Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Saved and Unsaved Israel=Law-Bound and Law-Free Israel?: Evaluating the Propriety of Inferring From a Soteriological Distinction That There is a Corresponding Nomological Distinction (FFOZ's Position as Case Study)





So I probably shouldn't blog while using allergy medication but...here goes anyway....

Most Messianics are familiar with the fact that Paul occasionally employs qualifying language with regard to Israel to apparently make a soteriological distinction.  In other words, Paul seems to be saying that there is a "Saved Realm of Israel" and an "Unsaved Realm of Israel":

  • "See Israel according to the flesh! are not those eating the sacrifices in the fellowship of the altar?" 1 Cor. 10:18
  • "For neither circumcision counts for anything, nor uncircumcision, but a new creation.  And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God," Gal 6:16
  • "For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed?" Romans 10:11-14
Okay, so that's pretty straightforward.  In Pauline thinking, not all of Israel is saved.  And to differentiate the saved and unsaved realms, he uses terms like "Israel of God" and "Israel According to the Flesh."

But is it appropriate to use this soteriological distinction as evidence that there is also a nomological distinction of "Law-Bound Realm of Israel" and "Law-Free Realm of Israel"?

First Fruits of Zion certainly seems to think that this is appropriate:

Lancaster:


"...in the days of Amos, the Davidic monarchy wasn't what it had been.  David's house used to rule over a united Israel.  All twelve tribes served under David and under David's son Solomon.  There was peace and prosperity when all the tribes of Israel were unified under the shelter of David's sukkah.  But Amos lived in a time when ten of the twelve tribes were outside of the Davidic monarchy.  They had their own king, Jeroboam II.  They had their own capital and their own holy places.  The Davidic monarchy, which used to rule over all the tribes of Israel, retained only two tribes:  Judah and Benjamin.  By comparison to what it once was, it had collapsed.
      'The prophet saw that one day David's house would collapse completely and there would be no king from the line of David sitting on the throne of Israel or Judah.  But after that, Amos tells us, David's fallen sukkah will be rebuilt.  They dynasty will be restored.  A new Davidic king will sit on the throne of all of Israel again.  The broken places of the monarchy will be repaired; the ruins of David's dynasty will be restored.
     'When that happens, the house of David will possess 'the remnant of Edom and all the nations that bear [Adonai's] Name.'  It is a picture of the prophetic ideal.  Things will return to the way they were in the good old days.  It will be like it was in the days of Solomon, when Edom was a vassal state of Israel and all the nations brought tribute to King Solomon in Jerusalem.  His house will possess Edom and all the nations will be subject to him, and all the nations subject to him will bear the LORD's Name.
     'The Gentile nations who bear God's Name are nations like those the prophet invokes in Amos 9:7: 'Are not you Israelites the same to me as Cushites?  Did I not bring Israel up from Egypt, the Philistines from Caphtor, and the Arameans from Kir?' (emphasis added).  God's point is that he is working with other nations too.  He is not just the God of Israel; he is the God of the whole world.  His plan of redemption is universal in scope and not limited only to Israel.  When David's fallen sukkah is restored, all these nations that he has patiently worked with will bear God's Name and become the possession of the House of David.  They will be ruled by the king of Israel as part of the commonwealth of Israel.
     'The Septuagint reading of Amos 9:12 is slightly different.  According to the book of Acts, James quotes a reading of the Hebrew closer to the Septuagint's rendering of the passage.  That version of the passage tells us that David's fallen sukkah will be restored so 'that the remnant of men, and all the Gentiles upon whom my Name is called, may earnestly seek me.'  Therefore, the purpose of a restored Davidic king is that all mankind may seek God.
     'This Septuagint version apparently read the Hebrew Edom as adam, meaning all mankind.  The two variants are not contradictory; rather, they complement each other's meanings.  According to the traditional Hebrew reading, the restored Davidic dynasty will possess the remnant of Edom (a Gentile nation) and, in fact, all the nations that bear God's Name.  According to the LXX reading, the Davidic dynasty will be restored so that the aforementioned nations may seek the LORD.
     'In either case, the Gentiles who bear God's Name are Gentile nations who will be subject to an Israelite monarchy, a monarchy that will afford them the opportunity to seek the LORD,"  Lancaster, Grafted In, pgs 112-113.

"How does this passage [Acts 15:15-18] legitimize the decision of James and the Jerusalem Council? In what way does this passage justify a Gentile exemption from circumcision, conversion to Judaism, and full liability to the laws of the Torah?
To James and the believers in Jerusalem, David's restored sukkah is Yeshua. He is the Davidic king who has come to rebuild the monarchy of Israel. Yeshua is the repairer of the broken places, the restorer of the ruins, who rebuilds the legitimate throne of Israel. According to the Amos passage, the restored Davidic kingdom will include Gentiles who bear God's Name.
Paul's Gentile believers fit the prophet's description well. They were Gentiles from the nations who identified themselves with God's Name and sought after God because of the kingship of Yeshua. However, if the Gentiles who seek the LORD through Yeshua must be circumcised to become legally Jewish, they cease to be Gentiles. By virtue of the fact that Amos calls them "Gentiles" who bear God's Name, they cannot be Jews, nor can they be proselytes to Judaism. The moment that such a Gentile legally converted to Judaism, he would become legally (halachically) Jewish and no longer be a Gentile who bore God's Name. In that case, the believing Gentiles would fail to fulfill the prophecy because the prophecy clearly speaks of these God-seekers as Gentiles. For the prophecy to be literally fulfilled, both Jews and Gentiles must exist in the days of Messiah--an impossibility if all Gentiles were forced to become legally Jewish.
Amos's Gentiles are to be vassals of the Jewish king. As such, they are to be part of the commonwealth of Israel, with rights as citizens of Israel. They are to be bound to the laws of the king of Israel, but they are to be regarded as Gentiles. They have a legitimate place in the kingdom and citizenship in Israel, but they still maintain their own non-Jewish, legal identity” Lancaster, White Paper, Acts 15 Re-Examined

Boaz Michael:

"The concept of the Tent of David, central as it is to the identity of the church and the Messianic Gentile, is seriously under-appreciated.  The prophets envisioned a kingdom that brought myriads of Gentiles to the knowledge of the Messiah and submission to his rule.  Isaiah (2:2) prophesied that people from all nations--Gentiles--would flow to Jerusalem and worship there.  Later in Isaiah (11:10-12), Messiah is said to inspire Gentiles to come to him as well as regather the scattered Jewish people.  Isaiah 49:6; Micah 4:2; and Zechariah 8:22-23 contain similar prophecies.
     'The Lord's brother saw the potential and the prophetic necessity for Yeshua-believing Gentiles and Jews to partner in making the prophets' vision a reality.  The Messiah had come and Gentiles were coming to him in droves.  Paul's ministry was devoted to making the 'obedience of faith' a reality in the Gentile community, connecting his Gentile believers to Israel and teaching them how to properly submit to the rule of King Messiah.
     The apostles desired that Gentile believers would partner with the believing Jewish community, begin practicing what would have then been considered a form of Judaism in solidarity with the Jewish people, live a life of submission to the Messiah King, and work alongside Messianic Jews to spread the message of the kingdom throughout the nations.  The apostle Paul called the resulting alliance between believing Jew and Gentile the 'commonwealth of Israel' (Ephesians 2:12).
     The Gentile believers, as part of this commonwealth, had a unique and vital role in the process of building the Tent of David, using their numbers and resources to empower and spread the message of the kingdom in their own culture.  In this way, the apostles envisioned the imminent restoration of the Tent of David and the establishment of Yeshua's hegemony over the entire world.  This apocalyptic-eschatological vision was really the defining impetus of the apostles' entire Gentile mission.  It would hardly be an overstatement to say that this apostolic vision is Christianity's raison d'etre, its reason for existing," Boaz Michael, Tent of David, pgs. 21-22

6 comments:

  1. Lancaster wrote: "[this passage justifies] a Gentile exemption from circumcision, conversion to Judaism, and full liability to the laws of the Torah"

    Lancaster wrote: "[Gentiles] are to be bound to the laws of the king of Israel,"

    We know Bilateral Ecclesiology relaxes Torah for Gentiles today. But, Lancaster doesn't clarify whether there will be a class of "laws of the king of Israel" that won't apply to Gentiles in the kingdom age. Do they believe the Torah exemption is temporary?

    Isaiah 2:2b-3
    And all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.

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    1. Lancaster as far as I know, practices Messianic Judaism in a way that advocates of Bilateral Ecclesiology would consider supersessionism... FFOZ seems to sit on the fence concerning what gentiles are responsible to keep, and if there is any definitions, it usually is just random cherry picking.

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    2. No, it just looks like he's on the fence. One minute he says " "[Gentiles] are to be bound to the laws of the king of Israel," and the next minute he says "Peter considered full obligation to the Torah as an unbearable yoke for Gentile believers".

      Don't be fooled by the fact that he talks out of both sides of his mouth. He says Gentiles are bound and yet NOT bound. IT'S PREPOSTEROUS.

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  2. A few things stick out in my mind as I read this...

    *Over generalizing of scripture and not being definitive on where a gentile fits in all of this, just a bunch of assumptions being made.

    Lancaster argues that gentiles are responsible to the Torah, but not as much as Jews. Yet he offers no evidence to show how gentiles are responsible at all, just makes the assumption, however, since this is an excerpt, he possibly argues this point elsewhere. The Law of Moses (Torah) resides inside of a covenant, unless you are party to this covenant(Native born Israelites or gerim) or unless you are somehow within jurisdiction of this covenantal law, as a gentile (visiting the land or passing through), it simply does not and will not apply to you, that is not biblical or logical. You can't say some of it applies, this is a major failure on FFOZ's part, to understand both jurisdiction and covenant law. At least Bilateral Ecclesiology has a consistent argument, that "gentiles are not party to the covenant", thus they are not responsible to the Torah, usually considered Noahides(upholding the rabbinical model for gentiles), and while I disagree, there argument works, logically and biblically. You can't have one foot inside the Mosaic covenant and one foot outside of it, which is what FFOZ proposes. Again, I repeat, you are either a covenant member or you are within the jurisdiction zone of the Law, unless one of those requirements are met, there is NO responsibility to the Law of Moses.

    Based on what Lancaster said, it would seem that he is saying Boaz Michael is wrong for changing his non-Jewish identity. Is Boaz regretful of taking on "Jewish" identity, because he advocates that gentiles should not do this, while he himself as a gentile did this very thing he says not to do?

    That said, I agree that gentiles should remain gentiles, as that is what happened in the era of Biblical Judaism, gerim did not become native borns, which is not hard to understand, you were either born in the country/nation or you were not, this is not rocket science. The idea of "becoming" a Jew is not biblical and is a bad idea. It is the equivalent to saying, "I am becoming a native born", nope, impossible, one is either born a native at birth or not... And even then, just because one might be born in a country/nation, does not mean your ethnicity changes, of course, some would argue that being a Jew is not simply confined to ethnicity, but that argument is anachronistic anyways.

    In the excerpt from Boaz Michael, he points to a few prophecies in the Tanach, concerning the nations, which by the way, are very generalized, and then implies these prophecies speak of gentile believers. These prophecies are generally regarded as eschatological, usually understood to be referring to some time at the beginning or a little after the start of the Messianic Age. There is a problem with this, and that is, not defining the characters. The Messianic Age will consist of potentially 4 groups of people. 2 of the groups will be those who put on the resurrection(eternal life, the first resurrection) and the other 2 groups will be those who did not, but were spared because of God's mercy.

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    1. There will be Jews and Gentiles who put on the resurrection, and there will be Jews and Gentiles who do not put on the resurrection. How we all will relate, I am not entirely sure, but it is important to note, that those who put on the resurrection will be considered the sons of God.

      I think it is very important to understand who the bible is referring to in context, and I don't think Boaz proved his point, maybe he did elsewhere since this is only an excerpt.

      If we don't define the characters, then we will not understand what the scriptures are saying and to whom.

      Just to stay consistent, without validating who is being spoken of in the verses he referenced, we would also have to use the same arugment in Zech 12:9 and Zech 14:2:

      "And in that day I will set about to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.

      For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city.

      For the sake of consistency, all the nations in this verse includes gentile believers attacking Israel and raping the women, and then God, going to destroy the gentile believers. I am sure, he would say this is not referring to the gentile believers, despite it saying all nations, but how would he make the distinction, what logic would be employed? I will probably never find out. :P But that is also why his interpretation without defining the characters, falls short.

      Just some thoughts, I have never read either of those books and certainly do not plan on doing so, so I understand they may have more information concerning these issues that I raised.

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    2. In a subsequent post, I have attempted to make it even more clear what FFOZ believes:

      http://orthodoxmessianic.blogspot.com/2015/05/what-ffoz-really-believes-regarding.html

      It was no easy task believe me!

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