Dan Juster

Director
Tikkun Ministries International
 
 
 
 
 
 
"These erroneous emphases have unnecessarily brought division, confusion and pain."
 
 
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By Daniel Juster

Yes, you read that right. The title of this article is surprising. Isn't the Messianic Jewish Movement a Jewish roots movement? Did I not write a book entitled Jewish Roots? Yes. Then why the title? It is because some Jewish roots movements are spreading mistaken theology. These teachings are creating unnecessary dissension among believers in Yeshua. Many church leaders have distanced themselves from Messianic Judaism because they think we too ascribe to these misguided teachings. Just recently we heard of a pastor of a large church in Midwest USA who wants no connection with Messianic Jews due to offense from wrong Jewish roots teachings which influenced members of his church. However, there are also right Jewish roots teachers and teachings. So let's begin with a summary of the right teaching.

Correct Jewish Roots Teaching

Over a hundred years ago, a new stream of theology sought to understand the New Testament from its original Jewish context. This stream was contrary to the majority of liberal university New Testament scholarship which saw the New Testament as a Greek cultural development that countered the Hebrew Bible. After the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, understanding the New Testament through a first century Jewish context increased greatly. Saunders' groundbreaking book Paul and Palestinian Judaism started the movement called the New Perspective on Paul. The quest for an accurate understanding through the Jewish context is common today. A small sample of this fine scholarship includes Davies' "Paul and Rabbinic Judaism" and Skarsaune's "In the Shadow of the Temple", along with commentaries by Craig Keener and Darrel Bock.

Many in this scholarly Jewish roots movement have embraced the destiny of Israel as part of their theology. They connect to the Jewish people and the meaning of the Biblical feasts without suggesting any legalistic requirements. They recognize that Messianic Jews are still called to live and identify with their people, and also that Gentiles who believe in the Messiah are not responsible to take up patterns of Jewish life. They clearly understand the apostolic directives of the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, as well as Paul's warnings in Galatians. These Jewish roots teachers, books, and conferences are enormously helpful to us.

Mistaken Jewish Roots Teachings

Almost 50 years ago, the greatest Protestant theologian of the 20th century, Karl Barth, decried the fact that American theology had declined into paperback theology. What would he say today in regard to internet theology! Every modern aberrant theology gains a significant following through the internet. This is also the case with wrong Jewish roots movements. Here are a few of the false teachings that, we should note, are rejected by the mainstream of the Messianic Jewish movement. Some movements combine several of these errors.

Error #1: that Gentile Christians are to keep the whole Law just like Jews

I have called this error "One Law" - from the verse in Numbers 15:16 often used to justify it. I wrote a paper specifically to address this. Incredibly, these folks try to explain away Acts 15 and Galatians. They claim that all are called to keep the Law in the same way. Of course this is not only contrary to many clear New Covenant texts but also ends in partial replacement theology since there is no longer any distinctive calling for Jews. Some make an exception for circumcision for Gentiles, while others amazingly find a way to even call for this. Galatians 5 is very clear that Gentiles are not called to covenant circumcision or they would be responsible for keeping the whole Torah. Paul is virtually shouting to them, "Don't do it!" These same folks teach that Christians must strictly observe all the Biblical feast days and the weekly Sabbath. They have not been able to agree on a calendar system to assure that exactly the right day on the annual calendar can be known for each feast. In both Judaism and Christianity there has been much dispute on this.

Error #2: that true Christians are the lost tribes of Israel

In an amazing twist of the Bible it is claimed that true Christians are physical descendants of the lost tribes who were scattered, this being the purported reason they became Christians. It is their answer to the puzzle of what happened to the lost tribes of Israel. As such they become "One Law" as well. All of the texts stating salvation has now come to the nations, and that the One New Man is made up of Jew and Gentile (Ephesians 2), are explained away. They expect to live in an expanded Israel - if not now, at least after the second coming. Again, this is partial replacement theology. The movement is divided on the issue of circumcision.

Error #3: that Christian holy day celebrations are pagan abominations

We should note that three of the main Christian Feasts are really a Christianization of Jewish Feasts: Passover/Pesach is celebrated as the death of Yeshua on Good Friday, Early First Fruits/Bikurim as the Resurrection, and Shavuot/Weeks as Pentecost. Yes, the Church should connect these Feasts much more clearly to their Jewish context. But the assertion that the Christian versions are pagan is painfully wrong. They celebrate the events of prophetic fulfillment in Yeshua's life and ministry, and the day when the Holy Spirit was poured out on the gathered disciples. The days chosen for the actual celebrations, although different, can be argued to be as accurate in their way as the rabbinic dating for the feasts. These feasts celebrate Biblical events, and we should note that the meaning is according to what Christians have celebrated. The origin of Christmas as the date of Yeshua's birth is questionable at best, though argued as correct by Messianic Jewish scholar Dr. John Fischer. However, for pious Christians, it is the celebration of the incarnation, not the worship of the Sun. So also worship on Sunday is about the resurrection of Yeshua on the first day of the week, not Sun worship. The origin of the choice of Sunday worship can be argued, but it has been claimed as the day of resurrection for at least 1800 years.

Many do not know the rich experiences with God that Christians experience in their heritage, both with regard to the resurrection and the glory of the celebration of the incarnation of Yeshua during advent season. The hymns, caroling and more are a wonderful conveying of Biblical truth. Criticism brings unnecessary pain and disrespect.

Conclusion

These erroneous emphases have unnecessarily brought division, confusion and pain: to their adherents, to Christians, to Messianic Jews and to Jews. I trust that you, dear readers, will have the discernment to avoid mistaken Jewish roots teachings, and to be enriched by those that are right on.

By Daniel Juster
Dan Juster leads the overall ministry Tikkun International Donate to Tikkun International.
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Comments:
15:27 04Sep14 Susan St Clair -
Very well written, Dan, and a much needed teaching.

15:41 04Sep14 Rev. Dr. Nicholas A. Marziani -
I might add that early Gentile Christians freely adopted many elements of Temple worship (even beyond the synagogues) for their liturgies, certainly countering the lie that the historic, sub-apostolic churches "went pagan" as they developed a more ornate, even "Oriental" style of Eucharistic celebration. Jewish Roots are implicit in Catholic and Orthodox churches, exposing error number three, which Dr. Juster very capably discusses in his article, for what it is.

  -- Dr Juster replies: Dr Marziani's remarks are, indeed, entirely accurate

16:41 04Sep14 Wayne Talbot -
Whilst I agree with you that Gentiles are not required to keep the whole Law as are the Jews, the tragedy of the way this view is espoused is that Christians then interpret this to mean that they are required to keep none. In my own studies of the 613 Mitzvot, I have found over 200 that ought to be observed by everyone. The other point, and the most significant to my mind, is that if we consider these more from the positive view of guidance and teaching than as coercive commandments, then the obvious question is this: why would you not want to observe them? Sadly, the coercive view that we hear from some Protestants is interpreted as "should not" rather than "need not". I would be most interested to read from anyone, because I have never found such an exposition, which commandments Gentiles can simply ignore other than the obvious ones such as relating to the priesthood etc. My point is: why would we not encourage everyone to take advantage of all the teachings of God? When the word were spoken to Moses, there were no Jews: there were people of all cultures and races who accepted the covenant that was offered. If God considered His teachings and guidance useful for them to know and love Him, why would He think otherwise for the rest of us? I would like to see more effort devoted to showing the value of the Law to all people, but from the perspective of it being a desirable way to live. Forget the negative coercive connotation, focus on loving God by keeping His commandments. Incidentally, I have yet to read any treatise by either Jews or Christians on which laws should be kept, but have performed my own analysis which I try to live by.

  -- Dr Juster replies: These are very good points and we are serious about applying the law correctly to gentiles. This is why we have a project on interpreting and applying the law for all. You can see the project on the Tikkun America website at www.tikkunamerica.org/halachah.php

17:04 04Sep14 Aimee Hennen -
The movement you describe is calling itself the "Hebrew Roots" movement. It is a Hebrew nation without the Hebrews. One of the leaders is a guy in St. Louis. It is nothing more than a resurrected "Worldwide Church of God" teaching with a new name. It is gaining ground and is very confusing to people. World Net Daily sponsored a debate between him and a pastor about Sabbath-keeping, asking if it is obligatory for gentile Christians. They have a large Sukkot gathering in Branson, Missouri, which is a continuation of the old Worldwide Church of God practice. They believe that the British people are the 10 "lost tribes". Very deceptive group.

They have a video called "Identity" in which they state that Gentiles are descendants of Ephraim, using Genesis 48:19 and saying that the words "he shall become a multitude of nations" means that Ephraimites are the Gentile people. Bad theology and bad exegesis.

I am glad you are addressing this concern. It is very worrisome.

17:34 04Sep14 Pastor Jan Barendse -
Thank you, brother Dan, for this clear and straight forward clarification on a subject that divides the Body of Jeshua among believers from the Nations and the Jews.

18:53 04Sep14 Art -
We appreciate your article and some of the things you point out. For the past 10 years, my wife and I (raised in the church and in ministry for many years) have researched, read, gone to conferences, listened to speakers online, etc. regarding the Hebrew Roots of our Christian faith. We had several close friends who left the church because they believed they had been lied to about many aspects of Christianity. It was very difficult and hurtful, but we knew we had the same Holy Spirit and wanted to "know and understand". Through all of our reading, etc - we always asked the LORD to teach us and give us discernment. We listened to and read your books, Asher Intrater, Eitan Shishkoff, Rico Cortez, Brad Scott, Jim Staley, etc, ... Messianic Jews and Hebrew Roots "teachers". It has been a journey, but one that we believe was Spirit-led. We've set some things aside and embraced some things we believe the LORD has had us follow. For instance, it's important that we attend a church that stands with Israel and explains the appointed times of the LORD. But we also try to honor the Sabbath (7th day) by setting the day aside for family and parsha study. We don't do this because we think we have to, but because GOD has told us to "remember it to keep it holy". After much conviction, we have stopped "celebrating" Christmas and Easter, since we were very immersed in the busy, spending, etc. of Christmas and egg decorating of Easter. Knowing the roots of the celebrations, caused us to seek the LORD about what He would have us do. Most of our adult children do not celebrate either holiday in celebration of Yeshua - only for fun! We will always celebrate Yeshua's birth, death and resurrection in our living. With regard to following Torah/law ... recognizing we can't keep it all, it is evident that much of it reveals how the Father would have his people live - obedience to Him; sexually and relationally. What has been very difficult in the church, is the attitude that "we don't have to do this or that because it's legalism". Legalism (man made rules) and having a passion to live as GOD desires His people to live are total opposites. If Yeshua only did and said what the Father told Him, and we are to live as He lived ... and we are grafted in ... why wouldn't we desire to follow His ways (where we can). Has the church gone so far from the truth and started calling that which YHVH called evil, good because we've been so arrogant about "the law being done away with".

Our question has been - how did the early "church" live - both Jew and Gentile (before the Temple was destroyed). Did the Gentiles celebrate the feasts? Did they live according to the ways GOD gave to Moses? Understanding they weren't to be forced to be circumcised or celebrate the feasts, but could they because GOD gave these commands/statutes to His people? Just some thoughts!

  -- Dr Juster replies: I appreciate your well thought out position and think you are properly moderate. I do think that Resurrection Sunday is often the right day and I would distinguish it from Christmas. The Jewish people probably had a solar calendar before the Rabbis gained full control. Christmas is more questionable, though there are some who argue for it as the right day of his birth (John Fischer on the basis of the second century father Hippolytus). I am quite tolerant to both conclusions and think that a practice should be evaluated according to the meaning of its use, and I would hate to lose the carols and biblical meanings that are part of the traditions of Christianity, but it is not an easy issue.

19:22 04Sep14 Claire Coleshill -
Thank you for sharing this. I agree to all that you have said. I have friends who have got far into this doctrine and leave congregations because they feel their pastors don't appreciate the "truth" of what they believe. The Sunday worship is the one which comes up the most. Unfortunately there are some Messianic or so called Messianic "bishops" who propagate this message. Please keep telling the truth.

  -- Dr Juster replies: It is interesting to note that most who push these directions are not actually themselves Jewish!

19:39 04Sep14 Ratna -
While agreeing with you in certain points, could you explain to me why today's church has thrown the OT out and saying grace in YESHUA has given them the licence to do whatever they want, there is no obedience to YESHUA'S commandments. Look at the mega-churches in the US and also countries affiliated to them, they are corporations and entertainment centres, they have no fear of God. Psalms says there must be fear for The Lord and He must be held with great honour. I am not old fashioned but I love worship but worship is not disco, but must have a balance. I am a born again believer, today Christmas, Easter and PENTECOST days are more ritualistic and commercialised even in the church. Our prayers are that the church get back to the old path where the good way is to the Messianic Jews as well as the worldwide gentile Messianic believers, because in YESHUA we are all one, the replacement theology is rampant in the western church and commandments of YESHUA are violated and a social liberal doctrine is preached to tickle the ears of the listener. Did not The Lord say so? What is your opinion. I am not judging, but it breaks my heart to see and hear the way they crucify our Lord over and over again, making a mockery if Him Who gave His life for us.

  -- Dr Juster replies: I greatly appreciate your comments. You probably realize that I have written much on this in times past and the need to be obedient to the law through the power of grace is crucial. Indeed, I really believe that unless we understand that grace enables obedience, we produce something much less than Biblical faith.

21:30 04Sep14 Kathleen -
Thank you for this concise article. I've been in the Messianic movement for about a year, and had heard there are erroneous teachings in some places but not given any details. The Lord has kept me safe from the errors, but I do appreciate this helpful teaching. Forewarned is forearmed.

23:07 04Sep14 Becky Ray -
Thank you for your article ... I totally agree with you and I pray that many others in the movement will agree also. We are commanded to love one another and not cause division!

08:57 05Sep14 Cheryl -
I see and understand what you are saying - but I, as a Gentile believer, grafted in - desire to know and follow the ways spelled out in Scripture. Is this, then, an offense to the Jew? My family's desire is to see all Israel saved, but we don't know how to walk in a way that "provokes to jealousy". I don't think any of the tribes were ever "lost" so that thought never made any sense. Will we not be as the LORD wrote, and keep the feasts of the LORD forever, as He says they are "His" - and that is what should be followed... Help us out here, as we desire to follow, but have been thrown out on both sides ... the Greek and the Jew.

09:08 05Sep14 David Craig -
Thank you for this article. Because of the very errors that you had mentioned I had reached the place that I wanted nothing to do with the people claiming to be messianic Jews. I never was a Christian until I was 30 years old. In college I had some very good Jewish friends who loved me though I was a Gentile and crazy in my sin life. I have been saved since 1977 and been minister since 1979 and in 2010 have become friends with two messianic Jews. Thank you for clearing away the clutter that hides the truth.

10:04 05Sep14 Jay Axtell -
This article sums it up nicely. Quite helpful as a succinct piece to help set the record strait. Blessings!

15:37 05Sep14 Marguerite -
Thank you for the reminder, I love the Jews and I have a deep respect because they received the Torah and passed it on to us, and Yeshua is Jewish and obeyed by passing onto us the love of justice of his Father. I was touched by the Divine power that removes all my religion and labels. I like the messianic studies. For me, messianism is related to me the Jews.

16:35 05Sep14 Mary -
Thanks for the enlightenment on this all important issues wherein our faith both as Jew and gentile believers is embedded. The LORD bless you and energize you to pen down all that He has divinely downloaded into your heart. I pray for a wider distribution of your teachings. With the right knowledge, and truth of the word, unity of believers will be greatly enhanced. This will serve as an answer to Yeshua's prayer in John 17:20,21a "I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word: that they all may be one." It's a wonderful experience to celebrate the feasts of the LORD (Lev.23:2), but there is liberty in Christ; Romans 14:5,6a. The LORD looks at our hearts and motives. The believers who celebrate Easter and Christmas as holy days do no sin and their celebration need not be condemned.

However all should be alert and sensitive to the Holy Spirit as they celebrate to avoid the traps of the enemy, sadly associated with, especially Christmas. Indeed some of the churches' traditional activities are at times at a tangent to the theme of Christ's incarnation. Two years ago I was about to reply to a well wisher in the same vein of the text that I had just read: "merry christmas", when this thought crossed my mind, "did Christ come to make us merry?" I felt a strong no, and refrained from using it. I instead sought out how best to convey the message that Christ was born as a fulfillment of the promise in Gen 3:15.

00:01 06Sep14 Lea -
It seems like when a good thing happens (Jewish people returning to their Messiah), there are always those that take things to extreme, like these extreme Hebrew Roots people. We used to correspond with someone until he begin to talk about everyone being part of the Lost Tribes or some such nonsense. I believe if you want to celebrate Christmas and Easter, that's for the individual to decide, and we shouldn't judge them. We do not, because of all the pagan aspects to them, and the history behind how they began to be practiced. As for Sunday worship, the Sabbath was begun before the law, and I don't believe it has changed. And the Catholic Church admits in their own history that they changed the day. But again, to each his own. We need to be more accepting of each other, and major on the majors, and the Orthodox Christian doctrines that we all agree on. When Yeshua comes back, He will sort it all out.

03:12 06Jun14 Jonathan Moore -
This is great. We loved it. I will add that as we've discussed in the past, the fringe erroneous theological groups seem from my vantage point to be gaining ground faster than Messianic Jews. I think it is incumbent on American Messianic Judaism to get in front of this as you are saying to do in this article. Let's keep taking this forward!

03:14 06Jun14 Patrick Sims -
I hope that this comment is published, though it is against some of your beliefs as stated in the article. Should gentiles follow the Torah? Like Jewish believers, they should follow what pertains to them. There is one law, not only in Numbers, which you cited, but in Exodus 12:49 and James 4:11,12 among others. How about Galatians and Ephesians, where it is emphasized that there is no longer Jew nor Greek? Salvation is freely available to all through Yeshua. Why then would we want to follow the law? Because Yeshua is the Torah, and the Torah is not just rules, but a guide to living and serving Yahweh. While we are no longer under the sentence of death for our failure to keep the whole law, that does not excuse us from trying. Mt. 7:21-23 The Feasts: Yahweh has never given permission for any feasts but those he commanded. As the sin of the golden calf was mixing idol worship with worship of Yahweh, so too is observing pagan feasts in his name. (Deut. 12:29-32)

  -- Dr Juster replies: I never said that Gentiles were to not keep the Law but only that they keep the law as it rightly applies to them. I do not think there is any evidence that Jesus rose on Saturday afternoon. Most Messianic Jews were clear that the resurrection is a new creation and fits the 8th or 1st day while the day of rest, Sabbath, was a day in the tomb. But I do agree on the importance of the right application of the Torah, just not Jewish life. I think that Passover and First fruits is usually rightly celebrated by Christians on Good Friday and Sunday Resurrection day, and Shavuot or Pentecost, rightly 50 days later. These are bible rooted feasts and the date studies here in Jerusalem say these dates are often right (not always) and more than the rabbinic dates. As for Christmas, well that is not in the Bible but Hanukah is not either as a command, but referenced in John 10 and of course form the books of the Maccabees.

08:05 06Jun14 Walton Humphrey -
I think the whole issue about observing the law and staff should narrow down to the work of the Holy Spirit. I believe that if anyone is really a "good" believer and is in a relationship with the Holy Spirit, then we would not be in so much division because he is one in all. Before Jesus went to heaven, he said the Holy Spirit will teach us all things and that's why according to Paul, a Christian doesn't walk by sight but by the spirit, I believe and know that if you hearken to the Holy Spirit and read the word of God (A mirror of the new created man, you cannot walk in displease of God), besides that observation of "do this, do that" won't get us to heaven, let's walk in love because it's the command that the Lord gave us. Paul said what one believer does as an honor to the Lord should not make you think they are wrong (like observing a certain day as special to "you"). We can achieve this through our walk in love and relation to the Holy Spirit. In saying this, I am not saying you can sin as you want, but the point is, if you walk with the Holy Spirit you would be able to distinguish what is pleasing to the Lord and what isn't pleasing, remember a believer is born of God and has a new nature that can't be controlled by satan.

  -- Dr Juster replies: This is pretty good theology!

08:30 06Jun14 Hannah Briscoe -
Thank you for writing and sharing with us who are far away. My heart and prayers are with you and thankful for all you do and are.

11:27 06Jun14 Judi Curl -
Great article, Dan, and these mistaken teachings have caused a lot of problems and heartache, as you said. You mentioned that Gentiles are not called to keep the whole Law, as the Jews are, but isn't that precisely why Yeshua came and gave His life? No one can keep the whole Law, especially since the Temple has been destroyed and one cannot make sacrifices. Even if the Temple were rebuilt, no one can keep the Law perfectly because we all sin at times. Yeshua became our sacrificial atonement for Yom Kippur. We don't throw out God's commandments, and "live as we please", but we are justified by His blood, not our own righteousness. Just wanting to make that clear, because I think there is a lot of confusion about this in the Messianic movement where most people sincerely want to "please God".

  -- Webmaster replies: Actually, that's a really common misconception - that no-one can keep the Law - but the gospels are quite clear that in not only could but was done. Zechariah and Elizabeth "were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord" (Luke 1:6). It's not a matter of ability but choice.

  -- Dr Juster replies: This is exactly right. So with a full understanding of the New Covenant we live out of the Torah written on our hearts of Yeshua. A life of obedience, holiness and universal ethics as shown in Torah and his teachings is the way of life, but not a way of striving to earn salvation. However, for Jews, the law written on our hearts includes the Jewish way of live and the patterns from Torah that fit the New Covenant.

12:01 06Jun14 Kal -
G-d gave us the Torah and the New Testament. If you remove the Old Testament then the New Testament has no ground or foundation. My point is this: G-d is the same back then and the same now, he did not say "O you follow all the commandments until I change My mind"; the logs will remain the same as was back then and no, I do not see anywhere in the Bible that it has a gray area which open for discussion, so let's do what G-d asked of us only.

12:09 06Sep14 Jeannine Loomis -
Thank you so much for clarifying these important points. I will share with the community of believers here in Sonora, California. I also look forward to learning more from you about covenantal fulfillment in Jew and Gentile and what this looks like in honoring The Lord, His people and those who were not His people who will be grafted in through Yeshua. Thank you for your leadership.

12:33 06Jun14 Solomon Jale -
These errors you've highlighted are just some. One of the main objections is that Jewish Roots teaching are too close to the teachings of Kabbalah-embracing theology of the Green Movement which is godless, fabianistic socialism which is communism in disguise. "No such thing as a god" they espouse and are fools according to biblical scriptures

16:18 06Sep14 Rev Marvin Talley -
Keep these and more coming; these are great reading and we need to be aware of things.

17:25 06Sep14 Mordechai Eitant -
I agree with you on the first two errors but on error #3 I only can agree one element of it that I can't agree. When I first became a Messianic believer I was pastoring a church in Northern Michigan. When I listened to a Messianic rabbi teach about the feast days and the 7th day sabbath/Shabatt it I took notice. I for once in 30 plus years of attending worship on Sun-day I felt that I had been betrayed by the church. After I started researching and finding out more about the pagan things the christian church has allowed to come in I am more convinced of this. It is not the reason they worship; i.e. the birth of Yeshua/Christmas; the resurection/Easter, but it is the basis of which these holidays are based on. Dec 25 is the birthday of the Roman god Mithra and Easter is in celebration of the fertility goddess Estra or Ester. It is the mixing of truth/torah with false/pagan is what I believe is displeasing to G-d. It is true that we should not try and convince others about this but rather show this in an act of love and explain it to them in a way they can understand and let the Ruach ha Kodesh convince them of the truth.

  -- Dr Juster replies: Let's look at some what-ifs.

What if Yeshua really rose on the First day of the week

17:37 06Sep14 DaCosta -
There is this law that men must not wear womens clothing and that women must not wear man's clothing. Is it applicable to the Gentiles also?'

  -- Dr Juster replies: Yes, I certainly think so, because that is a category of law we call universal. There is law that is for Jewish calling and especially connected to life in the Land and laws that connect to Gods creation order and also to how society is to be ordered in justice and then laws of basic ethics. This law reflects God's desire to see sexes distinguished and not confused. This is what I mean by applying the law rightly.'

18:47 06Sep14 Timi -
I agree with you completely.

01:02 07Sep16 Martin Ezimano -
This article is so timely. For some time now, there has been a concerted revisionism in the "Body of Christ" that makes so much of the laws and tenets of Judaism whilst muting that "liberty wherewith Christ hath set us free". Being a gentile, I get mightily impressed when I see and hear people who should know teaching about and advertising the benefits of the tallit (the prayer shawl), the mezuzzah -- hope I got the correct spellings -- and many other Jewish religious paraphernalia but I find myself still wondering: are all these shows, ceremonies and externalities still necessary in the Christian dispensation? For instance, is tithe-payment a Christian requirement or a Jewish relic? Would sincerely welcome more expositions on these issues.

  -- Dr Juster replies: Good questions! I think none of these things are required or important for Christians, but they should know what they are. For Jews, if they do keep such laws, they are reminders for obedience, and with regard to the Mezuzah to enter and leave our houses with the reminder that the love for God is the center of our lives. This is part of Jewish culture and appropriate as the Spirit leads us to be part of our people. However, even here in Israel it is not so simple. Most all affix a mezuzah to their doors, but few Messianic Jews wear visible fringes since this would identify them as Orthodox Rabbinic Jews!

21:00 07Sep14 Michael Basilio -
Anyone who sets aside the Torah and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven.

13:24 08Sep14 Chantal Michard -
I agree there has been much confusion I ran away from. All the points are true. I always said to Christian friends: ok you want to celebrate shabbat, the feasts or only shabbat; ok, You don't want. Don't make a theory with and don't push others. Good to read in french because I am french!

00:40 09Sep14 Merja Pikkarainen -
Thanks for a good writing! There has been a debate close to this in our national church magazine Kotimaa in Finland. One of our priests claimed thet Jews have their own path to God, the law, and they wouldn't need Jesus to be saved. He received some answers to that claim, on the basis of prophets and Torah, that Jesus is the Messiah and savior of all nations, including the chosen people, through which He incarnated. Biblical teaching is deeply needed, indeed!

  -- Indeed yes! It is needed. Election and Jewish calling do not mean automatic salvation without Yeshua. replies:

01:41 09Sep14 Philip B. Bean -
I appreciate you're dealing with some of these difficult issues and I salute your perspective. Sadly, this has become a critical necessity in our movement today. I still often refer the paper you produced with Kay Silberling on the Ephriamite error. What we are seeing is is the total embezzlement of the Jewish identity and culture (read Yiddishkeit), most of which is trans-biblical anyway, while simultaneously invalidating the Jew's legitimacy as Israel, all the while exhibiting a total indifference and often visceral hostility toward the Jewish people themselves. Perhaps stronly worde and I believe it cuts to the heart of the matter but please don't let this diminish from my appreciation for all your efforts at keeping the movement on track.

04:09 09Sep14 Giorgio -
At last I have read something that I have seen in New Testament when it comes to the Apostles meeting and Galatians.

09:03 09Sep14 Christine Walker -
As someone who has personally been very hurt by this other type of teaching, and one who now leads a mainstream Messianic Kehilat, we distinguish it using the term Hebrew Roots or Hebraic Roots movement. In my experience, the teaching is "Messy-Antic" and has very little to do with the true Jewish Roots of the Faith and in some cases, even our Messiah. In our region, it has definitely become a cancer. And you are right on ... Pastors in our area are turned off to ANYTHING having to do with Roots teaching... even if its solid. I do not see a Shepherd's heart or humility in the leaders of this movement, but instead divisiveness, creating a crisis of faith in those who follow them. I have personally challenged several people who have walked into our Congregation with these opposing views to show me in Scriptural context why they believe what they do. And each time, they can't. It breaks my heart to see believers get sucked into the Hebrew roots movement without having a solid biblical foundation.

As for the role of Gentiles following Torah; The Word of God is the Word of God. Gentiles may not have to follow the whole Law ... but they can certainly learn from it and glean understanding. If we don't understand God's order and requirements for the Priesthood, how can we Spiritually translate that to our walk with Messiah when Kefa speaks of being a Holy Nation and a Royal Priesthood. Isaiah speaks of special blessings for Gentiles who keep Shabbat, and the Prophetic and Spiritual significance of keeping the Moedim are innumerable. I think one of the key's is to study everything in connection to Yeshua, HIS teaching, and our relationship with HIM both on a personal and Community basis. I know for myself, it wasn't until I began studying and walking out Torah did I truly understand God's amazing Grace and I found freedom in my walk with Yeshua that I had been so desperately searching for.

  -- Dr Juster replies: This is such a great and balanced response to the article.

09:49 09Sep14 Galit Katz -
I completely agree and am glad that you have written about this! This subject has been on my heart since I made a return to Israel as a Messianic believer who was born and raised as a "Christian" in the Nations!

11:54 09Sep14 Pixelwings -
Great article! I think we all get locked on to legalism, forms and ceremony, traditions and forget "Who" they are all for. As you state in your conclusion, we must avoid things that cause unnecessary division in the body of Christ. If Christ is our life and we find our life in Him, we will walk in love because His love is in us and when we sin (because we arent perfect

the Holy Spirit helps us confess our sins, cleanses us by the blood of Christ and restores our fellowship with the brethren. We know we are walking in the light of Christ if we are walking in fellowship with the body of Christ and the love of Christ. We fulfill all the law if we love one another. Jesus said that all the law is summed up in the first two commandments. Love God with ALL your heart, soul, mind and strength and love your neighbor as yourself. This is where those who try to follow the dictates of the law fail like the Pharisees did. They try to make the outside of the cup is clean but inside it's dirty. Their hearts aren't changed by the life of Christ inside. They cannot see that what comes out of their hearts is unloving and therefore un-Godly because God is love and if we love God the commandments are inside our hearts not simply on plaques on our walls.')

  -- Dr Juster replies: Actually, though love rightly defined keeps the whole law, we still need the law for those who claim love as a way to sin. This is false love. If you loved me, you would not deny me a divorce from the wrong woman to marry my true soul mate, my secretary. No real love does deny him this, but false indulgence gives in. This is why Yeshua teaches obedience to the Torah from the place of a transformed heart in Matthew 5. It is not the adultery or the murder, but the adulterous or murderous heart!

15:01 01Sep14 MLG -
I am currently leading three different ministries and in each, I emphasize our Biblical roots. I say Biblical roots because if I say Hebrew or Jewish roots, it throws up a red flag for many people. I fellowship with both churches and messianic congregations and find those who are extreme and those who are balanced on both sides. I have been in Messianic groups who were so hostile to the church that they call it the harlot of Babylon. Interestingly, if you ask them where they were born again, it was always in the church. Many of them are also proudly non-evangelistic, taking on that characteristic of Judaism. None that I have visited agree on all points of how to carry out their faith, much as the church also has done since the beginning. I have also fellowshipped with churches that are so Biblically illiterate that if you mention the feasts, they literally have no clue of what you are talking about, nor can they even cite all ten of the ten commandments or less even the four basic requirements for the Gentile believers. In all of the groups, there are sincere believers who are just seeking the truth, so when we come down to the basics, love for God and one another and salvation through the atoning blood of Yeshua has to be the catalyst that holds the body of Messiah together. When we celebrate the feasts, we do so out of love for and a hunger to know Messiah better. When someone says that we are to disregard the feasts because we now have the reality in Yeshua, I would just like to remind them that only half of the feasts are fulfilled. The fall feasts (Not including the blood sacrifices) are yet to come and are still types and shadows yet to be fulfilled. May Messiah come speedily and in our days.

  -- Dr Juster replies: I have experienced the same problems. It is sad to see some of this. As you noted, the Feasts still all point to more to come in the future. They are not required of everyone, but we can at least teach the meanings. It is sad to not be able to use the term Jewish roots since the Gospel came through Jews and the New Covenant Scriptures were written by Jews. Biblical roots, as you indicate, really is what we mean by Jewish roots too!

17:32 14Sep14 Marvin Sampson -
May I agree 100 percent with Dan Juster. I have just left a church which practices these errors, and a few more, if I might add. Currently, I drive to ESC in Frederick with some of my close friends.

13:11 30Sep14 Maryke -
More reason why we need a JEWISH Messianic authority that is visible and involved in establishing and nurturing Messianic communities ... as was the case with the apostolic leadership and Shaul in the early church (call it a Jewish Messianic Sanhedrin or a synod if you like). Those same challenges still exists and always will, without a modern day "model" to guide us along as a recognised, legitimate and unified body, the Messianic movement will always remain questionable, fraud and not achieve it's purpose in portraying what "engrafted" truly means. We are all looking forward to the day when "engrafting" will be truthfully expressed in community. At the moment it remains an ideology open for much interpretation and subsequently, error as you rightly explained.

  -- We hope that as the movement grows to unity, we will speak with one voice to these matters. replies:

12:57 25Nov14 Peggy -
My opinions align most closely with those spoken by Wayne Talbot. Well said, Wayne. But my deepest heart concern is the 17th Chapter of John where Jesus is pouring His heart out about unity in the faith "... that we would be one, as He and the Father are one ..." With that in mind, we should have no trouble understanding our relationship to His covenant with all believers in Yeshua.

08:30 27Nov14 David -
Interesting stuff here. However, how are we supposed to be one, as Yeshua/Jesus prayed that we would be, having no wall between Jew and Gentile? Jesus and the apostles and the early church celebrated the Jewish feasts, including the Sabbath. Jesus is best understood in light of Jewish law and prophecies. Yet, since the 3rd and 4th century Church councils, when the Gentile Christians decided (Jewish) theological matters, we have been stumbling so far from the original church that our Christianity would look very pagan indeed to the early church. I understand your main points, but if we take our "Christian" glasses off and re-read the Gospels and the NT we well see a very Jewish Jesus and Paul, who both observe the Torah and the Jewish feasts.

  -- Dr Juster replies: Yes. Of course they did. But they also maintained the distinction from Hillel that Gentiles are only responsible for universal law.

05:31 28Nov14 Joelle -
This is an excellent article and one that I am totally in agreement with. I grew up in a Jewish Orthodox community and didn't know anything about Yeshua till in my 20s. My husband (also Jewish) took almost 10 years more before he became a believer. To us, continuing in the feasts is natural and also has so much more meaning. We love sharing them with our gentile believing friends and pray that they too may want to share in the same joy in their own homes since they have now been enlightened to their true meanings. We never force anyone to practice anything, but as you have said in your article, there is so much false teaching out there that we find ourselves constantly coming up against those who are "knee deep" in some sort of Hebrew roots movement that is actually taking them away from the beauty of Torah. It is so simple ... Before we had hearts of stone, now we have hearts of flesh. Torah is now written on our hearts, how much more simpler can it be? I hope you will write more about this topic.

09:32 08Nov15 Jim Keith -
One of my favorite Messianic teachers stressed not to "throw out the baby with the bathwater": good advice from any starting point. I agree that "Biblical Roots" is where we should be seeking truth. There are enormous erorrs from the extremes also within Protestant and Catholic traditions. I was given great advice from another favorite Messianic teacher: "look to the Gospels for clarity." What, and how, did Yeshua say and do? Let us all seek YHWH's truth and not others' opinions.

  -- Dr Juster replies: Very good advice from a wise teacher!

19:05 06Jun16 Juan Vega -
I agree with your article 100%. I know someone who believes in all three of theses errors and is always asking for Christians for debates concerning this.

21:44 24Aug16 Judyth Nelson -
Thank you for sharing this great article! Not being Jewish I sensed a real feeling of freedom while reading this, like a light went on. As new believers I heard teachings that made me sense I was less of a believer because I was not Jewish. Though I have studied the feasts in the Bible I have never celebrated them, and honestly had no real way to do it anyway. I will now more heartily celebrate the holidays that we already do since reading this. When we were first believers I would tell my children that the lights on the tree stood for Jesus the Light of the World. Unscriptural, certainly but a good way to lift Jesus up before our kids. God Bless you and thank you. Liberty is a wonderful thing!

  -- Dr Juster replies: Understand and appreciate the meaning of the Biblical Feasts, but enjoy and practice your heritage as a Christian!

01:20 25Aug16 W. T. Leaver -
"And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant -- these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples" (Isa 56:6-7, ESV). Right, clearly God does not want gentiles to observe his covenant.

  -- Dr Juster replies: The directions in the book of Acts relates to this Age. Acts 15 relieves Gentiles of this responsibility. In the Millennial Age it will be exactly as you quote from Scripture. But Gentiles are not required to do the Millennial pattern now. So all nations will keep the Feast of Sukkot. Won't that be wonderful! (Zech. 14)

09:27 25Aug16 W. T. Leaver -
In Acts 15, the expectation was that gentiles would begin by following four instructions which were lifted straight out of Torah, with the remainder to be learned in synagogue. There was absolutely no reason to add "For from ancient generations Moses has had in every city those who proclaim him, for he is read every Sabbath in the synagogues." otherwise. If Torah was not applicable to gentiles, as the modern "church" suggests, the consensus would have been more along the lines of "Leave those gentiles alone, they have the holy spirit to guide them."

  -- Dr Juster replies: I am very familiar with this argument. There is a UMJC paper by Russ Resnik and that lays the reasons why I do not accept this argument, though I am familiar with it. In the mainstream MJ movement this is called the error of the One Law teaching. We do not read Acts 15 in the way that it is presented here.

21:16 14Dec16 -
I'm quite surprised at your comments regarding Christians having to keep the whole law. There is NO dispute here, Pastor. Ephesians 2:11-17 makes it quite clear: Jews and Greeks (Gentiles, aliens, sojourners, nations) are now 1 new man and are part of the Commonwealth of Israel. And therefore under God's laws, ALL God's laws. Observing the Sabbath, the feasts and abstaining from certain unclean foods.

  -- Dr Juster replies: This is just not what the Bible teaches about the application of law in the New Covenant. This interpretation has been rejected by the main stream Messianic Jewish movement in the U. S., Israel, Ukarine, and Germany. It is rejected by the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregation in the U. S. and the Messianic Jewish Alliance, and Tikkun. It is rejected by all scholars who are credentialed and whose work is vetted by peers. It is put forth in the highly acclaimed works by David Rudolph (PhD, Cambridge) and Markus Bochmuel formerly of Cambridge, in his Jewish Law in Gentile Churches, and all the PhDs I know in the movement. So maybe you missed something here. Being part of the commonwealth does not mean all the applications of the law are the same. This is not the same for the Commonwealth of Britain, regarding Canada or Australia.

09:17 05Jan17 Janet B -
Thank you so much for putting into words what has been on my heart. I have a dear friend who has fallen into these teachings and tries very hard to pull the rest of us in. She does not understand how we can know the Bible and about the festivals, etc and still choose to worship in church and celebrate Christmas and Easter along with honoring the festivals from a Messianic point of view. I'm praying that God will open her eyes to the real truth.

14:20 04Jul17 Geri H Gustin -
I found this article interesting and informative, a help to dispell confusion in the Messianic body of believers and in the Church. We all need to be clear on what is what and who is who, and not mix them where they are not miscible. Thanks to Dr. Juster for clarifying the muddied waters. We owe a debt of gratitude to clear-thinking teachers.


Also in this issue of the newsletter:
Daniel Juster's article in French: Le Danger des Mouvements des Racines Juives
Avi and David: Israel at War - a Snapshot
Eitan Shishkoff: Teens Taste "Last Days"
Leora Mazurovsky: Directed Steps
Eitan Shishkoff: Shai, A Priceless Sacrifice
Asher Intrater: Wisdom and the Fear of God
Eddie Santoro: Ahavat Yeshua Outreach
Simcha: Strategic Giving