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From “Among the Gentiles…”

April 11, 2008

In teachings past (see “Check Your Filter…) I have shown from Scripture how that a person becomes part of Israel thru faith in Messiah Yeshua…period. Physical bloodline has nothing to do with it.  In short we have been “grafted in” according to Paul in Romans chapter eleven. He tells us in Ephesians chapter two that by the blood of Christ we lose our identity as “Gentiles” and become part of the “commonwealth of Israel”.  In Galatians 3:29 we learn that in Messiah, we ARE Abraham’s seed and “heirs according to the promise.”  Quite simply, the belief that the “church” in Scripture is something new, or something separate and distinct from the Israel of God is just not so.  In fact, the new covenant that Christianity claims as it’s own is made only with the two houses of Israel. (See Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 8:7-12)  In direct reference to Psalm 22:3, I have heard pastors and worship leaders say that God inhabits the praises of His people.  This is true…but the next time you are giving praise to the Lord consider that what Psalm 22:3 actually says is that God is “Enthroned in the praises of ISRAEL.”  Let me be clear, or rather listen to Paul as he makes it clear… “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  And if you are Christ’s then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.Galatians 3:28-29  For an interesting Bible study sometime, take a quick glance at a King James Version of Acts 7:38, compare it to other translations and follow up with a word study of the term church.” You will soon discover that the church in it’s proper historical and Hebraic context… is the congregation of Israel.   Never does the bible switch gears by creating something “new” called the “Christian Church”.  Peter was not the first pope….He was instead…like Paul…a Torah obedient follower of Messiah…but more on that later… 

Now, for the most part I meet very little resistance to this teaching until it comes to the issue of obedience to Torah. We love to grab hold of the promises made…the covenants given…the glory…the hope and blessings bestowed upon those of Israel…(Rom 9:4) But… some of us would rather not consider the fact that if indeed we are part of Israel, it only makes sense that we would obey the God of Israel and the instructions He gave to His people Israel in His Torah.  Instead, we are taught that the 4th commandment (7th day Sabbath)…the food laws, (Leviticus 11) tassels on garments (Numbers 15:37-41) and many other instructions… are either for a different “Israel”… (which as we have seen is not possible) or that they were simply done away with or changed contrary to the very words of Jesus. (Matthew 5:17-19)  Either way…many who believe themselves to be of  the Gentiles” but at the same time “grafted into Israel” have chosen it would seem for varying reasons, to follow a different set of rules than those which were given to Israel at Mt. Sinai thru Moses. I believe this to be a serious breach of the basic foundational theological understandings and principles found in Scripture, seemingly justified only by flawed hermeneutics. In other words…it’s messed up. Now, if we as Christians are indeed following a different set of commandments than those intended by God, or if we are ignoring some of them mistakenly thinking they do not apply to us, we obviously need to repent.  So, in this teaching I ask you to examine the Scriptural evidence and decide for yourselves whether or not “non-Israelites” referred to as the “Gentiles” or “nations” were ever expected to obey the “Law of Moses”…the instructions of Torah.  And if so…did these expectations ever change.   To begin, let’s go back to the time when Torah was given thru the prophet Moses … 

MOSES 

When the children of Israel were redeemed in the great exodus and brought up and out of Egypt…there came with them a “mixed multitude” (Exodus 12:38) who had chosen to join or attach themselves to Israel.  It may come as a surprise to many Christians that although they were not physical descendants of Abraham, these “Gentiles” or “non–Israelites” from the nations were still expected to obey the God of Abraham, the Holy One of Israel, and to keep His Commandments, His Torah.  Scripture teaches plainly “One law shall be for the native-born and for the stranger who dwells among you” in Exodus 12:49. Following are a few clear examples where we see specific instructions in the Torah that were to apply not only to physical Israel…but also to the “sojourner” or “stranger”…those who have decided to follow the God of Israel.

Concerning the 7th day Sabbath we hear God say But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God.  In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates.” Exodus 20:10

Concerning the Feast of Passover and Unleavened Bread: And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee and will keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof. Exodus 12:48  For seven days no leaven shall be found in your houses, since whoever eats what is leavened, that same person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a stranger or a native of the land.”  Exodus 12:19

Concerning Sacrifices: Also, you shall say to them: ‘Whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice, and does not bring it to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, to offer it to the LORD, that man shall be cut off from among his people.  Leviticus 17:8-9  And if a stranger dwells with you, or whoever is among you throughout your generations, and would present an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to the LORD, just as you do, so shall he do. Numbers 15:14

Concerning the Feast of Tabernacles: “You shall observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven days, when you have gathered from your threshing floor and from your winepress.  And you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant and the Levite, the stranger and the fatherless  and the widow, who are within your gates. Deuteronomy 16:13-14

Concerning the Feast of Weeks: Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the Lord your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your and, which you shall give as the Lord your God blesses you.  You shall rejoice before the Lord your God, your and your son and your daughter, your male servant an your female servant, the Levite who is within your gates, the stranger and the fatherless and the widow who are among you, at the place where the Lord your God chooses to make his name abide. Deuteronomy 16:10-11

Concerning the Cities of Refuge:  These six cities shall be for refuge for the children of Israel, for the stranger and for the sojourner among them, that anyone who kills a person accidentally may flee there.  Numbers 35:15

Concerning Eating of Blood: And whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the strangers who dwell among you, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people.  For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul. Therefore I said to the children of Israel, ‘No one among you shall eat blood, nor shall any stranger who dwells among you eat blood’.  Leviticus 17:10-12

Concerning Unintentional Sin:  So the priest shall make atonement for the person who sins unintentionally, when he sins unintentionally before the Lord, to make atonement for him who is native-born among the children of Israel and for the stranger who dwells among them. Numbers 15:28-29

Concerning Intentional Sin:  But the person who does anything presumptuously, whether he is native-born or a stranger, that one brings reproach on the Lord, and he shall be cut off from among his people. Numbers 15:30

Concerning Blasphemy:  And whoever blasphemes the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death.  All the congregation shall certainly stone him, the stranger as well as him who is born in the land.  When he blasphemes the name of the Lord, he shall be put to death. Leviticus 24:16

Concerning Justice:  Whoever kills any man shall surely be put to death.  Whoever kills an animal shall make it good, animal for animal.  If a man causes disfigurement of his neighbor, as he has done, so shall it be done to him—fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, as he has caused disfigurement of a man, so shall it be done to him.  And whoever kills an animal shall restore it; but whoever kills a man shall be put to death.  You shall have the same law for the stranger and for one from your own country; for I am the Lord your God. Leviticus 24:17-22 

In summary:  Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the stranger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear the Lord your god and carefully observe all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God as long as you live in the land which you cross the Jordan to possess.  Deuteronomy 31:12-13

As you can see, the common teaching that the law of Moses was only given to the physical descendants of Abraham is certainly not based upon Scripture.  “But Tim…” you might say…“you are only looking at the first five books of the Bible…what about the rest of Scripture?”  Good point.  Let’s continue… 

The Book of Ruth 

Let us consider the book of Ruth.  In this beautiful true story we witness the Torah instructions regarding a “kinsmen redeemer” lived out thru the lives of Boaz and Ruth.  Now Ruth of course was a Moabite… her people were not exactly friendly with Israel.  She was definitely what you would call “non-Jewish”. As you know, Boaz will pay the price for Ruth… redeeming her and taking as her as His own.  What a awesome picture of Messiah. All who consider themselves to be of the “nations” obviously love this story. Christian bible teachers use this story to make the point that in the same way Boaz redeems this Moabite, so Messiah redeems us.  This is true. But I have a question that pertains to our main question…Did Ruth continue to live as a Moabite… worshipping as a Moabite…or did she turn from the ways of the nations and worship the God of Israel as part of Israel?  Curiously, the Torah actually forbids a Moabite from joining up with Israel! (Deuteronomy 23:3) So what’s up? I think we find the answers in the words of Ruth herself.  She says “Your people (Israel) shall be my people, and Your God ( The God of Abraham) shall be my God.” Ruth 1:16  Ruth will no longer be a Moabite! What a beautiful example for those of us who love the Messiah of Israel. Our Master has paid the price to redeem us…to bring us into His family as one of His own…so that we might live as part of Israel…walking in Torah…thus proclaiming with our very lives…”Your people shall be my people, and Your God shall be my God.”

The Prophets 

Now let’s take a look at just a couple of the prophets and see if they have anything to say about those from “among the Gentiles” and how they should live.

 First we hear from the Lord thru Jeremiah…now listen closely and you just may hear echoes from the book of Ruth.  Jeremiah says “And it shall be, if they (speaking of the nations) will learn carefully the ways of My people, (Israel) to swear by My name, “as the LORD lives’, as they taught My people to swear by Baal, then they shall  established in the midst of My people. But if they do not obey, I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation” says the LORD.  Jeremiah 12:16-17

Listen to Isaiah concerning the Sabbath…”Also the sons of the foreigner who join themselves to the Lord, to serve him and to love the name of the Lord to be his servants—Everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, an holds fast My covenant—Even them I will bring to My holy mountains and make them joyful in My house of prayer.  Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on My altar; For My house (The Temple) shall be called a house of prayer for all nations.Isaiah 56:6-7

 

Finally, in the closing verses of Zechariah we hear something very interesting concerning the future.  And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, on them there will be no rain. If the family of Egypt will not come up and enter in, they shall have no rain; they shall receive the plague with which the Lord strikes the nations who do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not come up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles.”  Question…whose “feasts’ are Christians keeping today? Where did they originate? (Easter,Christ-mass,Lent, Sunday Sabbath, etc) What Feasts did Jesus keep?

“This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you should no longer walk as the Gentiles walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.  But you have not so learned Messiah, if indeed you have heard Him and have been taught by Him, as the truth is in Yeshua: that you put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:17-24 

 

Yeshua (Jesus) 

If you consider what it truly means to be a disciple…one who patterns their life after that of the Master…and if you consider the Torah observant life our Master lived as the sinless Lamb of God…the “great commission” will suddenly take on a new meaning for many of us. Listen closely to what Jesus said…“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations (gentiles)…teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded youMatthew 28:19-20  What did Jesus teach and observe perfectly?  Torah.  He said in Matthew 4:4 (quoting from Torah) It is written ‘Man shall not live by bread alone buy by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.” Thus anyone desiring to be a disciple of Jesus has been given direct maching orders from the Master to teach all peoples to observe God’s Commandments…to walk in Torah just as He did.

The Apostle Paul  

Finally, we come to Paul. Too many Christians today believe that Paul taught people it was wrong to obey the Torah, or that it was perhaps optional. Especially, when it came to those from “among the Gentiles.” It is not true however.  What did Paul teach?  Paul taught that the Torah, was “holy and just and good.”  He taught that salvation came thru faith in Messiah…the same faith that Job professed when he said “For I know my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth” Paul taught that we are saved by grace thru faith in our Messiah…Jesus Christ…that we are cleansed only by His blood…the blood of the Lamb…PERIOD.  But Paul also taught that salvation was only the beginning for those who had truly counted the cost. He taught that we should learn and grow in Messiah.  He taught that one should “not be conformed to this world, but should “be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Transformed to what you might ask?  Into the image of Messiah! Paul lived out a life of Torah observance just as his Master did.  And, Paul took the “great commission” to heart as he proclaimed to all in both word and deed imitate me as I imitate Messiah

As I conclude this teaching I want to leave you with the very words of Paul which did inspire me to share these things with you. I would ask that you open up your Bible and read the following for yourself and let me know…honestly… if you still believe Paul would put his stamp of approval on those who come from “among the Gentiles” continuing to live as Gentiles.  Or do you see how Paul may have actually been in line with the whole of Scripture after all!  Play the Berean and let me know…

 

May God bless you as you follow Him,

Tim     

“And it shall be, if they (the nations) will learn carefully the ways of My people, (Israel) to swear by My name, “As the LORD lives,’ as they taught My people to swear by Baal, then they shall be established in the midst of My people.  But if they do not obey, I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation” says the LORD. Jeremiah 12:16-17

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One comment

  1. …thanks for the great thoughts – – !

    -cs
    http://chrisschellenberg.com/



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