Torah Observance – Covenant Faithfulness or Evangelistic Shtick?

In defining what Messianic Judaism is it is important to deal with the issue of Torah observance and to see what the differing voices in the larger “Messianic Jewish” spectrum say on this issue.

In doing this we can see a clearer contrast between a Messianic Judaism that is a Torah honoring movement for Yeshua and those who hold for a Jewish cultural form of Evangelical Christianity like the organization, Jews for Jesus.  This is the divide between Messianic Judaism and the Hebrew Christian/Missions groups.

Jews for Jesus affirms Jewish believers who, for the sake of honoring our heritage and developing a Jewish testimony, choose to give up some of what grace allows to conform to dietary standards and various other Jewish practices. As long as such practices are not presented as incumbent upon others in the body of Messiah, Jewish or Gentile, we hope to be an encouragement to those who desire to uphold their Jewish identity in this way.

(from Fall 2003 Havurah, a publication of Jews for Jesus)

The above quote from JFJ’s Havurah newsletter from 2003 still reflects the views of much of the Hebrew Christian/Missions world of today.

In this post, I want to look further at this statement from the organization, Jews for Jesus.

In their statement above they put forward that a Messianic Jew can observe Torah commands if they choose to give up some of what grace allows to conform to dietary standards and various other Jewish practices.

Torah observance is not an “abandoning of grace“, but an embracing of obedience to God.

Observing kashrut, Shabbat, the Holy Days and other Torah commands is an act of obeying God and faithfulness to the covenant God made with all the Jewish People.

If we choose not to obey Torah commands we are not “living in grace”, but “living in sin”.

Non-observance of Torah commands for Jews (including Messianic Jews) is an act of disobeying God and not walking in His ways, not a benefit of being a follower of the Messiah.

Torah observance like dietary standards and various other Jewish practices is not and should not just shtick to be used for evangelistic outreach (which sadly is the case for Jews for Jesus and other Jewish missions), but it is a matter of obeying God and living lives that honor Him.

I close with a statement by another Messianic Jew on the topic of grace and sin:

What may we say, then? are we to go on in sin so that there may be more grace?
In no way. How may we, who are dead to sin, be living in it any longer?
(Romans 6:1-2)

Let us live in obedience to God and observe His Torah!

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3 thoughts on “Torah Observance – Covenant Faithfulness or Evangelistic Shtick?

  1. The Messianic Jewish movement isn’t about Gentiles becoming “Torah observant”, or for them to find a way to claim a foux Jewish identity. It’s about supporting Jews in their calling and covenant identity. It’s difficult for so many to grasp this, which is discouraging to many Jews in the movement. But that means they (the Jewish people, with Jewish families and Jewish life experiences) are not going to always agree. Frankly, it is not for Gentiles (“messianic” or otherwise) to demean either the J4J Jews, or other branches of MJ.

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    1. I am here writing to Messianic Jews. I am not advocating for gentile Torah observance or for those claiming a fake Jewish identity. If you have read my blog over the last 11 years you would know that I have spoken out against both of these errors.

      My calling is to call the Jews in our movement to covenant faithfulness, that is my mission in life to do my part in building a mature Messianic Judaism inhabited by Torah-faithful Jews.

      Your racial-only definition of Judaism has no relation to the understanding of Judaism and who the Jewish People were and are throughout history. The Jewish People were always open to converts and sometimes like in the 1st Century CE were actively seeking converts. There were non-Jews at Mt. Sinai that received the Torah with the Jewish People and the final chapter of Esther tells of the Persians becoming Jews out of fear of God:

      “And the Jews had light and gladness, in every city and province wherever the ordinance was published: wherever the proclamation took place, the Jews had joy and gladness, feasting and mirth: and many of the Gentiles were circumcised, and became Jews, for fear of the Jews” (Esther 8:16-17).

      As to your literary concerns, I am writing as a prophetic voice to the Messianic Jewish community, so my use of “we” and “us” represents my calling to speak what God has given to me to share and given that I have lived 25+ of my 47 years in Messianic Jewish space I am part of the community and not an outsider speaking into a foreign community.

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  2. Great articles! I would like to add to your article in regards to FFOZ on their stand regarding Gentiles! In first steps in messianic prayer book Ebby states that Gentiles should not be praying from the siddur and or praying “Jewish prayers” and they have produced gentile prayers. Also FFOZ stance on Gentiles and Torah have changed dramatically in the last 5-10 years as to Gentiles rather they are messianic Gentiles or Hebraic Gentiles in regards to Shabbat, Torah and prayers!

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