"One New Man According to Moses" or "Why Abba Likes You Best" Isn't Kosher
By Lonnie Lane
There’s a Naval base in our town. A young man in the Navy we’ll call David had been in a House Church previously and was looking for a church home now that he is stationed here. He located our House Church on the internet and after calling, came to a meeting. I was reminded of the 1st Century Believers who would sail from one port to another, like Paul, and looked for other Believers in the new town.
In the course of conversation during the meeting as we talked over a delicious pot-luck brunch, we were discussing the upcoming Yom Kippur holiday and its Biblical significance for the Church at large. David listened quietly at first and then began asking questions, one after another. Why are these holidays important to the Church? Aren’t they for the Jews only? What could they show us, if anything, about Jesus?
I explained that the holidays are Old Testament prophecies or pre-revelations of the coming of the Messiah but can only really be seen as such by those who know Messiah has already come and believe Yeshua of Nazareth is the Messiah and the Son of God. For us, the holidays serve as specific celebrations of Yeshua Himself.
We went on to explain that for Jews who don’t believe in Yeshua Yom Kippur is a solemn occasion in which one is aware of their sins. But for those of us who accept that our sins have been atoned for by Yeshua who became the final and complete sacrifice, Yom Kippur is a day of celebration for both Jews and Gentiles.
Atonement is the foundation both of Yom Kippur and of our faith in Yeshua. Without understanding Yom Kippur we can more easily take for granted that we now have access to God through Yeshua’s atonement. We may not appreciate how barred from God’s presence mankind was before Yeshua came to earth.
Yom Kippur helps us understand that God Himself had defined to the Hebrews that only the God-designated High Priest could approach His presence in the Holy of Holies and that must be with the blood of an unblemished lamb. The fasting that traditionally takes place on Yom Kippur was meant to do what the sacrifices did but with no Temple, the Jews have no opportunity for blood sacrifices.
The fasting doesn’t really restore the fasters to God because God said to Moses, "For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” Leviticus 17:11, 14. That’s why Yeshua’s blood is so important and why fasting doesn’t atone for sins.
The blood of the atoning lamb was to be put on the altar in the Holy of Holies and only once a year. The priest did so at great peril for his life lest he displease God in some way or be found unclean. While he was in the Holy of Holies, Israel remained prostrate outside the Temple area waiting to see if they would be accepted by God for one more year or if their sins or the sins of the High Priest were such that they were no longer blessed or protected by God, which did happen resulting in famine or worse, invasion and exile.
Stop for a moment and consider how different your experience is with God than that of the Israelites. Yom Kippur will give you a greater appreciation for the insurmountable chasm that’s been breached between us and God by Yeshua’s once-and-for-all-atonement.
When Yeshua died, the Bible tells us that the very high and very thick curtain in the Temple behind which the Holy of Holies was hidden was ripped from top to bottom, presumably by God or His angel, thus exposing the Holy of Holies. For all who desire to know Him, Yeshua by being the kaporah the atonement for the sins of all mankind, abolished the curtain of separation (the middle wall of partition) which is two-fold: 1) between men and God, and 2) between Jews with whom the covenant was originally made and the Gentiles who were until then outside the covenant with God. I’m sure this was a great deal for David to digest.
As most of the people in the House Church are Gentiles, this was especially a rich conversation, as we talked about their being fellow partakers of the wealth of all God has given to Israel mostly life in Messiah through forgiveness of sins. Several days later, on erev Yom Kippur (eve of Yom Kippur), my family attended our local Messianic synagogue for the Yom Kippur service.
We had invited David to join us as he seemed to have a great interest in things Jewish. He watched all that went on the Messianic music, the Israeli dancing, the blowing of the shofar (rams horn), the lighting of the candles, and the prayers in Hebrew and in English. He listened intently while the rabbi explained that in traditional synagogues “Kol Nidre” would be sung a beautiful but heart wrenching piece of music but we would not sing it in our Messianic service because Kol Nidre was originally instituted by the rabbis when Jews were forced either to convert to Catholicism or be murdered. Certainly that “conversion” was not a true coming to the True Lord in repentance. It didn’t even resemble anything Yeshua would have ever wanted.
Kol Nidre was an opportunity for the Conversos to renounce before God any vows they had made during the year in order to save their lives. As true Believers, however, we have no reason to sing “Kol Nidre” as we affirm rather than renounce our commitment to the True Messiah, both as Jews and as Gentiles.
During an intermission David turned to me and said hesitantly, “My grandfather was Jewish, but I know it doesn’t count.”
“Why wouldn’t it count?” I asked, assuming he was questioning if his grandfather’s Jewishness had any bearing on his own life. “Which grandfather, your father’s or your mother’s?” I asked. This was his father’s father but David apparently knew that Israeli Law of Return bases one’s Jewishness on whether the mother is Jewish, the theory being that you almost always know who your mother is but not always who your father is. “Biblically,” I explained, “the blood line is always patrilineal not matrilineal, that is, it’s passed through the fathers not the mothers. If your grandfather was Jewish, then your father was Jewish, then you are Jewish, David,” I explained.
He then said, “But my grandfather married a gentile woman.”
To this I answered, “So did King David’s great-grandfather Ruth wasn’t Jewish, but Boaz who married her was Jewish and David certainly was.”
He stared at me for a moment as I saw the revelation sink in and then I said, “In God’s eyes, David, you are Jewish.”
Never before had this young man ever considered himself as a Jew. I have heard similar stories a number of times, when people come to realize that their ancestors were in fact Jewish. The most amazing thing about that is that God Himself watches over the Jewish people to be sure they are not assimilated and obscured, just as He promised. (See Jer. 31:35-36)
But at the same time, I have heard of Gentiles who think that because they have an interest in things Jewish or of keeping Shabbat and the Feasts, that they must be Jewish, or even one of the supposed “lost tribes”. This is erroneous thinking. (More on the “lost tribes” will be addressed in a future article. Stay tuned.)
While we rejoice when someone who is Jewish in God’s eyes comes to realize their true identity, it is no less significant or reason for celebration when a Gentile comes into a relationship with God through faith in the Jewish Messiah. Their experience may become even richer when they realize the depth of significance in the Tenach (Old Testament) for celebrating Yeshua. But it doesn’t mean they need to become Jewish.
Today more so than at any other time in history, Gentiles are embracing the Hebraic foundation of their Christianity as we grow closer to Yeshua’s anticipated return. Some of the best teaching in the Body today comes from Gentiles who are well versed in Hebrew and Torah. But there are some Gentiles who feel that unless they find some Jewish blood in their background they are not quite “kosher” enough and think of themselves as second class citizens in the Kingdom. Not so!!
Others want to elevate the Jews to some spiritual place of being ‘just a little more special’ than themselves. We recognize the intended humility in this, tinged perhaps with a possible motive of guilt for how the church has treated the Jews over the centuries, but Scripturally all are equal in God’s sight. None is higher than any other in the Kingdom.
Beginning way back when Moses was leading the children of Israel around the desert, a great “mixed multitude” were with them. These would be Gentiles: Egyptians or those whom the Egyptians had enslaved along with the Hebrews who recognized that God was with them and knew a good thing when they saw it. When God gave Israel the Torah He made provisions for the “stranger” or “sojourner” in their midst. The Gentiles were always welcome to join with Israel so long as they obeyed God’s commandments. The issue was a matter of righteousness, not of ethnicity or cultural or racial identity.
Consider these words from Torah: “For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality…. He administer justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Deut. 10:17-19)
The Law of First Mention tells us of God’s priorities in that Scripture tends to introduce things in order of their importance. One of the very first things God told Israel was, “You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small as well as the great; you shall not be afraid in any man's presence, for the judgment is God's” (Deut. 1:17).
To be partial means to have regard for some persons above others. They were not to show partiality on any level, nor fear man which always results in deferential treatment. In other words, no social, political, or economic standing, including whether one is an “alien” or an Israelite, gives justification for partiality. It has no place in the Kingdom of God. “You shall not pervert justice; you shall not show partiality” (Deut. 16:19).
Lest you still think justice and ceremony apply only among the Israelites, God makes clear what He wants for everyone: “Hear the cases between your brethren, and judge righteously between a man and his brother or the stranger who is with him….You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether one of your brethren or one of the aliens.” (Deut. 1:16; 24:14).
Even regarding the Passover, the highest event in the history of Israel apart from the coming of the Messiah,
Circumcision was the issue, not whether you were an Israelite or not. Circumcision was a matter of entering into the covenant God made with Abraham. Circumcision was “a sign” between God and His people of righteousness and His covenant with them. We today are to have circumcised hearts and are adjured not to partake in the Lord’s supper, of which the Exodus was a shadow, unless our hearts are right with God. Gentiles who want to partake of the Lord and who submit their lives to Him for His circumcision of heart are to “be as a native of the land,” in other words, accepted just as the Israelite is accepted by God.
This section of Scripture concludes with a definitive statement by God: “One law shall be for the native-born and for the stranger who sojourns among you.” (vs :49) The same standard is to apply to both Jew and Gentile. God is a God of inclusion and mutuality, not of exclusion or favoritism. Yes, Israel is to remain identifiable as a testimony to God’s sovereign power and the truth of His Word. Israel has a role to play, just as leaders have roles to play, but always we are equal before God. We may honor others for their role, appreciating their impact on our lives or the Body, but never are we to allow it to incite us to the sin of jealousy or envy.
We are to “not show partiality” so that one person or group is never regarded more highly than the others. How much more should that be true for us who have a “better covenant” (Heb.8:6) than that given to Moses?
People from every language and tribe will be present when we all come before the Lamb of God on that Great Day. Evidently those differences remain even after He returns and reigns. Colossians 1:16-17 says that “By Him all things were created…and in Him all things consist.” He ordained that we would be different, that we would be individual and unique in our cultures and colors. As He is the Head and we are as His Body, it takes every manifestation of those differences to even begin to be a valid expression of Who He is in His vastness and the complexity of His creativity.
We are to maintain and enjoy our uniqueness, each one of us. It is true that Scripture makes clear that the Jewish people will not disappear unless the sun and moon disappear first (Jer. 31:35, 36). God intends for Jews to continue to be identifiable as Jews. But He also intends that Gentiles be just as identifiable for who He made them to be, to the Glory of God.
While the Feasts and the covenant was originally made with Israel it is not the ‘Hebrew’ Feasts that we are to observe, but they are the Feasts OF THE LORD. His commandments were not to make the children of Abraham Jewish or Hebrew, but to make them like Him! The commandments were to be how the community of God was to live. That the church, Gentiles and Jews together as One New Man observe these things, is not because they’re necessarily Jewish, but because they are OF GOD. So as the community of God, we embrace the holidays, or keep the Sabbath, or observe commandments in the Spirit as they reveal more of Yeshua to us and in us.
What Yeshua accomplished upon the Cross did away with every separation for the people of God so that we are One with God and One New Humanity together in Yeshua. We rejoice in the glory of God that we live in faith that we are all equally accepted--Jew or Greek, male or female, slave or free--in God’s sight, for “God shows no personal favoritism”! (Gal.3:28; 2:6)
If you have any questions or comments you’d like to address to Lonnie, please send them to email@example.com and she will be glad to respond to you. Use this same address to contact Lonnie about speaking engagements. Please put "To Lonnie" in the subject line.
Scripture marked NKJV taken from the New King James Version. Copyright ©1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Emphasis added.
Lonnie Lane comes from a family of four generations of Jewish believers, being the first one saved in 1975. Lonnie has been in church leadership for many years, and has planted two “one new man” house fellowships one with her brother Michael Lane in the Philadelphia suburbs and the other in Jacksonville, Florida, where she now lives near 6 of her 8 grandchildren. Lonnie is the author of “Because They Never Asked.” She is the Producer of Messianic Vision's radio and TV shows and the International Prayer Co-Coordinator for Messianic Vision's intercessors. Click here to order Lonnie's book, "Because They Never Asked: A Jewish Family's Search for God".