THE HEBREW NAMES
Q: Who is "Yahweh"?
A: Yahweh is God's proper name in Hebrew. (Ex. 3:15; 6:3) The name Yahweh appears about 7,000 times in the Hebrew Bible. Most English translations render it simply as "the LORD." People in Messianic congregations sometimes refer to God by His proper name Yahweh. This name is not to be taken in vain (Ex. 20:7); therefore it should not be spoken in a careless or casual manner.
Q: Who is "Yeshua"?
A: The name that Jesus actually went by when He lived as a man in the land of Israel was the Hebrew name Yeshua. Calling Him by His Hebrew name reminds us that He was a Hebrew and that His teachings should not be divorced from the Hebrew culture in which He lived.
Q: What is the Torah?
A: The word Torah (Hebrew for "teaching" or "instruction") is usually translated "law," and refers to the Law contained in the five books of Moses (Genesis through Deuteronomy).
Q: Wasn't the Old Testament Law just a heavy yoke of bondage from which Christ frees us?
A: The Torah is bondage only to a person who misunderstands it and/or obeys it for the wrong reasons. If a person is trying to earn forgiveness or justification by obeying the Torah, then the Torah can become a frustrating yoke of bondage to that person. The Torah is a moral guide to teach God's redeemed people how to live and worship. (Deut. 4:5ff; Rom. 3:31) Properly understood and properly practiced, the Torah is not a yoke of bondage but a source of Divine joy and blessing. Psalm 119, the longest chapter in the Bible, expresses the positive attitude toward the Torah that all disciples should have.
Q: But didn't Jesus do away with the Law?
A: No. He told His disciples to not even think such a thing: "Think not that I am come to destroy the Law or the Prophets: I am not come to destroy but to fulfill [fill it full of meaning]. For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the Law till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of the least of these commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 5:17-19).
Q: Why do you worship on Saturday instead of on Sunday?
A: For three basic reasons:
1. We believe that all disciples of Yeshua should obey the Ten Commandments that were given to Israel. In the Ten Commandments God specified the seventh day of the week as the Sabbath. (Ex. 20; Deut. 5)
2. We follow the example of Yeshua and His disciples, who all faithfully kept the Sabbath. (Lk. 4:16; 23:56; Acts 13:14f, 44; 17:2; 18:4)
3. There is nothing in the New Testament that states that the Sabbath was ever changed from Saturday, the seventh day of the week, to Sunday, the first day of the week.
Q: But wasn't the Sabbath just made for the Jews to keep until the Messiah came?
A: Jesus said, "The Sabbath was made for man." (Mk. 2:27) "Man" includes all humanity, not just the Jewish people. Gentile Christians, by their faith in Israel's Messiah, are now part of "the commonwealth of Israel" (Eph. 2:11-13) and are "grafted in" to the olive tree of Israel (Rom. 11 17ff), so Israel's Sabbath is also for them. Isaiah 56 talks about the blessing God promises to the non-Jewish "strangers" (foreigners) who keep the Sabbath. The Sabbath has always been kept by a faithful remnant, and it will still be kept in the new heaven and new earth. (Isa. 66: 22f)
Q: What holidays do you celebrate?
A: We celebrate the seven annual Feasts of Yahweh: Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits, and Shavuot (Pentecost) in the spring; Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Tabernacles in the fall. (Lev. 23) The spring feasts point us back to the first coming of the Messiah, and the fall feasts point us forward to His second coming. Our congregation also enjoys celebrating two other annual holidays, Purim and Hanukkah. We also mark the beginning of each Biblical lunar month with a New Moon feast and celebration.
Q: What about dietary restrictions?
A: God made a distinction between animals which are kosher (created for human consumption) and animals which are not kosher (not created for human consumption). (Gen 7:2; 8:20; Lev. 11; Deut. 14) Many Christians believe that a few verses in the New Testament teach that the dietary restrictions were abolished by Christ. A close examination of these verses, however, shows that this is not the case. Therefore we follow the Biblical dietary guidelines, as did Yeshua and the Apostles.
Q: What foods are not kosher?
A: The details of the dietary restrictions are in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14. Pork, shellfish, and catfish are about the only non-kosher foods that are generally eaten in America. We request that people bringing food to any of our congregational gatherings please respect our practice, and not bring food containing these non-kosher meats or their products. Some products such as canned beans (and even some pastry and muffin mixes) contain lard, which is a pork product, so please read ingredient labels if you are not sure about something. We appreciate your cooperation.
DRESS & OUTWARD APPEARANCE
Q: Your dress and outward appearance are somewhat different. Isn't God more concerned about the inward condition of our heart rather than our outward appearance?
A: Yes, God is certainly more concerned about the inward condition of our heart, but this does not mean that He does not care about our outward appearance too. God gives specific instructions in the Scriptures about things such as gender-specific clothing (Deut. 22:5), gender-specific hair length (1 Cor. 11 :14f), modest apparel (1 Tim. 2:9), head coverings for women (1 Cor. 11), beards for men (Lev. 19:27), and fringes for the four-cornered tallit (prayer shawl) worn by men (Num. 15:38f; Deut. 22:12). These things are not more important than the inward condition of the heart, but that is no reason to ignore God's instructions about outward appearance. Outward appearance does not produce inward holiness of heart, but genuine holiness of heart should result in obedience to God's instructions about outward appearance.
If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to ask. We don't claim to have all the answers to every question you might have, but we are happy to share what we can with sincere seekers.