Daily Life Topics
Articles on topics that Believers face every day, and the application of Torah instruction to our daily walk.
Many people do not fully understand the Scriptural concept of provocation. Specifically speaking, the provocation of the Jews to see the truth of Messiah Yeshua. The phrase “provoke the Jews to jealousy” is used by many people in the Messianic circles as well as in Messianic Judaism, Hebrew Roots, and even some Christian teachings. The phrase is taken from Romans 11, when Paul says in verse 11, “I say then, have they [the Jews] stumbled that they should fall? Let it not be! But by their fall deliverance has come to the gentiles, to provoke them to jealousy.”
Paul also quotes this in the previous chapter where he officially begins the topic. Romans 10:19 is, for the most part, a quote of Deuteronomy 32:21 “So I will make them jealous with [those who] are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.” This is speaking of the gentiles. The nobodies. Paul then explains this in Romans 10 & 11 saying that because salvation came to the gentiles, the Jews should be made jealous.
Now those in Messianic Judaism (and the other sects I listed above) will say that it is a believer’s responsibility to live a way to provoke Jews to jealousy. Messianic Judaism, in many ways, goes so far as to say that their mission statement is to cater to the Jews. They tell non-Jewish believers that they should work on provoking the Jews.
In many ways it has become nearly commanded. Don’t do things the Jews would find offensive. I have heard it said that to wear tzitziyot (tassels/fringes) that do not match the standards of the Jews (proper color, length, number of knots, etc) is wrong because it does not lead Jews to jealousy.
Now we should in no way try to offend Jews, or anyone for that matter. However we are not commanded ANYWHERE in Scripture to bend over backwards to appease them (or anyone else, besides YHWH). If my tzitzit offends the Jews because I used a blue dye not made from a (unclean) snail, then so be it. This statement by Paul in his letter to the Roman assembly has been taken WAY out of context.
Paul never instructs the believers in Rome to “provoke the Jews to jealousy.” He says in Romans 11:11 that the simple fact that non-Jews can be given salvation at all should provoke the Jews to jealousy. The fact that people of the nations (gentiles), who were foreigners to the covenant, can be brought into the covenant and made co-heirs (Gal. 3) SHOULD make them jealous. Then he says in Romans 11:13-14 that he wishes to provoke them to jealousy, to save them. Paul said HE HIMSELF wishes to. He never instructed anyone else to.
The rest of Romans 11 Paul spends telling them to not boast against the Jews. He talks about being grafted into the branch as a wild offshoot. He also says the natural branches CAN BE grafted back in. But in all of this he never gives the instruction for us to cater our every action to ensure we do not offend the Jews.
It should be remembered that it is Yahweh’s desire for ALL men to be saved (1 Timothy 2:3-4). Not just Jews. Not just Persians. Not just Indonesians. Not just Americans. All men. All men, however, are held to the same standard. They must believe in Messiah Yeshua, and obey the voice of the Father and Son both. If you do not believe in the Son, you do not believe in the Father.
1 John 2:23 “No one denying the Son has the Father…” Judaism not only denies Yeshua, but some of their religious texts contain many HORIFFIC statements about Yeshua, Mary, and many of the Talmidim (disciples). Lost Jews are like all the other lost people out there, who will all get their chance to see the glory of and accept Yeshua.
When Paul said “to the Jew first and then to the Greek” (Romans 1:16, 2:9, 2:10) he was not saying the Jews were more important. He was saying things to them first because they should have received the Good News easiest. The Jews were the ones that had all of the recorded prophesies about the Messiah. They were the ones who knew who and what to look for. They had the Torah. It should have been easier for the Jews to accept Yeshua than it was for the non-Jews who didn’t even know a Messiah was coming! But they were too stubborn and their hearts were hard. The Book of Acts is full of those stories. Paul himself even went to the gentiles over the Jews.
I am by no means trying to convey an anti-Semitic message. But from my personal experience, far too many Messianic Jewish groups practice racism. That is, they place those that are "Jewish" by ethnicity on a pedestal above everyone else. I love the Jewish people as much as any other people group. This writing serves only to help dispel the error being taught that Believers should cater our lives to not offending the Jews. Well if me being a Sabbath-keeper and only eating Kosher and wearing tzitziyot with a different shade of blue in it offends the Jews then I’m sorry, but there’s nothing I can do about that. I will not go out of my way to offend ANYONE (Jew included) but I will not bend over backwards to appease them either.
J. A. Brown
By J. A. Brown
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