Divorce

Why Christianity Was Invented and What It Means To Me Today

I didn’t think I’d be writing another blog post about Passover this year. After all, I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve addressed that theme, particularly relative to being intermarried and being a “Messianic Gentile.” But I had a dream last night that made me look at it from a different direction. Actually, I’ve had this idea running around in my brain for a while now but chose not to express it before.

No, I don’t think my dream was a “prophetic dream” or any such thing. It was probably just my mind processing information.

In my dream, I saw a blog post written by someone whose name many of my readers would recognize (which is why I’m not going to use it) who was criticizing me for being “stuck” in my spiritual development. This person said he wanted to like me but that I needed to move on.

It’s true that I’ve plateaued, but that’s not why I’m writing this.

I’m writing this to ask (and then answer) why there’s such a thing as Christianity in the first place?

To the vast majority of church-going Christians, the answer might seem obvious. At the end of Matthew’s Gospel, Rav Yeshua (Jesus Christ) tells his Jewish disciples to go make disciples of all the nations, that is the Goyim; the Gentiles.

Then in Acts 9, Rav Yeshua creates a vision for Paul (Saul or Rav Shaul if you prefer) specifically commissioning him to be an Apostle to the Gentiles, a mission he would pursue diligently for the rest of his life.

I suppose we could even give a lot of the credit to Constantine for manufacturing the Roman Catholic Church and making them a dominant religious structure that continues to affect the entire Christian Church and all of its denominations to this day (the Reformation didn’t change as much as people think and in fact continued to support the many crimes the Church has committed against the Jewish people).

Almost four years ago, largely citing New Testament scholar Magnus Zetterholm, I wrote Zetterholm, Ancient Antioch, and “Honey, I Want A Divorce” describing the cultural and sociological dynamics that likely drove a really big wedge between the ancient Jewish and non-Jewish devotees of Rav Yeshua, effectively sending them on two divergent paths, Judaism and Christianity.

But while normative Jewish devotion to Yeshua waned in the subsequent decades and centuries until it was finally (but not permanently) extinguished, the Gentile Christian Church blossomed or, from some points of view, “grew like a weed.” However, Gentile Christianity, in order to form its own identity, had to totally reinterpret the Bible so that not only were Israel and the Jewish people minimized as the focus of God’s attention, but all of the covenant promises the Almighty made to Israel were “spiritually transferred” to the Christian Church.

However, for those few of us who are “Hebraically aware” Gentile believers, an honest reading of scripture reveals that God didn’t change His mind, lie to Israel about His ultimate intent, or go from plan A to plan B somewhere in the first part of the book of Acts.

Christianity as it has existed for nearly 2,000 years including its modern incarnations, is not the logical and natural expression of the Bible. It’s an invention that was required by the ancient Gentile believers in order to form their own identity and praxis completely separate from the Jewish origins of the faith.

So what? A lot of us know that. It’s old news.

Here’s the deal. It’s happening again today. Well, that’s not exactly true. Let’s say an echo of the original schism is happening again today.

JewishI remain a big supporter of Messianic Jewish community, the active and lived experience of Messianic Jews within normative Judaism. While in Reform, Conservative, and even Orthodox Jewish synagogues, you might find the occasional Gentile (a Jewish member’s spouse for instance or perhaps a non-Jew considering conversation), by and large, the people there are almost all Jews and even if a few goys are present, it’s still a wholly Jewish community. No one questions that for a second.

In a Messianic Jewish synagogue, you are likely to find the majority of members are not Jewish since modern Messianic Judaism has its origins in the Church. However over the last few decades, the movement has evolved such that Jewish disciples of Rav Yeshua desire to not have to choose between Jewish identity and praxis and their devotion to their Rav.

That all makes sense. The Jews in Paul’s day who were devoted to Yeshua were pretty much indistinguishable from the Pharisees (that may come as a shock to some people). Paul himself was an observant Jew in the Pharisaic tradition as were Peter, John, Matthew, and all of the other Jewish disciples. Devotion to Rav Yeshua, even after the crucifixion and resurrection, and even after the Acts 15 decree which applied only to the Gentile believers, did not change that fact on any level.

So why should it be any different today?

One argument is that Judaism then isn’t the same thing as Judaism today and that’s very true. However, if you accept, as many Messianic Jews do, the idea that Rabbinic authority allows for the evolution of interpretation of Torah such that Judaism today is the natural and logical extention of true Jewish faith and praxis, then there is some basis for Messianic Jewish praxis closely mirroring Orthodox Jewish praxis.

That statement if full of trap doors for a lot of Gentile Messianic believers and probably some Jewish ones, but let’s roll with it for the time being.

Where does that leave Hebraically aware Gentiles?

If Messianic Judaism necessitates exclusive Messianic Jewish community, we Gentiles are right back where we were before. Trying to find community that best fits our identity and doesn’t tromp all over our Messianic Jewish mentors.

The normative Church isn’t the answer. I tried that and my personal experience ended up being pretty frustrating. Hebraically aware Gentile believers for the most part, are a poor fit in that environment.

Acts 13 famously describes what happens when Gentile presence overwhelms Jewish community. Initially, the Jewish leaders of the synagogue in Pisidian Antioch welcomed Paul’s message of the Good News of Messiah, but the following Shabbat when scores of Gentiles (and not just the usual crew of God Fearers) showed up at the door, they were shocked and outraged. The Gentiles had invaded Jewish community in force, and while not having malicious intent, still threatened a wholly Jewish space by perhaps rewriting Jewish community and praxis to fit their own requirements.

So Paul, his companions, and probably most of the Gentiles were kicked out and the Apostle to the Gentiles fought an uphill battle for Gentile acceptance from that point on until his death.

Sort of the reverse happened in modern times. Historically over the past several decades, Messianic Jewish and Hebrew Roots spaces were largely composed of Gentiles, often badly imitating Jewish praxis, praying using Hebrew transliteration, reading the Torah portion in English (or in the primary language of their nation), and believing they were “Torah observant” or “Torah compliant” or whatever. Oh, and they absolutely drew a distinction between the written Torah, which they adored (as they understood it), and the oral Torah (Talmud) which they despised as “Man-made.”

Of course, there were always Jews present, but many/most of them had not been raised in observant Jewish families, many/most had been raised in intermarried families, and many/most had been raised in normative Christian families, the Jewish parent being more correctly identified as a “Hebrew Christian”.

But that’s been changing slowly and steadily, at least to the best of my knowledge. Now Messianic Jews (some of them anyway) are embracing what it is to be a Jew on all experiential levels and strongly desire to be among normative, observant, Jewish community.

That’s led some Messianic Jews to make the choice to abandon Rav Yeshua and join the Orthodox community in order to realize their desires. It’s also seen a number of “Messianic Gentiles” also abandon their Rav and convert to Orthodox Judaism. For them, it was either Rav Yeshua (and the Christians) or lived Jewish community.

Yes, Messianic Jews can have their cake and eat it too, and it’s not like they won’t let Gentile Messianic believers visit and worship with them or even grant them some sort of “associate membership.” However, in order to be Jewish community, it has to be primarily or exclusively Jewish, just like a normative Orthodox synagogue.

I think this is why we have the (Gentile) Hebrew Roots and Two-House movements today. Oh, they’ve existed for decades and in fact it could be said that modern Messianic Judaism (for Jews) emerged from them. However, that returns us to the question of what to do with these pesky Hebraically aware Gentiles, and the answer (which is uncomfortable to some) is something you’d have to call “bilateral.” That is separate but equal. Yeah, that’s really uncomfortable and I’m (hopefully) exaggerating to make a point.

In other words, Hebraically aware Gentiles are in the position of having to invent their own communities for the sake of Messianic Jewish exclusivity.

What does any of this have to do with Passover?

I observe Passover (well, without the Temple and Levitical Priesthood, no one really observes Passover) in the traditional manner for one primary reason; my wife is Jewish. If she plans a seder in our home, then I lead the seder as head of household.

Last year, my wife spent Passover with our daughter in California and thus, I did not observe Passover in any way.

If, Heaven forbid, something were to happen to my wife and I were alone, I would not continue to observe Passover.

While there are Gentile applications for the festival, truly the Passover feast is wholly Jewish and describes a uniquely Jewish relationship with the Almighty, even relative to Rav Yeshua. In Messianic Days, when the Temple is rebuilt, the Gentile disciples of Rav Yeshua will not be able to eat of the Pascal lamb. We can eat anything else, but not the lamb. Torah is clear on this matter and there is no example whatsoever of a Gentile eating of the lamb (If you think you can point one out, let me know).

But will Gentiles be in Jerusalem at all for Passover?

I’m guessing “yes” (and I’ve been wrong before) but only for one reason.

When Rav Yeshua returns, he is going to straighten out all of our communal and identity conflicts. First of all I think the church is in for a really big shock. Secondly, Yeshua will definitively (I hope) describe the roles and communities fitting for both Jewish and Gentile disciples and then hopefully all of this angst will just go away. If not, then we’ll still have to figure out for ourselves what it is to be servants of the King and so these pain points will continue.

What do to until then?

Some people think that Messianic Judaism as it currently exists is the forerunner of the Messianic Age as it will be.

Maybe and maybe not. I wouldn’t count on it for the simple reason that too many human egos are involved.

I’ve long since decided to withdraw from anything that even remotely resembles Jewish praxis, well, for the most part. It is true that every Saturday morning, I read the Torah and Haftarah portions along with a reading from the Gospels. There are no prayers or ceremony around this act, I simply read them.

Every morning when I wake up, I recite the Modeh Ani in English. That is the extent of my “Jewish” prayers.

The Jewish PaulNo, it’s not that I believe the “Halachah police” are going to kick down my door and bust me for “cultural appropriation.” I just don’t believe it’s right for me to adopt Jewish praxis, especially since my wife, who is Jewish, is pretty sensitive of me, a Christian, doing “Jewish stuff.”

So what to do until Messiah returns? Wait.

That’s all I can do. I can’t see a solution to the conflicts I’ve raised. If Messianic Judaism is Jewish then it is best left to the Jews. Paul had a vision about how to integrate the Gentiles, but his innovation died with him and Yeshua did not assign him a successor, which I find highly interesting. No one, absolutely no one followed Paul’s work. If the Almighty intended for the Gentiles to be integrated into a Jewish faith in our Rav, why did Paul’s work cease? At that point, it absolutely necessitated the Gentiles reinventing their identity into something completely different and new (and scripturally inaccurate).

Perhaps it’s because only Messiah can accomplish so great and difficult a thing.

So I’m waiting for him to do it because I don’t think we can accomplish it on our own.

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37 thoughts on “Why Christianity Was Invented and What It Means To Me Today”

  1. Well, James, while you’re reviewing notions you’ve written before, I’d like to reiterate a few as well. One of them is that Acts 15:21 implies that gentile disciples are expected to continue learning Torah each Shabbat from a Jewish perspective in synagogues — which in the view of the writer and the Council were small affairs available on virtually every street corner (at least in Jerusalem). Consequently, James, your weekly study is to be commended, particularly as I know that you complement it with online Jewish resources and commentary which can provide the modern equivalent of the ancient scribal and Pharisaic perspectives that would have been found in those Jerusalem synagogues.

    Another is that the resurgence of Jewish discipleship to haRav Yeshua ben-Yosef, and a social movement called Messianic Judaism, originated in multiple locations that owed no connection to churches or church mission organizations, as well as some that did. In the USA of the 1960s & 70s, both Christians and Jews were experimenting with independent grassroots forms that were neither church nor synagogue. So while it is *entirely incorrect* to lump them together and say that “modern Messianic Judaism has its origins in the Church”, there were certainly many gentiles attracted to the movement who came from church environs, along with a number of Jews who had already dabbled in church-based and missions-based Christianity, and some who had been associating together as “Hebrew-Christians” in virtually their own denomination since as early as 1917. All these streams agglomerated into the modern Messianic Jewish Movement that asserted the Jewishness of association with Rav Yeshua as deliberately distinct from any claims that Christianity asserted about him.

    Nonetheless, I know from personal observation and experience as a participant practitioner that the notion of Messianic Judaism did *not* originate in a church environment nor from “churched” nor Christianized Jews, regardless of the few foresighted individuals during the past two centuries who recognized the rationale for such a “non-Christian” fully-Jewish movement to come to pass. The real problem in recognizing this distinctive origin is that anytime such an independent notion arose, Christian mission organizations became aware of it and did not allow it to flourish independently, but instead felt compelled to “help” — and by doing so they overshadowed it with their own brand of Christian doctrine. The Messianic Jewish Movement in the USA has tried to foster a “post-missionary” independence of development, but with limited success.

    But, as you noted, in a social mixture like that agglomeration, the pursuit of Judaism, individual Jewish development, and the development of distinctively Jewish communal praxis, are easily overwhelmed and quashed by the ignorance of the bulk of its adherents who are not all equally obligated by the Torah covenant to do so. Nonetheless, even in a field of weeds, some grain may flourish. And ultimately we may see a harvest like that described in Rav Yeshua’s parable in Matthew 13:30 – “‘Allow both to grow together until the harvest; and in the time of the harvest I will say to the reapers, “First gather up the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them up; but gather the wheat into my barn.”’”.

    Note also that the origin of this modern MJ movement predated the Hebrew-Roots, One-Law, and Two-House doctrines, so it is incorrect to suggest that the movement arose from them either. You might, however, be able to credit them with providing a contrarian impetus for Jewish messianists to assert their proper identity as a distinct segment within a “bilateral” community.

    Because of the “wheat and tares” parable, I think that the agglomerated Messianic Judaism as it currently exists is *not* a pattern that can serve as a forerunner of the Messianic Age as it will be. I think Jewish messianism will be more distinctive and that redeemed gentiles will have their own patterns for righteous behavior after their “wood, hay, and straw” (viz: 1Cor.3:12-13) is burned away.

    You raised an interesting question by suggesting that no one continued Rav Shaul’s efforts among gentile disciples. After all, what happened to Timothy and Titus? Were they unable to continue after Rav Shaul’s arrest and imprisonment in Rome? Or might they have been lost in the warfare that included the siege and destruction of Jerusalem and the temple? We lack any equivalent to the book of Acts to record the history after the Hurban and into the second century CE. We see literature from that period that included Yohanan’s gospel, and the letters of a Yohanan who might not have been the same one, and the vision of the original apostle Yohanan on Patmos, but these are not a history of the disciples in that period. We also see, not long afterward, the epistles of Ignatius who claimed to have been discipled by Yohanan, which have a very different flavor that expresses strong anti-Jewish sentiments. We must infer how such views may have developed, in much the same way as you have done. Regrettably, we can draw parallels from modern conditions and tensions that may illustrate similar dynamics. Nonetheless, you have also posted essays on this blog offering excellent suggestions for how modern gentile disciples may proceed. I’m confident that HaShem will bless such efforts by “men of good will”.

  2. Hello James and others,
    First, I appreciate you and many of your posts as a Messianic Gentile, as I also identify as one. I experience frustration attending a main-line church with my wife and participating in an adult group but have recently discovered, that the men and women in that group also have their individual denominational angst(s) to bear.
    Some Sundays are like that 80’s movie, The Big Chill, to hear us talk.
    I write stories or novellas to express my Messianic view and the pastor espouses replacement theo from the pulpit. In between we play, ‘let’s pretend’ and get along on a surface level. My wife is married to me but raised in this doctrinal soup and happy with it. I am now fed via online Hebraic ministries not at church as was once the case.
    Writings by Oskar Skarsaune have helped me cope, and I imagine my companions in the adult study have found their ways to cope too. My next story or novella may be of the angst shared though unique to each on the faith journey.
    Just to give you an appetizer:
    – God will not send my daughter to hell for rejecting Him. He died to save everyone.
    – I don’t agree with infant baptism. Look at the thief hanging next to Yeshua on the cross.
    – I’m glad we hear more about grace instead of wrath today.
    – People have a different Jesus/Yeshua than I do if they are of a different faith.

    Today, the denomination publicly shoots down many of those claims. It also shoots down a renewed covenant in Jeremiah 31.

    Blessings,
    David Russell
    Author: Waiting For Messiah, Smashwords.com

  3. “Secondly, Yeshua will definitively (I hope) describe the roles and communities fitting for both Jewish and Gentile…If not, then we’ll still have to figure out for ourselves what it is to be servants of the King and so these pain points will continue.”

    There’s a terrifying thought.

  4. @David — I was intrigued to read your “appetizer”; and while I respond with some trepidation, I’d like to offer some clarifications regarding the angst of your first-mentioned item. First, it is true that Rav Yeshua’s death offers a symbolic sacrifice that may be claimed by everyone who wishes to ratify and validate their repentance before HaShem (that’s how the ancient Jewish sanctuaries’ sacrifices worked). It is also true that everyone will have to face HaShem after they slip beyond the bonds that have secured them in bodily physical life. It is true that He will not send them away willingly. But — and this is where matters become uncomfortable — those who have not reconciled their differences with Him will feel themselves overwhelmed by the force of His Presence. They, as naked neshamot, un-insulated from that Presence by the numbing which a physical body affords, will perceive themselves as He perceives them — no longer “in a glass darkly”, in a dimly-lighted or somewhat foggy mirror (viz: 1Cor.13:12). Such a self-awareness can be very hard to take. A soul in that condition is very strongly tempted to bolt for the nearest exit. [I can confirm that from personal experience; but that is another story.] The problem is that the only exits lead to outer darkness, and even *that* still doesn’t provide the desired hiddenness (viz: Ps.139:7-12).

    So in the case of your daughter, as you describe her, she will at some point have to acknowledge her condition, relinquish her own self-assertion, and reconcile herself to HaShem’s Will (just as she would have to do while still physically alive, though understandably with less extreme pressure). Since that “Will” includes the desire described by Rav Shaul to Timothy in 1Tim.2:3-6, we may expect “grace to abound”, but that doesn’t mean the subsequent righteousness-learning process will be comfortable or easy. And it’s not guaranteed that she will comply; and we learn from Gen.6:3a that there are limits to how far HaShem will push someone or chase after them. Thus one may hope, but with no “slam-dunk” guarantees. Afterlife conditions are so much more predictable when the reconciliation process begins during one’s lifetime. It is *there* that one may find a biblical guarantee. I beg you to notice, though, that all of the above is a reflection of “grace”. The notion of “wrath” applies to different circumstances altogether.

    If some of this sounds a little like something C.S.Lewis might have written (and it does to me), I attribute it to his having had a glimmer of the same scriptural hints and experiences that I’ve perceived also.

  5. Proclaim Liberty, and others,
    The appetizers as I call them are from others in the group in which I participate. Yes, you make a very refreshing presentation of standing before the Almighty and what that may be like for all of us and each of us to have everything big and small revealed and known. My classmate if you will, feels G-d will continue to hold out the inheritance for her daughter assuming she is still at the point where she is saying no. Something about meeting God will change her no to a very definite yes in this woman’s mind. The prodigal will have come home. I wonder what it would take for believers to focus on what we have in Messiah as his sons and daughters and if we could learn to be family and work on our sanctification and dispense our differences as Jew, Greek, Gentile, etc? If the middle wall has been broken down, it’s high time for the divorced to reconcile, isn’t it?
    Then issues like that of my classmate could be better addressed because we would all be preparing for “Dad’s coming.”
    David

  6. @David — I feel I should point out that breaking down a “middle wall” barrier doesn’t change the characteristic differences of the folks who can thus socialize together afterward. The men are still men, the women are still women; the Jews and the gentiles are still as they were, each called by HaShem to a characteristic destiny; and their sanctification follows different requirements as we see in Acts 15:23-29 (and Gal.5:3). Consequently, sanctification does not dispense with differences, even though all of them have a common privilege of access to HaShem and a pursuit of His righteousness. The olive-tree-of-faith analogy that Rav Shaul described to the Roman assembly (Rom.11:16-24) still comprised native branches and wild ones, even after some native branches had been temporarily broken off and later re-grafted. Isn’t it obvious that tree branches, as they grow and mature, reach farther and farther apart from each other? Sanctification should make us each more like what we should be; but that is not identical. But, then, whose foolish idea was it that folks had to be the same to socialize together? In fact, the nature of the Acts 15 rules for gentile disciples was such that they would become purified thereby, sufficiently that they could socialize with Jews in order to pursue learning of applicable Torah principles in synagogues each Shabbat, as suggested in verse 21.

  7. Excellent commentary and observations. You are right; MJ originated in Jewish space, not in Christian space, though it is largely known and popularized in the latter. I really like your reflections here.

  8. I really appreciated your frank and transparent soliloquy, James. I respect the path you are navigating, and the fact that you acknowledge and respect that others’ paths are different with different dynamics. Your comments on Passover have been shared before elsewhere and I’ve wrestled with that. Currently, I’m of the opinion that observing Passover is a good idea for Christians, since the early believers certainly observed the Feast, but I think you are right to maintain that we should not delude ourselves into thinking that we are practicing an authentic Seder, no matter how in line with Jewish tradition it may be. I can buy and wear a Tom Brady jersey, and even buy his stupid book on nutrition and practice it, but I’m still not the QB of the Patriots and I don’t have any memory of training camp.

  9. James. I was not raised observant in the Orthodox sense, but my Messianic rabbi was. (I was, however, raised to be very cognizant of my Creator.) Our synagogue, reflecting and passing the traditions on, (when I was there) was a blessing to my family and to me (and contact with the people, even if from a distance, still is). The rabbi there was Messianic per se, before I was, in addition to immersed in the beauty of the traditions yet longer before I was. But I had been searching for the Messians without the benefit of knowing the term for those who had already come together.

    Since then, I agree with the person who said churches have made the general public more aware of Messianic Judaism; the “awareness” is not quite so aware as would be satisfying. And the degeneration of churches over this timeframe (in large part while this doesn’t reflect on all) makes matters worse as Messianic Jews are discussed in shallow ways. It doesn’t help when Messianic Judaism (or the larger portion of what PL has referred to as “supposedly” MJ individuals/congregations) are glad to be a constituency of a political faction to a great extent with less encouragement in the Spirit.

    Messiah will sort all things.

  10. You raise an interesting point, David, about the early believers keeping the feast of Passover. Even gentile ones were encouraged to do so by Rav Shaul in 1Cor.5:8; but there is an odd note in his exhortation. He invokes doing so in a metaphorical manner, referring to the matzah, the unleavened bread, as a symbol for the characteristics of sincerity and truth. Now, one might infer from the context in which the phrase appears that he did not intend for them to keep Passover at all except in the symbolic manner of adjusting their communal behavior to purge immorality from their midst. However, since they were gentiles who would not have grown up familiar with the yearly tasks of cleansing leaven from the home and preparing to each matzah for a week after starting off with a special, very orderly, ritual meal, there had to be some means by which they would have been trained to appreciate the analogy he was invoking.

    Similarly, when he excoriated them in 1Cor.11:17-34 for their disorderly behavior in the matter of communal fellowship meals, he invoked the image of the orderly seder meal, in which everyone is participating in each phase of the meal and its educational discussions together at the same time. He did not offer this reference in some general off-the-cuff manner, but cited its specific detail of Rav Yeshua’s symbolic reference to his martyrdom in the “bread of affliction”, and the wine that is poetically called “the blood of grapes”. Since he was not referring to a separate new ceremony to be called “the Lord’s Supper”, nor “communion”, nor “the Eucharist” — because this notion had not yet been invented by a gentilized religion that had eschewed its Jewish origins and foundations — the gentile disciples must have been celebrating some form of the seder at Passover, probably on the evening of the 14th of Nisan, the night before the actual seder, just as Rav Yeshua had done as a “teaching seder” for his own Jewish disciples — because he apparently knew already that he would not be able to celebrate the actual Passover with them that year (viz: Lk.22:15).

    You may recall that by the time the lambs were being slaughtered for the passover seder that year (the next afternoon) Rav Yeshua had been arrested, tried, brought up before Pilate on sedition charges, and hoisted onto a Roman execution stake. His burial was rushed in order to get his body into a tomb before the festival began at sundown — so much so, that some of his female disciples approached the tomb again the morning immediately after the long shabbat of Passover plus the regular shabbat, hoping to complete the burial preparations with spices (viz: Lk.24:1; and a comparable procedure in 1Chron.16:14).

    So, while Rav Shaul was shaming the Corinthians for disorderly meal conduct, he was invoking Rav Yeshua’s selflessness in being martyred on their behalf and using the Passover seder’s orderliness as a better example. For that example to have been effective, they had to have participated in such meals previously. Thus, it would not be the leavened bread and wine at their fellowship meals that would remind them of Rav Yeshua, but their orderly behavior and consideration of one another, to ensure that some would not be late and still hungry while others would have finished long before that and become drunk on extra wine after the meal.

    In modern times, gentiles are often invited to a seder, even in the traditional Jewish community, as a means to familiarize them with the practice — and to demonstrate the foolishness of ancient antisemitic blood libels that accused Jews of murdering Christian children to use their blood in making matzah. It is an extension of the traditional practice of opening the door for Elijah, long enough to demonstrate to their Christian neighbors that the celebration was entirely open and innocuous — and not some Satanic ritual. But Christians and Messianic Jews have often done similarly in order to celebrate as Rav Yeshua did, emphasizing the same symbols that he did for his own disciples in order to commemorate his martyrdom as Rav Shaul described it in 1Cor.11:26, when he cited “this bread”, that is the matzah of the seder itself, rather than the leavened bread of their fellowship meals.

    Now, it is not uncommon for modern Jews to attend multiple seders at Passover. Usually the first is with their immediate family on the evening when Passover begins. The second would be the following night, at a synagogue presentation of one of these public seders. Consequently the only hesitation that Jewish disciples might have to conducting a public demonstration seder on the night before Passover would be a traditional injunction not to eat matzah for a little while before Passover in order that its taste would seem more special at Passover itself. After all, they have to eat it for eight days already; should they spoil their appetite for the matzah and extend that to a ninth day by starting early?

    Now, some messianic seders have taken to serving roasted lamb as the entrée, but I find that somewhat inappropriate for three reasons. One is as James cited in his essay above, that uncircumcised gentiles were not permitted to eat the Passover sacrifice. Another is that serving lamb at Passover, when there is no temple in operation to authorize the sacrifice, is a counterfeit. This is why traditional modern seders use symbolic substitute foods in place of the lamb. A third reason is that eating actual lamb, for the purpose of commemorating Rav Yeshua as a symbolic one, is rather cannibalistic — it fails to recognize that a physical human being is not actually eligible to serve as a Jewish sacrifice, and it fails to honor the symbol of the Akeidah when HaShem demonstrated that notion by replacing Yitzhak with a ram. The actual Passover lamb is a symbol of an actual lamb, not of a human. There must be a clear conceptual distinction between the sacrifice itself and the death which is a symbol that it carries. When Yohanan reported Rav Yeshua’s statements in Jn.6:53-55, about eating his flesh and drinking his blood, he also reported that the audience reaction, including that of his disciples in vs.60, was not receptive. Yohanan had a tendency to emphasize symbolic and metaphorical references, and this was one of them. He knew the audience had an aversion to anything that was not kosher, as cannibalism would be; and Rav Yeshua pressed on that sensitivity with this saying in order to force the audience to think symbolically, midrashically. Thus I feel that we need to use specifically-symbolic foods (rather than their literal analogues) in modern seders and demonstration seders to ensure that this point is made.

    Having addressed Passover issues, I should offer one final note about fellowship meals of the sort the Rav Shaul cited in 1Cor.11, and the use of bread and wine that characterize them. In Jewish practice, such meals begin with the ceremony of “Kiddush”, whereby the traditional blessings are recited over wine and bread, before beginning the meal. Note that the order is meaningful. The traditional order is to bless the wine first, then the bread. Rav Shaul’s citation of the bread first is an artifact of his invocation of the particular elements of the seder that Rav Yeshua emphasized for their symbolic value, among multiple blessings of both the wine and the matzah in the seder. Nonetheless, in many synagogues on a shabbat morning, after the shaharit Torah service, such a kiddush is followed by merely coffee, tea, or juice, and donuts or pastries. Others may serve an actual (healthier) buffet lunch, especially if they plan to continue with more teaching and discussion afterward and then the min’hah service. I mention this because many gentile disciples (and not a few Jewish ones) have become accustomed to commemorating Rav Yeshua frequently with bread and wine (or grape juice). Those who recognize that Rav Shaul was not inventing a “communion” ceremony, not even for one gentile assembly, and who therefore do not wish to participate in what has become such a characteristically Christian ritual or “sacrament”, may nonetheless celebrate the kiddush before a meal, not only as a form of “grace” before the meal, but also as a reminder of Rav Yeshua’s teaching at Passover.

    And I think I will save for some other time any discussion about “authenticity”, in a seder celebration or in any other aspect of behavior among Jews or gentile disciples.

  11. Oops! Typo alert! Somehow I overlooked one instance where “each” appears instead of the intended “eat”.

  12. Hello Proclaim Liberty and Others, Wow!
    I need to figuratively catch my breath with all the comments and expressed thoughts. I’ll try to be concise.
    – Proclaim: I have thought about your reaction to my idea suggesting a unified effort between Messianics and Christians to work on sanctification issues. Yes, men, women, boys and girls and ethnicities still remain uniquely identified. I like your point about branches not growing bunched together. Romans 11.
    I am addressing though humanity’s need for ongoing guidance to be set free from those drives and habits in life that easily beset us regardless our gender or ethnicity. Even though everyone on Shavuot heard the Gospel in their own tongue, yet 3,000 people were redeemed. It worked! I’m proposing that ideally it should work today if someone walks off the street into a Christian or Messianic service. Key word, ideally!
    – Passover: I would love to have an email exchange with you, Proclaim, about the issue of Passover, Christian Communion, and a broader issue that has come to my attention of late. Communion in Sacramental systems is depicted as the Christian observation of Passover. Even the late Zola Levitt stated such. Yet, and rightfully so, it is as you indicate, distinctly Christianized. Churches will use the practice of Communion as grounds to reject hosting a Seder.
    The broader issue is illustrated by Hebraic scholars including Julia Blum and the Pseudonym, Chaim ben Torah, who assert modern Bible translations miss the meaning intended and conveyed in several verse references. If believers understood Hebrew, much would be made clear; even Yeshua would be understood. As we approach the week before Resurrection Day, it will be open season for Replacement Theologians and the like.
    For example, the disciples all abandoned Yeshua, over and over the scribes and pharisees tested and rejected Yeshua, the crowd were fickle, etc etc. Is this a fault of translation of Biblical history?
    One final note on Messianic gentiles: I used to listen to the Shavuot eve service from Congregation Melech Yisrael in Toronto, Canada. At the time, Rabbi Farber was the teacher. He used the story of Ruth to in part, invite gentiles sitting on the figurative fence as it were, to be like Ruth and come glean in the field of Messianic Judaism, or perhaps Congregation Melech. I for one, further embraced Hebraic Roots as a result of listening to him. While the public sermons were for “everyone”, Congregation Melech does identify itself as distinctly Messianic Jewish in practice and outlook or theology. It’s the oldest MJ congregation supposedly in Canada. Thoughts?
    David Russell
    david.sonofhashem@gmail.com

  13. Loved all of this. Thank you. I agree with you completely on the points with which I am familiar, and thank you for the points on which you brought increased insight.

  14. @James

    In the paragraph right next to the picture of the young lady,
    …. While in Reform, Conservative, and even Orthodox Jewish synagogues, you might find the occasional Gentile (a Jewish member’s spouse for instance or perhaps a non-Jew considering conversation), by and large, the people there are almost all Jews …

    I take it you mean “considering conversion” (even while conversation is not at all out of the realm of what would occur).

  15. “In Messianic Days, when the Temple is rebuilt, the Gentile disciples of Rav Yeshua will not be able to eat of the Pascal lamb. We can eat anything else, but not the lamb. Torah is clear on this matter and there is no example whatsoever of a Gentile eating of the lamb (If you think you can point one out, let me know).”

    Exodus 12:47 and 48

  16. Exodus 12:47-48 address the congregation of Israel (Jews) and circumcised sojourners (gerim) who, by definition, have joined the Jewish people by converting to Judaism. Thus they are no longer gentiles of other nations, but rather gerim are fully-assimilated members of the Jewish nation. HaShem will be acknowledged by all those who are redeemed, from all nations as well as from the Jewish nation, but those of other nations will still be gentiles and not eligible to eat the sacrificed Passover lamb. The Messiah is their metaphorical lamb (viz: 1Cor.5:7); they do not eat of the physical sacrifice even in the messianic kingdom.

    So, Steven, wanna try again?

  17. “they are no longer gentiles of other nations”

    I agree! “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

  18. You’re ignoring the context of that verse, Steven. It has no connection to what I wrote about circumcised converts to Judaism; so your expression of agreement is falsely based. The focus of that verse is unity, which is not based on sameness. Men do not begin gestating children. Women continue to do so. Jews continue to be obligated by the Torah covenant, which itself remains valid and in force as long as heaven and earth endure (Mt.5:17-18). Gentiles are not thus obligated (Acts 15). Nonetheless, all these distinctly different categories of individuals, despite their continuing distinctive responsibilities, have the same access to redemption. That is the context of their oneness, in which their distinctions do not have any effect, as if there were none at all. But the fact that converts may be accepted via circumcision into the Jewish covenant is one of the evidences that the covenant does represent a difference and a distinction; and gentiles in general are strongly discouraged from such conversion (see Rav Shaul’s comments to the Galatian assembly, all of whom were gentiles). It is only circumcised converts who are no longer gentiles, because they have become Jews; and the nature of Jewish conversion and its requirements ensures that it is a rare phenomenon based on individual considerations. Gentiles in general continue as gentiles; thus HaShem may be acknowledged as G-d over all nations and not just the Jewish one.

  19. I guess I’m more of an Ephesians 2 kind of guy. “having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances, that He might make in Himself one new man out of the two”

    Perhaps I don’t understand how he might make “in Himself” one new man out of two in the context of your teaching “gentiles in general continue as gentiles”.

  20. @ PL.
    Hi PL! I have a question that’s flitted across my mind over the years. What about boys who were already circumcised? I’m thinking of modern day medical circumcision or ancient cultures who also circumcised. How did the sages deal with that/how does modern Judaism deal with that?

  21. Hi, Ro — Men who are already circumcised, who convert to Judaism, undergo a symbolic re-circumcision, which draws a minimum three droplets of blood from the appropriate location. The meaning of Ex.12:48, however, remains the same — including not only some literal minimalistic rendition of it but also its symbolic meaning.

  22. @Steven — Ephesians 2 is another case that demonstrates the importance of context to proper interpretation. First of all, the translation “one new man” is too superficial, and an anachronistic holdover from King James usage where it was actually better understood by its original audience of the time. Taking the image somewhat literally, one really ought to ask if this “new man” is circumcised or not, among other pertinent questions, because one should be curious to know how or if the Torah applies to him — since Rav Yeshua made it clear in Mt.5:17-18 that the Torah remains valid and in force as long as heaven and earth endure, and in v.19 that it has significant impact on one’s status in the kingdom of heaven. However, a proper modern English translation of the Ephesians 2:15 phrase is referring to a “unified renewed humanity”. The phrases preceding it about abolishing an enmity, “in his flesh”, and a “law of commandments in ordinances” also require similar literal and historical clarifications. Now, abolishing enmity isn’t too difficult to understand, because that is an obvious prerequisite to establishing unity. The phrase “in his flesh” is a bit oblique and poetic, but it is not too difficult to relate this to his self-sacrificial martyrdom. But, given Rav Yeshua’s observations in Matthew, during his famous “sermon on the mount”, that he did not come to “abolish” the Torah, we should be able to recognize that something other than the Torah is being referred to in the phrase “law of commandments in ordinances”. And, in fact, the terms used in the original Greek (“νόμον τῶν ἐντολῶν ἐν δόγμασιν καταργήσας”, “a law of charges decreed inactivated”) actually refer to the document of a court verdict — in this case, one that has been “vacated” or set aside. That generic judgment against gentiles, like those of the Ephesian assembly to whom Rav Shaul was writing, that kept them separate from fellowship or any social interaction with Jews, become ineffective to gentile disciples of Rav Yeshua as they became spiritually cleansed and distanced from their prior idolatries and immoralities (which the principles of Acts 15:23-29 were intended to do). Thus they were becoming renewed members of humanity who could cooperate in unity with Jews to do what Rav Shaul advised the Philippians in Phil.2:12 “work out [the consequences of] your salvation with fear and trembling”. But the gentiles still do so as gentiles; and the Jews do so as Jews. And now I hope you have a better understanding of what Rav Shaul was writing in Ephesians chapter 2 with which you wish to identify.

  23. Pl, so James says there is no example of Gentiles eating the passover and when I point to Exodus you state “they are no longer Gentiles”. Do they continue “doing as Gentiles”? You seem to argue both sides.

  24. How is it, Steven, that you could have missed the very clear distinction between gentiles who remain as uncircumcised gentiles and thus are not eligible to eat the Passover, and the rare former gentiles who have converted to Judaism, become circumcised to enter the Jewish covenant, and by doing so have become naturalized Jews who are eligible to eat the Passover just as native Jews do? Naturalized, circumcised converts have become Jews who continue as Jews and are not to behave like the gentiles they were formerly. They are no longer gentiles, therefore their subsequent behavior is not to be like gentiles. Only gentiles who have *not* become circumcised are to continue “doing as gentiles”. Have I repeated this now in a sufficient number of ways to eliminate your confusion? I can’t imagine how you could think I was describing anything different from this.

    I began this series of responses to explain to you the meaning of Ex.12:47-48 and why it does not apply to the uncircumcised gentiles for whom James noted there are no scriptures authorizing them to eat the actual Passover lamb sacrifice. The requirement for a man to eat of it is to be properly circumcised — which is true only for native Jews (v.47) and for naturalized converts (v.48). These verses underscore the serious commitment associated with eating the Passover lamb. In subsequent responses, I pointed out that these verses of Torah, and the distinctive requirements they cite, are still valid (along with all its other fine details). James also pointed out that even if uncircumcised future gentile disciples are permitted to participate in a Passover Seder in the Messiah’s millennial kingdom, because they have been cleansed by the Messiah’s sacrifice and the “dividing wall” has thus been “broken down”, they still will not be eligible to eat the sacrificed lamb itself. They may (and most likely will) eat a symbolic substitute instead, in order to respect the continuing validity of the Torah’s requirements while celebrating the symbolic manner in which their own redemption mirrors the ancient redemption of the Jews.

  25. PL, I agree that believers will not eat a lamb. As Paul said to the Corinthians, “For even Messiah our passover is sacrificed for us “. We understand the types and shadows of sacrifice are fulfilled and that is why God allowed the temple to be destroyed. We are now the “temple of the Holy Spirit”.

  26. Peace be to all and a good health.
    Hello guys, we have already shared the Whole New Covenants Plan of God from the Messianic Covenant Division Period which is known as the Last Days Covenant or the Days of the Lord Judgment or Christianity, which already took end since last 1993! So, the Transition follows the 2nd Division Covenant in the Plan as the Parousia Period or the Hour Judgment of God, which is already our end time scenario and as the given grace extension of God to those still Leftseeds of Israel and the gentiles, that already begun since 1994 unto its set date of One Hour in God count. And yet, what we always still observe in their comments were mostly in their ackward knowledge false believes, which is not applicable anymore to apply it in our present Parousia Period. But they like to still applies it. Which we think, is already very hard to resolve! For this will only take time for a long discussion and it is not advisable in our Present Covenant Period. Because in this End Time Covenant, the only priority people to be save were those already a holy one or those with only minor sin. Its because the end time is inivitable anytime now! For even a sins will take a long time before it can be fully clean, and this is true with those false fanatic believes that will even fightback their big mistakes, for this is also a waste of time to try! and about the Passover, it is an Exclusive Covenant to all Covenantal Israelites by eating Yeshua Messiah’s flesh and drinking his blood, 1Cor. 11:25-26 and not the literal lamb to eat! And to the gentiles, they were already condemn judged in the whole Covenant of the Messianic Period, read Mt. 25:31-41..

    And what we are only concern now, were those people that were only deceive by their affiliated false religion! And for they do not know that they can now avail to this Last Call of God Salvation! And these people do not know who, how and what to do? When the truth, many of these people were already prophesies mentioned in the already Prepared Plan of the Parousia Period by God, 1Tes. 4:13-17.. And these were those Leftseeds Covenantal people that were now all Crossbreed with those different gentile nationalities, that were now the so called American Jews, Russian Jews, German Jews, Australian Jews, Chinese Jews and so on! But the problem was they were all affiliated to all false religions like judaism, islam, orthodox christians, catholics, protestants, latter day saints and so on (analyze these very carefully). And with those literal gentiles that were asleep in Christ or poor in knowledge in Christ but have done good in the righteousness of God! And these people are to be rise first because they submit and comply their self to God’s Will. Which God impose a simple condition to BELIEVE to Yeshua M. that died and rose again! And there is no need of conversion of the literal gentiles for their condemnation in the Messianic Covenant Period already end upon the Transition of the Covenant! And upon the accounted for of these Leftseed gentile returnees and together with those preserved original messianic will all be Caught by the Clouds and brought to heaven and meet the Lord there! And to A. John in Rev. 7:9, these were those the “great multitude of all nations.” Is this not a very similar to A. Paul letter? And only the Holy Spirit or the Clouds could know these people that correctly comply. And now from this already concluded Plan of God, can’t anyone still understand that all religion were all already condemn judged! So for naming the religions is already a nonsense base on the fully revealed Plan of God.

    Since we are in the lenten season, this were the heavy cross which Yeshua carries throughout his life (this is in a figurative style only because of prohibition of idolatry) that will teach to his follower believers. And not of carrying the wooden cross literally. But the truth, only those chosen call out Israelites were the one to comply fulfilled in carrying these heavy cross in thier life. And these were the crosses: if thou love thy mother and father more than me, thou could not be my disciple. If thou love thy wife, son and daughter more than me, thou could not be my disciple. If thou were rich and even observe the commandment of God but if ask to sold your belongings and the money thou get will be ask to give to the poor and thou refuses, thou could not be my disciple. And God is seeking to rest of your work, if thou hear his voice or else thou will not also enter in to his eternal rest, read Heb. 3:1-16 & 4:1-19 and many others. And to these many Israelites were disqualified in the Messianic Covenant but God is now calling them all in this Ultimate Covenant End Time Period.
    May our living lord God Bless us all.

    LOVE: New Jerusalem – Holy City

  27. @Steven — Granting your universal application of the metaphors regarding the Messiah as a Passover-style sacrificial lamb and the body of “believers” as the “temple of the Holy Spirit” comprising individuals as “living stones”, you overstate the matter of not eating a lamb. You see, the destruction of the temple in 70 CE was not a permanent demise of the temple and its Levitical sacrificial system, just as the destruction of the kingdom of Israel was not forever. Sovereign Israel has been restored after almost two millennia, though re-structuring it as a monarchy might not occur until the Messiah ben-David does it. Restoring the temple in Jerusalem has not yet occurred, but it appears clearly in the same prophecies that foretold the restoration of Israel. We have every reason to expect it to happen before very long. After the first exile in Babylon ended, and Jews began returning to Judea, a generation passed before it became possible to rebuild the temple — and even that required the exercise of defensive armed force against Samaritan resistance. Should we be surprised to see the pattern repeat itself as Palestinian Arabs forcibly and stubbornly resist a return of Jewish religion to the Temple Mount? How much armed force may be required *this* time to get the temple rebuilt?

    The temple metaphor corresponds well with the heavenly sanctuary described in the sermonic letter to the Hebrews. But the heavenly sanctuary does not replace the earthly one; it operates in tandem with it and provides its authority whenever the physical one is in operation. The physical sanctuary was based upon the vision of the heavenly one that HaShem granted to Moshe Rabbeinu, thus clearly the heavenly one existed before any earthly sanctuary could be modeled upon it and constructed; and of course it has continued to exist even when the earthly ones were destroyed, during the Babylonian exile, during its defilement at the time of the Maccabees who then purified it and rededicated it, and during the second exile that began between 70 and 135 CE, which has been drawing to a close during the past century and may be deemed most truly completed when the third Jewish temple is built and restored to operation (may it be soon!). But like any metaphor, the temple metaphor derives its strongest meaning from the physical realization upon which it is based.

    Consequently, let me shift your perception away from the notion of “believers” to that of “disciples”. These latter do much more than merely “believe”; they exercise spiritual discipline in order to pursue the redemption that Rav Yeshua’s Torah-based teachings can provide. His disciples are of two varieties, Jewish and gentile. The Torah deals with these distinctively; and the Jerusalem Council of apostles did likewise with their deliberations and decision recorded in Acts 15. Therefore, Jewish disciples must continue to pursue greatness in the kingdom of heaven by performing and teaching Torah, as described by Rav Yeshua in Mt.5:19-20, and they will be making use of the restored temple and its restored sacrifices, as described in Ezekiel (among other prophecies). Hence they will indeed eat the physical, non-metaphorical, Passover lamb in those days, while gentile disciples will continue to enjoy the metaphor and whatever symbolic foods may be used to represent it.

    Let me re-emphasize that the destruction of the temple in 70 CE had nothing to do with the notion that “types and shadows of sacrifice are fulfilled”. The fulfillment or realization of metaphors does not mean that their basis ceases to be meaningful or that they may be discarded. Remember that Rav Yeshua stated unequivocally in Mt.5:17 that his audience should not misinterpret any of his teachings or actions as having any purpose or intention to destroy, diminish, abrogate or abolish the Torah and the Prophets. On the contrary, his purpose was to fulfill them by continuing to obey them and to demonstrate their validity. And, just in case anyone in that audience should misconstrue the implications, he continued in v.18 to assert the continuing validity of even the Torah’s smallest details as long as heaven and earth continue to endure.

  28. PL, so you gather a double portion of manna every Friday?

    This we know: God does not live in temples made by human hands, and he was not pleased with animal sacrifices. The Holy Spirit was sent from heaven and resides in men. Yeshua was actually “sacrificed” and his blood makes atonement. John the baptist called him “the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world”. Good things to think about this week.

  29. You should understand, Steven, that some aspects of Torah are only observed physically when the temple is in operation. They remain valid even when they’re “on-hold” pending restorative events. In other cases conditions also apply. For example, if I were placed in the conditions in the desert when manna was being delivered to the Israelite camp, yes, I would gather the double portion before the Shabbat. Indeed, like other observant Jews, I perform an analog commemoration of this action by preparing food in advance for the Shabbat — just as we Jews perform an analog commemoration of the Passover redemption from Egyptian slavery each year, though the original event was a one-time action. The Passover commemoration itself has also been adjusted to fit changing conditions over a 3500-year period. But when Israel entered the land, HaShem ceased delivering manna and other commandments in Torah became effective that were not yet effective during the 40-year desert trek.

    HaShem never dwelt in the Israelite sanctuary, but He did meet with Moshe there, and later our priests. His displeasure with animal sacrifices, at one period in which the prophets spoke of it, was temporary and based on our failing to offer them with the true service of the heart. He also said, however, that our sacrifices would again be acceptable when brought in the proper spirit. And we offer spiritual analogs of the sacrifices in our traditional prayers, in accordance with Hosea’s prayer in Hos.14:2 and as echoed in Heb.13:15, which is the only way one can proceed in the absence of the Jerusalem temple, and it is the only way by which one can apprehend the “sacrifice” of Rav Yeshua.

    Rav Yeshua’s “sacrifice” was metaphorical, midrashic, and applicable only in the heavenly sanctuary, because literal human sacrifice was truly abhorrent in Torah relative to the earthly sanctuary. It is only in the heavenly sanctuary that his blood serves to atone — and not because the physical blood was ever scooped up off the ground where it had dripped, and thrown into the sky or carried off into another dimension. It is the image or concept of the Messiah ben-Yosef’s martyrdom that places that symbol on a heavenly altar. Yohanan the Immerser’s comment about the “lamb of G-d” was likewise employing midrashic imagery and not a physical reality. To each notion there are attendant conditions and qualifications, which is one reason why Torah study requires ongoing dedication. One must understand how the ancient animal sacrifices supported the processes of repentance and redemption in order to apprehend how Rav Yeshua’s symbolic sacrifice operates similarly.

    One advantage of a symbolic sacrifice is that it is, perhaps, harder to ignore its numinous aspects; whereas the prophetic complaints showed that one could do so (and too many of us did) with a physical one. But in either case, it is equally true that it is ineffective merely “to go through the motions” if “one’s heart is not in it”. And *that* message is worthy of consideration this week and *every* week.

  30. PL, you said “when Israel entered the land, HaShem ceased delivering manna”. So true, when going into a land of milk and honey the need for manna ended.

    Yeshua said he is the manna come down from heaven, the true bread of life. The way I see it is, once a man is born again from above by the Holy Spirit, there is no longer a need for sacrifices, he has entered into the Kingdom of God. All righteousness has been restored and fulfilled as it it written “Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe”.

    Galatians 2:16

  31. Well, Steven, no matter how you may see it, Rav Yeshua saw it differently, and the prophets of Israel saw it differently (and there are too many references to list them all here). The temple will be rebuilt, the sacrifices will resume, the messiah will reign, and Jews will enact the new covenant described by Jeremiah (31:30-33), with the Torah written on their hearts. Thus they will follow Rav Yeshua’s prescription for greatness in the kingdom of heaven, on earth, as long as heaven and earth endure (per Mt.5:18-19). In addition, representatives of the gentile nations will come up to Jerusalem to celebrate Sukkot, and “HaShem will be king over all the earth, [because] in that day HaShem will be [acclaimed as] One, and His Name [i.e., His Purpose] a singular purpose.” (Zech.14:9; see also v.16) That singular purpose, in case you missed it, is the salvation of all humanity, and the fact that the name Yeshua means “salvation” is not a mere coincidence.

    But, even before Rav Yeshua will establish the millennial messianic kingdom, following the first resurrection and the “rapture”, his Jewish disciples have responsibilities to pursue the Torah even more diligently than the scribes and Pharisees, who were well-known for their diligence, and to obey the Mosaic authority of those self-same scribes and Pharisees (per Mt.23:2-3), whose teachings have continued under the auspices of the rabbis and sages of Israel. By this means they enter continually and repeatedly (indicated by the Greek Aorist tense) into the kingdom of heaven mindset as indicated in Mt.5:20. [At least ideally they should do so. Falling short and needing to repent frequently is still something we all must live with.]

    Gal.2:16 speaks of justification, which is not accomplished by performance of Torah precepts but rather by trust in HaShem, and in His representative Rav Yeshua and the sacrificial provision that he embodied for the sake of that justification. However, as the apostle James pointed out, that trust must express itself in actions, so that both work together toward individual and societal redemption. For Jews, those faithful actions are the performance and teaching of Torah — and when proper sacrifices can be offered in the earthly sanctuary, they will again work in tandem with Rav Yeshua’s symbolic permanent one in the heavenly sanctuary. For obedient faithful gentiles, faith will be demonstrated by faithfulness to the summarized precepts in Acts 15:21-29, and the instructions that Rav Shaul outlined in his letters.

  32. PL said: In modern times, gentiles are often invited to a seder, even in the traditional Jewish community, as a means to familiarize them with the practice — and to demonstrate the foolishness of ancient antisemitic blood libels that accused Jews of murdering Christian children to use their blood in making matzah. It is an extension of the traditional practice of opening the door for Elijah, long enough to demonstrate to their Christian neighbors that the celebration was entirely open and innocuous — and not some Satanic ritual.

    In my reading (which was far from comprehensive) about how/why Jews would invite Gentiles to a Passover seder, I completely missed this bit of reasoning. That’s for adding to my knowledge base.

    Marleen said: I take it you mean “considering conversion” (even while conversation is not at all out of the realm of what would occur).

    Yes, Marleen. It was the curse of the evil typo. My apologies.

  33. You should not ask so much “why there’s such a thing as Christianity in the first place?”. You better wonder why we have to face Christendom, with people who call themselves Christians but do not follow the teachings nor the God of Christ.

    You may have have the (Gentile) Hebrew Roots and Two-House movements today and wonder why Jews would not accept them. We are not enough aware of those groups their believes, but what we see by several (Gentile) Messianic groups is that they took the Mosaic Laws and keep sabbath, but not really do keep to the God of Abraham, which makes such an adherence to the Low of Moses nihil. When they worship a Trinity or Three-une god and not the God of Israel, those people can not be accepted a s real Christians and even less as Jewish people, wherefore it is logical Jews do not like them, because they do blasphemy to the One and Only One True God of Israel.

    It is true that over the centuries there always have been true Christians and true Messianic Jews, but in these contemporary times we also see lots of ‘would-be’ Jews who do not want to take on the ‘heart’ of a Jew neither take on the heart and spirit of Christ Jesus, who only worshipped the One True God and not himself.

    You write that “Paul’s work ceased” but we should not know why it stopped. Today there are still lots of real Christians, people who follow Christ, the Kristos, the son of God and son of man who gave his life for many. Today there are also several Jews who have found that that son of Joseph is the sent one from God and the Messiah. Those Messianic Jews and/or Jeshuaists are still on the lines of the apostle Paul and his co-brothers and are with those true Christians part of the Body of Christ.

  34. James, this is the first of your posts that I’ve read on this blog. I have to tip my hat to your obvious study and knowledge of a world with which I very little familiarity.

    I have only in the last couple of years heard about Replacement Theology, or supersessionism. In all my years of studying the Bible, I’ve never seen anything in scripture that supports this idea. God’s promises to Israel were never abrogated; they were only postponed when Israel refused Jesus Christ as Messiah. His second advent will move Israel back into the place of blessing that was promised so many centuries ago. They are still God’s chosen people. That has not, and never will, change.

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