Messianic Judaism (part 4): The Messianic Synagogue and Its Impacts on the Jewish People | God TV

Messianic Judaism (part 4): The Messianic Synagogue and Its Impacts on the Jewish People

With the growth of Messianic Judaism, synagogues are having to face Traditional Judaism head on.

Messianic Judaism (part 4): The Messianic Synagogue and Its Impacts on the Jewish People
Messianic Judaism (part 4): The Messianic Synagogue and Its Impacts on the Jewish People

When G-d established His presence among humanity, He gave Moses instructions on creating a temple to house His presence. It was a place to establish the people as His and for the priests to enter to offer sacrifices to atone for the sins of the people. Through a series of events, a foreign army destroyed the Messianic Temple. In the wake of tragedy, the Jewish people adopted a new form of worship; The Messianic Synagogue.

The Original Temple

Before diving into the Messianic Synagogue, here is some history. The temple, during the exodus, was housed in what was basically a large tent. The Torah outlines the structure in great detail. It had to be erected and torn down every time the Israelites relocated. Of course, the law gave specific instructions on how this process would take place.

After Israel entered the Promised Land, plans went into a place that would eventually give the temple a permanent home. David was the man in charge of planning the House of G-d. David’s son, Solomon, built it. However, Babylonians destroyed it after the overrunning the Jewish people. After a period of exile, the Jews rebuilt it and it stood until 70 AD. After a Jewish revolt, the Roman emperor had the temple destroyed.

Jewish leaders met after the loss of the temple, and with the inability to conduct sacrifices outlined in the law, they came to a consensus to abandon the sacrificial system. They replaced sacrifices with devotion to other laws and commitment to prayer. Meeting places, called synagogues, replaced the temple itself.

The Traditional Church

Christianity is much more relaxed on the observance of laws and traditions outlined in the Torah. Most denominations of Christianity hold to the belief that Christ’s sacrifice did away with the Old Testament covenants regarding the observance of the stricter laws. They believe that only the Ten Commandments stand as the rules to live by.

Each denomination has its own idea of how a church should look. Most are similar, but some have their differences. There are major differences between a Christian church, a Catholic church, and a Messianic Synagogue.

The Traditional Synagogue

As mentioned, the Temple was destroyed in the mid-first century. Traditional Jews continued to meet but were troubled by not being able to conduct the required sacrifices. Leaders met and agreed upon abandoning the sacrificial system and replaced it by prayer.

Today, Orthodox Jews still observe many traditions when it comes to the synagogue.

    • The function – The function of a synagogue is twofold. It is the first most a house of prayer. The second function is to teach Jews how to observe the laws of the Torah.
    • Faces Jerusalem – The building of a synagogue must comply with the strict laws outlined in the Torah. One major regulation is that the building must give the parishioners the ability to face Jerusalem when they pray.
    • Aron Kodesh – A cabinet that is also known as the Ark. It houses the Torah scrolls. There is a purpose for every step. The doors on the cabinet, the curtain inside, and the Eternal Light all have significance, and Jews must follow specific rules when dealing with them.
    • Separation of men and women – This applies mainly to the Orthodox Jewish faith. Men and women cannot worship together. Each has their own area and rules regulating those areas. In some other sects, like Reformed Judaism, women have more freedom.
    • Non-Jew attendance – While it is not forbidden, a visitor should maintain a certain level of respect for the synagogue they are visiting. Visitors should adhere to the rules; men should wear a yarmulke and women a head covering. Synagogues provide these items to those who do not have them.
    • Language – Also, terminology can be offensive. To refer to a synagogue as a temple can insult some Traditional Jews. The term “temple” will always associate itself with the Temple destroyed in 70 AD. Temple also infers a place to offer sacrifices. To call a synagogue a temple, could demean the given purpose of an actual temple.

The Messianic Synagogue

While a Messianic Synagogue will follow many of the traditions that an Orthodox Synagogue will follow, there are some stark differences. One of them is the involvement of women. The Messianic Synagogue allows women to worship with men, teach, and become rabbis.

    • Differences between Christianity – If you specifically ask a Messianic Jew if they consider themselves a Christian, the answer you may receive may be surprising. The term Christian has become synonymous with non-Jew, or Gentile. So, while still following Yeshua, they still want to maintain a Jewish label. It seems that they want to be able to associate with both Christians as well as Orthodox Jews.
        • They hold tight to many of the laws set out by the Torah, even to the point where their services center around the Torah as opposed to the entire Bible like Christian churches do.
        • They still worship on the Sabbat, holding two services; one on Friday evenings and one on Saturday. They do not adopt the Christian behavior of worshipping on Sundays.
        • Messianic Jews observe many of the traditional feasts and festivals that Orthodox Jews observe. Among these are Passover, Chanukah, Purim, and Yom Kippur.
        • Like Traditional Judaism, many still hold to the kosher dietary restrictions.
    • Non-Jew participation – Messianic Synagogue attendance accepts the Jew and non-Jew. However, one should still show the same respect regarding a Traditional Judaism setting. G-d’s Word teaches that there is no difference between Jew or Greek; that there is only one faith. We are all accepted in His sight. The main difference between Messianic Judaism and Christianity is that Messianic Jews are of the same faith, but only express it within a Jewish heritage.

Messianic Synagogue Reaction

While the Messianic Jew observes Jewish traditions and they follow the laws the Torah outlines, the Orthodox Jewish community frowns upon their practices. One example is the story of Louis Kaplan, the founder of Jewish Voice Ministries. He was there when the first Messianic Synagogue made its way to America.

Louis, 19 at the time, tells about having to tell his parents about him accepting Yeshua as the Messiah. “After seeing that I was not to be shaken, neither would I deviate, or recant in any way from my testimony that Jesus was the Messiah. One night at 12 o’clock midnight, my father, who was enraged at my refusal to relinquish this so-called Gentile religion, ordered me out of the house and told me never to return.”

He never gave up on Yeshua as his Messiah. And as we will discover in our final entry in this series, many more have not given up either. First, there is the Messianic Synagogue. But a synagogue cannot exist without its congregation.

This article on the Messianic Synagogue is part 4 of a 5 part series on Messianic Judaism. Read more here: part 1, part 2, part 3.

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