What is Messianic Judaism?

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What is Messianic Judaism?

Messianic Judaism 101
The MJ 101 series is a foundational set of teachings on Messianic Judaism from Rabbi Greg Hershberg of Beth Yeshua International Messianic synagogue in Macon, Georgia. The series covers Torah, Shabbat, kosher, replacement theology, and tradition. This series is a basic introduction, and is by no means an exhaustive study. It is, however an excellent series.

  1. Messianic Judaism 101: Torah! Torah! Torah!
  2. Messianic Judaism 101: The Joy of Shabbat
  3. Messianic Judaism 101: Holy Cow! Does It Really Matter What We Eat?
  4. Messianic Judaism 101: Replacement Theology
  5. Messianic Judaism 101: Tradition! Tradition!
  6. Messianic Judaism 101: Messianic Judaism Back to the Future

With a very few “ultra-Orthodox” exceptions (as well as perhaps the UMJC, it now seems[1]), the ultimate goal of the Messianic Restoration movement seems to be the reunification of the twelve tribes of Israel into a single nation which recognizes Yeshua of Nazareth as Mashiach (Messiah) and King, with those who wish to do so living securely within the borders of her original land grant from God, and for non-Jewish Believers in the Mashiach to join with them as a unified Body of Mashiach.

Modern Messianic Judaism is the fulfillment of that which was spoken of by the ancient Prophets: a Restoration Movement of Jewish people who believe that Yeshua of Natzeret (Jesus of Nazareth) is the promised Messiah of Israel, and the Savior of the world. He is the One Whom the prophets in the Hebrew Scriptures told us was to come. Messianic Jews have not stopped being Jewish to become “Gentile Christians.” On the contrary, our personal relationship with Messiah Yeshua makes us even more truly Jewish in our identity and life-style.

Messianic Judaism is actually almost 2,000 years old, dating back to the time of Messiah Yeshua. Yeshua was born into a Jewish home. He was raised in a Jewish family. His parents were Jewish, His brothers and sisters were Jewish. All His uncles, aunts, and cousins were Jewish. He grew up to become a Jewish rabbi who taught Jewish people in a Jewish land—Israel—about the God of Avraham, Yitzchak, and Ya`akov (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: the Jewish patriarchs). Yeshua’s Shliachim (Apostles or Emissaries) were all Jewish. The writers of the Apostolic Writings (a.k.a. B'rit Chadasha, Renewed Covenant Scriptures, or erroneouosly-called “New Testament”) were all Jewish, and for a long time (nearly 300 years) “The Faith” was almost exclusively Jewish. There were tens, or perhaps hundreds, of thousands of Jewish people who believed that Yeshua was the Messiah in the first century following His resurrection (see Acts 2:37-42, 4:4, 21:20), and every single one of them died still a Jew.

“Messianic Judaism really began to flourish in the year 1967. That was the same year that Jerusalem came back under the control of the Jewish people for the first time in almost 2,000 years. A coincidence? Absolutely not! God’s time for the Jewish people had begun. The age of the Gentiles (Goyim) was drawing to a close as prophesied in the New Covenant: ‘…Yerushalayim will be trampled down by the Goyim until the age of the Goyim has run its course.…’ (Luke 21:24)” [Neil and Jamie Lash, Messianic Judaism: Life from the Dead. Ft. Lauderdale, FL: Jewish Jewels, 2000, p.13.]

The modern Messianic Jewish movement is many things, but one of its key elements is the work to restore the lost Hebraic nature of the true Biblical faith. Sometimes this is called returning to our Jewish roots; and so, in part, it is. But it is much more. The Most High gave an eternal style to our ancient faith that would be unmistakable in the world as belonging to Him. His people were to be His own and to be His unique witness to the world. We are to be a chosen people, a kingdom of priests, a holy [set apart] nation.

One of the worst things that could happen to the people of Adonai is to assimilate into the world’s fashion: to think like the world thinks and to follow the world’s lead. Our purpose is to lead the world to worship and obey the Almighty. With such a task before us we must be assimilation proof. We must reflect the ancient ways He gave us, else how can we show that we have something different and better to offer the world.

Today there are more than 250 Messianic Jewish congregations in at least 25 countries (with at least 60 congregations in Eretz Israel!) most of which are composed of both Jewish and non-Jewish people who believe in Yeshua as Israel’s Messiah and as their personal Savior, who understand the Jewish roots of true Biblical faith, and who wish to express that faith through living a Torah-observant Jewish life-style. By some estimates there have been more Jewish people world-wide come to faith in Messiah since the appearance of the modern Messianic Jewish Movement in 1967 than in the 1,897 years from the destruction of the Temple in 70 CE through 1967 combined! Surely this is the final ingathering of the Faithful Remnant that the prophets predicted would occur just before Messiah’s triumphant return to establish His Kingdom in Jerusalem. Baruch HaShem!

For more information on Messianic Judaism please see David Chernoff’s excellent article HERE.

On that day, the “Root of Yishai,” Which stands as a banner for the peoples, the Goyim will seek Him out, and the place where He rests will be glorious. On that day ADONAI will raise His hand again, a second time, to reclaim the remnant of His people who remain from Ashur, Egypt, Patros, Ethopia, 'Eilam, Shin'ar, Hamat, and the islands in the sea. He will hoist a banner for the Goyim, assemble the dispersed of Isra'el, and gather the scattered of Y'hudah from the four corners of the earth … There will be a highway for the remnant of His people who are still left from Ashur, just as there was for Isra'el when he came out from the land of Egypt. [Yesha'yahu (Isaiah) 11:10-12,16 CJB]

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  1. There have been a number of recent policy changes reflected in several position papers recently released by the leadership of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations (UMJC)— changes which I personally believe divide the true Body of Messiah and relegate the Gentile members of Messianic Jewish congregations to the status of second-class citizens. It appears to me from their statements (I sincerely hope that I am mistaken) that the leaders of the UMJC feel that Messianic Judaism should be a Jews-only movement and that Gentiles who have received the Jewish Messiah, instead of being welcomed into the synagogue and into the Jewish community in general as they have been since the days of the Exodus from Egypt, should “keep their place” and remain in their Gentile Churches with all their Roman pagan-influenced beliefs and practices.

I completely understand and appreciate the apparent fear that Messianic Judaism might be “taken over” by Gentiles in exactly the same manner that the original Messianic Judaism was taken over by Constantine and the Roman Empire in 325 CE. (Please see “The ‘Model’ for the Messianic Community” for more information on that subject.) However, I am sincerely concerned that their position serves less to protect the “Jewishness” of this critical restoration movement, and more to divide the Body of Messiah into two distinct entities. Messiah can have only one Bride, and that Bride must be echad, [dxa one; Deut. 6:4; John 17:11-22], even as the Father and the Son are echad. [RETURN]

Page last updated on Wednesday, 03 August 2016 11:18 AM
(Updates are generally minor formatting or editorial changes.
Major content changes after May 3, 2015 are identified as "Revisions”)