The Faithfulness of Israel II

My last post provoked some very helpful critical comments by Jewish readers. They raised what I see as two categories of important issues – the relationship between Jews and Gentiles, and the prophetic evidence (or lack thereof) for Christ – which I will try to address to the best of my ability. Below are some thoughts on the first one, and I hope you will forgive me if it takes me a few days to put together a post on the prophecy issues, since it’s much bigger and more important.

Genia wrote:

“The notion of the days of mashiach, be its interpretation what it may, don’t in any way necessitate the nations of the world becoming Jewish, or part Jewish, or Jewish-in-some-way. It’s not necessary, nor is it the point. They [the Gentiles] can seek God and find him in the seven commandments of Noah; they do not need to be ‘cleaving to the house of Israel’ in the sense of becoming Israel. That’s the beauty of it.

That’s why when you talk of this touted ‘jealousy’ I really don’t know where you are coming from. What would be the point of being jealous? Far be it from Jewish theology to try and hoard God for itself; on the contrary, it’s entirely happy to share, and requires a great deal less of non-Jews than it does of Jews to remain in God’s good graces, so to speak. Jewish theology has never been exclusive in its accessibility to God and salvation – Christian theology thinks in that way, perhaps, but Jewish theology doesn’t.”

We know that, both before and after God called the descendants of Jacob to be His people, there were righteous and believing Gentiles (again, Melchizedek comes to mind), and no doubt they were pleasing to God (though I would be curious to know more about what Genia means by the “salvation” they have access to). Yet God chooses for Himself a people, and they choose Him as their God. Moreover, He loves this people dearly even when they are not faithful to Him; He never gives up on them. And, as Genia points out, He asks more of the Jews than he does of all others, who are bound only by the laws of Noah – just as parents ask more of their children than of their neighbors’ children, though the latter too are expected to know how to behave.  

The jealousy I wrote about earlier is not jealousy of other nations’ “accessibility to God and salvation,” as Genia put it – sure, the Gentiles, as long as they are not the idol-worshippers, can be “in God’s good graces.” The jealousy is of God’s particular, passionate love for the Jewish nation – love that goes beyond approval of their behavior or occasional chastisement, love worthy of the Song of Songs (see earlier post).

Again, this jealousy is neither wrong nor is it ever rebuked: God did promise His abiding love to Israel, and in recent times Israel has suffered much for that. In addition, God’s love of Israel says something about the way in which God wishes all men to come to Him: through a family relationship to Himself, a love that “endures forever,” even through infidelity and stubbornness and coldness of heart, as only the love of a family can, and that accordingly has both a marital and a parental character.

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About The Groom's Family

I was born in Soviet Russia and grew up in Israel. I was baptized Orthodox Christian in 2006. Today my husband and I live in Northern Virginia. I would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment!
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3 Responses to The Faithfulness of Israel II

  1. Genia Lukin says:

    Quick response (six in the morning, thank you, and busy up to my ears with Passover creeping up) to some issues raised.

    Of course, ‘salvation’ is one of those words. like ‘religion’ or ‘faith’ and all that blah blah, it’s one of my least favourite things as a pathetically amateur theologian although as a more or less professional linguist I am highly fond of it because of the same reason; it’s frightfully vague, and has a gazillion (I counted!) interpretations.

    It can mean personal redemption (oy, define one vague word with another vague word, why don’t we?), national freedom, happiness, sanctity, some other, even weirder things… Anyway.

    By ‘salvation’ in my response to you I meant ‘ability to sneak past the pearly gates, if you believe in such’. Or, to be a little more serious, in terms of how each religion defines the path one may take to reach God, and the required milestones on the way. The things necessary to live a righteous life and achieve that which may or may not matter after death in some sort of state. I don’t really want to get any more particular, because Judaism itself doesn’t: it never really concerns itself much (not to the same extent many other religions do) with the question of heaven, what happens there, and who gets in, but there’s a fairly general consensus 0 as much as Jews ever reach – that Jews take more work.

  2. Thanks for clarifying, Genia!

    I think the interesting question is not so much what exactly happens in heaven (I’m not fond of speculating on that subject either), but why it is that Jews take more work. Logically, it could be either because they are more sinful and more inclined to unrighteousness, OR because they are closer to God and have something more special in store, which they then have to work harder for. I’m guessing it’s the latter, and the “something special” is a closer, more personal and familial, relationship with God – which is exactly what the rest of the world wants a piece of 🙂

    • Genia Lukin says:

      The real answer is: depends which Midrash you’re reading. But there is one which states that “every commandment they received on Sinai was required for them”.

      Oops.

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