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On Monday 4th May, 2009

The Origin of Messianic Judaism

When Did Messianic Judaism Begin?

Messianic Judaism is actually over 2,000 years old, dating to the time of Yeshua Himself. Yeshua was (and is) Jewish. He was raised in a Jewish home and ministered to Jewish people in the Land of Israel. His disciples were Jewish. The apostles were Jewish. The writers of the Brit Chadashah (New Covenant or Testament) were Jewish (with the possible exception of Luke, and a good case can be made that he too was Jewish), and for a time, the faith was strictly Jewish. By the middle of the first century AD, tens of thousands of Jewish people believed that Yeshua was the Messiah (see Acts 2:37-42, 4:4, 21:20).

If, At First, Messianic Judaism Was Made Up Entirely Of Jewish People, How Did Gentiles Come Into The Faith?

It was always God’s will for the Gentile nations to share in His salvation (Isaiah 42:6, 49:6). God told Abraham that through him all the nations of the Earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3). The LORD YAHWEH set apart the Jewish people to bring the knowledge of God, the Word of God, and the Saviour to the rest of the world – John 4:22; Romans 3:1-2. At first the early Messianic Jews did not understand that this was God’s will and they proclaimed the Good News only to other Jewish people. Ironically, the big controversy in the first century was not whether Jews could believe in Yeshua (naturally they could), but whether Gentiles could come into the faith without having to “become Jewish” When Messianic Jews finally understood that salvation was also intended for the Gentiles, they began to share the Good News with non-Jews as well as with Jews. As a result, many Gentiles began to come into the faith. Apostle Paul preached about this in his letter in Romans 11:1-36 and where he made special mention of the Olive Tree concerning the Gentile worshippers…

Rom. 11:13-22… I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I take pride in my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them. For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.

If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you. You will say then, “Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in.” Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but tremble. For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either. Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off. And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again. After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree. (NIB)

Romans 2:25-28 “Circumcision has value if you observe the law, but if you break the law, you have become as though you had not been circumcised. So then, if those who are not circumcised keep the law’s requirements, will they not be regarded as though they were circumcised? The one who is not circumcised physically and yet obeys the law will condemn you who, even though you have the written code and circumcision, are a lawbreaker. A person is not a Jew who is one only outwardly, nor is circumcision merely outward and physical. 29No, a person is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the written code. Such a person’s praise is not from other people, but from God. (NIB)

How Did A Jewish Movement Come To Be Regarded As So Non-Jewish?

When the early Messianic Jews took the Good News to the Gentiles, many became Believers. By the end of the first century, Gentile Believers outnumbered the Jewish Believers. This occurred primarily because there are far more Gentiles than Jewish people. However, as more and more Gentiles came into the Messianic faith, some had little understanding or regard for its Jewish roots and God’s eternal covenant with Israel. A “de-Judaizing” process (a separation from the Jewish roots of the faith and from the Jewish people) set in. As the number of Gentile Believers increased, they began to dominate the faith until the Gentile expression of Christianity emerged as the dominant expression of the faith. Then, in what can only be regarded as one of the greatest paradoxes of history, Christianity made it seem alien for a Jewish person to be loyal to the King of the Jews.

When Did the Early Messianic Jews Disappear And Why?

In spite of the many pressures put upon Jewish Believers to give up their faith, it seems that Messianic Judaism continued into the seventh century AD. First, non-Messianic rabbis pressured Messianic Jews to relinquish their faith in Yeshua as the Messiah. In addition, the dominant Gentile expression of Christianity pressured Messianic Jews to abandon their Jewishness. Finally, in the seventh century AD, the rise of Islam caused distress for Messianic Jews. Despite all this, the real reason for the disappearance of early Messianic Judaism was that Messianic Jews lost their “vision” – no longer regarding it as important to remain Jewish after accepting Yeshua. Consequently, they assimilated into the Gentile expression of Christianity.

MODERN MESSIANIC JUDAISM

When Did The Modern Messianic Jewish Movement Begin? Though Messianic Judaism as a distinct movement faded in the seventh century, there have always been individual Jewish Believers in Yeshua. Beginning in the early 1800s increasing numbers of Jewish people began believing in Yeshua. The modern Messianic Jewish movement came to fruition in the 1960s and 1970s. We believe that this could be part of the salvation of the Jewish people predicted to occur in the Last Days (see Hosea 3:4-5, Joel 2:28-29, Deuteronomy 30:1-5, Romans 11:25-27).

How Many Messianic Jews Are There?

While there are no concrete figures, it has been estimated by those involved in the movement (and even by those outside the movement) that there are approximately 40,000 to 50,000 Jewish Believers in the Messiah in the United States alone. Even though there are approximately 300 Messianic synagogues in the U.S., the majority of Messianic Jews join evangelical churches and do not attend Messianic congregations. The Messianic congregational movement is still relatively small, but it is growing. In 1948, when Israel was reestablished as an independent nation, there were fewer than 1000 Messianic Jews living in Israel. Today, there are approximately 18,000 Messianic Jews in Israel in 50 congregations. The Messianic Jewish movement is also growing in other countries. If you are interested in getting involved in a Messianic synagogue, discernment is required, since not all are theologically sound. In all cases the Messengers are needed for more spiritual directions.

MESSIANIC TERMINOLOGY

Why Do We Use The Name “Yeshua” As Well As “Jesus”? Yeshua the Messiah never heard the name “Jesus” in His earthly lifetime. Yeshua is His given Hebrew name. It means “salvation” or “the Lord is salvation” (ref… Matthew 1:21). He was always called “Yeshua”, a common Hebrew name at that time. When Latin-speaking missionaries, who called the Messiah “Yesu”, brought the Good News to the British people, “Yesu” became “Jesus” in English while the Romans were calling Him Apollo.

THE NAME AND PICTURE “JESUS”

It is very sad that Christians have changed the real Jewish name of the Messiah from Yeshua (Yahushua) to Jesus and suing the picture of another Gentile – a sinful soul. There has not been his picture even Prophet Mohammed do not have a picture to be worshipped.

What Does “Christ” Mean?

Some people mistakenly believe that “Christ” is Yeshua’s last name. Rather, “Christ” is His title in much the same way as we might refer to a “President” or “King”. This title is taken from the Hebrew word “Mashiach” or “Anointed One”, which was translated into the Greek “Christos” and later Anglicized to “Christ”. Indians also uses the same Krishna for the same meaning. The actual English translation of Mashiach is “Messiah” and means an anointed, God-appointed leader. Prophets, priests and kings were anointed. The Messiah is the ultimate Prophet, Priest and King. Examples of this title in the Tanach are found in Daniel 9:25 and Psalm 2:2. In the New Covenant, Yeshua claimed the title of Messiah (see Mark 14:61-62 and John 4:25-26).

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