What Does it Mean to be Jewish?

As we spend time this month praying for Israel, it seems appropriate to touch on the Jewish resistance of the Messiah. So, let’s lay the groundwork by answering our title question.

There is great misunderstanding about “Jewishness”…seemingly even among those who are Jewish. I once asked a Jewish friend, “What does being Jewish mean?” and I got a rather interesting answer. After a long discussion, it came down to a birthright issue for her. She was Jewish because she was “born Jewish.” It was a biological identity for her.

At other times, similar conversations have yielded somewhat different results. A young Israeli seemed to tie his Jewish identify to his ethnicity and nationality…he lives in Israel and is not Arab! (There was much more to that conversation, but that was an interesting take away!) For others, being ultra-religious and/or adhering to culture and traditions defines one’s Jewishness.

There is no doubt Jewish identity today often revolves around those (or similar) characteristics. Those characteristics are not necessarily inaccurate, but I wonder if true Jewish identity is tied to Abraham. Originally a pagan Gentile, God called Abraham to be father of the Jews. (See Genesis 12:1-3 and God’s Call to Abraham to Birth the Jewish People)

The promise of land and an inheritance are the bedrocks of Jewish existence. God set the Jewish people and Israel apart for a very special purpose: to be the vehicle of world redemption! He purposefully planted them in Israel and sent His Son into the world through Jewish lineage! They were meant to be the light of the world, yet Jews (for the most part) have lost their identity by rejecting the Messiah and the ways of God. Thankfully, where the Jewish people have failed, the Messiah has succeeded. The Gospel of Jesus the Messiah has circled the globe, despite Jewish wandering.

But make no mistake, there have always been Jews who believed in Jesus. In fact, virtually all the first century Christians were Jews! Jesus’ disciples were Jews, writers of the New Testament were Jews, and Paul, who spread the Gospel to Rome, Ephesus and throughout the Mediterranean, was a Jew!

Indeed, Jesus the Messiah was a Jew, and He came to the nation and people of Israel. He came, not just for the Jewish people, though, but for all. His preference was in purpose, not in people. His preference in purpose was for the Jewish people to be a shining light of His love and salvation. He has no preference in people. He loves all unconditionally!

We’ve only touched the surface, but hopefully this groundwork helps to understand the pressure on Messianic Jews, particularly as they serve together in the IDF as overwhelming minorities. Check back in this afternoon for our prayer time, then join us here again tomorrow morning as we consider other historic factors that impacted Jewishness during the early centuries, and how it impacts Jews today.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.