At the end of this week’s Torah portion one encounters a verse of great importance. This verse is,
“There shall be one judgment (law) for you all; the sojourner will be as the citizen, for I am the L-rd your G-d.” Lev. 24:22
Traditional Judaism sees the word which I translated as a sojourner to refer to a proselyte and not simply to a gentile who resides in Israel. This rendering is problematic for many reasons; one of which is according to Judaism one who converts to Judaism is a Jew in every way. Therefore there is no need to state that a convert (proselyte) and a native born Jew have the same law. Judaism has consistently wanted to make a difference between Jews and Gentiles far beyond what the Scripture states.
Yes G-d created a race of people from the seed of Avraham. Yes this people is unique from other races. The question which must be asked and answered is “how are Jews different from Gentiles?” The answer is that Jews were given a special calling to bless the Gentiles. Related to this call is the Scriptural call that Israel is to be a light to the nations. Hence Jews are different in our call from G-d. We fulfill this calling by applying the Word of G-d to our life with the purpose of demonstrating the will of
G-d so Gentiles will see how G-d blesses those who do His word and will want to obey His word too.
G-d is not interested in maintaining a separation between Jews and Gentiles indefinitely, but rather seeing more and more Gentiles accept His word and apply it to their lives and join in this call of being a light to the nations and ultimately being grafted in to the family of G-d (Israel). Genesis 35:11 help clarifies this truth. This verse says that Jacob, who received the name Israel, will be the father of a nation (a Jewish nation) and also a father of a congregation of nations (the Gentiles from every seed, language and tongue who will turn to G-d though His word). Originally it was the Torah which was proclaimed by Israel to the nations. One of the primary reasons that the Torah was proclaimed by word and deed by Israel was to show to the Jew first and then to the Gentile one’s need for the Redeemer, i.e. the Messiah. Now that Messiah has come, proclaiming Him and His Gospel takes the primary place among our work.
However, be careful! One needs to remember that the Jerusalem Council says that after a Gentile comes to faith in Messiah he will hear Moses (the Torah) each Shabbat in the places where he is proclaim (the synagogues of every city) see Acts 15:21. Hence one should not forget the importance of the Torah for both the Jewish and Gentile believer.
Today according to Judaism, a Gentile is only obligated to keep what is called The Seven Noachide Laws”:
1. Do not murder.
2. Do not steal.
3. Do not worship false gods.
4. Do not be sexually immoral.
5. Do not eat a limb removed from a live animal.
6. Do not curse God.
7. Set up courts and bring offenders to justice.
This view is in conflict with our primary text today, Lev. 24:22, which emphasizes that G-d has the same standards for all people. Holiness and righteousness is not a pedigree, but a response to G-d. This opportunity to respond was first given to Jew and then the Jew would give it to the Gentiles. This is so that Genesis 35:11 would ultimately be fulfilled, that Israel would be a congregation of many nations. Perhaps this is why that the Temple in Jerusalem is called a House of Prayer for all peoples.
It is clear that G-d has the same desire for all people and Isaiah beautifully states this when he says,
“And it shall come to pass that from one new moon to another, and from one Shabbat to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me says the L-rd.” Isa. 66:23
Then is not this article advocating replacement theology? Absolutely not. Replacement theology states that the church replaces Israel, i.e., the Jewish people, as G-d’s covenant people and the prophecies given to Israel are rendered null and void for them and given to the church. This is totally unscriptural. One needs to realize that the church is made up of both Jew and Gentile and has a unique calling of its own. One part of this calling is to provoke the Jew to jealousy. One aspect of this is that the Jew would desire to be right with G-d and serve Him in accordance with His word.
Whereas replacement theology basically writes off the significance of Israel, the scripture states the following: G-d will indeed keep covenant with His Old Testament people and He will return them to the land. A large remnant of the Jewish people alive in the last days will accept the True Messiah. This remnant will be used by G-d to bring many Gentiles to faith at the end of the age. Whereas the church will be ruling and reigning with Messiah during the Millennial Age, redeemed Israel will take on the leadership position in the Kingdom over the nations. It will be during this Millennial Kingdom that redeemed Israel will demonstrate the Torah. Hence, Israel has not been forgotten by G-d. Israel’s call will ultimately be fulfilled. Israel’s golden age is not in the past, but during the Millennial Kingdom. It is for this reason that replacement theologians, i.e., heretics, must deny the existence of the Millennial Kingdom and a wealth of scripture that relates to it.
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