REVISED EDITION ORIGINALLY POSTED 30 DECEMBER, 2003
In studying the Bible, many Christians unfortunately find themselves only reading the New Testament or the Apostolic Scriptures. Although these important Scriptures speak of the gospel message, testify to the works of our Lord Yeshua (Jesus), and speak of issues that the First Century Believers had to contend with, these writings comprise less than one-third of the Bible. Those whose focus is almost exclusively in this part of the Bible can have an unbalanced approach to our Creator and His plan for the ages.
Although the Messianic Scriptures were written in Greek, their very nature is Hebraic. The man who authored more than half of these writings was the Apostle Paul, a Rabbinical scholar who studied with Gamaliel (Acts 22:3; Philippians 3:5), a revered sage of Judaism to this day (b.Megillah 21a).
Our Messiah Himself was a Hebrew, as are many of His expressions and sayings. Consider the following examples:
“If your right eye makes you stumble, tear it out and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to be thrown into hell” (Matthew 5:29).
“The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!” (Matthew 6:22-23).
The above quotations are just two examples of the Hebraic nature of our Savior’s teachings. In theological studies they are generally referred to as Hebraisms or Semitisms in the Biblical text. For centuries, scholars have debated verses such as those above. Many have been confused. Do they require such a literal viewpoint that demands a physical “plucking out of eyes”? Not at all. To a First Century Jew, the eye can mean more than just an organ with which one sees. It can be a person’s mind, emotions, will, or good sense, depending on the context. There can be a very deep meaning to Yeshua’s statements when one understands that there is an Hebraic nature behind them. This is where the Messianic movement steps in and where a First Century Jewish perspective of the Scriptures is crucial.
Although the Messianic movement is composed of people from many theological traditions: largely Conservative and Reform Judaism, and evangelical Christianity, the emphasis concerning the Hebraic Roots of our faith in the Messiah is very important concerning the times in which we live. Several decades ago, if one uttered the name “Yeshua,” very few would have known who, or for that matter, what the person was talking about. However, many Christians today are aware of the fact that Yeshua is the original Hebrew name of the Messiah. Why has this come about? Because many now realize the fact that understanding the Hebraic Roots of our faith is important.
Why is it important to understand the distinctive Hebraic Roots of our relationship with God? Yeshua the Messiah is returning to Jerusalem and the gates of New Jerusalem are named after the Twelve Tribes of Israel (Revelation 21:10-12). The Apostle Paul himself says that if you are in the Messiah, you are a part of the Commonwealth of Israel (Ephesians 2:11-12) or the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16). Our faith in Messiah Yeshua is undeniably connected to Israel and to the Jewish people, because it did start as a sect of Second Temple Judaism (cf. Acts 24:14). Knowing about the origins of our faith is imperative if we are to return to truly having an “Apostolic” theology.
Knowing about “things Messianic” and distinctively Hebraic is the first step toward new enrichment of our faith from Genesis to Revelation. By understanding the Hebraic origins of our faith, many of the obscure parts of the Apostolic Scriptures (New Testament) begin to become clear and take on a new depth, as we consider their background and the lifestyle practices of the first Believers in Yeshua. They lived out the missional expectations of the Tanach or Old Testament in evangelizing the ancient world (Exodus 19:6; Deuteronomy 4:6; Isaiah 42:6; 49:6), something that we are to surely continue today.Introduction_to_Things_Messianic_INTRODUCTION_TO_THINGS_MESSIANIC
Are you new to the Messianic movement? Do you have questions about what the Messianic movement, lifestyle, and theologies are all about? Do you need answers on a wide variety of issues with some detailed information? If these are the questions you have been asking, then Introduction to Things Messianic is a book that will definitely benefit you.
Written to the new person investigating Messianic things, Introduction to Things Messianic is a compilation of articles that will inform the inquirer on a wide array of Messianic topics relevant to the current state and growth of our movement, including:
- Is “the Church” truly a new group of elect?
- Is the Torah or Law of Moses really relevant for Believers today?
- Who were the ancient Pharisees and what did they believe?
- What are the ancient civilizations relevant to the Bible?
- Am I required to keep the Sabbath?
- What are the Biblical festivals?
- Am I required to eat kosher?
- Why do many Messianics use the proper name of God?
- What do Messianics think about the end-times?
- How do I properly grow in this new walk of faith?
These questions, and many more, are discussed and detailed in Introduction to Things Messianic. This book builds on the foundational material in Hebraic Roots: An Introductory Study in a much more thorough way for those wanting an in-depth view of these basic issues. Introduction to Things Messianic can be used for a single person or a group Bible study, as study questions follow each chapter. This publication can also be used as an excellent primer to other publications available from Messianic Apologetics.