Is President Trump a Cyrus?

Ron Cantor —  August 16, 2017 —  Comments
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Against all odds, Donald Trump became President. He won big in the electoral college. Which caused me to wonder, Does God have a plan here? I certainly hoped so and do pray for him regularly. Many people have said that he is a Cyrus. What does that mean? I am not opposed to saying, “God has called him/her to be a Ruth” or “The Lord has put a Cyrus anointing him,” or “He has a heart like David.” For instance, regarding my good friend, Don Finto, I would have no trouble calling him a modern-day Ruth, for the way he has connected himself to the Jewish people.

So, is Trump a Cyrus?

First, who was Cyrus? He was the king of Persia who allowed Nehemiah to come back to Israel and rebuild Jerusalem and her wall. Isaiah amazingly prophesied about this long before he was alive. His prophesy came 150 years before Cyrus was king!

“who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd
and will accomplish all that I please;
he will say of Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt,”
and of the temple, “Let its foundations be laid.”’” (Is. 44:28)

It is about Israel

While Cyrus was a powerful leader of an empire, God raised him up to stand with Israel—to help restore the Jewish nation.

“For the sake of Jacob my servant,
of Israel my chosen,
I summon you by name [Cyrus, see v. 1]
and bestow on you a title of honor,
though you do not acknowledge me.” (Is. 45:4)

Furthermore, Cyrus was not a believer. And yet God chose him to, “rebuild my city and set my exiles free.” (Is 45:13).

One well-known prophetic speaker says that Trump’s action against Syria shows that he is a Cyrus—that he was moved by compassion. But there is nothing in the Cyrus prophecy about Syria or his compassion. Others think the idea of Trump being a Cyrus has to do with delivering America from liberal/progressive policies. But in context, a Cyrus is a political ruler who protects Israel against her enemies.

Cyrus, the King of the Persian Empire, attacked Babylon. Babylon was God’s instrument of judgement against sinful Israel. But it was time for the Jews to return to Israel. Cyrus liberated the Jews and allowed them to return and rebuild their country and of course the Temple.

Three Reasons why Trump might be a Cyrus

  1. He has the authority to recognize Jerusalem (rebuild the city) and move the embassy (rebuild the temple). The second one is a stretch, but taking that action could be seen as foundational. At the very least, a Cyrus would be extremely favorable towards Israel.
  2. He may come to know the Lord. Cyrus doesn’t initially “acknowledge” the Lord. We see that twice (Is. 45), but we also see that God does all these things through him, partly “so that you may know that I am the Lord.” (Is. 45:3) Of all of the prophecies that I heard before President Trump won, there was one that seemed to really touch my heart, going all the way back to 2007.

“Listen to the word of the Lord, God says, ‘I will put at your helm for two terms a president who will pray, but he will not be a praying president when he starts. I will put him in office and then I will baptize him with the Holy Spirit and my power, says the Lord of Hosts. There will be a praying president, not a religious one. For I will fool the people, says the Lord. I will fool the people, yes I will.’” Kim Clement

Well, based on President Trump’s behavior, it is safe to say that the first part is true. Some people have said, hey, he is a baby believer. When I was a baby believer, I could not shut up about Yeshua and the same can be said about many new believers. I was so excited about my new faith. Donald Trump has never confessed his need for forgiveness and, in fact, stated that he has never asked God for forgiveness. I don’t say this to condemn him, but show we need to pray for his salvation.  We need to pray that he has a mighty experience with God!

  1. He is an unlikely choice for president. Nobody gave Trump a chance. Cyrus’ grandfather tried to kill him twice because he was afraid he would replace him. The Lord foresees confusion amongst those who serve him regarding His choice.

“Woe to those who quarrel with their Maker,
those who are nothing but potsherds
among the potsherds on the ground.
Does the clay say to the potter,
‘What are you making?’
Does your work say,
‘The potter has no hands’?
Woe to the one who says to a father,
‘What have you begotten?’
Or to a mother,
‘What have you brought to birth?’” (Is. 45:9-10)

Surely the Israelites desired a Jewish savior—maybe someone from the line of David? God anticipated the reaction and basically said that He is God and will do His will as He pleases. And likewise, Trump—not a lifelong conservative, with a  checkered past—seemed an unlikely choice.

Is it conditional?

Not all prophecies or promises are unconditional. It may be that the Trump/Cyrus connection will depend on both his actions and our prayers. I know that are many believers praying for him. But, while God may have called him to be a Cyrus, he is not off to a good start.

The stage was set for him to favor Jerusalem. He was in Israel in the hours leading up to her 50-year anniversary of reunification. It seemed like a no-brainer that a Cyrus, raised up to favor and restore Israel, would recognize Jerusalem. But instead of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the U.S. Embassy, he focused on seeking peace between Israelis and Palestinians and struck a $350 deal with the radical Islamist Saudis. His son-in-law—a man with zero experience in such matters— was put in charge and quickly realized that there is most likely no solution. There is no doubt that he had planned to recognize Jerusalem and move the embassy, but people got in his head and convinced him not to.

And let me be clear—there is nothing in the Cyrus prophecy about him brokering peace between the Israelites and her enemies—just about Cyrus favoring Israel. So while many have blindly said, “he knows what he is doing,” or “he will fulfill his promise to move the embassy in the future,” you cannot call him a Cyrus while he pressures Israel to give up land. Joel speaks judgement over such leaders who divide up Israel’s land (Joel 3:2).

Cyrus was raised up for one reason—for the restoration of Israel. Please read for yourself in Isaiah 44:28 and 45:1-13.

And then we must ask, what will happen to the man who was called by God to bless Israel? Since his May 22 Israel trip the Trump administration has been in constant turmoil: resignations, firings, Scarimucci, Charlottesville, etc. Some blame the media and others the Alt Left, but I have to wonder how God would have blessed him had he fulfilled the Cyrus role in May. There is still time to pray for him to fulfill this calling.

 

 

 

 

 

I think I made my concerns loud and clear when it comes to Neo Nazi’s and the KKK in my blog yesterday. And I did not hold back criticizing President Trump’s less than clear condemnation. However, there is a greater issue that threatens the very fabric of our society. It could actually result in the end of America as we know it.

The issue is the stifling of free speech. The Constitution is meant to be our Bible, so to speak, regarding the United States. It is meant to tell us what laws are legal or illegal. It guarantees our personal freedoms. However, unlike the Bible, the Constitution can be changed. But it is very hard.

It’s so hard that it has only been changed 17 times since the initial Bill of Rights. The Bill of Rights, the first Ten Amendments, were adopted shortly after the Constitution was written. The first of the ten says this.

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

We now live in a society were the first amendment is being ignored and it appears that the Charlottesville police did not do their job in protecting the rights of the disgusting white supremacists. Being Jewish (and human), I have nothing but disdain for the KKK, Neo-Nazis, David Duke, Richard Spencer and the like. They are the worst of Americans. And yet, they are American.

The is why the super-far-left-progressive ACLU took Charlottesville to court to fight for the right for the racists to have a rally. In other words—the freedom of speech and to peaceably assemble is so important, that the ACLU when to court for Nazis. (It can definitely be questioned as to whether or not their assembly was peaceful…riot gear?)

Hate Speech?

Someone asked me yesterday, “What if it is hate speech?” Yes, the constitution protects hate speech. Free speech scholar Eugene Voloch writes in the Washington Post:

I keep hearing about a supposed “hate speech” exception to the First Amendment, or statements such as, “This isn’t free speech, it’s hate speech,” or “When does free speech stop and hate speech begin?” But there is no hate speech exception to the First Amendment. Hateful ideas (whatever exactly that might mean) are just as protected under the First Amendment as other ideas. One is as free to condemn Islam — or Muslims, or Jews, or blacks, or whites, or illegal aliens, or native-born citizens — as one is to condemn capitalism or Socialism or Democrats or Republicans.

But it’s the Klan!

Today it is the Klan, tomorrow it will be pro-lifers or Planned Parenthood. Once we start making exceptions for other citizens to arm themselves and attack those exercising free speech, we begin a slippery slope towards a dictatorship or Stalinist styled government, replete with secret police and citizen spies.

In 1986, I was walking in Manhattan with Dr. Michael Brown. I was a student and Dr. Brown was speaking in New York. We came upon a group of Black Hebrew Israelites (I think that is what they called themselves) and they were spewing every kind of hate you can imagine. It was chilling, but that is their right under the first amendment.

And let’s be honest, it is easy to want to stifle the rights of hate groups of all kind. When I saw several people with Nazi flags at the Charlottesville rally, my blood boiled, but as disgusting as it is, it is their constitutional right. It is illegal to take up arms against those using speech we disagree with, as the Antifa groups did this weekend. You can protest against someone else’s speech, but you cannot silence them or attack them for that speech—only in the rarest of cases can the police stops someone’s speech.

  • Fighting words—where one is threatening someone else
  • Incitement to violence
  • A few other minor areas

But it makes me so angry

Someone wrote me and said something akin to, “These people, the Antifa, believe that they are the only thing standing between the KKK and lynching.” I disagree with the statement, but either we have a country of law and order or anarchy. I know there is tremendous distrust of police and the more we hear, the more it seems that they did a horrible job of separating the two groups in Charlottesville, but the Police are there to stop people from being lynched (and come on—when was the last time we had a real lynching in America? It was 1981, if you really want to know).

We have fostered a generation that believes that if anything offends them, then they have to lash out. Goodness, I have been lashed out against several times just today (and it is only 1:00pm) and I don’t feel the need to fight someone or challenge them. Maturity is not getting offended. Proverbs says, “Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city” (Proverbs 16:32).

Slippery Slope

So, my question for the pro-Antifa folks is, when is it not okay to show up armed to prevent someone from exercising their first amendment right to free speech?

  • When I see BLM activists chanting “Pigs in a blanket, fry’em like bacon,” (which actually may be a violation of the First Amendment rights, because it is a call to violence).
  • What if there is a pro-abortion rally? Can I show up with sticks and chains to shut them up?
  • Can I stop people from protesting for hire wages?
  • Can bosses attack union members who strike?

The answer is no (in case that wasn’t clear). Might point is that once you silence one group through violence or the threat of violence, then it is only a matter of time until all speech is silenced.

American’s Unique Place Among the Nations

What makes America great is our freedoms and liberties. That is why we rebelled against England. It is why we have a Constitution that is for every person. That is why the rebels risked their lives, as they wrote the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable; that all men are created equal and independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent and inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, and liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…

Once we start limiting the rights of some citizens, it is not long before we limit the rights of all citizens.

How ironic, that Charlottesville, of all cities, host a Freedom of Speech Wall where citizens can express their views. (https://www.visitcharlottesville.org/listing/freedom-of-speech-wall/2211/)

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  1. I don’t know of any groups that come up as intellectually deficient as White Supremacists. The idea that white skin makes you superior, and therefore gives an inherent right for whites to dominate other races, goes against common sense and the word of God, which says all men were made in God’s image.
  2. I do not believe that President Trump is a white supremacist. However, the so-called Alt-right, egged on by Steve Bannon’s (who probably isn’t a racist either, but saw the need to mobilize these people) Breitbart News (how sad to the memory of Andrew Breitbart—a good man) marshalled the forces of these folks to help get Trump elected. That is a fact—just go read the comments section of Breitbart.com before the election. It worked.
  3. In an interview with then candidate Trump, I remember that he would not condemn the racist David Duke, and then flat out lied, saying, he did not know who David Duke was. Why? Because sadly, he felt he needed these people to get elected. The same David Duke said to a reporter (during the rally) that he was there to support Donald Trump’s agenda to take America back—I guess from African Americans, Latinos and Jews. Now, just because he invokes Trump’s name, it doesn’t make Trump a racist, but it does demand radical and regular condemnation from President Trump.
  4. The only reason Steve Bannon has a job in the White House is to appease these people. Trump doesn’t want to alienate them. He needs them in 2020. This is also why Trump gave a placid condemnation, not even mentioning the white supremacy groups, this weekend, and then only under pressure finally called them out by name. This is unacceptable.
  5. However, amongst the progressives, there are too few condemnations of the violent radical left—for the same reason. Hillary, Bernie, Chuck and Elizabeth will need the new Antifa and BLM (Not saying all BLM members are violent, but certainly many) to get elected. It seems there is a lack of courage on both the left and the right to condemn violence from potential voters. The only difference is that virtually every other republican came out and swiftly condemned the KKK and neo-Nazism—even the infamous Anthony Scaramucci chided the president for his toothless statement! I have not seen one democrat condemn the violent Antifa and when they have condemned the violence of BLM, they quickly walk it back because of angry response.
  6. In the video I saw of the fighting in Charlottesville, I didn’t see armed White Supremacists against peaceful protestors (though I am sure there were many local peaceful protestors—and if I was in my home state of Virginia, I may have been one of them). But I saw two armed groups ready to fight. In the short clips on the news, I could not figure out at first who were the white supremacists and who were the protestors.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9AOMXuJSd4
  7. The Alt-Right is a term that racist Richard Spencer coined in 2010 to refer to White Nationalism. It has nothing to do with conservatism. Conservatives believe in small and government, free enterprise, traditional family values, low taxes and limited government regulation. The Alt-Right is focused on white nationalism, nativism (which is funny because they all came from Europe), anti-Semitism, anti-feminism, anti-homosexual and anti-immigration. Conservatives are pro-legal The Alt-Right are not conservatives, but racists.
  8. The rise in violence of both the white nationalists and the radical left is troubling. Martin Luther King was arguably the most effective social rights leader in history and he would not resort to violence. It is clear that both the white supremacists and the protesters were not local to Charlottesville. The killer of Heather Heyer was from Ohio and the BLM New York signs there.
  9. We have a media that is so obsessed with a story that they cannot ignore the racists. After the tragic death of Heather Heyer at the hands of a Hitler-living domestic terrorist, White Power leader Jason Kessler announced a press conference in Charlottesville and the press flocked to give him a stage. Why not just ignore him? Imagine if no one showed up? During the actual march, photographers jumped in front to get pictures of the neo-Nazis so the world could see. Why? Why are you giving the most evil in our culture a stage—and for free!? (I know this is wishful thinking on my part.)
  10. As a normal human being, as I watched some of these bozos making Nazi signs and shouting racist slogans and even carrying Nazi flags, I would have liked to have been there with a two by four. It would taken tremendous self-control not to become violent as someone attacks the essence of who you are, calling you less of a human because you are black or Jewish or Latino. While violence is definitively not the answer, the urge to resort to it is understandable.
  11. President Trump needs to condemn these people in the strongest terms, fire Bannon (who gave them a voice) and distance himself from them completely and forever. There is no question that the media has been unfair to Trump, but he is equally responsible for constantly leaving room for ambiguity—like with his statement this weekend.
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Part 1

Continuing with our series on Israel and the nations, I want to move to our second statement.

Gentile simply means a member of the nations. When a member of the nations comes to faith, he does not become Jewish. He continues to be a member of his or her nation, but has complete access to all the heavenly benefits found in Yeshua.

What is the ecclesia?

I have heard many believers say that now that they believe in Yeshua, they are Jewish. However, I do not think that this is what Scripture teaches. This is the beautiful mystery of the New Testament Ecclesia (often translated church). I don’t like to use the word church for two reasons:

  1. The English translation of the Greek Ecclesia is not church, but assembly. It is simply a mistranslation. (see video on the subject here)
  2. In our modern culture, the word church tends to speak of something completely non-Jewish (with steeples, etc.), while the one new man (Eph. 2:15) is made up of both Jews and the nations.

It is important to note that when Paul uses the term ecclesia, it is not an ecclesia, but the ecclesia. Ecclesia was a common word in his culture, but he ‘branded’ it for something specific. For example, in Richmond where I grew up, we have the Coliseum. In Rome, there was the ancient Colosseum. However, the word coliseum simply means “a large theatre or stadium,” from the word ‘colossal.’ Both in Rome and in Richmond, they took a common noun and made it a proper noun. If I have tickets to a concert in Richmond, I say, “I am going to the Coliseum,” not “I am going to a coliseum.”

One New Man

So Paul is saying there is a new thing, called The Assembly or Gathering. And this Gathering is different in so many ways. It is unique in that it is NEW and it is a UNITED assembly of Jews and Gentiles.

In Ephesians 3, Paul uses the word mystery four times to describe God’s marvelous plan for the nations. He says that this revelation, that has now been revealed to God’s holy apostles and prophets, was a secret in times past.

“The mystery is that, through the Gospel, the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Messiah Yeshua.  Although I am less than the least of all the Lord’s people, this grace was given me: to preach to the Gentiles the boundless riches of Messiah, and to make plain to everyone the administration of this mystery, which for ages past was kept hidden in God, who created all things.”  (Eph. 3:6, 8-9)

First, we see that non-Jewish believers become heirs with Israel, not in place of Israel. Second, despite our unique callings, we are one body. Third, Gentiles share in the promise in Messiah—there is equal access to “the boundless riches of Messiah.”

What was the mystery?

He created…

“in Himself one new man from the two [Jews and Gentile], thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.  And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near. For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father.” (Eph. 2:15-18)

So God has created a new thing—the Assembly—comprised of Jews and Gentiles. In the Assembly, both groups are reconciled to God and both have access to the Father by the Holy Spirit. There is no hierarchy. Yes, there is leadership (Eph. 4:11ff), but there is no inherent status based on ethnicity or gender or race. All have equal standing in the Assembly, but not the same calling.

Is there Jewish calling?

As stated before, men are still men and women are still women. No one argues that. But when it comes to Jews and Gentiles, it gets a little stickier. For those believers of Jewish background that maintain there is a calling connected to that, it could be an offense to those who feel that we are saying that Jewish status is better status (which we are not saying!). Still, Paul maintains that the unique calling on Israel remains. Romans 11:29 he says this calling it “irrevocable.” In Acts 13:47 he sees the calling on Jewish believers to be connected to Isaiah 42:6 and 49:6, to “be a light for the nations.”

What is a Gentile?

The question is, are Jews still Jews and Gentiles still ethnically Gentile in the New Covenant? Before I answer that, it is important to note that the word Gentile (in Hebraic thought) can have two meanings. The positive meaning is simply a member of the nations. The negative meaning is heathen or pagan—someone outside of God’s covenant. In the context of Ephesians, Paul uses both meanings.

So, the same Paul can say both, “You who were formally called Gentiles,” when referring to the negative usage. And “I am writing to you Gentiles,” (Rom. 11:13) when using it in a positive way.

He makes an amazing statement regarding access to the Gentiles in chapter three:

“This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Messiah Yeshua.”

If Paul’s intent was that the Gentiles who come to Yeshua are now Jewish, then that would not be a mystery. At the time, there were a myriad of Gentiles throughout the Roman world that attended synagogue and many went through a formal conversion to Judaism. The mystery of the New Covenant, about which Paul is so excited, is that in Yeshua, there is no need for conversion to Judaism, but merely conversion from death to life.

“Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son.” (Col. 1:13)

Is there anywhere in the New Testament where Paul specifically refers to a Gentile believer as a Jew? No. And yet, before going into the Temple, he circumcises Timothy (who was Jewish through his mother, but not raised as a Jew). He doesn’t circumcise Titus. Why? Because he is not ethnically Jewish.

One in Messiah

Clearly, the Jews are still Jews as shown in part one of this series. The mystery is that in Yeshua, Jews are still Jews and Gentiles are still Gentiles (or Greeks are still Greeks, and Brazilians are still Brazilians, etc.). And yet, our oneness in Messiah is so awesome, that we can say when it comes to access to God, there are no Jews or Gentiles, male or female, slave or free…we are one in Messiah.

Paul was not ethnically Roman, but he did enjoy all the benefits of being a Roman citizen. That is the mystery of the Gospel of which Paul speaks in Ephesians three, that believers from other nations become “co-heirs” and “members of God’s household” without becoming ethnic Jews. Believers from the nations enjoy all the benefits of citizenship in God’s household, just as if they were ethnically Jewish, though they are not. That is good news! And the truth is, being a new creation is far higher than being ethnically Jewish.

That is Paul’s meaning in Romans 2:28-29, when he says:

“A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God.”

This is hyperbolic speech. Like when Yeshua said to hate your family or cut off your hand. It wasn’t literal, but because it is the word of God, we struggle with hyperbole. Paul isn’t saying that ethnic Jews are not Jews. He is saying the one who truly pleases God is the one born again—with the circumcision of the heart.

Value in Circumcision

How do we know this? Because, in the very next verse, Paul asks, “What advantage, then, is there in being a Jew, or what value is there in circumcision? Much in every way!” Circumcision through the Abrahamic covenant ties the Jewish people to the land of Israel. Non-Jews were not part of the physical Abrahamic covenant, but can be part of the greater Abrahamic covenant through Yeshua. But the New Testament does not cancel the physical Abrahamic covenant—which never promised eternal life. The land of Israel and many blessings? Yes. But eternal life is only through Yeshua.

This is why Paul was going nuts when Gentiles were being taught that they had to be circumcised in order to be saved. He is shouting in Galatians that there is no greater benefit than salvation and salvation is free. There is no higher status than “born-again”.

Lastly, if all Gentiles are suddenly Jews when they get born-again, who are the members of the great multitude in heaven?

“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.” (Rev. 7:9)

The great Assembly of God, the One-New-Man, the Household of God, that great Olive Tree, is made up of regenerated Jews and regenerated members of the nations.

 

 

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Part 2

Often, well-meaning, Israel-loving people will say to me, “I am Jewish now. I am grafted in.” I never, ever say anything close to, “No, you’re not Jewish.” I focus more on how grateful I am that they love God and pray for the Jewish people. However, it is interesting that the Church went from saying, “You can’t be Jewish and believe in Jesus,” to, “All believers are Jewish.”

Which is it? What does the Bible actually say? I will make six statements and then seek to back each one up with Scripture, one blog post at a time:

  1. Jews who receive Yeshua remain Jews, just as a females remains female or a male remains a male, after coming to faith.
  2. Gentile simply means a member of the nations. When a member of the nations comes to faith, he does not become Jewish, but continues to be a member of his or her nation.
  3. However, Jewish and Gentile believers are equal in the sight of God. Jews are neither favored above Gentiles nor discriminated against, in regards to non-Jews.
  4. Salvation is free, but rewards in the kingdom are based on merit, not ethnicity. Intimacy with God is based on the desire and passion of the individual believer, not whether they are Jew or non-Jew, male or female, etc.
  5. Jewish and non-Jewish believers make up the One New Man—a mystery that was hidden in times past. Paul calls this the household of God. In this household, the Gentile believers become joint-heirs with Jewish believers—without losing their own ethnicity and without replacing the Jewish people.
  6. Ethnicity is important to God, which is why non-Jewish believers do not become Jews or Israelis (Israelites) after coming to faith. They are called to stand in the gap for their nation.

Blog One: Jewish believers are still Jews

The early believers clearly had zero issues with the idea of being Jewish and believing in the Jewish Messiah. The question with which they wrestled was, “Can a Gentile believe in Jesus, without converting to Judaism?” The apostles, through their lives and teaching, give no hint of leaving Judaism. In fact, rumors were being spread about Paul teaching Jewish believers “to turn away from Moses, telling them not to circumcise their children or live according to our customs” (Acts 21:21). Paul, upon the advice of the Jerusalem apostles, went to the Temple to make a sacrifice so that, “everyone will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law.” (Acts 21:24)

Church Fathers turn against Jews

However, the Church Fathers in the second century began to teach that once a Jew comes to faith, he is no longer a Jew. Many were vicious in their accusations against the Jewish people. Peter the Venerable wondered about the humanity of Jews: Truly I doubt whether a Jew can be really human.

Ignatius Bishop of Antioch (98-117A.D.) – Epistle to the Magnesians

For if we are still practicing Judaism, we admit that we have not received God’s favor…it is wrong to talk about Jesus Christ and live like Jews. For Christianity did not believe in Judaism, but Judaism in Christianity.

They lined up to accuse the entire Jewish nation of killing Yeshua (forgetting that He laid down his life by His own free will for them.) Another, Justin Martyr taught that Christians were the true “Israelite race” and that the Hebrew Scriptures now belonged to the church exclusively. He did not believe you could be both Christian and Jewish. He also taught that circumcision was for judgement (as opposed to being there mark of the covenant of Abraham).

The purpose of [circumcision] was that you and only you might suffer the afflictions that are now justly yours; that only your land be desolated, and your cities ruined by fire, that the fruits of you land be eaten by strangers before your very eyes; that not one of you be permitted to enter your city of Jerusalem.

Apostles continued to live as Jews

However, it was not like this a century before. Paul continued to identify as a Jew, preaching the Jewish Messiah to the Jew first in every city he went. We never see Paul inviting Jews to enter into another religion. To the Jewish leaders in Rome, he shares, “For this reason I have asked to see you and talk with you. It is because of the hope of Israel that I am bound with this chain” (Acts 28:20). Certainly the hope of Israel was not a new religion, but the fulfillment of the Hebrew prophets.

We find Jacob (James) the brother of Yeshua, 30 years after the resurrection, praying daily in the Temple. It was said that he was the most respected Jew in Jerusalem from all the sects of Judaism. He was called the “camel-kneed” for the hours that he spent in prayer for Israel. The evidence is clear that he remained a part of the people of Israel till his death.

When Peter preached on Shavuot (Pentecost), he did not present a new religion, but proclaimed to his exclusively Jewish crowd, salvation and forgiveness through Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah.

Paul says in Romans that the gift and calling of God to Israel is “irrevocable” (Romans 11:29). He says, in Romans 3, that there is “much value” in being Jewish (Romans 3:1-4). Clearly, Jewish believers in Yeshua are still Jewish and part of Israel.

Neither Jew nor Gentile?

What, then, do we make of the oft-quoted Galatians 3:28?

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua.”

Bible teachers have used this statement to say that Jewish believers are no longer Jews. But they miss one major issue. If that is true, then male and females no longer have distinctions, and yet, I have never been able to get pregnant!

So, what then is the point of his passage? That being in Messiah overshadows our other roles and callings. I live in Israel. We have many Jewish immigrants from all over the world. Suppose I brought all the Jewish people together from so many nations and said, “Today, we are not Americans, Ethiopians, Russians or Argentinians, but we are Israelis!” Technically, that is not true. I am still American even though I am also Israeli. But anyone with common sense would understand my intention—that I am focusing on what unites us.

While our roles/callings are important, none of them bring any special favor with Messiah. In other words, God doesn’t reward me for what he made me. He rewards me according to faithfulness to that calling (Matt. 25:14-30)

Any person—Jew, non-Jew, slave, female, etc., can freely come to Messiah. This was a major difference between the Old and New Covenants and what Paul was so excitedly shared with his Gentile audience: “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence” (Eph. 3:12), no matter what your background, race, class, ethnicity or gender.

So, in Galatians 3, he is not saying something negative about Jews, but something positive about non-Jews—that there are no restrictions keeping them from Messiah. As Peter said, “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears him and does what is right” (Acts 10:34-35).

In the second part, we will address are second statement: Gentile simply means a member of the nations. When a member of the nations comes to faith, he does not become Jewish, but continues to be a member of his or her nation.

Part 2