Paul the Advocate for the Gentiles

fish mosaicThe Saturdays when we don’t have the grandkids over is usually when I do my yard work. I know for you out there, both Jews and Gentles who are Sabbath keepers, that may sound scandalous, but my wife, who is Jewish and not a believer in Rav Yeshua (Jesus Christ), is out doing a side job today, and in fact left me a “honey do” list with what she wanted me to accomplish in her absence. Since she, as a Jew, isn’t observant of Shabbos, it probably would cause issues between us if I, as a Gentile, insisted on keeping the Sabbath in some manner or fashion.

The last task on the list of things for me to do outside was weeding. I hate weeding. I find it exceedingly boring. There’s nothing to do but sit on the ground with the spiders and pull useless plant matter out of the ground by the roots while hoping to avoid wasps.

My son Michael loves listening to podcasts, particularly about ancient history. My wife listens to podcasts about health and aging while going on her morning walks. Maybe I should take my iPhone out with me and listen to something too.

I have no ideas if there’s such a thing as a Messianic Jewish podcast, particularly a credible one (remember, anyone out there can put on a kippah and tallit and call themselves a Messianic Rabbi or teacher, and then spew all kinds of nonsense).

I used to listen to a lot of the recorded sermons by D. Thomas Lancaster on the Beth Immanuel congregational website. Most of them were quite illuminating.

However, I found it necessary to distance myself from First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) which employs Lancaster, not because I dislike the people involved and not because I dislike FFOZ’s teachings, but because, in certain circles, it was believed that on some level I worked for them. That became a problem. My opinions expressed on this and my other blogs are my own and no one else’s. I reserve the right not to have my content restricted, edited, or censored by anyone but me.

So it’s easier to be a lone wolf blogger as well as a lone wolf believer.

But that has drawbacks. I wanted to listen to a lesson of Lancaster’s while weeding. No, that part isn’t the problem. The problem is I can’t listen to anything like that without wanting to write about it. That’s the problem.

I did listen to the first in a series of sermons Lancaster gave on the Book of Romans, specifically The Early Believers in Rome.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and it took the sting out of having to weed.

I’m not going to review the sermon as I might have done in the past, but I am going to write about some of the things it reminded me of.

It reminded me that the Apostle Paul (Rav Shaul if you prefer) actually wanted Gentiles to be part of the club. No, not convert to Judaism, and not to take on board Jewish praxis, but he believed that we non-Jews are totally sufficient as worshipers of Hashem and disciples of Rav Yeshua without being Jewish.

That was a minority opinion in Paul’s day, and opinions are divided even today in Messianic and Hebrew Roots circles as to whether or not Gentiles should engage in Jewish praxis to one degree or another. Some Gentiles today feel totally inadequate in Jewish community, deciding to bypass Rav Yeshua altogether and convert to Orthodox Judaism, sort of missing the forest for the trees.

In Paul’s time, some, actually probably most, Jewish believers were of the opinion that no Gentile could come to faith in Hashem and be a disciple of Messiah without converting to Judaism and taking on the full yoke of Torah. Some, maybe most Messianic Jews in that day didn’t want hordes of unconverted Gentiles in their synagogues.

It was interesting because Lancaster explored the history of whether or not there was about a five year period when all Jews were expelled from Rome. He said that if all of the Jews, including believers in Yeshua were absent from Rome, then the Messianic congregations were left in the hands of the Gentile God-fearers.

It must have been very interesting when the Jewish believers came back to find their synagogues run totally by these Messianic Gentiles.

It also makes me wonder if many of these Messianic Jews preferred to have believing Gentiles in their own congregations. It would make sense and have advantages from their point of view. The believing Jews would have their wholly Jewish synagogues, and Gentiles could worship in a more or less parallel way in Gentile congregations.

Lancaster believes that Paul taught a different Gospel than the other Messianic Jewish Apostles.

I remember a Pastor with whom I was once well acquainted chafed at the idea that Paul had a different Gospel since there is only one Gospel of Jesus Christ. What he didn’t understand or chose not to believe was that Paul’s Gospel was good news to Jews and Gentiles alike.

It was good news to the Jews first because Messiah had come as the forbearer of the New Covenant promises of God. He came with evidence of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the resurrection of the dead, and the promise of the life in the world to come (which, by the way, are all very Pharisaic beliefs, particularly the last two).

But it was also good news to the Gentiles because they too could participate in the blessings of the New Covenant without being named members of that covenant. In other words, the Gentiles could also receive Hashem’s grace and mercy through the merit of Rav Yeshua without converting to Judaism and taking on the total body of Jewish praxis.

Paul had a lot of opposition to this Gospel from most of the other Jewish believers, at least as Lancaster tells it (and I agree with him), since their Gospel was one that was indeed good news for the Jews but only good news for the Gentiles if the Gentiles converted to Judaism.

The Jewish PaulJudaism was an official religion in the Roman empire but not so being a God-fearer, so there was a lot of motivation for Gentiles to believe the Gospel that was not Paul’s.

But Paul persevered. He had the support of James, brother of Rav Yeshua, and the Council of Leaders and Elders in Jerusalem, but the diaspora was a big place. It’s even bigger now.

Nothing has changed. We face the same problems Paul did, and I should point out that Paul never came to an ultimate resolution. All of the congregations Paul himself established believed in his Gospel for Jews and Gentiles, but Paul didn’t establish the congregations in Rome.

Nor did he establish (at least not directly) the Messianic congregations, and certainly not the mainstream Christian churches of today (though those churches probably believe something different). Paul probably would have no idea what was going on in a modern church service if he could visit one today. And while maybe he would have some difficulty with a modern Messianic Jewish service, even one closely modeled on traditional Orthodox Jewish practice, he would understand very well the problems facing believing Jews and Gentiles.

That’s what this sermon reminded me of. It reminded me why I no longer affiliate with any organized religious community (well, there are many reasons actually). It also reminded me that he truly believed I should be part of the club. Not me personally, but Gentiles like me. That we could come to faith and be disciples of Yeshua, and it’s okay if we’re not Jewish. He didn’t even have a problem with Jews and Gentiles worshiping together. Only his believing Jewish contemporaries did.

Yeah, just like today.

Thanks be to Yeshua for choosing Paul to be his special emissary to the Gentiles. Thanks be to Paul for staying the course, not giving in to peer pressure or any other kind of pressure, and being a relentless defender of both his people the Jews, but of those of us on the outside, the Gentiles who are attracted to the God of Israel by way of Jewish teachings and practice.

I’m glad there was someone pulling for us back in the day. I wish someone would take up that mantle today, but there are no more living Apostles.

Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus, called as an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, who was born of a descendant of David according to the flesh, who was declared the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead, according to the Spirit of holiness, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for His name’s sake, among whom you also are the called of Jesus Christ…

I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that often I have planned to come to you (and have been prevented so far) so that I may obtain some fruit among you also, even as among the rest of the Gentiles I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So, for my part, I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.

Romans 1:1-6, 13-15 (NASB) emphasis mine.


39 thoughts on “Paul the Advocate for the Gentiles”

  1. You know, Isaiah 56 cites HaShem’s exceptional commendation for “b’nei nechar” (foreigners; non-Jews) who do not profane the Shabbat as an ordinary weekday. That is not the same as sanctifying it as Jews are to do, but I do think you could make a good case against having to do yardwork on Shabbat, as an affiliate of Jewish family members — not to discount the excuse that you could have as an enhanced Noahide.

  2. A Messianic Judaizing friend of mine would be all over you for ‘working’ on Shabbat by pulling weeds, or tidying up the garden on Shabbat. I tell him to keep his halachah to himself, and not to judge me on what he does in his Community in another state!

    But then, I keep Shabbat in a Sola Scriptura manner…and only what the Scripture says to do, do I do or refrain from doing…when I manage to obey sufficiently well in the first place what is written in the Scriptures to my own critical eye. However I know I honor Shabbat sufficiently to keep trying to do what I see in the Scriptures is right for me, a Gentile studying Torah.

    I would say you were acting in love to do what makes your marriage harmonious when it is not a clear issue as to what Messianic Gentiles are to do or not do on Shabbat. I cannot keep Orthodox Jewish Halachah without offending the Orthodox Messianic Jews, and don’t want to anyway. Why should you?

    I, on the other, like to garden on on any day, and consider it a pleasure to enjoy Abba’s creation, and improve my small attempt at a copy of Eden, but I also garden thanking Abba for every flower I am seeing, and for being able to enjoy his handiwork. And while I do, I also listen to worship music, or good sermons from a number of sites that are not traditionally Messianic, but are taught by Jewish Christians. While I garden I also thank Abba constantly for being able not to be judged for my keeping of the Sabbath or Festivals, and I feel no guilt for my sheer inability to make my life to fit a paradigm that has not been sufficiently developed.

    David Nathan in South Africa, Jacob Prasch in England and Israel, Beth Yeshua International in Georgia, are all Jews that became Christians, and teach only from the Bible with all the underlying support they can find anywhere. David Nathan was an Orthodox Jew, Greg Herschberg a Secular Jew, and Jacob Prasch from a Jewish Catholic mix that found his own way to Yeshua…and all their sermons are able to be streamed freely for recording, and replay. I also listen to Aleph Beta.Org for a traditional Parshah teaching from a Orthodox Rabbi, David Forhman because he teaches really well on how to understand the Scriptures themselves. And I add in Lancaster, and read their resources, because they too are good information and teaching, but I simply have come to accept that no one has the perfect mix for Gentiles, much less one on the outside of a community.

    We have to find our way as best we can with the Scriptures to tell us what to do, other teachers to explain more ideas, and the Ruach to lead us into right action. We are in a time of no clear guidance for Messianic Believers outside of Church or Synagogue, and we must simply pray that Abba will accept our rather confused efforts to do as he wishes.

    I wish you would write about what is taught by anyone you read or listen to, and let us interact a little on Shabbat, if only over the internet, but you lead a busy life already. Try to enjoy the day, and do honor to Abba…and he will lead you the rest of the way.

    1. Technically Q, use of electronic devices on Shabbos is forbidden, at least to Jews. On the other hand, my wife isn’t even remotely Orthodox.

      The main point I was trying to make in this blog post wasn’t about the Shabbat but about the historical and current difficulty of integrating Gentiles in Jewish community. Paul believed they/we should be, but he was almost the only Messianic Jew of his day to hold that belief. The majority of his Messianic Jewish contemporaries were appalled at the idea of non-Jews who were not proselytes or converts should attend their synagogues in droves. They tolerated the occasional God-fearer but so many “Messianic Gentiles” would flood their space.

      The same attitudes exist today. What was the ancient solution. Paul never arrived at one but history did. The ancient solution was to completely separate Jewish and Gentile Messianic worship and the consequence was that the Jews eventually fell away from devotion to Rav Yeshua while the Gentiles completely rewrote history and twisted Biblical interpretation to drive any idea that Christianity was ever a form of Judaism.

      I can see Gentiles exiting out of the Messianic realm and going back to church just because they feel welcome there and their presence doesn’t result in any dissonance. I can see Jews exiting out of the Messianic realm and going back to the traditional synagogue for very similar reasons. I’ve asked before if the next generation, the ones being raised by the current generation of Messianics will fall away too?

      My wife went to the traditional synagogue, and while she attends infrequently and is not observant in most things, her beliefs and attitudes are traditionally Jewish. All three of my children self-identify as Jewish, but none of them are religious in any sense. I have two grandchildren who are being raised with no religious training whatsoever.

      I don’t know, Q. When our generation dies out, who will be left who is Messianic, either Jew or Gentile? It seems like the movement is largely working against itself.

  3. Caught between the Scylla and Charybdis, forever it seems.

    Drake Duniway made it crystal clear for me. There is no religion for Gentiles! The best you get with Paul is some kind of ill-defined ethical monotheism.

    1. Perhaps I am Steve, but not many others. Usually like-minded people gather together. In my case, it’s not like I couldn’t find a few people to meet with occasionally, but that my long-suffering wife would have issues with it. No, she’d never tell me not to worship in whatever manner I see fit, but I know privately if would be difficult for her.

      I remember the last time I attended church. It was for a two year period. I decided to dive in the deep end, so to speak, and actually attend sunrise Easter services. The look of profound hurt on my wife’s face as I walked out the door told me all I needed to know. Easter seems to be a particularly tough time for Jewish community or, as the saying goes, “after every Passion Play, there’s a Pogrom.”

      Like a lot of Jews, Messianics are seen as just another form of Christianity, and one that misappropriates Jewish praxis, especially if it’s the Gentiles who are in some manner behaving “Jewishly.”

      I belong to a private Facebook group where what seems to be a detailed study of the Didache is going on. I don’t participate but I have noted that this is being offered as a model for Gentile religious practice for Messianics. The Didache was never canonized so it may be a bit of a leap, but I suppose it’s better than an “ill-defined ethical monotheism.”

  4. As I recall, James, you’ve written previously about your wife’s apparent discomfort upon seeing you go out to a Christian service. You’ve also described her discomfort at your attendance within Jewish space. Where, pray tell, would she be comfortable having you meet with HaShem and a community of upright co-religionists? She cannot rightly deny your religious impulses; and she cannot rightly deny the righteousness of Isaiah’s prophetic prescription for righteous gentiles. How assertively have you ever presented to her the needs of your own neshamah? The religious and spiritual isolation in which she has confined you, as you have described it, borders on spousal abuse.

    The prescription of the Jerusalem Council of Emissaries in Acts 15 was not one that removed gentile disciples from Jewish space. It relieved them of unwarranted obligations to the full measure of Jewish Torah praxis that some Jewish disciples would have imposed upon them. It did, however, require of them constraints that would allow them into Jewish space without defiling it; and it presumed their regular weekly attendance in synagogues to learn Torah insofar as it could apply to them. Rav Shaul’s letters to various gentile assemblies show that he did have an ancient solution and program for the members of these assemblies. The Didache represents an attempt to codify their expected behavior as the unified counsel of all twelve apostles. That claim may be somewhat figurative, just as later in Talmud decisions were announced as the unanimous “one voice” declaration of the conclusion and resolution of some matter on which vehement and diverse opinions had just been presented.

    There are some elements of the Didache which are just a bit peremptory in trying to separate gentile behavior from that of Jews, possibly setting the stage for the centuries-later Nicene nastiness; but, taken together with Rav Shaul’s letters, it does provide a sort of halachic guidance for gentile disciples. Overall, it provides at least as much guidance as most non-denominational Christians are likely to get from their churches. Their modern hymnody and musical accompaniment, along with their sermonic teaching, could be just fine if its intellectual and attitudinal content were appropriately constrained by properly-corrected biblical understanding such as modern Jewish messianism has been trying to develop. There are some historical cultural trappings in their holiday celebrations that might well be done away with, because of the idolatrous background from which they developed — but these reforms could be manageable. The result is not likely to possess the pomp and splendor of “High-Church” ceremonies, but it certainly would not be so meager as to be described merely as “ill-defined ethical monotheism”. Pomp and splendor are not biblical values, and owe their origin more to pagan magical rites and psychological manipulation. They are not required when a worshiper can express honest awe at the Presence of the Most High from an internal motivation rather than from external environmental factors.

  5. OBTW — the decline of ancient Jewish discipleship under Rav Yeshua was not a matter of falling away so much as a matter of being squeezed out of existence between the opprobrium of post-Nicene Christianity and that of overly-defensive Rabbinic Judaism as it attempted to survive persecution by this renewed Roman Imperialism. The post-modern resurgence of such Jewish discipleship owes much to the Jewish movements of ‘Hasidism and Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment), and the somewhat misguided Christian Jewish-missions movement, which softened the environment sufficiently for growth and exploration to occur. There are, nonetheless, still many obstacles to overcome for it to thrive.

    1. I wonder if this is a problem the movement is able to solve, PL. Perhaps only Rav Yeshua will be able to unite the world when he returns. It seems the rest of us encounter too many competing interests.

  6. I don’t think it can be resolved, at least for those that are not within a Messianic Jewish Community, and perhaps not even there. It is not a lack of willingness to allow entrance into a Messianic Jews Community as a Gentile if there are only a few proselytes, but the fact that they do not quite know what to do with Gentiles that are not converting to their idea of religion, and their culture and traditions, particularly when those shouldering their way into their community are so many and so ill taught that they disrupt the community.

    It’s a mess…and just like in the first century, there are those fighting tooth and nail against those who are not exactly Christian, and not exactly Jews, but a bit of both. And Paul, in his day, was fighting hard to maintain those churches he fostered and nourished against overwhelming force…political and cultural, although the reason then were quite different.

    I can’t say that I can go withe the Didache…having studied it, it is really a great deal too Greco-Roman for me, and mostly not able to be adapted to present day concerns. It reminds me of the Essene teachings, but from the Greco-Roman viewpoint. And so, I study Torah and do what I can figure out to do, know that Abba is pleased with me for trying, even if he has to be displeased with my lacks as well, yet forgives it all in Yeshua.

    Yet what are we to do, except our best, to learn, and adapt within the strange circumstances we find ourselves in. As for your personal situation, I do wish your spouse would see how bereft you feel in having so little support in your own spiritual health because it hurts her in some way, whether you trespass toward Christianity or towards Judaism. Still, perhaps she can do no more at present. But were it me, I would push the matter a bit more, asking her to understand your needs to be connected spiritually to someone, even as you support her efforts to be connected in the way that she needs to be.

    Whatever the reasons and problems, I will pray that Abba solves them in a way that will suit you both.

    1. And that’s my point. The obvious answer is for Messianic Gentiles to form their own communities, but except for a few congregations, Messianic Jews tend to be critical of Messianic Gentile praxis, so there is no real “bilateral” anything.

      It still pains me otherwise I wouldn’t have written this blog post, but unlike how I felt in the past, I now believe there is no resolution. If Messianic Jews need Jewish community, I understand and even support that, but for the rest of us, we’ll just have to wait and have faith that Hashem includes us in his community of the redeemed as well.

      1. Note, please, that the adjective “bilateral” in the ecclesiological notion of “bilateral ecclesia” does not specify or constrain relationships or interactions between the two segments. Nor does it specify the praxis of either one. It only notes that two exist. It appears to me that you’re in another of your pessimistic phases, discounting both Is.56 and Eph.2. You need some fellowship and camaraderie to cheer you up.

        I did describe a solution for modern gentile disciples a couple of posts ago, but describing a solution is quite different from implementing it — and participating in such a solution to benefit thereby is yet another matter. The havurah in which I participated for several years some 48 years ago (though it was not in that era called a havurah) was primarily peopled by gentiles, and linked by bonds of friendship with another havurah on the opposite side of the city that comprised primarily Jews who became some of the forerunners of the Messianic Jewish movement in the eastern USA. Independent yet linked havurot of “familial house fellowships” are not unlike the system we see in the book of Acts. Such groups are also often welcome to fit in and associate with larger corresponding communities, such as a synagogue or an assembly of gentile disciples as appropriate, where more extensive teaching may be offered or special cultural events may be convened. Nowadays, even fairly remotely located fellowships have available to them tools and support networks via the internet: blogs, Youtube, video conferencing, and more, whereby they may encourage one another. Such fellowships are much more flexible than the congregational model of community alone. Whether it is possible to operate one successfully entirely online without physical interaction I cannot say. But I suppose video-conferencing with Skype or some similar application might be a step toward doing so if no other option is available. It’s just a little difficult to transmit an encouraging hug that way. [:)]

  7. Peace be to all and a good health.
    Hello guys, maybe some of you may now have a little knowledge of the New Covenant Plan of God, that the Messianic Covenant which already took end since last 1993. And thou also now know the Exclusivity of the Messianic Covenant to all covenantal Israelite people and no to all literal gentiles! But the gravest problem in this Covenant is that Yeshua M. have already executed the Universal Final Judgment to all gentile nations of the world ever since 1st Century in Mt. 25:31-46.. Although the world still do not know their condemnation, thou could still see and notice the aggressiveness of all the gentile believers to Yeshua M.! But the problem if check, besides being all already condemn judged, these gentile people did not really know the truth of the Gospel teaching of Yeshua M. which makes them only very idolatrous and what for in competing the God Plan works. And from these problem, how could they escape or annul the Judgment of Yeshua M.? So, let us put aside these problem and let us proceed to the most updated Ultimate Covenant which is the Parousia or 2nd Advent Period, which already begun since last 1994 to date. And if analyze, we are already in the akward to the impose faith knowledge and we have also wasted more than a half an hour to the One Hour Set Period in God Count. And this the Ultimate Last Call of God to all the people, who want to be redeem save from God wrath, especially to those people who ignores and rejected the Plan of God that will make them a good person. And this 2nd Advent Plan was also already written in the Concluding Revelation letters of A. Paul in Rom. 9:1-33, 11:1-36, 1Cor. 15:1-57, 1Thes. 4:1-18.. And also to A. John in Rev. 7:1-18.. And thou will know here in A. Paul letters of 1Thes. 4:16-17, that there are only Two Class of group of people  are to be Caught by the cloud or Holy Spirit to enter heaven and meet the Lord forevermore! And none of the many world religions are among them!

    We wrote this just to remind that thou may also know how thou could also make a good compliance to the Will Plan of God which the Holy Spirit will work out alone without any help of any religion! Because there is a prohibition made by Yeshua M. in Jn. 9:4 “night cometh, when no men can work.” Which means, upon the fulfillment of this Night Covenant or the 2nd Advent, no men and no religion could not help others believer. And this will also affect the Observance of Sabbath that will not be anymore to be observe by religion’s grouping but it is now everyone obligation to Observe it Personally. And this also true to others rituals. Because God is now seeking his faith believers for their Direct allegiance through his Words. And from this facts, thou could prove this in Yeshua M. Last messages in Jn. 5:20-30, advicing all believers to come out of their “graveyard.” Which means this graveyard is an analogy term of Christ to a “religion,” because the believers that enters to it were “dead in faith!” These messages was used in his time and will be also applies in the 2nd Advent (this is a very long story to tackle).

    And with all these fact, it can be proven if thou will compare to the End Time Scenario of A. Paul’s Writings in 1Thes. 4:16-17.. that there is no religion nescessarily that could help anyone! Because all the religion aside from Yeshua M. religion have been already condemn jugded in the scriptures, read Mt.7:21-22, 12:31-32, 23:1-33, 25:31-41 & Rev. 20:10-15.. so, every believers are advice to make personally or individually perform their faith without any assistance of others but only TRUST to the Word of God as Plan of God. Because our God only like a man without any boarders (or evil) in their self. Don’t forget Mt. 28:20..
    May our living lord God Bless us all.

    LOVE: New Jerusalem-Holy City

  8. I’ve only ever heard the phrase “different gospel” in a negastive context, so this was quite interesting. Will be pondering.

    1. Thanks, Marie. My personal option, admittedly based on Lancaster, is that traditional Christianity has totally misunderstood Paul’s use of the term.

      1. Yes, well, Rav Shaul mentioned three gospels in his Galatian letter, now didn’t he? There was the gospel to the circumcision, and the gospel to the uncircumcision, and then there was “another gospel that is no gospel at all” — which was the subject of his vehemence.

      2. That third one, in my understanding at least, is the so called “good news” that completely removes the non-Jew from the redemptive plan of Hashem. Paul was very passionate that the Gentiles were included in that “gospel to the uncircumcision.”

  9. Hi James, ones again same patterns appeared in our thoughts at the same time. I was wondering whether Paul made such a bolt statement in Rom.9 when he began to speak about his people Israel. It seems he couldn’t choose between being Jewish and denying Jesus, or rejected from his people and believe in Jesus. Why not both? Being Jewish and believing?

    I think because Israel is a nation with a national covenant and national responsibility. It is a national people. And they deny Jesus national, until today. If you’re part of this people, you deny Jesus, otherwise you’re not allowed to join this people. And when you’re Jewish and you will become a believer in Jesus, you will be rejected from their communities.

    Paul said: “I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my people.” (Rom.9:2-3) The question was (as it seems to me) whether to be with them under the curse of denying Jesus, or to be with those outlawed of Judaism and mostly gentiles believers.

    The only dividing element is Jesus. He is at the core of all our discussions. It is about his acceptance or denial. To rely on Him or something other.

    Hope you understand my short comment, shalom, Jos

    1. It seems to me, Jos, that you have misunderstood both a cultural situation and Rav Shaul’s exclamation in his letter to the Romans. His exclamation (Rom.9:3) was of exactly the same attitude as that of Moshe in Ex.32:32, where he pleaded with HaShem to forgive Israel’s sin (of making a golden image to represent HaShem), even to the extent that he himself would wish to be blotted out of the book of life instead of them. Rav Shaul contemplated separation from the redemption of the Messiah for the sake of his brethren the Jewish people, just as Moshe contemplated separation from eternal life (as well as from his present physical life). Neither of them said anything about separation from the Jewish people.

      What is rejected by Jews nowadays is the same as it has been for about the past 15 centuries. It is the symbol under which the gentile Christian church has disdained and persecuted Jews. It is, in actuality, a distorted caricature of an Israeli rabbi who has been stripped of his Jewish characteristics and clothed instead in super-naturalistic superstition. It is an idolatrous symbol presented by gentiles in place of HaShem just as much as was the golden calf that Jews made almost 3500 years ago.

      Twenty centuries ago there were tens of thousands of religious Jews, in the Jerusalem area alone, who accepted Rav Yeshua and who remained zealously obedient to the Torah covenant (viz: Acts 21:20-24). There were undoubtedly many more throughout the Galilee and elsewhere. They maintained their distinctiveness from a growing number of gentile disciples who are mentioned in the subsequent verse Acts 21:25. It is simply not true that Jews on a national level rejected Rav Yeshua; and his Jewish disciples continued to represent a significant segment of the Jewish people for several centuries subsequently.

      Thus it is true that a Jew who adopts the caricature called “Jesus” is rightly rejected as one who has adopted the idolatrous religious outlook of Israel’s persecutors. And obviously no one who holds such views would ever be acceptable as a convert to Judaism. However, in the twenty-first century CE there exists a growing number of religious Jews who have re-discovered what so many Jews in the first century CE knew about what it means to be a disciple of the ancient rabbi Yeshua ben-Yosef. When their numbers have increased to a degree that their Jewish loyalties to Torah and to the Jewish people become obvious to the whole body of the Jewish people, so that they are no longer mis-associated with idolaters and persecutors, then Rav Shaul’s hope of Jewish redemption may proceed. That redemption must include also the reclamation of Jews who still suffer the clinging remnants of Jewish-Christian religion in place of genuine Judaism as it was taught by their “ben-Yosef” messiah.

      With such a redemption having been demonstrated to Jews first, then also the redemption of gentiles (including gentile Christians) may proceed likewise (viz: Rom.1:15-17 & 2:10-12).

      1. Dear PL,

        It could be that what you say is true. It is certainly true that “Neither of them said anything about separation from the Jewish people.”

        What I suggested is that there was an option (as it were) for Paul to choose whether to go with the national/physical Israel under the curse, or to go with Yeshua ha Messiah. Which was obvious not a question for him, but he put it as such.

        History shows us that from then until now the breaking point of the parting of the ways is still Yeshua.

        Paul would but couldn’t belong to the Jewish people anymore. Look at it on a prophetic plain. A century later the Jewish believers were almost not allowed in the (almost gentile) church. And at the same time with the emerge of rabbinic Judaism they also we’re not allowed in the synagogue.

        In that sense, the Jewish believers did not sustain. This is so sad. We have to admit with the rabbi’s that Gamaliel the elder was true by saying that “we shall see that this (Jewish) Yeshua followers will last, if they are right”. They did not last for more then a century. (Acts 5:34) The only very few jewish believers were double cursed: by synagogue and church.

        Yeshua is hidden for the Jews for the sake of the gentiles. This is a mystery. (Rom.11) Because Paul knew that in the end, Israel would be saved. But he also knew that “not all were Israel”.

        So that are just some thoughts of me.

        Shalom, Jos

        Op 6 aug. 2017 2:42 p.m. schreef “Morning Meditations” :

        ProclaimLiberty commented: “It seems to me, Jos, that you have misunderstood both a cultural situation and Rav Shaul’s exclamation in his letter to the Romans. His exclamation (Rom.9:3) was of exactly the same attitude as that of Moshe in Ex.32:32, where he pleaded with HaShem to f”

      2. It is my understanding that a chief difficulty facing Paul was his insistence that the Gentile who came to faith in Rav Yeshua could benefit from the blessings of the New Covenant without being actual covenant members. Even among other Jewish devotees to Yeshua, this was a difficult concept to absorb. We see this conflict in the first few verses of Acts 15 and this is why a legal decision had to be rendered by James and the Jerusalem Council about the status of Gentile believers in Jewish community.

        Even believing Gentiles had trouble getting Paul’s point and allowed themselves to be influenced by either Jewish believers or non-believing Jews, which was the whole point of the Galatians letter.

      3. In actuality, Jos, Jewish disciples maintaining the Jewish traditions continued for at least five centuries, not merely one. In addition, Rav Shaul continued to insist that he was a Jew, and not merely a nominal Jew, but a Pharisee among Pharisees, throughout his career up to and including his arrest and trial before Roman authorities. See Acts 26:4-8, where he asserts that the very reason for which he is currently in chains is because of advocating the Pharisaic doctrine of the resurrection, and despite his well-known status as a Pharisee. Rav Shaul was never anything other than a Pharisaic Jew. He most certainly continued to belong to the Jewish people and to the Jewish religion.

        Let me emphasize also that the only “curse” that Israel has ever been under is the one that appears in the Torah against those members of the covenant who reject the requirements of the Torah — a curse that ends when they return to HaShem by returning to covenantal Torah obedience. What Rav Yeshua provides for Jews, Rav Shaul included, is a means and an encouragement for doing so.

        Look closely at Rav Yeshua’s emphasis in the Sermon-on-the-Mount, to a Jewish audience on an Israeli hillside, in Mt.5:17-20 particularly. He emphasizes that he is not against Torah, but comes to obey it by fulfilling its precepts (as well as its prophecies). He emphasizes that even the smallest details of the Torah and the Prophets will remain valid and in force as long as the heavens and earth endure. He says to his Jewish audience that those who do and teach Torah will be greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and that they must be even more diligently righteous than the Scribes and Pharisees even to be entering into that kingdom, and that those who fail or refuse to do so will be least in that kingdom. In Mt.13:52 he observed that every scribe who becomes a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings forth treasures. That household treasury is the compendium of Jewish knowledge that is the legacy of knowledgeable Jews like that exemplary scribe.

        Rav Shaul also was an example of such a knowledgeable Jew, which is the reason his letters became such a prized possession to be included within the canon of scripture. When he observed in Rom.9:6 that not all descendants of Israel are “Israel”, he was saying that they don’t all live up to the standards of the people of Israel, that they don’t all behave as sons of Israel should do. He is not saying that they have ceased to be physically sons of Israel, nor that the Jewish heritage has ceased to apply to them. They too may depart from the curse of apathy to the Torah, and return to obedience. Certainly Rav Yeshua’s teachings would help them to repent and return.

        So it behooves us to wonder just how HaShem is going to accomplish the miracle that Rav Shaul describes in Rom.11:26 that “all Israel will be saved”; but at the same time we cannot doubt that He will somehow reclaim these “lost sheep of the house of Israel” in order to do so. Rav Yeshua’s challenges and criticisms did become a stumbling block for some Jews; but it was persecution from gentile Imperial Roman Christians that enlarged a mere stumbling block into an impenetrable wall to shut Jews out and away from the real Israeli rabbi Yeshua ben-Yosef. His modern Jewish disciples who have repented and returned to Torah obedience are the best hope to remove such impediments as we try to demonstrate how Jews may recover from the ills of the past twenty centuries.

  10. Peace be to all and a good health.
    Hello guys, we will not tackle the many false teaching of the many religion, so to minimize time to waste in long discussion, to the reason that by just knowing the Universal Final Judgment that was already executed by Yeshua M. ever since 1st Century in Mt. 25:31-46, which thou could also concluded to know the total condemnation of all the religion. For it will not help them anymore to clean their committed sinned. Anyhow, we will elaborate in detail this very simple to understand Universal Final Judgment in Mt. 25:31-46, in verse 31: so the Son of Man (Yeshua M.) sit at his throne of glory (Authority to Judge).. Verse 32: and before him, he gathered all nations (note: to read this message, thou must apply dual meaning in its terminolpgy it used). And from all these nations separate one (which is the Israel nation) from another (from the rest of all the gentile nations) as a sheperd (Yeshua M.) divided his Sheep (refers to all israeli people in literal meaning and to the spiritual meaning refers to all the Chosen Covenantal Israel) from the Goats (refer to those unqualified Israelites plus the accursed literal gentile people or nations) to the left. Verse 33-36: just read it. Verse 37-40: read and note the word “bretheren of Yeshua M.,” this will prove the Exclusivity of the Messianic Covenant to the Covenantal people! And on verse 41, (also read and note) this is already the over all concluding, final and executory Judgment made by Yeshua M. to all those literal gentile nations and the unqualified Israelites or formerly called “Leftseeds by A. Paul,” that if they really still ignores or rejected these Ultimate Last Call of God as their Last Chance to submit ànd truely to comply to the Will Plan of God for their redemption unto salvation and there is no other hope. Verse 42-46 these will be also the judgment to be use in the Parousia Period for the leftseed Israelites and gentile nations.
    NOTE : Have you not notice the Final Judgment have been already executed first by Yeshua M. while the New Covenant Plan of God is still in progress and nearing to its end. So, while we have still some minutes left to the One Hour set period of the 2nd Advent. We are informing the world to read and seriously research the  whole Holy Bible as your last mediator to God! May our living lord God Bless us all.

    LOVE : New Jerusalem-Holy City

  11. OBTW James — If the “third one” reference in your recent post above was about what *I* called a third (pseudo-)gospel, that Rav Shaul cited as a non-gospel sort of gospel, I think I’d have to disagree. His reference was to the notion that converting to Judaism would be good news because it seemed to resolve many social problems faced by gentile disciples vis-à-vis both Rome and the Jewish community. That was not intended to remove them from HaShem’s redemptive plan, though Rav Shaul noted (vehemently) that it could have that effect by cutting them off from the benefits of the messiah. What you described as a “so called ‘good news’ that completely removes the non-Jew from the redemptive plan of Hashem” sounds to me like yet *another* pseudo-gospel, a fourth one, that presents gentile Christians as an independent body that has superseded “all that Jewish nonsense”, as did the Nicene Council and subsequent church councils. But maybe I misread what you were trying to describe. Nonetheless I hope you can discern the differences between what I’ve now described as two distinct pseudo-gospels — the latter of which would likely never have entered Rav Shaul’s imagination when he mentioned the former one.

    1. I think what I was saying was that the “other gospel” required the Gentile to convert to Judaism in order to benefit from the New Covenant at all. Faith and devotion to Rav Yeshua while not converting, would be insufficient. While it might be “good news” for a Gentile to convert to Judaism, as you say, Paul indicated it would be discounting the benefits of Gentile devotion to Rav Yeshua. There are multiple references all over the Tanakh that Hashem did not intend for the entire world to convert but rather that the Gentiles could come to Him to as Gentiles.

  12. I see what you’re saying, James. The assertion in Acts 15:1 that the Jerusalem Council disclaimed might be described as yet another pseudo-gospel. That one, however, claimed that conversion was required for salvation; whereas the conversion cited in Galatians was for other mistaken reasons, such as acceptance within the Jewish community or avoidance of clashes with the Roman government due to the unrecognized status of non-idolatrous gentiles who would thus not participate in Caesar-worship or other public Roman religious requirements — hence, perhaps a distinct pseudo-gospel of its own type, involving what is essentially a false conversion for reasons of expediency rather than a motivation to join with the Jewish people in covenant with HaShem. I believe I elaborated this further in some attachments to a separate email I sent you yesterday.

  13. Peace be to all and a good health.
    Heĺlo guys, this is another spiritual revelation information which the world gentile religion misunderstood the true teaching of Yeshua M. in Mt. 16:18-19 and Mt. 28:19, which the gentile quoted them as their basic foundation to established their religion and be also a disciple of christ, which is not true and false teachings! Because the truth context of these messages were all in the Covenantal or Testamented word calling or an invitational message of Yeshua M. that reveals to Peter and to all his Covenantal countrymen, to comply and may become a Chosen Call Out of God or Ekklesia (or church). And this is by means of the Conceal Rock (it does not refer to Cephas or Peter) but it is referring to a rock as an analogical term for its resemblance to the “tablet that came down from heaven” or “Eternal Gospel” according to A. John in Rev. 14:6.. And to Yeshua M. it is  “bread of God that came down from heaven” in Jn. 6:33. But this is if given and if rewarded of the spiritual knowledge, if fully observe when eaten (or if fully read). And then follows their sign of authority (Spiritual) of the Church of God (a nomenclature title change, to hide the identity of the prophet). And this Church of God become the Walking Holy Gospel Book to the Israelite people. Because at that time the scriptures are very rare and not yet compiles into a complete printing. But unknown to all bible scholars that the New Covenant Plan of God which is the NT book is already the 1st Applied Universal Final Judgment to the covenantal Israelites and the gentile people in the 1st Advent Messianic Period. And to A. Paul version in Act 17:31 these “appointed day to judge the world in righteousness,”  is also the same applied judgment. Which the gentile religions taught it literally wrong! But God gave 2nd Last Chance Hope to both Leftseed Israelites and gentiles in this Parousia or the 2nd Advent Period. And God already prepared in his Covenant Plan the Seven Candlesticks or Seven Churches of God, read Rev. 1:20 that will supervise this Plan of God.

    And those Churches of God were already revealed in the gospel as two characterize features as Church of God or Temple of God or the prophet of God or as the Walking Gospel book! But at the later time A. Paul revealed this Chuch of God as the so called House of God which is the Holy Gospel Book (New Testament Book) in 1 Tim. 3:15-16 and Heb. 10:5-7 & :21 “for having a high priest (Yeshua M.) over the house of God.” Thus the gospel book becomes the Living Word of God Book that continue the spiritual ministry work when all the six churches of God dies. And the 1st Advent Messianic believers of these Yeshua M. teachings were called Churches of Christ (and not the name of the religions). Which means these believers were Chosen Call Out alone by Christ or Holy Spirit (Although by many ways and means, and A. Paul is one good example without any representation of any religion). And at our present Parousia Period or 2nd Advent believers will be the same procedures by Caught in the cloud or the Holy Spirit and still no representation of religion!

    And to categorize the Churches of God, is base on the time of their calling, beginning at the 1st Advent Messianic Covenant Period or Christianity, the six Churches of God are use. And the 1st church of God is Joseph or as also the Messiah (note: the prophet is nonsense but only SPEAKER of God in compare to the Spiritual Word of God to avoid idolatry). Then followed by A. Paul and A. John, then Peter, Mathew and James (note: this is not in order, thou may be a last call out but thou can be also 1st in the rank). Thus completed the Six Churches of God used in the 1st Advent Covenant Period, that work out in literal and in spiritual means (by the gospel book) for 2000 years set period that took end since last 1993! So, TRANSITION comes of the 2nd Advent which begun since 1994 to date, and the Church of God is still reserved to Yeshua M., thus completed the whole Seven Churches of God that supervised the Lone Religion of God which is the Kingdom of God on earth. And believe it or not, they were prophesies most likely to be only ignored and rejected rather than to be honor and to believe (true or false?). This is to prove to all that God is really seeking the believer a higher allegiance faith to Yeshua M. rather than to their affiliated religions. Its because God is a jealous God.
    May our living lord God Bless us all.

    LOVE : New Jerusalem – Holy City

  14. The irrevocable blessings of the Jews were:

    1. Divine Right of Kings
    2. Temple
    3. Priesthood
    4. The Presence
    5. Ancestral Land recognized by G-d
    6. Holy books that relate to them
    7. The Prophets
    8. Communal Identity
    9. Divine Laws
    10. Rulership of the World
    11. All built on everlasting covenants
    …and with the New Covenant they receive the Ruach and Redemption.

    Gentiles receive the last two on that list. Ruach and Redemption. And for most of us who have never seen a miracle, simply Redemption. A one-liner “Dayenu”.

    So I can see how gentiles would easily wish to convert and up their blessings. And how Jews around Paul were flabbergasted at his dogged insistence that egalitarian blessings would materialize. It might have been a stiffer pill to admit to the Gentiles, “Israel is your spiritual better forever, and your role in this play is to vindicate her. That’s the only reason you’ve been spared. And that’s why you cannot convert.” Perhaps a mess of difficulty could have been avoided if he cut to the chase.

    “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
    ― George Orwell, Animal Farm

  15. “That’s the only reason you’ve been spared. And that’s why you cannot convert.”

    And to draw nearer to G-d generally.

    I forgot that as a reason for being spared.

    1. Nice try, Sleepwalker (I think) — But Rav Shaul did not completely forbid conversion, if done for halachically acceptable reasons. You can find this in Gal.4 if you know how to read between the lines, so to speak — though his general message in the Galatians letter is to discourage conversion in the strongest terms, because the folks to whom he was writing had been enticed into a false conversion that could have the most serious spiritual ill-effects. And there was no general threat of annihilation against gentiles for which one single reason exists for sparing them. Your list of irrevocable blessings upon Jews could also stand a bit of closer scrutiny. George Orwell’s observation about the nature of totalitarian socialism is also not applicable to HaShem’s sovereign choice to begin His redemptive work with Jews. Overall, you describe a second-class citizenship which is precisely *not* the gentile condition in HaShem’s economy. In fact, gentiles can do something which is denied to Jews. They can do *more* than HaShem requires of them, by voluntarily clinging tightly to the Jews and HaShem’s covenant with them, thus to receive a greater blessing than the Jewish sons and daughters of the covenant, per Is.56:5. They can do this without the restrictions of any covenant. So you are quite mistaken about a “bitter pill” to be taken after “cut[ting] to the chase”. That false conclusion represents a failure to see the big picture.

  16. I’m wondering if we’re not taking an ancient text and pasting over our sense of democracy and fairness. I’m not saying that G-d is a totalitarian. I’m just saying we tend to think in terms of class and equality nowadays, perhaps try to read revolution back into the gospels, and in that we make a mistake.

    An Israelite serf is not equal to a Cohen or a King in power nor responsibility. That is tangible. That is real. How then is a Gentile equal to any of them? In what way if so? In the general sense of having nishmot? What? The tiebreakers seem all too obvious. Maybe the burden of proving equality everywhere holds us down.

    Judah had to come to grips with the fact that his father loved Joseph more, Joseph would rule the world, and he would attain to glory. And even after all the years of murder plots, lying, and eventual revelation, it’s still pretty obvious that father loves Joseph more in the end. Always has. Always will. And throughout all of Joseph’s trials he’s teflon and G-d prospers him even in punishment, and nothing really sticks to him like it sticks to everyone else. He’s like Ferris Bueller. And it’s Judah’s burden, if you will, to come to terms with the fact that Heaven and father both dote on Joseph more…

    …and to be okay with that.

    James once asked a critical question that struck a nerve with me. “You fear that G-d loves someone else more? So…what if he does?” And in that question was my answer. One must love G-d regardless of how He loves you. Perhaps that’s how G-d intends to mortify a newcomer’s ego.

    “They can do *more* than HaShem requires of them, by voluntarily clinging tightly to the Jews and HaShem’s covenant with them, thus to receive a greater blessing than the Jewish sons and daughters of the covenant…”

    No they can’t. Shabbat observance merits death for gentiles. Goys have this whole appropriation minefield to fret about whenever they make a stab at it anyway. In my experience, even reciting alternate berachot has elicited angry revulsion and indignant outcry in nearby Jews upset that I was even present. Maybe that’s not true for everyone, but the last thing I want is step on someone else’s karma.

    These two videos highlight my frustration:


    Your ideal looks nice, I grant you that.

    As a gentile, G-d halts my spirituality at 1. being kind and 2. believing in one G-d. And I don’t really need a space-and-time religion to keep those two, otherwise G-d would have revealed a religion to we goys. To live beyond points 1 and 2 forces us into doldrums of man-born imaginings called ‘church’ or instead to appropriate Torah in the narthex.

    G-d gave Religion to the Jews. Accepting this brings quiescence of sorts as my observance winds down and I find myself yearning to rejoin the quotidian secular life without leaving too wide a wake.

    I’ll always hope the Messiah comes sooner rather than later, and that lone, still thought brings me comfort. I hope you find yours as well, PL. I’ll always be cheering for your people.


    1. I’m terribly sorry for your sense of frustration, Sleepwalker. It seems to me focused on worst-case interpretations rather than on what is possible. Your use of a term like “Israeli serf” also indicates some failure to understand that the Torah specifically eliminated serfdom among Jews, and strictly limited indenture as a solution for destitution. Even its allowance of low-level gentile employment was conditioned by reminders about not mistreating foreigners because of the collective memory about being such in Egypt. Talmud includes discussion points that are both positive and negative, because of galut history that was not framed by the sovereign conditions of Torah. The prophetic picture is not so bleak as you view the situation, and that is my guide for the development of the future for non-Jewish disciples. Your frustration seems to me to underscore the need for more of the Acts 15:21 scenario of extensive Torah learning. Have you ever read the commentary in the Hertz Chumash? He offered a view of Torah that I recommend highly.

  17. I like this quote from Sleepwalker: “James once asked a critical question that struck a nerve with me. “You fear that G-d loves someone else more? So…what if he does?” And in that question was my answer. One must love G-d regardless of how He loves you. Perhaps that’s how G-d intends to mortify a newcomer’s ego.

  18. PL,

    I read a healthy cross-mix of sources, ranging from rabbinic fundamentalists, kabbalistic, vogue liberal, periodicals, archaeological, and source theorist. I’ve attended Nanos and Zetterholm panels at SBL. I’m sure I’m lacking somewhere though. Probably spiritually anymore.

    In any case, my point stands. The President is not an equal to an average wage-earner in the US. I mean yeah, you can hem and haw about how they’re all equal under law in principle, etc. But the President can dispatch armies and shift the bureaucracy, veto laws and proffer new proposals. The market coughs when he does. I don’t enjoy that kind of sway as a two-bit ad man. In kind, one entrusted with the revealed Torah is not equal to a person entrusted with 7 derived laws from it. Priests and kings are not equal with farmers; they judge them. A pupil is not equal with his teacher.

    The half-shekel and census might intimate to us an inkling that to G-d all are equal on some celestial plane. But we don’t live on that plane, we live in a world where title and category apply and we have to navigate through it all. Such category seems to apply in the Messianic Age as well. I’ve learned two incontrovertible truths about societies in my time on earth:

    1. If you climb any polity high enough, you always come to one man. It matters not if it’s an oligarchy, democracy, kingship, or a mob syndicate, nor its doughty encomia for the common man. Climb high enough, one man awaits you.

    2. All men are equal. But some are more equal than others. Just like in Animal Farm, dogs eat the scraps.

    I think the Bible treats more on G-d and Man approaching one another, and fellow honoring fellow. Vain essays at egalitarian hopes seem to wither under scrutiny. It might be just and fair that a younger sibling inherit less, but it’s certainly not equal and it does violence to my sense to feign otherwise. Paul registers a high “Che” quotient until you weigh equality’s qualities.

    1. I think I should point out that equality is not sameness. Similarly, equality of opportunity is not the same as equality of outcome. People may be of equal value, but they will not all achieve the same greatness in their societies. Some are actually smarter than others, some more gifted in art, or physical skill, or economic sense. Thus, some may become richer or more famous than others. Are they equal, or are they not? In what ways are they equal, and what ways not? Or is “equality” a vastly-misunderstood and misapplied concept? Does the Torah’s half-shekel tax apply equally to a first-born inheritor and his younger siblings? [Yes] Do its moral requirements apply equally? [Yes] Do all Israelites bear the same responsibilities in all matters? [No] First-born inherit more responsibilities along with the greater funding they inherit to accomplish them. There are Cohanim, and Leviim, and general Israelite members of other tribes, bearing differing requirements and responsibilities. There are Nazirites and Gerim, and those afflicted temporarily with tumah. And while we’re on the subject of different responsibilities, there are distinct privileges and responsibilities for women, some of them also tribally linked. Are any of these “less equal” for all that? No, they are not. They are of equal value and yet they are not the same. Too many folks see the differences and falsely conclude that somehow their equality has been diminished. If such differences are defined by Torah while still insisting on equality within Israel, how then can anyone doubt that non-Jews also are of equal value with Jews despite the differences upon which the Torah insists? Some criminals are more or less evil than others. Does the Torah not condemn them equally? The notion that “some are more equal than others”, was formulated to illustrate the lies that hide behind distorted meanings of familiar words. It behooves us to think more clearly than that.

  19. Weighing in here. There’s a difference in the importance of a role or function in Hashem’s economy and our importance to Him as human beings made in His image. In re-evaluating my life and particularly my life in Him, I have to believe that God experiences caring for me, though it might not be readily apparent in my immediate experience.

    If you take Jewishness and Christianity out of the equation for a moment and just consider a single human life and God, then what do we have? The Tanakh is replete with statements of how the people of the nations will all worship Hashem, how His House is a House of Prayer for the nations, and so forth.

    I just re-read Solomon’s dedication of the Temple in I Kings as he famously requests that any Gentile who comes to the Temple and prays should have his/her prayers answered by Hashem.

    I may have trouble with how Christianity sees our relationship to God through Jesus, but the fact that such a relationship does exist through the merit of Rav Yeshua is indeed something we can all cling to.

    I didn’t say it would be easy. It certainly hasn’t been for me.

  20. I’m not sure if the Image bears any relevance in the discussion. Charles Manson and Jack The Ripper share that selfsame image. The Image is everyone and nobody. And have you ever met anyone who doesn’t have it? If you treat it like an appraisal it becomes both needful and needless like a participation trophy.

    Worth implies comparison.

    R. Lapin said that uniqueness is the Image of G-d, as G-d is the most unique thing. In that reasoning I see the more unique as the more precious. Like gems. Like snowflakes. Israel is unique among the nations, contrasting the fungible nations that make her unique with their sameness.

    Worth implies uniqueness. That’s why saying “all you folks are the same” packs such a wicked sting.

    I see the Image as a call that humans be torchbearers into existence on behalf of G-d as the idols of G-d, not a statement about their “worth” per se and certainly not about uniqueness. The Image seems more like a pre-game roll call than an MSRP.

    I suppose the Image is a deterrent for slander and murder, as doing either is to burn G-d in effigy. So perhaps it is a baseline declaring that one currently merits to go on living.

    Yes, I do think G-d loves me. He chastises whom he loves. Even still, I’ve stopped sounding the cause for equality in the Bible or Heaven or the human condition.

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