Why do we meet on Saturdays?
Saturday, or Shabbat, is the day of the corporate gathering set forth in the Torah (first five books of the Bible). We believe that God gave us Shabbat as a continuing sign of His covenant promises (Gen. 2:1-2; Exo. 20:8-11; 31:12-17; 35:1-3) and His love for us. As we keep Shabbat, we remember that it is a reminder of the spiritual rest we have through Yeshua's (Jesus') work on our behalf, and a foreshadowing of the eternal rest we will enjoy in the world to come.
Shabbat begins on Friday evening at sunset and ends Saturday at sunset. Traditionally, a special Friday evening meal marks the beginning of Shabbat (called Erev Shabbat) and a ceremony called Havdalah (Hebrew meaning "divide") marks Shabbat's end.
What is a "Messianic" congregation?
Sometimes there is a significant amount of misunderstanding even among "Messianic" believers. Congregations or Synagogues who called themselves "Messianic" do so for a variety of reasons. The term "Messianic" is derived from the Hebrew word "Mashiach" from which we get the English word "Messiah." the related term "Messianic" was later applied to the 1st century movement of Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth. A number of Jewish and non-Jewish scholars have correctly labeled this 1st century movement "Messianic Judaism". the Apostolic scriptures document the events of the Messiah coming to His people Israel as a servant and priest, laying down His life in death via crucifixion. Thus, He offered up Himself as a sacrifice, resulting in an atonement for the sins of His people and the sins of the whole world. It records his resurrection and ascension to the right hand of God. Soon He will return to fulfill all the prophecies of the Tanakh (Torah, Prophets, and Writings) concerning His kingship and kingdom. He will deliver Israel from all her enemies and exalt her above all nations. Is it any wonder that Messiah's name is Yeshua, Hebrew for Yahweh's Salvation? Thus the term Messiah finds its meaning and fulfillment in Yeshua HaMashiach (Jesus the Messiah). This is why we call ourselves a Messianic congregation. As believers we have returned to our Jewish Messiah. He has grafted us into the Jewish olive tree (Romans 11) and made us partakers with Jewish believers in the rich root of the olive tree. The rich root being the commonwealth of Israel and the covenants of promise given to them by God Himself through the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Why do some men wear caps?
These caps, or Kippot (Kippah, singular - the Yiddish term is Yarmulke) are a traditional mark of Judaism for males. Whether Jew or non-Jew, a kippah is required attire at all holy sites in Jerusalem (such as the Western Wall). At LOJ, the kippah is optional, but any male who wishes to wear one, may. We wear them because they are symbols reminding us of our need for atonement and specifically that Yeshua is our only atonement. In addition, we wear them to maintain our connection with our Jewish brothers and to be identified with biblical forms of Judaism.
Some question whether this contradicts the teaching of Paul in 1 Corinthians 11. If this passage is studied closely, however, it can be seen that Paul is concerned with how one wears his hair or covering. Paul's point in this passage is that he wants men and women to be distinguished, and not wear their hair or covering in a manner that would culturally convey some unwholesome aspect.
Why do some people wear prayer shawls?
The prayer shawl (tallit), with the fringes (tzit-tzit), is traditionally worn at all daily services, and reminds the worshiper that he or she is approaching the Most High God, Who is Himself wrapped in a cloud of glory (Ps. 10:1,2). It also allows the individual worshiper to concentrate by pulling the tallis over the head and thus blocking out distractions.
Any adult may wear a tallis. Children who have not gone through a Bat or Bar Mitzvahs or who are below the age of 13 traditionally do not wear a tallis.
Some congregants wear fringes at their waist. What are these?
These are tzit-tzit, the fringes that God commanded to be worn (Num.15:37-41) as a constant reminder of our great redemption by His grace and mercy, and the commandments that He has given to us. The only details we are given in regard to the fringes is that there be a cord of blue, and that they are placed on the four edges, hems, or corners of your garments (Deut. 22:12). We believe in being creative and using a variety of colors and tying them in unique ways.
Why do some women wear head coverings?
LOJ believes the scriptures point to women's head covering in 1 Corinthians 11. Paul teaches that there is an authoritative structure for submission. God>Yeshua (Jesus)>Man>Woman. By covering her head, a woman is showing her submission to God's design of authority over her. All of us (men and women) are called to be in submission. A woman's head covering is one outward symbol of celebration of God's design of creation.
Why do people use the name "Yahweh" (YHWH) for God?
We use this name because God revealed to us through Moses that this is His name forever. It is the way He desires to be addressed. It is His memorial name to each and every generation (exo. 3:13-15). It is found 6000+ places in the sacred text. This name conveys the concept that God is forever and always present with us, His people. Theologically speaking, it simply but profoundly means "Faithful Presence". Is it any wonder that He would want us to know His name?
We do not mandate that anyone use or pronounce this name, but neither do we forbid it. In fact,we welcome, encourage, and celebrate the revelation and meaning of his name.
Why do we call Jesus "Yeshua"?
Yeshua is the Hebrew name of Jesus. Hebrew names have meanings that reveal the character/purposes and/or significant events surrounding a person's life. For instance, Yeshua means "salvation". The angel told Miriam (Mary) to name her child "Yeshua" for He would save his people from their sins. The meaning of His name revealed his character, purpose, and mission in life. He was and forever will be Yahweh's Salvation offered to all humanity!
Why are so many Hebrew words used?
Hebrew words are rich in their meaning. By using and understanding some of the Hebrew words, we believe we got more revelation of what the text is really saying. You don't have to speak Hebrew to become a part of our community, but it's a blessing to speak some of the words the same way our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob spoke (and to know that Yeshua spoke them as well!)
What are Havurah Groups?
Havurah (friendship & fellowship) Groups are small groups which meet in the homes on a monthly basis throughout the city. We believe in community as it was practiced in the time of the Apostolic Scriptures (New Testament). Small groups keep us encouraged in our faith, hold us accountable to one another, and provide true fellowship where we can learn and be discipled from the Torah.
Acts 2:42 enjoins us to continue"...steadfastly in the apostle's teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and in prayers. Many Havurah groups include all of the aspects of this verse. We believe that fellowship and breaking of bread is as important as teaching and prayer.
How are people chosen to read from the Torah?
It is a privilege to be "called to the Torah" to read from the weekly portion. A person must be on the Leadership Team or participating in our Leadership Training School to be called upon to read the Torah portion. Since being called to the Torah is coming "up front" it is traditionally called an aliyah, a "going up".
Is LOJ a synagogue or a church?
The term "synagogue" is used in the Apostolic scriptures (called the New Testament) in James 2:2 (although most modern translations substitute other terms, such as "assembly" or "meeting") which simply means a "gathering" or "congregation". The word ekklesia (usually translated "church") was used by the early Messianic Jews to designate their meetings as part of the congregation of Israel. So referring to our congregation as a synagogue takes us back to our very roots. Many times we will simply use the term "congregation" to refer to our community. Ultimately, we recognize that Yeshua's kehilat (congregation) consists of people, not buildings, and so as a congregation we constitute one visible manifestation of Yeshua's body.
Is Lion of Judah associated with any larger denomination of churches or synagogues?
LOJ does not have any official connection to other denominations or ministry groups. While we are a community committed to each other, we are always desiring fellowship with those who confess that Yeshua and desire to walk in His ways.
At LOJ, are Jews more important that non-Jews?
No! Absolutely not, and we hope that we never give this impression. All who have come to faith in Yeshua have been grafted in (natural branches have been re-grafted, the wild branches have been grafted, Romans 11:11-24) and together may call Abraham father (Romans 4:11). While there are cultural distinctions (there are both Jews and non-Jews in the body of Yeshua) as far as being saved or serving Yeshua is concerned "there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there are neither male or female; for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua" (Gal. 3:28).
Why do people follow the "food laws"?
In regards to the food laws serving as a biblical diet to help ensure our health and sanctification, we believe they are of utmost relevance to all people. We therefore encourage everyone to prayerfully consider appropriating this diet into their lifestyle as the Holy Spirit leads them (Lev. 11; Deut. 14).