Derek Leman, a messianic rabbi from Atlanta, GA in this guest post for Jewish Studies for Christians deals with an issue of whether or not Jews and Gentiles are bound by the same commandments. While there are other well-argued opinions, I am happy to present his post to you for your careful consideration and engagement. (You are cordially invited to visit one of his blogs “Messianic Jewish Musings” of this talented and prolific author. To do so, please, click HERE).
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Whose commandments are they? That is, for whom were they laid down as stipulations? Does that still matter or did something change, such as God issuing a new covenant that made the original commandments a law for everyone? Or did a new people come to God who were then transformed in some way, made to have the same relationship to God as this first people, the Jewish people?
The logic of “one law” or of the divine obligation of all people of faith in Messiah to the same laws as those given to Israel is usually based on one of a handful of arguments. Aren’t non-Jews grafted into the Jewish tree through Messiah and if so, doesn’t this eliminate the Jewish-Gentile differentiation? If a commandment is holy, then isn’t it unholy not to follow it? Since the Torah is the only ordered list of God’s requirements, it has to be for everyone, because God nowhere gives a “law for the Gentiles,” right?
People often base their opinion about the commandments on their experience and not on the Bible. I am not against the importance of our personal experience with God. It’s just that experience can be misinterpreted. It seems to be far better if we interpret our experiences with reference to the great ideas that are in the Bible and find answers which bring together Bible and experience.
So, for example, a Christian may experience a deep awakening upon discovering the joys of Passover and Sabbath and the rhythm of the Torah calendar. Likewise, eating a restricted diet can feel like intensifying holiness. And the whole experience of becoming a Torah-observer may feel like getting very close to God. Then, when encountering Jewish beliefs about Torah — that Torah is a covenant between Israel and God, not between the nations and God — such a person might feel as if they are being denied membership in an exclusive club.
I would like to explain why, in simple terms, God’s way is not one law for everyone, and suggest a middle path for non-Jews who want to have a closer relationship with Israel’s Torah.
First, it would be helpful if people would go back to the giving of the Torah from Sinai in Exodus 19. Would Jewish people be asking too much if we say, “Please keep in mind the importance of this event as something special between us and God?” When you read Exodus 19, can you not see God is making a covenant with the Jewish people? Yes, there are clever work-arounds such as “Gentiles were there too in the form of the mixed multitude.” But those tortured arguments look like a way to deny the simple truth: Torah was given as a covenant to Israel. The commandments are the stipulations of the covenant.
Second, what is in the Torah? Do people who want to read it as “one law for everyone” actually take into account what is actually contained in it? Many things in Torah no longer apply to anyone today, Jewish or non-Jewish. Do you need laws about how to treat your slave? Have you seriously entertained the idea of taking a war-bride after giving her a month to mourn her father? Were you considering stoning your rebellious teenager? Reading the Torah calls for some maturity in reading, some willingness to learn history, to see the difference between the ideal in Torah and the time-bound social and civil legislation it contained for an ancient nation in a barbaric world.
Third, when people talk about how they are “Torah-observant” or say that they “keep the commandments,” they mean only a handful of them. What they are really talking about is the observances given to Israel which the church has not made part of its practice: Sabbath, dietary law, circumcision on the eighth day, tassels on one’s garment, and festivals. There is no Temple anymore, so the laws about offerings and giving the tithe to the priests cannot really apply. But these few commandments that differentiate Israel from the nations — which can be referred to as the sign commandments, since they are signs of Israel’s uniqueness — are a cause for controversy. It may help (or maybe not) to point out that the Sabbath is specifically said to be such a sign: “Above all you shall keep my Sabbaths, for this is a sign between me and you throughout your generations” (Exod 31:13). When God said this, it is clear the “you” was Israel, and Israel’s generations are still very much alive today.
Fourth, it is possible — and I try to get people to see this — that what is holy and required for one person is not holy and required of all people. One person — a priest in Israel — may not be able to attend a burial or walk in a graveyard. If the whole world follows the “one law” principle, none of our dead will ever be buried. One person — someone under a Nazirite vow — must avoid wine and even grapes and raisins. If the all-commandments-apply-universally notion is followed, well, we will all miss out on some great Cabernet and the joy of raisins in our oatmeal. Likewise, it is possible that Sabbath is a holy sign of Jewishness (just like Exodus says) and that it is not holy for Gentiles. It may be that Israel’s diet was restricted and this marked them as a different people in the ancient world, but that there is no reason why pork is inherently unclean — just as Genesis 9:3 suggests.
Fifth, it is fairly easy to see — but clever and specious arguments are used to avoid seeing what is obvious — that the apostles believed Jews in Messiah should keep all the commandments but that the Gentiles did not need to “keep the law of Moses.” They did not mean by this that Gentiles in Messiah were free to steal and murder. “Law of Moses” means the covenant stipulations from Sinai as a total system. It is clear in reading Paul that he taught his Gentile adherents they were not bound by diets and days and the use of flint knives to remove a foreskin. To many people, this makes Paul seem problematic, anti-Torah. Did it occur to anyone he was being a good Jew and interpreting Torah according to its true sense?
Sixth, it is also fairly easy to see that the church went too far in distancing itself from Torah and the Jewish people. Christian theologians regularly write about this and recovering the Jewishness of Christianity is standard form today in many circles. Yes, plenty of Christians remain oblivious to what the theologians and historians within Christianity are saying about Jewish roots, but the church has definitely turned a corner. It is possible now to argue that Christians practice a form of Judaism and to point this out entirely from Christian thinkers and scholars.
Seventh, it is often overlooked that Christians keep most of what is in Torah, at least what I call the ideals of Torah. Love God and neighbor is the ideal center of Torah. It is expressed in ways we treat the powerless, honor one another, serve those in need, form community, and repair the world. Christians have always been very involved in love and service and good works.
Eighth and finally, there is a middle way for people who want to keep some of Israel’s Torah without those same people denying Israel’s unique relationship to God. It is not necessary to say, “I am grafted into Israel’s tree and so I am virtually an Israelite now.” It is not necessary to say, “All the commandments are holy for everyone and there are no distinctions.” It is possible instead to adopt the philosophy of one of the earliest writings of the Yeshua-movement, the Didache (pronounced deed-ah-KHAY). The Didache came out of the first century Messianic Jewish movement and a few decades after Paul died, the Didache argued that Gentiles could keep Torah. It is possible to see that in Paul’s time this could have been dangerous, it could have rendered Messiah null and void. But after many Gentiles came in, it was possible some of them would want to live close to Jewish communities and worship with them.
So in the Didache, Gentiles were encouraged to “keep as much Torah as they are able” and to live in fellowship with Jewish disciples. The audience of the Didache, then, were Messianic Gentiles — as we often call people today who are in Messianic congregations or, even if not members of a Messianic congregation, live a Messianic Jewish lifestyle and maintain friendships with Messianic Jews. And the Didache does not encourage these Gentiles to simply act as if they are Jewish. Some distinctions remain.
So, for example, in Messianic Judaism today, Gentiles have a welcome place. The best practices of Torah will include making distinctions without discrimination. It is possible to distinguish and not discriminate.
And it is not necessary that Gentiles who choose this middle way should claim that all Christians must do the same. Living as a “Messianic Gentile” (or just as a “Messianic”) does not make a person holier. It is one way and God has many ways for people. The most important commandments are not Sabbath and dietary law anyway. To over-exalt these is to practice a form of cheap self-righteousness.
Jewishness is not a privilege. It is a responsibility. Jewishness is not a status of higher blessing. It is a calling to be a distinguishable people and to pass on that identity to children and children’s children forever. Gentiles who love the Torah should not try to erase Jewish distinction, to render Jewishness inert, to say all Messiah-followers are essentially Jews.
It does matter whose commandments they are. And the ideals of Torah apply to everyone even if some of the specifics are about Israel’s peoplehood. One law for everyone fails to read Torah according to its own distinctions. Being grafted in is a way of explaining how Gentiles come into the blessings of the Abrahamic covenant, one given long before Sinai and which included Gentiles from the beginning (Gen 12:1-3). God did not ever say, “I now take the commandments given to Israel and make them apply to all of Messiah’s people.” But Paul did show his Gentile adherents how they could derive from the Torah what was required of them. And like Abraham (Gen 26:5), it is possible to keep all of God’s statutes without having a specific law-code.
The Torah is not one law for everyone. But neither do we have to forbid people from keeping it. There is a middle way.
What do you think?
Join the conversation (196 comments)
Shalom Dr Eli
I like the answre of Jesus to the Samaritan womann that neither on the mountain nor in Jerusalem were true worshipers required to go. What is to worship God in TRUTH & SPIRIT. I have always thought G-D chose the jews so He could reveal Himselh to the Nations & how He was to be worshipe., secondly Petet & the apostles wrote to the gentile chiurches about what they were to observe, was’nt the reason because of such misunderstandings even then. There were people then who wanted to impose the strich rituals & customs of the jews on the gentile believers hence the letter to the gentiles. Yes I agree that some of these laws are no longer applicable as they are not part of worshiping G-d , but to establish order in the lives of people under the era they lived in. Where do you draw the line in this times we live in. I also agree with the Ten commandments as we learn from Hebres. G-d said some things were eternal, I would like further clarification on this . Thanks once again Dr Eli
Thank you Dr Eli for posting this article and connecting us to Rabbi Leman’s blog. I see his article has now gone viral! It gives some good insights about Gentile believers who want to be ‘Messianic’, and feel closer to G-d if they observe the Torah and Jewish traditions.
I was disappointed that he did not raise what some consider to be the essential issue for Messianic Jews: the relationship of the New Covenant ( Jeremiah 31 and letter to the Jewish believers Hebrews 8) to the Torah. This is a critical issue when considering the Torah and the Gentiles.
The new covenant is, after all, a promise to Israel and Judah, ie all Jews. It is not as some Christians would have us believe, the Christian covenant, as opposed to the Jews’ Old Covenant. It is also a promise regarding the Torah. On one interpretation, the new covenant as promised in Jeremiah 31 and fulfilled in the Messiah, radically changed the whole ‘nature’ of the Torah because of the way it was to be given, transmitted, expressed, be a basis for Israel’s relationship with God, and the way it would provide for forgiveness of sins. Unlike the old covenant, which made provision for forgiveness through sacrifices specified under the law, the new covenant was based on forgiveness and was the basis for the giving of the Holy Spirit, which would become universal, both to Jews and Gentiles.
The new covenant was with all of Israel and would have the intended result of further strengthening the close, special, personal relationship of G-d with His ancient people. It would now also have the eventual consequence of changing the relationship between Jews and Gentile believers which previously existed under the old covenant. I would argue that this is is not just because of Messiah Jesus being the light of the whole world, who allowed Gentile believers to be grafted into the natural olive tree of Israel through faith in Him, but also because of a change in the way the Torah would be understood.
Rabbi Leman, wants to retain Exodus 19 and Sinai as something unique, special, unrepeatable and exclusive for the Jews and asks Gentiles to respect that. But in the new covenant promise to the Jews as described in Jeremiah 31:33 we read: “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the LORD: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their G-d, and they shall be my people.”
Perhaps ‘the burden of respect’, if I can coin a phrase, should be on the Jews, and of their new covenant.
The new covenant is specifically promised to Jews (not Gentiles at this stage). It unmistakably echoes the Sinai experience of Exodus 19 and that original purpose of the old covenant for G-d to establish an intimate relationship with His people. But the new covenant is not like the old covenant, and it makes the old one obsolete for Jewish believers. (Hebrews 8:13). But, unlike the Old Covenant, which by nature is exclusive except for those who wanted to become Jews, Jeremiah 31:33-34 foreshadows that the new covenant would be fulfilled in Messiah Jesus,(the fulness of that for the Jews is yet to come Hallelujah!) and the giving of the Holy Spirit. As the Holy Spirit would be poured out on all who believed, it would now include the Gentiles, even though they are not specifically mentioned in Jeremiah 31.
Rabbi Leman seems to have ignored this issue of the new covenant and its relationship to the old and hence to Gentiles. Rabbi Leman is correct to point out some of the foolishness of Gentile believers to try to relate to ‘Jewishness’ under the old covenant which was with the Jews alone, but it seems equally foolish for Jewish believers to try to understand their relationship with Gentiles on the basis of anything other than the new covenant. It just does not work! More importantly of course, that new covenant is now the basis of Messianic Jews’ own relationship with G-d as ordained by Him and it seems a pity that very few can find an identity as Jews within that plus the
Thank you Dr. Eli for posting this article by Derek Leman. I find it refreshing in its approach to the Law, especially so because I came from a completely non-religious background and ‘came to Christ’ at the age of 13 as the result of a number of God’s sovereign interventions in my life.
I was then confronted by Christians who kept a lot of laws that confused me. These were godly men and women who taught me much that was good, but also kept many laws that arose not so much out of Christianity but rather from the restrictions of a post-Victorian era. Examples of such laws were: Do not knit, sew, play cards, or read secular books on Sunday, Do not wear makeup, go dancing, or to the cinema. I found this totally confusing for a while, until I realized that Jesus taught something much deeper: the Law of God is fulfilled through love: firstly, loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength; and secondly, loving/esteeming others as we do ourselves.
I then realized, of course, that the legalism with which I was confronted was not even stipulated in the Bible, either for Jews or Gentiles, and that God’s standards are far higher and broader than such petty laws. When we love God, and therefore others, completely, we will not need to observe hundreds of specific laws because we will want to please Him and treat others as we would ourselves want to be treated.
And yet mankind has always tended to gravitate towards laws. Perhaps this is because we feel more secure when fenced in rather than given total freedom to choose, where love is the only guideline. I recognize that right from the beginning, we have been infected by sin. It is ingrained in our basic nature, corrupted by the fall. And because of this we need strong guidelines to keep us on track. As humans we also have a tendency to ‘follow the rules’ (or else ‘break the rules’ as an act of rebellion). It can seem to be a dangerous thing to be governed by nothing but love. God knew this when he gave Moses the Ten Commandments and, as a followup, the many laws contained in Leviticus.
Jesus summed up the Law of Moses as the Law of Love. I for one am confident that when the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts, the Law is being fulfilled through His love. Perhaps this thinking is simplistic, and yet I have found it works for me. God knows each one of us intimately, and He knows what guidelines each of us need to keep us on track. It is not a matter of one Law being better than another, or making us holier. The Law in its essence is above individual rules and restrictions. It is the path that leads to Christ, the fulfilment of the Law.
The church has mistakingly (or maybe not) taught that Jesus fulfilled the law based on the statement, “I come not to abolish……..” This was a Hebrew idiom meaning teach the Torah correctly, spirit of the law vs letter of the law. Jesus goes on to say not one jot or tittle should be changed (partially a reference to how Torah scrolls are written) and warns against teaching the Torah incorrectly. There is nothing that needs to be fulfilled. The Mosaic covenant is a marriage covenant between God and the Jews.
By the way I think just under 300 of the mitzvot can be done today.
This brings us to gentile Christians keeping the Mosaic law. No one is saying you can’t but to teach that all Christians should is not correct. I enjoy Pesach, Shavuot and Saturday Sabbath. But I am not about to tell a gentile Christian they should observe them.
Bu the way giving up shrimp is a non-starter.::>
You rightly say that the Mosaic covenant is a marriage covenant between God and the Jews. But have you not considered the following words of the apostle Paul, which were plainly addressed to the Jews concerning that same marriage covenant?:
“Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.
Wherefore, my brethren, ye also are become dead to the law by the body of Christ; that ye should be married to another, even to him who is raised from the dead, that we should bring forth fruit unto God.”
May the Lord give you understanding in all things. Shalom.
Bill & Daniel,
Please quote me in scripture where the Torah is a marriage covenant between G-d and the Jews. Because how I read it, IT IS BETWEEN G-D AND ALL ISRAEL (ALL 12 TRIBES). Yes He divorced the Northern Kingdom, that is why Yeshua (Jesus) had to die. So that all the prophecies of reconciliation could be fulfilled. He had to be raised a new man, in order to be able to take the northern kingdom back, and make the whole nation complete and whole. So that He himself would not brake His own instructions.
The Torah is for all Israel……..yes it is a marriage covenant, but for all Israel, not just 1/12th of it.
The marriage covenant language is sprinkled throughout OT and NT but you will find it most clearly represented in the Book of Hosea. While Hosea’s ministry was primarily devoted to the Northern Kingdom, (from my understanding), the whole of Israel would later go without a prophet in the land for nearly 400 years until Christ came so evidently Hosea’s warning was not limited to Judah. (I’m sure Bill knows more about this than I) In any case, Christ nowhere says that he had only come to reconcile the Northern Kingdom to God. Moreover, we are told the following by the Apostle Paul, who was raised at the feet of Gamaliel:
Or do you not know, brothers—for I am speaking to those who know the law—that the law is binding on a person only as long as he lives? For a married woman is bound by law to her husband while he lives, but if her husband dies she is released from the law of marriage. Accordingly, she will be called an adulteress if she lives with another man while her husband is alive. But if her husband dies, she is free from that law, and if she marries another man she is not an adulteress. Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.
“His reference to-those who know the law” is clearly a reference to all of the Jews, which I take to mean the 12 tribes. Maybe I’m mistaken. You see Paul, to my mind, is saying that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself (Jew and Gentile), (see 2 Corinthians 5:19), and he did so by bearing all our sin (Jew and Gentile) and dying on a cross. See Revelation 1:17(b)-18 (“”Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, and the living one; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.”). As the husband of every Jew had died, (those who knew the Law and were under it), Paul was telling the Jews they were now free to marry another, Jesus Christ, who was raised from the dead. It would not be adultery under the law, which they had been commanded to obey. All Jews outside Christ are now (spiritually speaking) widows. That is my understanding. Shalom.
Just one more thing. I may be wrong about this but this is my view. The preaching of the cross was, and still is, or at least should be, the principal offense against those outside of Christ. In the first century, the extreme persecution against Christians, particularly in the Jewish community, would have focused on identifying those who preached the cross and exhorted the preaching of the cross. So it is possible that their letters might attempt to conceal this facet of the religion in some way in order to avoid problems. It may well explain the rather crossless content of James’ letter. I may be wrong, but this is my view and I think James 1:27 backs me up and I will attempt to explain my understanding of it:
Unlike the Jews, whom I explained were (spiritually speaking) widows, the Gentiles were fatherless or orphans before Christ died (because they knew not God), and were then (and now) being called to be adopted into the family of God. This explains James 1:27 as an exhortation to go and preach the gospel (visit but don’t yoke yourself) to the Gentiles (orphans) and to the Jews (widows) in their affliction (outside Christ). That is the Great Commission of Christ (Mark 16:16; Acts 1:8) asnd only that can be considered the pure and undefiled religion in the sight of God the Father to which James is referring (in addition to being kind to widows and orphans). I mean really, would anyone hate, persecute or kill a person for building an orphanage or helping a widow? See Matthew 5:9-12; 10:22; 24:9; John 15:19. Shalom.
Wow, never even heard anything like that in Bible College…….but as not to put G-d in a little box. I will consider what you said.
James one of my favorite letters. Written to the 12 tribes scattered abroad. Written to G-d’s apple of His eye, G-d’s Israel. Great, letter! He is discussing a man watching what He says and if he can’t do that his religion is worthless. Then tells you what good religion is. I don’t much espouse to religion, it is a way for man to rule over other men with fear and false promises and foolishness.
G-d did not give us a religion, He gives us a way of life. It is a way to walk, for all His People. He only has one group of people, He didn’t decide to have one group over here and one group over there. Israel failed in it’s commission to be a light to the nations, they where split in 2 for disobedience sake. Those who where faithful, stayed true and kept the Torah true, for generations to follow. The law is nothing bad, and isn’t something we cannot do.
1Sa 15:22 Samuel said, “Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.
1Sa 15:23 “For rebellion is as the sin of divination, And insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has also rejected you from being king.”
So disobeying G-d is the same as being an idolater, rebellion as divination. Yeshua, (Jesus) said “Joh 14:15 “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.
Who do you think gave them? G-d is invisible. Who did Moses and the 70 elders see then? Who did Abraham walk with, who walked in the garden with Adam, if G-d is invisible? Think.
Col 1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
Gotta Love Paul, he is direct pulls no punches and I love his sarcasm. He is like Yeshua (Jesus) quite often. But here he just says it as it is. Yeshua (Jesus is the image of the invisible G-d.
Hope you had a blessed Passover, (Yeshuah) Jesus is our Passover Lamb. 1Co_5:7 Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. 1Co 5:8 Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Sorry about the delay to respond but we Saddar last night and where reading today about all that Messiah has done for us. He tells us to remember Him when we celebrate it. 1Co 11:24 and when He had given thanks, He broke it and said, “This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”
1Co 11:25 In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.”
1Co 11:26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.
The Apostle Paul’s quote about the marriage covenant is found in Romans 7:1-4. Forgive me. I’m a little tired. Shalom.
Is anything from G-d evil? Rom 7:14 For we know that the Law is spiritual, but I am of flesh, sold into bondage to sin.
Be aware that not all the verses in the NT have to do with the Law of G-d (Torah). There is the Law of Sin and Death…… that is not the Torah spoken there. That is back to Adam. Because one man sin, we all have a death penalty on us. There is the Dogma (man’s law, the law of the government, law of the church’s, law of the Pharisees’). So as anything else you must look at the context. You must also start at the beginning of the book for G-d says He never changes. His plan of salvation has always, always been the same. In Hebrews there is the call of all the righteous saved by faith, Abraham onward. “Man, (is) appointed, mortal, sorrow, (but) the blessed G-d, shall come down, teaching, his death shall bring, the despairing, rest. The meaning of the genealogical names from Adam to Noah.
His message never changed, the solution was always the only one it could be, that is why from the beginning He gave us the history and with in the history is prophecy, not just history. He says it if I remember correctly seven different times in Isaiah, this is one example. Isa 46:10 Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’;
In reality He tells us the end in the beginning. You will need to do a Hebrew study on the words in Hebrew to get the true meaning of it. So to know the end you must know the beginning. For example John 1:1 points to Genesis 1:1 to get you back to the very beginning. Yeshua (Jesus) never said he was the alpha and Omega, that is what they wrote in Greek, He spoke Hebrew. He said He was the Aleph Tav. When you look in the beginning in Genesis 1:1 the Aleph Tav stand next to each other all alone, right next to Elohim, creating everything. They say that the Aleph Tav when it stands alone is pointing to the direct object, but it is never translated and they don’t know why it is there, not really. Do you know why, because it is Him, the Messiah from the very beginning. To understand the NT you must understand the old. I know the party line you taught, I was taught it many years ago in Bible College. But I also know that G-d is True and His word is True and “Truth”. The Spirit will lead us into all Truth. Context is very important, knowing your author is very important. Knowing that nothing written past Deut. can contradict the Torah, or it is Translated wrong, or interpreted wrong. It is not just Jesus having to die so that the Jews can believe in Him the way you say, that is nonsense really. You could get laughed at big time for that one. The verse reads:
Deu 13:1 “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder,
Deu 13:2 and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’
Deu 13:3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
Deu 13:4 “You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him.
In other words if a prophet comes and tells you to do something other than keep G-d’s commandments even if the sign or wonder comes true, it is a test from G-d to see if you really love HIm. Do not believe the prophet he is false. To many Christians make Yeshua (Jesus) into a false prophet. Especially since the Jewish people read the NT the way they hear them teach it. Yeshua never spoke against Moses or the Prophets. He never told anyone to live differently. Neither did his disciples or apostles. Know the old and the NT does not contradict, everything makes sense and fits together perfectly.
Sorry I have gotten to long here. Shalom Daniel
It being Passover, and Feast of Unleavened Bread I cannot spend but a moment more on this and must return to the rest of the house. But I wanted share something with you really quick, about the day and time.
Did you know that Israel was saved from Egypt and the bondage of slavery and they didn’t have to do anything at all to be saved accept put their faith in the blood of the lamb that they put on their door posts. That is all they had to do. G-d then took them, after they put their faith in the blood of the lamb and brought them to Mt. Sinai and offered them the opportunity to be His people and made a covenant with them, because they agreed to it.
All Believers today have to do to be saved, is put their faith in the blood of the lamb. Joh 1:29 The next day he *saw Jesus coming to him and *said, “Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!
Then he makes us the same offer. If you love me keep my commandments and I will make you a kingdom of priests to G-d. Same language everything. May we all be faithful to be the light that He wanted to that the whole world would believe in Him and live.
I thank the Lord for your comments Cathy. I don’t think we disagree that much. I love the TORAH and am eager to learn more about the Jewish perspective and I am very grateful for what you have shared with me to date, truly I am. But my point is that if you have God’s Spirit dwellilng in you, God will make you understand TORAH and you will obey his commandments (though you will require correction and chastening) because the one who is working to will and to do his good pleasure in you is the spirit of his Son, crying Abba Father. See Psalm 89:29-37; Galatians 5:6; Philippians 2:13. This means that it is Christ in you who is doing the works, so that all the glory is God’s, not yours in any way shape or form. See Isaiah 42:8; 48:11. And you cannot lose your salvation once he has given it to you just because you aren’t keeping the law (though God will not suffer you to mock him). See John 10:28; 14:27; 1 Corinthians 11:30; Psalm 89:32. To think otherwise (that your law keeping saves you or makes you right with God) is to deny Christ! (It is actually the joy of knowing this simple fact that produces good works in the believer).
Certainly reading and meditating on the TORAH is convenient and edifying and you will be fruitful if you do so, (Psalm 1:1-3) but ultimately a Jew (a child of God) is inward and circumcision is of the heart, (Romans 2:29), and the outworking of that circumcision (the fruit of the Spirit) is love, mercy and compassion, not the observance of ordinances, rituals, feasts and sabbaths, which is precisely the fundamental point in James’ letter. See James 2:13. In fact, I am glad you brought up James’ comment about the tongue, for it proves my point. You will notice that James writes that NO MAN can tame the tongue, (James 3:8), NO MAN means NO MAN, so obviously only God can do that! From first to last (Aleph Tav) there is only one good Cathy, and that’s God! See Matthew 19:17. And he doesn’t share his glory with anyone. See Isaiah 42:8. This is my view. May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. 2 Peter 1:2. Shalom.
As I understand it, many of the Jewish sages taught that the greatest of all the mitzvot (commandments) is the very first commandment, “I am the LORD your God” Exodus 20:2(a). For if you know he is the LORD your God you will obey him. I would say, however, and you well know I am no sage, that the first commandment is not this one or even the commandment to love God, (which are not imperative but descriptive), but rather the first and greatest commandment is to HEAR/SHEMA!
If you listen carefully to Jesus’ teaching, it is really a restatement of the Shema in Deuteronomy 6:4:5. A scribe asked Jesus:
“… “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. AND you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’” Mark 12:28-30 (emphasis supplied).
As you can see Christ said this is the most important commandment, (singular), so if loving God is the commandment, then hearing would be less so, or not a commandment, but does that make sense? I think that if you look at the phrase carefully you can see that loving your God with all your heart soul mind and strength is really just the RESULT of the most important commandment: right HEARING, not the other way around. This interpretation is backed up by loads of scripture. See Deuteronomy 29:4; 30:6; Isaiah 6:10; Mark 9:7; Luke 10:38-42; John 6:63, 15:3; Romans 10:17, 11:8; Galatians 3:2,5; Hebrews 3:15, 4:2; James 1:21. I mean, didn’t God speak the world and everything in it into existence? See Genesis 1:3, 6, 11, 20, 24; John 1:1-2. (There is something more to be said about the second commandment, which is like it because I believe it affects how you hear, Luke 7:46-48; James 1:21), but I don’t have time to go into it here.). Shalom.
To who may concern:
From all my readings trying to explain the letters and speechs by Paul, I can see that is a big matter at sight: to each one, the piece that may belongs. So, we can see to Galatians, a part, to Laodicey, other, and so. All that because each people has its own way to understand and see the things. But Jesus did show the real meaning of all the commandments is: Love is all over the Law itself, because the Law was done to learn to a people almost wild(because slavery). By the other hand, I have always known that “sabbat” means “rest” not “saturday”, in this way, also could be translated as”sunday”(rest for western world) . Remember: in those days, not everybody knew how to read, that was the root and reason for oral Law. Best for you.
Never read clearer explanations of the laws and the Jews, Gentiles and Chrisrians. Wonderful explanation. Congratulation!
Very good article. It does a very good job explaining who the covenant of Sinai was for.
Eric, There are many faces in the Messianic ranks. I would guess the vast majority do not believe Gentiles should “keep the law.”
Paul did not remove the weight of the oral law. In fact as Saul that is what he did. Jesus’ teachings were very much pharisaical and would have included the oral law. So you are saying Paul taught the opposite.
Jews understand the Sinai covenant was for them. They are rightfully angered when a group of Gentile Christians try to steal it and say they too are obligated.
If you read again, I have not said ever Paul removed the oral law but the Power of the Oral law that’s different! I haven’t used ever the speech “SHOULD”, because all who WANT to live into the Torah, can do it!
Jews have no reason to be angry with this point, but happy! (Goyim finally can understand so they are not a bad race! 🙂 )
In light of the Bible, particularly the book of Hebrews, which indicates God’s desire to “write His law in our hearts,” and as one who enjoys and sees the Ten Commandments as an expression of love to God and man, I definitely agree with the concept of the Ten Commandments applying to all mankind. Most laws of Moses point forward to Christ and have been fulfilled – therefore most do not apply today [Matthew 5:17; compare the annual yearly holy days/Sabbaths, animal sacrifices, meat and drink offerings, circumcision and other rituals of the Torah, especially Leviticus 23, with Colossians 2:11-17, Galatians and Hebrews 8-10].
However, all of God’s laws contain wonderful concepts that can be a blessing to humanity. The blessing is in embracing God’s laws as written in the Bible, untainted by man-made tradition. The Ten Commandment law shows us how to love God and our fellow men, our neighbor; it identifies what sin is — “Sin is the transgression of the law.” [1 John 3:4] and that “I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet… Wherefore the law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good.” [Romans 7:7, 12].
I also believe that the weekly Sabbath is included, as special time to rest and spend with God, a privilege and blessing for Jews and Gentiles [Isaiah 56:1-7 and 66:19, 22-23] as well as the other 10 Commandments. The weekly Sabbath was blessed at Creation for humanity [Genesis 2:1-3] long before the existence of even Abraham. And in the New Testament we have this passage in Hebrews 4:9, “There remaineth therefore a rest [from the Greek word, ‘sabbatismos’] to the people of God.”
The New Testament has numerous passages indicating that the people of God will show love by keeping his commandments, such as “If you love me, keep my commandments,” [John 14:15] and “And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments. He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected.” 1 John 2:3-5. “By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.” 1 John 5:2, 3. If I love my neighbor, I will not commit adultery or kill him [James 2:8-12]! “Blessed are they that do his commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and enter into the gates, into the city.” Revelation 22:14. God’s saints are described as those who keep God’s commandments. “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” Revelation 14:12.
Love is the basis of the Ten Commandments. God is love, and the children of God will desire to reflect that love, and joyfully embrace guidelines on how to love God and neighbor.
“For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. And if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Galatians 3:26-29.
Some laws are part of the Old Covenant and have been fulfilled by Christ [again, compare Leviticus 23; Matthew 5:17; Colossians 2; and Hebrews 4-10, especially 8:1-7, 10, 13; 10:1-18; etc.]; some laws are part of the New Covenant that God wants to write on our hearts [Hebrews 8:10 and 10:16]. These simple, beautiful laws show us how to love God and our neighbor and are a perpetual covenant and blessing to all.
Dear D Mcdonald.
Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least IN THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. Matthew 5:19 (emphasis supplied).
For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all. James 2:10
And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live. Deuteronomy 30:6.
We are unable to keep the whole of the law, (Romans 2:1;3:9-10), which is what is required by the law (Deut. 27:26; James 2:10), so Christ kept the law and by his spirit which is joined to ours by faith in his gospel, which is the gracious gift of God, (and not of our works), we are imputed his righteousness. See 1 Corinthians 6:17; Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 4:11, 22-24. He also does the sanctifying and the glorifying. John 17:17; Romans 8:29-30. In sum, he is the LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. Jeremiah 23:6.
If I could explain it another way, I would say the following: we are told by our Lord that “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” john 4:24.. But this, our Lord also informs us, is his work, and not ours. See John 6:28-29. Only when one is born again of God, and not of the will of man,, (John 1:13), can he or she can say: “For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh.” Phiippians 3:3. We cannot circumcise our own hearts, nor give ourselves ears to hear, nor eyes to see, nor a heart to understand, and neither can anyone keep the whole of the law and not offend in any one point: Only Christ could keep the law perfectly and so God sent him to do so on our behalf. Christ alone will be called THE GREATEST in heaven while every other saint will be called the least. See Matthew 5:19.
Witness the crowns being cast at the foot of his throne in worship. See Revelation 4:10-11. Shalom.
Daniel, very well said.
It’s clear to me that the law of Moses was necessary in order to keep the bloodline pure for the coming of the Messiah. Although no one but the Messiah could keep the law perfectly, striving for “righteousness” was so important to the Jews and such a big part of their walk with the Lord and determined their salvation before the coming of the Lord. Even though salvation is not obtained by keeping the Law or by striving to keep the Law in this administration, when we live our lives loving God with all our heart , soul and strength, and love others as ourselves, we can fulfill what the Lord requires for the garlands and awards that we can obtain to lay at the feet of our Lord. (I would love, by the way, to hear Dr. Eli teach on the five crowns available to each believer and shed some wonderful Jewish light on the subject). In this administration, salvation comes by grace, not works, lest any man should boast. There is a great deal of the scriptures the non-Jewish background church of today miss because of our failure to study or be taught the the Law of Moses and the appointed times , the feasts and Sabbaths. The scriptures say the old covenant is for our learning and there is a great deal to be learned. For instance, Colossians 2:16 “Let no man disturb you about food or about drink or in the distinctions of feasts and beginnings of months and Sabbaths, (17) Because these things are shadows of those things that were future, but The Messiah is the body.” makes it very clear that the old covenant is but a foreshadow of the new. This translation happens to be a translation from the “Aramaic Bible in Plain English”.
We know, as students of the God’s word, that is it absolutely essential that the reader determine “to whom” a particular Scripture is addressed. Not every verse in the Bible is to be applied to every person in every age. For example, we do not sacrifice animals today because the verses commanding that are not addressed to us. As Christians, we must be careful to note those Scriptures that are addressed to us in this age and distinguish them from those not addressed to us. Even though we can learn from the entire Bible, we are not necessarily to obey every
command in it as some of it it obviously no longer addressed to us. Clearly, in this Grace administration things have changed and according to Galatians 3:28 in the Church there is neither Jew nor Greek (Gentile) , but the Church of God (a new man). When Christ, Jesus returns for the Church, the administration of Grace will end, as Christ will have returned for the saints under this administration. Administrations (sometimes called “Dispensations”) must be divided accurately, and basic changes in God’s dealings with man discerned. These changes affect God’s commandments and what is and is not sin, dietary restrictions, the regulations of civil government, the mode of worship, financial giving, Church leadership, etc. Because of differing expectations, commandments, etc. ,interpretation and application of Scripture must be determined in light of to whom each section of Scripture is addressed, whether it be Jews, Gentiles, or the Church of God (1 Cor. 10:32).. To whom a particular book is addressed must be noted; sometimes this can change even in the middle of a particular passage (e.g., Rom. 11:13). Excerpts taken from How to Eliminate Apparent Bible Contradictions by tltf.org and Scripture quotations marked (YLT) are taken from Young’s Literal Translation, by Robert Young, 1898.
I think it’s important to note that Torah observant Jews refer to the “called out” as “ekklesia” Galatians 4:4 and Romans 15:8 . In order to effectually minister to a new believer, however, we are called to give no offence or refrain from saying and doing things that may still be considered offensive to anyone as described in 1 Corin. 8:18 and again in 1 Corin 10:32. According to Galatians 3:28 , in the Church there is neither Jew nor Greek (Gentile). We are now called to form one new man with Christ as the head. In Ephes 2:14-16 Paul wrote that God’s purpose in sending His son to die for us was to create one new man. We are indeed new creatures altogether in Christ with one gospel and one truth. Christ came to fulfill the Law as the law was but a foreshadow of what was to come. Because of the liberty we have in Christ, we are not required to keep the feast days and such, but it behooves us to know the appointed times, feast days and all the significance of the scriptures that foreshadow the greatness of Christ. God established His feasts for Israel as reminders of His plan throughout the year and the prophetic foreshadowing of these appointed times should be regularly studied as we have the liberty to celebrate them as we chose. Certainly, most non Jewish believers know that the Passover meal with its various aspects point to the
coming of the Messiah, but it should be a responsibility of the Jewish believers today to help teach the gentile believers the great truths of the significance of these appointed times, not to “put them again under the law” so to speak, but help them fully understand the scriptures. All but two of the appointed times have come to pass and that fact that these feasts are not at very least studied by the believers as a whole today is a great disservice to our Lord and causes a great deal of misunderstanding of the scriptures. I believe the evil organised political landscape around the 300 AD period caused the “religious leaders” of that time to separate the church from it’s roots. There has been a great deal of ignorance in the teaching of the scriptures since that time.
I’m glad to have opportunity to state my view on this very important topic. In revelation we have the testimony of the New Jerusalem, which comes from heaven. The New City has 12 gates by names the tribe of Israel. So Israel as the chosen nation will completely fulfill God’s will of salvation because we see that no one is missing. God never, never changes. So that his promises and convenant given to Israel will remain forever.
More over apostle Paul says that it is through the salvation of the Gentiles provoke the jealousy of his first and always chosen people and thus attract to Himself. ( by prophet Hosea)
But who is Israel?
Ruth was moabite but she said to her mother in law, „your God is my God and your people are my people“ and become the grandmother of King David.
Whoever is in the Old Testament was a slave or a servant in a Jewish family and he wanted to obey the faith of their masters were allowed.
So alreday, and than the Kingdom was made up of Jews and non Jews who have come together to celebrate one God and practiced the Torah.
When apostle Paul speaks of circumcision according to the flash he is not reversed but it adds the circumcision by faith what becomes the way in wich the Gentiles share the inheritance with Israel. But Gentiles entered the heritage of Israel only because of disobedience one part of Israel who didn’t respond to God’s call.
The Gentiles should be grateful fot that disobedience because it became their opportunity and not to strive to raise above to gentle branches that naturally receive all of God’s promises.
The Torah is God’s means of education for the sons. It is no wonder the desire of the Gentiles to devote Torah because in Yeshua thay received adoption.
The Law will not save the man but saved man wants to live according the God’s Law in order to enjoy God’s favor. If the Jews are jelaous of it that’s a good sign because it is God’s intention.
I think this way. The olive tree can not bring pears, so if the root is olive than the whole tree is olive. The same is, according to God’s plan, Israel, whole and complete only when Jews and Gentiles come together, united in Jeshua, to represente God’s kingdom on earth. So God is one, Jeshua is one and Law is one for God’s people whether they are Jews or Gentiles.
Shalom and Shavua Tov !
Wonderful!! that’s correct! 🙂
You mention the 12 gates having the names of the 12 tribes written on them. Do you realize the 12 pearls that are the gates represent the Church, which is Gentile! This understanding comes from a Hebraic understanding of the two parables in Mtt 13 on the treasure and the pearl. Hence the New Jerusalem is made up of ALL people who are in covenant relationship with Yehovah through Messiah.