What is Messianic Judaism? This is about a complicated question as asking, “What’s an Independent Baptist?” There is a great deal of variety in Messianic Jews and Gentiles, in practice and belief.
Messianics (Hereafter referred to as “Messianics”) have few congregations, some towns having no synagogues, others having two or three, usually small in number. The congregations are usually Gentile, with anywhere from two to five Jews – and sometimes none – in the average synagogue.
The average Messianic is Gentile, Charismatic, listens to CCM with a Jewish flavor, and reads the “Jewish New Testament” translation, although a few other translations such as the Amplified Bible will be used. They usually wear a yarmulke (women included), and will wear a Tallis (prayer shawl – again, women included) during services, and often at home while praying. Few Messianics, on the other hand, wear Tefillin – the Phylacteries.
The Rabbi usually is not Seminary trained, knows some Hebrew and little to no Greek. Training ranges from diploma mills ordination to merely an experienced Messianic who’s had hands laid on them after only a few years.
Again, we’re talking about the AVERAGE Messianic. Since the Manny Brotman era (80’s to early 90’s), most Messianics have undergone a radical shift in emphasis. Most Messianics back then were either Baptist style or Charismatic, the latter being predominant. Thanks to the “Jewish New Testament”, the emphasis changed radically in just a few years to Holy Name-ism, Sabbatarianism, and Torah Observance/Galatianism (We’ll be referring to these as TOM – Torah Observant Messianics).
Holy Name-ism is the belief that we are saved only through the pronunciation of the correct name of God. Holy Name-ists cannot agree on which is the Holy Name of God, thus reinforcing the point that we do not know the correct pronunciation of God’s name!
Many are Yahweh’ist, others prefer Yahveh, and a few out on the fringe prefer Yaohuah (?). There is no evidence that the Yaohuah pronunciation is anything more than someone’s imaginative attempt, fueled by the egocentric belief in their intellectual superiority to determine something nobody else can. This may have been fueled by mental illness, by the way, as this kind of mindset usually is indicative of certain kinds of disorders.
Almost all Messianics are Holy Name’ists to a degree or another. All Messianics do refer to the Lord Jesus Christ by the name Yeshua or Yahshua, and a few Yehoshua. And of course, the fringe “Yaohuah” group insists on the nonsense “Yaohushua” for Jesus.
Few Messianics question whether or not they are worshipping a different Jesus, while that is the first conclusion a God-fearing, blood washed, saved Baptist would come to, upon hearing this.
It becomes more evident as we look at the average Messianic again. The Average Messianic will tell people as he tries to explain his religion, that only in the name Yeshua can we be saved. Calling the messiah be a German/Greek name that cannot be pronounced in Hebrew will not save you, they say. Many go so far as to say that the blessed name of Jesus is actually pagan, Je-Zeus or some other nonsense.
A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Matt 7:18-20 (KJV)
Many great Bible teachers (most of them Baptists, I’ll go so far as to say) have been saved by praying in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. They have won souls to the Lord, converts that have gone on to bear fruit in their own lives. Men like David Cloud, D. A. Waite, John R. Rice, Frank Norris, J. R. Graves and many others have prayed in the name of Jesus Christ. Yet according to the Holy Name Messianic, they can’t be saved – because they didn’t pray in the name of Yeshua.
Now, the minority group speaks up. “No, you can only be saved in the name of Yahshuah.” “No, it’s Yaohushua!” And the fight breaks out.
Matt. 7:20 explains we will know them by their fruits. It seems more evident from the yardstick supplied by the Bible that the average Messianic is not saved, as the focus in Messianic circles turns inward, not outward. There is little or no attempts at soul winning in Messianic circles, and the converts (few in number) usually quickly disappear – although they do get one or two lasting converts per synagogue. Usually Messianics turn to recruiting for their synagogues from believers attending other churches – a warning flag.
Compared to the average Independent Baptist church, with a healthy soul-winning program focusing on repentance rather than getting to a quick prayer, the Baptist churches are getting people soundly saved.
While numbers of converts can’t be taken as a sign of God’s favor and blessing, the lack thereof – and lack of focus upon – can be seen as a sign of no fruit. And Biblically, it tells us that the Holy Name-ist is drastically incorrect.
Many Messianics are Sabbatarinist, believing correctly on the sixth day Sabbath. Like traditional Judaism, they observe it from sundown Friday Night to Sundown Saturday night. This gives them the added benefit of being able to find space they can share in most churches on Saturday mornings, or even Friday night services.
They may argue with a Baptist, for instance, that they should meet on the Sabbath – ignoring the Baptist’s explanation that Christians meet on the first day of the week as Baptists have done for over 2000 years
And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight. Acts 20:7 (KJV)
Christians do not meet on the Sabbath – they meet on the first day of the week. Sabbath observance stopped after the resurrection, as we see the appearance of the risen Lord Jesus Christ on the first day of the week (John 20:19), and we see Paul telling the Corinthians to take up a collection when they gathered on the first day of the week (1 Cor 16:2)
However, the average Messianic is inconsistent about their Sabbath observance. To the Messianic, taking Saturday off from work and going to synagogue constitutes observing the Sabbath. Most will scoff at Orthodox Judaism’s observance of a true sabbath – no turning on or off lights, no tearing toilet paper, no driving cars, etc. The Messianic will make excuses about riding in a car on Sabbath, claiming it doesn’t constitute making a fire – and yet, they know full well that a car has spark plugs that ignite the gasoline. Or Diesel engines, that compress the gasoline so quickly it ignites.
The Messianic will spend money on the Sabbath, ignoring the commandments that one should not buy nor sell on the Sabbath. If the Messianic wished to worship on the seventh day, that would be one thing – but claiming to be Sabbath Observant when you are not, and trying to convince others to do the same, is hypocrisy.
Then came to Jesus scribes and Pharisees, which were of Jerusalem, saying, 2 Why do thy disciples transgress the tradition of the elders? for they wash not their hands when they eat bread. 3 But he answered and said unto them, Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition? 4 For God commanded, saying, Honour thy father and mother: and, He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. 5 But ye say, Whosoever shall say to his father or his mother, It is a gift, by whatsoever thou mightest be profited by me; 6 And honour not his father or his mother, he shall be free. Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition. 7 Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias prophesy of you, saying, 8 This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me. 9 But in vain they do worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. Matt 15:1-9 (KJV)
Sabbath observance is not for Christians. This may indeed be the reason why the Lord rose on the first day of the week, was to keep Christians from getting caught up in observance of the Law. Sabbath observance is for the Jews only, until they come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. We will deal with this in much more detail as we deal with Galatianism and Torah Observance in detail.
Suffice it to say, there is no doubt a good reason that only 9 of the 10 commandments are found in the New Testament. The Sabbath is indeed forever – But Christians and converted Jews are not required to observe it. Should Christians willingly observe it? No. A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump (Gal. 5:9). “Want to” rapidly becomes “Have to”. We deal much more with this in the next section, and indeed on the later page on Galatianism we go into the role of the law in salvation, how one is saved, and why the Law is useless after one is saved.
The average Messianic pays lip service to the 613 commandments contained in the pages of the Torah (Genesis-Deuteronomy). They sing songs about loving them, talk about keeping them – but in reality, obey precious few of them. Again, there is a great deal of hypocrisy in the Messianic movement.
The observance of the Torah is a concern of major proportions. It’s only a quick step from “Wanting to observe the Torah” to “Teaching others they must keep the Torah.” A little leaven leaveneth the whole lump (1 Cor. 5:6, Matt. 13:33, 16:6, 16:11-2, Luk 12:1,m Gal. 5:9).
The Messianic will wear a yarmulke, a tallis while praying, avoids eating shellfish and pork and considers that Kosher, eats packaged matzoh, and often will celebrate Jewish holidays, dropping observation of Christian holidays. They consider this “Torah Observance.” They neglect all the other commandments, many of which cannot be observed outside of Israel and cannot be observed without the Temple, which will not be rebuilt until the Tribulation.
There are commandments of Shatnes (not mixing wool and cotton), clothing, ritual cleanliness, ritual immersion (the mikveh – a baptismal, including a smaller section for immersing of plates, utensils, glasses, etc), circumcision, warfare, farming, the Jubilee year, dwelling in Israel, holy feast days, Sabbath observance, criminal codes, laws of inheritance, marriage, and many many other laws. All of these are no longer in effect for saved people.
The Messianic will reject any attempt to explain to them that the law is done away with if one is saved. Indeed, in their case if they are Jewish, they probably need to go on observing the law – because the odds are good they are not saved to begin with. If they are Gentile, they should not be observing the commandments of the law, which was given only unto the Jew. It could be argued that the Gentile, if he is not saved, is violating the eighth commandment “Thou shalt not steal.” (Exodus 20:15). And indeed this is the position of Orthodox Judaism, the Chabad Lubavitch group of Chassidic Jews, and the Jews for Judaism counter-missionaries. They contend that Gentiles keeping that which is reserved for Jews is stealing.
If the average Messianic understood the true weight of the Law, they would quickly realize the futility of Torah Observance. However, partially keeping only seven or eight commandments in no way imparts the whole weight of the law.
The law is a Juggernaut, a large, weighty, impressive piece of Holy Legislation that utterly convicts. The person attempting to keep the law with a pure and whole heart ends up pleading like King David,
Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash me throughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Psalms 51:1-3 (KJV)
With repentant eyes, the sinner sees the Lord Jesus Christ, freely offering forgiveness. He accepts it, and thus is sealed and saved for all eternity, free from the horrible bondage to conviction and guilt that the Law brings.
But the Messianic turns from the open hand of the Lord Jesus Christ, saying “Who is this Jesus? I know only Yeshua, the law personified.” And thus unknowingly quotes the ancient enemy of the Jewish people, P’aro (Pharaoh in English)
And Pharaoh said, Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go. Ex 5:2 (KJV)
Caught up in his ideology, the Messianic turns from Jesus, denying Him for a counterfeit, and openly advocating saved Christians to do the same.
For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers. 5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments, 6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, 7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi…
But woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men: for ye neither go in yourselves, neither suffer ye them that are entering to go in… Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye compass sea and land to make one proselyte, and when he is made, ye make him twofold more the child of hell than yourselves…
Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell? Matt 23:47, 13, 15, 33 (KJV)
On the next post, we will examine the teachings and doctrines of the Messianic, his bibles, and their origins.
If you are a Messianic, we implore you to read these pages prayerfully. pray, check your salvation – are you truly saved? What is your witness? Can you point to the time you repented of your sins and were born again? What is the fruit of your repentance?