The answer to that question depends on two factors: who your mother is; and if you want to become Jewish. I’ll tell you what I mean a little later. Let me just describe where you may be after having left christianity or if you ever consider leaving it.
The road out of Edom
So let’s imagine that you’re just at the place where you acknowledge that Jesus was not the promised anointed Davidic king, the “Messiah”. Any claim of his divinity has faded away. Hopefully you come to the understanding that God the Creator still must exist and, just as the new testament can be cut from the “old testament” like a foreign appendage, the belief in Jesus is gone but God is still intact!
If you have managed to deflect or kick to pieces the fundamentally flawed arguments of atheists (include agnostics in with that group), deists and secularists who steal from the Torah-theistic worldview to attempt to refute it, using absolutes and imposing objective logic and morals that their worldviews can’t account for, then you will still have two important things: God and the “old testament.” But now the name “old testament” should feel odd since there is no “newer” testament to replace or supersede it. So it’s just “the Jewish/Hebrew Scriptures.”
But the question remains: how do I live before this God? What does He require of me? At this point, it depends on who your mother is and what you wanna do. I’ll tell you what I mean.
The more obvious: the way of the covenant Jew
If your mother is Jewish, then you can return to your identity from birth and ancient heritage, and embrace Judaism. If you are a non-Jew but worshipping and serving God as a Jew compels you with great conviction then, once again, consider embracing Judaism fully, go to an Orthodox rabbi, be very earnest and consistent in that desire for the right reasons, and request to study and convert to become Jewish. For non-Jews, I recommend you research further and discover all the ramifications before making that decision. There’s information for the non-Jew further below.
Now here I speak for myself. What follows are my conclusions. You can ask James Wood, the author of “Leaving Jesus,” for his if you want.
I would strongly advise those who wish to embrace Judaism fully to choose Orthodox Judaism. I would ask you to leave those teachings and preconceptions about rabbis, Pharisees, and the oral law/traditions and actually learn about Orthodox Judaism from Orthodox Jews themselves, as opposed to holding onto distorted opinions given by their enemies, which includes the new testament and many christians.
If you have any misgivings about the Jewish Oral Law, then let me share a few things with you. I left christianity at Passover in 2003. I continued to hold to the Jewish Bible “by itself” (or so I thought) for 5 years after that. I was able to write a 120-page article, going through all the passages and many arguments for the oral tradition, and apparently refuting them. But then a kind-hearted Jew, Dr. Michael Schulman (Director of asknoah.org), asked me to take another look. After I did, I realised where I went wrong. At the bottom of this page, I’ll share links to my article and video series about this, and you’ll see reasons why I now accept the oral tradition of Orthodox Judaism. You can skip to there if you want, but if you are a non-Jew, I believe it’s still important for you to read the rest of this article.
If you are serious about God’s word/Torah, I would not recommend Reform or Conservative “judaism” due to the way they compromise Torah teachings with humanistic/atheistic dogmas. I wouldn’t recommend Karaite Judaism because they reject the oral tradition and thus only have a weak link, if any, to the Torah that Moses instructed at Sinai. See my video series or article below for my reasons for saying that.
Here are a few links if you want more info:
The less obvious: The Path of the Righteous Gentile
Now if you are a Gentile, then realise that according to Torah, God gave all of humanity, all the descendants of Noah, basic commandments and responsibilities. We, as non-Jews, do have a “Old Testament” covenant with God. Please leave behind the false notion that was taught by Paul and the church that before Jesus only Israel had a possibility at a relationship with God, that you had to become an Israelite, a Jew, to have such an opportunity, that as Gentiles we were just outsiders, without covenant and without God. These false christian concepts stop us non-Jews from realising that God has a continuing purpose and a reason for all His creations, all humanity, alongside Israelites/Jews.
According to Judaism – and there is evidence of this in scripture – 7 commandments were given to the descendants of Noah. These 7 aren’t just 7 crude statements that you can interpret at will, but rather they are 7 categories of laws that have details and extensions and offshoots. By doing these commandments, individuals and nations can live lives acceptable and spiritually meaningful to God. It is by observing these commandments because they were commanded by God through Moses at Mt. Sinai that gives a gentile entrance into the World to Come and the future resurrection of the dead.
These 7 general commands are:
- No avodah zarah (roughly translated “idolatry”)
- No blasphemy
- No murder
- No theft
- No sexual crimes (as defined in the Book of Genesis)
- No eating the limb of a living animal
- No injustice (sometimes called the obligation to set up courts of justice or to set up a correct governmental system)
There is a lot to these laws if it is studied out. But these laws are meant to be both for the individual and a community as seen by the last law. Although there is a reward given, it isn’t just about individual “salvation” but rather also about bettering yourself and the community. Ideally, these are meant to be the foundation of divinely-inspired “civil” law in non-Jewish countries.
Because the Jewish People have a special covenant (and part of the purpose of that covenant was to always safeguard the knowledge of these “Noahide Laws”), they are set apart as having additional commandments of their own in order to ensure their unique holiness and their task of being a “light to the nations”. In the Messianic Era, when the spirit of evil will be removed from the earth, the Torah of Moses will provide the Jewish commandments as the “law of the land” for the Jews, and the Seven Laws of Noah (Sheva Mitvos bnei Noach) as the “law of the land” for us non-Jews.
A main purpose of the Noahide Laws is that they should create a civilised society based on righteousness and equality, devoid of the subjectivism/relativism and baselessness of our current secular-humanist morality and politicised legal system. Because of their aspect of as commandments, there are also levels of obedience to these laws. Fundamentally, the seven prohibitions should be kept foundationally, even if only just out of intellectual conviction. People who keep these law based on their own intellectual conviction alone (without connecting them with God’s will) may not be entitled to the “spiritual” reward, but at least they help to make the world a better place, they do not transgress the foundations commandments, are in a better place to at least be receptive to a better knowledge of God, and still get reward from God for the good works they do. The more that people actually study and observe the Torah’s details of the Noahide Laws and devote themselves to fulfilling the will of the Supreme God and pursue the positive behaviours implied by and derived from the laws, the better they become, and they obtain the guarantee of reward not only in this life but in the future world to come. If such persons choose to, they can optionally choose to keep any of the Jewish commandments which provide ensuing practical benefits for themselves or for the society at large, but not out of some mistaken believe that God commanded it to us non-Jews. But it should be understood that because gentiles are also supposed to follow all the obligations that are incumbent rationally as befits a person who is created in the image of God, there are many laws to learn and keep before keeping additional Jewish ones. The study of the obligations that spring from us being in God’s image includes the obligation to respect our parents and to give charity, although these laws do also spring from the positive obligations the seven laws.
Because these laws are a way for a gentile to live in obedience to God, there is no obligation for a gentile to become Jewish. Of course, because the Jews have a bigger responsibility and a higher level of expectation from them as seen by the Law of Moses, they get a bigger reward. But every human, Jew and non-Jew, can have a relationship with God. Although non-Jews are not overtly commanded to, there is still a logical/moral obligation to pray to God and trust in Him because He created us and sustains each one of us and the universe every moment. By keeping the Seven Laws, a non-Jew can find great fulfillment. Personally, I stay away from the word “religious” due to its ambiguity, but a person may wonder where all the religious laws are in the seven Laws. Where is the command to pray or to worship God? Where are the festival days and holidays? But the Seven Laws are meant to provide the bedrock to produce a productive and civilised society; they are the foundation. If non-Jews choose to do all the “religious” stuff that applies to them and have regular religious study meetings and/or prayer services, they are free to, and it may even be good to. But these are additional aspects that enhance a person’s relationship with God, whereas the Noahide Laws provide the basis for such activities. And the door is open for people to consider becoming Jewish if they want those many additional commandments. And many of the Jewish holidays have universal lessons to them which can be incorporated into the life of an individual or nation upon further study.
Beware of those anti-Semites who put across the foolish notion that these Seven Noahide Laws are an attempt by the rabbis to control the world. Although the people of Israel are custodians of the God’s Law and can teach it, when it comes to the actual implementation of law and the government of countries based on that law, once the nations are educated enough in the details and the guiding principles, they can govern their own countries based upon it. These laws will be the laws of the nations in the Messianic Age.
Here are some helpful links that should be helpful in showing a non-Jew just how valuable they are just as non-Jews
Again, I will leave links to my video series about the Noahide laws at the bottom of this article. Upon request I will give links out to my own article series under the understanding that I wrote this before I accepted the oral tradition and thus has errors in it, but the article is very useful in showing that there is lots of evidence in the Jewish Bible of God’s expectation of non-Jews.
A way for everyone
No matter who you are, whether Jew or Gentile, there is a way for everyone to have a relationship with God. Just because you’ve left christianity, it doesn’t mean you are alone or you now are in uncertain territory. Follow God’s way for you. It may not be easy, but you don’t measure truth by how easy it is. If it’s the truth, then you’re closer to God, and if there is one thing you can know about God then it is that He is good.
Coming to a Realization of the Oral Torah – my article on how I came to accept the Oral Torah.
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL0EB348AA8DCB0F52 – Why I accepted the Oral Law (the link that starts this line goes to the whole playlist/series of videos; but the video embedded below is just the first part of the series)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WGa6gieSWYQ – 7 laws of Noah
http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL36053F1762B2D091 – The Rabbis Answer Series (where rabbis show the importance and scope of the Noahide laws) (the link that starts this line goes to the whole playlist/series of videos; but the video embedded below is just the first part of the series)