So where does this new believer start as a Ger? Or, put another way, what are the minimum requirements, which he should adhere to upon his immersion or baptism into True Israel?
Our current line of reasoning is very germane to a controversy which was brewing among the disciples about circumcising the new “Ger” in Antioch; and our present study on immersion or baptism will add great light to the same. While this controversy begins in Antioch, it concludes in Jerusalem, and is recorded in Acts chapter 15. Here is how it begins.
And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, “Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question. Act 15:1-2
“Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.” This statement is part of a bigger picture. A picture that I try to bring more clearly into focus in the next part of this series called “The Ger Becomes An Ezrach, “a native-born man. Eventually all Yehovah’s men will be circumcised or they will not be His men. The question here in Antioch is one of timing. Whether or not a new Ger needs to be circumcised right after he has been naturalized into Israel, and again please remember that we are talking about minimum requirements for a Ger who has just joined himself to Israel.
And when they had come to Jerusalem, they were received by the church and the apostles and the elders; and they reported all things that Elohim had done with them. But some of the sect of the Pharisees who believed rose up, saying, “It is necessary to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses.“ Acts 15:4-5
This is exactly what I was saying in the beginning of this series on baptism; the two schools of the Pharisees were teaching that a new Ger had 3 requirements (circumcision, baptism, and to offer sacrifice).
Minimum Requirements For A New Ger In Yehovah’s Kingdom
Well, there was much dispute over this issue, even in Jerusalem. But finally James, the brother of Yeshua and the head of the Ecclesia (the called-out ones) in Jerusalem, stood up and spoke some wonderful words of wisdom. Here is what he said,
“Yehovah makes these things known from of old. Therefore I judge that we should not trouble those from among the Gentiles who are turning to Elohim, but that we write to them to abstain from things polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.” (Acts 15:18-21)
So the minimum requirements for those new “Gerim” who are just coming into the faith that Yeshua lived and taught are; that they should abstain from …
- things polluted by idols
- sexual immorality
- things strangled
So don’t we have to ask ourselves why did James and the council pick these four things? Really five things, but we will discuss the fifth and last one later.
Most people will never understand this passage in Acts properly because they have decided that Yehovah’s instructions for His people are irrelevant for today’s superior, modern man and because they believe that, contrary to scripture, Yehovah does change and His word does not endure forever.
So let’s look for where these four items as they are addressed in Torah.
They shall no more offer their sacrifices to demons, after whom they have played the harlot. This shall be a statute forever for them throughout their generations.” Also you shall say to them: ‘Whatever man of the house of Israel [talking of the Ezrach], or of the strangers (gerim, plural of Ger) who dwell among you, who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice, and does not bring it to the door of the tabernacle of meeting, to offer it to Yehovah, that man shall be cut off from among his people. (Lev 17:7-9)
Eating meat sacrificed to idols would get a man kicked out of Israel just as he joined them. Oh my, if you eat meat that you (I’m talking to men), your friend or you family member has not slaughtered to only Yehovah’s instructions, YOU ARE eating “meat sacrificed to Idols” and you can not remain among Yehovah’s people. This link will help you understand how important this is. Foe a Ger or and Ezrach (not a Gentile) living according to Leviticus 11 and ignoring Leviticus 17 is suicide by ignorance. This is why it is the 1st of the minimum requirements.
But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before Israel’s seed, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality. (Rev 2:14)
Isn’t that a nice segue into the next item? Balaam knew these practices would destroy Israel.
- Abstain from sexual immorality
The entirety of Leviticus 18 lists many sexual sins that, if a man does, gets him kicked out of Israel and sometimes even killed. Verse 29 is the summation of them all.
For whoever commits any of these abominations, the persons who commit them shall be cut off from among their people. (Lev 18:29)
- Abstain from things strangled and from blood
And whatever man of the house of Israel [Ezrach], or of the strangers [Gerim] who dwell among you, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood, and will cut him off from among His people. (Lev 17:10)
James mentions “thing strangled” with the instructions concerning blood because if an animal is strangled the blood stays in the animal. Eating blood gets a man cut off from among His people as well.
So you see, James picked these sinful acts as the minimum requirements for a new Ger so that they would not get kicked out from among Israel just as they were joining themselves (and their families) to them. What a wonderful man of Elohim James was to be able to demonstrate his wisdom and understanding with such a wise decision.
But there is one more item that James mentioned that gets a man cut off from among his people.
- Keep the Sabbath
“Speak also to Israel’s seed [not the Gentiles], saying: ‘Surely My Sabbaths you shall keep, for it is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am Yehovah who sanctifies you. You shall keep the Sabbath, therefore, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. Exo 31:13-14
James did not forget this all important commandment when he addressed the council, and in fact included it in his decision. He said,
For Moses has had throughout many generations those who preach him in every city, being read in the synagogues every Sabbath.” Act 15:21
These dear ones, who were so new in the faith, were to begin learning Moses each Sabbath. Please notice: Keeping the Sabbath was not even an issue in the controversy – IT WAS A GIVEN! Failure to keep the Sabbath is yet another reason that a man gets kicked out of Israel.
The beginning of life on the narrow way begins with repentance, followed by immersion (flesh, heart and nephesh – thoughts and emotions) into True Israel. If we have truly repented, we will make Moses’ ways, our ways, leave our elohim in the nation of our birth and now serve only The Elohim and Creator of all things.
The decision to become a “Ger” is THE most important decision we each will ever make because it puts us in the way that leads to life. Check it out! We (true, born in the land, Israel) were each “Ger” on the earth at one time! Yehovah speaking to “Born in the Land” Israel says,
“Also you shall not oppress a Ger, for you know the heart of a Ger, because you were Gerim in the land of Egypt. (Exo 23:9)
Even the biological sons of Abraham are only “Gerim” until they, and the “Gerim” who come from other nations do one thing, … And that one thing will be discussed in the next series called the “The Stranger Becomes An Ezrach.”
Nothing has changed! Repentance from sin and turning to righteousness has always been the way to salvation.
Our journey in Way of Life begins with repentance, followed by naturalization into Yehovah’s kingdom. And the Way of Life will lead us to Passover. Yeshua said, “You must be born again!”
Now that we have a better idea of what “The Way of Life” is, what the “baptism of Repentance” is, and see that a “Ger” is a naturalized citizen of True Israel. We are now, finally, ready to talk about what Nicodemus did not understand on the night he spoke to Yeshua.
How can a man be “born again” when he is old? (John 3:4)
Here is the process by which a Ger can become as “one born in the land” or “Born Again.”