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What Is Messianic Judaism?

By Lionel Leslie, October 26, 1996 Printer Friendly Version

All we like sheep have gone astray.  We have turned everyone to his own way, and the LORD has laid upon him the iniquity of us all.
What is Messianic Judaism?  It is a biblically based movement of Jewish and non Jewish people who have come to believe in YESHUA as the promised Jewish Messiah of Israel.  YESHUA is the Hebrew name for JESUS meaning ‘salvation’. Today there are hundreds of thousands of Messianic Jews and non Jews worldwide and hundreds of fellowships.  We have come to believe through the study of Messianic Judaism that YESHUA, JESUS of Nazareth is the Messiah and Saviour of all peoples, Jews and Gentiles, alike if they would believe in Him as their LORD.

Hitherto, many of us had thought Jewish faith and Christian faith to be irreconcilable, incompatible, or even hostile from both points of view.  For instance, to most of my relatives and friends, the concept of a Jewish person believing in YESHUA JESUS seems to be an unquestionable contradiction.  They had a dichotomy set in their minds.  On the one hand they think you have Jews and Judaism, and the other hand Christians and Christianity.  You are either one or the other, so their thinking goes.  But the simple dichotomy is in reality, not so simple. If we go back two thousand years, we find that JESUS 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.  These first century Messianic Jews, later called Christians, where they followed Christ the anglicized Greek name, Messiah, remained highly loyal to their land and their people. Whether it was Jewish to believe JESUS 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.  That was the crux of the matter. When GOD miraculously showed the Messianic Jews that JESUS YESHUA is the Messiah for both Jew and Gentile alike, then Gentiles from every nation began to pour into this Jewish faith.  However as the number of Gentile followers increased, they began to predominate in this Messianic faith.  With the passing on of the Jewish followers as the years went by, the Jewish roots were eventually lost.

This de Judaising process continued until one of the greatest paradoxes in history.  It became alien for a Jewish person to believe in YESHUA JESUS as his Messiah.  Kehillath Tsion, as well as other Messianic congregations, are seeking to put Messiah back within His biblical and Jewish context.  We are experiencing through teachings within this context of Messianic Judaism a spiritual renaissance, a revival, a return to the faith as these Messianic Jews and Gentiles had in the first century, unencumbered by the traditions of men. It is a return to a pure and simple faith based upon a living, vibrant and personal relationship with the GOD of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob through Messiah YESHUA. 

The real issue we must recognize is not whether it is Jewish to believe in YESHUA because the Jewishness of JESUS is unquestionable, historically and biblically.  But the real issue at stake here for us Jews is whether YESHUA is truly the Messiah or not.  There is only one way to find out, and that is for Jewish people who are searching for the truth to turn to our own Jewish writings, the Tanakh.  In it we will find that the Messiah was to come twice.  The first time to suffer and die, and the second time to usher in the Messianic era of peace.  Messianic prophecies are high in our study’s agenda.

If you are Jewish or non Jewish, one thing we could mutually agree with is that without GOD, there is no hope for mankind.  It should be obvious when we view the ever worsening situations in the world today that man has separated himself from GOD and His Messiah; the Only One according to the Word of the LORD, who can deliver us from our sins and bring us into a new life. Why did Messiah have to die?  The Jewish prophet Isaiah speaks of this in Chapter 53 verse 6: All we like sheep have gone astray.  We have turned everyone to his own way, and the LORD has laid upon him (Messiah) the sin of us all.

We seek to bring the Messianic prophecies into perspective drawing from them truths which have been for many years, hidden in antiquity somewhat or deliberately altered to serve some ulterior motives.  For instance, did you know that the LORD’s promises to His Jewish people and to Israel the nation are irrevocable, and that JESUS CHRIST, YESHUA HaMashiach has become a servant to the Jews also with the Truth of GOD to confirm the promises made to the fathers; Romans 15 verse 8?  Even though their leaders signed His death warrant as it were, it did not cancel or annul the promises made by GOD to the fathers of Israel, for in the shedding of His Precious Blood, the promises were sealed by His death and is now confirmed by the power of His resurrection in the marvellous work of the Holy Spirit within the remnant of His people, Israel.

Isaiah continues his prophecy in answer to that ‘why’ question in verse 7 Chapter 53: He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter and as a sheep before his shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.  This was recorded by Isaiah about seven hundred years before the crucifixion of JESUS. He could have brought down the fury of thousands of avenging angels, but He didn’t, thank GOD.  He went to His cross willingly, even though He pleaded to His Father in His humanity thus: to let this cup(the cup of His suffering) pass from me.  But,He continued, nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will. GOD gave to us His Son, a sacrifice for all mankind for the remission of sin; and according to the Law, almost all things are purged with blood, and without the shedding of blood, there is no remission.(Hebrews 9:22).  Therefore Messiah’s sacrificial death fulfilled GOD’s will.

In Genesis 22 verse 7 and 8, Abraham prepared an altar for the sacrifice of his son, Isaac.  Then the Scripture tells us Isaac said, Look, the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?  And Abraham said, my son, GOD will provide for Himself the Lamb for a burnt offering. But a ram, not a lamb was offered as a substitute.  Because of Abraham’s obedience to GOD, He blessed him, and through him, his descendants, Jews and Gentiles; but in your seed, not ‘seeds’, who is Messiah YESHUA, all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; Genesis 22, verse 18, and Galatians 3 verse 16. GOD revealed much to Abraham.  He spoke with him, He ate with him, He walked with him.  He revealed Himself as ADONAI, THE LORD, JEHOVAH YESHUA, the Second Person in the Trinity; Genesis 18.  All prophecy is fulfilled and sealed in YESHUA, JESUS our Messiah.  Shalom.

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