JEW AND GENTILE, ONE IN MESSIAH, PART 2, 06.12.18
Tree of Life (TLV) Translation of the Bible. Copyright © 2015 by The Messianic Jewish Family Bible Society.
Message From The Bema, “Lekh Lekha: Go Forth! Two Covenants,” by Rabbi Cal Goldberg, Beth Shechinah, Calgary AB, Canada, Oct. 28, 2017, posted Oct. 31, 2017.
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 such division amongst them all? How this breach must grieve the Father’s heart . . . .
“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 Gal. 4 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 anything against 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, that the Torah has been done away with, that the Church has replaced Israel.. . . Can you see why it is not easy 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, October 28, 2017). Summarizing Goldberg’s elaboration of “The standard christian interpretation of this allegory,” are the following points: (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 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 misunderstandings, erroneous assumptions, 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; and 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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