Article 1. Jews and Israel Are Jews, Jews, and is Israel, Israel in the New Testament? Do They Still Have a Covenant with God? ABSOLUTELY. THE BIBLE IS CLEAR ON THIS. The Jews are Israelites, not Gentiles..... The people of Israel! they were made God’s children, the glory (sh’kinah) has been with them, the covenants are theirs, likewise the giving of the Torah "law", the Temple service and the promises. (Rom. 9:4). The gifts and calling of God for Israel are irrevocable (Rom. 11:29). There are 77 references to Israel in the New Covenant and NONE of them refer to the Church. Try replacing the words, "the Church," where Israel is mentioned and the passage is rendered unreadable and silly, e.g., Rom. 10:1, "Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved." If you put "the Church" where Israel is mentioned, then it is redundant. The Church is the body of saved believers, so how could Paul's prayer be for the Church to be saved? Psalm 105 has a seven-fold affirmation of God's promises of Canaan to Abraham. This is an everlasting promise, as was Genesis 12:1-3. Jeremiah 31:35-37 speaks of the everlasting nature of God's promises to and for Israel, the Jewish people, which is as sure as the sun that shines by day and the moon and stars that glow in the night. The end-time prophecies, which speak of the return of the House of Jacob to their land (Israel) and its restoration, have overwhelmingly been fulfilled in Israel and the Jewish people in the past 120 years. (See, Isa. 11:11-12; Eze. 37:1-14; Eze. 36; Eze. 35:1, Isa. 43:5,6; Jer. 16:14-16; Isa. 60:9-11; Isa. 49:22-23, etc.). The Gospel and Yeshua came "to the Jews first, then the Greek" (Rom. 2:9,10; Matt:10:5-7;15:24). There is a distinction in roles between the two. Galatians 3:28 says: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Yeshua the Messiah" This is speaking of everyone's standing before God as equals, because we are all sinners saved by God's grace and the atoning work on the Cross. Nevertheless, our roles here on earth are definitely distinct; e.g., men and women, mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, etc. all have distinct roles to play. Likewise, Jews and Gentiles have distinct roles to play.
What is the Role of the Church? Ephesians 2:11-14 indicates that Israel and the Jews (we) were chosen, but Gentiles (you) were also included. The Church is related to Israel and partakers of the covenants, promises, and hopes, but we have not been called to replace them. Our relationship is as "grafted in" (Rom. 11:17); "brought near" (Eph 2:13); "Abraham's offspring" (by faith) (Rom. 4:16); "heirs" to Abraham's promise as adopted sons (Gal. 3:29) and "partakers" (Rom 15:27). To the world, the Church is called to... preach the Gospel to all nations and make disciples (Matt. 28:19-20); to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength; and to love our neighbour as ourselves (Mk. 12:30-31). To the Jewish people, we are called to show God's love "for the sake of the Patriarchs" (Rom. 11:28), for without them we would not have had God's Word or our Saviour who was a Jew from Israel. We are to show God's mercy (Rom. 11:31). We are to give our material gifts to help them (Rom. 15:27). We are to pray for them and for Israel (Ps. 122:6). We are to be watchman on the walls to protect them (Isa. 62:6,7). We are to help with the aliyah (immigration) to Israel and the building up of Zion (Isa. 60:9-11; Jer. 16:14-16; Isa. 49:22-23). According to Romans 11, we are TWO DISTINCT GROUPS, both grafted into the same tree, which are the covenants and promises given to Israel; grounded in the same root, the Messiah; drinking of the same sap, God's Holy Spirit. We do not hold up the tree, but the tree us, and we are forbidden from boasting against or being arrogant to God's covenant people the Jews (Rom. 11:17-18).
What Happens When the Church Replaces Israel? 1. The Church becomes arrogant and self-centred. 2. It boasts against the Jews and Israel. 3. It devalues the role of Israel or has no role for Israel at all. These attitudes result in anti-Semitism in word and deed. 4. Without a place for Israel and the Jewish people today, you cannot explain the Bible prophecies, especially the very specific ones being fulfilled in Israel today. Many New Testament passages do not make sense when the Jewish people are replaced by the Church. 5. You can lose the significance of the Hebrew Scriptures (the Tanach) for today. Many Christians boast of being a New Testament (NT) Christian or a NT Church as in the Book of Acts. However, the Bible of the early Church was not the New Testament, which did not get codified until the 4th century, but rather the Hebrew Scriptures. 6. You can lose the Hebraic/Judaic context of the New Testament, which teaches us more about Yeshua and how to become better disciples. 7. The Church loses out on the opportunity to participate in God's plan and prophecy for the Church, Israel and the world today.
What Happens When the Church Relates to Israel? 1. The Church takes its proper role in God's redemptive plan for the world, appreciating God's ongoing covenant relationship and love for Israel and the Jewish people. 2. We can see the consistency of God's redemptive plan from Genesis to Revelation as an ongoing complementary process, not as disconnected snapshots. 3. We show love and honour for God's covenant people, not contempt. 4. We value the Hebrew Scriptures and New Testament as equally inspired and significant for the Church today. 5. Bible prophecy makes sense for today and offers opportunities for involvement in God's plan for Israel. 6. We become better disciples of Yeshua as we are able to appreciate the Hebraic/Judaic roots that fill in the definitions, concepts, words and events in the New Testament that are otherwise obscured. Why? Many were not explained by the Jewish writers of the New Testament, because they did not feel the need to fill in all the details that were already explained in the Tanach.
Had the Church understood this very clear message from the beginning, then the sad legacy of anti-Semitic hatred from the Church may have been avoided. The error of Replacement Theology is like a cancer in the Church that has not only caused it to violate God's Word concerning the Jewish people and Israel, but it made us into instruments of hate, not love in God's Name. Yet, it is not too late to change our ways and rightly relate to the Jewish people and Israel today. Not only do we need to learn and do for ourselves, but we need to teach others so as to counteract the historical error that has been fostered in the Church for nearly 2,000 years. Thank God, He is a God of mercy, redemption and second chances......
Article 2. The Feasts So don't let anyone pass judgment on you in connection with eating and drinking, or in regard to a Jewish festival or Rosh-Hodesh or Shabbat. These are a shadow of things that are coming, but the body is of the Messiah. (Colossians 2:16-18) This is not an argument against the observance of feast day celebrations but a caution about judgmental attitudes! The truth is, there are judgmental attitudes manifested in the church about meats, drinks, holy-days and observing the Shabbat. Those who don't observe such things refer to those who do as "legalists" (strict followers of the Torah). Those who observe them quite often view those who don't as unrighteous, or even second-class citizens of the Kingdom. "Those who do judge those who don't and those who don't judge those who do" and on it goes. Yet the Messiah-like attitude is "Judge not" (Matt 7:1). Shaul "Paul" gives the same advice to the church in Rome. One person considers some days more holy than others, while someone else regards them as being all alike. What is important is for each to be fully convinced in his own mind. He who observes a day as special does so to honour the Lord. Also he who eats anything, eats to honour the Lord, since he gives thanks to God; likewise the abstainer abstains to honour the Lord, and he too gives thanks to God....... You then, why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For all of us will stand before God's judgment seat; (Romans 14:5, 6,10) No one's righteousness should be judged on the basis of these issues, righteousness is simply NOT of works. If a believer in Yeshua is "persuaded" that celebrating feast days "enhances" his or her worship of God, he or she should NOT be judged for it. All judgment of men's hearts is best left in the hands of God.
Let's consider what our service is all about. Out celebration of the Biblical memorial days are NOT a matter of salvation or being accepted before Adonai. Our motive in celebration should be as Adonai originally intended; remembrance and honour for what He has done. Adonai said His feasts were to be celebrated "forever" (Exodus 12:14, Lev 23:21, Lev. 23:41). If Adonai never changes, and we have His word on that He does not (Mal 3:6), it is clear that Adonai still desires to be worshiped in this manner. The feast days should have a deep meaning for the believer, since their prophetic fulfillment is found in the person of Yeshua ha Mashiach. It's safe to say that the grafted in Messianic Gentile believer in Yeshua has as much reason for celebrating these festivals as the Messianic Jew has. The feast days contain a wealth of information, spiritual lessons and deep prophetic teaching than perhaps any subject of scripture. It's through our celebration of them that the riches of truth contained in them is released for our understanding. The things that are done to celebrate these days are not so important as the acknowledgement of the day itself. We need not be concerned with ancient ritualism from which we were liberated in Yeshua (Hebrews 9:10) but focus on the principles of their prophetic and spiritual meaning as revealed the Brit ha Chadasha "New Covenant". Since it is not a matter of salvation but one of worship, there is liberty in what we can do in remembrance of Adonai's feasts. We simply need to recognise what the Biblical feasts are about, how they point towards Yeshua our Saviour. No other conclusion can be drawn. The question before us is; should Gentile believers celebrate the feast days? Yes we should. Why? Because they are Biblical, centered in Messiah and ordained by Adonai. While feast celebrations may not be essential to salvation, they are certainly essential for teaching the Gentile church about it's Jewish roots.
Article 3. The Sunday Issue Yeshua warned that; many false prophets would appear, deceiving many. So what is the TRUTH? How can we know? Let all remember each of us shall stand before the judgment seat of Messiah! We shall be JUDGED, not by our sincerity in what we have always believed through careless assumption, nor by our sincerity in following some NEW teaching without proof! We shall be judged by the BIBLE, God's Word!
How to PROVE the Truth
"All Scripture" we read in (2nd Timothy 3: 16) "is given by inspiration of Adonai, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction." Again, the command to us is, "PROVE ALL THINGS." We must be willing to be corrected, if wrong. We must be careful not to be blown about "with every wind of doctrine." We must free our minds of all prejudice. We must be able and willing to study BOTH sides honestly, laying our ideas and desires on the shelf, prayerfully asking Adonai for guidance. If we already are right, honest investigation will but confirm it. If we are WRONG, we should want to know it. And we shall quickly, willingly, as a little child accept the TRUTH as God reveals it, whatever that truth may be, if our hearts are right With Him! Perhaps this very study may be the TEST! These three facts are self-evident.
1. Sunday is the first day of the week. See any calendar, dictionary, or encyclopaedia. Is it, then, by BIBLE authority, "the Christian Sabbath" or truly the "Lord's Day" as it is popularly called today?
2. Yeshua kept the SABBATH (Luke 4-16). It was His custom. The Sabbath He kept was the same day of the week the Jews observed, for the minister and congregation were all in the synagogue (verse 20), and the Pharisees continually rebuked Yeshua for healing on the Sabbath day.
3. The Sabbath Yeshua kept was the seventh day of the week. Three days after His crucifixion, this Sabbath still was the day before the first day of the week (Matthew 28:1). Therefore it was not just any day in seven, it was the seventh day of the week. See also Luke 23:56 and 24:1.....BUT ...was the day CHANGED by Yeshua or the apostles, after this, to the first day of the week so that Sunday is now the New Testament Christian Sabbath? Does the NEW TESTAMENT someplace show us that SUNDAY is the true Lord's Day and command Christians to observe it? LET us SEE!
Is "Sunday" Mentioned in the New Testament?
This change could not be made a different day, the FIRST day of the week, could not be established by New Testament BIBLE authority, except in some text or texts employing the phrase "first day of the week," or the word "Sunday."
The word "Sunday" does not appear any place in the Bible.
But the phrase "first day of the week" is found in the New Testament. It occurs in exactly EIGHT places. So it will not take long to examine these eight texts employing this phrase. IF the day was changed by BIBLE authority, if Christians are to find any BIBLE AUTHORITY whatsoever for observing Sunday as the "Lord's Day" today, then we must find that authority in one of these eight texts! Let us acknowledge at the outset, since the seventh day of the week is clearly established as the Bible Sabbath up until the time of the Cross, that there can be no BIBLE AUTHORITY for Sunday observance unless we find it clearly and plainly stated in one of these eight New Testament passages. So let us examine them carefully, honestly, prayerfully.
The Day AFTER Sabbath
(1) Matthew 28:1: "In the end of the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulcher." This is the first place in the Bible where "the first day of the week" is mentioned. Matthew wrote these words, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, many years after the New Testament Church came into being. The text says that late on the Sabbath day it was drawing TOWARD the first day of the week. So this Scripture, we must admit, tells us plainly that three days and three nights after all that was done away had been securely "nailed to the Cross," the Sabbath was still the day BEFORE the first day of the week, still the seventh day of the week. One point is here plainly proved. Many tell us that the Sabbath command was merely for "one day in seven" that it did not have to be THE seventh day of the week, but merely the seventh part of time. They argue that Sunday, being one day out of seven, fulfils the command. But here is a passage in the NEW Testament, inspired by the Holy Spirit many years after the beginning of the NEW Testament Church, stating in plain language that, three days after all abolished things had been done away, the Sabbath still existed and that it was the seventh day of THE WEEK, the day before the FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK. That much is proved, and must remain settled for all who honestly seek and accept BIBLE authority. But, was the day changed later?
(2) Mark 16:2: "And very early in the morning THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK, they came unto the sepulcher at the rising of the sun." This is merely Mark's version of the sunrise visit to the tomb. It was written several years after the crucifixion. The first day of the week, also, was "AFTER the Sabbath was PAST," according to verse 1. So this text proves the same thing as the one above, that the first day of the week was not at that time (three days after the crucifixion) the Sabbath, but the day AFTER the Sabbath. The Sabbath, then, still was the SEVENTH day of the week.
A Common Work Day
(3) Mark 16:9: "Now when Yeshua was risen, early the FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK He appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of who He had cast seven devils." This text speaks of Yeshua appearing to Mary Magdalene later the same day, the day AFTER the Sabbath. Nothing here calls the first day of the week the Christian Sabbath, we must admit. Nothing here calls it "The Lord's Day." Nothing here hallows Sunday or says God made it holy. Nothing here commands us to observe it. Nothing here sets it apart as a memorial of the Resurrection, or for any purpose. No command or example of REST on this day no authority for observing Sunday here.
(4) Luke 24:1: "Now UPON THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK, very early in the morning, they came unto the sepulchre, bringing their spices which they had prepared, and certain others with them." This text tells again the same event recorded by Matthew and Mark, and it shows that on THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK these women came to do the work of a common week-day, AFTER having rested the Sabbath day "according to the commandment." For we read, in the verse just before this, "And they returned, and prepared spices and ointments; and rested the Sabbath day according to the commandment." Shall we say these women did not yet know the commandment was abolished? No, we cannot, for this statement was not made by the women, but inspired by the HOLY SPIRIT, who did know it was not abolished. And it was written, at least twenty five years after the establishing of the New Testament Church! The Holy Spirit THEN inspired the direct statement that the rest of these women on the Sabbath day was according to the commandment, which statement would not be possible had the commandment been abolished. This text, then, establishes Sunday as a common work day, three days after the crucifixion, and it further established that at that time the command to rest on the Sabbath had not been abolished.
(5) John 20:1. "THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK came Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre." This, written many years after the crucifixion, is John's version, describing the same visit to the tomb. It confirms the facts above. Was This a Religious Meeting, to Celebrate the Resurrection?
(6) John 20:19: "Then the same day at evening, being THE FIRST DAY OF THE WEEK, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Judeans, came Yeshua and stood in the midst, and said unto them, Peace be unto you." Let us examine this carefully, for some claim this was a religious service called for the purpose of celebrating the Resurrection. But notice this is the same first day of the week that FOLLOWED the Sabbath. It was Yeshua's first opportunity to appear to His disciples. For over three years He had been constantly with them, on ALL days of the week. His meeting with them, of itself, could not establish any day as a Sabbath. Were they assembled to celebrate the Resurrection, thus establishing Sunday as the Christian Sabbath in honour of the Resurrection? The text says they were assembled "for fear of the Judeans." The Judeans had just taken and crucified their Master. They were afraid. The doors were shut because of their fear, probably bolted. Why were they assembled? "FOR FEAR OF THE JUDEANS" according to this text, and also because they all lived together in this upper room (Acts 1:13). They could not have assembled to celebrate the Resurrection for THEY DID NOT BELIEVE YESHUA WAS RISEN (Mark 16:11; Luke 24-37, 39, 41). Nothing in this text calls this day "Sabbath," or "Lord's Day," or any sacred title. Nothing here sets it apart, makes it holy. No authority here for changing a command of God!
Lord's Supper Day -- or Work Day—WHICH?
(7) Acts 20:7: "And upon THE FIRST OF THE WEEK, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together." Here, at last we find a religious meeting on the first day of the week. But it was not a SUNDAY meeting! Notice, Paul continued his speech until midnight! "And there were many LIGHTS in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together." It was AFTER SUNSET, prior to midnight, the first day of the week. Now at that time the first day of the week did not begin at midnight, as men begin it today. It began, and the Seventh day ended, AT SUNSET! All Bible days begin and end at SUNSET. Throughout the Roman world at that time, and for a few hundred years afterwards, days began and ended at sunset. The practice of beginning the new day at midnight was started much later. Therefore this meeting, and Paul's preaching, took place during the hours we now call SATURDAY NIGHT, it was not a Sunday meeting at all!
WHY Paul Remained Behind
Let us, now, pick up the thread of the narrative related in this passage. Begin verse 6: "We sailed away from Philippi after the days of unleavened bread (PASSOVER) and came unto them at Troas in five days; where we abode seven days. And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, READY TO DEPART ON THE MORROW." Paul and his companions had been in this town of Troas seven days. His companions had left by ship after sunset. Paul remained behind for a farewell meeting. He preached until midnight, "ready to depart on the morrow." At break of day, sunrise Sunday morning, Paul departed (verse 11). Now notice what his companions had done. "And we went before to ship, and sailed unto Assos, there intending to take in Paul: for so had he appointed, minding himself to go afoot. And when he met with us at Assos, we took him in." (Verses 13-14). Look at this on a map. Paul's companions had to sail around a peninsula, a distance of fifty or sixty miles, while Paul, afoot, walked across, a distance of nineteen and a half miles. He was able to walk this distance in shorter time than they could sail the much longer distance, which gave Paul the opportunity to remain behind after they left, for this last farewell sermon and visit. Now do you see what actually happened? Paul's companions were engaged in the LABOR of rowing and sailing a boat while Paul was preaching that Saturday night and early Sunday morning, on the first day of the week. They had set sail Saturday night, AFTER THE SABBATH HAD ENDED. Paul remained behind for one more last farewell sermon. Then, at break of day (Sunday morning) Paul set out afoot, indulging in the labour of a nineteen and a half mile walk from Troas to Assos! He waited till the Sabbath was past for this long walk a good hard day's work, if you ever tried it! He did it on the first day of the week! Again, a common work day!
What "Break Bread" Means
But does this text not say, as many claim today, that the disciples always held communion every first day of the week! NOT AT ALL! In the first place, it says nothing about anything being done EVERY first day of the week. It relates the events of this one particular first day of the week, ONLY. It is not speaking of any CUSTOMS, but of the events occurring as Paul and his companions concluded their seven-day visit in passing by this town. Yeshua had introduced the Lord's Supper as part of the Passover, at the beginning of the annual "days of unleavened bread." No longer could they kill lambs or eat the roasted body of Passover Lambs, after Messiah, OUR Passover, had been once slain for us, yet the Passover was ordained FOREVER (Exodus 12:24). At His last Passover supper Yeshua substituted the wine as the emblem of His blood, instead of the blood of the slain lamb. He substituted the unleavened bread for the roast body of the lamb as the symbol of His body, broken for us. The disciples continued to observe Passover annually, now in the form of the Lord's Supper using only the bread and wine, as a MEMORIAL (1st Corinthians 11:24) of Yeshua's DEATH, (1st Corinthians 11:26), showing His death until He comes again. They continued to observe the days of unleavened bread (Acts 20:6). This year they had observed the days of unleavened bread and the Communion service at Philippi, after which they came to Troas in five days where they remained seven days. After the Sabbath day had ended, at sunset, "upon the first day of the week, . . . the disciples came together to BREAK BREAD." People have ASSUMED this expression means the taking of Communion. But notice! Paul preached, and continued preaching until midnight. They had no opportunity to stop and "break bread" until then. When Paul "therefore was come up again" after restoring the one who had fallen down from the third balcony, and had broken bread, AND EATEN." Note it! "Broken bread AND EATEN." This breaking bread was not Communion, simply eating a meal. This meal was known as a "Havdalah" This is the seeing out of the Shabbat with lights. Notice Luke 22:16, where Yeshua was introducing the Lord's Supper, taking it with His disciples. He said, "I will not any more eat thereof until it be fulfilled in the Kingdom of Adonai." Yet, the day alter His resurrection, after walking with the two disciples to Emmaus, as "HE sat at MEAT with them He took bread. and blessed it, and brake, and gave to them." (Luke 24:30). Here Yeshua "broke bread" but it was not the Lord's Supper, which He said He would NOT take again. It was a meal, "He sat AT MEAT." Notice Acts 2:46. The disciples, "continuing daily with one accord in the temple and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness." Here again "breaking bread" means EATING MEAT. Not on the first day of the week, but DAILY. Again, when Paul was shipwrecked on the voyage to Rome, the sailors had been fasting out of fright. But "Paul besought them all to take MEAT, saying, "This day is the fourteenth day that ye have tarried and continued fasting, having taken nothing. Wherefore I pray you to take some MEAT: for this is for your health, And when he had so spoken, he took bread, and gave thanks to God in presence of them all: and when he had broken it, he began to eat." (Acts 27:33-35). Here Paul broke bread to give to unconverted sailors who were hungry. The truth is, NOWHERE IN THE BIBLE is the expression "breaking of bread," or "to break bread," used to signify observance of the Lord's Supper. In all these texts it means, simply, eating a meal. So, when we read in Acts 20:7, 11, "the disciples came together to break," and how Paul had "broken bread and EATEN," we know by Scripture interpretation it referred only to eating food as a meal, not to a Communion service.
Do Gentiles Need To Convert To Messianic Judaism? Article by Ellen Kavanaugh Many Gentiles within the Messianic community are beginning to feel the need to convert to Messianic Judaism. Conversion implies a change in belief -- from one belief system to a different belief system. And therein lies the problem: To convert to Messianic Judaism would be to 'convert' to a community in which one was already member; to convert to traditional Judaism would be to deny one's faith in Yeshua (or at least, deny the sufficiency of Yeshua alone). In discussions on Gentile conversion, it seems the issue is less about belief systems anyway and more an attempt to become a Jew. Can a Gentile really become a Jew through conversion? Or is there a Gentile inclusion within Israel without becoming Jewish and converting? Let's see what Scripture says, beginning with Romans 11: "And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again. For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree? For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in." Romans 11:17-25
Sha'ul is explaining here that because of mainstream Israel's rejection of Messiah, non-Israelites (wild olive branches) who accept Yeshua have been given a place in Israel's cultivated olive tree. But note these wild olive branches remain wild. Gentiles do not become Israelites here, they merely share the tree with believing Israel. Gentiles are further warned not to boast about G-d placing them in the tree, because they too can be removed. In fact, G-d reminds them that the natural branches would graft back in well since its their own tree and their own nature to be included in it; but it is contrary to the very nature of the wild branches that they too are included! So yes, Gentiles can be placed in the tree of Israel, but at no point do they become cultivated -- they always remain wild branches grafted into a tree not their own. When a Gentile becomes a part of Israel, they still remain a Gentile (albeit a Gentile counted among Israelites). Now note: The One grafting these wild branches in is G-d, not man. No conversion ritual is needed -- this is a purely supernatural event!
"Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Messiah, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Messiah Yeshua ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Messiah. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby." Ephesians 2:11-16
This is a crucial passage to understand G-d's Plan for mankind. Sha'ul is explaining that previously Gentiles had no hope because they didn't have a covenant with G-d. They had no Messiah, no membership in Israel, no covenant, no hope, and no G-d. But G-d's plan was to use Yeshua to bring the believing Gentiles into the commonwealth of Israel -- to share their covenant, their G-d, and their hope. Yeshua abolished the enmity that had been between the covenant people and non-covenant people by bringing them together and forming one new man. This 'new man' is the commonwealth of Israel consisting of believing Jew *and* believing Gentile. Note that this is something accomplished through Yeshua, not man. Gentiles who had been so far away from G-d's covenant and people are now brought in with the blood of Yeshua. Again, no conversion ritual needed -- this is a purely supernatural event!
"Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Messiah by the gospel." Ephesians 3:5,6
Again, Gentiles share the same body of faith with the Jewish believers. We're seeing a theme of unity -- that Jewish and Gentile believers are one. No ritual is described, no conversion process is mandated. G-d is bringing the Gentiles into His people simply for their belief in Yeshua HaMashiach. G-d's way here is so simple! Your inclusion with G-d's people is based on your relationship with Yeshua. It is not through birth *or* conversion.
"But as God hath distributed to every man, as the Lord hath called every one, so let him walk. And so ordain I in all churches. Is any man called being circumcised? let him not become uncircumcised. Is any called in uncircumcision? let him not be circumcised. Circumcision is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing, but the keeping of the commandments of God. Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. Art thou called being a servant? care not for it: but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord's freeman: likewise also he that is called, being free, is Messiah's servant. Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men. Brethren, let every man, wherein he is called, therein abide with God." 1 Corinthians 7:17-24
Believers are adopted in the state in which they were found! Converting would be seeking to change one's state. Let's read in Galatians:
"For ye are all the children of God by faith in Messiah Yeshua. For as many of you as have been baptized into Messiah have put on Messiah. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Messiah Yeshua. And if ye be Messiah's, then are ye Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise." Galatians 3:26-29
All are children of G-d through faith no matter the state in which they were found. You realize that Jews here didn't stop being Jews when they believed, slaves were not automatically granted freedom (though if freedom could be secured, one would certainly seek it), men didn't start wear dresses or women growing beards! Far from declaring "all become the same" as some misinterpret this verse, the verse is really only declaring our equality in Yeshua. There is no advantage in coming to the faith as a male, or a freedman, or a Jew. This is because we all attain equality in the eyes of G-d through our faith, not our station in life. So let's ask the original question this article is addressing again: Do Gentiles need to convert to Messianic Judaism? No. Can a Gentile become a Jew? No. Kefa summed it up perfectly: "Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons: But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him." Acts 10:34,35
Many Gentile believers today, in their search for "the Jewish roots of the faith" are adopting traditional Jewish ways not mandated by Scripture. Traditional Judaism's oral law contains conversion rituals and too many Messianics are attempting to 'graft' those beliefs into Messianic Judaism. This is wrong. Remember the Bereans: "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so." Acts 17:11 The practices of other religious groups matters little, Scripture alone is our guide.
Nowhere in Scripture does G-d ever command the making of proselytes. Those who joined with Israel never became Israelites. Like Ruth (who remained and was always referred to as the Moabitess -- even after marrying Boaz), Gentiles may believe in the true G-d of Israel, but they remain Gentiles. Sha'ul's letter to the Galatians deals with the very issue of those attempting to make proselytes out of the Gentile believers. Galatians is probably the most misinterpreted letter Sha'ul wrote. Mainstream Christianity attempts to read Galatians as 'anti-Torah, instead of recognizing it as 'anti-oral tradition' -- especially anti-conversion through traditions. For context, understand that the Pharisaic conversion ritual is accomplished through circumcision and that the new believers in Galatia were being targeted for this conversion. Sha'ul was justifiably angered that the new believers in Galatia were being tempted to 'join Judaism' through these rituals, thereby denying the adoption they had already received through Yeshua, supernaturally, by Spirit! The problem here wasn't the new believers obeying Torah -- it's a given that all believers are commanded to obey G-d. The problem here was Pharisaic additions to Torah. The most glaring addition was the concept of making proselytes in the first place. Again, Torah never commands any ritualized conversion of Gentiles! But Pharisaic Judaism does. Pharisaic Judaism interpreted G-d's Torah through legalism. Its members are placed under bondage. But Yeshua frees us from legalism and the bondage of the "works of law". So Sha'ul is completely mystified why anyone free would seek to reject that freedom and convert to a manmade religious system so clearly opposed to Yeshua who freed them!
I have to wonder this same thing myself today. We are commanded to go 'to the Jew first' and share the gospel of Yeshua. What I fear is that believers are taking more out of traditional Judaism than they are taking into it. Let me explain. Believers should be sharing the gospel of Yeshua with Israel. But many, after spending time within the traditional Jewish community are returning to the Messianic community with strange ideas about the need for conversion, Talmudic teachings, and a fascination for the secrets of Jewish mysticism hidden within the Kabbalah. This very much mirrors the Galatian problem. The fact that an article is even needed to say 'conversion isn't necessary' is appalling, imo. I humbly suggest those who have delved into traditional Judaism and are incorporating its practices into their supposed Messianic lifestyle should return to their Biblical roots. Any practice that cannot be Scripturally defended (like 'formal' conversion rituals) needs to be examined! I urge all Messianics who are battling with the issue of conversion to re-read Scripture and reconsider. Let's hold the scribes and rabbis of the Talmud and Kabbalah to the same standard we hold others who attempt to teach G-d's children: "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Yeshua the Messiah is come in the flesh is of God." 1 Yochanan 4:2 Question the wisdom of millennia of scribes and rabbis, if for all their deep understanding, they fail to know that Yeshua is Messiah. This doctrine is a biggie, and every single Messianic believer should know this well. Yeshua commissioned us believers to teach His gospel and commandments to the world, and not for us believers to be the students of those who failed to recognize the time of His visitation.