First Fruits of Zion provides Messianic Jewish teaching for Christians and Jews. Historically, most of this teaching has been in the form of the written word.
We’ve contributed tens of thousands of pages—much of it meticulously cited and rigorously researched—of Bible commentary, liturgical resources, and practical tips for post-supersessionist Christians and Messianic Jews who want to grow closer to the Jewish Jesus.
Not everyone has time to read it all, however. So, for the learner who wants to make judicious use of his or her commute or who needs some inspiration while doing chores around the house, First Fruits of Zion launched Messiah Podcast last year. Its tagline is “Where Jesus is Jewish, and that changes everything.”
The Jewish Jesus
We see the Jewish Jesus as the missing link between Judaism and Christianity. More and more Jewish people are recognizing that Jesus lived as a faithful Jew. More and more Christians are finding the New Testament illuminated by its first-century Jewish context. Critically, Jews and Christians are talking more and more about their shared roots and common ground in an explosion of interfaith dialogue.
These are all signs that God is moving in a big way. We believe that the time is ripe for significant positive change—particularly in the church, where many centuries of anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism have produced stumbling blocks for the Jewish people, preventing them from seeing Jesus as he really is.
Positive changes are also coming from within the synagogue, where those who are taking an honest look at Yeshua are softening to the reality that he truly was a good Jew. This is a step toward a future acknowledgement of him as the Messiah of Israel. Seeing so many followers of Jesus understand that the Jewish people are their spiritual siblings and seeing so many Jews realize that Jesus was a faithful Jew and not a heretic or sorcerer are invigorating developments—representing a prophetic movement heralding an unprecedented reconciliation between these two peoples of God.
The work toward this vision is just getting started, which is why we produce Messiah Podcast. It is designed to fill an important niche as a frontline resource for people who are just getting their feet wet, starting to have questions about difficult New Testament texts, or have a newly developed interest in interfaith dialogue. Frank discussions that would have been unthinkable just a few decades ago are now held between the two cohosts—Damian Eisner, a Messianic Jew, and Jacob Fronczak, a post-supersessionist Christian—in a relaxed, friendly environment.
Messiah Podcast doesn’t pull any punches either. Jewish-Christian reconciliation requires give and take on both sides. As one side speaks, the other must listen. This dialogue raises difficult questions: What really stands at the center of these grand traditions? Which precepts do Jews and Christians, respectively, hold to be non-negotiable? How much common ground is there, and is it possible to make more?
FFOZ has long believed that the church has several concrete steps it can take to expand this common ground, yet to do so sometimes requires followers of Jesus to reassess long-held assumptions and even theological convictions when these beliefs contradict the teachings of Jesus and the apostles (and, of course, the Old Testament). As a result, Messiah Podcast, though accessible, is also provocative, with each episode raising difficult questions and offering challenging answers.
Recent guests include singer-songwriter Aaron Shust, famous for his song “My Savior My God,” who discussed honoring the Sabbath with his family. We’ve also hosted Dr. Jen Rosner, a Messianic Jewish seminary professor teaching the next generation of Christian pastors about Jesus’ Jewish identity. Rabbi Dr. Mark Kinzer, one of Messianic Judaism’s leading theologians, has been on the podcast. And this is just the beginning.
Preparing the Way
The time of the end is known only to God. While his hand is undoubtedly behind the world-shaking development of post-Holocaust Jewish-Christian dialogue, we can’t truly be sure whether this represents a final preparation for the second coming of our Master.
The sages of Judaism often expressed the belief that some generations throughout history have been given the opportunity to usher in the final redemption but failed due to sin or lack of action. The Midrash states that if Jacob had ascended the ladder (Genesis 28:10-19), Israel never would have gone into exile. The Talmud states that King Hezekiah was very nearly the Messiah. The New Testament records that if Jerusalem had recognized Jesus as King of Israel, the redemption would have occurred in his generation.
Whether or not God chooses to restore the world in our lifetimes may depend on whether all of God’s people can “prepare the way of the LORD” (Isaiah 40:3). This requires Christians to reconnect with their Messiah, rediscover his teaching, and allow God’s Spirit to conform them to his example—in short, to repent. It also requires the Jewish people to reconsider Jesus’ messianic qualifications while also being zealous for the Torah.
At First Fruits of Zion, we fervently desire to see these things come to pass, to see Israel and the nations reconciled through Jesus—Rabbi Yeshua of Nazareth.
Messiah Podcast represents a fresh opportunity for God’s people to encounter the Jewish Jesus. We pray that God will use it to advance his kingdom and prepare the hearts of his people for the redemption.
You can find Messiah Podcast at ffoz.org/messiah/podcast/. Give it a listen, and share it with your friends.