Amusing post over at Jewish Life & Learning: Is it discouraged or unacceptable for a gentile to keep the sabbath?
The accepted answer, with a boatload of up-votes from the Jewish community, states:
A non Jew is not allowed to keep Shabbos. Those that are in the process of converting make sure to do at least one thing on Shabbos that would normally not be allowed. For example they might carry something in their pocket.
Just to restate what's being said here, gentiles are not only forbidden to keep Shabbat, but even potential converts to Judaism must do some trivial thing, such as carrying something in their pocket, on Shabbat, in order to deliberately *break* Shabbat, so that he can successfully convert and become a Jew and observe Shabbat. (At which point, he would most certainly remove said item from his pocket!)
For those who love Messiah, we know there’s a way that Judaism doesn’t yet see:
Messiah opened up to gentiles the covenants with the forefathers. He made gentiles sons of Abraham. He made gentiles first-class citizens in the commonwealth of Israel. He brought non-natural branches – the gentiles – and placed them alongside the natural branches – the Jewish people. Marvelous thing, really.
(Blessed are you, Lord, for bringing the millions of gentiles to yourself through Messiah’s sacrifice.)
This is a clear fork-in-the-road for those who wish our Messiah faith to be merely an emulation of Judaism. It’s not that the Messianic movement must discard Judaism. It’s that there are clear practical divergences here, divergences besides the deal-breaker that is Yeshua-as-divine-Messiah, Yeshua as Lord. The treatment of gentiles is such a divergence.
In the pre-Messiah days, barring a handful of proselytes and God-fearers, gentiles were without hope, without God, no relationship to Israel or the covenants. But after Messiah’s arrival, all that was turned on its head. (Thank you, Lord, for having mercy on the nations.)
Treatment of gentiles was to be different under Messiah’s reign. People with zero relation to Jacob are now family and first-class citizens and equal branches of the people of God, the commonwealth of Israel.
It shouldn’t surprise us, either. The prophets said as much.
- Isaiah parroted God’s command: gentiles will keep shabbat and be given a name better than even Jacob’s children.
- Zechariah speaks to a glorious time for Israel, when all the nations will come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feasts.
- Isaiah even spoke of a seeming impossibility: first, God shows up and his glory is on plain display for all to see. Then, he’ll bring gentiles from all the nations to serve in the Temple alongside Israel as if they were cohanim, the Levitical priests.
Can you even imagine that? It’s going to be a sight to see, guys. The Temple is going to be rebuilt, Messiah’s going to return, God’s glory will be laid bare, all nations are going to see the King in plain sight. I can’t wait. Let’s persevere until then.