Do all believers in Yeshua have to observe the Torah given specifically to Israel?
The Bible tells us there is no Jew or Gentile in Messiah, consequently, there shouldn't be any differences between their Torah observances. We don't treat our adopted children any differently from our natural ones, and neither does YHWH.
The requirements of observance for gentiles coming to faith in Yeshua, which are put forth by the apostle concile in Acts are in essence what the rabbis today require for gentiles coming to belief in the G-d of Israel in the Bnei Noach movement, the noachide laws.
On the other hand, there is the concept of giur, the process to become fully part of the Jewish people, which requires the observance of the commandments given specifically to the Jewish people.
There should be the same Torah for Bnei Israel and the strangers living in the land of Israel, who join themselfs to the people of Israel, but I think there is room to question whether it has to be the same in other countries and societies.
A good example would be the nation of Uganda, which as a nation, if I recall correctly, made in modern times a covenant with G-d as well as with Israel. Could G-d have different specific callings for other nations willing to serve Him, which maybe also would result in a different Torah for them to enable them to fully fulfill their calling as a nation? I think Gavriel Gefen makes an interesting point in stressing the legitimacy of different cultures. See here.
While I believe YHWH made us all different and different countries have different mores, etc, this has nothing whatsoever to do with keeping the one and only Torah He gave us. We must all keep Torah to the best of our abilities, regardless as to where we live. There is no excuse for not keeping the seventh day Sabbath or the Biblical Feasts, or being kosher....
I would agree with you that we have the one and only Torah given to the Jewish people and that the Jewish people are bound to keep it wherever they are, even though the absence of the temple and the coming of Yeshua and the sacrifice fulfilled through Him could also question the need and demand of a literal fulfillment by us today of a big portion of the biblical Mitzvoth given to Israel.
But, I would be hesistant to demand from the nations what the apostles found right not to demand from them.
While the apostles certainly argued among themselves about who should do what, YHWH said that EVERYONE who attached themselves to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is to do EXACTLY as the Hebrews did. And after all, He made His New Covenant with the Houses of Israel and Judah, not the Gentiles, nor Christians nor anyone else (Jer. 31):
The Torah is given to Israel, which is intended to have one culture (granted with different sub-cultures), one homeland and one socio-political structure. There are commandments given to all mankind, but most are not.
=> Regarding Shabbat:
For instance, here in the USA the Shabbat means nothing to most people, and our world revolves around businesses (like malls, grocery stores, etc) being open 24/7. I, as a Torah observant believer, however, am required to observe the Sabbath, which means NO WORK and no purchases on Saturdays. (With the exception of an emergency room visit which ends up requiring the buying of drugs in the case of severe illness. Yeshua made that perfectly clear.)
Against the Rabbinic ruling, I see a point for all mankind voluntarely keeping Shabbat in ways they can because of the order of creation, which applies to all mankind.
Plus, I don't believe in being hung up about how many meters we may walk or drive on Saturdays because here in the US, everything is so far apart that, if we want to attend a synagogue, we're forced to drive there. My husband and I live in the country, and when we used to belong to a synagogue, we had to drive 30 miles on Saturday mornings to get there....
Your problem of not driving on Shabbat applies to the States, when people don't live within a Jewish community keeping Shabbat. Here in Israel those that seriously keep Shabbat have usually no problems to arrange themselves such that travelling on Shabbat is not necessary.
I don't think it is right to lift the prohibition of travelling on Shabbat for Jewish people just because people living in a gentile context outside of the land of Israel have a problem with it.
The rabbis of old put way too many restrictions on us to the point where some hardly wanted to get out of bed for fear of being guilty of "work." That is NOT what YHWH intended and so some common sense is involved in our every decision concerning Torah keeping.
This fear is rather a result of ignorance and not knowing how to get to the full meaning of Shabbat within these restrictions, of which travel, cooking, making fire and work are not rabbinical restrictions but are found in the bible itself.
=> Regarding other commandments:
Many of the other commandments mandatory for Israel can be done voluntarely by other nations and peoples, but other nations and peoples could also just take the idea and adapt it to their circumstances.
Pessach as a rememberance of the Exodus was not given as an universal Holiday, nor is the harvest festival Shavuot and the national Atonement day Yom Kippur, even though all these festivals are full of meaning for believers in Yeshua because of the events connected to Yeshua's life and mission and the birth of the Church.
Sukkot is different. On Sukkot all nations shall come up.
Looking forward for your comments and contributions!
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My Collection Of Relevant Links
- Ahavat Elohim Forums
- Forum Messianic Jewish Discussion
- Messianic Judaism Quest
- The Messianic Center
- Sean Emslie: ... toward a messianic judaism
- Kevin Geoffrey has Messianic Jewish Issues
- Derek Leman - Messianic Jewish Musings
- Jews for Jesus Home page
- MBI Messianic Bureau International
- The Jerusalem Council - Messianic Beit Midrash
- Messianic Jewish Rabbinical Council
- International Messianic Jewish Alliance
- Wikipedia: Messianic Judaism