Controversy to Contemplate: Keeping the Feasts
Gentiles are not liable for the sign covenants (feast, circumcision, Saturday Sabbath, kashrut). These are the appointed times and laws given to Israel on Mount Horeb to establish them as a set apart nation for God’s redemptive plan. They are a part of the Jewish identity much like a constitution is to a country. God is orderly. He draws distinctions in nature. He separated light and dark, established the boundaries between land and sea, took Eve from Adam, and created many other beautiful differentiations. God also draws distinctions between corporate callings and gifts and individual callings and gifts. Romans 11:29 says that these gifts and callings are irrevocable. Disobedience may cause a "pause" in their usage or put a people into exile, but it doesn't erase God's purpose for a people or the gifts endowed for the execution of that purpose. Israel was called to be a light to the nations (Isaiah 49:6) from a land designated by God. How would we feel if God were to take away our gifts and callings for the disobedience that we have displayed? This is something to contemplate.
Balance and Order:
Galatians 5:3 exhorts that any male Gentile undergoing circumcision will be liable for the entire Torah; “ Again, I warn you: any man who undergoes circumcision is obligated to observe the entire Torah.” The Greek tense of "man" is unisex implying "mankind" rather than men in particular. So in this context, Paul is using the term, circumcision, as a catchword for conversion. With this, we can deduce that the opposite is also true: If the Galatians did not undergo conversion to Judaism, then they would not be liable for the entire Torah. The Gentiles must adhere to the four particular rules specified by the Jerusalem Council.
These laws, outlined in Acts 15:20, prohibit activities associated with idolatry, sexual immorality, and consuming the lifeblood of animals. The council did not give detailed regulations for the Jewish believers because none were needed; they were to continue to live as Jews with exception to the sin offering, which was given through Yeshua once for all time. Galatians 5:3 is particularly interesting in this regard. Clearly, Paul is upholding the lifestyle of those who by circumcision enter into the Abrahamic Covenant and follow the Laws of Moses, that is to say, the Jewish people. God grafted the nations into His covenant people, though both remain in their distinct conditions in which they came into covenant. This is the important focus of Paul's Rule to the Churches, as it is softened labeled:
17 Only let each person live the life the Lord has assigned him and live it in the condition he was in when God called him. This is the rule I lay down in all the congregations. 18 Was someone already circumcised when he was called? Then he should not try to remove the marks of his circumcision. Was someone uncircumcised when he was called? He shouldn’t undergo circumcision.19 Being circumcised means nothing, and being uncircumcised means nothing; what does mean something is keeping God’s commandments. 20 Each person should remain in the condition he was in when he was called. 21 Were you a slave when you were called? Well, don’t let it bother you; although if you can gain your freedom, take advantage of the opportunity. 22 For a person who was a slave when he was called is the Lord’s freedman; likewise, someone who was a free man when he was called is a slave of the Messiah. 23 You were bought at a price, so do not become slaves of other human beings. 24 Brothers, let each one remain with God in the condition in which he was called (1 Corinthians 7:17-24).
Many get "stuck" reading, "circumcision and uncircumcision mean nothing," and there it ends—a homogenized body of believers. The above pericope deals with the roles of Jews and Gentiles operating within a unified Body of Messiah. Much like a marriage, the “two become one flesh” yet both husband and wife remain distinct. This will be covered more fully in Scion Series, Book I: The Libertine 2nd edition.
That being said, under what circumstances might a Gentile join the feasts (modem—appointed times)? Ephesians 2 tells that the Gentiles were “in this world without God and without hope but have been brought near by the shed blood of Messiah.” Gentiles have sought to understand the appointed times of God perhaps out of gratitude or curiosity. The richness and fullness of God's redemptive plan is displayed in the elements of the Passover Seder. Sukkoth reminds us that God dwells with and will never forsake us. Shavuot is the giving of God's word and power. Rosh HaShanah-Days of Awe and Yom Kippur provide a season of reflection and reconciliation with those we have wronged and with God. Shabbat is God's day, set apart weekly to do nothing else except fellowship with mankind. Will we do the same? Imagine—an entire day basking in God's goodness! Rosh Chodesh is a fresh start, a new month with renewed intensions—Chodesh tov! (Have a good month)
There was a season when Gentiles did not seek, out of curiosity or gratitude, the feasts or any other Jewish basis of Christianity. There is a sad history and an ever-present undertow of disunity. The hellenization of Yeshua and the apostles began as early as the second century and was solidified by the fourth century. Since this time, believing Jews have had no clear way of expressing faith in Yeshua while maintaining their Jewish lifestyle, their distinct calling, as a branch within the Body of Messiah. Traditionally, Messianic Jews have been between a rock-and-a-hard-place; they may accept the Jewish Messiah and live as a Gentile or maintain their cultural identity as a Jew and denounce faith in Yeshua. Such a horrible choice! Essentially this means, "Don't be who God created you to be or be without the God who created you." If Paul's Rule to the Churches were diagrammed, it may look something like this: