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Rabbi Lorenís Story

I'd like to begin my story at the time of my great-grandparents, most of whom lived near the city of Kiev, in the Ukraine, around 1900. At that time, life was becoming increasingly difficult for many of the Jewish families in Russia and the Ukraine, including my own. My family left the Ukraine, and came to the United States during the first decade of the 20th century. In the generations since we left Russia for America, my family never showed a deep faith in God or His Word. Consequently, growing up in the Chicago area in the 1960's, I was immersed in a culturally Jewish, but otherwise secular and materialistic world view.

Few, if any, of my Jewish friends, family, or teachers at synagogue, believed in a God who could create the universe in six days, intervene in human history, or perform miracles. The idea of having a personal relationship with God, like Abraham, Moses, and David had, was unheard of. The Holy Scriptures were regarded as good for teaching morals and ethics, but not to be taken "literally." Matters concerning the supernatural - such as heaven and hell, angels, demons and the Messiah, were not acknowledged.

We celebrated the holidays as a part of our Jewish tradition, but the living God played a very little role in our day-to-day affairs. As I result, I sensed that something was missing from the Judaism to which I was exposed, and I began investigating other philosophies and religions. I started by reading some of the great Western philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle. Then I began drifting toward Eastern philosophy. I took up Transcendental Meditation, repeating my "mantra" over and over, every morning and evening, for more than a year.

During my first year at Northwestern University in Illinois, I took a course on Medieval Philosophy. Little did I know that the greatest minds during this thousand-year period in Western Civilization spent most of their intellectual labors attempting to prove the existence of God! The philosophers reasoned, "How else do we explain the evident order and design in nature? Why else do we all have an inward sense of right and wrong? And why, throughout all cultures and societies, has there been an intuitive awareness of God or gods?!" As I studied their powerful and persuasive arguments, I became convinced that God had to exist.

Shortly after that, I began reading the Holy Scriptures for the very first time. After attending a seminar on Biblical prophecy, I read the entire New Testament portion of the Scriptures within a week! Then I began discovering prophecies in the Jewish Scriptures which predicted the coming Messiah, the Anointed Ruler and Savior sent by God. I was amazed to discover that the prophets of Israel had told us that a descendant of the tribe of Judah, from the royal family of King David, would be born in Bethlehem. According to these prophecies, He would come before the Second Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, accomplish miracles, then suffer, die, rise from the dead, and yet fail to be recognized by the majority of our people! Through the Messiah, God would also establish a New Covenant with the Jewish people (see Jeremiah 31:31-34). To me, the evidence was overwhelming - Yeshua was the promised Messiah of Israel who would reconcile us to God.

In coming to know the Messiah, I discovered a dimension of Jewish spirituality that I never dreamed possible! Messiah Yeshua enabled me to develop an intimate personal connection with the God of Israel that is still going strong twenty-five years later! When I came to believe in Yeshua, I began rediscovering my Jewish heritage. I transferred to Moody Bible Institute, changed my major to Jewish studies, worked with Jews for Jesus for eight years, and was ordained as a Messianic Rabbi by the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations. I married Martha Brickner, who is a fifth generation Messianic Jew! Together, we have drawn closer to our Messiah, our God, our Land, our Holy Scriptures, our people and our heritage. God, in His mercy, has enabled us to start Congregation Shema Yisrael, which is about ten years old.

Rabbi Lorenís Challenge

Like me, there are many Jewish people dissatisfied with the Judaism to which they have been exposed. They sense that something is missing, and are longing for a deeper sense of spirituality. Perhaps you are searching for something more. I know that Messiah Yeshua is the answer to your spiritual need. Yeshua is the key that removes the barriers to peace, joy, a personal relationship with God, and eternal life.

Believing in Messiah Yeshua doesn't mean departing from our Jewish heritage. Rather, faith in Yeshua is the fulfillment of true Biblical Judaism! Many people don't know that the first followers of Yeshua were Messianic Jews, that the New Testament was written by Messianic Jews, or that there were Messianic synagogues in Israel until 500-700 AD. In the past twenty-five years there has been a rebirth of Messianic Judaism, and today there are over 200 Messianic Synagogues in the U.S. and another 80 in Israel!

Why do I believe that Yeshua is the Messiah? Because God clearly communicated to the prophets of Israel what the first and second comings of the Messiah would be like. Scattered throughout the pages of the Jewish Bible are ancient predictions about the Messiah. Let me quote just one messianic prophecy found in the 53rd chapter of the prophet Isaiah who lived around 700 BC. This prophecy describes the sufferings and rejection that the Messiah would endure from His own people to reconcile us to the God from whom we have been estranged:

He was despised and forsaken by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face, He was despised and we did not esteem Him. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. Remember that this amazing prophecy was written 700 years before Yeshua came!

I believe this one incredible prophecy (and there are many more like it) is talking about Yeshua, and the sufferings that He endured to make full and final atonement for us, and to bring us into an intimate, personal relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He is the One who the Jewish prophets foretold would come; first to atone for sin and end our alienation from God; then He would come a second time to fulfill God's plan to bring peace to the entire world.

If you are not a Messianic Jew, or a true Christian, and you want to know more, I have five suggestions for you:

First, pray: ask the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to reveal Himself to you. Pray that He would help you to know if the New Testament is true, and if Yeshua really is the Messiah. Pray that He would give you the courage to follow the truth, no matter what it costs. You might want to pray this prayer: "God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, please reveal Yourself to me in a deeper way than I have ever known You before. Please show me whether or not the New Testament is true, and if Yeshua really is the Messiah. Please give me the courage to follow Him if He is the Messiah, no matter what the cost. Amen."

Second, I suggest that you do what I did twenty-five years ago - get a copy of the Bible and simply begin reading it. It is the truest and most powerful book ever written. The simple act of reading this book can be a powerful spiritual experience, and often authenticates to the reader the incredible truth of what it says.

Third, you can also contact us for More Than A Carpenter by Josh McDowell. Josh McDowell was a skeptic who was convinced that anyone who believed in the Bible was out of their mind. After intensive research he realized that the Bible is 100% reliable and faith in it is intellectually feasible. More Than A Carpenter is the result of his research. It examines the Bible's claims about itself, about God, the Messiah, and the resurrection. If you live in the United States, we will send this fascinating 128-page book to you for only one dollar. [If you are already a believer in Messiah Yeshua, and want More Than A Carpenter, I ask that you send in five dollars to cover the cost].

Fourth, I'd like to invite you to visit our synagogue, Congregation Shema Yisrael. Services are held Saturday mornings at 10:30 A.M. at the facilities of Highland Park Baptist Church, on the corner of 12 Mile and Lahser in Southfield. We have a Shabbat School program for the children, and a nursery that is available for infants and toddlers.

Fifth, I have found that many people often want to meet with me to talk further about Messiah Yeshua and Messianic Judaism. If you live in the Metro Detroit area, I would be happy to meet with you to discuss these all important matters. I hope to hear from you!

Faith & Reason Forum would like to thank Rabbi Loren for kingly providing his testimony for this website. If you would like more information about Messiah Yeshua or Messianic Judaism we highly recommend you visit Rabbi Lorenís website: Shema.com. Rabbi Loren ministers to the people at Congregation Shema Yisrael, P.O. Box 804, Southfield, MI 48037. You are more than welcome to give h