Feeling Lonely and Abandoned?
Sometimes it can be lonely for us. Especially for those of us that obey the commandments of HaShem as a lifestyle of discipleship to Messiah. Those of us that are Gentiles are even lonelier still. It seems that every day there is more loneliness as friends and family turn away from us. These days even those we had considered most friendly, seem to be thinking and teaching new ways to abandon the instructions of Scripture…
Yes, we are lonely. But we are not alone.
In the days before Acts 10, there were no Gentiles that were permitted to be joined to Israel, unless they went through ritual conversion to “become Jews.” If you are a Gentile, you have something in common with those godly Gentiles that did not want to go through a man-made ritual in order to draw close to the G-d that had called them – to be shut out because of birth.
Then there was Peter. In Acts 10, by Divine rebuke, he was told to put aside the politics, the culture, and the theology of the day – and to accept those gerim [Gentiles] of whom the Torah speaks so often. Not to accept them in some sort of “brother-lite” version that the religionists of the day called “G-d-fearers” – no, to accept them as full citizens of the community of faith called “Israel.” In spite of this rebuke, Peter eventually would fall back into the “Jews Only” crowd (Galatians 2:11-16). Peter had fallen back into the group that said that if Gentiles wanted to be full-members, they had to “become Jews.” That is what is meant by the notion of “seeking to be justified by the law” (the rules of ritual conversion). Beloved, there is no way that a Gentile can “become Jewish” – but Gentiles can become fellow-citizens with Jews in Israel. To be a citizen means that you receive the rights and responsibilities of citizenship. Gentiles can be grafted into Israel – not to be something different or distinct, but the same. One People.
Paul was also lonely. He was ostracized by his own countrymen, and treated with suspicion even by those same men that influenced Peter. Custom, politics, and theology are hard to overcome. So hard that even after Peter’s Divine rebuke, he gave into the crowd. Did he privately tell the “in” crowd that he had been wrong about his vision – and the Voice he heard?
Yes, it can be lonely. But we are not alone.
Beloved, the Almighty has not left us alone, or without instruction on these matters. As an encouragement to you gerim who have embraced the Messiah of Israel, you who have been joined to Israel and love those same ones that exclude you – let me remind you of what the Torah says about you. Read each verse with thanksgiving. These will be familiar, because you are a student of the Torah. Beloved, this is what the King of the Universe says about you…
“And when a ger dwells with you and wants to keep the Passover to HaShem, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as a native of the land. For no uncircumcised person shall eat it. One Torah shall be for the native-born and for the ger who dwells among you.”
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of HaShem your G-d. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your ger who is within your gates.”
“You shall neither mistreat a ger nor oppress him, for you were gerim in the land of Egypt. You shall not afflict any widow or fatherless child. If you afflict them in any way, and they cry at all to Me, I will surely hear their cry…”
“Also you shall not oppress a ger, for you know the heart of a ger, because you were gerim in the land of Egypt. Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its produce, but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave, the beasts of the field may eat. In like manner you shall do with your vineyard and your olive grove. Six days you shall do your work, and on the seventh day you shall rest, that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female servant and the ger may be refreshed.”
“This shall be a statute forever for you: In the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether a native of your own country or a ger who dwells among you. For on that day the priest shall make atonement for you, to cleanse you, that you may be clean from all your sins before HaShem. It is a sabbath of solemn rest for you, and you shall afflict your souls. It is a statute forever.”
“Also you shall say to them: ‘Whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the gerim who dwell among you, who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice, and does not bring it to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, to offer it to HaShem, that man shall be cut off from among his people. ‘And whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the gerim who dwell among you, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood, and will cut him off from among his people.’”
“And every person who eats what died naturally or what was torn by beasts, whether he is a native of your own country or a ger, he shall both wash his clothes and bathe in water, and be unclean until evening. Then he shall be clean. But if he does not wash them or bathe his body, then he shall bear his guilt.”
“You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations, either any of your own nation or any ger who dwells among you… For whoever commits any of these abominations, the persons who commit them shall be cut off from among their people. ‘Therefore you shall keep My ordinance, so that you do not commit any of these abominable customs which were committed before you, and that you do not defile yourselves by them: I am HaShem your G-d.’”
Leviticus 18:26; 29-30
“‘And if a ger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. The ger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were gerim in the land of Egypt: I am HaShem your G-d’”
“Speak to Aaron and his sons, and to all the children of Israel, and say to them: ‘Whatever man of the house of Israel, or of the gerim in Israel, who offers his sacrifice for any of his vows or for any of his freewill offerings, which they offer to HaShem as a burnt offering—you shall offer of your own free will a male without blemish from the cattle, from the sheep, or from the goats.”
“And whoever blasphemes the name of HaShem shall surely be put to death. All the congregation shall certainly stone him, the ger as well as him who is born in the land. When he blasphemes the name of HaShem, he shall be put to death.”
“You shall have the same Torah for the ger and for one from your own country; for I am HaShem your G-d.’“
“‘And if a ger dwells among you, and would keep HaShem’s Passover, he must do so according to the rite of the Passover and according to its ceremony; you shall have one ordinance, both for the ger and the native of the land.’ ”
“All who are native-born shall do these things in this manner, in presenting an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to HaShem. And if a ger dwells with you, or whoever is among you throughout your generations, and would present an offering made by fire, a sweet aroma to HaShem, just as you do, so shall he do. One ordinance shall be for you of the assembly and for the ger who dwells with you, an ordinance forever throughout your generations; as you are, so shall the ger be before HaShem. One Torah and one custom shall be for you and for the ger who dwells with you.’”
“So the priest shall make atonement for the whole congregation of the children of Israel, and it shall be forgiven them, for it was unintentional; they shall bring their offering, an offering made by fire to HaShem, and their sin offering before HaShem, for their unintended sin. It shall be forgiven the whole congregation of the children of Israel and the ger who dwells among them, because all the people did it unintentionally. ‘And if a person sins unintentionally, then he shall bring a female goat in its first year as a sin offering. So the priest shall make atonement for the person who sins unintentionally, when he sins unintentionally before HaShem, to make atonement for him; and it shall be forgiven him. You shall have one Torah for him who sins unintentionally, for him who is native-born among the children of Israel and for the ger who dwells among them. ‘But the person who does anything presumptuously, whether he is native-born or a ger, that one brings reproach on HaShem, and he shall be cut off from among his people.’”
“And the one who gathers the ashes of the heifer shall wash his clothes, and be unclean until evening. It shall be a statute forever to the children of Israel and to the ger who dwells among them. ‘He who touches the dead body of anyone shall be unclean seven days. He shall purify himself with the water on the third day and on the seventh day; then he will be clean. But if he does not purify himself on the third day and on the seventh day, he will not be clean. “
“Then I commanded your judges at that time, saying, ‘Hear the cases between your brethren, and judge righteously between a man and his brother or the ger who is with him. You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small as well as the great; you shall not be afraid in any man’s presence, for the judgment is G-d’s. The case that is too hard for you, bring to me, and I will hear it.’”
“‘Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as HaShem your G-d commanded you. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of HaShem your G-d. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your cattle, nor your ger who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you.’”
“Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to HaShem your G-d with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as HaShem your G-d blesses you. You shall rejoice before HaShem your G-d, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite who is within your gates, the ger and the fatherless and the widow who are among you, at the place where HaShem your G-d chooses to make His name abide. And you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and you shall be careful to observe these statutes. You shall observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven days, when you have gathered from your threshing floor and from your winepress. And you shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant and the Levite, the ger and the fatherless and the widow, who are within your gates. Seven days you shall keep a sacred feast to HaShem your G-d in the place which HaShem chooses, because HaShem your G-d will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you surely rejoice.”
“He has brought us to this place and has given us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey; and now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land which you, O HaShem, have given me.’ Then you shall set it before HaShem your G-d, and worship before HaShem your G-d. So you shall rejoice in every good thing which HaShem your G-d has given to you and your house, you and the Levite and the ger who is among you.”
“All of you stand today before HaShem your G-d: your leaders and your tribes and your elders and your officers, all the men of Israel, your little ones and your wives—also the ger who is in your camp, from the one who cuts your wood to the one who draws your water—that you may enter into covenant with HaShem your G-d, and into His oath, which HaShem your G-d makes with you today, that He may establish you today as a people for Himself, and that He may be G-d to you, just as He has spoken to you, and just as He has sworn to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I make this covenant and this oath, not with you alone, but with him who stands here with us today before HaShem our G-d, as well as with him who is not here with us today…”
“Gather the people together, men and women and little ones, and the ger who is within your gates, that they may hear and that they may learn to fear HaShem your G-d and carefully observe all the words of this Torah, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear HaShem your G-d as long as you live in the land which you cross the Jordan to possess.”
Beloved, if you are a ger, you were there in the Torah. You were there at the first Passover. You were there when the Voice of the Almighty shook the heavens and the earth at Sinai. He gave you the Sabbath and the Feasts as a full member of Israel. He gave you His wise instructions. You were there when the instructions for the korban offerings were given. You stood side by side with the native-born in the Tabernacle courtyard. You ate what the native-born ate, you worshipped the Almighty as an equal covenant member.
Much later, men determined to lock you out. They changed the meaning of the word in the Torah which spoke of you. They created man-made laws that demanded that you stand far off. They erected a soreg in the Holy Temple to keep you from the Presence of the Almighty. They created “Eighteen Measures” to make you separate and common. They said that to be a part of the covenant you needed to go through a man-made ritual to “become a Jew.” So great was the influence of these man-made customs that it continued into the days of the Apostles – and even today. But that was not what the Almighty King intended. He has already grafted you into Israel. You were made One People by the work of Messiah – both Jew and Gentile.
Do not be bitter for the past or for the present. When Gentiles outnumbered Jews in the fellowship of believers, Gentiles got even – and we live with that awful legacy. Live in quiet peace – and heed the words of that lonely man, Paul:
Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of G-d are irrevocable.
Be patient. The truth will be once and for all revealed. We have One King, we are One People, we have been given One Torah.
Then all Israel, with their elders and officers and judges, stood on either side of the ark before the priests, the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of HaShem, the ger as well as he who was born among them. Half of them were in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, as Moses the servant of HaShem had commanded before, that they should bless the people of Israel. And afterward he read all the words of the Torah, the blessings and the cursings, according to all that is written in the Book of the Torah. There was not a word of all that Moses had commanded which Joshua did not read before all the assembly of Israel, with the women, the little ones, and the gerim who were living among them.