There is a great deal of significance attached to this day in Jewish theology, as it is most often emphasized as a time when God looks down from Heaven and reconsiders where He stands with people. It is a time where we are to rejoice and celebrate, remembering His goodness to us, but also begin a sober examination of our humanity, and consider faults and sins that must be rectified.
The Day of Atonement for Messianics can equally be a challenge, because of a possible emphasis on celebration at Yom Teruah/Rosh HaShanah, instead of a serious attitude and call to reflection from the sounding of the shofar. Many Messianics likewise have difficulty reverently focusing on their relationship with the Lord, and in considering where they need to improve in their spiritual walk. For us, while recognizing that our ultimate forgiveness is indeed found in Yeshua, we still need to know that we are humans with a fallen sin nature, and that we need the Lord to empower us for good works. We need to be reminded that without Him, we are nothing, and we need to intercede for the salvation of others.
The festival of Sukkot or Tabernacles (also commonly called Booths) begins on 15 Tishri and is intended to commemorate the time that the Ancient Israelites spent in the wilderness after the Exodus. Images of the post-Exodus period, God wanting Israel to remember what happened in the desert, and perhaps most importantly the need for His people to physically be reminded of His desire to commune with them, are all themes that are seen throughout one’s observance. The Feast of Tabernacles was considered to be so important in the Torah, that God gave it the distinction of being one of the three times of ingathering, along with Passover and Shavuot (Leviticus 23:39-43).
Shavuot is one of three pilgrimage festivals that is commanded in the Torah (Exodus 23:14-17; Deuteronomy 16:16). In Hebrew, its name means “weeks,” derived from the command in Deuteronomy 16:19, “You shall count seven weeks for yourself; you shall begin to count seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain.” Many Christians know Shavuot from its Greek-derived name “Pentecost,” as Pentēkostē means “fiftieth,” indicative of the fifty days that are to be counted between Passover and this time.
Matthew 23:2-3 is a passage which has been used to justify everything from today’s Messianic Jewish Believers following almost every single halachic ruling of the ultra Orthodox and/or Chassidic Jewish authorities and their literature, to Messianic Believers completely disregarding all forms of ancient and/or modern Jewish tradition in their approach to the Torah or Law of Moses, totally dismissing works like the Mishnah or Talmud as valuable historical records. Unfortunately, for whatever reason or series of reasons, moderating the extremes on Matthew 23:2-3 has not been too permitted in the Messianic movement of 2013—for it is easy to see the negative spiritual and theological fruit of the extremes of Matthew 23:2-3, either (1) representing a widescale dismissal of all forms of Rabbinic Jewish tradition and custom, or (2) requiring a blind obedience to Orthodox Judaism on the part of contemporary Messianic Believers. A third, depolarizing alternative to the current interpretations widely touted, desperately needs to be presented.
Many people in today’s Messianic community treat the seventh-day Sabbath as a kind of “Saturday church” more than as a time to rest from labor, focus on God and one’s brethren, and enter into something special.
Margaret McKee Huey and J.K. McKee That the Jewish people have widely and faithfully observed the seventh-day Sabbath or Shabbat throughout their history is a testament to God’s declaration in Exodus 31:16: ‘The Israelite people shall keep the sabbath, observing the sabbath throughout the ages as a covenant for all time” (NJPS). The view of […]
That the seventh-day Sabbath or Shabbat is to be a holy time, sanctified unto the Lord, is clear enough from the Torah: “Observe the day of Shabbat, to set it apart as holy, as ADONAI your God ordered you to do” (Deuteronomy 5:12, CJB). It is also stated how “the seventh day is a sabbath […]
Today’s Messianic movement uses religious symbols, with congregations and ministries using mostly Jewish, but as well as some Christian, signs, to associate with their mission and purpose. Some of these religious symbols provoke positive, but some provoke negative, reactions from people. We all need a fair-minded look at some of these symbols, seeing what a variety of mainline Jewish and Christian sources have actually said, before listening to some of the misinformation that can so widely circulate, often branding common symbols like the Star of David or cross as being “utterly pagan,” and needing to be completely removed and never spoken of again.
Margaret McKee Huey and J.K. McKee The holiday of Purim is a relatively minor festival in the Tanach (Old Testament), yet it portrays a very important story that all of God’s people need to understand. Having been dispersed into Babylonian exile in 585 B.C.E., the Jewish people now find themselves under Persian rule. While many […]
Certainly, when Believers in Messiah Yeshua sit down to partake of the Passover meal, we are not just remembering the Exodus of the Ancient Israelites and the plagues that God dispensed upon the Egyptians. We are sitting down to remember great events in the salvation history of the world.
The Jewish mystical tradition and associated ideas and beliefs, have notably never had a huge foothold within mainstream Synagogue teaching. Yet, today’s Messianic Believers need to begin to be much more discerning, and think much more critically about this. We will not only need to evaluate a few things originating from Jewish mysticism which have “slipped in” unnoticed, but as we consider what is in store for us in the future, and things which we must be a bit more careful of.
For most Messianics I know who celebrate Chanukah, they hear a great deal about the military exploits of the Maccabees and the rededication of the Temple. Many of them honestly take the time to flip through the Books of 1&2 Maccabees in the Apocrypha, the principal historical record that influences our understanding of the wars fought by the Maccabees. When Jerusalem was recaptured and the Temple was rededicated, much more really did take place. This goes beyond the lives of Judah Maccabee and his brothers. Sadly, too many congregations and fellowships that honor Chanukah are not that familiar with this period of complicated history—not only for what took place in the Second Century B.C.E., but how it would influence the First Century C.E.
Much of the Messianic community has promoted what it considers to be “Biblically kosher,” which primarily begins and ends at not eating pork and shellfish. In traditional Judaism, however, what it means to be kosher is much more involved than observant Jews not eating certain meats labeled to be “unclean.” Kashrut involves classification of unclean meats to be sure, but also involves some significant traditions regarding the butchering of animals, how meat is to be prepared, what can and cannot be eaten together, separation of utensils and cookware—as well as a variety of theological and philosophical reasons proposed for the institution of these Biblical instructions, and their subsequent interpretation and application over the centuries by Jewish religious authorities and diverse Jewish communities.
It should not be a great surprise to anyone studying or evaluating the kosher dietary laws, principally contained in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14, that the question “Is eating kosher really healthier?” is something commonly asked. There is little doubting how the Hebrew Scriptures are materialistic, in the sense that normal human activities like eating or drinking, are not to be looked down upon or spurned.
There is little doubting that within the broad Messianic community, there can be huge debates over the application of the Torah’s dietary laws. Most frequently, as has been our family’s experience, the perspectives surrounding kashrut have been too quickly polarized into the realms of those who keep “Biblically kosher,” versus those who keep “Rabbinic kosher.” Those who keep “Biblically kosher,” are those who often have eliminated pork and shellfish from their diet, but at the same time will often buy commercially processed meat at the supermarket, will not look for a hechsher or approved Jewish seal on many food products, and will eat out at most restaurants (perhaps even including fast food). Those who keep “Rabbinic kosher,” are those who will only purchase traditionally slaughtered meat, will look for a hechsher on most food products, will not eat out at most restaurants, and will observe practices such as not mixing meat and dairy, having multiple sets of dishes and utensils.
How do any of us, in a still-emerging and still-maturing Messianic movement, sort through some of the issues regarding “kosher”? How do we get a little more realistic about what we see among the Jewish and non-Jewish Believers within our faith community, remembering that not all people share the same views as we do, and allow for a little more grace and mercy to come forth—rather than any unfair or unnecessary condemnation? How many of our challenges have been caused by an insufficient or under-whelming handling of Bible passages—versus having been caused by an under-whelming level of spiritual maturity on behalf of too many people?
Margaret McKee Huey and J.K. McKee The holiday of Chanukah, or the Festival of Dedication, is full of many customs and traditions that give our celebration great life and depth. During this time of year, we have the awesome opportunity to commemorate the work of God from some 2,200 years ago during the time of […]
Anti-Semitism or anti-Judaism is a significant crime, with devastating prejudices and a poisonous ideology, which has been present in our world since long before the time of Yeshua the Messiah.
In Deuteronomy 4:2 we are told not to add commandments to those of the Torah, yet in Judaism, and in the Messianic movement today, we have many people who follow traditions of men that some claim are “commanded,” or at least authorized by God. I am confused.
Do you follow the method of the Pharisees or Sadducees for the counting of the omer to determine Shavuot? It seems that most in the independent Messianic movement follow the counting method of the Sadducees.
Do you believe it is acceptable for Messianic men to wear a kippah or yarmulke, when Paul says that it is a dishonor for men to have their heads covered? How do you interpret 1 Corinthians 11:4-16?
I am a non-Jewish person involved in the Messianic movement. I get a little nervous when I see some Messianic Jews talk about how Biblical faith is Judaism. Do you think that Biblical faith is Judaism?
Throughout today’s Messianic Jewish movement, many men wear the kippah or yarmulke, in deference to Jewish tradition. By many, this is thought to be prohibited by Holy Scripture.
In various sectors of the independent Hebrew/Hebraic Roots movement, there are many women who wear some kind of head garment, in their adherence to statements appearing in 1 Corinthians 11. By many, this is thought to be required by Holy Scripture.
When you read through the Torah, do you have difficulty determining what commandments can actually be followed today in the Twenty-First Century? When you look at various instructions to Ancient Israel, how are you supposed to consider their importance as a modern person? Are there actually commandments that appear in the Torah, which are only situational to persons who lived in the Ancient Near East?
What are the seven Noahide laws? A new teaching circulating online proposes that Orthodox Jews are secretly controlling the New World Order, and that they will impose the Noahide laws to get people to only worship God proper, and that those who worship Yeshua the Messiah will be put to death.