It was on this day in 1862 that the U.S. Congress amended the Chaplaincy Laws, thus permitting Jewish clergymen to serve as Army Chaplains. While it could be justifiably argued that this adjustment had been a long time coming, the United States had, when compared to a lot of their European contemporaries, always acknowledged the need for Jewish participation in the Armed Services. In many medieval European countries, Jewish participation in the military was strictly forbidden. History teaches that when these restrictions were lifted, many Jewish males were quick to demonstrate their patriotism and willingness to defend their home countries.
One American example of this is a man by the name of Isaac Franks. Franks, who not only served as an officer in the Continental Army, made his Germantown, PA home available to Gen. George Washington as his headquarters for that battle. The moral of this brief story is, everyone has something of value to contribute toward the overall objective.
When it comes to matters of faith and the objective of serving God in the manner that pleases Him, I would suggest that neither Christianity or Judaism has everything figured out. Yet, when the pieces that both sides do have a handle on are joined together, the big picture comes into sharper focus. That the Father’s purpose for all of His people – Jew and non-Jew – could be accomplished is why Messiah went to the cross. Paul wrote of this in his letter to the congregation in Ephesus:
“For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.” (Ephesians 2:14-16)
The key phrase here is, “one body” with no hostility between the two. Based upon what we see today, that has to mean that, at some point, both Christianity and Judaism must relinquish those wrong ideas wrought of religion and compliment one another with those things that are right and profitable. Then, and perhaps only then, will we see the Kingdom of Israel restored as in days of old. That, by the way, is the big picture.
The two becoming one in the Messiah doesn’t equate to becoming the Christian or the Jewish version of the Messiah, but when both sides recognize who and what the Messiah truly is, as defined by Scripture. For Christians, that means recognizing that Jesus – Yeshua – was a Torah observant Jewish Rabbi from Nazareth, and not a blue-eyed, blond haired, westernized man with a British accent. That’s not who He was.
Likewise, Jews must realize that the Messiah is more than just a man and that Yeshua was not an imposter. They must embrace the fact that we are made one through the cross, as Paul told us. In the end, it seems that God’s people, as biblically defined, are comprised of those who are grafted into Him, that is the Messiah, whether they are a natural or a wild branch. Consequently, we must resemble Him and not the other guy’s version of who or what He is.
Let’s recognize that both groups can learn from the other. Both have something of value to offer, however, those things we do learn from one another need to be true; not religious dogma. When we acknowledge the truth that they hold onto and they see the truth that we embrace, all of God’s people will begin to come together, and the big picture will become clearer. We must do our part in this by closely following the Messiah and understanding His heart in this matter. If we keep our focus on Him, He will lead us in the proper steps that His will in our life may come to fruition.