When a Jewish person “confess[es]… Yeshua as Lord, and believe[s] in [his] heart that God raised Him from the dead,” (Ro.10:9) he immediately becomes caught between two worlds. To his Jewish family, he is either meshuginah (Yiddish for “crazy”) or he has abandoned and forsaken his people. To most Christians, his Jewish ethnicity is either just an interesting novelty, or has now become irrelevant, because he is “a new creature; the old things [have] passed away… new things have come.” (2Co.5:17) These opposing forces are an ever-present source of pressure for the Messianic Jew. Does he disown the Messiah Yeshua and return to the unbelieving Jewish fold? Or should he turn his back on his family, his people and himself by assimilating into the foreign religion of Christianity? It is a heart-wrenching, lonely existence that Messianic Jews often face, but all believers in Yeshua can—and should—take an active role in encouraging Jewish believers to be restored to the distinctive identity that is their God-given birthright.
When Adonai gave Israel the Torah and established her as a nation, He also set apart the priesthood—a select group of people within Israel, chosen solely by bloodline, who would serve the entire community by facilitating the relationship between God and the rest of the nation. The priests were forbidden from taking part in certain things that were permitted for the rest of Israel (i.e., Le.21:1-6, De.18:1-2), and the people of Israel were forbidden from performing and participating in the service and lifestyle of the priests (i.e., Ex.30:31-33, Nu.1:47-53, 3:10, 18:1-7, Le. 22:9-10). There was a clear line that Adonai Himself drew between the priests and the people of Israel so that each could maintain their distinct yet mutually beneficial roles within a single, unified community.
In Exodus 19:5-6, Adonai issues a most unusual decree. He says to all the people of Israel, “If you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” So if the role of the priests within Israel is to act as mediators between Adonai and the people of Israel—set apart from within the nation to perform a sacred duty on behalf of all—what, then, does it mean that the nation of Israel (the Jewish people) as a whole is to be “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation… among all the peoples… [of] the earth”? Adonai says, “I have called you in righteousness… and I will appoint you as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nations… O Jacob (Israel), my servant….” (Isaiah 42:6, 44:2, cf. 41:8, 42:1) Is it possible that Adonai‘s ancient plan to distinguish the Jewish people from all the nations of the earth is still in effect? In the same way that the priests were distinguished from all the people of Israel, might the Jewish people still be set apart to perform the sacred duty of uniquely facilitating the restoration of all peoples to their Creator? Could this be what the Master Yeshua meant when he said that “salvation is from the Jews”? (Jn.4:22)
As individuals, all believers in the Messiah Yeshua are “one in [Him]… Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise”—and in this respect, “there is neither Jew nor [Gentile].” (Ga.3:28-29) And yet, a unique distinction remains for the Jewish people “to whom belongs the adoption as sons and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Torah and the temple service and the promises….” (Ro.9:3-4). Let us wholeheartedly embrace the irrevocable, uncommon calling that God has sovereignly made to an imperfect, singular people for the greater, common good. Like priests to a people, the Jewish people have a responsibility to serve the needs of the many nations of the earth… to facilitate the reconciliation of all people to God. May “all Israel… be saved” (Ro.11:26) so that she will become the Messianic nation she was always meant to be, finally able to fulfill her role as “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” to all mankind. “For if their rejection be the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” (Ro.11:15)