Messianic Judaism: A purpose that angered many

There has been renewed focus, as of late, to make Messianic Judaism more Jewish.

Some have well intentions: being true to our Jewish nature and tradition, bringing more Jews into Messianic Judaism. Giving a place for Judaism to continue.

Others have foolish intentions: “We must be an authentic, recognizable Judaism!”, they say. “Only then will we be recognized in the Jewish world and move into the Jewish space!”

And yet others have used this as an opportunity to distance Messianic Judaism from independent Messianics, Torah-for-Christians folks, two houses of Israel advocates, gentiles called out from the Church, gentiles interested in returning to Hebraic roots of Jesus faith, and other followers of Messiah they deem undesirable.

(Talk about a load of negative, exclusionist religion!)

I’ve made it no secret: I think some of our leaders have an inferiority complex that ultimately hurts Messianic Judaism more than it helps. We’re a Jewish movement by our own right: we follow the only authentic Jewish Messiah. We don’t need others’ approval or recognition to feel secure about our faith and identity. Nor do we need to be a movement that shuns gentiles, or that lets gentiles operate only peripherally.

What is our purpose?

Rabbi Joshua from the Yinon blog asks, “What is our purpose?”

His answer is: “Messianic Judaism’s primary goal has been to be a home and way of life for Jewish followers of Yeshua.”

I see things differently. Yes, of course Messianic Judaism is for Jews returning to Messiah – but it’s more than that.

God has done something huge, folks. He has sparked a Jewish return to Messiah, and a gentile reformation. A spiritual awakening among both Israel and the nations. Simultaneously. It’s happened in the last 40 years, and continues to this day. The result is Messianic Judaism.

It is undeniable: go to any Messianic congregation – why are there so many gentiles? Why are they worshipping with Jews? Why are they keeping God’s commandments? Why are they loving Israel? Why do they love the Jewish people? Why are gentiles called to learn and practice and teach the Scriptures of Israel?

It’s from God, folks. Yes, the Torah-for-Christians people. Yes, the two houses of Israel people. Yes, the young gentile man drawn to Messianic Judaism and the Jewish people. Yes, that gentile overflowing with joy in worshipping among Jews – it’s all from God.

Messianic Judaism is furthering the work of the Reformation. And it’s God’s doing. God’s bringing his people – both Jews and gentiles – into maturity. Reforming our old ways and bringing us to fresh truth of Messiah, and holiness through his commandments. That’s God’s doing.

It’s that huge.

This view angers many! In fact, there are probably a few commenters already furiously typing away at long, angry replies, laden with insults and accusations and slander.

It doesn’t matter, they’re irrelevant. God is at work.

I’m not the only one who sees things this way. John McKee of Outreach Israel Ministries writes in Is God’s Purpose Bigger?,

[T]he Messianic movement is really designed to complete the work of the Reformation, bring all of Israel together, and see a unique faith community of Jewish and non-Jewish Believers emerge.

Many people honestly do throw their hands up in the air and ask, “What happened to the love and grace of Yeshua? What happened to the work of the Holy Spirit? Where is God really leading us?

We are certainly not being led to a place by God where there are two sub-peoples of God: Messianic Jews and evangelical Christians.

The unity that all of God’s people are to have—either Jewish or non-Jewish—is to be a testimony of the greater redemption to come. We have the capability to be a faith community that is a real force of holiness and righteousness. Many more than just Jews and Christians are to ultimately be affected.

The latter half of John’s statement reminds me of a song written by Messianic pioneer Joel Chernoff:

Jew and Gentile one in Messiah

Help us, Father, to love one another

With humble hearts, forgiving each other

Heal our wounds, bind us together,

That the world might believe

What is our purpose? Our purpose is the restoration of Israel.

All the gentiles in the Messianic movement? They’re not a by-product. They’re not a side-effect. They’re not something to be embarrassed about. They’re not something to be shunned. They are here because God brought them, just as he brought Jews to Yeshua, so God is bringing gentiles to holiness through his commandments.

Praise God for doing this awesome act! Thanks to God he’s moving today among both Jews and gentiles. As the psalmist wrote,

Know that the LORD is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.

For the LORD is good and his love endures forever;
his faithfulness continues through all generations.


  1. There is no revival of Jews for your Messiah.You convert the least educated Jewish people and even less educated non-Jews. A real revival appeals to all of the people.

    While you argue about your identities as Messianic Jews, you are losing your followers to traditional Judaism which they learn about from you guys.

    I have even recently for the first time found a few Messianic Jews who like my revised explanations about Isaiah 53 being about King Hezekiah. Maybe this the fiirst step to them being part of a traditional Jewish revival. Who knows? They also liked some of my anti-trinitarian arguments they never read anywhere else.

    Kenneth Greifer

  2. Ah, welcome back, Kenneth.

    I know it would make anti-missionaries feel better to say only the dumb, uneducated Jews believe in Yeshua.

    Being someone who's been involved with the Messianic movement for my entire life, I'm happy to say you're wrong. :-)

    Shabbat shalom.

  3. Judah,

    You've rekindled something that I have believed for many years, but I kind of let slip to the back burner recently...God is at work. And thats one of the greatest joys of all. Thanks for sharing bro. Shabbat Shalom.

  4. You know, it just occurred to me: Kenneth, Yirmeyahu, YesJewish, and the other 2 anti-missionaries that frequent this blog are proof that God is working among Jews.

    If God wasn't bringing Jews to Messiah, the anti-missionaries wouldn't have to peddle their wares around the web.

    Heh. Praise God, he's bringing his people Israel back to Messiah.

  5. Judah,

    I never said Messianic Jews are dumb. I think they are normal intelligent people who get involved with your religion without understanding their own religion first.

    Just like it is easy to convert them, it is easy to convince uneducated but intelligent Christians to become Jewish if you wanted to.

    Kenneth Greifer

  6. Kenneth,

    You are a living proof that we do not always succeed In converting the least uneducated Jewish people....

    Shabbat Shalom

  7. Judah,

    I know why I frequent your blog. But it is nice to hear you say out loud!

    Shabbat Shalom,


  8. I realize that this blog is for discussing Messianic Judaism, and that I have not been respectful to you Judah and your readers because I have interrupted your discussions with my comments.

    I disagree with your beliefs, but I should be respectful anyway. I am sorry, and I won't comment here anymore. I also lied when I said some people liked some my ideas in my first posting. No Messianic Jews liked my ideas about Isaiah 53 being about Hezekiah or any of my other ideas.

    Kenneth Greifer

  9. Judah, you misquoted me. Please revise. If you prefer to paraphrase my writing, please refrain from using quotation marks.

  10. Wow. I think I'm offended. :)

    My site says, "that most involved in “evangelism” are sincere people who simply wish to serve their Creator and help their fellow man" and "Looking on the positive side I believe this attempt at correlating Sukkos with the Nazarene's birth represents an attempt at carefully observing the details of the text that I think is frankly is often lacking."

    It gets called hateful and axed, while this guy comes on much more aggressive and nothing....Oh well, can't win 'um all. :)

    I wouldn't be so quick to group me into your list of those who demonstrate your beliefs are making headway in the Jewish community. "Counter Missionaries" often feel that missionaries are a real and present danger, but that is selection bias, they wouldn't be involved if they didn't think it was important. The truth is I've known a lot more Messianic people who converted to Judaism than vice versa. My material is really just sharing my journey rather than a statement on the efficacy of the messianic movement in attracting Jews.

    Its late, I'm just rambling...

  11. Judah, well said. You have hit the nail on the head - and restated what James stated in Acts 15. All these Gentiles are coming as a proof that HaShem is restoring the fallen Tent of David.

    It THAT not a mere "invitation" < grin >.

    I read some of the nastiness on other blogs and scratch my head at whether somethings should be called "kesher" or not for all the thinly veiled goy-disgust.

  12. Shalom Rick,

    Thanks for your comments. Missed your input...Great response to the "divine invitation" thing...

  13. Dan, long time no talk. I was at your family museum today < grin > - the Rachel ben Zvi Center in Jerusalem.

  14. So much for Yinon wanting a dialogue... When faced with uncomfortable facts they shrink from discussion, and delete my posts..O, well....The true face of MJ UMJC style.....

    Maybe I should start my own blog....

  15. Joshua,

    You're right. I apologize. I paraphrased, but shouldn't have used quotes. I'll update the post.

  16. Rick and Dan and Efrayim,

    I opened the blog this morning to see 16 comments. I shuddered, thinking it would be all angry comments telling me just how wrong I am.

    Instead, I find loads of support from you guys. Thank you! It is good to be fighting this battle with support from others.

  17. >> "Maybe I should start a blog"

    Dan, you ought to. We need more voices this side of the aisle.

  18. @Kenneth,

    Thank you for understanding the need to be respectful. I don't mind anti-missionaries posting here, as long as it is not insulting or using covert conversion tactics. You are welcomed here accordingly.


  19. Judah:

    I agree in part with what you write here.

    Part of what I have been saying is that non-Jews can enter MJ and Torah-groups for the wrong reasons.

    I have said time and again that I think Israel-loving Christians, sojourning Gentiles who take on some but not all Torah, and proselytes all have a place in Messianic Judaism. I expect MJ to have more non-Jews than other branches of Judaism (other branches of Judaism have more non-Jews than some let on).

    Blessings and peace.

    Derek Leman

  20. >>>Maybe I should start my own blog....

    I would be a fan and appreciative reader, Dan. I always enjoy your Sabra-style zingers that hit the mark. : )



    SABRA(S) - (Heb.) Native-born Israeli(s). The word comes from the name of a cactus plant that is prickly on the outside and soft and tasty on the inside. The Israeli character is often said to resemble this fruit.

  21. judah,

    i appreciate your article and your passion though we come into much disagreement.

    you say for example:

    It is undeniable: go to any Messianic congregation – why are there so many gentiles? Why are they worshipping with Jews? Why are they keeping God’s commandments? Why are they loving Israel? Why do they love the Jewish people? Why are gentiles called to learn and practice and teach the Scriptures of Israel?

    This is less about a great new work of G-d, especially gentiles keeping the G-d's commandments an example of confusion and confused teachings on Gentiles and Torah. The Torah is not generic divine commandments for whoever wants them but G-d's Torah given to Moshe for the Jewish People, the descendants of Jacob. Though Acts 15 calls gentile Christians to observe some Torah commands for table fellowship with Jews, the full weight of Torah observance and the conversion of Gentiles to Judaism before trusting in Yeshua was rejected.

    Gentiles worshipping with Jews is ok, loving Israel is good, loving Jewish people is good, studying the Bible is great, but any kind of teaching that Gentiles should keep Torah or blur the line of Messianic Judaism into being Jews and Gentiles doing a smattering of Jewish stuff together and calling it Judaism is not glorifying G-d and helping to put Yeshua to open shame before the larger Jewish world.

    It’s from God, folks. Yes, the Torah-for-Christians people. Yes, the two houses of Israel people. Yes, the young gentile man drawn to Messianic Judaism and the Jewish people. Yes, that gentile overflowing with joy in worshipping among Jews – it’s all from God.

    I appreciate the concept of unity but their must be boundaries and the Torah-for-Christians and the Two House Movements are not fellow travellers but incorrect and Scripturally and sociologically wrong. The Two House Movement being a form of supersession and anti-Semitism dressed up with a tallit and shofar.

    G-d is glorified when Jews observe Torah, G-d is put to open shame when Gentiles usurp Israel's status as the bearers of the Torah by in essence stealing the Torah of Moshe given at Sinai and claim it as their own.

  22. Hi Sean.

    First, I find your arguments terribly ironic - you're a gentile, right?

    Second, we disagree because of different visions. You, being of the MJTI persuasion, believe Messianic Judaism = Jews with Jesus and Torah. Gentiles need not apply (After all, as you say, Messianic gentiles are just anti-semitic, supersessionist thieves of God's commandments dressed up in a tallit and shofar!)

    Contrast this to our vision, what we know God is doing among Jews and gentiles, all of His people: Messianic Judaism = all God's people returning to Israel- and Torah-centric faith in Yeshua.

    This exalts God, as Isaiah wrote,

    "And the gentiles who join themselves to Adonai, every one of them who keeps Shabbat and doesn't profane it, and holds fast to my covenant, I will bring them into my house on my holy mountain and make them happy and joyful; all they offer and sacrifice will be acceptable to me."

    God is glorified when even gentiles keep His commandments. Psalms and Isaiah state this explicitly. What doesn't glorify God is the ugly theology that says, "gentiles must never join themselves to God's commandments", and the theology that says, "God has 2 sub-peoples: gentiles and Jews, and we should have different churches for both." This does not follow the New Testament model, and serves only to create further division between the two.

  23. judah,

    first off thanks for posting my comment.

    yes, i am a gentile that is in the process of conversion to judaism and like most potential converts I am participating in synagogue life in preparation for my fully joining the Jewish people. this being said I am scrupulous in not blurring the lines between me as a gentile in the midst of the community, ie. not wearing a tallit or tefilin, not receiving or accepting aliahs for the torah reading, etc. I practice Judaism as a gentile in process toward conversion, not a gentile already under the Torah mantle.

    As to your comment:

    Second, we disagree because of different visions. You, being of the MJTI persuasion, believe Messianic Judaism = Jews with Jesus and Torah. Gentiles need not apply

    Our difference is on vision and the community that we seek to reach.

    My vision of Messianic Judaism is focused on drawing Jewish people to Torah and to Yeshua, their Messiah.

    Your vision appears to be to draw gentiles to Torah faithfulness.

    Sadly your approach conflicts with mine and I would say the broader vision of reaching what Paul calls the "fullness of Israel" in Romans 11.

    The greatest charges to defame Messianic Judaism in the larger Jewish world are:

    1) They are 90% gentile

    2) They receive hundreds of millions of dollars to convert Jews to Christianity.

    3) They are just Evangelical Christianity using Jewish symbols and liturgy to convert Jews.

    Though the 2nd one is spurious, #3 is sadly true for many "Messianic congregations".

    But #1 is fed by your approach. If you notice the Messiahship of Yeshua is a non-issue in the 3 above?

    Though I appreciate your passion, I see it detrimental to reaching Jews with the Jewish Messiah with your "Torah for all" approach, which will alienate most Jews.

    To your comment:

    (After all, as you say, Messianic gentiles are just anti-semitic, supersessionist thieves of God's commandments dressed up in a tallit and shofar!)

    My point was specifically in reference to the "Two House" teaching which theorizes that Gentiles coming to Yeshua faith are "returning Jews"or "the lost tribes of Israel", this is the old British-Israelism heresy repackaged with tallit and shofar.

    There are valuable Messianic gentiles that have served and will continue to serve the Messianic Judaism movement, but they should serve as non-Jews within a Jewish community and world.

  24. Sean,

    Messianic Judaism is not accepted by the Jewish world because Yeshua is Lord. Everything else is a smokescreen, including those 3 charges.

    As long as Yeshua is Lord, it wouldn't matter if we were 100% Jewish, more observant than the most pious Chassid, more zealous than the energetic Chabadnik. As long as Yeshua is exalted, the Jewish world will not accept us. Don't fool yourself otherwise.

    Read this, it will plant a single seed of good in you: Messianic Judaism has an inferiority complex.

  25. Judah,

    I just found this post. It is almost exactly what I am trying to work with thru Am Echad. I'm a late-comer to the party, but I hope you'll let me join you.