All the Nations

All the Nations

“For then I will change the nations [to speak] a pure language so that they will all proclaim in the Name of the Lord to worship Him with a united resolve.” (Zephaniah 3:9)

The prophets looked forward to a time when all the nations of the world serve the Creator of the universe shoulder to shoulder with the people of Israel. This does not mean that the nations will convert to Judaism. The prophets made it clear that the various nations will maintain their own identity and they will be serving God as gentiles; not as Jews (as an example see Zachariah 14:16).

The picture that emerges from various historical texts is that during the Second Temple Era there were many gentiles who joined the Jewish people in their worship of God but did not join the covenant community through a complete conversion. The Ibn Ezra explains that when the Psalmist makes reference to “those who fear God” (Psalm 116:11; 118:4) he is referring to these gentile worshippers of the God of Israel.

With the rise of Christianity and Islam this phenomena went into decline. No longer were there gentile individuals associating with the Jewish communities on the level of worship or religious devotion in any way. As a consequence of this historical fact the Jewish community no longer has a clear precedent of such interaction that could guide us in a practical way. The general attitude of the Jewish community as it relates to the spiritual state of gentiles is “either in or out”. We don’t seem to have a clear cultural model that would guide us in relating to a gentile who loves and reveres the God of Israel but does not see it as their calling to join the covenant community.

This has had another sad consequence. The entire relationship that is possible between a gentile and the God of Israel is seriously underappreciated. Both Jews and gentiles tend to look at a relationship with the Creator as a “Jewish” thing. But it is not. The prophets taught us that a relationship with God is a “human” thing.

In recent decades this trend has started to reverse. Many gentiles have let go of the false teachings of the church and have come to embrace a relationship with the God of Israel. These people generally use names like Noachide or Bnei Noach to identify themselves and their beliefs.

This is certainly a positive development in this area but there still is much to accomplish. Perhaps it is the Jewish community who needs to develop and build both an appreciation for the gentile relationship with God and a practical community structure to be able to interact with these gentiles.

The relationship that is possible between every human being and the One Creator of all is deeply meaningful and fulfilling. This relationship has the breadth to encompass every aspect of life and imbue it with holiness and purpose. It is important that both Jew and gentile develop an appreciation for this relationship. The gentile benefits from the study of this relationship because this is the gentile’s calling in life. The Jew benefits from the study of this relationship because it is the calling of the Jew as well. The Jew is not exempt from developing a relationship with God as a human being. The covenantal relationship of the Jew does not cancel out the Jew’s relationship with the Creator as a human being. The covenantal relationship is built on the foundation of the Jew’s relationship with God as a human being. A building cannot be stronger than its foundation.

By developing a stronger appreciation for the gentile’s relationship with the God of Israel we can make our world a holier place.

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Thank You

Yisroel C. Blumenthal

  

 

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25 Responses to All the Nations

  1. Jos says:

    This premise is a base in my new book: Our Place as Gentiles in the Community of Israel. The world is still changing! The book is meant for the Christian community to provide another step towards truth and peace. Maybe I had to say: Our Place as Gentiles besides the Community of Israel. Check my weblog to download it for free: http://faithbasedworks.wordpress.com/2012/12/17/our-place-my-new-book/

  2. Jos
    The point I am making in this post is the diametric opposite of the position you advance in your book – the faith I am talking about is faith in God as the Creator of all – while the faith you are advocating is faith in one who breathed, walked and talked like the rest of us.

  3. Jos says:

    In my book I addressed the difference of Gentile and Jew. This is a very important step to make for the church. Of course you’ll find Jesus as the messiah, because it is written for gentile church. But I didn’t advocate or stress this that much, that’s not the purpose of the book. I just stressed that the One Creator reached out to gentiles in order to bring them to the God of Israel. There are called ones from the gentiles who will serve the One Creator but who are not obligated to convert to Judaism. Actually this was the very first message of Jesus and the apostles to the non-Jews. To establish the relationship with the God of Israel.

    I really appreciate your blogpost here and I’m sure it is another step towards the fulfilment of the prophecy of Zechariah. Shalom, Jos

  4. Jos
    I see that you base your book on a verse in the Song of Moses (Deuteronomy 32:21) – I understand that the jealousy of this passgae is the jealousy of Israel seeing how nations who do not serve God are blessed with material success, wealth and power. This would be in keeping with the propehtic description of the unfolding of the Messianic era – which has Israel downtrodden and powerless until her righteousness is revealed for all to see (Isaiah 26:2; 62:2; Micah 7:8-10).
    https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2011/11/16/isaiah-53-micah-7-and-isaiah-62/

  5. Jos says:

    Yes, I understand your view. And I hope you’re not surprised when I say that I agree with you. It’s true that the (gentile) people who are first oppressors of the Jews, then in the Messianic era will see their beauty and confess their ugly behaviour.

    In the song of Moses it’s clear that the behaviour of that so called no-people is bad. They abuse Israel, especially in the end, before the retaliation of G-d and the re-establishment of the true children of Israel.

    But as I read it, there is something very interesting going on in the shift G-d made by saying “They [My people, the Jews] have roused Me to jealousy with a no-god” and then consequently, with the same measure, if you turn away from Me and chose another god, then “I will rouse them to jealousy with a no-people.” as the verse of Deut.32:21 says. Based on that verse the apostle Paul built his case on it (in Romans 9-11) arguing that Israel remains the elected covenantal Israel, but they rejected Jesus as the Messiah as he saw it in his time. This must be his explanation why his Jewish brothers, the chosen people of G-d, didn’t accept Jesus as the Messiah. As I wrote Paul must find a scripture of that in the Torah. Because he was without any doubt aware of that “All Israel shall be saved” (Rom.11:26) The Messiah must deliver Israel from Roman oppression and all the prophecies must unfold.

    It didn’t happen though. But what I believe is that Paul saw that the Spirit of G-d came upon the gentile people. That make the whole thing very special and his proposition valid. When G-d is going to that “no-people”, the gentiles, in the sense of the verse I mentioned, what would one expect other than grace and love?

    However, and I will share you here something personal. That grace and love, that calling unto the gentiles, was for very short time and just few people. Because they sinned even faster and more than the Jewish people did. Just a few decades later than Paul lived they abused Jesus. Yes, we abused Jesus. We build our own Roman mighty churches and rules and ruled out Jesus. And ruled out the Jews too. Not the kingdom of Jesus, but our own power was and is manifest. I think we all have to confess our faults. We failed to let G-d be the only King.

    In the beginning there was something special about that no-people, they were called by the only G-d. But soon, very soon unfortunately, the light disappeared. They rejected the Good Message too.

    We have to learn and to go on to do our job.

    How far can you agree with this explanation of Deut.32:21? Even without introducing the Messiah as Paul did? I mean that G-d went to the gentiles in stead of His own people?

  6. Jos
    In the context of Scripture and in the context of that passage (Deuteronomy 32) – I can’t agree with your explanation

  7. Yedidiah says:

    “Jealousy” is not the only thing that might bring about “anger” or “bitterness”. It is not the only thing that causes one to be incensed or vexed. “Jealous” is a very poor choice of word here in some English translations. Perhaps it is used for some theological reason other than what was intended by the original writer. In Deut. 32, there is a bitterness or an intolerance there because of “disloyalty” or “infidelity”, but the Hebrew words and the context of Deut. 32 is not “jealousy”, since God is not in “fear or have a wariness of being supplanted” nor an “apprehension of losing affection or position”. God is not envious here nor jealous of some imagined “success of others” (in fact God’s & Israel’s enemies are not “successes”, but “failures” and “fools”; a “no-people” who are like the people’s idols or “no-gods”). There is a zeal when one is jealous, but that is not the type of “zeal” that could be ascribed to God here. Here, there is not the typical attributes of jealousy, such as envy, covetousness, or desirousness of another’s advantages or success. We could say God is quite the opposite of jealous. More likely, God takes pity on Israel, just as they perhaps should pity the people of the “nations”.

    God is then seen here as “tempering His anger” against His people, because “what might the nations think” of God and “His people”? They will likely believe their triumph over Israel is due to their own “superiority” of their military strength or their own “moral character” or as a validation of their own political, economic, philosophical, or religious beliefs or systems. They might be convinced that their gods (or their beliefs of Israel’s God) is superior to Israel’s. Instead, God intends a “vindication” of Israel at the expense of the foreign invaders.

    • Yedidiah says:

      Hmmm. “In the beginning there was something special about that no-people, they were called by the only G-d….” The “no-people” were “called” to fail. Deut. 32 was not about “another good plan of God” that was corrupted by man. It was a delusion by man that was destined to fail. It was or is prophecy; the way people work or the way that they allow themselves to think.

      • Yedidiah says:

        A “no-people” start out, from the very beginning, as outsiders & evil-doers. They & their leader/s are not the shining example of a Godly people that are the “best hope” of Israel. They are not “saviors”, nor “redeemers”, but an outside people who an enemy of both Israel & God. They start as idolators & an enemy from the very beginning, the very first day, and remain so. They are given a lie and they feed on those lies. They do not become “restored” back to some type of “original Godliness”. But, instead they surrender. They see that they were wrong from the very beginning. They do not return, they turn to Israel, finally, as their own hope.

  8. Jos says:

    Rabbi
    You said you don’t agree. I’m curious however whether you have to say something about that no-people. God hides His face for the Israelites (Deut.32:20) and then that no-people come on stage. (Deut.32:21) Until the vengeance of God is out poured over that no-people and Israel will be restored (vers 35-43).

  9. Jos
    Check out Psalm 73:3; 74:18
    When we (Jews) see a gentile nation serving the God of Israel we rejoice – when they serve an idol and call that worship of the God of Israel – we are not “jealous” – we feel it is our duty as God’switnesses to correct them

  10. Annelise says:

    Hi Jos,

    That part of the song begins with these words,
    “So Jeshurun grew fat and kicked — you grew fat and gross and coarse — he forsook the God who made him and spurned the Rock of his support. They incensed Him with alien things, vexed Him with abominations. They sacrificed to demons, no-gods, gods they had never known, new ones, who came but lately, who stirred not your fathers’ fears. You neglected the Rock that begot you, forgot the God who brought you forth.”

    If you’ve spent time around the righteous remnant in Israel, the Jews who are seeking God in their synagogues, learning, homes, and the quiet parts of their lives that others don’t see, you can tell that you’re not dealing with the kind of people spoken about here. God has kept for Himself in Israel a lot of people who continue to hold loyalty to Him and to be His-People. They rely on God for mercy even while trying to obey His covenant law with them, and they are growing closer to that law and to the justice, righteousness, and humble worship spoken about by the prophets.

    I know that there are many conversations within the Messianic community and within the Christian church as a whole where the ‘Old Testament’ is being read honestly and aspects of its truth are informing the Christian mindset. I think you’re correct that some of these things were present in the early churches and were lost for a time. One example is the belief that ‘the church’ has replaced Israel as the covenant people of God. The writers of the New Testament did not believe that, but rather that some Jews and some gentiles had joined together in their various roles as the people of God.

    As someone who doesn’t believe in Jesus, but who is a gentile closely aligned with the righteous remnant of the Jewish people, I believe that you’re drawing the circle of righteousness and obedience to God far too small. For different reasons, I do believe that belief that Jesus was an incarnation of God deserving worship is not true, and therefore totally wrong. But you only mention the idea of him being the messiah and the church being the kingdom of God, so in response to that, I’ll say I think you’re right about sharing in the light that the Jews have been given and sharing in what we all owe to God as part of creation. But there is a community of righteous Jews, in whose midst God has put not only His covenant but also actually the light of His presence and the testimony of His truth in a unique way. To say that this community doesn’t actually hold that presence, truth, or light, because you think the Christian community does instead, is to deny the place in which God is speaking to our world and also to isolate and degrade the people who give a lot to hold that message under pressure. Telling them that the most precious gift they hold and guard from God is nothing, or at least inaudible.

    I haven’t proven here that the things I believe about Orthodox Judaism and about Jesus are true. But I want to try and express what I can see of the difference between what you’ve written and what Rabbi Yisroel has said, based on the other conclusions that I’ve found in the searching I’ve been doing before God. By the way, stay strong in the love that you have for God and for His words and His way… I can see that in the way you write.

  11. Jos says:

    Annelise
    Thank you for honest comment.

    In the fourth alinea you say some interesting things. Sharing in the light that the Jews are given is true for the gentiles who were called to obey the One Creator. This light was watched by Paul through gentiles who came to faith. And because he himself encountered this in his own experience. He explained this new spiritual enlightenment among the surrounded gentiles by quoting Deut.32:21 in his epistle to the gentile Romans.

    And (it aren’t my words so I use Paul’s words) Paul doesn’t say that the Christian community hold the light of God’s presence in stead of the Jews. The Jews indeed hold that message, look at Rom.3:1 and 9:4-5. They have the Torah. He also stressed the exclusive covenant with the Jews. (Rom.11:1, 27, 29) Paul was very clear: “All Israel will be saved”. How? That was a mystery for him. (Rom.11:33) But from here we can learn Paul’s conviction about the Jews: They have the Torah, They (will) have the Messiah and they all will be saved.

    But what happened sadly enough was that the light what shined after Jesus birth and teachings, soon faded away and remain almost hidden until now. What I write about Paul here didn’t see the (majority of the) church, like you say. Until last decades things are changing fortunately.

    And yet, I think I can’t see the role of the Jews that clear as I wish. And I dare to say but I think the Jews also didn’t understand the role of the righteous gentiles yet. There’s a people who do not only follow the 7 Noachides in a passive way. They are “touched” by the true God. Rambam and Jehudah ha Levi came close by saying the Christians are preparing the world to accept the Messiah. But certainly not everything is said by this.
    And yes, I believe the circle of true (gentile) believers is narrowed and the circle of the “righteous” is small, especially today. By the way, I don’t draw that circle, it is in God’s hand. I really don’t know it, I can’t look into the bottom of heart?

    I believe that the Jews do not only have the Torah, but have the Messiah in it also. As Jesus said: Will you find me? Search the Torah. Now obviously the time is here that we can learn a lot from the Jews. Their books are open, even to the laymen. As to me.

    Be humble, but strong in love! If God made us, wouldn’t He teach us?
    Thanks again.

  12. Annelise says:

    Hi Jos,

    When you say that the Jews still carry the light and the message of God, do you meet the Jews in the Christian community? Or the Jews who love God and aren’t Christians, even though their message is so against Christianity?

    Also, when you say that there are gentiles who are touched by the true God, do you mean only Christian gentiles? Or gentiles who know and seek God and don’t have or want anything to do with the claim that He made Himself ‘incarnate’ in one of the men who lived in the first century?

    I know you’re saying that it’s not you who draws the circle of righteousness to include only those who worship and follow Jesus. You said that it’s God. But how do you know that? There’s a community of Jews who have been keeping the commandments, the Sabbath, the festivals, in every generation and who genuinely surrender to their Creator in love and thankfulness, and spend their lives wanting to get closer to that… just like you’ve experienced in your walk with God. That has nothing to do with Jesus. And their light, and their message, also has nothing to do with him. To ignore the central aspects of that message and the path of worship that they are walking on and pointing us to, even though they are seeking to fulfil the prophetic description of righteous obedience and even though they’ve stood in every generation with faithfulness to the signs of this covenant…you would need to have a pretty convincing reason that God wants you to do that. I’m not just saying we should learn bits and pieces of ‘wisdom’ from Jewish literature.

    Thanks for the encouragement and the reminder to be humble and to trust in the guidance of God. There’s a lot of comfort and safety in the ability to surrender our lives to Him, knowing He will show us things that we need to pay attention to as He draws us near to His perfection and the knowledge of Him. In terms of humility and unselfishness, I have a lot to learn, but please really know that I haven’t written about my own values or my experience here to make myself heard. I’m trying to describe things that are outside myself, and that I want other people to encounter as well, but I can only explain them by describing my own experience of them and the choices I’ve made with the investment of my heart before God. I hope that all people can see the goodness and the vastness of standing in this place 🙂

    Let me know what you think of the questions. Enjoy the weekend,
    Annelise

    • Annelise says:

      In the first paragraph, I meant “do you mean the Jews”; ‘do you meet’ was a typo.

      It’s getting late on Friday night where I am. So I also want to post one of the parts I really like from the Sabbath prayers in the synagogues each week.
      “Our God and God of our Ancestors! Be pleased with our rest; sanctify us with Your commandments, give us a share in Your Torah, satiate us with Your bounty, and gladden us in Your salvation. Cleanse our hearts to serve You in truth: let us inherit, O Lord our God, in love and favour, Your holy Sabbath, and may Israel, who loves Your name, rest thereon. Praised are You, O Lord, who sanctifies the Sabbath.”

  13. Jos says:

    Annelise,
    In response to your first question: “When you say that the Jews still carry the light and the message of God, do you mean the Jews in the Christian community?” my answer is: No I do not mean that. Even Jews against Christianity they still carry the light. By light I mean the Torah as a whole message of God of Life. But the light is sealed. Now many Christians would say we have the light and the light is Jesus. But they aren’t true. They even don’t see it because it is sealed also for them. I really think it are just individuals today who share the light of God in a special way which you can see.

    But I think Israel is send away all over the world after that special time in history of Jesus. (I see the destruction of the temple 40 years after his dead too in this time) Obviously the first exile didn’t end with the second temple, and now they are for thousands of years in exile. But with a great treasure! The torah. The everlasting covenant. The tickets to the world-to-come, not only for them but for the whole world are promises. They have many advantages said Paul, but this is the most important he said: They are thrusted with the Torah. (Rom.3:1) In that sense they carry the light, but they have to let it shine, which in my opinion can not be without the Messiah.

    Remember, that the church until recently always wanted to shut down the light of the Jews and their Torah. In that sense they always were anti-Messiah. Even though, in the midst of that church where true believers. As there were in the midst of Judaism. But yes, I believe that where the light begins to shine it is not without Jesus. But I don’t see it in our time. The treasure is hidden by the Jews and Christians too, but is ready to be revealed. That’s my hope and expectation. We all shall wonder what it looks like. I’m searching for it and tend to grasp it if I could. And I hope that Israel soon will be truly “a light unto the nations.”

    Your second question:
    “Also, when you say that there are gentiles who are touched by the true God, do you mean only Christian gentiles? Or gentiles who know and seek God and don’t have or want anything to do with the claim that He made Himself ‘incarnate’ in one of the men who lived in the first century?”

    I think it’s true what Jesus said: Many are called but few chosen. (Mat.22:14) I can’t explain everything and I can’t understand everything. But the kingdom of heaven is only to enter for chosen ones. Israel is the chosen one. They will get saved and enter the kingdom of heaven. As a nation. Paul called it a mystery, Rom.11. And yet it is not only for Israel, because “the righteous of the gentiles will enter the kingdom of heaven.” According to the Misnah. Who are they? That’s the question. I think “those who are touched by the true God” are those who can’t deny that Jesus the Messiah brought them to where they are before God. I don’t speak of trinity or incarnation. I say that Jesus brought them gentiles before God. I think Mohammed can’t bring people before God. I think people by themselves can’t become before God without a Mediator. There is a way of cleansing and sacrificing and preparation. The way is made by God Himself the only God. It is a small way and not attractive for the common people of the world. Who does one give the love for the Creator? We can see in many good Christians that they have true love. For the poor but also for Israel in our time. Where does it come from? God knows. But for me I can’t deny Jesus has at least a very special role in it. It is certainly not idolatry. With idolatry one can’t come to God. So we have to search, search for the truth with God’s help. He will unveil it at a certain time. Hopefully very soon!

    all the best!

  14. Annelise says:

    Dear Jos,

    I believe that there’s more to the calling of being God’s witnesses and community that you would admit exists outside the church. Basically, I agree with one of the distinctions you are making: that there is a group of righteous Jews who are really holding the whole message of God for their generations, and yet that the whole nation of Israel is also in a covenant with God and also has a function of witness towards His truth through their experiences and the Torah preserved in their tradition. But I don’t think that the line is being drawn in the correct place. I wouldn’t say that Christian Jews have the full message while Jews who don’t accept Christianity have a vivid but partial testimony. I actually don’t think Jesus has anything to do with who the righteous remnant are. So in limiting that very deepest group of witnesses to only be considered the Christian Jews, you are excluding righteous, God-loving Orthodox Jews from having that deepest level of witness. Because I believe that this isn’t true, I consider it to be a form of replacement: replacing the community of Jews who love God and have passed down His Torah, and saying that instead of them, the Christian Jews (and the rest of the church alongside them) hold the *deepest* heritage of *full* truth.

    Anyway, that’s a difficult point to make because it rests on the conclusion that Christianity is not true. But it’s also an important point to make, to highlight one of the reasons why it’s so important not to get it wrong about the Christian claims. If Christianity is false, then accepting it means silencing the community of righteous Israel, this servant and messenger of God in our world. Even if you don’t silence them or ignore them completely, but allow them some smaller level of witness.

    • Annelise says:

      I also asked a rabbi today about your feeling that coming to God in worship of Jesus is not idolatry, but has a central part in the ability to love God and others. You said that with idolatry one can’t come to God. You know that you do know, love, and experience the love and leading of God, and I deeply believe also that you do. You feel that this can’t be the product of idolatry, and maybe you also feel that it would be deceptive of God (i.e. it would never happen) that He would affirm a lie by giving His blessing. Here’s what the rabbi said in response to that (in my words).

      Idolatry is a very strong term, and because many Christians are so sensitive not to give their worship to anyone or anything but God Himself, it can seem like a jarring an unfair label. A lot of Christians therefore believe that Jews are only seeing a caricature of Christianity, and that if religious Jews could really understand their doctrine and experiences they would have no more objections. But the reality is that it’s one thing to say or feel that you’re not worshipping God in a way contrary to what He wants, and it’s a different thing to be able to point to the actual commandments from God that serve as a basis for what you are doing. For Jews, these commandments come first; it is an expression of love to keep them, and all extra expressions of love can only be offered to God within them.

      In Deuteronomy 17:3 there is a commandment regarding someone “who has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, either the sun or moon or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded.” It’s clear in the last few words here that God taught Israel how to worship Him, not through an incarnation of anything in nature, but as the God who created all things. He is personally known not by our senses but in our hearts as we relate to Him in obedience, in thankfulness, in the knowledge of His actions, and in His blessings. The prohibition of worshiping an other doesn’t only relate to rival gods; it also relates to false incarnation claims of the one God of Israel, such as the golden calf which was said to have led the Israelites out in the exodus to be its people. Even though Jesus was a human being rather than an astral object or constellation, Tanach shows us often that the normal identity of a human, and anything with breath or that we can sense in the world around us, is that they owe worship to God. According to Deuteronomy 17:3, anything that God had not commanded to the Israelites is prohibited to worship. So no matter how you cut it, or how you explain how the belief fits with Tanach when you already believe in it, unless a Christian can show that God commanded Israel to accept the specific incarnation claim about Jesus (and showed them how to test and recognise it), the default response for any Jew guarding the Torah is to see the idea as foreign and unable to be accepted.

      That said, how can you experience a real relationship with God when you’re also engaged in false worship? With Christianity, it’s not as simple as saying that a person is worshipping Israel’s God but also struggling with an ‘idolatry’ of money or self love, nor is it as simple as thinking that a person can be Jewish but can lack understanding about the powers of the stars and worship them as well. In those cases, when a person calls out to God in a true way, He responds, and when they engage in false worship there are negative effects; even though God is merciful to us in areas of our ignorance. With Christianity, many people do not differentiate at all between their worship of the Creator of heaven and earth and their worship of this man from the first century. But the same principles would apply. In the positive aspects of Christian worship, Israel’s God is truly known by Christians and His love impacts their hearts and their communities. The same is obviously true for Jews who love Him in Judaism, and also for people of other religions. But in all those other religions, including Christianity, the false or negative aspects truly are idolatrous and they are not acceptable for a Torah observant Jew (or any knowing human) to do; nor are they the real cause of your experience of God. But He protects us from what is done in ignorance, otherwise He would effectively be cutting Himself off from everyone in the world who is given false teaching. The key, though, is that how we feel about an experience is not the Torah standard for how we should worship our Creator, according to His commandments and the carefulness of worship that He taught to Israel.

      Just one more note about your response. You said that there is no forgiveness without a mediator. What do you think of Isaiah 55:6-9, where forgiveness is considered a mystery in the hand of God, one which can’t be understood but can be relied upon in faith?

    • Annelise says:

      …in the first sentence of the first comment, it should say “than you would admit” (not “that you would admit”).

  15. Jos says:

    Dear Annelize,

    What you called my “replacement” form (which has nothing to do the basic replacement theology) is in my opinion the explanation Paul gives to Deu.32:21 that God went to a no-people as a measure-for-measure result of the idolatry of His own people Israel. (Rabbi Yisroel don’t agree with this. I’m curious what other rabbi’s would say of this interpretation.) Paul interpreted also the prophecy of Hosea (ch.1) in this way. (Rom.9:16) As Peter did. (1Pe.2:10) But know that this prophecy ends with the restoration of All Israel. And in this context of the song of Moses, that no-people will be punished for their behaviour of causing Israel/the Jews to suffer, and their rebellion against God. And also their idolatry with (a false conception of) Jesus.

    I’m glad this discussion goes in such an honest way. You have very good and serious questions. And worth to answer. I know we both learn from it. And thank you for reporting your Rabbi’s answer. But I need some time for the second part. I will be back to you soon. I haven’t time now.

  16. Annelise says:

    Thanks, Jos. I know that what I described is not classic replacement theology, and that it is held by Christians who flatly reject the notion that God took His covenant away from Israel and gave it to another community. Even when Christians believe that Israel (ethnic, national Israel) is still loved by God and will still be the means through which He blesses the nations, I believe that they’re still replacing the testimony of the Jewish people with the testimony of the church; replacing the community of God-loving Jews with the community of Jews who accept Jesus. In some way. I think that the problem is just as bad, even though those Christians have corrected some of the old mistakes.

    The prophets saw the idolatry of Israel and they knew the answer. Can you give me some clear prophecies that teach the Jewish people that God was going to give a message to gentiles that the Jews should return to? Because what I see all through the prophets is the fact that Jews should return to what they were already taught at Sinai; that there would be a group of Jews preserved who would keep testifying to this truth; and that the nations would come to their light.

    • Annelise says:

      Then the Lord said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘You must observe my Sabbaths. This will be a sign between me and you for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy.'” (Exodus 31:12-13)

      In the future, when your son asks you, “What is the meaning of the stipulations, decrees and laws the Lord our God has commanded you?” tell him: “We were slaves of Pharaoh in Egypt, but the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand. Before our eyes the Lord sent signs and wonders—great and terrible—on Egypt and Pharaoh and his whole household. But he brought us out from there to bring us in and give us the land he promised on oath to our ancestors. The Lord commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the Lord our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today. And if we are careful to obey all this law before the Lord our God, as he has commanded us, that will be our righteousness.”(Deuteronomy 6:20-25)

      Eat unleavened bread during those seven days; nothing with yeast in it is to be seen among you, nor shall any yeast be seen anywhere within your borders. On that day tell your son, ‘I do this because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt.’ (Exodus 13:7-8)

      Since the Jews of our generation were taught these things from the generations before them, like God intended when He brought the nation out from Egypt. This is how He taught them that they would know Him and always be able to return to Him. God was never going to take these things away from Israel’s children and give them to someone else, especially in the time when a return of repentance is needed. They can have confidence that they are walking in the ways that God commanded in the Torah and reiterated by the prophets. Grace, forgiveness, love for God and worship of Him are already their inheritance in this heritage.

      • Jos says:

        Annelise,
        I don’t think that the Jews should return to the message brought to the gentiles. The will return to the Torah as you pointed. That’s very clear in scripture. But to say the Torah is that what we see now is too less when do not know the Messiah. The Messiah is more than we can see now. That’s my personal challenge.

  17. Jos says:

    It was not my intention to raise Jesus in this discussion. But it seems that it all watered down to this very special person, about whom are written trillions of books. And yet, I feel that little what we write is important.

    I’ll try to bring you an autobiographical story, based on my experience. I do that because it is impossible to write my own in this short comment. Now I can paint it more to the point. I know however that some people understand me clearly. They understand me personal.

    Chris raised in an orthodox protestant family. He was told about the remnant he belong to which keep the true faith. There were two ways: the Godly way which ends in eternal salvation and the way of the world ending in eternal dead and punishment. “I have to make a personal decision and it belongs to God alone to chose me in order to get saved.” Chris said. It was printed in his life. No other instance could ever add something to become a saved Christian but God. God alone could do it. But doubts came about the existence of God and the world was looking great to him and eventually he lived a life as many others: trying to get to most fun out of it, although within the somewhat extended boundaries. After a few years however at the age of 20 things were changing. It was according to the traditions of the orthodox community: God was looking for men, while one doesn’t look for Him. Tradition always was carrying that principle. There was a Godly calling, an effective calling. Hear Chris telling.

    “It was as a strong power guiding me to that point that I would accept to give up my own life and to live the life of surrendering to God. I know that this choice was definitely living another life. A life for God. And when I made this choice I felt myself instantly a great sinner. The life I lived and the ignorance of the truth of God was crushing me in the face. The sins I was doing even when I knew better struck me. Little sins became big sins. I thought I would die because of it. I was begging for grace but it looked like He didn’t hear me. I really was dying. And yet, I felt such a deep love for God in my very inwards parts of all my being, and such an attraction towards Him whom was all what could exist in life before me. Only that, that He knows me, was so great a comfort that I couldn’t think that He would punish me to dead because of my sins. Then I began to learn. And I began to seek.”

    After a year Chris was convinced that it was God who began His work in his heart. In all churches he went he heard about Jesus who was about to reveal himself unto the heart what seeks him. Especially for people who were missing the true peace and satisfaction and reconciling to God. Jesus inevitably came on stage as the one on who was laid all the iniquity.

    “Because of me it all was done! All the great suffering of Jesus was because of me. On the one side the great love towards me from God, on the other side the great suffering because of my sins. It all can be reconciled. This is what I see. And why did I see? Because God undoubtedly opened my eyes and give me light to see it. How otherwise could I see what I couldn’t see in any way before? One who was blind before now sees. Who could make a blind man see? Other than his Creator? Who gives such a love to the very Creator?”

    Now Chris went to learn. Learn about history, theology, the Jews, the Ismaelites, the bible and most interesting for him was Israel. The land and the Jews, the people of the scriptures and the faith he believed in. Now the questions arise which couldn’t be resolved that simple. If the Jews were God’s people then what is the church? Now the church history revealed the secrets of christmas, sunday, easter, dismissing all what sounds Jewish. But protestant tradition had answers even while it wasn’t taught in church. Especially the ancient Puritans were clear in prophecies about the restoration of the Jews and the corruption of the common church.

    “I had accepted the base doctrines of Christianity and yet a felt myself part of a very small community who were faithful to the truth. Then something happens I didn’t expect. Inside the orthodox community it came to pass that the most prominent figures, the so called God fearing people, were appearing to me as to be in error. I turned to God begging He will guide me. This was the beginning of the hard lessons. The ground was shaking under my feet. If my tradition was in err, what about my religion? But God remained. I found great people among the Dutch theologians like Wilhelmus a Brakel, and among the English Puritans like John Owen and Philpot. They were a voice of God for me. But no one later than the 19th century. They all said Israel will be restored. And actually this was what a saw in 1948. But I had still much to learn.

    More errors appeared. But in contrary my faith strengthened, knowing and learning God more and more by His great love and the zeal He put in my heart for His word. I had given my life completely for Him. But I found myself most worthless for the lack of knowledge in me. But every step I took was of great learning. Always asking the God who loved me and gave me strength and understanding. My love to the Jewish people who were my brothers because of my faith, resulted in a revolutionary way of restoring “my” Christianity. I got acquainted with Messianic friends. They had good ideas, but I was going my own way, keep walking on the road of the
    Church. There were errors in my church, but outside were even more errors.

    A shocking experience was to learn and except that there were even errors in scripture. Even back the Chumash. (books of Moses) Now, I asked myself, where do I get that unbreakable foundation? What is it that God hide His face and now He let me in such distress? And yet, at the same time inner soul and heart was going out to the Lord Himself, the only God. And now I saw that the message was more than just the letter. It was God himself who revealed himself through scripture to the people who ask for Him. And the words resonated in my soul: “the Word became flesh.” It’s the message, not the word, even not the flesh, the Message which is God the only one Creator who chose his creation to redeem it and restore it to the first Adam who knew God. It’s about the meaning of the creation what comes down into the heart. (Deut.30:14)

    I had to learn. The unveiling of christmas, sunday, easter, the false anger to the chosen Jewish people. Failing doctrines. The church who abused the power of their Master Jesus and ruled conform Roman principles. O my! Where gonna hide myself! Where’s my vast foundation! I stick to Jesus but it’s hard to see his foreign garments ripped off. And yet, it is also good in the end, because he is more likely as he must be. Without all Hellenistic and Roman clothes, he is all the more the Messiah of scripture.

    Then Judaism came as the most challenging one. Because they have the truth. Paul shows it us in Romans 9 to 11 that they are a special people, chosen ones, the people of the promises (Rom.9:4). And we are gentiles. And though, it all fits. The NT read in the Jewish way. Witnesses who told about Jesus the Messiah. It all fits in the rich colors of Judaism.

    But Judaism hits me in the most holiest places of doctrines: What about Jesus! How do we call him God? What do we see him as God? Who do we worship? There’s something the Jews are true about. And, yet that Man of Notsri still stands there for me. He doesn’t fall. He who undoubtedly brought me in such a holy way of repentance of my whole heart and my whole soul at the feets of the only One Blessed be He! Who undoubtedly, at least was there, when I received such a blessing of renewal of my soul and heart and most miraculous a new will, a good will. (yetser) He still is there. If trinity breaks, he still is there. The church made him with doctrines, He doesn’t need that. I can’t deny his existence. And now I am wondering. There are things above my understanding.

    If I denied him I would be really a good Jew. But now I am a gentile Christian. I am afraid however that nobody understand me. I’m sure nobody of my church understand me. I am alone. And I have real confidence in that God will lead me in his truth and guide me in his path. As a disciple of the only one God. If He began, then He will end. My question is now: what person is the Messiah? And I think it will be shown more clearly, yes in such a clear way as never been before in history, by the Jews when they see it when the time there is as prophecy tells us.

    Chris’ story has not ended. As Christianity did not end and Judaism also didn’t end. God still goes on to the great revelation of His holy name. Then all the earth shall know that Name. What we all don’t know now.

  18. Annelise says:

    Hi Jos,

    I think we started talking about Christianity because you posted a link to your ideas about Christian gentiles.

    I can only thank God for the way He has shown you His mercy and His grace and restoration. My story is different, but many of the first times I ever experienced that grace really remind me of things that you wrote, and they were when I had Christian beliefs. But when I prayed to Jesus I was only intending and desiring to pray to God. So I never had any relationship with or loyalty to anyone but God in that relationship, even though I believe it was expressed and understood in a wrong way. In letting go of Christianity and of its worship of the man Jesus, I have not let go of any relationship I once had with him… because I didn’t have a relationship with anyone at all other than God in that relationship. I didn’t pray to a mere man or know a mere man, or even a great anointed man or angel or entity. When we give our loyalty to God as our Creator and our Redeemer, it is just to Him. I don’t believe I ever had a relationship with a human when I was reaching out to God, and the loyalty formed with God in that relationship belongs only, only, to Him.

    I hope we can both keep seeking Him, with our heart and loyalty towards Him alone, and our relationship with every other creature in the context of seeking our Father. Even if sometimes to do that means we have little words and little understanding, not knowing what to see. I spent a lot of time not knowing what to do with my words and my direction of heart when it came to praying about who Jesus actually was. Our hearts can still look for help to God’s hand, even if we don’t know what to imagine or say.

    “Give thanks to the Lord because He is good, for His kindness is eternal. Those redeemed by the Lord shall say it, those whom He redeemed from the hands of an oppressor, and gathered them from lands, from the east and from the west, from the north and from the sea. They strayed in the desert, on a road of desolation; they did not find an inhabited city. Hungry as well as thirsty, their soul enwraps itself in them. And they cried out to the Lord in their distress; from their straits He rescued them. And He led them on a straight road, to go to an inhabited city. They shall give thanks to the Lord for His kindness, and for His wonders to the children of men. For He sated a yearning soul, and a hungry soul He filled with goodness. Those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, prisoners of affliction and iron. For they rebelled against the words of God, and they scorned the counsel of the Most High. And He humbled their heart with toil; they stumbled with no one to help them. And they cried out to the Lord in their distress; from their straits He saved them. He took them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and He broke open their bonds. They shall give thanks to the Lord for His kindness, and for His wonders to the children of men. For He broke copper doors, and cut off iron bars. Fools, because of the way of their transgression and because of their iniquities, are afflicted. Their soul despises all food, and they reach the portals of death.
    “And they cried out to the Lord in their distress; from their straits He saved them. He sent His word and healed them, and extricated them from their pit. They shall give thanks to the Lord for His kindness, and for His wonders to the children of men. And they shall slaughter sacrifices of thanksgiving, and they shall tell of His deeds with song. Those who go down to the sea in ships, who do work in mighty waters. They saw the deeds of the Lord and His wonders in the deep.
    “He spoke, and He set up a tempest, and it raised its waves. They went up to the heavens, they came down to the depths; their soul melted with trouble. They were frightened and staggered like a drunkard, and all their wisdom was destroyed. They cried out to the Lord from their distress, that He take them out of their straits. The tempest He had set up [settled] into a calm, and their waves were stilled. They rejoiced that they were stilled, and He led them to the region of their desire. They shall thank the Lord for His kindness, and for His wonders to the children of men. And they shall exalt Him in an assembly of people, and in a sitting of elders, praise Him. He makes rivers into a desert, and springs of water into an arid place; a fruitful land into a salty waste, because of the evil of its inhabitants. He makes a desert into a pool of water, and a wasteland into springs of water. And He settles the hungry there, and they establish an inhabited city. And they sow fields and plant vineyards, which produce fruits and grain. And He blessed them, and they multiplied exceedingly, and their animals did not decrease. Whereas they were few and they sank down from dominion, trouble, and sorrow. He pours contempt upon princes and leads them astray in a wasteland where there is no path. And He strengthened the needy from poverty and made him families like flocks. The upright see and rejoice, and all injustice shuts its mouth.
    “He who is wise will keep these in mind, and they will ponder the kind deeds of the Lord.”

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