Judaism: The World’s Oldest Religion

To sum up Judaism in a sentence, you could say that it’s the foundation of the Christian faith, but they’re still looking for the Messiah. The Jewish faith goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve communed with God, and praised Him. It carried on throughout the Old Testament patriarchs through Abraham, Moses, David, all the way up to Jesus Christ. Those who put their faith in Jesus Christ as the long-awaited Messiah, whether they were Jew or gentile, were born into the Christian faith. In the Old Testament there was no such thing as Christians, because Christ had not yet made Himself known as the Messiah. What God-fearing Jews were then, would have been considered what Christians are today. But Jesus Christ came and changed all that, and now there is no distinction between Jew and gentile in the Lord’s eyes.

A brief history: In A.D. 70, Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed by the Romans. That was significant because that meant there was no place for the Jews to offer sacrifices. When Jerusalem was destroyed, the Jews scattered to almost every nation of the world where they established communities and built synagogues to keep their faith alive.

Many centuries later the world witnessed the horrors of the Holocaust which brought about the merciless death of 6 million Jews. And in 1967, the Israelites recaptured all of Jerusalem – the first time they have held it as a free people since 586 B.C. For a complex, yet fascinating read on this subject, I recommend Six Days of War by Michael B. Oren. And now we are in the point of history where Palestine is trying to take over. That is the briefest history lesson I can give on the people of Israel.

Judaism exists in 4 different forms: 1) Orthodox, 2) Conservative, 3) Reform, and 4) Messianic. Let’s examine them all:

Orthodox Jews follow the Law to a tee. When I say the Law, I am referring to the Torah (law or teachings), which are the first five books of the Old Testament, written by Moses. They obey the Old Testament (aka, Hebrew Bible) and other teachings of famous rabbis that have been added through centuries, such as the Mishna and the Talmud. And the Sabath is strictly practiced on a weekly basis.

Conservative Jews are more lenient with the Torah, but they keep the traditions of Judaism alive.

Reformed Jews believe that teaching the principles of Judaism is more important than practicing them. Most of these Jews do not observe the strict dietary laws. But let me stress that all of them (Orthodox, Conservative, and Reformed) agree on keeping the Sabath.

The Sabath, as most know, begins at sundown on Friday night and ends on sundown on Saturday. After a modest dinner of challah bread and a sip of wine, Conservatives and Reformed go to the synagogue. The Orthodox go on Saturday mornings and afternoons.

Some Jewish holidays:

Rosh Hashanah – This is the Jewish New Year and it lasts from September to October.

Yom Kippur – This is the Jewish Day of Atonement which takes place ten days after Rosh Hashanah. During those ten days, Jews take part in repentance and soul-searching.

Passover – This usually takes place during Easter. The youngest children will usually ask, “Why is this night different from all other nights?” and the Elder will tell the story of the Exodus.

Concerning Jesus, the Jews believe that He was a great prophet and teacher. Nothing more. The Jews in Jesus’ time had strayed from the purpose behind God’s laws and had become legalistic and judgmental in their practices (like some Christians today).

So what’s the difference, then between Christianity and Judaism? Well, this question hinges on another question: Was Jesus the Messiah, as He claimed, or was He an impostor? That’s really what it comes down to. Christians still study and learn from the Hebrew texts of the Old Testament and esteem them as God’s Word. Like every other religion and belief system in the world, it all comes down to one thing and one thing only: Jesus. Do you, or do you not, believe Him to be the Anointed One, the promised one, the deliverer? That is the question that will make all the difference concerning each and every individual’s eternal destiny. So then, could a Jew be a Christian today?

There is a movement that gained increasing momentum during the last decades of the 20th century, called Messianic Judaism. These people believe that Yeshua (Jesus) is the promised Jewish Messiah and Savior for Israel and the world. What spawned this movement? It was at the end of the Six Day War in 1967, when Jerusalem suddenly came back into Jewish hands after nearly 2,000 years, and tens of thousands of Jewish people accepted Yeshua as their Messiah. Christians, if you meet a Messianic Jew, invite him or her into your home as a sibling in Christ, and gladly break bread with that person.

Today there are 350+ Messianic Jewish congregations worldwide and dozens in Israel. More Jewish people put their faith in Christ in the last 20 years than in 20 centuries. They welcome Gentiles yet retain Jewish forms of worship, feasts, festivals, songs, customs and even humor. Beleiveing Jesus is a very Jewish thing to do! (Acts 15, Eph. 2, Rom. 10:12)

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About adoptingjames
My lovely wife and I are foster parents, dog owners, home owners, and Christians. I am a blogger, book editor, and author. On my blog you'll read about adoption, faith topics, inspirational thoughts, and a whole lotta Disney/Pixar lovin'! For the most exciting read ever, check out my suspense/adventure novel, The Man in the Box. You. Will. Love it.

9 Responses to Judaism: The World’s Oldest Religion

  1. mimijk says:

    Thank you for such a thoughtful summary…as a reformed Jew, I found this very interesting. I don’t know that I believe that Jews considered Jesus an imposter – for as you note above, he was highly respected and esteemed…

    • pacwp says:

      Their love of God is clear, but sometimes their facts are either not clearly stated, or hold onto a falsehood they do not understand and therefore they can come away as insulting.

    • deshipley says:

      If they did not believe Jesus’s claim to be the Son of God and Messiah, how could they *not* consider him an impostor? I don’t see how one could have it both ways.

  2. Terry says:

    While the Hindus might take umbrage at your claim of “Oldest Religion”, I loved your summary. I met the editor of the Messianic Jewish Newspaper on my honeymoon, which was my first introduction to the sect, and have been interested ever since.

  3. RIYAZ AHMED says:

    Brother Why Noting is said of Islam and Muhammed? We trust and have faith in all the people yu mentioned from adam, eve, abrham, david, moses, jesus etc.

  4. Well written! And then there is the increasing number of Messianic Christians (sometimes also called Hebrew roots Christians), who follow the Biblical festivals and also speak of Yeshua.

    We have a lot to learn from one another, whichever path we walk. May His grace lead us ever deeper into His presence!

  5. Pingback: The Difference Between Religions and Cults « adoptingjames

  6. Dota says:

    The Jewish faith goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve communed with God, and praised Him.

    While I don’t believe in Adam and Eve literally, I always liked that story. Possibly because Adam wasn’t identified by race, but by his identity as a Human being, made in the image of God. And that symbolized the brotherhood of mankind, in addition to man’s special origin.

    The story is ruined if Adam is turned into a Jew. This is because Christianity is a universal religion whereas Judaism is a tribal religion. In Judaism it is the Jews that are exclusively God’s chosen people whereas in Christianity it is mankind that is God’s chosen creation.

    And now we are in the point of history where Palestine is trying to take over.

    Yes they are. They’re trying to reclaim land they were kicked out of at the point of a gun by sticks and stones; only to be run over by Israeli tanks.

    God’s chosen people: 1
    Palestinian children: 0

  7. Mich-in-French says:

    A great post – and brilliantly summarised. The big issue with Jewish people and Yeshua (as He was actually named – it was then translated to Jesus in the Greek translations of the Bible) was that they could not accept Him as the Messiah because they were expecting a King – someone that would remove the Roman government from power and rule and reign. But He didn’t come to that – not the first time He came to earth – He came as the Lamb of God – the Sacrificial Lamb – the Lamb YHWH knew the earth required before the coming of the Messiah.

    They did not recognize Him as Messiah because His first task was to be the Lamb -to die for all mankind and allow His Bride to be restored. This could only be done through sacrifice, but at the time the Jews did not see this.

    When Yeshua returns He will come as the Messiah. He will return for His spotless Bride and THEN He will rule and reign and the government shall be upon His shoulders. So in essence the Jews were right – He did not come as the Messiah – He fulfilled the first festivals of Passover & Unleavened bread, First Fruits and Pentecost and the other 3 are yet to be fulfilled by the Messiah – this is the Feast of Trumpets, Yom Kippur and The Feast of Tabernacles. This is when He comes to fetch His bride.

    We, as believers, need our roots – which the Jewish (the House of Judah) people have to form a solid true foundation of our faith – we have had the fruit as Christian but without the basis of the roots a tree does not stand resolutely.

    It is so exciting to see the veils being lifted from both the Jews and the Christians or believers – this is the prophetic word which says YHWH will bring back the Lost sheep (the House of Israel or Ephraim).

    I could go on and on – but I think I should stop just there – your post is just something that is so much part of my walk now. Thank you for sharing.

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