During my teen years I often fought with my father over having to attend Shul (synagogue) functions long after Bar Mitzvah. I wasn’t happy about his decision to compel my brothers and I to attend when he never did. My father of blessed memory was a Hungarian Holocaust survivor who lost his entire family. As far as he was concerned, God too died at Auschwitz. Whenever we lodged a protest and brought up the seeming hypocrisy of his exempting himself, we always received the same answer; “I want you to know who you are and who your people are.” This fatherly wisdom has served me well over the years.
Having a strong Jewish identity, my coming to faith in Yeshua was not borne of a great longing to disassociate with the Jewish world to become a Christian. I was drawn in by an understanding of a Jewish Jesus and an all Jewish New Covenant
When it comes to the Messianic Jewish revival, nothing is of greater importance than the maintenance of our Jewish identity. Through Abraham, God had established an eternal covenant that is irrevocable.
Contrary to a popular consensus forged from centuries of Replacement theology, very few see the New Covenant as Jewish. Furthermore, rarely is there ever a proper treatment regarding the engrafting of individual Gentiles into Israel’s olive tree. The prevailing thought is that Israel is now engrafted into the “Church,” a concept that is foreign to the Romans 11 model, let alone the entirety of Scripture.
Yet, the promise of the New Covenant was given to the people of Israel. (Jer.31:31, Heb. 8:8-12) It is an all Jewish New Covenant. As a covenant people, Israel’s calling and identity was to be distinct from the nations for the sole purpose of winning the nations. For the first time since the first century, Jewish followers of Yeshua have naturally embraced and decidedly chosen to remain firm in their Jewish callings. Rather than succumbing to the pressures of assimilating into the larger, broader mainstream of Christendom, Messianic Jews readily identify with the One who is the “son of David, the son of Abraham” and who is the “Lion of the tribe of Judah.”
In so doing, we remain attached to our people and provide an integral, redemptive witness to the Jewishness of Yeshua and New Covenant faith. Our faith in Yeshua is not one that is merely cloaked in Jewish symbols, but it is reflected in a vibrant Jewish lifestyle marked by a genuine passion to know more of the God of Creation. We consider ourselves to be the beneficiaries of blessings handed down to us in the rich traditions of our fathers. (Rom.3:1-2, 9:4-5)
To properly put into perspective the current state of Messianic Judaism, it’s important to remember where we once were. In previous times, Messianic Jews were not afforded the slightest opportunity to embrace their God ordained identity. In Medieval times, one was coerced to sever all ties with the Jewish world, often being forced or instructed to treating them in an adversarial manner. These were then given proper “Christian” names as if to hide the shame of being Jewish.
Not long ago I made a wonderful discovery. Stuffed in an old book was an issue of the “American Hebrew-Christian Alliance”, dated winter 1968. In this edition were the minutes and reports of a contentious Biennial business meeting held in the summer of 68. What was the main issue that caused such a stir?
The report of the Biennial business meeting noted “the desire of some to form indigenous Hebrew Christian congregations.” It was argued that such congregations would re-erect the “middle wall of partition”. It was also argued that “God was no respecter of person” and therefore such congregational activity would be unacceptable.
Over the course of time, and through much self sacrifice and personal pain, the pioneers of this movement saw fit to change the name of the organization, dropping “Hebrew-Christian” in favor of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America.
Curiously, since there are indigenous congregations everywhere for every ethnicity, why then is there such commotion over Jewish followers of Yeshua wanting to establish their own houses of worship? Since there is no biblical justification for opposing this, why the opposition and why are the same arguments not being made against other ethnicities? Could it be that historically speaking, Christianity has defined itself in opposition to, or at least in separation from, the Jewish people?
One of the many hallmarks of a revival is seen in the sweeping changes made to the status quo. The fact that there was once a Reformation is indicative of the fact that something needed to be reformed, changed. While Messianic Judaism fails to fit the traditional templates of both the Jewish and Christian communities, it does neatly fit the template of redemption laid out by God.
Israel, God’s only locus for salvation, will be called upon to fulfill her divine redemptive mandate. The Abrahamic covenant (Gen.12:1-3) and the New Covenant guarantee that fact. Jewish identity will be an integral link for end time restoration (Zech. 8:23, Rom.11:15). If God didn’t deem Jewish calling and identity important, then He would not have faithfully preserved us as a people over the course of these many years.