Messianic Music with a Contemporary Sound?

Contemporary Christian musicians

A friend emailed me with a question. Her Messianic friends listen to Christian contemporary music and tell her they don't care for Messianic music because there's nothing contemporary. Are there Messianic musicians with a contemporary music sound?

I interpret contemporary here to mean Christian pop, the kind you might hear on Christian radio stations, the kind of music published by Bethel Music et al.

My response:

There certainly are some Messianic musicians with a contemporary sound. I am thinking of folks like Shae Wilbur, Melody Joy, or Beckah Shae. Also, Joshua Aaron has done several songs with contemporary Christian artist Aaron Shust. I'd also suggest some Hebrew music from folks like Jamie Hilsden and albums like Midor Ledor have a contemporary sound as well.

That said, your friends are right that most Messianic music sounds different. I think that's OK! Most Messianic music does have a different sound, one that is not trying to emulate the Christian genre. The Messianic movement has a unique calling, distinct from the broader Church, so our music will often reflect that.

Messianic Jewish Problems with Hebrew Roots

Title banner for the Messianic Walk Podcast episode Messianic Jewish Problems with Hebrew Roots

In a new podcast episode, Messianic Apologist John McKee and I tackle difficult issues separating Messianic Judaism and Hebrew Roots.

For the uninitiated, the Messianic movement encompasses both Messianic Judaism and Hebrew Roots.

In Messianic Judaism, the goal is Israel’s salvation by making a space where Jews can follow Yeshua as Messiah without losing their Jewish identity.

In Hebrew Roots, the goal is a return to the Jewish roots of Christianity, removing the extra-Biblical cruft created by the Church over the last 2000 years.

Go to most any Messianic congregation today, and you’re bound to find folks from both camps. These groups need each other, and yet, often there are theological disputes and disagreements that can prevent fellowship.

In this podcast, John and I look at 4 major issues that the Messianic Judaism movement sees with Hebrew Roots, and offer some ways to navigate them:

  1. One-Law Rigidity – dogmatism around the idea that non-Jews must follow the Torah in the same way that Jews do
  2. Two-House identity – which claims many or most non-Jews in the Messianic movement are actually descendants of the lost 10 tribes of Israel
  3. Sacred Name Onlyism – the idea that you must pronounce God’s divine name, יהוה, and that you must never use circumlocutions like “Lord”, “God”, or even “Adonai” or “Elohim.”
  4. Divergent Calendars – Calendars that differ from the modern Jewish (Hillel II) calendar, resulting in dates of the Feasts differing from mainstream date.

These 4 issues were raised by Rabbi David Schiller of Congregation Etz Chaim in Richardson, Texas, during an interview with John in an earlier podcast.

In this episode, John and I talk about how to navigate these difficult issues — and have fellowship in the presence of disagreement on these issues — towards a Big Tent Messianic movement.

If you enjoy the Messianic Walk, you can subscribe via Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, or email. Enjoy, friends!

Blessing God for the COVID-19 vaccine

This week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received the COVID-19 vaccine and recited the Shehekianu prayer, which blesses God for preserving our lives: 
It translates as,

Blessed are You
LORD, our God
Master of the universe
Who has kept us in life
And preserved us to this season

I love that Netanyahu recited this while receiving the COVID vaccine because it recognizes God working through modern medicine. 

This is a topic special to me because I've been harping on it decades now: God's people need to drop faux-medical woo and anti-science conspiracy theories and embrace the great blessing of medicine. 

Or, to put it more accurately, re-embrace medicine. It was pious, devout Christians who pioneered the very idea of hospitals, a concept largely foreign to the ancient pagan world. Nuns -- prototype nurses -- caring for the sick at Church buildings for the sick -- prototype hospitals -- funded by the Church and its faithful. Even to this day, hospitals often bear Godly and religious names. My two daughters were born at St. Francis hospital, for example, named for a pious Christian who spent his life caring for the sick.

Aren't vaccines harmful?


Many of my Messianic and Hebrew Roots friends scoff at vaccines and promote conspiracy theories about them. To those folks I say, vaccines have wiped out several diseases that plagued mankind for thousands of years. Isn't that a good thing?

Smallpox was responsible for great suffering for millennia, claiming nearly 20% of all deaths in 1700s London: 
 

The disease did not relent until a vaccine against it -- the first vaccine -- was introduced in 1796. 

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1n2z_0urquwl6tuQrfC2DC9CGZBWLqDXo

This was no disease of modernity. The mummified remains of Pharaoh Ramses V, who lived 1000 years before Messiah, was found to be infected with smallpox, likely leading to the royal's untimely death.

This disease that once afflicted and killed millions, mostly children, is now unheard of in the modern world. Vaccines are the reason.

Polio is another fantastic example. This disease crippled people, often paralyzing one's ability to breathe. In the early 1900s, children with polio would be forced to live in giant medical machines called iron lungs in order to keep breathing. Imagine that, friends, living your entire life in a big metal box:

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1dGV4_RmkWaohwIalA-EeTQpYS33RKDl3
https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=1i5H3fItYyxudVtoa2bfqBeaBG2NXyuBv

Many people who lived during this time are still alive. Talk to your Grandparents or Great Grandparents about it! 

I came across one such person recently in an article about the COVID vaccine:

https://drive.google.com/uc?export=view&id=11NVpsfmf_Evao5oQJomtl0NWOyV68vd5

The reason we no longer suffer with polio, the reason you have never seen an iron lung before, is because of vaccines. The polio vaccine was created in 1953 by Jonas Salk, and it effectively and quickly eradicated the disease:


 Polio has been eradicated in the US for decades now, and has nearly disappeared from the entire world. The last bastions of the disease are in remote African villages where vaccinators are at risk of wars and warlords. And even there, we are the cusp of riding this disease from the world forever.

If smallpox and polio don't convince you, I ask you today to watch what happens in 2021. Just as smallpox and polio were wiped out, we'll likewise see COVID disappear. First, it'll decline. Then it'll disappear from the news. Then, it'll all be but a distant memory.

When that happens, friends -- and you can be certain it will -- won't you reconsider your thoughts on vaccines? Will you acknowledge you were mistaken? I hope you will, friends. Let truth prevail.

Can't we cure these naturally?


Many of my religious friends will ask this. They feel medicine and pharmaceuticals are unnatural, and messing with nature is just bound to go wrong. God made our bodies to fight disease on its own; let it do the job.

This thinking is well-intentioned but terribly wrong.

First, nature is out to kill you. 😊 Natural things include snake venom, harmful bacteria, viruses, and a host of predators microscopic and lion-sized. Nature is not our friend, but a mortal foe that will eventually kill you. There is no going back to the Garden of Eden.

Second, God commanded us to subdue nature. Humanity has a divine mission to rule over nature:

God blessed them and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the land, and conquer it. Rule over the fish of the sea, the flying creatures of the sky, and over every animal that crawls on the land.”  

-Genesis 1:28
This absolutely applies to microbiology. It is our responsibility, our divine mission, to eradicate disease, reduce suffering, and subdue nature.

Some believe all-natural elixirs, essential oils, diets, and vitamins are the answer. This is wishful thinking. 

Two years ago, a dear Hebrew Roots friends passed away from cancer...despite going for all natural treatments. And just this year, Hebrew Roots teacher Brad Scott had a brain tumor. He blogged about how he was going for all-natural treatments, how he didn't take any pharmaceuticals, how he had refused modern cancer therapies, how he had taken advice from Hebrew Roots folks peddling their oils, diets, fasts, and vitamins.

They all failed. Brad Scott died of a brain tumor earlier this year. His posts about the all-natural treatments has since been removed from his website by his widow.

Lastly, essential oils, vitamins, diets and all-natural cure-alls are no more "natural" than pharmaceuticals. Neither occurs in nature. And just because a substance can be derived from a plant does not make it healthy; cocaine should teach us that. And it ultimately doesn't matter; our divine mission is to subdue nature; why cripple our mission with arbitrary boundaries God did not impose?

COVID isn't killing people, why all the fuss?


Some folks think COVID is a hoax. This is a conspiracy theory that says COVID isn't actually killing people. 

This is grievous to me, as I know 3 people personally who have died from COVID, most notably my dear friend, Marty Blume, a Messianic Jewish man who helped me created Chavah Messianic Radio. He is dead because of COVID.

At the time of this writing, December 21st, 2020, COVID has killed over 300,000 people in the United States alone, and nearly 1.7 millions people worldwide.

To put that into perspective, the September 11th attacks on the United States killed 3,000 people. COVID is now taking ~3000 lives every day; essentially a 9/11 tragedy every day.

Some people object to say those numbers are inflated artificially, pointing out that if a person dies with COVID, it's counted as a COVID death even though something else killed them. 

This is poor medical understanding. 

Often times, as in the case of my dear friend Marty Blume, COVID arrests one's breathing, and that causes additional diseases, like pneumonia, which ends up killing you for lack of oxygen. Hospitals count that as a COVID death, and rightly so. And while there is variance in how a COVID death is counted, that variance swings both ways. For example, many nations only count COVID deaths that occur at hospitals; meaning the actual number of COVID deaths may be higher than the above figures.

Still others say COVID only affects the elderly, so who cares? It's mild for most people, and the death rater is 1.7% of all infections, so why all the fuss?

But the truth is, the elderly are still important. In fact, the Torah requires God's people to honor the elderly above other people. To dismiss this is to rebel against God's commandments. 

And it's not just the elderly; it's also people who are overweight (~30% of the US), people who have chronic illness (e.g. diabetes). These people are also at high risk of serious COVID complications.

So, yeah, a strong healthy young man in his prime may have a mild case of COVID. But give it to your parents, to your congregation, to your relatives, and now it becomes serious.

Why thank God, and not Science?


My secular humanistic friends will ask this. "It was science that cured Covid, not your God!"

I saw on one atheist forum a quote from a doctor:

"When the child recovers, they thank God. When the child dies, they sue me."

Science and medicine was pioneered by men and women of faith, like Newton and Pascal and the aforementioned pious Christians who cared for the sick when no one else would. These people of faith studied these fields and blazed trails in pursuit of understanding the natural world, the work of God's hands. In pursuit of subduing nature, using our God-given intellect, it was the faithful who contributed the foundations of science and medicine. And still today, many scientists and medical experts are believers in that same God who commanded us to care for the sick.

A COVID vaccine, whether produced by the faithful or the faithless (or a combination of these!), ultimately fulfills the divine mandate and does the work of the Lord. God doesn't desire to see anyone suffer or die. Treating disease with all every method at our disposal must be seen as doing the work of the Lord.

So, yes, thank the researchers, thank the doctors, thank the scientists for this medical miracle. And then bless God for the COVID vaccine.

Blessed are You
LORD, our God
Master of the universe
Who has kept us in life
And preserved us to this season