Michael Rood’s Shabbat Night Live broadcast recently hosted a Q&A session called “Hebrew Roots Vs. Jewish Roots?“ While it can be appreciable that the faith heritage of today’s Believers is being stressed to primarily originate from the Tanach or Hebrew Bible–is it at all true that today’s Believers in Israel’s Messiah really have no Jewish Roots? While all of God’s people surely do have a spiritual heritage and Hebrew Roots in Israel’s Scriptures–is there no such thing as “Jewish Roots”? Was not Yeshua the Messiah a First Century Jew? Are there are not significant things for God’s people today to be taught from Second Temple Judaism, the post-Second Temple Jewish experience–and most especially the Jewish experience of the past two centuries involving Zionism, the Holocaust, and the rebirth of the State of Israel? Are there are significantly edifying Jewish traditions and customs which can enrich all of us, and are spiritually enlightening–or should mainline Jewish traditions and customs be totally discarded?
Messianic Apologetics editor J.K. McKee sorts through some of these difficulties. He stresses how today’s non-Jewish Believers in the Messianic movement, indeed do have Hebrew Roots from their spiritual heritage in Israel’s Scriptures and Jewish Roots in the Second Temple Judaism of Yeshua the Messiah and His Apostles. He also discusses the unfortunate reality of how many non-Jewish people in the independent Hebrew/Hebraic Roots movement are not too concerned with issues involving Jewish outreach, Jewish evangelism, and Israel solidarity. While many of them think that they are a part of the Commonwealth of Israel (Ephesians 2:11-13), Israel of God (Galatians 6:16), and grafted-in to Israel’s olive tree (Romans 11:16-17)–regarding themselves as participants in the restoration of Israel’s Kingdom (Amos 9:11-12; Acts 15:15-18)–the paradox is that they do not recognize that you cannot have an authentic restoration of Israel without Messianic Jews.
How are any of us supposed to reckon with the large numbers of non-Jewish Believers being drawn into the Messianic movement? Messianic Apologetics editor J.K. McKee addresses how the Messianic Jewish founders of the 1960s and 1970s set up a movement focused on: Jewish outreach, Jewish evangelism, and Israel solidarity. Messianic Jewish congregations could be places where Jewish Believers in Yeshua did not have to assimilate into the Christian world, with their children and grandchildren forgetting their heritage. Jewish Believers in Yeshua did not have to give up on being Jewish, and they could indeed live as Jews in fellowship with the wider Jewish world.
In the 1990s and 2000s, many non-Jewish Believers began to embrace their Hebraic Roots in the Torah and Tanach, and Jewish Roots in the Second Temple Judaism of Yeshua, in tangible ways. This was responded to both positively and negatively, some of it leading to the rise of the Two-House sub-movement and other associated groups. Today, if social media numbers hold true, the relatively independent Hebrew/Hebraic Roots movement is roughly ten to fifteen times the size of Messianic Judaism. While there is little doubting how this sector is bereft with hype, sensationalism, and opportunism–there should also be little doubting that God has moved on the hearts of many individual people and families, some of whom have not found a place in Messianic Judaism.
What are we supposed to do about some of these numbers? While we should be supportive of the original Messianic Jewish vision of Jewish outreach, evangelism, and Israel solidarity–how might such a vision need to be emendated, to account for something more also occurring?