Jewish Roots and non-Jews, Part 2

* * * Be sure to read part 1 before this article * * *

The problem a whole host of people face right now is a question of calling. What am I called to do?

Many people are paralyzed, incapable of moving forward defining who they are, or knowing what to do. Non-Jews in Messianic synagogues may periodically wonder, “What am I doing here?” Christians with a love for Jewish roots in churches may periodically wonder, “What am I doing here?” People too uncertain to be in community at either a church or a Messianic synagogue wonder, “Where do I belong?”

Who will play God and answer these questions for other people? Not I.

Each person has a relationship with the Living God. The details of that relationship, the influences and desires mediated by God’s Spirit in persons is a holy thing. Watching from the outside, we should be cautious about speaking into this relationship.

Of course, there are egregious cases of abuse of the idea of divine calling. “God led me to this extra-marital affair,” has a false ring to it to say the least.

In Part 2 of this series, I want to consider the intersection of the individual and the community as well as the intersection between certain principles and subjective senses of divine calling. As for the first, the relationship of individual and corporate identity, we think too much as individuals and realize too little that we are part of families, communities, and people groups. As for the second, between principles and subjectivity, we make discerning God’s will more difficult than it needs to be.

Who Am I: an Individual or Part of the Group?
This question is important for many reasons when considering what non-Jews ought to do about love for Jewish roots. People in different situations are asking their questions from different places:

–“I am a Christian, but I want to keep some Jewish observances, such as holidays, without communicating to others that somehow Christians have replaced Israel and without implying that I doubt the uniqueness of Jewish identity and calling.”

–“I am not Jewish, but have been involved for about five years in Messianic Judaism. I don’t know who I am.”

–“I am Jewish and I don’t know what to think about these non-Jews in our synagogue. I can’t imagine life without them. They are integral to my life, but should non-Jews be here?”

Our decisions about what to do as individuals affect our families, communities, and all circles of relationship. Decisions are never purely about “me and only me.”

If you are married, what effect does the identity of your spouse have on you? I speak with many intermarrieds I have met online and it seems to me that the non-Jewish spouses of intermarriage often fail to realize that their family is connected to the people of Israel. I’ve counseled many a non-Jewish spouse to work toward a more Jewish home or at least a Jewish-friendly home. Should a father of Jewish kids eat babybacks and shrimp? Can a family be divided over important covenantal commitments?

If you are married and both are non-Jewish, is belonging to a Messianic Jewish community the desire of both partners?

Another belonging we have is to congregational communities. When I first began hearing from colleagues that there should be more distinction between Jews and non-Jews, I was angry and upset. People whom I believe with all my heart God has placed in my life should not be pushed away. Our community is strong at my synagogue. And there are non-Jews whom I subjectively believe to be inseparable from the future destiny of our community.

I found that in discussions with other Messianic rabbis, most felt the same way. None were eager to start asking people to leave the synagogue, at least not the kind of people who were one with the community. The talk I have heard from colleagues is more about helping people who come for wrong reasons and who don’t belong in a Messianic Jewish community from making the mistake of false belonging.

We have a mess on our hands of individual and corporate proportions because we have been careless in our notions of identity and purpose. But if I have a point to make here, it is this: those who belong in our communities, who have established a home here in Messianic Judaism, and who believe in and work toward the goals of Jewish renewal in Yeshua — as far as I am concerned — belong to the community.

Clarifying our individual identities and purposes should not be about rupturing communities or asking people to leave. A strategy of vetting people for membership in the future or helping people not to make the mistake of joining a community for the wrong reasons is a good one. But playing God and dividing existing communities is not something I will engage in. It seems my colleagues will not either.

Principles and Subjective Senses of Calling
Another issue in the question, “What are non-Jews to do?” is the balance between principles and the subjective sense of calling.

I remember in Christian clergy circles thinking that a lot of people were confused about the difference between subjective and objective ways of knowing. Applications for ministry positions in various Christian groups would have a question like, “On what date and under what circumstances did you receive the calling?”

The calling. As if our path in life is laid out for us like some prophecy which God reveals in words. I suppose that kind of clarity has happened in some cases in history. But by encouraging an objectifying of something subjective, I noticed that pop-Christian thinking about calling was distorted.

The fact is, deny it if you like, God is largely absent, silent, hidden. Our sense of calling is subjective. There is a lot of room for free choice.

People sometimes tell me God has shown them what to do. They move from failure to failure and eventually blame God. If God told me to do this, why didn’t it produce fruit?

I think the balance between subjective calling and objective principles is not as hard as people make it out to be. Consider first the commandments and wisdom that bear on your decisions. After that, follow your desires which fit with the commandments and wisdom.

Commandments and wisdom are the most objective criteria in decisions. Desires are subjective, but should not be despised as a form of recognizing God’s will. Look up “desire” in a concordance. Wrong desires conflict with commandments and wisdom. Right desires agree with commandments and wisdom. And desire is a primary way God leads us.

Some will sense the danger here. “Derek, are you saying that the desire people have to adopt Jewish customs or to belong to Messianic Jewish communities could be from God?” Am I simply rubber-stamping all forms of desire? Yes, if.

Yes, if these desires are consonant with wisdom and commandments.

The following is a list of principles which I think should inform people as they think about calling and purpose in their lives specifically with regard to Jewish roots or belonging to Messianic Jewish communities:

God does not love Jews more than people from the nations. No one needs to be Jewish to find greater favor, blessing, or role in life. If there was any uncertainty about this before Yeshua came and the apostles carried on his work, that uncertainty has been removed completely.

The Torah covenant is not between non-Jews and God, but between God and the people of Israel. As a non-Jew, you do not need to take on Jewish identity markers. It is not wrong for you to eat pork. It is not wrong for you to work on Shabbat. Any sense of guilt you have over these issues is not from God but from false teaching.

The Church is God’s multi-national institution for non-Jews and being human is as corrupt as anything human will be. Israel is God’s national people set apart for a purpose in history. The people of Israel show the same failings as the Church and vice-versa. There is no room for comparing the Church or Israel unfavorably. Both are a mixture of blessing and curse, hope and failure, light and darkness.

Supersessionism (replacement theology) is wrong, but does not disqualify the Church any more than rampant sin disqualifies Israel or the Church. There is no righteous community you can join. God will not judge you because your corporate community is imperfect. We are called to be a light to those around us, in the Church or amongst the people of Israel.

The people of Israel is not a refuge from “Babylon,” as some people put it, or a righteous place for people to run to get away from the alleged paganism of Christianity. Do not seek out a Messianic synagogue because you see no option between church practices that bother you and becoming Jewish. If you think for a minute, people seeking a community free from uncomfortable practices could and perhaps should start Christian community based on those principles before retreating to Israel and giving up on the Church.

Do not try to change Messianic Judaism into a universal Torah movement so you can have a home. If you cannot see in the Bible that God has a remnant of Yeshua-faith in Israel and that this remnant has a purpose in the plan of God in history, I have doubts about your ability to read the Bible. Any attempt to dilute the remnant of Israel with sloppy theology denies that God has a plan for the remnant of Israel. This point gets me in trouble with my friends in the universal Torah movements. Too often, this is what I think they are doing — redefining Israel to include gentiles with faith in Yeshua. If that is true, then why did God bother to choose Israel at all and why are there continuing statements of Israel’s unique election and calling in the New Testament?

It is not necessary to come to Judaism or Messianic Judaism to practice a faith more in line with the whole Bible. It is possible to have Christian communities which celebrate Passover. Though I am not in favor of Shabbat observance for Christians, if you believe this is God’s will, you can do it in a Christian group. You don’t have to take over a Messianic synagogue to be a Sabbath-keeping Christian.

It is possible to be a member of a church and to have periodic fellowship, such as at holidays, with Jewish and/or Messianic Jewish groups. You don’t have to join Israel to have a relationship with Jewish people.

There certainly are non-Jews who have Jewish souls. Conversion has always been an option through intermarriage and also through other forms of joining the Jewish people. If you look at websites about conversion, you will find that the reasons most Jewish teachers list for conversion are similar to the desires many non-Jews in Messianic Judaism have. Some of my colleagues might criticize me for saying this, but I invite them to dialogue. Why should Messianic Judaism be more dissuasive of potential converts than mainstream Judaism? As long as people have healthy senses of their own identity and worth in God’s eyes, I don’t think we should deny persistent desires to become one with the people of Israel. (NOTE: I do not think “Paul’s rule in all the churches” disagrees with what I am saying here — more on that in the Paul’s rule series of blog posts I will continue here on Messianic Jewish Musings).

Upcoming
So far, we have discussed (in Part 1) the reasons for a wide interest among non-Jews in Jewish roots and Messianic Judaism. We have considered the importance of communal identity as opposed to thoughtless individualism. And we have considered the balance between the subjective and objective in finding God’s will for our calling.

In further installments in this series, we will look at options and issues for non-Jews. We will consider questions like, “How would Christianity have looked if it had not been for supersessionism (replacement theology) and anti-nomianism (a rejection of commandments)?” We will discuss the situations of people in different places, all with a love for Israel, for the Hebrew Bible, and for various parts or the whole of Jewish tradition.

About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
This entry was posted in Bible, Christian, Gentiles, Judaism, messianic, Messianic Jewish, Messianic Judaism and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

33 Responses to Jewish Roots and non-Jews, Part 2

  1. Thank you for putting some good and clear statements here.

    “become one with the people of Israel”: spiritually one is not the same as traditionally one.

  2. benehrenfeld says:

    Derek,

    Thank you for going into this in-depth. The whole, “We practice the Jewish Roots of our Faith,” thing has always felt a little problematic for me. To “pretend” to be ancient Israel is melodrama at best, and caricature at worst. The difficulty is that for some people this Jewish Roots show has become their life and culture and one cannot just pull that out from under people, even with theological “correction.” That is why I’m glad you will be examining specifics of this issue.

  3. “Why should Messianic Judaism be more dissuasive of potential converts than mainstream Judaism?”

    Speaking as one convert to another, I agree. Actually, it’s long been my suspicion that denying those with Jewish souls and right motivations the opportunity to convert has given fuel to the Two-House movement.

    Shalom

  4. BTW, and perhaps in hopes of heading off this argument, I could imagine some cautious colleagues saying, “Of course Messianic Judaism should be more dissuasive of potential converts than mainstream Judaism. Otherwise, we will appear to be a non-Jewish movement abusing the practice of conversion.”

    But, countering my imagined disputant: if the motivations for conversion are based on a healthy sense of identity and a persistent desire to belong to the people of Israel, there is no problem. And how we appear to the larger Jewish community is a matter of appearance, thus inherently less important than substance, reality, and the lives of real people.

    Okay, now maybe no one was even going to use that argument. Call me paranoid.

    Derek Leman

  5. Pingback: Jewish Roots and non-Jews, Part 2 | eChurch Christian Blog

  6. jennbrooke says:

    I think you’re probably right to head that off at the pass. I don’t think there’s any way the argument wasn’t going to be made. LOL

    My biggest question, and forgive me if this is going to be addressed in more detail in a later post, is how can the books I’ve read, most by UMJC folks, talk about how the Christian Church, over time lost it’s roots and context, and then have others, many in the same movement, turn right around and say that anyone trying to reclaim the roots and context is trying to BE Jewish and is overstepping the distinction between Gentile and Jew? I keep hearing how the early church was predominantly Jewish in both makeup and practice and how that only changed after Gentiles became the predominant membership, and sort of put a stop to anything resembling Jewish practice.

    Now, to be fully clear, I DO fully realize Gentiles were never expected to keep Kosher, convert to Judaism, be circumcised, be completely Torah observant, but are you honestly telling me that the early church did not continue to celebrate things like Passover and some of the other Biblical feasts that tell the story that, while primarily about God and Israel, are also very much about God’s faithfulness to the elect and fortelling the Messiah Yeshua? The covenants and Torah are for the Jews, but the story that leads up to Yeshua, who is for all, and so is part of Yeshua faith, and for that reason, I think a lot of the celebrations are, or *should* have been, as relevant and important to Gentile believers as they are to Jewish believers.

    I think there’s a real and important difference between being someone who is trying to BE Jewish, put forth the idea that ALL believers must be fully Torah observant and that we’re all Jewish or quasi-Jewish because Jesus was, and someone who is merely trying to keep the proper context of our faith. I’m not going suggest my pastor start wearing Tallit and Tzitzit or start reading from Torah Scrolls on Sunday. I’m not going to suggest that our men wear yamulkes, our boys all be circumcised, and that we all abstain from ham with our Sunday dinners. BUT our faith is, at the VERY least, a by-product of Judaism. Our first leaders were Jewish. Our Savior was Jewish. Our God is the God of Avraham, Yitz’chak and Ya’akov. While Gentiles are NOT required to keep the totality of Torah, or observe Kosher, or any of the distinct identifying covenenantal markers of the Jewish people, our faith is indelibly connected the Jewish people and the Jewish faith. It’s going to, or in my mind, should, bear *some* marks of that relationship and connection. Otherwise, what it sounds like is being said is the Old Testament is basically a nice story of God with people that aren’t us, and nothing in there is really for us, because it’s all about the Jews, who are not us. It inadvertently sends the same message that has been sent for centuries – the New Testament is for Gentiles and the Old Testament is for Jews. I know that isn’t the intent, but it can easily become what’s heard. And people in rebelling against that can blur the lines entirely, which is what has happened with a lot of the Hebrew Roots movement.

    I think both sides needs to be careful that in preserving the distinctions, which are real, and which need to be respected and upheld, we don’t inadvertently send the same message that has been sent during 2,000+ years of supercessionism, which is “These are two different religions.” There are differences in practice, to be sure. But we also need to realize that there will be some similarities, and some cross-over because Yeshua faith cannot be totally divorced from it’s roots, which are Jewish. Some of which I think has been lost to our detriment as Gentile believers.

    With your sabbath comment, it *sounds*, Derek, like you’re saying, in essence, Gentile believers should not observe the 10 Commandments because the 10 Commandments are for the Jews. Now, granted, most Gentiles believe the Sabbath changed from Saturday to Sunday, because of the resurrection, and I’m really not sure I buy that (I think “The Lord’s Day” and “The Sabbath” are two different things that have gotten confused), BUT the point being, they still believe there is a Sabbath, and that some observance of it should be made because it’s in the 10 Commandments. Are you saying that the 10 Commandments are only for Jews?

    And this is a bit of a rabbit trail, but yes, I have become increasingly horrified at the fact that we, as Gentile believers, *don’t* celebrate holidays that were celebrated by early Yeshua followers, which celebrate God’s redemptive purpose and history, but fully and warmly have embraced holidays and rituals that have since been given Christian symbolism, but at heart are thoroughly and completely pagan in origin. Saturnalia celebrates the Babylonian Messiah Tammuz. How is it glorifying to celebrate Christ’s birth with carved creche figurines?

    Just to be clear, I am not one of those folks crying “throw out the Church because it’s pagan!” Not at all. Derek, I fully and wholeheartedly agree with you, that God can and will still work through his Church, flawed as it is. That’s the beauty of the Gospel. But that doesn’t mean I’m not disheartened by how much pagan influence has crept into the Church over the centuries, and how unconcerned even the most respected leaders are over it. Even John Piper, just kind of shrugs it off, saying “Well, it’s been so long, that any pagan meaning has been lost.” Really? REALLY? Should we erect Ashera poles for God, then? After all, no one really uses Ashera poles to worship Ba’al anymore. We can call them Yeshua poles!

  7. jennbrooke says:

    (sorry for the length of the last post. *blushing*)

  8. jennbrooke:

    I will get to a lot of this as the series goes on. Keep in mind that though books may have been written by UMJC people, they may not have been written under a bilateral ecclesiology philsophy or by people who still do not accept bilateral ecclesiology. The UMJC is diverse.

    That’s all I have time for now.

    Derek

  9. jennbrooke says:

    Fair enough! :-)

  10. moderatelycatholic says:

    Well said, jennbrooke. You saved me about 45 minutes of ranting. ;-)

  11. Mike says:

    Derek said : “Too often, this is what I think they are doing — redefining Israel to include gentiles with faith in Yeshua. If that is true, then why did God bother to choose Israel at all and why are there continuing statements of Israel’s unique election and calling in the New Testament?”

    Others, like Gene [Hi Gene:)], have used this particular point to ‘combat’ the one law guys. True, Israel was called out. However, to bring a message to a world full of different nations, He would have to start somewhere. It makes sense to start with one, ummm… hometeam? if you will, to begin to be a light for the other nations. To give Torah to the world with a ‘shotgun’ like blast would probably dilute the message, so it makes sense to focus on one group of people first, then move on. I am not sure how that exactly plays into an ‘anti-one-law’ argument.

    For the record, this may seem a bit nit-picky, perhaps it is. Its just that I get a lot of ideas from all the different ideas floating around out there, and I thought I would put it out there. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying Israel is replaced. I sticking to more of a ‘starting point’ theory. GREAT thoughts Derek.

    PS..Before I hit send, I looked back and realized this comment comes off as REAL ‘replacement’ like, however, tis not the case. Israel was called to be a light, should we all not shine with the same wattage?

  12. moderatelycatholic says:

    The problem, as I see it, with this separationist ideology is that it spawns questions of equality/inequality. Jews say “We have Torah, the original, authentic revelation from God” and Christians say, “We have Christ, the Revelation of God Himself incarnate, the Word made flesh.” The sense I get from this post is this: Jews look to the Christians and say, “But we want Christ!” and they get him — however, when Christians look to the Jews and say, “But we want Torah!” our hands are being slapped.

    • benehrenfeld says:

      I offer for consideration (forgive me, Derek, if I step on your toes here at any point!):

      The Covenant at Sinai was given to the generation at Sinai to be passed down to the descendants of the Jewish people.

      The Covenant Yeshua makes with his disciples is passed down to whoever they bring in as disciples, and whom the Spirit chooses.

      Both Covenants are Torah, but each lays out unique programs for the various parties involved. It would be unfortunate for a non-Kohen to tell a Kohen that he’s being a seperationist because only he gets to go into the Holy of Holies. In fact, it is that kind of thinking that leads to Korach’s rebellion. When the unified people of God start getting bent out of shape because of the distinctions God makes within the community bad stuff happens; let’s not go there.

      Everyone has Torah, but certain things are reserved for certain groups/individuals while other things are universal: For example, The Torah (Living, Written, and Oral) tells Jews to wear fringes. The Torah does not tell the Nations to do the same. All of Torah teaches that all people should love and be loved by God. It’s actually pretty simple.

      Now, there are specific complicated issues that will not lend themselves to black-and-white thinking, but their difficulty may be mitigated once some principles of mutual appreciation of uniqueness are established.

      I look forward to the day when all Israel and all the Nations can say to one another: “The unique relationship God has with you is amazing, we’re thankful to share that with you”

  13. moderatelycatholic:

    You can come up with all sorts of unfairness scenarios. An analogy might be helpful. Torah is Israel’s ketubah with God. Can someone else besides Israel say, “I want to borrow your ketubah and insert myself into your relationship with God”?

    But a few points might help: (1) I have not addressed the question yet, “Can non-Jews keep some aspects of Torah in ways that do not cross into Israel’s unique relationship with God?” (2) Most Jews would say, “Why are you so eager to take on a lifestyle that has been hard, a yoke of slavery to God?” (3) It is not Jews saying “hands off,” but, if I am right — and feel free to argue against me, God saying “this is my chosen nation and I have another way for you.”

    Derek

  14. Seth says:

    I think these analogies that appeal to some subjective sense of “fairness” ultimately fall short (Christ for Jews, but no Torah for Christians). God doesn’t have to live up to our finite sense of fairness or equality. For believers in God, what he declares is truth whether we like it or not.

    What’s more, it’s not as though salvation in Christ originated with Christians and then given to Jews (which would then precipitate an exchange for Torah). Our Master declared, “Salvation is from the Jews.”

  15. dansangelflew says:

    Brother Derek,

    Thank you for your blog posts. Always insightful.

    I think one thing that may help a lot of non-jews who find themselves in between both worlds is seriously considering the possibility of reconciliation with the Church. And to be able to look at the Church and know with a clear conscience that the Church is fine. That there are no conspiracies, no evil, and that its not pagan.

    I had to come to grips with this. I was raised in the church and left at age 14 when I became apart of a misguided identity movement, that taught that the Church was in grave error an out of favor with God. On top of that they spoke against the sovereignty and election of the Jewish people and claimed that they alone were God’s chosen people. Its disheartening to write about considering where I am now. It took me being delivered from this movement to be blessed with both a love and respect for the Jewish people and reconciliation with the Church as a whole. To see God’s grace in all of it stills awes me to this day. Ironically I feel as though my experiences led me to where I am now. A part of a thriving, and well established Messianic congregation with Jew and Gentile alike who show a tremendous amount of love and support for one another. I am grateful to be in community with God’s people; God’s remnant. I recognize that to be there as a non-jew is definitely not for everyone and is a rare and unique calling that I pray I do right by as time goes on. I am big on distinction, (for instance I won’t were a kippa or tallit in service, unless I am asked to usher.) I still visit church with my family every now and then and go to random churches in general and I am amazed at how much beauty and diversity……and grace is there. I am grateful that I have reconciliation with something I was alienated from for so long because of suspicious and misguided teachings. I am grateful that I have a peace in not judging God’s grace in another’s life and accepting my commonality with another believer despite denomination or ideology. God is with the Church; in love, favor and blessing. Look at all the good that is done as a whole. Ministries like Food for the Poor, World Vision, businesses like Chi-Fil-A, the lists goes on and on. God is with the Church no doubt. So relax a little bit 
    Alright enough of my rambling. Peace out!

  16. dansangelflew says:

    I had to rewrite one sentence from above…for clarity sake.

    On top of that they spoke against the sovereignty and election of the Jewish people and claimed that they (African Americans) alone were God’s chosen people.

  17. moderatelycatholic says:

    Derek:

    Based on what you’ve written in the past, especially on the topics of supercessionism and Acts 15, it seems pretty evident that there are aspects of the Torah which non-Jews can keep which do not cross into Israel’s unique relationship with God (e.g., laws concerning personal and collective morality). Beyond this, where the separational divide is occurring is on matters of custom and ceremonial orthopraxy. The Church’s response, while not appropriate, shouldn’t seem unexpected. Just as you say that Torah is Israel’s marriage contract, Yeshua the Messiah is the Church’s marriage contract; however, whereas you say that no one else but Israel can say, “I want to borrow your ketubah…,” the Church says, “Yes, you may insert yourself into my relationship with God.” The very nature of Yeshua as Messiah as contract demands this of the Church; however, even if it is God saying “Israel is my chosen nation and I have another way for the Nations,” is it any wonder that the Church has succumbed to replacement theology since, as it has been historically viewed (and rightly so), Yeshua is the better, most fulfilling contract? Why else the need for the Messianic movement? But now that Jews are, once again, rallying with us non-Jews around the epicentre of Yeshua, we non-Jews are being told ‘Everything about your religion is rooted in the covenant God originally made with Israel, not you, but since you’re not Jewish it’s probably best advised if you remain that way and go play in the sand until Messiah returns.’ This is the impression I’m getting thus far, two parts into this series. Thus, the Church must reassert itself, its unique history, its traditions, and (to borrow from bene above) say, ‘Why should we want to go into the Holy of Holies?’ (This latter is especialy true for we Catholics with our dogma of the Real Presence.) Separationism leads to supercessionism, as I see it.

    • k3z7 says:

      I wanted to comment on the ‘unfair’ idea. Not everyone in the Church wants to be Jewish. My mother is a good example. She brought up this idea of “unfairness” and I asked if she really wanted everything that comes along with being Jewish – The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, ya know.

      Turns out, she is not to thrilled with “Church” but she is Christian nonetheless, she appreciates certain Jewish insights in the Bible, but she has no desire whatsoever to enter a binding covenant with the G-d of Israel to uphold all of Torah and become a Jew. She likes her shrimp, thank you very much. She doesn’t really even have a desire to attend a Messianic congregation, other than to visit on occasion. But she appreciates the Jewish contribution to her own understanding of scripture.

      I think many Gentiles do need to really search within themselves and take hold of their own special calling. I think they need to rediscover the blessings and gifts within their own cultural of origin. When a person is truly grounded in who they are as an individual human being before G-d, the feeling of unfairness quickly dissipates.

      This requires identifying with your own ‘people’ (whether it be a Christian denomination or an ethnic group or both) and recognizing where there have been mistakes and where there have been successes. Realizing you do not have to repeat the mistakes of your forefathers – instead – you can be instrumental in influencing a more healthy, balanced view within your own tradition.

      I agree with the points Seth makes.

      I also want to say I have found that people who are comfortable with who they are (and that is something that comes from within – it’s something that an individual has to work out between themselves and G-d and can cover a wide range of topics, not just the Jew/ Gentile issue)tend to give others a lot more Grace and room to breathe and be themselves.

      Not everyone or everything in life is “equal” … I live in a small house others live in a big one. We have a few kids, some people are not able to have children at all. Some African Americans grew up on a plantation and now one is President of the United States! The world changes, people are born in different eras and come from different backgrounds and everyone has to overcome their own set of difficulties. Every individual story is different and every people group has a story to tell.

      Sometimes I think that if Gentiles really saw their OWN story in light of history and what part they play in it they would spend a lot less time feeling slighted by Jews and a lot more time helping to create the kind of world they want for their children and their own people. This is not selfish- to focus on the betterment of one’s own culture- this is Tikkun Olam.

      • jennbrooke says:

        I hope I didn’t sound as if I had felt slighted by the Jews. My only real question is how those in the church can reclaim the proper, historical and Biblical context for their faith and correct some of the wrong thinking that has crept into the church over the centuries, all while maintaining the God-given distinctions between ethnic Israel and Gentile believers.

      • k3z7 says:

        Ok, this replying to a reply gets confusing. Anyway, jennbrooke, I think the Church just needs a remodel. Not total demolition… just an update of sorts.

        I wonder, is there not an MJTI style organization within the Church? Are there pastors and priests who would be willing to take on the task…?

  18. holyhiway says:

    If you don’t allow those who’ve been adopted into God’s family to follow the same rules or live in the same spiritual household you will end up with Charismatic-Messianics, Baptist-Messianics, and other kinds of Messianics who will end up practicing a strange mixture of the little bit of culture and traditions they can find on the internet and what they are coming out of. I have seen groups like this. I have also been to a Messianic congregation that was not welcoming of or helpful to Gentiles. God IS calling His people out of a spiritual Babylon. This is God’s hand at work, not man’s. Some are coming out without their spouses and children but are still living in the same physical household. They NEED a place to go where they are welcome, where the Bible is the inerrant word of God, and where they can learn to discern which traditions and customs Yeshua would have said are ok to keep. That may or may not be in a Messianic congregation but they need support of some kind.

  19. holyhiway:

    Could you elaborate on what you meant by this: “God IS calling His people out of a spiritual Babylon”?

    Do you mean God is calling people to leave the Church? To leave Christianity? Are you saying Christianity is the Babylon?

    Derek Leman

  20. wordmachine says:

    Can someone help me to understand Romans 11:13-26 better? It sounds like some Gentiles are grafted into branches on the olive tree, which I understand the olive tree to be Israel. So, shouldn’t that mean Gentiles can come alongside Israel to take part in some of the things of Israel?

  21. moshebenyosef says:

    Wake up People!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There is NO Gentile gate in God’s kingdom. If you believe in Yeshua (May he come soon in our days), you are Jewish! Baruch HaShem!!! If a Jew tells you not to keep anything in the Torah He will be called least in the Kingdom of Heaven. Israel is not just blood, it is spirit! I am Jewish and I welcome all the children of HaShem as equals. Get circumcised, go through the Mikveh, and lets be done with this already!!! PS if you are a Jew who tells non-blood jews they cannot keep torah, You are a racist! Please, Please, Please let us be Echad! Jew is just a modern term for Israel. If you are a Gentile coming into Israel… You will not be a Gentile for long. You will be jewish. If anyone would like me to show my argument in scripture, I will and would love to. Welcome all to the Family. Baruch HaShem!!!

  22. Everyone:

    This is moshebenyosef’s third comment of the evening. I suspected things would go this direction from the get-go. But I’ll let this comment stand (ordinarily I delete such things as, for example, where you say that my views make me a racist).

    Moshe, whose definition of Jewish identity suggests to me he is not Jewish (he said if you believe in Yeshua, you are Jewish), believes that God only saves Jews. He challenges us to come up with any scripture that can refute his claim. Notice he has not read much on Messianic Jewish Musings. Never mind that I’ve written hundreds of thousands of words about Israel’s unique election, the continuing covenant between God and Israel as a people, the inapplicability of most of Torah to the nations. Never mind all that. Moshe says we should just show him one scripture and he will believe.

    Moshe, you really shouldn’t walk into someone else’s back yard and start making new rules.

    I’ll make just a few points to you:

    (1) You say you are an Orthodox Jew. Then look to your own tradition and see if Judaism teaches that gentiles are bound to Torah.

    (2) You say there is no gentile gate in God’s holy city and all who believe in Jesus are now Jews. Have you read Galatians? Did you understand the issues in diaspora Judaism, with God-fearers coming to Yeshua and all that? Did you find out that the whole point of Galatians is that non-Jews must not and cannot pervert the gospel into a message of, “God-loves-only-Jews-so-I-must-convert-to-be-loved?”

    You tell us to wake up. But you are the one sleeping and dreaming that you know what you are talking about.

    Derek Leman

  23. moshebenyosef says:

    Derek, First and formost I want to apologize. I did not intend to call you a racist. I was not directing that comment at you. I simply trying to point out the severity of telling someone who was not raised in Judaism that they cannot obey G-d’s mitzvot. Second, I am jewish. Just because my view is radical and outside the norm of modern jewish identity does not mean that I am not. With that said I will respond.

    I would like to mention that I love all of you! I am so passionate about this topic. The reason being is that I have seen so many lives destroyed because of it.

    1) I am an Orthodox Jew and the stance on gentiles and the Torah is that Gentiles by the definition in the Torah or either Goyim or Ger. Goyim being used in two ways. First and most frequent goyim means Pagan. It also can mean of the nations. So if we are talking about Gentiles who are pagan then our stance is they are not bound to the Torah. If by Gentile we mean of the nations but is of the Messiah and wants to keep His ways then yes they given all of the blessings of Torah.

    2) When I say that anyone who believes in Yeshua I am going under the assumption that they are going through the Mikveh. My congregation has brought many non-messianic orthodox to the messiah. Can you guess what the first thing they want to do after coming to Moshiach is? Go through the Mikveh! Why is it that they get this and we don’t.
    G-d loves all!!! not only Jews as Galatians points out. Conversion is not for salvation but once one comes to the messiah there should be a willingness to keep his commands. How can a Gentile keep all of the mitzvot? Paul is not talking about gentiles are not to get circumcised. He is talking about not getting circumcised for salvation. If paul was really talking about not keeping the mitzvah of circumcision then he is a hypocrite because he circumcised timothy. Circumcision in not required for salvation nor is keeping Torah but if you are saved you will try. Is Ruth Jewish or Gentile? Should we sin so that grace would abound?

    I say wake up because this division in G-d’s people is destructive. I have personally seen too many people leave the messiah because of all of this. Yes, The Jewish people are unique. Israel is to keep Torah but who is Israel? Just Jews?

  24. moshebenyosef says:

    Shabbat Shalom all!

  25. Seth says:

    Yes Moshe, the Jewish people = Israel. These are synonymous terms.

    This is what Judaism teaches and this is also Apostolic teaching on the matter. Of all the references to “Israel” in the Gospels and Epistles, the vast majority clearly refer to the physical, biological descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

    Yeshua’s teaching and Gospel proclaims that one need not be halachically Jewish to be considered righteous before God. Your teaching that Gentiles essentially should become Jews (via circumcision and mitzvot) undermines this cornerstone of the faith.

    I detect Two-House Ephraimite perspectives in your comments. The way “Israel” and even “Jew” is redefined in this movement is not biblical. Israel is the Jewish people. The Jewish people are Israel. Do Gentiles have relationship and connection with them in the Messiah? Certainly, but this doesn’t turn Gentiles into Jews. This is an error.

  26. jodeinjesus says:

    I am a new visitor to Rabbi Derek’s Messianic congregation website, and I’m excited to find another one in our area where there is good fellowship in the Lord between Jews and Gentiles, “one in Messiah” says the Word; hence, the reason for my post, which I don’t normally do, but felt led to…I don’t understand half of what yall are saying in your posts, but in my own simple language, as a non Jew, it has been a great blessing to dig into “the Jewish roots of my Christian faith”, which are simply a historical fact. But how blessed are we Gentiles that “God so loved the world”, Amen?

    I loved Israel and the Jews before I was even saved, and I don’t consider myself to be Jewish or Messianic because I love Hebrew, or also love worshipping at Messianic congregations and singing Paul Wilbur. I think we must keep our focus on that we are “one in Messiah Yeshua”, no more, no less; we are born into this world what we are, Jew, Gentile, male, female, etc, but we are born from Above as a “new creature in Christ”, walking by the Spirit of the Living God – That is my identity, and that’s all I know…blessings to all in my dear Lord who saved my wretched soul.

  27. k3z7 says:

    Derek-

    Great points.

    Could you also, at some point, elaborate on this distorted view of “calling” that has permeated the Church? In my late teens, when I was in the Church scene, many times I did not take advantage of an opportunity or I wasted time waiting for this “calling” to become clear (or for someone else to ‘confirm’ a calling I thought I might have) all because of this distorted view of what ‘calling’ meant. This idea continued into my Messianic experience because of the heavy Church influence in the congregation.

    I realize now we have a lot more choice in life than I had previously understood. I wish I could go back in time so I could confidently make the choices in life I felt were right in my soul. Wish I had not allowed others in ‘ministry’ to plant such doubt in my mind in regard to my ‘gifting’ and ability to ‘hear from G-d.’

  28. jennbrooke says:

    k3z7 :
    Ok, this replying to a reply gets confusing. Anyway, jennbrooke, I think the Church just needs a remodel. Not total demolition… just an update of sorts.
    I wonder, is there not an MJTI style organization within the Church? Are there pastors and priests who would be willing to take on the task…?

    Hope this is better. LOL

    I agree with you on the remodel versus demolition.

    I wish there was an MJTI style organization for Christianis! Unfortunately, my fear is that if there was they’d be accused of being just another Hebrew Roots congregation and overstepping the distinction between Jew and Gentile. At least that’s the sense I’ve been getting from some folks. I’m definitely a philo-Semite, but I know I’m not Jewish, nor am I trying to be. I don’t think that’s where God is calling me, at least not at this time (you never know what God has planned).

    Personally, I’ve been trying to just do what I can within the church, asking question that make people in our congregation think about some of the traditions they kind of take for granted: for instance, the fact that we take communion weekly, but no one ever stops to think that this was instituted during Passover, and therefore, it’s a little odd to be using leavened bread, when the bread is supposed to represent Yeshua’s (sinless) body broken for us. If we’re commemorating that last supper, and the symbolism of unleavened bread, why not use unleavened bread. I may even offer to start making it each week (since we make our own communion bread). Or, asking why we don’t celebrate some of the Biblical holidays that have a more clear tie-in and symbolism to Yeshua’s life, death and resurrection? Things like bringing up non-supercessionist ways of reading the New Testament, and then watching the light-bulb go off, as they realize there is no reason for a Jew to “convert to Christianity” when they come to faith in Yeshua, and no, “not being under the Law” doesn’t mean that a Jewish believer should suddenly start eating ham and stop circumcising their sons. It means we are not under the condemnation of the law, but Jews are still called to keep the Law. Things like that.

    But I’m not in any way suggesting we become a Messianic Jewish congregation.

  29. MJTI has a Jewish-Christian Relations Center. There are a few events right now here and there. In the future, I think there will be Media and materials.

    It is possible to get MJTI out to your city if you can find a few churches that want to do it. You might be able to get David Rudolph or Mark Kinzer or Stuart Dauermann. Any of them would make a dynamite presentation and engage an audience of curious and intelligent people passionate about the redemption of the world.

    Derek

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