An article written by Joel Allen Several times recently I have been approached by those in my community here in Wolcott, New York, asking me if they were allowed to come and worship at our Synagogue (they used the word Church). Immediately, I chuckled and said, “of course!” Everyone is welcome to come and worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I thought to myself how is it that someone asks permission to come to a place of worship. I grew up attending an Assemblies of God church and attended various churches my whole life but I don’t recall ever asking permission to show up but we just showed up! I have to admit that it took me back for a minute to pause and reflect as to why I was being asked this question. There was a shift from me questioning the motives of the one asking me this question to myself and our Messianic fellowship.
“What was the stigma or overall impression that we were giving to our local community that led them to believe that we were an exclusive club instead of an inclusive outreach to a lost and broken world?”
What can we do to fix the problem? Well for starters I am writing this article to share the heart of this ministry and hopefully put to rest any question as to “who we allow” in our services. First of all, this scenario reminded me of a passage of Scripture when Yeshua (Jesus) went into the Temple in Jerusalem and found money changers, and those selling sacrificial animals (such as doves) in a place that was created in Herod’s Temple (not a part of the original Temple made by Solomon). This area was referred to as the “Court of the Gentiles,” and it was protected by a large wall separating the court of the Gentiles (those of other nations besides Israel), keeping them away from entering the Temple courts. Furthermore, to make sure that no Gentiles would enter a sign was placed on the wall that was written in multiple languages spoken during those times, stating that any Gentile that would go past this wall would be put to death on the spot. Sure if you were Jewish you could go right in but those of other nations were not allowed to go and worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob along with the Jewish people. Can you understand why Yeshua (Jesus) was so upset and overturned the tables and quoted an interesting passage in Mark 11:17 “And he taught, saying unto them, Is it not written, My house shall be called of ALL NATIONS the house of prayer? but ye have made it a den of thieves.” Yeshua (Jesus) was quoting from Isaiah 56:6-7 “Also the sons of the stranger, that join themselves to the LORD, to serve him, and to love the name of the LORD, to be his servants, every one that keepeth the sabbath from polluting it, and taketh hold of my covenant; Even 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 mine altar; for mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people.” It is very clear that God is not trying to create some exclusive club but ANYONE that desires to join themselves to the Lord are invited to come to His house of prayer. Furthermore we can gather from this passage that those that are the “sons of the Stranger,” which is a term for those that are from other nations, who keep the sabbath and keep from polluting it shall be able to come and offer sacrifices along with all of Israel and those sacrifices will be accepted upon His altar. Looking back at the Temple of Herod, that wall that was erected to separate the sanctuary (the actual Temple courts) from the Gentiles was commonly known as the “middle wall of partition.” Not only that but a curtain or veil of partition was placed in Jewish Synagogues separating women from men int he days of Yeshua (Jesus) and the apostles. I believe it was these type of man-made religious stumbling blocks that Paul spoke about in his letters: [Eph 2:13-19 KJV]13 “But now in Messiah Yeshua (Christ Jesus) ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. 14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition [between us]; 15 Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, [even] the law of commandments [contained]in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, [so] making peace; 16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: 17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. 18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;”
THIS IS AN OPEN INVITATION: If you want to grab hold of the covenant and bring a sacrifice of praise in the house of God then come. If you want to learn about the sabbath and how to not pollute it then come. If you are broken and need rest then come. If you are Jewish and you want to learn about the Messiah of Israel then come. If you are from another nation and you want to worship the God of Israel then come. Come and find rest in the presence of the Lord!
Matthew 11:28 “Come unto me, all [ye]that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Now let’s tackle another misconception that has kept that “middle wall of partition” still up some two thousand years later. The argument goes something like this: “Only those that are Jewish have to keep the Torah or Law of Moses.” First of all, all of the commandments in the Torah (five books of Moses or Genesis through Deuteronomy) are NOT the words of Moses but the words of God Himself spoken to Moses to in turn speak to the children of Israel. It amazes me how people can separate what God instructed Moses to tell the people as commandments of Moses like he was the one who made it up. [Exd 19:3 KJV]3 And Moses went up unto God, and the LORD called unto him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel; Exod. 33:5 “For the LORD had said unto Moses, Say unto the children of Israel…” Lev. 22:18 “Speak unto Aaron, and to his sons, and unto all the children of Israel, and say unto them…” These are just a few examples but I think you can quickly see that it was always God speaking to Moses to in turn speak to the children of Israel and not the words of Moses or something that he woke up one day and thought that he should say to a brand new nation. I know if it were me making up a religion I certainly wouldn’t include circumcision as a rite or days of fasting and weeping. Not the most fun things to do, right? This is the same relationship that God had with Israel as a nation. God spoke commandments to the nation of Israel as His firstborn among the nations so they would in turn speak to the nations. [Exd 4:22 KJV]22 “And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the LORD, Israel [is] my son, [even]my firstborn:” [Deu 4:6 KJV]6 “Keep therefore and do them (God’s commandments); for this [is] your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation [is]a wise and understanding people.” The Prophet Jonah was one example of a Prophet of Israel preaching repentance to the nations and in his case the gentile city of Ninevah. Jonah’s response has been the Historical response of the Jewish people when told to “speak to the nations.” There seems to have been a “middle wall of partition.” Jonah refused to go! I find it fascinating that Yeshua (Jesus) likens Himself to the prophet Jonah who would be swallowed up by a “fish” symbolic of the grave for three days and nights and then saves the gentile city of Ninevah. It is through the crucified flesh of Yeshua that He has made of two peoples, One New Man or one people. We can see this oneness even in the Torah instructions of our Father as if He knew it would be twisted and misused to erect a “middle wall of partition” over and over again: [Exd 12:49 KJV]49 One law (Torah) shall be to him that is homeborn, and unto the stranger that sojourneth among you. [Num 15:16 KJV]16 One law (Torah) and one manner shall be for you, and for the stranger that sojourneth with you.
What is the bottom line? You don’t have to be Jewish to keep the commandments of God. If you are Jewish by blood or natural born then when you come into faith in the Messiah Yeshua you do not have to lose your identity or stop keeping the commandments. If you are not Jewish by blood or a “stranger, foreigner or alien” as described in scripture, then when you come into faith of Yeshua (Jesus) you join the family of God and you are no more called a stranger or foreigner.
Ephes. 2:18-19 “For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father. 19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;” What does that mean? Strangers or foreigners can keep the commandments along with believing Israel as one tree mentioned in Romans 11: [Rom 11:1, 11, 13, 17-21 KJV]1 I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, [of] the tribe of Benjamin. … 11 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but [rather]through their fall salvation [is come]unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. … 13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: … 17 And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree, wert graffed in among them, and with them partakest of the root and fatness of the olive tree; 18 Boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. 19 Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. 20 Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: 21 For if God spared not the natural branches, [take heed]lest he also spare not thee. [Gal 3:29 KJV]29 And if ye [be] Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. CONCLUSION: If God hasn’t put up a wall of partition or created separate rules for different peoples then why do we? My Bible tells me that God is NOT a respecter of persons. My Bible says that God does NOT change! Let God be true and every man a liar. As for me and my house it shall be called a house of prayer for all nations without separating out women or those that are of another culture. Let every tongue, tribe and nation come and worship the Lamb. That’s the way it will be in the kingdom. Why not start now!?