I regularly receive questions about Messianic Judaism and Messianic Jewish beliefs so I have decided to compile some of the more common questions and their answers into an easy to read list.
What is Messianic Judaism?
Messianic Judaism is a movement that began in the 1800's, through the Presbyterian and Anglican churches, to convert Jews to Christianity. Overall, Christianity has throughout history had little success in converting Jews, other than forced conversions or conversions of Jews who were heavily assimilated or inter-married. Christianity has often been frustrated with Jewish refusal to convert. This frustration is probably best highlighted in something called the "Jewish Question." The "Jewish Question" used to be a common debate topic written about in Christian circles. The "Question" was essentially as follows: On one hand, Christianity is frustrated that the Jews will not convert and would like to to kill the Jews or somehow get rid of them. On the other hand, if they destroy the Jews, this will undermine Christianity, as Christianity claims to accept the Jewish Bible. So, what should Christianity do? This is the essence of much historical frustration of Christianity toward the Jews. The Messianic Jewish movement (originally known as the Hebrew Christian movement) is a movement that places the "clothes" of Judaism on the theology of Christianity, to make Christianity more readily accepted by the Jewish people. Currently, the Messianic Jewish movement is funded by Christian denominations such as the Southern Baptist Convention, the Church of the Nazarene, the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, the Assemblies of God (Pentecostals) and many others.
Can one be Jewish and believe that Jesus was actually G-d and the Messiah?
No. These beliefs are Christian beliefs and not Jewish beliefs. Plainly put, Christianity is not Judaism. In fact, there is no basis in the Jewish Bible for a Jew to accept these claims.
Why can't Jews believe that Jesus was G-d?
Jesus was a man, a man of flesh and bone. In Numbers 23:19 and Hoshea 11:9, G-d clearly states that G-d is not a man. It is illogical to think that G-d would tell the Jewish people repeatedly (and there are more similar examples in the Bible) that G-d is not a man, only to come as a man centuries later. The belief in gods coming in the form of men was a common pagan belief in the religions surrounding Judaism, but not in Judaism. The Egyptians, Romans and Greeks are just a few of the major cultural/religious groups that believed in gods who would come in the forms of men, however, G-d clearly states in the Bible that these pagan beliefs are not accurate.
Why can't Jews believe that Jesus was the Messiah?
There are a number of reasons why Jesus cannot be the Messiah. First, the Messiah must have a birth father from the line of David, through Solomon (2 Samuel 7:12 - 13). Christianity (and its "Messianic Jewish" branch) claim that Jesus' birth father was G-d. This takes Jesus out of contention to be the Messiah. Christianity claims that Jesus gets his "Davidic" lineage from Mary, Jesus' mother, and Joseph, Jesus' adoptive father. However, family lineage, the type of lineage which one needs to be the Messiah, never comes from the mother or adoptive father. This fact is reflected in the Jewish names. In the Bible, a Jewish person's name was "their first name" son of "their father's name." In fact, Jews have been doing this for thousands of years, and only recently have certain Jewish movements decided to add the mother's name, in an attempt to be egalitarian. This practice, though, is new and does not reflect Biblical family lineage. In fact, once a woman married in Biblical times, she and the children born from her husband, are part of the husband's family. We see an example of this in Numbers 36. In the chapter, the Tribe of Joseph is worried that the daughters of a man named Zelophephad (who was from the Tribe of Joseph) will marry outside of their tribe. Since the daughters and their children will then be part of the other family (and part of a different tribe) the Tribe of Joseph will lose the land the daughters inherited from their father. This is because they will no longer be members of the Tribe of Joseph-family lineage (remember that the tribes were actually extended families) did not travel through the women, only the men. So, that is just one example of how women do not give family lineage. As for adoptive fathers, the name of a child of an adoptee is "their first name" son of "their birth father" (if the birth father is Jewish) or "their first name" son of "our father Abraham" (if the child is not Jewish and needed to be converted to Judaism). The adoptive father has almost no power regarding the Jewish children. In the Jewish Oral Law, the adoptive father cannot arrange a marriage for the adoptive child, even if the birth father has died. In this case, the birth mother or the older brother would arrange the marriage. There are a number of other Messianic prophecies that Jesus did not fulfill. Here are just a few: World Peace did not come at the time of Jesus (Isaiah 2:1-4), the entire world did not acknowledge G-d as the one true G-d (Zechariah 14:9), the Holy Temple was not rebuilt (Ezekiel 37: 26-28) and Jesus did not gather the Jewish people from all of the earth to land of Israel (Isaiah 11:10-12). There are many other Messianic prophecies that Jesus did not fulfill, the above were just a few of the major failures.
What about the Second Coming? Is it possible that Jesus will fulfill the Messianic prophecies at the Second Coming?
Let us first review what the Second Coming is. Basically, the concept behind the Second Coming is that Jesus did not fulfill Messianic prophecies during his life, so he will come back at a later point in time to fulfill the prophecies. But, we need to evaluate the idea of the Second Coming against the Bible. In Deuteronomy 18:20-22, we read that a false prophet is one that speaks words that do not come from G-d; the proof is that the prophecies the prophet predicted do not occur. Jesus claimed himself to be the Messiah, yet Messianic times did not come-the prophecies did not occur, proving him to be a false prophet. In those verses in Deuteronomy, we also see that the job of judging whether a person is a false prophet or not is clearly placed in the hands of humans. The timing, by the very fact that people are the ones to judge the prophet, must be at a level that a human can work with. If not, how could a person ever judge if someone is a real prophet or a false prophet? The followers of the false prophet could say "The prophecy will come true, just give it 10,000 years or 100,000 years or 1,000,000 years to come true" and literally make it impossible to fulfill the directions in Deuteronomy 18:20-22. Thus, the time frame must be workable for a human being to pass judgement on the prophecy. Keep in mind, the directions that G-d gives us in the Bible are directions that are made for our daily living-is G-d really going to give us directions that are impossible to fulfill? After all, how could G-d, who is perfect, make such an error? If I am to believe that G-d gave directions that are impossible to fulfill, this would seem to take away from the perfection of G-d and overall, reduce our perception of G-d's ability.