“You are a people holy to the LORD your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the LORD has chosen you to be His treasured possession.”
Several movements within Judaism are messianic—believing in the coming Messiah—Messianic Judaism refers to Jews who maintain their belief that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Jewish Messiah within a Jewish context.
Originally, of course, most of the Believers in the first century were observant Jews—something akin to Orthodox—as was Yeshua, who was sent to minister to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. (Acts 6:7; Matthew 15:24)
Sadly, over the centuries, belief in Yeshua disappeared from its original Jewish context, due mainly to the destruction of the Second Temple and consequential Roman persecution.
As belief in “Jesus” diverted from its Hebrew origins, former-Gentile Believers increasingly adopted anti-Semitic biases.
This, unfortunately, lasted for centuries being propagated by the Roman Catholic Church, even though they are joined through Messiah to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the same God as that of Judaism.
“For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation.”
Although there have been Jews over the centuries who have believed in Yeshua, the Messianic movement emerged in the 1960’s at the same time as the Jesus Movement in the United States.
Some estimate that there may be about 350,000 Messianic Jews worldwide.
Messianic Jews do not stop being Jewish because they follow Yeshua. They do not lose their Jewish identity, lifestyle or culture; they affirm it.
Likewise, they do not believe that the rabbinic oral law (Mishna and Talmud) is divinely inspired.
While most Messianic Jews celebrate the Hebrew festivals and observe Jewish fast days, most do not celebrate man-made holidays such as Christmas or Easter.
Even though Messianic Jews preserve a Jewish lifestyle, they maintain a relationship with Christians and have participated in times of prayer and reconciliation with former-Gentile Believers—including in Israel itself, where Christian Arabs and Messianic Jews come together for events like the annual Global Day of Prayer.
“The centrality of Messiah Yeshua puts us in profound spiritual unity with people in another worldwide community—the Christian Church,”
–states the website of Washington DC’s Congregation Shuvah Yisrael.
“Though we practice our faith differently, we have deep appreciation for the Church. Our primary sense of identity lies with the Jewish People. But, we share a deep bond with all who see Jesus as the ultimate answer to the great questions of life,”
In these last days, as the stage is set for the return of Yeshua to the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4; Matthew 24:30), many faithful Believers recognize the significant role of the Jewish People in the State of Israel and around the world, understanding that they are fellow heirs and partakers of the covenant promises.
“You are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of His household.”
Sadly, many in Modern Christianity do not have a vision for being members of one household with YHWH’s Biblically chosen People.
They believe that YHWH is done with the Jewish People, that He has transferred all of Israel’s blessings and promises to the Christian Church and has forsaken His covenant with Israel (Jacob).
“I am the LORD, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying. Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.”
YHWH’s blessings are irrevocable, and are in addition to the Covenant YHWH made with Israel at Mt. Sinai with Moses.
God’s deep, abiding love is revealed in His terms of endearment for Israel: “My firstborn son” (Exodus 4:22–23); “treasured possession” (Deuteronomy 7:6); “My people, My chosen, the people I formed for Myself” (Isaiah 43:18–21); “My delight is in her” (Isaiah 62:4); and “the apple of His eye” (Zechariah 2:8).
King Solomon called them “the people you have chosen.” (1 Kings 3:8)
Some former-Gentile Believers argue that they are now the “spiritual Israel” and that the Jews are no longer “God’s Chosen People,” the unchangeable reality is that God loves and cherishes His Chosen People, because they are the “keepers of the Law”. Although it is nearly impossible for any “Jew” today to trace back their lineage to the 12 tribes of Israel, their culture is the primary determining factor for YHWH’s People today.
Some leaders within Christianity, however, continue to argued that the Jewish race ceased to exist after the Second Temple was destroyed, since many of the Jewish people living in Israel at that time were enslaved or scattered.
They say that throughout the last two thousand years, Jewish people intermarried and lost their racial purity. Or they find it significant that most Jews today can no longer recite their genealogy.
Of course, many would like to use such arguments to sever the connection of the Jewish People from the Holy Land.
The truth is (and has always been) however, that there is only one race of people, and that the entire concept of race has no scientific or genetic basis.
Human beings are descendants of Adam and Eve; they share at least 99.9% of the same genetic materials.
Nevertheless, it is often possible to trace ancestral origin in the remaining 0.1%.
This is true of the Jewish people who have traditionally married within their people group. In fact, DNA testing can determine if a Jewish male is a descendant of Aaron, Moses’ brother, through the father to son lineage. If so, this would make him part of the Cohanim, the priesthood appointed by God and possibly fit to serve in the Third Temple service.
And even though having a non-Jewish mother disqualifies a Cohen from priestly status and Temple Service today, it is not a conclusive argument against Jewish identity.
Long before the Second Temple was destroyed, King David had a grandmother, Ruth, who was not Jewish—it would be silly to dispute his bloodline.
Moses, Joseph and Solomon also had wives who were not Jewish.
And when the Israelites were delivered from Egypt, included in their numbers were Egyptians and other nationalities. At the foot of Mount Sinai, they entered into the same covenant with YHWH as the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, becoming part of the covenant people.
While some claim Bible prophecy pertaining to Israel has been annulled, we can see it being actively fulfilled today in the Jewish People being a blessing to all the nations of the earth, which He said He would do:
“I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.”
–(Genesis 12:1–3; see also Genesis 28:13–14)
Certainly, we have seen a partial fulfillment of this through all of the Jewish People’s many contributions to science, medicine, technology and the arts.
Not to mention the fact that the Jewish People have shone the light of truth to the world through the Bible or that mankind’s Savior, Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah) was a Jew.
When it comes to defining who is Jewish, it is commonly believed that the forefathers decided that Jewish descent comes through the patrilineal bloodline; this pattern started with the father of the 12 tribes, Jacob (later named Israel).
The Second Temple period, however, reigned in the transfer of generational Jewishness from the father’s line to the mother’s line.
By the second century AD, this pattern of descent was commonly accepted.
According to Judaism 101, the “Torah does not specifically state anywhere that matrilineal descent should be used; however, there are several passages in the Torah where it is understood that the child of a Jewish woman and a non-Jewish man is a Jew, and several other passages where it is understood that the child of a non-Jewish woman and a Jewish man is not a Jew.”
Although some people define being Jewish as a nationality and some define it as a religion, today a person is recognized as Jewish if their mother was Jewish or they formally converted to Judaism.
In other words, being Jewish is inherited and is not connected with belief (unless one converts, of course).
Indeed, here in the Holy Land, secular Israelis often have a strong Jewish identity that is aligned with Biblically-endorsed Zionism (rights to a Jewish homeland in Israel) or with immediate family ties and traditions, rather than religion.
Furthermore, religiously speaking, Judaism expresses itself in a variety of ways.
Even though some of YHWH’s Chosen People have lost sight of the Promised Redeemer, and do not believe that YHWH (if they believe in Him at all) is interested in their day-to-day affairs, YHWH is still seeking the lost sheep of the House of Israel.
Although the Jewish People are not especially religious, with most valuing tradition and culture over religion, YHWH has promised that they will come to Him in the last days.
“Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They will come trembling to YHWH and to His blessings in the last days.”
There are too many Scriptures to put here that define and state emphatically that:
- those who are born into the lineage of Israel are the chosen People of YHWH
- for those who are not native born and yet “trust and obey” are also of Israel
- finally, the Scriptures in the New Testament that declare those who believe in Messiah Yeshua are spiritual Israel.
However, if your eyes and ears are open, you will understand that it has always been an issue of faith that determined son-ship to YHWH. Obedience to YHWH was the understood proof of faith in Him. Thus, those who faithfully obeyed His voice (Word) were considered His children.
The argument is that those born from Abraham to the 12 tribes were the type and shadow of the true substance which is the church of YHWH today.
There has been and always will be (until Yahushua’s return) a remnant of the house of Israel, His chosen People.