One Reason Why Israel Cannot Accept us.
By Messianic Rabbi David Markel Hall
I am concerned at what I have seen in the Messianic Jewish community. Many "Messianic Jews" are not practicing Judaism. They are basically "Christians" who claim to be Jewish. They may indeed have a Jewish mother and/or a Jewish father; they may also have had bar/bat mitzveh and been raised in Shul, but it seems they have lost, forgotten, or never had the majority of Jewish traits.
How far away from Judaism can Messianics travel in their theology and still remain Jewish? Yochanan tells us they, "… say they are Jews and are not…" Rev 2:9. This was written to the "church". Messianic Jews often eat "anything that moves" asking G-d to "bless it." They celebrate the pagan festivals of Christmas, Easter and even Halloween (Jeremiah 10:2-5), while incorporating the "Jewish" festivals of Passover etc. (Ezek 20:13-16 "polluted the Sabbath"). To traditional Jews, this appears to be just a facade and very hypocritical and I must agree. Doing these things is putting a mask of Judaism over a non-Jewish religion. The core still remains gentile "Christian" in nature. Additionally, this does not bode very well for Messianic Jews as a whole.
I recently heard a "Jewish" believer in Yeshua speak (via tape) at a Baptist church in Houston. During his sermon he told how important "Christmas" is. He gave a basic plan to lead Jews to belief in the "Messiah" using the "Old Testament" but his vernacular was basically Christian.
Why was he giving a church the tools to "convert" Jews? Jewish people do not belong in churches. They have no business keeping Sunday, pagan festivals or eating pork and shrimp. They should never give up the commandments of our G-d. It wouldn’t hurt them to keep kosher and observe other hallachah. The sages gave us the principles we are also receiving from the Ruach HaShem (Holy Spirit) if we will but listen.
Another "Jewish" minister told me "I was delivered from all of that.", speaking of Jewish customs and traditions.
I must side with traditional Jews in this area. One must practice Judaism, as a way of life, to be truly Jewish. Many "Messianic Jews" are not Jewish in their "way of life" or in their thoughts. They are not practicing ways which "sanctify" them but, on the contrary, are often rebels finding excuses for breaking Torah. In my opinion, Judaism is better off without them. Fine, let them go and be gentile Christians. Please don’t say you are Jewish unless your "life-style" is Jewish.
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My Messianic, Chasidic rabbi asked me what my sermon was about on "Good Friday". I responded, "The weekly Torah portion." He said, "you didn’t discuss the death of Yeshua?" "NO!", I replied, "We try to stick to the weekly Torah portions as much as possible." We can discuss the death and resurrection of Yeshua at its appropriate time, Passover. It falls almost a month after Easter this year. He liked this very much.
Many of the "Messianic Jewish" congregations use little traditional liturgy. The majority are not happy without putting "Yeshua" into their Sabbath prayers, altering thousands of years of Jewish tradition. I have found only two places in traditional liturgy which need to be changed when one receives truth of G-d in their theology. These say, "G-d is not, never was and never will be flesh." Yochanan 1 (John 1) and Genesis 18 both tell us that G-d came here in human flesh. Unless the liturgy truly contradicts Torah (most of it does not contradict Torah), leave it alone.
"Baptism" originates in Judaism. It is called immersion in miqveh. A miqveh is a collection of water fed by a stream. This is not a bathtub or swimming pool. Jews immerse in miqveh for many reasons. See Messianic Jews 6 (Hebrews 6). Immersion in miqveh is required after touching a dead body or becoming unclean in any way ("baptized for the dead" I Cor 15:29; Numbers 19:11-20; there are more reasons for this kind of immersion). The Orthodox also immerse before the Sabbath and Holy Days.
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A significant part of being Jewish is family and community. If we are truly Jewish, we should act like it by being part of the Jewish community. I went to the JCCA and asked them if we could participate in local Jewish events. They said, "not as an organization". We can participate as individuals in any publicized event we wish but not as an officially approved organization. I feel this is fair under the circumstances.
Our cantor asked if he could skip our seder this year to be with family. OF COURSE!, I replied. I am happy he wants to be with them.
I encourage all of our Jews to participate in family and community events. I instruct them not to "evangelize" while participating in these events. One of our families attends faithfully the local Reformed Synagogue. They and I feel it is important for the children to have a sense of community. They are faithful members of our congregation as well.
The Jewish community is mourning the loss of the temple. In Orthodox and most Conservative Sabbath services, musical instruments are not used. Messianics are not in mourning over the temple because we have become the temple of G-d. We use musical instruments in singing. Our congregation makes a clear distinction between the ancient Davidic style praise and worship (with musical instruments), and our traditional Sabbath service (without musical instruments). The reason, to be in sympathy with those who are mourning the loss of the temple.
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We do not aggressively evangelize the Jewish community. Our Jewish brothers already believe in the one true G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They should not change this, only they need to know Messiah Yeshua, who is G-d. (John 1).
Our process for acquainting the Jewish community is based on 1 Peter 3:15.
1) get to know them; 2) show them how Jewish we are; 3) show them how much joy we have in our Jewish heritage.
They will start asking questions once they understand us. We then answer their questions honestly, without "holding punches."
Some "Messianic Jews" seek out non-Messianic Jews with a vendetta. Their single goal is to "get Jews saved". Often, after "conversion", they are led to a traditional church (away from the Jewish community) for worship and fellowship. The problem with this is that the church is not Judaism. The church cannot and will never be able to be a substitute for Judaism in the natural.
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Often the differences I see are subtle. Small things that mean a lot are changed in a Jew who accepts the Messiah through Messianic or traditional churches. When a Jew comes to Zion we go to great lengths not to change them from Jewish in ANY way. We work hard at getting them to participate in the Jewish community and even to attend shul, especially for major holidays.
There are significant changes that come naturally from accepting Yeshua as Messiah, but theologically we should avoid interference in Jewish doctrine. The Ruach HaShem will certainly guide all believers into more accurate truth. We should focus on spiritual diet. Get them to read their Bible. Let G-d do the rest.
Messianic Jews should avoid reading Paul’s letters until they have a good grounding in the rest of the Bible. After they learn from those called to Judaism, [i.e. Mattityahu (Matthew), Ya’akov (James), Yochanan (John), Kefa (Peter) and Y’hudah (Jude) and Rav Shaul’s letter to the Messianic Jews (Hebrews)], they will have a better basis for understanding the "Apostle Paul’s" letters to the gentiles if they keep in mind that he is writing to gentiles not to Jews.
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My name is David Markel Hall. I am fifty years old, the son of a Southern Baptist minister, circumcised, accepted Messiah Yeshua at age four in 1950, immersed in water at age eight, accepted the call into the service of the L-rd at age sixteen in 1962, and began my "deprogramming" process immediately thereafter. The rest of my spiritual life has been a quest for "truth". I have had to make many substantial changes in my theology during the course of this "adventure".
My studies have taken me through both "Testaments". Extensive effort has been taken to understand Judaism through the eyes of G-d. I went through several denominational churches and studied at a Conservative synagogue in the process of arriving at my current theological position. I am currently studying with a Chasidic Orthodox Rabbi who also knows Yeshua as Messiah. He tells me, "you are much closer to Chasidic Jewish than anything else."
I have sacrificed all that I was (theologically) and have laid down every belief which could not be substantiated through the Bible. I have forced my beliefs into a mold which is fashioned by the whole Bible. It has turned out to be particularly Jewish, with the single exception of Messiah Yeshua, having "fulfilled" the prophecies in the Torah regarding Moshiach ben Yoseph (Talmud Succa 52a).
Since coming into the Messianic Jewish way, my beliefs have stabilized. I no longer feel that there are "glaring errors" in my theology. Baruch HaShem!
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