Thursday, January 22, 2009

The Messianic Jewish Vision

It is not difficult to define the phrase Messianic Judaism.

Two organizations, the MJAA and UMJC, coined that term and they define it in complimentary statements on their websites. There are a number of other organizations whose behavior or reputation is sometimes confused with Messianic Judaism (such as J4J and MIA) but these are almost always polite about not calling themselves Messianic Jewish.

Unfortunately, a more fundamental phrase, also coined by the MJAA and UMCJ, is very rarely used: the Messianic Vision.

In the early days of the MJAA this phrase was often used. It referred not to what being a Jewish disciple of Yeshua looked like, but a specific agenda God was working out worldwide.

One reason P'nei Adonai was successful as a congregation from April of 2004 through August of 2007 was that it stayed focus on the Messianic Vision. For example, when I returned from an MJAA conference I would help maintain a sense of God's larger agenda by reporting to congregants about what new things God was doing as part of the big picture, and what old things were done and ended.

(This focus on the Messianic Vision was also the main reason P'nei Adonai was always a small congregation. People wanting to follow a different agenda would quickly see that the congregation understood the Messianic Vision and was not open to being diverted to a different agenda. These people were almost always nice people. A few of them had a genuine God-given agenda. We would enjoy whenever any of them joined us to celebrate the annual holy days. But on a week-to-week level the agendas were clear and different, so the congregation stayed small.)

Even within an official MJAA or UMJC Messianic Jewish congregation not all congregants will be called to the Messianic Vision. Similarly, a person need not be part of a Messianic Jewish congregation to be called to and participating in the Messianic Vision. But a Messianic Jewish congregation that loses its focus on the Messianic Vision soon becomes unable to answer the question "What are we about besides Jews and Gentiles observing Torah together?"

The Messianic Vision never claims to be everything God is doing. Far from it! God is using many plans and agendas to mature his people and prepare the future. The Messianic Vision is only one of many ways that God shows to heaven and earth how his ways and wisdom are the best things even in a broken and sinful world; see Ephesians 3:10:
...through the assembly there might be made known now to the principalities and the authorities in the heavenly places the manifold wisdom of God...
No authoritative definition for the Messianic Vision exists as we start 2009. Neither the MJAA nor the UMJC even define it on their websites anymore.

I can no longer describe it with its current details. Because of a new baby in the home I have not been able to leave my family to attend any MJAA conferences since January of 2008, so I am largely ignorant of what new things God is doing as part of the Messianic Vision. But I remain aware of and called to its fundamentals.

Here are the six foundational parts of the Messianic Vision that do not change.

(Perhaps you will recognize them as a visible part of what God is doing where you worship, even if it is not a Messianic Jewish synagogue. If so, please let me know! I always love to hear stories about what the Messianic Vision currently looks like in different parts of the country and world.)

1. God is calling many of Yeshua's Jewish disciples to participate in synagogues

For about 100 years, from the middle of the 1800s to the 1960s, God worked through a movement called "Hebrew Christians" to help Jewish followers of Yeshua be aware of their Jewish identity and have a Jewish home while also participating in a church.

Since the 1960s many (but not all) Jewish followers of Yeshua have a calling to leave churches and participate in synagogue life. While synagogue attendance rates have been decreasing in most branches of Judaism, they have been rising for Jewish followers of Yeshua, who may try to participate in a local Rabbinic synagogue but usually are forced to form their own synagogues when Rabbinic Judaism does not welcome them.

2. God is starting to restore the first-century roots of discipleship to Yeshua's disciples

To be a disciple as scripture uses that term is a big commitment. We should try to make our lifestyle like Yeshua's. Thus we should study his methods of worshipping, his worldview, and his use of scripture. We should memorize his parables and sayings. We should think twice before differing from his habits and manner of lifestyle.

Since the 1960s there has been a great and continuing increase in more authentic discipleship. As examples, many Gentile churches of diverse denominations are studying Yeshua's first-century identity, learning about the holy days Yeshua observed and hosting Passover seders, and doing worship more like Yeshua did. In general people are still very far from authentic discipleship, but they are interested and getting closer.

3. God is restoring the Messiah's Jewish identity

There is nothing new about scholarly agreement that Yeshua was Jewish. But for centuries Yeshua's followers treated his Jewish identity as something he shed at his ressurection as if it were a set of odd customs he put up with while on earth but "got over" once back in heaven.

Since the mid-1900s, Yeshua's followers have increasingly realized that he still is Jewish: he is the Lion of Judah even in Revelation. This is affecting music and visual art as well as theology and discipleship.

4. God is calling Jews and Gentiles to worship together

For centuries people of Jewish and Gentile ancestry have been wary and distrustful of each other, especially at a house of worship.

Since the 1960s, to a degree beyond what interfaith marriages explain, many synagogues see some Gentiles in their pews and many churches see some Jews in their pews. Also synagogues and churches are increasingly cooperative in interfaith work.

5. God is refining his people in preparation for the Messiah reigning on earth

In synagogues and churches with many Jewish followers of Yeshua the congregants are increasingly finding it awkward to be a bench-warmer. God is actively refining and maturing his people. Those who only want to experience something comfortable each weekend are quickly dissatisfied with congregations in which God is requiring more and depart. Being refined by God (or part of how God refines others) is not easy but it is rewarding.

Part of this refining happens when God challenges individuals. Back in October I wrote about a pattern that could be seen in what God was doing with Sar Shalom.

Part of this refining happens when God uses an entire congregation to challenge another group. I recently wrote about an example of this.

Some non-congregational religious organizations, such as Promise Keepers, have also seen that God tends to do extra refining where Jewish followers of Yeshua gather.

6. God is affirming the state of Israel's right to exist

Finally, God has future plans for not only what scripture calls the faithful remnant of the Jewish people but for all the people of God. Scripture has many prophecies about a great Jewish revival from worldliness to holiness shortly before Messiah reigns on earth. The current nation of Israel, despite the errors and corruption of its leaders, has a right to exist, is blessed by God, and is also part of scriptural prophecy.



To conclude, please keep in mind that the details of the Messianic Vision evolve and change. For example, in the past two years the Joseph Project has become increasing influential in Israel and the TOS March of Life increasing influential in Germany.

7 comments:

MarkSTaneart said...

Hi David,

The term "Messianic Vision", I believe was largely abandoned because it has been taken up by a fellow named Sid Roth, www.sidroth.org . It is so like our adversary(ies) to define us by the fringe or obscure who associate themselves with the same title. The result is a lot of misunderstanding, "Yes, we’re Messianic Jewish; but not that kind of Messianic Jewish." It can become awkward to the point of ridiculous.

It seems characteristic of Western influence for us to need to give a name to what we believe, to capture or encapsulate it into a definitive structure. This is effectively used against us. Yet, at the same time, it is important for us to understand who we are, what we believe and what is our vision (or rather focus). I think your six characteristics are a valuable tool and well formulated so as to give latitude for varying and still developing understandings without being uselessly vague.

The Messianic community is typically made up of roughly 20% ethnically Hebrew believers in Messiah Yeshua. The demographic is overwhelmingly dominated by gentiles who have embraced the Hebraic foundation and the Judaic process of thinking by which our entire Bible (Old Testament and New Testament) was conceived. Yet, the Jewish distinction has led to somewhat of an identity crisis within the community. Messianic gentiles are not comfortable with being identified as Jewish (because they are not ethnically Hebrew) but also long for full participation in the community. The result is often an imbalance of class distinction or open hostility within the community.

This problem was aggressively addressed by Paul in Romans 2-3 and Ephesians 2; yet it still remains an issue: that gentile believers feel compelled to retain some sense of distinction from their Hebrew brothers and that Hebrew men exert dominance based upon ethnicity. This dichotomy will prevent us from thriving as a single community.

Anders said...

You write:
“they have been rising for Jewish followers of Yeshua, who may try to participate in a local Rabbinic synagogue but usually are forced to form their own synagogues when Rabbinic Judaism does not welcome them.”

I will comment this later in my post.

I was a Christian for six years and was following the Jesus; last year as a practiser of ‘messianic Judaism’.

Le-havdil (to differentiate),
Then I found out that the the historical first century Jew Ribi Yehoshua from Natzrath (Nazareth) (the Messiah) didn’t create a new religion. The research of all world-recognized authorities (Charlesworth, James Parkes to name some) in this area leave no doubt that Ribi Yehoshua was a Pharisee. We know from Dead Sea Scrolls 4Q MMT that the core of the practise of the Pharisees was Torah including Halakhah. This implies that much of the content of “Matthew” is words that Ribi Yehoshua cannot have uttered; and that “Acts” also contain things which the followers (Netzarim) of Ribi Yehoshua cannot have said! The decision was easy – I chose to start practising Torah non-selectively just like the Pharisaic Ribi Yehoshua and his followers Netzarim.

For in-depth information about the historical Pharisee Jew and Ribi unequaled anywhere, take the on-line course from the first follower of historical Ribi Yehoshua to be accepted in the same Pharisee (Orthodox) Jewish community as historical Ribi Yehoshua since 135 C.E., and foremost authority on historical Ribi Yehoshua and his original Netzarim Jewish followers, Paqid Yirmeyahu --a former Baptist preacher who has translated the NT from all of the earliest extant source mss. up through the 4th century C.E.

Historical Ribi Yehoshua was a Pharisee Jew about whom gentiles and Christians, because of their ignorance of Judaism (1st-century and today), have innumerable misconceptions. Don't be led by the blind.

I hope that your desire is to practise the Torah non-selectively!!

תורה (Torah)‭ ‬ (תורה שבעל פה with תורה שבכתב) (oral Torah with written Torah) is indivisible and, therefore, may only be accepted or rejected in its entirety; never partially. Selective observance ≡ selective rejection of תורה-in-its-entirety. Therefore, rejection of even one מצוה (mitzwah; commandment) is rejection of תורה-in-its-entirety. Therefore: selective observance is an unequivocal rejection of תורה, not תורה observance!

תורה requires subordination to the בית דין (beit din)-system instituted by מֹשֶה בְפַּרְשַת יִתְּרוֹ (Mosheh in Parashah Yitro) and that the only legitimate בתי דין (batei din; that is beit din in plural) today are those that are successors to the בית דין system instituted by משה בפרשת יתרו (Moshe in the Parashah Yitro): the Orthodox בתי דין.

The only בית דין (beit din) on the planet that recognizes followers of ריבי יהושע (Ribi Yehoshua) as משיח (Mashiakh; the Messiah) and is recognized in good standing in the Orthodox Jewish community is the נצרים ברעננה (Netzarim in Ra’anana) under פקיד ירמיהו (Paqid Yirmeyahu).

Therefore, recognition by the בית דין הנצרים ברעננה (Beit Din in Netzarim in Ra’anana) is, and will always be, the only option for those who follow ריבי יהושע. There can be no such thing as a legitimate follower of ריבי יהושע (Ribi Yehoshua) not recognized by an Orthodox בית דין (beit din)

Thanks for taking the time to read this long post!

Finding the historical Jew, who was a Pharisee Ribi and following him brings you into Torah, which gives you a rich and meaningful life here on earth and great rewards in life after death (“heaven”)!

From Anders Branderud
Geir Toshav, Netzarim (www.netzarim.co.il)

David V.S. said...

Anders,

You write, "The research of all world-recognized authorities (Charlesworth, James Parkes to name some) in this area leave no doubt that Ribi Yehoshua was a Pharisee."

Baloney. The academic literature supports no such claim.

Certainly Yeshua was close enough to the Pharisees that they were willing to eat with him. He was closer to a Pharisee than any of the other first-century sects of Judaism. But there is no academic consensus he was one.

Also, the title Rabbi was not used during Yeshua's lifetime. Calling him "Ribi Yehoshua" is flawed scholarship, even if it does make sense as a modern way to be "The person Yehoshua to whom I am a disciple".

You mention someone named Paqid Yirmeyahu. If he is an Orthodox Jew he must be studying under and accepting the authority of a rabbi other than Yeshua. How can he serve two masters?

You also write, "I hope that your desire is to practise the Torah non-selectively!!"

Complete Torah obedience is not a realistic goal. The covenant established at Sinai and Moav cannot currently be kept since there is no Temple. All efforts to follow Torah fail contractually.

But my goal is to be a disciple of Yeshua: to spend time with him, to talk with him, to grow more like him as I learn his ways and worldview. I find value in following Torah when possible because it shows us many of God's ways and standards. But my living relationship is with Yeshua, not Torah.

Anders said...

David,

You write: ” Also, the title Rabbi was not used during Yeshua's lifetime.”

1.See www.netzarim.co.il ; glossaries; scroll down to “Ribi”. We clearly demonstrate there that the title was used. Read the glossary and disproof our claims; it is your responsible; and

2. He is called ‘Ribi Yeshua’ on the Talpiot Tomb to name one thing.

See www.netzarim.co.il ; “History Museum” (left menu); “Mashiakh”-section (top menu)..

Prof. of Statistics Andrey Feuerverger has demonstrated that, contrary to the mathematically-challenged critics of the Yaaqov ossuary, the chances that the ossuaries in the Talpiot Tomb aren't those of the family of the 1st-century Pharisee Ribi Yehoshua are 1:1600 (Feuerverger, Prof. Andrey – The Final Word, http://projecteuclid.org/aoas).

So the burden of proof is on you if you state that Ribi Yehoshua is not a Pharisee.

All our research is based on logic and science. If you want to learn more you will find books in the “Israel Mall” (left menu) in our website.

I am not recopyist; so it’s you who have to read our historical and logical research; or stay in logical contradictions.

3. The research of James Charlesworth together with other historical sources (again see the sources in the glossariy entry “Ribi” in our website) implies that Ribi Yehoshua was a Pharise. My previous statement is correct.

We know from Dead Sea Scrolls 4Q MMT (see my first post) that a Ribi would never le-havdil (to differentiate) had said that he came to fulfil Torah. The person who claims this has the burden of proof on him, because it contradicts what we know about the practise of all Pharisees during the first century.

That a person fulfils Torah with the effect that no one needs to practise Torah anymore is totally anti-Torah, and thus according to Devarim (hellenized to Deuteronomy) 13:1-6 been a false prophet.

Any candidate for being the Mashiakh must practise non-selectively Torah-observance according to Devarim (Hellenized to Deuteronmy) 13:1-6. Any proclaimed follower of the Mashiakh must do likewise; according to the same passage in Torah.

It’s also important to know this:

Pro-Torah, 1st century, historical, Jew, Ribi Yehoshua and (Le-Havdil) the anti-Torah, post-135 C.E., Roman-syncretized counterfeit, J*esus (= Yesh"u) are mutually contradictory, intractably antithetical, polar opposites! Logically, these two diametric opposites must, therefore, be rigorously distinguished from each other. Following either necessarily requires resolute rejection of the antithetical opposite.

I have proven Ribi Yehoshua was a Pharisee. Le-havdil, It is apparent in NT that the Christian Jesus was anti-Torah (John 3:16 et.al. has no foundation in Torah and the passages from Tan’’kh I have quoted).
When you speak about getting to know “Yeshua” as in supernaturally, then you are speaking about the Christian Jesus. It is also noticeable when reading your website that you do not speak about Ribi Yehoshua.

Le-havdil,
Following Ribi Yehoshua is about having a relationship with the Creator – and He alone!!

I have already written why the Creator only requires our sincerest. The persons who do their sincerest => He in His khein (grace) gives them kipur (atonement) – Yekhezeqiel (hellenized to Hezekiel 18 and more). Yirmeyahu 31 dictates that the berit (covenant) will ALWAYS be kept (that is there will always be geirim or yehudim (Jews) that keeps the berit). Ha-Sheim – the Creator cannot lie!

I have proved Ribi Yehoshua was a Ribi and that implies he supported the beit-din system authorizesed by Mosheh – for references see “beit din” in the glossaries in our website. This implies that EVERY person following Ribi Yehoshua must subordinate him/herself to a Jewish [orthodox] beit din. This is in no conflict with doing one sincerest to practise all of Torah non-selectively (practising the mitzwot (commandments) that are possible to practise).

Finding the historical Jew, who was a Pharisee Ribi and following him brings you into Torah, which gives you a rich and meaningful life here on earth and great rewards in life after death (“heaven”)!

From Anders Branderud
Geir Toshav, Netzarim (www.netzarim.co.il)

David V.S. said...

Anders, you are an internet troll.

My blog post was about the Messianic Vision, not the identity of the historical Yeshua. You come into my publicly accessible but private place and not only attempt to hijack the conversation by declare it is my responsibility to agree to do so. This is as impolite as claiming I need to submit to being pestered to read a tract while I am having a picnic in a park or sitting in my car at a parking lot.

Moreover, your "tract" is a cut-and-paste essay you have used as a troll hundreds of times. At least there is some humor in the situation.

To be polite, I will leave up your comments with their name-link to your own blogs and the links to websites you explicitly wrote about. Anyone interested in what you write can go there.

I will also write one last reply, not because your comments deserve it but because my faith asks me to provide well-reasoned replies.

Then this tangent is done. Until I write a blog post which has as its topic the historical identity of Yeshua please stop pursuing that tangent here. Future off-topic comments will be removed.

-----

You write, "We clearly demonstrate there that the title was used. Read the glossary and disproof our claims"

This is easily done, and doing so collapses your other arguments.

That glossary entry has only two references. The first is the Encyclopedia Judaica, which I cannot read online but note it is the basis for a Wikipedia article that says "This title was first used for Rabban Gamaliel the elder, Rabban Simeon his son, and Rabban Johanan ben Zakkai". The second is a book written within your Netzarim organization that claims to be a reconstructed early Matthew text even though the scholarly consensus is that the information to reconstruct that text is still lacking. Claiming these references are sufficient scholarship to prove your claim is laughable.

Similarly, do you actually believe the Talpiot Tomb ossuary claim is valid scholarship? I have never heard of Andrey Feuerverger; perhaps his math is sensible but also based on accepting absurd claims axiomatically.

In contrast, I offer the first-century evidence that neither Philo nor Josephus ever used the term "Rabbi". Also, the tenth century text Iggeret Rav Sherira Gaon shows even at that late date Jewish scholars knew and admitted that the title "Rabbi" was not used until the time of Johanan ben Zakkai. (I cannot find a copy of the entire letter online but the passage is cited in the Jewish Encyclopedia and referenced in a footnote of the Jews' College (London) translation of the Babylonian Talmud, Shabbat 14b.)

For further scholarly information about early Rabbinic history I recommend Rabbi Akiba's Messiah by Daniel Gruber.

David V.S. said...

I spent some time looking at what other blogs Anders had trolled, curious about what other rebuttals had been presented. So far I only found one, by a blog named Metacrock.

Ruben said...

Shalom

David

I find very interesting that exposed by Anders. I coincide that the logic should take us to recognize who is Shomer Toráh and Derek Halakháh and in definitive the Netzarim is not before well partidiarios of the politics of several branches we promote among the Messianic Jews the Teshuváh and the Kippur to the Orthodox Judaism inside the Beit K'nesset Orthodox , on the Toráh and no-selective Halakháh. You can corroborate the trustworthy fact and that it drives to the logic in our website: www.netzarim.co.il/ and inclusive to contact the Paqid 16, Yirmiyahu Ben-David, Ha-Tzadik. Sincerely.

Rubén García

www.netzarim.co.il

Netzarim... Authentic