What is Messianic Judaism?
Messianic Judaism is a biblically based movement of Jewish people who have come to believe in Yeshua as the promised Jewish Messiah of Israel. Yeshua is the Hebrew name for Jesus, which means salvation.
Today there are hundreds of thousands of Messianic Jews in North America alone. Some have estimated the number to be as high as 500,000. Messianic Synagogues are springing up in major cities worldwide, including Toronto.
Other nations such as the former Soviet Union, England, France, South Africa, Israel and Australia are experiencing a growing movement of Messianic Jews.
Is It Jewish to Believe in Yeshua?
To some, the concept of a Jew believing in Yeshua seems to be a contradiction. The reason is, many people have a dichotomy set up in their minds. On the one hand, you have Jews and Judaism and on the other hand, Christians and Christianity.
Either one, or the other… Or so the thinking goes.
But the simple dichotomy is in reality not so simple. If we go back 2000 years, we find that Yeshua was a Jew living in a Jewish land among Jewish people. All the apostles were Jewish as well as the writers of the New Covenant and for many years this faith in Yeshua was strictly a Jewish one.
From the Book of Acts and other historical evidence, many believe that in the first-century, there were literally hundreds of thousands of Messianic Jews.* In addition, there were Messianic Synagogues scattered throughout the Roman Empire and beyond.**
These first-century Messianic Jews remained highly loyal to their people.
Whether it was Jewish to believe in Yeshua was never an issue. Of course it was Jewish! What else could it be?
The big question back then was whether Yeshua had been sent for the Gentiles also. When God miraculously showed Messianic Jews that He was the Messiah for both Jew and Gentile alike, then Gentiles from every nation began to pour into this Jewish faith.
Throughout the years, as the numbers of Gentile believers increased, they began to predominate in this messianic faith. With the passing of the Jewish apostles and the early Messianic Jews, the Jewish roots of the faith were eventually lost.
This “de-Judaizing” process continued until, in one of the greatest paradoxes in history, it became alien for Jewish person to believe in Yeshua as their Messiah!
* Acts 2:41, 2:47, 4:4, 6:7, 9:31, 21:20 ** James 1:1, 2:2
The Real Issue
Today, we are seeking to put the Messiah back within His biblical and Jewish context.
Messianic Judaism is a spiritual renaissance, a revival, a return to the faith as Messianic Jews had in the first-century, unencumbered by the traditions of men. It is a return to a pure and simple faith based upon having a living, vibrant and personal relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, through the Messiah Yeshua.
The real issue we must recognize is not whether it is Jewish to believe in Yeshua, because the
Jewishness of Yeshua is unquestionably historical.
The real issue at stake here is whether Yeshua is truly the Messiah or not. If He is, then it is the most Jewish thing in the world to believe in Him. If He is not the Messiah, then we should not follow him.
There is only one way to find out, and that is to go back into the Jewish Scriptures ourselves and study
the Messianic prophecies.
Why did the Messiah have to die?
The Jewish prophet Isaiah answered this question when he said, “All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own way. And the Lord has laid upon Him (the Messiah) the sin of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6).
Without God, there is no hope for mankind. It is obvious that man is separated from God when we view the ever-worsening situation in the world today. That is why He sent Yeshua the Messiah, who came to deliver us from our sins and to bring us into a new life in Him.
For hundreds of thousands of us today, we know that we have found the Messiah who said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the law or the prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.” (Matthew 5:17)
We would like to encourage you to read and study the Jewish Scriptures of the New Covenant for yourself and find out if Yeshua is truly the One of whom the prophets spoke. Before you research the Scriptures, pray and ask the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to guide you and show you His truth.
What Do the Prophets Say About the Messiah?
1. Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed
2. For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of parched ground.
He has no stately form or majesty that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that
we should be attracted to Him.
3. He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised and we did not esteem Him.
4. Surely our sickness He Himself bore, and our pains He carried; yet we ourselves
esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities;
the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.
6. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but
the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. (Isaiah 53: 1-6)
Prophecies From the Jewish Scriptures:
Messiah is to be born and to reign on King David’s throne.
His place of his birth, Bethlehem.
Messiah is to come in to be “cut off” before the destruction of the Temple.
Messiah is to be a light to the nation of Israel and the Gentiles, as well.
Jeremiah prophesies God’s new covenant with Israel.
Moses proclaims that a prophet like him will arise whom the people must obey.
Israel’s King is endowed with salvation, humble and mounted on a donkey.
Messiah is to be given glory and everlasting dominion over all nations.
The above was written by Messianic Rabbi David Chernoff, of Congregation Beth Yeshua in Philadelphia (www.cby.org). He has been involved in the Messianic movement nationally and internationally, for over 35 years. He is the author of "7 Steps to Knowing the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob", and "Messianic Judaism: Questions & Answers".