Subject: The Righteousness of the Law

Romans 2:26 - Therefore, if an uncircumcised man keeps the righteous requirements of the law, will not his uncircumcision be counted as circumcision? (NKJ)

Romans 8:3-4 - For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit. (NKJ)

We in the Hebraic Roots movement are fighting a battle on two fronts, and sometimes we get caught in the crossfire:

(a) Against the error of replacement theology
(b) Against the error of the Judaizers

These are the two most opposite extremes of statement of the varying degrees of belief and theological ideas with reference to the nation of Israel, and the relationship of the Christian church to it.

Replacement theology is usually accompanied by a belittling approach to the Torah, making it seem that it is admissible to dispense with the Law completely, while the Judaizers at their most extreme would claim that you cannot be saved without keeping the Law of Moses.

With our enthusiasm to compensate for the errors of Replacement Theology we run the risk of overstating our comments and would appear to be in agreement with the Judaizers. Many outside of the Hebraic Roots movement think that is just what we are doing. Indeed, to many of us within the Hebraic Roots movement are only too aware of the trend amongst our beloved brothers within to actually veer in that direction. We must guard against overstating our argument with either extreme.

Furthermore, it is necessary to appreciate our brother's position more sensitively. What may being said as a way of teaching against one of the two extreme positions, might appear to move to far in the other direction, but it is not necessarily so.

For example, there are some of us who have seen to tendency among Jewish believers in Yeshua to retain their Jewishness. The old mistake of expecting Jews to abandon their Jewishness on "conversion" to Jesus, is largely becoming a thing of the past, and rightly so. In its place we have a much more healthy appreciation of the Jewishness of the Messianic Jew.

We are thrilled when we see and hear of orthodox Jews who discover that Yeshua was the long awaited Messiah of Israel, and then practice their worship of Yeshua in the context of their orthodox Jewishness. We non-Jews do not understand it, how could we, for we have come from a background that is totally alien to this very Jewish way of responding to God, but we learn much from it, and we accept it as normal and joy in it. Yet, we ourselves do not enter in to it, for it is not where we are.

However, when some of our non-Jewish brethren see this phenomenon of orthodox Jews worshipping Yeshua, are themselves attracted to it. They seek to join the Torah observance of our Jewish brethren, ignorant of warnings within the New Testament for non-Jews to avoid this. They not only step across into Judaism, but expect others to do so as well, and then label anyone who does not follow suite as being ungodly.

When we attempt to correct this overstatement, seeking to bring balance, we are treated to responses as if we had gone to some opposite extreme, and embraced some kind of Replacement Theology. All we seek to do, is to bring a level of balance into the arena of discussion.

My orthodox Jewish brother in Yeshua, is not wrong to retain his Jewishness. He does not become a Gentile when He believes, but He does move into the Spiritual aspect of Israel. He is both physically and now spiritually part of that olive tree which is Israel.

However, I a non-Jew, am equally not wrong to retain my non-Jewishness. For I do not become a Jew when I believe, but I do move into the Spiritual aspect of Israel. I am not physically part of the olive tree of Israel, but I have become part of it spiritually.

I am wrong to despise any one who is part of the olive tree of Israel, who is one physically, and would be wrong to despise someone who is part of the olive tree spiritually. If I have that attitude I cannot claim to have been grafted in the olive tree, for I am guilty of an attitude that denies that I became part of it.

How can I as a non-Jew despise the Jewishness of those who are, when the only reason why I have been grafted in, is because the Son of God took on Jewishness, along with His manhood, and took my place in the execution for sin. I am only part of it because of what Jesus has done for me, and Jesus was Jewish. How can I dare to despise His brethren in the flesh? I run the risk of being grafted out of it as easily as God could graft others into it. Some of those who, while being physically part of Israel and have up until now rejected Yeshua, being grafted out of it, are now being grafted in again.

To despise the Jew is to misunderstand grace. It is not a question of how odd of God to choose the Jews, but how graceful of God to graft me as a non-Jew into the olive tree. That is grace. And the God of grace has shown His grace to the Jew first, and then to the non-Jew.

Equally so, it is wrong for someone else within the olive tree to despise me as part of the olive tree, even if I as a wild branch have been grafted into the natural olive tree of Israel. What more is necessary for me to qualify as part of the olive tree, but simply to feed from the sap that comes from main trunk of the olive tree?

Now who is the main trunk of the olive tree? Well, there is no doubt that the olive tree is Israel. But, the trunk is not Israel, but Yeshua - the Messiah.

I am not as part of spiritual Israel, expected to feed from the other branches, whether they be grafted in or part of it naturally, but I am expected to feed from the very sap that comes from the essence of the tree - Yeshua Himself.

I do actually in a way, feed from the other branches. Indeed I have learnt much over the years from Jewish believers in Yeshua. That is the nature of being part of one tree, but primarily I am to feed from the sap produced by the trunk - which is Yeshua. He is the source of my sustenance.

The important part of the olive tree is not the branches - it is the trunk. The trunk is Yeshua. It is not the leaves that are primarily important, for they come as an outworking of the branches feeding from the sap produced by the trunk.

However, fruit is important. The fruit is described in Galatians 5

Galatians 5:22-23 - But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. (NKJ)

We however, do get all uptight about the leaves. Leaves have their correct purpose, but we most likely recognise them for their appearances. We get strung up with appearances.

What are the roots of this olive tree. I think that it is expressed three fold:

(a) Our relationship with God.That is the basis of anything that can be done in and through our lives.
(b) The Scriptures. Largely expressed by the apostles and prophets whom God has sent into this world to give as a sure word of prophecy, on which to build our lives (to mix the Biblical metaphors).
(c) The person of Yeshua. He is, (in the mix of the Biblical metaphors), both the chief corner stone, the root of our faith, and the Branch of Jesse.

Yours in Yeshua
Philip Nowland - Huntingdon, England

PNowland@netcomuk.co.uk