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 To the Jew First

When Yeshua (Jesus) said that He was going somewhere that He could not be followed, the response of the Jewish religious leaders was: "He’s not going to teach the gentiles, is He?" (John 7:33-35) What seemed incredible in the first century now seems commonplace; so much so that the question of what to do with Jewish followers of Jesus is on the lips of church leaders, theologians, and rabbis everywhere. This is often coupled with the question that now rocks the religious of Israel: "Who is a Jew?"

Does a Jewish person who believes that Yeshua is the promised Messiah of Israel become something other than a Jew? Must this believer forsake his or her Jewishness to become a Christian? "May it never be." In fact, in a statement made about US Secretary of State Madeline Albright, Rabbi Itzhak Ohana, an official of Israel’s Chief Rabbinate said, "According to Judaism, if her mother was Jewish and her grandmother was Jewish, she is Jewish. It is impossible to leave Judaism, even if there’s a conversion."

It has long been the practice of Christian missionaries to reach peoples of distinct cultures in an indigenous way. Korean Presbyterians are still Koreans, Irish Catholics are still Irish and Hispanic Baptists worship in Spanish. Why then should Jewish believers be assimilated into gentile cultural Christianity? This, too, should not be.

Since 1967 Messianic Jewish fellowships have given Jewish believers an opportunity to worship the G-d of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through the Messiah Yeshua, and to remain in all ways, culturally Jewish. Since that time, more people that are Jewish have come to faith in Yeshua than in the history of the world---more Jewish salvations in the past 30 years than in the previous 1900!

Being Jewish is not about what one believes, it is a way of life. Many Jewish people are agnostic, many practice yoga and Eastern religions, some are involved in witchcraft; they are still Jews. Jewish believers in Yeshua may maintain their Jewish identity: worship on Shabbat, keep the Levitical Feasts of the Lord, abstain from unclean foods, support the nation of Israel, and participate in all of the life-cycle experiences that identify Jewish people.

Believing in Yeshua makes us more Jewish, not less. Being Jewish is about being of the physical seed of Abraham, and it is about being of his spiritual seed, as well. It is about believing in one G-d, and trusting Him.

It is this trust in the One true G-d of the universe that unites us, and it is by faith in the Messiah that Jews and Gentiles can be reconciled to become one new man. "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given... And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty G-d, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)

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