I have always heard that Judaism is passed down through the mother’s bloodlines, but the bible lineages are always patriarchal.
I have heard that if you are born with Jewish parents you are Jewish, but there are so many people I know who call themselves Jewish just because they found out they have some Jewish ancestors.
The bible says that anyone who sojourns with the children of Israel is to be treated with the same rights and privileges as a native born Jew (this assumes they are living a Jewish lifestyle.)
Hey…wait a minute! Maybe we’re onto something there- maybe it isn’t only who your parents or ancestors were, or what religion they practiced, or (even for that matter) what religion you were brought up practicing. Maybe it’s your chosen lifestyle, or how you worship now, that defines what you are?
I always say that people don’t mean what they say, they mean what they do. So, if I am right (even a little bit), then being Jewish can be defined by how we worship and how we choose to live.
I was born Jewish, both my parents were Jewish, but they never lived like a Jew. And neither did I, for the first 44 or so years of my life. So was I a Jew? By birthright and family lineage, yes; however, by how I lived, no. I was born into Judaism but I was not living as a Jew should live.
If I had been born into a Christian home, to Christian parents and raised in a Christian way, I certainly would not have been considered a Jew. But what if I later adopted a Jewish lifestyle? What if I was being Torah observant, celebrating the holy days defined in Leviticus 23, eating as God said I should eat in Leviticus 11, and worshipping the Shabbat on Fridays and Saturdays? Would that make me a Jew?
According to the bible, I would say it does. If you choose to be subject to the laws and regulations God gave us (His laws are for everyone, every one of them) then you would be allowed all the rights and privileges of any other child of Israel. In other words, you were a Jew.
Let me tell you this: since I have accepted Messiah Yeshua, I have never been more of a Jew, and am more Jewish now than most Jews I have ever known.
I say the question, “Who is a Jew?” should be answered by, “How do you live?” If you live like a Jewish person should live (Torah observant, worshipping God, celebrating the holy days outlined in the Torah) then you are a Jew.
If it looks like a duck, and it walks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, it must be a duck. Right?
Those who are born Jewish and live a Torah observant lifestyle, and those who were not born into Judaism but have chosen to live a Torah observant lifestyle, are no different in God’s eyes- He is clear about that in the bible. So if it’s good enough for God, it should be good enough for us, too.
It all boils down to this (excuse me, Mr. Shakespeare): “To Torah, or not to Torah: that is the answer.”
God has no religion. He gave us the Torah, the teachings of how to live and worship Him. Remember Torah doesn’t mean ’law’, it means ‘teachings’ and what it teaches us is how God wants us to live our lives and worship Him. There is nothing in the bible anywhere, whether you look in the Old or the New, about how some religions must do these things and other religions must do those things. Everyone who wants to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob must do what the Torah says to do, and that is it.
It is only because we have so many different religions, all man-made, that the ones who live in accordance to the Torah are defined as “Jews” and the others are defined as “Gentiles.”
Another answer to the question, “Who is a Jew” could be, “Anyone who doesn’t reject the Torah.” If Torah defines us as a Jew, then anyone who rejects the Torah is not a Jew. Many who may be Jewish by birth, but don’t observe the Torah, are not really a Jew; at least, not as God sees it. They may be Jewish by birth, but they ain’t no Jew.
God knows what is in our hearts, and if the Torah is not important to someone, then they have rejected it. And if any religion teaches that the Torah is no longer valid or necessary, they have, by definition, rejected it. Reject the Torah and you reject the one who wrote it, and I don’t mean Moses!
If anyone asks me what makes a Jew a Jew, I will answer the Torah makes a Jew a Jew. In our prayers we say that we are sanctified by His word; we thank God for choosing us, out of all the nations, to give us His Torah. It is Torah that is the defining element that makes one a Jew, and anyone who worships and lives in accordance with the Torah is, as God defines it to be, a Jew.
Now that I have finally answered one of the most difficult theological questions in the world, don’t get all hung up about being Jewish or not being Jewish. It doesn’t matter what label you place on yourself because God doesn’t respect or really care about our silly labels. He sees the heart, He sees the way you live, how you treat others and how you worship Him.
Yeshua/Jesus is the Living Torah, and if you believe in Him you should be a living Torah, too. We see these cute little bracelets all over, WWJD, and the answer is, “Look in the Torah if you really want to know what J would D because that is who He was, and who He still is. And what He still expects of us.
If you want to be Jewish, then be Torah observant. It’s that simple.
And if you say you are Jewish by your standards because you have Jewish bloodlines, but you don’t live a Torah observant life, you are not Jewish by God’s standards.
And guess whose standards will count when you are before Him?