If you are Jewish, you remain Jewish, always, no matter what!
According to the Orthodox, a Jewish person is any person whose birth mother was a Jew, or any person who has gone through the formal process of conversion to Judaism. A person born to non-Jewish parents who has not undergone the formal process of conversion, but who believes everything that Orthodox Jews believe, and observes every law and custom of Judaism, is still a non-Jew, even in the eyes of the most liberal movements of Judaism.
And a person born to a Jewish mother who is an atheist and never practices the Jewish religion, is still a Jew, even in the eyes of the ultra-Orthodox. In this sense, Judaism is more like a nationality than like other religions, and being Jewish is like a citizenship (Reference.) This reference even says that it is important to note that being a Jew has nothing to do with what you believe or what you do.
Given that information, then the reality is that a person who is born a Jew can believe in and practice whatever they want, their identity as a Jew is not something that can be taken away from them. A fascinating post on the Chabad website testifies to just that: “Jewishness is not a belief, a feeling, a conviction or a lifestyle. It is a state of being. We can either celebrate it or fight against it. But it will always be there.”
I Kings 18:21 says “And Elijah drew near to all the people and said, Until when are you hopping between two ideas? If the Lord is God, go after Him, and if the Baal, go after him. And the people did not answer him a word.” Elijah the prophet was sent to rebuke those Jews who were worshiping a foreign god named Baal. The people were given a choice, if the Lord is God, follow Him, but if Baal, follow him. Ultimately the Jews renounced their idolatrous ways and returned to God.
Some have concluded that this is saying that a Jew who follows another religion is Jewish only to the point that he retains a spiritual obligation to repent and return to Judaism. Following that line of reasoning, as long as a Jew’s beliefs are idolatrous and foreign to Judaism, he/she cannot call himself or herself a Jew. In that same analysis some have made the differentiation between a non practicing Jew and one who has chosen to follow a “foreign” path (Pages 18-19 “The Jewish Response to Missionaries – Counter Missionary Handbook” by Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz.)
Is this what the Tanakh truly says? We must carefully consider the context of passages. In other words, we must look carefully at verses that precede and that follow a verse we are studying. When we take a passage “out of context” we are in danger of misinterpreting it. A passage can often be taken more than one way, until we look closely at the larger picture, perhaps an entire chapter or even the entire book.
Does it say in I Kings 18 that those who followed Baal were no longer Jews? No. Verse 18 “And he said, “I have not brought trouble upon Israel, but you and your father’s house, since you have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and you went after the Baalim.” There is absolutely no mention of a loss of identity; what there is mention of is there were consequences from God, trouble, just like when we forsake God and pursue ungodly activities and interests. When we turn from God and follow our own path, there most certainly are consequences; natural ones as well as one’s from God.
Some may say that the Torah teaches that Jews and non Jews are given different paths to reach God. A Jew is obligated to follow the Torah while a non Jew must observe the Seven Laws of the Children of Noah. (Page 19 “The Jewish Response to Missionaries – Counter Missionary Handbook” by Rabbi Bentzion Kravitz.) That is found absolutely nowhere in the Tanakh. That is a Rabbinical thought expressed in the Oral Torah inferred from Genesis 9.
Now getting down to what the Bible actually states. The Tanakh does not specifically state anywhere that matrilineal descent should be used. The Orthodox Jews are using the following to support the matrilineal descent theory: Deuteronomy 7:1-5, Leviticus 24:10 and Ezra 10:2-3. Source.
However taking into account the context of these scriptures within the rest of the Bible, those scriptures discuss the intermarriage between a believer; a follower of God, and a non believer or a non follower of God like Deuteronomy 22:10, 1 Corinthians 5:9, 2 Corinthians 6:14-17 state.
Regarding who is a Jew, the Tanakh states that a Jewish person is any person who is a descendant of Israel (Jacob), as well as the patriarchs Abraham and Isaac, and their wives. (Genesis 12:1-3, Psalm 77:16 [Psalm 77:15 OT].) Interesting too, according to the Tanakh there isn’t any set out list of requirements to formally convert to Judaism. Ruth is held up by all as an example of conversion (Ruth 1:16.)
Who is a Gentile?
Gentiles are people who are not Jewish. Gentiles are not born Christian either. No one is BORN a Christian or is a Christian simply because their parents are Christians or they were sprinkled with water at an infant baptism. There is a personal and inner decision that each INDIVIDUAL must make for him or herself in order to become a Christian. Gentiles who place their faith in Jesus are “grafted into” the Jewish olive tree of faith Romans 11:17-25 becoming spiritual sons and daughters of Abraham (Galatians 3:28-29.)
Who is a Christian?
Anyone, GENTILE OR JEW, who receives Jesus as their Savior (Romans 10:11-13.) One is not born a Christian the way one is born a Jew or born a man (XY Sex Chromosomes) or a woman (XX Sex Chromosomes.) One is also not baptized into becoming a Christian either the way one might be baptized into a religion for example as in infant baptism by sprinkling of water. To become a Christian as the Bible states it, one must actually decide that they believe what scripture says about receiving salvation.
Bringing this page together regarding Jewish people….
If a Jewish person has decided for him or herself that Jesus is indeed the Messiah and has received Jesus as such, then they have a dual identity as Jewish and as a follower of Jesus.
The future, the hope… this concept of life everlasting, eternal life, is found in the Tanach (Tanakh, Old Testament) as well as in the New Testament. Death is viewed as the end of physical life but not the termination of existence. The dead, though separated from this life, continue to exist.
“May Your dead live, ‘My corpses shall rise; awaken and sing, you who dwell in the dust, for a dew of lights is your dew, and [to the] earth You shall cast the slackers.“Isaiah 26:19 (An Old Testament wording “Your dead shall live; their bodies shall rise. You who dwell in the dust, awake and sing for joy! For your dew is a dew of light, and the earth will give birth to the dead.” )
“And many who sleep in the dust of the earth will awaken-these for eternal life, and those for disgrace, for eternal abhorrence.” Daniel 12:2
“The Lord kills and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and raises up.” 1 Samuel 2:6
“Therefore, my heart rejoiced, and my soul was glad; even my flesh shall dwell in safety. For You shall not forsake my soul to the grave; You shall not allow Your pious one to see the pit. You shall let me know the way of life, the fullness of joys in Your presence. There is pleasantness in Your right hand forever. Psalm 16:9 –11
“I will see Your face with righteousness; I will be satisfied with Your image upon the awakening.” Psalm 17:15
“Like sheep, they are destined to the grave; death will devour them, and the upright will rule over them in the morning, and their form will outlast the grave as his dwelling place. But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave, for He shall take me forever.” Psalm 49:15-16 (14-15 Old Testament)
“Yet I was constantly with You; You grasped my right hand. With Your counsel You led me, and after[wards], You took me [for] glory. For whom do I have in heaven, and I desired no one with You on earth. My flesh and my heart yearn; God is the rock of my heart and my portion forever. For behold, those who have distanced themselves from You will perish; You have cut off anyone who strays from You. But as for me God’s nearness is my good; I have placed my refuge in the Lord God, to tell all Your mission. Psalm 73:23 -28
I do not however embrace the secularized version of the very critical and special happening nor do I connect with the bunnies and eggs (although I confess, I do have a fondness for chocolate. Thank you to Hershey’s and Russell Stover for your fantastic Resurrection Sunday chocolate treats!)
The actual events that transpired on Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday are critical to ALL who truly believe the Bible, and these events are a part of the statement of faith for both Messianic Jewish synagogues and Biblical Christian churches.
Was Jesus actually resurrected??? IS Jesus actually alive with God right now??? How do we know that a 2,000 year old event actually happened??? Well, how do we know that anything in history happened?
A historian finds the facts relying on historical data such as archeology, ancient documents and recorded eyewitness testimony to reconstruct the past. Certain principles guide the determination of which historical accounts are reliable and which are not. If there are several independent sources reporting the same event, that is reliable history. If the sources are actual eyewitnesses, that is reliable history. If the eyewitness accounts are during the same general time period as the actual event, that is reliable history. Once the historian has gathered the facts, a determination has to be made if the facts support the alleged historical event.
Along with the Bible, about 18 different ancient non-Christian writers present more than 100 facts about the birth of Jesus, His life, teachings, miracles, crucifixion, resurrection and ascension: Josephus, Tacitus, Thallus, Phlegon, Pliny the Younger, Suetonius, Emperor Trajan, Emperor Hadrian, the Talmud, Lucian, Mara bar Serapion.
The facts are:
1) Jesus died by Roman crucifixion.
2) Jesus was buried in a known, guarded accessible tomb with a rock sealing it.
3) The disciples believed they had seen the risen Jesus. Paul lists the eyewitnesses in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8. Even critical scholars believe 1 Corinthians is an authentic letter written by Paul so here we have a reliable list of people who believed they saw resurrection appearances of Jesus,
4) The disciples really believed they had seen Jesus such that it totally transformed them. Jesus, their leader, had been brutally killed before their eyes. Their reactions were understandable and also cowardly. Peter even denies Jesus three times. But something happened, transforming them from cowards who abandoned Jesus to courageous men who risked their lives for His message. They didn’t just claim Jesus rose, they absolutely believed it in a way that their lives were powerfully changed.
5) The tomb of Jesus was empty. There are three main reasons why the empty tomb is a historical fact. They fall under the acronym (JET). Jerusalem factor (J), enemy testimony (E), and the testimony of women (T). Any conspiracy theories as to a stolen body or any other claims do not have one shred of evidence to back up the claims. That He was actually resurrected has actual evidence to support it.
Skeptics certainly can and will believe what they want. There are doubters for all aspects of history and yet, history is just that, a record of events that happened in the past.
Will we discredit all history that occurred simply because there is no one alive now who was alive then to tell us what happened? The same historical method for compiling the evidence for the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus is the same historical method utilized for compiling evidence for anything in history.
Google the research and examine it all. If you are interested, really dig into the material. As insane, wild, and strange as it is to our natural minds, this actually did happen. An excellent publication, available free of charge that provide direction to all the research and evidence, biblical and non biblical sources, even from skeptics who show the evidence to support this: Gary R. Habermas, “Evidence for the Historical Jesus: Is the Jesus of History the Christ of Faith?”
The resurrection of Jesus is a testimony to the resurrection of human beings.
In the Tanach (Tanakh, Old Testament), there are many specific blood sacrifices listed and each one was a covering over the particular sin or sins, an atonement. This is why the sacrifices had to be repeated, and this is why there is the annual Jewish holiday, Yom Kippur, the day of Atonement.
In the New Testament, at the very central heart of the gospel is that the saving death of Jesus is the final atonement, for it is the propitiation: the quenching of God’s wrath for us when He completely removed our sins and took them onto Himself (expiation) thereby reconciling those who believe to God forever! Our sin (ALL of our sin, our entire body of sin; past, present, future) was imputed onto Jesus, and the righteousness of Jesus was imputed onto us, therefore called double imputation. (Romans 3:21-26, 1 John 2:2)
Over 300 prophecies stated in the Tanach (Tanakh, Old Testament) were fulfilled by one named Jesus (Yeshua in Hebrew). Our eternal God became man (incarnation) for our salvation; sinless, born under the Law, to fulfill the Law perfectly (Genesis 49:10). Crucified, died, resurrected, alive seated at the right hand of the Father (Psalm 110:1), fully God, fully man (Daniel 7:13-14, Isaiah 52:6-7, Isaiah 9:5 Tanakh [9:6 OT]). By faith, we are able to be reconciled to God forever. Just as Abram back in Genesis 15, by faith.
Do you believe? Will you believe? Will you receive your Messiah today?