Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Are Non-Judaic Religions Legitimate? Wrestling with the Implications of Psalms 147:19-20

"Law of the Gentiles:  Continuum or Contrast?
'He issues His commands to Jacob, His statutes and rules to Israel.  He did not do so for any other nation;  of such rules they know nothing.  Hallelujah' (Psalms 147:19-20).  This may sound like a rather extreme statement; but let us recall that even though the Bible expects moral behavior of all people (and not only Jews), it nowhere asserts that God revealed His law to any but Jews.  The Sages, of course, would have to square these verses in Psalms with the belief in Noahide Law that is commanded to all men," Schacter, Judaism's Encounter with Other Cultures, pg. 27
This is very puzzling.  If G-d never revealed His Instructions to mankind, how did Adam and Eve know to teach their children about sacrifices?  If there is nothing to be learned from Gentile religions, why did Moses accept Jethro's teaching in Exodus 18?  If G-d never revealed His Law to gentile nations, why did G-d judge the gentiles of Noah's era for their lawlessness? Etc, etc.

Does anyone have any thoughts?

10 comments:

  1. I would understand that to mean that He hasn't dealt with any nation in a corporate manner as He has Israel. He has certainly dealt with individuals, and there is a broader expectation of all mankind, kol basar, but He did not give statutes and judgments that were used or employed in a corporate governmental manner.

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    1. So help me with this logically then... if you are correct (and I suspect you are) that only Israel has G-d's law then that means that ALL nations outside of Israel have legal systems which do not reflect G-d's law, correct? This verse is literally saying that ALL nations outside of Israel know absolutely nothing about G-d's Law.

      Am I reading this correctly?

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    2. Also, Maimonides, in his "Epistle to Yemen", seems to agree that all nations attempts at law/religion are ultimately fruitless because only the Jewish law/religion is true: "...that ours [i.e. the Jewish People's] is the true and divine religion, revealed to us through Moses..."

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    3. One more:

      "Maimonides rejected [the view that in the End of Days the distinction between Jew and Gentile would remain], anticipating a time when all Gentiles would become Jews, either through formal conversion, as I believe, or because the distinction would cease to be relevant, as Ya'akov Blidstein maintains [a.k.a. Gregory J. Blidstein]...Since all human beings will devote themselves to the pursuit of the knowledge of God in the messianic era, that which truly distinguishes Gentiles from Jews will disappear," Daniel H. Frank, A People Apart, pgs. 55-56

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  2. Without out a doubt, Israel is the only nation to have received the oracles of God. This does not mean that others have/had no knowledge of God or at least some knowledge of God, however, only Israel is given a covenant with God and His oracles.

    Paul states this in Romans 3:1-2, Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the value of circumcision? Much in every way. To begin with, the Jews were entrusted with the oracles of God.

    There are many verses throughout the Bible, that state very clearly, paraphrasing, the nations no nothing! This is why Israel has a calling (Deut 4), to be a light to the nations, because the world is ignorant of God, even with a bunch of bible believing Christians today (who know God), many still do not know what God expects of them, many live a life that looks no different than the secular world, which still proves the point, even today. The Tanakh makes many references of the Law of God finally reaching the ignorant nations, which seems to be starting now, only in a subset of gentiles believers, not the secular nation as a whole, but it probably won't see its fullness, until the Messianic Kingdom, where we see the world, under the jurisdiction of an Israeli Kingdom, for example in Zechariah, we read of the nations required to observe Sukkot, not required right now. When I say nations (in general terms), I do not categorize individual gentile believers inside of "nations", because the general reference in scripture is negative (Psalm 2), and Paul clearly states gentiles who trust in Messiah are now part of the family, separating them further from the nations.

    So while the nations/gentiles are ignorant, they can come near to God (Eph 2), learn His ways, and thus no longer be ignorant, walking in their futile ways (Eph 4).

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    1. Zion,

      So if the only true Law is that which was revealed to Israel, then this is perhaps the greatest argument for One Law: if G-d has not revealed a set of laws beyond that which He revealed to Israel, then Gentiles must either join Israel and its Law or reject Israel and live as one of the nations "which know nothing".

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    2. Exactly, but even if they (the nations) reject it, they will still be required to keep it, as the Israeli Kingdom will rule the world. Clearly not all the nations are going to want to serve the King of Israel, but they will reap consequences if they don't, such as no rain, and we know this further, as scripture tells us, towards the end of the 1000 year reign, the nations will AGAIN, turn against God and Israel and seek to destroy them. As a gentile, we must no longer walk as gentiles, Paul could have easily created a "believing gentile category" or a "Good Gentile category", but he didn't, instead he maintained the general negative view of the nations, that gentiles are futile and children of wrath (Eph 2), he pits gentiles who trust in Messiah against the nations, drawing a distinction, telling these believing gentiles, to no longer be like the nations, separate yourself and draw near to God.

      I think this is also clearly seen in Paul's olive tree analogy. Jews and gentiles are not joining a third tree, instead gentiles are joining the tree that naturally belongs to Jews, we are joining Israel, leaving the nations, the wild olive tree, for another, leaving our futile ways behind.



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    3. Yeshua said “Those who are not with me are against me, and those who do not gather with me are scattering. “ Spiritual things are spiritually decerned.

      Paul said “… it is the doers of what Torah says who will be made righteous in God’s sight. For whenever Gentiles, who have no Torah, do naturally what the Torah requires, then these, even though they don’t have Torah, FOR THEMSELVES ARE TORAH! For their lives show that the conduct the Torah dictates is written in their hearts.

      This is the fulfillment of the new covenant. We know this covenant is fulfilled in those who “are Torah” because no one writes Torah into their own heart, it is a work of the Holy Spirit for it is written “I will write” and “they shall know me”.

      “…true circumcision is of the heart, spiritual not literal; so that his praise comes not from other people but from God.”

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  3. Peter - congratulations on blog post 1000!

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    1. Thanks, man. I had no idea it was that many!

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