Tag Archives: Joel Willitts

Zondervan Academic Update: My “Introduction to Messianic Judaism” Reviews

Greetings from Zondervan Academic! This month, we’re also posting a roundup of reviews and book mentions around the Internet. Enjoy!

Introduction to Messianic Judaism, edited by David Rudolph and Joel Willitts. This new post series explores several of the book’s chapters. View the posts.


I know this probably comes under the heading of “shameless self promotion,” but someone sent me an email showing that my collection of reviews on the different chapters in Rudolph’s and Willitts’ book Introduction to Messianic Judaism: Its Ecclesial Context and Biblical Foundations is being promoted in the Zondervan Academic Update email for April (click the link I provided above the image to see summaries and links to all eleven reviews in one place).

I have to say that I’m absolutely thrilled that my little missives have received this bit of attention and I’d like to thank Zondervan Academic (should they happen to read this blog post) and the person who let me know about it (who I agreed shall remain nameless) for this sort of promotion of my weblog.

But what I think is actually important is that the message of Messianic Judaism and what it means is being noticed outside our own little corner of the world. I’m creating this “extra meditation” to communicate just how important this message is and to show who else is paying attention. I have a rather diverse audience (my awareness of who reads my blog is based on not only the comments people make publicly, but on the emails I receive that are not viewable to anyone else besides me), and I’d like all of my readers to know that what I’ve been writing about (and what Rudolph, Willitts, and the other contributors to their book have written about) isn’t just some “niche doctrine,” but rather, a topic of wide interest in scholarly and popular interest realms.

The relationship between Jewish and Gentile believers in Messiah and at the intersection of the two worlds to which we belong, is not only important but is vital, and will become critical as we progress forward seeking an encounter with God and anticipating the arrival of Messiah.

“We’re here to bring Mashiach, we will settle for nothing less.”

Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh

Blessings and thank you.

148 days.

Addendum: May 9, 2013: Jacob Fronczak just wrote a very good review for the First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) blog. I highly recommend reading it to get further insight into the book with an “in-a-nutshell” presentation.

Introduction to Messianic Judaism: The Last and Greatest King

messiah-prayerThe Messiah precedes creation, precedes the nations, precedes the election of Israel, precedes the historical reality of the Jewish people. Apart from the Messiah these other realities would not be. They are because the Messiah first is, and because the Father wills them to be through the Messiah. The Messiah who is himself the gospel is before all. When he is born in the flesh as Jesus of Nazareth, and is “apocalypsed” in Israel, he comes to “his own” people (John 1:11). Before he belongs to this people, they belong to him. Because the messianic gospel is prior to all, the apostle Paul can declare that this gospel was announced beforehand (proeuengelisato) to Abraham (Gal 3:8) and that its content — blessing to the nations and resurrection from the dead (Rom 4) — was the same in the time of Abraham as it is in the time after the Messiah’s historical arrival, for the Messiah himself is that content.

-Douglas Harink
“Chapter 26: Jewish Priority, Election, and the Gospel” (pp 273-4)
Introduction to Messianic Judaism: Its Ecclesial Context and Biblical Foundations

Like yesterday’s morning meditation, I’m not sure I’m receiving this essay in the way the author intended. For much of the past week in the comments section of my blog posts, I’ve been trying to defend the primacy of the Messiah, of Jesus, above all things. If not for the coming of Jesus and his presence both in our world and in the Court of Heaven at the Father’s right hand, we non-Jewish believers would have no relationship with God at all, and certainly no avenue to salvation and the life of the world to come. We would still be “alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace… (Ephesians 2:12-13)

In debating Messiah with my friends and associates in the Hebrew Roots movement, we have been debating the avenues by which Gentiles are brought near to God. In the ancient days of Moses, a Gentile could become a resident alien among Israel but not a tribal member. They were aliens and foreigners, with no more rights than the widow or orphan. Only by intermarrying with a tribal member and having offspring would the third generation of their union be considered “Israel.”

But then, the Gentile distinctiveness of their line would vanish, fully assimilated and absorbed into Israel.

If that was the fullness of God’s plan, then all Gentiles who desired to join in the blessings of the covenants God made with Israel would have to join with Israel in the way of the Ger and their family line as people from the nations would cease to exist. There would be no way for the people of the nations to come and worship God and remain as people from among the nations. Only Israel would have the privilege. The rest of the world would be shut out.

But that was not God’s plan.

…hear in heaven your dwelling place and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to you, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and that they may know that this house that I have built is called by your name.

1 Kings 8:43

…and many nations shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

Micah 4:2

“Thus says the Lord of hosts: Peoples shall yet come, even the inhabitants of many cities. The inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the favor of the Lord and to seek the Lord of hosts; I myself am going.’ Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts: In those days ten men from the nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’”

Zechariah 8:20-23

I know you’ve read all that before and quite recently, but it bears repeating, if only to drive the point home that God has always had a plan for the Gentile to bow to Him and worship Him without becoming a citizen of national Israel.

The problem is, in Hebrew Roots, the Torah tends to precede the dominance and Kingship of Messiah. For many in Hebrew Roots, the Torah has become so central, so important, so vital in their practice, particularly the ceremonial portions of Torah, (wearing tzitzit, laying tefillin, keeping kosher, observing Shabbos), that Messiah has become eclipsed and overshadowed.
Simchat TorahTorah is the foundation of scripture to be sure, but is it greater than the living Word? In Jewish mysticism, the Torah was at creation and was required for creation, but we know, as Dr. Harink wrote, that Messiah preceded everything and is over everything including the Torah.

The priority of the gospel — that is, the priority of the Messiah — is also declared in the New Testament in respect to Israel’s Torah. In the Gospels Jesus displays an authority over the Torah that is noticed by all those who see his deeds and hear his words. That authority is nowhere more evident than in the familiar section of the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:21-48) where Jesus says, “You have heard that it was said…but I tell you…” The point here, as Jesus himself makes crystal clear, is not that his authority cancels (katalusai) the Torah and the Prophets; rather, Jesus by his own authority fulfills (plerosai) the Torah and Prophets (Matt 5:17). By his authority he authorizes their ongoing authority in Israel until “all is accomplished” (Matt 5:18), that is, until the messianic age arrives in fullness. But it is just as clear in the Gospels that the authority of the torah and the Prophets is subordinate to and dependent upon the authority of the Messiah as the Lord, and that their authority consists in their being read in the light of, and as witness to, the singular, normative messianity that is enacted by Jesus of Nazareth in his life, death, and resurrection.

-Harick, pg 274

When I was in the Hebrew Roots movement, I was taught that the Torah was the written Word while the Messiah was the living Word. They were interchangeable and basically equal to one another. The human life of Messiah was the personification of Torah in the flesh.

However, as we see from Harick, the Messiah must be in harmony with the Torah but ultimately, the Messiah must be King over all, including the Torah. We must worship Messiah, not Torah. We must bow to the King, not his scrolls.

This is not to say that the Torah becomes meaningless for Israel. Quite the contrary.

To observe Torah, then, is not primarily or essentially to “obey the rules”; it is, rather, to participate through concrete bodily practices in the very goodness and order and beauty of creation brought about by God through preexistent Wisdom and revealed to Israel in Torah.

-ibid, pg 275

We all observe Torah and participate in goodness, order, and beauty, Jew and Gentile believers alike, however, we do so in ways that illuminate and distinguish the Israel of God and the people of the nations who are called by God’s Name. Really, only a tiny fraction of the mitzvot are reserved to Israel alone. In most circumstances, Jewish and Gentile believers share equal responsibilities to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, comfort the widow, and to honor God in worship and prayer.

Woman in the darkBut above all the mitzvot is the one who is greater than the mitzvot, that is, King Messiah, Son of David. If he had not come and done a new thing in the world, we among the nations would be left out in the dark, locked out of the Kingdom, gnashing our teeth, shivering in the cold, and awaiting certain destruction.

We elevate Torah over the King at our own peril and we all should know that the Torah has never been greater than Messiah, for only faith in Messiah can save. Only the Messiah can reunify what has been separated, and only he can bring final peace in the world.

His messianic mission to the nations is for the sake of Israel; his solidarity with Israel is for the sake of the nations (Rom 11:11-12). The mystery of the gospel is messianic peace between Israel and the nations, a peace that is even now, in the single messianic “day” that reaches from the Messiah’s arrival in suffering to his arrival in glory…

…Jews and Gentiles together in the messianic theopolitical reality called the ekkesia — where Jews as Jews practice Torah, the telos of which is given in the Messiah, and Gentiles as Gentiles work out their own salvation in fear and trembling in the Messiah…

-ibid, pg 279

I suppose it’s only fitting that I end the last review at the end of the David Rudolph and Joel Willitts book with the conclusion written by Joel Willitts. We saw how David Rudolph began the book with is personal story and an exercise in wholeness, as I called it.

Willitts describes himself as an “outsider” to the Messianic Jewish movement while also maintaining close ties to this community, especially through his close friendship with David Rudolph, forged in their days as doctorate students at Cambridge.

It is because of our friendship and my continued interest in the Jewish context of the New Testament that the present book has emerged. It’s two parts neatly paralleled my relationship with David and his community on the one hand, and my passion for reading the New Testament and its message in more thoroughly Jewish ways on the other.

-Joel Willitts
“Conclusion” (pg 316)

Christians typically have no problem keeping Christ as the head of everything, the King above all Kings, and conversely subordinating the Torah way too far below where it needs to be and Israel along with it. In some ways, it’s Gentile Christians like Dr. Willitts who are the bridge between two worlds. As Messianic Judaism is the linkage between Messiah and the larger Jewish community, Gentile Christians with a passion for the “Jewish New Testament” connect that passion back into the church.

Mark is an intelligent guy without formal theological training. He is a mature Christian and intellectually curious. Mark asked me what I was writing and I mentioned this book. He had heard of Messianic Judaism before, but like most Gentile Christians he knew nothing about it. So I began to describe what the book was about. After giving Mark the big picture, he asked the million-dollar question, “So what is its significance to our church?” Mark’s “our church” is my church; it is a larger seeker-sensitive suburban Chicago upper-middle-class church full of Gentile Christians…What a great question.

-ibid, pg 317

It is a great question. It’s a terrific question.

unityAs I imagined Willitts and his friend Mark talking about “Introduction to Messianic Judaism” at their church and discussing what it all means to their church, I thought back to my weekly conversations with Pastor Randy in his office and the significance of those talks to our church. I also thought back to Boaz Michael’s book Tent of David, and I saw that the latter part of the Rudolph/Willitts book (part 1, Chapters 1-12, was written largely by Jewish authors and Part 2, chapters 13 through the end, was written by mostly Christian scholars) and the focus of Michael’s TOD book were virtually the same.

“So what is its significance to our church?”

I don’t want to simply replicate all of the answers Willitts provides, but as you might imagine, the purpose of Introduction for Christians is to do what it has done for me. It informs its Christian audience of what Messianic Judaism looks like on the inside, letting us hear the voices of Messianic Jews tell their story and how they understand the Bible.

It also opens the doorway to a post-supersessionist church, a topic near and dear to my heart, whereby Christians can see and enter into a world of believing Jews and Gentiles who work together, worship together, and love God together, without either side having to surrender the specialness and unique calling God has provided for each branch within the ekklesia of Messiah.

Willitts also discusses the reimaging of church planting and missions using an Israel-centered interpretation of the New Testament, reminds Gentile Christians that we are the branch, not the root, and makes us aware of our responsibilities to the individual and communal requirements of the needy, the poor, the sick and injured among Messiah’s people Israel, and particularly among those who are disciples of Christ.

Willitts ends the book with his personal translation of Galatians 6:16:

Peace on them, and mercy also on the Israel of God.

I hope this series of reviews of David Rudolph’s and Joel Willitts’ book “Introduction to Messianic Judaism” has spoken to you on some level, whether you are Jewish or Gentile. I hope that you can see their intent was to build a bridge between our different worlds. For nearly two thousand years, the Jewish people and Gentile Christianity have traced divergent trajectories across the plane of human history, but God has always planned to bring all people to Him through Messiah Yeshua, Christ Jesus.

This can and will be done without requiring the Jewish people to surrender their Torah, their Talmud, their lifestyles and their shalom as Jews. This can and will be done without requiring all of the people from all of the other nations of the earth to acquire a lifestyle, a culture, a language that is Jewish, without converting to Judaism, and without being told that not being Jewish and not living the lifestyle and observing the mitzvot of the Jewish people somehow makes them…makes us second-class citizens in the Kingdom of God and in the world to come.

We can all be exactly who God created us to be and we can all be delighted that God made us the way He did. The Jewish person is no more loved by God than the Gentile Christian and the Gentile Christian is no more loved by God than the Jewish person. We are all one in Messiah, two unique streams of people within a single Messianic body, bringing infinite diversity in infinite combinations to the “feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 8:11) with the King of Israel as the King over all.

Deeper than the wisdom to create is the wisdom to repair. And so, G‑d built failure into His world, so that He could give Man His deepest wisdom: The wisdom to repair.

-Rabbi Tzvi Freeman
Based on letters and talks of the Rebbe, Rabbi M. M. Schneerson


149 days.

Introduction to Messianic Judaism: Waiting for Salvation

phariseesMartin Goodman, professor of Jewish Studies at Oxford University, has argued that the proselytizing mission we observe in early Christianity, and in Paul in particular, was “a shocking novelty in the ancient world.” In his important book Mission and Conversion he strongly denied that Jews before AD 100 had any interest in seeking converts. A similar conclusion has been reached by Christian scholars Scot McKnight and Eckhard Schnabel; Schnabel concludes, “There was no missionary activity by Jews in the centuries before and in the first centuries after Jesus’ and his followers ministry.”

-John Dickson
“Chapter 24: Mission-Commitment in Second Temple Judaism and the New Testament” (pg 255)
Introduction to Messianic Judaism: Its Ecclesial Context and Biblical Foundations

Dickson’s chapter is meant to redefine our understanding of Jewish efforts to convert Gentiles to Judaism during and prior to Jesus, and citing author and researcher Michael L. Bird, Dickson states that some Jews did engage in some proselytizing of non-Jews,” but that’s not what captured me about the chapter. I found myself reading Dickson’s points for Jewish efforts to convert Gentiles to Judaism as something else.

It is also found in numerous postbiblical Jewish texts, including the pre-Maccabean Tobit, in which we read, “A bright light will shine to all the ends of the earth; many nations will come to you from far away, the inhabitants of the remotest parts of the earth to your holy name, bearing gifts in their hands for the King of heaven” (Tob 13:11).

-Dickson, pp 256-7

Of course, we don’t have to stray outside the pages of the Bible to find a similar portrait of the Messianic future.

…and many nations shall come, and say: “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that he may teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

Micah 4:2

There are numerous other prophesies that echo such a sentiment, but relative to Dickson’s chapter, do they presuppose Gentile conversion to Judaism? That is likely how some ancient (or even some modern) Jews read these texts, although in much of today’s Jewish world, the role of the Noahide would fulfill these words of scripture.

According to the unknown author of this text (T. Levi 14:1-4), Jewish disobedience threatens one of other purposes of the Law: to bring light to “every man,” which in context must include Gentiles.

-ibid pg 257

It has long been known that the Gentile nations would come to God through Israel and the Jewish people, even in the days of Solomon if not before.

…hear in heaven your dwelling place and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to you, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and that they may know that this house that I have built is called by your name.

1 Kings 8:43

Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous works among all the peoples!
For great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; he is to be feared above all gods.
For all the gods of the peoples are worthless idols, but the Lord made the heavens.
Splendor and majesty are before him; strength and beauty are in his sanctuary.
Ascribe to the Lord, O families of the peoples, ascribe to the Lord glory and strength!
Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name; bring an offering, and come into his courts!

Psalm 96:3-8

But something was missing that would make all the difference in the world…some light.

Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

John 8:12

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-16

up_to_jerusalemIt’s easy to imagine that Israel, as the light to the nations, traditionally saw Gentile conversion to Judaism as the way to bring Gentiles to knowledge of the God of the Jews, and the influx of Gentile God-fearers during and after the time of Jesus on earth, to some degree, must have seemed to confirm this. How else could such a thing be accomplished? But as I said, something was missing. The light of the world had not yet arrived. As the “first son of Israel,” Jesus was uniquely the embodiment of the nation and the people and his purpose was not only to save the lost sheep of Israel, but to pass on his light to his Jewish disciples so that they could “Let their light shine upon others,” the Gentiles, bringing them to God through Messiah.

In reading Dickson, I quite forgot about the matter of conversion of Gentiles to Judaism and was caught up in the vision of streams and streams of Gentiles flowing to Israel, seeking out the Jewish people and their King, seeking Messiah, seeking God. No one was worried about converting to Judaism and perhaps the Torah never even occurred to them as a formal set of mitzvot, since for most Gentiles, it would be a barrier standing between them and worshiping at the House of God.

As a good friend of mine has wisely taught me, “do not seek Christianity and do not seek Judaism, seek an encounter with God.”

At the founding of the temple King Solomon beseeches the Lord: “that all peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel (1 Kgs 8:43). The words “as do your own people Israel” suggest that the “knowing” and “fearing” of these foreigners refers not to enforced submission but to covenant relationship.

-ibid, pp 258-9

I have to disagree with Dickson on one point. Without faith in Jesus, we Gentiles could not be saved and come close to Israel and be grafted in to the Kingdom of Heaven. We could not be considered the (adopted) sons and daughters of the Most High God. Everything hinges on an active, caring, faithful, obedient Messiah. Converting to Judaism in order to become Israel and be justified as members of the covenants God made with Israel undoes the faith of Abraham and our faith in his seed (singular) Messiah. The words of Solomon for me summon the vision of the people from the nations to come to know and fear God “as do your own people Israel.” We do not have to convert and in order to be blessed by Messiah and Israel as people from the nations called by God’s Name.

This is who we are. Not Israel, but knowing and fearing God as does Israel, coming to them, being blessed by them, taking the fringes of their garments (Zechariah 8:23), seeking God and His ways, and desiring to follow Messiah in his paths.

light_from_withinThis isn’t a picture of mass conversions of Gentiles to Judaism or some form of “Jewish-like” life that closely mirrors Israel as if conversion happened in all but name (and a snip of flesh). As the people of the nations we aren’t waiting to be converted to Judaism, we’re waiting for the light of the world, Messiah, so that we can bow our knees to him, so we can acknowledge the King of Israel also as the King of the nations.

“Before God we are all equally wise and equally foolish.”

-Albert Einstein

Israel waits for her Messiah and we among the nations who are called by God’s Holy Name await the lamp of His Salvation.

For the conductor with the neginos, a psalm, a song. May God favor us and bless us, may He illuminate His countenance with us, Selah. To make known Your way on earth, among all the nations Your Salvation. The peoples will acknowledge You, O God; the peoples will acknowledge You — all of them. Regimes will be glad and sing for joy, because You will judge the peoples fairly and guide with fairness the regimes on earth, Selah. The peoples will acknowledge You, O God; the peoples will acknowledge You — all of them. The earth will then have yielded its produce; may God, our God bless us. May God bless us, and may all the ends of the earth fear Him.

Psalm 67 (Stone Edition Tanakh)

To get along with other people, it is essential to be able to see things from their point of view — even if you disagree with them.

Realize that no two people view things exactly the same way. For example, Rabbi Yisrael Salanter said that taking away a broken box from a child is equivalent to sinking the boat of an adult.

Being aware of how someone else perceives a matter will decrease the chances of a quarrel — even though you might disagree.

Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

150 days.

Introduction to Messianic Judaism: Struggling with the Nemesis

Traffic ConesThe fact that experienced readers of the New Testament come away with diametrically opposed interpretations of the same text is today perhaps one of the few universally recognized results of modern historical critical scholarship.

-Joel Willitts
“Chapter 23: The Bride of Messiah and the Israel-ness of the New Heavens and New Earth” (pg 245)
Introduction to Messianic Judaism: Its Ecclesial Context and Biblical Foundations

Brother, you said a mouthful.

I was pretty frustrated when I went to bed last night (as I write this on Tuesday morning). I had a rather busy day on several of my blog posts with various comments, usually related to something I said about the Rudolph/Willitts book. But as I was reading the above referenced chapter in bed, a number of thoughts came to me that weren’t particularly connected to the material I was perusing. I kept going back to what I said a month ago about the problem with religious people. They always think they’re right, they always think their interpretation of the Bible is the only interpretation of the Bible, and they always think that everyone they talk to and disagree with should immediately see the devastating logic of their arguments and then completely roll over to their point of view.

And when you don’t, they get a little cranky.

So when I read the opening sentence in Willitts’ chapter, it was wonderfully confirming.

But there’s still a problem.

Furthermore, softening the logical link between 5:18a and 5:18b lessens the rhetorical force of the statement. What was likely intended to be a ringing affirmation of the Spirit’s ability to release one from being under law (cf. 5:16) comes out sounding, at least practically speaking, more like a piece of encouraging advice to dispense with the need for law observance. Yet this construal is necessary for the viability of the reading proposed by the majority of Galatians commentators, who must assume the mutual compatibility of the leading of the Spirit and existence “under law”; otherwise the point of Paul’s statement would be altogether lost. For this reading to succeed, then, one must downplay both the implicit logic and the rhetorical force of 5:18.

-Todd A. Wilson
“Chapter 22: The Supersession and Superfluity of the Law? Another Look at Galatians” (pg 239)
Introduction to Messianic Judaism

Ah Galatians, my old nemesis. How I have missed thee…not.

Pastor Randy has been away in Brazil for most of the month of April so naturally, we’ve had to suspend our Wednesday evening meetings until his return. He returned on Tuesday (today, as I write this) but didn’t want to “push it” by trying to return to our regular meetings the day after he got back. He’s got a lot of catch up work to do, so I’ll see him next week, and we’ll pick up where we left off with our discussions on D. Thomas Lancaster’s Galatians book.

I enjoy my conversations with Pastor Randy, but I sometimes anticipate them with some degree of “dread.” As I was trying to puzzle my way through Wilson’s brief analysis of that same epistle with an eye on the Messianic Jewish perspective, I became totally lost. I also became kind of skeptical as a result of being lost. If I can’t understand this and it doesn’t make sense to me, does it make sense at all? Is Wilson trying to push the text too far into a particular viewpoint or interpretive model? Is he pushing Paul into an area where Paul never intended to go? And how can I tell?

One thing Pastor Randy has said to me on numerous occasions is that when studying the Bible, the best place to start is with the literal meaning of the text in its original language and context. In reading Wilson and phrases such as “softening the logical link between 5:18a and 5:18b,” I started wondering what Paul would make of all this and how he would see Wilson’s treatment of his letter.

Galatians by D.T. LancasterOf course, you can’t take Galatians in isolation. You have to look at it within the larger context of Paul’s other writings and the events of the New Testament times in general (not to mention the rest of the Bible). You also have to look at the chronology of these writings, with Galatians being one of Paul’s earlier letters, written even before the events we’ve read in Acts 15.

Justin Hardin’s Chapter 21: Equality in the Church,” was easier to digest, but he took a much smaller portion of Galatians to examine (specifically Galatians 3:28) and was more successful at relating how Paul was not attempting to “support a collapse of ethnicity any more than [he] supports the collapse of the male and female genders.” (pp 224-5). On page 226, Hardin tries to explain that the tutor (pedagogue) function of the Law we find in Galatians 3:23-24 is indeed only one of a number of functions of the Torah for the Jewish people. Only that function went away when Messiah came to show us the perfect model of “Torah living,” but that didn’t eliminate the Jewish requirement to observe Torah for other reasons (national identity, covenant obedience, eschatological linkage to the Messianic age, and so forth).

But how am I supposed to gain an understanding of Galatians that comes anywhere near to Hardin’s or Wilson’s, or even Lancaster’s when I meet Pastor Randy again? I can’t keep these fellows in my pocket and bring them out to present their wares at a critical moment in our dialog, but since Galatians is obviously far more complex than meets the eye, how can I defend a position on this puzzling epistle that I don’t fully understand? (And by the way, like Lancaster, Hardin believes Paul wrote the Galatians letter only to the Gentile population of the churches in that region, not to their Jewish counterparts.)

Like most of the chapters in this book, Willitts’ essay and analysis of “the Bride” imagery (in the aforementioned Chapter 23) in Revelation 19 and 21 is dense with footnotes and scholarly references. In order to present a respectable argument regarding Galatians (or anything else from the Bible), I’d have to be far better read than I am and then somehow have the ability to recall all of that information at a moment’s notice at it is required for a certain topic brought up in my Pastor Randy Galatians discussions.

I need a bigger brain.

With the Scripture as a background, we can now clarify John’s use of the bride imagery in Revelation 19-22. First, since for John the Lamb is divine, it presents little problem for him to correlate Israel’s God with the Lamb — what was attributed to the God of Israel in Isaiah is now associated with the Lamb. Thus, what was once God’s bride is now the bride of Messiah.

The Lamb’s bride is the New Jerusalem, both the people of Israel and the place where God will dwell. Israel, who was unfaithful, now is not. At the end of the age, the Lamb will remarry his bride; he will fulfill his promise. The divine Messiah will redeem his people from captivity and clothe them with righteous deeds because they will be “taught by the Lord” (Isa. 54:13).

-Willitts, pp 252-3

That quote will no doubt shock most Christians and probably more than a few Jewish believers. In the church, I was always taught that “the church” was the bride of Christ, which usually means Gentile Christians. Here, Willitts completely reverses identities, saying that both Israel as a place and as a people/nation are the Divine Messiah’s bride. What I didn’t quote was how Willitts states that the nations (believing Gentile Christians) are the wedding guests! We’re not the bride at all but we are on hand to celebrate at the “wedding reception,” so to speak.

That’s going to ruffle a few feathers.


filtered…but Willitts isn’t presenting the conclusions in his brief article as if they were absolute fact or as if they were the only possible interpretation of the text. He deliberately is framing his interpretation within a Messianic Jewish context in order to show an alternate point of view, a different perspective for his readers, probably to make us think and to help us question our assumptions. I can relate to that, since I often write from that perspective myself.

Now look at this comment made on one of my blog posts in response to my question about whether the commentor thinks Christians sin by not observing the Torah in the same manner as the Jews:

Some Jews may be accepting of Christian Torah observances that make them look Jewish, but in my experience, it can’t be that many. And have you told other Christians you associate with about them being obligated (rather than them having a choice) to Torah observance to a level that will make them look Jewish too?

Yes, I have, I argue for covenant obligation, are you in covenant with God, then you have an obligation

“Zion” is well-meaning and a decent human being, but we often come to loggerheads because he believes that Gentiles in Messiah are directly linked into the covenants rather than receiving them through Israel, and as such, we covenant members are “grafted in” to the full 613 Torah mitzvot and are required to observe them, not in the manner of modern “Rabbinic Jews,” but from a Biblical model (nevermind that we have no idea how to observe the Torah without Rabbinic interpretation).

I disagree and believe we Gentile disciples of the Messiah receive certain blessings from the covenants God made with Israel thanks to the linkage between Abraham’s faith and our faith in Messiah, but that doesn’t include turning us into “Israelites,” nor does it mean we have an identical Torah obligation with the Jewish people.

So we have a difference of opinion. That brings us back to the Willitts quote I inserted at the top of this blog post.

I don’t mind disagreements. I really don’t. I do mind being backed into a corner by folks who believe that it’s their way or the highway. My point of view is one point of view. There are aspects of the Bible I don’t understand. Galatians is a frustrating mystery to me. Even when someone tries to explain it, such as Wilson, the explanation is a frustrating mystery to me. There are days when I want to pack it in and give up on religion. I don’t fit. I don’t understand. I am really annoyed with the dissonance between different Bible interpretations, and I am really, really annoyed with people who think that they and only they (or their group) are the sole possessors of God’s truth about the Bible.

To me, being a believer and studying the Bible is like being an explorer. As a person of faith, I’m on a journey of discovery. Such journeys are rarely straightforward and often involve going in the wrong direction, backtracking, retracing steps, and sometimes using a machete to hack through thick underbrush, like an adventurer-archaeologist on his way to the next big find. But as Dr. Henry Jones Jr. once said, “seventy percent of all archaeology is done in the library.” It requires painstaking, laborious study, not dramatic arguments by people who are all too sure of themselves. Archaeology is also a science of patience. At a dig, you must be slow and deliberate in attempting anything. It might be today, tomorrow, ten years from now, or never, before you uncover anything of even the remotest significance at all.

walking-side-by-sideJesus is like a companion on a long journey who helps to guide us but who will not override our decisions, even if we should take the wrong path. He’ll advise us, prod us, give us hints, and occasionally berate us as we find we’ve stepped into a pool of quicksand, but he won’t just lead us by the hand so we can passively follow where he has gone before us.

I’m nearly done reading the articles in Rudolph’s and Willitts’ book. I’m hoping to get through all of them and finish taking my notes before I have to return the book to the library. But once I have, I’ll move on to another book. While I’ve found Introduction to Messianic Judaism to be an excellent survey of the perspectives on different aspects of theology and doctrine from a Messianic Jewish perspective, it’s still only one book. To the degree that the twenty-six contributors reference countless other sources, then countless other sources are required to help understand the Bible and thus a life of faith.

I can’t stop now, though one day, I may completely withdraw from the public realm and conduct my search privately, but a life of encountering God requires a lifetime. I can’t simply accept one religious person’s statement that they’re “right” and blindly consume their declarations.

I’ve got to keep going. Will I ever arrive at a destination? Probably not this side of paradise.

153 days.

Introduction to Messianic Judaism: Interdependence or Collapse

communityPaul’s letter to the Romans offers us a vision and model for Jewish-Gentile reconciliation. This is because Paul deals with the division between Jesus-believing Jews and Gentiles in his own day. Though Gentile believers were probably a majority in the church in Rome, they were theologically marginalized. For most of history that situation has been reversed, yet part of Romans addresses in advance even that problem.

-Craig Keener
“Chapter 17: Interdependence and Mutual Blessing in the Church” (pg 187)
Introduction to Messianic Judaism: Its Ecclesial Context and Biblical Foundations

In some ways, the problem briefly defined by Dr. Keener is one that hovers around the fringes of the Christian Hebrew Roots movement today. For the better part of two weeks, I’ve been writing a series of “mini-reviews” on the different chapters of Rudolph’s and Willitts’ book which address interrelated themes within larger Messianic Judaism. They have been received positively and even enthusiastically by most of my vocal readers but a few have perceived the information in a negative light. Accusations of inequality and even racism between Jews and Gentiles have been raised periodically, and I believe part of the underlying problem is a covert or even unconscious fear among these Gentile disciples of Jesus that Messianic Judaism seeks to “theologically marginalize” non-Jewish participants in the Messianic Jewish movement, which spills over into Hebrew Roots, since many of those who are involved also identify themselves as “Messianic Judaism.”

Is the Messianic Jewish movement seeking to marginalize and even to eliminate the Gentile Christian (Hebrew Roots) believers from their ranks and from coveted access to the Torah mitzvot? A casual observer (or one with a specific bias) might say “yes,” but let’s consider what we can learn from different analyses of Paul’s letter to the Romans.

In addition to Keener, Dr. William Campbell and Dr. Scott Hafemann also present their viewpoints on Romans to support the concept of interdependence between believing Jews and Gentiles. The ekklesia doesn’t function correctly and perhaps doesn’t even exist at all without the co-inhabitance and cooperation of both Jews and Gentiles in the body of Messiah. Perhaps that’s why, over the past two-thousand years or so, we haven’t been doing so well in certain areas, because Christianity historically has marginalized Jews theologically (and in just about every other way). It’s time to restore the balance.

Campbell, in “Chapter 18: The Relationship between Israel and the Church”, believes that Paul addressed his Roman letter only to the Gentiles and was speaking about Jews but not to Jews, which seems to be a minority opinion. Keener, on the other hand, presents the main focus of Paul’s letter as being on both Jews and Gentiles:

Although scholars have offered other reasonable proposals, the most widely accepted background for Paul’s letter to believers in Rome involves disagreement between Jesus-believing Jews and Gentiles regarding Jewish customs.

-Keener, pg 187

Apparently, when the Jewish population in the Messianic community in Rome began to dwindle, thanks to the emperor Claudius expelling some or most of the Jews (Acts 18:2), Gentiles began neglecting some or all of the Jewish religious customs they had been taught in relation to the worship of the God of Israel. This rather begs the question of just how much Torah did the Gentiles keep in those days, but does confirm that, for the most part, Gentiles weren’t very driven to Torah observance in the manner of their Jewish mentors (Acts 15:30-31).

For Keener, the primary message of Paul to the Jews and Gentiles in Rome was unity:

Unity was a frequent topic of exhortation in antiquity, and it is central to Paul’s plea for Jewish-Gentile reconciliation in Romans. This is clear and not least because he climaxes his larger argument by inviting unity (Romans 15:5-6) and inviting believers to welcome each other (Romans 15:7). He underscores this point by showing from Scripture that God’s plan includes faithful Gentiles (Romans 15:8-12). The letter’s final exhortation includes a warning against those who sow division (Romans 16:17).

-ibid, pg 188

PaulPaul issues warnings specifically to the Gentiles against fomenting division between them and the Jews and expresses his dismay that the Gentiles have neglected his warnings.

Relative to interdependence, Keener stresses that the Gentiles have a special role to play in relation to Israel to “provoke jealousy” because of the temporary state of Israel’s non-acceptance of the Gospels.

In Romans 11, however, we learn another divine strategy in Paul’s mission to the Gentiles. Gentiles received mercy through Israel’s failure to embrace the gospel; now Gentiles would become a divine vehicle of bringing Jewish people to Christ. What did this reversal involve? Scripture promised that God would restore and exalt his people in the time of their ultimate repentance (e.g., Amos 9:7-15; Hosea 14:4-7).

They (Gentiles) would in turn help the Jewish people by provoking repentance.

-ibid, pp 190-1

Keener also emphasizes what he is not saying:

I am also not urging all Gentile Christians to join Messianic Jewish congregations. First, they would numerically overwhelm those congregations and their cultural identity. Second, Paul is clear that while Gentile believers in Jesus are spiritual proselytes to Judaism, they are responsible only for the moral heart of the law and not for Israel-distinctive elements.

-ibid, pg 191

(It should be noted that, at least in the United States, all of the Messianic Jewish congregations of which I’m aware, do have a majority membership of Gentiles, but are still designed and administrated as a Jewish religious and community space)

There’s a sort of balancing act involved in Gentiles pursuing their (our) mission of provoking Jewish people to repentance and not overly involving ourselves in Jewish communities to the point of overwriting Jewish identity. Also, Keener says that by over-emphasizing Gentile presence within the Messianic Jewish community for the sake of Jewish repentance, we would likely inhibit part of the Messianic Jewish mission, which is to act as a bridge into the larger Jewish world community.

Messianic Jews, in Keener’s view, depend on their Gentile counterparts to provide resources for the support of the Messianic Jewish community. This isn’t always by sending donations, as Paul did by taking up a collection among the Gentiles to carry to Jerusalem (although it can be), but to, in a larger sense, continue to acknowledge our kinship to our Jewish brothers in Messiah, and even humble ourselves by remembering that salvation comes from the Jews (John 4:22) and that “the people whose heritage we share and from whom our faith springs (Romans 9:4-5), may help us surmount the past barriers of Gentile Christian anti-Semitism.” (idid, pg 193)

But while Keener addressed primarily how the Jews depend on the Gentile believers, Campbell, in Chapter 18, takes a different approach.

Their gentile arrogance is based on mistaken assumptions, and Paul gives no allowance to such misunderstandings of God’s purpose according to election (Romans 9:11). It is no accident that in Romans Paul stresses the order of priority, “to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile” (Romans 2:10 KJV; cf. 1:16). This points to the identity of gentile Christ-followers not as an independent entity, but as interdependent on the call and identity of Israel, to whom as Ephesians 2:13 asserts they “have been brought near.” As Ian Rock asserts, “to affirm the lordship of Christ is to simultaneously recognize the preference of Israel. But to recognize the primacy of Israel is also to accept the importance of the Jews.

Campbell, pp 202-3

jewish-prayer_daveningThe flow of dependence is reversed. In addition to Jews depending on Gentiles to support their repentance and uphold their identity, it is the Gentiles who, without the Jews, are also without the promises, and thus have no independent connection to salvation or covenant with God. The covenants are through Israel and we Gentiles are able to enjoy the blessings only because of Israel.

They (Gentiles) could not really share if they had taken over Israel’s inheritance, as they would then be the sole inheritors. So Paul reminds the gentile Christ-followers, “Do not boast over the branches…remember it is not you that support the root, but the root that supports you” (Romans 11:18 RSV).

-ibid, pg 203

Campbell concludes his chapter with an illuminating chronological construction of Romans 15:9b-13 which seems to say it all.

Because David’s past vindication establishes God’s promise to David’s seed (v.9b), therefore the Gentiles should not give up hope, but learn from the experience of disobedient Israel to rejoice in God alone (in the midst of the false security that comes from the nations’ current reign in the world) (v. 10);

specifically, the Gentiles should not give up hope, but learn from the experience of the faithful remnant to praise God for his truthfulness and mercy (in the midst of the adversity that comes from being part of God’s elect in the world) (v. 11),

because the future vindication of David’s seed in fulfillment of God’s promise is the hope of the nations (v. 12).

-ibid, pg 212

In “Chapter 19: The Redemption of Israel for the Sake of the Gentiles,” Dr. Hafemann returns to the Gentile’s dependence on Jewish Israel.

As Paul argues in Romans 15:7-13, God’s commitment to Israel for the sake of the nations forms the bedrock of the Church’s hope. Viewed from this perspective, Messianic Judaism reminds us not only of God’s faithfulness, demonstrated in Israel’s history, and of his grace, now magnified in the Messiah, but also of his promises for the future of his people, to be fulfilled in the final redemption of Jews and Gentiles.

-Hafemann, pg 206

So we see that God has been historically faithful to Israel for her own sake, but also for the sake of the Gentiles who will be saved through His promises to Israel. Again, we see that without Israel, the Gentile believers have no leg to stand on, so to speak, and that any covenant connection we have with God through Messiah vanishes like a morning mist under the summer sun if we dispense with Israel and the Jewish people. Not only must Israel continue but it must continue as the head of the nations as a wholly Jewish nation, unique and distinct from the people of the nations, we Gentiles, who need them for our hope in salvation.

The linkage is through Abraham, as I’m sure you realize by now:

Since God is the God of both Jews and Gentiles, both the “circumcised” and the “uncircumcised” will be justified “through [the] same faith” (3:29-30), the faith of Abraham, for “he is the father of us all” (4:16).


By Gentiles desiring to supersede the Jews in the promises or to fuse our identity with theirs, creating a single Israel and eliminating our identity as the people of the nations called by God’s Name, we are disconnecting ourselves from the very salvation that we desire to claim only for ourselves. There is a wonderful eschatological promise for the Christian church, but only if there is a wonderful eschatological promise for the future of Israel as well.

Hafemann continues:

Paul’s chain of Scripture will therefore focus on the purpose of Israel’s redemptive history with regard to the Gentiles, rather than referring merely in a general sense to the inclusion of Jews and Gentiles within the church. The Gentiles are to glorify God for what he has promised to do for Israel (Romans 15:9a) since the future redemption of the nations, including the resurrection from the dead and redemption of the world (cf. Romans 5:17; 8:19-22, 31-39), is tied to the rescue of Israel (Romans 5:18; cf. 11:15). The current experience of Jews and Gentiles as distinct but equal identities within the Church therefore takes on significance precisely because it is a foretaste of the consummation yet to come for both Israel and the nations.

-ibid, pp 207-8

destruction_of_the_templeThis is something that Boaz Michael of First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) was trying to say during last year’s Sukkot conference. I wrote about it in a series of blog posts, including Redeeming the Heart of Israel, Part 1 and Part 2, but I was never clear on how this interdependence was rooted in scripture until this time. I see now, more clearly than ever, that any form of supersessionism damages not only Israel, but the hope of the nations for salvation and redemption, since our hope only comes from the Jews.

When the Church tries to replace Israel in the covenant promises or mistakenly chooses to believe they (we) are Israel, it is like a man who decides to cut off his legs in order to stand taller and straighter. Instead, he only causes great pain and permanently cripples himself.

It is said that in ancient days during Sukkot, Israel offered sacrifices at the Temple for the sake of the nations to atone for their (our) sins. When the Romans destroyed the Temple in 70 CE, they also stopped those sacrifices and thus the atonement Israel provided for the nations of the world. Basically, the Romans cut off their own legs when they destroyed the Temple, ravaged Jerusalem, and scattered the vast majority of the Jewish people to the four corners of the earth.

As Christians, when we dismiss Israel from the covenants and in one way or another, try to take their place, we are doing exactly the same thing. As it takes two healthy legs to support the body of a man, so the ekklesia requires the one “leg” of Messianic Judaism and the other “leg” of Gentile Christians. If we cut off the Jewish leg or if we try to fuse the Gentile leg and the Jewish leg into a single mutilated limb, the best the body can do is to hop around impotently. More likely, the ekklesia will just fall down and break apart.

We depend on each other, but we can only support the body of Christ by being two limbs of the body standing side by side, walking together.

154 days.

Introduction to Messianic Judaism: Fulfilling the Prophesy of Amos, Part 2

Receiving the Spirit

When this group of Gentiles believed in Jesus, they immediately received the Holy Spirit in so evident a way that Peter could only conclude that God had extended salvation to them as Gentiles, not requiring that they first become Jews. He therefore baptised them, admitting them to the messianic people of God without expecting them to be circumcised or to observe any more of the Torah than they already did (as God-fearers who worshiped the God of Israel and lived by the moral principles of the Torah).
-Richard Bauckham
“Chapter 16: James and the Jerusalem Council Decision” (pg 178)
Introduction to Messianic Judaism: Its Ecclesial Context and Biblical Foundations

This is Part 2 of a two-part blog post. If you haven’t done so already, read Part 1 before proceeding here.

Bauckham seems to be making a few assumptions about what Peter expected, but they are reasonable assumptions, since we have no record that Cornelius (or any other Gentile disciples of the Master) was ever circumcised or ever assumed a greater obligation or duty to Torah as time progressed, at least as an expection of or obligation to God. Bauckham states that “these Gentiles received the same blessing of eschatological salvation that Peter and other Jewish believers in Jesus had received at Pentecost.” The Jewish and Gentile believers were two bodies within a single ekklesia, sharing the hope of the resurrection and the promise of the life in the world to come as co-heirs of Messiah.

But so far, this is confined to Peter’s observation of Cornelius and his household. What about the other Gentiles? What about James and the Council of Apostles (who Peter had to give an accounting to in Acts 11)?

Peter’s testimony before the council (Acts 15:9) indicated that he understood that God made no distinction between Jew and Gentile, specifically in relation to “cleansing their hearts by faith.” Whatever “impurity” that the Jewish believers saw, even in the Gentile God-fearers, was set aside (which was the point of Peter’s vision in Acts 10) as a result of the Spirit being received even by the Gentiles “through the grace of Jesus Christ” (Acts 15:11). The “distinction” that was eliminated between Jewish Israel and the believing Gentiles was the distinction between the “holy” and the “profane” with the Gentiles also receiving access to holiness through faith in Messiah.

It became possible to envisage the messianic people of God as a community of both Jews and Gentiles, the former observing Torah, the latter not. Of course, neither Peter nor any of the Jerusalem leaders entertained the idea that Jewish believers in Jesus should give up observing Torah. But Torah observance no longer constituted a barrier between Jews and Gentiles, since their fellowship was not based on Torah, but on faith in Jesus the Messiah and experience of the transformative power of the Spirit.

-ibid pg 180

Bauckham doesn’t reference Ephesians 2, but his statement seems to evoke “abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances” in this case, by making Torah a “non-issue” between Jewish and Gentile believers, since it is faith in Messiah that binds them, not Torah obedience.

Bauckham’s statement will be difficult to accept for almost anyone in Christianity, both in mainstream Protestantism and the numerous variant worship platforms. However it does line up with content written by FFOZ’s Lancaster and numerous other contributors and cited sources in the Rudolph/Willitts book. In the church, we have gotten so used to the idea that we have permanently altered if not replaced Jews, Judaism, and Jewish Torah observance, that it never occurs to us to ask why Judaism should have had to change in order to accomodate the entry of Gentile disciples. We were (and are) the ones who need to change, since Israel and her King were totally foreign to any one except Israel. Faith in Yeshua HaMashiach is a perfectly expected developmental progression in Israel’s history. The really dramatic event is that the nations, Gentile Christianity, were allowed entry into the Jewish religious branch “the Way.”

apostles_james_acts15In Acts 11:1-8, Peter already convinced the Council that the Gentiles could receive the Spirit as part of God’s plan for the nations, and they praised God for His graciousness to the Gentiles. In Acts 15, Peter reminds the Council of these events, and James, in deliberating the matter, offers Amos 9:11-12 (part of last week’s Haftarah portion) as the proof text supporting what Peter had observed and in support of Paul’s position to admit Gentiles without requiring they be circumcised. In using the words “all the nations over whom my name has been invoked”, according to Bauckham, James is stating that God has declared “ownership” over “all the nations” (Amos 9:12) just as He had declared ownership over Israel as His own people (e.g., Deut 28:10; 2 Chr 7:14; Jer 14:9; Dan 9:19).

It shows that in the messianic age, Gentiles, precisely as Gentiles, will no longer be “profane” but will join the Jews in belonging to God’s holy people…

-ibid, pg 182

Now I suppose you’re going to ask about the four prohibitions James laid upon the Gentiles, otherwise known at the “apostolic decree.”

The reason these four are selected from the commandments of the Torah as alone applicable to Gentile members of the messianic people of God is exegetical. They are specifically designed as obliging “the alien who sojourns in your/their midst” as well as Israelites. Applied to the situation of the messianic people of God, this phrase could be seen as referring to Gentiles included in the community along with Jews. But the point is made more precisely by the use of this same phrase in two of the prophecies about the conversion of the Gentiles in the messianic age: Jeremiah 12:16 (“they shall be built in the midst of my people”) and Zechariah 2:11 (LXX: “they shall dwell in your midst”). In light of these exegetical links, the Torah itself can be seen to make specific provision for these Gentile converts, who are not obligated, like Jews, by the commandments of Torah in general, but obligated by these specific commandments.

-ibid, pg 183

I can certainly see many of the points D. Thomas Lancaster made about Acts 15 in his Torah Club essays (which I recorded in my Return to Jerusalem series) may have had their origin in the research and documentation of Bauckham and other scholars. Boaz Michael, First Fruits of Zion’s (FFOZ’s) Founder and President, also made similar points in his book Tent of David: Healing the Vision of the Messianic Gentile.

We see in Bauckham’s analysis, that he not only answers the Protestant Christian question about whether the Jews should continue to observe the Torah, but also the Hebrew Roots Christian question about Gentile Torah obligation. I know that neither population of Gentile believers, for the most part, will accept this position, even though it’s based on good biblical research and scholarship, but we must begin to challenge our thinking and our traditions which lead both platforms of Gentile faith in Jesus to misunderstand the plan of God for the Jews and Gentiles within the ekklesia.

Although we know that not all Jewish believers in the days of James, Peter, and Paul could accept Gentile inclusion into Jewish religious worship of Messiah, especially by allowing the Gentiles to remain as Gentiles, the alternative was to deny the words of the Prophet and the plan of God, that not only the Jews but the Gentile nations would be called by His Name, and that the nations would also belong to Him.

“In that day I will raise up the fallen booth of David,
And wall up its breaches;
I will also raise up its ruins
And rebuild it as in the days of old;
That they may possess the remnant of Edom
And all the nations who are called by My name,”
Declares the Lord who does this.

Amos 9:11-12 (NASB)

We can hardly fulfill our role in prophesy if we believe we must convert to Judaism as a requirement of Messianic disicpleship or forcably take on the full Jewish obligation to Torah observance (becoming “pseudo-Jewish”) in direct defiance of the ruling of the Council of Apostles. If we believers from the nations, insist that we too are “Israel,” then all believing humanity is “Israel” and thus, the prophesy of Amos is either a lie or it will remain forever unfulfilled.

155 days.