The Law of the Lord is Good – Understanding Paul

Though it may seem to be a huge endeavor to deal with the difficult issue of understanding the words of Paul/Rav Shaul as it deals with issues related to the Torah, but this endeavor is guided by a simple axiom that I was taught by Dr. Mark Nanos, one of the premier scholars of the writings of Paul, including the books The Mystery of Romans and The Irony of Galatians.

First off in understanding Paul you must realize that he was writing primarily to Gentile churches.

With the first understanding clear then when reading Paul’s writings telling believers that they were not bound to Torah commands like circumcision and Jewish rituals then each of these statements per Nanos add “for non-Jews” to each statement.

In so doing it helps to clarify the point that Paul was telling the non-Jews that he was writing to that they were not bound to the Torah.  This is the same opinion that any mainstream Rabbi will give that non-Jews are not required to observe Torah and more to Paul’s stand should not observe Torah.  The special place of Torah as the Jewish people’s rights and privilege can be seen that potential converts to Judaism are to do one act that violates Shabbat so as to keep them from completely observing Shabbat before they were Jewish.

But for Paul himself as a Jew, A life observing Torah was his responsibility and the only way for him to live, even in his final speech Paul declared himself to be “as in relation to the Torah, a Pharisee”. This showing that even at the end of his life he still considered his life of Torah observance to be living to the standards of his Pharisaic training with the sage Gamaliel.

So then if we understand that Paul in addressing his non-Jewish audiences was saying that the non-Jews are not bound to the Torah’s commands (which is the same thing understood in Judaism today) this should help in understanding his philosophy. Paul as a Jew lived a life of Torah faithfulness, even after becoming a follower of Yeshua.  His harsh words in Galatians being pointed at those non-Jews who came to believe in Yeshua and were told that their new faith was inadequate without becoming Jews or becoming “super-believers” by observing Torah.  Both these views are wrong and were rightly condemned by Paul.

Hopefully this will be of help in understanding Paul/Rav Shaul…


The UMJC Position Paper on Conversion – An analysis

Editor’s note:
This blog post was posted at 10:24pm on Saturday (nearly 4 hours after Shabbat).
For those concerned about this possibly being posted on Shabbat, it was not.

An analysis of:
The UMJC Conversion Position Paper – The Majority Position

(Originally posted in multiple posts from 01/03/05 to 01/10/05)

At the September 1983 UMJC conference, a show of hands indicated that roughly 90% of the congregational leaders represented favored the Majority Position in opposition to the conversion of Gentiles to Messianic Judaism and the remaining 10%, the Minority Position that supported the conversion of Gentiles to Messianic Judaism.

You may say this paper is nearly 24 years old, why are you commenting on it, hasn’t things changed in these years? Well this is still the official statement of the Union that is reference to in the FAQ section on the UMJC website, therefore it is still relevant. Hopefully like the author of this statement, who now supports conversion of non-Jews, other leaders and the Union will move forward in this important step to fully embracing our role as a Judaism, an authentic Messianic Judaism.

The UMJC statement points are in bold, my commentary in plain text below.

MAJORITY POSITION

1. Despite inferential, contrary arguments, a clear biblical emphasis plus serious practical problems should prevent the UMJC from promoting any such conversions.

This appears to be more of a preamble to the statement’s further points that the statement will elucidate in the other points.

So then I will lay out a guiding view on my part to the issue. Based on the apocalyptic worldview of the early Messianic Jews, who believed the end of the age was quickly approaching and the return of the Messiah would be in their lifetime, we are left without clear guidance from the Brit Chadasha for our issue of conversion of non-Jews in Messianic synagogues outside of two issues:

1. The required conversion of non-Jews to Judaism before becoming followers of Yeshua, which was addressed in Acts 15

2. Conversion to Judaism to become a “super believer” as appears to be the problem addressed in Galatians

The conversion of a committed non-Jew to Messianic Judaism out of their desire to fully connect with Am Israel is not an issue addressed in the Brit Chadasha and with the apocalyptic vision of the early Messianic Jews this issue was not of importance to them with the soon end of the age.

2. Regarding conversions to Reform, Conservative or Orthodox Judaism, this can hardly be an option for any follower of Yeshua because these forms, despite their many differences, share an active disbelief in our Messiah. Close identification with, much less conversion to, any of these groups would be unbiblical.

The option of seeking out a conversion to other forms of Judaism is not a viable option for Yeshua believing non-Jews being that an essential part of the conversion process is the rejection of all previous religious beliefs, which would include the rejection of faith in Yeshua. This would be a huge problem and an option that no follower of Yeshua could do. So then the option of a conversion to Reform, Conservative or Orthodox Judaism is not an option.

Though this is a valid point against conversion to other Judaisms it doesn’t deal with the issue of conversion of non-Jews to Messianic Judaism.

In my opinion the only option that there can be for the committed non-Jews is for there to be a conversion process within Messianic Judaism.

3. Several reasons may be offered against adopting a rite of passage for willing Gentile believers into Messianic Judaism.

a. In I Corinthians 7:18 Rav Shaul specially addressed the issue of conversion, directing all believers to be content in the state in which they were called. Gentiles should not convert to Judaism. Likewise, Messianic Jews should not consider it an option to forsake their divine calling as Jews.

The third point is broken into 5 parts (a-e) and will be dealt with separately. 3a is the first point dealing with a Biblical passage.

In I Corinthians 7, where Paul deals with not “changing status”, which is typified by the phrase “in the state in which you were called” is his instructions to the believers in Corinth that in the light of the soon return of the Messiah, grounded in his apocalyptic worldview, that rather than changing from being a Jew to being a Gentile or from a Gentile becoming a Jew that his readers should just believe in Yeshua and be ready for the soon end of the age and the return of Yeshua.

What is lost on the above point from the Majority Position is that in the same passage Paul also includes instructions for those unmarried to not marry (7:8-9), those married not to divorce (7:10-11) and slaves to not seek their freedom (7:21-22), if these were the state in which the person became a believer. This brings up the following issues:

  • I was 6 years old and therefore single when I put my trust in Yeshua, should I not get married?
  • Was it wrong for slaves to seek freedom during the Civil War, if they became believers while in slavery?
  • Is divorce always prohibited if the parties became believers during the marriage?

I will imagine that the above questions would all receive a “no” answer. Then how can we take this passage as a Biblical mandate only for the conversion of non-Jews to Messianic Judaism?

I applaud and fully support the closing sentence:

Messianic Jews should not consider it an option to forsake their divine calling as Jews.

This is a vitally important issue but I Corinthians 7 should be understood as a passage that is rooted in the early Messianic Jews apocalyptic vision and should be understood as guidance to a community in preparation for the end of the age.

Paul and the other early Messianic Jews didn’t foresee the now 2000 year spread of time since the resurrection of Yeshua and sadly we are left without their direct guidance on how to deal with issues of note, specifically for our discussion on the issue of non-Jews converting to Messianic Judaism.

b. There is no example in the B’rit Hadasha of a Gentile believer becoming a Jew. Rav Shaul’s circumcision of Timothy (Acts 16:1-3) was a pragmatic measure primarily motivated by the Apostle’s desire to have Timothy accompany him into the synagogues of Asia Minor. More important, Timothy was already half-Jewish by his mother and according to II Timothy 3:15, was raised according to the Jewish Scriptures. Thus, his circumcision cannot provide an adequate example for any such practice involving Gentiles today.

The fact that there are not examples of Gentile believers becoming Jews can be understood as that within the context of the Brit Chadasha their still was a sense of two communities of believers the “congregation of the circumcised” and the “congregation of the uncircumcised”. This two-congregation approach can be seen in the ruling in Acts 15 that set forth the standards for the Gentile believers to live by and as Jews the Jewish believers had the Torah to live by. So then the issue of non-Jews in the Messianic Jewish congregations was really not an issue of their day. Paulwas reaching the Gentile believers and they were founding Gentile congregations.

Now to the issue of Timothy, in Second Temple Judaism the identifying sign of being a Jew for men was circumcision, basically Jewish status for men was dependent on whether or not they had a foreskin or not. So then Timothy even though a son of a Jewish mother and being raised according to the Scriptures may have made him a good follower of the G-d of Israel but until his circumcision he was not a Jew. Though in modern times there is more lax definition of who is a Jew, in the context of life in the Brit Chadasha whether one was circumcised or not was the key to Jewish identity. This can be seen in the Jerusalem community being referred as the ones reaching out to the “circumcised” and Paul’s mission to the “uncircumcised”.

Paul’s circumcision of Timothy was a conversion of a person of non-Jewish status, much like the conversions as an adult in Orthodox or Conservative Judaism for someone born of a Jewish father and non-Jewish mother; this was a matter of Timothy making a choice to embrace Judaism. It was also a practical matter for their outreach work in the Jewish communities so that Timothy’s Jewish identity would be clear.

So then the fact that there is a lack of examples in the Brit Chadasha of Gentiles converting to Messianic Judaism is primarily based in the fact that their were two congregations one of Jews and one of non-Jews and therefore this was not an issue as today when Messianic synagogues are mixed communities of Jews and non-Jews. Timothy was not a Jew until his circumcision according to the understanding of Judaism at the time and therefore he can be seen as a convert to Messianic Judaism. Timothy is a good example for us for those among us in our congregations who are of questionable Jewish heritage and via conversion can clear up ambiguities in their Jewish status or for those who are seeking to reclaim the “faith of their fathers”.

We can establish a credible Messianic Jewish conversion process and we must if we are truly going to build a mature Messianic Judaism for the future.

3c. Gentile believers who feel a strong identity with the Jewish people may join Messianic synagogues, participate in congregational life, and thus express a high degree of identification without actually becoming Jews. Conversion becomes unnecessary.

Though this is true that Gentile believers can express a high degree of identification with Jewish people via their involvement with the life of a Messianic synagogue, yet without a conversion process there is a roadblock to the ultimate identification with the Jewish people by joining the people of Israel like Ruth and others before have cast their lot with Am Israel.

This roadblock that bars the committed non-Jew from joining Israel is problematic for the non-Jew that seeks deeper involvement in the life of the Jewish people, whether that be in fully being a member of the Jewish people, being that their only viable connection is their attendance at a Messianic synagogue.

Like Timothy their is the issue of being able to function in ministry within the synagogue, being that the role of rabbi is exclusively a job to be held by a Jew, therefore without a conversion process this area of service is barred to the non-Jews in our midst who have this calling, yet cannot pursue this as a non-Jew. So then as we are now without a conversion process we are potentially keeping future rabbis from serving our synagogues being they cannot serve in the rabbinic role without being a Jew.

So then there are cases where conversion is necessary for the few committed non-Jews in our midst that would seek a strenuous and thoughtful conversion process. This is a step that we need to take in our move toward being Messianic Judaism.

d. A conversion to Messianic Judaism would not be recognized in Israel or among a majority of Jews in the Diaspora.

This point can be addressed in several ways, I will list three

1. Orthodox Judaism does not accept conversions as valid that were performed by Conservative, Reform, Reconstructionist and Humanistic rabbis, yet all four movements continue to perform conversions.

Being that all Jews consider only conversions that are performed by an Orthodox rabbi as valid across the spectrum has not stopped the non-Orthodox movements to develop conversion programs. They perform their conversion rituals and recognize the conversions of other groups as valid. So then universal acceptance of conversion is not a bar to other Jewish groups, why should it be a bar to us?

2. Whether or not Israel recognizes our converts is not relevant, the fact that Israel has barred Jewish believers from citizenship hasn’t stopped Jewish believers from seeking to live in Israel.

We cannot decide our community standards and life to fit into the laws of Israel. Being that Messianic Jews have been barred from citizenship hasn’t stopped messianic Jews from seeking to immigrate to Israel.

3. A majority of Jews in the Diaspora do not recognize Messianic Jews as Jews.

Most Jews, I would say well over 90% would not consider Messianic Jews as Jews and Messianic Judaism as a valid expression of Jewish faith, does this stop us from being Messianic? The fact that our status as outsiders from the Jewish people has not hurt our claim to being who we are then why are we concerned with recognition of our conversions as valid? We need to do first and hope that the larger Jewish community will eventually recognize that we have truly committed non-Jews that are making a commitment to live with the Jewish people and dwell in Jewish space. As we have seen some inroads from the Jewish world to accept us as Jews who follow Yeshua, we hopefully can get recognition of these people that we are allowing to enter Am Israel.

So then we are already outside the Jewish people in the opinion of a majority of the Jewish community, yet we continue on as Messianic Jews, the question of the acceptance of Messianic conversions by the larger Jewish world should be less important than doing what is right for our community and the furtherance of Messianic Judaism.

e. Such a practice could easily result in “two-class” mentality among Gentiles in Messianic synagogues – the inner circle of converted Gentiles and the larger group of the “less committed.”

The above point seems to be trying to create a problem that in all reality would not exist with proper teaching and congregational leadership. If there is a Messianic Jewish conversion process and a non-Jew were to go through this conversion process then the non-Jew would become a Jew and therefore there is no “two class” problem, we are back to where we are now and that is Jews (both by birth or conversion) and the non-Jews. It appears that we are dealing in various ways with the Jew/non-Jew issue in our synagogues and a Messianic Jewish conversion process would not create a new issue.

This can only be an issue if there is a lack of rabbinic leadership and guidance of the synagogues and therefore any problems are the fault of lack of leadership by the synagogal leadership and not the fault of a well thought Messianic Jewish conversion process.

Even a non-obligatory conversion of Gentiles would be viewed as heretical by many in the churches. Messianic Jews can ill afford risking possible rejection by the majority of the believing community, as would likely happen once such a practice became widely known.

The concluding paragraph brings to completion the Majority Position with what may be the biggest hurdle to a Messianic Jewish conversion process and that being concern over the opinion by Christians that we are engaged in a heretical activity. Being that the preliminary points have been demonstrated to be outdated and without firm grounding this is the last leg for the argument to stand on.

We must ask ourselves why are we giving the Church a say in the development of our movement?

We are willing to go outside the norms of Christian life by embracing a Torah lifestyle, including:

  • Shabbat observance
  • Kosher dietary standards
  • Jewish holyday observance.

Why are we not willing to truly embrace our unique and separate identity as the Yeshua believing community among the Jewish people and truly be a Messianic JUDAISM? I can understand our willingness to be under the authority of the Church in our days as Hebrew Christianity, when by our own naming we identified ourselves as Christians of Jewish heritage, but for a Messianic Judaism to be an identity with meaning we have to do what we need to do to build our Judaism identity and despite the conflicts that this may raise with the Church and even alienating many of our supporters in the Church is the price that we must pay.

Is it right for us to build a Messianic Judaism?

If so then the allowing of those committed non-Jews in our midst to fully connect with the Jewish people is something that we must do. A Judaism is defined by Jews living within Jewish space and therefore the allowing of those non-Jews who are called to cast their lot with the Jewish people to fully join with the Jewish people is part and parcel of what being a Judaism means.

This is in no way a slight to those non-Jews in our midst that are a vibrant and valuable part of Messianic Jewish life, yet they do not seek this deeper level of identification and connection. With proper guidance and clear standards the number of non-Jews seeking a Messianic Jewish conversion process will be small and many of the potential candidates that I know have been involved in Messianic Jewish life for over 15 years.

We have to ask ourselves do we want to build a Messianic Judaism and if this is so for us to be a Judaism we must make a way open for the committed non-Jews to fully connect with the Jewish people and this can only be done through a thoughtful and carefully developed Messianic Jewish conversion process under the leadership of respected Messianic rabbis and leaders.

So then let us step the nearly 24 years into the future from our Hebrew Christian past and embrace our Messianic Judaism future and make a way for those non-Jews amongst us to follow in the footsteps of Ruth and cast their lot with Am Israel.

Defining Messianic Judaism: A Commentary on the UMJC Statement

Messianic Judaism is a movement of Jewish congregations and congregation-like groupings committed to Yeshua the Messiah that embrace the covenantal responsibility of Jewish life and identity rooted in Torah, expressed in tradition, renewed and applied in the context of the New Covenant.

In the Summer of 2002, at the annual conference of the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations the delegates approved the above statement that was written by Dr. Mark Kinzer and Dr. Daniel Juster. In a bold step that came with controversy then and continues today (and maybe for years to come) the UMJC’s leadership decided that as we seek to build a Messianic Judaism for the future that most basic to this process is a self-definition. There are hundreds if not thousands of definitions of what Messianic Judaism is or should be and as one of the larger mainstream voices in the mix, the UMJC put forward the task for a statement to be written and tapped two of the tested and respected thinkers of our movement to write a basic statement on what Messianic Judaism is or more appropriately what it should be. With the various voices out there putting forward misguided and outright anti-Biblical “Messianic Judaism” or “Messianic Movements”, like the Ephraimites and others, it is of great need for there to be a reasoned voice to step forward and say “This is what a true mature Messianic Judaism is” and our task is to make the statement a reality.

My first take on the basic statement is that if you are truly seeking to live in Messianic Judaism how can one find problem with above. Yet there are those who critique it. I say if you can’t deal with a Messianic Judaism made up of Jews (and Judaism-respectful non-Jews) that is firmly grounded in Jewish space, reflecting a desire for Torah living and seeking to honor Yeshua within an identifiable Judaism then there is an option (actually tens of thousands) for you to live as a follower of Yeshua and this is your local Church. Messianic Judaism is a Judaism, if you can’t deal with living within Jewish space then Messianic Judaism may not be the place for you.

Now to a little commentary:

Messianic Judaism is a movement of Jewish congregations and congregation-like groupings

The Messianic Jewish congregation and congregation-like groupings make for the great distinctive that we offer as a movement. Messianic congregations are living breathing Jewish faith centers that are in the midst of the Jewish community wherein our righteous Messiah is glorified within Jewish space where the Torah is honored and the G-d of Israel is worshipped. In contrast to the “missions model” that involves standing on street corners with tracts, the messianic congregation allows for both the message of Yeshua to be made known to the not-yet-Messianic Jews and even more it is an ongoing Jewish community that is part and parcel of the lives of those who attend. It is the messianic congregation that is the key vehicle for making our Messiah credibly known in the Jewish world. For the congregation-like groupings, I think that these are vitally important to play a role in extending the Messianic Jewish presence throughout our world. I think that we need to supplement our mostly regional Messianic congregations with home groups and chavurot and seek to build these congregation-like groupings into future Messianic congregations.

committed to Yeshua the Messiah that embrace the covenantal responsibility of Jewish life and identity rooted in Torah

This phrase sets out the two vital parts of what being a Messianic Judaism is and that is to understand that our identity is tied to a union of a life living within Torah faithfulness with faith trust in Yeshua, our righteous Messiah. Without the Torah, we may be a Messianic movement of which the Church is a Messianic movement. Without a faith trust in Yeshua as our Messiah, we may be another Judaism and then we would just be an independent movement of Jews. But as we should be we are Messianic Judaism, a Judaism that embraces covenantal responsibility and commitment to Yeshua. To unite our Torah and our Messiah as who we are is the only way we can truly live out a true Messianic Judaism.

expressed in tradition

This may be the most controversial part of the basic statement, the affirmation of Jewish tradition’s role in who we are to be a Messianic Judaism. We must understand that there is not a vacuum of Jewish life from 70 CE to today. Messianic Judaism may have some connection to the Judaism of the early Yeshua believers in that we serve the same Messiah and also like them we are familiar with the teachings of their communities as expressed in the Brit Chadasha, but we are not in all reality a reviving of 1st century Messianic Judaism, we are building a Messianic Judaism within the context of Judaism as it has developed over the last two thousand years. This being said, we need to look at how Jewish people have done Judaism and are doing Judaism today as we build a Messianic Judaism for the future.

renewed and applied in the context of the New Covenant

As the basic statement concludes we come to the role that the Brit Chadasha (New Covenant/New Testament) plays in our movement. Along with the development of Jewish life over the last two thousand years we also have the reflections and guidance of the Brit Chadashah to guide us and to inform our creation of a mature Messianic Judaism. So then we have both the Rabbinical sages and the New Covenant writers to inform us in our living out our lives within a Yeshua honoring, Torah living life within Jewish space. We in essence can build with multiple sources something that is both old, renewed and new all at the same time.

So then we are now four years since the ratification of this statement.

Where are we in the process of making it a reality?

What have you done to make it a reality?

What are you going to do to make it a reality?

So now to our task, may we one day be living within a Messianic Judaism that will reflect this vision and this calling.

May G-d grant us the workers to make it happen and may each of us to do what is needed as we seek to build a mature Messianic Judaism.

(originally posted on towardblog on 12/26/04)

Passing of the torch to the next generation.

 

It was 8 years ago today (10/24/2004) that I began writing towardblog.  This is one of the most important posts from the last 8 years because it is so vital to the future of Messianic Judaism for those in the 2nd generation of leadership to be allowed to take their place and for those young leaders to step up as openings are made available.  Change is hard but it must take place for future growth.  I applaud those “older” leaders that have made openings available for 30something leaders and I look forward to this being a continuing step in our maturation.

The future of Messianic Judaism, the future impact that we can have in our Jewish world and our impact on the whole of creation by playing our role in bringing about the consummation of history for all humanity will have alot to do with the actions of those of us who are in their 20’s and 30’s now who will have to be the future Messianic rabbis, scholars, teachers, writers, song writers, musicians, shabbat school teachers and all the various roles in our community and synagogal life.

For awhile I and others of this age group have acknowledged that we are the ones to take Messianic Judaism into the future and to continue the work and expand on it and see a true Messianic Judaism for the future which is a Jewish life intrinsically united with the life and power of our righteous Messiah, Yeshua. Though talk is great and our acknowledgment of our role to play in the future is important, it is now time to make our words into actions.

For this to become a reality and for us to take up the torch of Messianic Judaism into the 21st century and beyond we need to do the following (not exhaustive):

  1. Find a mentor for teaching, training and encouragement.
  2. Find your spiritual gift (your mentor and peers can help you discover this).
  3. Seek education and training to more effectively use your gifting.
  4. Put your gifting to use.
  5. Make prayer for the building of a mature Messianic Judaism a daily commitment.
  6. Serve in your synagogue.
  7. Seek peers for prayer, education and encouragement.
  8. Encourage your rabbi and leaders who are currently in leadership.

 

For those currently in leadership for us we need you to:

  1. Seek out future leaders to mentor.
  2. Assist us in discovering our gifting and encourage us to use our gifts.
  3. Make opportunities for us to use our gifting in the synagogue and community.
  4. Give us feedback, both positive and negative, so that we can learn and grow to be the leaders that we need to be.
  5. Join us in daily prayer for the building of a mature Messianic Judaism.

 

This passing of the torch involves the current leaders preparing us to receive the torch and for them to pass it on to us and then for us to accept the torch and our responsibility to take our awesome role of being the ones in which the future of Messianic Judaism will rest and also the opportunity that we can play a role in changing our world for God like the first generation of Jewish believers did in their world by their faithful service. Beyond just our movement we can change the course of human history as we build a mature Messianic Judaism and reunite the breach of Jewish life from faith trust in Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel. This is both a joy and an overwhelming responsibility but it is our job and we must do it, if we are truly focused on living God honoring lives and playing our role in God’s plan of the ages.

So then the time has come for us to step up to be the next generation of leaders. We must do what is needed to be prepared to take the torch and for those current leaders you need to do your part to train us and then to give us the torch and allow us to enter our role to play in the future of our movement.

This is a group project and we all must do our part!

So then let us begin doing what needs to be done so that we can magnify and sanctify the name of our God by building a mature Messianic Judaism for the future.

yochanan:

A classic post from the early years of towardblog…

Originally posted on ...toward a messianic judaism.:

 

First off, I believe that we need a well-thought conversion program because “Messianic conversions” are already being offered now and most if not all are being done wrong. There are even a few websites that you can fill out an online form and make a donation to the organization and get your conversion certificate in the mail, kind of makes me think of the many diploma and ordination mills, these being conversion mills.

So there is already people within the broad world of Messianic Jewish life doing it wrong, let’s support a process to do it right and have a credible process for those non-Jews amongst us who have a definite calling to sojourn with Israel and who many have lived 5, 10 or more years within Messianic congregational life, lacking a mechanism for the Messianic Judaism community to acknowledge their commitment.

I am confident that respected leaders will…

View original 29 more words

Messianic Jewish Conversion: Avoiding “The Bandwagon Effect”

There is a concern about a possible “bandwagon effect” if Messianic Judaism established a conversion process.

This fear is unfounded if the Rabbis and leaders follow strict guidelines. Of the Non-Jews that I know in my synagogue only 1 or 2 would seek this conversion process and all have been involved in Messianic synagogues for many years. These are people who have a calling to sojourn with Israel and who as Non-Jews seek to make Torah their life.

So then, how can we hold back the “bandwagon effect or “mass conversion” of Non-Jews to Messianic Judaism?

First off, like in other forms of Judaism, the Rabbis must rebuff those seeking conversion, so as to test their commitment to the process. This rebuffing is also a test of the calling and commitment to the whole of Jewish life.

Also important is education in that the prospective convert must be committed to a Jewish life and to their connection to all of Israel not just “saved Jews”.

The prospective convert must be actively a part of the life of a Messianic synagogue, the life of the local Jewish community and have training and knowledge of Torah and Jewish practice.

They should also stand before and be examined by a Beit Din made up of recognized Messianic Jewish leaders in which their commitment to Jewish life will be examined.

Of great importance is that for prospective male converts brit milah or dam brit must be done. Circumcision is the sign of the Covenant in the flesh and this must be a part of the conversion process. At least for men this will be a real sign of commitment to Judaism and a Jewish life.

The prospective convert should also go through immersion as the final act of commitment to Messianic Judaism.

Also important in the process is the taking of a Hebrew name, as they become son or daughter of Abraham and Sarah.

This calls for leadership and guidance by recognized leaders. We can take this important step in our maturation and I believe that there are respected leaders willing to take the responsibility for this important work of allowing those like Ruth, to tangibly cast their lot with the Jewish people.

Building A Jewish religious movement for Yeshua

In seeking to be a Judaism, a Jewish religious movement for Yeshua within the Jewish people and for the Jewish people we will ask Jewish questions, seek to give Jewish answers and credibly live out our lives as Messianic Jews as a part of the Jewish community, rather than the missionary model as one who goes into the Jewish community as an outsider to target the “unsaved Jews” for conversion to Christianity. We see the Jewish people as “us” and not “them” and therefore our desire is to live credible Jewish lives that we can make the Messiah seen within Israel as the Messiah followed by Torah honoring, Jewishly connected, Messianic Jews. Our hope is to be a light for Messiah within the Jewish world.

In this identity we embrace our oneness with all of the Jewish people as an act of faithfulness to God and to His Torah and not some act of “seeking man’s approval”. We seek God’s approval by living as he intended as a Torah community that follows the Jewish Messiah.

Yeshua is central to the building of a mature Messianic Judaism, because he is the Messiah that we honor. Our desire is to make him known within the People of Israel and this can only be done by seeing the Jewish community as our community of reference and living within Jewish life embodied in our respect for Jewish tradition and Torah living as we seek to be organically connected within the Jewish community as the Jews who follow Yeshua, the Jewish Messiah.

Yeshua can only be properly seen by the Jewish people as he really is as the Jewish Messiah, by being made known by a credible Messianic Judaism that reflects a love for all Jewish people and with a vital connection to the People of Israel.

May we live lives that make Yeshua known within a Judaism, Messianic Judaism.