Is a Gentile believer,
following the rituals of the Hebrew Torah,
more pleasing to God than those who do not?
Many years ago, during the first few months as a new Christian, I was wondering why God chose me for salvation. I was seriously thinking that, since the Jews were God’s chosen people and I have been chosen, maybe someone in my past family history was Jewish.
I started to think that must be it! At that time my self-estimation of my spirituality went up quite a bit.
It seems to me that some Gentile believers think that if they “steal” something that belongs to the Hebrew people, to whom we refer as "the Chosen People of God", and make it their own, then they would be all the more "Chosen," more spiritual, more holy, ever more closer to God; and to that end there may be Gentile Christians that use Hebrew words like “Yeshua” instead of the English word for “Jesus,” or “Moshiach” instead of “Messiah,” or “ruah ha-qodesh” instead of “holy spirit.”
Some even suggest that Gentile believers can only Biblically and rightly worship God if they do it on the Sabbath, that is, Saturday, like anywhere from the orthodox Christian denomination of 7th Day Adventist to the heretical cult of Jehovah Witnesses do. At the risk of digressing from the general scope of this topic, these Gentile Sabbath-followers (respectfully, for lack of a better term) even go so far as to imply (unintentionally?) that those Gentiles believers who do not observe Torah instructions regarding the Sabbath are disobeying God, not listening to the Spirit, receiving wrong revelation, and even failing to express genuine love towards God.
With respect to the Sabbath, Dr. Michael Brown states, “God did not call any other nation to observe the Sabbath, although he did open the door for Gentiles to join themselves to His covenant with Israel in Isaiah 56:4-7, which is addressed to ‘the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths.’ So, the door was open for the Gentiles to enter into Israel’s covenant, but the specific covenantal, seventh-day Sabbath sign was given exclusively to the people of Israel.”*
I am not saying that something like the promises of God in the Torah are not also for Gentile believers. However, as Gentiles, we are not owners but partakers of the promises and blessings that were first delivered and belong to the Hebrew people. As the apostle Paul says, to the Jew “belongs the adoption as sons and the glory and the covenants and the giving of the Law and the [temple] service and the promises, whose are the fathers and from whom is the Christ” (Romans 9:4 NASB). That is why it was to the Jew first that the message of salvation was to be given.
The apostle further writes that Gentile believers “were grafted in among them and became partakers with them in the rich root of the olive tree” (11:17). Believing Gentiles were brought into the blessings that belonged to Israel, therefore, Paul warns, “it is not you who supports the root, but the root [supports] you” (v.18). The Hebrew people are further described as the “natural branches” while Gentile believers are branches cut out from a “wild olive tree” and “grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree.”
I am also not saying that, as Gentile believers, there is anything morally wrong with replacing English words with Hebrew words in everyday conversations; nor is there anything morally wrong with worshiping on Saturday instead of Sunday (as well as vice-versa). As a matter of fact, Gentile believers who participate to whatever degree in Jewish holidays and festivals should be commended in reminding us of our spiritually Jewish roots.
I am saying that we need to guard our hearts from thinking that because we, as a Gentile believer, may sound or act more Jewish than others or participate in Hebrew religious traditions where others may not, that we are the spiritually better, the more pleasing, or closer to God than other Gentile believers.
In Paul’s day, he had to contend with Gentile believers lauding it over the Jewish believers because the former, in spite of their once being outside the covenant and not following the rituals of the Torah (Acts 15; Galatians 2), thought they were closer to God than the latter.
In our day, we may need to contend with Gentile believers lauding (consciously or unconsciously) over other Gentile believers because the former think they are closer to God for their outward participation in the Torah, in spite of the fact that all Gentiles (and Jews) are equal partakers in its blessing and promises, whether they outwardly follow the rituals or not.
* For a further understanding of Dr. Brown’s position, see: http://old.askdrbrown.org/ask-dr-brown/35-ask-dr-brown/76-should-christians-observe-the-seventh-day-sabbath.