"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
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
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
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
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
The Jewish Bible Promises a New
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.
Messianic Rabbi Loren Jacobs
Congregation Shema Yisrael
This is www.MessianicAssociation.com