I am a Jewish man. I was born a Jew, from Jewish parents of Russian descent. I was raised in a Reform Jewish environment, and since neither of my parents ever really embraced being Jewish, my B’rit Milah (circumcision) and Bar Mitzvah were as much a “This is what we do” thing as it was a spiritual acknowledgement of my covenant with God. When I grew older I forgot about religious observance, and always felt distant from God yet desiring to be closer. What kept me away was my desire to sin, which constantly overcame my desire to know the Lord for some 40-odd years. It was a series of traumatic events that led to my desire to know God, and a determination to finally either know Him or reject the whole thing, once and for all. Thankfully, I did get to know God, and then I also needed to know the truth about this guy Jesus, who most of my life I was told was Jewish but started His own religion and was someone we Jews killed.
Now I know who Jesus really is: a Jewish man named Yeshua ben Yosef, who is in truth the Messiah God promised would come, who was born Jewish, lived a Jewish life and died Jewish. He was still Jewish when he was resurrected. During His life He observed the Torah and never-ever started a new religion (for the record, modern day Christianity is from Constantine, not Yeshua.) So, now that I am still Jewish (I am not a Christian, a Christian-Jew, a Hebrew-Christian or anything other than a Jew) but have accepted Yeshua as my Messiah and recognize that He is the son of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, that means I am no longer just a Jewish man, but I am a Messianic Jewish man.
Messianic Judaism is not Jews for Jesus. Jews for Jesus is an organization, a non-profit company with a “religious” mandate to bring the truth of the Messiah to Jewish people. One of the things that I wish they would do is stop sending Jews willing to know Yeshua to Christian churches. Not that Christian churches are a bad place, but most Christian churches are not Hebraic Roots churches (Oy! Another label!) and many, many Christian churches have a “don’t need Torah” attitude, and (worse than that) some are Replacement Theologists.
The Hebraic Roots Movement is similar to Messianic Judaism in that Messianic Judaism is for Jews (and Christians, too- most Messianic congregations I have known actually have more Gentiles than Jews) who accept Jesus (Yeshua is the preferred name) as the Messiah, but still maintain the Jewish lifestyle and worship rooted in observance and obedience to the Torah. Hebraic roots congregations are Christians (and some Messianic Jews, like me) who desire to get to know and worship the Lord as Yeshua did, worshiping as they did in the First Century.
Essentially, if a person is someone who has accepted that Yeshua/Jesus is the Messiah, and worships as the followers of Yeshua did in the First Century when He walked the earth (and for about two centuries after that), then they are either Messianic Jews (if they are Jewish by birth) or Hebraic Roots Christians (if they are Gentile by birth.)
Same coin, different sides.
By the way- this is obviously a very simplistic explanation. I am hoping that it is effective in getting across the idea that anyone who worships the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who accepts that Yeshua was born a man by Divine conception, who believes He was and still is the Messiah God promised in the Old Covenant writings, is thereby one in the body of Messiah. And, whether or not they were born Jewish, Catholic, Protestant, Buddhist, whatever- when they accept Yeshua as their Messiah, they also accept His lifestyle. Which was, as we would label it today, Judaism. In fact, more similar to Orthodox Judaism than any other sect within Judaism.
I worship at a Hebraic Roots church (zionistrevivalcenter.org) and am one of only maybe 3 or 4 Jewish-born members. We are very small, no more than 15-20 or so “regulars” but we will, with God’s blessings, grow. I believe there is a growing desire in the Christian world to get closer to Jesus, since most of what He really is and what He really taught has been thrown out and replaced with Christian rhetoric, ritual and Anti-Semitic diatribe (such as the Replacement Theology claim that God has rejected the Jews for rejecting Yeshua, and Christians are now the “Chosen people.” Really? I don’t think so- God is pretty clear about His devotion and love for the Jewish people throughout the Bible.)
The aim of this blog-ministry of mine is to help people understand that God doesn’t have any religion, just rules. His rules were given to us in the Torah and the Torah is meant for everyone. It is not, and was never meant to be, exclusive to Jews. It was given to the Jews to bring to the world.
Whatever belief system you have now, does it respect the Torah? Do you believe (or have you been told to believe) that the Torah is valid for everyone? Do you believe that God still expects you to obey the laws of Kashrut outlined in Leviticus 11? Do you honor God by celebrating the festivals God said we are to celebrate and in the manner He described in Leviticus 23?
Or- do you believe (or have been told) that the Torah is only for Jews? Were you taught that Jews receive their salvation from Torah but Christians are saved by the Blood of Christ? Do you believe that the only things in the Old Covenant that are valid for you are the “moral laws” that God gave the Jews? If so, you have a very rude awakening coming to you.
Here’s the truth- the biblical truth that you can verify in the bible- Yeshua lived and worshiped as a Jew. The Disciples lived and worshiped as Jews. Shaul (Paul) never “converted” to Christianity- it didn’t even exist then! The followers of Yeshua were Jews who met in the synagogue or, if under social or political attack, met in their homes but NEVER stopped worshiping as Jews. There was no “church” in the first century- the “church” (as we know it today) was formed by Constantine and the Council of Nicene a couple of centuries after Yeshua walked the earth. The truth, my friends, is that if you believe Jesus is the Son of God and you claim to worship Him, than you should be worshiping God, not Jesus, and worshiping God as Jesus did.
I see bracelets with “WWJD” on them, and hear all the time that Christians should do as Jesus did and walk as Jesus walked, yet the Christian world teaches (for the most part) to do nothing like what Jesus did, and to walk a path Jesus would never have even thought of walking! Consider this: the world is about to celebrate the birth of the Messiah and enjoy a holiday feast in His honor with food that He would have considered an abomination to see on His dinner table! I am talking about the traditional Christmas Ham, of course. When you think about it, eating ham on a day designed to celebrate Jesus’s birth is, in fact, disrespectful to God and to Jesus.
The end is always coming closer. That is just simple math- our timeline moves in one direction, and the end is at, well…the end, so every day, every hour, every breath brings us all closer to the final judgement. And the real kicker is that we don’t know when the end is! Bummer! That means that the best possible time to get yourself right in accordance with God (through Yeshua) is now. Right now. And that means if you haven’t accepted your own sinfulness, now’s the time to get with the program. We all hear about asking for forgiveness, but the truth is until you accept your own sinfulness and inability to overcome it, there’s no desire to ask anyone for forgiveness. So, first and foremost, we have to accept and “own” our sinful nature as being against God and we have to want to change it, to do T’Shuvah. Then, and only then, will our request for forgiveness through Yeshua’s sacrificial death on our behalf, be honest.
Next, accept that the truth that God’s will is for us to live as He said we should, which is defined and outlined in the Torah. Yeshua taught nothing but what is in the Torah- He respected it, He observed it perfectly, and he taught others to do so. He never, never, never taught anything against or outside the Torah. What really happened is God gave the Torah to Moses, the people added too many rules and regulations on their own and when Yeshua came to earth to teach the truth, He upset the “religious” authority by telling people that it is God’s authority that counts. We were only looking at the words of the Torah, and Yeshua taught us the spirit of the Torah. And He was all about the Torah and all about God.
If you want to worship God in a way that will please God, then doesn’t it just make sense to worship God as He said to worship Him? To live your life in the manner He said to live it?