"The apostles and the brethren who are elders, to the brethren in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia who are from the Gentiles, greetings… it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us to lay upon you no greater burden than these essentials..." (Act 15:23-28 NASB unless noted
While it is wonderful to experience the various customs of other nationalities, there is a growing movement within the body of Christ to go beyond the experience and actually mandate, as a necessity, the manners, customs, and practices of the Hebrew religion.
Adherence to special days, feasts, holidays, and meals based on the Torah (the requirements of the first five books of the Bible) is the trend among those in this movement. Interestingly, circumcision seems not to be embraced with the same religious fervour.
I have enjoyed, and recommend the experience of participating in the various activities such as Passover, the Feast of Trumpets, etc. from time to time, as a means of experiencing the culture of another people group. This has also been a means of connecting to the Hebraic roots of Christianity and to Yeshua (Jesus), who was himself of the tribe of Judah.
However, those who insist that all Christians must participate in these activities cause me a great deal of concern.
Judaizers was the term used to describe those who, in the time of the apostles, were pressing Gentile converts (Christian Gentiles) into Judaism. Paul, the apostle, was very much opposed to this pressure. The conflict came to a head about 20 years after Pentecost.
All the leaders of the Ekklesia gathered in Jerusalem to resolve this conflict.
The question they faced was this, “Are the Christian Gentiles under the same obligation to obey the Torah as are Messianic Israelites?”
I believe we hold too loosely to the fact that certain promises and demands were spoken to a specific nation group and not to all nations in general. I believe God was very clear where he said to Israel:
...you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you. (Exodus 20:10)
This is a very confining list. Not everyone was obligated to these commandments.
Jesus too was clear in his mission:
"I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Matthew 15:24)
I find the Bible to very clear that Christian Gentiles are not synonymous with Messianic Israelites and judging by the words of our opening text the Holy Spirit and the Apostles came to the conclusion as well. Are we, as Christian Gentiles, at a disadvantage as compared to the Messianic Israelites? I believe that Jesus would say not at all:
I say to you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he. (Luke 7:28)
Those who say we are grafted into Israel should consider my article Grafted in or Cut Off. We are grafted into the root that represents Jesus, not Israel. Paul tells us that branches representing Israel were removed so that we could be grafted in—a process that will be reversed in the future when Israel acknowledges Yeshua as their Messiah.
Paul’s words to the Gentile believers ought to act as our guide:
It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)
The leaders met in Jerusalem to ensure the Gentile believers were not saddled with the same burden that the children of Israel carried.
No greater burden than these..."that you abstain from things sacrificed to idols and from blood and from things strangled and from fornication; if you keep yourselves free from such things, you will do well. Farewell."
So ought we to do without adding any unnecessary added burden.
©2015, Dr Steven Bydeley, a man.
All publishing rights reserved. Permission is herewith granted to reprint this article for personal use and to link or refer to it; however, no commercial re-publishing of the material in this article is permitted without prior written consent.
Steven is the author of Fathered by God and with his wife Dianne, co-author of Dream Dreams and Dreams the Heal and Counsel. He has been a guest on the Miracle Channel, Trinity Television, and Crossroads Communication, and have taught internationally on various topics.
Without Prejudice. © 2023, Steven., house of bij de Leij., of man.