Updated: Nov 18, 2021
In this article I will be speaking about Jews, Christians and Messianic Jews who believe in Yeshua of Nazareth as Messiah of Israel. Hopefully it will not be too confusing as I go back and forth between the groups.
The Apostle Sha'ul (Paul) was commissioned to go to the nations by Yeshua Himself. He was greatly persecuted by his fellow countrymen (Jews) because he preached a message that was contrary to the "politically right" Judaism of his day. The Apostle Sha'ul was a practicing Pharisee and took pride in this fact. He NEVER denounced being a Pharisee or the traditions of his fathers. He only strayed from these traditions when they contradicted the Word of Elohim, just the same as His Master Yeshua did. Paul in no way violated his people or their traditions by his inclusion of the nations into the kingdom or by offering them salvation in the name of Yeshua.
Sha'ul stirred up a hornet's nest most everywhere he went preaching this gospel that gentiles could now obtain salvation in the Elohim of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, without having to adhere to all the Rabbinic traditions. He was stoned, beaten, imprisoned, and the Jewish leaders tried their best to try him in court as a heretic/apostate from the faith.
Initially, they supposedly just wanted the gentiles to be circumcised (herein lies specific problems that I won't address in this article). However, this was not the real issue at hand. The issue went much deeper and it still exists today in much the same way.
Acts 22:22-23 And they were listening to him until this word, and then they lifted up their voice, saying, "Away with such a one from the earth, for it is not fit that he should live!" As they were shouting and tearing their garments, and throwing dust into the air, (TS2009)
What has happened here? In the preceding verses the Apostle Sha'ul has been addressing the Jerusalem mob who wanted to kill him (verse 21:31). He had been arrested by the Roman authorities to save him from being murdered, when they saw the uproar that was going on in front of the Temple. As Sha'ul addresses the angry mob, in Hebrew, the mob quietens down and listens to him. He tells them about how he once persecuted the followers of The Way, and about his conversion on the road to Damascus. He tells them all about Yeshua speaking to him and everything. He tells them how he is a devout Jew. No one in the crowd gets upset by any of this. They don't even get upset when he talks to them about Yeshua and how he believes that He is the long awaited Messiah. You want to know when they get upset? They listened quietly to him until he stated that he had been called to go to the nations (non-Jews).
And he said to me, 'Go, because I shall send you far from here to the nations.' Acts 22:21
This was an issue in Paul's day and it is still an issue today. Jews and non-Jews still cannot agree on how the nations fit into the promises of God made to Abraham and the coming Messianic Kingdom. Jews and Christians separated from each other so long ago that they are now viewed as two separate religions when in fact followers of "The Way", the "Nazarenes", "Christians", were once considered a sect within first century Judaism. First century Judaism found itself faced with many sects: Pharisees, Essenes, Sadducees, Nazarenes, Zealots. They all tolerated each other until after the destruction of the temple in 70AD.
After the destruction of the temple, things changed rapidly. Because of growing persecution, the Jews forbade the Nazarenes from continuing to congregate in the Synagogues with the dominant sect: the Pharisees. The Sadducees, Essenes and Zealots ceased to exist after the destruction of the temple, Jerusalem, and the surrounding areas. Due to the work of Yochannan ben Zakkai the Pharisees endured. The Nazarenes also endured and continued to grow but they began to pull away from Judaism because the Jews were being persecuted, so both parties are at fault in this separation.
However, what remained was the continuing problem of how the non-Jews fit into the promises and the Kingdom to come. Jews, for the most part, believed that the promises originally belonged only to the physical descendants of Abraham; or to those who made a total conversion to Judaism.
While the Jews went their way, the Christians went theirs in most areas; especially in the west. Eastern Nazarenes and Jews, although separate from one another, continued worshiping in like manner for quite some time. However, eventually the Christians began to forget their Jewish roots. They developed into a "sect" virtually unrecognizable from Judaism; it's Mother. They annuled the seventh day Sabbath, the truth of Torah, and they forgot the feasts of Yahweh and His food laws. They turned a Jewish Messiah into a Greek Messiah. They primarily used the writings of the Apostle Paul for their erroneous teachings (because they misunderstood his letters). Anti-antisemitism arose very early on and the Jews could not possibly see how Jesus could be their Jewish Messiah when He looked nothing like them; and in fact His followers hated and killed them. Christians viewed Israel basically as forgotten and rejected by God.
Christians and Jews, even most Messianic Jews, cannot come together on this one issue: How do the nations fit into the olam haba (world to come)? Most believers in Messiah Yeshua basically see it as a two Torah stance. Most Jews (even Messianic) see it as "I am the chosen one and you are not and the Torah is for us, not you", while most Christians see it as "the Torah has been done away with and the church replaced Israel".
This situation needs to change! The rift between both needs to be mended. Israel has not been replaced and there is only one Torah, which is eternal, and it is for all who accept and worship the God of Abraham.
In the first century, Apostle Sha'ul suffered persecution because he brought a message of redemption and salvation to the nations, through the Name of Yeshua. The nation of Judah was just fine with the God fearers, like Cornelius, who lived among them. They could tolerate them, they even allowed them to bring a sacrifice to the Temple and the priest would sacrifice it for them (the gentile wasn't allowed to enter the Temple but sacrifices were made on their behalf), but what they couldn't tolerate was that a "gentile" could be equal to them when it came to G-d and Torah. Now, they would allow them to make complete conversion to Judaism, but anything less than that and they would not be included at the same level as a Jew. A gentile had no place in the olam haba (world to come).
The apostle Paul taught that the non-Jew could be grafted into the natural olive tree (Israel). Now, how do you separate a tree where the graft has taken and it becomes one tree? This cannot be done! The tree is one! The people grafted in become part of the tree! One tree! One people! One Elohim! Not one Torah for me and one Torah for you! ONE TREE! ISRAEL! One Elohim - the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob! One TORAH FOR BOTH!
Am I Israel as a non-Jewish woman? Yes, I am Israel through the acceptance of the Jewish Messiah, Yeshua, and through the acceptance of the Elohim of Israel. I have been grafted into the olive tree. Is there a separate Torah for me? NO, there is but one Torah for all.
When the Israelites stood at the foot of Mt. Sinai, Elohim told them, and all the other people of the nations that came out of Egypt with them, that He would make them a light to the nations. They were to take the Torah to the nations and teach the nations to live by the Torah. Instead, what did they do? Well, first of all they broke the covenant almost immediately, but apart from that, they hoarded the Torah. Being a light means sharing, teaching; not hoarding. The Torah is for all nations who will flow into it and obey it. It is truth. Truth is truth whether Jew or non-Jew.
Do we not all say we serve the same God? Does not Elohim say in Isaiah 2 and Micah 2 that Torah shall go forth from the holy mountain when the Messiah is ruling and reigning and that all nations shall flow into it? Does not Zechariah say that all the nations of the earth shall come up to worship Him at Sukkot and the new moons? Did not Yeshua come to complete the mission of taking the good news of Torah to the world, since the Israelites certainly did not? Did He not give this task to the Apostle Sha'ul to carry out? Does it not say in Ezekiel 66: