What Are the Messianics?


What Are the Messianics?


What Are the Messianics?

Guest Blog by Lynwood Johnson

The Messianic movement or Messianism is as old as the days in which Jesus lived in Israel and identified Himself as Israel’s promised Messiah. It is also a contemporary and growing presence throughout Israel, the United States, and other nations.

Many Christians are surprised to learn that all the New Testament writers were Messianic Jews, with the possible exception of Luke.  None of them ceased being Jews active in their synagogue communities, but rather they continued living as practicing Jews who understood Jesus’ words and attesting miracles supporting His claim of being Israel’s Messiah anticipated by numerous prophets.  We read in Acts 6:7, “And the word of God kept on spreading; and the number of disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith.”  Guess what?  These priests and the other ‘disciples’ were Messianic Jews.  Remember too, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea were followers, and members of Judea’s highest religious authority, the Sanhedrin.

To summarize a lot of Messianic history, across the centuries there was a ‘faithful remnant’ of Jewish men (yes, men; for historic cultural reasons) who read the Hebrew Torah (the first five O.T. books) and the Tanakh (the balance of the OT) and quietly concluded that Yeshua (“Jesus”) was Israel’s promised Messiah.  To hold these views publicly meant heavy persecution and ostracism from their community. That outcome often meant loss of livelihood.

The modern Messianic movement began to take shape in the 1960s and 1970s, almost parallel with the “Jesus Movement” here in the US. A number of organizations and leaders emerged who sought to build a bridge between Judaism and Christianity with messaging appropriate to each.  To the Jewish, the message is that the concept of the Messiah was a hope and future that was alluded to in numerous places in the Jewish scriptures, and in the person of Yeshua HaNazret (Jesus of Nazareth) is the complete fulfillment of messianic prophecy.  Jewish people have only to read their scriptures for themselves to notice the connections.  Once they do, they start asking questions their rabbis would rather not answer.

To the Christian community the message is that the cradle of Christianity is Judaism. Where do we get the notion that God is One, there is no other; He has given His word and His word is authoritative?  Where do we learn our God has given His people numerous promises and He has not failed in the fulfillment of any?  The Jewish scriptures, of course.

I like to picture the Jewish/Christian differences in theology to an epic movie with an intermission.  The first part of the movie is a digest of Jewish history which tells a huge story of God calling out a man, a family, a nation a race – to be His chosen people. These chosen people reject Him repeatedly; and He in His grace rushes to forgive them, repeatedly.  We learn tons about God and His love in this first part of the movie. And we learn that the Jews are not the only ones who reject God, over and over.  We do it, too.  The Jewish story is ours, as well. 

However, come the movie’s intermission, the Jewish folks walk out.  They want nothing to do with this ‘Jesus of Nazareth.’ Most Jews reject the blossom, the flower (‘Lily of the Valley’) the culmination of the Father of Israel’s intention: “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world,” (John 1:29), our great Cohen HaGadol (Great High Priest) who entered the heavenly most holy place only once to remove the sins of all mankind. (Hebrews 9: 22-28)

But that’s not all.  While the Jewish people are leaving the theater at intermission, they’re passing another group coming in – the Christians!  For them, three fourths of their Bibles are somewhat interesting material, but the real juice begins at Matthew, Chapter One.

To put it succinctly, Jewish people and Christians could both strongly benefit from deeper study of both.  The ‘New Testament’ is an elaboration and fulfillment of the Old.  When one reads the Old Testament though a lens of pattern recognition it is amazing what God has implicitly put into His great story. 

A quick example:  Passover and the death angel passing over.  Fathers of Hebrew households were given specific instructions through Moses on what to do. (Genesis 12) The instructions included slaughtering the lamb, draining its blood into a basin, and daubing the lamb’s blood with hyssop on the doorposts and lentil of their doors (lentil is the horizontal part of the door frame.

Of course, some blood would drop to the ground beneath the two doorposts, as well as from the lentil.  3 puddles of blood.  Think: a crown of thorns and spiked ankles. Spiked wrists. Hyssop. Sour wine.

The death angel “passes over” every one who has put their faith, trust, life – in this Man.

For Messianics, Passover is our “Easter.”  The killing of the lambs foreshadows Calvary.  The “Lamb of God” took our place there, for us. Once. For all. By our faith in Him and trust in what He has done in our behalf, we find the complete freedom He promises.

As said, the above is just one of many examples.

So, what are Messianic Congregations like? Well, like 90% of Christian churches, they’re small – 30 – 150 people or so; with a few rather large assemblies.  There are an estimated 300 Messianic congregations or synagogues in the U.S.  Thirty years ago there where hardly any Messianic gatherings in Israel.  Now, there are about 200.  It is amazing what God is doing in these last of the latter days!

Messianic congregations are unified in the mission of seeing Jewish people come to embrace Yeshua as their Savior, Lord, and God.  God’s chosen people are our favorite people! 

The worship service itself is very similar to synagogue order of service. 

This is very comfortable for Jewish people checking us out. Christian visitors remark regarding the strongly Biblical message they are familiar with, and almost stunned by the added depth of the “Old Testament” foundations and parallels.  A remark often heard: “How come I never heard such depth of teaching in our church?”

 

Who would a Messianic congregation be a great fit for? 

For couples in which one is Jewish and the other is Christian. Both are comfortable in this space.  Also for Jewish people who have an awakened ‘itch’ that there is something more to their faith than what they’ve been hearing from their rabbis.

 And, similarly for Christian believers who have a restlessness wherein they sense the Spirit has something more. 

And, truly He does. 


Lynwood Johnson holds the Doctor of Ministry Degree from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and has pastored churches in Illinois, Michigan, and Phoenix.  He is a Messianic Teacher at Tree of Life Congregation, Scottsdale, Arizona.  In his spare time he cleans his garage.


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What Are the Messianics?

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Double Portion for the Firstborn

Double Portion for the Firstborn

Double Portion for the Firstborn

The concept of permanence is difficult for creatures as locked into temporal nature as human beings to comprehend.

The entirety of Ecclesiastes comments on the vaporous vain vexations of life under the sun, and it is not without its points.

However, even the wise old king Solomon had to admit that there was one unique exception to what is otherwise the agonizing reality of the entropy of all things and that is that is this:

“I perceived that whatever God does endures forever; nothing can be added to it, nor anything taken from it. God has done it, so that people fear before him.” (Eccl. 3:14).  

David’s son goes on to conclude,  

“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” (Eccl 12:13). 

The Fear of God is an important thing, and at the center of these coming holidays.

Passover and the feast of unleavened bread are commemorative event instituted by God to remember Israel’s salvation from Egypt, but we must remember that these things are prototypes of the future anti-type of Christ.

Paul says it another way:  

“These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” (Colossians 2:17) 

The original Passover is the climax of the event of salvation in the redemptive story of God over Egypt’s gods.

The background of this entire ordeal is the Spirit of God moving through Moses to bring curses and plagues.

This was a gross display of power to destroy any opposition to the rebellious angelic and demonic forces that were at work in that area— Pharaoh’s magicians were able to replicate multiple of the plagues at first!

This was hostile enemy territory controlled by powerful and malevolent powers, both earthly and within the realm of spirits.

And Passover was the ultimate blow: God takes the firstborn of Egypt (livestock included!). 
 
Let’s first remember the religious context: Pharaoh was a man treated and believed to be a god. One way to understand it was that Pharaoh was an incarnation of the God Horus, or at least his legal representative. Never forget that Satan loves to mock the Lord. 

So, in this marriage of religion and government, Egypt losing her firstborn son completely desolated her.

And because it is so easy for us vaporous creatures to forget, God has instituted a  permanent celebration of this holiday; a permanence on par with the tree of life’s fruit, the rainbow, God’s promises to Abraham, or the Sabbath.

It was this Holiday that the Lord Jesus Christ was celebrating and was crucified directly prior to. There are countless similarities, the counting of which extends much farther than the scope of this blog.

However, I believe the most important is the cost of the life of the firstborn. This is why God declares ownership of all firstborn when He declares that the tribe of Levi fulfill this roll, which was why John the Baptist had to baptize Jesus.

Moreover, He requires the people to redeem their firstborn sons.

However, Israel’s ultimate firstborn was not be spared. 

Jesus is firstborn in the traditional sense, but He is also the first man to be born of the Spirit, exemplified by His miraculous birth by a virgin. Jesus, on the night of his betrayal, was celebrating this holiday. 
 
This firstborn of Israel was not spared, but there was even more spiritual warfare going on in the midst of this Passover.

The first good Friday (or Wednesday if you are like me and consider a Wednesday crucifixion more likely) marks the beginning of the 3 days and nights act as the turning point of all creation, the moment that God made checkmate against the old spiritual forces He defeated back in Moses’s day.

Easter Sunday was Jesus’s birthday as not just Israel’s firstborn, but the firstborn of the new Creation that he might be pre emanate in all things.  

The ultimate firstborn was not spared, but can never die.

 

Double Portion for the Firstborn

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What Made Me Become Pro-life?

What Made Me Become Pro-life?

What Made Me Become Pro-life?

I was an atheist until I was 30 years old.

Being an atheist, I also had the liberal mindset on many issues including evolution and abortion.

My BIG catalyst was my belief in evolution. Either you believed in an intelligent designer (God) or you did not.

To me, evolution gave me and others like me, the platform to believe that all life came from non-life.

Life sprang up from the primordial ooze on its own without guidance from something or someone else.

No God needed.

Evolution does not have morals.

Survival of the fittest is its main tenant.

Nothing is good or bad, it just is…

Murder is not bad…

Stealing is not bad…

Lying is not bad…

Nothing is good or bad it just IS…

Whatever it takes for an animal or species to survive including humans is OK or even needed.

Morals are things that exist because they are a human construct or a made up, imaginary fairy tale by religious people or a law to keep people in line.

Abortion is OK because that is also survival of the fittest.

As a human, that life that is growing in your body really does not constitute a real living, breathing organism capable of complex thought that will turn into something much like you are in the future.

Remember, survival of the fittest.

Your life, your survival.

Only you are important.

Selfishness is a big deal when it comes to evolution.

That is what I believed when I was an atheist.

It helped me to live with myself and put together my limited knowledge of the puzzle of life before me.

When I became a Christian, all that changed.

I then believed that there was a guiding force behind the universe or intelligent designer behind it all.

He gave us morals and things as humans that we should or should not do to keep us alive and functioning without so much chaos and pain.

He also gave us freewill.

Freewill to make certain choices in our lives.

Many of these choices that impact others.

I then understood there was something much bigger than me in control.

When it comes to abortion, we are telling this intelligent designer or God, that He has made a mistake.

Think of it, God has made a mistake!

We are the final decider in our lives and have the right to terminate this life inside our bodies.

We are god and not Him because we know best.

History has proven that humans know best throughout human civilization.

We have the modern, complex notions of what works and does not work because we can see into the future.

Remember in Job 38:34 when God asked Job “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me if you know so much.”

This is Rhett. He came into this world on 4/26/22. He is the grandson of my friend Joe.

Our culture and modern times truly believes we need no god the tell us what to think or believe.

Our opinions is our god.

But of course, our arrogance knows no bounds.

When I was an atheist, I believed abortion was OK and even needed.

I paid for 3 of them and drove one individual to have the procedure.

I have been on both sides of this debate.

I now feel very foolish and have asked God to forgive me.

My arrogance knew no bounds.

I really believed God had made many mistakes when it came to human life and other issues.

Over 66 million mistakes when it has come to abortion since Roe v. Wade took effect since 1973.

Think of it, 66 million…

I guess Supreme Court knew better than God that year.

Many of our current politicians believe they know better than God as this issue comes before the Supreme Court once again.

The wounds of abortion have not healed after all, since 1973.

Maybe God is asking us “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me if you know so much.”

 

Go here if you would like to read how I became a Christian “What Makes an Atheist”

 

What Made Me Become Pro-life?

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From Death to Healing

From Death to Healing

From Death to Healing

The following two articles were written by a mother whose son had committed suicide.

The first was written over thirty years ago, shortly after her son took his life.

She wrote the first on the advice of her counselor at the time, to help her heal from this horrific event in her and her husband’s life.

The second she wrote just a short time ago.

It was interesting to see how her perspective did or did not change over the last thirty years.


 

Guest Blog By Carole France

 

“My dearest John,

I miss you.

I long to hear your voice and to share days, hours or even minutes with you.

The love I have for you is still in my heart and I am unable to express it to any other human being.

It is yours alone.

When you were born your dad was so happy that he had a son.

He announced that he had a fishing buddy.

You would carry on his name.

I will always treasure the night that you and I spent together when you were a tiny baby.

You brought me joy your entire life from just being you.

You were intelligent, handsome, fun, funny, interested in learning, deep, complicated, challenging, caring, cautions, sometimes fearful, yet you were also brave and independent.

Little did I know how unprepared I was to raise you children and I know I made mistakes that hurt you.

I know the anger and frustration I saw in you as a teenager was really the disappointment you felt over not having the close family you desired.

All that anger in you worried me.

What you needed was our love, support, time, understanding, patience, and guidance.

You needed us to tell you that God knows and loves you beyond any happening ever in life.

He made you, understands you, and is committed to you – regardless of your struggles.

Instead, though, your dad and I lectured to try and get you to do what we wanted you to do.

I want you to know how sorry I am that you missed out on the love and nurturing that you deserved.

My heart will ache always for what I was not able to give you.

You were dealing with painful emotions and circumstances beyond what a teen should have to face.

They obviously consumed you and you felt powerless to fix it.

I wish I could have explained to you that life is like a book… each chapter is different from the other.

When your young and troubled it may seem like the chapter you are experiencing is the only one and that nothing will ever change.

The truth is that 1,3,5 years down the road our relationships, circumstance, and events are all different.

Of course, we always have stress in our lives, but you would have had more life experiences, more answers of your own from which to draw, and more people in your life to help support you when you asked.

John, when you made the choice to end your own life, I blamed myself, but I will not accept that responsibility anymore.

Even though I will forever feel badly about what you did, it was you who made the choice to kill yourself.

There are so many other choices you could have made, and I know we could have gotten through it together.

But I understand that on that day it was just too much.

You took yourself away from everyone who loves you.

Your decision brought deep and lasting pain to many, many people.

If you were here today all our lives would be more complete.

We would still have problems to deal with, but we would face them together.

I can’t help but wonder who you would have grown up to be, who you would have married and what the voices of your children would have sounded like calling me “Grandma”.

I will always wish that you would have talked to me and asked for my opinion on your leaving.

I would have begged and pleaded with you to stay!

You matter!

I truly and fully love and miss you and I want you to be here,

Mom”

A portrait of John from his high school yearbook.

Thirty Years Later

“A few weeks ago, I was asked to write a follow-up some thirty years later to my message expressed to my son John shortly after his death.

Since we as a family talk about John often I wasn’t prepared for the return of painful emotions this would bring.

My thoughts and feelings held the same raw loss and loneliness experienced those first hours, days, months and years so long ago.

The difference this time was that I knew what to do.

After years of crying out to my Savior, Jesus, I realized He had taught me to go to His word for honesty, truth, comfort, and the healing He has offered me over these years.

Has it been easy?

NO!!!

But it has been REAL!

It has been the most helpful help offered in navigating the intense grief and emptiness in losing one’s precious child in such a horrific way.

I’ve learned that God really is Who He says He is and that He makes good on all His promises made in His Bible.”

 

From Death to Healing

 


 

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Pondering Existence Considering God’s Perfections

Pondering Existence Considering God’s Perfections

Pondering Existence Considering God’s Perfections

Sixty-seven years of life on earth – my current state is one of…

The results of living on planet Earth under the effects of fallen man, broken man, rebellious man, dying man, needy man, unfulfilled man, fragile man, men motivated in positive and negative ways, coping man, an enslaved man, deceived man, fantasy man, expectation man.

A heartbroken man, resentful and spiteful man, jealous man, lusting man, addicted man, immature man, pleasure-seeking man, controlling man, the man who lives vicariously through others, success man, obsessive, compulsive disorder man, fearful man, anxious man, seduced man, enslaved man, ignorant man, impulsive man, inattentive man, indecisive man, inhibited man, insecure man, angry man, clumsy man, grumpy man.

An argumentative man, blunt man, crafty man, abrasive man, aimless man, artificial man, boring man, careless man, condemnatory man, judgmental man, destructive man, irresponsible man, killjoy man, lazy man, foolish man, malicious man, mechanical man, narcissistic man, paranoid man, shameless man, unrealistic untrustworthy man, tactless, tasteless, temperamental man.

Above is a list, a “scratch the surface.” 

A list of the types of people you will meet during your lifetime. 

I did not list positive character traits for the sake of the point that I want to make. 

People are made up of good and bad for sure, but I believe that the very fact that humans can identify negative, bad, evil, “less than the standard.”

Character traits are one of the great proofs of a Being we identify as God and Christians identify as Jesus Christ (God on earth), God the Father, and the Holy Spirit.

And so, when you describe a person with a negative character trait or you describe the consequences of that negative character trait, oh, it simply illustrates the truth that on this planet you will meet and experience the lives of these people with these traits are combinations of these traits. 

You cannot deny that they exist. 

You suffer the consequences of those negative character traits in yourself and others. 

You are almost compelled to do the things you do not want to do.

Vast chunks of your life can be spoiled because of one negative Character defect.

The defective suggest a standard of ineffective or of right, positive, good.

We have found that there is one cohesive standard and one alone that everything is weighed by, compared to, judged by and described by Christians as God Almighty Himself.

There are no glitches, blemishes, no broken or misguided circuits, and the Hardware, no design flaws – he is the only, ultimate, perfect, perfectly working standard that exists.

We can conceive of a being that is perfect because we can conceive of, for example, a perfect ultimate computer. 

A computer that works perfectly because it does not have one design flaw, either and its software nor Hardware. 

Now God is not a computer, but this illustrates perfection two our immature minds.

Imagine a good computer and a bad computer. 

A bad computer would miss the mark, must be corrected continually, tweaked, etc. A computer that was perfect would 100% of the time do what it was designed to do.

 

Pondering Existence Considering God’s Perfections

 

Now imagine a self-existing computer that was immutable or never changing, self-sufficient with no needs, Omnipotent with all power, and everything exists because it exists, omnipresent meaning it is in and outside of space and time, wise and full of complete, unchanging wisdom, infinitely unchanging true.

Now here is the kicker… good, infinitely unchangingly kind and full of Goodwill, infinitely unchangingly right and perfect in all it does, merciful, unchangingly compassionate and kind, gracious, infinitely inclined to spare the guilty, loving meaning to infinitely unchangingly love someone outside of itself, holy in that it is infinitely unchangingly perfect and glorious, infinitely beautiful and great.

This very idea of “imperfect” proves the necessity of a “perfect,” and the very existence of imperfect man proves ” perfect God”. 

Without the perfect imperfection would have no meaning.

We have a concept of negative character oh, that of missing the mark, being corrupted, broken, not up to the standard, inferior, incomplete, worthless as is, gives us the concept of the perfect man or the perfect being. 

The finite gives us the concept of the infinite.

We think about God more in terms of cartoonish Superman powers and less about His character traits. 

The trait of humility would not exist if it weren’t for the concept of something superior to measure oneself to.

Every good thing, trait, or idea we can conceive of existence because it is from the very nature of God. 

Everything good and everything contrary to his nature and character is a counterfeit mainly and probably connected to Satan and his Rebellion. 

The idea of good and evil could not exist without an infinitely good being, a perfect standard to measure everything by.

All evil is anti-God. 

It doesn’t have to be the opposite but can be even a slight Corruption of his good. Using the computer as an example again, one small line of incorrect code can corrupt the entire program.

Adam and Eve took over the programming and severely corrupted the very nature of the program, and we see the results all through history.

Perhaps we can’t conceive of God’s state or Essence? It is impossible for us to conceive of a state that is not broken or ruled by our lust, cravings, self-rule, self-righteousness, or of the fleshly desires for pleasure and its millions of forms. 

Mankind is tempting to live apart from the infinitely perfect, and I have only been able to produce death and destruction.

There is only one solution to fix the problem. 

The Perfect, Jesus Christ, becomes one with the imperfect mankind, and imparts His perfection, removing the corrupted software, eventually making it perfect, and finally, replacing the Hardware itself with something transcending the original design. 

We have existence because He exists.  

We as Christians, through Jesus Christ, will have eternal, perfect existence never to be corrupted ever again, thus enjoying infinite, perfect unity and love with the Creator of the universe.

I haven’t included any Biblical Scriptures even though these ideas are supported Biblically. 

My purpose was to illustrate these ideas and truths from a slightly different angle.

 

Pondering Existence Considering God’s Perfections


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