Yahweh has set up a kingdom that consists of people, not buildings, or organizations. He is a Father, a GOD with open arms, and not a respecter of one person over another.
You can be black or white, asian, or poor and still be welcomed into the kingdom with open arms. If you believe that Yeshua Jesus died for your sins, you are then accepted into the Kingdom of heaven no matter what your race or status is on this earth.
There are many Jewish groups, and even Messianic groups out there who strongly believe because they follow the law presented in the Torah, they are special and superior to others who don’t keep the statues. Is this biblical?
Paul’s rebuke to Peter in Galatians 2 is a perfect example:
11 Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; 12 for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision.”
“You are a Jew, yet you live like a Gentile and not like a Jew. How is it, then, that you force Gentiles to follow Jewish customs?” (v. 14).
Was the issue Jewish food regulations? No. We know at this point, that all believers kept the Torah, including the food laws. Yeshua kept the food laws, and years after his resurrection his disciples kept the laws contained in the Torah. It certainly was not about the food.
It has been a long standing tradition in many Jewish communities that non believers, or even believers without a Jewish heritage were considered “unclean”. This explains why the Jewish believers wouldn’t sit with the gentile believers at the gathering in Antioch.
Understand that Paul was sent forth to witness to the gentiles, (mostly the northern kingdom of the lost tribles, and all non-believers in general) and Peter was sent forth to witness to Judah, (the southern kingdom). So you can imagine that Peter was in the company of the Judah and found himself re-educating and debunking many of these traditions on a regular basis. You can imagine that this gathering in Antioch was the perfect test of Peter’s word and teachings lining up to what he did when the two groups came together. Would he favor the Jewish tradition of treating gentiles as unholy, or unclean? Would he go against scripture just to gain favor of Judah?
We see that this Jewish tradition isn’t even scriptural according to Exodus 12: 48 and Leviticus 19:33
Exodus 12:48-49 : And when a stranger shall sojourn with thee, and will keep the passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: for no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof. 49 One law shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you.
Leviticus 19:33-34: And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. 34 But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
Many of Peter’s fellow Jews thought that God loved them more than the gentiles, but Peter understood that God did not show favoritism. God wants people of all nations to repent and be saved (2 Peter 3:9; 1 Timothy 2:4)
Reading the rest of Galatians 2:14 we see that we ALL don’t measure up to Yeshua, and therefore have nothing to boast about. When we truly look at our status against the perfection of Yeshua, we truly fall short. We cannot even brag about being greater than another believer, because even with our good works we fall short in the eyes of God. We all fall short of Yeshua, and it is only by the grace of God, and what Yeshua did on the cross which allows us to be in the presence of God in heaven.
Reading the rest of Galations, Paul puts things into perspective for those Jews who regarded themselves to be greater than other believers. In this gathering, this public statement was loud enough so the gentile believers could also know they were apart of the family of God, and were not considered to be of lower status to those of Judah.
Galatians 2: 14 – But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews? 15 We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, 16 knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.
17 “But if, while we seek to be justified by Christ, we ourselves also are found sinners, is Christ therefore a minister of sin? Certainly not! 18 For if I build again those things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. 19 For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.”
The law and the statues were given to us as guidelines in life. They were Yahweh’s guidelines for us to live a life that was respectable. The torah IS NOT hard to keep when you look ONLY the scriptures themselves. On the other hand, those who are mature in their walk truly see they fall short when they look at how well they have kept the law, and the guidelines of the Torah. One could even look at the sermon on the mount where Yeshua goes into greater deal about the laws themselves, and they become even more complex. No matter how hard we try to keep the law, we do fall short often. Should we keep the law then? Yes, we are told by Yeshua that that statues were never to be done away with in Matthew 5:17-19
How do we view this then?
We died with Yeshua, and the penalty of the law, as been forgiven through him alone. We have faith in what he did on the cross, but also keep the commandments, Matthew 5:17-19, not to attain salvation. We keep the commandments knowing they cannot save us, but rather to show whom we belong to. We keep the law not to boast or brag, or to become better than any other believer, but it is what we do it to please our Father, and to show WHOSE we belong to. In other words, when we keep the rules given to us, we surely become different than world, and are marked “His”.