If Not the Blood of Yeshua, What Brought Ruth “Near” to the G-d of Israel?

Landscapte with Ruth and Boaz Joseph Anton Koch (from "Bible Paintings, Ruth, Naomi, Boaz, Womeninthebible.net)
Landscapte with Ruth and Boaz
Joseph Anton Koch
(from “Bible Paintings, Ruth, Naomi, Boaz”, Womeninthebible.net)

Once again Peter Vest of Orthodox Messianic Judaism has provided thoughtful material worthy of consideration.  In a blog post published earlier this week he invited discussion on the question of whether Israel includes Gentiles brought into covenant with the Living God by the Blood of Messiah Yeshua.  What I appreciate most is how he uses the account of Ruth the Moabite, the most significant example of a foreigner who became part of Israel long before Yeshua’s work of redemption on the cross.  This is timely since Ruth is the Scripture traditionally studied at Shavuot (Pentecost), which falls on May 23-24 this year.  It is with the understanding that people from the nations are indeed brought into God’s nation of Israel that the First Ephraimite/Northern Israel National Congress will convene on the day after Shavuot to discuss how to walk out our identity as YHVH is restores the Whole House of Israel just as He promised.

If Not the Blood of Yeshua, What Brought Ruth “Near” to the G-d of Israel?

Posted on Orthodox Messianic Judaism, May 3, 2015

by Peter Vest

So I’ve been wondering about this since last evening…

Ruth the Moabite became an Israelite.  What initiated her into the People of Israel?  Her faith, G-d’s grace, right?

Ephesians 2 says that Gentiles are saved by grace and brought “near” by the blood of Yeshua so that they are citizens in Israel.  In other words, Gentiles should rejoice because they can join the People of Israel and have salvation, receiving in faith that which is given by grace.

But didn’t Ruth also join the People of Israel and have salvation?  Receiving in faith that which was given to her by the grace of G-d?

So Ruth received the benefits specified in Ephesians 2 before the New Covenant was ever given?

Here’s the real question that I’ve been leading up to:

It is written that the New Covenant is made only with Israel.  Yet Israel includes even Gentiles like Ruth who had not accepted Yeshua as the Messiah, Gentiles who belonged to Israel simply because they rejected idolatry and accepted both the G-d of Israel and the People of Israel and proceeded to live according to the Way of Life defined in the Torah of Moses (“…if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in His ways. So all the peoples of the earth will see that you are called by the name of the LORD…” Deut. 28).


So doesn’t that mean that the “Israel” with whom the New Covenant was made includes Gentiles (since Israel has always included Gentiles such as Ruth)?

© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2015.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Barking Fox Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Author: Albert J. McCarn

I am a lifelong disciple of Jesus (Yeshua) of Nazareth, an avid student of the Bible, a devoted husband and father, a 29-year veteran of the United States Army, and a historian who connects people with their own stories.

3 thoughts on “If Not the Blood of Yeshua, What Brought Ruth “Near” to the G-d of Israel?”

  1. Dear Al,
    I can’t be on the call Saturday and you leave soon. I have not been able to read all your posts, so I am not real clear about the emphasis on the Torah and the law of Moses in the counsel you are attending. The apostles and the prophets all agreed that circumcision was no longer required. We know it is a picture of the circumcision of the heart, Perhaps somewhere you have written about Gal 2:19 and dying to the law of sin and death, and Romans 7 and who shall deliver us from the body of death. I am sure it is all according to the New covenant, but the writings are not that clear to me thus far.


    1. Hi Mary Carolyn.
      Thanks for your comment. You have given me an opportunity to clarify a few things that I may not have covered completely in previous teachings and commentary.
      The emphasis on Torah is that it is the foundation of this way of life we as disciples of Yeshua profess to follow. Torah goes by several names, including the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible), Law of Moses, and books of Moses. These are the Scriptures which Yeshua claimed not to abolish, but to fulfill (meaning to teach correctly) (Matthew 5:17-20). They are also the Scriptures which He held up before the Pharisees as the basis by which they should know Him, according to John 5:39-47. Yeshua concluded that particular discussion with the Pharisees by saying:
      For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (John 5:46-47 NASB)
      Yeshua’s admonition to the Pharisees is also an admonition to us. How are we to know who Messiah is and what He is supposed to do if we do not go to the root of the explanation about Him, which is found in Moses?
      The problem some of the Pharisees and other religious leaders of that day had was that they thought keeping the commandments of God made them righteous in God’s eyes and earned them a place in His eternal Kingdom. What you have rightly said regarding the New Covenant is that it is all about circumcision of the heart, and that is consistent with what Moses, the Prophets, and the Apostles have always taught. Here’s some of what Moses and the Prophets had to say:
      Now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require from you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways and love Him, and to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the LORD’S commandments and His statutes which I am commanding you today for your good? Behold, to the LORD your God belong heaven and the highest heavens, the earth and all that is in it. Yet on your fathers did the LORD set His affection to love them, and He chose their descendants after them, even you above all peoples, as it is this day. So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer. (Deuteronomy 10:12-16 NASB)
      Moreover the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live. (Deuteronomy 30:6 NASB)
      Circumcise yourselves to the LORD and remove the foreskins of your heart, men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem, or else My wrath will go forth like fire and burn with none to quench it, because of the evil of your deeds.” (Jeremiah 4:4 NASB)
      Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances. (Ezekiel 36:26-27 NASB)
      “Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,” declares the LORD, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.” (Jeremiah 31:31-34 NASB)
      You will recognize that last passage from Jeremiah 31 as the terms of the New, or Renewed, Covenant which God makes with His people. The writer of Hebrews quotes almost verbatim from that passage in Hebrews 8:8-12. Something that often escapes notice about this Covenant is that it changes the hearts of God’s people, not the standards by which He wants them to live. In other words, thanks to His Presence within us (the gift of the Holy Spirit), we are able to live out the principles He established long ago for loving God and loving people.
      Regarding what the Apostles taught on this, you are right to bring up Paul as the key instructor. Paul used the example of Abraham to show that he got his heart right and believed God long before the sign of physical circumcision was given to him (Romans 4). Paul’s conclusion is that we are saved by faith, not by works, and by that faith we are delivered from the penalty of death contained within the Law (Torah). The penalty of death as a result of our sin is what Paul meant when he referred to the “law of sin and death” in Romans 8:1-2. (119 Ministries has a 50 minute teaching on Paul’s different uses of the word “law” which you can see at http://119ministries.com/pauline-paradox-series-part-4-which-law-paul.) Paul’s contention with those who required immediate circumcision for new believers in Jesus was that they were putting the physical sign ahead of the heart change, which is the real power of the Covenant. That’s why he can say things like this:
      Behold I, Paul, say to you that if you receive circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you. And I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is under obligation to keep the whole Law. You have been severed from Christ, you who are seeking to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For we through the Spirit, by faith, are waiting for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love. (Galatians 5:2-6 NASB)
      Yet Paul never intended for followers of Jesus to abandon the standards of righteousness God explained through Moses and the Prophets, and which he and the other Apostles consistently taught. That is why he could write things like this:
      What shall we say then? Is the Law sin? May it never be! On the contrary, I would not have come to know sin except through the Law; for I would not have known about coveting if the Law had not said, “YOU SHALL NOT COVET.” But sin, taking opportunity through the commandment, produced in me coveting of every kind; for apart from the Law sin is dead. I was once alive apart from the Law; but when the commandment came, sin became alive and I died; and this commandment, which was to result in life, proved to result in death for me; for sin, taking an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me. So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. (Romans 7:7-12 NASB)
      Do we then nullify the Law through faith? May it never be! On the contrary, we establish the Law. (Romans 3:31 NASB)
      There’s a subtle point in what the Apostles taught that the casual reader of the Bible misses. They were indeed explaining how salvation comes by faith in Christ alone, but they were not saying that God did away with the Law (Torah) He gave to His people as the basis of instruction on how He expects them to live. That’s why Paul can use the example of learning about covetousness from the Law; there is no other source by which he (and we) can learn such things! If we start “keeping the rules” as the means to win God’s favor, then we are guilty of legalism, because the Law itself never can save anyone. However, if we understand we are saved by God’s work alone and our faith in Him and His work, then we will demonstrate evidence of the change in heart He has made in us by learning and walking in His ways. And where do we learn His ways? By studying what He explained to Moses, the Prophets, and the Apostles, and by following the example of our Messiah.
      That gets to the reason why I am going through the traditional Torah reading cycle in my teachings each week. It’s a way to investigate deeper understandings of God’s Word and how He intends us to live by it. You know by now that I am persuaded God still intends us to keep His Shabbat (Sabbath) and His Feasts (all of which are explained in Leviticus 23), among other things. It is not right for me to demand that all of God’s people do as I do and believe as I believe. Doing that would make me a legalistic Pharisee and cause me to do exactly what the Jerusalem Council wanted to avoid. What I hope to do is what I believe the Apostles and Elders intended in Acts 15: point the brethren to the full body of Scripture, starting with Moses and coming forward through the rest of the Bible, so that the Holy Spirit can provide instruction on the things He wants to highlight for each individual. One example of that is in my post from May 2, “Fox Byte 5775 #29-30: Achrei Mot (After the Death); Kedoshim (Holy Ones)”, which looks a little deeper into the meaning of being holy as God is holy.
      We do not have to agree on everything, but it is much better if we work together in investigating what our God said so that we can mature together and be the holy people He intended all along. That’s why I am so glad to be part of this seasoned body of Messiah followers at Prayer Surge Now, and why I am very glad that you took the time to comment and ask questions!


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