Messianic Judaism’s Fulness, Part 3

looking_down_on_earthMy blog reading went a bit far off center this morning, which is why I am posting a bit later than usual. Following a link here and there I was reminded that the community of Messianic Judaism and the Christians and other groups who are near to it have something special.

Things we take for granted are issues of contention out there. Judah Himango today has a blog post about a discussion on Facebook in which he defended Israel and the biblical notion of Israel’s continuing role versus a supersessionist, anti-Zionist writer (see it here). I found that Messianic Jewish Musings had an incoming link in a strange article, a student who went to a Reformed seminary and is writing about how he no longer believes Israel is unique but that it simply is encompassed into the church. I found it was actually a commenter there who linked to Messianic Jewish musings. He used me as an example of those crazy Messianics who value the Talmud more than the New Testament!!

My point in mentioning these meanderings is simple: all of us who love Israel and see God’s plan for his chosen people coming to fruition, we do have something in common that sets us apart from a sad segment of Christendom. After reading the comments of some triumphalist Christians, I was ready to share shots of scotch with Christian missionaries to the Jews. I could have and have had far more meaningful friendship with missionaries, with whom I differ on matters of Jewish identity, than I ever could with triumphalist Christians.

So that gets me to my main point, and the reason I started this short series. Talk about greater unity in the broader Messianic (and Hebrew Roots and Christian Missions) movement, got me thinking about what I consider to be the bottom line. For me it is a statement. I believe it is a statement that accurately sums up the mission of God in the Bible.

I would love it if people from some diverse POV’s entered into dialogue about these points. I will expound on them briefly. To me they are all vital and missing even one of them harms the whole. They are a package.

final redemption through Israel to the nations by the work of Messiah…

Final Redemption

What it is: it is that fulness we talked about in parts 1 and 2. We believe in the world to come and in making this world as much like it as possible.

What it looks like if it is missing: the shallow gospel of my-personal-salvation (or pie in the sky after you die) is the antithesis of final redemption. The common religious notion that Jesus came so we could be personally saved is the greatest enemy from within to final redemption.

What it looks like: those who believe in final redemption see the gospel holistically, as a call to join Messiah in helping and healing. God’s kingdom and fulness are breaking through by the work of Messiah and we are called to take part.

Questions: do you agree that conversionism (the gospel equals believe so you can go to heaven) is an enemy from within? How does your community or movement make the full gospel a reality?

Through Israel

What it is: it is belief that the Abrahamic covenant is the root of God’s redemptive purpose in history. God chose and still chooses to work through one people to reach all others.

What it looks like if it is missing: there are two common ways this is missed. (1) Belief that Israel is no longer in this role, has been replaced, etc. (2) Belief that Jewish believers are now Christians and covenantal obligation to Torah and Jewish life has ceased.

What it looks like: Messianic Judaism is about being Israel, in Messiah, and remaining Israel by not assimilating or abandoning Jewish callings as the priestly people.

Questions: in your community or movement, how does Israel’s continuing role matter?

To the Nations

What it is: a realization that from the beginning the work of God was always for the whole world and not just Israel.

What it looks like if it is missing: there are two symptoms of missing this vital truth. (1) Those who criticize the “Old Testament” and/or Judaism as an ethnocentric religion and praise Christianity as universal religion. (2) Those within Judaism and Messianic Judaism who demean the church and Christianity or who demand that Christians live like Jews (One Law, for example).

What it looks like: respect from Jews and Messianic Jews for Christianity. We see ourselves as brothers and sisters, not adversaries. We look at our own shortcomings before criticizing Christian denominations or accusing denominations of paganism and the like. We admit that traditions have a place, even when they are not our own traditions.

Questions: how does your community or movement relate to Christianity? Do you find a place for the nations to come to God without taking on Jewish identity in some way?

By the Work of Messiah

What is is: belief that the incarnation, teaching, death, resurrection, ascension, present intercession, and return of Messiah are the essential causes of the coming fulness of final redemption.

What it looks like if it is missing: it may look like one or several elements of Yeshua’s work being downplayed or denied (such as those who deny that Yeshua is God who came as a man). It may look like a focus on Jewish teaching that does not integrate such teaching with the centrality of Messiah Yeshua.

What it looks like: in Messianic Judaism it should look like our synagogues are Yeshua-communities and everything we do we do in Yeshua (e.g., we say Shema in Yeshua and we understand Shema differently because of Yeshua).

Questions: how does your community or movement keep Yeshua at the center? Have you experienced Messianic Judaism where Yeshua was not the center and will you tell us the story (no names, please)?

About Derek Leman

IT guy working in the associations industry. Formerly a congregational rabbi. Dad of 8. Nerd.
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2 Responses to Messianic Judaism’s Fulness, Part 3

  1. judahgabriel says:

    >> He used me as an example of those crazy Messianics who value the Talmud more than the New Testament!

    Hahah. Never underestimate your readers. Some will interpret your words in the worst way possible.

    I read an amusing MIT paper a few years ago that commented on this phenomenon,

    “Pretend that your reader is lazy, stupid, and mean. He’s lazy in that he doesn’t want to figure out what your convoluted sentences are supposed to mean, and he doesn’t want to figure out what your argument is, if it’s not already obvious. He’s stupid, so you have to explain everything you say to him in simple, bite-sized pieces. And he’s mean, so he’s not going to read your paper charitably.”

    My POV on Derek’s One True Statement®, God’s Mission:

    First, it’s unclear where definition of terms ends and Derek’s editorial begins. :-) Anyways, here’s my point of view, the POV of a half-Jewish, independent Messianic guy who loves Messiah and desires Jews and gentiles to keep God’s commandments:

    Final Redemption:

    “Do you agree that conversionism (the gospel equals believe so you can go to heaven) is an enemy from within?”

    I believe there’s far more to the gospel than “believe so you can go to heaven”. I do think believing in Yeshua is part of the gospel, part of being saved. Does being saved mean going to heaven? Again, there’s far more to it than that.

    “How does your community or movement make the full gospel a reality?”

    By teaching God’s commandments to all God’s people, while fully focusing on Messiah.

    Through Israel

    “Questions: in your community or movement, how does Israel’s continuing role matter?”

    Utterly. Primarily, the Scriptures are about Israel, to Israelites, from Israelites, inspired by the God of Israel, foretells the coming of Israel’s Messiah, the plan to save all Israel. The Scriptures are Israel-centric, the Scriptures are Zionist. God is a Zionist. :-) God is in the business of favoring Zion.

    To the Nations

    how does your community or movement relate to Christianity?

    I love my Christian brothers. There are times they anger me. But for those Christians that truly love the Lord and desire to serve Him, I’m praising God for them.

    Do you find a place for the nations to come to God without taking on Jewish identity in some way?

    Yes. As much as Derek disses One Law folks like myself, I’ve never said, nor heard it said by my peers, that gentiles must become Jews. Gentiles and Jews are saved and come to God by faith. Period.

    By the work of Messiah

    “How does your community or movement keep Yeshua at the center?

    I do music for our small shabbat community. I can tell you that Messiah is the focus of our praise, our honor, the words of our mouth, songs of love and adoration, songs of thanksgiving and joyful expectations. Messiah is the King! Of course he is the center!

    Music is one tool we can use to keep our movement from straying off Messiah. I think it’s a powerful tool that often goes under-appreciated and underestimated. Folks like Joel Chernoff have done much in this area and deserve recognition for refocusing many in our movement back onto our King and Messiah, Yeshua.

  2. Bill says:

    Hi, Derek. Found you on Twitter today and can’t figure out whether we’ve met online before or in Atlanta. (I used to live near Douglasville and worked in Roswell a lot.)

    I hope you’ll enjoy this piece I did yesterday. I’d love some feedback, if you care to comment there.

    Thanks for sharing the Lord by blogging, brother.

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