We have spent considerable time researching into the background of "table-fellowship" in Judaism in relationship to what is "accepted" and what is "not accepted" in the religion of Israel and the Jews. We must never forget that Yeshua is a Jew and that he had certain views in these areas as well, and such views, when ascertained, should be used to help us "non-Jewish believers" chart our way in such areas as well. Besides the Gospels we can look at normative Biblical Judaism to see what were the current views held by conservative Jews in these areas as well as they would apply to Yeshua in this time period. We must remember that the issue is more than just "table-fellowship" and goes to the very core of how we, non-Jewish believers in the God of Israel, through the ministry of Yeshua, are to be accepted and included in the Israel of God. This is the crux of the matter as these dogmas express the will of God for the non-Jew in these areas. These teachings by the followers of Yeshua, we must remember, are expressed "after the cross" of Yeshua and were intended to be enforced on all non-Jews who came to God through the ministry of Yeshua and his disciples. That means you and me! Just because our denominations teach something different today does not mean they are right and your relationship with God, as He intended, is being upheld in good standing by you. This issue cuts to the very core of the Torah and the Law and how much of it applies to the non-Jewish believer. You must understand if I can prove, as I will, that we are truly grafted into Israel and not the Baptist, Catholic, or the Methodist Church, then the covenant by which we are related to God and its covenant stipulations and commandments, as upheld by us, is the means by which we keep ourselves in good standing in the covenant and maintain a positive relationship with God. Let us never confuse our emotions and our love for God for how God looks at us and how He feels about us. We can only be certain of such areas by adherence to what God said and His representative which gave His will in the matter. It is to these men moved by the Holy Spirit as found in the early Jerusalem Church can be certain that our actions and conduct is pleasing and acceptable to God. This is why I provoke you to think about the historical accuracy of the accounts in the New Testament in order for your to see "if you really are in the faith or not". You must realize if you are "outside" of the Covenant God gave you, or believe you are under another one created by Gentile Christianity which God never gave, then in reality you are without a Covenant before God!Making one up, as Gentile Christianity has done concerning the supposed "New" Covenant is not valid and God knows it. It is those who have failed to study these issues in detail who will lose in the end. Now on with the study.
In our previous studies we have found that there was no unanimous opinion regarding how to relate to the non-Jew in Judaism. We have found in the previous article that no one opinion on ritual purity held sway but that many different ideas were promoted. For our discussion purposes we are concerned as to how the Messianic Community of the First Century understood it and how they ruled accordingly. As followers of Yeshua the Messianic congregation of Jerusalem should have a major influence on our beliefs and conduct today as non-Jewish followers of Yeshua. We either walk in the footsteps of the early Messianic Jewish Jerusalem Church or we do not. We either follow Paul and his ideas or Yeshua's and his followers. Dear one they are not the same! The sad fact is that the vast multitude of Christian believers today follow Paul and think they are at the same time following the wishes of Yeshua and the Jerusalem Church. Nothing could be further from the truth as we shall see as we continue our examination of the issues involved at the incident at Antioch.
As a Gentile Christian you need to understand that the dominant tendency within Judaism in the century or so around the time of Yeshua seems to have been to avoid such intercourse with Gentiles as much as possible. This can be attributed in a large sense to the teachings of R. Shammai and his Rabbinic School. This might be shocking to you as well but there is not one story in the New Testament where Yeshua welcomes non-Jews! In fact his response to them ranges from calling the daughter of a non-Jew a "dog" to instructing his followers to not go to the Gentiles [THINK].
26 But he answered and said (speaking to the Gentile woman), It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs.
5 These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not:
6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
To think that Yeshua's primary intent was to "save" the Gentile is a severe misjudgment of his time and his religion. To the lost sheep of the House of Israel he was sent and they were being assimilated and had been, in the days of Yeshua, become part of the Gentile peoples of the world for over 800 years. Yeshua knew it was these people, formerly Jews who had a Covenant with HaShem, who were now being "lost" to their heritage and their faith and their privileges as well as their responsibilities before God. But a "pure" Gentile mission was not on his mind I assure you. He knew what the Gentile Church does not today; namely that the Gentiles were unclean. Yeshua knew that only by the non-Jew's submission to the God of Israel whereby the non-Jews took up the Covenant given to them by HaShem whereby they submitted to the commandments of God would they then find acceptance within the particular Covenant given them by God. Only by this would the non-Jew maintain their acceptance in the grace of God within the Covenant God had given them. But yet it was to these "lost" brethren from the Northern scattered tribes Yeshua was sent and not the "Eskimos" (if you get what I mean). Today it is hard to look backward and realize such since the Gentile Church is such a force in the world but that was not Yeshua's purpose ..to create a Gentile Church which would almost persecute his Jewish family to death over the centuries and completely do away with the Law which was the only means of maintaining good standing in the Covenant with God. Let us return to "table-fellowship" and acceptance of the non-Jews.
The stories of Daniel, of Tobit and of Judith were all held forth as examples of the faithfulness and success of Jews who refused to eat "the food of Gentiles" (Dan. 1.8-16; Tob. 1.10-13; Jdt. 10.5; 12.1-20; see also 3 Macc. 3 4; Joseph and Asenath 7.1). The fear of idolatry and of impurity was a considerable limiting factor, since by definition a Gentile was an idolater and certainly ritual impurity had to be assumed rather than the reverse (Alton, Jews, 170-4; Schurer, History, 2.81-4).. This played heavy in the minds of he men from James as they came upon such a compromising situation in Antioch. Thus the Mishnaic tractate on idolatry is mainly concerned with defining the permissible relationships with Gentiles (Aboda Zara). And in several rabbinic sayings the uncleanness of the Gentile is well-known: Gentiles are simply "unclean persons" (Makhot. 2.3); 'the dwelling-places of Gentiles are unclean' (Oholot 18.7); A Gentile is in every respect like to a man who suffers a flux' (Eliyahu Rabba 10). Such sayings cannot be dismissed as the later utterances of rabbinic Judaism subsequent to our period. The prohibition on Gentiles entering the temple sanctuary was already well established by our time (cf., e.g., Antiquities, 12.3.4 §§1450), and must have been based on the belief that Gentiles were unclean. Already in Jubilees the same attitude is clearly expressed and the line firmly drawn:
Separate yourself from the nations, And eat not with them,......... For their works are unclean, And all their ways are a pollution and an abomination and an uncleanness ... (22.16)
According to the Epistle of Aristeas, Moses fenced us (Jews) round with impregnable ramparts and walls of iron, that we might not mingle at all with any of the other nations, but remain pure in body and soul . . . he hedged us round on all sides by rules of purity, affecting alike what we eat, or drink, or touch, or hear, or see. (139, 142; cf. 106)
And Tacitus scornfully describes the Jewish hatred for the rest of the world: "they eat separately, they sleep separately .. " (Histories, 5.5).
Dear ones this is the same attitude held by Yeshua!
If such views were consistently and rigorously applied, no devout Jew could even have considered participating in table- fellowship with a Gentile. But that is by no means the whole story.
You must keep in mind the whole purpose of these articles is to again to show how certain non-Jews were "accepted" into table-fellowship with the Jews and were included in the "Israel of God". This means those "non-Jews" who were "unacceptable" somehow were "made acceptable". This is what confronts our study as Gentile believers in the God of Israel.
Answer for yourself: As a traditional Christian, how certain are you in light of facts presented that you have made yourself "acceptable" to Yeshua in these areas?
What we must look for is which of the above responsibilities mentioned by the Rabbis were also expected of the non-Jewish believers by the Messianic Church and James in order for them to be included in the Israel of God.
Make so mistake about it some items mentioned above were to be later rescinded by the Jerusalem Church (circumcision) and James BUT NOT ALL and many were yet required of non-Jewish believers to be incorporated into the Israel of God (the Laws of Noah). James would call many of these "necessary" and "good to the Holy Ghost" and they apply today whether you are aware of them or not! This is the deceptions which must be removed in order for the non-Jewish believer to make his calling and election certain.
For there were two types of Gentiles towards whom even the rabbis could maintain a very positive and welcoming attitude:
Answer for yourself: How were these non-Jewish believers in God, through the ministry of Yeshua's apostles, affected by the limits commanded by God and observed by the devout Jew in his table-fellowship?
What you the Christian must understand that there are some things commanded by God of the Jew that are eternal observances and are not negotiable and some of the "obligations" were mandated and put upon the non-Jew before or "acceptance into the Israel of God". Sadly over time some "obligations" were put upon the non-Jew which came not from God but from bigoted Jews who disliked non-Jews and wanted to keep them at arms-length from any type of politico-social intercourse. This is where our study must go if we are to discern the path for unity in the Israel of God. Because God seemed to always use the non-Jewish nations to punish the Jewish people for their transgressions you can understand the Jewish dislike for the non-Jew and their attempts to lay upon the non-Jews stipulations and obligations they knew would be so distasteful to them that few if any would accept them and want to be included in the Israel of God. Besides that Gentiles were generally thought to be "unclean." Now not all Jews felt this way but the trend leaned itself to this and this is exactly what we find happening in Yeshua's day especially under the influence of R. Shammai and his schools of Pharisees. Understand again that through the Messianic ministry of the followers of Yeshua not only the "lost sheep of the House of Israel" would be reached but the "non-Jew" as well, but again make no mistake about it, these "non-Jews" reached by the Jesus movement were obligated to certain commandments and responsibilities to be "accepted" as God's children which the Christian Church today does not teach. Again understand it was not only Yeshua's belief and will that these conditions for acceptance be met but his God and Father as well. It would do the Christian Church well to begin to serious study the first century to ascertain such things as this in order to no longer deceive and mislead their people. Surely at death we will receive a rude awakening when the Christian finds he has lived his whole life in ignorance concerning "THE" Covenant God gave him let alone the Covenant stipulations it requires. One will quickly find upon one's death that he is ill prepared for the judgment!
We must now look at the three classifications of the non-Jew and how each relates to his acceptance into the Israel of God.