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"Messianic Judaism is more faithful to the Jewish Bible
than Rabbinic Judaism"

by Messianic Rabbi Loren Jacobs
Congregation Shema Yisrael, Southfield, MI

Rabbinic Judaism, whether it is Orthodox, Conservative, or Reform, is centered around the teachings of the rabbis. After the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 70 A.D. the rabbis reorganized Judaism and added many new laws, rules, customs and traditions to the Bible. Their writings, like the Talmud, form the foundation of Rabbinic Judaism. Of all the various Judaisms that existed in the first century, Messianic Judaism and Rabbinic Judaism are the only ones that remain. We claim that Messianic Judaism is more faithful to the Jewish Bible than Rabbinic Judaism.

The Jewish Bible teaches that it is wrong to add man made rules
to the Word of God.

It is a terrible mistake to add the laws of men to the pure revelation of God. You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it (Deuteronomy 4:2). But the rabbis have added many rules to the Word of God. These man made traditions have complicated and confused things, and helped us miss the true goal of the Jewish Bible - Messiah. The prophet Jeremiah put it this way: My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, to hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns that can hold no water (Jeremiah 2:13). By adding man made rules to the Bible, by elevating rabbinic writings to the same level as God's Word, and by taking away from the Word of God by not accepting the true Messiah, the rabbis have done terrible spiritual damage to the Jewish people.

Messianic Judaism differs in that we are based totally on the Bible, both the Older Testament as well as the New Testament. Our Judaism is the Judaism of the entire Bible and only the Bible. We believe that the Bible is a supernatural book, divinely inspired by the Creator of the universe. It is a priceless treasure that contains wisdom for this life and guidance for eternal life. Because we believe the Bible is the inspired communique from God, we believe everything that it teaches. We believe in angels and demons, in heaven and hell, in resurrection and eternal life, in miracles and the world to come.

The Jewish Bible teaches the necessity of having a
personal relationship with God.

In most synagogues today we never hear about developing a personal relationship with our Creator. Where is that relationship with God that Abraham and Moses had? Almost no one can say as King David did: As the deer pants for streams of water, so my soul pants for You O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God (Psalm 42:1-2). Can you honestly say that you have a personal relationship with God like that?

Instead most synagogues emphasize ritual and ceremonies. Isaiah the prophet put it this way: This people draw near with their words and honor Me with their lip service, but they remove their hearts far from Me, and their reverence for Me consists of traditions learned by rote (Isaiah 29:13). Rabbinic Judaism today for the most part does not emphasize having a personal relationship with the Creator. Prayers, ceremonies and rituals can be nice, but they are no substitute for a personal relationship with God.

Messianic Judaism believes that it is essential to have a personal relationship with God. God is not just a concept or an idea for us, but a living Person, and coming to know Him is our primary responsibility in life. Only through Messiah is it possible for us to enter into this kind of personal relationship with our Creator. God is a living Person, and a personal relationship with God must always be emphasized as central to true Judaism.

The Jewish Bible teaches that we must come to God on His terms - not our terms. There are two essential components to approach God on His terms: a sacrifice and a mediator.

The Jewish Bible teaches that we need to approach God with a sacrifice. Moses put it this way: The life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement (Lev. 17:11). Every day at the Jerusalem Temple animals were sacrificed. Their blood was poured out on the altar to make atonement for our souls. The pure animal took on the sin of the human who had sinned, and the person who sinned was cleansed by the blood of the sacrifice. Rabbinic Judaism today is without the sacrifice that the Jewish Bible teaches is essential for atonement and approaching God on His terms.

Messianic Judaism believes in this principle of atonement based on sacrifice. We believe that all the sacrifices in the Jewish Bible were pointing us to the ultimate sacrifice - Messiah Yeshua. The prophet Isaiah, who lived 700 years before Yeshua came, gave us this amazing prediction: He (referring to the Messiah) was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His stripes we were healed (see Isaiah 53:5). 700 years after Isaiah predicted the Messiah's death to atone for sin, Yeshua died on a cross in Jerusalem so that all who believe in Him, both Jew and Gentile, can be reconciled to God and be eternally forgiven.

The Jewish Bible teaches that we need not only a sacrifice, but we need someone to offer the sacrifice. In the Jewish Bible that person was called a cohen - a priest. The job of the cohen was to function as a mediator to help us approach God. Rabbinic Judaism teaches that we can approach God without any mediator. But according to the Jewish Bible no one except the High Priest of Israel could enter the Most Holy Place of the Jerusalem Temple, the place where God manifested His presence on earth. The High Priest could only enter the Most Holy Place on Yom Kippur, and only by taking the blood of a sacrifice with him.

When the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD the rabbis were faced with a dilemma. What were they to do without the Temple, without the sacrifices, and without the priests that were essential to approach God on His terms? The rabbis solved their dilemma by replacing the Temple, the sacrifices and the priests. They replaced the Temple with the synagogue. They replaced the priests with the rabbis. They replaced the sacrifices with repentance, prayer, studying the Bible and doing good deeds. Repentance, prayer, Bible study and good deeds are fine, but they are not adequate substitutes for the way God told us to approach Him.

The Judaism of the Bible is a Judaism of priests and sacrifices, Temple and atonement. That is the way to approach God on His terms that He revealed. Without a God ordained priest offering up a God ordained sacrifice in God's Temple in Jerusalem, no true atonement is taking place, Biblical Judaism is not occurring, and no real approach to God is happening - we are only fooling ourselves.

Messianic Judaism took another approach. We recognized that Yeshua was sent by God to fulfill the Biblical requirements for approaching God on His terms. Messianic Judaism retains the original principles in the Jewish Bible - approaching God His way on His terms - through a sacrifice and a priest. There is only one way to legitimately approach God - by accepting Messiah Yeshua the High Priest of the New Covenant, and the Final Sacrifice.

The Jewish Bible Promises a Messiah

The Jewish Bible teaches that Messiah is an essential central Jewish concept. God, speaking through Moses predicted: I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen, like you (Moses), and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak all that I command him. And it shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him (Deut. 18:18-19). Messiah is the greatest of the prophets. We must listen carefully to everything that He said. He speaks for God. He represents God. Messiah is the key to coming back to God, finding atonement and receiving eternal life. We believe that Messiah already came the first time to make atonement for the sins of Israel and the world, that God raised Him from the dead, and that Yeshua will return soon to fulfill everything that God has revealed. It is essential to believe in Messiah now. Messianic Judaism already knows Him. Rabbinic Judaism is missing the Messiah.

The Jewish Bible Promises a New Covenant

The Jewish Bible teaches that God will make a New Covenant with the Jewish people, different from the one He made with us at Mount Sinai. Like me you probably were never taught that the New Covenant is found in the Jewish Bible in the book of Jeremiah: Behold days are coming declares the Lord, when I will make a New Covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them declares the Lord. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days declares the Lord. I will put My Torah within them, and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people (Jeremiah 31:31-34).

Messianic Judaism believes this New Covenant has already been made. Through His death and resurrection Messiah Yeshua put into effect this new relationship with God. Another way of saying "New Covenant" is "New Testament." Messiah Yeshua already established this Covenant, and if we believe in Him we can enter into this new relationship with God right now. Rabbinic Judaism is missing the New Covenant. God wanted the Jewish people enter the New Covenant with Messiah, not take the path of Talmudic Judaism.

Messianic Judaism is the Judaism that is consistent with the Jewish Bible. We retain the principles of approaching God on His terms - by having a sacrifice and a priest. We have entered the New Covenant which is already in effect. We believe in the Messiah who makes a personal relationship with God possible. It is Rabbinic Judaism that has deviated from the authentic original Biblical Judaism. As Messianic Jews, we represent the Judaism that is most faithful to the Jewish Bible.

essianic Rabbi Loren Jacobs
Congregation Shema Yisrael
Southfield, Michigan

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