Our tenth talk (22 mins) covers various doctrines and practices common among Messianics. Although not all groups adhere to all of these teachings, they are common enough that it's worth taking some time to examine them.
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We have already discussed several major features of Judaism that do not carry over directly into Christianity. For example, consider:
- Animal sacrifices (Heb 9:22; 10:1-4; 10:18)
- Warfare: We are no longer permitted to kill our enemies. The church is no longer a political entity.
- Priesthood. All Christians function as priests, and only Jesus has a special (high) priesthood.
- Tithing. Tithing is "found" in the NT only in passages referring to OT law (Matt 23 and Heb 7). We are no longer an agrarian church-state, and are thus released from the law of the tithe.
Other significant Messianic teachings include:
- Circumcision. Acts 15; 1 Cor 7:18-19
- The Third Temple. Acts 15:16-18 (citing Amos 9:11 on rebuilding of “David’s fallen tent”).
- Jesus and the church interpreted the “tent” (tabernacle / temple) figuratively. “Destroy this temple” (John 2:19) = Jesus’ body.
- Acts 15:16: The "restoration" of Israel was already well underway, through the ministry of the first century leaders like Peter. As a result, the Gentiles mission was really taking off, e.g. through Paul.
- Another example of a figurative understanding of a passage is Mic 4:1-2 (par in Isa 2), which speaks of the house of the Lord in the last (or latter) days. Peter indicates that the Last Days have already come by 33 AD (Acts 2:16-17). The Gentile mission: not all nations literally streaming to Jerusalem, but the Word going out from Jerusalem to all nations (Acts 1:8 etc)!
- Further, the true tabernacle is in heaven (Heb 8:2; 9:11).
- And besides, there is no further need for sacrifice, since Jesus died for our sins.
- Click here to see the "Holy Temple Museum."
- Kashrut: Perhaps there is nutritional wisdom in some of the food laws. There is also great wisdom in vegetarianism, and some argue that this must be God’s will for us, based on the description of Eden.
- But Jesus declared all foods clean (Mark 7:19).
- See also 1 Tim 4:3-5; Heb 9:10; 13:9-10.
- Separating from the Gentile church (but Gal 3:28!)
- Hebrew N.T.: it is often believed that the original N.T. was written in Hebrew.
- No communion in the Sunday service.
- Not celebrating Easter or Christmas (but celebrating Passover, Tabernacles, etc). Interestingly, while Messianics celebrate 7 Jewish feasts, historic Christian observances are also 7: Easter Day, Ascension Day, Pentecost, Trinity Sunday, All Saints' Day (1 Nov), Christmas (25 Dec), and Epiphany (6 Jan)
- Reliance on Talmud (competed 400-700 AD) as key to understanding how Jesus trained the Twelve
- Yet how accurately can we read the practices described in these medieval documents into the 1st century AD? There can be a wide gulf between theory and practice, the ideal and the real.
- Talmud describes rabbis making disciples of boys, requiring them to memorize the Bible, etc. Messianic teachers often claim the Twelve were youths (the oldest, Peter, around 18, and the youngest, John, perhaps only 9)!
- Yet after 70 AD, only one sect of Judaism survived, the liberal Pharisees of the school of Hillel. (The stricter Shamma’ite Pharisees, as well as the Essenes, Herodians, and Sadducees all disappear after 70 AD.) Surely this colored the understanding of the rabbis.
- Messianics do not seem to be reading these ancient Jewish sources critically.
- Bogus argument that we still have to keep Torah, because if God changed the Law, then he would be changing himself (based on Mal 3:6). Yet this confuses God's nature with how he relates to his creatures. Changes in law or covenant do not require a change within the Deity!
Next: Romans, Galatians, the Jew-Gentile Controversy, and "the Israel of God"