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GOD’S PLAN FOR THE CHURCH AND THE JEWISH PEOPLE

By Susan Nikirk   

PART TWO

JEW & GENTILE, ONE NEW MAN

The Mystery Revealed

The prophetic plan of the "one new man" (Eph.2:15), the drawing together of Jew and Gentile is a needed revelation for the time that we live in, and for the final age to come. In my last article, "A Church of Ruths", we saw the joining of a Gentile to a Jew, which brought about the lineage and birth of Jesus The Messiah. The book of Ruth showed us the tremendous love that this Gentile woman Ruth had, as she became a fellow citizen with Israel and the Jewish people, adapted to their way of life, and their belief in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In this article, I hope to impart to you, the mystery revealed to me from the book of Ephesians regarding the joining of the Jew and Gentile as one in Messiah.

Although the body of Messiah, the Church, has in fact joined themselves to believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the same God as the Jewish people, the separation between the Church and the Jewish people remains. At the same time, the Jews cannot embrace the Church whether a Gentile believer in Jesus or even a Jewish believer in Jesus, which makes this joining twice as hard. As the Lord is preparing the stage for His second coming, wide segments of His church are still not recognizing the significant role of Israel and the Jewish people. Without embracing this vision, the joining of Jew and Gentile as one new man cannot take place.

There is a tremendous spiritual war against the union of these two people groups joining together, because the ultimate result will be the glory of God upon the earth, and will unlock the healing of God’s creation. Today we have divisions among the entire body of Messiah, between denominations, churches, movements, and believers throughout the earth. Why? The root of all divisions has never been healed, it is the most ancient of divisions, one which the apostle Paul seeing into the future addressed in the book of Ephesians, the separation and division of the Jew and Gentile. Paul is speaking to Gentile believers in Ephesus, revealing a mystery to them regarding this "one new man". As we briefly look at parts of this book, we must remember the overall theme of the book, which is this joining of two people groups becoming one in Messiah. In chapter 1:17-18, Paul states that he always prays for the believers to have wisdom and revelation into the plan of God, that their eyes will be opened to this. Of course, we can take this to mean God’s plan for our own individual lives, but we must see the larger plan, the joining of the Jew and Gentile in Messiah.

In Ephesians chapter 2:11-13, it is clearly stated that the Gentiles were at one time estranged from the rights of Israel as a nation, and also strangers from the covenants, but through the shed blood of Messiah they are brought near. One of the biggest problems believers have in interpreting the New Testament scriptures is that most of the time there is no knowledge of the Old Testament. In the next two verses, 14-15, we need to take a closer look at certain words in order to understand what the Apostle Paul is saying, "For he is our peace, who has made us both Jew and Gentile one body, and has broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, the law of commandments contained, in ordinances; for to make in himself of two one new man, so making peace." Most interpretations of these two verses would say that the word enmity refers to the Old Testament law of commandments, and that through believing in Jesus, they have been done away with. First we must clarify that the word law, actually means teachings, and if it were not for the Old Testament teachings we would not have any foundation at all, and we would not have the Messiah Jesus. Jesus himself said in Matthew 5:17, "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill." The root meaning of the word fulfill is: to clarify, to perfect a foundation on which to build further. Jesus never meant to do away with or abolish the Old Testament teachings. Without knowledge of any Hebraic root teachings we will not be able to understand what Paul is referring to in "the enmity of ordinances". Remember, Paul was a learned Jewish scholar, who knew the Old Testament, and also the oral rabbinic laws. The enmity between Jew and Gentile was not the commandments, but came because of mutual dislike of each other’s customs. This is common between cultures, but in this case, most Jewish customs are different. They did not just evolve; they were the obedience of the Jewish people in response to the Old Testament teachings given them.

newman1.jpg (7889 bytes)In Ephesians 2:19, Paul continues speaking to the Gentile believers, "Now therefore you are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with God’s people and members of God’s family." The word fellow citizen means to be in union with or together with by resemblance, companionship, or association. When someone becomes a citizen of a nation, they are required to learn the laws, customs, history, and language of that nation. A person becoming a citizen must also pledge loyalty, faithfulness, and commitment to that nation. We need to remember that it says in Romans 11:17, that the Gentiles were grafted in among the nation of Israel, and the Jewish people. When you graft something, you join or fasten it in such a way as to bring about a close union. This is what Ruth did as she attached herself to Naomi, a type and shadow of the Gentile becoming a fellow citizen with Israel and the Jewish people. The Gentile believers (Christians) should be involved with the Jewish people, both Messianic and non-Messianic; thereby fulfilling scripture. Unfortunately, this union that Paul spoke about never really developed into the one new man relationship. In Ephesians 2:20, Paul states that these Gentile believers are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus The Messiah being the chief cornerstone. It is okay to apply this verse for today, that apostles and prophets are the backbone of the Church, but we also must remember that when Paul was writing the apostles and prophets he was referring to were all Jewish. The rich biblical inheritance that believers in Messiah have worldwide has been passed down to them by Jewish spiritual parents. In verse 21 it states, "In whom all the building fitly framed together grows into a holy temple in the Lord." The Jew and the Gentile are to be fitly joined together.

In Ephesians chapter 3, Paul continues to write about the mystery revealed to him, how the Gentiles are to be fellow heirs with the Jewish people and partakers of the covenant promises. Then in chapter 4, Paul speaks about walking in love with one another, keeping the unity of the Spirit, being one body, having one Lord, one faith, One God and Father of all. Paul, is really referring to the famous Hebrew prayer sounded twice a day, even today, (The Shema) Deut.6:4,"Here O Israel the Lord our God, the Lord is the One and Only. " It is fine to take these scriptures in reference to one another in the body, but we must see the central theme of this book, which is Jew and Gentile, "one new man". Paul is warning the Gentile believers to not forget about the Jews, and to walk in love with them. Then in verse 7, a very important statement is made, "But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Messiah." The word grace means God’s favor and ability, the power and equipment needed for ministry, the anointing; and the word gift means a spiritual or supernatural gift or calling. Not everyone in the body of Messiah has the same calling and gifting; and continuing the theme of this book, we need to see that the Messianic Jew has a certain calling in the body, and the Gentile believer has a certain calling in the body.

It is important to know that the early believers were all Jewish, and they continued their identity and Jewish biblical lifestyle. After the death of the apostles, the leadership passed to non-Jewish leaders. Many of them, did not approve of Jewish people or their Jewish Biblical heritage. A continued development of official church doctrine concerning Jews in the centuries following brought a larger separation between the Church and Synagogue. What we know as, replacement theology, where the belief is that the Church replaces Israel developed. As the number of non-Jews became believers, it had a negative effect, bringing Greek and Babylonian influences into the Church. The roman pagan calendar replaced the Jewish calendar, which eventually led to no allowal of Jews to observe any of their biblical feasts, or they would be killed. Jewish people had to choose, God wanted them to hear about the Messiah and be saved. God wanted them to be Jews who followed Jesus, but the Church said, either Jesus or Jewish. One of the worst influences against the Jews around 344-407 A.D. was a bishop of the church in Antioch, John Chrysostom. He was threatened because Christians in Antioch visited synagogues to gain a better understanding of the Jewish roots of their faith. In order to destroy any Christian interest in Judaism, Chrysostom wrote eight sermons against the Jews. These sermons became the official teaching of the Church for 1600 years, one of which was that the Jews killed Christ. When we trace this to the time of the Holocaust, we find Nazi leaders defending their actions by claiming to follow the history of church tradition; perhaps this is another reason that so many Christians in Europe stood by and did nothing. The Inquisition in 16th century Spain burned at the stake Jewish believers in Jesus that celebrated the Passover. Martin Luther, the father of the Reformation, in his latter years, recommended to burn all the Jewish synagogues, raze and destroy their homes, and take from them their cash, silver, and gold. Hitler was convinced he was doing God’s will in attempting to annihilate the Jewish people as he quoted from Luther.

newman3.jpg (8142 bytes)On the other hand, The Synagogue rejected the early Jewish believers in Messiah, who were originally called Nazarene Jews. After the Temple fell, the Pharisees became the leadership, which led to today’s orthodox rabbinical Judaism. The rabbis sought to preserve and unify the Jewish community under their teachings and excluded any other forms of Judaism. Eventually the Nazarenes were cast out of rabbinical synagogues. Through different historical events eventually the loss of a community of Messianic Jews resulted in the loss of the bridge of understanding between Judaism and the Church. Messianic Jews could have kept alive the true picture of the Jewish Messiah Jesus, and helped to avoid the future anti-Semitism in the Church.

Both the Synagogue and the Church fought for proselytes among the Gentiles, thereby increasing the hostility between these two people groups. In order to compete with each other, they formed their own theologies in opposition to each other. Christian theology became contrary to Jewish teachings, as also the Synagogue eventually saw Jesus as a false god of the Gentiles, especially when introduction of the trinity came into being. We must remember, that Judaism, bases their belief on one God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob. When faced with a triune God, it became difficult to believe that Christians were worshipping the same God, let alone that they worshipped on another day. The plot of the devil to separate these two people groups, Jew and Gentile worked, through fear, ignorance, pride, greed, and racism. An excellent study of true historic events which led to the division between the Church and the Jewish people can be found in the book entitled, Our Hands Are Stained With Blood, by Dr. Michael Brown.

Today, there is still much resistance to the uniting of Jew and Gentile in Messiah as one new man. The Christian Church is afraid of being Judaized, and the Jews are afraid of being Christianized. In Eph.4:11-16, it continues to state that through the five-fold ministry we are taught and equipped, to do the work of the ministry in the body of Messiah. We must understand that God has set up a government, and all believers need to submit to this government; to be in the body of Messiah without any spiritual authority does not line up with the word of God. We also need to realize that there are Messianic Jewish five fold ministers that have much to offer the body of Messiah in helping to bring together the unity of the faith. In verse 16, "From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplies, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, makes increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love." Fitly joined together, is not just referring to the individual churches and ministries, but to the larger picture, the Jew and the Gentile in Messiah. God loves both the same, yet we need to recognize the individual positions and callings that they each have. If we are not open to learn and blend Jewish and Gentile expressions and seek to heal this division, then the heart of God’s purpose, "one new man" will not happen. This division has become a major target for demonic attack, and as Paul states in Eph.6:12, that we are wrestling against powers of darkness, realizing the overall theme of the entire book of Ephesians, we can see, that this pertains to the Jew & Gentile in Messiah becoming one new man.

newman2.jpg (7080 bytes)So, the question is: What does this "one new man" church look like? We have no blueprint, but we have the Holy Spirit, and he can help us to develop it. Since the joining of one new man consists of Jew and Gentile in Messiah, then we must not be afraid to incorporate both, and bring them together to complete the plan of God. Only when we accept this joining will we fulfill God’s purpose. As Paul states in Eph.1:10, " That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Messiah, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him". Will you join in God’s vision and labor to bring forth the "one new man"?

Next In The Series: "In The Fullness of Times"  Go There >>

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