For several weeks now, I have had the subject of this blog bouncing around in my mind. I even discussed it with my teacher Pesach Sherbow, he even gave me a few more passages to examine.
Early on I knew what direction I wanted to take, but how I needed to kick start this subject did not come to me till this morning.It came to me when I was reading a book written by a hiker, ‘Wilderness’ by Scott Stillman. He and his wife is hiking/backpacking Sawtooth Wilderness, Idaho. He is describing waking up to an illuminated basin drenched in soft sunlight – after breaking camp they started hiking to some alpine lakes – then he says, “The brisk morning air has us light on our feet. I follow Valerie up the trail, thinking of others who walked here before. The one who built the trails, fought for wilderness destination, and dedicated their lives to the protection of this land, so future generations can also experience this magic. Unspoiled beauty like this remains rare and sacred.”
When I read what Scott had written, it brought back to mind an old poem that I had studied in high school by Robert Frost, ‘The Road Not Taken’. Below is the last passage of the poem that spoke volumes to me about walking the Noahide path.
“I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.” Robert Frost
Returning or Turning to God
The subject of returning or turning to God came back to me when I had begun to reread the small booklet ‘Out Pouring Of The Soul’ – a booklet on prayer by Rabbi Nachman of Breslov. It opens with the subject of ‘Psalms and Repentance’. He begins his discourse about returning to God and quotes a passage from Malachi.
Just two paragraphs into the book and I saw an issue that needed to be brought up to my Noahide brothers that had come out of Christianity like I had. Christian theology had tainted our understanding of our connecting to God.
There has been a nagging question in the back of my mind for years, even when I was a preacher I wondered about it, “How can someone return to somewhere they had never been?”
It was one of those questions I had shelved until a few weeks ago.
In the booklet I was reading Rabbi Nachman of Breslov quoted the verse:
“Return to Me and I will return to you…”
I had heard many preachers quote this passage throughout the years in pertaining to repentance.
One of the things you learn from proper Torah learning is, that if you are of the nations the Hebrew Scriptures is not speaking to you, you are not the subject, Israel is; I heard a rabbi say that when he read the Hebrew Scripture, he was reading about his family – Moses was his uncle.
Most likely there is only about one percent or even less that is even applicable to the non-Jew. It is applicable but not ours – the text is not given to us to own – it belongs to Israel like the US Constitution belongs to the citizens of the USA.
“He proclaims His word to Jacob, His statutes and His judgments to Israel. He has not done so for any other nation, such judgments – they know them not.
By deduction this verse alone tells us that if you are not of Israel then you cannot ‘return to God’ and His Torah for He has not been the same way with any other nation as He was with Israel. They are the ones in whom He gave His Torah to.
We of the nations ‘turn’ to or ‘come’ to God – but we do not ‘return’ to Him.
Take a look at these passages that tell us what the nations are to do.
“Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God and there is no other.”
“Behold, You will summon a nation that You had not known, and a nation that had not known You shall run to You;”
“All nations whom You have made shall come and prostrate themselves before You, O Lord; and they shall glorify Your name.
At this point in time as it has been in times past there is a drawing of individuals from among the nations to turn to the God of Israel and say yes to the Torah for the nations. We have not returned for we knew Him not – we are turning to Him and learning who He is and what His desire is for us. Zechariah 8:23 is about those of the nations that are ‘turning’ not returning.
My teacher put it like this, “Israel has a covenant with God in which they strayed from, so they are returning to God and the covenant. The nations are told to turn and come to God, it is not a return but a turning from other gods to the One God of Israel.” Pesach Sherbow
In my humble opinion as Israel returns back to God and their covenant – like a tow line, the nations begins their turning process. In essence, like a magnet, their returning draws us to turn
Throughout history there are remnants of individuals among the nations that have turned to God and His instructions for the nations found in the first 9 chapters of Genesis. They carved a path that has been less traveled over time. Like them, many of us are slowly turning to God and His Torah for the nations and have taken the path less traveled – but in time, whole nations will come running to Him – Halleluyah!
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
Terry W. Hayes
Photo Credit: Andrew Welch on Unsplash