Matisyahu Reexamines his Faith

Matisyahu Reexamines his Faith

World-famous Reggae / Hip Hop artist, Matisyahu, shocked his fans recently by posting a picture of a freshly shaved version of himself on Twitter. Most people don’t make news when they shave, but this iconic pop star has become known for his close ties to Hasidic Judaism, and his traditional, almost Orthodox garb.

This surprised many of his fans.


His explanation on his website said:

“No more Chassidic reggae superstar. Sorry folks, all you get is me…no alias When I started becoming religious 10 years ago it was a very natural and organic process.  It was my choice.  My journey :to discover my roots and explore Jewish spirituality—not through books but through real life.  At a certain point I felt the need to submit to a higher level of religiosity…to move away from my intuition and to accept an ultimate truth.  I felt that in order to become a good person I needed rules—lots of them—or else I would somehow fall apart.  I am reclaiming myself.  Trusting my goodness and my divine mission.

He told Rolling Stone magazine:

“The group I was heavily into said you can’t cut (your beard) even if you want to. Besides, it’s a representation of God’s mercy. If you cut that off, you’re like, cutting of God’s mercy. So I bought into that, for a long time…Then I realized that some of my ideas, at least for me at this at this point, were not true anymore. I think it’s a symbol, and symbols aren’t the thing itself. If I’m connecting with God internally, if I believe in my own goodness and God’s goodness, than that idea (not cutting his beard) just didn’t resonate with me anymore.”

In an interview with WNYC Radio, he said:

“What happened was that I recently realized that God’s mercy can’t possibly be connected to me shaving or not shaving. Over the last few weeks I went through a pretty major transformation, probably bigger than any in my life, due to several things, but a lot of revelations and a lot of realizations starting coming clear to me. The idea that God’s mercy is connected to whether or not I shave, is ludicrous. I need to just trust myself. If I’m deserving of God’s mercy, I’ll get it.”

From my point-of-view, I’m glad to hear that Matisyahu is wrestling and grappling with his faith. I think it is important for all of us to continue to grow, to reexamine, and to struggle. A faith that can’t handle such searching certainly is a crippled and impotent faith.

For me as a Christian, I feel that Mayisyahu is getting very close to the truth. He is sensing the inadequacy of law-keeping as a means to making you holy. He realizes that it is not his outward expressions of devotion or worship that makes him right with God, but rather his heart.

“For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice,
And in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6)

“Sacrifice and meal offering You have not desired;
My ears You have opened;
 Burnt offering and sin offering You have not required.

Then I said, “Behold, I come;
In the scroll of the book it is written of me.

I delight to do Your will, O my God;
 Your Law is within my heart.” (Psalm 40:6-8)

Matisyahu 2

Matisyahu 2

My hope for Matisyahu is that he will recognize the logical contradiction in his view of God. Indeed, if we can deserve God’s mercy, then it is no longer mercy. I hope he will discover, as did the radically Orthodox Jew, Saul of Tarsus (who became Paul the Apostle), about two thousand years ago:

“It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” (Romans 9:16)

We are unworthy on our best days, and unworthy on our worst. But thankfully, for our sakes, God has shown mercy on us, not because of our merit, but because of the sinless life of His son, Jesus Christ, and our trust in His payment for our sins. When Paul came to grips with this, he wrote:

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.” (1 Timothy 1:15-17)

“For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” (Romans 8:2-4)

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Israel Wayne is an author and conference speaker and Director of Family Renewal.

9 Responses to “Matisyahu Reexamines his Faith”

  1. Mike Ng says:

    Great article. Yes I hope and pray for Matisyahu. His lyrics demonstrate his desire to see Mashiach. If I knew him I would try and share like Jeshua did on the road to Emmaus where he is written of in scripture.

  2. Naaman says:

    I bumped into Matisyahu, his wife and one of his son’s here in Seattle, a few days after a show, while I was waiting in line for a feed here at the Bread of Life shelter in Downtown Seattle. He commented that he was about to make a big change in his life and because I had not said a word, waiting for an response from his wife he also felt he wanted to start right then 3 years ago. ( when we squared up. ) As a Christian my self having dedicated my life for 7-8 years and enrolled in BIBLE College at the time. I know God’s Will to use His Plan for his life is a definite one. He ( Matisyahu ) is an open heart with the love of G-D and has a desire for the Truth of G-D. Yeshua Ha Mashiach our Lord! Amen!

  3. Kevin F. says:

    It is so important that we, as followers of Jesus (Yashua), both Jew and Gentile alike lift our seeking brother Matisyahu up in prayer before our Lord. He has a heart for God, and we can all see him searching for the truth. That truth is our one true Messiah. Yashua Ha Mashiach is calling out to His lost lamb, that lamb is looking for his shepherd, and The Lord expects us as believers to intercede on behalf of our brother Matisyahu with earnest prayer for his salvation. If you care about Matisyahu then please join the others who have been praying for him in chorus that he will find and accept his risen Messiah Yashua. Glory to God!

  4. Linda says:

    Excellent article, thank you. I am praying for Matisyahu to see the truth of who Jesus is and that He is the Messiah that he is waiting for. Amen!

  5. Taloa says:

    I am also praying for Matisyahu. We are seeing him next month in concert. Im glad to know others are praying for him-how cool would it be if groups of Christians dedicated a portion of time each day or week specifically to pray for that person so that they were prayed for 24/7!

  6. Hiddie Rodrigue says:

    Isaiah 7 Immanuel God with us
    Matthew 1 Emmanuel God with us

  7. Hiddie Rodrigue says:

    Mister Miller is a beautiful man & he does have a heart for God. Yes, let’s all pray he sees.

  8. lydia says:

    Feeling blown away & very encouraged as I read these posts. Recently discovered some of Matisyahu’s latest music as well as interviews, & felt a burden to intercede for his relationship with God. I pray he comes to encounter and follow his Messiah Yeshua. I can see I’m not the only one with this burden; clearly the Lord is imparting this to the hearts of His sons & daughters.

  9. We thought he was messianic when we began listening to his music…but then, something was missing…now we know. He definitely had a call on his love. Praying for him to recognize his Jewish messiah…Yeshua . Beshem yashuah hamessiach.!

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© Israel Wayne.