Messianic Judaism is a sect of Judaism. But unlike the Orthodox Jew, they accept that Jesus (Yeshua) is the Jewish Messiah. They believe in the Messianic Bible (the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament) as G-d’s inspired word. But like the Orthodox Jew, they still hold to most Jewish laws and customs.
Messianic Bible: The Old Testament
The Messianic Bible (Tanakh) includes much of the Old Testament. There are a few differences in structure than what we see in today’s Christian Bible. The Tanakh consists of 24 books, not the 39 we see in our table of contents. However, all 39 are found within the 24, because many of them are combined. For instance, 1 and 2 Chronicles are considered one book in the Messianic Bible Old Testament. The section the Christian Bible calls the Minor Prophets consists of 12 books. In the Tanakh, they are considered one book. However, the most important part of the Messianic Jew belief lies in the Torah.
Messianic Bible: The Torah
This portion of the Old Testament holds the most information about Jewish traditions as well as the laws set out by G-d through Moses. The Torah is the first five books of the Messianic Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. In addition to the Torah, these five books have many other designations: The Law, The Pentateuch, and The Five Books of Moses.
- Genesis – The first book contains the account of Creation, the fall of man, the Abrahamic Covenant, the establishment of the 12 tribes of the Israeli nation through Jacob.
- Exodus – The second book begins with the birth of Moses and the Israelites are in captivity. The first half of the book takes us through the exile, the desert traveling, and the delivering of the Ten Commandments. The second has G-d delivering instructions to building a tabernacle and it’s being built. The Tabernacle is used for housing the presence of G-d as they travel, as well as a place to offer sacrifices.
- Leviticus – This is the book that contains Jewish Laws, reminders of traditions, and the establishment of the sacrificial system. Most Jews and Messianic Jews honor these laws. Although as we will get into the second part of this series, many laws and traditions are not followed today.
- Numbers – These next two books give additional laws, but also contain a very detailed census of the twelve tribes. These are the books that many Bible readers dread getting through. But as you read, you can see how detailed everything is — giving you a sense of a G-d inspired structure of order.
- Deuteronomy – After most of the generation that failed to enter the Promised Land the first time passed away; a new generation is given a chance at believing that G-d will provide. Deuteronomy is pretty much a sermon Moses delivers to this next generation, accounting the stories of what they experienced since leaving Egypt. It ends with the designation of Joshua as Moses’ successor.
Messianic Bible: The New Testament
As you would expect, Orthodox Jews do not accept the New Testament as inspired words of G-d. They are still looking for their Messiah. To them, Jesus was a great prophet, but that is it, he fails to live up to what their expectation of the Messiah should be.
However, those who follow Messianic Judaism accept that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Jewish Messiah and all the prophecies spelled out in the Tanakh, Yeshua fulfilled. Much like when Yeshua stood before the synagogue and read Isaiah 61, he then proclaimed that prophecy was fulfilled through Him. Another example is what many Orthodox Jews consider forbidden, Isaiah 53. This is one chapter that lays out Yeshua’s suffering and death on the cross – the very chapter that Messianic Jews find their belief that Yeshua is the Messiah.
The Messianic Bible is pretty much the same as the Holy Bible you grew up reading or listening to at church, or reading on your own at home. It is the inspired Word of G-d. It is through this book of history and prophecy that Jews, Gentiles, and the entire world gain an understanding of who Yeshua, Jesus, really is.
G-d’s Desire for Man
G-d has always had a desire to be with man. He created the Garden of Eden to be with him. Once we screwed that up, he found another way; the tabernacle. The presence of G-d rested within the Holy of Holies and He once again dwelt with man. But since sin kept us at a distance, a means of atonement had to be established; the sacrificial system. But unfortunately, that was temporary; a perfect sacrifice must be made.
Enter Yeshua. A man, who was fully G-d, came into the world; born of a virgin. He lived on earth for roughly 35 years. He lived in every way human; the only exception was that he was without sin. He faced temptations, yes, but remained sinless. He began His ministry at 32, and for three and a half years He gained followers and taught, healed, and loved people, just as G-d had intended. The perfect sacrifice came in the form of Yeshua. His perfect, sinless blood tore down the wall that separated G-d from man. Now He could reside with us again.
There are many similarities between Christianity and Messianic Judaism. The Messianic Bible may be the same, but there are some tenants of religion that hold fast to the Orthodox Jewish traditions. We will explore that in lesson two of this series.