Are We Messianic?

Because we believe that all of the Bible is for today, some people erroneously think we are “Messianic,” that is, part of Messianic Judaism, or, perhaps even, Seventh Day Adventists (SDA).  But we are not.  Although we believe the writings of the Bible, and that it was God who gave to us the 7th-day Sabbath and the biblical feasts, as well as the rest of His commandments, this does NOT mean that we belong to any of these groups.  We are not Seventh-Day Adventists, nor are we “Jewish,” nor are we “Jewish-wanna-be’s,” but we are a CHRISTIAN WHOLE BIBLE MINISTRY, which means that we literally believe that ALL of the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is for all people today.

WHY I AM NOT “MESSIANIC”?

One of the main reasons why I am not “Messianic” is because I believe God’s plan is to establish His KINGDOM down here on earth, not a RELIGION.  And I am using the word KINGDOM in its full range of meaning: something, political, historical, social, cultural, and yes, spiritual.  I do not mean that God’s KINGDOM is just a “spiritual KINGDOM.”   But a KINGDOM in the full meaning of the word.  Referring to it as a “spiritual KINGDOM,” I believe restricts the full, intended meaning of the word.

Jesus spent His years of ministry proclaiming “the good news of the KINGDOM of God,” NOT the “good news of the RELIGION of God.”  In essence, the difference between a KINGDOM and a RELIGION is that in a KINGDOM, the KING (God) is in control; whereas, in a RELIGION, people are in control.  And it should be noted that those in “Messianic Judaism” define themselves as a “RELIGION,” just as “Christianity” defines itself as a “RELIGION.”  I feel that Rabbinic Judaism, Messianic Judaism and Christianity have all committed the same two errors:

  • they took an intended KINGDOM, and they changed it into a RELIGION; and
  • they have either added and/or deleted from God’s commandments, in violation to Deuteronomy 4:2 and Deuteronomy 12:32.

For example, Rabbinic Jews have substituted the Talmud and Rabbinic teachings for God’s Torah in the Tanakh (Scriptures), just as many in Christianity has either deleted all of the Old Testament or substantial portions of it in the lives of its members, or they have added their denominational views and ideas to the New Testament.  Messianic Jews have likewise done their adding and/or deleting as well.  For example, they teach that their adherence to the laws and commandments in the Five Books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) is strictly for religious cultural reasons, and that their observance of the Torah is what makes them “Jewish.”

But this to me is contradictory, since Rabbinic Judaism, and some Messianic Jews, teach the following Jewish Midrash:

The Torah was given in public for all to see, in the open.  For if it had been given in the land of Israel, Israel would have said to the nations of the world, you have no share in it; therefore, the Torah was given in the wilderness, in public, for all to see, in the open, and EVERYONE WHO WISHES TO RECEIVE IT, LET THEM COME AND RECEIVE IT

Notice that according to this Rabbinic Midrash that God did not give Israel the Torah to be their own exclusive property, but He intended it for ANYONE who would come to receive it, Jew or Non-Jew alike.  Another Rabbinic teaching says that there were representatives of all the 70 nations there are the base of Mt. Sinai, so that when God spoke and gave His commandments, He was giving them to the whole world.  Therefore, again, the Torah was intended for all nations, all people, Jew and non-Jew alike.  And we can see this idea rooted in what the Bible actually teaches.

THERE WERE NON-JEWS IN THE EXODUS?

It says in Exodus 12:38 that there was a “mixed multitude” that came out of Egypt with Israel in the Exodus.  It doesn’t tell us how big this “mixed multitude” was, but this group of non-Jews came out of Egypt with Israel under the leadership of Moses, went with them through the Red Sea, and was there with them at Mt. Sinai.  Consequently, there were both Jews and non-Jews there at Mt. Sinai who received the Law from God, not just the Jewish people.  Am I trying to take anything away from Israel or the Jewish people?  No, I am not.  I am only trying to stay with what the Bible teaches.

My question then based on the Bible and the Rabbinic Midrashim is, How can obedience to the Torah make one “Jewish” if God gave it to both Jews and non-Jews?  This group of Jews and non-Jews were being brought under the rule of the KINGDOM of God and, therefore, they needed to understand the laws of God’s KINGDOM. By them receiving His laws and commandments, they became a part of His KINGDOM, “a KINGDOM of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6).  And by them receiving His laws and living them out, they would become His “model nation” to the other surrounding nations, hoping that these other nations too would want to become a part of God’s KINGDOM.

Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that you should do so in the land where you go to possess it.  Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding IN THE SIGHT OF THE NATIONS, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this GREAT NATION is a WISE AND UNDERSTANDING PEOPLE.  For what NATION is there so GREAT, who has God so near to them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon Him for?  And what NATION is there so GREAT, that has statutes and judgements so RIGHTEOUS as all this law, which I set before you this day?  (Deuteronomy 4:5-8; Emphasis Mine)

The inference here seems obvious that God wanted to use Israel TO PROVOKE THE NATIONS TO JEALOUSY so that they would want the same relationship with God that Israel did.  Not that the nations would want to become “Jewish,” but that they would want the same type of relationship with God and follow the same laws that Israel did, so that they too could be a “WISE AND UNDERSTANDING PEOPLE.”

THERE WAS NON-JEWS LIVING WITH THE JEWS IN FOLLOWING THE TORAH IN THE PROMISED LAND?

For example, there were non-Jews who joined Israel in their relationship to God and the observance of His laws, such as Rahab, Ruth, Doeg or Zabad and Jehozabad, the servants of King Joash.  But nowhere, for example, in the Bible are Ruth, Doeg, Zabad, or Jehozabad ever called “a Jew,” but instead, they are each known by their nationality.  For example, Ruth is called “a Moabitess” (Ruth 1:22; 2:2, 6, 21; 4:5, 10), Doeg is called “the Edomite” (I Samuel 21:7; 22:9, 18, 22; and in the title of Psalm 52), Zabad and Jehozabad are known by their mother’s nationality.  Zabad is called “the son of Shimeath an Ammonitess” and Jehozabad is called “the son of Shimrith the Moabitess” (2  Chronicles 24:26).  Making Ruth not the only Moabitess who was part of God’s KINGDOM people.  Notice that none of their national identities changed because of their new relationship with God, or due to them living and working with the Israelites,  or with their observance of the commandments.  They all became a part of God’s KINGDOM people, but they did not lose their national identity.

There’s even a dispute in regard to Caleb, because according to Numbers 32:11-12, Caleb was the son of a non-Jew:

Surely none of the men that came up out of Egypt, from twenty years old and upward, shall see the land which I sware unto Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; because they have not wholly followed Me: save [except] Caleb the son of JEPHUNNEH THE KENEZITE, and Joshua the son of Nun: for they have wholly followed the LORD.

Notice Caleb’s father was a KENEZITE and and not one of the 13 tribes of Israel.  The KENEZITES were one of the tribes of the Promised Land that God was going to judge and give their land to Israel.  They are one of the tribes listed in Genesis 15:18-21,

In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, “Unto your seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates: the Kenites, and the KENIZZITES, and the Kadmonites, and the Hittites, and the Perizzites, and the Rephaim, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.

Consequently, the words KENEZITE and KENEZZITES are merely differences in how the word is spelled, but they are the same group.  So since the Bible is God’s Word, it seems God is making a distinction between those who are full-blooded Israelites, and those who were of mixed nationalities.  For example, Zabad and Jehozabad’s mothers were not Israelites, and Caleb’s father was not an Israelite.  They were half and half.  But then, on the other hand, there were also those who were not Israelites at all living in and among them as part of God’s people, like Rahab, Ruth and Doeg.  So to present the Old Testament as being only about the “Jews” (the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob) is really to misrepresent what it portrays.

ONE LAW AND ONE MANNER OF LIFE?

And then, on top of that, of course, there Numbers 15:15-16?

One ordinance shall be BOTH FOR YOU of the congregation, AND ALSO FOR THE STRANGER (non-Jew) that SOJOURNS WITH YOU, and ordinance FOREVER in your generations: as YOU ARE, so shall the STRANGER (non-Jew) BE BEFORE THE LORDONE LAW and ONE MANNER [or WAY OF LIFE] shall be for you, and for the stranger that sojourns with you.

Here God clearly distinguishes between the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and the non-Jews who were sojourning [or traveling] with them.  There were two groups, but BOTH GROUPS [Jew and non-Jews alike] were to follow and adhere to God’s commandments.  So again, where do we get the idea that God gave His commandments only to the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and not to all people?  And if God intended His laws and commandments to be lived by both Jews and non-Jews, how can observing them make one “Jewish”?

In addition, God promises a special blessing to non-Jews who embrace His covenant:

Also the sons of the stranger [non-Jews], that join themselves to the LORD, to serve Him,  and to love the name of the LORD, to be His servants, everyone that keeps the Sabbath from polluting it, and takes hold of My covenant; even them will I bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon My altar; for My House shall be called a House of Prayer for ALL PEOPLE.  The LORD God which gathers the outcasts of Israel says, Yet will I gather others to Him, besides those that are gathered to Him.  (Isaiah 56:6-8)

Notice this promise is to non-Jews who honor His Sabbath and take hold of His covenant, and that God is not only going to gather “the outcasts of Israel” but “others” [non-Jews] with them.  So again, let me ask the question, where is it written that God intended His laws and commandments for ONLY the Jewish people?

THE SON OF MAN & THE FUTURE MESSIANIC KINGDOM?

And finally, there’s Daniel’s vision of the Son of man:

I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him.  And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a KINGDOM, that ALL PEOPLE, NATIONS, and languages should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his KINGDOM that which shall not be destroyed.  (Daniel 7:13-14, Emphasis Mine)

Notice that this DOMINION and KINGDOM will not consist of only one nation, but ALL PEOPLE AND NATIONS AND LANGUAGES will be a part of this KINGDOM.  This too reflects that God wants His KINGDOM to consist of all people and all nationalities, not that all nationalities become one nation, i.e., all “Jewish.”

OUR CONCLUSION

Therefore, as a Christian (a non-Jewish believer), in accordance to the clear teachings of the Bible, as I have shown, my wife and I have been provoked to jealousy by the people of Israel through the biblical writers, as God intended, and as a result, we have chosen to place our faith and trust in the God of Israel, and in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Promised Messiah.  And it is BECAUSE OF THIS RELATIONSHIP, that we have grabbed hold of His covenant, His Sabbath and feasts, and His promise here in Isaiah, as well as His promises in the rest of the Bible, and that all of His Words are true and that they belong to us as well.

As a result, the teachings and elements of the covenant are not just for Israel, but they are for all NON-JEWS to enjoy as well.  This DOES NOT make my wife and I “Jewish” or a “Jewish-wanna-be,” but it makes each of us a STRANGER [a non-Jew], like Caleb, Rahab, Ruth, Doeg, Zabad, and Jehozabad, and many others, who chose to sojourn with the believing remnant of Israel, and to live our lives dedicated to loving and serving God and the Lord Jesus Christ, by sharing our faith and trust in Him, and by living in obedience to God’s laws and His commandments found throughout the Scriptures, from Genesis to Revelation.

THE HEBREW LANGUAGE – JUDAISM’S BIAS

However, in Rabbinic Judaism and many in the Messianic Jewish Movement, there is also the belief in that Hebrew is the Divine language of God, and that if something is truly from God, then it will be written in Hebrew.   I personally find this belief self-contradictory, since there are rabbis who taught that when God came down on Mt. Sinai, He came down speaking in all the languages of the world so that all of humanity could hear Him speak, because after all, it was the Creator who was speaking.  So if He gave the “10 Commandments” (literally “the 10 Words”) in all the world’s languages, then why do so many Jews, and even Messianics,  restrict His linguistic abilities to only Hebrew?

Also if they believe Hebrew is the Divine language because the Tanakh [“Old Testament”] was written in Hebrew, then by that logic, Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek should all be considered Divine languages because all three languages were used in the writing of the Bible.  Personally, I try and study the biblical languages, not because I believe they are in some way “DIVINE,” but so that I can better understand the Bible and what it says.

I believe God used the languages that He did, NOT because they’re Divine, but because those were the languages the majority of Jews spoke at the time.  For example, prior to the Babylonian exile, the people spoke Hebrew, but then, during and after the Babylonian exile, they spoke a combination of Hebrew and Aramaic, which we see reflected within the books written during that time period, and then by the time of the New Testament, 98% of Jews lived outside of the land of Israel and spoke Greek, and some still spoke Aramaic, so God gave two New Testaments:  the Greek New Testament (used by the Western Church) and the Aramaic New Testament, called the Peshitta (used by the Eastern Church).   And I believe that if God were going to give us more Scripture today, it would be in English, since most Jews today read and speak English.  Therefore, since I don’t buy into this idea that Hebrew alone is more Divine than any other language in the world,  this is just another reason why I prefer to self-identify myself as a WHOLE BIBLE BELIEVER.

BUT WHAT ABOUT THE LAW IN THE NEW TESTAMENT?

One major problem that Christianity has traditionally had through its history is in understanding the wide diverse usage of the Hebrew word Torah.  It is translated in our English Bibles as the word “law,” which comes from the Greek word nomos.  But the problem is that the Hebrew word Torah does not mean “law,” but “instructions,” “teachings,” “guidelines,” and/or “directives.”  The Greek word didaskalia (Strong’s #1319), would’ve been the best equivalent for the word Torah since didaskalia, also means “instruction, learning, and teaching.”

So if the Greek word didaskalia would’ve been the best choice to communicate the meaning of the Hebrew word Torah, then when and why was nomos (“law”) chosen? The Hebrew Bible was translated into Greek between 250-299 years before the conception and birth of Christ by Jewish scholars for the Jewish community in Alexandria, Egypt.  As a result of the conquest of the known world by Alexander the Great, Greek had become the common parlance of the time, and the Jews there were now speaking Greek.   There were other Jewish communities too outside of the land of Israel that spoke Greek, and they also needed a Greek copy of the Scriptures for them to read and understand.  So a group of 70 Jewish scholars, according to tradition, were sent from Israel to Alexandria and translated the Hebrew Scriptures into Greek.

These Jewish scholars chose the Greek word nomos (“law”), rather than didaskalia (“instruction” or “teaching”), in order to protect the Scriptures from misuse from a growing foreign religious group, known as the Gnostics.  Their name comes from the Greek word gnosis (or “knowledge”).  At their core, they had adopted the Hindu belief that God was already in every person, but those who not “enlightened” didn’t know it, but with the right “teacher” and the right “instruction” or “teaching,” one could come to the knowledge of that “truth” and experience “salvation.”  In other words, “salvation,” they taught, was found in “inner knowledge,” and NOT in a relationship with the one true God who lived outside of oneself.  This group took the “teachings” of different religions and wove them together to formulate their own ideas and doctrines, much like the Hippies did during the 1960’s and ’70’s.

To protect the Torah from being used by them, the Jewish scholars purposely chose the Greek word nomos (“law”) to translate Torah, rather than the Greek word didaskalia since the Torah did include laws as well.  The Gnostics would later misuse the teachings of Christianity for their own purposes, like in the writings of “The Gospel of Thomas,” “The Gospel of Judas,” and the “Gospel of Mary Magdalene,” which were the basis of the modern novel and movie, The DaVinci Code.

For example, the Torah (God’s instructions) has an extremely wide and diverse usage.  It can be used to refer to a single verse, a passage, a chapter, a selection of passages, a biblical book, several books, the first five books, all the books of the prophets, all the Old Testament, or all the Old Testament and the New Testament.  Consequently, since all of the Bible contains God’s instructions, then all of the Bible is Torah (or what’s translated as “law”).   So then, how can any Christian not be under Torah (or “under the law”) since all of the Bible can be defined as Torah?  Do you see the problem here?

Also, the idea that God’s Torah (or “Instructions” or “Teachings”) in some way ended at the cross is based on erroneous beliefs and assumptions that cannot be proven or substantiated under closer examination.  Nor can we find actual evidence that there’s a conflict between God’s law and grace, since again, this “alleged” conflict is based on erroneous beliefs and assumptions that cannot be proven or substantiated under closer examination, including the few Pauline passages that supposedly “prove” that God’s law had in some way been “annulled,” “done away with,” or “ended at the cross.”  What was nailed to the cross was our sins, our penalty of sins, and the law of sin and death – NOT the Word of God.

Consequently, many of Christianity’s views on the law are actually based on misinterpretation, misunderstanding, error or just not having chosen the right English word to translate the Greek text.  For example, consider Romans 10:4,

For Christ is the END of the law for righteousness to every one that believes.

The English word “ENDhere was chosen to translate the Greek word telos, which actually means “goal, purpose or aim.”  It does NOT mean “terminate.”  Most people when they read this verse, they think it is saying that “Christ is the termination of the law,” which is NOT at all what it’s saying.  What it’s saying is that “Christ is the goal, the purpose, and even the aim of the law,” BUT NOT its termination.  So here is an example of a poor word choice that was used to translate this particular Greek word.

WE NEED TO ADOPT A WHOLE BIBLE PERSPECTIVE

So as a result, I believe the church needs to adopt a WHOLE BIBLE PERSPECTIVE, which includes God’s law, and that we should consistently base our doctrines on what we see God repeatedly teach throughout ALL the Bible, NOT just the New Testament, since the Word says, “out of the mouth of two or three witnesses, a thing is established.”   The traditional approach of dividing up the Bible, and viewing each part as two separate “revelations” was originally devised for political reasons (to separate themselves from the nation of Israel and to present themselves as “good Roman citizens,” so they could avoid persecution), and along with this, there were many erroneous interpretations and teachings that came into the church early on.   In fact, Paul warned them against this, for “three years” prior to his imprisonment and death (Acts 20:28-31).

As WHOLE BIBLE BELIEVERS, my wife and I, often wonder:  How can one properly understand 100% of the Bible, if you only read, study, and practice the last 40% of it (the New Testament), while totally ignoring the first 60% of it (the Old Testament)?  That is like watching the last 40% of a movie or playing the last 40% of a video game, and then claiming you understand 100% of all that’s in them.  The claim is illogical and invalid.

I hope this answers the question, “Are you Messianic?” as well as our own position regarding why we believe in taking a WHOLE BIBLE PERSPECTIVE when it comes to the Scriptures.  As you continue to read and study our materials, we pray that God will bless you and enhance your depth of understanding of both God and His Word.

 

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