Messianic Jews are occasionally accused of putting up an artificial “middle wall of partition” between Jewish believers and Gentile believers. This is because many, if not most, Messianic Jews believe in the importance of observing the Biblical Shabbat instead of Sunday, as well as the Biblical holy days of Leviticus 23 instead of holidays such as Easter and Christmas. The Biblical dietary laws of Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14 create additional barriers.
However, these mitzvot (commandments) were intended by God to bring both Jew and Gentile together, and the day is coming when they will bring us together. It should also be noted that Christianity is also highly disunited at no fault of Jews or Messianic Jews. There are perhaps thousands of Christian denominations and many independent churches.
The world’s preeminent Rabbinic theo-logian is Rabbi Yeshua. In 1 John 2:6, we learn, “He that says he abides in Him (Yeshua) ought himself also to walk, even as He walked.” Our halachah should match the halachah of Rabbi Yeshua.
Years ago, I was standing in the back of an evangelic church auditorium. The people were singing, “Oh, to be like Jesus.” I whispered in the ear of an elder at the rear, “Do they understand that Jesus was a Torah-observant Jew?” The poor fellow looked totally shocked! However, Yeshua is the Word of God, as we see in John 1:1. The Torah is the first five books of the Bible, and the Foundational Text for all the rest of the Bible. Technically, Torah means Instruction, although it is often also translated as “Law.” Instruction is a nicer word. Many of us don’t like to be told what to do. But we don’t mind getting instructions! Yeshua is the incarnated Word of God, including the Torah. Let us follow His instructions!
I don’t believe that God wants His people to be so divided. In Yochanan (John) 17:11b, Yeshua prayed to the Father to “keep them in Thy name, the name which you have given Me, that they may be one as We are one.”
The original believers in Yeshua were his talmidim (disciples). He taught them very specifically to “Think not that I have come to destroy the Torah (Law) or the Neviim (Prophets). I have not come to destroy, but to fulfill (Matthew 5:17.” To fulfill means that He came to fill to the full the meaning and significance of the Torah. He did not come to destroy or abrogate the Torah.
Then, when giving the Great Commission in Matthew 28:19-20, Yeshua said, “Go therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world. Amen.” Yeshua taught his Jewish disciples to obey God’s commands, and He commanded his Jewish disciples to teach the nations (goyim) to do the same.
Prophetically, Zechariah 14:16 tells us, “And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, YHWH of hosts (armies), and to keep the Feast of Sukkot (Taber-nacles).” Yes, even the Gentiles will be commanded to celebrate Sukkot, and presumably all of the other Holy Days of Leviticus 23. These are the “feasts of the LORD,” not just the Feasts of Israel. This article gives special attention to the Hebrew word Achdut, which means unity. The shoresh (root word) is echad (אחד). This word normally means simply one. However, as in Genesis 2:24 and Deuteronomy 6:5, echad can sometimes mean a compound unity. Yeshua wants all of His followers, both Jew and Gentile, to be echad, often despite our differences.
I believe obedience to Torah is a significant part of this unity of Jew and Gentile. Isaiah 2:2-4 tells us:
2And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the LORD'S house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it.
3And many people shall go and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of יְהֹוָה, to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the Torah (Law), and the word of יְהֹוָה from Jerusalem.’
4And He shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many peoples: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
Jerusalem will be the capital of the world when Yeshua returns. These above verses tell us that the Torah will go forth from Jerusalem, to the nations of the world during the Messianic Age. This is still a future waiting to be fulfilled. We are getting closer to the time of Yeshua’s return. Israel had to be a nation before His return. Israel was restored as a nation in 1948. He had to return to Jerusalem. Israel recaptured the old city of Jerusalem in 1967. The Temple will be rebuilt. The Anti-Messiah will make his appearance in this future Temple in accordance with 2 Thessalonians 2:1-4. When this happens, Yeshua’s return will be within a few years.
God has special promises to those who honor Shabbat – the seventh day Sabbath:
4For thus saith the LORD to the eunuchs that keep my sabbaths, and choose the things that please me, and take hold of my covenant, 5even to them will I give in My House (the Temple) and within My walls a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name, that shall not be cut off.
6Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to יְהֹוָה, to serve him, and to love the name of יְהֹוָה, to be his servants, every one that keeps the Sabbath from polluting it, and takes hold of my covenant, 7even them will I bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon my altar; for my House shall be called a house of prayer for all people.
8The Lord God who gathers the outcasts of Israel saith, “Yet others I will gather to him, beside those that are gathered to him.”
Isaiah tells us in the verses above that God will give special blessings to Gentiles who honor the Sabbath. These promises are not for those who honor Sunday. Sunday was established by Christians as a holy day centuries after Yeshua walked this planet. The change to Sunday was to make Christianity more appealing to those who worshipped the Sun God. (Try to guess which day was holy to the Sun God.) We do not oppose worshipping on Sunday. It is good to worship God every day of the week. But Sunday is not the Sabbath. There is no place in the Bible where the sanctity of Shabbat was transferred to Sunday.
Achdut (unity) means we exist as a body, not as isolated individuals. All of us, both Jew and Gentile, are part of the Body of Messiah. That does not mean that we are all identical. Our achdut (unity) includes our diversity. As Rav Sha’ul (Paul) said in 1 Cor. 12:12-20:
12For as the body is one, and has many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Messiah. 13For by one Spirit are we all immersed into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.
14For the body is not one member, but many. 15If the foot shall say, ‘Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body? 16And if the ear shall say, ‘Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body,’ is it therefore not of the body?
17If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?
18But now God has set the members every one of them in the body, as it has pleased Him. 19And if they were all one member, where would the body be? 20But now they are many members, yet but one body.
There is indeed unity in diversity, such as between a man and his wife. However, there are some things that should bind Believers together. Number one: Those in the Body of Messiah should be followers of Yeshua the Messiah, and that He paid the penalty for our sins. That’s pretty basic, right?
Likewise, it does not mean all ethnic divisions are eliminated. An Italian can love his Italian traditions, food, etc., provided that they don’t contradict Torah. He can be a Torah-observant Italian without ever studying Hebrew or adopting Jewish traditions or customs. However, it would be wrong for Jews to assimilate into Gentile cultures to the extent of no longer being recognizably Jewish. “Behold, a people who dwells apart, and shall not be reckoned among the nations (Numbers 23:9).”
There are some things that Christians often miss. Read 1 John 2:3-6:
3And by this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments. 4He that says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
5But whosoever keeps His word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in Him. 6He that says he abides in Him ought himself also so to walk, even as He walked.
Those are pretty harsh words. If anyone claims to know Yeshua, and does not keep His mitzvot (commandments), is a liar! I didn’t say it; this is what the Newer Testament says. We also find the NT definition of sin in 1 John 3:4 – “Whosoever commits sin transgresses also the Law (Torah): for sin is the transgression of the Law.” (I’ll bet that most pastors didn’t learn that in seminary school!) That’s the definition of sin for both Jew and Gentile. Rabbi Sha’ul (Paul) told us the Parable of the Olive Tree in Romans 11:
11I say then, have they (the Jews) stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation has come to the Gentiles, to provoke them to jealousy. 12Now if the fall of them (the Jews) be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them be the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?
13For I speak to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, 14if by any means I may provoke to jealousy them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. 15For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?
16For if the first fruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. 17And if some of the branches be broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them partake of the root and fatness of the olive tree, 18boast not against the branches. But if you are arrogant, remember that it is not you who supports the root, but the root supports you.
19You will say then, “The branches were broken off, that I might be grafted in.” 20Quite right; because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Be not high-minded, but fear: 21For if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest He also not spare you.
22Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in his goodness; otherwise you also shall be cut off. 23And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again.
24For if you were cut off from the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted in contrary to nature into a good olive tree, how much more shall these, which are the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?
Rav Sha’ul loved his Jewish people, as is seen in the book of Romans. It is curious that this book was written to the Romans specifically. The Roman Catholic Church seemed to ignore Paul’s instructions for centuries, as it promoted centuries of antisemitic conspiracy theories and lies against the Jewish people. Thankfully, the Roman Church has done a remarkable job in repenting of antisemitism, and now embraces the Jewish people.
Notice also that the Gentiles are supposed to be grafted into the Jewish Olive Tree. For centuries, Jews who believe in Yeshua were expected to be grafted into the Gentile Church, or, dare I say it: Jews were expected to be grafted into the Christmas Tree.
Notice also that the Gentiles can be grafted into the Jewish Olive Tree and can remain Gentiles. Gentiles are not required to convert to Judaism. Today, there are many Messianic Jewish kehillot (assemblies) scattered around the world which are culturally Jewish and observe many Jewish traditions and prayers, composed of Jewish and Gentile Believers.
However, as more biblical truths enter into Christian churches, I would expect that many might become Messianic Gentile congregations. They will observe the written Torah given to us by Moses, as well as the halachah given to us by Rabbi Yeshua, telling us how to properly observe Torah.
However, it isn’t forbidden for Gentiles to actually convert to Judaism and become Jewish. We see biblical examples of this. Exodus 12:38 tells us of the “mixed multitude” that joined the Israelites in their exodus from Egypt. Esther 8:17 tells of the “many among the peoples of the land who became Jews…” Ruth became a Jew by Choice, when she told her Jewish mother-in-law, “Wherever you go, I will go, wherever you lodge, I will lodge. Your people shall be my people, and your God, my God.” (Ruth 1:16)
Ephesians 2:19 tells us, “So then, you (Gentiles) are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household.” As citizens of Israel, we should obey the laws of Israel – Torah!
Special Note: Special thanks to Rabbi Ken MacNeil for inspiring me to write this article.
 This is a term for how we walk out our faith.
 The word that Yeshua would likely have used is the Hebrew word echad, which normally means simply “one,” but is occasionally a compound unity, as in Gen. 2:24, “Therefore, a man shall leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife, and they shall be one (echad) flesh.”