Understanding Messianic Judaism

By Wodlinger, Michael | Winnipeg Free Press, March 2, 2013 | Go to article overview

Understanding Messianic Judaism


Wodlinger, Michael, Winnipeg Free Press


A short time ago I was asked by one of my Jewish friends: "Just what is Messianic Judaism? Is this a new religion?"

Quite natural questions, I thought. In this article, my aim is to clarify the identity of Messianic Judaism and how it relates to both Judaism and Christianity.

Four key foundation stones underpin Messianic beliefs. First is the understanding that the Messiah, Adonai Yeshua, was, is and ever more will be the incarnate God, who came to Earth in the form of a man, born of a virgin in the town of Beit Lechem (Bethlehem). Isaiah prophesied these identifying events about Messiah in chapters seven and nine as did the prophet Micah in his fifth chapter. Adherents believe he was crucified at the start of Passover on 14 Nissan and resurrected on Bikkurim (First Fruits), 17 Nissan, in 30 CE. The facts of his death and resurrection are substantiated by extra-biblical sources, such as the ancient Jewish historian, Josephus, who describes, in Jewish Antiquities, how Yeshua (Jesus) was tried, crucified and resurrected.

The second is the Torah, God's instructions in the first five books of the Bible, given to help us lead set-apart lives. Messianic believers, like many observant Jewish people, try to observe those instructions that are applicable here and now. Many of those instructions, however, apply only to people living in Israel, and many others are tied to worship in the temple, which was destroyed in 70 CE by Roman armies.

The third foundation stone is observing the seventh-day Sabbath, as commanded in the Torah. (Sunday never was the Sabbath, neither in the Hebrew nor in the Apostolic scriptures.) And the fourth involves observing God's appointed times: the Sabbath, the New Moon Festival, Passover, Shavuot (Pentecost), Day of Trumpets/Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and Sukkot (Tabernacles). Messianic believers commemorate his crucifixion and resurrection at Passover rather than Easter, which is based on a pagan holiday, while evidence in the Hebrew and Apostolic scriptures indicate Sukkot (Tabernacles) is the likely time of the Messiah's birth, not Dec. 25. That's a very brief outline of Messianic Judaism, with the finer details omitted.

Messianic Judaism is not a new religion; it is one form of Judaism practised from the first to the fourth centuries by many Jews in what is now known as Israel and in the diaspora. When the Roman Emperor Constantine declared Christianity to be the official religion of the Roman Empire, practices considered to be Jewish, such as Torah study and keeping the Saturday Sabbath and other appointed times of the Lord, were excised from the new official religion on pain of death for non-Roman citizens. …

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