The Messianic Movement
and Messianic Judaism
W h a t - I s - I t
an explanation by a Jewish Christian, Messianic Pastor Burt Yellin
Hudson Taylor was the first successful missionary from Europe to bring the Gospel to the people of China. Why did he succeed when others failed? Because he realized that it wasn't necessary to force European culture upon the Chinese as a part of the Gospel. He even adapted Chinese culture into his own life-style. Despite his success, he was despised by the other missionaries for "compromising" the Gospel for not making Western culture part and parcel of the "Gospel."
There is much "alien" culture that surrounds Gentile Christianity, which makes it unpalatable to most Jewish people. Jews will nearly always reject the Gentile Jesus as being the Messiah, but will much more readily accept the Jewish Yeshua(Jesus) as being their Messiah.
Most Messianic Jews are much more "zealous for the Law (Torah)" than their Gentile Christian counterparts. In this, they are following the example of the first century Messianic Jew, who were also "zealous for Torah" (Acts 15:19-21; 21:17-27).
Most Messianic Jews refrain from calling themselves Christians. which is Greek terminology? They prefer more hebraic terms, such as Messianic Jews.
The first use of the term Christian was in Antioch, among the Gentile believers (Acts 11:26). Rav Shaul (Paul), as a Jew, simply preferred to say. "I am a Jew." The sect of Jewish believers in Yeshua was also called "the Way," not to be confused with the modern cult of the same name (Acts 24:14;22). The Jewish believers were also called Nazarenes, not to be confused with the modern Christian denomination of the same name.
Messianic Jews recognize the seventh day--Saturday--as being the Sabbath (Genesis 2:1-3; Exodus 20:8- 11; 32:12-17). The Sabbath is even mentioned more in the New Testament than all the other days of the week combined. There is no mention in the Scripture of the Sabbath being changed to any other day of the week---a fact recognized by the Catholic Church.
Although there are various levels of observance of the Shabbat (Sabbath) among Messianic Jews, the Shabbat is still the day of choice for worshipping the Most High. lt is also seen as the perpetual sign spoken of in Exodus. (31:13-16)--pointing back to the original state of the creation---and forward to the time spoken of by the author of Hebrews (4:3) when, ...we who have believed do enter into a Sabbath rest (Shabbat Shabbaton).
Messianic Jews still observe the rite of circumcision. This is part of the Abrahamic covenant for all the physical descendants of Abraham (Genesis 17:9-14). This practice is not forced upon Gentiles
(1 Corinthians 7: 17-20).
Messianic Jews observe the Jewish (and Biblical) High Holy Days prescribed in Leviticus 23, which were ordained to be celebrated as a perpetual statute throughout your generations, in all your dwelling places...forever Leviticus 23:14; 21; 31; 41
Messianic Jews tend to observe Biblical Kashrut (laws of clean and unclean meals---Leviticus 11; Deuteronomy 14). Messianic Jews tend to observe a New Covenant lifestyle----I will put My Law (Torah) within them and on their heart I will write it… Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:8-10. Torah is eternal and not abolished, per Yeshua (Matthew. 5:17-19). Sin is defined as the transgression of that Law (1 John 3:4). In addition, Messianic Jews follow, and have found great value in many of the traditions of our people. Ours is a heritage rich and full, and our history is indeed, the history of God's people. Yeshua did not condemn these traditions. but rather commanded that they not be exalted above the commandments of God (Mark 7:6-8). We are careful to follow what our Lord commanded.
Lastly, it must be understood that we are saved by faith in the blood atonement provided by Yeshua, and not on the basis of our own righteousness or good deeds (which as a means of atonement falls far short Isaiah 64:5-6; Ecclesiastics 7:20).
It is wrong and unscriptural to force Gentile church culture upon the Jewish people as a requirement for believing in their own Messiah. While it is right and proper for other cultures to be allowed to practice their culture after coming to faith in Yeshua, much of Jewish culture comes directly from the Scriptures, and has a firm Biblical foundation lacking in other cultures.
The situation was very different in the First century. Then the question was, "How can a Gentile believe in the Jewish Messiah? Shouldn't he convert to Judaism first?" Some Messianic Jews were saying to the Gentiles, "Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved." others said, "It is necessary to circumcise them, and to direct them to observe the Law of Moses" (Acts 15:1, 5).
The Council at Jerusalem decided that the Gentiles did not have to convert to Judaism to believe in the Jewish Messiah (Acts 15:19-21; 28-19).
Properly observed, Messianic Judaism has no middle wall of partition (Ephesians 2:14) separating Jewish believers from Gentile believers. Most Messianic assemblies have a large percentage of Gentiles. Most of these Gentiles love Israel and the Jewish people, and have adopted a Jewish expression of their faith in Messiah Yeshua.
lt is in Messianic Judaism that we find a most wonderful fulfillment of Scripture---in that all, Jew and Gentile, male and female. bond and free---are seen worshiping the Holy One Of Israel in Spirit and in Truth
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