Let us be at our brother’s neck


The First Fruits of Zion (FFOZ) article Let us Reason Together is quite the read – for Messianics, it will cause either great anguish or great rejoicing, depending on which side of the aisle you shop.

I invite you to visit these FFOZ blogs and reason together with us at First Fruits of Zion as we talk through the biblical basis for our recent rejection of One Law theology that defined much of our ministry in past years.

“One Law” theology is the idea that, in Messiah, Jews and gentiles have the same relationship to Torah. They both ought to keep the Feasts. They both ought to honor God’s sabbath. And so on.

FFOZ no longer holds this view. They now believe that Messiah-loving gentiles aren’t required to keep all the Torah, although they ought to, while Jews must keep all the Torah. FFOZ calls this “Divine Invitation” theology – the stance that gentiles are invited to keep all God’s commandments, but are not required to, while Jews are mandated to keep all the Torah.

In a nutshell, [our] article said: "Gentile believers are not obligated to all of the same aspects of Torah as the Jewish people are, but they are invited to take hold of the heritage of Torah because they have been grafted into Israel and are part of the greater commonwealth of Israel."

FFOZ’s recent installment of Messiah Journal laid out several articles explaining their reasoning for this huge theological shift. FFOZ head Boaz Michael called it their “watershed issue”. It’s a big change for them.

Why did they change?

This is what the Bible says, and we need to make our theology conform to the Bible. If I could re-write the article, I would make it shorter, solely presenting our single reason for this theological shift: the Bible.

None of us at FFOZ wanted to believe that One Law could be wrong. It felt paralyzing to even think that we had theologically gone off the tracks. We resisted it and wrestled with it for years.

This is a big, honkin’ divisive issue in the Messianic movement.

My older brother said to me this past shabbat, after reading the article,

“What a load of crap! It sounds like it’s sinking their ministry…I’m glad.”


I’ve had to defend FFOZ at our small congregation now for months:

Our little group is planning on taking part in the HaYesod discipleship study this fall, but since it’s published by FFOZ, there’s all kinds of resistance now. People keeping Torah don’t wish to be taught by people who compromise on Torah. That’s how they see it, and I think that’s the way many independent Messianics see it.

On the other hand, the groups that see it the other way – UMJC and MJTIthese groups rejoiced.

FFOZ is changing their view to the way we see it. All I can say is, halleluyah.

I sensed a bit of religious “neener neener nee-ner!” as I came across these sentiments on various blogs and personal conversations with folks across the Messianic movement.


Please pardon our immaturity.

Stepping Back a Moment

Did you know that Christians have fought over the silliest things?

Is God 3 distinct beings or 3 separate essences? There’s a fight for that. Did God sing creation into existence or did He speak it in tones? There’s a fight for that. When we eat bread and wine, is it Jesus’ actual body or just representative? There’s a fight for that. Really.

Some of these fights, believe it or not, actually ended in bloodshed between large Christian factions.


I think if Messiah was here, he’d slap us around a bit then yell in our faces, “Knock it off! You’re acting like fools and shaming God in the process!”

Despite this past precedence of bad behavior, this is exactly what is happening now. I fear that if Messianics were as large and powerful as Protestants and Catholics, we’d have bloodshed over our differences, too.

If you disagree with us, feel free to contact us about it and give us a piece of your mind, but don't feel as if you have to burn our books…

Organizationally, we knew that this was going to hurt the ministry's bottom line, big time. We braced for the results of being honest and forthright with our constituents. The financial impact already promises to be significant. Not meaning to sound alarmist, but this single theological shift could actually financially sink our ministry because we already operate on a shoestring with little margin.

Here are people like me who disagree with FFOZ’s shift, yet say, “Man, I so disapprove of them now, I hope their ministry sinks.”

Straining a gnat to swallow a camel… “Oh, I disagree on a theological point. Therefore, I hope they go into financial ruin.”

Or more emphatically, “They stink. Therefore, I hope they go to the poorhouse.”

Or still, “I hate them because they don’t agree with me. I hope they go homeless.”

Really, that’s what some people are implicitly saying. Ugh!

A Reformation of the People

Boaz Michael said,

Messianic Judaism is a movement of restoration to a proper understanding of the Scriptures.

In some ways, Messianic Judaism is a reformation of Christianity, albeit a radical one, far more radical than the Protestant Reformation of the Middle Ages. It takes Luther’s reforms and pushes them further, further, further, back, back, back…to the beginning. So much so that Messianic Judaism in its proper form resembles Messiah’s Judaism more than it does Christianity. This is something Christians and even the early pioneers of Messianic Judaism (then known as Jewish Christianity) did not foresee.

Doctrines and theologies have been reformed greatly, but have the people? The Christian reformation resulted in a world-wide spat of hundreds of years of violence and bitterness between Protestant and Catholic. Pockets of that still exist today. Now we are looking at lots of division and bitter feelings between factions of an already-fractured Messianic Judaism.

Yuck. Can we reform this, please?

At First Fruits of Zion, we love the peace and the brotherhood we all share in Messiah. We prefer enjoying Sabbath dinners to debating halachah. We prefer doing mitzvot to arguing about them. We respect that different people with honest and good intentions can still come to different conclusions about certain aspects of scripture, and we are OK with that. For that reason, we have always tried to stay in good relationship with all sectors of Messianic Judaism, even the extreme fringes. And we still want to do that. If you disagree with some theological position of ours, we want you to know that we respect your right to do so. We aren't infallible. We make lots of mistakes, and we continue to learn and grow by the leading of the Holy Spirit and the study of God's Word.

This statement reminded me why I love the First Fruits of Zion folks so damn much. It’s not that I agree with their theologies 100% – I certainly don’t – it’s because of their humility and continued longsuffering in building unity.

FFOZ has taken so much heat lately – whether over the accusations of a mystical hermeneutic, or the One Law issue, or… – most anyone else would have lashed out in anger by now. To hell with it; you’re all a bunch of wayward can’t-get-along-with-anybody’s, they’d say. (And truth be told, I sense a hint of impatience in D. Lancaster’s recent article.) But when all is said and done, I see the humility of that organization come out, trickled down from its leadership.

Thumbs up.

Personally, I’ve never identified myself as “one law” – that’s a label put on me by others; I just want people do as Messiah did. A disciple, when fully trained, becomes as his master. So I line up with the idea that, yes, even the gentiles who are disciples of Messiah should keep all God’s commandments. Even the ones men deem only Jews should keep. I think there’s Scriptural support for this, despite FFOZ’s objections.

I don’t like FFOZ’s theology change. I lament it. It’s discouraging. It caused me much internal division and grief.  I hope they’ll change it in the future. But thank God for their humility. It’s breath of fresh air in an atmosphere of stink.


  1. Good blog post Judah, lots of people need to take a closer look at this, and their own behavior.

    I'd like to briefly explain how FFOZ's stance and the "One Law" stance are not necessarily opposing. I see this happen all the time...
    Often, its not that two groups disagree - instead, they are looking at it from two valid positions; they are just not necessarily seeing the other's position in the proper light.

    One Law people are seeing it like this, "Yeshua`=Torah, following Yeshua`=following Torah. Ephraim needs to keep Torah as much as Judah does."
    This is not incorrect, Yeshua` is complete Torah (in my opinion, Written AND Oral Torah), so they are right, but in my opinion not completely correct (but they have the basis part, Written Torah, correct). They are certainly correct to say Ephraim needs to keep Torah, but they don't realize that Ephraim ain't every gentile - that's where they get off.

    FFOZ's view is also correct. They are seeing that the Tanakh clearly shows Torah is only for Israel. In fact the Psalms proclaim the Most High giving Torah and miSwoth to Israel and "doing so for no other people" (paraphrase). Therefore FFOZ says, Torah is only for Jews (the only remaining Israelites). They are correct, however, they probably don't tend to see the "Ephraim" people returning too much, in this way, they are more like standard Judaism which says one must convert to Judaism to keep the whole of Torah.

    Both sides are correct, they're only viewing it from two different lights. And, FFOZ says gentiles have an OPTION to come and keep Torah. Therefore what is the fuss? If a gentile knows he's an "Ephraimite" and he's learning from FFOZ - why doesn't he accept their invitation? Perhaps the only problem may be deterring potential "Ephraimites" from keeping Torah.

    Interestingly, you usually hear the One Law-ers talking about being excluded from "proud, arrogant Pharisaic Judaism who makes man-made customs and therefore that somehow makes the Torah of no effect" (that logic makes ZERO sense, btw), yet here is a group, FFOZ, who teaches a lot of Oral Torah concepts (including Kabbalah, I'm glad to see) who is the most accepting and humble.

    More on Kabbalistic concepts and the controvery around them in my next post...

  2. In Feival Levertoff's book, he introduces PURE Hhasiduth ("Chasidut", Hhasidic teaching) which he shows has everything to do with Yeshua`'s message, and with the re-establishment of the Kingdom of Heaven (restored Israel).

    Hhasiduth is not really different from Kabbalah (Jewish mysticism/spiritual teaching), and in plain truth, the teachings of Yeshua` are full of these.

    This does include every single detail, instead, this includes some basic common and foundationary themes.

    The 36 Aphorisms of the Ba`al Shem Tov (founder of Hhasidic Judaism) are all simple teachings based on the love of the Creator and one's fellow Jew (the two greatest commandments).

    Most people err in separating the sod level from the rest. Or they view it as something foreign, or even uncomfortable. This is due to the person's own faults, not a fault with the sod level of Torah, Torah-spirituality. It is true, however, that people should be well-founded in the basics before moving on to the deeper matters of the sod.

    However, in certain cases like these 36 Aphorisms, it is foundationary sod, and is something that can certainly be taught to the lowest-level beginner in Torah.

    In fact, foundationary sod teachings, like that of the Ba`al Shem Tov, is trademark of Yeshua`'s teachings. In fact, we can learn a lot as to WHY we keep Torah, why we do all these things. Sod is all based on question as to something we don't understand.

    For restoration of the Kingdom, we need to know about the foundationary concept of loving (and therefore serving) our Creator with all of our heart (service of the heart is prayer; service to him is doing all the Torah as we learn), and to love our fellow Jew/Israelite as ourself. What is it to love another Jew as yourself? Everything! That means I am going to go out of the way to make sure you are well off (even meaning well off in the Torah) just as I would for myself.

    Very foundational, very important, and the in-depth sod study on this leads to more and more important understandings.

  3. The issue over the applicability of God's Torah to non-Jewish Believers is going to come down to three words:

    could, should, or must

    The first presents it entirely as optional. The third presents it as absolutely mandatory (perhaps even for salvation). I have always advocated the middle position, as a part of a Believer's maturation in faith and discipleship.

    The promise of the New Covenant is that the Torah is written on the heart by the Holy Spirit (Ezekiel 36:27). Not an instantaneous, but a steady process at the pace determined by the Lord. And as it proceeds, we are to learn more about God's love, compassion, mercy, and in truly reaching out to people who need to be shown His goodness.

    We are a movement under construction. I take a lot of pointers from the English Reformation and all of the killing that took place as the monarchy switched from Catholic to Protestant back to Catholic and finally to Protestant. The Puritans were just as bad as Bloody Mary. It was not until the Wesleyan revivals in the Ninteenth Century, and their emphasis on piety, that religion returned to relative normalcy in Britain, and by now America.

    We're not going to see people burned at the stake or beheaded, but there will be people emotially hurt if we significantly misdiagnose the trajectory of the Scriptures. Let us learn these lessons and let the Spirit mold us into a piety movement, focusing on personal and corporate holiness motivated by God's love.

  4. Judah,

    Thank you for your kindness. It is amazing the reaction we have received. Staggering. FFOZ teaches Gentiles to embrace the Torah on six levels, One being out of our love for God, and secondly because of devotion to Yeshua. Here is what we wrote:

    Gentile believers should also find discipleship to Yeshua as motivation to walk in obedience to the whole of Torah. When our Master commissioned his disciples to take the gospel to the nations and to make disciples of all nations, he instructed them to teach the Gentiles “to observe all that I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:20). This instruction would include his commandments not to neglect even the smallest matters of Torah. This is not to say that a Gentile believer who does not accept upon himself the full yoke of Torah is a deficient disciple.

    There are many paths of discipleship, and walking after Yeshua is much broader than simply adopting Jewish practice. But at its simplest, discipleship should be understood as the art of imitation:

    Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked. (1 John 2:6).

    A pupil is not above his teacher; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher. (Luke 6:40)

    A Gentile’s practice of the whole of Torah on the basis of his attachment to Yeshua can be compared to that of a woman from the nations who married an Israelite husband. Like Ruth, such a woman abandoned her past affiliations and took on the religious practices of Israel. Ruth declared to Naomi:

    Do not urge me to leave you or to return from following you. For where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God my God. Where you die I will die, and there will I be buried. May the LORD do so to me and more also if anything but death parts me from you. (Ruth 1:16–17)

    Ruth’s ardent insistence on being counted with Israel is a good model for discipleship. Identification with Yeshua, the king of Jews, naturally invites the disciple to Jewish expression.

  5. I think if Messiah was here, he’d slap us around a bit then yell in our faces, “Knock it off! You’re acting like fools and shaming God in the process!”


    I would also add that anything we add or subtract from what Jesus accomplished on the cross will be used as a basis of human acceptance or rejection. Until we come to the point where we realize it is all of Him and none of us, we are giving our flesh the opportunity to take pride in our accomplishments and to say look at me, I am doing it right and you're an idiot. That pride stands contrary to God's power working in our lives to conform us to His image. Trying to accomplish anything in the power of our flesh will lead to failure because our works are subject to wrong motives, pride, fear, faithlessness, and simple ignorance of the complete depths of depravity that resides in our flesh.

    I know it's cliched, but the ground really is level at the cross. I think that spiritual maturity is evidenced by the realization of just how far Jesus had to stoop to drag us out of the mud; the realization of just how much trouble we would be in if He had not saved us. When we realize just how bad we were and just how good He is, we realize we have no basis to judge our brother. It was by faith that we were saved and it's by His Spirit that we walk.

    I had only intended to drop in and say "amen," but it appears that my words are like potato chips, I can't say just one. It isn't my intention to divert your discussion or to stir up a storm. If you wish to delete this, I will understand.


  6. I think that what FFOZ did is incredibly selfless and honorable. With that in mind, I didn't entertain any feelings of "gotcha", there was and is no gloating. Let the truth be told, even if it's unpopular or costly. But I pray that G-d rewards the good folks at FFOZ, if not in this life, then in the world to come.

    At the same time, I sympathize with those followers of FFOZ who felt as if a rug has been pulled from under them. However, "wounds from a friend can be trusted" (Proverbs 27:6) - it's better to know, to follow and teach what is true.

    Will the Messianic Judaism proper benefit from this move? I would like to think so. I think it may give a new sense of clarity within the ranks of our non-Jewish congregants as to what G-d expects of them and how should they show their love for HaShem through obedience. I am currently evaluating and considering ordering some of the recent materials from FFOZ for the non-Jews in our synagogue, especially those who struggle with their identity. Hopefully, other Messianic Jewish congregations will re-evaluate their previous opposition to FFOZ and once again consider their quality materials - something that Messianic Judaism desperately needs more of.

    This move by FFOZ MAY signify a possible long overdue correction in the direction of both the Messianic Jewish movement and the various non-Jewish "independent" streams that have splintered from it (and stand in direct opposition to the Jewish leadership and identity of Messianic Judaism) over the years. Only time will tell.

  7. I agree with Gary. And I think the prospects of what Rabbi Gene mentioned are encouraging and gives a sense of inspiration in regards to what lies ahead.

    I personally was very encouraged in the end by FFOZ's shift. I remember reading the article and feeling the need to humble down to the scriptures despite my ardent conviction about One Law.

    Everything they presented was biblical, very clear, and in the end I remember feeling the need to take hold of a biblical basis for my observance of Torah as a non Jew. And that biblical basis is indeed found in Divine Invitation.

    ps-In regards to FFOZ's bottom line, the truth of the matter is that God has and will continue to provide for them without fail, they are doing the work of the Kingdom, and for that they will blessed. Blessed and Kept.

    Shalom Brother Judah thanks for the post

  8. Whenever an issue like this comes to the forefront, regardless of what position one takes, we are to recognize that we can always do more research and engage with the relevant Biblical texts on a much more detailed level.

    Back in January when I was compiling my resources to start the Colossians-Philemon study, I had already planned an Acts 15 study to follow. I think we approach Acts 15 and the Jerusalem Council with far too many presuppositions and assumptions, some of which are good, but some of which are incomplete. A verse-by-verse examination, weighing in the thoughts of contemporary Acts scholarship, and their various ancient and modern-day implications, is long overdue.

    Within the next month to 6 weeks, this study will be starting.

  9. Judah:

    You know how to make it entertaining! Great read.

    Yeah, I'm a UMJC / MJTI guy and I believe in bilateral ecclesiology (parallel but distinct missions to Israel and the nations). So, naturally I am glad to see my friends at FFOZ move away from divine mandate.

    But . . . I was friends with them before they moved.

    See, people can get along. Take me and you, for example. We get along.

    The key: mutual respect. The key is not, as some people think, total agreement.

    Derek Leman

  10. Judah,

    Although I am saddened by the course change FFOZ has chosen to take, this present life is for learning and that is what is going on. Good.

    But while the many will think that the debate is about whether Gentiles are under the same yoke as the Jews in regards to Torah, it is not.

    The real debate is about who is a Jew, an Israelite, a son or daughter of YHWH. Torah stands on its own and will not move. All the people of the earth are guilty of rebelling against its righteous demands and are deserving of death.

    It will be interesting to see how YHWH judges His people by a standard that He supposedly said doesn't apply to all of them.

    So who is a Jew?

    Who is an Israelite?

    Who are His sons and daughters?

    Tell me, what does scripture say about those who put their trust in Him? And where is that line of flesh, that line of division, that some say is drawn scripturally between those who are born of His Spirit?

    Let us answer those questions first and the question of who needs to keep the commandments of YHWH will answer itself.



  11. I have been thinking a LOT about FFOZ's shift lately. Honestly, it had me a bit stressed. But, you know what? It led me to begin praying about it, begin reading the Bible more deeply, and begin considering different points of view. Those are all good things. I may never know conclusively which parts of the Torah I'm definitely supposed to follow, and I may never be able to absolutely prove my Jewish ancestry...I may have those questions my whole life, but in the process of grappling with them I am getting closer to God. So, in the long run, FFOZ's shift was a positive catalyst in my life.

  12. Shalom all,

    So what are the actual prevailing camps of differing positions regarding Gentiles within the Messianic movement?

    Do I have it correct here?

    1) One Law -- Torah defines sin, so thus Torah is for Jew and Gentile, however Gentiles have some grace to learn it.

    2) One Law/Divine Invitation/Divine Obligation: One Torah with distinctions obligating Jews to all of Torah but Gentiles are not obligated to all of it - but invited to observe what they can

    3) Two House Theology -- Gentiles who feel called To Torah are actually Ephraimites who were scattered among the nations.

    4) Torah and Traditions represents ethnically Jewish identity -- so thus Gentiles who do Torah and even some traditions are "Wannabes" and are sinning by trying to be Jews. Gentiles are obligated to the moral law.

    5) Evangelistic/missionary aspect -- some Gentiles if they feel called can live like they are Jewish as missionaries to lead the other JEwish people toward Messiah.

    Is there anything I've missed?


  13. Tom,

    Here's one that so far has been left out of the discussion:

    But now in Messiah Yeshua you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Messiah.

    For He Himself is our peace, who made both (Jews and Gentiles)one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall,
    by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, the Torah of commandments (defined)in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two (Jews and Gentiles)into one new man, thus establishing peace,
    and might reconcile them both (Jews and Gentiles)in one body to YHWH through the cross, by it (the death stake) having put to death the enmity.

    The enmity mentioned here is the enmity that existed between the Jews and Gentiles at that time.

    That enmity still exists as evidenced by this recent post.

    The rest of your list is pretty close to the general thinking and practice of the various camps.



  14. Tom,

    Because Messianic theology is so far behind the curve where it needs to be, it is likely that there are a few more other options that you have considered. Time and reason are the only things that will sort out where we find ourselves. With the 2010s on the horizon, a new period of growth and development is certainly on our doorstep.

    Take a look at my article "Contemporary Options Concerning 'Israel'":


  15. Thanks for sharing, friends. Correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't the court of Gentiles and the Court for women in the First Century Temple something that was not written in the Torah? Perhaps they did it as a fence in case they missed something since perhaps some Gentiles may have been around a dead person - I'm guessing or some similar reasoning - but clearly it seems that this was a man made fence rather than Commandment.

    And so if Paul did bring a Gentile into the Temple to fulfill his vow near the end of the book of Acts (Even though he didn't do that as he was charged) why would that be against Torah anyhow?

    Yeshua only gives a minor rebuke in the Gospels relating it to the nations arguing that His Father's house was a place of prayer for all nations. I've heard it argued in some theological circles that the issue when YEshua threw out the moneychangers in the Temple had more to do with it being done in the Gentile section of the Temple which is why he said it was for "all nations" quoting, I believe from Isaiah.

    Curious to hear your thoughts.


  16. Seriously ask yourself the question of building a wall around God's Temple, keeping people out, was really God's intention.

    I am not at all alone in my conclusion that much of what we have been witnessing in the Messianic movement in recent days has been to keep people out, or partially away, from God's intention.

    I encourage you to look into my study on Ephesians from last year--especially the different views of Ephesians 2:14-15 and how they relate to the dividing wall in the Second Temple.

  17. Although the recent decision at FFOZ is regrettable, on the positive side, our copies of the 1999 edition of HaYesod will be worth more on eBay. :-)

    Another interesting scripture to consider regarding Israel and the "other" nations is this one:

    "People of Israel, are you any different from the Ethiopians to me?" asks YHWH. "True, I brought Israel up from Egypt, but I also brought the P'lishtim from Kaftor, and Aram from Kir. Look, the eyes of YHWH are on the sinful kingdom. I will wipe it off the face of the earth, yet I will not completely destroy the house of Ya'akov," says YHWH. Amos 9:7,8 cjb

    "House of Ya'akov" means "House of Israel".

    Read the rest of that chapter to see how YHWH planned to keep a portion of the House of Israel for the latter days while they remained hidden among the nations (Gentiles) and were considered to be the same as those of the nations (Gentiles) until the time of their judgement had been fulfilled.

    The older brother described in the parable of the prodigal son is the House of Y'hudah. The younger brother who came home after wasting his life among the nations (Gentiles) is Efrayim. They both have the same Father and are therefore of the same House.

    As the Father welcomes home those who were scattered among the nations (Gentiles), do you really think that He will make separate instructions for each of His sons? Under the same roof?

    Why would He do that?

    Because one is of lesser value and does not need to participate in all the instructions of his Father?

    Or because the returning son's way of living among the nations (Gentiles) has rendered him useless except for the most menial of tasks and positions in the kingdom of his Father?

    While part of Efrayim's reasoning was that he would be better off as a servant in his Father's house than the condition he found himself in, he was not treated that way upon his return. Servants do not participate in all the activities that take place in the Master's house.

    It should be obvious that his Father's intention was never to keep him as a servant only. But rather he was immediately welcomed home as a son.

    Of course Y'hudah is angry. Now he has to share the good things he has been enjoying all along with his brother who has returned home.

    While there is a part of me that wants to say to Y'hudah, " get over it bro," I do realize that it is not easy to suddenly be confronted with a whole new set of circumstances that seem to take away what had to have been considered "special".

    Love on both sides is required if we are to get through this successfully.



  18. I'm curious, to some of my two house brothers on here -- is the extent of the two house doctrine stating that those from the House of Israel exiled in the diaspora that mingled with the nations return to Torah in the end times because God is calling them back to it? What is the two house position on those who are just plain gentiles?


  19. Tom,

    What had been missing in the lives of the children of the House of Israel after their judgement and dispersion is their identity as Israel.

    You may remember the old saying: "God created all men, but the Winchester made them equal."

    There is a similar sentiment in the new covenant writings that I will paraphrase thus: "YHWH created all men and sin made them all equal."

    Read Hoshea ( Hosea ). There is a detailed description of not only the broken relationship between YHWH and the House of Israel, but also the restoration of that house back to Himself in the latter days. It is even clearer in Yechezk'el (Ezekiel) chapter 37.

    When the children of the House of Israel come to know Messiah Yeshua they also come to understand who they are in Him, namely, Israel. While this tends to drive brother Y'hudah crazy at times, it is nonetheless true.

    "Just plain Gentiles"?

    Well, although there is much time and energy being put into genetics and family history and all that stuff, really, is there any difference between someone who has "Jewish" parents and someone who doesn't when it comes to the great equalizer of sin?

    Ask yourself this question, does YHWH look at two people of different family trees differently because of lineage? Or are they the same in His eyes because of sin?

    Do both need Messiah?

    Are both given the gift of adoption into the family of YHWH?

    Are sinful "Jews" needing to be grafted back into the olive tree the same as the wild olive branches?

    Is it not Messiah Yeshua who does the grafting?

    If the distinction between "Jews" and "Gentiles" does not end at the cross, then what was the purpose of Messiah coming and giving His life for the redemption of His people?

    To maintain the wall of division?

    That does not bring peace. And while the wall of division remains there will be no peace among His people. They will continue to argue and posture and criticize those who they think are "different" due to physical lineage.

    Oh yeah, they will all say that they have no trouble getting along with the "others", Jew or Gentile, but at the same time the distinction is kept in place.


    To answer your question: in the kingdom of YHWH there is neither Jew nor Gentile.

    To those who argue saying that male and female are still male and female in His kingdom I say this:

    continuing to ignore the spiritual reality of the kingdom of YHWH will eventually lead to a condition where the kingdom of YHWH is no longer visible (understood) and the result will be division and confusion.

    I don't think that any of us here want that result. Certainly not FFOZ.



  20. Tom,

    The Two-House teaching is all over the board at the present time, and as I wrote in a recent article, there is a lot of work that needs to be conducted refining it. It has to shift toward something that is eschatological in scope, rather than one's spiritual identity.

    I think that Ezekiel 37:15-28 is clear that in the end-time restoration of Israel there are *three* groups of people brought together: Judah, scattered Israel/Ephraim, and companions from the nations. This just about includes anyone who believes in the God of Israel. Ultimately one's physical ancestry is indifferent to be a part of Israel's restoration; it is only important to recognize who the players are. "Companions" from the nations are involved.

    This view is not the populism that you commonly encounter on the Internet, at the various conferences, etc.

  21. JK -- thanks for the link to your article. I appreciate your honesty and stepping back to look at the pros and cons of the various differences of the Messianic movement.

    Shalom Efraim:
    I agree that it should end at the cross. The ultimate problem we run into is whether Gentiles should or shouldn't do some of what many in our movement are defining as certain commandments of Torah for Jews - not Gentiles.

    I've said it many times in other places (whether with discussions with my fellow Christian brothers and sisters or Messianic brother and sisters) that the root of this issue is to get to what Scripture defines as "sin "and what isn't defined as "sin". That is the foundation of knowing where to begin. Obviously there are differences between men and women as far as what is commanded of them in Torah. And when we talk of neither bond nor free - this doesn't help -- because a free man can become a slave and vice versa. And then it gets rather grey for JEw and Gentile division, even though there are a few distinctions made in Torah But clearly if the Gentile gets circumcised in order to partake of the Passover lamb in Exodus 12, for example, the Torah states clearly that that Gentile "shall be as one that is born in the land". So where does that leave us with distinctions?

    Secondly we must define what true repentance is?

    If Yeshua and the Apostles proclaimed repentance-- we need to know what they were telling people to turn to...which is obvious for Jews in Israel... but gets clouded especially with Paul's writings which are difficult to understand (As Peter concludes) when Gentiles were included.

    Thirdly it looks like there is much confusion in the MEssianic Movement distinguishing the difference between Torah and traditions of Judaism. A Jew gets defined not just by Torah practice but moreso with the cultural traditions that have the Torah hidden within them. So if a Gentile believes that it is a sin to violate the Torah and begins practicing Torah - it seems that some of our well meaning JEwish brethren feel that their JEwish identity is being threatened.

    Take Sabbath practice -- We all know that Torah says it is a sin to spark a flame on Sabbath. However it is not Commanded that we kindle lights to welcome Shabbat even though it is a beautiful tradition that my wife and I practice in our homes. But many folks can't distinguish the Command from the tradition... both which proclaim a Jewish expression, however only one of the two is actually a Commandment.

    If we as a movement can better explain and determine what is the difference between cultural and traditional expression for Jews and the actual Commandments of Torah - we can begin to lay groundwork as to help people understand that to violate one thing is a "Sin" (Violation of Torah) but violating the other is violating a tradition.

    FFOZ has done a great job over the years in laying a foundation of true study of the actual Commandments of Torah in our movement while showcasing the benefits of tradition and for that I'm very grateful. So whether folks agree with them or not in the change in their policy, I'm sure we can easily find some common ground with them and of course lift them up in our prayers. They're humble believers who truly seek to follow Yeshua with love and respect for the church and the rest of Messianic Judaism.


  22. Tom,

    Your comment:

    "I agree that it should end at the cross. The ultimate problem we run into is whether Gentiles should or shouldn't do some of what many in our movement are defining as certain commandments of Torah for Jews - not Gentiles."

    Consider this statement from Messiah:

    "If you love me you will keep my commandments; and I will ask the Father, and He will give you another comforting counselor like me, the Spirit of Truth, to be with you forever."

    I know we could talk all day about the real meaning of His words and which commandments and who was He talking to at the time and did He really mean that for all believers for all time and all that. But I think it is quite clear that He spoke, as He often did, through time and meant the relationship He described was to be for all His children.

    For it to mean anything else would cast a doubtful shadow on most everything He said. Not a pleasant thought.

    Ultimately it comes down to what each of us believe and how we live accordingly. Not that it matters to much of the population of the planet, but, this is what I believe about this subject:

    That each person who is born of His Spirit, washed in His blood, immersed into His body is no longer a Jew or a Gentile, they are a new person. A person who is responsible for keeping His commandments.

    Which commandments?

    All that apply to the walk He has given each of us. Righteousness has been defined in Torah for us all.

    for example:

    If for one person that means that they feel the need to tie colored tassels on the belt loops of their Levis, so be it. It is not my place to judge what someone thinks YHWH has wants them to do.

    That works both ways.

    But if someone says that they need to wear the tzitzi because they say they are a Jew, and that I don't need to wear them if I am not a Jew, then I must disagree.

    The entire Torah is for all of YHWH's children. Not in a relationship of fear and comdemmnation, but rather of instruction and joy.

    If someone were to argue with you about whether or not a believer should keep the Shabbat of YHWH, what would your answer be?

    Yes if you are a Jew, but no if you are not? If that is true then why are Messianics (for lack of a better term at this point) put out with the church and its Sunday service?

    keep in mind what Ya'akov said:

    "For a person who keeps the whole Torah, yet stumbles at one point, has become guilty of breaking them all. For the One who said, "Don't commit adultery," also said, Don't murder." Now, if you don't commit adultery but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of Torah."

    I find those verses hard to get around with the idea of one portion of Torah for Jews and a different portion of Torah for "just plain old Gentiles".

    How can we be judged about our lives on the earth unless a standard has been established on the earth? And if that standard is Torah, then how can we possibly think that YHWH will judge Jews differently than Gentiles, since both live on the earth and are subject to the same righteous standard?

    If I don't keep Shabbat I am guilty of transgressing the whole of Torah. Should my argument before the judgement seat of Messiah be that I was not required to keep Shabbat because I am a Gentile? If indeed I was one?

    That, somehow just doesn't strike me as a good strategy.

    Good questions and responses Tom. Perhaps we will meet here again.



  23. Shalom Efrayim,

    I hope to meet again as well. Thanks for sharing.