What is Messianic Judaism?

The earliest followers and disciples of Rabbi Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth believed that Yeshua was the promised Mashiach (Messiah) of Israel and the Redeemer of all nations. However, they did not believe that Yeshua came to start a new religion or to abolish the Torah (Teaching, Instruction) of Moses; instead, they continued to worship the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as participants in the ancient Israelite faith, now called Judaism. Within the last fifty years since the rebirth of the nation of Israel, a magnificent revival has taken place - thousands upon thousands of Jewish people are accepting Yeshua as the promised Jewish Messiah and many believing Gentiles are coming to this same conclusion, that Yeshua is the Jewish Messiah. Since the advent of Christianity around 300 CE, the original message of the earliest followers of the Messiah has been changed from its biblical viewpoint and has had elements of paganism added. However, now that Jewish people are again accepting Yeshua, a marvelous thing has been reborn - Messianic Judaism, the biblical Jewish faith of Yeshua's earliest disciples, a continuation of the faith of the ancient people of Israel. As many Jewish and Gentile believers are learning the truth of the Torah, it is influencing their lives in indescribable ways, transforming them into passionate lovers of the God of Israel. These Messianic believers are the people of the last days, whose mission it is to prepare the world for the return of King Yeshua by restoring all things lost to the Body of Messiah.

The scales have fallen from the eyes of many people, when, after a lifetime of reading and studying the Scriptures, they began to question the traditional interpretations of God's Word that they had learned. When they first read our Redeemer's words, "Do not think that I came to abolish the Torah or the Prophets . . . Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Torah until all is accomplished" (Matthew 5:17-18), their whole world is shaken to its very foundation. They think: Does this mean that I am responsible before God to observe all of those commandments found in the Five Books of Moses? They had always been taught that with the advent of the Messiah, the Torah's ceremonial and ritual laws were abrogated and replaced with the grace of God. They believed that the Israelites of the so-called "Old Testament" had to earn their salvation before God by observing all the commandments in the Torah and offering endless animal sacrifices. However, after much study and prayer, they feel God's Spirit gently wooing them home to His truth, and they slowly make a paradigm shift in their biblical worldview. As Rabbi Sha'ul (Paul) admonished the believers in his day, "Be renewed in the spirit of your mind" (Ephesians 4:23), these enlightened believers are allowing the Holy Spirit to renew their minds by thoroughly washing themselves in the waters of the Scriptures, thus cleansing themselves from all thoughts that are contrary to God's Torah.

Having been taught differently for so long makes this journey difficult to say the least, but the Almighty slowly changes the heart and then the mind. Like a light dispelling the darkness from a room, the light of Torah illuminates the hidden aspects of the Scriptures and causes the Word to come alive in people's hearts! The Bible becomes a new book, full of life-giving instructions! The Scriptures finally make sense, and the overall revelation of the God of Israel begins to be clear for the first time in people's lives! They understand now that the children of Israel who lived before the coming of Yeshua were saved by the grace of God also except that they looked forward to the coming of the Messiah and His redemptive work. The Torah teaches that "Noah found chen (grace or beauty) in the eyes of the LORD" (Genesis 6:8). God's chesed, His grace or unmerited favor, has always been available to all those who call upon His Name for forgiveness of sin. Obeying the commandments of God brings life, not bondage. The Torah is now the blueprint for these believers for righteous living, and when they read the Holy One's promises to them in the Torah, they are encouraged and strengthened to walk in obedience and to choose life! Now they understand the Holy One's message to them: "See, I have set before you this day life and prosperity, and death and adversity; in that I command you today to love the LORD your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live" (Deuteronomy 30:15-16). Living in obedience to the Torah of God is the truest form of freedom and liberty, not legalism, as King David proclaimed, "So I will keep Your Torah continually, forever and ever, and I will walk at liberty, for I seek Your precepts" (Psalm 119:44-45).

Having discovered the truth that Yeshua the Messiah is the Torah incarnate, the Word of God made flesh (John 1:1), and that His disciples are to walk just as He walked (1John 2:3-6), in obedience to the commandments of His Father, these enlightened believers have truly been set free from the bondage of sin and death. This does not mean that they are perfect, but they are striving for perfection, for this should be the goal of every believer. Yeshua, their Redeemer and King, came to set them free from the bondage of sin, so that He could fill them with His Spirit and enable them to be truly free, becoming slaves to righteousness (Ezekiel 36:27). They now understand that Yeshua is the Torah. So, to love the commandments of God and to follow His Word diligently with all their heart, soul, and strength demonstrates to those around them that they are children of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Matthew 5:16). They become increasingly passionate about their Abba (Father) and His life-changing Word! They wish that everyone could experience the peace that can be theirs if they would simply choose to follow the simple, direct path of obedience to God's Word!

As these Messianic believers study the Messianic Writings ("New Testament"), they see more than ever before that Yeshua and His disciples further explained and expounded upon the same truth found in the Tanakh ("Old Testament"). This truth can transform lives just as it did theirs! The Torah is the truth of God, just as Yeshua, the Living Torah, is that very same truth of God in human flesh! King David proclaimed, "Your Torah is the truth" (Psalm 119:142), and Messiah Yeshua proclaimed, "I am . . . the truth" (John 14:6). Messiah again exclaimed, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in darkness, but will have the Light of life" (John 8:12). King Solomon taught us: "The Torah is light" (Proverbs 6:23). The Torah of Yeshua and the Torah of His Father are one and the same! What a wonderful and magnificent God we serve!

The peace and joy of the Almighty overflows in the lives of these believers daily, as they remain faithful to His Word through the empowerment of His Spirit. Keeping the laws of kashrut (the dietary laws), for example, reminds them that their body is the temple of the Living God and it is to be kept holy and pure before Him in all areas, from what they allow to proceed out from their mouth to what they allow their eyes to behold. Keeping Shabbat (the Sabbath) is such a tremendous gift that they would not take anything in exchange for their weekly oasis of spiritual and physical relaxation and rejuvenation. They eagerly wait for the advent of the Sabbath each week, going so far as to count down the days until the next Shabbat and to plan early in the week what they will be serving for the Sabbath meals. From Friday afternoon a little before sunset until Saturday evening an hour or so after sunset, they relish in the intense presence of the Lover of their souls. Some especially enjoy the Shabbat evening dinner and rituals or the Shabbat morning Torah service at their synagogue! The moedim, the appointed times of the Holy One of Israel, are also so special to them; from the Feast of Matzot (Unleavened Bread) in the spring to the Feast of Sukkot (Booths) in the autumn, they cherish each of their Father's holy seasons. They have learned so much from the observance of Pesach, the Feast of Matzot, and the Feast of Shavuot (Weeks) about Yeshua's first coming as the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world and how God's Spirit writes the Torah on the hearts of all those who believe. They desire to be counted worthy to see the fulfillment of the autumn moedim, when their Master Yeshua returns to reign from Jerusalem as Melech HaMashiach, the King Messiah. What a joyous and blessed day that will be! In fact, the Good News of the Kingdom, i.e., the Jewish Gospel that Messiah and His Emissaries and even the Prophets before them so vociferously taught, not only involves a life-changing turn from sin to righteousness, but it also embodies the prophetic promise that The Fallen Tent (Sukkah) of David (Amos 9:11-15, Acts 15:14-18), the royal throne promised by HaShem to King David's descendants, will be rebuilt in preparation for Yeshua's soon return to Jerusalem to claim His throne as King of Israel. Biblically speaking, it is an anticipation for this soon-coming Kingdom of God upon the earth through the reign of the Jewish Prince of Peace that prompts and motivates true heartfelt, life-altering repentance.

Indeed, the scales have fallen from the eyes of Jews and Gentiles all over the world, and they now understand that the Savior and Redeemer of the world is Jewish. Yeshua lived a Jewish life, going to synagogue, keeping the seventh-day Sabbath and all the feasts of His Father. His initial disciples were all Jewish, and the Body of Messiah was a sect of Judaism for the first 100 years or so after the death and resurrection of Messiah. The early followers of Yeshua, both believing Jews and grafted-in Gentiles, went to synagogue and kept the Shabbat holy. After all, the Bible was written exclusively by Jews to Jews and sojourning Gentiles. The Bible is a Jewish book! The roots of our faith are Jewish, and the trunk of the Olive Tree of Romans 11 is Jewish, and we derive all that we are by being grafted into that Jewish root and trunk, a root and trunk grounded in the Torah!

As the sojourning Gentiles continue to study and seek guidance from the Spirit of the Holy One, they discover that the Scriptures speak clearly and concisely concerning the role believing Gentiles play in the Body of Messiah and the nation of Israel as a whole. God's Spirit has shown these grafted-in Gentiles through their study of the Scriptures that they are His children, members of the commonwealth of Israel, no longer aliens and foreigners to the covenants and promises of the God of Israel (Ephesians 2:11-13), but sojourners with God's chosen people, just as Ruth the Moabitess was. They are covenant members by faith, just as Avraham Avinu (Abraham our Father) was a covenant member by grace through faith. They have crossed over into the light of God's grace and truth. They understand that whether one is Jewish or a grafted-in Gentile is not ultimately important, but obeying the commandments of the Most High God is what truly distinguishes one as a follower of the Jewish Messiah (1Corinthians 7:19)! There is only one Torah for the native-born and the foreigner alike (Exodus 12:49)! Blessed be His holy Name! They now know who they are in Messiah - covenant members with His chosen people! God's covenants are established forever and can never be changed (Isaiah 40:7). Grace is not opposed to works, but both work together as two sides of the same coin (James 2:17). Without God's grace and His Spirit to empower them, these enlightened Jewish and Gentile believers would find it impossible to overcome their sinful natures. But now the Spirit has written the Holy One's Torah on their hearts (Jeremiah 31:33), and they can and must obey its words of truth and life (Deuteronomy 30:11-14). What blessings they have experienced from making the decision to choose life!

In closing, it is frankly impossible to have a deeply intimate relationship with someone you know very little about. God's Spirit is enlightening people, and they are learning, growing, and understanding who their Father is and what He desires for their lives. As they grow, they begin to have a deeper and more intimate relationship with Him. He truly is the Lover of their souls, the One they live for in everything they do and say. They wish above all things to please Him and to demonstrate to those around them that they are His sons and daughters. Life in the Father through His Son, Yeshua - this is what Messianic Judaism is all about! Even so, come Master Yeshua and establish Your Father's eternal Kingdom!