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Shavua Tov

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  • Daniel Botkin

The Real Meaning of Messianic


Congregations like the one I attend are most commonly described as Messianic, and the movement with which I identify is commonly called the Messianic Movement. If you call yourself Messianic, a correct understanding of the word Messianic can help you focus your aim more precisely and thereby be Messianic in the true and full sense of the word.

So, what is the real meaning of “Messianic”? The answer to that question probably depends on who you ask. Here’s something to consider. What do you suppose the results would be if you were to take a survey of people who are familiar with the word Messianic, people who know how that word is bandied about, and ask those people what first comes to mind when they hear the word “Messianic”? I suspect you would get a list of various things that are, for the most part, ignored by Christians but are important to Messianic people - things like Shabbat and shofars, tzitzit and Torah study, menorahs and mezuzahs, Hebrew names and Hebrew words.

All those things are important, because they are all in the Bible. However, the word Messianic encompasses much more than these kinds of things. Let’s examine that word Messianic and see what it really means.

The last shall be first, Yeshua said. So let’s first look at the last part of that word Messianic, the -nic suffix. In English and in some other languages, the -nic suffix (more often spelled -nik) is used to label an individual as a member of a specific group or type of people. In English-speaking countries there are peaceniks and beatniks. In Israel a person who is a member of a kibbutz is a kibbutznik. In Russia a person who keeps the Sabbath on Saturday (Subbota in Russian) is called a Subbotnik.

We can see from the above examples that the -nik (or -nic) suffix is used to express belonging, i.e., belonging to a group or type of people. A Messianic is a person who belongs to the Messiah, whether he refers to the Messiah as Jesus or Yeshua. Therefore the first and most important aspect of being Messianic is that of belonging to the Messiah. Belonging denotes ownership. If Yeshua does not own you, if He is not your Master, you are not Messianic. As Paul put it, “What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Cor. 6:19f).

If you still think you are the owner of your body or your spirit, you are not Messianic. If Messiah does not own you, it does not matter how faithfully you keep Shabbat, or how loudly you blow your shofar, or how often you wear tzitzit and study the Torah, or how many menorahs and mezuzahs you have, or how many Hebrew words you know. If the Messiah does not own you, you are not Messianic.

So if you want to be Messianic, that is the first thing that must be established. You must acknowledge that you are not your own, that you belong to the Lord. He owns you and He has the right to tell you what you can and cannot do. He has the right to change your plans and goals. He has the right to give and take away. Until you understand and acknowledge these things and yield to the Lordship of Messiah, you have not even taken the first step on the Messianic path. So make sure you have submitted to the Lordship of Messiah before you call yourself Messianic.

After the -nic aspect of Messianic, the ownership aspect, is established, we can then look at the Messia- part of the word. This part of the word obviously tells us to whom we belong. We belong to the Messiah. We know who the Messiah is, but what does that word Messiah mean?

The English word Messiah is derived from the Hebrew word mashiach, which means “anointed.” Therefore if you want to be Messianic, you should be anointed. “The disciples were called Christians first in Antioch,” the Bible says (Acts 11:26). The word translated “Christians” is the Greek word christianous, which means “anointed ones.” To be Messianic in the true and full sense of the word, you must not only belong to Messiah, you must also be anointed by Messiah. He anoints His disciples with the Holy Spirit like people in Bible times were anointed with oil.

In Hebrew, the verb “to anoint,” mashach, means “to pour, smear, or rub in” whatever substance is being used to anoint. With that thought in mind, which way would you like to be anointed with the Holy Spirit? Would you prefer it poured, smeared, or rubbed in? I don’t know about you, but when I pray for the anointing of the Spirit, I say, “Lord please don’t just pour it on me and smear it around on the surface. Rub it in, so it penetrates through the surface and permeates into the depths of my heart and soul.”

If you want to be Messianic, you must experience the anointing of the Holy Spirit in your life. You cannot be “an anointed one” without the anointing.

If I had to diagnose the current condition of the Messianic Movement, I’d say we need a strong dose of the Holy Ghost. We need the anointing of the Spirit. I do not have any statistics, or numbers, or charts and graphs to prove this diagnosis. I say it based on my observation of trends in the Messianic Movement.

“Ye shall know them by their fruits,” Yeshua said. When I look at the Messianic Movement, I see some good fruit, but I do not see a very bountiful harvest of the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance), nor do I see a very bountiful harvest of new souls.

Of course I see some love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance. Unfortunately, I also see a significant amount of hate, depression, inner turmoil, impatience, harshness, badness, unfaithfulness, pride, and lack of self-control. And I see very few souls saved through evangelistic outreach by Messianics. Let’s be honest. I see very few souls saved through evangelistic outreach by Messianics because very few Messianics put forth any effort to evangelize the lost. Messianics are often too busy arguing about God’s Hebrew name to evangelize sinners, who do not even know that God has a name. Messianics are too busy arguing about God’s calendar to evangelize sinners, who are not even aware of the existence of a Biblical calendar. And much of the Messianics’ arguing is laced with the works of the flesh (“hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies,” Gal. 5:20) rather than with the fruit of the Spirit.

Our barrenness is embarrassing. The cure for barrenness is prayer. Look at some of the barren women in the Bible. Their barrenness was cured through prayer. “Isaac entreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was entreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived” (Gen. 25:21). Hannah in her barrenness prayed with such intensity for a son that Eli thought she was drunk, and God answered her prayer. (See 1 Samuel chapter 1.) Elisabeth was barren and well stricken in years, but she conceived a son because her husband prayed. “Fear not, Zacharias,” the angel said, “for thy prayer is heard; and thy wife Elisabeth shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name John” (Luke 1:13).

“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much,” the Bible says (James 5:16). For prayer to be effective and to avail much, it must come from the mouth of a righteous man, and it must be prayed with fervency. Fervency comes from fire, and fire comes from the Holy Ghost. As John the Baptist said, “He that cometh after me... He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire” (Matt. 3:11). Yeshua referred to this baptism of the Holy Spirit as “the promise of the Father” (Acts 1:4).

The world, specifically the Jewish world, had been waiting for the arrival of the Messiah, the Anointed One who would come as the Redeemer. The Messiah Yeshua came, died, rose from the dead, and ascended to heaven. Those events were a necessary part of God’s plan, but God’s plan did not end with the Ascension. The promise of the Father came ten days after the Ascension, when cloven tongues of fire sat upon each of the disciples, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

This filling of the Holy Spirit put fire and fervency into the disciples. This filling of the Holy Spirit was experienced not just by the twelve Apostles only, but by all the disciples assembled together on that day. Furthermore, this experience was not just for first century believers only; it was promised to future generations as well. When speaking of this gift of the Holy Spirit, Peter said, “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:39).

To be Messianic in the true and full sense of the word, we need to belong to the Messiah and we need to have the anointing of the Holy Spirit. We cannot rightly claim to be christianous, “anointed ones,” without the anointing of the Spirit, and we cannot bear the fruit of the Spirit without the Holy Spirit. May God anoint us with the Spirit and take away the reproach of our barrenness. Amen.


| DB

 

Image: Psalm 111 by Daniel Botkin from his Psurrealistic Psalms Gallery. See this and all Daniel’s art pieces on his art website, DanielBotkin.com.

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Mike Weaks
Mike Weaks
Jun 08, 2022

I believe I am.

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