What are Hebraic Christians, and How Do They Differ from Messianic Jews?
Messianic Jews are believers who are typically of Jewish ethnic origin and who believe that Jesus Christ (Yeshua Ha Mashiach) is the Son of God. Messianic Jews see themselves as Jewish and frequently live in obedience to Halakha, a body of Jewish religious law that includes talmudic and rabbinic rulings and Jewish customs and traditions in addition to the written Law of Moses.
Hebraic Christians are people of any ethnic origin (Jewish or Gentile) who believe that Jesus Christ (Yeshua Ha Mashiach) is the Son of G-d and who desire to worship Him the way the earliest believers did in New Testament times. Hebraic Christians see themselves as children of Abraham by faith, whether they are physically descended from Abraham or not. “Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham” (Gal 3:7). We believe that the whole Bible, from Genesis to Revelation, is G-d’s Word for us today.
Hebraic Christians emphatically do NOT believe in replacement theology, which says that G-d has rejected the Jews and replaced them with the Church. “I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin” (the apostle Paul, in Romans 11:1). Hebraic Christians DO believe Romans 11:16-29, in which Paul compares Jewish and Gentile believers to branches of the same olive tree: the Jews are the natural branches of an olive tree that is cultivated by G-d; Gentile believers are wild olive branches that were grafted into G-d’s cultivated Jewish rootstock (verse 24). This is one reason why you will often hear Hebraic Christians refer to studying and returning to the “Jewish roots” of Christianity.
Hebraic Christians are also friends of Israel, believing not only that the very existence of the nation of Israel proves the truth of Bible prophecy but also that G-d will bless us for blessing Israel. In Genesis 12:2-3 God promised Abraham that “I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”
Room for Difference
At Shalom, we have a wide range of beliefs and practices concerning the law of Moses as recorded in the Bible. As a congregation, we do not accept the Oral Torah as having the same authority as the written Word of G-d. However, some of our believers call themselves “Torah positive” and keep the scriptural Jewish law as recorded in the Torah (the Pentateuch). There are others who could eat a shrimp cocktail or a BLT with a perfectly clear conscience. We follow the apostle Paul in this:
Let not him that eateth despise him that eateth not; and let not him which eateth not judge him that eateth: for God hath received him. Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? to his own master he standeth or falleth. Yea, he shall be holden up: for God is able to make him stand. One man esteemeth one day above another: another esteemeth every day alike. Let every man be fully persuaded in his own mind. He that regardeth the day, regardeth it unto the Lord; and he that regardeth not the day, to the Lord he doth not regard it. He that eateth, eateth to the Lord, for he giveth God thanks; and he that eateth not, to the Lord he eateth not, and giveth God thanks. For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself. For whether we live, we live unto the Lord; and whether we die, we die unto the Lord: whether we live therefore, or die, we are the Lord’s. (Romans 14:3-8)
Christianity is Jewish
One thing Hebraic Christians all agree upon is that Christianity is a form of Judaism – an organic outgrowth of what G-d began with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. We believe that as we increase our knowledge and understanding of Christianity’s Jewish infrastructure we will increase our knowledge and understanding of what the Bible actually teaches. Jesus was (and still is) Jewish; the earliest believers were all Jewish; and the Tenach (the “Old” Testament) is still the Word of G-d. More than one tenth of the New Testament consists of references to or quotations from the Old Testament. We believe it is impossible to understand the Bible fully without understanding both the Jewish mindset and the Jewish scriptures that predate the time of Christ.
G-d’s Appointed Times
At Shalom, we study and practice G-d’s appointed times as listed in Leviticus 23. Our Kingwood congregation meets on the Sabbath. (The Bible never changed the day of rest to Sunday.) We also observe G-d’s annual appointed times: Passover, Unleavened Bread, Firstfruits, Shavu’ot (Pentecost), Yom Teru’ah (the Feast of Trumpets, also known as Rosh Hashanah), Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), and Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles). We believe that G-d’s eternal timeline is revealed through these seven prophetic celebrations, that the first four have already been fulfilled, and that the last three will be fulfilled at the close of the Church Age with the return of Yeshua Ha Mashiach.