GENTILES
IN JEWISH WORSHIP

by John T. Webb

Blue Letter Bible


My name is John . . . and I'm a . . . Gentile*.

A Gentile who prefers to worship with Jews.

Jews who believe that Yeshua is the Messiah.

"Messianic" Jews.

The Messiah who is referred to by people in the "Old" Testament several times as "the prophet," or "that prophet."  The prophet spoken of by Moses in Deut. 18:15 when he said, "The LORD your God shall raise up for you a prophet like me from among you ... You shall listen to Him."

But Jesus is not the first object of our worship and adoration.  El Shaddai, God Almighty, is the Supreme Ruler.  To Him is our praise directed, just as Yeshua said when, in the 12th chapter of Mark, He answered the Scribes' question "What is the greatest commandment?"  He said what every devout Jew to this day says several times a day and is expected to say on his deathbed: "Sh'ma, Yisrael, Adonai Elohenu, Adonai echad."  "Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God, the LORD is one.  And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength."

A Jewish Shabbat service is filled with prayer.  It is said that the only prayers which last forever are prayers of thanksgiving, and many of the prayers are just that, as well as praise.

There is singing and rejoicing, which includes:
Clapping the hands as in Ps. 47:2.  "Clap your hands, all peoples!  Shout to God with loud songs of joy!"
Lifting the hands in praise as in Ps 63:4: "I will bless Thee as long as I live; I will lift up my hands and call on thy name."  Believe it or don't, lifting the hands is NOT a spiritual gift, a charisma.  Anyone can do it.  It takes no special skills or training or blessing from God!
Dancing! Dancing?!? The Bible does not forbid dancing!  Ps. 149:3 says: "Let them praise His name with dancing, making melody to Him with timbrel and lyre!"  "Davidic" dancing, as it is called, is a graceful, flowing outward show of praise.  It may be just three or four people, or long trains may wind around the congregation.

WAIT! I see a problem here!  All the scripture references I've given you are from the "Old" Testament.  It seems these practices are not mentioned beneficently in the "New" Testament.  But do you know something?  The only scriptures that Yeshua and Kepha (Peter) and Rav Sha'ul (rabbi Paul) and Ya'akov (James) had were what Christianity calls the "Old" Testament.  Today, to a Jew, this IS "the Bible."  It is also called the Tanakh, an acronym for the law, the prophets, and the writings.

This is what Yeshua taught from, as well as an unwritten, at that time, oral tradition passed down for many generations, which was later compiled into a written form in what is called the Mishnah.  Yeshua was a Jew's Jew, a rabbi's rabbi, a master communicator.  He knew the scriptures forward and backward.  And as hard as it may be to believe, most of what we have recorded as His words HAD BEEN WRITTEN OR SPOKEN BEFORE!  When he quoted from the scriptures, much of it was taken a few words from here, a few words from there in a rabbinic method of teaching called remez, or hinting; that is, referring to scripture which the people knew well by simply mentioning a small part of it.  Other quotes ascribed to Him, especially the parables, were simply variations of teachings of other rabbis that were later written in the Mishnah.

Some would have you believe that the life, death and resurrection of Yeshua abnegated the Law.  But He Himself said it did not.. He said, "I am come not to destroy, but to fulfill."  Now, here fulfill cannot mean put an end to, because that would be destroying it, which He just said He wouldn't do!  The Greek word used here can also mean to make full or to perfect.  He said that while the heavens and the earth exist, not the smallest letter, or even a little decorative mark on a letter, would be done away with.

True, some parts of the Law are no longer in effect, specifically the sacrifices at the Temple, since the Temple was destroyed in the year 70 of the common era.  But some of the sacrifices will be re-instituted when the Temple is rebuilt by the returning Messiah for His reign on the earth.  The offerings for praise, worship, and thanksgiving will then have meaning, but the final sin offering for all mankind was made almost 2000 years ago, so it will be unnecessary.

The Shabbat service also includes public reading from the Torah, the five books of Moses.  Commonly referred to as "the Law," Torah actually means instruction.  Surely no one thinks instructions should be thrown away.  Imagine throwing out the manual that came with your computer.  Does anyone have ALL the instructions memorized?  I doubt it.  You've heard the quip, "When all else fails, read the instructions."  Here, we're talking about the instruction book for LIVING, for mankind!  No wonder the world doesn't work very well.  We neglect the manufacturer's directions!

The Jews call themselves "The people of the Book."  Thank God they are!  Left to the rest of the world, this book would be torn up, completely rewritten.  Jewish scribes have been so scrupulous in accurately copying the Scriptures that for millennia they have been more true to the originals than publishers have been to the writings of Plato and even Shakespeare.

When you study the Bible, do you spend more time in the "Old" Testament or the "New"?  Would you read a mystery book and not read the last chapter to see "whodunit?"  That is like reading the Tanakh (the "Old" Testament) and not the "New."  Or would you want to see only the second act of a two-act play?  Would you like to hear that Abe Schwartz received the key to the city without knowing the reason for this honor?  Then read the "New" Testament and neglect the "Old," and all you'll know is that Jesus came to save the world.  You might even notice that he came "to save HIS PEOPLE from their sins."  But without reading the "Old" Testament, you won't know that "His people" knew that more than 500 years earlier!

The Bible is one book from Genesis to Revelation, from the curse on the serpent to the New Jerusalem, and it is ALL aimed at pointing the world to the Messiah, and showing us that God loves us so much that He wants us to live forever with Him.



*Funk and Wagnalls Standard Desk Dictionary (1984) defines "Gentile" as:
"n. 1. Among Jews, one not a Jew.  2. Among Christians, a heathen or pagan.  3. Among Mormons, one not a Mormon."  Strong lists goy/goyim translated 30 times as "gentile" and 371 times as "nation/nations."  It is my intent here to be considered as viewed from the Jewish standpoint per Funk and Wagnalls.

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6/17/13
Last update 1 June 2014