Why I Am Not Jewish

This is the second posting of my blog series of ‘Why I Am Not.’ And in this post I’d like to talk about why I am not Jewish.    

Now, when I say Jewish, I’m not referring to an ethnic group here, connected to one another by blood, rather I’m referring to a religious ideology. One can be Jewish and have no obvious Jewish blood. For example, one can be Japanese, and yet Jewish. Jews welcome converts to their expression of faith. So, I’m not talking about Jewish bloodline here, I’m talking about adhering to the Jewish faith system.        

So, why am I not Jewish? As you probably know, I’m a Christian, and so I already share a lot with the Jewish people. For example, we both recognize that there is only one God, Yahweh. We both believe that this God created this world and spoke to people throughout the ages. We both believe that Yahweh spoke to Noah, and to Abraham, to Moses, and to Elijah. We both believe in the inspiration of Scripture. We both believe that Yahweh instituted covenants, and gave to us memorials to remember Him by, like Passover. Yet, in spite of these many similarities, I am not Jewish. But, why? Why don’t I embrace this faith that I already accept in so many ways?   

Well, let’s suppose for a couple of minutes that I am Jewish. Let’s suppose that I was born Jewish into a Jewish family. Let’s say that I went to a Jewish school as a young boy and took part in the traditions of the Jewish faith.  Let’s say that I’ve been taught the faith and was given the opportunity to study the Torah and the Tanakh.  What would I find?       

Well, in studying the Torah, which Christians call the first five books of the Old Testament, I would find in its earliest pages that Yahweh mysteriously promised that someday the seed of the woman would crush the head of the serpent. As I consider that, I would also read later in the Torah that Yahweh made a promise to Abraham, “And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.” (Gen 17:7 KJV).

As a Jew, I would contemplate that promise. What does it mean that God will make a covenant that will last forever, when it seems that that the covenant we last had is now gone? And what or who is Abraham’s seed?  Is this the same seed as promised to Eve in the garden? Is the seed the millions upon millions of Jewish people born from Abraham, or is it possible that the seed is singular? Is it many seeds, or just one?     

As I study the Torah I would also read of the great covenant that God made with us through the prophet, Moses. For God said, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the children of Israel: 4 ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to Myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. 6 And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation...”   (Ex. 19:3-6)  

When Moses spoke these words to my people, we replied, “All that the LORD has spoken we will do.” (vs. 8).   And so, we became the people of God. We had entered into an agreement with Him. However, I would soon read in the Torah that this covenant was conditional. As Moses told us, “Now it shall come to pass, IF you diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the LORD your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. 2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God.” (Deut. 28).

But the Torah also carried this dire warning, “But it shall come to pass, if you do NOT obey the voice of the LORD your God, to observe carefully all His commandments and His statutes which I command you today, that all these curses will come upon you and overtake you.”      

Of the many curses that Moses told us about, there is one that would catch my attention, “just as the LORD rejoiced over you to do you good and multiply you, so the LORD will rejoice over you to destroy you and bring you to nothing; and you shall be plucked from off the land which you go to possess.” (Deut. 28:63).        

As a Jewish man reading the Torah, it would become obvious to me that God wants to be my God, to watch over me and my people, and to bring us much good. But, the Torah makes it clear to me that this promise is dependent upon me and my people remaining faithful to Him.   Unfortunately, it would become obvious to me that it did not take long until we began to stray from the promise our fathers had made to Yahweh.  Later, in the Torah, Moses sent men to spy out the land that had been prepared for us, which Yahweh had promised to Abraham. Two of those spies wanted to take the land, but 10 of them were afraid and stirred up the people so that they wanted to kill the men who desired to move forward. Yahweh told Moses He was going to kill all of the people and raise up a new nation from Moses. But Moses intervened on our behalf and the Lord relented.   

Years later, after Moses and all of the disbelievers died, a new generation of my people would enter the land, as recorded in what we call the books of the prophets. Joshua led us in and we settled the land. But my study of my people would reveal that we didn’t obey the Lord. Throughout the book that Christians call the book of the Judges, we disobeyed God, were defeated by our enemies, cried to God who delivered us, and then, sadly, we would repeat the process.       

In time, my people felt as though we needed a king.  Our prophet at the time was Samuel, who felt terrible about my people’s desire, but the Lord told him, “they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them: (1 Sam 8:7). So, once again we displeased our God.    And so Saul was made our king. Yet, it wouldn’t take long until Saul fell from God’s favor. So, God Himself selected the man who would be our kin –  David.       

Yet, in spite of having a king selected by Yahweh, my people would continue to rebel against God and seek out idols and worship other Gods.  As I continue my study of the prophets, I read an intriguing prophecy given over King David that would be fulfilled sometime after his death, “When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son…(2 Sam 7:12-14)”   

This is not, however, the last time I read of this strange prophecy. Many years later Isaiah would write, “For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever…” (Isa 7:6-7)     

It is becoming apparent to me in my studies of our ancient scriptures that Yahweh was telling my people that He has something else in store for us because we keep breaking our promises to Him. This is confirmed in the writings found in our other sacred prophets. Long after David had died, Ezekiel would write, “David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them, and it shall be an everlasting covenant with them, and I will set My sanctuary in their midst forevermore.”(Ez 37:24-26) 

Yes, my study of my own scriptures tells me that our continued disobedience to Yahweh is forcing Him to come up with another promise, one that we may be able to keep this time. And in the writings of our prophet Jeremiah, it is apparent that this new plan is a new covenant,  “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah—not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.(Jer. 31:31)     

Yes, it’s quite obvious from our sacred writings that we have not been faithful to Yahweh even though he was faithful to us. Over and again we turned from our God to chase after false gods.  And my study of the Torah and of the Prophets suggest evidence that Yahweh was going to make a new kind of covenant with us. One that involves the writing of His laws in our hearts.   But, what does it mean when Ezekiel said that God will set His sanctuary in our midst forever? What did he mean when he said that His tabernacle will be with us? We no longer have the temple. His sanctuary is not with us. We lost it in the year 70 AD when the Romans overran our beloved city and destroyed it. They slaughtered many of my people and destroyed our land. They sold us into slavery and carted us all over the known world. We were scattered among all people…        scattered among all people?

That reminds me of that passage in Deut 28, ““Then the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other … you shall be offered for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves.”       Could this be?       Could it be that the Lord kept His promise? That we violated the terms of the covenant so often and in so many ways that He chose to end the covenant with us? Could God have divorced us? Could Moses have been speaking of the Romans when he told us, “The LORD will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flies, a nation whose language you will not understand..” (49) ““They shall besiege you at all your gates until your high and fortified walls, in which you trust, come down throughout all your land…”     

If this is so, then that would mean that God kept His promise to Moses and to us. He brought our great covenant to an end. It’s obvious that the Torah and the Prophets teach me that no one can any longer be Jewish by faith. Jewish writings show that God has ended the covenant that the Jews had once enjoyed. He has abandoned the agreement just as He had warned. And that is why I cannot be Jewish.

Dane Cramer is a backpacker, follower-of-Jesus blogger, jail chaplain, amateur filmmakerPodcast host, and author of two books: Romancing the Trail and The Nephilim: A Monster Among Us , and has worked as an investigator for over 35 years.



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