Attending a Messianic Jewish Congregation can be confusing at times as to who we are, what we believe, and why we worship the way we do. One question people frequently ask is “If I’m not Jewish, can I worship at Adat Yeshua?”
Our response is always “Of course!”
We are a congregation of Jewish and Gentile believers who worship the God of Israel together. We worship in what we call a “Messianic Jewish space.” We worship together as one body unified in our faith in Yeshua the Messiah. In reference to the members who are Jewish, we are called to maintain our Jewish, biblical heritage. This is part of our identity and witness of God’s faithfulness to the Covenant He made with our people. We remain part of our people Israel, as well as the greater body of Messiah. Regarding the Mosaic Covenant, in which God gives the Torah to his people Israel, we by no means embrace the Torah with the hope of gaining justification before Him, but as God’s foundation for how we relate to Him and each other. God’s desire is for us to embrace and affirm the entirety of Scripture – both the Tanach (Old Testament) and the Brit Chadashah (New Testament).
Rabbi David Rudolph (PhD, Cambridge University) has compiled a wonderful list of at least twenty purposes of the Torah, for us, today.
- To serve as the foundational revelation of God
- To remind us of God’s love, grace, and power exhibited in the acts of creation and redemption
- To teach us how to love God and our neighbor
- To teach us how to worship God
- To establish the oneness and sovereignty of God
- To teach us to be holy as God is holy
- To point out sin so that we might repent to God
- To train us to exercise faith in God
- To train us to be obedient to God
- To reveal the heart and priorities of God
- To reveal the wisdom and knowledge of God
- To train us to meditate on the Word of God
- To establish the order of God’s creation
- To uphold God’s standards of justice and compassion in society
- To draw the nations to God
- To foster unity among God’s people
- To give our children a heritage from the Lord
- To point us to Yeshua the Messiah, in whom the story of Israel finds fulfillment through his death, resurrection and return
- To prepare God’s people to fulfill their diverse callings
- To preserve Israel as a distinct nation by God’s design
As you can see, it embraces every aspect of life. Within the Torah, there are commands that apply to the Israelites, to Gentiles, strangers, priests, women, men, etc.
What is unique about the commands given to Israel is that there are specific commands given as identity-markers. These were given by God’s divine purpose to preserve Israel as a distinct nation among all other nations. This refers to the commands of circumcision, keeping the Sabbath on the seventh day, celebrating Israel’s appointed times and festivals, observing dietary laws, etc. Due to the Torah being given to Israel, how do those who are from the nations, or “Gentiles,” fit in and apply the Torah to their lives? Especially since the Jerusalem council in Acts 15 (TLV) only required the gentiles to observe four, basic commandments so that they would “do well” – not to mention Paul’s “rule in all the Congregations” (1 Corinthians 7:17-24 TLV).
We believe there are Gentile believers who are drawn to worship in a distinctly Jewish way, who love the Torah, and who feel personally called to a lifestyle consistent with Messianic Jewish Identity.
The operative word here is “calling.”
There is a difference between a commandment and a calling.
We are all commanded to obey Torah ethics, such as obeying one’s parents, not committing adultery, not coveting, not stealing, and not murdering, just to mention a few. It is regarding the identity-markers for the nation of Israel that the sense of calling comes into play. If a Gentile believer feels a divine, personal call to be part of a Messianic Jewish community and express their faith by taking on some or all of the identity-markers as a sign of solidarity within our community, then they are encouraged to do so! It is an individual calling and not something God expects all Gentile believers to take on. It is done in obedience to a calling and love for God and his people (Romans 14:4-6 TLV).
For example, there is a family who have been members of Adat Yeshua for decades. They are not Jewish, but from the start, took on a Messianic lifestyle out of their love for God and His people. Whenever we reference them around others and how they are not Jewish, no one believes us! They have been such a Godly example of how a Gentile family has taken on the lifestyle without ever judging others as to their lack of observance.
In reference to the greater body of Messiah, we love our brothers and sisters who do not worship the way we do or see it necessary to adopt a Messianic lifestyle. We believe that we are called to build bridges to other congregations for the purpose of unity, fellowship, and education. We have also found that there are many misconceptions about who we are and what we believe. What we have found is that once we have a healthy dialogue with our brothers and sisters in the greater body, most often they gain insight and understanding dispelling those misconceptions. In reference to Christian days of worship such as Christmas, Easter, and Sunday worship, our typical response is that we don’t celebrate these holidays or worship on Sunday due to us being a Messianic Jewish congregation. We certainly honor Yeshua’s birth and His resurrection but do so in a Jewish context. We are not in the habit of condemning our brothers and sisters in the church for their celebrations or days of worship. It’s a matter of the heart. Each person has to be fully convinced as to why they celebrate the way they do (Romans 14:4-6 TLV).
In terms of our practice, we observe and celebrate the yearly, Jewish cycle. This includes Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot, Passover, Shavuot and other minor holidays such as Purim. We also celebrate Chanukah and Simchat Torah. We also take part in Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), Yom Hazikaron (Israeli Memorial Day), and Yom HaAtzma’ut (Israeli Independence Day). But the most important day of the yearly cycle is the Shabbat (Day of Rest). This is considered the most important, appointed time of all. On this day, we worship with song and dance, study God’s word, and celebrate His goodness. We enter in on this Day of Rest that God has given us to remember Him and His creation.
We know there are probably many unanswered questions in this brief statement, but this was never meant to be comprehensive – only to give a brief overview of our identity here at Adat Yeshua.
We are a loving and diverse flock, coming from diverse backgrounds, united in this purpose and identity. This unity only enriches our worship experience and our appreciation for who God is and who He has called us to be.
Congregational Leader & Founding Member
Adat Yeshua Messianic Synagogue
*Portions of this statement were adapted from Gentiles and the Torah by Rabbi David Rudolph.*