JEW AND GENTILE, ONE IN MESSIAH, 19.11.17
All Scriptures from Tree of Life (TLV) Translation of the Bible. Copyright © 2015 by The Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society.
This writing is based on a revised integration of Part 1 and Part 2 of the Study Topic, “Both Jew and Gentile, One in Messiah,” https://www.vernasstudycorner.ca/2017/11/jew-gentile-one-messiah-part-1-15-11-17/ https://www.vernasstudycorner.ca/2017/11/jew-gentile-one-messiah-part-2-16-11-17/
Rabbi Cal Goldberg, Beth Shechinah Congregation, Message From The Bema, 28.10.17, Lekh Lekha: Go Forth! Two Covenants, Posted on 31 Oct 2017, Pastor: Rabbi Calev Goldberg
Credit for much of the content of this writing belongs to Rabbi Cal Goldberg, for it largely draws on and encapsulates the Message From The Bema, by Rabbi Calev Goldberg, Rabbi at Beth Shechinah Congregation in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, given on October 28, 2017, posted on October 31, 2017, available for reference as per link above. In line with the focus of One New Man, my goal is to draw on the strength of Rabbi Cal’s expertise, as well as his anointed teaching, a very powerful and much-needed message – a message which would assist in bridge-building between Jew/Gentile believers in Messiah.
From Abraham God birthed a Jewish people/nation; and through Abraham was birthed all adopted sons and daughters of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, for “you are all sons of God through trusting in Messiah Yeshua. For all of you who were immersed in Messiah have clothed yourselves with Messiah. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female—for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua. And if you belong to Messiah, then you are Abraham’s seed—heirs according to the promise” (Gal.3:26-29); and “if children, also heirs—heirs of God and joint-heirs with Messiah—if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him” (Rom.8:17).
“Abraham was not Jewish; he was a Gentile. . . . . from Adam to Abraham, there were no Jewish people. It was God’s plan to take a man and create a nation, and to take one nation, and redeem the world,” states Rabbi Cal Goldberg; “No man is more respected in faith than the man, Abraham, the founder and father of the nation of Israel” (Goldberg, Message From the Bema, 28.10.17). Upon this foundation was built our faith in Messiah, whether Jew or Gentile.
“Get going out from your land, and from your relatives, and from your father’s house, to the land that I will show you. My heart’s desire is to make you into a great nation, to bless you, to make your name great so that you may be a blessing. My desire is to bless those who bless you, but whoever curses you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth will be blessed. So Abram went, just as Adonai had spoken to him” (Gen. 12:1-4), the Abrahamic Covenant, the most important Covenant in all the Torah, the foundation for all future covenants. We can see how the promises encased within this covenant, include both Jew and Gentile believers right from the beginning. Afterall, Abraham was not yet considered a Jew; he was a Gentile. Secondly, within the covenant promise are the words, “My desire is to bless those who bless you . . . . in you all the families of the earth will be blessed” which intends for the promises to be extended to those who would bless Abraham and his descendants.
God promises that Abraham’s barren wife, Sarah, will have a son, even at her old age: “I am the Lord! There is nothing too difficult for me. I’ll come back next year at the time I promised, and Sarah will already have a son” (Gen.18:14). But Sarah became impatient and decided to take matters into her own hands, using her maid, Hagar, as a surrogate mother, “So Sarai said to Abram, “Look now, Adonai has prevented me from having children. Go, please, to my slave-girl. Perhaps I’ll get a son by her” (Gen.16:2). Of course we know that Sarah soon gave birth to her own son, Isaac, the son of promise.
Out of this came the conflicted situation of Isaac and Ishmael, which continues today. “What we see in the natural is a picture of what is happening in the spiritual realm . . . . there is constant conflict between the children of God and the children of darkness . . . . and there is a constant battle between the flesh and the Spirit, a battle of the mind, every day of our lives,” teaches Goldberg, Rabbi of Calgary’s only Messianic Congregation, Beth Shechinah. “Those who live according to the Ruach set their minds on the things of the Ruach. For the mindset of the flesh is death, but the mindset of the Ruach is life and shalom. For the mindset of the flesh is hostile toward God, for it does not submit itself to the law of God—for it cannot. So those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Rom.8:5-8).
21 Tell me, you who want to be under Torah, don’t you understand the Torah?
22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by the slave woman and one by the free woman.
23 But one—the son by the slave woman—was born naturally; while the other—the son by the free woman—was through the promise.
24 Now these things are being treated allegorically, for these are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, giving birth to slavery—this is Hagar.
25 But this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery along with her children.
26 But the Jerusalem above is free—she is our mother.
27 For it is written:
“Rejoice, O barren woman
who bears no children.
Break forth and shout,
you who suffer no labor pains.
For more are the children of the desolate
than of the one who has a husband.”
Goldberg says of the above set of passages: “Traditionally this allegory has been wrongly interpreted. . . . Most believers believe that Paul is speaking about law and grace . . . that Hagar represents the law/Torah, which leads man into bondage; that Sarah and Isaac represent the covenant of grace which leads us into freedom. It places Torah and Grace in opposition to one another.” He explains the extent of these errors: “Most christians today teach that the Torah was in effect until Messiah came, and then it was abolished. As Messianic believers we find this very disturbing . . . we battle with this all the time, because it contradicts the Word of Yeshua Who said He did not come to abolish the Torah but to fulfill it. And this view contradicts many other passages in the Bible that say that Torah is everlasting,” as in “You have been born again—not from perishable seed but imperishable—through the living and enduring word of God. For, “All humanity is like grass, And all its glory like a wildflower. The grass withers, and the flower falls off, But the word of the Lord endures forever” (1 Pet.1:23-25). Goldberg is quick to point out that Peter’s statements were based on the Words from Torah, for there was not, as yet, a New Testament.
“Then why the Torah? It was added because of wrongdoings until the Seed would come—to whom the promise had been made” (Gal.3:19). This Scripture is often misunderstood, also, declares Goldberg: “The Torah was given to point us to our sin and to point us to Messiah.” Counter to the teaching by most christians, that since Messiah has come, the Law is no longer required, for Messiah is the end of the law, interpreted from: “Messiah is the goal of the Torah as a means to righteousness for everyone who keeps trusting” (Rom.10:4).
From Yeshua’s own Words/Prayer, we clearly see the Father’s heart for all believers to be unified, to be rooted as One in Messiah:
20 “I pray not on behalf of these only, but also for those who believe in Me through their message,
21 that they all may be one. Just as You, Father, are in Me and I am in You, so also may they be one in Us, so the world may believe that You sent Me.
22 The glory that You have given to Me I have given to them, that they may be one just as We are one—
23 I in them and You in Me—that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me and loved them as You loved Me.
If it is God’s Heart for all believers to be one with each other and one with/in Him, how is it that there is so much distrust, misunderstanding, and division – such a gap between the two groups? How this breach must grieve the Father’s heart! What accounts for all these misunderstandings and divisions?
“Now I am saying, so long as the heir is underage, he is no different from a slave, even though he is the owner of everything.
2 Instead, he is under guardians and managers until the date set by the father.
3 So also, when we were underage, we were subservient to the basic principles of the world.
4 But when the fullness of time came, God sent out His Son, born of a woman and born under law—
5 to free those under law, so we might receive adoption as sons.
6 Now because you are sons, God sent the Ruach of His Son into our hearts, who cries out, “Abba! Father!”
7 So you are no longer a slave but a son—and if a son, also an heir through God.
Goldberg (Oct. 28, 2017 Message From The Bema) teaches: “Paul is speaking here that the Torah is like a Guardian or Custodian/Protector; until such time as Messiah would come . . . . . the Messiah did not redeem the Jewish people from the Torah, but He redeemed them from sin and exile . . .. … He delivered us from condemnation but not from the obligation to be obedient to the Word of God, to the Torah.” He points out that, “For 2,000 years, believers, for the most part have interpreted Galatians four in a way that is anti-Jewish.”
When Paul says: “So how can you turn back again to those weak and worthless principles? Do you want to be enslaved to them all over again? You observe days and months and seasons and years. I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain!” (Gal.4:9-11), it is viewed by many as an admonishment for keeping the feasts and holy times, including Shabbat. “That would mean,” Goldberg explains, “that Paul viewed the celebration of the feasts/festivals as a backwards move, as bondage, placing the Torah into the same category as idolatry, equating it to a weak, worthless idol.” To think that Paul would teach against feasts or Torah, when in Rom.7:12, Paul says: “So then, the Torah is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good,” makes no sense at all. James also gives validation to Torah: “But the one who looks intently into the perfect Torah, the Torah that gives freedom . . . shall be blessed in what he does” (James 1:25).
“It is important to understand the context within which Paul is speaking. . . he is speaking to Gentiles . . . rebuking some of the God-fearing Gentiles. There were two types of Gentiles,” explains Goldberg: the God-fearing believers who participated in the Synagogues, and the proselytes who underwent circumcision, converting to Jews. “Paul is speaking to the God-fearing Gentiles, showing them that the days, months, and seasons which they were keeping were not part of the Jewish calendar. He was not speaking about the Jewish calendar, but addressing the pagan calendar with its pagan practices,” for these Gentile believers came from the Roman culture, in which they had participated in the worship of many pagan gods. They were now attempting to live in both worlds to avoid persecution (much as today’s christian population). Paul was concerned that they would become re-entangled in the pagan world, and all his teaching, mentoring, and discipling would be for naught.
Gentiles were required by Roman law to participate in/keep the pagan calendar/holidays, from which the Jews were exempt. Thus, it was especially difficult for Gentiles to become followers of a Jewish Messiah. “It was not easy for a Gentile to become a believer in that day. They had to learn new customs, culture, leaving gods and idols behind . . . . . But after 2,000 years the shoe is on the other foot,” says Goldberg; “the roles have totally reversed. Now when a Jewish person comes to faith, he is told he can no longer be Jewish, that he must become a christian, deny his Jewish identity, and identify with the church, and not the Synagogue; that the Torah has been done away with, that the Church has replaced Israel, and all God’s promises to Israel now belong to the church .. . . Can you see why it would be difficult to convince a Jewish person to believe that Yeshua is Messiah? The history of the church has not been kind to Jewish people; many of our people have been persecuted . . . that’s why the birth of the Messianic Movement today is part of God’s plan to restore the true meaning of the “One New Man,” and what it means to be grafted into the olive tree, to be ambassadors of reconciliation between Jewish and Gentile believers to correct wrong theology of the church.”
Goldberg continues, explaining that “Paul gave this parable to teach Gentiles that they didn’t need to become legally Jewish to receive salvation. They don’t have to be circumcised and obey the Torah in order to be saved. In fact, no one is saved by the Torah, it’s all a work of Grace” (Goldberg, Message from the Bema, October 28, 2017). In summary, Goldberg’s elaboration of “The standard christian interpretation of this allegory” include:
(1) Sarah and Hagar represent two different covenants; (2) Hagar and Ishmael represent Torah and Old Covenant; (3) Sarah represents the New Covenant/Gospel; (4) observing the Old Covenant is being legalistic and is bondage; (5) Christianity is good, a message of grace and freedom; (6) Torah = slavery; (7) the Gospel = freedom; (8) Jews are in bondage; (9) christians are free. “In this allegory Paul was not contrasting Jews against Gentiles, or Jews and christians. He was not talking about Jews at all. He used the Isaac and Ishmael analogy to contrast the two different types of Gentile believers. He was referring to the Gentiles under the Law (those who felt they had to convert to Judaism), and commending the ones who were not willing to undergo this conversion process” (Goldberg, Oct. 28, 2017).
This set of passages has been severely misunderstood: “Paul was actually commending the Gentile believers who were not willing to go through this conversion process, because it was not necessary . . . he likened them to Isaac who is a child of the Covenant Promise . . . those believers who were going through the process to become Jewish were likened to Ishmael” (Goldberg, Oct. 28,2017). Paul was attempting to straighten out erroneous assumptions, understandings, expectations, and prevent unnecessary strife and division, while promoting unity. What was important for the Gentile believers to understand was that: (a) salvation came through faith in the Covenant Promise; and (2) “God would bless all the nations, not just one, through the seed of Abraham, because (3) circumcision of the heart is the most important thing” (Goldberg, Oct. 28, 2017).
“If you are a Jewish believer, you are blessed; whereas, if you are a Gentile believer you are part of the people of God, adopted, grafted in, but still maintaining your own identity. Those Gentiles enter the family of Abraham by faith, This is a really important issue in the Messianic Congregation today as we see Jewish and Gentile believers coming together. We each have our own calling, and God wants us to maintain our own identity and fulfill our own unique calling. There is as much misunderstanding in the christian community as there is in the Jewish Community” (Goldberg, Oct. 28, 2017).
May all of God’s people cross that threshold of understanding, and truly unite to form that “One New Man,” for we are to be “one in Messiah:”
“But now in Messiah Yeshua, you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah.
14 For He is our shalom, the One who made the two into one and broke down the middle wall of separation. Within His flesh He made powerless the hostility—
15 the law code of mitzvot contained in regulations. He did this in order to create within Himself one new man from the two groups, making shalom,
16 and to reconcile both to God in one body through the cross” (Eph.2:13-16).
© 2017 by Verna Crowther. All rights reserved.
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Copyright (c) 2017 by Verna Crowther. All rights reserved.