Many Christians are awakening to the understanding that Jesus, whose Hebrew name is Yeshua, did not come to start a new religion. He lived his life as an example for us, showing us how to live according to the commandments of Yahweh given in the Torah and written down by Moses. He even said that everything Moses wrote was ultimately about him (John 5:56). You don’t need to become Jewish, but are you a “Kosher Christian?”
First, we must make it clear: none of these things will save you. Only Yeshua can do that.
And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.
What Is a Kosher Christian?
The Yiddish word “Kosher” isn’t found in the Bible, but the Hebrew root kasher (Strongs #H3787) occurs three times. It means to be right and proper. So, how can you be a “kosher” Christian?
You can keep the Sabbath, a day of rest, on the seventh day of the week just as God designated. You don’t have to stop going to church on Sunday.
You can celebrate the Biblical Feasts, the Appointed Times of Adonai. They flow together beautifully and tell the story of redemption and restoration in the Messiah.
You can live a life of holiness in obedience to God’s commandments and pleasing to your Heavenly Father. That isn’t the same as the strict commandments of modern Rabbinic Judaism.
Keep The Sabbath
Should Christians keep the Sabbath? That’s kind of like asking if Christians should honor their parents, or not commit adultery, or love God and their neighbor. It is a direct command from God. It’s what the Bible says to do.
But how do we “remember” (Exodus 20:8) or “observe” (Deuteronomy 5:12) to “keep it holy?” (both passages). The short answer is: DON’T WORK.
Of the fourteen times the Sabbath is described in the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, eight of them say not to do any work. Of the remaining six, three have no instructions at all, two are instructions for priests, and one describes a man being punished (put to death) for gathering wood – in other words, he was working.
What exactly is “not working?” The Rabbis have gone to great lengths to determine what is or is not permitted on the Sabbath. I actually have three-volume set of books called Semirath Shabbat: A Practical Guide to Observance of the Sabbath. It isn’t very practical. In fact, it would be a lot of work to keep track of what this says is and isn’t work. God isn’t that complicated, and he gave you common sense. You know if you are working or not.
Based on Numbers 15, I wouldn’t suggest picking up sticks in your yard. Yard work, like a lot of other things, can be done on another day. So if you can do it another day, honor God and don’t do it on the Sabbath. Rest instead.
Exodus 16 seems to suggest you shouldn’t cook. Granted, preparing food, which probably included building a fire, was a lot more work back then than it is today. You might want to consider preparing your Sabbath meals the day before. Do as much as you can ahead of time.
Finally, Leviticus 23 in most Bible translations calls the Sabbath a “holy convocation,” “sacred assembly.” or something similar. The Hebrew phrase is miqra kodesh, and the word miqra is derived from the verb qara meaning to call. In this passage, the Sabbath is to be a time when we are called together as an assembly of saints. Perhaps you have others you can gather with on the Sabbath. But chances are, your church meets on Sunday. Do the best you can.
So if your church meets on Sunday, then go on Sunday. Remember, it isn’t wrong to go to church on Sunday, or Tuesday, or whatever day they meet. It is wrong to not keep the Sabbath. You can keep the Sabbath and still go to church on Sunday.
If your church has other activities on Saturday, you will have to decide how to handle that. Make that decision ahead of time and stick to it. You probably shouldn’t participate in a car wash fundraiser or paint-up fix-up day, or in a bazaar or rummage sale. If you are consistent, your pastor and fellow congregants are more likely to understand and respect your position. Maybe you will even get them to keep Sabbath with you.
In today’s modern world, you can probably find a Sabbath service online. It isn’t the same as physical assembly, so keep going on Sunday as well if you want the fellowship. Above all, consider this day a delight and rest in the love of Messiah Yeshua, Jesus Christ.
If because of the sabbath, you turn your foot
From doing your own pleasure on My holy day,
And call the sabbath a delight, the holy day of the LORD honorable,
And honor it, desisting from your own ways,
From seeking your own pleasure
And speaking your own word,
Then you will take delight in the LORD,
And I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;
And I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father,
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
Read more about keeping the Sabbath at The Messianic Light.
Celebrate the Biblical Feasts
Should Christians celebrate the Jewish feasts? Actually, they aren’t Jewish feasts at all – they are God’s feasts.
“The LORD’S appointed times which you shall proclaim as holy convocations–My appointed times are these” (Leviticus 23:2).
Sadly, these are not the times that most Christians observe. The Bible never says anything about celebrating Christmas or Easter. In fact, many of the things people do during these holidays is derived from pagan practices that God explicitly forbids.
So what holidays should we be celebrating? You will actually find all of them listed in Leviticus chapter 23, right after the verse listed above that says, “My appointed times are these:”
14th day of the first Biblical month
Pesach (Passover) commemorates the deliverance of the people of Israel from slavery in Egypt (Exodus 12). Yeshua (Jesus) celebrated Passover with his disciples on the night before his crucifixion. It was there he took the wine and unleavened bread, called them symbols of his blood and body, and told them to observe this feast in remembrance of his death (Luke 22).
15th day of the first month for seven days
Chag Matzot (the Feast of Unleavened Bread) immediately follows the evening of Passover (Exodus 12). This is the beginning of the Spring Feasts. Each year at this time, we are to throw out the old yeast (think of sourdough starter) and begin a new batch after the seven day feast. Paul reminds us in 1 Corinthians 5 that as a new creation we should throw out the old leaven and become like a fresh batch of dough.
The first and last days of Unleavened Bread are annual Sabbath days in which we do not work.
Day after the Sabbath of Unleavened Bread
This day follows the Sabbath that falls during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. On this day the Priest would wave a sheaf of the first of the barley harvest as an offering to God. This foreshadows Yeshua, the first fruits of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20), ascending to the Father.
Seven weeks after First Fruits
Shavuot (Pentecost) is at the end of a 50-day count beginning on the day of First Fruits. Shavuot is the offering of the first fruits of the wheat harvest. It is believed to be the day the Torah, specifically the Ten Commandments, was given at Mount Sinai. And it is the day the Holy Spirit was poured out as described in Acts 2.
Shavuot is one of the seven annual Sabbath days in which we do not work.
1st day of the seventh month
Yom Teruah (the Day of Shouting), often called the Feast of Trumpets, begins the season of the Fall Feasts. While the Spring Feasts are generally understood as prophetic of Yeshua’s first coming, the Fall Feasts are prophetic of his second coming. This begins with the blowing of the shofar (ram’s horn) or trumpet (1 Thessalonians 4:16).
Yom Teruah is one of the seven annual Sabbath days in which we do not work.
10th day of the seventh month
Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) is the most solemn day of the year, a day to humble yourself. On this day, the High Priest entered the Holy Place to make atonement with the blood of an animal upon the altar of incense for the sins of the people. The book of Hebrews describes in detail how Yeshua, our High Priest, makes atonement with his own blood for us. To “humble yourself” is traditionally understood as fasting from sundown the previous day until sundown of this day (Leviticus 16:32, Acts 27:9).
Yom Kippur is one of the seven annual Sabbath days in which we do not work.
Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret
15th day of the seventh month for eight days
Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles) commemorates the journey of the children of Israel through the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land. Many believe Yeshua was born during the Feast of Tabernacles, when the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us (John 1:14) Israelites were instructed to dwell in temporary shelters (sukkot) as a reminder that their ancestors lived in temporary shelters in the wilderness. Likewise Sukkot reminds us that we are temporary residents of this world that will pass away. Sukkot is also known as the Season of our Joy, and we are instructed to rejoice during this time (Leviticus 23:40). Some believe this to be prophetic of the millennial reign of the Messiah. Shemini Atzeret (the Eight Day of Assembly) is a connected but separate observance. The Eighth Day is representative of eternity following the millennial reign, when God tabernacles with man (Revelation 21:3).
The first day of Sukkot and Shemini Atzeret are annual Sabbath days in which we do not work.
Read more about keeping the Biblical Feasts at The Messianic Light.
Live a Life of Holiness
How do you follow Yeshua (Jesus)? He lived his life without sin, keeping the commandments of his Father perfectly. He said the greatest commandments came right out of the Torah – to love God and to love your fellow man (Mark 12). He told those he healed to do what the Torah said (Luke 17) and told one who asked how to obtain eternal life to keep the commandments (Matthew 19).
It’s pretty clear that Yeshua expects his followers to obey what God said. That might seem beyond your ability, but the truth is if you have been seeking to do what is right, you are probably obeying most of these commandments anyway.
So, what are we talking about? When God said “Be holy, as I am holy,” what did he mean?
First, Love God and Love Your Neighbor
Yeshua said these were the greatest commandments, and all of the others rest on these two.
And He said to him, ” ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the great and foremost commandment. The second is like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets.”
That comes straight out of the Torah (Deuteronomy 6:5, Leviticus 19:18). So if you are going to determine to live a holy life pleasing to God, start here.
Keep the Commandments
Think there are a lot of them? It has been said that there are nearly three times as many commandments in the New Testament as there are in the Old Testament. I’ve never counted, so I don’t know. God gave ten specific commands at Mount Sinai. Those are also the commands that Yeshua repeated to the young man in Matthew 19, along with the biggie we mentioned first.
And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” Then he said to Him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not commit murder; you shall not commit adultery; you shall not steal; you shall not bear false witness; honor your father and mother; and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
So, learn the Ten Commandments and live by them. A lot of the rest will come naturally when you start doing these.
1. I am the LORD your God – nothing is more important to you than Me.
2. Do not let anything become an idol to you.
3. Do not bring shame to My name.
4. Rest on the Sabbath day, the seventh day of the week.
5. Honor your father and mother.
6. Do not commit murder.
7. Do not be unfaithful in your marriage.
8. Do not take what does not belong to you.
9. Do not be deceptive.
10. Do not be consumed with desire for something that isn’t yours.
Watch your Diet
This might be the one you need to change. God is pretty specific about the things we eat. It is one of the few commands that has no consequences in the Torah for violating it. This is something we do simply because we love God (the greatest commandment) and not because we might be punished for transgressing it.
Now, in some cases there may be health benefits for avoiding certain things that God doesn’t consider food – particularly pork and those bottom-feeders from the ocean. But being healthy should not be your prime motivation. And some of the things we don’t eat might not actually be unhealthy. It doesn’t matter. We do this just because God said to do it.
You can use “Kosher” certification from the Rabbis as a starting point, but truthfully they put unnecessary restrictions on some things God doesn’t forbid, and they let slide some things where God says “no.” So, your best bet is to read in the Bible exactly what God said to eat and not to eat, and do your best to abide by that. Oh, and no matter what some people may tell you, there is nothing in the New Testament that changes any of this.
The descriptions on what God considers clean (food) and not clean (not food) can be found in Leviticus chapter 11 and Deuteronomy chapter 14.
Avoid Pagan Practices
I’ve saved one of the hardest to get moving on for last. There are so many things that have invaded our lives – and our worship – that stem from pagan practices that we often just don’t realize it. It is especially hard at church, where our friends who don’t know, don’t care, or are unwittingly deceived wonder why we don’t participate.
And I’m not going to enumerate for you what all of those things are. As you seek to worship God the way He says he wants to be worshipped, the Holy Spirit will start to make you uncomfortable with the things that don’t fit. As those are brought you your attention, search them out. Don’t condemn those who don’t know/don’t care/are deceived. Work out your salvation (Philippians 2:12). The more you focus on doing what is right, the less you will be drawn by what isn’t.
If you’ve come this far, you probably know a few of the things I’m talking about. Bunnies and eggs and the like don’t belong in the worship of our risen Savior. I’ve actually turned around and left a church sanctuary that had decorated evergreen trees in December. You learn, and you grow, and you don’t destroy someone else in the process (remember commandment #6, “do not commit murder,” and the application Yeshua made to those words in his sermon on the mount).
You shall not do what is done in the land of Egypt where you lived, nor are you to do what is done in the land of Canaan where I am bringing you; you shall not walk in their statutes. You are to perform My judgments and keep My statutes, to live in accord with them; I am the LORD your God.
Moreover, you shall not follow the customs of the nation which I will drive out before you, for they did all these things, and therefore I have abhorred them.
Thus says the LORD, Do not learn the way of the nations.
Stay in the Word
If you want to know how to live a holy life before God, the best way to find out what is required is to read His instructions. It has been a traditional practice among the Jewish people to read through the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, the Books of Moses, every year. In fact, they all start at the same time and read the same portion of Scripture each week.
Many Messianic followers of Yeshua do the same thing. You will probably be able to find weekly teachings online from congregations who are following this schedule (but always BE CAREFUL who you chose to listen to!). A listing of the weekly Torah portion, along with corresponding portions from the rest of the Old Testament, the New Testament, and the Psalms is posted at MessianicTorahPortion.com.
Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are turning to God from among the Gentiles, but that we write to them that they abstain from things contaminated by idols and from fornication and from what is strangled and from blood. For Moses from ancient generations has in every city those who preach him, since he is read in the synagogues every Sabbath.
Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You…
Your word is a lamp to my feet
And a light to my path.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.
Learn More About Being a Kosher Christian
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