Jereboam, son of Nebat was the man who split the kingdom of Israel away from the kingdom of Judah. God was in the separation, he said he was. God even came to Jereboam and told him if he would keep the ways of Torah, he would establish his dynasty. To be fair, Jereboam did this after a fashion. He established the Torah as the religion of Israel. He built two temples, in Dan and Bethel. He made them similar to the Temple in Jerusalem, with a few “modifications.” The first issue, was that he said anyone could be a Kohain, a priest; doing away with the requirement to be a descendant of Aaron, or even the need for someone to be a Levite. In our egalitarian society, that would not seem to be a big deal, but since it was a command of God, to Him it was a big deal.
Secondly, because he was afraid if people went to Jerusalem to worship God, they might be tempted to reunite with Judah’s kingdom, so he built the two aforementioned temples, doing away with the need for going to Jerusalem. This violated the command in Deuteronomy that stated that when Israel came to worship God, they needed to go to the one place God would choose in one of their tribes. This too would be acceptable to us in our day and age because we like to stay local if possible.
The third problem was the way the temples were set up. They had altars for sacrifice just like in Jerusalem, but instead of the Ark of the Covenant, they had golden cows made, which they claimed symbolized the God of Israel. They were able to say they didn’t worship foreign gods, and were worshipping the one true God of Israel, but considering the incident with the golden calf at Sinai, they should have realized it was a problem. Maybe they rationalized it away. Maybe they felt because Jews used it for worship, it was acceptable. In any case, it was not. God called their worship an abomination for the above reasons, and He never accepted it as credible, acceptable worship. They followed the Torah, but in their own way.
Eventually, the northern tribes were taken into captivity, and the king of Assyria moved other people groups into Israel to populate the area. The scripture says God sent wild animals among them because of their pagan idolatry, so the complained to the king who sent priests from among Israel’s captives back to the land to teach the Torah to its new inhabitants. They were not Jews, and followed the Torah after a fashion, but they modified it in several ways to fit what they were doing. These people became the Samaritans. They were not physical descendants of Jacob, yet they took on the identity of Israel because thats where they lived. When Yeshua dialogued with the Samaritan woman, he said, “You worship what you don’t know, we worship what we know, for salvation is of the Jews.” He affirmed the Jewish legitimacy and did not affirm Samaritan identity or religion.
There are many today who claim to follow the Torah, but they do it when and how its convenient, and they do it in a way that suits their lifestyle or their theological proclivities. They tie their tzitzit to their belt loops, they use the Sacred Name as if it were common, they blow shofars any time the mood hits them, and in other ways, make things up as they go along. I’ve met people who claim to be from Israel’s tribes, even meeting a woman who claimed to be a “Levite Princess.” The problem is that it lacks legitimacy. They are not lost tribes of Israel, and they are really not following the Torah. I do believe a Messianic Gentile can rightly follow the Torah, but not anyway they choose. They need to go to Jerusalem, not Samaria to worship rightly. When I look at their claims, I see Samaritan written all over them. If it were only that, I could ignore it and take a live and let live approach, even though I believe their worship is wrong. Its true that Rabbinic religion developed later, and today is not a Temple-based religion, everything in it recalls the Temple service, and Yeshua did say that whatever the Scribes and Pharisees tell you to do, do it, for they sit in the seat of Moses.
The problem is far worse than religious disagreement. The Scripture teach that when Nehemiah brought the exiles home from captivity, they set about to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem. It was a hard and dangerous task. As they worked, the Samaritans came and accused them, and threatened them, that they might lose heart and give up their task. They became opposers to the work of rebuilding the Jewish state. Many of us are working hard to rebuild Messianic Judaism; that it might be what it was, which is part of the Jewish world. The churches look at us askance or as a curiosity, but do little to help. Our biggest problem comes from the Samaritans. They accuse us and oppose us because we are not affirming the rightness of their endeavor. They seek to ensnare us with side issues and bog us down with their doctrines and practices, and when we try to instruct them, they feel rejected and oppose us. As the Samaritans rejected the calling and authority of Nehemiah, so do the modern day Samaritans reject the authority and importance of Messianic Judaism. Nevertheless, we are entrusted with rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. Our God is with us, and it will be built. There is room for Messianic Gentiles to come along with us, but not Samaritans.