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Why would a Gentile trust in a Jewish God for salvation?
by Alon Ronk
In order to accept the answer to this question it is necessary to first accept the Bible as being the revelation of the mind and will of the Creator of all things. This Creator made Himself known to a man who had been living in Ur of the Chaldees. God spoke unto Abram, saying, " Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will show thee: and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: and I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed;"- Bereshit ( Genesis )12:1-3.
There are two points that stand out in God's promise to Abram, whose name God changed to Abraham. One; God would show Abraham a land that would be given to him and his descendants. " And the LORD said unto Abram...Lift up now thine eyes, and look from the place where thou art northward, and southward, and eastward, and westward: For all the land which thou seest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed forever. And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. Arise, walk through the land in the length of it and in the breadth of it; for I will give it unto thee;"- Gen.13:14-17.
It should be pointed out that the Arabs, as they are called, are not all descendants of Abraham through Ishmael. In fact, they are not even all descendants of the same sons of Noah. You speak of Turks, Iraqis, Egyptians, Syrians, Iranians etc, none of them are true Arabs ( descendants of Ishmael ). For example, Hagar, the mother of Ismael was an Egyptian. Egyptians were descendants of Ham, as were the Lybians. The Turks were descendants of Japheth. The kingdom of Iraq was Mesopotamia and only came into being after the British victory over the Ottoman Turks. In fact, it was Nimrod who founded the area as the first kingdom, Gen.10:9-10. Iran is Persian, also descendants of Japheth. When we talk about the Palestinians we need to define our terminology. The Palestinians claim to be arabs. However, the land of "Palestine" is named for the "Philistines". Ungers Bible Dictionary says, " The Phillistines were non-semitic people [and] were apparently Aryans, viewed by some scholars as Indo-Eur opean. So they can't have it both ways; if they want to be called Palestinians, then they are not Arabs. If they want to be called Arabs, then they are not Palestinians. In fact, even Hafez Al-Assad, the late Syrian president said, that there is no such thing as a Palestinian people. Yasser Arafat himself is of Egyptian origin. But the thing that unites them in the Middle East is Islam, not ancestry. So it would be more accurate to call them Muslims than Arabs. The covenant which included possession of the land, was not passed on through Ishmael anyway, but through Isaac. Second, God promised that somehow " all the families of the earth " would be blessed through Abraham. What would this blessing be and how would it come about? We will talk about that later.
We see that God had promised the land unto Abraham and his descendants. But Abraham and his wife Sarah were growing old and had, as yet, not had a child. Sarah suggested that Abraham beget a child by Hagar, Sarah's handmaid. It was through this union that Ishmael was born. God had also made promises to him but possession of the promised land was not one of them. For after the birth of Ishmael God once again says unto Abraham, " I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee...And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God... And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee! And God said, Sarah thy wife shall bar e thee a son indeed; and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him; "- Ge.17:1,2,7,8,18-19.
Note also that the covenant that God made with Abraham and Isaac is an everlasting covenant; "and to thy seed forever", "and I will establish my covenant...for an everlasting covenant", "I will give unto thee...the land...for an everlasting possession", "I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant". This covenant would be unconditional and would not depend on Israel's obedience. We can see how time and time again God had to chastise Israel for disobedience through plagues, death, captivities etc. But God promised that in spite of Israel's disobedience He would not break His covenant with them. For example, Yechezk'el ( Ezekiel ) 36:32 says, " But I had pity for my holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations, to which they went. Therefore, say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the LORD God: I do not this for your sakes, O house of Israel, but for mine holy name's sake, which ye have profaned among the nations, to which ye went."
The Apostle Sha'ul ( Paul ), who became a Messianic Jew, and who had extensive training in the Torah under one of the greatest and most respected rabbis in Israel, Gemaliel, and in spite of the fact that the New Testament church had already been founded said, " I say then, Hath God cast away His people? God forbid. For I am also an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away His people which He foreknew."- Romans 11:1-2. Sha'ul was referring to literal Israel and was not spiritualizing here. This can be seen by his references to "Israelite", "seed of Abraham", and "tribe of Benjamin". Notice the distinction between "seed" and "children" in Paul's own words. In Rom.9:7, " Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, in Isaac shall thy seed be called ". Compare that with Galatians 3:7, " Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham ".
Yeshua made a similar contrast in Yochannan ( John ) 8. In verse 33, the religious leaders said, "...We be Abraham's seed..." Jesus said (vs.37) " I know that ye are Abraham's seed...". But in vs.39 He says, " ...If ye were Abraham's children, ye would do the works of Abraham ". In short, Yeshua said, I know that you are Avraham's seed, but if you were his children you would follow his example of faith.
The fact that Sha'ul says, " I am also an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham..." leads us to conclude that Sha'ul is saying that God has not cast off the national entity of Israel and is not referring to the church. Furthermore. If Sha'ul means the church is somehow the new Israel, how can he say, " Bretheren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved;" - Rom.10:1. Do you honestly believe that Sha'ul was praying that the church might be saved? It is only through salvation that there is a church. And who did Sha'ul address as "bretheren" ? He was addressing believers or he would have said, That YE might be saved instead of "they".
Israel is a separate entity from the church. " As the mountains are round about Jerusalem, so the LORD is round about His people from henceforth even for ever;" - Tehilim (Psalm) 125:2. Jerusalem was promised to Israel, not the church. Furthermore we must realize that God is all knowing, declaring the end before there's even a beginning; ( Is.46:10 ). When He made this everlasting covenant with Israel He did so in spite of all their future sins which He foreknew.
A verse that some use to argue against this point is found in Matityahu ( Matthew ) 21:43 where Yeshua said, " Therefore say I unto you, the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof." First, the Chief priests and Pharisees perceived that Jesus had spoken this parable against them and not Israel as a whole Mt.21:45. Therefore it's reasonable that Jesus is speaking to them directly and not the nation as a whole. And what was it that Yeshua said would be taken from them; i.e. the religious leaders? The Kingdom of God.
Furthermore Yeshua said to the Sopherim and the P'rushim (Scribes and Pharisees), " The Publicans and the harlots go into the kingdom of God before you;" - Mt.21:31. This saying, from the same chapter, was directed at the religious leaders and not the nation as a whole. It was the publicans and the harlots in the Land who also would have been Jews. The religious leaders used the Torah as a means of bearing rule over the people. But their hearts were not right before God. Yeshua became a threat to their power and control and therefore they hated Him. The chapter in Matityahu concludes, " And when the Chief Priests and Pharisees had heard His parables, they perceived that He spake of them. But when they sought to lay hands on Him, they feared the multitude, because they took Him for a prophet." Then in chapter 23 of Matityahu, Yeshua listed many reasons for His judgement of the religious leaders. Please take the time to read this chapter. Jesus also said concerning them, " But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in;" - vs.13.
There is an interesting parallel to this situation in M'lakhim Alef (1 Kings) chapter 21:1-23. There was a godly man named Navot (Naboth) who owned a vineyard. There was a wicked man named Ach'av (Ahab) who was king of Israel at the time and coveted Naboth's vineyard. So he had Naboth killed and took possession of his vineyard. Eliyahu (Elijah) the prophet pronounced God's judgement on Ach'av and Izevel (Jezebel) which did indeed come to pass. Ahab repented though, and God spared him. Jezebel did not repent and the dogs ate her dead body. The New Testament parallel is found in Mt.21:33-46. "Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, and digged a winepress in it, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and kille d another, and stoned another. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. But last of all he sent unto them his son, saying, They will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him. When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen? They say unto him, He will miserably destroy those wicked men, and will let out his vineyard unto other husbandmen, which shall render him the fruits in their seasons. Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord's doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?
Yeshua told this parable in which He Himself was the heir to a vineyard ( Israel - See Yesha'yahu [Isaiah] 5:1-7 ) and wicked men in authority coveted it for themselves (the religious leaders of Yeshua's day ). They slew the Heir so they could have the vineyard (Israel) to themselves. Yeshua also foretold their judgement. This was, by the way, the parable which occasioned Yeshua to say, "The kingdom of God will be taken from you, (the ones who sat in Moses' seat - Matityahu 23:1), and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. That is, entrusted to those who bore the fruits of the Kingdom. Whereas Israel was to be a light unto the gentiles, now that commission would be entrusted to others. It was the body of Messiah that took the gospel unto the " uttermost parts of the earth"; - Acts 1:8. But the Land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael) was never taken away from the Jewish people. It was the Kingdom of God that was taken from the religious leaders. So we see that Yeshua never said th at Israel would be given up. . Of course, everyone who thinks Yeshua intended to replace Israel also think they're the ones who are the substitutes.
God did not choose Yisrael ( Israel ) to begin with because they were better than anyone else, but because of His own sovereign choice and love for this people. " For thou art a holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth. The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: but because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers..." - Dvarim ( Deuteronomy )7:6-7. So in spite of any sins Israel has committed against God, the Abrahamic covenant is still in effect; even unto this day. Look at all the sins committed by the church i.e believers in the Messiah, yet God does not cast us away. God is sovereign and does not have to answer to us. He elected Israel because He chose to. What if He had elected another nation? Would not people ask, w hy them, as well?
This covenant that God made with Abraham was passed down to his son Yitzchak (Isaac).Then the covenant was repeated again by God to Yitzchak's son, Ya'acov (Jacob). Many times we read of the scriptures addressing God as the God of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ja'acov [Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob] ( Read Gen.28:1-15 ). As God had changed Abraham, and Sarah's name, so too did He give Yacov a new name. " Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel..." Therefore we see that God was not only called the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; but also the God of Israel. It was this special relationship that Israel had with the Creator that none of the other nations knew.
Eventually Israel went into slavery in Mitzraim (Egypt) and God raised up a deliverer. This deliverer became Israel's greatest leader. His name was Moshe ( Moses ). Before they left Egypt, God instituted Pesach (Passover) during which a lamb was slain and it's blood was applied to the door posts. All those who had the blood on their door were spared from the judgement of God. Consequently, everyone who did not have the blood on their doors, even if they were Israelites, would have been destroyed. This is reminiscent of the animal, presumably a lamb because of Abel's sacrifice, that God had slain to clothe Adam and Eve's nakedness. The scriptures tell us that death was a result of Adam's sin, and the shedding of blood, a sacrifice, was necessary to atone for sin. " For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh atonement for the soul;"- Vayikra (Leviticus)17:11. This idea had been carried on by Israel. Once every year on the day of atonement, or Yom Kippur, the cohen hagadol (high priest) would enter into the Holy of Holies and sprinkle blood on the mercy seat as an atonement for sin. In doing this there was an admission of guilt, which was trangression against the Torah. Second, it was evident that the day of atonement was not enough by itself for it had to be repeated every single year. So we see the necessity of blood through the pesach and yom kippur for atonement. God is not impressed when we set aside His Torah and say Mitzvot ( good deeds ) will suffice in the absence of sacrifice, or blood.
But God had said that He would establish a New Covenant (the B'rit Chadasha) with Israel Yechezk'el (Ezekiel) 36:25-27, in the which God will take the external commandments written on stone and put them internally into the hearts of His people. The prophet Yirmiyahu (Jeremiah) wrote, " Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was a husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people. And they shall teach every man no more his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me...for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more;" - Jer.31:31-34.
Moshe said unto Yisrael, " The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy bretheren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;...I will raise them up a Prophet from among their bretheren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him;"- Dvarim (Deut.)18:15,18-19.
God eventually raised up a king over Israel and promised David that, " ...When thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom forever." This same David wrote in the Psalms, " My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?...For Dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet...They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture;" - Tehilim (Psalm) 22.
Yesha'ayahu ( Isaiah ) the prophet picked up this same idea and wrote, " Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD (YHWH) revealed?...He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath born our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all...Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin..." - Is.53 selected verses. This could not be referring to Israel for every time Israel was smitten of God it was for their own sins. Second, this suffe ring servant was bearing the sins of others, not His own. Notice the words "We...have gone astray", "We have turned...", and the LORD hath laid on "Him" the iniquity of "Us" all. Also in verse 8, " For the transgression of my people, was He stricken. There are obviously two parties involved here: We and Him, or Us and Him, my people and He. His soul was made an offering for sin. Every offering for sin in the Torah must be with out blemish or spot. It is also put to death. Here in Isaiah we have a picture along with David's of one who would be crucified ( they pierced my hands and my feet ), suffer and die as a final " Yom Kippur " which would never again need to be repeated. One sacrifice for sins forever; the " blood...upon the altar to make an atonement for [our] souls..." He would be the sacrifice that God would provide just as He provided on for Adam and Eve. It would only be the sacrifice that God provided on behalf of sinners that God would accept for their salvation. Man's sacr ifices, prayers, or good deeds, would be no more acceptable than Adam and Eve's fig leaves or Cain's vegetables. "When I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you..." - Shmot ( Exodus )12:13.
The prophet Z'charyah ( Zechariah ) added to this, saying, " If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them unto the potter in the house of the LORD;"- Zech.11:12-13. Furthermore in Zech.12:10, " And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications.: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born." The price at which the LORD (YHWH) was prized was thirty pieces of silver which would be brought back, cast down in the temple and used to buy a potter's field. Again it is said, they shall look on Him who was pierced. The prophet Daniel also prophesied that the, " Messiah shall be cut off, but not for himself: " - Dan.9:26. After that, the city and the sanctuary would be destroyed; which happened in 70 A.D. I don't know if Yeshua comes to your mind but if He did, you came to that conclusion on your own based solely on Old Testament ( the Tenach ) scriptures. Understand also that the scripture, refering to Messiah, says, "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be." In 70 A.D. the sceptre departed from Judah with the fall of Yerushalyim and the temple to the Romans. Therefore some time prior to this Messiah (Shiloh) must have already came that the scriptures might be fulfilled.
The scriptures also foretell Yeshua's resurrection, not only that He would die but that would not be the end of it. In the account of Zechariah's prophesy concerning the Death of HaMashiach (the Messiah) Zech.12:10 , the prophet goes on to say after this event in Ch.13 vs.6, " And one shall say unto Him, What are these wounds in Thine hands? Then He shall answer, Those with which I was wounded [past tense] in the house of my friends." This implies a resurrection, showing the wounds of His crucifixion after the fact. In verse 11-12 of Isaiah 53, the scriptures read, " He (the Father) shall see the travail of His (the Messiah) soul, and shall be satisfied: by His knowledge shall my righteous Servant justify many; for He shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide Him a portion with the great, and He shall divide the spoil with the strong; because He hath poured out His soul unto death: and He was numbered with the transgressors; and He bare the sin of many, and made intercessio n for the transgressors." Now these scriptures plainly speak of the death of HaMashiach. But to "divide Him a portion with the great", and to "divide the spoil with the strong" could only be realized if He were resurrected from the dead.
Psalm 16:10 says, " For Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption." The Apostle Kefa ( Peter ), on Shavuoth ( Pentecost ) was giving testimony to the resurrected Mashiach, of whom he was an eyewitness, and spoke of the Ps.16:10 passage as being fulfilled by Yeshua: " Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that He should be holden of it. For David speaketh concerning Him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for He is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: b ecause Thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption. Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; Thou shalt make me full of joy with Thy countenance. Men and bretheren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the frouit of his loins, according to the flesh, He would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; he seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that His soul was not left in hell, neither did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, He hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD saith unto my Lord, sit Thou o n my right hand, until I make Thy foes Thy footstool." - Acts 2:22-35.
A couple of things to note about this passage of scripture is first of all as Peter was preaching on the resurrection of Messiah, he said to them " As ye yourselves also know". The fact that they responded by becoming born again believers in Yeshua instead of responding by denying what Kefa had preached, lends a great deal of credibility to his statement. Second, Peter said that they (Israel) also shared the responsibility for the death of Meshiach vs.23 ( as we all do because it was for the sins of all of us ) , but said to them that " the promise [was still] unto you, and to your children..." along with that statement the first church was born with 3000 of these very same people which is proof positive that God did not cast off the Jewish people for any role they may have had in Yeshua's death. As with Yossef ( Joseph ) " Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life...And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God:" - Gen.45:5,7,8; so also with Messiah " Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God..."
I believe Yeshua to be the Prophet that God would raise up among the people. Isaiah prophesied His coming by name. You have to see it in Hebrew, in which the Tenach was written, to see it. Therefore I will leave a couple words in Hebrew. " Behold, YHWH [Jehovah] hath proclaimed unto the end of the world, Say ye to the daughter of Zion, Behold, thy Yeshua cometh; behold, His reward is with Him, and His work before Him." - Isaiah 62:11. Yeshua means Salvation and is translated thus throughout the Tenach ( Old Testament ). Yeshua is also the Hebrew name for Jesus. This verse is clearly referring to a person, Yeshua ( Jesus ) whose reward is with Him and His work before Him. He is the Messiah, the King of Israel. The Lamb of God which would take away the sin of the world thus fulfilling the promise unto Abraham that in his seed all the families of the earth would be blessed. It is written in the scriptures, " And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek..." - Is.11:10. Yeshua HaMashiach is the One to whom the Gentiles sought and only because of Him do Jews and Gentiles have the same God in common. Yeshua said in Revelation 22:16, " I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches. I am the root and the offspring of David..." Even Islam recognizes the relationship between Jews and Gentile Christians. The Koran, in the section called, 'The Table', says, " Believers [in Islam], take neither Jews nor Christians for your friends. They are friends with one another." Today, I wish that were more true.
The death, burial, and resurrection of Messiah would initiate the New Covenant (B'rit Chadasha) that God promised in Ezkl. 36 and Jer.31. Jesus said, " Think not that I am come to destroy the law [Torah], or the prophets [Nevi'im]: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill [the Old Testament scriptures] ;" - Matt.5:17. We see therefore that originally, Christianity was Jewish.The nation's leaders rejected him for they looked for one who would deliver them from Rome instead of from sin. They also felt threatened by Yeshua because they did not want to fall out of favor with Rome. They had wealth and power because of their positions. They were not willing to share the vineyard with, nor give it to the rightful heir, i.e. Y'shua.
Nevertheless, the first church was Jewish. It is not the Jew that forfeits being a Jew in order to become a christian. He or she comes to a logical fulfillment, or completion of Biblical Judaism ( not necessarily rabbinic Judaism ) in the Messiah. The Gentile, on the other hand, is said to be grafted in. As it is written, " Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee...For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these [the Jews], which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree? " - Romans 11:18,24. Did not Yeshua say, " Salvation is of the Jews."? Jn.4:22 says He did. God divinely appointed the Jewish nation. God gave His word through Jewish prophets. God gave the Messiah through the Jewish people. It is, in fact, the Gentile that converts. He accepts the Jew's God, their scriptures, their prophets, their Messiah, the Apostles of their Messiah who were Jews etc. The Jews, on the other hand, do not accept anything from the Gentiles they continue being Jews.
Though Jew and Gentile are one in Messiah, and in their spiritual relationship to God, there still remain natural distinctions. Though the scriptures say in Messiah, there is neither Jew nor Greek (gentile) it also says there is neither male nor female, bond nor free, Gal.3:28. Yet we still recognize those who are imprisoned and those who are free. We still recognize males from females. For though there is equality in the body of Messiah, there still remain physical distinctions. Therefore we may not confuse the body of Messiah with the nation of Israel.
It's funny how time changes things, or more correctly, how people and attitudes change over time. Many Jews today ask, how can a Jew be a Christian and still be a Jew? Many Jews have accepted the notion that Gentile means Christian. First, there are more Gentiles who are not interested in a personal relationship with Messiah than those who are. Being a Gentile, therefore, is not synonymous with being Christian. Many Gentile nations have used the term Christian in a religious/political sense not in a spiritual, biblical sense. This is why the Catholic/Protestant situation in Northern Ireland is bearing fruit that in no wise resembles the fruit of Ruach haKodesh ( the Holy Spirit ), see Galatians 5:22-23 where the scriptures say, " But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: against such there is no law." Simply bearing the name is not the same as being born again.
Second, whereas today many Jews ask how they can become a Christian and still remain a Jew, in the early church the question was exactly the opposite. The Jews thought that gentiles had to convert to Judaism before they could become Christians because at first, Jews were the only ones who were Christians ( although not known by that term ), except for a few Gentiles. The Church at Yerushalayim ( Jerusalem ) had to convene to consider this matter. Acts 15:5 for instance, says, " But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them [the gentiles] and to command them to keep the law of Moses." Another example is found in Acts 10:45, " And they of the circumcision [the Jews] which believed were astonished, as many as came with Kefa [Peter], because that on the gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost." In verse 47 of the same chapter Peter asks, " Can any man forbid water, that these [gentiles] should not be baptized, which have recieved the Holy Ghost as well as we [Jews]?"
The first Christians were not called "Christians" they were Jews who believed that Yeshua was in fact the Messiah. In Him their Judaism was fulfilled and completed. They were not called "Christians" until Acts 11:26 in Antioch, Syria. This was supposed to be a derogatory term to label those who were believers in Christ. Today it serves as a title identifying those who profess Christ as Saviour but the term is applied to a wide variety of denominations and beliefs associated with the name Christ.
The New Testament, or New Covenant (B'rit Chadasha) is, contrary to many claims, NOT anti-semitic or anti-Jewish. There are passages pointed to as proof of the anti-jewish nature of the Tanach. Yet at the same time, there are many very unflattering verses about Israel in the Tenach as well. ( Jer.23:14; Ezkl.16 is a very unflattering chapter; also Jer.23:9; Ex.32:9-14. Israel was not often showcased as a nation of righteousness in the Tenach ). Yet would those same ones who say the Brit Chadasha is antisemitic, accuse the Tenach of being so? I hardly think so. Sha'ul never denied his Jewish heritage,nor the God of Israel. He said he could wish that he himself were accursed from Messiah for his bretheren's sake, his kinsmen according to the flesh, if that would mean their salvation, Romans 9:1-5 .
When Jesus healed a man with leprosy He told him to go show himself to the priest as Moshe (Moses) had commanded; Matt.8:4; Mk.1:44; Lk.5:14. Yeshua said, " The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses seat: all therefore they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do ye not after their works: for they say, and do not;" - Matt.23:2-3. It was not the observance of the Torah that Jesus condemned but all the man made traditions that were added to it. For anything that is added to the word of God is against the teachings of the Torah for God commanded, saying, " Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you;" - Deuteronomy 4:2. ( See also Deut.12:32 and Proverbs 30:6 ) Furthermore, the New Covenant is full of quotations from the Tanach (Old Testament). In addition to this, the scriptures say that the gospel came to the "Jew first". Even after Sha'ul ( Paul ) told the Jews in Antioch, " It was necessary that the word of God should first have been spoken to you: but seeing ye put it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, lo, we turn to the gentiles " - Acts 13:46, we see that everywhere Sha'ul went after that he always ended up going to the synagogue first. The unfortunate thing is that many are looking for an excuse to avoid confronting the Brit Chadasha ( New Covenant, or New Testament ).
And yet many Jews take offense to Christianity, not because of Jesus, but because of Christians. The word Christ is nothing more than the Greek word for the Hebrew word, Messiah. Many who have called themselves Christians have persecuted the Jew. They did this, not because of a Biblical basis, but because of ignorance of it. Evil, arrogant, and self-righteous people had only used the Name of Yeshua (Jesus) as a scepter to bear rule over people in the name of religion. How could a true Christian bless God that Messiah died for his sins and then turn around and blame the Jews for it? That is pure hypocrisy. But Yeshua plainly said, " Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I recieved of my Father;" - Jn.10:17-18. Yeshua did not say, the Jews took my life. He said He laid it down on His own. But if w e want to get technical about casting blame for killing Jesus, was it not for our sins that the Father made His soul an offering for sin? Therefore we would all be to blame, not just Jews.
But then someone would say, But the Jews rejected Him. Do not Gentiles the same? We should not forget that the first church was born with 3000 Jews. Shortly after that 5000 more Jews were born again into the church, i.e. the God called body of believers. The Apostles who initiated the spread of Christianity into the world were Jews. The Bible also said that, " The word of God increased; and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly; and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith;"- Acts 6:7. Acts 21:20 says, " ...Thou seest, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are that believe..." Also the first Christian martyr was Stephen, a Jew. The New Covenant that christians read was revealed by the God of Israel through Jews; except maybe for Luke, and in fact, the covenant was made with them. The Lord's supper had its roots in the Jewish passover, Baptism in the Jewish mikvehs. Tithing also has its roots in the Tenach ( O.T.). Then there's the 10 commandm ents, and the Psalms we love so dearly and in fact the whole Old Covenant ( testament ) is a Jewish book. Let us also not forget the 144,000 Jewish witnesses that the God of Israel seals in the book of Revelation. Also the fact that when Yeshua comes to set up His Millenial Kingdom, He will do so in Jerusalem, Israel. The 12 Jewish apostles will also reign with Him. When Yochanan (John) saw the New City descending from God out of Heaven he called it the New Jerusalem. Zechariah wrote that the nations would come up to Jerusalem to keep the feast of Tabernacles; Zech.14:16.
The old covenant feasts, the Sabbath ( shabbat ), the tabernacle etc were all prophetic of Mashiach. Today when we observe these things in accordance with grace, we see Yeshua as the fulfillment of all things. It would certainly not be wrong for Messianic Jews or any one else to do these things as long as it is not a part of their salvation plan, which it isn't. We also realize that as we have the freedom NOT to observe feast days etc, we must allow also the freedom TO do these things. Once again, it is not to keep the law in order to earn favour, get saved, or stay saved. It is part of Jewish culture. Because it is not part of Gentile culture is no reason to assail it. Gentiles, for example, go to church on Sunday. Do they believe it has to be Sunday in order to get saved, stay saved, or earn merits with God? Of course not. Gentiles just do not have much in their respective cultures that have anything in common with the old testament. But the Jew does.
We must understand that as Jesus came unto His own and His own received Him not ( Jn.1:11 ) that this became a blessing to the Gentiles. If the Jews had accepted Him as their Messiah as a nation back then, it seems to me that that would primarily be an internal Jewish thing. But the Jewish 'no' gave the Gentiles the oppurtunity to say, 'yes'. As the Apostle Paul said again, " I say then, Have they [the Jews] stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles..." - Rom.11:11.
Unfortunately as Gentile believers began to out number Jewish believers they lost sight of the Jewishness of Christianity and began to despise the Jews as Christ killers. Their practice of Christianity took place within the context of their respective cultures. Because their culture was very different from that of the Jew's culture, they no longer saw Christianity as Jewish. They totally forgot that it was the Jew's God that they, the Christians, were professing faith in. It was therefore hypocritical to profess faith in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the God of Israel, and yet despise His covenant people. Remember, gentiles were the outsiders who were grafted in. Paul also said that if the Jews abide not still in unbelief how much more would they be grafted into their own tree (Ro.11:24)!
Paul said concerning those Gentiles who were being saved, " Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called uncircumcision in the flesh made by hands; that at that time ye were without Christ (Messiah), being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise [which were given to Israel], having no hope, and without God [the God of Israel] in the world: But now in Christ Jesus (Y'shua HaMashiach) ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For He [Y'shua] is our peace, Who hath made both [Jew and Gentile] one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us [Jew and Gentile]; having abolished in His flesh the enmity [hostility, ill will] , even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace;" - Eph.2:11-15. Becoming one with the Jews in Jesus the Messiah is the same thing as us being grafted into their olive tree beco ming part of the tree.
But the more distant the Gentile Christians grew from the Jew, the more foreign the Jewish roots of Christianity became to them. Gentile Christians began to see Christianity apart from its Jewish setting and background. There may also have been some envy on the part of the Gentile believers perhaps feeling that they were, somehow, outsiders to the relationship that Jewish believers had to God. But though Gentiles can never become Jews after the flesh, they can still have the same salvation relationship to God as do the believing Jews. Therefore in Yeshua we become brothers. That is not to say, of course, that the church, therefore, has been made partakers of the earthly and national blessings with, or instead of, Israel. The church is not one earthly people with one national homeland as is the case with the Jew. The church is made up of many different peoples from many different countries. It seems that almost every religion, wants a piece of the Holy Land. But the Land was Promised t o the Physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Ruth is a beautiful picture of a Gentile being grafted into the Olive Tree. She said, " Entreat me not to leave thee [ Naomi ], or to return from following after thee; for whither thou goest, I will go; and where thou lodgest, I will lodge: thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God; " - Ruth 1:16. If the God of Israel is the God in which gentile belivers trust, shall they despise His covenant people? The scriptures say, " I was glad when they said unto me, Let us go into the house of the LORD. Our feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem. Jerusalem is builded as a city that is compact together: Whither the tribes go up, the tribes of the LORD, unto the testimony of Israel, to give thanks unto the name of the LORD. For there are set thrones of judgement, the thrones of the house of David. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee. Peace be within thy walls, and prosperity within thy palaces. For my bretheren and companions sakes, I will now say, P eace be within thee. Because of the house of the LORD our God I will seek thy good;" - Psalm 122.
Yeshua is not only the Messiah, the Son of God, the King of Israel; but also the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world - Jn.1:29. It is because of Him, and Him alone, that a Gentile comes to faith in the God of Israel. For had it not been for Him, who knows what Gentiles would have believed in; if anything. But through this man all have eternal life, even the forgiveness of sins- Col.1:14. For without the shedding of blood there is no remission of sins- Hebrews 9:22.
I believe in a glorious future that God still has in store for His covenant people. I believe that Israel's return to the land is a fulfillment of of God's promises to Israel that He would gather them again from the nations into which He had driven them. There is alot of pressure on Israel from those who would divide the land. But the land belongs to Israel and this includes ALL of Yerushalayim ( Jerusalem ).See Gen.15:18-21. Notice especially in verse 21, the very last word; "Jebusites". The Jebusites were the inhabitants of Jerusalem until conquered by king David.
Those who would divide the land of Israel among her enemies, like for example, the Golan Heights, Judea and Samaria ( the West Bank ), Gaza strip, Hebron, Bethlehem etc will come under God's curse. Whether it be the PLO, the United Nations or whoever. For it is written, " ...Behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah, and Jerusalem, I will gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land;" - Joel 3:1-2. I can not side with those who would take land from Israel to give it to someone else; or try to force Israel to give it up. It is Israel's right to keep the land but it is not Israel's right to give it up. For Israel lives in the land but the Almighty God, the Creator, is still the Landlord.
It seems that every time Israel was driven from their land, it was always a world empire that did it. For example, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, and lastly the Roman Empire. It was the Romans who began to call Israel Palestine after Israel's arch rivals the Phillistines. Now it is another world empire trying to force Israel to give up it's land to the Palestinians, the United Nations. I realize that this is not an easy issue but there are 23 lands, I believe, that are "Arab" into which the Palestinians can be assimilated. In fact, the present day kingdom of Jordan was created in 1946 for the purpose of a Palestinian State. You may remember that the Palestinians were already there until kicked out by Jordan. Or they could co-exist peacfully with the Jews in their land as for example the "strangers" in the Old Testament. But God has given the Jews One land. Why should they give it up? Why should a gentile care who occupies Israel? Because of the Covenant God made with Abraham that a Christia n should accept as valid. And because it was Jesus, the Messiah of Israel, who brought gentiles to faith in the God of Abraham. Therefore, for God's sake, and for the fathers unto whom God promised this land, I can not see it any other way.
Anti-semitism is of Satan. Satan hates Israel. I do not wish to have that in common with him. Christians, of all people, should love the Jews for God's sake. They should be the best friends the Jews have. Remembering that our Saviour was also a Jew. And that " As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life. For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved;" - Jn.3:14-17. Jesus was no enemy to the Jews. He loved them. Both Moses and Paul were willing to suffer the judgement of God forever if it meant the salvation of the Jewish people. He did not come to abolish the Torah, but to fulfill it. And where the law demanded condemnation for sin, Jesus brought grace and forgivene ss of sins through the offering of His own self: as a lamb without spot or blemish. And because He is resurrected from the dead, He ever lives to make intercession for us.