The Jewish Roots of My Faith
By: Krista Steuber
God led me, a Christian, to explore and learn about Messianic Judaism through a way you’d least expect…social media. I came across a woman who is a Jewish follower of Yeshua (Jesus), and I began to read through what she wrote and information she posted. Through her, I found other accounts of Messianic Jews and read through things posted on their pages. It began to open up a whole new world for me – the magnificence and beauty of my Messiah’s heritage.
I’ve known for some time that Jesus was a Jewish man when He walked this earth. He followed the Torah and Jewish customs. All of His disciples were Jewish; the first apostles of the Bible were Messianic Jews. But, I honestly never really gave all of that much thought or dug deeper into Jesus’ heritage and culture. I aimed to change that. There is a beautifully woven connection between Messianic Judaism and Christianity. We are united in our worship of the same Lord and Savior, Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah).
So, I’ve begun to read and research about Messianic Judaism in order to cross that bridge. I wanted to learn my Savior’s heritage, which is also my heritage, because I (as a Gentile) have been grafted in:
“I will bless those who bless you [Abraham], and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
Genesis 12:3 ESV
But some of these branches from Abraham’s tree—some of the people of Israel—have been broken off. And you Gentiles, who were branches from a wild olive tree, have been grafted in. So now you also receive the blessing God has promised Abraham and his children, sharing in the rich nourishment from the root of God’s special olive tree.
Romans 11:17 NLT
At that time you were separate from Messiah, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Messiah Yeshua, you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah.
Ephesians 2:12-13 TLV
Through Jesus, we as Gentiles have been grafted into the olive tree; the family of Abraham. What a priceless gift! The culture of God’s Kingdom is Jews and Gentiles serving and worshiping the Lord in unity.
I’ve been reading more about the eight holy days and feasts appointed by God in Leviticus 23. The biblical holidays are so deeply rich in meaning, and it brings me closer to the Lord by understanding the significance of the festivals that are part of my inheritance and the roots of my faith. Jesus celebrated all of these holidays! And, even more amazing is that major events in Jesus’ life occurred on these holidays! He was likely born during Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles). He died on Pesach (Passover). Our Savior’s Last Supper was actually a Passover seder. Jesus rose from the dead on Yom HaBikkurim (Day of Firstfruits). And although it is not one of the Lord’s appointed feasts, during the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah (Festival of Dedication), Jesus was in the Temple and revealed He and the Father are one (John 10:22-30). When we pore over the Gospels, we can see that much of Jesus’ life and ministry revolved around the festivals. These holidays/festivals are traditionally observed and celebrated by those who are Jewish, but there is an open invitation for them to be celebrated by all who are in Christ Jesus!
As I’ve been delving more into study of the festivals, I’ve also been uncovering how there is a continuous thread in Scripture that connects them from the law where they were given to Moses in Leviticus to the book of Revelation. Zechariah prophesied that all people would observe these feasts when Jesus Christ returns at the end of the age. I am by no means an expert on all of this, but I’m learning and want to learn more!
The Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the people of Israel and say to them, These are the appointed feasts of the Lord that you shall proclaim as holy convocations; they are my appointed feasts.”
Leviticus 23:1-2 ESV
Then everyone who survives of all the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Booths [Sukkot].
Zechariah 14:16 ESV
Through my dive into Messianic Judaism, I found a local Messianic Jewish Synagogue in my area. It is a Bible-based congregation where Jews and Gentiles come together to worship the Lord in unity in a Jewish context. This was a new revelation to me; I never knew there were houses of worship like this. They believe Yeshua is the promised Messiah of Israel, and the entire Word of God is embraced, from Genesis to Revelation. I visited the synagogue for a Shabbat (Sabbath) service, and it was a beautiful display of this unity. I loved the biblically sound teaching and worship that incorporated the blowing of a shofar, a Torah procession, and prayers and blessings in both English and Hebrew. Also during worship, some of the congregation waved different kinds of flags, and several women did Davidic dance. It was all very new to me, but a lovely expression of praise and worship. I was able to meet and speak with the Rabbi and some of the members, and they were very welcoming and friendly.
So I invite you, dear reader, to go on your own journey into our glorious Messiah’s Jewish heritage. Ask God to reveal these things to you. I pray you grow an even deeper connection to our Lord and Savior.
Some resources to consider:
Aligning with God’s Appointed Times by Rabbi Jason Sobel
A Christian Guide to the Biblical Feasts by David Wilber
Messianic Judaism by David Stern
Mysteries of the Messiah by Rabbi Jason Sobel
Restoring the Jewishness of the Gospel by David Stern
The Rock, the Road, and the Rabbi by Kathie Lee Gifford