WHY SOME JEWS BECOME MESSIANIC JEWS

No one has any control as to where they were born or to whom they were born.  We are raised by parents who identify with a particular faith and that faith was transmitted to us. Some of us were then sent to religious schools where we were further indoctrinated into that faith. All faiths have variations within them. Movement within these variations can often cause at a minimum verbal conflict or shunning. In contemporary Christianity movement between Orthodox, Catholic, Traditional Protestant, Baptist and Evangelical occurs often without fear of physical repercussions. This cannot be said about Islam. Movement between Shi’a and Sunni groups can often end in violence. A Sunni who is a Salafi could never accept a relative or friend becoming Shi’a. This is so because Shi’ites are viewed as heretics. Judaism is extremely diverse. Rabbinical Judaism encompasses Ultra-Orthodox, Orthodox, Khabad Lubavitch, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist. Khabad Lubavich is one of several kHasidic [or, more commonly, Chasidic or Hasidic] sects which are a branch within what would be considered ultra-Orthodox [kHeredim] Judaism.  Khasidim have a different worship style [more music, more dancing, more spontaneity than other kHeredim], but equally strict social and lifestyle rules and similarly insular [avoiding contact with non-Kosher-keeping people who are viewed as ceremonially unclean].  Modern Orthodox Jews keep most of the same rabbinic laws, but will work and do business with, and to a large degree socialize with, non-Jews and secular Jews.

Jews identify with a northern/eastern European heritage [Ashkenazaic] or southern European, North African, Middle Eastern heritage [Sephardic]. Jews who rejected the notion of God long ago are still considered part of the Jewish community. Where the diverse Jewish community came to complete accord was in the rejection of Yeshua Ha Notzri [Jesus of Nazareth] as the Mashiakh [Messiah] and Adonai [Lord].

This brings us to the nexus.  Why would any Jew ever entertain the idea or come to believe in the Messiahship of Yeshua? Prior to WWII there were strong socio-economic pressures on Jews that encouraged a departure from rabbinic Judaism, even if the “benefits” didn’t live up to expectations. This was no different than the pressures on Jewish dhimmi to accept Islam.  In both cases, nominal pressure to depart Judaism conveyed substantial socio-economic benefits, including allowing children to intermarry with the dominant society; in both cases, there were varying degrees of pressure to leave Judaism, and in some cases, Jews were denied entry into the other faith because it was felt they were “insincere” – even if the authorities’ faith was no less superficial.

Those days are past. Jews are now being encouraged to secularize, not follow Christ, if they want to “fit in” to Western society. Jewish people find total acceptance in educated western society as long as they do not display either religious faith or identify with the Jewish people or the State of Israel.

Other Jews [primarily those from Orthodox or ultra-Orthodox environments] are dissatisfied with “mainstream” Jewish orthopraxy, finding it empty or unfulfilling — too much emphasis on medieval rituals and prayers in a language they don’t understand, not enough on the Tenakh and seeking God’s purpose for their lives.  Eventually they begin to question the purpose for or value of these rituals and prayers. These Jews often seek fulfillment in another variant of Judaism. At some point they may query their rabbi why the principles found in the Tenakh must be filtered through the so-called “Oral Law” — the Talmud.  When these questions go unanswered or rabbinical responses are unsatisfactory these Jews may stop participating in Rabbinical Judaism. At this point engagement with a Jewish believer in Yeshua or a Gentile Christian may spark an inquiry into the claims made by Jesus of Nazareth.

Modern Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist Jews would reject the validity of this reason, saying that their forms of Judaism emphasize use of vernacular language and “relevant, meaningful” forms of worship and fellowship. Yet after exploring these forms of Judaism some Jews still do not find spiritual fulfillment.  This may be a partial reason for Jewish people to investigate Christianity, but there has to be something else, too. The rabbis do not accept or acknowledge the many Messianic prophesies from the Tenakh that Yeshua fulfilled, much less share them with other Jews.  When Jews who are questioning or searching discover these prophesies fulfilled by Yeshua in the Tenakh they begin to question why these prophesies were withheld from them during their religious education. Being taught Yeshua is not the Messiah is one thing. Addressing every messianic prophesy that Yeshua fulfilled becomes far more difficult since some may not agree with rabbinical conclusions. In this discourse the rabbis conclude the following:

— Messiah is supposed to usher in an era of peace between all peoples and a universal belief in the God of Israel.  That hasn’t happened, so Yeshua can’t be the Messiah.

Messianic Jews reply; if this is so why then does the Tenakh describe a Messiah King born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:1-2); and in another passage (Daniel 7:13-14) Messiah, the Son of Man i.e. already born of a woman, comes on the clouds of heaven and will establish a reign that will never end i.e. one messiah appearing twice in history [once to redeem from sin and the other to establish an unending earthly messianic kingdom]

— When confronted with the well-known Messianic verses in Isaiah 52-53, the rabbis say that Israel is the suffering servant, not Yeshua.

Messianic Jews reply; how can Israel be the suffering servant when the people of Israel are described as the ones who reject the suffering servant?

— When confronted with the evidences of the empty tomb and the hundreds who witnessed the resurrected Messiah, the rabbis say that this was deception by a sect of fanatics, because they claim that if it was true, the rabbis of the time [the Pharisees] and the priests would have followed him.

Messianic Jews reply; if this was a deception why did they all suffer persecution and ultimately a horrible death and not profit in the least financially for what they all knew was a lie and not recant to the point of death? Why would the rabbis of today put that much trust in the Pharisees and priests of that day who conspired with the Romans to kill a fellow Jew, persecuted his followers and presided over the final years of Jerusalem before these same Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple?  How does any of this display God’s favor for His chosen during that period when they knew the Temple could only be destroyed due to the collective sin of the people who failed to repent of their sin which forced a Holy God to vacate His house?

— The rabbis reject the virgin birth, asserting that Yosef was the biological as well as legal father of Yeshua, who had gotten Miriam pregnant while they were still betrothed.

Messianic Jews reply; who then was born of a young virgin (Isaiah 7:14) and who is the child who will be known as Mighty God and Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6-9)? The scripture says the child will be known as Mighty God and Everlasting Father yet the rabbis say the messiah cannot be God? If not imbued with power from on high how was he able to heal all those who believed in him and needed healing?

— The rabbis assert the miracles recorded in the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles were fabrications or huge exaggerations – there were no records of them outside of Christian sources, and the Romans were scrupulous record keepers.

Messianic Jews reply; how then did his popularity continue to grow if his inner circle and other Jews who were in proximity collected proof of this deception?  How did this movement grow at such a rapid rate after his public execution? Those non-Christian sources certainly wrote of his crucifixion. Except for the servant of a Roman soldier, Yeshua healed those who had faith in Him among his people, the Jews. What the rabbis refuse to consider is that Yeshua endured suffering because he knew why he was on earth and for what purpose.  The Apostles and Disciples endured persecution from the Jewish leadership and the Romans because they knew what they experienced was true.

Some Jews have a direct vision, dream, or other divine calling to accept Yeshua as Messiah, Savior, and Lord.  This is also surprisingly common for Muslims in recent decades.  Many who became Messianic Jews do so only after an exhaustive search of the Tenakh for proofs for or against the Messiahship of Yeshua. Jews who can only accept a messiah of conquest and judgment [one who will deal with those who are violent, oppressive, corrupt, depraved, or hate the Jewish people] do not find Yeshua in the New Covenant text performing these deeds. Jews who ask where is the shedding of blood for atonement of our sins as described in Leviticus 17:11 and come to understand that their captivity to sin is what most concerns the Lord begin to understand why the miraculous birth, life, death and resurrection of Yeshua was necessary and foretold in the Tenakh. When the end of the Levitical sacrificial system is acknowledged and the question raised as to why it isn’t re-established, the more Orthodox rabbis will assert that they are doing what their predecessors did, that is follow God’s direction, to maintain faith [through Torah study, prayer, fasting, and good works/charity] while in diaspora in Babylon, until the Holy Temple is rebuilt in Jerusalem again, which will be when Messiah comes.  The more liberal Jews say that Judaism outgrew primitive blood sacrifices, just as it came to reject slavery, acknowledge the equality of women, and accept that Judaism is only one of several paths to relationship with God. They will promote Tikkun Olam [fixing the world] as the new replacement for the Temple and sacrificial system as the way God wants Jews to lead people to God.

Rabbinical Jews – whether Orthodox or liberal — do not accept the concept of “original sin” enduring through the generations.  They assume that the Fall was atoned for by Adam & Eve’s expulsion from the Garden, and note that Torah teaches that children are not punished for the sins of their parents. They assume that mankind is created in God’s image and is therefore basically good, though without proper upbringing is easily corrupted.

Some Jews are introduced to the Gospels [by Christian outreach, academic requirement, curiosity, or “God-incidence”] and/or see obvious Messianic passages in the Tenakh that point them to the Messiahship of Yeshua.  This is a natural outgrowth of not finding fulfillment in the rabbinical rituals or having experiences that point towards Yeshua as the fulfillment of Biblical Judaism.

Especially among Ashkenazaic [central/eastern European-descended] Jews they may have socio-cultural reasons motivated primarily by a desire to rebel against Jewish feminist & Progressive norms and/or desire to marry a Christian. These Jews begin to question why many Jews embrace progressive policies which not only go against the tenets found in the Tenakh but align with other progressives who are hostile towards the Jewish state of Israel. They cannot dispute that the most loyal supporters of Israel and the Jewish people are Evangelical Christians. This is less common among the Sephardim [Jews with roots in the Islamic world or southern Europe].  It is also true to say that those with these sort of motivations don’t often result in a heart-felt acceptance of Christ as Messiah, Savior, and Lord, but rather in agnosticism or secularism.

Only Jews who become unfulfilled in rabbinical Judaism begin to question the relevancy of the only faith they have known. Once they become convinced that Yeshua is really God’s redeemer; the “promised one of Israel,” they enter a relationship with their Jewish messiah who becomes the fulfillment of Biblical Judaism.  It is these Jews who know what the Tenakh promises after death [Resurrection of the Wise and Unjust in Daniel 12: 2-3] and those who are wise will recognize that the saving relationship for Jews is not in the words of the rabbis but in the words of the Tenakh where the Prophet Isaiah states in chapter 53:

8 After forcible arrest and sentencing, he was taken away; and none of his generation protested his being cut off from the land of the living for the crimes of my people, who deserved the punishment themselves.

9 He was given a grave among the wicked; in his death he was with a rich man. Although he had done no violence and had said nothing deceptive,

10 yet it pleased Adonai to crush him with illness, to see if he would present himself as a guilt offering. If he does, he will see his offspring; and he will prolong his days; and at his hand Adonai’s desire will be accomplished.

11 After this ordeal, he will see satisfaction. “By his knowing [pain and sacrifice], my righteous servant makes many righteous; it is for their sins that he suffers.

12 Therefore I will assign him a share with the great, he will divide the spoil with the mighty, for having exposed himself to death and being counted among the sinners, while actually bearing the sin of many and interceding for the offenders.”

The righteous walk by faith.  This was certainly true of Abraham. Yeshua also forgave everyone from the cross. Is this not the act of one who is truly righteous? If one rejects faith, one can come up with many alternative explanations.  Despite the fact that the Tenakh gives endless accounts of Jewish sinfulness from Genesis through Malachi the rabbis insist the Jews of that time acted without sin when the Tenakh testifies otherwise.

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