rainbow

Not a Noahide

I periodically “lurk” in a private Facebook group for “Messianic Gentiles.” I was actually surprised to have access to this group, but discovered that a friend of mine, who was already a member, added me as a member as well (I guess ordinary group members can add anyone they want without having to go through a moderator).

Anyway, I peek in every now and then to see what people are talking about. As it turns out, there are a lot of comparisons being made there between these Messianic Gentiles and Noahides. Some of the recent references have been posts originating at the Noahide World Center, specifically a free e-book download of a Siddur for Noachides as well as the same siddur as an app for Android.

I too have wondered in the past if there’s a favorable connection between being a non-Jewish disciple of the Jewish Messiah King and being a Noahide, at least relative to a non-Jews’s status and role in Jewish religious and communal space.

To that end, I began to peruse the AskNoah.org forums and even, at one point, exchanged messages with a Rabbi.

That didn’t end well and I concluded that my journey into considering myself a “Ger Toshav” with an unusual Messianic twist had hit a brick wall.

I took another look at their forums just now but can’t quote anything because each one displays the disclaimer:

All material posted to this forum becomes the exclusive copyright property of Ask Noah International Inc., and may not be published or re-used elsewhere without the express permission of Ask Noah International Inc.

OK. I’ll respect that.

So let’s go to the source:

Then God spoke to Noah and to his sons with him, saying, “Now behold, I Myself do establish My covenant with you, and with your descendants after you; and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that comes out of the ark, even every beast of the earth. I establish My covenant with you; and all flesh shall never again be cut off by the water of the flood, neither shall there again be a flood to destroy the earth.” God said, “This is the sign of the covenant which I am making between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all successive generations; I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud, and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.” And God said to Noah, “This is the sign of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is on the earth.”

Genesis 9:8-17 (NASB)

NoahAccording to numerous sources including Jewish Virtual Library, the seven general laws for all of humanity derived from this portion of Genesis 9 are:

  1. Do Not Deny God
  2. Do Not Blaspheme God
  3. Do Not Murder
  4. Do Not Engage in Incestuous, Adulterous or Homosexual Relationships.
  5. Do Not Steal
  6. Do Not Eat of a Live Animal
  7. Establish Courts/Legal System to Ensure Law Obedience

Whether or not God holds the entire human race to these standards in the final judgment we’ll just have to wait and see. However, is this applicable to the non-Jewish disciple of Rav Yeshua (Jesus)? Does our devotion to our Rav not distinguish us at all from a non-believing world of secular atheists?

Granted, a non-Jew who becomes a self-declared Noahide is not an atheist, since he or she is professing faith in the God of Israel, but then again, the seven basic standards a Noahide adopts are also the standards that the rest of humanity will be judged by. No difference in expectation, except the Noahide voluntarily acknowledges those expectations while the non-Noahide either couldn’t care less or has some other moral/ethical/religious orientation that may or may not embrace some or all of the Noahide laws.

To be fair, I don’t think the private Facebook group I mentioned above sees non-Jewish Messianic disciples as wholly equivalent to Noahides in all respects. I think it’s a model for attempting to construct a relationship between (Messianic) Gentiles and Jews in (Messianic) Jewish religious and communal space.

It may also be an attempt to equip said-Gentiles with a set of tools and resources that are at once consistent with (Messianic) Judaism and also specifically crafted for the Judaicly-oriented non-Jew (hence the siddur for Noahides).

MessiahHowever, I think we need to be exceptionally clear that we take on board more as disciples of Yeshua than what the Noahide receives. While we non-Jews are not named participants in the New Covenant (see Jeremiah 31:27), through Hashem’s great grace and mercy, we non-Jewish devotees of our Rav are granted access to many of the blessings of the New Covenant, which includes the indwelling of the Spirit, the forgiveness of sins, and the resurrection into the world to come.

These are blessings identical to what the named participants of the New Covenant, that is, the Jewish people…Israel, will receive in Messianic Days. God made the covenant with them, but He also is “not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

The plain text of Genesis 9 really only promises that God won’t destroy all life by flooding again. It’s not even made exclusively with human beings, but with every living species. There’s no mention of attaining a spiritual knowledge of Hashem through His Spirit dwelling within us. Nor does this covenant speak of forgiveness of sins, and certainly not of everlasting life in the Kingdom of Messiah.

However, these blessings are all well documented in the New Covenant language we find in Jeremiah 31, Ezekiel 36 and elsewhere in the Tanakh (what Christians call the “Old Testament”).

I prefer to think that being a disciple of our Rav gives us a different role and status than the Noahide, although there certainly can be some overlap.

I’ve been approached online, both in the comments section of this blog and privately by email, to “come over to the Noahide side, we have cookies.” Both Jews and Noahides have attempted to induce me to abandon Rav Yeshua, and while I don’t doubt their motives are sincere, I have asked them to respect my wishes and my faith and desist.

I know there are non-Jews who consider themselves Noahides in the two synagogues in my local community. More power to them. We don’t interact, mainly because I don’t have a connection to local (or remote for that matter) Jewish community.

isolationBut even in isolation, once we have declared our devotion as disciples of our Rav, we have an obligation to stay the course, regardless of the personal difficulties involved. Who said a life of faith was easy? Who said you’d be accepted by everyone or anyone?

If I were a “standard” Christian, going to church each week and being in Christian community would serve my needs (but not my family’s needs), however those of us who view God, Messiah, and the Bible through a more “Jewish-focused lens,” are really neither fish nor fowl. We don’t fit in the Church and it would be disingenuous of us to attempt to enter Jewish community in the guise of a Noahide.

The aforementioned Facebook group is an attempt to offer the “Messianic Gentile” some sort of interface into Jewish community on their own grounds and using their own resources to define their roles, both among Jews and among themselves. That’s probably a good thing, though no one group can meet the needs of everyone who may identify as one of them (or something similar).

However, at the end of the day, you need to know who you are in relation to God and what that means (and doesn’t mean) for your life. Assimilating into a church as a Christian might be the easy way out, but it’s not who we are. Assimilating into a synagogue (Messianic or otherwise) as a Noahide might be the easy way out, but it’s not who we are (and forget about converting to Judaism, Orthodox or otherwise…the people of the nations are to have a role in the Kingdom).

WaitingWhether the rest of the Christian and Jewish world likes it or not, we were granted a unique place and role in relation to God and his plan of redemption, first for Israel, and then for the rest of us. Our particular perspective takes into account the primacy of Israel, the Jewish people and nation, in God’s plans, but it also acknowledges the special and specific place Rav Yeshua has as the mediator of the New Covenant and what that means to both Israel and the nations.

Traditional Christianity does (somewhat) the latter but not the former, while Noahides in Jewish community do the former but not the latter.

We do both…even if we have to do it alone.

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23 thoughts on “Not a Noahide”

  1. VERY thought-provoking. I have met more than one Messianic Gentile who was quick to adopt the “Noachide” moniker. But I agree with you, that more is required of one who is a disciple of the Great Rabbi and Mashiach.

    Thanks for raising this topic.

  2. Isaiah 66:16-17 is one clear passage that unequivocally demonstrates all flesh, כל בסר , will be judged against a higher standard than the manmade Noahide construct.

  3. Exactly, my sentiments, too. I believe we are very close to His Kingdom. The way Gentiles are being evangelized to be Noachides is no accident. The church, I fear, has entered the Laodicean stage. When HaShem pours out His Spirit, and all will know Him, all the Noachides, too, will learn of Yeshua, Lord of Lords and King of Kings. I do believe Torah will go out from Zion, and perhaps the evangelizing of Gentiles into Noachide congregations is preparing the way for that “Light unto the Nations” when His Day comes. Am I making sense? Believing this, can I be a Noachide? No, sir, I can not deny my Lord and Saviour, Yeshua Ha Mashiach. You see, I believe the gentile churches will have to acknowledge Israel as His chosen, make ‘teshuva’ for their ‘gainsayings’ Jude 1:11. I don’t write well, so I better quit now. Shabbat Shalom.

  4. Me too, James…I infinitely prefer being a Disciple of Yeshua, and to be practicing a limited type of Messianic Judaism…10 Commandments, Clean Foods, and the Moedim, along with the Sh’ma.

    If I met a Jew in the flesh, I might say I was a proselyte, and leave it at that, because in the end, I think that is what we are…slowly adding on all that we can of the Covenant, and winding up with all of the Torah made a part of us in the Kingdom.

  5. @Pete: As I read those verses and the surrounding context, it does say that Hashem will judge all mankind by fire and that it is possible for members of mankind (we Goyim) to purify ourselves, but it would be just as easy for the Jewish sages to say that the Goyim can purify themselves/ourselves by adhering to the Noahide laws, so a casual reading of two verses of scripture doesn’t necessarily prove your case.

    Also, and I’m sure you know this, the sages do not believe they are creating “manmade” laws, which is the common Christian interpretation for Jewish halachah and the Talmud as a whole. Rather, they see themselves as empowered by Hashem to derive proper interpretation of Torah for each generation.

    This is not unlike how Christianity has derived its traditions from scripture. There isn’t a religious group who holds the Bible as their holy book, whether the Tanakh or Tanakh and Apostolic Scriptures, who hasn’t created an interpretive tradition by which they derive their customs and praxis (which includes me and thee).

    Hashem must judge the unbelieving world by some standard. Whether we choose to call it Noahide laws or something else, He has his measuring rod for humanity.

    My personal opinion is that He will judge Israel by a higher measure than he will the non-Jewish disciples of Rav Yeshua. All Jewish people are born into a covenant relationship with God whether they want to be or not. That’s an awesome responsibility the rest of us do not bear. The rest of the world chooses whether or not to acknowledge the existence of the God of Israel and then how we decide to follow Him. If we faithfully follow our Rav and study his teachings and the teachings of his apostles, we can learn what God expects from us. Even though we aren’t named participants in the New Covenant (as I outlined in the blog post above and on other occasions), once we accept God’s mercy and grace, we also accept a responsibility. It’s not the same, exact set of responsibilities as Israel, but nevertheless, we have a great role to fill.

    I agree, it’s beyond that of what we understand as the Noahide Laws.

    @Cynthia: In many ways, the Torah has already gone forth from Zion. Even Rambam once commented that, in part, Christianity and Islam has played a part is spreading the Torah throughout the non-Jewish world (of course in a rather distorted fashion). However, once people like us become aware that there’s more to the Bible than what we are typically taught in church and we start investigating for ourselves, we are introduced to a truer interpretation of our Rav, what he taught, and what he send emmissaries such as Paul to teach the Goyim.

    For the record, I believe there will be many people who thought they were following our Rav who have been deluded. But I also believe that many in the church have done greater thinks in his name and for the sake of Heaven than even those of us who are “Judaicly-aware”. No one’s theology or doctrine is perfect. It’s not the minutae of our praxis that will save us. It’s faith and living a life of faith, praying, drawing closer, feeding the hungry, doing kindness, offering mercy, even as we beg for mercy from Hashem.

    @Questor: We are all on a journey with our Rav, learning how to draw closer to Hashem and do obey His will for our lives in this world. That journey isn’t the same for everyone. Mine is probably different than yours. The common thread is performing teshuvah each day and learning to become a better person in order to be servants in repairing the world.

  6. Shavua Tov, James — So, perhaps, instead of your title as it appears above: “Not a Noahide”, you were really trying to say: “*More* than a Noahide”. Certainly the Noahide principles are subsumed within the behavior of a gentile who “embraces” and “clings tightly to” HaShem’s Torah covenant, per the Is.56 vision of it. But those who learn Torah in accordance with the implications of Acts 15:21 are certainly embracing additional principles and values that they may practice and demonstrate in pursuit of greatness within the kingdom of heaven per Rav Yeshua’s prescription in Mt.5:19. Note, nonetheless, that I invoked ” principles and values” rather than the specific praxis developed by Jews to do so. Finding a proper label for such gentile “G-d-Fearers” is a topic that you’ve toyed with previously; but no one seems yet ready to agree on what may be the best label.

  7. Yes PL, “More than a Noahide” would probably have been a more suitable title. And I think you’re right in that our little population has yet to land on a proper title for ourselves. I think we’re also still working out an identity that is representative of who we are and defines our relationship with each other, with Jewish community, and with our Rav. Considering that Rav Yeshua rarely interacted with non-Jews and that Paul (Rav Shaul) was the Jew most directly responsible for drawing large numbers of Gentiles into Yeshua-discipleship, it’s easy to see ourselves as “once removed” from Yeshua. After all, he came for “the lost sheep of Israel,” not the lost sheep of the world. True, he did directly commission Paul to be the emissary to the Gentiles (although first to the Jews), but even though we are more than Noahides, I feel as though we are in a “middle layer” between Noahides and Israel. As if the hierarchy from greatest to least is:

    1. Israel (all Jews)
    2. The Gentile disciples of Rav Yeshua
    3. Noahides
    4. Everyone else

    I’m sure it’s more complicated than that, but it’s a difficult model to build, especially when the original template has been all but ignored for most of two-thousand years.

  8. Thank you for this. Your words remind me of the Father’s promise in Isaiah 56 to the foreigner who joins himself to Israel.

    No foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord should say, “The Lord will exclude me from His people”; and the eunuch should not say, “Look, I am a dried-up tree.”
    Isaiah 56:3

    May we all stay the course.

  9. I think in the end we must call ourselves as what we are seeking to be:
    תָלְמִדִם שׁל יֵשׁוּע – Talmidim shel Yeshua – Disciples of Yeshua
    Anyone who loves Yeshua, and seeks to walk after him could use this description because they are Talmidim shel Yeshua

  10. Nice label suggestion, “Q”, but the phrase requires the possessive contraction as: “תָלְמִדִי יֵשׁוּע” (Talmidei Yeshua) rather than as merely a descriptive or explanatory phrase.

  11. Yes, it could refer to both, though Jewish disciples might prefer ‘Hasidei Yeshua. Or, as someone in my local ‘havurah suggested last week, Jewish disciples might do well to forego any distinctive label altogether, being satisfied to be simply Jews without any such label that could suggest separatist factionalism or “minut”. Just as Rav Shaul was content to identify himself simply as a Pharisee or a Binyamini (tribal designator), without any other qualifier specifically associated with Rav Yeshua, so could modern Jewish disciples do in modern terms. Distinctive terms such as “Nazarene” did not appear until later, and were used primarily to distinguish Jewish messianists as individuals to be avoided or forced out of the Jewish community. That sort of social dis-interaction needs to be countered as Jewish messianists re-integrate within the wider Jewish community, bringing what they’ve learned from Rav Yeshua with them.

    For gentile disciples, on the other hand, a label could have a positive function to emphasize that such individuals have “drawn close” to the Jewish community and embraced the principles and values of the Torah covenant.

  12. Very reminiscent of Stuart Dauermann’s Us, not them article. You’re right. It hadn’t occurred to me that Paul didn’t create a new designation for himself based on the revelation of Messiah. As has also been said, all Jews are “Messianic” in the sense that they anticipate the coming of Messiah. So form that particular point of view modern Jews who accept the revelation of Yeshua as Messiah are not substantially different than other religious Jews who do not (as yet).

    The title suggested by Q and modified by you would more specifically identify non-Jews such as myself mainly to others like me and in relation to (Messianic) Jewish community. It wouldn’t mean much if anything at all to more traditional Christians or secular folks.

  13. I like very much the corrected term by PL…I am only in my second year of Biblical and Modern Hebrew, and didn’t know how to shorten and sharpen the description.

    “תָלְמִדִי יֵשׁוּע” (Talmidei Yeshua)

    This term, if adopted would be very nice indeed, for those of us who want to be known to Jews as not just Universalist Christians of the classic Trinitarian beliefs, (and thus idolators); show our attachment to Israel as Israel, and not the ‘Church as Israel’; and get away from long descriptions and explanation. It also translates well to English in talking to Christians, which simply cannot be avoided, and should not be. After all, every human being I know intimately is a Christian of one kind or another. So,when I am asked by a Christian if I am saved, I can at least say, yes, I am a Disciple of Yeshua, and not have to explain further, unless they actually want a sermon from me on the value of Torah.

    What does Hasidei Yeshua translate to – Pious ones of Yeshua?

  14. ‘Hasidei Yeshua could translate as Yeshua’s pious or devoted ones. Note my further comments after James’ next essay about Tlamidei Yeshua.

  15. Would what you are describing as “not Noachide” be classified as monotheistic or trinitarian?

  16. Greetings “Spotlight”.

    What’s being discussed in this series of blog posts is the role of non-Jewish believers in Jesus (Yeshua) whose theology and doctrine generally map to what we call “Messianic Judaism,” within Messianic Jewish community. If we believe that all of the covenants God made with Israel, that is, the Jewish people, are still in effect, including the Sinai covenant and its conditions are recorded in the Torah, and we believe that non-Jews who join themselves to Israel through faith and devotion to the Jewish Messiah King have a lesser set of expectations as we see in the legal decision rendered in Acts 15, then we are looking for some way to make a Gentile presence in Jewish religious space make sense.

    One way that certain “Messianic Gentiles” have attempted to approach this situation is by analogy. They look at the relationship between Noahides, or “righteous Gentiles” to Orthodox Judaism and Orthodox Jewish community, and use that as sort of a model for the role of the “Messianic Gentile” within the Messianic Jewish synagogue.

    The pre-supposes a Messianic Jewish community as an authentic Jewish social, cultural, and religious community. There are plenty of groups out there that call themselves “Messianic Judaism” that have few, if any, Jewish presence and only sort of simulate Jewish religious praxis.

    I’m not necessarily saying this model is right or wrong, but attempting to use said-model highlights the ongoing struggle for not only “Messianic Gentile” identity (as distinct from normative Christianity), but the continuing struggle for a definitive identity for Messianic Judaism.

  17. Messianic Judaism, even as I describe it, is represented by a variety of viewpoints. I don’t have any hard data (I don’t think anyone has taken a survey to gather such information), but of the Messianic Jews I’ve met, most are trinitarian. However, there is a minority of them who are monotheistic (although technically, even trinitarians think of themselves as monotheistic…three aspects in one God). That’s not a very comfortable conversation for them to have.

    Again, there’s no one Messianic Judaism anymore than there’s one Christianity. There are actually thousands of different Christian denomination and outside of a few core beliefs, they can be very different from each other. Where aren’t nearly as many streams of Messianic Judaism, but they are diverse.

  18. I find the idea of integrating Christian trinitarian belief into monotheistic Judaism very perplexing and intriguing. In my thought, trinitarian monotheism is an oxymoron.

  19. Hi Spotlight…I agree with you…at least from the classic Catholic definition of Trinitarian belief, where there are three equal persons in a single G-dhead, or even three separate but equal gods, known as Father, Son and Holy Ghost. And despite the reformation, Protestants have not really re-evaluated those beliefs which are idolatrous as stated.

    That there are G-d the Father, Yeshua, and the Ruach haKodesh described in Both Old and New Scriptures is obvious, but Yeshua and the Ruach haKodesh are in the Father, and proceed from Him. I can never see why anyone believes that our Creator split Himself into three separate beings, since it was a pagan friend of Constantine that came up with the idea…presumably to make 4th Century Christianity both un-Jewish in all ways, and able to be understood by the pagan mind of a multiplicity of gods.

    I tend to think that Yeshua’s Neshama was unique, in that it comes directly from the Father through the Holy Spirit acting on Miriam’s ovum, and that that Neshama was with the Father before the creation of this universe, the Angels, and Mankind, not to mention other races and species that might exist in other dimensions, or even in this one.

    I believe that Yeshua was a man, our Rav, and a Great Prophet, with all the signs required to be known as Mashiach ben Yosef, and who will return, in my view, as Mashiach ben David in power. There are many other explanations, such as a permanent Theophany of the Angel of the Presence or the Shekinah in a human Tabernacle…which is pretty much what I already described, or as PL states, a Shliach from G-d with a full power of attorney to act for G-d.

    These are merely details of description of what is not fully understandable…but it gets close enough for day to day purposes without getting into idolatrous notions.

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