I am amazed sometimes at how people who read the same Bible as I do miss out on God’s heart for the descendants of Jacob, the Jewish people — in Israel and all around the world. Many feel Israel is no longer relevant. Others know a lot of God-stuff will happen in and through Israel but figure it has nothing to do with their daily life.
The promises of God about Israel’s continuing place are numerous. The short list below is almost random there are so many to choose from:
—How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender. Hosea 11:8
—For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 (it’s about Israel, not about just anyone who feels like making it a promise for themselves!)
—Thus says the Lord,
who gives the sun for light by day
and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night,
who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—
the Lord of hosts is his name:
If this fixed order departs
from before me, declares the Lord,
then shall the offspring of Israel cease
from being a nation before me forever. Jeremiah 31:35-36
—On that day there shall be a fountain opened for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and uncleanness. Zechariah 13:1
I could go on and on. The New Testament declares the same truth, especially in Romans 11. This Sabbath, whether you are Jewish, Messianic Jewish, or Christian, I want to encourage you to meditate on this subject. Let me start with some myths.
1. Now that Jesus has come there is a new people of God and Jewishness does not matter.
–This is wrong because, first, it would make God a liar, one who made certain eternal promises and then changed them. If he would do that to Israel, you should be worried he might do it to you.
–This is denied in the New Testament. Read Rom 11:28-29 carefully. Verse 18 is good also. Think about what they mean.
2. It is better to be Jewish. It makes you holier.
–Israel has a unique calling, but the Torah denies that Israel has an exclusive on God or that Israel was chosen for their own merit.
–In the Torah, Gentiles were able to approach God’s altar (Num 15:14).
–Amos 9:12, quoted in Acts 15, says Gentiles can remain Gentiles and be God’s people too.
3. (This one is sometimes held in the Hebrew Roots movement) There is nothing special about being Jewish since Torah is given for everyone equally.
–Torah was given to Israel and some parts of it are specifically signs between God and Israel (circumcision, tzit-tzit, Sabbath).
–It is perverse when someone claims to love Torah and yet they reject God’s election of Israel as the priestly people, a major theme of Torah.
God has worked through Israel and his covenant with Abraham to bring the world a Bible and a Messiah. God is still working through Israel at this moment, even non-believing Israel (Rom 11:28), and God will do most of his future wonders in and through Israel, the people and the land.
I don’t know about the Jewish community where you live. Here in Atlanta we are 120,000 strong. Think about the Jewish community where you live (if you live near a Jewish community).
Do you love God? Do you love his ways? Do you love his plan? Do you want to be as near to the heart of God as you can?
Start loving the Jewish people. Meet some. Don’t simply let them be a category of people or someone you see on TV. Visit a synagogue (Christian visitors are welcome).
Pray. Choose a specific Jewish community if possible. Pray for God to begin doing great things through his people. Pray for the coming of Messiah to be sped along and for all Israel to be saved in our lifetime (Rom 11:26). Pray as Yeshua taught us, “Your kingdom come, your will be done.”
Are you a Messianic Gentile? No need to be ashamed of who you are. But you are not disrespecting yourself if you recognize the role of the Jewish people in God’s plan. You are Messianic because you love Israel and you love Torah. Make sure you don’t forget the Israel part.
Are you a Messianic Jew? Don’t be ashamed of your priestly calling in this world. Honor your Judaism by keeping it. Endeavor to find your place as a descendant of Abraham, a revealer of God and Messiah to the world. Pray for your people. Make sure you think of the Jewish people as YOUR people and not THOSE people. Jews influenced by Christianity too often have an aversion to Judaism. This is not God’s will. The sooner you accept that God is working in and through Judaism, the sooner you will get on board with God.
Are you a Christian? Have you been taught that the church is the sum total of God’s work in this world? Read the Bible with fresh eyes. Pray for the priestly people, the beloved children of Abraham. Pray Psalm 122. Pray for Romans 11:26 to happen.
There is no God but the God of Israel. He made the world and through a covenant people he is renewing it. Shouldn’t we all be on the same page?
i have a few questions:
if God gave a covenant through abraham arent arabs included then through ismael?
if we, as gentiles are “spiritual” seed of abraham, then why shouldnt we be circumcized?
and finally, why shouldnt gentiles keep Sabbath? (here is something i read a couple days ago in Isaiah 56:6-7 “6And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD to serve him, to love the name of the LORD, and to worship him, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant 7these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.”)
this passage makes me think that we as gentiles are to keep the Sabbath. i dont see circumcision and Sabbath as strictly Jewish. besides what makes one “jewish”? paul asks the same thing, and he seems to say its not circumcision but the heart. so can that mean a gentile can be “jewish” by heart? wouldnt ruth be one?
i am not saying that the “church” has replaced israel, ie supersessionism. but i think that it is possible that israel has been enlarged. paul talks of branches grafted into the olive tree. from what i know, the olive tree represents israel and the stump or root as Messiah. if gentiles are grafted in, that doesnt deny the natural branch but includes the ones that are grafted in. what does this mean for gentiles?
In response to your first question, the covenant passed through Isaac and then Jacob, not Ishmael or Esau. I could have said children of Jacob, but I was emphasizing that the covenant started with Abraham. Arabs are not part of the Chosen People (nor are Americans).
In response to the second, you ask a complex question that will start a debate. I wrote a whole book on the topic (Paul Didn’t Eat Pork, get it at hopeofdavid.com or mtolivepress.com). Let me say a few things: (1) Exodus 31:13 says it is a sign between God and Israel, (2) Acts 15 does not impose the Sabbath on Gentiles, (3) Rom 14, understood in context, says Sabbath is God’s expectation of Jews, not Gentiles, and (4) Isaiah 56 is in the context of the millennium, not now. In the Age to Come we will all keep Sabbath and dietary law.
About circumcision the NT is clear–not a law for Gentiles.
Nothing I have said means Gentiles cannot keep Sabbath or Torah, just that some parts of Torah are not Gentile requirements. Hope you will read Paul Didn’t Eat Pork.
The NT image of non-Jewish believers being the seed of Abraham is not meant to equate Jews and Gentiles and erase distinctions.
I agree. It is critical for Christians to understand that we do not replace natural Israel in God’s plan. God did not made a mistake in creating Judaism and then in utter exasperation send His son to correct it 4,000 years later.
Replacement theologist are calling God a liar and a promise breaker.
The covenant God made with Moses was an extension to the covenant He made with Abraham. (Exodus 19-24). This extension was the instructions on how to please God (keep the Torah) in the covenant relationship.
The Messianic covenant was a further extension of His covenant (when Christ died on the cross for our sins.) “For this is my blood of the New Testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.” (Matthew 26:28) Gentiles were invited into the new Covenant that Jesus made with Israel (Romans 9:22-33) as full fellow heirs of all the promises of God. The word “new” in the Greek and in the Hebrew sometimes means “renew.” The old did not replace the new. The new was an extension.
The Lord did not reject His people and Paul confirms this in God’s word. Paul said in Romans 11 “I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew… in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: The Deliverer will come out of Zion, and He will turn away from Jacob; for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins” (Rom. 11:1-2, 25-27). Paul he was an Israelite himself. He knew that the Lord would not forsake Israel.
Wonderful comments tonight. Shabbot Shalom everyone !!
derek and robin
i dont know how this came across, but i DO NOT believe in replacement. i was merely saying that i think there might be grounds for gentile believers to eat kosher and to keep the Sabbath.
i am personally undecided about the kosher bit, although i generally abstain from unclean food.
however, about the Sabbath, i believe i MUST keep the Sabbath. i dont think God is unclear about that. i know Derek you said that Isa 56 is for the millenium, but thats a little problematic for me. i dont quite buy that. there is no indication that this is so. instead, the context sounds like it is refering to Messiah’s coming. in addition, i am not sure, but i am leaning toward amillenialism, which means we are in the millenium now, which would mean i should keep the Sabbath.
anyway, i dont mean to argue, i am really just curious and have many doubts and questions i want to find answers to.
as far as your book, Derek, i look forward to reading it. i will go to the site when i get a chance.