This booklet seeks to answer many of the most often asked questions about Messianic Judaims. The most important fact to comprehend about Messianic Judaism is that it is centered around the belief that Yeshua (Jesus in Hebrew) is the long promised Messiah of Israel.
Written by Rabbi David Chernoff, MMI Publishing Co., Havertown, PA.
Messianic Jewish Lifestyle
1. What is the importance of Messianic Synagogues to this movement?
Messianic synagogues are the heart of the Messianic Movement, Messianic communities and the center of Messianic life. A Messianic synagogue is where we can collectively believe in Yeshua, live a Jewish lifestyle, raise our children to be Jewish, and worship the God of Israel in a Jewish manner with Jewish believers.
Interestingly enough, just as Messianic Judaism is not new, Messianic synagogues are not new either. Actually, we find they have existed for two thousand years! From Biblical and historical records, we know that there were Messianic synagogues throughout the Roman Empire and beyond, as early as 50 A.D.! (Jms. 1:1, 2:2, Heb. 10:27).
2. How many Messianic synagogues are there?
There are well over 125 Messianic synagogues and congregations throughout the United States . There are also many in Israel and other parts of the world. Messianic synagogues range in size anywhere from 10-15 up to several hundred members. Many have their own synagogue buildings, Messianic day schools and Messianic communities.
3. Do Messianic Jews celebrate all the Jewish festivals and if so, why?
Do Messianic Jews celebrate all the Jewish festivals and if so, why? Most Messianic Jews celebrate the Biblical festivals, i.e. Passover, Shavuot (the Feast of Weeks), Rosh Hashanah (the traditional Jewish New Year, the Feast of Trumpets), Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles), Hanukkah (the Feast of Dedication or Lights) and Purim.
We celebrate all of the feasts because it is instructed by God in the Torah for Israel to observe these festivals forever (Lev. 23:21 , 31, 41, Ex. 12:14 ). The Messiah Yeshua observed these festivals as did the early Messianic Jews and apostles such as Rabbi Shaul or Paul (Acts 20:16 , I Cor. 16:8, Acts 28:17). We also believe that when the Messiah Yeshua returns to this earth these festivals will be re-established worldwide (Zech. 14:11 -21). When we, as Messianic Jews, celebrate the festivals, we do so in a Messianic way, with the view that Yeshua is the fulfillment of all of these Holy Days (i.e. He is our Passover Lamb, our Atonement on Yom Kippur, etc.).
4. Do Messianic Jews celebrate Christmas and Easter?
Generally speaking, Messianic Jews do not celebrate Christmas and Easter. There is no place in the Scriptures that commands us to celebrate the Birth or the Resurrection of the Messiah. Apparently, none of the early believers, Jewish or Gentile, celebrated these two days, as there is no mention of it in the Brit Hadasha (New Covenant).
That does not mean that Messianic Jews are against Christmas or Easter (Rom. 14). During the Christmas season we do not have Christmas trees, give gifts or have Christmas parties. At the same time, we do recognize the importance of the Birth of the Messiah and rejoice with believers who are celebrating this day throughout the world. Similarly, on Easter while we do not have special services and Easter egg hunts, we do believe in the resurrection of the Messiah and can rejoice with our Gentile brethren in its celebration at this time.
5. What is "Davidic" Worship and Praise?
General worship and praise is the overall action of man coming to God to exalt Him, to pay respect to Him, and to esteem Him (Ps. 66:4, 95:6, 22:3). "Davidic" Worship and Praise goes back to the style, principles, guidelines and pattern that King David was shown by the Lord (II Chr. 28:11-13) and that he established in the Temple nearly 3,000 years ago.
As King David taught from the Scriptures, this type of praise and worship involves numerous musical instruments, singing, Hebraic music, psalms, lifting up of hands, chanting, clapping of hands, processions and is also characterized by great joy. Probably, the most unusual characteristic of "Davidic" Worship and Praise is dancing to the Lord. This is not dancing in a secular sense. While Messianic dancing uses a strong Israeli-Hebraic style, it is dancing unto the Lord in praise and worship as King David did and taught (II Sam. 6:14 ). "Davidic" Worship and Praise is one of the great distinguishing traits of the Messianic Movement. It is a return to our Jewish roots in praising God and it is a cultural and spiritual expression of our faith in the Jewish Messiah.
6. Do Messianic Jews believe that they should keep the Law of Moses?
Yes and no. The Torah (or Law of Moses) is composed of the 613 Mitzvot, or commandments, in the Tenach (Old Covenant or Testament) that God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai involving the festivals, the Ten Commandments, sacrifices, kashrut (kosher laws), etc. Generally speaking, Gentile Christianity today maintains that the Law is completely dead now that Yeshua has come and that we should have nothing to do with it.
We, as Messianic Jews, recognize that one cannot be saved through the Law, because the only way to be saved through the Law is to keep all of the commandments perfectly. This is impossible because we have a sinful nature (Deut. 27:26, Eccl. 7:20 ). At the same time, while the Law cannot save, it is far from being dead. The moral precepts of the Ten Commandments are carried into the New Covenant. The Festivals are for eternity. Shabbat (or the Sabbath) on the seventh day was instituted before the Law was given, as was tithing, which most believers practice today.
There are many other areas of the Law that are valuable to us today as well. Rabbi Shaul (Paul) in the New Covenant makes it very clear that all believers have liberty in the Messiah Yeshua ( Ga. 5:1), which means freedom from the Law as well as freedom to keep the Law as we so desire. Rabbi Shaul kept the Law as much as he could, as did the other early Messianic Jews, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit (Acts 28:17).
7. Are Messianic Jews Zionists?
Most Messianic Jews support Israel unequivocally and unconditionally. We support Israel not only because we believe our Jewish people need a national homeland, but also because we believe that the reestablishment of the State of Israel is a direct fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. We believe that God has done this supernaturally as predicted from Scriptures centuries ago (Ezek. 36:24, 37:1-14).
We know that Israel is not a perfect nation, but believe that God's hand is behind Israel , and that our people will never be driven out of their land again (Amos 9:1)! While God loves the Arab nations, Eretz Yisrael ( land of Israel ), is the land that God gave to His Jewish people. We also believe that all believers should support Israel as should the United States because God promised to Abraham: “I will bless them that bless you, and curse them that curse you.” (Gen. 12:3).