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.


72 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”.

    1. 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.

  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.

    David Russell
    Author: Waiting For Messiah, Smashwords.com

    1. @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.

  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. 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.”

    1. @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.

  5. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

  6. 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.

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

  8. 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

  9. @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).

  10. “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

    1. 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?

  11. “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.”

    1. 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.

      1. 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”.

      2. @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.

      3. @ 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?

      4. 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.

  12. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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”.

      2. @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.

  13. 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

  14. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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

      2. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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.

  17. 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.

  18. Your blogs touch a nerve with me as you very well describe the crack that gentile believers fall into. First and foremost the Bible is a book written primarily by Jews and for Jews so gentiles have to find a way to fit in somewhere. I am not comfortable in mainstream churches as all seem to have some tinge of replacement theology. Messianic Jews rightly have some concern that an overflux of gentiles in their congregations would water down the Jewishness of same. So what are we to do, start a new religion called Messianic Gentiles? That should be what the mainline churches represent as they follow the Jewish Messiah, but good luck in changing a denomination.

    The seven feasts are the Feasts of God and are prophetic in nature, the spring feasts being fulfilled by Yeshua and the fall feasts yet to be fulfilled. So if we try to remain separate and leave them solely to the Jews what right do we have as gentiles to claim any of the Scriptures for ourselves. I love the shofar and can sound it quite well yet Jews might be insulted by my actions.I don’r consider myself a protestant as that would infer that I am an offshoot of the RCC, so who am I? Rav Shaul was trying to fit gentiles in but as you have stated so well the effort seemingly died with him. We have little knowledge of what transpired after his death as the writings of the Church Fathers are slanted toward the one and only church they invented.

    Bottom line; where do gentiles followers of the Jewish Messiah fit in? Where and how do we worship, especially in keeping Shabbot (as Sunday worship is a RCC invention)? I happen to like the Paul Wilbur style of Messianic praise music and watch his First Friday programs on Facebook or YouTube but that’s me home alone.I am in a bible study that happens to meet Saturday mornings but in reality it is a “small group meeting” of the local AG Church ( I do open the meetings with sounding of the shofar).

    1. I wouldn’t want you to get into trouble with the AG, Eddie, but would the folks who meet in that home group be interested in an independent home fellowship apart from any oversight or affiliation with a Christian denomination and its doctrinal positions? Are these meetings currently hosted by only one family, or do they take turns from house to house? If you have a community of individuals, and someone knowledgeable who can guide their studies, there is no particular reason they cannot operate as a modern version of the ancient gentile fellowship assemblies such as the one once sponsored by Cornelius. They can sing from recordings and on-line presentations (though singing is optional), they can obtain prayer and other materials from FFOZ pitched for gentile messianists, they can celebrate biblical holidays together, and they can volunteer at local social support facilities for the sake of some contribution to “tikun ha’olam”. Most importantly, they can study and discuss together the Tenach and Rav Yeshua’s perspective on it, and Rav Shaul’s advice about gentile communal behavior both pro and con. In particular, they can place around their living behavior the boundaries expressed in Acts 15:23-29 (like the Noahide standards, but implying even more as derived from other scriptures of the apostolic writings). What more could they need except a bit of help with legal issues associated with birth registration (for which the medical facilities provide help for the legal aspects), civil marriage registration, and preparations for death and burial. The ceremonial aspects they can probably figure out for themselves. They could choose to meet on Shabbat morning, or they could choose to meet Saturday night, at the end of a restful Shabbat, on “the first day of the week”, as the community in Troy (Troas) did to hear Rav Shaul speak in Acts 20:7. They could even combine them into a Shabbat afternoon reading of Torah, a fellowship meal, and a subsequent teaching which might even consist of watching an internet presentation on some subject. There is nothing to limit them from gathering for additional meetings on convenient weekday evenings. As I recall other discussions with James in this blog, I even suggested a name for such groups as “Livingstone” fellowships (inspired by 1Pet.2:5) — so if you search for that term through various articles and essays on this blog you may find additional helpful suggestions. Don’t worry about religious labels for yourselves, neither as “messianic gentiles” nor as “Livingstones” (cute name, ain’t it?). The important issue is not what you are called, but on how you pursue the redemption and improvement of your personal and communal behavior and outlook based on what you study.

  19. Peace be to all and a good health.
    Hello guys, if thou could not still get the written End Time Covenant Plan of God of the apostles, for doubt and confusion, that your idea was it written by an ordinary apostles, because of your former belief that such an highly spiritual revelation of the End Time can be only rewarded by God to a chosen prophet! Which is already an ackward believes. Because the term prophet was already change in the NT gospel into an Ekklesia of God or Church of God terminology, which is equivalent to a prophet, to hide their identity to their persecutors. Thats why they have wrote out the End Time revelation unknown up to date to the world! Besides, they heared it first from the proclamation of Yeshua M. like A. John, A. Peter and others. Which thou could now be read hidden only in Jn. 5:1-32. And in verses 1-27, thou could visualize here some of Yeshua M. introductory commitment in his Messianic Covenant Mission, the authority to judge and even foresighted those dead that will hear his voice (which he refer to those sinner covenantal countrymen). And the time is now (this was fulfilled but in limited numbers in Rev. 14:1-5). And in verse 28-29, in here is the conceal End Time Judgment, which Yeshua M. prophesies this transition of the Covenant of the Parousia or the Hour Judgment of God to come! That those in the graves or religions shall hear his voice or will comply (note: how all the religions were all already condemn even at his time unto the 2nd Advent). And in verse 29, shall come forth or shall come out from their religions (this is a prophesy within a prophesy calling, applied at his time unto the 2nd Advent). But this is only to those that have done good, unto ressurrection to life. And those that have done evil, into ressurrection into damnation. Is this not already the judgment to all unbelievers? And in verses 30-32, just read them and will add knowledge to the context! And with this, we believe that those apostles did not expound their End Time Revelation! But it was really a given and rewarded version to them by God. Because their writings happen in different times and places, like A. John that wrote the gospel and the end time revelation at almost the end of the 1st Century! This proves that they were really a Chosen Prophets and Churches of God. And as it was prophesies, it’s also like Noah’s time that no one could understand.

    So believe it or not, this End Time Plan of God will goes on as it was already plan by God. And while there still few minutes left (in God count) to comply to this Last Call as a given second chance hope for those that really like to avail to this promise covenant salvation of God. But to those that will really ignore or reject his calling, for God also prepared a plan for them, which A. John have wrote in Rev. 20:13-14 and term it the 2nd death transgression, punishable by eternal fire! Now, cannot thou notice that the judgment applied is also like what they have done! For God gave them the 2nd chance but instead they still insist what they like to do, as if they want God to obey them. When this figurative heavy crosses is God’s order and not just a parable story, like not to love your families more than me, no to richness, must rest to work and etc.. In short, loving the world make yourself enemy of God, James 4:4.. Although these “crosses order” was also enforce in the messianic, when the truth this is much more order in this Parousia Period for our End Time situation, for these heavy crosses are a big obstruction to once faith allegiance requirement written from the Tablet from Heaven and not just only order of Yeshua M., like this rest to work, which thou many master to serve! So with your families? Remember the order that there is no mediator, read Jn. 14:6.. So how could anyone says they have faith in Yeshua M., when they have no knowledge observance of these heavy crosses! And cannot anybody also analyze that the spirit of the clouds is already very silently working out and literally passing by in the flesh by every naked eyes in this blog! And how you’ll be caught by the clouds is now his job!
    May our living lord God Bless us all.

    LOVE: New Jerusalem – Holy City

    1. A little bit of consideration should answer this question for you, Mike. Ask yourself, “What would a Noahide be commemorating?” He or she is not a Jew commemorating his people’s Exodus from Egyptian slavery and its culmination in accepting the yoke of the Torah covenant. If this Noahide is a disciple of Rav Yeshua, commemorating his martyrdom at Pesa’h is a commemoration of a metaphorical *simile* of the ancient Jewish sacrifice that commemorates the release from Egyptian bondage. What, then, would be the symbolic implication of a Noahide disciple eating the physical sacrifice, except to deny the requirement of Torah demanding that only circumcised Jews and converts partake of it? Such an act would be an aggression against Jewish distinctiveness and against the Torah which defines it, which would be contradictory to the honor of the Jewish messiah whom this disciple is committed to follow.

      Consequently such disciples must seek to commemorate the martyrdom and its subsequent resurrection with other symbols that are appropriate to its symbolic reflection of those latter-day Passover events. How might a Noahide disciple commemorate a symbolic release from the metaphorical slavery of sin? Might a special session of Torah study be appropriate, perhaps one especially concentrated on Noahide-applicable commandments and derivations of Torah principles? If this is coupled with an orderly fellowship meal, such as a teaching seder comparable to what Rav Yeshua led for his disciples the night before Pesa’h, then perhaps the only food to be *avoided* is lamb-meat — though one mustn’t forget that the Acts-15 instructions for gentile disciples still include the fundamentals of kashrut, so kosher food should be standard fare. Noahides, of course, should have no problem with that. For those seeking to be especially diligent, the Torah studies and lectures could continue all night long, as a kind of vigil commemorating Rav Yeshua’s fervent prayers preceding his arrest.

      So James’ answer was correct, that gentile Noahides will *not* be eligible to eat the Pesa’h sacrifice when it is again performed after the temple is rebuilt and restored to operation. I hope my answer here is sufficient, however, to provide encouragement that you need not lack any good thing (viz: Ps.34:10; Jam.1:4).

  20. Mike:

    A gentile doesn’t seem bound to commemorate anything ever in the present age. Maybe in the coming there’s a chance. But feel free to make up some customs like all of Christianity did. All that the Bible firmly requires of Gentiles is belief, kindness, and prayer. Their religion can be easily spiritualized, diffused, and adapted for this reason. A simple salvation message, to put it succinctly. It really is that gospel tract formula. Believe. Pray. Have the Master’s kindness.

    I’m not sure all the other add-ons of church service, liturgy, catholic feasts, structures, diets, customs, Sunday, inter alia, are true demands made from the throne. Maybe local incubators for those who need them.

    1. Take another look at Acts 15, Sleepwalker. Vs.21 expects to see gentile disciples in synagogue each Shabbat, learning lessons from the Torah. Vss.23-29 impact their diet, their morality customs, their treatment of animals, and their interactions with Jews. Rav Shaul’s letters include rules about communal fellowship meals (if they’re held at all), and customs of public meetings, though the rules are primarily directed at corrections of errors. However, these corrections also allow inferences into the existence of the customs being corrected or tweaked.

      Nonetheless, the primary goal is the practical pursuit of redemption, however that may be done as befitting varying circumstances among diverse gentile disciples as they embrace and absorb and incorporate spiritual principles derived from the Torah. Gentile disciples are not obligated legally to the entirety of the Torah, but certainly they are morally obligated by the volunteerism of their repentant hearts. Rather than reducing their religion to a “gospel tract formula”, it is rather demanding of them much more — that they apply G-d-given ingenuity to do what Jews began doing centuries before them, which is to develop Torah-informed folkways for each generation, albeit from a broader, more generalized perspective on the Torah’s values as they apply to humanity as a whole, without the portions that apply only to Jews to distinguish them from other peoples.

  21. “Vs.21 expects to see gentile disciples in synagogue each Shabbat, learning lessons from the Torah.”

    Anticipate or command? There’s a world of difference there. No folk tradition will last if the deity, seeing their attendance, could take it or leave it. That’s why in the Middle Ages communion took on the weight of mitzvah with harsh penalties; they had to believe the white lie that G-d expected their continued attendance. A useful story. So I guess gentiles could develop a folk tradition around shabbos, but to the forfeiture of honesty.

    “Vss.23-29 impact their diet, their morality customs, their treatment of animals, and their interactions with Jews.”

    Many believe that’s a section outlining the minimum of behavior for community with Jews. So not stand-alone commands. Nobody seems to have a consensus on that. That would seemingly eliminate all but sexual practices. It would then make sense that easy-believeist Christendom looks like it does; kindness, prayer, head belief, and an obsession with sexual taboos that exists to this day.

    “…that they apply G-d-given ingenuity to do what Jews began doing centuries before them, which is to develop Torah-informed folkways for each generation, albeit from a broader, more generalized perspective…”

    I intuit that given Gentile’s far removal from Torah that deriving weak and distant notions from it is becomes almost meaningless at a certain point. Many philosophies and religions have a mystic unity. Many of them tell us to love others. Some even extol chastity. Confuscianism has been as successful at cohering family and community for 2,500 years. Epictetus boasts an Imago Dei and a Logos.

    Then from gold and silver, the great religions grade into baser alloys such as lukewarm deism, pop psych, and finally detestable New Age on the edges. Little cargo cults from the peddled jetsam of mighty vessels. The further one gets from the source and the more derived the work becomes, the more disconnected nonsense results. If much of Jewish culture is awash New Age schlock for the original stewards of Torah, how much more so for whatever gentiles derive?

    Yet from a practical angle, most rabbis seem to agree that the gentiles have already incorporated most of Noahidism to the degree that it defines even secular morality. If that’s the case, its loose derivatives are not really a mark of robust belief or holy gentiles per se so much as a general norm for everyone nowadays.

    The broadest nobilities of every religion are gleaned into the secular Western tradition already, for the pious to the atheist alike. And from these broad strokes you are attempting to set G-d fearers apart as sacrosanct on customs nobody disagrees with.

    My point is why do all that? If the initial legwork of integrating broad strokes from all faiths (including Torah) was completed almost two eons ago, the task is done and over. It is finished. Just give the gospel tract to folk already steeped in the broad secular mores of the time and all bases are covered.

    You’re trying to get gentiles to squeeze water from someone else’s rock.

    1. “[S]queeze water from someone else’s rock”, Sleepwalker? Interesting choice of metaphor. It puts me in mind of the episode where Moshe is expected to speak to a rock rather than strike it, in order to obtain water. He made a serious mistake in his anger over the hardness of his people, by striking it (similarly to something he had done once before, when it was the proper procedure). But extending the metaphor to the gentile situation, they also must “speak” to the “Rock of Israel”, communicating with an unfamiliar entity via the propositional communication offered in Torah. They must interact with HaShem in this manner, which fits the pattern expected in Acts 15:21. Only if they do this will they avoid becoming far removed from Torah, or developing “weak and distant” derivations from it.

      Remember that v.21 is not merely anticipating generic Torah self-study; it is expecting that study to occur in the synagogue context, under the teaching and guidance of Jewish “scribes and Pharisees” such as Rav Yeshua cited in Mt.5:20 and Mt.23:2. Thus will they fulfill the blessing of Gen.22:18 whereby the nations will bless themselves via the “seed of Avraham”. Rav Shaul extracted from this verse the midrashic view in Gal.3:16 of the seed as singular, representing Rav Yeshua, rather than the literal meaning of it as plural and representing the Jewish people — and specifically the subset of them referenced as “scribes and Pharisees”, in this case. Both views are meaningful.

      Doing something which is prescribed to be good for one does not need to be “commanded”. Rather, Isaiah 56 presents it as something to be commended, precisely because it is *not* commanded. Much of its benefit stems from approaching it voluntarily. You misrepresent HaShem in picturing Him viewing the choice uncaringly as one of take-it-or-leave-it. It is certainly a choice, but it has consequences one way or another.

      More importantly, even if broad moral frameworks have been already emulated from Torah a-la quasi-Noahidism, what is essential is not the specific performance of certain rules that may have been around for 20 centuries, but rather the attitude or “heart” in which they are approached or performed — which is required to be new and fresh within each individual in order for them to benefit from the Jewish “kingdom of heaven” perspective and mindset. One doesn’t get that from a tract or from centuries of tradition as “initial legwork”.

  22. There’s a tinged irony to all of this I’m not sure everyone here notices, so I’m going to go out on a limb and just say it.

    The more Judaism and the bible disqualify gentiles from a G-d given religion, covenant, faith, divine imperative, national destiny, clear identity, and so forth, and the more they shunt them into church or create bilateral models for them, the more vindicated a shallow megachurch gospel tract Christendom really is. We remind goys of how little connecting points they have to the Bible and then we come full circle to arrive where an Andy Stanley makes sense for this present epoch.


  23. Ok PL.

    With the Noahidism they’ve integrated well over 2,000 years ago, a Noahidism that blends the universals of western thought, goys need only a few admonitions from Paul that instill head belief, prayer, and kindness. Of course anyone needs the right attitude when doing anything. Why not? As for meeting frequently, I see no need.

    Why do they need synagogues or churches or any organized faith?

    I’ve come full circle.

    You seem to have this tortured ouroboros with the science of deed. You say on one hand that G-d commandeth not the goys (which seems true), and yet that there are consequences for non-performance or performance. I’m confused and tired of guessing.

    1. Well, Sleepwalker, one of those principles derived from Torah, and expressed as an exhortational reminder to Jewish disciples in Heb.10:25, is for communities of disciples to assemble and to encourage one another. That sort of advice is certainly not limited to Jewish disciples, even though it was to them that it was expressed with a particular situation in view. How is this encouragement to be accomplished? Rav Shaul offered a few instructions on the subject in his first letter to the Corinthians, in chapters 12 through 14, among others. How frequently should such assemblies occur? I think it fair to infer that the frequency ought to correspond in some proportion to the implication of Acts 15:21. If gentile disciples were to be learning Torah from Jewish teachers weekly in synagogues each shabbat, then it would be reasonable for them to discuss among themselves how to apply what they had learned while it was fresh in their minds, perhaps even that very evening after the end of the shabbat as the first day of the week begins. We see a hint of that pattern in Acts 20:7.

      Given that you’re “tired of guessing”, it seems to me that you’ve expressed an unmistakable need for regularly-organized encouragement from an assembly of disciples who are regularly familiarizing themselves with the principles of the Jewish Torah and how to apply them to themselves. Do you feel that you need everything to be a direct command from HaShem in order for it to be valid? Can you not recognize the “voice of HaShem” in the wisdom that is derived indirectly from what He has provided to others, particularly to His Jewish family? HaShem chose to pursue the redemption of all humanity by means of a pilot-program centered on the Jewish subset of it. Is that somehow not good enough for you? Do *you* want to be the one who stands before him ultimately to say such a thing? “Rotsa ruck to you” in trying to defend *that* assertion! I don’t say that you shouldn’t try to argue with HaShem. Avraham did so quite successfully (viz: Gen.18), and there are some interesting bits to learn from close examination of his attitudes and values that he expressed in that argument. Of *course* actions, and even attitudes, have consequences. Inaction also has consequences, especially when action is required to do good or to prevent evil.

      I know not to what you refer when you say that I “seem to have this tortured ouroboros with the science of deed”. I understand “ouroboros”, but “science of deed”? Mah zeh? Whatever do you mean by this? There probably could be developed a “science” or formalized study of the effects on the individual of “deed” or action. The philosophy of “existentialism” might be deemed a step in such a direction, however incomplete, insufficient, or even mistaken in some ways. But rather than that I should try to infer your meaning, why don’t I just ask you to explain what you meant?

  24. “Judaism is a science of deeds” is a verbatim turn of phrase with which Heschel characterized Judaism expressed through the mitzvot in his landmark opus G-d in Search of Man.

    “Given that you’re “tired of guessing”, it seems to me that you’ve expressed an unmistakable need for regularly-organized encouragement…”

    Any convening gentiles are guessing too. So what’s the point.

    Judaism has the prophets, Torah, the Patriarchs, the Presence, the Temple, sacerdotal roles, levantine context, the Davidic line, covenants, land, history, mitzvot, the Sanhedrin, and a sense of deep time ensconced national immortality. And from what I’ve adjudged Jews tend to guess very well over the mysteries of Torah when they don’t know the answers. Because they confront these problems with institutions that were given from the mouth of G-d, interpreting and applying a Torah which is also given to them from the mouth of G-d.

    Put Torah in the hands of gentiles who have neither Torah nor its managing institutions nor even its interpretive authority and let’s just say that…results may vary. It ends badly. And what luminaries they produce…I see no reason why I cannot just read them at the bookstore. Why go to a fixed place with anybody to discuss it? You’ve said it yourself that gentiles are saved individually and have individual relationships with G-d, are fungible, and so forth. Why strain to build a made-up institution that collectivizes us when we’re spiritually singular?

    But that’s all idle pedantry.

    “Do you feel that you need everything to be a direct command from HaShem in order for it to be valid?”

    For all our vital interests, yes. Man doesn’t live on bread alone…

    On a deeper level still, humans search in religion for a spark of the divine in all they do. History is rife with divine lawgivers. Pyramids mimic the constellations. On earth, as it is in heaven. So yes. There is something to that. Humans want to believe that we are seizing something powerful, imperishable, eternal. Not dust in the wind. The House of Levi? Bound by an eternal covenant. Pastors and deacons? Dust in the wind. The Temple? The most coveted real estate in the world. Church? They’re demolished all the time. Torah for Jews? It orders their society and sets them apart. General Torah for goys? All cultures have a secular Tao already.

    “Do *you* want to be the one who stands before him ultimately to say such a thing?”

    I’m done with threats. I’m so over them. I’m Korah. I’m Cain. Or I guess I am for just saying all this. Stonings are just a way to bury a question under rocks.

    Before we got down to the brass tacks I’d ask Him many things, suffice it to say.

    Chag sameach. I hope G-d is with you this Shavuot.

    1. OK, Sleepwalker, ya’ got me! I didn’t recognize the Heschel quote; but now that you identify it I understand why I found it so strange — because he was employing situational idioms to address a cultural context of his own era, somewhat different from ours.

      That aside, it seems to me that you’ve just described a justification for the apostolic advice that gentile disciples should obtain regular input from Jewish teachers. Failure or refusal to do so is where gentile disciples went wrong historically — though much of the blame for that must be laid at the doorstep of the Roman Empire and its anti-Jewish views and actions. However, the additional advice about regularly assembling their own community in order to encourage one another by reinforcing their studies of how to apply Jewishly-taught Torah to their particular non-Jewish circumstances shouldn’t be dismissed as idle pedantry. On the contrary, it is advice of the most practical caliber. We humans are designed to be social creatures.

      You should know that you don’t really *need* to be a Kora’h or a Cain. Even they didn’t need to be such. Each was given opportunity to reconsider his mistaken stance in his relationship with HaShem. As I said in my last post, it’s OK to argue with HaShem, if you approach Him with the right spirit. But the bottom line is that He is the Potter, and we are the clay. And, if I extend that metaphor just a bit, things work out better if we let Him shape us before we get all fired up. [:)]

      Thanks for the Shavuot good wishes. I find that even within Jewish communities it is necessary to encourage at least some of the faint-hearted among us to celebrate the events when the Torah was given at Sinai, when the elders of Israel were gathered together to experience a numinous prophetic vision on that mountaintop (and even in the Israelite camp itself), and when HaShem’s Spirit invested Rav Yeshua’s Jewish disciples with extraordinary power, motivation, and linguistic ability. Now *these* are things to get “all fired up” about (and, indeed, they did!). [:)]

  25. @PL: In your response to Sleepwalker, you cited Acts 15:21 as well as a number of Paul’s letters referencing his instructions to the Gentiles, but there are some trapdoors here. First off, there aren’t always synagogues for “Messianic Gentiles” to attend these days, and at least some of Paul’s instructions could be taken as contextual or specific to local groups rather than universally applied praxis. I would have to say that while general morality and ethics from the Torah also carries over to the Gentile disciple, the requirements of our observance are a lot looser than for the Jews. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but I think there are a lot of Gentiles like Sleepwalker who are so drawn to the beauty of the Torah and the prayers, that it’s tough to accept, “this isn’t for you, kid.”

    I’m also aware that even as I’m writing this, FFOZ is holding their annual Shavuot conference, which I’ve attended in the past. This is no doubt a “spiritual home” for many Gentiles in Messiah, but there will always, for whatever reason, be many Gentile and Jewish disciples of the Rav who will feel disenfranchised and isolated. I can only hope that in the days of Messiah, this will be corrected.

    PL said:

    Remember that v.21 is not merely anticipating generic Torah self-study; it is expecting that study to occur in the synagogue context, under the teaching and guidance of Jewish “scribes and Pharisees” such as Rav Yeshua cited in Mt.5:20 and Mt.23:2.

    Except we don’t have that. There may be rare exceptions, but in the modern, western world, there are very, very few places where the non-Jew can study Torah under the “teaching and guidance of Jewish “scribes and Pharisees.” The closest many of us can come is to surround ourselves with a lot of books, and partake of whatever videos and podcasts are available and appropriate.

    Messianic Judaism (and probably more traditional Christianity and Judaism) isn’t a perfect model, nor does it (nor do they) exist as a single, unified entity. There’s a struggle to try and “fit in” someplace, and often that place does not exist. When we try to fit in elsewhere, we discover that we don’t belong (as I did during my church sojourn) or we are not desired for whatever reason.

    There are many barriers for us, not the least of which (in my case) is the consequences of being intermarried. However, none of them absolve us of our responsibilities to God. As Sleepwalker’s quote states, “Judaism is a science of deeds,” and while it could be argued that a Gentile disciple of Rav Yeshua cannot possibly practice a “Judaism,” in my opinion, faith is a verb.

    While our day-to-day praxis is only very loosely defined in the Bible, our morals and ethics should still be clear. Besides Biblical study and gathering together (if possible and reasonable) with like-minded believers, maybe that’s what constitutes worship and devotion for us.

    Chag Sameach Shavuot.

  26. My grandfather was a dirt-poor itinerant preacherman. He had a son (now my uncle) who took ill in his early childhood. The doctors were stymied until they opened him up and found he was congenitally born shy a few vitals. Anyway, the doctors sewed him back up and told my grandfather and grandmother that the lad should be with family, taken to live out his last days in boyish bliss, and so forth.

    Suffice it to say, this devout Christian family got to praying, and in the height of zeal, my grandfather claims to have “consecrated” his son for the L-rd. By his bedstead, if memory serves. In his last resort, he believed that he could “consecrate” his son to G-d. Perhaps he recalled Hannah or Samson. Yet miraculously or by pure hap, time wore along and my uncle lived. So uncommon was his survival – so rare – that researchers prodded him and he was put down in the Guinness Book of World Records with a few other, if I recall correctly.

    Today, my uncle serves in no sacerdotal capacity. He’s probably never cracked a bible from what I ken. He lives on the West Coast and works a lucrative management gig in Silicon Valley, and he married without having children of his own. He’s on the heavy side, by no means the finicky valetudinarian that traumas make of gobsmacked second-chancers like himself.

    From what I gather, the whole ordeal scintillates of a folkloric aura within my extended family and the faith outlets they plug into. Now after MJ, I look back on the ordeal with mixed emotions. Consecration of children was the prerogative of the firstborn of the Exodus, for the prophets of the Jews, for priests of the House, and for willing Nazirites. The bible outlays no such system for Gentiles. General salvation yes. Everything for them is general. Always general.

    My grandpa was a wholesome and honest kind of man, uncomplicated by pedantry and close to his flock. Perhaps he was unlike myself, less curious while more content and reliable. And he probably did what he knew to be best at the time, his back against the wall and his son’s life hanging by the ominous and proverbial silver cord. Now I sport a healthy skepticism of faith healing and the ballyhoo swarming around it, though I’m not closed off to the idea. But being the complicated cur I am, I look at my secular uncle and ask what system exactly that he was consecrated to. I ask if there is a consecration model at all for gentile youths beyond general salvific blah that totalizes all goys. What were the terms of his consecration as detailed in what is supposedly our writ? What G-d-established body verified the pact and had the right to ratify it? Did G-d toss my grandfather a miracle despite his error? Or was it a natural, albeit uncommon, convalescence that ran the bases and slid into apophenia’s home plate? PL would peremptorily slap it down, averring no gentile can or should ever become that holy. Because if my uncle were, it would sap electrons away from Israel’s own sanctity. Envisaged, dreamfangled and goyish nazirites would be one of Supersessionism’s many stylish pashminas in the charismatic Southland. I’m sure it’s taken hold somewhere because I can see its “prayer of Jabez” attraction.

    My grandfather died before I was even born, and so his life to me has that strange and shadowbox air we impute to life’s elusives. In truth, I would never attend a church like the one my grandfather served, and I doubt I’ll attend any for that matter. What’s the point? While I know he was a selfless and noble man, I certainly would have taken umbrage with some of his popular teachings. I’ve read what few drafts remain, his winsome phiz gracing old bulletins and whatnot. One mimeographed script on dingy, foxed paper befittingly blares “The Great Physician” in the title. But what I know now casts a dour shadow over so many aspects of faith and life for goys. The sinking suspicion that a healing and an inspired ministry was essentially based on a tale. That damned fatal insight of how faint the gentile’s relation to G-d really is has implications that are far-reaching, and I can see how many people need to make connections that aren’t there, and why it keeps happening again and again and again. It reminds me that one cannot read someone else’s national literature forever without rejecting it wholesale or forming false connections to it, as did my hazy forebear. For that, I see my grandfather’s desperate and loving pledge through the eyes of both gratitude and heartbreaking pity alike. Good people steaming along on pleasant fictions. PL calls this venture a “pilot program” and asks me how it’s not good enough.

    Story is what keeps us going. And like so many other supersessions, his story is a yarn that gentiles could be a part of.

    My secular goy uncle. Tenacious survivor. Hapless nazirite. Rich.

    1. Well, hello again, Sleepwalker — Today your subject seems to be a consideration of your secular gentile uncle who is a tenacious survivor of a life-threatening medical condition from birth, who has, from your telling, succeeded also financially (perhaps even because of the challenge of overcoming any physical limitation he may suffer). Now, there are a few elements of your story that I’d like to address. You relay a tale of your grandfather’s apparently exceptional faith to pray for your uncle’s survival and to “consecrate” him to G-d, in a manner that might have been modeled on the biblical story of Samson (Shimshon); though you report that your uncle “serves in no sacerdotal capacity”. I infer that you think such a function should have resulted from such a consecration. Allow me to recall for you that Samson served Israel as a judge and a military champion, not a priest, before his morally-questionable involvement with a Philistine woman who disrespected his Nazirite vow and delivered the weakened man to imprisonment by his Philistine enemies. Was he any less consecrated? No; and he was ultimately granted a pyrrhic victory over those enemies of Israel and of HaShem. It may yet be a little too soon to draw any conclusions about your uncle’s story and whether he may yet serve some special purpose for HaShem (or even whether he has done so already, unbeknownst to you).

      You misattribute to me a falsehood, that I would peremptorily aver that “no gentile can or should ever become that holy”. What I aver is that you misunderstand the diverse nature of “holiness”. It is not a zero-sum game, that it could diminish someone else’s “sanctity” by its existence. It is not something to be quantified by comparing one category of it with another. Further, there is a ‘Hasidic notion that I would bring to your attention: which is regarding the “sanctification of the ordinary” (“kidushat ha-‘hol”). If that which is ordinary or common can be viewed and treated with its own kind of sanctity, and elevated in the value by which it is esteemed, are there any limits to whom or what in this world may be sanctified?

      Could a gentile become a Nazirite within the Torah of the Israeli Levitical system? Perhaps not. But that does not preclude gentiles from a relationship with HaShem, nor exclude them from sanctification or special dedication or miraculous task assignment or prophecy or spiritual power. Was your grandfather in error to request from HaShem a miraculous preservation of his son’s life? He might have been mistaken to think that it had to be “bought” by a pledge that this son would thereby become an indentured servant to HaShem. That would be a failure to trust in absolute “grace”. Rather than criticize any possible failings on his part, however, one can pursue a positive outcome of faith for oneself and for one’s own community. One can observe analogies to Israel’s stories, without trying to insert oneself into them or to supersede their ongoing validity.

      The nature of a “pilot program” is that it provides experience and models of operation that may be elaborated when the project is scaled up to wider application. It is not supersessionism merely to look at what HaShem has done or still does with His pilot program Israel and to request that He might do similarly in some matter among His gentile human population. Supersession is presumption and usurpation of Israel’s special place; and it is in essence a lack of faith in HaShem’s care for the entirety of His creation. True faith, on the other hand, encompasses both Israel’s chosen-ness and the potential of gentile spiritual development as such.

  27. I could argue the other points, but I’m going to cut to the chase with this one: relatability. It’s everything in story. When Meghan Markle married Prince Harry, millions of women who are not her projected themselves for a brief moment. Story is something people can plunge their fingers into, see themselves in, and say “this is mine, and I am its.”

    When I witness backroad Christianity invent consecrations ad hoc, it’s not mere maleducation or hysteria. It’s a mythopoeic pattern that emerges to caulk the gaps where the Bible is silent on gentiles and refuses to relate to them personally (and those gaps are myriad). I chalk it up to the unbreakable inner genius of the human will, which builds a fantasy for itself and trumps inly under its curse of ignorance. What my grandfather did is defiantly tragic to sisyphean proportions and betrays and brave an noble soul who can reach inside and birth such a beautiful fable. Whether G-d granted him a miracle is besides the point. Did the consecration take? And was it part of any order whatsoever?

    What irks me is that such a thing needs to be done by gentiles at all. I pine for a day when they don’t have to extemporize the relationship so freewheelingly. On the other hand, expatiating on a gentile’s range of pious possibilities derived loosely from Israelite text is rather distant. And the Hasidic concept, yes, I’m familiar with it. Anything can be holy with just the right gusto. But again… formless gentile blah.

    In his radical freedom, Solomon had so many wives that he had none. An infinite array of selections. And at that point one looses all ballast and mooring.

    Good shabbos. May G-d bless your day.

  28. If I may, this post amply demonstrates the problems that arise with placing your anchor in being “Hebraically aware”. The HR and Messianic movements derive from the SDA movement and Armstrongism, whether they be so-called Ten Commandment “observant” or claim “full Torah observance”. There is more division within this category and more nonsense than it is possible to count. You make this closing statement:

    // 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). //

    Is this question rhetorical or assumed? Integrated into “Jewish faith” – are you kidding? Paul worked to make sure that the very thing you are describing could not happen. God could hardly have made it clearer that this was not to happen. It is disobedience to pursue it. The Jews were to accept that Gentiles had been accepted on faith and cleansed by God – case closed – by Peter.

    The HR/Messianic groups are so proud, but their re-interpretations of the New testament are an absolute car crash (and usually do not fare much better in the Old Testament). Their insistence is most often that the Law/Torah is intended for all peoples – debunked by scripture itself even without using the New Testament, but also by Jesus own words. The special position of Judaism – also refuted by scripture. The special place of Jewish ethnicity – refuted by John the Baptist AND Jesus AND Paul AND Peter. The dispensational interpretation – introduced by an ex-Anglican (i.e. not Messianic/HR) called John Darby and UNKNOWN before that time. That Israeli/Jew is assumed an ethnicity when it is actually a RELIGION.

    And (I watched Tovia Singer rubbing his hands with glee when he pointed this out), one of the primary effects of Messianic Judaism has been converting more people to Judaism than ever – which might answer your question actually?

    The centre of Christian faith is Christ – Christ is primary in EVERY aspect.

    The centre of Messianic/HR faith is Torah – that is almost all they ever talk about. Even though Heb chapter 3 and 4 state as plain as day that TODAY is the day for salvation, the rest to be entered into by faith, the Messianic is not happy about it, so they say “no, it is about the Sabbath”. Which means looking backward 1500 years before Messiah, even before Joshua brought the disobedient nation into their rest, right back to the actual centre of their faith, modelled on Judaism – THEMSELVES and THEIR “obedience” to Torah.

    And that “Jews felt overwhelmed and victimised so they kicked Paul out of the synagogue” concept is so foreign to the New Testament writings I can barely withstand the blizzard of Messianic revisionism. Seriously – it tells you why they reacted to Pauls ministry the way they did in pretty simple and unflattering terms: they were JEALOUS. Which might incidentally be fulfilling some kind of prophecy found in Torah. I’ll give you a hint: if they did not listen to Moses and the Prophets……..

    1. I see you have an ax to grind, “withoutseeing.” If you’ve read any of my blog posts, you know I don’t advocate non-Jews abandoning Christ and converting to Judaism, nor do I advocate non-Jews behaving like “pseudo-Jews.” I do believe that the Bible is a single, unified document with a single unified message with Israel and her first born son Jesus Christ (in some circles known as Rav Yeshua) having centrality, and from that core, extends salvation for the nations of the world. Torah was given to Israel at Sinai, and only certain subsets of it apply to the nations. That said, the Bible does say that the House of the Lord, that is the not yet rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem, shall be a House of Prayer for all peoples, not just the Jews.

      1. James, I apologise that I lost track of your reply to me. It was unintentional.

        You called it an “ax to grind” – I would say “no more than you do”. You claim Christianity is a wholly fabricated clean break from “Jewish roots” faith – i.e. logically thereby a false non-Jewish religion? Correct? Or what is it that you are trying to say if not this? I merely ask you to truthfully stand over, clarify, or reject your own statement which I quoted above.

        You say in this reply, that you do not then advocate non-Jews abandoning Christ and converting to Judaism or “behaving like pseudo-Jews”. So then what would a “re-connection” of a Christian to “Jewish roots of faith” look like, if not appropriating Jewish practices and subsets of their Law? It does not seem to tally with your statement in the article, which again was :

        //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 //

        This is logically inconsistent. Again – “integrated into a JEWISH faith”. We all know what “Jewish” means. How else would you expect this to be interpreted? Then you say you do not advocate Christians “abandoning Christ” (which if in a false faith is also contradictory) or indeed becoming more “Jewish”. It sounds somewhat confused?

        You did not respond to my comment because there is simply no possibility of defending this statement using the actual writings of Paul – instead you went after me. Since “absolutely no one” continued Pauls work according to your claim, what you are saying, is that there was absolutely NO true faith in Jesus from the time of Paul until in modernity a small group of persons with an affinity for Judaism accepted that Jesus was the Christ, or more specifically “their” Christ/Meshiach – right? How else do you expect me to interpret what you have told me?

        Torah never did apply to the “nations” universally as Torah itself plainly states. The ten commandments, the covenants at Sinai reaffirmed in the plain of Moab were only for the nation of Israel who were as affirmed in Deut 5, “those here today” and “their generations”. If you accepted Pauls teaching, then you would accept that the Law was a “guardian/tutor leading to Christ” AND that “when faith has come there is no longer any need of a tutor”. The Law of Moses was plainly a national Law, not an international one. God did not punish “goyim” for breaking the Law of Moses, nor did He bring armies against them, nor did He make a covenant with “goyim” to bless them in and banish from the land of Israel that He promised their forefathers, as they were NOT included in the specific land promise made to Abraham for his physical descendants. Likewise, they were not made subject to the blessing/curses of the Law, which were tied specifically to Israels obedience IN the land of Israel that He was giving them. However, the promise obtained by faith, comes by the “seed of promise” and by means of that seed “all nations will be blessed”.

        The “House of the Lord” you speak of, has you looking forward to a physical temple building. “No one” in the New Testament teaches any such thing. And there is no Levitical priesthood any longer to carry out the rites. The New Testament teaching is pretty clear – Paul puts it “know ye not, that ye ARE the temple of God”? Jesus also says the same thing – the physical temple would be razed, but He would rebuild the temple of His “body” in 3 days. In Revelation Jesus says He will make those that overcome “a pillar” in the temple of His God. Further, God and the Lamb are the “Temple” of New Jerusalem.

    2. If I may, I will add some analysis to James’ observation about your “ax”, ‘without seeing’ — which is amply demonstrated by your misrepresentations about a number of things you cited. Let me take one statement at a time:

      (1) //problems that arise with placing your anchor in being “Hebraically aware”//

      That’s quite a metaphor, ‘without seeing’. However, if Hebraic awareness is viewed as a safe harbor in which one may be sheltered from the storms of theological fashions within traditional supersessionistic post-Nicene Christianity, I would suggest it is precisely the kind of place one should wish to anchor one’s vessel. The traditional Christian alternative of stripping away the Jewish basis of the Jewish scriptures, including the apostolic writings about haRav Yeshua ben-Yosef, has blasted away the Jewish interpretive matrix that makes these scriptures properly intelligible. Now, *that’s* a problem.

      (2) //HR and Messianic movements derive from the SDA movement and Armstrongism//

      That’s an absolute falsehood. I was present at the coalescence and development of the scriptural ideas from which the modern MJ movement arose almost 50 years ago. I participated in that development, and I have continued to do so because the movement of Jewish messianism and the theology of its discipleship to the ancient rabbi haRav Yeshua ben-Yosef is still a work in progress in its repentant return to its original model in first-century Judaism and 20 centuries of subsequent development. The HR strain developed decades later. And neither of them based themselves on writings from SDA or Armstrong. If any of their views overlap, it may be that these other religious interpretations happened to notice from a Christian perspective some of the same elements that MJ also discovered independently from a Jewish one.

      Now, virtually no social movement is monolithic. Various views are to be found among its representatives. Certainly those who were drawn to MJ included some who had also been exposed to various expressions of Jewish Christianity, Hebrew-Christianity, and other forms of Christianity. These forms included Pentecostalism, Evangelicalism, Calvinism, Darbyism, and even Catholicism, as well as Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, Reconstructionist and other modern forms of Judaism. Thus certainly I would not exclude the likelihood that some might also have been exposed to SDA and other influences in their search for an authentic expression of first-century faith. Nonetheless, MJ is not an amalgamation of these views or expressions. It is rather a radical re-examination of the apostolic writings in their original historical Jewish cultural context, from which Jewish disciples then may draw insights for how they may conduct themselves, and non-Jewish disciples may do likewise. Acts 15 makes clear that these are not identical pursuits, because of different responsibilities for each of these segments of a general ecclesia.

      (3) //Paul worked to make sure that the very thing you are describing [integration of gentiles into “Jewish faith”] could not happen.//

      You apparently fail to recognize the distinctions between Jewish faith, Jewish identity, and Jewish praxis. The faith in HaShem’s redemption is unquestionably a Jewish faith, applicable nonetheless to all humanity. That this redemption is to be accomplished under the leadership of a Jewish messiah is also an element of Jewish faith. Jewish identity and praxis, however, are cultural phenomena deriving from commitment to the Jewish covenant of Torah and its concomitant allegiances. That specific identity and praxis is not to be applied to all humanity; and what Rav Shaul emphasized vehemently to the gentile Galatian assembly was consistent with the Acts-15 decision, that the gentile disciples were not to convert to Judaism and take upon themselves specifically Jewish identity by becoming circumcised. You are quite correct that //Jews were to accept that Gentiles had been accepted on faith and cleansed by God//. What Rav Shaul was emphasizing to the Galatians was that gentile disciples also needed to accept that truth as sufficient and good. Equally important, gentile disciples must recognize that distinctive Jewish identity and praxis are still incumbent upon Jewish disciples. In the first century, that was unquestioned — but it has become a matter of contention since that time as Jews came to be despised by supersessionistic Christians.

      (4) If you have paid attention to what I’ve been writing, you will see that your assertion that MJ insists //the Law/Torah is intended for all peoples// is utter nonsense, though there does exist a mistaken stream of HR thinking that promulgates such a notion. They also fail to make the distinctions I tried to clarify in my preceding paragraph (3). Nonetheless, the way you’ve phrased it is actually halfway true. In Acts 15:21 it is hinted that gentile disciples, though not obligated to more than some basic principles under Torah, were still expected to learn Torah — presumably to understand more thoroughly what might be applicable to them and in what manner or measure — particularly since they were not to be expected or required to adopt specific Jewish praxis or identity.

      (5) As for notions that you view as debunked or refuted by scripture, such as the special position of Judaism and the special place of Jewish ethnicity, are aspects of the Torah and the Prophets that Rav Yeshua ratified in Matt.5:17-18, and by Rav Shaul in Rom.3:1-2. Hence you cannot assert that they are //refuted by John the Baptist AND Jesus AND Paul AND Peter//. That’s just not a defensible interpretation. Note, incidentally, that Jewish religion is merely a response to HaShem’s covenant of Torah. It is a cultural phenomenon that is a subset of a larger construct of “Jewish civilization”. It is not at all dispensational in character, but rather “covenantal” and ongoing — just as Rav Yeshua observed that not the least or finest point of Torah or the Prophets would cease to be valid as long as heaven and earth endure (Mt.5:18). What Darby viewed as a future dispensation is merely the restoration of Jewish sovereignty and Temple-based worship in accordance with prophecies that are currently in the process of being fulfilled. His error was to think that G-d had changed the rules for His dealings with humanity in order to accomplish 20 centuries of Jewish exile from our land, and Christian spiritual and religious hegemony, before restoring us to conditions outlined in those prophecies.

      (6) Your invocation of the letter to the Hebrews (ch. 3 & 4) is rather indicative of what happens when an outsider tries to read someone else’s mail. I can only say that you, reading as a non-Jew, have not understood the point or meaning intended by its referents. This letter is an exhortation to Jewish disciples specifically facing the events of the Roman siege of Jerusalem that culminated with the destruction of its Temple, that they should persevere and not lose heart. Hence it invokes the indestructible heavenly archetype of that temple as continuing to function, and the role of Rav Yeshua’s martyrdom as a symbolic sacrifice which is offered eternally in that venue, and his concomitant role as a Melchitzedekian priest bringing forward that offering. There is a great deal of midrashic symbolism employed in this letter, and it has nothing to do with the “centrality” of HaShem, his anointed king messiah, the temple in which He is to be worshipped, the Torah by which He is to be obeyed, or any other such important thing.

      (7) //I can barely withstand the blizzard of Messianic revisionism//

      I’m sorry for you if you find it overwhelming that in these last days so many presumptions and prior misconceptions are being challenged and corrected. It’s an exciting and challenging era in which we live — though there is worse yet to come before it gets better. Nonetheless, “our redemption draweth nigh”. It is not only Jews who have ever been guilty of //not listen[ing] to Moses and the Prophets//. And Jews have not always been guilty at all times of such an observation, nor all Jews in all times. One must take care not to paint with too broad a brush, neglecting important details and distinctions.

      (8) Let me now note that you did not actually address my specific assertions in my previous reply to you. And let me conclude this response with an elaboration of the reference in James’ reply about the House of the LORD [HaShem] as a house of prayer for all peoples (as described in Is.56:7). I will cite, in addition, Is.2:3 —

      And many peoples will come and say,
      “Come, let us go up to the mountain of HaShem [יהוה],
      To the house of the God of Jacob;
      That He may teach us concerning His ways
      And that we may walk in His paths.”
      For the Torah will go forth from Zion
      And the word of HaShem from Jerusalem.

      Now, all this emphasis on Jewish restoration and resurgence is fine, but it doesn’t provide much detail or guidance to the gentile disciples who may be expected to be among those exhorting each other to go up to worship in the appropriate courtyard of the Jerusalem Temple. It lets them know that they may pray. It doesn’t specify the form or content of such prayers. Is.56 states that these “b’nei nechar” [foreigners] who attach themselves to the Jewish covenant will be deserving of high commendation, beyond that of the native Jewish sons and daughters — perhaps, if we may speculate, because it is voluntary, above and beyond any requirement or expectation. And it offers hints that their observance, even of the Shabbat, will differ slightly from that enjoined upon Jews. Nonetheless, there is very little about details that is specified. James has devoted a number of his blog posts to this question about how gentile disciples may elaborate their religious behavior, in their position alongside and attached to the Jewish Torah covenant and its people, in the absence of specific direction. We know from Acts 15 what they are *not* obligated to do; and we know from Torah certain specifics that are incumbent only upon Jews as signs of their distinctive responsibilities before HaShem such as circumcision, tallit, tzitzit, tefillin, and the sanctification of the Shabbat — hence these may be deemed not appropriate for even these highly-commended non-Jewish disciples who refrain from profaning the Shabbat in Is.56. It seems that the specific “how-to” for these disciples is open to development or flexibility of observance, though the guidance of Torah’s principles remains valid and unchanged — the greatest of them being the covering principle of “yeshuah”: redemption, rescue, “salvation”; the door to which opens with repentance. It’s not merely a pun or coincidence that our rabbi was named “Yeshua”.

      But I suspect this may all have been more than you really were interested to read, and a veritable “blizzard” of information and assertions. I hope nonetheless, that you will give it sufficient consideration.

  29. // though one mustn’t forget that the Acts-15 instructions for gentile disciples still include the fundamentals of kashrut, so kosher food should be standard fare. //

    What a load of rubbish

  30. Just what is it, withoutseeing, that you wish to decry as “rubbish”? Since the context of my comment was regarding a meal whereby gentile disciples would be commemorating their ancient rabbi’s teaching about symbols from the Jewish Passover Seder, are you suggesting that kosher foods would be somehow inappropriate to the occasion rather than being deemed “standard fare”? Or are you dismissing the larger implication in Acts 15:28-29 that the few obligations that Torah would lay upon gentile disciples indicate that they should be sufficiently familiar with kashrut standards as to be able to provide kosher food for the sake of fellowship with Jewish disciples or to keep some degree of kashrut for themselves? Your employment of the term “rubbish” suggests that you view such notions as something to be disdained or “thrown away”. What about this do you disdain? In a number of ways, the Acts 15 controversy is fundamental to answering the question underlying James’ title for his essay above: “Why Christianity Was Invented …”, though it certainly would not have led to the Nicene formulation of it.

    1. My contention was simply that the Acts 15 instructions are provided precisely as-is and were always understood to be so and nothing less than or beyond what was confirmed by the Holy Spirit. If “kosher” was the intent, then there are a great many “fundamentals” of kosher being skipped over – it is trying to shoehorn something into the text, which was not even the context of the dispute. As many from your branch are rather eager to point out, the issue at hand is contained within the first verses of the chapter. It had nothing to do with being “kosher” – it was circumcision and the Law of Moses. The commandment to return the life of the animal and not consume it goes back to Noah. The prescription against sexual immorality and idolatry vs their previous walk in the flesh is also, as can be discerned from the Law, a basic standard that God expects from all men. So the Gentile was cleansed by faith and now would walk in the newness of life, not after their former lusts.

      No kosher. No Jewishness required – case closed, by the Apostles and the Holy Spirit.

      1. Your problem, “withoutseeing”, is a superficial reading of an already sparse text. Of course, Acts 1:1 was the crux of a much larger picture, requiring an emphasis on a longstanding Jewish view that did not compel gentiles to become Jews merely to be acceptable to Hashem, as if only Jews could be so or as if even Jews were somehow beyond reproach. But Acts 15:21 opens a window of insight that expects non-Jews to learn from the Jewish experience with the Torah that HaShem revealed. That’s what Rav Shaul was addressing also in Rom.3. Jews needed to be assured that HaShem had cleansed non-Jewish disciples from their spiritual “uncleanness” (i.e., their contamination with idolatry, among other things). Non-Jews needed to learn to honor the “natural branches” of the olive tree of faith onto which they had been grafted (cif: Rom.11). If these two groups were to fellowship as one body, Jews could not be expected to repudiate the Torah — including kashrut — and non-Jews could not be required to take upon themselves the entire body of Torah of which only a small subset could be considered obligatory upon them as upon all humankind.

        Hence as a practical matter, joint fellowship meals would need to be kosher — and certainly any commemoration of Rav Yeshua’s teaching about symbols from the Passover seder ought to be as kosher as any other seder. Otherwise it would seem that the non-Jewish disciples would be rejecting the very foundations of their redemption, as well as disdaining their Jewish brethren. However, non-Jews would not be required to observe the fullest measures of kashrut in any other venue where it would not impact Jewish disciples. Such considerations are obvious to anyone who engages in any analysis of the implications of the apostolic text upon the communities who needed to apply it.

        Such thinking is a standard for greatness (or perhaps we should call it “maturity”) in the kingdom of heaven, as Rav Yeshua viewed it in Mt.5:19; and his reference to the finest “jot and tittle” details of Torah in the preceding verse 18 emphasizes that these details are worthy of study in order to accomplish such a goal. If we accord to the apostolic decision of Acts 15 the authority of the Holy Spirit, then we should not fail to examine its implications with similar diligence. That is not an exercise in “shoehorning” anything inappropriate into the text. It is rather exegesis and not eisegesis.

      2. It is absolutely eisegesis. Notice the development required in your reply. Even cleansing by the Holy Spirit is removed from your interpretation to make way for a flesh based physical sanctification which must integrate a sufficient level of Jewishness. Your interpretation makes so many assumptions based on modern Jewish experience and think tanking, most definitely nothing close to accurate exegesis

      3. It is absolutely eisegesis. Notice the development required in your reply. Even cleansing by the Holy Spirit is removed from your interpretation to make way for a flesh based physical sanctification which must align with evolving to a sufficient level of Jewishness. Your interpretation makes so many assumptions based on modern Jewish experience and think tanking, totally at odds with, not concerned at all with harmonising the text. Most definitely nothing close to accurate exegesis that’s for sure. I would make a similar objection to your appeal toward Matt 5 as respects Torah is also standard eisegesis for your persuasion.

      4. Sorry, “withoutseeing”, but you’re confusing context and background — not to neglect linguistic integrity — with eisegesis, which they are not. I suppose we might argue also about the mechanisms by which HaShem’s Spirit accomplishes cleansing and sanctification in a human heart and life. I have no idea what objection you would make about my invocation of Rav Yeshua’s statements in Matthew 5, where he himself was explicit in his reference to the Torah and the Prophets, the longevity of their validity, and their application to the notion that he invoked which Judaism had already defined as the “kingdom of heaven”.

      5. Well thats a nice attempt to eisegete a meaning into my comment about how you were eisegeting both context and background into the text rather than exegeting them, by claiming that I confused the two. Perhaps the reason you’re confused is that you have imposed meaning. You eisegeted your own context and background into the text and then you further imposed additional words and meanings onto the text as can easily be demonstrated, so any notion of “not violating linguistic integrity” seems to be far removed from the purpose here.

        There’s no need to argue about mechanisms or anything like that right now, because exegeting the text, Peter refers to witnessing the Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit as Gods witness to them and that their heart is cleansed. Having already been cleansed by faith is the exact pretext appealed to as sufficient evidence that there is no necessity to test God by adding …. again able to exegete from the context and background … circumcision and the Law of Moses, including its kosher rules, cleansing rituals, interaction with the Levitical order, national regulations, etc. Then a letter is sent to the churches with explicit instruction and as mentioned basic instruction fitting for any God fearer. It was the Jews – causing trouble – that’s in text as well btw. You might be able to spot that in v1? The Judeans did not understand and that is why it had to be clarified. The Gentiles were being “troubled” i.e. harassed, victimised in this text, not the Jews AND the Apostles define it as such using the terms “why do you test God?” and with reference to the basic commandments that were sent the word is “burden” Greek “baros” meaning “weight” or …. “burden”. All of THAT is exegeted from the text. Your interpretation is… I’ll say it again clearly … entirely eisegeted

      6. withoutseeing, I noticed that you commented on this blog post way back in September and have just recently returned. While I trust ProclaimLiberty to be able to handle himself in a debate, I do require a certain amount if civility, even in a disagreement. It’s pretty clear that you and ProclaimLiberty aren’t going to agree, so you might want to re-examine your purpose in commenting here. If you’ve read the base blog post or even looked at other articles I’ve written, you probably realize that as a Gentile believer, my faith, theology, and praxis does not require a wholesale removing of the Jewish people in God’s covenant promises, replacing them with the Gentile church. A careful reading of the relevant portions of Jeremiah and Ezekiel clearly state that God’s promises to Israel are forever lasting, and further, that ALL of God’s promises are focused on Israel and the Jewish people. Quite simply put, God doesn’t “owe” the rest of the world (non-Jews) a thing, but out of His infinite mercy and grace, He does accept us through our devotion to the Jewish Messiah. You are completely free to disagree with all that. However, it’s unlikely that a religious haranguing is going to change anyone’s mind.

      7. I didn’t notice that I was uncivilised? Perhaps you just wish to pre-empt it? I appreciate that. Well please hear me quite clearly then. My purpose in commenting here is to point out misrepresentations and I intend to do so using exegesis rather than eisegesis and actual history rather than made up history. If that makes anyone uncomfortable, it’s understandable from my point of view and I sympathise. Where is your evidence that the Jewish people were “removed” from anything? The Jewish people back then, who some might claim as their ancestors, we’re deceived by their leaders en masse and imprisoned in Judaism by their Rabbi ‘s. God’s message and grace to the Gentiles rang out loud and clear. Jesus said that the Jews nation would be stripped from them and given to another. Israel were not deceived, because God kept them as Paul also points out. God doesnt “owe” Jews anything either – that’s something that unmasks one of the many problems within MJ theology.

        My comments

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