Why it is important for Messianic Jews to be Jews, Pt. 1

Well, I didn’t get as much reaction as I’d have like from my “Christian Theology and Israel, Part 3” post. I’m licking the wounds to my ego and moving on to other topics.

Let me start this topic with a true story. I was teaching at a Baptist church on a Wednesday night. This was an adult education class on the subject of world religions. The teacher of the class is a friend who is a graphic designer as well as a missions pastor. He is the guy who designs my book covers. He thought inviting me to teach about Judaism would be a great idea.

I read first the material that the class was reading about Judaism. It was not exactly anti-Semitic, but it was mildly anti-Judaism. I don’t really blame Christians for sometimes blowing it and failing to appreciate Judaism. I understand it is hard for a person who loves Jesus to be able to see that Judaism is not a false religion. Rather, apart from Yeshua, Judaism is an incomplete religion. There is a world of difference.

So the material they were reading was typical for a slanted world religions lesson in a Bible-believing church. Respectful to Jews, the material criticized Judaism as a religion. It characterized Judaism as a religion seeking to earn salvation by good works. BTW, that is sometimes true. I recently went to an Orthodox Jewish seminar where the teacher put it exactly that way. But in general, Judaism is not concerned with salvation at all.

Anyway, I did not do what I figured people might expect me to do when teaching a Christian class on Judaism. I did not come and list all the point where Judaism is wrong and Christianity is right. Instead, I taught about the five key tenets of Judaism: Torah, community, communal prayer, sanctified time, and sanctification (holiness and purity).

Then I finished the class with a little mini-lecture on the error of converting Jews into Christians. I explained that when a Jewish person comes to believe in Jesus as Messiah, they should take their Jewishness more seriously, not less. I proceeded to tell my Baptist audience that it is wrong to see a Jewish person join the church and encourage them to eat a ham sandwich. God’s covenant with Israel is that they would live a different lifestyle than the nations. A Messianic Jew should be dedicated to keeping the Torah even if they did not before they came to know Jesus.

When I finished, I expected to have some arguments or misunderstandings. I thought people might be shocked and appalled since the Law has a bad reputation in popular Christian teaching.

The first person who spoke was a man I did not know before coming to the class. He said, “I have Jewish friends. I want them to know Jesus. I always thought it should be like you were saying, that a Jewish believer should still be Jewish and keep Jewish law. I just didn’t know it was okay to think that way.”

I was tremendously encouraged. One after another I saw soft-hearted, God-loving Baptist men and women expressing their love for God’s Chosen People and their affirmation that what I had taught them was true. I thought to myself, “There is a lot more hope for this world than I realized.”

If you’d like to read something interesting, here is a link to an article on my congregation website called, “A Letter to Pastors Explaining Why Messianic Jews are Jews”: http://hopeofdavid.com/article13.htm



About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
This entry was posted in Bible, Christian, Messianic Jewish, Theology. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Why it is important for Messianic Jews to be Jews, Pt. 1

  1. Safta says:

    I love your blog. You explain things so well. I am an American Messianic Jew without messianic community where I live and worship in a gentile congregation with brothers and sisters constantly trying to put cheese on my hamburgers and angry because I don’t answer my phone on shabot. I may be coming to Atlanta for 13 weeks and hope to find a messianic community to worship in and enjoy, even if it is only for a short while

  2. Safta:

    Check us out at hopeofdavid.com. We’d love to have you visit with us during your 13 weeks in Atlanta. As you know, your Christian friends mean well. Hope I gave you an idea or two for explaining why you maintain your Jewish identity.


  3. Here’s a question: do you believe that non-Jews who believe in Messiah (and thus are grafted in to Israel, as we read in Romans 11) should keep Torah as well?

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