Rabbi’s Reflections – Thursday, July 16, 2020
In Philippians 3 the following words are found in verse 16 (I’ve taken them out of context for the purpose of this RR, but their meaning is not changed), “let us live up to the same standard.” Is that true? Is there really one standard for all of “US?”
The kingdom of God is made up of people from diverse backgrounds. Does God’s righteous standard apply equally to Chinese believers and Peruvian believers? Does Yeshua fit differently in every culture? Of course the 10 commandments are applied the same. So then, the only question that remains is, if following Yeshua means something different in Jewish culture. My answer (which is “yes and no”) may surprise you.
Let me back off that for a moment to tell you a story. I’ve heard thousands of sermons, but only remember a handful. One such memorable sermon was from the late Benny Harris who pastored the Christian Center in Alexandria, Virginia in the 1980’s. I don’t remember the exact title, but the premise was based on the question of “force or field.” The force always overruns the field.
Pastor Harris proposed that we in the congregation of God have a choice. We can allow the ways of the world to be a force on us, or we can be a force on the ways of the world. We can overcome the world with the power and the ways of God, or we can allow the world to overwhelm and overpower us.
I bring this up now because it relates to my earlier question. Yeshua’s ways fit into every culture, worldwide. Yet His natural culture is Jewish, so one would think His custom fit (like the pun?) would be best with His own people. This must be done with (what Dan Juster calls) New Covenant realities. Yeshua was not pleased with everything He found in the Jewish culture 2,000 years ago and His mission was to correct those errors. But He never sought to turn Jews into Gentiles.
This makes me ask the question, “Do Jewish people have to turn into Gentiles to follow Yeshua?” You might think, “Why is Rabbi bringing this up again?” Remember our opening words. There are those who would create a double standard in our community, one for the Jews and one for the non-Jews. But Yeshua has only one righteous standard.
Exodus 12:49 The same Torah applies to the native as well as the outsider who dwells among you.” Leviticus 24:22 You are to have one standard of justice for the outsider as well as the native-born, for I am Adonai your God.” Numbers 15:15 “The community will have the same rule for you as well as for the resident outsider. It will be a lasting statute throughout your generations. As for you, so for the outsider will it be before Adonai. 16 The same Torah and the same regulations will apply to both you and the outsider residing among you.”
Tomorrow I’ll deal with the flip side of this issue…. Do non-Jews have to become Jewish. My “yes and no” answer might surprise you.
Memory Verse: Nehemiah 6:9 For they were all trying to intimidate us, thinking, “Their hands will become weak from the work and it will not be done.” So now, strengthen my hands!
141 7/13 Monday: Nehemiah 7-8
142 7/14 Tuesday: Nehemiah 9
143 7/15 Wednesday: Nehemiah 10
* 144 7/16 Thursday: Nehemiah 11
145 7/27 Friday: Nehemiah 12
Question of the day: Why can’t I understand this?
Answer: Any of you can provide the answer by reply email. I don’t know what Robby and Kandi Gallaty (authors of our reading plan, Foundations) were thinking. They chose this entire chapter to be the reading for today. I read it. It’s a lot of names, names of people and names of towns. The only thing in the entire chapter that caught my attention was early on, where we read… Nehemiah 11:2 Then the people blessed all the men who volunteered to dwell in Jerusalem.
The previous verse states that there was a lottery to determine which 10% of the people would dwell in Jerusalem. It’s not clear if the people who were chosen to dwell in Jerusalem were the winners or the losers. In either case, they were not volunteers. They did, however; receive blessings.
The people who were chosen to live in Jerusalem were representative of the rest of the people. This is true today also. Every believer who lives in Jerusalem today is our representative on the front lines. There is a battle raging for the soul of this world.
The Bible asks the real question of the day.… Luke 18:8b But when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?” I believe He will, but the Scripture warns… Matthew 24:22 And unless those days were cut short, no one would be delivered. But for the sake of the chosen, those days will be cut short.
Let’s remember to pray for the peace of Jerusalem and those followers of Yeshua who live there today. They are holding onto holy ground for the benefit of us all.