Tag Archives: Israel

Romans 11:26 And What “All Israel Will Be Saved” Means

For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery—so that you will not be wise in your own estimation—that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; and so all Israel will be saved…

Romans 11:25-26 (NASB)

I hold a minority opinion in terms of understanding what “all Israel” means in this context. I think that, based on the New Covenant promises (Jer. 31, Ezek. 36) God intends to save all Israel, that is, all of the Jewish people. But if you’re a Christian, this doesn’t seem quite right. Shouldn’t I mean “all of the Jewish people who confess Jesus as Lord and Savior?”

That could be interpreted as meaning “all Israel” is all those Jews who have abandoned their Jewish identity, abandoned their Jewish heritage, abandoned all of the covenants God made with Israel, who have converted to (Gentile) Christianity and live like the goyim.

But that doesn’t seem right either, because this flies in the face of the language in the aforementioned New Covenant, which promises a return of the Temple, the Levitical priesthood, and the sacrifices. If the “law were nailed on the cross with Jesus,” then all of those covenants, including the New Covenant, and the attached promises don’t make sense.

In fact, I could argue that a Jew who converts to Christianity, a Hebrew Christian, might not be considered “Israel” at all if they have been taught (by well-meaning but misguided Gentile Christians) to abandon the very covenants that define the Jewish people and Israel. There’s a lot more to being a covenant people than just your DNA.

Fortunately, I came across a comment made by reader “ProclaimLiberty” (PL) on the Rosh Pina Project blog post Messianic Jews Must be Consistent in Our Reverence of Scripture:

Insofar as I can interpret Rav Shaul’s phrase “all Israel shall be saved” (or, “πᾶς Ἰσραὴλ σωθήσεται”) in Rom 11:26, it includes everyone. The term “πᾶς” may be rendered: “1) individually 1a) each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything 2) collectively”. Hence, “all Israel” seems to refer to each and every individual in the collective of Israel.

And the term “σωθήσεται” may be rendered (from “σῴζω”, verb, {sode’-zo}):
“1) to save, keep safe and sound, to rescue from danger or destruction
1a) one (from injury or peril)
1a1) to save a suffering one (from perishing), i.e. one suffering from disease, to make well, heal, restore to health 1b1) to preserve one who is in danger of destruction, to save or rescue
1b) to save in the technical biblical sense
1b1) negatively:
1b1a) to deliver from the penalties of the Messianic judgment
1b1b) to save from the evils which obstruct the reception of the Messianic deliverance”.
Jerusalem
It seems to me to be a consequence of HaShem’s unwavering faithfulness to keep His covenanted promises. Certainly the record of the Tenakh shows that it cannot be the result of 100% faithfulness by 100% of Jews throughout our millennia of history as a people. I can only infer that this was Rav Shaul’s intended meaning, based on his understanding of the prophecies cited (viz: Is.59:20-21; Is.27:9; Jer.31:33-34). None of it appears to be conditioned by the individual or collective state of any Jew, thus one must infer that HaShem has some plan by which to accomplish the redemption of the unworthy Jewish souls who will nonetheless benefit, and none will be left out. Personally, I envision a massive crash-course in Jewish messianism for a whole host of Jews swept up together into a special state outside of the time-stream immediately after their deaths; but, hey, it’s not my job to second-guess HaShem.

This is helpful since my knowledge of ancient Greek is non-existent, and it does establish that there is some justification for my beliefs and my hope that indeed, all Israel, every individual Jewish person, will be redeemed by God, just as He promised.

The promises of God are real and wholly reliable. We just need to make sure our theology and doctrine map to this Biblical truth.

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A Christian’s Commentary on Jews and Messianic Judaism

Yesterday, the Rosh Pina Project (RPP), whose work in challenging those who support Arab terrorism against Israel I greatly respect, published a blog post called Messianic Jewish “Rabbis”: The New Testament is part of the Torah.

The blog post itself is a very short commentary on the Messianic Jewish Rabbinical Council’s decisions and self-definition of what it is to be a Rabbi in Messianic Jewish community.

However, what really got my attention occurred in the comments section of that blog post.

I’ve always been a little baffled when Jewish people willingly convert to (Gentile) Christianity, disdain the Torah, the mitzvot, the Shabbat, and the Biblical moadim (festivals) in favor of Christmas, Easter, and the “freedom” to eat ham sandwiches.

OK, I’m being a little snarky here, but remember, I have been married to a Jewish wife for over 30 years (although she hasn’t been “religious” all that time, and even now, her observance isn’t as full as I wish it was), so I have a rather unique perspective on what being Jewish means to her, including her special and precious covenant relationship with Hashem (God).

I don’t know the history or background of most of the people commenting at RPP, but it seems that at least some of them are believing Jews in the vein of “Hebrew Christians,” Jews who attend church along with their Gentile Christian counterparts, adopting the lifestyle and beliefs of the believing “Goyim,” and being Jewish in name and DNA only.

shabbosTo me (but who am I to talk?), a large part of being a Jew of faith is living a life of Jewish praxis, of lighting the Shabbos candles, davening with a minyan, attending the prayer and Torah services in synagogue on Shabbat, donning a tallit and laying tefillin to pray, and many other things that are inexorably intertwined with observing the Torah mitzvot and living life as a Jew.

Even as I’m writing this, one or more comments responding to the one I made at the aforementioned RPP blog post, are being published, so it’s going to be interesting writing this while commenting there.

I feel like I’m repeating myself in making my points, but to believe the traditional Christian view of Galatians 4 that the Torah is slavery or Hebrews 8:13 that the Torah is obsolete, and thus replaced rather than augmented by the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31; Ezekiel 36) means that God lied to Israel when He gave them the Torah at Sinai and when He promised to redeem Israel as Israel in the New Covenant promises.

I’ve written so much about the New Covenant, why it adds to and augments the Sinai and other covenants God made with Israel, why Israel, that is, the Jewish people, have been and always will be special and unique to God, even among the ekklesia of Jews and Gentiles who worship the God of Israel and bring honor to Yeshua, our Rav and King. I don’t want to write it all down again in a single blog post. It wouldn’t be an essay, it would be a small book (and believe me, I’ve thought of collecting certain of my blog series into a book, but who’d publish it?).

To understand my perspective on the nature of the New Covenant as summarized in a single blog post, read The Jesus Covenant Part 11: Building My Model.

I went through something of a crisis of faith a few years back when I realized that there is nothing whatsoever in the New Covenant language that promises salvation or a place in the world to come to non-Jewish, non-Israel people who believe in Jesus. The fact that Yeshua mentions the New Covenant in his blood in Matthew 26:28, Mark 14:24, and Luke 22:20 has no apparent connection to Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36 at all.

new heartSo I spent somewhere around nine months or so complaining in the blogosphere, asking for help from anyone I thought would/should know how to make that connection. Ultimately, I made it myself through a lot of study and investigation. No wonder most Christians just take the “this is the new covenant in my blood” statement and how to interpret it for granted. If you really look at it, the statement is like a castle built on air if you don’t understand how all of the covenants work together. The Church doesn’t teach that part. You have to dig it out for yourself.

Recently, I wrote a blog post that clarified how we non-Jewish disciples do not have a covenant relationship with God at all, but rather, we rely on faith and trust alone to assure us that God’s great mercy and grace allows us to participate in blessings of the New Covenant without being named parties.

But for the Jews, it’s a different matter. Acts 15 makes it clear that our participation in God’s blessings does not require the same rigorous involvement in covenant mitzvot as God requires of the Jewish people and nation. Nothing in the New Covenant language states that it replaces the old.

Paul’s Hagar and Sarah midrash in Galatians 4 challenges the traditional Christian interpretation of Torah as slavery, and my review of D. Thomas Lancaster’s sermon Glory to Glory clarifies the meaning of a previous covenant becoming old and growing ready to disappear. It’s not the conditions and requirements of the Sinai covenant (Torah) that are disappearing, it’s the difference between the Torah being external and internal. In the Messianic Age, Jews will have the Torah written on their hearts; wholly internalized so it’s natural for them to be obedient to God in performance of the mitzvot, thus it will be humanly possible to serve God without sin.

I think I know where the fine folks at RPP are coming from. A month or so ago, I wrote Exploring Reformed Theology: The Fallacy of Covenant Equality Between the Church and Israel. Doing this investigation actually helped me understand why Christians think it’s logical and Biblical to believe that Jesus observing the Torah mitzvot perfectly “fulfilled righteousness,” and thus rendered it unnecessary for Jews to continue to be Torah observant, and eliminates the requirement for the Sinai covenant.

divorceI just happen to believe that interpretation is in error and was ultimately created as a consequence of the ugly divorce that happened between the Gentile novices and their Jewish teachers and mentors within the first century or less after Yeshua’s ascension, and ended up becoming the Christian Church’s two-thousand year old mistake.

I know from a traditional Christian point of view, the continued practice of Rabbinic Judaism for the past nearly twenty centuries, is considered to be the “mistake.” From that point of view, Jews should have abandoned Jewish praxis, if not Jewish identity, and converted to Christianity the way Paul did in Acts 9 (except he didn’t convert, he just changed Ravs and took on a more Judaically enlightened perspective and purpose based on his supernatural revelation).

To my way of reading the Apostolic scriptures, the Jewish disciples of Rav Yeshua did not cease Jewish practice, did not cease the traditional prayers, did not cease offering Korban at the Holy Temple, and did not renounce the Torah.

You see, brother, how many thousands there are among the Jews of those who have believed, and they are all zealous for the Law…

Acts 21:20 (NASB)

I don’t have the time to pull in all the necessary quotes from the Bible to illustrate my points, which is why I’m peppering this blog post with links to many other of my essays. However, when Paul was falsely accused of “teaching all the Jews who are among the Gentiles to forsake Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children nor to walk according to the customs,” the thousands of Yeshua-believing Jews who were all “zealous for the Torah” doubted Paul because of these rumors. Paul had to do something to convince these Jews and their non-Yeshua-believing brothers, that he had never turned away from Torah or Temple and had never taught other Jews in the diaspora to do the same.

Unfortunately, that didn’t work out as planned, but if you follow the progression of trials Paul went through as depicted in Luke’s Book of Acts, you’ll see that Paul never agreed with the false accusations against him. He always maintained his innocence and repeatedly stated that he never committed a crime against Roman law or Torah.

Apostle Paul preachingAn excellent book describing Paul’s trials is John W. Mauck’s Paul On Trial: The Book Of Acts As A Defense Of Christianity which I reviewed in part in this blog post. Even Christianity Today published an article some years back stating that Paul was not anti-Judaism, and I’ve written a commentary on their viewpoint as well.

Last year, I wrote a response to challenges against the viability of Messianic Judaism as a Judaism, and a couple of years back, I championed the necessity of Messianic Jewish community as a fully-realized Jewish community.

I agreed with Rabbi Stuart Dauermann that the “Jewish people are ‘us’ not ‘them,'” meaning that Messianic Jews are part of the larger community of Jewish people, not “Christians in kippot” who see non-Yeshua believing Jews as something alien and apart.

While I’m throwing in links, let me direct you to the excellent volume compiled by Mark Nanos and Magnus Zetterholm called Paul within Judaism: Restoring the First-Century Context to the Apostle. There is a growing movement of Jewish and Christian New Testament scholars (and that’s a pretty amazing statement in and of itself) who are re-examining the writings of Paul without peering through traditional interpretive lens of the Church, investigating Paul’s intent and meaning as a Pharisaic Jew rather than a Christian convert.

The results are quite enlightening and, since we depend on Paul for much of our understanding of early “Christian” theology and doctrine, if we reconstruct him back into his Jewish environment and then re-read his letters, we get a very different view of the Apostle to the Gentiles and what he was actually trying to communicate.

Christianity, as we understand it today, was invented by a Gentile majority population within the ancient and short-lived Jewish religious stream of Yeshua believers once called “the Way”. Christianity had to occur in order for these Gentiles to “divorce” themselves, not only from their Jewish teachers, but from the wholly Jewish and Israel oriented message of the Messiah, re-interpreting the ancient Jewish writings to say what they were never intended to say. Only two-thousand years of Christian dogma make it seem as if replacement or fulfillment theology is at all reasonable, let alone Biblical.

Spirit, Torah, and Good NewsThe “good news” of Yeshua has always been about the coming of the New Covenant, the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel, to restore them, to restore the Temple, to restore the Levitical priesthood (start reading at Jeremiah 31 and go forward through the subsequent chapters…it’s all there). It’s always been about good news for Israel first, and then because of that, also good news for the people of the nations, that is, the rest of us.

But if Jewish people, Jewish praxis, Jewish covenant connection with God, and Judaism as a lifestyle and expression of the covenants goes away and is replaced by Gentile Christianity and a Gentile Jesus, not only does Israel’s “good news” go up in a puff of smoke, so does ours. Gentile salvation and reconciliation to God only happens because of Israel’s covenants with God. If you replace them, then you drive the Jews away from God for all time and you destroy any hope the rest of the world has, because we depend on Israel’s covenant linkage to God to metaphorically link us (graft us in), too.

I’m sorry. I know there are many good and faithful Hebrew Christians in the Church and they really do believe the Torah is not only obsolete, but actually an error. It’s incredibly sad, because a Jew is the only person who is born into a covenant relationship with God, whether he or she wants to be or not. For them to be erroneously taught that their unique identity and relationship with God through the Sinai and other covenants, including the New Covenant, has been done away with, is to cause them to stumble in that relationship with Hashem and with Messiah.

It was this sort of Christian eisegesis that finally resulted in me leaving the Church.

In John 4:22, Yeshua famously said that “salvation comes from the Jews” and he wasn’t kidding. If the Church got her wish and converted 100% of the worldwide Jewish population to Gentile Christianity causing them to abandon the mitzvot and the covenants, we would not only be risking Israel’s future but our own.

synagogueThe Jewish people have been living out their covenantal lifestyle against the constant threat of genocide for thousands of years. Don’t let conversion and assimilation finish what Haman and Hitler started. There is another way, a better way for a Jew to accept the revelation of Yeshua as Rav and Messiah. That way is to accept Jewish devotion to Yeshua and worship of the God of Israel as a Judaism, not Christianity.

No, we non-Jews don’t exactly practice “Judaism,” even when we accept the Jewishness of Yeshua-faith, but we do recognize that Jewish people do have that obligation, even as we come alongside of them in the ekklesia. If you are a non-Jewish Christian, then it is your duty to support observance of the mitzvot among the Jewish disciples of Yeshua. If you are a Jewish disciple in the manner of the Hebrew Christians, at least consider idea that your connectedness to God is much more than what you’ve been taught, that you are more unique and precious to God as a Jew than the Church will ever be willing to admit.

If nothing else, right before the sun goes down this coming Friday evening, say the blessings and light the candles to welcome Shabbos into your home as a Jew. Judaism isn’t an all or nothing religion. It happens one mitzvah at a time. Turn your heart back to the Torah and thus back to God, and He will certainly turn His heart to you.

The Meaning of Purim and Easter

Our people have survived for the past 3,500 years … and not by accident. We did it against all odds — Crusades, Inquisition, Pogroms, Holocaust … There are perhaps 12 million Jews in the world today where by conservative demographic projections, there should be 400 million. However, they were lost to murder and assimilation. Why are we still Jews and how can we ensure our grandchildren will be Jewish?

There are questions all of us must ask ourselves: How important is it to me to be Jewish? What does it mean? Am I willing to die to remain a Jew? If I am willing to die as a Jew, am I willing to live as a Jew?

-Rabbi Kalman Packouz
-from “Shabbat Shalom Weekly” commentary
Aish.com

Somewhere between 90 to 96 of the present era, after the death of the last Apostle, John, we have a head-on collision as the Hebrew words of the Bible are assigned new meanings by the gentile church leaders who are products of the Greek/Roman culture. The leadership of the Church shifted from Jerusalem to Antioch and finally, Rome. By 311 CE when Constantine, the Emperor of Rome, issued the Edict of Toleration, the spiritual situation was already critical. Just think of it, Constantine, head of the greatest empire on the face of the earth at that time, became a Christian. Anything that was good enough for the Emperor was good enough for the subjects, so, Constantine began to award medals, prizes, and money to those who converted to Christianity. Would it surprise you to know that most who converted did so for the medals, prizes, and money?

-Dr. Roy Blizzard
“What Has Happened to the Church? Is it Pagan or Hebrew?”
BibleScholars.org

purim
Purim Parade in Hebron

Given that Purim begins this Wednesday (tomorrow) evening at sundown and concludes a little over 24 hours later, and Easter is this coming Sunday, the 27th, I thought their close proximity on the calendar this year justified some juxtaposition between Judaism and Christianity.

From Rabbi Packouz’s point of view, Jewish survival of a nearly endless stream of “Purim-like” genocidal events is due, not only to the love and mercy Hashem has for His covenant people, but because Jewish people throughout history have remained steadfast to community, Torah, and Talmud. It’s their dedication continuing generation after generation, to preserving Jewish life and traditions, to raising children and grandchildren to, not just be ethnically or DNA Jewish, but to have a lived Jewish experience through the mitzvot.

From Dr. Roy Blizzard’s perspective, the once united Church of Christ splintered very early in history, within less than 100 years of its inception, and since that time, has continued to fragment again and again until today we have 400+ denominations of Christianity, all vying for the right to say, “Lo, here’s Christ.”

OK, I’m being kind of negative where the Church is concerned, and I must admit that Judaism as a religious stream has also fragmented across the last two thousand years, and today is represented by multiple, competing communities. However, unlike Christianity (and to make matters worse), there are also an unnumbered population of secular and assimilated Jews who have no seeming connection to the God of their Fathers at all (obviously, a secular Christian is a contradiction in terms).

Where these two parallel trajectories across history meet, where Christianity and Judaism collide, is at the aforementioned (by Rabbi Packouz) “Crusades, Inquisition, Pogroms, Holocaust” as well as “murder and assimilation.”

You don’t see too many Christian Crusades against the Jewish people these days (unless you count evangelizing the Jews as a “crusade”), but you do see a great deal of assimilation. My Jewish wife’s siblings were all assimilated, and two of them are avowed Evangelical Christians.

Is that such a bad thing? Not according to this article at the Rosh Pina Project. However, if a Jew has to come to the Jewish Messiah King by renouncing Jewish religious and lifestyle praxis and assimilate into the churches of their historic adversaries and conquerors, then I must disagree that it’s a good thing, particularly given Dr. Blizzard’s assessment of the rather poor spiritual state of the Church today.

Rabbi Kalman Packouz
Rabbi Kalman Packouz

The way R. Packouz sees it, if Jewish families want to support not only the observance of the mitzvot and Jewish religious praxis, but the continuation of the Jewish people as a population, this is what must happen:

If parents want their children and grandchildren to be Jewish, the parents must be a role model for living Jewishly. Any person I met who has positive feelings about being Jewish has told me it’s because he remembers his father making Kiddush, his mother lighting Shabbat candles, the Passover Seder. Memories, emotions and values only transfer through actions; philosophy does not pass to the next generation — unless it’s lived. Remember, a parent only owes his child three things: example, example, example!

Do you want your grandchildren to be Jewish? Then today go and buy To Be a Jew by Rabbi Hayim Donin. Read it. Make your decision. And then institute a gradual program of change that will lead to your living a fuller Jewish life. Then your children will have something that they value and want for themselves and for their children!

We actually have a copy of that book in our home and I know my wife has read it, and frankly, I wish she were more observant…much more observant.

As far as Dr. Blizzard goes, he believes that the restoration of the Church into what the Apostle Paul (Rav Shaul) envisioned so many centuries ago, is possible in this manner:

I want to emphasize something before you misunderstand what I am talking about. Restoration is never going to be accomplished on a denominational level. It can only happen on an individual basis. If you are in the Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, Church of Christ, or whatever denomination, restoration can happen. It will happen as there is an increased hunger and desire on the part of God’s people for true factual information. It will happen as individuals begin to ask questions about their religious beliefs and test them against linguistic, cultural, and historical facts. The good news is that it is probably already happening to you.

I also think this is beginning to happen as small groups within their churches are becoming aware of a more Hebraic interpretation of their Bibles. Some remain in their church communities and become lone voices of restoration among their peers and the Pastoral staff, while others leave the Church altogether and either seek out like-minded souls, or lacking that, go on a solitary journey of discovery in the company of the Holy Spirit.

ChurchI wrote the blog post Standing on the Jewish Foundation of the Bible in November 2013 when I was attending a small, local Baptist church. I was having weekly private meetings with the head Pastor to discuss our relative points of view on the Bible, with him trying to turn me into a good Baptist, and me trying to enlighten him with the radically Jewish nature of the Messiah and his laser-like focus, not on the Church, but on the restoration of Israel.

Neither one of us were successful, in large part because of my conviction that the Church as it exists today, for all the wonderful things she has done, still represents a Two-Thousand Year old Mistake.

When the early non-Jewish disciples of Rav Yeshua (Jesus Christ) and their Jewish mentors and teachers each demanded an ugly divorce, the Gentile Christian Church rose out of the seeming ashes of its Jewish origins and began describing a drunken course through history much as Dr. Blizzard has described.

On the flip side of the coin, the number of Jews who retained fidelity to Rav Yeshua dwindled over the decades and centuries until Jewish devotion to Yeshua as the revealed Moshiach was extinguished.

This is what made it possible for the various incarnations of the Church to persecute the Jewish people, burn synagogues, burn volumes of Talmud, burn Torah scrolls, and burn the Jewish subjects of the Jewish King, all in the”Gentile-ized” name of that King; in the name of Jesus Christ.

But the Jewish people and lived Judaism have continued to survive, in spite of the persistent spirit of Haman which has followed them across the pages of history, attempting time and again to finish what he started as we read in the Scroll of Esther (see your Bible for details).

In a tiny handful of hours, Jews all over the world will be gathering together and celebrating Jewish survival from historical and modern genocide (represented today in part by ISIS, Iran, the PLO, Hamas, CNN, Barack Obama) by the observance of Purim. And on Sunday, in sunrise services around the world, Christians will be gathering together to celebrate the meaning of a risen Christ.

Unfortunately, a nasty side effect of Easter, again, at least historically, is that “after every passion play, there’s a pogrom.” In other words, while Easter is supposed to be a celebration of life, particularly eternal life in the Kingdom of God, the crucifixion of Christ, memorialized on Good Friday (and with supreme irony, Purim ends the evening before Good Friday this year) has been expressed in harassment of the Jews because “they killed Jesus.”

judeo-christianI used to believe that way of thinking had gone the way of the Dodo bird, until I read of an incident that happened earlier this year:

When Catholic Memorial School, an all-boys high school in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood, played Newton North High School in a closely-fought basketball game last Friday, tensions were running high among the crowd.

Fans of Newton North High, which serves the suburb of Newton, a leafy suburb known for its high academic performance and its sizeable Jewish population, teased the Catholic Memorial School for its all-boy makeup, chanting, “Where are your girls?”

As the crowd got rowdy, a group of between 50 and 75 supporters of Catholic Memorial started a chant of their own. “You killed Jesus!” they yelled at Newton’s team and supporters, repeating the slur over and over through the gym.

The Newton students fell silent, shocked and upset.

This happened within the past few months, not the past few decades. These Catholic sports fans wouldn’t have known to taunt the Jewish basketball players and their families with such an insult if they hadn’t learned it somewhere.

Perhaps there are certain corners of the Christian Church that haven’t put their houses in order yet.

Dr. Blizzard believes that the restoration of the “Hebrew” Church is happening one individual at a time, and in the present age, I believe that’s true. I also believe that there’s a war coming; a terrible war.

I believe every nation on Earth is going to turn against Israel in an attempt to finally accomplish Haman’s mission and wipe every single Jew from the face of our planet. I believe the western nations, particularly the United States, will be among those standing against Israel. I expect my neighbors, co-workers, and people I’ve worshiped with in church will be among those supporting such a war (though I hope there will also be those who will join me in opposing it).

fall of jerusalemHowever, the Bible tells us that when all seems lost and Israel is about to be buried for the last time, Hashem Himself will fight for her and He will win. Messiah will restore Jerusalem, rebuild the Temple, return all of the Jewish exiles to their Land, and…

Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths. And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, there will be no rain on them. If the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which the Lord smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths. This will be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths.

Zechariah 14:16-19 (NASB)

As such, I don’t think there will be a Church, at least as we understand the concept today, when King Messiah rules from his throne in Jerusalem. I believe there will be an ekklesia, a world-wide multi-national community of those devoted to the God of Israel, who are the disciples and servants of the Jewish Messiah King, made up of two basic people groups, Jewish Israel, and everybody else.

From Wednesday night to Thursday night, Jews around the world will celebrate continued Jewish survival in a way that looks like a cross between Halloween and April Fools Day. And without really understanding the significance from a Jewish point of view, on the very the next day, on Good Friday, Christians will commemorate the crucifixion of Christ, which has historically (and as we’ve seen, also in the current era) been used as an excuse to attempt to deprive some Jews of continued survival.

The Bible tells us the story of Purim and the meaning behind it throughout Jewish history, and in the end, Israel wins, and finally, all of Israel’s enemies, including us, will be made subservient to the nation we have forever attempted to destroy. Does this mean Purim wins over Easter, too? Well, sort of. But not actually.

Ironically, although this will elude a traditional Christian viewpoint, the resurrection of Rav Yeshua was originally supposed to be understood as the beginning of the restoration of Israel, the Jewish people, and the lived experience of Judaism through the Torah mitzvot. Only after all of that, will the rest of the world, we devoted ones from among the nations, be restored as well. Zechariah 14 paints this picture for us very clearly.

Fortunately for us, God is infinitely merciful, trustworthy, and kind. Although He could have assigned us inferior roles in the Kingdom of Messiah as a consequence of being from among the nations who declared (will declare) themselves as enemies of God’s Holy Nation of Israel, He did (and will do) this instead:

“Also the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord,
To minister to Him, and to love the name of the Lord,
To be His servants, every one who keeps from profaning the sabbath
And holds fast My covenant;
Even those I will bring to My holy mountain
And make them joyful in My house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar;
For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.”

Isaiah 56:6-7

For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

Galatians 3:26

“And I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to Me,” says the Lord Almighty.

2 Corinthians 6:18

We will join ourselves to the Lord, minister to Him, love His Name, be His servants, be taken to His Holy Mountain (the Temple), be made joyful in His House of Prayer (the aforementioned Temple), our burnt offerings will be accepted, and we will all be privileged to call ourselves the sons and daughters of the Lord Almighty.

Up to JerusalemOur takeaway from both Purim and the Resurrection (though not necessarily the modern expression of Easter), is that we serve our Rav by celebrating the risen King Messiah who is the mediator of the New Covenant promises to provide for the continued survival of the Jewish people and the restoration of the Jewish nation as the head of all the nations (Jeremiah 31:7).

This year and every year, we non-Jewish disciples of our Rav (i.e. Christians everywhere) should celebrate Jewish survival and the Jewish state as signs of our risen King, who upon his return to us, will destroy the spirit of Haman once and for all and establish lasting peace not only for Israel, but for our contentious and weary planet. And in the end, we will finally be healed.

Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

Revelation 22:1-2

Are We Naaman or Ruth?

This may sound like a really stupid question (Are there still Jews and Greeks in Christ?), but I cannot tell you how many people over the years have cited to me one particular text from the only surviving correspondence of the first century Pharisee, Saul Paul. This text relates to the believers in Galatia, who thought that, since they now followed the Jewish Christ, it stood to reason that they should not simply be a part of the Jewish coalition (sojourners with Israel), but they should also adopt all the ancestral customs of the Jews (This is what was meant to convert to Judaism back then). It is to them, in this nuanced and commonly misunderstood letter that the beloved Apostle wrote: “There is neither Jew nor Greek… in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28)

-Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg
“Are there still Jews and Greeks in Jesus Christ?”
Jewish Studies Blog

I found a link to this article on a closed Facebook page a few days ago and have just gotten around to reading it. It’s short, easily consumable by most folks, and has a very interesting and, to me, relevant perspective.

The Jewish PaulAccording to Dr. Lizorkin-Eyzenberg (who I hear of from time to time, but don’t know a lot about), what we think of as converting to another religion, such as Judaism, today, wasn’t how it worked back when the Apostle Paul (Rav Shaul) was actively proclaiming the good news of Rav Yeshua (Jesus Christ) among the Goyim (Gentiles).

Conversions were widely attested in the ancient times. However conversions as they were practiced then, have little in common with conversions as we understand them today. Unlike in ancient times, “religion” today is seen as a category of its own – so someone can be Irish and Jewish, American and Jewish, Russian and Jewish, and so on. Ancient people, however, did not speak of conversion in terms of simply accepting another religion, while staying culturally the same. To them conversion to Judaism meant joining the people of Israel (especially its southern branch, “Judeans”, and hence “Judaism”) and adopting a set of ancestral customs which permeated every area of life. In other words, conversion to Judaism was a ‘package deal’. If one converted, he or she was expected to cut ties with their previous culture in every respect – not just accept a new divinity, but the entire package (God and people).

So in the minds of the Gentile Galatians, to follow the teachings of Rav Yeshua and to worship the God of Israel meant to not only become part if Israel in name, but to totally adopt all of the practices of born-Jews, being observant in every conceivable way. They would stop being citizens of their respective nations, and become Israelites.

ruth
Ruth the Moabitess

This has significant relevance to my previous blog post, The Non-Covenant Relationship with God, and particularly the discussion which (as I write this) is still going on in the comments section beneath. If we non-Jews are not Israel, who are we in terms of our faith and national citizenship, especially to Hashem?

As it turns out, Paul’s letter to the Galatians was intended to correct their mistaken belief that in order to be disciples of Rav Yeshua and devoted servants to the God of Israel, they had to become part of Israel and become Torah observant in exactly the same manner as the Jews.

However, this was only one paradigm of legitimate Gentile dedication to Israel’s God. There was another – I call this the “Naaman” paradigm, to distinguish it from the “Ruth” paradigm.

Notably, he did not say or do as Ruth did. He returned to his country and his own people and continued to worship Israel’s God there. In contrast to Ruth the Moabite, Naaman’s approach was more along the lines of: “Your God will be my God, but my people will still be my people”. Interestingly, in the end he receives from the prophet of God the greatest blessing of all – the blessing of Shalom (2 Kings 5:18-19).

You’re going to have to click the link I provided above to read all of Dr. Lizorkin-Eyzenberg’s article, but he poses the question of whether or not we non-Jewish disciples of Rav Yeshua (and all Christians) are more like Ruth or Naaman. Ruth underwent what we would think of as conversation, not only adopting the ‘religion’ of Judaism, but citizenship in Israel. Remember, in ancient times, one’s religion wasn’t a separate entity from one’s national affiliation or any other aspect of your life.

However, Ruth’s choice wasn’t Naaman’s choice. He acknowledged that only the God of Israel was God, and devoted the rest of his life to honoring Hashem, but he went back to his Land and he did not change his citizenship nor his cultural identity.

Apostolic DecreeFrom Dr. Lizorkin-Eyzenberg’s point of view, the First Century apostles and elders of the Jerusalem Council saw the Gentile disciples of Rav Yeshua joining their ranks as Naaman, not Ruth. There was never an expectation that they would obliterate their own nationality and cultural affiliation to become Israel, nor that they would take on a Jew’s obligation of Torah. That’s the whole point of the Jerusalem letter.

…so the apostles decided not to lay upon them any further burden. It seems from Acts 15:21, that it was assumed that Gentile believers would be attending synagogues wherever they lived, and hearing Moses read and presumably also hearing what Judaism taught about living a generally righteous life. In practical terms, observing these 4 laws would potentially enable Gentile believers to fellowship with Jews without offending them and being ostracized by them.

Acts 16:4-5 tells us that Apostle Saul Paul fully endorsed the decision of the “Jerusalem Council” and proclaimed its message with great joy as he traveled from congregation to congregation. Full Torah observance (proselyte conversion to Judaism) was unnecessary for any Gentile who joined the Jewish coalition by following the Jewish Christ. They too (as the Nations) were now first class-citizens in the Kingdom of God.

Look at that. “…now first class-citizens in the Kingdom of God.” First class, not second class.

And finally:

What Apostle Saul Paul meant by the phrase “there is neither Jew nor Greek” had to do, not with cessation of difference, but with cessation of discrimination. There is no discrimination with regard to race, culture, rank, or gender, for all are one in the Jewish Christ. Gentiles will no longer be discriminated against in the Kingdom of Israel’s God. They now will play an equally important rule in God’s redemptive plan. Their faith in the Jewish Christ alone qualifies and justifies them (just as it does the Jews) in every way to be first-class citizens in God’s Kingdom, without relinquishing their important identity as the “Nations of the World”.

kindnessWe don’t need to worry that because our people have no direct covenant relationship with Hashem, we or our nations are illegitimate. We are also important in God’s redemptive plan for the world just as people of our respective nations. Our closeness and “oneness” with Israel is a matter of reconciliation between Israel and the nations, not a fusing of national and covenant identities. As Dr. Lizorkin-Eyzenberg points out in Acts 16:4-5, the Gentile disciples received this news with great joy, not confusion or jealousy. Becoming a disciple of Rav Yeshua, worship of the God of Israel, and citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven were and are available to everyone, making this branch of Judaism the most inclusive of all without the requirement to convert, adopt Israeli citizenship, and full obligation to the Torah of Moses.

Something has become terribly twisted that today we cannot experience that same joy, but must either declare ourselves as replacing the Jews in God’s promises and love, or claiming the Torah for our very own, complaining and fretting when others disagree with these very non-Biblical viewpoints.

I don’t know what else Dr. Lizorkin-Eyzenberg has written or what he teaches in general, but I have to agree with his conclusion that we Gentiles in Messiah are Naaman, not Ruth.

The Non-Covenant Relationship with God

One of the difficulties…that Christian theologies have not really grasped, is that Rav Yeshua’s gentile disciples don’t actually participate in any covenant whatsoever. Perhaps that is why they invent fictitious covenants. What they have instead of a covenant is an individually-based responsibility to rely on HaShem’s unchanging character and graciousness. They must trust HaShem Who wishes all humanity to be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth, as Rav Shaul wrote to Timothy in 1 Tim. 2:3-4. They, and their children, and their children’s children, each must approach HaShem as trusting individuals. They may pass to their children a heritage of knowledge about how to trust HaShem, but each must choose to embrace and employ that knowledge afresh in their own lives. They may form collective communities of faith-filled individuals, and they may covenant with each other to serve HaShem, but they do not possess a collective responsibility under a covenant with HaShem in which HaShem has bound Himself by His Oath.

-ProclaimLiberty
from one of his recent comments

I’ve written about the “connection” (or lack thereof) between Gentile believers and the New Covenant many times before, and I agree with ProclaimLiberty (PL) that we non-Jewish disciples of Rav Yeshua (Jesus Christ) are not named participants in the New Covenant (see Jer. 31, Ezek. 36), and thus we have no stake in those covenant promises.

That might come as a shock to some of you.

MessiahBut through Hashem’s grace and mercy for the human race, He has allowed any of us who attach ourselves to Israel through our Rav to benefit from some of the blessings of that covenant.

We know that Hashem wants all human beings, not just Israel, to come to a knowledge of Him, to become His servants, to worship Him alone as the God of Israel:

That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.

Isaiah 45:23 (NASB)

For it is written, “As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God.”

Romans 14:11

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

1 Timothy 2:3-4

These are just a few scriptural examples illustrating God’s desire for all people, both Israel and the nations, to be devoted to Him.

But what PL wrote made me think. The Jewish people are collectively Israel, and the covenants apply to all Israel. Yes, each individual Jew has his or her own responsibilities to fulfill under covenant, but ultimately, God doesn’t covenant with each individual Jew, but with all of them, past, present, and future.

A Jew is the only person to be born into a covenant relationship with God whether he or she wants to.

Not so with the rest of us.

NoahExcept for the Noahide covenant, which Hashem made with all living things, we are born into no relationship with God at all. If we want a relationship with Him, we have to choose that for ourselves and then act on it (not that the Spirit of God can’t send us certain “prompts”).

Good thing we have free will to make that choice.

But then I thought about the “Church,” which is something of an artificial construct, so I dug back into the concept of the “ekklesia”.

Nearly two years ago, in a fit of insomnia, I started exploring the meaning of ekklesia:

noun, plural ec·cle·si·ae [ih-klee-zhee-ee, -zee-ee] Show IPA .

1. an assembly, especially the popular assembly of ancient Athens.

2. a congregation; church.

Origin: 1570–80; < Latin < Greek ekklēsía assembly, equivalent to ékklēt ( os ) summoned ( ek- ec- + klē-, variant of kal-, stem of kaleîn to call, + -tos past participle suffix) + -ia -ia

Also:

— n , pl -siae
1. (in formal Church usage) a congregation
2. the assembly of citizens of an ancient Greek state

[C16: from Medieval Latin, from Late Greek ekklēsia assembly, from ekklētos called, from ekkalein to call out, from kalein to call]

the crowdI tend to think of the ekklesia in its broadest sense, as that world-wide body of people, Jews and Gentiles, who have answered the call of Rav Yeshua to follow his teachings and draw nearer to Hashem. For Jews, this is the next “evolutionary” step or the next logical extension of their covenant relationship with Hashem, since Rav Yeshua is the mediator of the New Covenant.

For non-Jews, we are allowed to draw near to Israel and be “grafted in” (and being grafted in to the promises doesn’t make us Israel) to stand alongside Israel within the body of the ekklesia so that we can benefit from many of the blessings of the New Covenant.

Here’s where things get blurry.

PL describes we non-Jews as coming to Hashem through Rav Yeshua individually. It is true that in the Church it’s said that “God doesn’t have grandchildren.” This means that even if you are a Yeshua-disciple, your kids may not be. They don’t inherit a relationship with God  just because you have one.

This is the exact reverse of a Jew’s covenant relationship with Hashem. When Jewish parents have a child, that child does inherit a covenant relationship with Hashem by virtue of the fact that he or she has Jewish parents (or a Jewish mother in the case of my children).

As non-Jews, one-by-one, we come to faith and trust in Rav Yeshua and it is our custom to gather together with other individual non-Jewish believers in a congregation to worship and fellowship. In and of itself, a “church” is an expression of part of the world-wide ekklesia, the larger body of Jewish and Gentile believers.

PL said of we non-Jewish disciples:

They may form collective communities of faith-filled individuals, and they may covenant with each other to serve HaShem, but they do not possess a collective responsibility under a covenant with HaShem in which HaShem has bound Himself by His Oath.

synagogueI believe this is true, but it’s still difficult to reconcile with emotionally. Reading this statement, makes me feel disconnected and unattached.

I know my attachment is symbolic and metaphorical, even though it has real, tangible results, but it draws a sharp distinction of what happens when Jews gather together in a synagogue on Shabbos, and what happens when Christians come together in church on Sunday.

The former are bound not only to each other but to Hashem by covenant, a formal, specified, and direct relationship between Israel and their God. We “Christians” voluntarily covenant with each other and are beneficiaries of the kindness of the God of Israel, though we have no formal relationship with Him.

It made me realize just how fragile that relationship is.

Behold then the kindness and severity of God; to those who fell, severity, but to you, God’s kindness, if you continue in His kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in their unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. For if you were cut off from what is by nature a wild olive tree, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these who are the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree?

Romans 11:22-24

I believe being born into a covenant relationship with Hashem has a cost. If you are Jewish and choose to disregard the covenants and your responsibilities relative to them (Shabbat, kosher, davening, tzedakah, and so on), I believe that at the judgment, there will be consequences. None of my children are even slightly religious and my wife’s observance is “so-so” and I worry about that.

As far as being “natural branches,” I don’t know their state at present. But I do know that even as they are, they are still members of the covenants simply because they’re Jewish.

ShabbatI’ve heard it said that Judaism isn’t an all or nothing religion, so every time my wife does go to shul, davens, lights the Shabbos candles, or observes other mitzvot, I’m pleased. But there’s always more to do.

Even a secular Jew is a Jew, and even being non-observant, has a relationship with Hashem (even if they’re totally unaware of it).

We non-Jews, on the other hand, though we don’t have a formal relationship with Hashem, also don’t have as many rights and responsibilities. We get a lot of the same benefits (the Holy Spirit, the promise of the resurrection in the world to come, the love of Hashem, prayer) without the obligations shouldered by collective Israel (and there’s no other way to think of Israel except “collective”).

But our “attachment” to that metaphorical olive tree isn’t as secure as is Israel’s. The covenants are a lock. They don’t go away just because Israel as a whole or any individual Jew is not observant. The only thing that changes are the consequences, one set for obedience, and another set for disobedience.

For the rest of us, we need to watch our “Ps and Qs” so to speak. As Rav Shaul (the Apostle Paul) wrote (Romans 11:18), if we are arrogant and put “the Church” ahead of Israel, we can easily be knocked off the root. The root (and I believe one way to look at the root is as Israel’s covenant relationship with God) supports us, not the other way around.

The root belongs to Israel by covenant right, and we Gentiles are merely “resident aliens” among Israel (metaphorically speaking). We have no rights. We are granted guest status just because God’s a “nice guy,” so to speak. Not that God would do it, but if any one of us gets out of line, God could blow us off the root with a (metaphorical) sneeze.

That should make you feel a little insecure. I feel a little insecure.

But that’s not the end of it. PL finished his comment this way:

Curiously enough, because HaShem is faithful to those who place their trust in Him, and because He values the voluntary commitment of people who cling to His precepts without the demands of a covenant (as described of the foreigners in Is. 56), gentile disciples may benefit practically in a manner that is very similar to the benefits promised to Jews under the covenant. The advantages possessed by Jews, which Rav Shaul described to the Romans in the third chapter of his letter, are still very much valid and effective, and “grafted-in” wild gentile olive branches have no reason to boast of their position relative to native acculturated Jewish branches on his metaphorical olive tree of faith, but the wild branches are no longer merely fodder to be fed into a fire. One does not require a covenant to accept HaShem’s benefits, but one should not be jealous merely because someone else (namely the Jewish people) does have one. In fact, one may be grateful that HaShem’s covenantal faithfulness toward Jews demonstrates that He may be trusted even without a covenant. And this enables gentile disciples also to pursue faithfulness in response to HaShem’s gracious provision of all manner of blessings.

interfaith prayerWe non-Jewish disciples are living proof that God can be trusted beyond the covenant promises to Israel. Covenants are highly formal and specific agreements between two parties, but every word the comes from the mouth of the living God is trustworthy, carved in stone, immutable, unchangeable, and utterly reliable.

We may only come to God one-by-one as non-Jews outside of the covenants, but we are more than just individuals. We are part of something greater. We voluntarily come to Hashem, and we may voluntarily covenant with each other when we gather together, but we are more than just a group of individuals. We are members of the ekklesia and we make up a huge portion of the ekklesia alongside of Israel. We are different from the sum of our parts because the grace of God has made us children and family of the Most High.

If You Think Being a Messianic Gentile Is Tough, Try Being a Messianic Jew

Jewish Israelis are deeply divided societally, religiously and politically, and are to a large extent tightly stratified within their particular societal sector a new report by the Pew Research Center has shown.

The survey showed that there is very little inter-marriage between haredi, religious-Zionist, traditional and secular Jews, and little societal interaction between the different sectors as well.

The deep division in Israeli society was highlighted by findings that show that Israeli Jews in general are about as uncomfortable for their children to marry a Muslim as secular Jews are for their child to marry a haredi person and vice versa.

-by Jeremy Sharon | March 8, 2016
“Pew poll: 48 percent of Israeli Jews support transfer or expulsion of Arab Israelis”
The Jerusalem Post

israeli jews
DEMONSTRATORS GATHER in Sakhnin, October 13, 2015. (photo credit:JOINT ARAB LIST)

I came across this news article in my Facebook feed, and it reminded me of my recent blog post Attached and Yet Unattached which mentions a group of Messianic Jews in Israel who desire to become an integral part of normative (Orthodox) Jewish synagogue life.

The article and Pew poll highlights just how isolated the different parts of Jewish society in Israel are.

Secular Israelis comprise the largest sector, totalling 40% of Israel’s total, population, traditional Israelis are 23%, religious-Zionists 10%, and haredim were 8%, while 14% of the population is Muslim, 2% Christian, and 2% Druze. In total, the Israeli population is 81% Jewish, 19% non-Jewish.

According to the study, 95% of Haredi Jews and 93% of secular Jews have a spouse from the same subgroup, while 85% of religious-Zionist Jews have religious-Zionist spouse.

Traditional Israelis were the only sector to have a somewhat higher rate of intermarriage with other Jewish groups, with approximately 33% of traditional Israelis marrying a religious-Zionist or secular Jew, and 64% of this group marrying within their sector.

In other words, Jews tend to stay socially within their own particular population and rarely have friends or marry outside their groups.

Messianic Judaism isn’t mentioned as a Jewish population group in the article, but I did wonder about that 2% Christian group. Of course, there are normative, non-Jewish Christians in Israel, but, from any other Jewish groups’ perspective, would Jews who are known to be “Messianic” be considered Christian?

My guess is “yes,” and if so, I’m sure that causes dismay among those Messianic Jews to no end.

Stuart Dauermann
Rabbi Stuart Dauermann

Which brings us back to the idea of Messianic Jews integrating into Orthodox synagogues and communities as an effort to become living examples to wider Jewish community in Israel (and any place else)  that they are us, not them.

But the Jerusalem Post article, if it is at all accurate in representing Israeli Jewish society as it truly is, indicates that this is easier said than done.

Of course, even though these sub-groups of Jewish Israel differ widely from one another and barely associate with one another, on some level, they consider each other Jewish…I think.

It’s difficult for me to tell as an outsider not only to Judaism but to life in Israel.

But I do know that Israel’s Chief Rabbis and the Rabbi of the Kotel oppose any government decision to formally recognize Reform Judaism, so it’s possible that Orthodox Jews in the Land (and elsewhere) may not consider Reform Jews as Jews, or at least consider them on the same plane as secular Jews.

And all this might be what’s fueling some Messianic Jewish groups in Israel to breach social barriers, so to speak, by associating and folding into Orthodox Jewish community, to be “us,” not “them.”

I wonder how (or if) that’s going to work. On the one hand, if these Messianic Jews are “undercover” and do not reveal their devotion to Rav Yeshua (Jesus Christ) and their revelation of him as Messiah, and assuming they are observant to the same degree and manner as the communities they join, then they will likely succeed in becoming part of larger religious Judaism.

On the other hand, they will not have a regular relationship with a community that recognizes our Rav and acknowledges the revelation of Yeshua returning as King Messiah to fulfill all of Hashem’s promises to Israel.

When I made the decision (which I’ve done a few times over the past several years) to live without community, I received many kind emails and other communications telling me that it was a risky business standing apart from a Yeshua-believing congregation.

I know after leaving Hebrew Roots some years ago, my “plan A” was to attend Chabad services and/or classes with my Jewish wife.

However, she wasn’t anxious to include her Christian husband in her Jewish religious and social life, and ultimately, that plan went down in flames.

Tent of DavidMy “plan B,” after much consideration, was to do a sort of Tent of David integration into a small, local Baptist church, even after being warned by a good friend of mine that the effort was doomed to failure as well.

I stayed with the church for two years until the Pastor, frustrated with me “digging in my heels” as he put it, and remaining steadfastly devoted to my perspectives on the Bible, Israel, Messiah, and Hashem as a Messianic Gentile, gave a sermon on misuse of Torah, which included the belief that the Sinai covenant was still fully enforced upon the Jewish people.

That felt like a very personal and public rebuke.

I blogged my disagreement, which came with consequences, and ultimately decided it was in Pastor’s, the church’s, and my best interest for me to apologize and then exit Christian community entirely.

But Christian community isn’t Jewish community. Jews belong with other Jews. I don’t know how Messianic Jews are going to fully meld into Orthodox Jewish community in Israel, but I guess they’ll find out. It just seems that if the boundaries between the different sub-groups of Israeli Jews are so rigid, that penetration of said-boundaries is going to be rather difficult.

In theory, I could walk into any church in my community and be immediately welcomed. As long as I kept my big mouth shut or only mouthed the “party line” supported by that particular church as “sound doctrine,” I’d be OK.

Of course, the obvious barriers, besides me keeping my flap shut and not blogging on each and every church experience that rubbed me the wrong way, are not being able to invite people from church over to my house because it would make my wife uncomfortable, attending church at all because (she would never stop me or breathe a word of dissent about me attending) the very act of my going to a church would emphasize that she’s “sleeping with the enemy,” so to speak, and my attending Christmas and especially Easter services, would totally devastate her.

But outside of my home life and my highly specific theology, there are (or should be) no barriers to me attending church and being accepted, at least in my own little corner of Idaho.

jerusalem at nightFor Messianic Jews in Israel, it seems as if they have an especially tough row to hoe, so to speak, again, at least according to the Jerusalem Post news story.

I’ve written plenty about the struggle for we “Messianic Gentiles” in establishing our own roles and responsibilities relative to Messianic Judaism as well as to each other, but we need to be mindful that Messianic Jews also face a very similar challenge in relation to larger Judaism, especially in Israel, but also everywhere else.

Why should devotion to Israel and to Rav Yeshua be mutually exclusive for a Jew? It shouldn’t be, except that nearly twenty centuries of enmity between Christianity and Judaism has made it so.