What is Messianic Judaism?
“What Is Messianic Judaism?” answers some of the questions frequently asked about Messianic Judaism.
What is Messianic Judaism?
Messianic Judaism is a movement of Jewish people who believe that Yeshua (Jesus’ original name in Hebrew) is the Messiah of Israel and the Savior of the world. Yeshua is the most Jewish of Jews. Yeshua was a descendant of both Abraham and King David, was raised in a Jewish home and went to synagogue. He perfectly kept the entire Torah (see Galatians 4:4). He taught that He came to fulfill, not set aside, the Torah (see Matthew 5:17-19). He was a rabbi who performed unparalleled miracles, bringing great blessing to the nation of Israel. All His early disciples also lived very Jewish lives. The Messianic movement was entirely Jewish at its inception, and continued to exist as an authentic Jewish movement for 700 years after Yeshua’s death and resurrection. Messianic Jews have not stopped being Jewish. On the contrary, we remain strongly Jewish in our identity and lifestyle! The Tenach (the Old Testament Scriptures) provides the foundation of our Jewish faith, and the New Covenant Scriptures (which were also written by Jews) the completion of our Jewish faith. In fact, the Hebrew Scriptures themselves affirm that they are not complete, but that God was going to make a New Covenant with the Jewish people (Jeremiah 31:31-34). We believe that the Sinai covenant, upon which much of traditional (Rabbinic) Judaism is based, is a broken covenant. There is no Temple and there are no sacrifices by which we can be brought near to God and experience genuine atonement. Non-Messianic Judaism is based on this broken covenant, which cannot save us. In contrast, we believe that God already established this New Covenant by means of Yeshua’s death and resurrection. He died and rose again to atone for our sins, so that we can enter into this New Covenant relationship with God. We believe that Yeshua ascended to the right hand of God the Father and is coming back to Earth to reign from Jerusalem over Israel and all the nations of the world. At that time the fullness of the New Covenant will be realized.
What is the difference between Messianic Judaism and the various non-Messianic Judaisms?
Non-Messianic or Rabbinic Judaism is a religion centered around the teachings and writings of the non-Messianic rabbis. Its formation began during the Babylonian Captivity (around 550 BC) and solidified nearly 2,000 years ago when the Second Temple was destroyed in 70 AD. Prior to that, “Judaism”, or the faith of the Jewish people, was centered around the Temple and the sacrificial system, and brought genuine atonement. After the destruction of the Temple, the non-Messianic rabbis decided to radically restructure Judaism, substituting synagogues, rabbis, prayers, study and commandments for the Temple, priests and sacrifices. They also added many of their own laws, rules and traditions. Sadly, they left us with a man-made religion that is powerless to save us. Today their writings and commentaries (the Talmud, etc.) form the foundation of traditional (non-Messianic) Judaism. Rabbinic Judaism consists of several branches: Orthodox (traditional), Chassidic (Orthodox with influences from eastern mysticism, including belief in reincarnation – a non-Biblical concept), Conservative,Reform (liberal), Reconstructionist (emphasizing Jewish culture over theology) and Secular Humanistic (denying the existence of God). Very few within these “Judaisms” are actually awaiting the Messiah, and those who are, are the exceptions. Messianic Judaism differs from Rabbinic Judaism in that we rely completely on the Scriptures. Our faith is the Judaism of the Bible (Biblical Judaism) and is centered on Messiah and the salvation He brings. We are brought near to God because of the atoning work of Yeshua, Israel’s Chief Rabbi, who has fulfilled us as Jewish Believers and fulfilled Judaism itself.
Is there a difference between Messianic Judaism and Christianity?
In one sense, Messianic Judaism and Christianity are the same thing. There is only one faith. Messianic Jews and Christians share the same core beliefs. Messianic Judaism is the same faith but it is expressed within the Jewish heritage.