For the first twenty-eight years of my life, I was raised in the Pentecostal movement of Christianity, and I identified myself as a “Christian.” However, when I was twenty-eight, I experienced an extreme crisis of faith, and the Lord led me to the following references in the book of Revelation,
And the dragon was enraged with the woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus. (Revelation 12:17)Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. (Revelation 14:12)
And in both of these passages, these endtime believers are described the same way: “who keep the commandments of God” and “hold to the testimony of Jesus” or “their faith in Jesus.” And as I went over this description over and over in my mind, I heard God speak to me and say, “This is what I want you to do.”
For the first time in a very long while, I felt connected to God again, and I knew what He wanted me to do. And it was this spark of light that God spoke into my heart and life that has been going now for thirty years as of this writing. The Lord led me from one source to another to another, and as I began to learn more and more about Judaism and the “Jewish Jesus,” I remembering praying one night:
Lord, I’ve read or heard all these different versions of who You are and what You are like. Theology has a multitude of portraits of You. Lord, please, I’m not interested in their views of You. Reveal to me the true, historical Jesus. The Jesus who walked along the shores of the Sea of Galilee and felt the mud squish between his toes as He walked, the Jesus who sat on the shore and felt the sea breeze caress His hair, and the Jesus who picked up little Jewish kids, held them in His arms and loved them. I want to know the Jesus who attended the synagogues, loved the Torah, embraced it fully, and then shared His love of God and His Word with others. Show me the Jesus who healed the sick, raised the dead, and cast out lepers. That is the Jesus I want to know. I want to know Him because Your word says that the same Jesus who left this world would be the same Jesus who will be coming again. And when that moment comes, I don’t want to find out that You are somehow different than what I thought You were. I want to know You like I’ve never known or understood You before, Amen.
And over the past 30 years, God has not once violated those words He spoke into my heart and He has more than fulfilled my heartfelt prayer that I spoke to Him out of the hunger of my heart.
MY TRANSITION FROM “CHRISTIAN” TO “MESSIANIC”
Although my wife, Karen, and my kids did not understand what I was doing when I began this journey, the Lord has taught Karen and me that –
- Yeshua (Jesus) was born a Jew, lived as an Orthodox Jew, died as a Jew, rose again as a Jew, is still an Orthodox Jew in heaven, will be an Orthodox Jew when He returns to rule and reign, and He shall always be an Orthodox Jew.
- God’s law is for everyone, not just Jews, and for people of all time.
- The Sabbath and the feasts is for everyone.
- The dietary laws is for everyone.
- God’s laws has many purposes, just not justification.
- Christianity’s traditional views of Judaism and the law are incorrect.
- Christianity’s view of Jesus bringing the law to an end with His death is incorrect.
- Christianity’s view of grace as opposing the law is incorrect.
- Christianity’s view of Sunday, Halloween, Christmas, Lent, and Easter are all incorrect; they all have pagan roots and associations.
- Christianity’s view of the church as being any other body than Israel is incorrect.
And with these beliefs taught to Karen and me over the years, God has placed the both of us (and two, maybe three, of our children) securely on the “Messianic Bridge.”
WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE “MESSIANIC”?
For those unfamiliar with the Messianic movement, it is a bridge that connects two religious islands: Christianity and Judaism. And on this bridge, there are those who view themselves as Christians who at least have an interest in the biblical feasts and the Jewish roots of the faith, and on the other side, there are those who identify themselves as Jews who at least have an interest in Yeshua or the B’rit Chadashah (New Covenant). And on this bridge, there is everything in between these two beginning points. Therefore, for me to state that I am “Messianic” merely denotes that I am on the bridge. It does not denote where on the bridge I am located.
RESEARCHING THIS NEW PERSPECTIVE
Although I was on the “Messianic Bridge,” I had never heard of the “Messianic movement,” but I had a real hunger to learn all I could about the Torah, the Sabbath, the feasts, etc., so I started visiting a Conservative Jewish synagogue there in town. I was extremely nervous at first, because I did not know what to expect. I did not grow up Jewish, and as far as I am aware, I have no Jewish blood in me. My mother is Irish, Cherokee and a little Navajo, and my father is Belgium, Dutch, German, French, and Irish, so if there’s any Jewish blood in there, it’s so far back that it has long been forgotten. But in spite of this, I had this hunger that I could not explain. Consequently, my wife, Karen, and the kids thought that Dad had simply lost his mind.
But even though I felt anxious, and I couldn’t understand it when they read the scroll in Hebrew, I liked the sound of the language, but weirdly, I felt at home. I felt like I was supposed to be in a synagogue. Eventually, I took a Hebrew class and a Torah class at the Jewish Reform Temple not far away. It was during this time that I came across the book, Restoring the Jewish Gospels, by Dr. David Sterne, and it was through his book that I learned about the Messianic movement.
MOVING BACK AND FORTH
However, since this time I have been moving towards the Jewish side of the bridge, but then my wife and kids would miss something from the Christian side, so we would go back toward the Christian side for a while, but then I would feel discontented again, and we would move back towards the Jewish side. It came to the point where we were introducing Christian friends to the Sabbath, the biblical feasts, and even to the dietary laws. Eventually, the Lord began speaking to Karen, and sharing His heart for His desire not only for us but for the over all church. We placed these messages on her blog, Karen’s Shofar (located at Karensshofar.wordpress.com).
“JUDAIST” – MY NEW IDENTITY
Our children are now grown, but for the past six years, we have definitely been on the Jewish side of the bridge, and about a few months ago, I was praying and the Lord told me He wanted me to live as close to an Orthodox life as possible without violating His Written commandments. But now that I was here on this side, I was struggling with what word to use to identify me.
Even though I am convinced that God has engrafted Karen and me into the people and nation of Israel, like Rahab or Ruth, I didn’t feel comfortable saying I was “Jewish” since I was not Jewish by blood. However, not long ago, I came across the solution to my problem, the word “Judaist.”
The word “Judaist” literally means “one who believes in and practices Judaism.” One can be a Jew or a Gentile and still be a “Judaist.” This way I am clearly identifying which side of the Messianic bridge I am on without misleading people into believing that I am Jewish by birth, but instead, I am proud to say that I am a Judaist by choice.