Devotion 101

DISTINCTION THEOLOGY

There are several theologies currently in play which, in my opinion and in many others’ as well, have led and are leading believers in wrong directions — directions away from Yahveh’s will. Very briefly, these are: Replacement Theology, One Law Theology, British Israel Theology and Sacred Name Theology. Each of these I have discussed previously. There is one Theology I have not shared with you before – Distinction Theology.

Before I enter into this theological perspective, I wish to state my personal bias. I am a Messianic Jew, a believer in Adonai Yeshua, the Lord Jesus, Who is deity Himself – The Son of God — a follower of Torah – Yahveh’s Word – written in the Five Books of Moses and in the remaining nineteen Books of the Tanakh, the Hebrew Scriptures, and in the twenty-seven Books of the Apostolic Scriptures. I also follow Talmud, the words of the ancient rabbis, as much as I can. Thus, you may see my writing as prejudicial or warped or, perhaps, right-on. Your reaction depends largely on your biases. So, let’s begin.

Distinction Theology, introduced to me through First Fruits of Zion, states there are distinct differences between Jewish people and people of the Nations, herein called Gentiles. Scriptural support for this Theology may be found both in Exodus 19 and in 1 Corinthians 7.

In Exodus 18:4-6, we read – “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.  Now if you will pay careful attention to what I say and keep my covenant, then you will be my own treasure from among all the peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you will be a kingdom of cohanim for me, a nation set apart.’ These are the words you are to speak to the people of Isra’el.” Here, Yahveh is asking Moses to share Yahveh’s Covenant with Israel, the original people who responded to Yahveh’s call to separate themselves from the Egyptians. Through this Covenant, Yahveh declares Israel is His special people, my own treasure from among all the peoples and you will be a kingdom of cohanim for me, a nation set apart. These are two unique positions in Yahveh’s possessions, positions which have not been given to others. Of course, these positions come with obligations and with consequences, both of which we read in Deuteronomy 28.

We also read support for Distinction Theology in 1 Corinthians 7. In verses 17 to 20, we read: Only let each person live the life the Lord has assigned him and live it in the condition he was in when God called him. This is the rule I lay down in all the congregations. Was someone already circumcised when he was called? Then he should not try to remove the marks of his circumcision. Was someone uncircumcised when he was called? He shouldn’t undergo b’rit-milah. Being circumcised means nothing and being uncircumcised means nothing; what does mean something is keeping God’s commandments. Each person should remain in the condition he was in when he was called. Circumcision, as we read in Genesis 17:10 – Here is my covenant, which you are to keep, between me and you, along with your descendants after you: every male among you is to be circumcised, is the distinctive marking of the Covenant between Avraham, his descendants and Yahveh. The descendants of Avraham became known as Hebrews and, much later, Jews.

There are claims made that there is no distinction between Jews and Gentiles, who have surrendered their will to that of Adonai Yeshua. The support for this perspective is to be found in Galatians 3:26-29 – For in union with the Messiah, you are all children of God through this trusting faithfulness; because as many of you as were immersed into the Messiah have clothed yourselves with the Messiah, in whom there is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor freeman, neither male nor female; for in union with the Messiah Yeshua, you are all one. Also, if you belong to the Messiah, you are seed of Avraham and heirs according to the promise. According to the New Man Theology, all Jewish believers in Adonai Yeshua become “Christian” and drop all attachments to Torah, including the Ten Commandments, the Talmud and all Jewish practices. These are replaced by the teachings within the “New Testament” and the practices ordained for “Christians”.

How does Rav Sha’ul view this position? Let’s go to Philippians 3:4-6, wherein we find him teaching us – If someone else thinks they have reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless. Rav Sha’ul, an Apostle of Adonai Yeshua, has declared himself to be fully a Jew, even though He was sent as an Apostle to the Gentiles, the uncircumcised.

So, how do Gentiles fit into Distinction Theology? Let’s visit, firstly, Jeremiah 31, wherein we are given advance notification of the New Covenant. In verses 31 to 34, we read Yahveh’s word – Here, the days are coming,” says Adonai, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Isra’el and with the house of Y’hudah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers on the day I took them by their hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt; because they, for their part, violated my covenant, even though I, for my part, was a husband to them,” says Adonai. “For this is the covenant I will make with the house of Isra’el after those days,” says Adonai: “I will put my Torah within them and write it on their hearts; I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will any of them teach his fellow community member or his brother, ‘Know Adonai’; for all will know me, from the least of them to the greatest; because I will forgive their wickednesses and remember their sins no more. Here we learn the New Covenant will be given to members of the House of Israel, the descendants of the 10 Northern Tribes, and the House of Judah, the 2 Southern Tribes. All of these people are known as Jews, descendants of Avraham, Isaac and Jacob. So, where do Gentiles fit into this picture?

As we read in Romans 11, Rav Sha’ul, the Apostle Paul, spoke to Gentiles who had decided, freely chosen to walk alongside the people of Israel. Let’s read a position of what has become known as the ‘Olive Tree Theology’:  Now if the hallah offered as firstfruits is holy, so is the whole loaf. And if the root is holy, so are the branches. But if some of the branches were broken off, and you — a wild olive — were grafted in among them and have become equal sharers in the rich root of the olive tree, then don’t boast as if you were better than the branches! However, if you do boast, remember that you are not supporting the root, the root is supporting you. (Romans 11:16-18) In this passage, Rav Sha’ul informs the Gentile believers in Rome they are grafted into the stock of Israel, sharing in the promises and in the inheritance given to Israel. They are also warned not to attempt to claim control of either or subjugate Israel and its Jewish People to an inferior position, both of which has occurred over the centuries, since the death and resurrection of Adonai Yeshua.

Beloved, clearly there is a distinction between Jews and Gentiles in the eyes of Yahveh, our Blessed God and Saviour. In a subsequent teaching, I will elaborate more fully on the differences in expectations of worship and life-style between the two branches of believers in the One, True God.

CONSIDER: Beloved, do you harbour feelings of superiority, in your relationship to the Jewish people? Do you claim your status as ‘Chosen People’, even though you are not Jewish? Do you believe that Jewish believers who follow Torah, Talmud and Jewish tradition are damning themselves to ‘hell’?

ACT: If you harbour any of these thoughts or perspectives, I urge you to carefully read the Scriptures quoted here and others, which speak to the issues of the Chosen People being Jewish, found both in the Tanakh and in the Apostolic Scriptures.

PRAY: Ahav, Avinu Sh’bashimayim, Beloved Father in Heaven, thank you for inviting and calling all Gentiles to walk hand-in-hand with their Jewish brothers and sisters. Thank you for helping them understand the distinctions in your expectations for their behaviours, both in worship and in lifestyle. In Your beloved Name we pray.

May the God of Avraham, Isaac and Jacob bless you richly.