Q. I’ve written to you a couple of times before and have found your answers to be wise and biblical. So, I want to ask you something concerning my Messianic Jewish belief. I am aware that you were a part of a Messianic congregation from one of you posts.
My question is this: Are Jews still required to keep the feasts, eat kosher, and observe the Sabbath or were all these things done away with when Jesus died on the cross? My congregation still observes all the feasts and Holy days. Many eat kosher(some more strict then others), and they have services on Friday night and Saturday morning.
Lately, I have been searching for a new congregation because my Messianic one is so far away from me and it’s getting expensive. Not to mention if I try to make Torah studies and prayer meetings. Most of the Christian congregations tell me it’s no longer required to do these things(other then attending services). I just want to do what is right.
As I read it, Jesus and the disciples followed the laws and kept the feasts. Wouldn’t this mean, that everyone who considers themselves a follower of Jesus to do the same? I know in Acts the issue of circumcision was brought up for Gentiles. They basically said to keep some of the laws but not all of them, not the ones that applied to Jews anyway.
So where does a Messianic Jew stand? I sort of feel I’m in between two drawn swords, the Christian community on the one side, and the Torah observant Jews on the other. Any guidance you can offer will be appreciated.
A. This is an issue that has plagued the Messianic movement all along. Many who were formerly observant Jews insist on keeping the Law, while Gentile members often don’t see the need. I think the Messianic movement has an identity crisis of sorts. Though as followers of Jesus they’re part of the Church, there’s a concerted effort on the part of many to try and maintain a separate identity. Often it results in this “stuck in the middle” feeling you describe.
The Bible clearly teaches us two things. First, the Law was a shadow of things to come, not the reality which is found in Jesus (Hebr. 10:1 & Romans 3:19-24). Second, attempting to keep the Law can be a dangerous flirtation with legalism, because while no one can actually do it, we can fool ourselves into thinking we are, and that can lead to the same spiritual arrogance that so offended the Lord (Matt. 23). I know that some Jews believe that even after accepting the Lord as their savior, they’re still under the Law, but in my opinion the writer to the Hebrews believed otherwise and went to great lengths to persuade his readers as well.
In the Messianic Fellowship I led, we celebrated only the Erev Shabbat (Friday night) service. Some of us also attended Sunday services in a Gentile Church. We observed the Feasts and Holy Days to learn about their traditions and the incredible spiritual and prophetic significance of each one. I think this contributed to a growth in our Biblical understanding that would have been impossible to achieve in any other way.
The spiritual and physiological benefits found in keeping the commandments and kosher laws are well documented and beyond dispute, but turning them into a works-centered religion is what got the Jews in trouble in the first place.
Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. (Col. 2:16-17)