I am involved with several online Noahide groups. One of the common issues that is brought up, almost on a weekly basis is the subject of loneliness. Many that leave the world’s religions experience this.
This particular subject is what makes Judaism attractive. Judaism offers rituals, ceremony and community that most folks are used to having in their past religions.
For most folks, the Noahide lifestyle is like a diet instead of a life change – you see in a diet you cut out foods that do not help you work toward your desired weight. The reason most diets do not have a lasting effect is because it is only a temporary adjustment. But a life change is different. In a life change one may cut out a few things but it revolves around totally making some permanent changes in your life that will improve your whole life not just the eating part. When one does this, then one can slowly work toward ones desired weight goal but also work on other goals that go along with weight control. It is now not just a binge diet but lifestyle that is managed.
As I was pondering the issue of the lonely Noahide and the many but same conversations I have with other Noahide, no matter what part of the world they live in, a certain thought came to mind.
Community is a major factor in our lives, and it should be. We were created to be social beings. Matter of fact our 7 Laws are designed to be observed in a community format.
Fake food is a major part of our society, especially here in the USA. Walk in any grocery store and isle upon isle is full of it. We have potato chips of every style, processed foods and meats, candies and so on. They contribute to many of our health problems but we still implement them into our lives. They fill our hunger void and now even our bodies crave such fake foods.
False religion have created this same affect in mankind – it fills the void when we crave ritual and community. Many of us have eaten from it so long, we crave it. And when its gone its like being on that diet where you have cut something out trying to achieve control of a certain part of your life. For many Noahides they will trade one religion for another to fill the void left by cutting out the false religion.
Not a Spiritual Diet
The Noahide path is not a spiritual diet but a total life change.
Slowly cutting back fake foods, one can slowly replaces them with real foods so the body can change it cravings.
You will slowly begin to see the humanity and the world outside your window as the community in which the Creator placed you in. You will begin to find your place within the community.
The 7 Laws become a lifestyle in how you walk with the Creator and with mankind. They are not a religion to get everyone to join but they are your duty to your neighbor and Creator. We share the Laws of the Creator in the actions we preform in everyday life, no matter where we are or who we are with. They are the basic requirements the Creator wants from humanity.
Fake foods have built into us cravings, that is why they are so hard to make a change to real foods, because we feel like we are missing out on something.
False religions have done the exact same thing as fake foods, they may fill a void but there is very little nutritional value. False religions have gives many a false sense of security, spiritual knowledge and community; filling a void with substance that has very little nutritional value. Within many false religions they cause you to look at your neighbor in the wrong way. If your neighbor does not believe or act as you then they are lost or going to some kind of eternal punishment. Your community is filled with like-minded people and it become the box you exist in.
The 7 Noahide Laws opens the whole world for us. With the 7 Laws as a lifestyle and not just a diet, the world becomes less segregated, no more us and them mentality.
The Creator gave us two great examples in the Torah/instruction of Genesis.
The first is Genesis 6 & 7
Noah was a righteous man and Noah did according to everything God commanded him. And his family joined him in the ark.
The second is in Genesis 18
From this chapter we learn about one of Abraham’s customs in serving those who came to his tent. His hospitality was know to many.
Abraham taught his children and household the way of God, doing charity and justice.
In the first example we find Noah among everyone else to be the most righteous for the job of saving humanity. He walked with God and did everything he was told to do. Noah’s family was never recorded as being righteous but because they where his family they were saved along with him.
Then we get to the story of Abraham, who had rejected the idols and idol worship of his father and community. Abraham was to become a father of many nations one in particular was Israel.
Abraham was told to leave his family and land and follow God and he would be shown the land that his decedents would be given through the promise God made to Abraham.
But along the way Abraham would teach his children, household and others the ways of God. He was known to be a hospitable man to everyone. Sitting at the door of his tent waiting for people who may pass by to share the goodness and kindness of the Creator with.
What do we learn from these two examples?
We find these two never getting involved with community false religions. We see these two showing those around them the ways of God. At some point they may have felt lonely in their lives but they recognized all the people around them as part of their humanity.
The 7 Laws, they open up oneself to the rest of humanity and teaches one how to interact with everyone regardless of nationality, race and so on. The 7 laws are designed to teach you how to be a proper human.
I awoke this morning pondering this subject again..
As I pondered this and what I know of the Hebrew Scriptures and the 7 Laws. I came to this conclusion at this time.
For one, we do not have in our 7 Laws. the law to congregate, but we do not have in there not to congregate as well. That is a grey area that has to be dealt with kids gloves, so to speak.
Most of our loneliness feelings we experience come from vacating false religious services. Its part of the baggage we carry over with us. To my present knowledge there is no mentioning of righteous gentiles congregating outside a visit to the Temple. All of the examples I can think of within the Hebrew Scriptures, is that the congregating of gentiles is for religious purposes, which involve false religious beliefs.
Its not until the formation of the nation of Israel that religious rites, ceremonies and festivals are given. Then thousands of years later the Roman created Christian scriptures has a commandment to assemble. But this commandment was not a direct commandment from the Creator. This command that is found in the Christian Scriptures has created within the system a dependency upon the religious system.
What we as Noahides needs more than some kind of replacement worship service is study halls to come and congregate, study and discuss the Laws of the Creator He has given us. Then we go out and get active in the communities we live in.
In closing, lets take a closer look at the prayer of dedication of the first Temple by king Solomon. From it I think we can glean a few things for the time we are in.
2 Chronicles 6:32 – 33
Moreover concerning the stranger, that is not of Your people Israel, when he shall come out of a far country for Your great name’s sake, and Your mighty hand, and Your outstretched arm; when they shall come and pray toward this house; then hear You from heaven, even from Your dwelling-place, and do according to all that the stranger calls to You for; that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name, and fear You, as does Thy people Israel…
Now, what I write below are my own thoughts of what I get from this passage and how I would apply it today.
First it is speaking to us gentiles who are not Jewish to the best of our knowledge. Then it is not speaking to every gentile, only those who have accepted that the God of Israel is the only God and Creator, “when he shall come out of a far country for Thy great name’s sake,”
Today while at work I pondered on this first part of the passage, and what I saw it saying. “When he shall come out of a far country…” It is obvious here the God of Israel is not found in the ways or culture of their native country. It took coming to Israel to find the real Creator. Almost like what is mentioned in Zechariah 8:23,
“Thus saith the LORD of hosts: In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold, out of all the languages of the nations, shall even take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying: We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”
It is obvious that some gentiles understand that there is a connection with the issue to truly hear from God one needs some form of attachment to Israel.
At least from the time of the first Temple in Jerusalem we find that those who truly seek the God of Israel comes to Israel to or at least the Jewish people to help us connect to the Creator.
Now, some translations says “when they come and pray in the Temple”; today it is not even possible for a Jew to pray in the Temple but what they do is wherever they are in the world they face the Holy City of Jerusalem when they pray. We could follow this example and for specific prayers I do my best to face the Holy City.
In this prayer of Solomon, he asked God to hear our prayers and answer them so that the people of the earth may know and fear the Creator as in the same way that Israel does. For this to happen I see that we take back to our nations what we learn of God and proper gentile service to Him.
Look at this passage – not every gentile is going to the Temple but yet every gentile sees the answers of the prayers of the gentile whose God is the God of Israel and through this they will become to know the real God as Israel does.
It takes getting involved with the people of the community you live in for this to happen. When the other gentiles around your life sees and hears of the wonders of the God of Israel in your life they will begin their own journey toward the Great King and leave their false religions – They will leave their far country (false religions and ideas) for the Name Sake of the God of Israel.
For those who were involved in their past religions, loneliness can engulf you when you leave to follow the Creator in the way He has ordained humanity to serve Him. Our past religions gives us a false sense of security and belonging.
How can we know that its all a false sense of belonging? One of the tell-tell signs is how you are treated when those of the religion finds out you no longer believe as they do. I have had people that I have known for years, eaten in their house and prayed with them, to only turn their backs and walk away because I chose not to believe as them. My friendship with them was based on the principle that we believed the same.
So I ask, how much community is their really in a false religious system? Maybe our view of the community we once had was smoke and mirrors.
Yes, there are times when it feels lonely as you journey down the path toward the Creator. But know that He is also designing a whole new community for you, one with real lasting substance without fake ingredients.
Terry W. Hayes – ben Noach
Photo Credit: Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash
I dedicate this blog to my friend Shannon of the UK who inspired me through our conversation.