What does it mean to practice “Messianic Judaism”? Messianic Judaism is not just Judaism that recognizes the Messiah Yeshua, but we are Messianic in that we exist as an enclave of the future Messianic Era in the present world.
Paul Philip Levertoff, one of the pioneers of Messianic Judaism, believed that the Gospels and Chasidic Judaism merged seamlessly. In his work Love and the Messianic Age, he explained the Chasidic desire to know God deeply and directly:
The knowledge of God which the Chasid thus seeks to cultivate belongs, strictly speaking, to the Messianic world to come.
The commentary on this work by Vine of David explains,
The mystic strives after the knowledge of HaShem which is to be revealed in the Messianic Era. Levertoff states, “In the Messianic Age the knowledge of God will no longer be merely intellectual apprehension but actual realization in experience.”
When Messiah comes, the veil will be lifted and all humanity will come into an intimate knowledge of God and experience with God. We will be like men born blind, suddenly receiving the gift of sight. The intimacy and experience of God that will be ours when Messiah returns is the joy for which we long.
However, the mystic does not wait for the Messianic Era to experience God; he seeks the vision of HaShem in the here and now. Our Master’s words allude to this when He calls us to “repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
Although the kingdom of heaven is not yet realized and fully revealed, it actually is, in a sense, attainable now. The minute one takes upon himself the yoke of heaven, he immediately is granted a foretaste of the Messianic Era to come. Our Master speaks of this paradox when He says, “An hour is coming, and now is ...” The words “an hour is coming” refer to the Messianic Age. The words “and now is” refer to our experience of the Messianic Age in this present era.
An hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth. (John 4:23)
An hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. (John 5:25)
Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear His voice. (John 5:28)
An hour is coming when I will no longer speak to you in figurative language, but will tell you plainly of the Father. (John 16:25)
“An hour is coming” when the Son of Man will return and the Messianic Age will commence. But the hour has already come and “now is” in the sense that He has come once already. In a spiritual and intangible sense, the era of Messiah is already under way. Though the hour is still coming, it already is now. The more we seek after our Master, obey Him and the instruction of the Torah, the greater and purer our vision and the greater our foretaste of the Messianic Age.
In the Messianic Jewish community, we long for the Messianic Age when the knowledge of the glory of God will cover the earth (Isaiah 11:9; Habakkuk 2:14). Yet we live in that age even now, as the light of the knowledge of the glory of God has shone in our hearts in the face of Yeshua the Messiah (2 Corinthians 4:6).