Both Judaism and Christianity typically teach that God’s 613 commands are exclusively for Jews to obey while Gentiles are only obligated to obey general moral laws such as the “Seven Noahide Laws”. For those unfamiliar with the 7 Noahide Laws, they are as follows:
1) Don’t worship any other god, but the One True Living God (no idols);
2) Don’t curse God;
3) Don’t commit murder/bloodshed;
4) Don’t steal;
5) Don’t commit sexual immorality;
6) Establish a judicial system;
7) Don’t eat the limb/flesh of a living animal.
Some of these principles are established by Noah as instructions to his sons after the family and animals exited the ark upon being the sole survivors of the great flood in Genesis 9 while other alleged laws are assumed. In this chapter of the Bible thought to be the basis for the Noahide Laws, Noah urges his sons and their wives to be fruitful and multiply (Gen. 9:1,7) as did God to Adam and Eve; Noah also informed his sons that the animals, the birds, and fish would be fearful of man, but man has dominion over them all (vs. 2); they can’t eat meat rare (with blood in it – vs. 3); and, lastly, they can’t murder or cause blood to be shed (vs. 5-6). If we were to go strictly by Genesis 9 alone, then, technically, these four commands would be the Noahide Laws. The Jewish sages expanded on them some to establish the seven, and various sects of Christianity have their own set of laws as well.
It is my position that neither these 4 commands found in Genesis 9, or the Jewish tradition of Gentiles just obeying the seven Noahide laws, nor the typical Christian interpretation of just moral laws, or even the 10 commandments, are the only commands a Gentile ought to obey. Rather, my position is both Gentile and Jew ought to obey all of God’s commands as they apply to them individually (i.e. men cannot obey commands for women and vice-versa, or common people can’t obey the commands specifically for the Levite priests, etc.) and one ought to obey God’s commands, not suggestions, to the best of their ability and understanding out of their love for God. If one devotes their time to find excuses or develops arguments against obeying God’s commands, therein reveals much, namely one’s heart and alleged reverence for God and His authority in their life.
Let us look at a few examples of Gentiles obeying what many would consider exclusive Jewish laws or laws not listed in the Seven Noahide Laws.
First, consider neither Adam, Eve, their sons, or even Noah were Jewish for the tribes of Israel and therefore, the tribe of Judah, had not existed at this point in the Genesis story and yet, God evidently commanded or, at the very least, welcomed the first family to offer sacrifices to Him. Hence, the first case of domestic violence and homicide, sadly, as Cain was jealous over Abel’s sacrifice (Genesis 4). Second, notice Noah understood the importance of sacrifices as he too offered sacrifices as soon as the flood was over (Genesis 8:20-22). Noah also made sure there were clean and unclean animals on the ark presumably for the purpose of making sacrifices and food (Genesis 7:2,8), instructions not yet documented until much later (Leviticus 1-7, 11). Likewise, many years post-flood, Abraham, who also was not technically Jewish, fashioned an altar to worship God (Genesis 12:7; 13:4,18); although the text does not specifically say he also offered sacrifices, it is inferred. Later, when Abraham’s son, Isaac, was older, God tested Abraham’s devotion to God by instructing him to, you could say, lay his idol down as Abraham set out to sacrifice his son as a burnt offering on an altar. Abraham trusted God would provide a better alternative while demonstrating he loved God even more than his miracle-baby. Consequently, God indeed had a better plan and provided a clean animal instead of Isaac (see Genesis 22). Again, all of this took place well before Jews and Judaism existed or God’s commands were documented by Moses.
As another example of Gentiles making sacrifices, in the future, after God physically rescues, regathers, and resurrects the scattered tribes of Israel and reigns on Earth (Zechariah 9-14), the surviving Gentile nations will be required to participate in making sacrifices for the Feast of Tabernacles, or Sukkot in Hebrew, according to Zechariah 14:16-21. Did you catch that? It will be required of Gentiles by God Himself to sacrifice in the future. With that said, is the command to sacrifice as a form of worshiping God exclusively to just Jews, or has God demonstrated throughout various Gentiles of the past and foretells Gentiles will be sacrificing to God in addition to Jews? Are sacrifices to God one of the Seven Noahide Laws?
Sabbath and Other Holy Days
In the previous segment about sacrifices, we briefly explored the Feasts of Tabernacles, a Feast of the LORD, and how it will be celebrated in the World-To-Come, or upon God creating the New Heavens and New Earth. In the last few verses of Isaiah 66, we also see the seventh-day Sabbath, new moon celebrations, and other holy holidays will be observed by “all flesh”, meaning all mankind. The Prophet Ezekiel also predicts during that era God’s Sabbaths and Feasts are obeyed as well as sacrifices (see Ezekiel 43-44). Also, read Isaiah 56. Notice the Gentiles who choose to align themselves with God’s chosen way and chosen ones are considered “better than sons and daughters”, meaning better than those born as Jews. The Gentiles who enjoin themselves with God’s holy covenant as Caleb and Ruth did are also brought to Mt. Zion one fine day to come according to Isaiah 56. With that said, are Feasts of the LORD, the Sabbath, and other appointed times, listed in the Seven Noahide Laws?
Fasting is another command not found in the Seven Noahide Laws and yet the Prophet Jonah instructs the Gentiles of Nineveh to fast as a means to demonstrate their repentance. Fasting is a central part of the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur), one of God’s Holy Days found in Leviticus 23, and all about repentance.
Technically, lying is not one of the Seven Noahide Laws either, but according to Nahum 3:1, the Ninevites (see Nahum 1:1), the ones who fasted and repented as mentioned above, were sinning by lying. In other words, lying was one of the offenses that caused God to send a prophet announcing God’s disapproval with their behavior and their need to repent to be spared from God’s wrath.
Likewise, sorcery was another command the Ninevites evidently violated, according to Nahum 3:4, and yet, is not listed in the Seven-To-Heaven list, or list that deems a Gentile righteous if obeyed according to the traditions of Judaism. Sorcery isn’t even in the man-made summary of the Top 10 Commandments and yet clearly, a no-no, for both Jew and Gentile (Micah 5:11-14).
Unclean Food: No Bacon For You!
The vague translations of Genesis 9 make it sound like Noah’s sons can eat anything, but just the fact that Noah brings both unclean and clean animals on board the ark indicates otherwise. Moreover, it’s clear God prefers people to be vegetarians initially (see Genesis 1), but then upon sin entering the world, God allows for animals to be shed as a resource to humans for clothing, food, and a form of worship. God specifically documents what is food and not food in both Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. Furthermore, In Isaiah 65 and Zechariah 9:6-7, these passages describe a time not manifested yet (even still), a time just prior to the New Heavens and New Earth, a new way of life, being created (see Isaiah 66/Zechariah 14), and yet right up until the New Earth and New Covenant are established God still will witness and be angered by people eating abominations. Additionally, for Christians, consider this: The Book of Revelation 18:2 allegedly predicts a future event where the author describes unclean birds as being apart of this event. Just the fact that the Christian author distinguishes these birds as unclean infers the early Christians understood there is a difference between clean and unclean creatures to be eaten and not eaten – even after the cross. Read Isaiah 65:3-7 and 66:3-4, 15-18 the chapters leading up to God reigning on Earth. Still think Gentiles can eat whatever they want?
Clearly, God reveals throughout various Scriptures, albeit after carefully studying, that the Seven Noahide Laws are not the best, exclusive description of commands God expects people to obey. Moreover, consider the simple fact that Jews are “chosen” to be the light to the nations (Isaiah 42:6; 49:6) designed to teach the light, being Torah or God’s commands, to the deceived world (Proverbs 6:23; Psalm 119:18,105-106; Ezekiel 44:23-24; Jeremiah 16:19; Zechariah 8) as will God one fine day when He rules and reigns on Earth (Isaiah 2:2-4; Micah 4:1-5; Zechariah 14). In those days, everyone will know who God is and what He expects (Jeremiah 31) – it will be a time when the whole new world, will “learn righteousness” (Isaiah 26:8-10) meaning Torah, God’s definition of light, His instructions on how to be the light, life, and love.
In conclusion, it seems apparent to me if certain commands were observed by Gentiles before the tribes of Israel were even established and will be observed by the world after all the tribes of Israel are reunited and re-established in the future, then obviously, they are neither done away with, as Christianity teaches, nor exclusive to just Jews, as Judaism teaches. Therefore, I do not believe the 7 Noahide Laws are the only commands Gentiles should obey, but rather, it could be a good place to start.