In November I wrote about First Fruits of Zion but it merits a second posting. FFOZ (First Fruits of Zion) is an educational resource for the growing number of independent groups of Torah Observant Christians and messianic “Jewish” groups. Their website seems to imply that they want to bring Christians back to the teachings and life style of the Jewish Jesus, living as they believe he did. If you dig a bit deeper, you will come up with statements such as this one from their website under the title, Preparing For Harvest.
“First Fruits of Zion longs for the salvation of all Israel. We desire to see the Jewish people reunited with Yeshua, and for this reason we are engaged in a type of evangelism outreach. … We are taking the long road of preparing for a great harvest of Jewish believers by working to create an authentic, intergenerational, and biblical Messianic Judaism for them to enter.” When they say salvation they mean conversion as they don’t believe you can be saved unless you accept Jesus as your savior. I don’t know about you but I don’t like being referred to as a crop being prepared for harvest.
Below are some other statements I have culled from the FFOZ website. In order to better help you understand their intent, I have added comments in blue lettering.
From First Fruits of Zion website (2009?)
Thus the call to the Kingdom is a call to the Torah of Yeshua. Discipleship is a call to imitation and obedience. We are called to be disciples of Yeshua, and as such it is our job to imitate him, obey him and raise up more disciples for him. ( By imitating the way they think Jesus practiced Judaism: tallis, kippah, torah study, they can bring in more Jews and make disciples of them.) The Sabbath, the Festivals, the calendar, the dietary laws and all the laws of Torah are components of imitation and obedience in that regard.
FIRST FRUITS OF ZION WHITE PAPER
Mission and Message
Boaz Michael (Founder and leader of FFOZ)
First Fruits of Zion is a messianic Jewish ministry composed of Jewish and Gentile believers working together for the mission of “Proclaiming the Torah and its way of life, fully centered on Messiah, to today’s People of God.
We are dedicated to educating followers of Yeshua—both Jewish and Gentile—
All of our teachers and staff, Jewish and Gentile alike, endeavor to live according to the counsel of God’s laws. Whether it be a simple, biblical approach, a rigorous traditional orthodox Jewish practice, or anything in between, all of us are committed to upholding the Messiah and to growing in obedience to the commandments of God in our personal lives, our homes, and communities. (Read that as, they’ll try to imitate all branches of Judaism as to better build Jewish disciples (converts).
“Fully Centered on Messiah” We encourage a Torah way of life as part of the path of discipleship to Yeshua. The gospels teach that “every [disciple] when he is fully trained will be like his teacher” (Every Jew they convert will become a conduit to convert other Jews.)
However, one must be wary of making the Torah into a new legalism whereby people might assume that they need to keep the commandments in order to merit salvation. We are adamant in our position that salvation is by grace through faith: ( They may imitate Jews but have no intention of believing the way we do. They will only find salvation in Jesus. Oddly enough, some Torah Observant Christians have actually found beauty of the Jewish faith, left Christianity and converted to Judaism. These are not to be confused with the growing number of evangelical Christians that convert to Judaism only to open up messianic “Jewish” congregations in Israel and the Diaspora.)
At First Fruits of Zion, we are passionate about teaching Torah to all of God’s people, making “disciples of all nations”8—to the Jew first, and also to the Gentile.9 ( Almost every evangelic and messianic “Jewish” site that I have researched says, “To the Jew first.” Doesn’t that make you feel loved?)
At First Fruits of Zion, we have been “Proclaiming the Torah and its way of life, fully centered on Messiah, to today’s People of God” for nearly twenty years. Not only are we concerned with teaching Torah today, but we are also eager to see the Torah taught to tomorrow’s people of God. We are concerned for the long-term sustainability of the messianic Jewish movement as a whole. (FFOZ is like the slow-moving snail. It knows where it wants to go, is pretty sure it will get there but it doesn’t mind that it will take a very long time. FFOZ is in it for the long haul. So long as there are Jews that have not accepted Jesus, they will keep on going!) )
I hope this has helped you to better understand the FFOZ and all the messianic “Jewish” and Torah observant Christian groups that follow their teachings. If you have any questions or comments I would love to hear them.