What is Messianic Judaism?
Messianic Judaism is the oldest and yet youngest "Christian" movement. The disciples, all of which were Jewish were the first Messianic congregation. However, Messianic Judaism began to fade out within the first hundred years after Christ. By the fifth century to the 18th century it had all but disappeared, but it began to have a resurgence in the late 1800s. Worldwide, estimates of Jewish conversions to Christianity approximated 250,000 during the 1800s, including such notables as British Prime Minister Disraeli, Old Testament commentary writers Franz Delitzsch and David Baron, and the first Anglican Bishop of Jerusalem, Michael Solomon Alexander. This resurgence occurred when Jewish believers began to look at the Scriptures and realize that the Gentile Christian Church had omitted the Jewishness of God's Word. They began to question what had happened to the New Testament. Here was a Book written by Jews about Jews and about The King of the Jews yet the teachings they were hearing had nothing Jewish in them. It had seemed to these Messianics that everything Judaic had been removed from the Brit Hadasha (New Testament) and thoughts and beliefs concerning it were sounding foreign and even pagan to them. They were right!
Today we Messianics are trying to return the Jewishness to the Scriptures. It's a long hard road we have ahead of us. Your average Christian would be shocked at where most of their fundamental beliefs come from including some of their most beloved holidays such as Christmas and Easter. They would be mortified to find out that these holidays, in particular, do not come from Christianity but rather from pagan religions. I'll get more into those details as I post more pages to this website.
So what does it mean to bring back the Jewishness to the New Testament? What it means is that we have to show and have understood what the roots are of the Christian faith. In other words we have to get back to the basics. Many times you'll hear that Jesus is our perfect example, that we should be like He was when He was here on earth. He was a man and He faced the same temptations as we do and conquered them, so He is our model. Now if this is really true, and it is, then maybe we should take a look at what He did while He was here.
One thing that Jesus (from here on I will call Jesus by His given Hebrew name "Yeshua". My name is Stanley, my name is pronounced different in some other languages but Stanley is how my mother pronounced it when I was born so that is it's correct pronunciation and nothing different) did was He kept kosher. Yeshua also went to Temple, kept the oral and written Jewish laws, one of which was keeping the Sabbath (Shabbat in Hebrew). Some of these laws included keeping His head covered and wearing phylacteries and Tzitzi (fringes). Not only Yeshua did this, but His first disciples did as well. Now none of these things, which I've just written He did, is disputable. Where the difference comes in is if we have to do these things now.
What we don't do:
Judaizing. Many Messianics, including myself, have been accused of Judaizing. Before people label us, they should at least know what it is they are calling us. Many of these people think a Judaizer is someone who tells Christians to be more Jewish. This is incorrect. Judaizing means requiring gentiles to live or behave like Jews (see Galatians 2:15). Here's what the heresy is in this- it is saying that a Gentile could only be saved by becoming Jewish. There is nothing wrong in telling Messianic Jews to live like Messianic Jews. Sha'ul (Paul) believed in circumcision and keeping the Torah. He had Timothy circumcised (Acts 16:3). We see in Acts 21:17-27 that he followed the Law and we also find out that the first church was saying which laws the Gentile believers had to follow as well. So Messianic Jews do not Judaize.
What we do:
Keeping Kosher: This is one of the biggest things that I have come across in the Christian world, which creates a problem. Immediately I am reminded by leaders in the Church of the vision, which Peter had before the arrival of Cornelius. Peter (Kefa is Peter's given Hebrew name) had a vision, where all kinds of animals considered unclean by God, were shown to him spread out on a sheet. He was then told by God not to call anything unclean which God had called clean. Early Church Fathers decided that this verse was saying that Christians could eat whatever they wish because God had told Peter to eat these foods. This is not what God was telling Kefa to do! (Please read or reread this story now in Acts 10:9-17, 28). Here's one of a multitude of places where we need to understand Judaism. In Judaism during the time of Yeshua, a Jew was not allowed to go into the house of a Gentile. There was good reason for that. Many Gentiles at that time were involved in pagan rituals. They would have no qualms about eating animals sacrificed to their pagan gods. The Torah (The first five books in the Bible) explicitly forbids anyone one who follows Yehova (God) to eat from these sacrifices. This among other things is why a Jew would not enter a Gentiles house. A Jew wouldn't know if the dinner he/she was served could be causing him/her to break a law of God. Some think, "Well why wouldn't one just ask if this food was kosher or not?" The answer was because the pagan hosts could lie. They didn't have the same moral code as the Jews did and they couldn't be trusted. So no Jew would enter a Gentiles house. Now Cornelius was a righteous man but not a Jew. He wanted to know more about God and he sent for Kefa. If Cornelius's men had come and asked Kefa to accompany them into the house of Cornelius. Kefa would have refused. So God gave him this vision. God was telling Peter not to call Gentile believers unclean. By the time Cornelius's men came to Kefa, Kefa was ready! He then went and visited with Cornelius, as God wanted him to. Kefa makes this very clear when he says in verse 28 "God has told me not to call any man unclean or impure."
This entire passage has absolutely nothing to do with food being clean or unclean! As it says, “G-d has told me not to call any MAN unclean or impure." Not food! Read it! It goes without saying that they couldn’t break G-d’s holy dietary laws or any other laws for that matter. It’s very simple… Yeshua kept the Law and so did all the Disciples. We see Paul in Acts 18 shaving his head participating in the Nazerite vow as part of the Old Testament Law and note… this was AFTER the death and resurrection of Yeshua… AFTER!!!
This makes it clear that the Law was not to be forsaken. Yeshua himself says Matthew 5:17-19 "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18 For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. 19 Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. NKJV
What the Church has done today is abolish the Law. I’ve sat and asked many a Christian “should we follow the Law", they say "No". I reply, "but Yeshua said he didn’t come to abolish the Law". They return, “Yes he didn’t abolish it, he fulfilled it". I’ll ask again, "Did He abolish the Law?" "No", they say, "So we should keep it then?" "No it’s abolished!" they reply. GOTCHA!
Again, very simply, the Law is still in effect. G-d doesn’t change. Malechi 3:6 "For I am the LORD, I do not change... NKJV. Some will tell me… well that’s Old Testament… ok Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. NKJV
We can’t just forget the Law. We are commanded…
Malechi 4:4 "Remember the Law of Moses, My servant, Which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, With the statutes and judgments. NKJV
Time and time again in Scripture we see it says “through all generations”. It doesn’t say, “Well, only until the Messiah comes”. No, forever and ever is what it says. Keeping the Feasts is part of the Law. Churches have abanded them. Here’s what Scripture says… Exodus 12:14 G-d said, "And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and you shall keep [it] a feast to Yahweh throughout your generations; you shall keep it a feast by an ordinance forever,". What???? FOREVER????? What church keeps this? It doesn’t say till Jesus comes right? It says forever, it means forever! G-d doesn’t have a stuttering problem. He’s not dyslexic either. He says what He means and means what He says.
Messianics keep the Law. We keep kosher but we do more then that. We are instrumental in bringing back the Jewish roots of the New Testament. We’re taking the Church back to where it once was. Before paganism crept in and before just plain stupidity became a mainstay in every Sunday sermon.
Here’s an example. There’s a doctrine in many churches today called the “Prosperity Doctrine”. It short, it teaches that you must be rich to be a Christian. “If you are poor, you are in sin”. Now this is just plain stupid. Yeshua himself said
Mark 6. 7And he called unto him the twelve, and began to send them forth by two and two; and gave them power over unclean spirits;
8And commanded them that they should take nothing for their journey, save a staff only; no scrip, no bread, no money in their purse:
No this doesn’t mean we are supposed to be poor either, but certainly it’s not saying we have to be rich. I could go on about this for hours alone but lets go on.
Messianic Judaism puts to rest these idiotic doctrines. We bring the Scriptures back down to earth and look at it intelligently. I was raised in church. My dad was a preacher for 40 years. I heard every stupid doctrine and myth out there from Pastors other then my dad. After that I went to Bible school and heard it again for years then I went to specialized “Christian Schools” and heard more of it. It was driving me crazy, how could these people be so ignorant? These teachings of theirs were directly against what the Word of G-d says. I saw people like Benny Hinn and Kenneth Copland spewing incorrect dogma to the millions and Christians walking away telling me they “were fed” by the Word when all they were fed was nonsense.
Messianic Judaism dispels nonsense by looking at what the Scripture is really saying. We look at the context, we look at the Jewish background of the text and take into consideration the time and culture of when it was written. Let me tell you this. If you take out Jewish thought out of the New Testament, you got nothing left. It’s all about the Jewish people and about our Jewish culture. In Messianic Judaism you wont hear someone say they are a “bible Scholar” and come to find out they don’t read or write Hebrew or Greek. What would you think about a man in China telling you that he’s an expert in Shakespearian literature… and he doesn’t know English? Then why on earth do you believe it when “ministers” tell you that they are experts in Scripture when they know nothing of the language it was written in? How much more critical should we be about our faith then about Shakespear?.
Many Christians throw caution to the wind when it comes to Bible and that’s the wrong way to approach it. It’s the most important thing we have in life. Don’t be foolish. Messianic Judaism interprets the Bible from the correct viewpoint, from the Jewish viewpoint. We want to bring it back to where it all started, the first church. If the first church would’ve thought it was wrong, then we should think it is wrong today. If the disciples believed it, then so should we.
Part 3 soon to come