Masquerading and Messiah: What is a messianic Jew?

A couple weeks ago I met a rabbi. We were in a synagogue in Melbourne and he was setting up a bookstall of information about his beliefs outside the sanctuary. We had both attended a gathering of Christians and Jews in support of Israel, in light of the terrible outpouring of hostility from Hamas and Gaza in the previous week.  When he asked me which side I was on, I said, I am able to sit on both sides of the fence. I'm both a Jew and a believer in Jesus.

He stood back, quickly, and then asked if my mother was Jewish. Isn't that a ridiculous question, I thought because my identity is not the issue at all. But I answered that both my mother and father and their parents before them were indeed all Jewish people. He asked another question about my faith, and I answered in measured tones and with reason. He then wanted to know "Why do you do this?" I had to ask, "What is the 'this' to which you refer?" He wanted to know why I believe and spread the message.

There are moments when I stand up to speak when I know what I'm going to say. 
There are moments when I ready to speak and I have no idea what I am going to say. 

This moment represented the latter.

I said, "there are two things going on." And I wondered what either of them might be. I seriously could feel the presence of the Lord, and the effect of some people praying for me. And the words of Yeshua came to me in my mind, "But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say. For it is not you who speak, but it is the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you." (Matthew 10.19-20)

What were those two things?

"The first is the love of God. It's demonstrated in a Jewish man, nailed to a cross, who willingly gave up his life for all humanity, including those who were nailing him there." That's humility and that's the sacrifice. 

"The second is the desperate need of all people, not only our Jewish people but all people, to hear and understand and believe the Good News of our Messiah." 

Wow, that's pretty good!

He was taken aback again, this time in a flattering way, sharing with me how he admired me, even though I was misinformed, and that he wished me a b'racha, and that t'shuva would follow and such. I thanked him for his kindnesses and wished him the same.  It was testy and gnarly, but in the end, we both had been forthright and honest. 

That same day up in Sydney a man spoke at a community centre, under the rubric of a 'messianic' assembly. They touted him as a messianic Jew, from Puerto Rico. who claims to be a Cohen (a priest from the tribe of Levi, son of Jacob) and a believer in Yeshua as Messiah. He teaches that the writings of Paul and the Gospels, Peter and John-- which we title the New Testament should really be The Renewed Covenant, not the New Covenant.  If you have time, you might watch this 30-minute teaching.  He is a teacher of the two houses teaching. He wants all people to be Torah observant. His teachings are seriously inconsistent with the biblical record, although he puts in enough Hebrew to dazzle the most naive.

I was upset, and in a way, I'm still upset. I don't want people deceived. Not by a rabbi; not by a man who pretends to be a priest of the Jewish people. Not by anything or anyone.

I wrote to Dr. Rich Robinson, senior researcher at Jews for Jesus, to see if his book written in 2005 was still available. He sent me the pdf and rather than inviting you to read the whole thing (although you are most welcome to do so) or to buy the product which we sell out of our book shop in Bondi Junction,  I invite you to read the section on Two Houses, the Hebrew roots movement, or Torah observance, all from pages 101-134. The entire guide is here.

All the while I'm mindful of critics who spend their lives in the critique of others. I understand the negative folks and am not among them. At least I try to be a 'for' person and not an 'against'er. But when masquerades happen, the masks have to be removed in due course. I hope this will assist the most interested of folks in these matters.

Comment below if you would like. ALL opinions are welcome.


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