A Dialog on
The following dialog is between Dr. Peterson, a Ph.D. scientist, and David Black, who is currently part of a Messianic congregation.
Todd: It's time to have a bit of a dialog. This should make for conversational reading!
There are three key questions we will entertain here. First, what is a Gentile? Second, what is a Jew? And third, why 'Together?'
The First Question
So Dave... you start... what is a Gentile?
Dave: The very simplest answer is anybody who is not a Jew. This encompasses everyone from the least to most civilized, from every ethnic group, the entire world but the Jewish people. We can keep in mind that the Jewish people also encompass many ethnic groups, too.
Todd: You are saying Gentiles are everyone but Jewish people, but what comes to mind is the question... Were there always Jewish people in the world?
Dave: You ask an interesting question and I would say no there wasn't. The Bible talks about Abraham being the first Hebrew... and you know what the word Hebrew means don't ya?
Todd: Well, you've got me... what!
Dave: The word means 'called over' or 'called from' and thus Abraham was called over to a new land... the land God gave him as an inheritance. So, everybody after that were called Hebrews only if they were in the line that carried God's blessing. This included Isaac, Jacob, but not Esau or Ishmael or any of the other sons Abraham had ... I think there were 14 children he had, but it was Isaac, the son of promise who carried the lineage.
Todd: That's interesting because this creates a starting point and a focus for us as we move forward in time. One son out of all possible progeny is the one to follow. And if we are reading the Bible this is an event that provides a transitional element of change. There are events described before Abraham, but Abraham is a new milestone in the story line. Even after Abraham, the story has good and bad times for Israel, consequences and benefits. It almost seems like from Adam and Eve that the story doesn't exactly click into place. It takes more developments for the story to unfold.
So, it initially takes a generic people, the Gentiles, all the way along until God confronts Abraham with a choice. And the word Jew really comes along later and actually doesn't that come from the word Judah? So when we think about Abraham we should think of the initiation of the House of Israel and in general speaking not necessarily default to saying he is the first Jew. Israel is in fact God's focus and not simply a name for a people.
Dave: That's right. The word Jew comes from Judah, the kingdom within Israel that actually comes later in history.
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Todd: By contrast, we can look at the word Gentile initially in a secular sense. Just anybody... but also look at this from a religious sense. Do you remember from our discussion the other day what you were saying about the assumption that some people make?
Dave: The assumption that if you are not a Jew you are a Christian?
Todd: Well, more like if one is a Gentile then they are Christian.
Dave: Yes, I was saying previously, this may hold in the case where one grows up in a family that has a Christian background ... as opposed to growing up within an Islamic [or other religious] household. In this context some automatically consider themselves Christians and I think likewise Jewish people might make an assumption about certain types of Gentiles, based on general characteristics to automatically assume some Gentiles are Christians. This makes sense because Judaism is passed down by a bloodline. That is, one would say 'I'm a Jew because my parents and grandparents are Jews.' Likewise, if this is your paradigm, then you tend to look at the rest of the world this way. If you see someone growing up in a certain household they tend to take on a certain association ... without regard to a claim of atheism, agnosticism...
Todd: So, they pick up on a label. And paradigm means world view or more specifically a model for how things work. So, these labels seem to describe how something works... but this is irrespective of a reality that exists in the background. Here someone is adopting a label by default depending on where they grew up. But there is another issue that goes further and this speaks to one exploring and personally believing what goes along with that label. After all, the purpose of this section of the web page, 'Jew and Gentile Together,' is to really look at the purpose of these labels on a personal level. But in missing this personal aspect we pick up the label and say my parents are Islamic, Jewish, or Christian, and therefore I am Islamic or Jewish or Christian, respectively. But the important distinction is that there is a choice involved.
In thinking of choice, regardless of family background or in the absence of any specific background, the real issue is choice and that one might confront the prospect of looking around to think about belief and the choices behind belief and beyond simply adopting a label.
Dave: Along those same lines... the point you are making... the true religious observance is what really makes you of that particular religion. Or places you within that people group... If I practice Islam and hold true to the tenants and try to live by life based on these, then I'd truly be Islamic. If I was just someone who because of my great grandfather's belief but have no religious practice in the present, then am I really Islamic, or Christian, or Jew, what ever the case may be.
Todd: This is true, especially from an apologetic perspective, which begs the question of our being able to state or defend the reasons behind our belief. What is the defense or basis for our behavior, actions, and understanding! We need to all be the detectives to dig into what we think and believe. Is there anything that we are standing on, this foundation of belief, that is really dependable and credible. That's truly important to know! And if there is truly only one God, then there is only one truth that can go behind a belief system. With this some information fails to support what is true and some beliefs in other faiths stand to fall by the wayside.
Some people may be in the right framework for what they believe. For example Judaism is the source for all the writings that are used to support both Judaism and Christianity. The biblical texts were recorded over time by Jewish scribes. And yet if these texts are not read or examined closely enough, then a lot of truth is then skipped over. This then short cuts the fullness of the experience and thus compromises the belief.
The Second Question
Dave: This leads to our next question: "What is a Jew?"
Dave: This brings up other questions like: Is Judaism a race or a religion? Is it a group based on a blood line or belief? Can it be either or? Or is it both?
Todd: There are certainly ethnic groups that are identified by genetic lineage and geographic placement on the Earth... those characteristics fit with the Jews or Arabs in the Middle East, but the native aborigine peoples in Australia, for example, they may have an oral tradition, but to my knowledge they don't have written scriptures that have been passed from generation to generation. This is one thing about the Jews that set them apart from other groups. These writings are unusual and they don't broadcast just internally, yes they are somewhat introspective, but they also extroverted by nature as a light shining out to all the nations.
Dave: I recently heard about a tribe in Africa that claims to be descendant from the 'ko-hay-neem' or the priesthood of Israel. In fact they claim to be specifically of the 'ko-hay-neem ha-ga-dol,' the high priests and not just the priesthood at large. Here is an example of an ethnic, yet Jewish, group geographically displaced from Israel that sees roots back to a key tribe of Israel.
Todd: Indeed there have been recent publications showing that geneticists have found gene markers in the DNA of this group that substantiates the claim you are describing. And this group is all the way down the east coast of Africa. And just to think, here is a dark-skin people group with ethnic roots to Israel and also Africa. Likewise, the entire nation of Israel, having been spread out over the globe, now incorporates a multiethnic diversity across colors and geographic locations, not to forget customs and dress, etc. So, inn a way this mirrors diversity of the nations, too.
Dave: The Hebrews that spread out now are regathering back in Israel, to return to the Land given originally to Abraham!
Todd: It's like the melting pot we think of when describing the United States... and this is true even in my family where my grandfather came over from Europe to settle in the States. So, Israel's gathering in is a composite of peoples, but here all having a claim to the original line from Abraham.
So, we talked about what is a Gentile, and from a religious perspective we talked about choice... but when we think of the Jewish people, what role does choice play here?
Dave: Interestingly enough, we can see evidence in the Scriptures of Gentiles making a choice to align themselves with the nation of Israel. These are often times referred to as the strangers in the land living along side the Jews. In fact their names are mentioned in lineages. For example, Ruth with the Jewish mother-in-law, Rehab in Jericho before the Hebrews arrived there... and she ended up in the lineage leading to David the King...
Todd: Actually there are a number of such examples that are included in another section that focuses on 'Jew and Gentile Harmony in the Hebrew Scriptures,' and our visitors can explore those writings to see how that works out!
Dave: Also within the Torah... the Hebrews are told to accept these foreigners if they align themselves with you... they are to be counted as among you...
Todd: ...for example, in the text of Leviticus, the mention of 'strangers among you' clearly stands out time and again.
Again, going back to the example of a Gentile growing up in a family with no particular religious background, one might be in Europe or South America, or where ever, and see that there are specific groups exhibiting a specific practice. In that situation, I might conclude I have a choice. This is especially true if I start to ask why I am alive and to ask about the purpose, if any, for being here. This is really a universal experience for being human, but something we rarely share with those around us.
Dave: I agree!
Todd: I remember Hugh Ross or Reasons to Believe who noted that at one point he wanted to know, from a scientific perspective, which of all the world's religious texts... which of these would survive simple scientific scrutiny. As a young person, he was able to eliminate many of the texts right away because of claims that are illogical or impractical. After breaking out all these text sources into various categories, he was left with the Hebrew Scriptures (Tanach) and the text of the b'rit chadashah (in Hebrew) otherwise known as the new covenant. In short, the Bible is the only text that is scientifically sound and withstood his questioning. In fact there is an audio cassette recording of Dr. Ross giving a more detailed account of his process and questions. I think interested persons can contact Reasons to Believe on how to obtain that recording (see list of Internet sites for a link to Reasons to Believe).
The point I'm making is not that the Bible is a science text, but that if I am asking for valid sources on which to make a choice, then something has to stand out as truthful. And if I'm going to make an informed choice, certainly I want to make a well founded choice. The scientific perspective is simply one of many possible avenues of inquiry to truth.
For the Jew in New York or maybe outside Tel Aviv or any where... is there a choice to be made?
Dave: I think so... certainly the Gentile might choose to practice Judaism or any other '-ism,' there are choices for the Jew. Throughout the Scriptures we can see Jews choosing to follow foreign gods or to return back to the God of Israel. This is clear in God's chastisement of His people when they wander astray. This is pictured in Joshea's marriage to the harlot... this I a picture of God marrying the Hebrew people and the Hebrew people, playing the harlot, by continuing to look for other lovers. So, the Jewish people can choose, but God will also continue to call them to continue in relationship with them (Israel) just as the prophet continued in his relationship with his wife... even for the days, months and years when she was not living with him... he was still married to her and sought after her.
Todd: I remember how you described your wife's starting to read the Bible, to ask questions, and searching there only to find missing text. Elsewhere we find people finding descriptions of things that sound familiar but unless placed in the proper context all this doesn't make as much sense.
What I'm driving at here, and what is addressed in the information this web page offers concerning 'types and shadows,' is that there is in the Hebrew text hints of the Jewish Messiah. In some Hebrew texts some of the passages are removed because of this familiar sound which indeed is a representation of something important... even if the text is simply describing a foreshadow of what comes later in time. Your wife made a connection by asking about the missing pieces of text. Her persistence brought her to answers that explain what the types and shadows represent.
There may be different teachings that one encounters when looking into the text, but once we explore enough this is like the window view, the pieces start to come together to provide the larger picture.
If Isaiah 53 is missing, then as some have discovered in their Bibles... then asks why is it gone and what does it say... only to see a picture of a suffering Messiah, then the questions flow from there.
Dave: Not just a typo or printer error, but when it's the 22nd Psalm, the 53rd chapter of Isaiah, or other related Scriptures... you know when you go to the rabbis and they tell you it is unlucky to study the book of Daniel... well why? Well, we can see clearly a guideline exactly when that Messiah is to arrive.
If the rabbis say it's unlucky... could that be... according to Daniel the Messiah already came and the rabbis are essentially saying 'we don't want to admit that.' Could it be that according to Isaiah 53 that Messiah would suffer and die... that his people would not esteem him... think so little of him... and that he would be a ransom not just for the Hebrews but also for the entire world.
Todd: The missing texts are like saying... let's not look at that, let's not consider how he came, appeared to his people, and then how he died... which then would lead to other questions and potential discoveries.
Here are some of the real substantive points that go to making choices, but here it's a matter or having the information to have a complete an understanding. And for the Hebrews, its not a matter of learning about some other group's Messiah, this is the Jewish Messiah and a matter of the Jews greeting their own Messiah and bringing him into their lives. Ironically, it's the Gentile who must next 'come over' to accept something that is not 'naturally' theirs. And the biblical text indicates it is in fact the Jewish people who should be helping everyone else to understand the nature and mission of Messiah. Unfortunately history has garbled roles and messages... its time to take a hard look to recognize something so many of us have missed for so long. And by 'us,' I mean Jew and Gentile both... together we can recognize something very important here... but it takes a bit of exploration and objectivity to do so!
The Third Question
So, here we come to why 'Jew and Gentile Together' ... indeed, why together?
This speaks to the concept of a holistic paradigm... we could consider Jew and Gentile people groups separately as if there is no overlap... but it's clear that the Hebrews were called and a Chosen People distinguished such that God's story could be shared among all people. If the message is really to 'the Jew first and also to the Greek,' then this means the House of Israel is to be the ultimate message bearer... and that is part of the real choice for a Jewish person... to recognize their role as God's message bearer... first to those in Israel and then out to all nations.
This ironically describes a form of evangelism for Judaism that may not be very popular, but it is in the design of the Scriptures themselves.
Dave: Sure... and if we look at the Scriptures overall, from Genesis on, God has a plan for mankind, a plan for all creation in general, and He puts that plan in effect and something goes awry ... we decide to rebel against God and rebel against our relationship with Him... and in that we have the fall... not just the fall of mankind but even all of creation is said to groans over this fallen nature and choice to rebel... then we have God who allowed things to go on for a while and then says... this is too corrupt... and He starts over again with Noah and his family, with animals that fill the ark, and then with this restarts His plan, restarts life in general.
But who was Noah? He was a man considered righteous according to the Scriptures, but was he a Hebrew? Not necessarily since Abraham was called the first Hebrew, but did Noah love and respect God... apparently he did! Yet all of the nations from Noah's time on, all the nations came out from Noah!
But from Noah's time on we have a mounting corruption again. We then have God calling out Abraham and to then establish a covenant with Abraham. That covenant being not just to spare a people group, or grab a certain group to make them holy unto God... that is true... but also to redeem all of mankind and to set the record straight in a permanent and lasting way. This would be a relationship with God based upon choice, based on love, and unable to be broken by the adversary. This was to occur through Abraham and a people who were chosen to accomplish this.
When you look later when God gave the Law (Torah) to Moses... He calls the people to eat differently, to look, act, and worship differently... He gives them instructions for every aspect of life and then calls them a peculiar people... He tells them... you are not to make yourself dirty with these other things or with these other people... but then God places this peculiar people and sets them directly at the crossroads of the world! And when He did this... this was the hub of all human activity... and then He calls that hub their Land! Well, actually it is God's land and they were keeping it by living on the land.
So why would God ask them to maintain separateness and then stick them in the middle of everything! There separateness was to set them apart as examples of who He was and the relationship He wanted with mankind.
He set them in the center so the entire world would see what a relationship with God was suppose to be like.
Todd: It's really ironic in a sense when we look at the news today to see an Israel that is split into secular and a religious realms and all the conflict describes a melting pot of activity... and yet it is still in the middle of our attention. You can't turn past the front page of the newspaper without seeing the reports! So, it seems as if Israel is now trying to redefine themselves in that role of separateness and bring themselves back on-line with God. That still puts them in the same role because then whether it is the more secular news or religious aspects it's still in everyone's face ... we still have to be thinking about what is going on there.
In this respect Israel is now an oscillating light that will become stronger and more consistent over time. For example, you were talking about the writings of Daniel... which give an account of a future time when there will be religious animal sacrifice. Today in the modern mind one does not readily think of conducting such sacrifices. And yet we are aware that there are Jews who are looking forward to rebuilding the Temple in Jerusalem.
Dave: ...and I'll bet they are not members of PETA!
Todd: No! But even as you chuckle about this you've raised an interesting point and I suspect there will be controversy over reinstating an age old practice after a pause of some two thousand years!
Even the recent visit to the Temple mount by an Israeli official focuses our attention on the religious yearning to rebuild. Another [the third] Temple will be a reality. And the implications in light of what else Daniel tells us is about this is certainly worthy of our utmost attention. He essentially describes a final chapter for present time. The Temple simply is the key that opens the door to that time and many will see the building going on but not give it a second thought.
I think that Jews and Gentiles are all in this together. The story is unfolding to the point where I don't question the validity of Daniel, I just waiting for the cornerstone—which has already been cut—to be put in place. Do you know where the cornerstone is?
Todd: I'm told there is a traffic circle in Jerusalem... which someone told me our tour bus drove past this... anyway the stone cut for the Temple rebuilding is put in the middle of this traffic circle... right out in plain view. It's sitting there out in the open where everyone can see and so no one will be tempted to take it! It's in a place were eyes are always on it... and in a way I think this is significant of thoughts of rebuilding are always ever present!
it is not a question of if they will rebuild
but when. In fact there are some graphics on
this web site from the Temple Institute, which
is the group that is continually planning for
So, to wrap up quickly, in our discussion we've talked about covenants between God and mankind: a covenant with Noah, with Abraham, and there are others which are outlined in another section entitled Messiah's timeline.
Consistent with thinking that the destiny of Jews and Gentiles is indeed Together, Charles has written a number of pieces to illustrate a harmony with Jews and Gentiles as recorded in the Hebrew language in the Hebrew Bible. This is a text that Jewish people read all the time and yet we want to bring this illustration out across the board. The Old Testament isn't simply a text for Jews only. Likewise, the Greek text of the new covenant—a covenant promised to the Jewish people by Jeremiah and later written in Greek by Jewish authors and scribes—this too contains many elements of the same harmony and the message is no less the same focus on a relationship that is a matter of our choice... we all must chose to have a relationship with God or there is none.
Dave: And our thanks to our visitors who have 'listened' to our chat... its been enjoyable to share!