Why Would The Nations Want The Torah?umja.net/ESW/Files/WhyWouldTh آ  Why Would The Nations Want The

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  • WWhhyy WWoouulldd TThhee NNaattiioonnss WWaanntt TThhee TToorraahh?? AAnndd,, wwhhyy wwoouulldd tthhee JJeewwiisshh ppeeooppllee wwaanntt tthhee NNaattiioonnss ttoo hhaavvee tthhee TToorraahh??

    by Rabbi Reuel Dillon

    As I have spoken to various leaders and people within the Messianic community over the years, specifically those who can be described as not being supportive of non-Jewish believers living a Torah life, I often hear the question; "Why would a Gentile want to keep the Torah?". This is often said as if it was only a burden incumbent upon someone who is physically Jewish. And although they themselves, being Jewish, see it as something that they have some kind of a responsibility to keep, their question betrays the fact that they do see it as a burden, and not as something that would be desirable for those who they feel have a choice to opt out.

    I believe this type of thinking, the thought that the Torah has nothing positive or beneficial to offer the non-Jewish believer, is a major stumbling block to the calling for both Jew and those from the Nations to become one new man, as we are exhorted to in Ephesians 2. Ephesians 2:12-15 states the following about those from the nations who were coming to faith in Messiah Yeshua. It says that they, "at that time had no Messiah. You were estranged from the national life of Yisra'el. You were foreigners to the covenants embodying God's promise. You were in this world without hope and without God. But now, you who were once far off have been brought near through the shedding of the Messiah's blood. For he himself is our shalom - he has made us both one and has broken down the m'chitzah (wall) which divided us by destroying in his own body the enmity occasioned by the Torah, with its commands set forth in the form of ordinances, that He might in Himself create the two into one new man, and thus make shalom".

    I believe the point of this passage is to tell us when it comes to our worship and drawing close to Adonai, much like in the Beit HaMikdash (Holy Temple), there was a wall that separated Jew and Gentile. It was a man-made wall that separated God's people, which could be seen as representing mad-made ordinances, which were said to be inspired from the Torah, but some of these man-made ordinances separated Jewish believers from Gentile believers. In Messiah Yeshua the wall that separates believing Jews from non-Jews is supposed to come down. For us to discourage the nations from crossing the line that leads to the Torah...we once again build up the wall that separated us. The text says of the believing Nations, "You were estranged from the national life of Yisra'el". When Messianic

  • Jewish believers in the greater Messianic community present the Torah as either off-limits or as non-desirable to those of the believing Nations it serves to violate the exhortation as found in Ephesians chapter two and causes those from the Nations to truly be "...estranged from the national life of Yisra'el".

    But, our text clearly says in Ephesians 2:19, "...you are no longer foreigners and strangers. On the contrary, you are fellow-citizens with God's people and members of God's family". The problem is, when Messianic Jewish leaders and Messianic Jewish believers in the movement communicate to their non-Jewish brothers and sisters who come into our synagogues, or who are being called to a Torah life, that either the Torah is not for them or that it is not a desirable thing...in communicating this they cause our non-Jewish brothers and sisters to truly feel like foreigners and strangers and cause them to feel "estranged from the national life of Yisra'el". The question is, how can one be immersed in the national life of Yisra'el while being disconnected to a Torah life as a life of spiritual expression, worship, and culture? I would like to share an account of a brother whose origin is from the Nations. Once he entered into a local Messianic Jewish congregation in our area and because of his Torah conviction he was wearing tzitziyot (the Biblical fringes). The congregational leader there noticed it and quickly stopped the brother and questioned him as to where he thought he was, and what he thought they were about, and pointed out his tzitziyot and said that for him, that is - a non-Jewish person, to wear tzitziyot in their congregation "was like him wandering into the women's bathroom"... Could you imagine how foreign and strange that made this brother feel amongst a people who he was supposed to be a "fellow-citizen" with? And, from much of my experience, I believe that this is characteristic of too many leaders and congregations within the greater Messianic Jewish community. Thus, this is one of the reasons for the existence of the United Messianic Jewish Assembly (UMJA). One of our purposes as a growing assembly of Messianic congregations and ministries is to never make those from the Nations who are taking hold of Messiah and the commonwealth of Yisra'el to feel like strangers, but to welcome them in as fellow-citizens, and not as second class citizens, as we learn to become one new man.

    When Messianic Jewish leaders and community members cause those from the Nations to feel like strangers through these type of actions it frustrates the plans and goals of The Messiah himself. For in Yochanan (John) 10:14-16 Yeshua The Messiah states, "I am the good shepherd; I know my own, and my own know me -- just as the Father knows me, and I know the Father -- and I lay down my life on behalf of the sheep. Also I have other sheep which are not from this pen; I need to bring them, and they will hear my voice; and there will be one flock, one shepherd". So, Messiah also communicates this concept of "one new man" when he speaks of "one flock". This one flock follows this one Shepherd wherever he goes and in whatever he does. And, it just so happens that this Shepherd is a Jewish Rabbi, who lives and teaches a life of Torah. As is falsely claimed, there is not "the church" and "the Jewish people" as two separate groups. Messiah says that there is to be only one flock, and as Rav Sha'ul communicates, this combined group of people will make up the Yisra'eli commonwealth.

  • So again, as we take into account the context of our passage in Ephesians, one can see that doctrines that create a separation between the two flocks and the two groups of people is a major issue and stumbling block to Jew and Gentile moving forward as one new man, or if you will, one new sheep. And, as we can see from our scripture passage, this one new man is characterized as not being "estranged from the national life of Yisra'el" and not being "foreigners to the covenants". Quite to the contrary they are described as being immersed in the national life of Yisra'el and described as being members of Yisra'el's covenants. This is what the "one new man" of Ephesians 2 looks like.

    Furthermore, we shouldn't be surprised to learn that this "one new man" looks like Yeshua The Messiah. As disciples of The Master, whether we are Jew or Gentile, our goal is to look like him and be like him. As we continue to read the book of Ephesians in context it further expounds upon what this "new man" is suppose to look like. Ephesians chapter 4 exhorts our leaders to build the body of Messiah into what the "one new man" is supposed to look like. Indeed, this is the purpose of our conference. Ephesians 4:12-16 states, "Their task is to equip God's people for the work of service that builds the body of the Messiah, until we all arrive at the unity implied by trusting and knowing the Son of God, at full manhood, at the standard of maturity set by the Messiah's perfection. We will then no longer be infants tossed about by the waves and blown along by every wind of teaching, at the mercy of people clever in devising ways to deceive. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in every respect grow up into him who is the head, the Messiah. Under his control, the whole body is being fitted and held together by the support of every joint, with each part working to fulfill its function; this is how the body grows and builds itself up in love".

    As we continue to read, Ephesians 4:17-18 it tells us that the "one new man" doesn't look or act like a Gentile or as one from the Nations. What does it say? Rav Sha'ul (Paul) says, "...indeed, in union with the Lord I insist on it: do not live any longer as the pagans (Gentiles - Greek root "ethnos") live, with their sterile ways of thinking. Their intelligence has been shrouded in darkness, and they are estranged from the life of God, because of the ignorance in them, which in turn comes from resisting God's will". Again, notice how he links the two passages with the phrase "they are estranged from the life of God", which Ephesians chapter 2:12 says is "the national life of Yisra'el". So, to encourage those from the Nations to continue to live as "Gentiles", and not as fellow-citizens amongst the commonwealth of Yisra'el, being estranged from the National life of Yisra'el, is totally contrary to the concept of becoming "one new man".

    With that being said, other than not wanting to feel like strangers amongst the commonwealth of The Kingdom of Heaven...why would believers in Messiah amongst the Nations want to live a Torah life? Although, a sense of obligation is an important motivation, the question is...why would the Nations want the Torah? This is in response to the semantic argument that says, "I don't know why a Gentile would want to keep the Torah". What possible benefit or advantage could be obtained? As I mentioned before, the one asking this question betrays a deeper problem within some of the Messianic Jewish community