Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Conversion Issue in Messianic Judaism [UPDATE]

I want to know your thoughts!

There are two primary views on conversion in Messianic Judaism:

(1) Exclusionist View (e.g. MJRC):  Jewish distinctiveness must be maintained and the way to preserve this distinction is to require non-Jews who wish to practice Sinaitic Torah to formally convert under Messianic auspices;

(2) Inclusionist View:  The unifying theme of the Inclusionist view is that non-Jews shouldn't seek to become circumcised under non-Messianic auspices.  We also tend to see circumcision (whether formal or informal) as an eschatological necessity given that the Prophets say only men who are circumcised in heart and flesh may enter the Temple.

But what are your thoughts?  Are Messianic institutions wrong to offer channels of formal conversion for non-Jews?  Does this pose problems?  Let's discuss.  : )

UPDATE:  Lower down on the comment thread I have posed a new question for everyone to consider:

New question, gentlemen: Can we all agree that "Israel" refers to two different realms, the realm of Kingdom Israel (i.e. Yeshua's kahal/ekklesia) and the realm of physical, man-governed Israel (e.g. the modern state of Israel or any of the various Jewish sects)?

52 comments:

  1. The problem I see, is that circumcision in no way is a form of conversion, it simply does not exist, at least within scripture, which should matter most. Instead circumcision is a commandment, and a sign of the Abrahamic covenant, not the Mosaic Covenant. Of course, all of these covenants are intertwined and are not easily separated without destroying certain aspects of each covenant.

    We have multiple reasons that teach us that circumcision is not a form of conversion, we see Abraham circumcised Ishmael, who is sent away, Ishmael did not become a Jew or a Israelite, in Exodus 12 we have the ger circumcised, and likened to a native born, but does not become a native born, we have native borns, born into covenant without circumcision, we also have Paul in Romans 5, teaching that covenant relationship is seen in the story of Abraham, who was converted before he was circumcised or even commanded too.

    The point is, circumcision as a form of conversion is unbiblical, and according to the Apostles, it is/was contradictory to the Gospel message, teaching another way of salvation or covenant inclusion, something which was not true for Abraham or Moses or even the covenant ger. It also devalues ger's or at least gentiles who are in covenant with God. It teaches gentiles are not good enough, within the realm of status before God, while God may accept the gentile, the blessings and more intimate relationship are really only given to Jews, so if you want this higher level of relationship with God, which involves more responsibility, you have to become a Jew, gentiles simply are not good enough.

    I for one want to remain a gentile, because that is who God created me to be. I don't like blurring distinctions between Jews and Gentiles either, because it not only devalues Jews it devalues gentiles like myself. Conversion to become a Jew devalues gentiles and it blurs distinctions.

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    1. So you're in favor of Non-Jewish Believers circumcising as a matter of covenant fidelity but not as a means of conversion, correct?

      I think that your view is also corroborated by Acts 15 which says that the Non-Jewish Believers were converts (epistrepho) even in their uncircumcised state.

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    2. Yes, I completely believe in the commandment of circumcision, I was circumcised the 8th day, I also circumcised my son the 8th day, and will teach him to continue the same, but that is not how I am in covenant with God, that is simply obedience to the covenant.

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  2. Conversion has been an integral part of Judaism since well before the first century. Personally, I don't believe we should deny people who convert our acknowledgement that they are a Jew.

    Where I take issue with Messianic-conversions is when the people who administer/undergo it believe that it is the conversion process that brings you into the commonwealth if Israel, and not faith in Israel's messiah that accomplishes that.

    The minute a person says: "You cannot be a part of Israel unless you convert," is the minute we go about rehashing all of those first century arguments all over again -- that it's not circumcision that brings you into the covenant, that it's not by flesh but by God's spirit, etc, etc.

    What I'd like to start seeing is more writing on the topic of conversion in the NT -- there are a lot of very remarkable passages that haven't been uncovered yet (in the book of Acts, in the Gospels, etc) that use this conversion language in connection with the "mikvah-of-Messiah."

    If it can be shown that mikvah/baptism as it's laid out in the NT is essentially the "conversion" requirement that Yeshua, the Apostles, and the early church expected of new believers, then this also raises the interesting question about the "double conversion" phenomena that we're seeing today in the Messianic movement. A person who "converts" because of his/her belief in Messiah, and then "converts" again to become a Jew. This idea of a "double-conversion" might be even more interesting/difficult/controversial than the gentile who converts straight into Messianic Judaism.

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    1. Conversion has been an integral part of Judaism since well before the first century. Personally, I don't believe we should deny people who convert our acknowledgement that they are a Jew.

      I have yet to see any historical sources on conversion as we know it in the first century dating back any further than around the time of the Maccabees and especially not in the scriptures. Rob, since conversion(in the form of circumcision ritual) is such a foundational doctrine of Judaism, don't you think it would have made sense for God to have mentioned it at least once in the Torah, yet we have no evidence of such a teaching or practice.

      Second, just because something is part of Judaism, does not mean it is part of the Bible, it also does not make it false, such as many of the traditions, but again, when dealing with something so foundational as conversion, this requires some scriptures, and we simply do not see scriptures for conversion according to circumcision... I hope one day those who defend conversion according to circumcision, can offer credibility to their arguments from scripture, so that we can come to some form of agreement, but until that day comes, I don't see why it should be accepted.

      Do you have a reason why it should be accepted other than Judaism started doing this practice around the time of the Maccabees?

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    2. Rob,

      I think...the conversion is a heart-orientation followed by indwelling by the Ruach. Everything else--mikvah, etc--is just a confirmation of that inner conversion.

      I couldn't agree more that our movement needs to write more on this topic, examining the relevant Scripture.

      Also, can I just say that this is a great discussion we're having! I hope that it blesses the Body!

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    3. "again, when dealing with something so foundational as conversion, this requires some scriptures, and we simply do not see scriptures for conversion according to circumcision."

      Official marriage ceremonies are not specified anywhere in the Bible (but of course, we know from history that they too were practiced in ancient Israel and elsewhere). And yet, many if not most (non-nominal) Christians today would no doubt say that a proper marriage between believers is not official unless marriage vows before G-d and community were taken.

      "When the people heard this law, they excluded from Israel all who were of foreign descent." (Nehemiah 13:3)

      The above gives us a hint that at least during the immediate postexilic time, a foreigner couldn't just join Israel and claim to be Israel by voluntarily "adopting Torah" on their own, even if they lived among Israel.

      Those who would like to imagine that there were no standards for official acceptance of foreigners into Israel (a.k.a. "conversion") imagine that any foreigner could just come into Israel from outside, not approach or involve any Jewish authorities in any way before taking on Israel's religion, start observing commandments all on their very own (without anyone having to teach them first), and the community would just have to accept them as fellow Israelites. Not only that, but give their daughters or sons to them for marriage!

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    4. "Do not despise an Edomite, for the Edomites are related to you. Do not despise an Egyptian, because you resided as foreigners in their country. The third generation of children born to them may enter the assembly of the L-RD." (Deuteronomy 23:7)

      The above scripture gives us a few hints:

      1. Entering the "assembly of the L-rd" was totally voluntary for foreigners living among Israelites ("may" not "must")

      2. Somebody, an Israelite official no doubt (cohen or Levite?), had to keep track of person's eligibility to enter the assembly, and probably required some sort of proof.

      3. Entering the "assembly of the L-rd" was a conscious, official act, with specific requirements (and some were permanently ineligible to join). Like most public official acts, it must have required a public official "entry". The specific requirements around the entry itself may have changed from generation to generation, since they depended on Jewish authorities G-d's given right to rule their communities.

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    5. 1. Entering the "assembly of the L-rd" was totally voluntary for foreigners living among Israelites ("may" not "must")

      To me, that is specific to Edomites, because there is a different edict found in:

      Deut 23:3
      "No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of their descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall ever enter the assembly of the LORD,

      So the Edomite has a different entrance than that of the Ammonite and Moabite, which was do to a curse or do to a punishment on their people. But this does not speak to other gentiles who are not of these people.

      2. Somebody, an Israelite official no doubt (cohen or Levite?), had to keep track of person's eligibility to enter the assembly, and probably required some sort of proof.

      Sounds logical and rational.

      3. Entering the "assembly of the L-rd" was a conscious, official act, with specific requirements (and some were permanently ineligible to join). Like most public official acts, it must have required a public official "entry". The specific requirements around the entry itself may have changed from generation to generation, since they depended on Jewish authorities G-d's given right to rule their communities.

      As we both know in the Apostolic Writings, the official entry for gentiles was witnessed in their receiving of the Holy Spirit, proof they had converted or entered covenant as seen in the Apostolic Writings, unless Yeshua changed the covenant regulations or went against them, which I don't think He did, I think it was perfectly in line with the covenant entrance, yet unbelieving-Israel does not recognize gentiles who trust in Yeshua to be covenant members, so its a catch 22.

      I am not trying to take away Jewish leadership, all the Apostles were Jewish and God specifically appointed Jews as the rulers of Israel and the Body of Messiah which is a subset of Israel, that means if gentiles are really part of Israel, the Jews are the rulers even over the gentiles as God appointed, I have no problem with that. With that said, what I am saying, is I think that entry is established as witnessed by the Apostles(a Jewish committee) and it was not circumcision that initiated the entrance, I believe circumcision is a commandment that must be kept, but has no immediate requirement or time limit, which I can give many examples of in scripture, but in regard to conversion that is not it, and I believe the Apostles understood this, if not we have to assume they went against the Torah and we all know they did not, assuming gentiles are party to the New Covenant, or we would have to assume, gentiles are not really covenant members.

      Side note, concerning the "World to Come":

      Ezekiel 44:9 says:
      Thus says the Lord God, “No foreigner uncircumcised in heart and uncircumcised in flesh, of all the foreigners who are among the sons of Israel, shall enter My sanctuary.

      I understand this to mean, that if a gentile wants to enter God's sanctuary, they can't just be circumcised of heart, they must also be circumcised of the flesh, saying that a gentile does not need to be circumcised is incorrect in this case and even more so concerning the covenant responsibility... I don't know anyone who believes in God who would not want to come near to God in His sanctuary... But I don't think a foreigner who is circumcised of heart and flesh becomes a Jew, instead they become a foreigner who is circumcised of heart and flesh, that's all. I don't see the Apostles teaching gentiles became Jews. Yet many would argue that covenant entrance involved becoming a Jew, I simply do not see this in scripture, even in the Torah, the ger always remains a ger, even when circumcised.


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    6. Entering the "assembly of the L-rd" was totally voluntary for foreigners living among Israelites ("may" not "must")

      I realized I missed something you said which was really good -> "may, not must".

      I agree, I think this applies today, even with Yeshua... I truly believe that we all have choices, even a Jew who is born into covenant, has a choice to leave, and gentiles who are not born into covenant, unless their parents are in covenant, have a choice to make. No one is forced, someone might say that a Jew is forced, but that is only true if the Jew cannot leave covenant, but a Jew can definitely leave covenant or better stated cut off.

      So if one wants assurance of salvation it is found in Yeshua, but I don't think it is as simple as saying anyone who does not believe in Yeshua is automatically going to hell, there is assurance found in Yeshua, but for one who does not trust in Him, there is no assurance, the scales will be weighed.

      I see this as the same before Yeshua, covenant relationship with God has always been my understanding of assurance. As seen by Abraham and that covenant relationship is more than being born into covenant or being circumcised, it is by Faith.

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  3. Gene, thanks for the response.

    Official marriage ceremonies are not specified anywhere in the Bible (but of course, we know from history that they too were practiced in ancient Israel and elsewhere). And yet, many if not most (non-nominal) Christians today would no doubt say that a proper marriage between believers is not official unless marriage vows before G-d and community were taken.

    Great point and I agree, however this is not the same as covenant relationship to God and thus now part of His people, as this relates to a communal level while covenant relationship with God is beyond community accountability it is soul accountability to God(just to be clear, I am not saying marriage does not matter to God, what I am saying is covenant relationship with God is more important and much bigger than anything else, not simply decided by a few men or orchestrating a few vows between humans). And when I said, don't you think God would have mentioned it at least once, I was saying that in regard to conversion by circumcision, which He gave no instruction, but I do believe He has in regard to conversion described by Paul in Romans 5 with Abraham as the ultimate example. I only made the original statement in concern for those who think ritual circumcision for conversion is a biblical doctrine. Thus the scriptures teach about conversion, just not ritual conversion by circumcision.

    "When the people heard this law, they excluded from Israel all who were of foreign descent." (Nehemiah 13:3)

    The above gives us a hint that at least during the immediate postexilic time, a foreigner couldn't just join Israel and claim to be Israel by voluntarily "adopting Torah" on their own, even if they lived among Israel.


    Reading the context, I would take this farther than your claim, it would seem they were excluding this mixed multitude that were not even covenant members or people who simply adopted Torah, I see no reason to believe these people simply adopted Torah, which is understandable, read the first 2 verses for context, the Moabite and Ammonite, they were simply people present in the Land, truly foreigners.

    Those who would like to imagine that there were no standards for official acceptance of foreigners into Israel (a.k.a. "conversion") imagine that any foreigner could just come into Israel from outside, not approach or involve any Jewish authorities in any way before taking on Israel's religion, start observing commandments all on their very own (without anyone having to teach them first), and the community would just have to accept them as fellow Israelites. Not only that, but give their daughters or sons to them for marriage!

    Gene, I never assumed Israel was not a functioning nation/government with rules on visa's and of course citizen status, they would have been over run if they just let every John Doe come in and out and do whatever they like. But conversion by circumcision involves a little more than a visa to visit a country, it involved covenant status and a gentile becoming a Jew, which in turn resulted in citizenship as well. Because covenant relationship is a full package, not just accepting the Torah, as you know, it involved citizenship, identity with the nation, responsibility to the people and the government, obviously responsibility to God... You can't have covenant relationship with God minus all these responsibilities that come with it.

    With that said, I believe the scriptures already lay the foundation for covenant inclusion, and thus the covenant obligations and thus the covenant blessings and cursings... What I don't see in scripture is the foundation for ritual conversion by circumcision, instead I see an opposition to it.

    Thanks for the discussion, if you have more input or more opposition to what I think is correct, please state it, many run from this debate, like Peter I enjoy it and think it is very important.

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    1. Perhaps a distinction should be made here between covenant membership which gives access to the World to Come and covenant membership which is limited to this world. Both are related to G-d and to the community, but on different levels. The one is eternal, the other only temporal, limited to this mortal life. Every born Israelite is a covenant member of the Sinai Covenant, which determines his status in this temporal world. Every person — Israelite or non-Israelite — that has true saving faith, is a covenant member of the New Covenant and has a share in the eternal life of the World to Come.

      The question is how these levels of covenant membership are interrelated.

      It is clear that the fact of being born in the context of the Sinai Covenant doesn't imply that one will obtain eternal life. The temporal level of covenant membership in this world doesn't imply the eternal level of having a share in the World to Come.

      On the other hand, one would think that a person who is a member of the New Covenant is also a member of the Sinai Covenant, since the New Covenant is a renewal of the Sinai Covenant and thus presupposes the Sinai Covenant. For the New Covenant is simply the circumcision of the heart, which is the same as being in the state of grace through saving faith.

      However, it is difficult to imagine how faith can have such effects on the temporal level as including a person in the Sinai Covenant. For the level of the heart is not the same as the juridical or legal level of being a member of the nation of Israel.

      To say that a person is included in the Sinai Covenant by his saving faith is like saying that a man who loves a girl (which is a matter of the heart) is already married to her (which is matter of a legal contract). These two levels should not be confused. What would we respond to an Anglophile American who tells us of a "change of heart" which revealed his true identity as a member of the British Nation and that he now wants to live according to the laws of Good Old England? Wouldn't we suggest that in order to obtain the British nationality he should simply follow the legal procedures and that his "change of heart" really has no legal effects at all?

      This is the conundrum we face. According to Exodus 12:48 a stranger can only become "as one that is born in the land" after circumcision, i.e. after ceremonial legal inclusion. It is obvious that this circumcision is the literal and bodily circumcision, not the circumcision of the heart. According to the Gospel preached by the Apostles, however, Gentiles share in the New Covenant by their faith in Messiah. So they seem to become covenant members by faith only, without circumcision. And they seem to share in the Covenant of Sinai, because the New Covenant is itself, of which they are partakers, is itself a renewal of the Sinai Covenant.

      The really strange consequence of this is that, if it is correct that a believing Gentile male is a covenant member of the Sinai Covenant by his faith, then it follows that he must be circumcised as soon as reasonably possible, because the Sinai Covenant doesn't allow for uncircumcised covenant members.

      Another strange consequence is that persons born from believing Christian parents are all home-born Israelites on the level of the temporal covenant. Since their parents are members of the New Covenant, and thus are members of the Sinai Covenant and included in Israel, the children are immediately and by birth members of the Sinai Covenant and born Israelites.

      These consequences seem very difficult to maintain. It would mean that all the offspring of believing Christians are Jewish, as being home-born in Israel. But, on the other hand, these consequences are equally difficult to escape, since membership of the New Covenant really seems to imply membership of the Sinai Covenant.

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    2. But if the Sinai Covenant only represents temporal and only the New Covenant represents eternal life, wouldn't that mean that everyone before the New Covenant, starting with Yeshua's sacrifice is lost? I tend to think since our own saving faith is represented by the father of our faith that being Abraham that assurance of salvation from God has been since the beginning. And since all the covenants are intertwined as you stated above, they all flow together.

      It is clear that the fact of being born in the context of the Sinai Covenant doesn't imply that one will obtain eternal life. The temporal level of covenant membership in this world doesn't imply the eternal level of having a share in the World to Come.

      I fully agree.

      On the other hand, one would think that a person who is a member of the New Covenant is also a member of the Sinai Covenant, since the New Covenant is a renewal of the Sinai Covenant and thus presupposes the Sinai Covenant. For the New Covenant is simply the circumcision of the heart, which is the same as being in the state of grace through saving faith.

      Agreed.

      This is the conundrum we face. According to Exodus 12:48 a stranger can only become "as one that is born in the land" after circumcision, i.e. after ceremonial legal inclusion. It is obvious that this circumcision is the literal and bodily circumcision, not the circumcision of the heart.

      Agreed, however, gentiles could be part of the covenant even then without being circumcised, they would not be able to take part in all that the covenant offered, for example, those who resided among Israel that were uncircumcised were commanded to keep the feast, the only one thing they could not do was eat the Pesach Lamb, but they were commanded to eat unleavened bread, no matter if they were circumcised or not. This in itself tells me there is a level of covenant relationship established before circumcision, we see that in Abraham in covenant with God before being circumcised. We see Israel in the wilderness in covenant with God 40+ years without being circumcised. Thus we do see aliens who are part of Israel must keep the feast days and many other commandments, even when not circumcised.

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    3. "membership of the New Covenant really seems to imply membership of the Sinai Covenant."

      On the other hand, we have in Acts apostles (and the Holy Spirit) granting Gentiles coming to faith an exemption from having to live as Israelites and even from the physical circumcision, while at the same expecting Jews to continue living as Jews. Which begs the question - did the apostles really view Gentiles as bound by all the same terms of the Sinai Covenant as they were? I would suggest that the available evidence seems to point to "no".

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    4. On the other hand, we have in Acts apostles (and the Holy Spirit) granting Gentiles coming to faith an exemption from having to live as Israelites and even from the physical circumcision, while at the same expecting Jews to continue living as Jews. Which begs the question - did the apostles really view Gentiles as bound by all the same terms of the Sinai Covenant as they were? I would suggest that the available evidence seems to point to "no".

      Exemption? Acts 15:1 stated how these gentiles could be part of the covenant and the answer was not an exemption towards gentiles, it was the correct understanding of covenant relationship. To say exemption, is to assume Acts 15:1 is correct and the Apostles were not correct.

      The Apostles could not change the Torah and they could not change covenant entrance rules, instead they learned what proper and true covenant entrance was based on, and it was not circumcision, point in case, the Pharisees in Acts 15:1 were simply wrong.

      With that said, building a whole case on what gentiles are or not responsible to, cannot be defined by just a few verses in Acts 15. FFOZ tried that, and failed to produce any legitimacy to their claims. It is the equivalent to churches in the south who took a verse concerning snakes(Luke 10:19) and built a whole faith based group around the doctrine, its amateur.

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    5. Messianic613 and Gene,

      When we talk about non-Jews converting, we (the Inclusionists) mean that they have joined the Kingdom of Israel (i.e. the Yeshua-governed kahal/ekklesia); we do not mean to imply that non-Jews have joined physical Israel (the man-governed institution).

      Keep in mind that the modern state of Israel is not the same as the eschatological Kingdom Israel that will exist in the Messianic Age. In the Kingdom, citizenship operates differently than in the current, man-governed Israel.

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    6. Peter, in the context of our discussions and unless otherwise specified (e.g. when referring to the State of Israel), by "Israel" I always mean Jews.

      On the other hand, it's also true that there will be Kingdom of G-d on earth, going out of the Land of Israel. This will make all peoples subjects of the King of Israel and by extension, the Kingdom of Israel. At the same time, all nations will preserve their unique distinctions, names and locales, and will not be collectively referred to as "Israel".

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  4. According to the Gospel preached by the Apostles, however, Gentiles share in the New Covenant by their faith in Messiah. So they seem to become covenant members by faith only, without circumcision. And they seem to share in the Covenant of Sinai, because the New Covenant is itself, of which they are partakers, is itself a renewal of the Sinai Covenant.

    I fully agree, because I don't see circumcision as the entrance, circumcision is a commandment. While the Apostles said that gentiles do not need to be circumcised, I take that within context of, "they do not need to be circumcised to enter covenant", which has always been true, this is not a conflict of legal rulings, if this is something new, then we are changing the rules of the Torah, which is a bigger conflict. With that said, in my opinion, I don't see anywhere in the Apostolic writings where circumcision is discussed as simply a commandment, the issues taken with circumcision in the Apostolic Writings, all revolve around conversion, this is at least all I have seen.

    The really strange consequence of this is that, if it is correct that a believing Gentile male is a covenant member of the Sinai Covenant by his faith, then it follows that he must be circumcised as soon as reasonably possible, because the Sinai Covenant doesn't allow for uncircumcised covenant members.

    While I agree, I don't see the time limit, God allowed Israel's native born's to go uncircumcised for 40+ years without destroying them, it wasn't until entering the Land, that circumcised was forced or better said, put into force. I wonder if gentiles who do not live in the Land, along with unbelieving Israel, who wants and has nothing to do covenant gentiles, plays a part in this mercy period. Maybe the Apostles thought when that time came they would deal with it, and that time simply never came. I am obviously just guessing here.

    Also, the Apostles considered the Gentiles to now be part of a family and community, they didn't just receive assurance of eternal life, they joined a family who they were now responsible for, which truly shows it was covenant entrance not just some individual acceptance of eternal life as some proponents like to think. Gentiles who come to faith in Messiah are now responsible to Israel and their Jewish brothers, no way around that, its part of the covenant responsibility, as we both know Paul states this in Ephesians in various forms, how we share the same platform with our Jewish brethren in many responsibilities and ways, not just in regard to salvation.

    By the way, you bring up some excellent points!

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  5. Perhaps someone should deal with G-d's statement in Jer. that the New Covenant would NOT be like the Sinai Covenant.

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    1. Perhaps someone should deal with G-d's statement in Jer. that the New Covenant would NOT be like the Sinai Covenant.

      The only thing I have seen different from the Sinai covenant, is that the Torah is written on the Heart instead of stone.

      The New Covenant is made with the same people, and using the same Torah.

      Did you have something else in mind?

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  6. "The only thing I have seen different from the Sinai covenant, is that the Torah is written on the Heart instead of stone."

    And yet, that would make Jer. in fact wrong.

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    1. And yet, that would make Jer. in fact wrong.

      Not at all.

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  7. "Not at all"

    If what you state is correct, Jer. would clearly have said the day would come when G-d would renew the Covenant he made "with your fathers at Sinai"

    Why did he then say the opposite of that?

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    1. If what you state is correct, Jer. would clearly have said the day would come when G-d would renew the Covenant he made "with your fathers at Sinai"

      Why did he then say the opposite of that?


      The answer is in the details, the covenant is made with the same people at Sinai, according to you this is problem number one. Number two, the Torah is part of this covenant just like Sinai, problem number two... so how do you reason Jeremiah's understanding?

      For me its simple, unlike Sinai where the Torah was written externally, the New Covenant involves it being written internally, this is a big enough difference to me, to say that its unlike the Sinai covenant...

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    2. Jews believe that Torah applies to all, but not all of Torah applies to all. So, from a Jewish point of view, there's no problem with Gentiles having Torah written on their hearts with the coming of Messiah. It still doesn't make them obligated to the terms of the Mosaic Covenant.

      Because of Yeshua, Gentiles who embrace Israel's G-d and Israel's Messiah do indeed spiritually benefit from all covenants G-d has made with Israel, but they are not bound by their terms (do Gentiles get kicked out of the land of Israel for breaking Shabbats, do they get cut off for not circumcising themselves?). Both the Mosaic Covenant and the New Covenant are very much connected and inseparable, but only in the New Covenant the hope is extended to Gentiles (with prophets predicated them coming to Jerusalem to worship Israel's G-d), without requiring them to become Israelites or leave their nations.

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  8. New question, gentlemen: Can we all agree that "Israel" refers to two different realms, the realm of Kingdom Israel (i.e. Yeshua's kahal/ekklesia) and the realm of physical, man-governed Israel (e.g. the modern state of Israel or any of the various Jewish sects)?

    Perhaps this will advance the discussion.

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    1. Repeating my comment to a similar question of yours:

      Peter, in the context of our discussions and unless otherwise specified (e.g. when referring to the State of Israel), by "Israel" I always mean Jews.

      On the other hand, it's also true that there will be Kingdom of G-d on earth, going out of the Land of Israel. This will make all peoples subjects of the King of Israel and by extension, the Kingdom of Israel. At the same time, all nations will preserve their unique distinctions, names and locales, and will not be collectively referred to as "Israel".

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    2. Gene,

      So is it your opinion that when Paul referred to the "Israel of God" that he was talking about the first-century state of Israel? Or would you agree that it's possible he was talking about how Yeshua was currently governing Kingdom Israel, a spiritual entity composed of all Believers? I think that Kingdom Israel exists now in a spiritual sense and will exist in the future in a physical sense when Moshiach returns.


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    3. In the same way, Paul in Ephesians 2 isn't saying that non-Jews are citizens (politeia) in man-governed Israel. Nor was Paul saying that the current, man-made political institution would recognize that non-Jews have rights. On the contrary, the rights and duties that non-Jews have is between them and G-d. They exist whether or not physical Israel recognizes them. All that really matters is that the future King of Israel will recognize these rights (and duties).

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    4. "Paul referred to the "Israel of God" that he was talking about the first-century state of Israel?"

      No, I believe that Paul was referring to righteous Jews here.

      "In the same way, Paul in Ephesians 2 isn't saying that non-Jews are citizens (politeia) in man-governed Israel."

      As I understand it, Ephesians 2 speaks of Gentiles who, through Messiah, are being drawn near to the G-d of Israel, to the covenants of Israel and to the Kingdom of G-d/Israel (Commonwealth of Israel). No longer are they estranged from G-d, Messiah and Israel (by which I again mean, Jews/Israelites, the nation of Israel), yet, of course, they do not become G-d, Messiah or Israel themselves.

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    5. "man-made political institution would recognize that non-Jews have rights."

      See, that's a problem too, to think this way (that is to separate Judaism from Israel, modern state Israel from Israel in other state forms in the Bible, Jews from Israel the country.)

      I just don't see evidence that G-d deals with Israel quite like this, that he ignores some parts of it as "man-made". One can call modern Israel a "man-made institution" or as Christians like to do, call Judaism a "man-made religion", and yet few would deny G-d's hand in blessing the nation of Israel (in spite of all their flaws, which are no worse than that of others). Even most sola-scriptura Protestant messianics borrow heavily from Judaism at will, while denying that Jesus has anything to do with this "religion of the rabbis".

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    6. See, that's a problem too, to think this way (that is to separate Judaism from Israel, modern state Israel from Israel in other state forms in the Bible, Jews from Israel the country.)

      But the scriptures make these distinctions already. For example, Paul in Romans 9:6-7, Romans 11:5, we see the scriptures separate the remnant from that of the whole.

      Basically we have many distinctions, we have the Body of Messiah, which is a entity that exist within Israel, consisting of both Jews and Gentiles who trust in the Messiah, then we have Israel as a whole, which represents both believing and non-believing Jews. Then we have the current state of Judaism, which as a majority do not believe Yeshua is the Messiah, and are thus not part of the Body of Messiah, yet they are Israel. We have the state of Israel which is mainly secular which majority do not even participate or manage the government based on Judaism, and of course not the understanding of Yeshua as the Messiah.

      Thus what does this look like... We have the Jewish apostles, who were a subset of Israel, who were put as an authority over the body of Messiah, and were given this authority from God. They viewed, witnessed and progressed the Kingdom of God, they brought in and recognized Gentiles as fellowheirs and covenant members. Judaism and Israel today does not share this same view, there clearly is a difference, they are intertwined but still a distinction. Saying its all the same is not correct.

      So as Peter stated correctly, the physical state of Israel and Judaism today do not recognize the Body of Messiah consisting of both Jews and Gentiles, even if Jews are recognized by some of Judaism and Israel, gentiles definitely are not and will not be until the understanding of Messiah comes into play.

      So on one hand, Jew and Gentile who are part of the Body of Messiah are accepted and recognized by God, but are not accepted and not recognized by Israel and Judaism. Can you see the problem? If I base my understanding on modern Judaism or modern Israel for my covenant relationship with God, I should pack my bags and find another religion, because Judaism and Israel want/have nothing to do with me, from their perspective there is no body of Messiah and I am not in covenant with God.

      I am not trying to bash Judaism or Israel, as I am with you in believing God has not forsaken His people, and if He has, then I should start packing my bags... :P But this was said to show there is clearly a difference.

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    7. Yes, there is a difference. Very well put.

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  9. "The answer is in the details, the covenant is made with the same people at Sinai, according to you this is problem number one."

    Not correct....I believe the covenant is made with the descendants of the same people at Sinai, just as Jeremiah said "THEIR fathers at Sinai".

    "Number two, the Torah is part of this covenant just like Sinai, problem number two... "

    Wrong again, it's not a problem G-d's instruction will be written on the hearts although his instructions are living and changing. For example....when Israel entered the land of promise, they ceased camping in tents around the tabernacle in the formation they were commanded by G-d in the wilderness. The territories of the tribes in the land of Israel were not in that formation. "The families of the Gershonites shall encamp behind the tabernacle westward." Further example, when the manna ceased Israel stopped "gather a double portion on the sixth day".

    "so how do you reason Jeremiah's understanding?"

    I am not reasoning Jeremiah's understanding. My statement was that "Perhaps someone should deal with G-d's statement in Jer. that the New Covenant would NOT be like the Sinai Covenant."

    How does "not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers" translate to "exactly the covenant I made with their fathers"? Is this a transnational error and I am mearly in need of some Hebrew lessons?. (what's good enough for you is not exactly what I'm looking for, rather, I am hoping someone will actually deal with the text so we can understand what G-d meant when he said it).

    Also, if Hebrews speaks of "first" and "second" as though they are not the same thing but different covenants, with different promises, different priesthood, is this all just transnational errors and bias and who can prove that if it is so?

    If G-d meant to tell us the New Covenant was a renewal of the old where did he say so.

    1) The New Covenant is with Israel and Judah...we agree on that.
    2) The New Covenant involves G-d's instruction written on the heart...we agree on that.
    3) The New Covenant is "not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers"....we do not agree on that.

    Perhaps it's time someone deals with the text and reveal any existing transitional error, to prove that Jesus died to return us to the Sinai Covenant.


    Shalom


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    1. "Perhaps it's time someone deals with the text and reveal any existing transitional error, to prove that Jesus died to return us to the Sinai Covenant."

      The Sinai Covenant still stands as does the Torah (which has not passed away, according to Yeshua), as does the covenant G-d made with Noah, Abraham, David, etc. So, there's no need to return Israel to it. Instead, I believe that Yeshua died to return us to righteousness that G-d wants of humanity, Messiah's perfect righteousness being transferred to many. Lack of righteousness and holiness on our part separates us from G-d. Righteousness or lack thereof is measured against G-d's standards as laid out is His statutes, ordinances and decrees. That's why we will be judged by our obedience.

      When Jeremiah wrote the words that Israel broke G-d's (Mosaic) Covenant, it could not have meant that the "old" Covenant has ceased to be binding on Israel just because (most but not all of) Israel broke it. After all, Yeshua himself came while under the same Mosaic Covenant, and he came after Jeremiah declared Israel in breach of it. In Hebrews the "Old Covenant" is passING away, not passed away.

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  10. Gene, I agree with what you have said to a point. Israel is "under the law" and cursed for not keeping the terms of the Sinai Covenant and has chosen death and not life for we know that Yeshua is "the life" and rejected by his own.

    The Old Covenant IS passing away....and one can see this as Israel passes FROM death INTO life.

    The Old Covenant is death not because the Torah was wrong or unlawful. It was death because Israel agreed to follow G-d's instructions but when it came time to actually accomplish the Torah they refused to keep it. His God overlooking the death term of the Old Covenant? No, but he made a new and living way out of the circumstances of death.

    This is what Jeremiah is referring to and one can see it in Hebrews as well as Paul's writings. The Old Covenant and it's terms hold sway over the dead, but it has no power over the living.

    In Christ there is no curse, no death, no condemnation, no need to go outside the camp or offer up animal sacrifices.

    Still, no one has stepped up to the plate to answer me concerning the text.

    How is it that "not like the brit I made with their fathers" has become "just like the one I made with their fathers".

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  11. I am just a simple man, not a scholar like you guys, so here is some questions?

    1) Why does the Apostolic writing calls "converts" who went through the rabbinic ritual of conversion "proselytes?" If they converted, then why not call them Jews?

    2) Didn't Abraham circumcised himself?

    3) Did the strangers and slaves in the first covenant community (Abraham household) were forced to be circumcised or they agreed on their own?

    4) Did Ishmael agreed?

    5) did Abraham followed a set ritual in order to circumcise all the males in his household?

    6) IN Gilgal, did Joshua followed any specific ritual?

    7) Does the Tanach mandate any specific ritual for conversion?

    8) Why we read about Ruth the Moavite and not Ruth the Jew?

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    1. Great questions from Dan...

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  12. "How is it that "not like the brit I made with their fathers" has become "just like the one I made with their fathers"."

    Your question have been answered. Can you quote any differences beside where the Torah will be written?

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    1. Exactly, this guy wants to argue Jeremiah 31 and the fact that he can't make his case from Jeremiah 31 he runes to another book...

      Sorry Anonymous, unless you can deal with Jeremiah 31, you have no case.

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    2. WOW, in all my years of study with Yeshua's believers, (45 or more years) I have NEVER heard of NOT using all the bible has to say on a subject.

      The only time I EVER heard of someone insisting on examining a subject using ONE scripture was from unbelievers.

      Any honest follower of Yeshua who truly wants to understand a subject will put all the bible says on a subject under examination.

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    3. You never dealt with Jeremiah 31, don't you think you should at least do that first. Then once you have done that, we can go to other books.

      Hebrews is full of metaphorical language, when someone does not know literary devices very well, they turn Hebrews on its head, which I would go ahead and assume on your part based on a few points you have already made.

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    4. Zion, that's just bologna. There is nothing to deal with in Jeremiah other than the points I addressed.

      1) The Covenant is NEW and "not according to the brit I made with their fathers at Sinai.

      2) The New Covenant is with Israel and Judah.

      3) G-d will write his instructions on the heart and inward parts of those he makes the covenant with.

      So, how can you say I never dealt with Jeremiah 31?

      Further more, If you are going to make the premise that I have "turned Hebrews on its head" then you should have some proof.

      All of the list I provided on differences between the Sinai Covenant and the New Covenant are valid. You have not dealt with these realities recorded in scripture.

      I really have begun to doubt you and your willingness to discuss a subject honestly.

      I'm leaving this thread.

      "Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye."

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  13. "Can you quote any differences beside where the Torah will be written?"

    1) Levitical priesthood

    2) Eternal Life- first Resurrection

    3) made clean by "my word that is in you"

    4) The Holy Spirit baptism

    5) The words of Yeshua- spirit and life

    6) Worship in spirit and in truth

    7) A people called out of the nations, joined together and given the name of G-d.

    8) No Curses

    9) No condemnation

    10) A high priest of the order of Melchizedek

    11) A new and living way into the holiest place

    12) The true tabernacle not made of human hands

    13) To "know G-d"

    14) The blood of Messiah- a better sacrifice

    15) Sin completely 'put away'- salvation

    16) The perfection of those who are sanctified

    17) an end to the sin offering

    18) We have come to Mt Zion, the city of the living G-d with an enrollment in heaven

    19) Resurrection from the dead

    To name a few....Shalom

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  14. You really have named none. According to Jer. 31:31.

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  15. "You really have named none. According to Jer. 31:31."

    Your right. What I have named did not come from Jer. 31:31

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  16. "Can we all agree that "Israel" refers to two different realms, the realm of Kingdom Israel (i.e. Yeshua's kahal/ekklesia) and the realm of physical, man-governed Israel (e.g. the modern state of Israel or any of the various Jewish sects)?"

    Do you mean the bond woman and the free woman?

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  17. " For it is written, that Abraham had two sons, the one by a bondmaid, the other by a freewoman.

    But he who was of the bondwoman was born after the flesh; but he of the freewoman was by promise.

    Which things are an allegory: for these are the two covenants; the one from the mount Sinai, which gendereth to bondage, which is Agar.

    For this Agar is mount Sinai in Arabia, and answereth to Jerusalem which now is, and is in bondage with her children.

    But Jerusalem which is above is free, which is the mother of us all"

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  18. "Do you mean the bond woman and the free woman?"

    how can it be? Hagar and Ishmael were not part of Israel...Are you just throwing stuff against the wall hoping something will stick?

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  19. "how can it be? Hagar and Ishmael were not part of Israel...Are you just throwing stuff against the wall hoping something will stick?"

    Dan, I was quoting the Apostle and these are not my idea's or my words. They are found in Galatians 4. Perhaps he learned it from Gamaliel?

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