It is vital for born-again believers in Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah to know who they really are—their true identity. Sure, most people agree that a believer is a child of God, a citizen of the Kingdom of Heaven…something to that effect. However, one of the main reasons that believers don’t study, appreciate and apply the fullness of the Hebraic Scriptures (Old Testament) as much as the Apostolic Scriptures (New Testament) is because they cannot see their place as part of God’s chosen people: Israel.
Let’s look at it this way—we believers have been adopted into another family. Keeping that mindset, adopted children are obviously not part of the natural blood line; however, they are still accepted, loved and treated as if they were. As such, they share in both the blessings and requirements of the natural children in the family. It may take time to learn what’s expected of them, so they begin with the basics and work from there.
As adopted children in the family of Israel, we share in the blessings, expectations and covenants that God has with the “natural born” children. Because of that, it is essential that we become familiar with our Father’s instructions. Now that we are part of His family, we are responsible to learn the house rules so our fellowship with Him—not to mention the rest of our siblings—grows stronger and more intimate. It is the key way we demonstrate our love for Him (John 14:15, 21).
However, this lesson isn’t intended to teach all 613 commandments from the Hebraic Scriptures or the 1,050 from the Apostolic Scriptures. The focus here is the fact that we are now part of God’s family and are treated as one with Israel. Let the Scriptures speak for themselves:
- Numbers 15:15-16 – “Native-born Israelites and foreigners are equal before the Lord and are subject to the same decrees. This is a permanent law for you, to be observed from generation to generation. The same instructions and regulations will apply both to you and to the foreigners living among you.”
- Leviticus 24:22 – “This same standard applies both to native-born Israelites and to the foreigners living among you. I am the Lord your God.”
- Ephesians 2:12-13 – “In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope. But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.”
- Ephesians 3:4-6 – “In reading this, then, you will be able to understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to God’s holy apostles and prophets. This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus.”
- Leviticus 19:33-34 – “Do not take advantage of foreigners who live among you in your land. Treat them like native-born Israelites, and love them as you love yourself. Remember that you were once foreigners living in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”
- 1 Peter 2:9-10 – “But you are not like that, for you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light. ‘Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God’s people. Once you received no mercy; now you have received God’s mercy.’”
- Romans 11:17, 24 – “But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree—some of the people of Israel—have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree. You, by nature, were a branch cut from a wild olive tree. So if God was willing to do something contrary to nature by grafting you into his cultivated tree, he will be far more eager to graft the original branches back into the tree where they belong.”
- Deuteronomy 31:11-12 – “You must read this Book of Instruction to all the people of Israel when they assemble before the Lord your God at the place he chooses. Call them all together—men, women, children, and the foreigners living in your towns—so they may hear this Book of Instruction and learn to fear the Lord your God and carefully obey all the terms of these instructions.”
- Isaiah 56:3, 6-8 – “Don’t let foreigners who commit themselves to the Lord say, ‘The Lord will never let me be part of his people.’ I will also bless the foreigners who commit themselves to the Lord, who serve him and love his name, who worship him and do not desecrate the Sabbath day of rest, and who hold fast to my covenant. I will bring them to my holy mountain of Jerusalem and will fill them with joy in my house of prayer. I will accept their burnt offerings and sacrifices, because my Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations. For the Sovereign Lord, who brings back the outcasts of Israel, says: I will bring others, too, besides my people Israel.”
- Deuteronomy 29:12-15 – “You are standing here today to enter into the covenant of the Lord your God. The Lord is making this covenant, including the curses. By entering into the covenant today, he will establish you as his people and confirm that he is your God, just as he promised you and as he swore to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But you are not the only ones with whom I am making this covenant with its curses. I am making this covenant both with you who stand here today in the presence of the Lord our God, and also with the future generations who are not standing here today.”
- Ephesians 1:13-14 – “And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.”
- Galatians 3:8-9 – “What’s more, the Scriptures looked forward to this time when God would declare the Gentiles to be righteous because of their faith. God proclaimed this good news to Abraham long ago when he said, ‘All nations will be blessed through you.’ So all who put their faith in Christ share the same blessing Abraham received because of his faith.”
- Galatians 3:29 – “And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God’s promise to Abraham belongs to you.”
As we can see from those passages, we are blessed to be co-inheritors of the same promises that were made to Israel, but we are expected to keep the same commandments they were given as well. Like the Bereans (Acts 17:11), we need to search the Scriptures for ourselves and see what our Father truly wants us to do. For us to reflect His character and produce the fruit of our salvation in Him, we are responsible to know His standards for holy living and live them out as our Messiah did (John 13:15, 1 John 2:6, Ephesians 5:1-2, 1 Corinthians 11:1). After all, the “Great Commission” isn’t only about making disciples, but also teaching those disciples to obey all the commands God gave us (Matthew 28:18-20).
Following God’s instructions—His Torah—does not minimize grace or put a person under the penalty of the law. In fact, it is God’s grace that has already forgiven the times that we make mistakes, slip and fall as we walk that path of obedience. His grace, mercy, and undying love is what provided the once-and-for-all sacrifice—Yeshua—to pay the penalty that we all deserve for violating His commandments (1 John 3:4). When we accept that atoning gift and the deliverance it brings, we love our Father back by obeying His house rules, which we can joyfully do with impunity!