What is a Messianic Jew?
Who/What_ _ _A Jew for Jesus? A Messianic Jew? Hmm....Wasn't Jesus a Jew? Duh! Well now why don't we go one step farther and hear what my Messianic Rabbi is teaching about the subject: What is Messianic Judaism?
This is a "hot bed" topic. Especially in the modern context of Judaism as a whole today. In that context, Messianic Judaism is viewed quite disfavorably among traditional Jews and within the core of Jewry on an official basis. They view Messianic Jews as Jews who have betrayed their nationalism and as religious traitors of the Jewish Faith. They are seen as converts to Christianity.
The Christian communities, on the other hand, also view the Messianic Jew as a type of pariah who is attempting to put Christianity back under the Law of Moses. The teaching and instruction, which they believe, became non-essential in G_d's plan for salvation after Jesus was crucified on the cross. This, they believe, annulled the former law under the auspice of the Grace over Works theory.
The question is : Are either of these views accurate?
To approach this properly we need to look clearly at the first Messianic Jews, then look at their rebirth in modern times.
From the inception of the trust in One True G_d and the call to Abram (later Abraham) in Genesis Chapter 12, this one man alone believed in a single god above all gods of mankind's imagination. He believed, not only in this One G_d alone, but also in the promise of a redeemer who would come through the seed of a woman (Gen. 3:15) who would bruise (destroy) the power of the Serpent (the Kingship of Satan, the Deceiver and Adversary of G_d and man). This person to come is called "Moshiach" which means Messiah or Anointed One of G_d who would deliver us from the power of Satan/sin/violation of G_d's own laws. So, Abraham and those who would follow from his offspring were the first Messianic Jews, at least in principle.
Messianic Judaism, from antiquity, has been the future hope of all Israel. That is until its reality took hold in the early First Century C.E./A.D.
The prophets of Israel foretold of the means by which the true Moshiach would be recognized. Isaiah being the most profilic of them all on this wise and Daniel, who in his general writings from Babylon, even foretold the date that the "Moshiach" would appear and be cut-off (Crucified) and all was realized exactly as he stated the event would occur.
So why did the Jewry of the First Century reject the one as the proffered "Moshiach"? The Jews of the First Century knew a man from Galil (Galilee) from the city (town) of Natzeret (Nazareth) whose name was Yeshua (the Moshiach's true and correct name); later in the Fourth Century was given the Greek name "Isus" and in Latin "Jesus" (pronounced Hey-zues), the common name used by current western civilizations, as potentially being this Messiah. They studied him intently.
Here we must take into account the common politics of that time. First, two centuries earlier, the divided kingdom of Judea and Israel (the Northern Kingdom); this latter one was taken captive by Assyria, dispersed and dispossessed of their lands and sent into exile (hebe, Galut) and, the Fifth Century B.C.E, Judea went into Babylonian exile for 70 years. But after Babylon (Media) merged kingdoms with Persia (Iran today) the Jews of the Medio-Persian empire were allowed to return to Canaan (later called Palestine by the Romans) and vassal rulers (those appointed to administer Israeli affairs by the Medio-Persian kings) to exact taxes and additional laws for governance of these people.
They were permitted to rebuild the Temple and the Walls of Jerusalem, then to exact their own law (biblical) upon the people of Israel, as their religion required, including basic civil law. But Medio-Persian law, so far as other civil governments were concerned, was not within the scope of authority granted them. These Vassal kings were to monitor this and exact taxes large enough to pay for their government duties and wages and send a healthy amount to the Medio-Persian government in exchange for military protection from foreign invaders.
However, in the Second Century B.C.E., Antiochus Epiphanes of Syria threatened invasion to exact his own taxes and tributes. This was an aftermath of Alexander the Great. News was sent to the Medio-Persian king for military support. When this was not realized, and the temple was profaned, the Maccabean revolt occurred.
Israel looked westward for military protection and found a willing provider in Rome.
The Romans moved in around 100 B.C.E, Their presence kept the Medio-Persians at bay, as well as all the other nations round about. Their authority quickly spread over North Africa, and from Southern England, through Asia Minor (Turkey) and Israel, their most-eastern place of rule. The Roman Empire, alive and well, ruled with an iron fist. Their oppression of Roman Democracy (the citizen existed only for Roman benefit) upon those they ruled over, rose the anger of the Jewish people against this incursion.
The people of Judea, religious and secular alike, needed and wanted a deliverer, redeemer, or Saviour. They began to rehope in their "Moshiach". Since the Maccabean revolt against Syria, a champion had not arisen. It is in this back-drop that God responded to the prayers of the people and those of the Priesthood who had made T'Shuvah (repentance) by returning to the purity of doing the laws, decrees, statutes and commandments and ordinances of God; who had given them through Moshe (Moses). These were the second-line Messianic Jews.
Then, in accord with prophecy of Isaiah and the writings of Daniel as to the conditions of the time, and the time appointed from above, the "Moshiach" of Israel was conceived. Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. Isa. 7: 14 and Matt. 1:18 -23 18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a publick example, was minded to put her away privily. 20 But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. 21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. 22 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, 23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. 24 Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: 25 And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS. He was named Yeshua the "Moshiach" (the anointed deliverer). His lineage is well documented at Matt: 1:1-17 (ref. Isa. 11:1, Gen 12:15 - 18, Luke 3:23 -28) even to the point of His being born into the world (Matt. 2:6, Micah 5:2, etc).
Yeshua began to reveal himself at age 30 (the required age to be a priest in Israel) and he quickly became famous in the Galil (Galilee) and in neighboring regions, as well as in the synagogues (family religious centers). See Matt 4:14 - 19, Isa, 61:1 -2. His following which consisted of priests, rabbis (teachers), scribes (writers), and the common people would be rightly called the Third Instance of Messianic Jews
These (the third group) grew exponentially within Israel and in the nations round about through the Apostles after Yeshua's ascension recorded in Acts 1:9 - 11 9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.
We can see the following of Yeshua growing in Acts 2:41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.
The Gospel (good news) in Hebrew (Dah-barim-tov) went through Israel and the nations, to the Jew first For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Romans 1:16 then to the Gentile also. These Messianic "Jews" (those of the physical seed (offspring) of the sons of Jacob/Israel) were joined by Messianic Gentiles (non-Jews) and were all called Mish-a-chi-ee Beit Leket (followers of Messiah, of the house of the way).
Yeshua did not begin a new religion or even a new sect of Judaism. He came to correct the house of Jacob/Israel, the Priesthood and the teachers of Israel to restore the Divine instructions (Torah) and the law (within those instructions) to be done as originally intended when give to Moshe (Moses) and the Children of Israel.
We clearly understand this when we read Yeshua's statements at Matt. 5:17 - 22 17 Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. 18 tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. 19 anyone who breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 or I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the law, you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven. 21 "You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not murder,a and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ 22 But I tell you that anyone who is angry with his brother will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to his brother, ‘Raca’ is answerable to the Sanhedrin. But anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell." and other verses in this same chapter of Matthew.
Notice, all this is "physically" applied in this present world, not metaphorically as a spiritual truth. Second, those Gentile believers, upon their conversion to "Judaism", were not required to leave off their culture and become Jews, but they were to adopt additional customs of Israel. They were not required to be circumcised, but to obey all the law of Torah. They were not required to bring sacrifices and partake of the Sacrificial System. After all, sacrifice outside of Israel, Jerusalem, or the temple precincts have always been forbidden. This fact is even true of the Jew who lives in the nations. He only was required to bring an animal sacrifice when he journeyed to Israel, Jerusalem and the Temple on the Mount three times per year: 1. At Passover 2. At the Feast of Weeks and 3. During the day of atonement through Succot (Feast of Tabernacles).
These Mishachile (phonic), in the multiple thousands from Jewry and the multiple tens of thousands of Gentiles, flourished, especially during the first and second centuries C.E./A.D., while being persecuted and martyred for their faith.
By the mid-third century, approx. 250 - 275 C.E. (Common Era), the Messianic Jews of the Kihillet (assembly) became the minority and the Messianic Gentiles were the majority. The majority of the assemblies desired major changes in structure, as well as cultural changes and style of worship that would closer to the Western Culture of Southern Europe; more specifically, the controlling Greco-Roman cultures of the day. Until this point, the assembly of the faithful were guided and primarily taught by those teachers of Judaic heritage, culture and understanding under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
The majority of the Greco-Roman gentiles of the assemblies, who wanted to be in charge and use Western modern terms, began to break away from the sound doctrines of Messianic Judaism. 8But we know that the law is good, if a man use it lawfully; 9 Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, 10 For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine; 11 According to the glorious gospel of the blessed God, which was committed to my trust. 1 Timothy Chapter 1 and 1 Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ,Hebrews 6
In those assemblies heresies flooded in. It is these assemblies that founded the Universal Church also know as Catholic. They introduced the doctrines of the Babylonian Trinity and Sun (day) worship i.e. Christianity.
In the mid Twentieth century, the visible rise of a group of Jews for Jesus came into prominence. Jews who had, for the most part, been converted to Christendom. As they developed scholars in Hebrew who investigated both Judaism and Christianity, many Jews For Jesus received a revelation on "Sound Doctrine" and they began the rebirth of Messianic Judaism in America (the United States). The Messianic movement between 1970 and now, the third millenium C.E., has created Messianic Christians, those seeking out their Jewish roots among gentile Christians, and Jews who have come to know their true Savior Yeshua. While the former call themselves Messianic Jews, in reality this group is yet Messianic Christian with some Hebraic flare and Judaic language terminology. While this is a positive thing and a greater step in the correct direction, it still falls short of First Century Messianic Judaism found during the time of Yeshua and His Apostles.
The Messianic Jews are likewise in a transition. Whether they are coming forth out of the Jewish Christian core or from within the traditional Jewish religious body, their challenge is to lay down and abandon every tradition and doctrine of men, whether it is of Rabbinical or another National source, wherein it opposes the doctrine G_d as given to Moshe and the Children of Israel.
The ideal Messianic Jews must reach, and very quickly now, Biblical Judaism in light of "Moshiach"; i.e. as Yeshua taught and His disciples after Him. In other words, what Yeshua taught He taught from the Tanach (Torah, divine instructions; Nivium, prophets, Chatuvim, general writings on proper physical application at the letter of the law was not to be abandoned, as anyone can easily do that. And additionally at the higher mental, ethical and moral level, which requires the aid of the Holy Spirit.)
Some of these current Messianic Jewish cores of trust have already begun implementation of these practices, while others are still grappling with ways to achieve them. Within those cores, there is still opposition because it is difficult to lay down years of false indoctrination that people have accepted as correct, even though they now recognize those former fallacies.
So what is true Messianic Judaism today? As best can be expressed, it is a group of believers in A) Root Judaism and practice and B) those who believe Yeshua of Natzerett is the promised "Moshiach" of Israel first, and to the Nations also. These people are in the process of fully returning to those principles as a way of life.
Note: Rabbi insists that all credit for any articles should be given to Hashem for this knowledge has and will continue to come from Him through Rauch H Chodesh (The Holy Spirit). I feel it is a great honor and privilege to study and reprint this revelation of knowledge from the Great Men who study and rightly divide the precious word of truth brought and taught by Yeshua, Moses, the Holy Spirit, and Abba Father God.
Shalom:Copyright 2010 by Orley K. Brock
Messianic Jew - A Simple Definition