His song “My Savior My God” took the Christian music scene by storm. Today, he’s writing songs about Israel, the Jewish people, and the return of the exiles to Zion.
He’s performing alongside some of Messianic Judaism’s hottest artists. This episode of Messiah Podcast features award-winning singer-songwriter Aaron Shust, whose newfound perspective has deepened his relationship with his Creator.
Aaron relates that his career as a worship leader began when he started a band right out of college. Collaborating with other musicians equipped him to take on his first role as a congregational worship leader, although, at the age of twenty-four, he initially felt inadequate to lead older, more experienced musicians. While Aaron was not satisfied with his early compositions, his oeuvre of offertory songs eventually grew to the point where he had enough for an album. He tracked his first album in his friend’s basement, thinking he would give a copy to his mother. However, this album cemented his status as a mainstream singer-songwriter—much to his initial chagrin.
These days, Aaron is inspired by all kinds of music. Celtic, reggae, baroque, Hawaiian, Appalachian—all of these genres influence his composition. A more recent influence has been his association with Joshua Aaron, a popular Messianic Jewish artist, with whom he has collaborated on several projects, including songs in Hebrew, of which he is currently an avid student. We can look forward to hearing Shust and Aaron release a version of the Lord’s Prayer soon.
The foundation for Aaron’s journey into a Messianic Jewish perspective was laid when he was a child. His mother emphasized the importance of the Old Testament and frequently played a Jews for Jesus record in the house. More recently, in 2016, he traveled to Israel for the first time. While he was no stranger to international travel, Israel made an incredible impact on him; he has been seven times since. The reality of God’s work in and through Israel and the Jewish people got “pushed to the front burner” in his heart and mind. Israel is not just where Jesus walked; it’s where He will walk again.
Aaron discovered the music of Joshua Aaron not too long afterward; he reached out to him, and they began to collaborate. His repeated reintroductions to Jewish concepts inspired him to read through the Bible again, a process during which he rediscovered the centrality of the Jewish people in God’s plan. He wrote the song “Zion” soon afterward, a song about the return of the exiles—an oft-repeated promise in the prophets.
Aaron and his family have begun honoring the Sabbath. His previous experience of the “day of rest” was a busy, exhausting Sunday full of church services and activities. In late 2016, he read the book Mudhouse Sabbath, in which a Jewish believer in Jesus recounts the spiritual benefit of Jewish observance. The first page details the process of moving from the frenetic Friday-night preparation for the Sabbath to the tangible peace of resting on the holy day. Aaron found himself wanting to replicate that experience.
While as a Gentile, he doesn’t fully observe Orthodox Jewish stringencies, Aaron and his family have still found the rest of the Sabbath to be the best thing they’ve done in the past five years. They have been blessed even through the simple discipline of not talking about the week’s troubles or planning for future events.
Aaron has recently participated in Torah Club, First Fruits of Zion’s small-group Bible study program, with Joshua Aaron. He has found the insights in the workbooks and Portion Connections videos to be incredibly helpful in illuminating the first-century Jewish context of the New Testament.
When asked about how his newfound perspective has affected his relationships with others in the Christian music industry, Aaron confesses that he has had to start his own label as his previous label declined to renew his contract. Radio stations are simply not interested in songs written from a Jewish perspective. However, Aaron is undeterred; he is unwilling to compromise his artistic integrity for a broader audience. He wants to sing what is true, even if it’s not popular.
You can keep in touch with Aaron on YouTube and at aaronshust.com.
Discover more episodes from Messiah Podcast here: messiahpodcast.org