or Oral Law?
Published by Rabbi Jeff Forman
City of David Messianic Synagogue
Thornhill, ON Canada
Messianic Judaism is a Jewish faith founded upon the Scriptures and the Person of Messiah. In fact, it is so connected to Messiah that we may boldly say – without the Messiah, there is no Messianic Judaism. This is the crucial difference between Messianic Judaism and modern rabbinic Judaism. Rabbinic Judaism has existed for hundreds of years without a major emphasis on the Messiah because the foundation of rabbinic Judaism is the oral law – the writings of the rabbis. The foundation of Messianic Judaism, on the other hand, is the person of Messiah spoken of in the Jewish Scriptures.
For centuries God had been preparing the Jewish People for a new spiritual foundation. Seven hundred years before the Common Era, God said through Isaiah the prophet, “Therefore thus says the Lord God: Behold I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; Whoever believes will not act hastily.” (Isaiah 28:16). Was Isaiah referring to the oral law or was he referring to the Messiah as Zion’s new and sure spiritual foundation?
Three hundred years before Isaiah, King David prophesied about the same stone. In Psalm 118:22 he said, “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone.” He foresaw the stone being rejected by the builders. Who are the builders? Spiritually, the builders are those entrusted with building God’s Kingdom. They are, therefore, the spiritual leaders of Israel. The stone which Israel’s spiritual leaders reject will ultimately become “the chief cornerstone.”
Messianic Jews believe that the stone spoken of by the prophets is not rabbinic oral law, but rather Yeshua the Messiah Himself. It is an historical fact that the religious leaders of Yeshua’s day rejected Him. They handed Him over to the Romans who put Him to death by crucifixion. Had the story ended there it would be sad indeed. However, the sequel to the story guarantees a new, powerful and sure foundation in Zion.
Prior to His death, Yeshua declared there would be an ultimate sign confirming His claim to be Israel’s Messiah. “For as Jonah was three days and nights in the belly of the great fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matthew 12:40). Many competent Jewish witnesses in Jerusalem boldly declared that after three days and nights they saw Yeshua alive from the dead with their own eyes. After revealing Himself to them for a period of forty days, He commanded them to testify of all they had seen and heard. History shows their testimonies were sealed by their blood – each of them was willing to die for their testimony, proving they firmly believed He was alive from the dead.
Furthermore, the tomb in Jerusalem where Yeshua was buried was empty - a fact that has never been refuted. The reality that Yeshua is alive from the dead shows authoritatively how “the stone which the builders rejected” could become, “the chief cornerstone.”
Having been raised from the dead, Yeshua is the Chief Cornerstone of Messianic Judaism as the New Covenant scriptures confirm; “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Yeshua the Messiah.” (I Corinthians 3:11).
The fact that so many Gentiles believe in the God of Israel through Him serves to confirm His Messiahship all the more because Israel’s Messiah was also to be “a light to the Gentiles” (Isaiah 49:6). Gentiles who come to God through Him have accepted an inherently Jewish faith though most do not practice it as such. As Messianic Jews, however, we have an unshakable confidence that Yeshua is the sure foundation both of our relationship with God and of our Jewish identity. “This is the Lord’s doing and it is marvelous in our eyes” (Psalm 118:23).