Are Gentile believers obligated to the Mosaic Covenant and how do they benefit from it?
Many Gentile believers who associate themselves with the Hebrew Roots movement believe that by placing their faith in Israel’s Messiah they too become members of the Mosaic Covenant and must therefore obligate themselves to all the same requirements of Torah as the Jews. Most people familiar with the New Testament know that the apostles went to great pains to make it very clear that this was not the case (Acts 15). However, does this fact actually mean that Gentiles have absolutely nothing to do with the Mosaic Covenant or that there’s nothing in it for them? Not at all! Gentiles who place their faith in Messiah become spiritual beneficiaries of all of Israel’s covenants, including the Mosaic Covenant.
(Important note: some confuse the term “Covenant” with “Torah” but the two are not the same. One is a legal agreement between parties while the other is a set of laws and instructions from G-d (i.e. the Five Books of Moses). The confusion comes from the way the books of the Christian Bible came to be called - Old Testament and New Testament. The word “testament” means a “covenant”. A book, however, is not a covenant. Hence the confusion.)
How do Gentiles benefit from the Mosaic Covenant? In at least four ways:
- They benefit from G-d providing His instructions for moral and righteous conduct toward fellow man and G-d.
- They benefit from G-d’s promise to Israel to send redemption through Messiah.
- They benefit from being witnesses to G-d’s faithfulness, holiness, discipline and other lessons of faith.
- They benefit from G-d promising to give Israel the Land, since in it the Messiah was born, in it G-d demonstrated both His abounding mercy and His judgement for disobedience, and to this Land Messiah will return once again to redeem the whole world.
However, while I believe that Gentiles benefit greatly from the Mosaic Covenant while not being obligated to its terms, I also believe that Gentiles specifically become members of G-d’s family and co-heirs with Israel only through their initiation into the New Covenant via Israel’s second Moses, Yeshua the Messiah:
Remember that you were at that time separate from Messiah, excluded from the Commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without G-d in the world. But now in Yeshua the Messiah you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Messiah. (Ephesians 2:12-13)
The Covenant through Moses was the marriage of Israel to her Husband, G-d Himself. As a legally binding contract between the two parties, it came with some very strong strings attached, especially when it came to unfaithfulness on the part of Israel. Should Israel fail to abide by the rules of the holy ketubah (marriage contract), if it failed to remain a loving, faithful wife, G-d had repeatedly warned that this would result in many dreadful calamities, such as had never befallen on any other nation. G-d’s standards for Israel are very high, although not as high as His love for her. And while G-d loves all his children, all the peoples of the world, and doesn’t play favorites, He expects far more from Israel than He does from the nations since Jews are to be the nation of priests.
“You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your sins.” (Amos 3:2)
As everyone knows, priests are held to a stricter standards of holiness. This is why G-d disciplines Israel with such severe judgments that it’s only through miracle after miracle of G-d that we are still around as a people. In other words, we are usually the first to get whatever is coming!
There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile (Romans 2:9)
Above I briefly outlined some of the reasons why the Covenant G-d made with Israel through Moses was never meant for the nations. G-d in his mercy has chosen to spare the Gentiles the severe discipline that would result from them being disobedient to G-d’s Torah, as the terms of the contract between HaShem and Israel stipulate. Do you want to be judged more severely, with all the judgements reserved for Israel’s disobedience, for all your actions and inactions?
Which brings me to this point: some of my Gentile brothers and sisters who wish to claim the Mosaic Covenant for themselves do not know what they are asking. I believe that they do not realize the price tag that comes with the Covenant G-d has made with Israel. Do they really want to be driven from one place or another, persecuted, murdered and derided - and not just they, but their children as well, no matter if they are religious or not? This is partly the reason why rabbis historically would try to dissuade a potential convert by telling him or her that “the people of Israel are wretched, driven about, exiled, and in constant suffering.” When a non-Jew decides to place himself under the Mosaic Covenant, when he chooses to convert himself and his family to Judaism and officially joins the Jewish people, he and all his progeny automatically become a target of great evil for generations to come. When various Christian groups imagine themselves under the Mosaic Covenant, do they also ponder the harsh judgments that come with failing to fulfill its terms or are these reserved only for the Jewish people?
I’ll leave you something to ponder about: only 60 years ago, less than an average lifetime of a person, my people have lost approximately a third all Jews who lived at the time. One out every three Jews who lived in the world 60 years ago died at the hands of bloodthirsty murderers in the span of only 4 years, and 67% of all European Jews. One out of every three. Being a magnet for evil is the price of being truly and irrevocably bound to the Mosaic Covenant and this is not to be taken lightly. Besides, the New Covenant comes with its own price (but also with its own, even better promises and blessings).
P.S. Pray for the peace of Jerusalem, Israel and the Jewish people everywhere. Great, dark, ominous clouds have gathered over our nation right now, unlike any we have witnessed in more than half a century. Perilous times are ahead.