Q: Dear Kevin, an old friend of mine discovered that he and his family were actually descended from Jewish bloodlines, and he dropped out of the Gentile churches and became a Messianic Jew. He suggested that I myself may also be descended from Jewish roots. In fact, he seems convinced that I am, based upon the calling and anointing that he sees in my life. I prayed about this issue, then slowly but surely, the “Jewish-magnet” began pulling on my heart. I would not want to pretend or assume to be something or somebody that I am not. But if I am, in fact, Jewish, and not Gentile, then I would be honored and rejoice with great joy! What would you suggest that I do at this point?
A: Thank you for your question. I hear your heart!
Based on my experience, it sounds like your friend has discovered a very distant Jewish relative. However, determining Jewish lineage (according to Scripture) requires more than finding remote Jewish ancestry. Don’t misunderstand—I very much want to see Jews whose lineage and heritage have been lost begin to fully embrace their true identities, but for your friend to now call himself a Jew seems inaccurate—like if Yeshua had called Himself a Gentile because Ruth and Rahab were His ancestors. So, unless your friend has found out that one of his grandparents was Jewish (or he has equivalent lineage—see “Who Is a Jew”), then I would question the idea that he is no longer Gentile (of course, by using the term “Gentile,” I don’t mean “pagan,” but simply a person not of Jewish descent) and has “become” a Messianic Jew.
As disciples of Messiah, we are called to be separate from the world, not to renounce our heritage whyand bloodlines—and that goes for Gentiles as well as Jews. A Jew is no better than a Gentile, anymore than a man is better than a woman. The Scriptures make very clear divisions between men and women—husbands and wives, fathers and mothers—and yet, we are to be one (Mk. 10:6-8, Gal. 3:28). I believe the same is trueof Jew and Gentile: different, yet united (1Co. 7:19-20,Ep. 2:16-17). There is no shame, but only honor in that!
So, unless one or more of your grandparents is Jewish (or your lineage includes the statistical equivalent), I would ask you to seriously consider why you feel led to search out even a hint of Jewish blood somewhere in your family tree. To find such lineage would not change your standing with God, nor validate the pull you are feeling. That pull is either from Adonai, or your flesh—not a far-off forebearer.
You say that if you are “Jewish, and not Gentile, then [you] would be honored and rejoice with great joy!” I would exhort you to be “honored and rejoice with great joy” that you are Gentile! Yes, there’s honor in being Jewish, selected from the people of the earth to be a blessing back to the nations. But there is also honor in being Gentile, because it was for the Gentiles that Adonai called out Israel! (Genesis 12:1-3, Isaiah 42:6) If Adonai did not love the nations so much, He would not have set Israel apart—nor sent His Son, Yeshua. He didn’t call out Israel because we are “so special”—He called Israel out to serve the nations because of His great love for them… for you! Isn’t there joy and honor in that?
What should you do now? My advice would be to concern yourself more with the salvation of the Jewish people than the determination of your own Jewishness. Perhaps that pull you are feeling is Adonai calling you as a modern-day sojourner (like Caleb, Rahab and Ruth)—calling you to give your life to the restoration of the Jewish people. If you are, in fact,called to sojourn with us in this way, then you are welcome to assimilate fully into our peoplehood and communities, as the Torah permits. But if your heart is wrong, and your interest is self-serving, you will be nothing but a poseur—indeed, the Scriptures call those “saying themselves to be Jews and are not” a “synagogue of HaSatan”! (Revelation 2:9, cf. 3:9)
I would encourage you in this: to weigh your love for the Jewish people—not a love for being (or appearing) Jewish. Living for Messiah is not about Jewishness—it’s about doing what is necessary to hasten Yeshua’s return (2Pe.3:12)… and Israel’s restoration is at the heart of that. Consider yourself invited to take part in this glorious restoration… just remember that you don’t need to be Jewish to join the team!
This “Gentile Chronicles” article was originally published in Messianic Jewish Issues. The Gentile Chronicles is a recurring feature in Messianic Jewish Issues, and is part of Perfect Word’s developing “Gentile Initiative” designed to explicitly build up Gentile believers in Yeshua.