QA: Does the Restoration of the Original Faith require conversion to Judaism?
This question is being raised more and more amongst sincere Christian believers these days. The reason for this may be found in the amazing modern phenomenon, in which the Church of today is returning to its roots, that is, it’s Hebrew Roots in the “Early Messianic Congregation”! This seems to be in fulfilment of the commendation by Jude, in Jude 3, for followers of the Messiah to return to the “Original True Faith which had been once and for all entrusted to the saints”.
The intriguing part comes when these individual study groups (or off-shoots from traditional Christianity), accept, practice, speak and think Jewishly – yet refuse to accept the Jewish Faith or to convert to it. Some see it as a positively detrimental step to take for these virtual practitioners of Judaism – even at “the cost of their salvation” most teachers of this sweeping world deluge of the ‘Original Restored Faith’ will claim !
Much of this confusion, of course, is the result of some 2000 years of retrogression, from what once was authentic Judaism, having proceeded through the portals of Christian theology (which grew out of the pagan customs to which the new ‘converts’ were traditionally exposed), and culminating in the almost anti-Semitic Christian theology which today still is predominant amongst the majority.
If this sounds complicated, let us explain:
What is so commonly referred to by Christians as “the early church”, established by the Messiah 2000 years ago, is a total misnomer. In fact, this whole new modern trend of reverting to a Jewish-like ‘original’ Faith, has developed from the realisation by serious Christian Bible students, that Christianity has “grown” out of what was originally a division or a sect of Judaism – those who accepted the Jewish Messiah in Israel 2000 years ago. This Messiah, known to Christians as Jesus (YAHU’SHUAH in Hebrew), was born to the Jewish nation, from an Israelite woman, in a Jewish country, in fulfilment of Hebrew Prophets’ predictions, as inspired by the God of Israel. This Messiah grew up in a traditionally Orthodox Jewish society and practiced, Himself, the Jewish religion and custom – and, contrary to what is being taught by most Christian religious leaders, He never foresaw or predicted a “change” away from this traditional Hebrew religion.
What He did insist on, was a “return” to the “pure” precepts of what was, after all, the pattern of the “Heavenly” System which had been revealed to Moses and entrusted to him by God Himself, to deliver unto the Hebrew nation, and through them, unto the world.
This restorative process which was set in motion by the Messiah 2000 years ago, is scripturally and prophetically referred to as “the Restoration of the fallen Tabernacle of David”.
Amos 9:11 “In that day (coming after the dispersion of Israel amongst the nations – verse 9) I (YHVH) will re-erect the fallen Tabernacle (Succah) of David, make good the gaps in it, restore it’s ruins, and rebuild it as it was in the days of old .. so that they can conquer the remnant of Edom and all the nations that belonged to Me”.
The reasoning expressed in Acts 15:13 – 18, applies this Restoration to those “other nations” which God long before, had intended to enlist as “His people”. “After that, I (YHVH) shall return and rebuild the fallen House of David. I shall rebuild it from it’s ruins and restore it. Then the rest of mankind, all the other nations who are consecrated to My Name, will look for YHVH” (Acts 15: 16, 17).
Are we not today witnessing the ultimate fulfilment of this restorative act of the Messiah – one of the final events in the string, before the setting up of His Kingdom in Jerusalem, in Israel, at His Return, which both Jews and Christians are awaiting?
This indeed, is the Message which BIBLE REVELATIONS proclaim.
Question is: Which religion will be the foundation of this Restored Kingdom – Christianity, Islam, Judaism or any other?
The answer to this question should really be so elementary and logic – but for the animosity which has been amassed against this Jewish ancestral nation of the Messiah, through Christian theology and Muslim hatred.
The question which those should consider who seek the answer whether to go “all the way” and convert to Judaism, or not, is:
- Would God go to all the trouble of selecting a nation (Israel) to be “carriers of His Oracles” (Hebrews 5:12); punish them with international dispersion for 2000 years from their Land of Birth, Israel, because they failed to fully comply with His ‘System’ (Judaism), simply to do away with this System and replace it with something totally different (Christianity or Islam)?
- If the major religions of the world (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) are so diametrically opposed as to lead to centuries of bloodletting wars and persecutions of one faith against the other, is it possible to expect that “in the Coming Kingdom of God”, all these religions will persist, one next to the other?
- If God was so insistent on the Israelites to fully comply with His ‘System’ as revealed to Moses and based on the Heavenly pattern, would He be less insistent on professing followers of His?
Confusion also reigns because these “returning” Christians have been convinced by years of doctrinal brainwashing and traditional culture, that “Christianity” was initiated by the Messiah to “replace Judaism”. The great Reform of the Middle Ages, pioneered by Luther, Calvin, etc., assisted to plant the expectation that Christianity would be purified until it became “the pure religion” which God intended. Islam similarly believe that they have a mandate from God (incidentally, recognised as the same God of the Jews) to enforce Islam on the whole world.
Fact of the matter is that “the religion of God”, as proclaimed by the Bible, is Judaism! – initiated by Him; revealed to Israel by Him, Divinely mandated by Him to Israel for proclamation of this Hebrew Faith to the entire world and insisted upon for faithful observance thereof by Him! The more Christianity becomes “purified”, the more it becomes like Judaism!
That Judaism itself needs some purification, no doubt. But never ever will such purification lead it to become anything remotely similar to Christianity!
What then was the first Messianic Congregations of the First Century like?
Please imagine yourself, in those days, a follower of the Jewish Messiah of Israel:
- How would the “church” in the days of Messiah differ from the “church” today?
- Were there certain things taught to Gentiles by the Apostles and Prophets, that are no longer being taught by pastors, ministers and television evangelists today? And if not, why not?
- Did Messiah Himself observe and practice religious customs that Christian theology and Islam today discard, like the 7th Day Sabbath, the seven Great Feasts of God (the Jewish Festivals), Chanukkah, circumcision, purifying bodily water immersion, etc.? Did He attend a Church, a Mosque or a Jewish Temple, undergoing Bar-Mitzvah Himself at the age of 12?
And if it is different, will you persist in continuing in the “contrary” system because your religious leader tells you so; or because the majority think it is correct that you do? Or will you start following the example of the Master? And if that brings you more to becoming like Him, a Jew – will you persist in defending that which is totally contrary to His original System? – and refuse to identify with that which He was intimately part of, not withstanding the fact that He was not recognised by them as such – like unto this day?
In Acts 10:1-2 we find mention of the word “Gentile” as the author introduces us to a man named Cornelius. Cornelius was a centurion in the Italian Regiment, a righteous man, God fearing – a believer in the God of Israel. But he was a Gentile
The Church has overlooked Cornelius:
Where the churches of today have often missed the mark, is that they have failed to understand what the implications were on the “early” Gentile Messianic Believers. They were semi-proselytes (converts to the Faith of Israel – grafted in through faith and immersion by baptism in a “mikveh” or Jewish ritual bath pool). The males were uncircumcised and had to become circumcised.
History teaches us that they accepted the “Yoke of the Kingdom” and ascribed belief in the Torah (the Jewish Scriptures). They believed only in the God of Israel as the One only true God. Lastly, they had undergone ritual immersion in a Mikveh. These were the minimum requirements for a Gentile to be recognized as having turned from idols to serve the living God, both during and after the days of Messiah!
Our quoted portion of Scripture above, referring to the fulfilment of the Restoration of the Original True Faith, lays some further requirements on such “Jewish Messianic converts”:
Acts 15:19 – 21, “… instead of making things more difficult for Gentiles who turn to God (those who accepted Messiah in this case), we send them a letter telling them merely to abstain from anything polluted by idols (the flesh of animals slain for pagan sacrifice), from fornication, from the meat of strangled animals and from (eating) blood” as provided against by Jewish Kosher slaughtering to this day).
These requirements were part of a larger corpus of Jewish Laws. It seems from the N.T. Scriptures, that the early Messianic religious leaders had much debate and inconclusive decision-making regarding which of all the Jewish Customs to expect Gentile Converts to adhere to. As if God had a different System for Jews and converts to the Jewish Faith! It should be logic that, when you emigrate to a new country, you fall in totally and comply with all the Laws and Regulations of that society, or you are out – no question! Why should it be different for the Kingdom of God?
In Acts 15 we read about the Jerusalem Council which was occupied with the
events concerning the Gentiles who received the Holy Spirit “as they” themselves had. When the news of the Cornelius event reached them, the Jewish Messianic leaders had to address this new development. Their attitude had been the same as Peter’s prior to his vision. These few men from Jerusalem had erroneously believed that God was partial to the Jews and had viewed the Gentile God-Fearers as unclean. Now God had demonstrated to Peter that the Gentiles “were acceptable” (as God-Fearers who had not yet fully converted to Judaism).
This confusion regarding the obligation on Gentile believers is nothing strange considering the traditional Jewish background of the “apostles” of the Messiah, who had to go out and proclaim a Jewish Messiah and a Jewish religion to the world out there – a world which was, generally, steeped in paganism. This was a tall order!
It required a Divine revelation to Peter, to convince them that they had to go out and proclaim this Jewish Messiah to a world which, much like today, was not very receptive to the Jewish religion, Custom and Law. Prior to his encounter with Cornelius, Peter believed that God was partial to Jews (Shammai, a leading Rabbi who believed Gentiles were unworthy of the world to come, had poisoned Israel with his anti-Gentile teachings). Peter’s vision on the roof top in Joppa with the vision of unclean animals and his experience with Cornelius changed his mind forever. Shammai was wrong and God’s vision to Peter proved it. Peter now understood that all people were acceptable to the God of Israel, if they “feared Him” and “worked righteousness.”
Careful examination will show that not only had the Gentiles previously been receiving the teaching (Torah) from Hebraic Scriptures, but they also had received “the gift of the Holy Spirit”, as had the Jewish crowd of 3000 on the Day of Pentecost. This was something new for Gentiles! Remember, Cornelius had for some time accepted the God of Israel and the Hebrew Bible, but now he also received the “Holy Spirit.” Yet, it was expected of them to comply specifically with selected, main tenets of the Jewish Faith!
From this time on, the Jewish leaders would be faced with an influx of Gentiles who would be drawn to the Jewish Message that the Kingdom of Heaven was arriving, as preached by Messiah and His followers. Upon accepting this Message, they had no alternative but to become a part of the Jewish Messianic community of the day. There were no ‘Christians’ to join – not until 300 years later!
The receiving of the Spirit upon the Gentiles led to the question that occupied the Jerusalem council in 50 A.D. They needed to determine what these pagan Gentiles (who would be coming into the faith) needed to do in order to become part of the community of Jewish followers of the Messiah.
Acts 15:1 tells us that some thought that these Gentiles needed to be circumcised before they could become part of the community. In other words, they needed to convert to Judaism as was the standard procedure up till then. After all, that was the normal process before the Cornelius event in Acts 10. The Jerusalem council concluded in Acts 15:23-29 that pagan Gentiles did not need to make a full conversion to Judaism or circumcision any longer!
Orthodox Jewish tradition, even to this day, teach that Gentiles only need to keep the Noahite Laws (seven of the Ten Commandments) and not the Mosaic Law (613 Laws). However, full converts to Judaism are obliged to keep all the Laws!
There should not be any doubt with sincere believers as to what the Almighty expects of His followers – He has One Set of Rules only and he certainly requires full compliance thereof.
It should also be evident that the sliding away from True Judaism, even by this first Jewish Messianic Congregation, under the directives of their Jewish Messianic leaders (Paul and the apostles), started the gradual landslide which would, three centuries later be aggravated by the “pagan take-over” of the misguided majority of the Jewish Messianic Congregation, when the pagan convert, Constantine the Great, after a purported spiritual conversion, accepted what had by that time become a hybrid Messianic religion, and he made of it a State religion under the Roman Empire. Several subsequent religious Councils, after much debate, issued Decrees which totally and unrecognisably changed that which was left of the originally Jewish Messianic Religion – and behold: Christianity was born!
It must be emphasised however, that throughout history, there always was a remnant, which clung to Jewish Orthodox custom and teaching – the True Messianic Jewish remnant.
We like to believe that BIBLE REVELATIONS proclaim the eternal Tenets of this Original True Faith of YHVH, the Creator God of Israel.
The matter of conversion to Judaism remains an individual personal decision.
Other related reading material on this Subject
- Messianic Judaism rather than Judaism?
- Is God Jewish?
- Know the Way
- The Covenant – Key to Eternal Life
- The One True Congregation
- The Original True Gospel
- Proselytizing of Jews – a Divine Command or Taboo?
- The greatest Miracle ever in the making – The Return of the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel