Question: What is Messianic Judaism? Answer: See the article, What is Messianic Judaism?.
Question: I am looking for a Messianic congregation in my area but can’t find one. Answer: There aren’t many Messianic congregations in the United States, and if you do find one in your area, be warned that not all are healthy, so you will need to do due diligence before getting involved. For more information, I recommend you read: How To Distinguish Between Healthy And Unhealthy Messianic Congregations. If you can’t find a healthy Messianic congregation, be an active member of a good evangelical church and supplement what you get there with our services – which are now being streamed live at shema.com – and the Bible studies and teachings on the website.
Question: You wrote that Jews and Gentiles are not required to live in the same way. Do you believe they have a different calling and can live a different lifestyle? Answer: Messianic Jews and people from the nations share the same calling – we are invited to live forever in the New Jerusalem with the Three-In-One God and the sons and daughters of God and the good angels. However, Messianic Jews and the people from the nations are not required to live the same way. One example: circumcision. The Jewish people, including Messianic Jews, are required to circumcise their boys on the eighth day as part of our responsibility to the covenant made with Abraham. Gentile Christians are not required to do that. I encourage Messianic Jews to maintain a distinct Jewish identity, which is based, in part, on practices found in the Torah, and pass that identity on to their children. On the other hand, I don’t pressure Gentiles to live like Jewish people living under the Sinai-Covenant.
Question: Will God punish me if I choose to live a Jewish lifestyle like Jesus did? If I choose to live a Jewish lifestyle, I’m not renouncing Him or converting, am I? Answer: Your motivation for wanting to live a Jewish lifestyle is crucial. If you’re doing so because you believe that it’s obligatory and God requires you to keep all the laws of the Sinai Covenant that can be kept (and many of the laws can’t be kept since the temple was destroyed and the sacrifices stopped), you are guilty of the false teaching known as Legalism. That means you are sinning and you are in spiritual danger and you may be punished. However, if you choose to live a Jewish lifestyle, not because you believe that God demands it but because you find it meaningful, you should be OK. You can choose to live a Jewish lifestyle, but that doesn’t mean that you have converted or that you are Jewish. In my synagogue, we have Asians, African-Americans, people from a European background and others who serve the Lord within a Jewish lifestyle, but that doesn’t make them “Jewish.” One warning: don’t allow your interest in a Jewish lifestyle to be the focal point of your faith. I have seen many become so absorbed with Jewish roots and Jewish practices that Yeshua gets crowded out. This might sound strange, but Christianity is about Christ. Messiah is our focus. He is our living Head whom we need to be closely connected to and in touch with and empowered by. We need to carry on His mission of world evangelism. A spiritual diet where Jewish identity is the main course and Yeshua is a side dish is a formula for spiritual starvation.
Question: I’m trying to figure out what religion I am. I was raised Christian but think the Jews have some good points; and in my search to find my religion, I was drawn to you. How can there be something in between Christianity and Judaism? From what I was taught, you either believe Jesus is the Son of God or you don’t. Why do you believe what you do? If I am mostly Christian, but think Jesus was just a blessed man chosen by God to perform miracles, would that make me a Messianic Jew? Answer: In a way, there is something between Judaism and Christianity. Messianic Judaism is that bridge between those two religions. Why do we believe what we do? On the website, read the teachings under “Apologetics” along with What Is Messianic Judaism? You ask if you are mostly Christian, but think Jesus was just a blessed man chosen by God to perform miracles, would that make you a Messianic Jew? The answer is that believing that Jesus was only a man, even a blessed man who did miracles, is not enough to make anyone a Christian or a Messianic Jew. A genuine Christian is someone who understands that Yeshua is the Messiah and the Son of God, that He came into this world through the incarnation, lived a perfect life, died on the cross to make atonement for our sins, was buried and resurrected and is alive now. When a person understands these things and makes a commitment to become loyal to Yeshua, he becomes a Christian. I pray that happens to you. A Messianic Jew is someone who is Jewish and knows who Yeshua is and has transferred his loyalties to Him. If you are not Jewish, you can’t become a Messianic Jew.
Question: I’m a South African believer and am in the process of “coming out” of the Western Church system. I feel that Messianic Judaism is the unchanged way of practicing a living faith. I am ignorant of what it takes to “convert” to a Messianic Jewish approach and don’t want to live under Law. Could you point me in the right direction? Is there a South African branch of your congregation? Answer: Evangelical Christianity is just as valid an expression of New Covenant faith as Messianic Judaism. Really, they are two expressions of the same faith. I identify with the Evangelical Church, which is part of the “Western Church” system. So, here’s what I recommend: You have the right to express your faith in a more Jewish way. There’s nothing wrong with that – if your motivations are right – and it seems like they are since you don’t feel obligated to live under the Law. Living a fully Sinai-Covenant observant life is impossible anyway, since the Sinai Covenant is a broken covenant. If you can find a good Messianic synagogue near you, great. If not, if you are not part of a good Evangelical church, join one and get actively involved. Then, supplement what you are getting there with our teachings. We live-stream our services at shema.com and the messages and Bible studies are recorded and available on Tuesdays.
Question: I am a Christian and live in West Papua, Indonesia. I am interested in going back to the Hebrew roots of Christianity. I read many books and started celebrating the Sabbath three weeks ago. I pray during the traditional Jewish times of prayer each day. I stopped eating pork and try hard to eat kosher food. However, my obedience and knowledge are still insufficient. And there is no synagogue where I can go to and pray on the Sabbath. I would like your help so I can celebrate Shabbat and incorporate more of my Hebrew roots. Another burning issue for me is related to conversion: Do I have to convert to Messianic Judaism? Answer: No, you definitely do not need to do any conversion. You are fine the way God made you! Joined to Messiah by having faith in Him, you are complete! You were born to the parents and people God intended you to be. You are a member of Messiah’s Community, part of the One New Man, God’s new united community made of Jewish people and people of the nations – and that is enough! My recommendation is that, if you are not already, become an active member of an Evangelical church and supplement your interest in your Jewish roots by listening to our services that are streamed and practicing what you can on your own. If the live streaming doesn’t work for you as far as timing, we add the commentary on the weekly Torah portion and the message and the Bible study to the website on Tuesdays in audio and written forms.
Question: I’m a 29-year-old mother of one and I live in central Africa – Congo to be precise. Even though I come from a Christian family, there have been times when I questioned my Christian beliefs. I wondered: If everything I believe as a Christian has its roots in Judaism, then why don’t the Jewish people know Hebrew and know the prophecies about the Messiah, and believe in Yeshua? I was concerned that Christians were wrong about our interpretation of these prophesies. I visited many Jewish websites which had good arguments about passages like Isaiah 53, claiming that it referred to the nation of Israel and not Jesus. I was starting to be persuaded, but had a hard time letting go of my belief in Jesus. Then one day I came across your website, and I must tell you how relieved I was to find Jewish people who believe in Jesus. I was filled with so much joy I cried! Your articles changed my life – especially the one on the fulfillment of Jewish holidays in Jesus Christ. It reinforced my faith and beliefs and helped me understand the Gospel at a whole new level. I am immensely grateful to you for that. My questions are: If Jews and Gentiles are one in the Lord, why do you not call yourselves Christians? I understand everything about not wanting to assimilate and the desire to keep Jewish tradition, but it does not explain why you don’t identify as Christian as the apostle Paul and others did in Acts? I read in one of your articles that all of Israel will be saved in the end. Does that include those Jewish people who have died without believing in Jesus? If the plan is for Jews to all be saved in the end then what’s the use of evangelism since they’ll all come to believe anyway? Thank you so much for what you do. My prayers are with you. Shalom! Answer: Greetings, and thank you for letting us know how some of our teachings changed your life and helped you in your faith. In answer to your questions, although some Messianic Jews don’t use the word “Christian” to refer to themselves, I do. I identify as a Christian. I call myself a Christian – as well as a Messianic Jew. When Paul teaches us that “all Israel will be saved” (Romans 11) – he is not teaching us that every individual Jewish person will be saved. Paul makes it very clear earlier in Romans that the majority of the Jewish people are not saved. It is only the faithful remnant who believe in Yeshua who are saved. When he informs us that all Israel will be saved, he is letting us know that a time is coming (connected to Messiah’s return) when the entire nation will turn to Yeshua, and recognize Him and welcome Him – and then the nation will be saved.
Question: Whenever I share with Jewish people that Jesus was Jewish, they agree with me. But then they ask, “Why did He change?” My employer once asked me, “Why did Jesus begin a new religion, and that religion turn around and persecute us?” Answer: Yeshua never changed. He did not start a new religion. As the Seed of the Woman and the Messiah, Yeshua came to fulfill the ancient promises in the Law and the Prophets and the Writings about Messianic salvation. He came to bring salvation to Israel and to the nations of the world. Nor did great Rabbi Paul change things and start a new religion. Paul never ever contradicted the Son of God! Paul was faithful to serve the Three-In-One God. You need to understand that Paul was raised up by God and specifically sent to bring the teachings of Messiah to a new people – the Gentiles. Yeshua was sent to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. Paul is the great emissary and theologian that Messiah sent to the Gentiles, to make clear what was necessary for them. Paul is unjustly portrayed as the bad guy by many modern scholars, but that is not the case. Paul and his mission are simply misunderstood. He was welcomed by the other apostles. They recognized and approved of his ministry and message to the Gentiles. The great Rabbi from Tarsus understood that the Gentiles were not obligated to keep all of the commands that were directed to the Jewish people, and they could remain within their cultural heritage. The First Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 agreed with Rabbi Paul and extended a “trans-cultural Judaism” (Christianity can be understood as Biblical Judaism that includes the Messiah, but without all the cultural practices of Israel) to the other nations – without ever asking the Messianic Jews to give up their Jewish heritage and practices. Sadly, over the centuries, the Church gradually lost more and more of its appreciation for its Jewish roots. The good news is that those Jewish roots are in the process of being restored!
Question: According to Galatians 3:26-29, all Believers are one in Messiah, and there is no longer Jew or Gentile. Why do you continue to make a distinction between Jews and Gentiles? Aren’t we all Christians now, and no longer Jews or Gentiles? Answer: Let’s look at the passage in question: For you are all sons of God through faith in Messiah Yeshua. For all of you who were baptized into Messiah have clothed yourselves with Messiah. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua. And if you belong to Messiah, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise. Rabbi Paul is not teaching us that all earthly differences between men and women, and between Jews and Gentiles automatically disappear when we become Believers in the Messiah. There is neither Jew nor Greek is not meant to be interpreted literally any more than there is neither male nor female. Men who believe in Messiah are still men. Women who have encountered Yeshua are still women. In fact, Rabbi Paul teaches elsewhere that there are distinct “roles” for the sexes. For example, spiritual leaders of communities must be men – not women. Men are to be the leaders of the home – not the women. If we understood Paul’s words literally, and there were no longer any differences between men and women, then men could marry men, and women could marry women – something which is clearly wrong. Just as there are still differences between men and women in Messiah’s New Covenant Community, so too there are differences between slaves and those who are free, and there are differences between Jews and Gentiles.
The New Testament itself makes distinctions between Gentile Believers and Jewish Believers. That’s why Paul, who identified himself as “a Jew from Tarsus” could also say to the Gentile Christians in Rome, “I am speaking to you who are Gentiles (Romans 11:13).” In fact, it’s quite possible that differences between men and women and Jews and Gentiles will continue in the Age To Come. In the book of Revelation, even though the Son of God is resurrected and glorified, He is still revealed to be a Man. Even more specifically, He is identified as belonging to the tribe of Judah and the Root of David (see Revelation 5:5). I find it interesting that throughout eternity, the names of the twelve tribes of Israel are written on the everlasting gates of the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:12). In addition, “the nations” will walk by the light of the Eternal City, and the glory and honor of the “nations” will be brought into it. The leaves of the Tree of Life are for the healing of the “nations.” God has ordained that followers of the Messiah come from every nation, tribe, people and language group; and these differences in language, culture and identity remain on Earth, and some may even endure into eternity.
This ongoing difference between Jews and Gentiles manifests itself in several ways. For example, Messianic Jews should be circumcised for religious reasons, since we are still special participants in the covenant made with Abraham. Paul circumcised Timothy, since he had a Jewish mother (see Acts 16:1-3). On the other hand, Messianic Gentiles must not be circumcised for religious reasons, as Rabbi Paul makes clear in his letter to the Galatians. They are to be content with being circumcised in their hearts. However, Gentiles Believers may be circumcised for aesthetic or medical reasons, but not for religious reasons.
So what does Rabbi Paul mean when he writes that there is neither Jew nor Gentile, male nor female, slave nor free? He means that for all who have joined themselves to Israel’s Messiah, there is a new equality that we have. Now that the Messiah has come, we have a new and equal access to the God of Israel. He is equally our Heavenly Father. We can all come boldly before His throne of grace at any time. We all share His Spirit. We are brothers and sisters. However, earthly roles and national identities, including Jewish/Israeli identity, remain. Yes, all who genuinely believe in the God of Israel and the Jewish Messiah are “Christians” – but “Christian” simply means a follower of Christ (Messiah – Israel’s Anointed King); being a Christian does not mean that one’s national and ethnic identity are diminished.
Question: I am a Gentile Christian. Galatians 3:29 teaches: If you belong to Messiah, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. That kind of makes us “Jewish” too doesn’t it? Answer: Gentile Christians do not “become Jewish” or “spiritual Jews” or the “New Israel.” However, they have a very significant Jewish identity connection. They have been grafted into a Jewish olive tree (Romans 11). They have the God of Israel as their Father. They are sons of Abraham – spiritual sons, but sons nonetheless. They have the Messiah of Israel as their brother. The Spirit of the king of the Jews lives in them. They are citizens of the New Jerusalem. While Gentile Christians are not Jewish, they have a very strong Jewish identity connection.
Question: Now that I believe in Yeshua, aren’t I a “Spiritual Jew” (Romans 2:28-29)? Haven’t I been grafted into the Olive Tree (Romans 11)? Am I not part of the Commonwealth of Israel (Ephesians 2:12)? Am I not a son of Abraham (Galatians 3:29)? Answer: We have to be very clear about our use of names and titles. The Holy Spirit is very careful in the Scriptures that comprise the New Testament, not to identify Gentiles as Jews. Gentiles are never told that they “become Jews” or “convert to Judaism.” Messiah’s Holy Community of Jews and Gentiles (the Church) is never said to “replace Israel,” “take the place of Israel,” or be the “New Israel.” What then is the relationship of Messianic Gentiles to the nation of Israel? “Kosher-hearted” Gentiles are sons of Abraham. Abraham is their spiritual father, but that doesn’t make them Jews. They are Abraham’s offspring, but that doesn’t mean that Christians are “Jews” or “Spiritual Israel” or the “New Israel.” Abraham is the father of many nations, but not all those nations are entitled to be called “Israel.” Only those who are descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob can properly be called “Jews” or “Israel.” Gentiles who have found the Messiah are not “Spiritual Jews.” They are “Spiritual Gentiles.” If you look at the context of Romans 2:28-29, you will see that Rabbi Paul is specifically addressing Jewish people. He is teaching us that Jewish people who have saving faith in Messiah are “Jews inwardly” and spiritually circumcised. You might be a wild olive branch that has been grafted in to Israel’s Olive Tree of Salvation and Blessing, but you are a “partaker with us” – the natural branches. You don’t replace us. Yes, Gentile Believers are now part of the Commonwealth of Israel, and have a new citizenship with the Jewish saints, but that doesn’t make you a Jew, any more than Paul having Roman citizenship made him a physical descendant of Rome. Properly identifying Messianic Jews and Gentiles as equal yet distinct is important because of the ongoing differences in their earthly roles and calling. “Replacement Theology” – the teaching that the Church is the New Israel and has replaced the Jewish people, is the result of a flawed interpretation of Scripture. It is wrong and has contributed to considerable violence against the Jewish people.
Question: I have a Jewish father and a Gentile mother. Am I Jewish? Answer: In the modern Jewish community, Jewish identity is determined by the mother (matrilineal descent). If your mother is Jewish, then you are Jewish. Some parts of the Jewish community also acknowledge patrilineal descent (through the father). In fact, the Bible primarily supports patrilineal descent, as can be seen by the many genealogies. We discover in the New Covenant Scriptures that Rabbi Paul had Timothy circumcised, indicating that this inspired emissary considered Timothy to be Jewish, even though Timothy’s father was a Gentile and his mother was Jewish. Therefore, the Messianic Jewish movement accepts both matrilineal and patrilineal descent. This is in keeping with the policy of the State of Israel, which will grant Israeli citizenship to those who have even one Jewish grandparent on either side. Part of the rationale for this is that, if having one Jewish grandparent was enough to get one killed in the Holocaust, it should be enough to be a citizen in Israel.
Question: I’m a Christian who believes in the Jewishness of Jesus. I attend church services on Sunday, but also observe the high holidays at the local Reform synagogue. Am I considered messianic? Answer: In one sense, “Messianic” is another name for “Christian” so I would consider you and all Christians to be Messianic. Follow-up Question: Okay, I’m Messianic. Are there any other ways to describe myself? Messianic Christian sounds redundant. I can’t use Messianic Jew since I’m not Jewish. Answer: You can refer to yourself in a number of ways: A Messianic Gentile; a Gentile Christian; a kosher-hearted Gentile; a genuine Christian who loves the Jewish people and the Jewish Messiah; a person from the nations who is a follower of Jesus the Messiah.
Question: If my great-grandmother was Jewish, would that make my grandfather a Jew also? Answer: Among the Jewish people, there are different ways of determining Jewish identity. Orthodox Judaism accepts matrilineal descent (if your mother is Jewish, you are Jewish). Reform Jews accept both matrilineal and patrilineal descent (if your father is Jewish, you are Jewish). Messianic Jews also accept both matrilineal and patrilineal descent. Israel will give Israeli citizenship (not Jewish identity, but Israeli citizenship) to a person who has one Jewish grandparent on the side of either the father or mother. So in my opinion, yes, your grandfather could be considered to be Jewish, but I don’t know if Israel would give you Israeli citizenship.
Question: Is there a difference between “Jew,” “Hebrew” and “Israelite?” Answer: For many centuries the Jewish community has considered the terms “Jew,” “Hebrew” and “Israelite” (or “Israeli”) to be synonymous. The New Testament affirms this understanding, since it uses all three terms interchangeably. At first the term “Jew” referred exclusively to those who were from the tribe of Judah, but eventually it was applied to people from all twelve tribes. That is why Paul could say that he was a Hebrew of the Hebrews (Philippians 3:5), an Israeli (Romans 11:1), and a Jew from Tarsus, even though he was from the tribe of Benjamin (Acts 21:39). To this day the three terms may still be used to refer to anyone who is part of the Jewish people.
Question: Are there Black Jews? Answer: Yes. The Ethiopian Jewish community is an authentic Jewish community. It goes back centuries and centuries. Christian missionaries worked among Ethiopian Jews in the 1800s and many became believers. Many moved to Israel and there is a significant Ethiopian Messianic Jewish community in Israel.
Question: I am a Gentile Christian who lives in Australia. Although Messianic Jews do not keep the Law to be justified or sanctified, how do they maintain their Jewishness? Answer: Your question about maintaining Messianic Jewish identity is a good one. First, let me say that it is not easy to maintain Messianic Jewish identity through several generations, and many do not succeed. The forces of assimilation into Gentile Christian culture, and also assimilation back into the non-Messianic Jewish community, are very strong. So, here is what I would advise a young Messianic Jewish person to do: Stay focused on the King of the Jews. If possible, become part of a healthy Messianic Synagogue. Try to marry a Messianic Jew and encourage your children to make that same commitment. Circumcise your sons as part of your responsibility to the Abrahamic Covenant. Send your children to a Messianic Jewish summer camp. Develop a love for the Word of God and see it, whether it is the Old or New Covenant books, as at the core of your identity. In particular the book of Hebrews – a book written to Messianic Jews by a Messianic Jew about staying Messianic Jews – is very encouraging. Recognize that the Torah is a huge part of the Jewish heritage and incorporate those parts of it that are meaningful to you. Observe Jewish life-cycle events, like bar/bat mitzvahs, weddings and funerals. Understand the Jewish holidays in Leviticus 23 and how each one is connected to Messiah. Have a positive view of Israel. Visit Israel. Learn some Hebrew. Interact with the non-Messianic Jewish community where possible without denying your allegiance to Yeshua. Be committed to evangelism, and especially to Jewish evangelism based on Romans 1 – the Good News going to the Jewish people first. Explore Jewish art, literature, movies. Explore Jewish tradition and observe those parts of Jewish tradition that don’t contradict the Word of God and are meaningful to you. Be encouraged by the contributions of other Messianic Jews like Alfred Edersheim. One last suggestion: live close to a good Jewish deli!
Question: I am a Christian. I don’t like the term “gentile.” It’s used in a derogatory way. Why do you refer to me as a gentile? Answer: The word “goy” in Hebrew means nation and can be translated into English as nation or gentile. It’s a good word and generally refers to a nation other than the nation of Israel. However, there are instances in the Tenach (Old Testament) when the nation of Israel is referred to as a “goy.” In Greek, gentile is “ethnos.” In the New Testament, it simply means people who are not Jewish – even after they come to faith. In Romans 11:13, Paul specifically addresses non-Jewish Christians and uses the term gentile (I am speaking to you who are gentiles). Under Messiah’s New Covenant, individuals maintain their ethnic identity. The Jewish people continue to be Jewish people and gentiles remain gentiles. There is no need to feel insulted if you are called a gentile.
Question: I’m a conservative Jew. My friend considers herself a Messianic Jew and because of that, is getting ashes applied to her on Ash Wednesday. Is that something that is accepted by Messianic Jews? Answer: Your question is somewhat complicated to answer. Here’s why: Messianic Jews have dual identities. We are part of Christianity. We are members of the Christian Church, and we are also part of the Jewish people. And the Messianic Jewish Community is not uniform in faith and practice. Within it, there is a lot of diversity. Some Messianic Jews are members of Messianic synagogues, which have a “Messianic Jewish orientation.” A much larger percentage of Messianic Jews are members of Christian churches, which have a “Gentile Christian” orientation. Since there are many Christian denominations, those Messianic Jews who are part of those denominations may observe some of their denomination’s observances – like putting on ashes on Ash Wednesday. Under Messiah’s New Covenant, we have a lot of freedom when it comes to holidays and observances. Therefore, it’s acceptable to me if your friend wants to participate in Ash Wednesday. She has the freedom to put ashes on herself, just as I have the freedom not to.
Question: Do you believe in the “Ten Lost Tribes?” I was told that they referred to the ten northern tribes that made up the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Were they really lost? Answer: The ten northern tribes were never completely lost. That old myth, which is found in both Jewish and Christian tradition, and is exploited by some cults, is based on a misunderstanding of the Holy Scriptures. The myth of the Ten Lost Tribes presumes that when the Assyrians captured the Northern Kingdom of Israel around 722 BC, ten of the twelve tribes were carried off into exile, where their identity was lost. This theory, however, ignores important Biblical facts. Before the Assyrian invasion, many people from the ten northern tribes had moved to the Southern Kingdom of Judah. In 2 Chronicles 11:14-17 we are informed that after the civil war that split the Jewish nation into two parts: The Levites left their pasture lands and their property and came to Judah and Jerusalem, for Jeroboam and his sons had excluded them from serving as priests to the Lord. He set up priests of his own for the high places, for the satyrs and for the calves which he had made. Those from all the tribes of Israel who set their hearts on seeking the Lord God of Israel followed them to Jerusalem, to sacrifice to the Lord God of their fathers. They strengthened the kingdom of Judah and supported Rehoboam the son of Solomon for three years, for they walked in the way of David and Solomon for three years (see also 2 Chronicles 15:9). Also, though Assyria did invade and capture many of the residents of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, the Assyrians did not take all of them.
If the theory of the Ten Lost Tribes were correct, they would have already been lost by the First Century, yet the New Testament makes it clear that Jewish people from all twelve tribes were still identifiable. We know that Yeshua and his family were from the tribe of Judah (Matthew 1:2-16). Rabbi Paul was from the tribe of Benjamin (Romans 11:1). The Priests and Levites were from the tribe of Levi. Anna the prophetess was from the tribe of Asher (Luke 2:32). There is other New Testament evidence as well. Rabbi Paul knew that representatives of all twelve tribes were alive and identifiable in his day. Defending himself before King Agrippa, he said, I am standing trial for the hope of the promise made by God to our fathers; the promise to which our twelve tribes hope to attain, as they earnestly serve (note present tense) God night and day” (Acts 26:6-7). An entire book of the New Testament was specifically written to the twelve tribes of Israel. Ya’akov (James) the brother of the Lord and the leader of the Congregation in Jerusalem, addressed his letter to “the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad” – to Messianic Jews who were living outside of Israel who are from all twelve of Israel’s tribes. None of the tribes can be lost because it is clear that all twelve tribes will exist in the Last Days. 144,000 Jewish people, 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes will be chosen to bear God’s name immediately prior to His Return (see Revelation 7 and 14). Perhaps the most important evidence we have is the testimony of the Son of God Himself. When His twelve specially chosen representatives asked Yeshua about their reward for following Him, He answered: You who have followed Me, in the Regeneration when the Son of Man will sit on His glorious throne, you also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel (Matthew 19:28).
No, ten of Israel’s twelve tribes are not lost. The All-Knowing One could never lose anything, let alone the “apple of His eye,” and those He has inscribed on the palms of His hands. Contrary to various theories, the ten tribes did not migrate en masse to the British Isles nor to the United States. They are not American Indians, British Israelites, Jehovah’s Witnesses or Two-House advocates. They all existed in the time of Yeshua, 700 years after they supposedly disappeared, and were still identifiable as Jewish people. They exist today and will continue to exist into the Regeneration. Though most Jewish people today are uncertain of their tribal heritage, God knows, and will reveal it in due time.
Question: I understand that I will never be made righteous by the Law, but should Christians be obedient to any part of it because it is good? Does it have a place in the Gentile Christian’s life? Answer: One way to understand the Torah is as Israel’s constitution. However, not all 613 laws in the Torah are meant to apply to everybody. There are laws that only apply to priests. For example, the High Priest couldn’t marry a divorced woman or a widow, whereas a regular Israeli could. There are laws that only apply to the king (like writing his own copy of the Torah). There are laws that apply to men and not to women, and vice-versa. Most of the laws directly apply to the Jewish people, but not the Gentiles. All of us are to “fulfill the Law,” but the requirements of the Law are different.
So what relationship does the Gentile Christian have to the 613 laws of the Torah? The book of Acts records that Messiah’s Emissaries (the Apostles) and the Elders of Messiah’s Holy Community met to decide this very issue. This meeting, recorded in Acts 15, is often referred to as “the First Jerusalem Council.” According to the binding decision issued by the Emissaries and Elders, guided and inspired by the Holy Spirit, apart from saving faith in Messiah Yeshua, only four things are obligatory for Gentile Christians to observe (see Acts 15, especially verses 19-20, 28-29). I would also include obedience to the Moral Law – laws such as not murdering, not stealing, and not committing adultery. These are moral laws which God has written on everyone’s heart (see Romans 2:14-15).
If someone wants to observe a Biblical holiday or custom, there is the freedom to do so, but there is no obligation to do so. We have the freedom to celebrate the Passover and the Jewish holidays, but also the freedom not to. If someone says, “Messiah is my Passover and I don’t need to celebrate a Passover Seder” – fine. If someone else says, “I want to celebrate the Passover and better remember Messiah my Passover Lamb” – that’s fine too.
However, that being said, there are many principles for godly living that may be applied from the Torah to the life of the Christian. Torah means “teaching” or “instruction,” and it still serves as a teaching guide for Messiah’s Holy Community of Jews and Gentiles (the Church). For example, should a Christian have a tattoo? The New Testament is silent on the subject, but the Torah teaches us God’s will on this practice (see Leviticus 19:28).
Summarizing the Gentiles’ relationship to the Torah, I would say that all that is necessary for Gentiles is to have faith in Messiah Yeshua. That alone saves us. Then there are the four basic requirements in Acts 15. Then there are the moral requirements of the Law that are already written on everyone’s heart. Anything beyond these requirements is optional.
Question: I understand that the First Jerusalem Council didn’t demand that the new Gentile Believers keep all of the commandments right away, but doesn’t Acts 15:21 teach that as these new Believers matured, they should learn Torah at their own pace, and become more Torah observant? Answer: There is a better way to understand Acts 15:21. Acts 15 records the decision of Messiah’s Emissaries (the Apostles) and the Elders of Messiah’s Holy Community (the Church) regarding the relationship of Gentile Christians to the 613 laws of the Torah. In Messianic circles, this meeting is often referred to as “the First Jerusalem Council.” According to the binding decision issued by the Emissaries and Elders, guided and inspired by the Holy Spirit, apart from saving faith in Messiah Yeshua, only four things are obligatory for Gentile Believers to observe (see Acts 15, especially verses 19-20, 28-29). It was understood that obedience to the Moral Law – laws such as not murdering, not stealing, and not committing adultery, which God has written on everyone’s heart, were also included (see Romans 2:14-15). After these four requirements were given, in the very next verse (15:21), Ya’akov (James) said: For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath. James, the Messiah’s brother and the head of Messiah’s Community in Jerusalem, was not saying that Gentile Believers should start off slow, with just the four requirements previously mentioned, and then move on to more Torah observance, and learn about Torah observance from those in the synagogue. No, Ya’akov was summarizing the Council’s position and making the very same point, but in another way – that all 613 commandments are not required of the Gentile Believers – only those four things mentioned (along with the moral laws that God has written on everyone’s heart), and that this is what Moses taught, and what the synagogues teach. Even today, non-Messianic synagogues teach the same thing – that Gentiles don’t need to become Jews, or follow all 613 commandments, in order to be right with God.
Question: I read your article about conversion and how it’s wrong to convert Gentiles into Messianic Jews, and I’m confused. I have been attending a Messianic synagogue for about a year. I truly feel the Holy Spirit working in my life. I have a hunger to find out what God wants for my life. The Torah and the New Testament make sense now. My confusion is this: As a Gentile, am I not to follow the Torah? I understand that nothing but the atoning blood of the Messiah will save me, not my works or following the Law. Because I am saved, I want to follow the Law. Is this not right – because I am not Jewish? Answer: As a person from a nation other than Israel, your focus is not the Sinai Covenant and Sinai Covenant law-keeping. Your focus is Messiah – getting close to Him, becoming like Him, having character like Him, sharing His values and goals, telling those outside His Community about Him and doing something to build His Community from within. Sinai Covenant law-keeping is optional; it is not required. As a Christian living under Messiah’s New Covenant, you have the freedom to observe those parts of the Sinai Covenant that are meaningful to you.
Question: I am a Gentile believer in Yeshua and I have a question about Torah observance. Would it be wrong to follow Torah if I am not a Jew? I believe that salvation is only though faith in Yeshua and not by works of the Law, but I have been feeling convicted to follow the Law. I know it won’t make me more holy or save me, but I don’t know what to do. Answer: While it is not wrong for a Gentile to follow the Torah, after observing many people trying to do that for a number of years, my opinion is that it’s not spiritually profitable. It’s trading one lifestyle for another. And it can be dangerous. Why? I have seen people lose focus. Their focus becomes Sinai-Covenant observances, rituals and ceremonies, and not Yeshua and the Gospel. Yeshua gets crowded out and “Torah observance” becomes the focus. As they get deeper and deeper into it, they get more and more legalistic, and they get disconnected from the rest of the Church. I have known some who have denied Yeshua altogether. Keep in mind that the Sinai Covenant is a broken covenant, and there is no way to live a true “Torah-observant” life. That being said, if you want to incorporate things from the Torah into your lifestyle, you are welcome to do so. Just don’t lose the right focus! I also recommend that you study the teaching titled Dispensationalism.
Question: A Catholic friend has been asking me about my beliefs. I now consider myself to be Messianic Jewish. He asks why I do “Jewish” things when I’m not Jewish. I explained that I don’t believe what I do – observing Shabbat and the Biblical holidays and eating Kosher – are “Jewish” but are “Biblical” and are for all believers to participate in. He disagrees – that because Yeshua died for us, believers in Yeshua don’t have to observe the laws of the Torah. He said being filled with the Holy Spirit is what leads us through life. Can you help me understand this more? Answer: Your Catholic friend is wrong about a lot of things (see Is Roman Catholicism True Christianity?). But he is right about what is necessary for the people from the nations to observe as part of Messiah’s New Covenant – which is minimal. Sabbath and holidays and keeping kosher are not obligatory. I recommend you read the decision of the First Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, which decided these matters. I also recommend you study the teaching on Dispensationalism until you thoroughly understand it.
Question: I don’t feel comfortable with any churches in my area. I’m not able to join in with them in any heartfelt way. Yeshua is Jewish. All the Apostles are Jewish. Yeshua did not start a new religion. He came to re-direct His own people back to the core of the one and only religion God ever gave humanity. And that only true religion is Jewish, given on Sinai. To follow my Messiah, I must keep the true religion because that’s what my Messiah did. Answer: While I appreciate your emphasis on the Jewishness of Jesus and His disciples, regrettably, you don’t understand Messiah’s New Covenant. You are guilty of “legalism,” which is a very serious theological error. Evangelical Christianity is the religion ordained by Yeshua, and Messianic Judaism is part of Evangelical Christianity. You need to reject the false teaching you have embraced and join a good Evangelical church. I recommend you study the book of Galatians and use my commentary on it, which is available on the website.
Question: What happens to Jewish people who don’t believe in Yeshua? Are they lost and going to Hell? Answer: Incredibly, there are many so-called Christians, and even some Messianic Jews today, who suggest that Jewish people don’t need to believe in Yeshua in order to be saved! They teach that since the Jewish people have a covenant with God, they don’t need the New Covenant of the Messiah; or they teach that all religions will get everyone to Heaven. Little could be farther from the truth! Very early in human history, our first parents rebelled against God, and sin and death took control of humanity. Instead of drawing nearer to God, Adam and Eve ran away from HaMakor – the Source of Life. The entire world was now cursed, along with all mankind; Adam and Eve were exiled from the Garden of Eden, and forbidden to eat from the Tree of Life. The whole world (which includes the Jewish people) remains dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). The whole world is perishing, decaying and headed for destruction like a rotten piece of fruit (John 3:16). Rabbi Paul, the great theologian sent to the Gentiles, wrote the Church at Rome that he was not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation, to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Paul made it clear that Jewish people not only are not exempt from the need to receive Yeshua, but in fact the Good News is supposed to go to us first! Paul went on to declare that all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law (the Jewish people) will be judged by the Law… we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin… for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 2:12, 3:9, 23).
Simon Peter, one of the leaders of Yeshua’s Emissaries, standing before the Sanhedrin, declared to the priests, Torah scholars and rabbis of Israel that there is salvation in no one other than Yeshua of Nazareth, and there is no other spiritual reality anywhere in the universe which can bring us salvation. It doesn’t get much clearer than that! John, one of the other Emissaries and Yeshua’s closest friend, wrote that, He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life. It’s as simple as that. The Son of God Himself said that He was the Way, the Truth and the Life, and that apart from placing faith in Him, no man could get to the Father. Rabbi Yeshua said to a group of Jewish leaders (men who believed in God, who knew the Torah, who went to the Temple in Jerusalem and who offered sacrifices): Unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins (John 8:24). If we could be saved by Judaism, Messiah Yeshua wouldn’t have said to a Jewish man like Nicodemus that it wasn’t enough to be born once, even if one was a knowledgeable or pious rabbi. Even a leading Torah-teacher like Nicodemus needed to be born again – to undergo a spiritual rebirth, in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. There are scores of places in the Holy Scriptures which teach that all of humanity (including the Jewish people) is utterly lost, and that each and every Jewish person (along with everyone else), in order to be saved, must hear and believe the Good News about the Messiah.
Pretending the dying patient isn’t sick doesn’t help the patient. Acknowledging that he is sick, and then administering the appropriate medicine is what the dying patient needs. Allowing Jewish people to die without Yeshua is spiritual malpractice of the highest order!
What about those who say that Jewish people have never really heard about the Messiah, or that an anti-Semitic Jesus was presented to them by a corrupt church? Ignorance is no excuse. Hosea warned us that “my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” We are responsible for the information given to us through Moses and the prophets. Yeshua said: They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them (Luke 16:29). We have the revealed Word of God, written by our own Jewish prophets, which clearly points us to Yeshua. Didn’t Moses specifically promise that God would raise up another great prophet, like himself, who would speak the words of God to us, and if we didn’t listen to that prophet, God would judge us severely (see Deuteronomy 18:15-19)? The Son of God claimed that He was written about in our very own Torah! The one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote of Me (John 5:45-46). No Jewish person is going to appear before God and say, “Judge of the whole Earth, I’m not responsible for not believing in the Savior you sent to us. I never knew.” Or, “Master of the universe, I didn’t like the way Yeshua was presented to me. Besides, my rabbi told me not to believe in Him, so it’s not my fault.” These excuses won’t be accepted! We are responsible for choosing the spiritual leaders to whom we listen. We are warned not to listen to false teachers. If the blind mislead the blind, so that both fall into a pit, both are responsible.
While it may be true that much of the Church has presented a Yeshua that has been stripped of His Jewishness, many true Christians have also shown us the love of God, often at great cost to themselves. Besides, there has also been a remnant of Messianic Jews in every generation. For example, there were many Messianic Jews in Poland before World War Two. I am told that there were four Messianic Synagogues in Warsaw before the Holocaust, and that there were many Messianic Jews who were sent to the concentration camps, who had a Jewish witness to the reality of Yeshua to their fellow Jews.
There are some today who teach “Two-Covenant” theology, the idea that God has one saving covenant with the Jewish people, and a different saving covenant with the Church (the New Covenant); therefore Jewish people don’t need to accept Yeshua, since He is part of the New Covenant. That’s terribly wrong! The Messiah and His New Covenant was presented first to the Jewish people! It was specifically predicted by the prophet Jeremiah that the New Covenant was to be made with the Jewish people (see Jeremiah 31:31-34). While it is true that the people of Israel have had several covenants with God (the covenants made with Abraham, Moses, David, and the New Covenant made with Yeshua), that does not mean that an individual Jewish person can reject a covenant and still be saved. The fact that Israel has a national covenant with God does not save every individual Jewish person. After all, not all Israel are Israel. Since the coming of the Messiah, it is only those Jews who have welcomed Messiah Yeshua and the New Covenant who are saved.
There are certain theological boundaries that distinguish between orthodoxy and heresy: Inspiration of the Scriptures, the Trinity, the Deity of Yeshua, and the sanctity of human life in all of its stages. The need for all people, including Jewish people, to personally receive Messiah Yeshua in this life in order to be saved, is one of those boundaries that separates orthodoxy from apostasy. Every true child of God must repudiate any teaching that crosses this boundary whenever and wherever it occurs, and call it by its true names: heresy, apostasy, compromise and cowardice. If your denomination, pastor or rabbi isn’t teaching the clear truth from the Word of God on the lostness of mankind (including the Jewish people), and the need for all people to accept Messiah Yeshua in order to experience atonement, forgiveness and salvation, I would encourage you to bring the truth to their attention. If they don’t listen, then seek a new spiritual leader who does teach the truth.
Question: One of my co-workers said God loves all people, even atheist and homosexuals. Isn’t that saying He loves the world? That doesn’t sound right to me. Answer: While God loves the world (see John 3:16), that does not mean that every sinner, atheist and homosexual will go to Heaven. There is a difference between love and acceptance. Messiah taught us that the majority will go to Hell: Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the way is broad that leads to destruction, and there are many who enter through it. For the gate is small and the way is narrow that leads to life, and there are few who find it. God loves atheists and homosexuals – enough to have sent His Son who provides salvation – to those who repent and become loyal to the Father and the Son. I suggest you meditate on the third chapter of John, which should clarify these things for you. And, I hope that you yourself are loyal to the Messiah. If not, you should become so immediately.
Question: The Torah speaks about the righteous being “gathered to their people” when they die. I do not like the idea of my family not being there to gather me to be with them when I die. Or worse, that they could have to endure a hellish situation! And I feel the same about my fellow Jewish people everywhere. But I am concerned that close members of my family who don’t know the Messiah will resent me trying to help them become Messianic Jews. I don’t want to be estranged from them! I am walking a difficult road. What can I do? Answer: I, too, hate the thought of my family and my people going to Hell. However, denying that they are presently headed there doesn’t help them. It is better to be estranged from family and people and be faithful to warn them, than to neglect our duty to proclaim the Good News. If we don’t warn them, we will be like the watchman who saw danger approaching and didn’t raise the alarm. That watchman will have blood on his hands and will be punished (see Ezekiel 33). How will they hear, and why will they consider, if we who are closest to them don’t tell them, and if we are not insistent about the reality of Hell and the importance of salvation and eternal life that only comes through faith in Messiah Yeshua?
Question: How were Jewish people saved before the coming of the Messiah? By keeping the laws? Answer: Jewish people who lived before Yeshua arrived were saved according to the same principles we are today – by having faith in God and His Word and by having the blood of atonement. Abraham is a good example. Abraham believed in the Lord; and the Lord counted it to Abraham as righteousness (Genesis 15:6). Abraham had faith in God and faith in God’s Word. As a result of that, the Lord considered Abraham to be righteous. In addition to faith, the blood of atonement was essential to salvation. The life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood, by reason of the life that makes atonement (Leviticus 17:11). The animal sacrifices provided the blood of atonement; however, it provided only a temporary covering for sins. The blood of bulls and goats, rams, lambs and doves could never fully atone for human beings, since human beings are more valuable than animals. Then, when the Messiah arrived and made the ultimate sacrifice, His atonement was applied backward in time to those who had faith and had the temporary atonement provided by the animal sacrifices. Just like us today, they received ultimate atonement because of the Messiah.
Preface To A Question: My Orthodox Jewish friend recently died. This woman loved God but never knew who Jesus was … Answer: I have to challenge your statement about your friend loving God. Your friend may have had a zeal for God not according to knowledge, but she did not have genuine love for God. The Word of God is clear that all of humanity (including non-Messianic Jewish people), is at war with God. We are part of a great rebellion against God. We are not in a right relationship with God. We don’t have peace with God. We don’t love God. It is the one who knows and loves the Son and submits to Him who truly loves the Father. The Messiah said to a group of very religious Jewish men: If God were your Father, you would love Me, for I proceeded forth and have come from God (John 8:42). If I had a good son who was very much like me, and someone disliked or ignored him but claimed to love me, I would know that his claim to love me was false. How can he love me if he hates my son who is just like me? The same holds true of love for God the Father and God the Son. Yeshua is the perfect reflection of God the Father. He shares the Father’s name and nature, deity and essence. He always did everything that pleased His Father. How can someone claim to love the Father but hate the Son, who perfectly reflects who God is? Consider the words of John: Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Messiah (the anointed, God-ordained prophet, priest and king sent by God)? … Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also (1 John 2:22-23).
Question: According to the five books of Moses, for sins to be forgiven, animals had to be sacrificed. Since the temple was destroyed, animals are no longer sacrifices. I’m a Christian and know that the Messiah is the final sacrifice for everyone. Since most Jewish people don’t accept Jesus or His sacrifice for us, how do they believe their sins are forgiven? Answer: Those Jewish people who are genuinely concerned about atonement (unfortunately, a minority) believe that by following the laws of Judaism, and by prayer and repentance, the scales of justice will be tipped in their favor. Sadly, they are wrong. All people, the Jewish people included, need faith in Messiah and His sacrifice to have their sins forgiven.
Question: Where does the New Testament teach that it’s wrong for Christians to convert to Judaism/Messianic Judaism? Answer: The decision of the First Jerusalem Council, which decided this issue, is recorded in Acts 15. The book of Galatians is also about this issue. A simple and clear statement against conversion is found in 1 Corinthians 7: Was any man called when he was already circumcised? He is not to become uncircumcised. Has anyone been called in uncircumcision? He is not to be circumcised. For a detailed teaching against conversion, see Conversion?.
Question: How can a Christian become a Messianic Jew? Answer: Under Messiah’s New Covenant, a Gentile (a non-Jew, a person from a nation other than Israel) can’t become a Messianic Jew and doesn’t need to. Here’s some good news: A Gentile Christian is welcome to join a Messianic synagogue like ours and be treated as an equal. There is no need to become a Messianic Jew – and it is wrong for you to try and do so. No conversion! Follow-up Question: I’m not sure if your answer satisfies me. I don’t see why, if we believe that Jesus is the Messiah, we can’t serve Him in the same way. Answer: Messianic Jews and people from the nations who follow Messiah do serve Him in the same way – by loving the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength; by loving our neighbor as we love ourselves; by holy living and developing godly character; by proclaiming the Good News to the Jewish people first and also to the nations; and by building up Messiah’s community from within. We serve Messiah the same way – but that doesn’t mean that Gentiles become Jews or need to adopt a Sinai Covenant lifestyle, especially since the Sinai Covenant is a broken covenant.
Question: It’s common in movies for a Jewish man to marry a Christian woman and she converts with no hassle. Does this really happen or does it only happen in the movies? Answer: It does happen. Reform Judaism makes it relatively easy for conversion – which arouses the ire of Orthodox Judaism. And I don’t like it either. If you are a Gentile Christian and serious about what God wants, you don’t want to “convert.” Be who God made you to be and ask your Jewish boyfriend to acknowledge that Jesus is the Messiah and join a good Messianic synagogue – or end your relationship to him. Here’s some good news: If you did marry a Jewish person, you wouldn’t be Jewish, but your children would be Jewish. That is a legitimate way of becoming part of the Jewish people.
Question: Since becoming a Christian, I have a new heart that loves the Jewish people. I have been reading and desiring to learn more about Yeshua, and His Jewish background. Now I want more information about becoming a Messianic Jew. Answer: I am delighted by your growing appreciation of the Jewishness of Yeshua, and touched by your love for my people, and that you are willing to become a Messianic Jew. However, it is wrong for you to “become a Jew” or “convert to Judaism” – even “Messianic Judaism.” It is the clear teaching of the Word of God that Jews who believe in the Messiah remain Jews, and don’t become Gentiles. It is also the clear teaching of the Word of God that Gentiles who believe in the Messiah remain Gentiles, and don’t become Jews.
God does not want everyone to become a Jew. God does not make any mistakes, and He specifically ordained that you come from the parents, people and nation that you came from. The God of Israel is a God who created much diversity, and Messiah’s Community was designed to be made up of both Jews and people from every nation, people and language group. Further, I would call your attention to Rabbi Paul’s wise admonition in 1 Corinthians 7:17-24, about the necessity of Jews remaining Jews, and Gentiles remaining Gentiles. Jews and Gentiles are to remain in the calling in which they are called. Africans remain African when they come to believe in Messiah; Chinese people remain Chinese, Europeans remain European, and Jews remain Jews – part of their people, and part of their culture.
Being a Gentile is not a negative or bad thing. It simply means that you were born to a nation other than the nation of Israel. The word “Gentile” is a good Biblical term that is used to differentiate the Jewish people from the other nations. I like to call those Gentiles who are part of our movement “Kosher-hearted” Gentiles, Messianic Gentiles, Gentile Believers, or Christians. All are good terms.
Consider the fact that now that you have found the Jewish Messiah, you lack absolutely nothing! You have been grafted into Israel’s Olive Tree of Salvation and Blessing. You have been reconciled to the God of Israel. Joined to Yeshua, the King of the Jews, you are complete! Every spiritual blessing in Heaven is yours! You are a fellow citizen with the Messianic Jews and the Jewish saints who lived before the Son of God came to Earth, and will live forever with us in the New Jerusalem. That should be enough for all of us!
Question: I am Jewish. I am marrying a Christian man. We would like you to officiate the ceremony. Let me tell you how I found you. First, we were looking for a rabbi and a priest. Not that many rabbis are willing to co-officiate an interfaith wedding. They are willing to officiate it, but not so much with a priest. Then we found a slew of rabbis from Humanistic Judaism – but most of them don’t believe in God. That was weird to say the least. So that was not an option. Then my fiancé’s brother came up with a great idea – a Messianic rabbi! You would be marrying people of the two religions that you believe in. We hope you are interested and can help. Answer: I’m glad that you reached out to us, but I don’t think I will be able to marry you, and here’s why: For us, marriage is about becoming “one flesh.” It’s a coming together of a man and a woman in every way – physically, emotionally, financially and spiritually. And a good marriage involves being joined to the Community of the Messiah, so that the full one-flesh relationship can be nurtured and strengthened, and so if children come, they can be raised in Messiah’s Community. If that’s where the two of you are at, or are willing to head in that direction, let me know.
Question: I am the pastor of a church. A woman came to me seeking help for her granddaughter who is romantically involved with a Jewish man. The granddaughter is a member of this church. Apparently the man is encouraging the granddaughter to learn more about Judaism. What should I tell her? Answer: I have seen this situation repeated many times; and you, pastor, should not marry them until he becomes a believer. Even though the woman who is considering marrying this Jewish man is a member of your church, she is not a serious Christian. In fact, she may not be a real Christian at all. If she were serious about pleasing God and doing His will, she would know that it is wrong for a believer to marry a non-believer. If, after being warned not to become unequally yoked, she goes ahead and marries him, she will find her husband to be an obstacle preventing her from serving the Lord fully and from raising her children to follow God and Messiah. Like an ox and a donkey that are yoked together but don’t have the same strengths and temperament and therefore can’t even plow a straight furrow together, a husband and wife who don’t share the true Faith will have different strengths and interests, pulling each other in different directions. They will be unable to achieve a spiritually strong family life. Typically the kids from this kind of marriage grow up with a father who is their role model who is against Messiah and who undermines them in the most important area of their life – their spiritual life. I have had many Christian women come to me with tears, filled with regret for having disobeyed the Lord’s command not to be unequally yoked. I urge you to do everything in your power as this young woman’s pastor to discourage her from making a terrible mistake.
Question: I have a daughter who is planning to marry another woman. Should I go to the wedding? If I don’t, I will hurt her feelings and jeopardize our relationship. Rabbi Glenn’s Answer: I am sympathetic to your plight. To attend the ceremony is to imply an endorsement of the union, which your biblical convictions preclude. Refusing to attend may very well alienate you daughter. How, then, to affirm your love for her while honoring the Lord above all?
Scripture clearly calls us to honor God and His Kingdom above every other relationship. Yeshua said, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. He who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” The reality of this situation is that attending the wedding will convey the impression that your principles are negotiable, and for the sake of convenience can be set aside. Not going to the wedding will convey the impression that you are inflexible and harsh. But ultimately what anyone else thinks of you is irrelevant. You have to be able to live with a clear conscience. Perhaps you can privately convey to your daughter this tension, assure her of your love for her, and let her know that, as hard as it is for you, you must put God’s kingdom first. My prayer is that your daughter (and, by extension, others who will learn of your absence) will understand. In that sense, yours is genuine love. Yes, your daughter will be hurt, but also will have the choice to forgive you for not attending.
It isn’t a foregone conclusion that the relationship will be forever broken. Statistically speaking, most homosexual unions do not endure, but are short-lived. Consequently, there is a real possibility that your daughter’s partner will be out of the picture before long. In the meantime, assure your daughter that while your love for her will not change, you cannot support the choice she is making.
Question: Isn’t it OK to pray to the saints who have already died? After all, you can find an example of the “Communion of Saints” in the book of Revelation. The angels and saints are seen offering incense to God, which are the prayers of God’s faithful. Those in Heaven pray for those on Earth. It is the ministry of intercession – a ministry binding on those on Earth as well. They pray for us and we pray for them. We do not cease to be part of the mystical body of Christ because we shed this mortal frame. Answer: While the saints in Heaven may be praying for us, there is a huge difference between that and the saints on Earth praying to or for the saints in Heaven. There is no Biblical justification for that. We are instructed to pray to God alone – never to any human being. There is only one mediator between God and human beings – the Son of God, who is fully God and fully man (1 Timothy 2:5). We don’t pray to angels. We don’t pray to human beings who have died (Deuteronomy 18:9-12), nor do we pray for them. They are beyond the help of our prayers. Their lives and their justice are in the hands of God. I am comforted that the saints in Heaven may be praying for the saints on Earth. I am greatly disturbed when the saints on Earth pray to or for the saints in Heaven! The one is permitted, but the other forbidden.
Question: Shouldn’t we pray to God using His proper name (YHVH, the Tetragrammaton)? How can we “call on the name of the Lord” if we don’t use His proper