Rabbi’s Reflections – Thursday, July 2, 2020

Today we continue our analysis of the 7 affirmations of TJCII.  Here is the second affirmation.

  1. We affirm that Jews who come to faith in the Messiah, Jesus, are called to retain their Jewish identity and live as part of their people in ways consistent with the New Covenant.

Everyone wants to be an elitist; it’s only natural.  Most societies treat the word foreigner the same as the word barbarian.  In Tennessee we like to say, “If you’re not from around here, there must be something wrong with you.”  (Okay, I just made that up, but you get the point.)  It is true that Native Americans refer to themselves in their own languages as human beings and everyone else as something less.

The reason I bring this up is to reframe the question.  The question should not be “Are Messainic Jews still a part of the Jewish people?”  The question should be “Who is a part of the Jewish people?”  And the answer to that question depends on who you’re asking and why.  I can best illustrate my point with the following Rabbi Trail.

Rabbi Trail:  Years ago I was visiting my mother in Clearwater, Florida.  In the local Jewish weekly newspaper there was an article on the front page written by a conservative rabbi.  The headline read something like “Rabbi Decries Being Viewed As Non-Jewish.”  The article itself explained how upset the conservative rabbi was because an orthodox rabbi had said he wasn’t really Jewish since He didn’t keep the law according to orthodox standards.

On page 3 of the same edition was another article written by the same conservative rabbi.  The headline of this article read, “Rabbi Declares Messianic Jews are Not Jewish.”  My point is this… He (the rabbi journalist shall remain nameless primarily because I’ve forgotten his name) didn’t like it when someone considered him less Jewish because of his practice, but the same rabbi didn’t hesitate to consider Messianic Jews less Jewish because of their (our) practice.  End RT.

For thousands of years the Jewish people have hoped for the coming of the Messiah.  On many occasions, Jews have even followed false Messiahs.  The Bar Kochba Revolt (https://www.ancient.eu/The_Bar-Kochba_Revolt/) was based on one such false movement, and that was instigated by the great sage Rabbi Akiva (https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/rabbi-akiba/).

Then there was the episode of Shabbetai Zevi (https://www.myjewishlearning.com/article/shabbetai-zevi/) who was a false messiah followed by many Jews all of whom suffered greatly.  Most recently the Chabad movement chose to follow the Lubavitcher Rebbe (https://www.chabad.org/therebbe/default_cdo/jewish/The-Rebbe.htm) but he died in 1994 without ever reaching the land of Israel.

As Messianic Jews, we know the answer to Israel’s long hoped for Messiah.  We know His name.  We know Him.  Yet, somehow that makes us less Jewish in the eyes of many.  Oy yey!  Certainly the enemy is at work here.

Jewish identity means more than doing Jewish things.  It means being a part of the Jewish milieu.  It means participating with the Jewish community (when we’re allowed) and caring about Jewish causes.  This is very hard to do as part of a Sunday church.  This is why we have Messianic Jewish congregations.

This is an affirmation of TJCII because for 2,000 years Jews were told by Christians to become a follower of the Jewish Messiah you have to leave your people and cleave to the followers of Jesus.  But that plays into the hands of the rabbis who threaten their people with the same thing, saying, “If you follow Jesus, you will have to leave your people.

But the New Testament affirms the identity of Jewish people.  1 Corinthians 7:18 Was anyone called when he already had been circumcised? Let him not make himself uncircumcised. Has anyone been called while uncircumcised? Let him not allow himself to be circumcised…. 20 Let each one remain in the calling in which he was called.  In fact, here, non-Jews are also affirmed.

The Bride of Messiah is made up of Jewish and non-Jewish people (this is called a mystery in Scripture).  It’s a lot like a marriage between a man and a woman who become one flesh.  Yet the man does not become a woman and the woman does not become a man.  In fact, the more manly the man and the more womanly the woman, the better the marriage.  So it should be with the body of Messiah.  Affirmation #2 is simply the first step toward that objective.

Week 27
Memory Verse: Zephaniah 3:17 Adonai your God is in your midst— a mighty Savior! He will delight over you with joy. He will quiet you with His love. He will dance for joy over you with singing.’

131   7/2   Monday:        Zechariah 1:1-6; 2; 12
132   7/3   Tuesday:         Ezra 7-8
133   7/4   Wednesday    Ezra 9-10
* 134 7/5   Thursday:        Esther 1-2
135   7/6   Friday:        Esther 3-4

Question of the day:  Who doesn’t like the story of Esther?

Answer:  We will see as we get further into the story; it’s that wicked H@#;&n, who doesn’t like this story.  Esther’s Hebrew name was Hadassah.  She was Mordecai’s cousin (the daughter of his uncle).  These two chapters give us an introduction to the story which will continue tomorrow.  The top part was long, so I’m signing off for today.  Shalom.