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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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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Sixty Seventh Birthday Message

Sixty Seventh Birthday Message

Sixty Seventh Birthday Message

Gentlemen, this is my 67th birthday message.

Today I get to preach to the group!

Each year I love getting closer to the arms of Jesus. Everything we have ever hoped for, dreamed for, longed for and the final fulfillment of every need that has been built into us by God Himself is to be with Jesus someday.

The ultimate perfect relationship and marriage is the best illustration.

Everything here on this planet is a reminder that we are not yet with Him and the battle, the great battle is not to find temporary substitutions for those need fulfillments in the flesh or in the world but in the Spirit, in Him.

We see people achieve great things like Olympic medals or prizes on game shows or the lottery, or superior dream jobs or places of power, or some living vicariously through their children’s successes, even victory in battle or a political race.

Millions of books are rooted in some kind of lacking or insurmountable obstacle and then the hero winning the prize, be it the kingdom, the revelation that your Father is a King and that you were kidnapped as a child or meeting your Prince Charming or finding the love of a beauty queen.

Movies that resonate with people…

…usually have to do with this idea of winning, of overcoming, of the enemy or the evil one being destroyed, of reward.

I believe that culture has always pointed towards the day that you and I will be complete in Jesus Christ.

It is like winning the ultimate Lottery and anyone can enter by faith and when the prize.

Every good thing that exists is wrapped up into Jesus Christ.

All good is found in Jesus. Everything else of the flesh and the world is temporal and not eternal.

We don’t have any fairy tales that end in a divorce. The hero’s fairy tale lives in a type of Eternal Bliss and happiness.

What billions of people have excepted as fantasy, we as children of God (believers) believe is a certain reality in Jesus Christ , the Author and Creator of this entire story.

I am one of the heroes in God’s story!

 

Sixty Seventh Birthday Message


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What Makes an Atheist?

What Makes an Atheist?

What Makes an Atheist?

Are we born not believing in God or an intelligent designer of the universe?

Is it something else or a combination of things that come to a head in people’s minds that helps us make that fateful decision?

I am sure many reasons are closely related because it may not be a simple process. Is it an intellectual process or something more profound, like an emotional response that clouds our minds that happened from the past?

This world we live in is a tough place for many people and always has been. Life has been physically hard in past generations, but it has also been brutal to the human psyche.

It still hard for many people in our modern times depending on where you live, but even in the best locations, such in the USA and Europe, the human psyche is still a struggle.

One question that one of the top Christian apologetics, Dr William Lane Greig, at Reasonable Faith, asked: “Is this the best of all possible worlds?”

Considering freewill, it appears that this is the best possible of all worlds. 

Why God has decided to make our world this way, becomes more evident as time goes on in human history. 

To me anyway.  

Also, how and why He takes an individual spirit and drops it into a human shell of a body at a particular moment in time and space is an interesting question that only God Himself can answer.

I think it is called Middle Knowledge or Molinism in the apologetic Christian world, meaning only God would have this understanding because He has omniscience.

“First, it is assumed that for an action to be free, it must be determined by the agent performing the action. This means that God cannot will a free creature to act in a particular way and the act still be free. 

Free actions must be self-determinative.”

I tend to think it has something to do with our success in this life that we live in. 

By success, I do not mean how much stuff we have accumulated or how successful we were in rising to the top of whatever human station that humans would consider a success, but what God Himself would consider a successful life. 

From God’s point of view, success would be if we connected with Him, at some point in our temporary life span, for the sake of eternity, together, for the both of us.

Is that not what He designed us for in the first place? Spending eternity with Him so we can share His kingdom with Him? 

Why else would he create us?

What would be the point from His perspective?

My Battle Was an Emotional One 

As for me and my life, I was an atheist until I was thirty years old, so I will come from my perspective and experience. 

I have a feeling many people will identify with me. 

Being raised Catholic from a German background, I attended Catholic grade school in the late 1950s.

I was a tough kid in that I had specific disabilities that Catholic nuns were not equipped to handle.

Even today, most teachers are not.

They resorted to physical and emotional abuse to get me to function like the rest of the kids in my classroom.

It did not work and only scared me emotionally for many years.

When I came of age to make decisions for myself and my well-being, I jettisoned all belief in God. 

The word Jesus Christ was a cuss word to me. 

Not only did I discard the Catholic and Christian version of God, but I also dumped the mere thought of an intelligent designer behind the making of the universe itself.

Who needs a powerful being behind the curtain like the Great OZ, when Darwin came up with a perfect solution that proved a god was not needed?

Evolution was my god and how we (all life) came to be in this universe we live in.

It was a done deal, or so I thought.

Star Stuff

American astronomer Carl Sagan was my intellectual hero. I would follow him and all his books and writings. I looked forward to his programs, especially the one called Cosmos: A Personal Voyage. 

When he said we were all just star stuff, it made me feel I was worshipping at the feet of an astrophysicist and a cosmologist icon that had ALL the answers to human origins. 

In college, I would attend debates between scientists and atheists versus bible thumpers. I would root for the atheist and think how little understanding the religious bible believing people had on the workings of life around them. 

I finished school, got married, started a business, had children. My life came to a stop when my marriage came crashing down. I had a hard soul, and my wife wanted nothing more to do with it any more.

Hard questions were being asked of me from the inside-out because of the pain I was in. 

The oldest question that has haunted mankind since the beginning of time, emerged from me.

Is This All There Is? 

When we die, is that just the end, and nothing more.

The answers that I got from science did not help at all. The universe became a dark and cold place without any real rhyme or reason.

True meaning was nonexistent. Survival of the fittest was an empty phrase.

God cracked my shell and used the tough things that turned me into this empty atheist into an individual asking more profound questions for the first time in my life.

On a lonely journey, far from those I loved and cared about, God heard my feeble call and answered me.

I had no idea what I was doing when I asked him into my heart the first time. All I knew was I was empty and needed BIG time help, now that I think back on it. 

I still had a conflict with science and Christian belief that would take many years to resolve.

I had a hard time resolving evolution and Darwin’s version of how life came to be versus Genesis in the bible.

I knew the Christian worldview answered so many questions about so many things, especially why men are and have been so evil towards each other since the beginning of time, and it was not just survival of the fittest.

I found an organization called Reasons to Believe, led by astronomer Hugh Ross.

For the first time, I ran into Christians that believed that science and religion could live together. 

Their subtitle is “Where science and faith converge.”

I joined a local science group that is an offshoot of Reasons to Believe in Phoenix that I attended every month.

I also began following Christian Apogeic teachers like Dr. William Lane Craig of Reasonable Faith

Dr. Craig is a philosopher of the highest order and will make you stretch your brain to Christian circles and bonder life to its deepest depths. 

He debates many atheists regularly and has left me thinking about what it was that attracted me to being an atheist in the first place.

As I dug deeper into Darwinian evolution theory, I realized there turned out to be many problems with it. 

Today, many scientists turn their backs on it because they believe life is too complex to come from an unguided force of nature.

To this day, no scientist has life come from non-life, even in the perfect conditions of any laboratory on our planet. 

“Too Complex” are the two words that you hear again and again.  

I recently found a website that has over 1,000 scientists in the world today that no longer believe in evolution called A Scientific Dissent From Darwinism.

It shows that even scientists have an ax to grind when it comes to the truth.

 

Going back to the original question, What Makes an Atheist?

For me, it was not an intellectual search for the truth but an emotional cloud that blinded me from digging deeper into things that I held dear. 

My childhood wounds blinded me if you want to know the truth. 

When I found God and Jesus in a small church in Oregon, I learned for the first time who Jesus Christ was and not from some abusive nuns with an agenda. 

I believe that is what makes most people, young and old, male and female, rich or poor, and atheists. They cannot lean on intellectual arguments because they do not exist. 

Only emotional wounds from the past that blind us.

Psalm 19:1 Says 

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.”

I look up in the night sky, and all my old intellectual arguments are laid to waste.

I am what is called an Old Earther, meaning that I am a Christian who believes that the universe is 13.8 billion years old. I have found out that I am not alone, and many Christian scientists believe the same thing.

If you look in Genesis, before the first day was made, the universe was already here. Please read it for yourself.

I believe in the Big Bang or the Cosmological Singularity. Albert Einstein discovered it when he worked on the Theory of Relativity.

The Big Bang states that the universe started at one point in time. Most scientists, up until the time Einstein discovered it, believed that the universe had always been in existence. A Steady State. Always been here.

If the universe started at one specific point in time, who or what pulled the trigger on the Big Bang?

Genesis says God spoke it ALL into existence. Therefore, He spoke the universe into being at one point in time.

Science did not even know that until the 1930s.

A illustration of what the Big Bang may of looked like over time.

I ask people if they know how big the universe is?

Here is something that will blow your mind.

There are more stars in our Milky Way Galaxy than there are grains of sand on all the beaches on planet earth. The number: 10 to the 15th power.

But, did you know there are more Galaxies in our universe than grains of sand on the beaches on planet earth?  The number: 10 to the 120th power.

Wrap your head around that.

Who is this Intelligent Designer we call God, that could do such a thing?

 

Mad at God

To be honest with myself, I think I was mad at God for letting me be abused by people that confessed they were followers of Jesus, even though, I would say that I did not believe in Him.

Crazy, I know.

Anger and hate can cause an unstable mind, void of rationality in certain areas of one’s own mind, even in the most rational of people.

You find scientist are like this all the time. They have preconceived beliefs even in the field that they have undertaken.

Albert Einstein was one of these people. When he came up with the Big Bang, he spent a number of years trying to find holes in it because he knew what the implications were.

Who was behind the Big Bang?

It was not until the 1930’s that Edwin Hubble, the great astronomer, invited Einstein out to California for the summer, and proved to him that Einstein’s mathematical equations for the Big Bang where correct when viewing the universe through his telescope.

The universe did start at one specific point in time.

If that is true, who pulled the trigger and got this time and space rolling.

Things do not just pop into being from nothing!

 

Check out the other blogs I wrote. Life from Non-life. Is it possible?  or Who Made God?

 

What Makes an Atheist?

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