Messianic Faith – what is it and how, when and where do you express it?
What is Messianic Faith?
It’s faith in and worship of the Person of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, and in that way, Messianic faith joins with Christians all over the world.
It is also profoundly prophetic because it is faith in the Word, that all the prophecies concerning Israel and our Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus), are coming to pass and that we are living in the days where believing Jews and Gentiles are rising up as forerunners to proclaim that the total fulfillment of the Word is near.
It’s the wonder of realizing that we are seeing prophecies being fulfilled right before our eyes – here are a few examples - since 1948, the nation of Israel exists once again after 2,000 years, and since 1967, the capital of Jerusalem is once again in the hands of the Jews, Jewish people from all over the world are returning to their own land, Gentiles are rising up to comfort Israel and to help bring the sons and daughters of Abraham to their Land, and all over the world Israel is hated by the nations and continues to be a stumbling stone and a point of controversy.
Messianic faith is the unwavering belief that our God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and Yeshua ha Mashiach (Jesus, the Messiah) is our soon-returning Warrior King, to whom all the glory and honor and worship belong. Further, this belief system is based on the entire Word of the Lord, with every jot and tittle proclaiming that Yeshua is the Truth, and is, in fact, the Living Word. Messianic faith involves both Jewish and Gentile believers and all hold dear the Scriptures concerning the one new man (Jews and Gentiles, one in Messiah – Eph. 2), the one olive tree and how the roots of our faith are firmly established in Tenach (Old/Original Covenant/Testament) (Romans 9-11).
How do you express this faith?
The manner of expressing these beliefs is mostly unplowed ground and there are no set-in-stone guidelines about how to express what I am calling “Messianic Faith”. I believe, however, there is a heightened desire among believers to find ways to express Messianic faith simply because we are in the spiritual generation that has seen so many latter day prophecies coming to pass. We are part of the prophetic people known as watchmen on the walls (Isaiah 62), those who see that Messiah is returning and those who are called to make proclamation of His return and the signs of the times, especially the prophetic sign of the re-gathering of Israel to their Land (Jeremiah 31).
Recently, we published email articles on Messianic Gentiles and Messianic Jews, explaining the distinctive features of these terms. These are the people who would identify with the term “Messianic Faith” and who are walking in this faith in some degree or another.
To review, here are basic definitions.
Messianic Gentiles: A Messianic Gentile has embraced all of the Scripture, including the Torah (five books of Moses), the Nevi'im (the prophets), and the Kethuvim (the writings, including Psalms, etc.), which is simply to say, a Messianic Gentile embraces all of the Old Testament (Tenach) as inspired by the Ruach ha Kodesh (the Holy Spirit) and believes that Tenach is therevelation of Yeshua. And, of course, a Messianic Gentile also believes all of the Brit Hadasha (the New Covenant/New Testament). They do not believe that the church has replaced Israel.
Messianic Jews: A Messianic Jew is a person of Jewish descent (as we’ve pointed out before, the question of determining Jewish descent is a whole discussion in itself!) who believes that Jesus (Yeshua) is the Messiah. With the acceptance of Yeshua as the Messiah, the Messianic Jew embraces all of Tenach (the Original Covenant a/k/a The Old Testament) plus all of the Brit Hadasha (the New Covenant a/k/a The New Testament). They believe that they do not have to become “Gentiles” to believe in Yeshua, and they retain their Jewish identity. They believe that Jesus is the Messiah for all people, and in particular, He is the King of the Jews!
Expressions of Messianic Faith – Biblical Zionism
Expressions of Messianic faith have been varied among believers – sometimes it has taken the form of “Biblical/Christian Zionism” – in this expression, a distinctive is that believers take their stand on Scriptures such as Isaiah 40:1, to comfort Israel, to come alongside her and to speak the truth about the modern day nation of Israel (Jer. 31), being part of the fulfillment of prophecy. Most believers in this expression attend traditional churches but enjoy meeting together in various para-church organizations, perhaps celebrating the Feasts in available venues. In my experience, I’ve seen that Christian Zionists, for the most part, remain in their traditional Gentile culture of Christianity, but also take part in various other ministries and groups with a Jewish roots or pro-Israel focus. Within this group, there is a great focus on the Land of Israel and actually going to the Land. Christian Zionists give generously in terms of money, and they support Israel in practical ways. They are usually activists in much the same way that other “arms” of Christianity have activists, such as those who oppose abortion, etc.
Expressions of Messianic Faith – Messianic Judaism
Another expression is found in congregations that are made up of Jews and Gentiles who express their faith in a more Jewish liturgical style perhaps with shofarot, Hebraic dancing, celebrating the Feasts, etc. These congregations are very much focused on Hebraic roots of the faith and on salvation of the Jewish people and evangelism. In fact, in today’s Messianic movement, many of the congregations call themselves “Messianic Jewish” congregations and refer to their faith as “Messianic Judaism”. This is an interesting topic for future discussion – as you can see this choice of words aligns these groups with Judaism and there is a marked difference in the culture of these groups, definitely a Jewish cultural flavor instead of Gentile cultural flavor. In this expression, there could be rabbinical expressions mixed in with biblical expressions and ceremonies, just as there is in traditional churches where you might find forms of liturgy that are cultural, not necessarily biblical, expressions mixed in with biblical expressions.
Expressions of Messianic Faith – Home Groups
Also in the mix we see small groups meeting in homes with an emphasis on Torah study and understanding our Jewish roots, perhaps also celebrating Shabbat and the Feasts. These groups could be made up of both Messianic Jews and Gentiles or maybe only Gentiles, not because Jews would be excluded, but simply because there are more Gentiles than there are Jews in the world (except for in Israel and in a few specific other locations, Jews are the minority of the population) and believing Jews are an even smaller group. From what I’ve experienced, most of these groups are still evolving into exactly how to continue walking out their Messianic faith. The question is – do we continue to participate in our mainline, traditional church and also continue in our “Messianic” small group or do we at some point let go of the predominantly Gentile culture and the traditional church setting and become satisfied in our small group expression of faith.
Expressions of Messianic Faith – Sub-group Within a Traditional Church Setting
There is another expression that is beginning to rise up, and that is a Messianic group within a larger, traditional church setting, with the Messianic group being under the “umbrella” of the “mother church” which in most cases is a traditional, Gentile-culture, church. In this case, the Messianic group is probably most like the small home group in terms of expression and study and not as liturgical as the congregations who refer to themselves as Messianic Judaism in orientation.
Expressions of Messianic Faith – In Israel
And in Israel, we see much variety in Messianic faith expression among Jewish believers – (different types of congregations exist all over the Land) just as we see different types of churches and denominations here in the USA – some of these congregations/assemblies (kehilat) are liturgical and some are not. The number of believing Jews in Israel is still small, about 15,000 Jewish believers, but growing significantly over the past few years. The single, most profound difference in these Messianic congregations and those in the USA is that in these congregations, nearly all the people are Jewish! This is so exciting to watch the numbers of believing Jews in the land grow and the people thrive in the Word. A distinctive of Messianic congregations in Israel is an intense focus on evangelism and the salvation of their people. Here there is no need to establish a Jewish culture because it is the culture in Israel!
Expressions of Messianic Faith – Messianic Ministry Organizations
There are other expressions of Messianic faith which include Messianic ministries (such as Highway to Zion), which are not congregations. These ministries usually have vision statements which will include a focus on education of believers regarding the Hebraic roots of our faith, either in church settings or small groups or under their own ministry banner, probably will include some forms of Jewish culture expression such as Hebraic dancing, celebrating Shabbat and will probably include celebrating the Feasts.
These types of Messianic ministries are usually not tied to churches or denominations but are more in the category of “extracurricular” for most believers. Perhaps these ministries will have unique nuances, such as we have with Highway to Zion, one of those being our desire to impart prophetic destiny being tied to Israel by taking people to the Landand also with practical service trips to Israel to work alongside our Jewish believer partners in the Land. We also give nearly all of our funds to other ministries, most of them in Israel, with no money spent on administrative staff.
The Ultimate Expression of Messianic Faith – One New Man
The concept of a “mystery” is intriguing to most people and when you combine this concept of mystery with the Word of the Lord, it is even more compelling. The most amazing thing is this – the Lord tells us in His Word what this mystery is! In Ephesians 3, the word mystery is used several times with the explanation in vs. 6 “This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise of Christ Jesus.” (Eph.3:6 – NIV).
This is the mystery that the Lord desires to be revealed. In fact He says that when it is revealed that the manifest wisdom of God will be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms according to His eternal purpose (Eph. 3:10-11). This is an awesome calling for all of us, Jews and Gentiles, who have understood His Word and the roots of our faith and have set our hearts and our faces like flint to obey Him in this. To think that our unity speaks the wisdom of God to rulers and authorities in the heavenly realms takes my breath away!
This unity of Jew and Gentile, One in Messiah, is God’s heart
“For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which He put to death their hostility.” (Eph. 2:14-16).
The blessing of expressing Messianic Faith
Even if you are a newcomer to this whole revelation of Messianic faith, you already know the profound blessing of obeying God by blessing Israel and being part of these prophetic days. It’s His promise that He will bless those who bless His people and He will curse those who don’t (Gen. 12:1-30).
In terms of what Messianic faith will ultimately look like, I’m not sure yetbecause I know we haven’t seen it in its fullness, but I know I so desire to be part of this mystery of one new man unfolding and rising up as we together express our unity in love and worship of our Abba and Yeshua ha Mashiach through the power of the Ruach ha Kodesh (the Holy Spirit).
In the days to come, as you press into the Lord concerning these things, you will grow deeper in the realization of your destiny. As many believers will give testimony, there is a profound connection between embracing this truth and in being released into your spiritual gifts and prophetic destiny. The unction of the Holy Spirit becomes the motivation for your giving back to God what He has put into you. It’s all tied to His plan for Israel and the restoration of all things when Yeshua ha Mashiach returns to Yerushalayim (Jerusalem) and sets up His eternal throne. These prophecies will come to pass just as surely as we have already seen His Word unfolding in our day.
Isn’t it a most joyous experience to know that you have been called to understand the great mystery that is being unveiled in our day - “Jew and Gentile, One in Messiah”.
You are part of the revelation of prophecy as you express your Messianic faith. Let His wisdom be made known in our unity.
Be encouraged in Him. Soon we will see Him! And Jerusalem will be the praise of the whole earth!