New Covenant, especially when Paul somehow managed to include Gentiles in the New Covenant blessings.

    The closest we can come is to say that God, through his grace and mercy, and through the merit of Rav Yeshua, allows any non-Jew of the nations to receive those blessings when they repent and turn in devotion to God.

    If we Gentiles are to take hold of the Covenant, how are we to understand that?

    @PL: So you’re saying that Gentile disciples of Rav Yeshua and Gentile Noahides in the synagogue are substantially similar, perhaps in the same way as non-Messianic observant Jews and Messianic Jews?

    Questor said:

    That New Covenant in Yeshua’s blood gives to all who will eternal life in Yeshua haMashiach…unless of course, we are dissuaded from such a course of action by suggestions that YHVH is not trustworthy to honor the words He Himself set in the mouths of the prophets from Abraham to Shaul without a specifically designated covenant with those not coming directly under the Sinai Covenant.

    In many ways, I think the effect of the New Covenant blessings on Jews and believing Gentiles are substantially similar (resurrection, indwelling of the Holy Spirit, a place in the world to come) even though Jews are direct objects of the New Covenant and Gentiles are not.

    Jews are members of the Sinai and New Covenants just by virtual of being born Jewish. Not so the nations. Unless a Gentile undergoes conversion to Judaism, they cannot be a direct object of said-covenants.

    However, conversion isn’t necessary to receive the benefits of covenantal blessing. Even though we aren’t covenantal members, God doesn’t want to leave the Gentiles out in the cold, so to speak. Many prophesies in the Tanakh attest to this. So what does God do?

    Rav Yeshua was sent to illustrate that the New Covenant promises of God are real and he did so by demonstrating many of them. He received the Spirit when he was immersed by John. He experienced a permanent resurrection from the dead. This was supposed to be proof that those promises were tangible and that they would be arriving in their fullness by the by.

    However, in the merit of Yeshua’s symbolic sacrificial death, the benefits of those promises are not only available to the Jewish people, but to anyone to has faith in God through Yeshua. We don’t become covenant members, but as a free gift through faith, we gain the benefits anyway.

    Pretty amazing, huh? It’s what I’ve been trying to say for months. Yes, salvation comes from the Jews but it doesn’t mean God thinks we’re just so much chopped liver. A faithful Gentile all by his or herself, even on a desert island, alone and cut off from Israel and the nations, still has a relationship with God.

    1. @James — I believe it would be accurate to respond to your last post with a resounding “Bingo!” — including your analogy about Noahides.

  14. I just saw this article called Why the Book of Jonah Is Read on Yom Kippur:

    The Book of Jonah is read in the synagogue on the afternoon of Yom Kippur, the holiest day in the Jewish calendar, the sacred Day of Atonement. Why, of all books in the Bible, this book this most holy day?

    The answer is clear. The major themes of the book are singularly appropriate to the occasion—sin and divine judgment, repentance and divine forgiveness.

    How here’s the key statement:

    What is remarkable is that the work is not at all about Israel. The sinners and penitents and the sympathetic characters are all pagans, while the anti-hero, the one who misunderstands the true nature of the one God, is none other than the Hebrew prophet. He is the one whom God must teach a lesson in compassion.


    Its universalistic outlook; its definition of sin as predominantly moral sin;2 its teaching of human responsibility and accountability; its apprehension that true repentance is determined by deeds and established by transformation of character…

    God desires all to repent and turn to Him.

    1. I figured out what you meant. I suppose I should inject a caveat here, that once a Gentile becomes a disciple of Yeshua, he or she should not, for whatever reason, reject Rav Yeshua thinking that being a Noahide and denying the Master will be overlooked. There are a lot of verses in the Apostolic Scriptures that seem to address this, including 2 Timothy 2:12-13.

      1. Yes, we should not overlook the long-term consequences for a gentile who deliberately rejects the benefits of allegiance to Rav Yeshua, even if he pursues faith in HaShem via modern Noahide precepts, because he is also not covered by the Jewish covenant that promises HaShem’s special care. The position of such a one seems particularly precarious, because it challenges the quality of its purported faith. Common human faith, or ancient-style Noahide faith, may work when there is no knowledge available of the fulfillments accomplished by Rav Yeshua, but in the modern age of widespread communication, is this condition tenable?

      2. Let’s extend this idea a bit, PL. What about believing Gentiles who convert to (non-Messianic) Judaism? Technically, by converting, they are entering into a covenant relationship with Hashem, just as if they were born Jewish, but to do so, they have to (or choose to) reject Rav Yeshua.

        Oh, given the proximity of Yom Kippur, I know you probably won’t be responding for awhile.

  15. “As you well know, observant Jews spend months preparing for the High Holidays. I don’t think a couple of days will do it justice.”

    Not trying to pressure you, but my sponsoring rabbi (Rabbi Joshua Brumbach) encourages me toward balance often by reminding me that putting in what you have is better than putting in nothing because you feel like you can’t put in everything. There are seasons and ebbs and flows to observance, even among the most faithful. The point isn’t to get it perfect; it’s to show up and work on growth.
    I know you’re working it all out in your own way with HaShem. I hope this season is meaningful for you, however you choose to engage it.

  16. Is it necessarily the case that a “believing” (in Yeshua) gentile who converts to “(non-Messianic) Judaism” has to or chooses to “reject Rev Yeshua”? I don’t ask this to promote the idea of gentiles converting (and I don’t say that to discourage such either); I’m wondering at the technicality of it. Would it be (or does it seem to be) because of something like a compulsion that the blessings without the covenant on one’s own life (or the life of anyone) are thereby seen as insufficient to something more than happiness in this world (in this time) or a sense of social belonging that fits? Or is it simply (or appearing to be) because it doesn’t line up with the words of Paul (which might or might not be/have been more specific to the time when he spoke/wrote or to similar [political] circumstances)? Or could the assumption [or possible/postulated fact] be that all Jewish organizations that are not defined as Messianic are against the Messiah or anti-Yeshua; or that such institutions demonstrably require clear renunciation (of Yeshua, which is different from “the church” or from denominational authority) when an individual goes through a process?

    Actually, on a somewhat different note but with some relation, I have wondered about a person I’ve known who converted (almost two decades ago) to Judaism (not in a so-called Messianic environment) from Catholicism (after encountering Jewish people on her college campus, and while choosing to marry one there). Although it is said that it’s very wrong to “remind” a convert of a previous life, this person frequently talks about her understanding of God from her early life (and not in a negative way overall, mainly her negativity was as to her perceived shortcomings of her natural nuclear family). Is it “wrong” for the convert/Jew to remember and integrate the whole of his or life in the current life? In the situation where I saw her speak this way often, she was officially encouraged not to shy away from looking at her life and beliefs as a big picture and share this with others out loud and even in a ceremonial speech (less than a decade ago). This was not in the sense of being [an] “evangelical” (overtly pressuring outsiders, so to speak, for Judaism or for adherence honoring Yeshua or Jesus) but an individual of faith, a person.

    1. @Marleen — Your friend sounds to me like a non-orthodox convert, that she should have been encouraged as you describe.

      The issue of any affiliation with Rav Yeshua by a potential convert is extremely complex from the perspective of what it is understood to mean by the convert and by the converting rabbi and beit din; hence it is most likely to be a deal-breaker in the current religious environment, because it is rare for all these parties to distinguish affiliation with the teachings of an ancient Israeli rabbi from the more commonly perceived relationship with an idolatrous religious influence.

      Perhaps this response will also answer James’ question somewhat.

  17. I think I will do well to state I’m enjoying the conversation, and I don’t apply these same questions to the Noachide angle touched on earlier. What PL said about that I agree with; it looks very clear.

  18. @James — One additional consideration that must be weighed in trying to evaluate the spiritual condition of a convert is that such a person is in a vulnerable state to begin with, and is subject to the counsel they receive. Hence a large measure of responsibility is borne by the converting authority rather than by the convert. It may take some time until such a one regains their bearings and a semblance of self-actualized thought and decision-making (if ever).

    However, such matters are beyond the cut-and-dried theoretical definitions, and require examination of individual cases. Sometimes one must simply leave matters in the hands of the heavenly court. [:)]

  19. I generally agree, PL, on the complexity (not only from Orthodox to variations of “not Orthodox” but overall within any). As for the woman, she didn’t (for examples) venerate “saints” or Mary in sentiment or wear these trappings or a cross. She simply didn’t have to act like she had no childhood or adolescence (or experiences during those times). And Yeshua wasn’t anathema. Others who grew up Jewish also didn’t rule out his name. You happen to be right she wasn’t Orthodox.

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