Highway to Zion Ministries
Article: CHALLENGES OF MESSIANIC FAITH –
“Are You Trying to be Jewish?”
It’s been almost thirty years since I embraced the “restoration of Israel” movement and began to understand that the roots of my faith and belief in Jesus the Messiah (Yeshua ha Mashiach) are Hebraic, (Rom. 11:17-31) resulting in an intense love for Israel and the Jewish people and of most significance, a greater intimacy of relationship with the Lord (Dt. 6:4-5; Mk. 12:29-30).
Along with it, I became a passionate biblical Zionist. My Messianic faith in Yeshua and the expression of it have resulted in many “opportunities” to defend my beliefs. Many of you may have experienced similar “opportunities”!
The big surprise is that I am finding that there is a crossfire going on, not only from outside the Messianic movement but also from inside it – for this article, I am focusing on the challenges to Messianic faith from within the Gentile believing group, from one Gentile to another.
Here’s what I’m hearing from some Gentile believers who have been exposed to the restoration of Israel/Messianic movement and are involved in it in varying degrees…..they might say things like “I’m not trying to be Jewish. I’m a Gentile, and I’m not interested in wearing Jewish symbols, celebrating the Feasts, blowing a shofar, or worshipping in a Messianic congregation….”
Since we at Highway to Zion regularly have the shofar sounded at meetings, love to celebrate the Feasts, and totally support Messianic Jewish congregations, the assumption I have to make is that they think I am trying to be Jewish!
Well, am I “trying to be Jewish”? Are you?
My answer to this question is “no, I’m not trying to be Jewish”! But I am totally embracing the prophetic call of God’s heart for Jew and Gentile to be One in Messiah (Eph. 2:15)! With this calling there often comes a move away from the culturally “Gentile traditions” of the faith and a step towards what I know looks “Jewish”! The truth is this - Yeshua was raised in the faith of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the roots of our faith as believers in Him. If we really want to know Yeshua better and to understand the true meaning and the deeps of our faith, we must know and experience the origin, the source of this faith of our Savior (John 17:3).
It’s true that some of the expressions in this movement involve Jewish traditions and customs that may or may not be biblical. Some of them are cultural, traditional or rabbinical. Even with this being the case, aren’t many of the traditions in Christianity simply cultural, traditional or extra-biblical, and in some cases, even pagan? I would say that in the most positive light, both faith expressions – Judaism and Christianity - base their traditions on some biblical or scriptural concept even if the tradition is not a mandate of the Lord. In other words, there is some scriptural or spiritual context for the tradition or custom.
If you’ve been in this movement for longer than ten minutes, I’m sure you, too, have done lots of praying and seeking and studying and walking the best you know how in the faith that you now are recognizing is the same faith as that of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – not to mention Yeshua, Himself!, plus Paul, and the followers of the Way!
And frankly, sometimes it’s a challenge to swim these uncharted waters where Jew and Gentile are coming together as One in Messiah. I must confess that at this stage of my journey, I feel like “I’m missing something” whenever I am in a traditional Gentile-Christian congregational setting. It seems so totally removed from the culture of our Savior and the Bible that we love. It seems so foreign to the faith of Yeshua and the people of the original Covenant - Israel and the Jewish people. I hunger for the Truth of the Ancient of Days, the ancient paths spoken of by Jeremiah (Jer. 6:16a).
I’m not saying that every believer should worship in and belong to a Messianic congregation, but I do believe that if you are called to remain in a mainstream, traditional church that does not have a heart for teaching on the biblical roots of your faith and the soon-coming fulfillment of the words spoken by the prophets, that it is absolutely necessary for you to find other supplemental sources for your hungry spirit to be filled with truth during the coming last day revival and restoration of Israel – as a believer walking in your spiritual destiny, you do not want to miss being part of this. This is one reason Highway to Zion Ministries exists; i.e., to be a resource ministry for believers providing opportunities to learn about the roots of our faith, providing venues for Messianic worship, taking believers to Israel for immersion in our Hebraic faith and for release into prophetic destiny and providing opportunities to support and give financially to the Messianic Jewish believers in Israel.
I’ll admit, though, that even as a Messianic Gentile believer, I haven’t found the exact “right” expression – what shall we do to walk in the fullness of this One New Man? Is it enough to study Torah and to love the Word, to celebrate the Feasts, and to love Israel….or must we learn Hebrew and use the Siddur, blow the shofar and follow Talmud? Or is it necessary to do any of these, all of these? Are there really different “rules” for Jews and Gentiles. Is the dividing wall higher because of the push toward living a Messianic faith? We’re praying our way through!
Many believers are satisfied to have simply accepted the Scriptural mandate to stand with Israel but don’t want to go beyond this. I do rejoice that there is understanding of the Scripture about where to stand and that these dear ones in our family of God do not believe in replacement theology. Even if they don’t take another step, they’ve stepped out much further than traditional, mainline Christianity on this subject!
I personally don’t think we’re “there” yet, to that place of the One New Man. But I do think there are many of us committed to being who the Lord wants us to be. We’re not so sure how to physically do this, but we are moving ahead as the Ruach (the Spirit) leads us. It’s not always comfortable because it’s different from what we’ve known, whether we are Jewish or Gentile believers. For sure, I believe according to the prophetic Word that in the last days, there will be many from the nations who will take their stand with Israel (Isa. 56:6-8; Ezek. 47:21-23; Isa. 62:1-3; Jer. 31:7,10; Rom. 11:22-24; Matt. 25:31-46). I believe that as we embrace our roots, it will look in many ways the way it looks right now….Hebraic/Jewish….but I believe there will be a distinctive note of liberty, freedom and euphoria that Messiah is coming nearer and nearer to us as He has fulfilled every jot and tittle of the Word (Matt. 5:17-20).
Would you join me in prayer for all of us who are awakening to the most phenomenal move of the Spirit that has ever occurred on this planet, that we will run this race with endurance and do our part with all of His energy working in us for the restoration of Israel and the glory of the Lord to appear over Zion? Could we pray for a Fire in our bones like we’ve never had before, that we would be consumed with zeal for God and with love for each other? He has put the key of David in our hands in these last days. This key of the roots of our faith will open doors that no man can shut. (Rev. 3:-8) Let’s proclaim the Truth that sets us free.
For now, I love to worship the Lord wherever there is a spirit of love and devotion to Yeshua, and I especially love to celebrate in Hebraic, biblical style! I’m not sure exactly what the final “form” will be. All I know is that the assembly of believers, the true worshippers, those who worship in Spirit and Truth are all moving as One New Man, together, towards the One called Faithful and True.
Having said all of this, I cannot imagine not sounding the shofar!!
Love in Messiah Yeshua,
Cathy Hargett, Director
Highway to Zion Ministries, Inc.