Are Messianic Jews Really "Just Trying to Convert Us"?

All they do is try to convert us.
They should just call themselves Christians.
They are liars.
Any of these sentences sound familiar?
I hear statements to this effect quite regularly, and I have for almost as long as I can remember. I hear them from Jews, young and old, who feel an intense and visceral anger towards people who identify themselves as Messianic Jews.
While the Jewish community is united on almost nothing, it appears that most share at least one opinion – an intense objection to everything that Messianics stand for (I will use the term “Messianics” moving forward, though it is not the term I prefer, because it does not provide a value judgment for whether these individuals are Jewish or not).
One would think, then, that American Jews would have a solid working knowledge of who and what Messianics are. That we would be somewhat familiar with the ideology of this group towards which we harbor such great disdain, whose existence causes us such immense distress. But we don’t.
Generally, American Jews have only heard of one Messianic organization (Jews for Jesus, which does indeed focus a great deal of its energy on proselytizing), and in my experience most have zero friends or acquaintances who would characterize themselves as Messianic. We also tend to be entirely unaware of the broad spectrum of Messianic organizations, beliefs, and practices, and prefer to treat it as one giant monolith.
The worst thing about our ignorance is that we have channeled it into something uglier: hatred. We feel a passionate and extreme disgust towards Messianics, and we occasionally have no problem saying so directly and in public.
A few years ago, I was pretty ignorant and hateful myself. If you had asked me, as a teenager or in my first year or so of college, what I thought of Messianics, I probably would have launched into a diatribe starting with one of the provocative statements from the introductory paragraph above.
But then something terrific happened: I actually met one. I think I kept a decent-enough poker face when I first found out (on Shabbat, walking home from services!), but honestly…I was stunned. My first assumption was that, sometime in the next ten to fifteen minutes, this new friend of mine would try to convert me to Christianity.
That’s what these folks did, so I thought. I had been told as much in religious school, in my youth group, and at many casual gatherings in my Jewish community growing up. These people, in my brain, wouldn’t have gone to services and dinner simply because they enjoyed it. They had an agenda.
What I learned, very quickly, was that I was wrong. This new friend of mine and I became quite close, and he was more knowledgeable about Jewish text than the vast majority of Jews I knew. He and I had terrific conversations about everything from Lag B’Omer to Birkat Haminim (the blessing directed at the “heretics”) to (yes, even) the Gospels.
I learned something that, looking back, should have been unbelievably obvious – especially to someone like me who considered himself open-minded and progressive: prejudice is bad. Judging entire groups of people before we know any of them is a problem. We shouldn’t do it.
It is time for many of us to do some soul-searching regarding the way we speak about Messianics. The way that we feel so comfortable generalizing about a group that is unbelievably complex and quite diverse. The way that we dismiss as illegitimate any attempt at engagement with Jewish text or holidays from those who believe that Jesus is messiah. We need to do some serious thinking about how we can disagree with them passionately but in a way that is respectful and kind. The best way to do so, if you ask me, would be to shift our “speaking about” to “speaking with.”
Synagogues and Jewish communal organizations around the country work hard to create meaningful interfaith programming. Many have done terrific work partnering with nearby churches, mosques, or other spiritual centers to promote understanding and build bridges. But I am unfamiliar with any effort by a non-Messianic Jewish organization to actively connect with Messianics in a way that would help us learn from and with each other.
I desperately hope we can find a way to change that. While there are indeed Messianics who proselytize, there are also many who do not. While there are indeed Messianics who lack knowledge of Jewish text and tradition, there are also many who have tons. While there are indeed Messianics who do not know or care much about Jewish liturgy or rabbinic texts, there are some who pray Shacharit, Mincha, and Ma’ariv every day (a friend I sent a message to while preparing this piece politely excused himself from responding right away because he needed to go daven shacharit). So many of these people would absolutely love to interact with non-Messianic Jews simply to grow and explore religious issues together. Are we ready to do the same?
It is past time for us to engage personally with the people who cause us so much anguish, instead of talking about them and scowling when we pass by their place of worship across town. It’s time for us to stop thinking of Messianics as sadistic missionizing machines fixated only on changing our religious beliefs. It’s time to put an end to our communal condemnation of Messianics. Instead, we should treat them as we would any other group: like real human beings worthy of our respect.

38 thoughts on “Are Messianic Jews Really "Just Trying to Convert Us"?

  1. I’m not a Messianic Jew myself, but I run in those circles. Thank you for your article. It was quite nice.

  2. Although it might be true that individual Messianic “Jews” may not, themselves, actively missionize Jews to their form of Christianity, it is equally true that Messianic “Jewish” organizations do missionize, and spend an enormous amount of money to do just that. Even if a Messianic “Jew” davens shacharit, mincha, and maariv, while many progressive Jews do not even know what ‘to daven’ means, they do, indeed, believe no differently than the Southern Baptist Convention, the Assemblies of God, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, and other Christian denominations who support them financially. And these Christian denominations do, indeed, believe in proselytizing Jews to Christianity, even if it is to the Messianic “Jewish” form of Christianity. When they daven their services, who is the god to whom they are praying? It remains the trinity of those same Christian denominations that underwrite them. Shall we learn about our Judaism from these Christian denominations who support them, by engaging Messianic “Jews” in dialogue? I will not stop speaking negatively about individuals or about Christian denominations that take my holy days, my rituals, and invest in them their Christian theology, and then turn around and accuse we Jews of being as blind to that, as we are about seeing Jesus in the pages of our Hebrew Scriptures!

    1. I understand the sentiment and agree with most points (and I did read and enjoy the Judaism and Christianity: A Contrast), but I do not think you’ll be finding too many converts from Judaism in “Messianic” churches.
      There will be a handful of people of some Jewish lineage, who either had never had a connection to Judaism, or had left Judaism as a knee-jerk reaction.
      But, HaKadosh works in the ways that are not always apparent to our eyes. I know a few people of Jewish descent, who developed hunger for the faith of fore fathers after spending some time with Christian churches.

      1. Isaiah 48:16
        Draw near and Listen…
        From the Beginning (BERESHEIT/Genesis) I did not speak in secret. From the Time anything existed, I was THERE.
        And now The L-rd G-d hath sent ME, endowed with His Spirit.
        Isaiah 9:5-7 iSAIAH 52:13-53:12

  3. thank you SO much – todah rabbah – for your kind words. Raised in a Baptist tradition, I have admired the Jewish people since girlhood & I recall reading the “Old Testament” with envy at all the beautiful tender promises G-d made to His people. Now attempting to live a torah-observant life (& oh it’s a challenge in a devout christian family!), I find such helpful insights from my “elder brother Judah”, especially sites like Aish (dot) com. THANK YOU for being willing to share your traditions with us latecomers to the beauties of halacha. We know we owe you. May you be blessed.

  4. If you honestly think that these “messianic jews” (more like messy-antics!) don’t have it out to try and manipulate you into accepting their pagan man god, jesus, as your “lord and savior,” then you are simply feigning ignorance…
    It’s engrained into their NT to evangelize and go “to the Jew first” and preach their false gospel message to the Jews. Some will go about this blatantly and others have changed tactics and have started to use covert techniques to try and manipulate Jews into accepting their false NT and their false messiah/god, jesus.
    So please, don’t waste your sympathy on messy-antics. Instead, show them how yeshu cannot be the Messiah or “god in the flesh” and invite them to follow Hashem.
    We have a duty to bring messy-antic Jews back to Hashem. They don’t need our sympathy. They need our guidance to bring them back on the path of Hashem and the truth of His Torah!

    1. I’m a Jew, from a Chabad background, we are not “messy-antics” we are Messianics. Like all other Jews we look forward for the day when the redemption of Israel will take place. It partially has taken place in the first coming of Messiah. Yeshua can be G-d in the flesh, and in fact there are many instances in TaNaKh that prove G-d is Echad, and not Yachid (as Rambam asserts). For instance Genesis 1:26, the commentary insists G-d is speaking to the angels, however why would G-d consult with that which He created about His creation? Furthermore explain why Joshua bows to the angel in chapter 4, and the angel accepts his worship instead of stopping him from doing such things. There are so many examples, and if you’re open (without your l’shon hara) I’d be happy to share with you. I am one of the many Messianic Jews who is proud of his Jewishness (and lives it out), and does believing in evangelization. I disagree with this article because as you’ve mentioned the NT does teach us to share the Gospel. If you believed Moshe, you’d believe Yeshua.

      1. Mike,
        The question you need to be asking is WOULD G-d take on the form of a man…That answer is no. How do I know this? G-d explicitly tells us so!
        Deut 4:9. But beware and watch yourself very well, lest you forget the things that your eyes saw, and lest these things depart from your heart, all the days of your life, and you shall make them known to your children and to your children’s children,
        Here we see that G-d is commanding Israel to teach these things throughout their generations. G-d is directly telling Israel to teach their children about the things they saw and the things on their hearts. What are these things you ask? Lets continue reading:
        Deut 4:10. the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when the Lord said to me, “Assemble the people for Me, and I will let them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days that they live on the earth, and that they may teach their children.
        Deut 4:11. And you approached and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire up to the midst of the heavens, with darkness, a cloud, and opaque darkness.
        Deut 4:12. The Lord spoke to you out of the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of the words, but saw no image, just a voice.
        Here we have G-d explaining to the children of Israel what they “saw.” Notice that what they “saw” was no image according to G-d Himself! Moving on…
        Deut 4:13. And He told you His covenant, which He commanded you to do, the Ten Commandments, and He inscribed them on two stone tablets.
        Deut 4:14. And the Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and ordinances, so that you should do them in the land to which you are crossing, to possess.
        This verse is important to read in context with the next few verses because it reiterates the fact that these commands are not just a “one time deal.” Rather, G-d is commanding Israel not to worship Him in any form throughout all our generations! With this in mind, lets continue reading:
        Deut 4:15. And you shall watch yourselves very well, for you did not see any image on the day that the Lord spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire.
        Deut 4:16. Lest you become corrupt and make for yourselves a graven image, the representation of ANY FORM, the likeness of MALE or female,
        Deut 4:17. the likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged bird that flies in the heaven,
        Deut 4:18. the likeness of anything that crawls on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters, beneath the earth.
        Deut 4:19. And lest you lift up your eyes to heaven, and see the sun, and the moon, and the stars, all the host of heaven, which the Lord your God assigned to all peoples under the entire heaven, and be drawn away to prostrate yourselves before them and worship them.
        From this passage, we see two explicit themes:
        1. G-d is explicitly commanding Israel not to worship Him in any form. (Deut 4:16)
        2. G-d is explicitly commanding Israel to teach this to their children and their children’s children, even after they come to the land of Israel. (Deut 4:9-14)
        I would like to reiterate that this prohibition includes more than just “man made” images. Did man “make” the moon the sun and the stars? Did man “make” Adam, the first man? No! But we both agree that G-d would never manifest Himself in the form of the sun.
        We know that G-d would never do such things because G-d extends this prohibition to any form in Deut 4:16. You can’t get any more explicit than that!
        So…The question you should be asking me is “WOULD G-d take on the form of a man?”
        To which the appropriate response is, WOULD G-d take on the form of a golden calf?
        We know that G-d would never manifest Himself in the form of a golden calf us. By these same token, He made it clear that He will not appear in the form of a man to us. Deut 4:15-19 was not a “one time deal.” It was a commandment for all generations! It was also not limited to “man made forms.” It extends to “any form,” including the form of a man.
        In other words, it is idolatry to worship Hashem in ANY FORM. If you insist that a passage says otherwise, then you are either calling G-d a liar or you are calling said prophet, (Joshua in this case) to be an idolator…
        So choose your poison…
        Or you can acknowledge that your jesus cannot be Hashem because Hashem forbid the worship of ANY FORM…
        So it comes down to whether or not you believe Hashem’s word concerning His explicit commands to Israel not to worship Him in ANY FORM! Let’s see if you follow the word of Hashem or if you are going to make excuses for your false god, jesus…

    2. From the Hebrew Scriptures:
      Psalm 118:22 “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone.” [who are the builders?]
      Proverbs 30:4 “Who has ascended into heaven and descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has wrapped the waters in His garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name or His son’s name? Surely you know!”
      [God is his name and this God has a son?]
      Here is his name called out in Isaiah 62:11
      Behold, the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth,
      Say to the daughter of Zion, “Lo, your salvation [Jeshua in Hebrew] comes;
      Behold His reward is with Him, and His recompense before Him.”
      Who is Zechariah 12:10 referring to in this passage that is pierced?
      10 “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.
      Finally, How can the prophet Isaiah 9:6 say this…NO one can answer this?
      “6 For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us;
      And the government will [i]rest on His shoulders;
      And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
      Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
      7 There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace,
      On the throne of David and over his kingdom,”
      [So the Government will rest on the shoulders of a child who is born and he will sit on David’s throne – THIS IS THE MESSIAH, RIGHT?, so the Messiah for the Jews will be a son born to humans (i.e. humankind) and this child will be called “Mighty God”. Please explain this absurd statement?
      Notice – I have not offered any Christian scriptures – everything quoted is FROM THE HEBREW SCRIPTURES. Yet, most Jews don’t read their own bible and can’t explain any of it. Is not it convenient that the Jews let “others” provide the commentary for them to keep them ‘informed”. Blessed be the Jew who can read and interpret their own written words from God.
      Any Jew is welcome to call me and I would be happy to pray with them and meet with them to review the scriptures that point to a “son of man” being the messiah. Email me at [email protected] and I will send you my cell number. I will pray for you all… God Bless You !

      1. Samuel Foster,
        Concerning Isaiah 9:5-6
        Isaiah 9:5. For a child has been born to us, a son given to us, and the authority is upon his shoulder, and the wondrous adviser, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, called his name, “the prince of peace.”
        and… called his name: The Holy One, blessed be He, Who gives wondrous counsel, is a mighty God and an everlasting Father, called Hezekiah’s name, “the prince of peace,” since peace and truth will be in his days.
        Isaiah 39:8. And Hezekiah said to Isaiah, “The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good.” For he thought, “For there shall be peace and truth in my days.”
        There’s your prince of peace! Hezekiah HIMSELF applied the prophesy to HIMSELF! It has nothing to do with jesus/yeshua/whatever.
        Isaiah 9:6 To him who increases the authority, and for peace without end, on David’s throne and on his kingdom, to establish it and to support it with justice and with righteousness; from now and to eternity, the zeal of the Lord of Hosts shall accomplish this.
        from now and to eternity: The eternity of Hezekiah, viz. all his days. And so we find that Hannah said concerning Samuel (I Sam. 1:22): “and abide there forever.” And, in order to refute those who disagree [i.e., the Christians, who claim that this (Prince of Peace) is their deity], we can refute them [by asking], What is the meaning of: “from now” ? Is it not so that the “deity” did not come until after five hundred years and more?
        There is no problem with the interpretation that this prophesy ultimately will reach fulfillment in Messiah. However, it is clear that in the immediate context, Isaiah 9:5-6 refers to King Hezekiah. As it states, the ruling of this eternal kingdom will be “FROM NOW until eternity.” By NOW, Isaiah is referring to his generation. Hezekiah is the only viable candidate for the initial context of this prophesy.
        The words “ad olam” are not exclusive to Hashem. I Samuel 1:22 is an example:
        I Samuel 1:22. But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband: “Until the child is weaned, then I shall bring him, and he shall appear before the Lord, and abide there FOREVER.
        The Hebrew words used for “forever” in I Samuel 1:22 are עַד עוֹלָם or “ad olam.”
        These are the EXACT SAME WORDS used to describe the “eternality” of the kingdom spoken of in Isaiah 9:6!
        Isaiah 9:6. To him who increases the authority, and for peace without end, on David’s throne and on his kingdom, to establish it and to support it with justice and with righteousness; from now and to ETERNITY, the zeal of the Lord of Hosts shall accomplish this.
        Once again, the word “eternity” here translates to עַד עוֹלָם or “ad olam,” just like “forever” in I Samuel 1:22!
        Using this christian logic, Samuel is apparently “divine” as well, since he “eternally” abides!
        There is no “divine” Messiah. The Chazal never reflect this idea and nor does the Tanach.
        Isaiah 9:6 says that this kingdom will be established **FROM NOW until eternity.” MeAta V’Ad Olam! This means that this prophesy had immediate effect in Isaiah’s time. King Hezekiah was next in line on the throne after his wicked father Ahaz and he brought peace to Judah even in the wake of the Assyrian invasion!
        Now, if you want to whine about the fact that Hezekiah’s kingdom has long since past, that is fine…Like I said before, I have no problem with the interpretation that this will come to ultimate fruition in the days of the true Messiah.
        But for anyone to say that jesus fulfilled this prophesy in any sense is absolute hogwash! The immediate context of this prophesy definitively refers to King Hezekiah. This means that it is not a prophesy speaking about a “divine son.” Your obsession with deifying the Messiah is unhealthy and idolatrous.
        And concerning King Hezekiah, this is what is stated:
        II Kings 18:5. He trusted in the God of Israel there was none like him among all the kings of Judah who were after him, nor were there before him.
        II Kings 18:6. He cleaved to the Lord; he did not turn away from following Him; he kept His commandments, which He had commanded Moses.
        II Kings 18:7. Now the Lord was with him: in everything he ventured he succeeded; and he rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him.
        And as far as the divine titles go, are you aware that Hezekiah’s name literally means “G-d is my strength/Mighty G-d”? He was also a wonderful counselor as, no other king of Judah before or after him trusted in Hashem to the degree that Hezekiah did. (II Kings 18:5-7) He was also a “prince of peace,” as I described in Isaiah 39:8. Yet you try to downplay this…At least Hezekiah was actually ruling as King during his lifetime. Once again, your jesus never sat on the throne. Plus, Judah wasn’t even an autonomous theocracy, as the Romans were essentially in control of Judah during the time of jesus’s life…Even jesus himself was killed by the Romans! So much for jesus’s supposed “peaceful reign.”
        So ultimately, your gripe with Hezekiah being the initial context of this passage is that his kingdom ended…The irony of all of this is that your jesus’s “kingdom” never even started!
        YOUR jesus NEVER RULED ON THE THRONE AS KING AT ALL! Thus, compared to Hezekiah, your jesus loses every time!
        And concerning Zechariah 12:10, notice that the verse mentions that the House of David will be looking on the one who was “pierced.” Will the Messiah be from the House of David? We both know the answer is yes…This means that the individual who is being “pierced” in Zechariah 12:10 does not refer to the Messiah son of David. Otherwise, the verse would say that David was the one being pierced!
        But that’s not what it says…
        So your strawman attempt just sank you deeper into the hole…
        Your jesus is not the Messiah.
        Shalom and G-d bless!

  5. Some Messianics are better at hiding the agenda than others. As the above commentator writes
    “It’s engrained into their NT to evangelize and go “to the Jew first” and preach their false gospel message to the Jews. Some will go about this blatantly and others have changed tactics and have started to use covert techniques to try and manipulate Jews into accepting their false NT and their false messiah/god, jesus.”
    Its just a matter of time before they pounce!! Beware!!

    1. While it is true that some have a hidden agenda, it is rare. I’m sorry to hear if you had an uncomfortable experience. Just try to remember that they truly are convicted of their beliefs. They believe to have eternal life you must believe and accept Yeshua as the Moshiach (among other things). So, just try to put yourself in their shoes. They care for you, and would like to see you make it past this life unto the next [according to their beliefs]. Some may not be tactful, and like you said, have hidden agendas. Just try to think of that behavior as someone who truly believes and cares for your salvation, and they’re trying with their greatest efforts to get you to that point.
      “To the Jew first” is a heavily debatable passage and could have multiple meanings. It is not clear, black and white direction/suggestion for believers to evangelize to Jews. Scholars say this verse likely simply means that the Jews were first to believe in and follow God and His ways.
      Here it is in context:
      16For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.
      So, in conclusion because of the different interpretations of scripture not all will be prowling evangelicals. With that being said, you can rest easy that not every Messianic Jew/Israelite you come in contact with will have hidden agendas or etc.
      However, you are always free to say that you don’t feel comfortable with such an alliance if you really are not sure what to expect.

  6. Having been a messianic for 17 years of my life (before coming back to Judaism), I can tell you that most messianics are certainly not trying to be deceptive. They honestly believe that the way they express their faith is the most authentic expression of what they believe. Jesus, if he ever existed, was a Jew after all. Everything he did would have been within a Jewish context.
    However, what they believe is not Jewish and to claim such is disingenuous even if unintentionally so. And you cannot get away from one significant fact – regardless of whether or not an individual messianic proselytizes you, the Great Commission – the one original and primary command by Jesus in the NT, was to bring the gospel to every creature, Paul added, to the Jew first. If they believe the NT as the Word of God, then they must have a goal to get you to believe in Jesus (or Yeshua).
    So while there is certainly no place for hatred, Jewish caution and desire to keep messianics at arms length, is wise. And so is education. Every Jew should educate themselves as to why the Christian proofs for Jesus are not legitimate and most of the concepts of his “messiahship” actually contradict the Tanach.

  7. I have a question for Yehuda Yisrael? Who do you think the below passage is talking about?
    Who has believed our report? And to whom was the arm of יהוה revealed? For He grew up before Him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or splendour that we should look upon Him, nor appearance that we should desire Him –despised and rejected by men, a man of pains and knowing sickness. And as one from whom the face is hidden, being despised, and we did not consider Him. Truly, He has borne our sicknesses and carried our pains. Yet we reckoned Him stricken, smitten by Elohim, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our crookednesses. The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. We all, like sheep, went astray, each one of us has turned to his own way. And יהוה has laid on Him the crookedness of us all. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, but He did not open His mouth. He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, but He did not open His mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment. And as for His generation, who considered that He shall be cut off from the land of the living? For the transgression of My people He was stricken. And He was appointed a grave with the wrong, and with the rich at His death, because He had done no violence, nor was deceit in His mouth. But יהוה was pleased to crush Him, He laid sickness on Him, that when He made Himself an offering for guilt, He would see a seed, He would prolong His days and the pleasure of יהוה prosper in His hand. He would see the result of the suffering of His life and be satisfied. Through His knowledge My righteous Servant makes many righteous, and He bears their crookednesses. Therefore I give Him a portion among the great, and He divides the spoil with the strong, because He poured out His being unto death, and He was counted with the transgressors, and He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

    1. Anthony,
      Concerning Isaiah 53, in order to determine who the servant is, we need to look at the context. Isaiah 49:3-6 is a good place to start.
      Isaiah 49:3. And He said to me, “You are My servant, Israel, about whom I will boast.”
      Isaiah 49:4. And I said, “I toiled in vain, I consumed my strength for nought and vanity.” Yet surely my right is with the Lord, and my deed is with my God.
      Isaiah 49:5. And now, the Lord, Who formed me from the womb as a servant to Him, said to bring Jacob back to Him, and Israel shall be gathered to Him, and I will be honored in the eyes of the Lord, and my God was my strength.
      Isaiah 49:6. And He said, “It is too light for you to be My servant, to establish the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the besieged of Israel, but I will make you a light of nations, so that My salvation shall be until the end of the earth.”
      So how is this reconciled? How can Israel bring back Israel? The answer is simple! Isaiah 49:3 refers to a specific part of Israel, namely the righteous remnant. (G-d promised a righteous remnant of Israel throughout all generations.) Verse 5 refers to the remnant bringing back the rest of Israel back to righteousness. And finally, verse 6 refers to the newly restored Israel being “light to the nations” through the revelation of truth through Hashem.
      In other words, this is a two step process:
      1. The righteous remnant of Israel will bring back the rest of Israel to righteousness. (Isaiah 49:3-5)
      2. The newly restored nation of Israel will serve to be a “light to the nations.” (Isaiah 49:6)
      So ultimately, the nation of Israel is the servant who will be “a light unto the nations.” However, in order to get to that point, the righteous remnant of Israel will first gather back the rest of Israel back to Torah. It’s a two step process.
      The servant is the righteous remnant of ISRAEL.
      Isaiah 51:7. Hearken to Me, you who know righteousness, a people that has My Torah in their heart, fear not reproach of man, and from their revilings be not dismayed.
      This is yet another verse which highlights the suffering of G-d righteous servant, Israel. Isaiah 54 even refers to the “SERVANTS of the Lord”!
      Isaiah 54:17. Any weapon whetted against you shall not succeed, and any tongue that contends with you in judgment, you shall condemn; this is the heritage of the SERVANTS OF THE LORD and their due reward from Me, says the Lord.
      Isaiah 52:15 describes the gentiles kings who will shut their mouths because of their astonishment of Israel’s vindication by Hashem:
      Isaiah 52:15 So shall he cast down many nations; kings shall shut their mouths because of him, for, what had not been told them they saw, and [at] what they had not heard they gazed.
      Micah 7:16-17 echoes this sentiment:
      Micah 7:16. Nations shall see and be ashamed of all their might-they shall place a hand upon their mouth; their ears shall become deaf.
      Micah 7:17. They shall lick the dust as a snake, as those who crawl on the earth. They shall quake from their imprisonment; they shall fear the Lord, our God, and they shall fear you.
      Also, Isaiah 60:14 speaks of the future Israel who was previously despised by the nations as being vindicated at the end of days, also echoing in line with the suffering/despised servant of Isaiah 53:
      Isaiah 60:14And the children of your oppressors shall go to you bent over, and *THOSE WHO DESPISED YOU* shall prostrate themselves at the soles of your feet, and they shall call you ‘the city of the Lord, Zion of the Holy One of Israel.
      So there you have it. The suffering servant of Isaiah 53 ultimately is the nation of Israel. Please note that the Messiah is a part of Israel, too.

  8. Thank you for this article. I have never met a more diverse group of people than Messianics. It seems the only thing we do agree on is that Yeshua is the Messiah. We tend to argue (peacefully most of the time) about just everything else including whether Yeshua claimed to be God. Just because people have misrepresented Yeshua’s words and actions and have made a God out of him doesn’t mean that it’s impossible that he could have been the Messiah. Thank you for bringing out that we are a diverse group of people that do not all fall under the “Jews for Jesus” banner.

  9. It is inaccurate to call “Jews For Jesus” a “messianic” organization, based on the way most messianics self-define. As I understand it (as an ex-messianic), J4J (as it is know among insiders) was actually OPPOSED to the creation of the messianic congregational movement, preferring instead to channel “converts” into local churches. J4J is a part of the older “mission to the Jews” approach to evangelizing Jews, which might be called “Hebrew Christian”. Other groups in this category include Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, the Christian Jew Foundation, Ariel Ministries and Chosen People Ministries (formerly named The American Board of Missions To The Jews). There is historically a polarization running along the Hebrew Christian-Messianic Jew axis to varying degrees.
    However, the one thing ALL of the Hebrew Christian-Messianic Jewish groups agree on officially is: non-messianic Jews will spend Eternity in a tormenting Hell if they don’t accept Jesus as their personal Savior and Lord. Simply go to the web sites of the above-mentioned groups, as well as the sites of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations (UMJC), Messianic Jewish Alliance of America (MJAA), International Association of Messianic Congregations and Synagogues (IAMCS), International Messianic Jewish Alliance (IMJA), Tikkun network, Messianic Bureau International (MBI) and others, and read their “Statement of Faith”. That research will tell you all you need to know.
    Daniel Juster, part of the leadership of the Union of Messianic Congregations for many years, in a letter to Boaz Michael of First Fruits of Zion (letter now taken down from web site) states: “The founding fathers of Messianic Judaism intended Messianic Judaism only as an evangelical outreach to unsaved Jews.” Juster goes on to say that it was never the intention of those men to walk in Torah, for themselves or for the Gentiles.
    Many groups want to “convert” Jews, so dialogue with them is an inescapable part of life in the Interfaith Dialogue world. However, it helps to know the “fundamentals” of the group one is about to sit down at the table with.

  10. I consider myself a messianic, although not a messianic-jew. Follow the Torah and learn as much as I can from all that believe the Torah and the Scriptures of YHVH to be accurate in the Hebrewic context.
    I find the biggest problem with people in general to be that if you dont do, think and believe as they do, you are simply wrong! It is time to wake up pepple and smell the roses. With an open mind, fokussing on the truth provided in the Scriptures in context it is just possible that we all could learn something real, such as the real truth and not perceptions, dogma and pre-conceived ideas.
    Stop fruitless accusations which only succeeds in causing strife amongst people and does absolutely nothing to bring people closer to the CREATOR of the universe!

  11. Lex, bravo on raising an important and tricky issue. Many people have been taught that a whole group of people — Messianic Jews — all think and behave exactly alike. We have been taught that a set of religious, subjective, intensely personal truths are inherently false, wrong, malicious, and out to “get” us.
    Messianic Jews are no different than other types of Jews or Christians — most are quite fine people, a few may be unsavory. Perpetuating this prejudice is unbecoming to anyone who takes the history of Jewish persecution seriously.

  12. Everyone needs to understand that truth comes from God’s word. Without that, everyone is lost in the details..Christians and Jews. Non-messianic Jews will NOT spend eternity in torment, but will have to endure the 7 year tribulation and then they will see their messiah and believe. Messianic Jews, who look to Jeshua [Jesus] as their savior BEFORE the start of the tribulation will ‘escape’ with the Christians and be in heaven during the “time of Jacobs trouble”. Either way, they will be saved, but one way is much more difficult. You decide… it’s up to you. I pray that you take the easy way out…why would you want to jeopardize you and your family… think of you small children. All you need to do is do what the scriptures say “Anyone who calls upon the Name of the Lord will BE SAVED !” say the prophet Joel in chapter 2:32.
    To my Jewish friends. You don’t need me to convince, just READ YOUR OWN SCRIPTURES for heaven’s sake… and take those commentaries and put them aside and READ GOD”S word for yourself ! God Bless You !

  13. Messianic Jew seems like a contradiction of terms.
    The Messianic Prophecy is an Davidic Prophecy of a Jewish King ruling a free Israel, and the rest of the world acknowledging, and possibly following, Hebrew Law (basically modern health and dietary laws).
    The prophecy also speaks of a time when half the life on earth will die — the Book of Revelation cut that to a third of life, and that appears to be consistent with the prohjections for the effects of Global Warming and the death of the Baby-Boom generation — both of which are projected to become noticable around 2034.
    Those who have read the 2012 book, “SAINT PAUL’S JOKE: ‘The Punch Line’s A Killer'” are aware that Paul mandated his followers be Jewish — it is critical to obedience to the “Gospel to the Gentiles” which accounts for over 40% of the New Testament; of course, those who read the New Testament are aware that Jesus only spoke to the Hebrews, and Peter, appointed to be the foundation of the ‘Church’, was an Orthodox Jew who never deviated from that belief.
    Messianic Jew? That would be any follower and practitioner of Judaism who accepts the Davidic Prophecy — which apparently has approached fulfillment on 14 May 1948, and only awaits the passing of the Islamic Terrorists and rise of those who truly believe in, understand, and follow the Koran. Understand, Islamic Terrorist are, like right-wing evangelicals, people who use their scripture as a bludgeon, and make a deliberate effort to violate the respective teachings whenever possible.

  14. I term myself a Messianic Gentile and I am convinced of universal salvation. Zoroaster who influenced ancient Gentile King Cyrus of Persia has been called the first universalist. We universalists really don’t believe that it is our mission in life to turn other people into clones of ourselves but, as a Messianic Gentile I do feel a responsibility to assist the Orthodox Jewish community in their goal of rebuilding the Jerusalem Third Temple complex. Two logical dates for Ezekiel chapter 40 to 48 to be fulfilled by are 2030 as well as 2070.

  15. I enjoyed the refreshing point of view in this article. I am a little taken aback though, at the amount of hatred shown for people group based on a belief or how they identify. This is very reminiscent of some very dark times gone by. Have we learned nothing from history.

  16. Thank you for the fair and balanced article. As a Jew, I have always been mystified as to the serious prejudice against Messianics. All they believe is that Jesus (Yeshua) of Nazareth is the messiah. Why do we get so bent out of shape about that? We tolerate Jews in our synagogues who call themselves atheists, Hindus, Buddhists, agnostics, Unitarians, etc. But the minute you mention Jesus (Yeshua) some of us completely melt down. Why?
    I read a book recently by Daniel Boyarin titled, “The Jewish Gospels: The Story of the Jewish Christ”. It is NOT an apologetic. He covers what we Jews have believed for centuries about the so called Son of God/Son of Man and a Suffering Messiah. He also talks about Jesus and Kashrut and the Jewishness of the gospels. It is very well written and researched.
    In closing, the Messianics I know are a rather diverse group of people with diverse opinion and practice. They aren’t out to get me. So some of you have to stop the fear-mongering and drop the prejudice since prejudice of people groups isn’t tolerated in Torah or by HaShem. Also start examining our reactions to those Jews who believe Jesus is messiah. With so much fear and ill logic in our midst at the mention of that name, it leads me to wonder just what is up.
    Respectfully submitted.

  17. I am a Messianic Rabbi, and I have extensive academic studies culminating in Political Science and History, as well as Rabbinic theology. My ancestors were Scottish, which I suppose makes me a goy, but one with a deep respect for things of a Hebraic nature. Unlike the Christians and most Messianic’s, I don’t think the Jews are lost and are in need of saving. I do think both Judaism and Christianity have strayed from the Mosaic Torah, but one of the most compelling things written in the Gospels is what Yeshua said, my mother and brothers are those who hear the word of HaShem and do it..a direct reference to the Shema.

  18. Lex,
    Thank you for writing this article. I support any effort being made to build a bridge between Jews and others, whether they be Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, or Christians.

  19. Yehuda Yisrael, when would you suggest your Messiah will return to save Israel? There are very terrible times on the horizon for Israel.
    Also, how do reconcile your sin with a Holy God? By what means are your saved from eternal damnation?
    If God is a Just God, he needs to exert Justice on sinners, will God simply let sinners go unpunished? How have you cleansed your sin from you? As a born again Christian, the blood of Jeshua (Salvation) has done that for me.
    I look forward to meeting you one day soon. The catching away of the God Man as prophesied in Isaiah 57, Micah 7, and Psalm 12 is VERY soon. These Hebrew verse speak of a time where Godly people ‘disappear’ and there are no good people left. These scriptures are talking about a time when the Christian Rapture event occurs. I will come looking for you at that time. I will have a glorified body, like the Angels and be able to transcend time and space.

    1. Samuel Foster, the world is not healed of sin. Your jesus’s death did not do away with sin as your false NT claims. You still sin. Your belief in him does not prevent you from “corruption” in any fashion. Your jeezer did not “save” you from sin or anything else…
      Your assertion that Israel cannot atone for sin without “jesus blood” couldn’t be farther from the truth…Nowhere in the Tanach does it even hint that “jesus blood” is needed for Israel to receive forgiveness of sin from Hashem.
      Leviticus 17:11 states that blood animal sacrifice is one way to atone for sin. However, it does not state that blood sacrifice is the only way to atone for sin…(also, note that “jesus blood” is also not mentioned here…Only animal blood!)
      The prophet Daniel stood righteous before Hashem without a Temple. He didn’t need “jesus blood” or jesus in any fashion on order to stand righteous before Hashem.
      Ezekiel 14:14 even if these three men–Noah, Daniel and Job–were in it, they could save only themselves by their righteousness, declares the Sovereign LORD.
      You see, Daniel received forgiveness for his sins INDEPENDENT of jesus during the first exile. He did this by praying and sincerely repenting before Hashem. Daniel 6:11 states that he even did this in the face of death! Clearly, Daniel knew that his sincere repentance to Hashem brought him back to righteousness.
      He was simply following the words of Jeremiah!
      The context of Jeremiah 29 concerns what G-d expects of us during the exile in order to merit the rebuilding of the Holy Temple. Consider what is said in Jeremiah 29:12-14
      Jeremiah 29:12. And you shall call Me and go and pray to Me, and I will hearken to you.
      Jeremiah 29:13. And you will seek Me and find [Me] for you will seek Me with all your heart.
      Jeremiah 29:14. And I will be found by you, says the Lord, and I will return your captivity and gather you from all the nations and from all the places where I have driven you, says the Lord, and I will return you to the place whence I exiled you.
      G-d expected that the Israelites would pray to Him while in Babylon. The result of their prayers and repentance allowed them to return to the land and rebuild the Holy Temple.
      This is precisely what Daniel did…
      And this is precisely what Orthodox Jews do today! Hosea gives us a similar message:
      Hosea 3:4. For the children of Israel shall remain for many days, having neither king, nor prince, nor sacrifice, nor pillar, nor ephod nor seraphim.
      Hosea 3:5. Afterwards shall the children of Israel RETURN, and seek the Lord their God and David their king, and they shall come trembling to the Lord and to His goodness at the end of days.
      How do we return to Hashem if we do not have any sacrifices? Hosea tells us in Hosea 14:2-3!
      Hosea 14:2. RETURN, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have STUMBLED IN YOUR INIQUITY.
      Clearly, the subject of the next verse explains HOW Israel is supposed to RETURN to Hashem so that OUR INIQUITIES WILL BE FORGIVEN. Of course, the next verse explains just that!
      Hosea 14:3 Take WORDS with yourselves and RETURN TO THE LORD. Say, “YOU SHALL FORGIVE ALL INIQUITY and teach us [the] good [way], and let us render [for] bulls [the offering of] our lips.
      Even though we have stumbled in our iniquity and have been put into exile, we still have a means of returning to Hashem though our sincere PRAYERS. We take our words and return to Hashem by saying; “FORGIVE ALL INIQUITY.” Nothing in Hosea 14:2-3 indicates that we need the blood of animals in order to atone for our sins during the exile. And most importantly, NOTHING in Hosea 14:2-3 says we need the blood of jesus!
      This is why Daniel was able to stand righteous before Hashem, praying three times a day, despite the fact that he knew he would be thrown into a pit of lions if he continued to do so. Yet he continued to do so in the face of death! (Daniel 6:11)
      If the Jewish people did not need “jesus blood” to merit the rebuilding of the Holy Temple during the first exile, then why would we need it now?!
      Hebrews 9:22 is a false statement. It erroneously claims that “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sin.”
      lets take a look at II Chronicles 30:16-20 where it is HEZEKIAH’S PRAYER and NOT BLOOD which ATONES for the sins of the people…
      II Chronicles 30:16. And they stood in their station as was their custom, according to the Torah of Moses, the man of God; the priests sprinkled the blood from the hand of the Levites.
      II Chronicles 30:17. For there were many among the congregation who had not consecrated themselves, and the Levites were in charge of the slaughter of the Passover sacrifices for everyone who was unclean, to make it holy for the Lord.
      II Chronicles 30:18. For a multitude of the people, many from Ephraim and Manasseh, Issachar and Zebulun, had not purified themselves, for they ate the Passover sacrifice not as it is written, for *Hezekiah had PRAYED**for them, saying, *”MAY THE GOOD LORD ATONE FOR**
      II Chronicles 30:19. anyone who has set his whole heart to seek God, the Lord, the God of his forefathers, though [he be] not [cleaned] according to the purity that pertains the holy things.”
      II Chronicles 30:20. *And THE LORD HEARKENED TO HEZEKIAH and HEALED the people.*
      The Hebrew word יְכַפֵּר is used in verse 18. It means ATONE! Here we see that in the case of Hezekiah’s passover, many of his Israelite guests DID NOT cleanse themselves with BLOOD according to the Law of Moses. In order to ATONE for the sins of his people, King Hezekiah PRAYED TO HASHEM that he should grant ATONEMENT for all those in his Kingdom who truly turned their hearts to Hashem. Now, to further expand on this…In verse 16, it clearly states that the Levites were in charge of sprinkling BLOOD to purify Israel as it is stated in the Torah of Moses…Now, verses 17 and 18 say that there were many in Israel WHO DID NOT PURIFY THEMSELVES WITH THE *BLOOD* AS IT IS WRITTEN IN THE TORAH! When someone disobeys a Law in the Torah, what do we call that? We call it a SIN! Here, there were individuals who SINNED by NOT being purified by the LEVITICAL PRIESTS OF THE HOLY TEMPLE with BLOOD! Now, according to Hebrews 9:22, the only way to ATONE FOR SIN is through BLOOD! But here, the sin that was committed was that they DIDN’T use blood for atonement…So how is this sin atoned for?
      According to Hebrew 9:22, it has to be blood! But is that how this sin was atoned for? NO! Their sins were atoned for in this manner:
      II Chronicles 30:18 *Hezekiah had PRAYED**for them, saying, *”MAY THE GOOD LORD ATONE FOR**
      II Chronicles 30:19. anyone who has set his whole heart to seek God, the Lord, the God of his forefathers, though [he be] not [cleaned] according to the purity that pertains the holy things.”
      II Chronicles 30:20. *And THE LORD HEARKENED TO HEZEKIAH and HEALED the people.*
      The sin of those not purified with the blood was atoned for through PRAYER! Thus, Hebrews 9:22 is an inaccurate statement…
      And if you are still skeptical about atonement without blood, The Hebrew word יִּרְפָּא is used in verse 20 for the word “healed.” The root of this word is רְפָּא which means heal. Amazingly, this same root is used in Isaiah 53:5
      Isaiah 53:5. But he was pained because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; the chastisement of our welfare was upon him, and with his wound we were *HEALED.*
      The Hebrew word נִרְפָּא is used in verse Isaiah 53:5 for the word “healed.” This shares the SAME ROOT with יִּרְפָּא as shown above. In both cases, (Isaiah 53:5 and II Chronicles 30:20) a form of the word רְפָּא is used for the word “healed.”
      Clearly, there are circumstances in which atonement can be made through PRAYER, particularly when blood sacrifice is not immediately available…
      II Chronicles 33:9-13 demonstrates this same principle:
      II Chronicles 33:9-13: “And Manasseh led Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem astray to do what was evil, more than the nations whom the Lord had destroyed from before the Children of Israel. And the Lord spoke to Manasseh and to his people, but they did not listen. And the Lord brought upon them the generals of the king of Assyria, and they seized Manasseh with hooks and bound him with copper chains and brought him to Babylon. And when he was distressed, he entreated the Lord his God, and he humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers. And he PRAYED to Him, and He accepted his prayer, and He heard his supplication and He restored him to Jerusalem to his kingdom, and Manasseh knew that the Lord was God.”
      Here we see that Manasseh used PRAYER to receive forgiveness of his sins as well. We see that when blood sacrifice is not available, prayer is a valid method of atonement for sin. Also keep in mind that under Manasseh’s rule, the kingdom of Judah was more idolatrous than it had ever been in the past! Clearly, Manasseh’s prayer served as a means of forgiveness/atonement without blood sacrifice and most importantly, without jesus!
      Here we have a cause and effect: King Manasseh says a prayer asking for forgiveness and G-d accepts his prayer and restores him as King of Judah. No blood sacrifice was used to atone for King Manasseh as there is nothing in the text that would indicate such.
      This proves that Hebrews 9:22 is a false statement. Blood sacrifice is not the only way to atone for sin. Your jesus has nothing to with our atonement.
      May Israel merit the rebuilding of the Holy Temple and the reinstatement of the Levitical sacrificial system through our sincere prayer and repentance, speedily in our days!

  20. To the author:
    Seriously, great article! My father is a secular, non practicing Jew and my mother is a Seventh-day Christian and that’s how she raised me. I have dealt with the wariness from other Jews on multiple occasions. Luckily, in my case all of my Jewish friends have pushed past the negative stigmas and we now have respectful, healthy relationships.
    I had always thought about writing an article similar to the one you published because everything is working out great amongst my friends and I. So, I hope more and more people reach that point as well!

  21. The article would be a lot more helpful if it gave some information about the non-Jews for Jesus messianic jews. It doesn’t identify the groups, explain what they believe, or give us any clue about their attitudes to evangelism.
    My understanding is that Jews For Jesus did start as a conversion/outreach program, rather than a separate belief system, although it has evolved a more complex identity over the years.

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