What is Messianic Judaism? 2


 The rebirth of modern Israel has been paralleled by a revival of interest in spirituality among Jewry worldwide. Amidst this search for meaning and truth, Jewish people have once again examined the Hebrew Scriptures, the foundation and central document in Jewish faith. Many have compared the teachings of the Torah and the Prophets with the claims of the New Testament. A great number of these people have come to embrace the belief that Yeshua [Jesus] is the Messiah of Israel and that the New Testament is, after all, a Jewish book … about a Jewish Messiah.

While Messianic Judaism is new in some respects, it is also 2000 years old [Acts 21:17-20]. It stands on a foundation going back to biblical times. In the first century CE, there were several different sects within Judaism — Pharisees, Saduccees, Herodians, Essenes and Zealots to name a few. These different Jewish groups were unquestionably part of the larger Jewish community. A great number of Judeans comprised one of these groups — the Nazarenes. These were followers of the teachings of Yeshua [Jesus] of Natzeret [Nazareth], followers of “the Way” [Gen.18:18-19; Jer. 5:1-5; Ezek. 18:25-32; Ps. 25:8-12; Prov. 10:29; Jn. 14:1-7; Acts 9:1-6;16:17;18:24-26;19:9,23], and the forerunners of today’s Messianic Judaism.

The rise of the current Messianic Jewish movement began simultaneously with the rise of the Zionist movement in the early 1900s. Study groups and fellowships began to sprout throughout the United States and in different parts of the world. The explosive growth that solidified the Messianic movement, however, took place in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Today there are over 300 Messianic Synagogues in the United States and over 120 in Israel. The movement’s rapid growth continues, with new congregations being started in the former Soviet Union, Latin America, and in key cities around the world.

Messianic Jewish followers of Jesus tenderly use His Hebrew name — Yeshua (which means “salvation”) — and are committed to preserving their Jewish identity, believing it to be perfectly compatible with their newfound faith. They celebrate the Jewish feasts [Feasts of the L-rd], meet on the Shabbat [Sabbath], teach from the Torah, celebrate Bar Mitzvahs and engage in other Jewish customs. Messianic synagogues are formed by Jewish and Gentile members who worship together, and who recognize the Messiahship of Yeshua and the Jewish/Hebraic foundation of His message.

In the New Testament book of Acts we read of some Jews in a town called Berea. These Jews are the perfect example of how we are to receive anyone that comes laying claim to knowledge of truth. In fact, the writer gave them unique praise by calling them a “noble” people. When Paul came to them proclaiming the gospel of the Kingdom they did something woefully few modern Christians do – they sought to test his words against the Holy Scriptures – the Tanakh. How many Christians verify what they are taught from the Tanakh (Older Testament)? We read of them in Acts 17.

Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the Scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

It must be realized that the Scripture these noble people searched was NOT the New Testament, since it did not exist. The Scripture was the Tanakh [Hebrew Scriptures], commonly referred to by the sadly irreverent name of the “Old” Testament. Thus, the truly “noble”, search the Tanakh daily to see if what is taught them is truth.
The Hebraic/Judaic mindset is very different than the Constantinian, Gnostic-filled, Greek philosophical, mystery Babylon based mindset on which traditional theology is built and that many professors and teachers use as the basis of their (mis)interpretations of Scripture. By infecting and polluting the Hebrew Scriptures with anti-Hebraic interpretations truth has been grossly distorted and the faith of the original followers of Yeshua has been hidden from present day believers!

Even when discussing the New Testament [Brit Chadashah - New Covenant], we must consider the Jewish perpective of its Jewish authors. The Greek Manuscript of the New Testament must be compared with the Septuagint [Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures] to properly deduce its meaning and application.

So let’s be like the Bereans who study, research, and investigate the Hebrew Scriptures [Torah, Prophets, Writings - Tanakh], as we see HaShem’s redemptive plan and Messianic vision for our lives and the world He has created.