The Jewish/Gentile Dilemma
So you went and did it! You married a Gentile. Your family, friends, and maybe even the rabbi warned you about all the problems that would arise from the marriage. Now you feel a sense of guilt to both your family and religious heritage.
Maybe you feel that your situation is unique, but it isn’t! Today, one-third of all Jewish marriages in this country are facing the Jewish/Gentite dilemma of intermarriage.
Your marriage began well enough, but now children have come along. You want the children to be reared in Judaism, but your spouse says they will be taught in another faith. Now, to keep peace, your children are getting little or no religious training. You did not think religion would make that much difference, but now it is dividing your marriage.
Religion has become taboo with you. To keep peace in the family you do not talk about God or religion anymore. It’s just not worth all the hassle. You want to put God and religion out of your marriage and life.
Yet, there are a number of gnawing questions which continue to race through your mind: In which religion should we rear the children? Can we come to an agreement on religion? Is there a religious faith we both could accept without me becoming a Gentile and my spouse Jewish?
You want answers to these and many more questions, but how do you find the answers? Where do you begin? Is there any answer to be found?
Yes, there is an answer, and together you can find it. Since the Bible is the only true Book upon which to base our beliefs, this would be the logical place to begin. The answer lies in both of you coming to a true biblical faith. But before we look at that faith, it is important that we understand what is meant by having a Jewish or Gentile faith.
What do we mean by a Jewish faith? Traditionally, a person is Jewish if he is born of a Jewish mother or practices the Jewish religion. A Jewish faith might vary depending on whether one is orthodox, conservative or reform. A basic definition of Judaism is: The belief in a monotheistic God revealed to Abraham and developed through the moral, religious and civil laws given to Moses. The Torah (law) has been interpreted and codified by rabbis in the Talmud and is expressed in various ways through the different branches of Judaism. Maybe you are like many Jewish people in America who come from a traditional background but do not belong to a synagogue and only attend on special occasions. Although born into a Jewish family, you do not consider yourself very religious but want your children to have a Jewish identity.
The Jewish Scriptures define a true Jewish faith somewhat differently. In the Scriptures a person is considered to be Jewish if either parent is Jewish. To have a true biblical Jewish faith one must follow after the faith of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob which is taught and developed through the Scriptures, finding ultimate fulfillment in the Messiah of Israel.
What about the faith of your Gentile spouse? Your spouse, if like most Gentiles, was probably reared in a nominally Christian religion. Like many Gentiles, their religious experience could be described as such: received religious training as a child; confirmed at an early age; but never really practiced the teachings and verbal commitment of their confirmation.
Then how do we determine who is a Christian? A Christian is not of any particular nationality, race, ethnic or religious group. He is one who has accepted Jesus Christ as Saviour, believing that through His atoning blood one can receive forgiveness of sin and eternal life. Many Gentiles make an intellectual profession to Christianity at their confirmation but do not commit their life to Christ. If this is the situation with your spouse, their Christian faith is questionable. It is not enough for your spouse to profess faith in God, or to simply state, “I belong to the Christian faith.” Your spouse must follow after the faith of Abraham which is taught and developed throughout the Scriptures, finding ultimate fulfillment in the Messiah.
Your spouse will probably say to you, “If I accept the Messiah I will become Jewish. Never will I do that – I was born a Gentile, and I will die a Gentile?” You can assure your spouse that by following after the Messiah a Gentile doesn’t become Jewish, nor does a Jew become Gentile.
As we have already stated, the answer lies in both of you coming to a true biblical faith. Is it possible to bring a Jewish and Gentile person together in a true biblical faith? It might surprise you, but the answer is yes! Both of you will find the answer by accepting the Messiah of Israel.
The Jewish term Messiah (Heb. Mashiach) means “anointed One”. The term Christian comes from two Greek words: “Christos”, meaning “anointed One”, and “ianos”, meaning “belonging to”. Thus, the word Christian means “belonging to the anointed One”, making Christ and Messiah synonymous. To be a Christian simply means to be a follower of the Messiah. Therefore, any person, Jew or Gentile, who accepts the Jewish Messiah has found the true biblical faith of Abraham and the Jewish people. You see, Christianity is the logical outgrowth of biblical Judaism.
I can hear you say, “Wait a minute! It’s not that simple. Judaism would never accept such a concept.” Yes, you are right. But remember, we are not seeking an answer from Jewish tradition but from the Jewish Scriptures.
Isn’t it interesting that you can be an atheist or an agnostic and still remain Jewish. But the moment you accept Jesus as your Messiah, you cease to be Jewish according to Judaism. Come now! You are a thinking person. Does this position seem logical to you?
Now hold it, don’t put this article down! Let’s be openly objective and look at the facts before we make a snap decision. What I am about to say could save your marriage and bring both of you together in a true biblical faith and an eternal relationship with God.
Our Jewish tradition teaches that the Messiah, is to bring peace to Israel and the world when He comes. If I were to ask you, “How would you recognize the Messiah if He came?”, what would you tell me? You might reply, “Messiah will be . . .” and give me your answer. But have you ever looked into the Jewish Scriptures to see what they teach concerning the Jewish Messiah? If you are like most of my Jewish friends, your answer will be. No!
You say, “There are so many different teachings concerning the Messiah. How can we be sure which teaching is true? That’s a good question. We cannot take the opinion of men, but must rely upon God’s revelation of the Messiah in the Jewish Scriptures.
Centuries before the Messiah came twenty-five Jewish writers sketched the details of His life and work. Messiah is the only person in the history of mankind to have His ancestry, birth, character, rejection, death, burial and resurrection prewritten at least 700 years before it took place. Outside of the Jewish Scriptures there is no other literature, whether secular or sacred, which has duplicated this fantastic miracle of a prewritten life of the Messiah.
Jesus of Nazareth claimed that He fulfilled the scriptural description of the Messiah. He said, “. . . that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms concerning me” (Lk. 24:44). Did He fulfill the scriptural description of the Messiah? If so, how are we to be sure that He did? We can only know for certain by carefully comparing His life with the messianic description given to us in the Jewish Scriptures. Let’s examine the Scriptures to see if Jesus fulfills the portrait painted of the Messiah.
|Micah prophesies that Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem, from the tribe of Judah, yet He existed before His birth.|
|But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting (Mic. 5:2).||Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king . . . (Mt. 2:1; cf. 2:5, 6).|
|Isaiah tells us that the Messiah is to be virgin born and called Immanuel, which literally means “God with us”.|
|Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and and shall call his name Immanuel (Isa. 7:14).||Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel which being interpreted is, God with us (Mt. 1:23).|
|Messiah is the Son of God who possesses titles and attributes of deity and will rule over Israel in the kingdom age.|
|For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace (Isa. 9:6).||And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call him Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father, David. And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end (Lk. 1:31-33).|
|It was prophesied before Messiah came that men of His day would despise and reject Him.|
|He is despised and rejected of men . . . and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not (Isa. 53:3).||He came unto His own, and his own received him not (Jn. 1:11; cf. 5:43; 7:5).|
|The Scriptures teach that Messiah would undergo tremendous sorrow and grief. Actually He would be whipped, pierced, and spat upon, but He would not openly rebel against His persecutors.|
|He is . . . a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief . . . (Isa. 53:3). him, they took the robe off from him, and put his own raiment on him, and led him away to crucify him (Mt. 27:30, 31).||And they spit upon him, and took the reed, and smote him on the head. And after that they had mocked|
|Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows . . . (Isa. 53:4).||That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself, took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses (Mt. 8:17).|
|. . . Yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted (Isa. 53:4).||Likewise also the chief priests mocking him, with the scribes and elders, said . . . He trusted in God; let him deliver him now, if he will have him: for he said, I am the Son of God (Mt. 27:41, 43).|
|But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed (Isa. 53:5).||Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed (1 Pet. 2:24).|
|He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth (Isa. 53:7).||Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not . . . (1 Pet. 2:23; cf. Mt. 26:62, 63; 27:12-14).|
|I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to them that plucked off the hair; I hid not my face from shame and spitting (Isa. 50:6).||And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him, Prophesy: and the servants did strike Him with the palms of their hands (Mk. 14:65)|
|It was predicted that the Messiah would actually be killed by the people of His day.|
|. . . For he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken (Isa. 53:8).||And when they were come to the place, which is called Calvary, there they crucified him . . . (Lk. 23:33)|
|And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself . . . (Dan. 9:26).|
|. . . He hath poured out his soul unto death . . . (Isa. 53:12).||. . . It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost (Jn. 19:30).|
|Even though Messiah was killed, David clearly tells us that He would be miraculously resurrected in the same body.|
|For thou wilt not leave my soul in sheol; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption (Ps. 16:10).||He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hades, neither his flesh did see corruption (Acts 2:31).|
After examining the Jewish Scriptures, it is evident that Jesus fulfills the Jewish concept of the Messiah.
You ask, “If Jesus is truly the Messiah, why don’t Jewish people accept Him?” Down through the centuries they did accept Him as the Messiah. The Scriptures teach that many priests (Acts 6:7), Pharisees (Acts 15:5), and thousands of Jewish people believed (Acts 21:20) that Jesus was the Messiah. Today there are thousands of Jewish people believing in Him.
You might also ask, “Why did Messiah, have to die?” The Messiah had to suffer and die to atone for our sins. The Jewish Scriptures teach:
“For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not” (Eccl. 7:20).
David said, “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Ps. 51:5).
The result of our sin is twofold. First, we are separated from God,
“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isa. 59:2).
Secondly, our sin results in spiritual death,
“The soul that sinneth, it shall die . . .” (Ezek. 18:20).
You say, “I can confess my sins directly to God, I don’t need to accept Jesus as the Messiah.” It might seem logical to go directly to God and confess our sin, but this is not what the Jewish Scriptures teach. The Torah states, “. . . For it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul” (Lev. 17:11). God clearly tells us without the shedding of blood He cannot legally forgive sin because the atonement is in the blood.
Therefore, we must accept the Messiah’s atoning sacrifice as God’s provision for our sins. Today, the Messiah is the only blood atonement for both Jew and Gentile.
You are probably thinking, “Why must I do all the believing to reconcile our religious differences; shouldn’t my spouse receive Jesus as Messiah?” You are absolutely right. Your spouse should accept Him, too. The religious issue need not divide your marriage any longer. By both of you putting faith in the Messiah of Israel, He is able to bring completeness and fulfillment to each of you and your marriage. But the first step is for both of you to accept Him. The Bible says:
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shall be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (Rom. 10:9, 10).
Why don’t both of you, right now, receive Jesus as your Messiah? You can do so by praying to God, confessing your sin against Him, acknowledging that the Messiah Jesus Christ died for your sins, and through His blood sacrifice He will forgive your sins. Ask the Messiah into your life and accept the forgiveness of sin. Then thank Him for taking away your sin through the Messiah’s shed blood and giving you His peace.
By making this commitment to your Messiah, He has taken away your sin, reconciled you to God, and has implanted in your soul a new capacity to experience God’s love, peace and joy for your life and marriage.
Now you are on the road to solving your marital dilemma. You do not cease to be Jewish, nor does your spouse cease to be Gentile. But in Jesus the Messiah your lives will be bound in a true biblical faith, one that will allow God to be the center of your marriage. By applying the teachings of the Messiah to your marriage many of the differences between your former faiths can be solved. There need be no Jewish/Gentile dilemma any longer. Now allow the Messiah’s love to bind your marriage together with Him at the center, making it complete and fulfilling.
The Friends of Israel stand ready to assist you in studying the scriptural principles for a sound marriage. If you desire further help please write us.