Christian Biblical Counsel: JEWISH FULFILLMENT

Jewish Fulfillment

Finding the Peace God Promises

by June Hunt

Since everyone really wants to be fulfilled in life, why are so many people living unfulfilled? Many begin their search for fulfillment by discovering their roots—their heritage. And that is exactly what every Jewish person should do.… If you are Jewish, that should be your beginning point. Long ago, when the people of Israel were searching for direction, the God of Israel said,

“Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn; look to Abraham, your father, and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him he was but one, and I blessed him and made him many.”

(Isaiah 51:1–2)

I.     DEFINITIONS

The history of the Jewish people—your heritage—reveals a remarkable story of survival in the midst of catastrophic upheaval. Time and time again, they have overcome tremendous adversity and “beat the odds” to survive. Like the fragile sprout of a seedling that grows to be a mammoth tree, your amazing race descended from your forefather Abraham and has thrived for four thousand years. Symbolically, those descendents are God’s “Olive Tree,” which He planted and still preserves and prospers for His divine purposes—past, present, and future. You have a heritage unlike any other, for you are truly God’s Chosen People.

“The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.’ ”

(Genesis 12:1–3)

A. What Is Judaism?

Judaism is the religion of the Jewish people who share …

•     Belief in one Almighty God, who revealed Himself to Abraham, Moses, and the prophets

•     Biblical teachings based on the Jewish Scriptures

•     Rabbinic traditions emphasizing moral teachings and humanitarian efforts

“You are a people holy to the Lord your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be his treasured possession.”

(Deuteronomy 14:2)

B. What Is Zionism?

Zionism is an international political movement—not a religion—that stresses the return of the Jewish people to their homeland and the national rights of Israel, rather than emphasizing redemptive or moral teachings.

•     “Zion” was initially a term that referred to the entire western ridge of early Jerusalem and later to the whole city of Jerusalem.

•     “Zion” is sometimes used interchangeably with Jerusalem.

•     Zionists believe their actions help fulfill the following prophecy:

“I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land.”

(Ezekiel 36:24)

C. What Are the Three Terms for God’s Chosen People?

Though scattered over the length and breadth of the whole earth, the Jews have remained a distinct and unified people. Held together by a common faith and a common history, the Jewish people have been set apart by God … chosen to be His treasured possession.

“The Lord has declared this day that you are his people, his treasured possession as he promised, and that you are to keep all his commands. He has declared that he will set you in praise, fame and honor high above all the nations he has made and that you will be a people holy to the Lord your God, as he promised.”

(Deuteronomy 26:18–19)

#1  Hebrews

•     The Hebrew people are descendants of the Semitic people in the line of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

•     The English word “Hebrew” comes from the Hebrew word ibri, which means “one from beyond” (probably in reference to a river). The first biblical reference was to “Abram the Hebrew,” who came from beyond the Euphrates River.

“One who had escaped came and reported this to Abram the Hebrew. Now Abram was living near the great trees of Mamre the Amorite.” (Genesis 14:13)

•     Today the term “Hebrew” is primarily used in reference to the language.

#2  Israelites

•     Israelites are family members or descendants of the Hebrew patriarch Jacob, grandson of Abraham, whose name was changed to “Israel” after he physically wrestled with the angel of the Lord until he received God’s blessing.

•     The word “Israelite” comes from the Hebrew word yisrael, which means “striving or wrestling with God.”

“Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you have struggled with God and with men and have overcome.” (Genesis 32:28)

•     Today the word “Israeli” is a political term referring to Jewish or non-Jewish citizens of the modern state of Israel, founded in 1948.

#3  Jews

•     The Jewish people were the original descendants of Judah, a great-grandson of Abraham and one of the twelve sons of Jacob, or “Israel.”

•     The word “Jew” comes from the Hebrew word Yehudah—“Judah”—which means “God be praised.”

“There was in the citadel of Susa a Jew of the tribe of Benjamin, named Mordecai.” (Esther 2:5)

•     Today, the word “Jew” broadly refers to a person whose religion and/or cultural identity is Jewish as a result of ancestry or conversion.

One Significant Jewish Genealogy

•     Adam & Eve

 

The first man   and woman.

 

•     Cain-Seth-Abel

 

Seth was the   righteous son of Adam and Eve. His brothers were Cain and Abel.

 

•     Noah

 

The Great   Flood destroyed everyone except Noah’s family.

 

•     Ham-Shem-Japheth

 

Noah’s sons,   Shem inhabited the Middle East (from whom came the Semites); Ham populated Africa;   Japheth branched out to Europe.

 

•     Abraham

 

Through   Abraham God began the Hebrew race.

 

•     Isaac

 

Miracle son of   Abraham.

 

•     Jacob-Esau

 

God changed   Jacob’s name to Israel, from whom came the Israelites.

 

•     Judah

 

Judah was one   of the 12 sons of Israel. Judah founded one of the 12 tribes of Israel.

 

•     King David

 

Descendent of   Judah through whom Messiah would come.

 

“ ‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.’ ”

(Jeremiah 23:5)

Question: “Why are the Jewish people called the Chosen People?”

Answer: The Jewish people are called chosen because of their unique relationship with God. God chose to call one man, Abraham, and through Abraham comes the chosen nation of Israel.

“The Lord did not set his affection on you and choose you because you were more numerous than other peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But it was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath he swore to your forefathers.… Know therefore that the Lord your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands.” (Deuteronomy 7:7–9)

Question: “What did God expect of His Chosen People?”

Answer: The Jewish nation was to obey God’s law from the heart.

“ ‘If you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.” (Exodus 19:5–6)

Question: “Is the Jewish nation still important to God, even today?”

Answer: Absolutely! The Jewish apostle Paul, in speaking about the people of Israel, adds,

“Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises.” (Romans 9:4)

D. Who Is a Gentile?

•     A Gentile is a non-Jewish person.

•     The English word “Gentile” comes from the Hebrew word goyim, which means “nations,” indicating nations other than Israel.

Question: “Does God intend to offer salvation to the Gentiles as well as to the Jews?”

Answer: Yes, through Isaiah the Prophet we see that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob presents His salvation to the Jews as well as to the Gentiles throughout the whole world.

“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 49:6)

 

II.    CHARACTERISTICS OF JUDAISM

The emancipation of “God’s People” to establish communities in almost all areas of the world has had far-reaching cultural and religious effects. Slowly, where Jews became well integrated into the life of modern societies, the strict wall around traditional Judaism began to crumble. And like the outstretched arms of an old tree, Judaism grew three distinct branches that sprouted from the same trunk of Jewish orthodoxy.

“They will know that I am the Lord, when I disperse them among the nations and scatter them through the countries.”

(Ezekiel 12:15)

A. What Are the Three Major Branches?

#1  Orthodox Judaism …

•     has the reputation of being the most traditional branch

•     has a strict adherence to the Jewish laws, tradition, and liturgy

—  keeping the Sabbath as a complete day of rest, study, prayer, and devotion, with no working, traveling, or carrying money

—  observing all dietary rules

—  wearing of skullcaps by men, or hats at all times as a sign of respect to God

—  seating men and women separately in Orthodox synagogues

•     has primary emphasis on teachings from the Torah and the Talmud

—  The Torah, the first five books of Moses, is called the Law or the Pentateuch.

—  The Talmud is a collection of rabbinical commentary on the oral law. It explains how to live the Jewish life. The Talmud, which contains the long tradition of oral law, instructs the Orthodox Jew in their understanding of the Torah.

—  The Tanakh comprises the entire Jewish Scriptures—the Law, the prophets, and the writings. Maximum focus is on the Law, while little is known about the prophets.

•     has definite emphasis on the supernatural attributes of God

•     has almost all prayers chanted in Hebrew

•     has two further divisions known as Hasidic and “modern”

The Hasidic sect, such as the Lubavitch, is ultra-orthodox, promotes separatism, and continues to speak Yiddish. Hasid means “pious one.” The men are visibly identifiable by beards and curled sidelocks.

#2  Conservative Judaism …

•     has the reputation of being the moderate branch of Judaism (between the traditional and liberal branches)

•     has a balance between emphasizing the Law and living an ethical life

—  having some modified orthodox rituals that originated after the Talmudic period

—  observing the dietary laws and keeping the Sabbath and festivals

—  stressing unity of all Jews: maintaining that different interpretations of religious doctrines must not divide Jews into opposing groups

—  sometimes seating men and women together in Conservative synagogues

•     has less emphasis on the supernatural attributes of God

•     has the fastest growth of the three branches of Judaism

•     has the greatest variance from traditional to nontraditional within its own branch

•     has (in many synagogues) portions of the service read in the common vernacular

#3  Reform Judaism …

•     has the reputation of being the most liberal branch

•     has little adherence to tradition and liturgy

—  believing each generation has the right to accept, reject, or modify traditions

—  following a year-round program of observing the Sabbath and Jewish holidays, but may or may not keep the dietary laws based on personal conviction

—  choosing not to wear hats or prayer shawls in most synagogues

—  giving women a greater role in reform services

•     has minimum emphasis on teachings of the Torah

•     has primary emphasis on living according to ethics and self-realization

•     has synagogue services almost entirely in the common vernacular

B. Do Differences Exist between Judaism and the Jewish Bible?

Many Jewish people are unaware that their beliefs fall short of or actually conflict with the Jewish Scriptures. What they have been taught or told seems right. Although every Jewish person is different, many hold contemporary beliefs that contradict the Tanakh (Jewish Bible). If you are Jewish, evaluate your own beliefs to see whether they contradict or come in line with the Holy Scriptures.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”

(Proverbs 14:12)

 

III.   CAUSES FOR FEELING UNFULFILLED

A. Misunderstanding the Covenant Promises

God promises you a positive future—a future with peace and fulfillment—through four interconnected covenants. Through understanding God’s covenant promises to ancient Israel, contemporary Jews can find fulfillment. God is not playing a game of hide and seek. The Lord desires that you fully understand and appropriate these promised blessings.

Understand the Four Covenants

#1  The Abrahamic Covenant: God’s Promises to Abraham

•     God chose Abraham and made the following promises to him:

—  Abraham and his descendants will possess the land of Canaan.

“The Lord had said to Abram [Abraham], ‘Leave your country, your people and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.’ … The Lord appeared to Abram and said, ‘To your offspring I will give this land.’ So he built an altar there to the Lord, who had appeared to him.” (Genesis 12:1, 7)

—  Abraham will be the father of a great nation.

“I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:2–3)

—  Abraham’s offspring will be a blessing to all nations.

“And through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed.” (Genesis 22:18)

The word offspring can be literally translated as “seed.” All Hebrew Scriptures after this are a record of God’s work through Abraham’s descendants to fulfill God’s promises to Abraham.

#2  The Mosaic Covenant: God’s Promises to Israel through Moses and the Law

(Exodus chapters 19–20; The Book of Deuteronomy)

•     The Law provides the nation of Israel with what was promised to Abraham.

—  In the Law, God promises great blessings to the nation of Israel. (See Deuteronomy 28:1–14.) The promises in the Law are essentially the same as those made to Abraham. For example, under the Law the nation of Israel is allowed to enter the Promised Land.

“See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land that the Lord swore he would give to your fathers—to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—and to their descendants after them.” (Deuteronomy 1:8)

•     The Law has one major difference from God’s promise to Abraham.

—  God’s covenant with Abraham was unconditional, but God’s promises to Moses through the Law were conditioned by Israel’s continued obedience to God. The covenant given to Moses (the Law) is much like our present-day contracts. If Israel ceases to obey the Law, then God may judge the nation. Notice what the Law says about breaking the Mosaic covenant.

“If you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you.” (Deuteronomy 28:15)

•     The Law presents warnings if Israel is disobedient. These would be curses opposite the promises to Abraham.

—  Israel will have few descendants.

“You who were as numerous as the stars in the sky will be left but few in number, because you did not obey the Lord your God.” (Deuteronomy 28:62)

—  Israel will be removed from the Promised Land.

“Just as it pleased the Lord to make you prosper and increase in number, so it will please him to ruin and destroy you. You will be uprooted from the land you are entering to possess.” (Deuteronomy 28:63)

#3  The Davidic Covenant: God’s Promise to David

•     David’s kingdom will last forever.

—  God promised David that he would continue to have a son reigning as king of Israel. Solomon, who was to build the temple, is the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s promise to David. However, that is only the beginning of the promise. God promises that David’s kingdom will last forever, ruled by kings who are David’s descendants.

“When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.” (2 Samuel 7:12–16)

•     David’s son will rule over all nations.

—  The promise made to David has connection with the promises given to Abraham. David’s son will rule over the land promised to Abraham (and beyond), and he will rule over all nations.

“He will rule from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.… All kings will bow down to him and all nations will serve him.… May his name endure forever; may it continue as long as the sun. All nations will be blessed through him, and they will call him blessed.” (Psalm 72:8, 11, 17)

•     David’s kingdom will produce a “righteous Branch.”

—  Even after the failure of the Davidic kings and the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BCE, God reiterates His promise to David.

“ ‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.’ ” (Jeremiah 23:5)

#4  The New Covenant: God’s Promise to the House of Israel

•     Repeatedly, Israel has broken its covenant with God. Unless the Lord takes action, Israel will only violate again the covenant given through Moses and will experience His severe discipline.

“ ‘The time is coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them,’ declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 31:31–32)

The New Covenant is the way in which God will fulfill the promises He made to Abraham. Notice some of the promises of the New Covenant.

•     God will never reject Israel.

—  In contrast to the Law, which includes curses for breaking the covenant, the New Covenant ensures that God will never reject Israel.

“This is what the Lord says: ‘Only if the heavens above can be measured and the foundations of the earth below be searched out will I reject all the descendants of Israel because of all they have done,’ declares the Lord.” (Jeremiah 31:37)

•     God promises Israel the land He promised to Abraham.

“You will live in the land I gave your forefathers; you will be my people, and I will be your God.” (Ezekiel 36:28)

•     God offers both complete forgiveness for sins and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

—  The New Covenant goes beyond anything included in the promise to Abraham or in the Mosaic Covenant. The New Covenant provides for the final and complete forgiveness of sins.

“I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.” (Jeremiah 31:34)

—  Not only will there be the complete forgiveness of sins, but God’s Spirit will also indwell believers and move them to obey God’s Word.

“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart ofstone and give you a heart off lesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.” (Ezekiel 36:26–27)

Question: “What is missing from the Tanakh?”

Answer: The Tanakh—the Jewish Scriptures—(Law, prophets, and writings) reads like a book that is missing its last chapters. There are many unfulfilled promises that beg for fulfillment. What is the rest of the story? How will it end? Notice some of the unfulfilled promises in the Tanakh.

—  God’s promise to Abraham concerning an offspring who will bless “all nations” is not yet fulfilled in the Tanakh.

—  God’s promises to David concerning an everlasting kingdom and a righteous Davidic king are not yet fulfilled in the Tanakh.

—  God promised a New Covenant, but the covenant is not yet fulfilled in the Tanakh.

B. Misunderstanding the Promised Messiah

What does Messiah mean? Messiah means the “anointed one.” Anointing is a sign of authority to rule.

“Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ ”

(Daniel 9:25)

Question: “Who is this Messiah? What requirements were expected?”

Answer: The Messiah is mentioned in the Tanakh and ancient Jewish writings. Below are some of the age-old Jewish beliefs about the coming Messiah.

—  The Messiah must be from the lineage of David.

“See, Lord, and raise up for them their king, the son of David, to rule over Israel, your servant, in the time which you chose, O God.” (Psalms of Solomon 17:21. Note: Psalms of Solomon is an ancient Jewish writing dated approximately 50 BCE.)

—  The Messiah must be sinless.

“And he himself will be free from sin, in order to rule a great people, to put to shame officials and to win sinners by the strength of the word.” (Psalms of Solomon 17:36)

—  The Messiah must possess divine and human characteristics.

The prophet Daniel describes a unique individual called the “Son of Man.” This Son of Man comes with the authority to judge with power from God. He is a king, ruling over all nations in an eternal kingdom. He lives forever, which demonstrates His deity.

“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.” (Daniel 7:13–14)

—  The Messiah will forgive sins.

The Jews who wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls believed in the coming of the Messiah. They believed that the Messiah has the ability to forgive sins. Until He comes, the people are to do acts of penance.

“This is the exact statement of the statutes in which they shall walk until the coming of the Messiah of Aaron and Israel who will pardon their iniquity: Whoever deliberately lies in a matter of property … and shall do penance for six days … Whoever slanders his companion or bears rancor unjustly shall do penance for one year …” (The Damascus Document 14:19–20. Note: The Damascus Document is an ancient Jewish writing found among the other Dead Sea Scrolls.)

Question: “Could Jesus of Nazareth be the Messiah?”

Answer: Jesus demonstrates both by His life and His ministry that He is the promised Messiah. Jesus brings completion for the promises made to Abraham and David, and He introduces the New Covenant. How does Jesus fit the requirements to be the Messiah?

—  Jesus is from the line of David.

Jesus’ genealogy is recorded in the Gospel of Matthew and the Gospel of Luke. Jesus is a Jew, descended from David.

“A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham.” (Matthew 1:1)

Jesus is sinless.

Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.” (John 8:46–47)

—  Jesus is divine—He is God.

The Jewish people did not think of Jesus as merely being a good teacher or a great prophet.

They knew without a doubt that He presented Himself to be God.

“Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, ‘I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?’ ‘We are not stoning you for any of these,’ replied the Jews, ‘but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.’ ” (John 10:31–33)

—  Jesus is human—He is a man.

“There is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” (1 Timothy 2:5)

—  Jesus has the authority to forgive sins.

“ ‘That you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.…’ He said to the paralyzed man, ‘I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.’ ” (Luke 5:24)

—  Jesus introduces the New Covenant.

Jesus is the mediator of the New Covenant. A mediator is one who intervenes between two parties. Just as Moses under the Mosaic Covenant was the mediator between God and Israel, Jesus is the mediator between God and humanity under the New Covenant. Not only is Jesus the mediator, but He is also the sacrifice of the New Covenant.

“For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance—now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.” (Hebrews 9:15)

◦     God initiated the covenant through Moses, who made a blood sacrifice that marks the beginning of the covenant.

“[Young Israelite men] offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as fellowship offerings to the Lord.… [Moses] took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, ‘We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey.’ Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, ‘This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.’ ” (Exodus 24:5–8)

◦     Jesus’ own death is the New Covenant sacrifice, enabling those who trust in Him to have the forgiveness of sins promised under the New Covenant.

“In the same way, after the supper he [Jesus] took the cup, saying, ‘This cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you.…’ God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.” (Luke 22:20; Acts 5:31)

Question: “How can any Jewish person believe that Jesus is God the Son? Only God our Father exists.”

Answer: In the Jewish Scriptures, the word Father directly communicates such a relationship. Notice how the second Psalm presents the affectionate relationship between God the Father and God the Son, beyond any relationship any ancient king of Israel enjoyed with God.

“ ‘I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.’ I will proclaim the decree of the Lord: He said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.’ … Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.” (Psalm 2:6–12)

C. Hardened Hearts

Jewish people are fiercely proud of their heritage, beliefs, and customs. However, numerous events in history have occurred in which Gentiles persecuted the Jews. Some mistakenly assume that all Gentiles are Christians. But authentic Christians who have the heart of Christ condemn such calloused and cruel atrocities.

Crusaders under the sign of the cross slaughtered the Jews during the Middle Ages. The Nazi Regime murdered millions of Jews during the Holocaust. Anne Frank, a young Jewish girl, recorded the anti-Semitic decrees and treatment against her people during World War II. Her detailed diary recorded their tediously difficult days within the “secret annex”—her home for the 25 months she was in hiding.

•     June 20, 1942—“Anti-Jewish decrees followed each other in quick succession and our freedom was quickly limited. Jews must wear a yellow star, Jews must hand in their bicycles, Jews are banned from streetcars. Jews may not visit Christians.…”

•     November 19, 1942—“Countless friends and acquaintances have been taken off to a dreadful fate. Night after night, green and gray military vehicles cruise the streets. It’s impossible to escape their clutches unless you go into hiding.”

The Lord said to the prophet Ezekiel,

“The house of Israel is not willing to listen to you because they are not willing to listen to me, for the whole house of Israel is hardened and obstinate.”

(Ezekiel 3:7)

Many Jewish Hearts Are Hardened against Christianity because of …

Historical persecutions such as the Holocaust

Anti-Semitic attitudes of many cultures

Resistance to exchange the Law for faith

Dependence on Jewish traditions and liturgy

Embracing the New Testament considered disloyal to Judaism

National Jewish pride and independence

Exercising of spiritual pride

Denial of Messiah Yeshua because prophecies of anticipated world peace not yet fulfilled

Humiliation of being considered a Gentile if Jesus is accepted as Messiah

Erroneous use of Scripture by some Christians

Abandonment by family and friends feared

Reluctance to study Scripture

Trite expressions of concern by others

Self-identity as a Jew threatened

From The Diary of Anne Frank:

April 11, 1944—“One day, this terrible war will be over. The time will come when we will be people again and not just Jews! We can never be just Dutch or just English or whatever, we will always be Jews as well. But then, we’ll want to be.”

These words are accurate: A Jewish person never stops being a Jew. From the first to the twenty-first centuries, whenever Jewish people accept Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah, they not only maintain their Jewishness, they also become “completed Jews,” fulfilling the New Covenant promises.

D. Root Cause of Disbelief for a Jewish Person

Many sincere Jewish people assume they are saved through their works, but the Jewish Scriptures show that righteousness is based on faith in God. Salvation has always been by faith.

•     Believe means to “rely upon,” to “trust in.”

•     Faith in God requires that we rely on God and accept His Word as true.

“The righteous will live by his faith.”

(Habakkuk 2:4)

Wrong Belief: “My security is in my heritage of being one of God’s Chosen People. My righteousness is achieved by keeping God’s laws.”

Right Belief: “Righteousness cannot be achieved by keeping God’s laws or by works. My righteousness can only be received through faith as I acknowledge Messiah Yeshua’s sacrificial death as the blood atonement for my sins. Putting my faith in the Messiah fulfills God’s plan for my life as a Jew.”

“No one will be declared righteous in his sight by observing the law; rather, through the law we become conscious of sin. But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished—he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:20–26)

 

IV.  STEPS TO SOLUTION

A. Key Verse to Memorize

Many people assume that righteousness (being right in God’s sight) comes by keeping the Law. But Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation, became righteous through belief—he believed in God’s promises.

“Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.”

(Genesis 15:6)

B. Key Passage to Read and Reread

Isaiah chapter 53

For centuries, the most eye-opening section of the Jewish Scriptures has been the detailed description of the “suffering servant.” Many Jewish people have become convinced that the suffering servant of Isaiah chapter 53 describes the promised Messiah.

Question: “Does the Suffering Servant of Isaiah chapter 53 refer to Jesus, to Israel, or to someone else?”

Answer: Scholars suggest that Isaiah chapter 53 may be interpreted in one of three ways.

#1  Many devout Jews and non-Jews have come to firmly believe that Isaiah chapter 53 is a future prophecy, fulfilled only by Jesus of Nazareth, the suffering Messiah.

#2  Some say that Isaiah chapter 53 possibly speaks of an individual, such as a Jewish ruler, who suffered on behalf of Israel. However, by following the same pattern of suffering—He suffered for the sins of the people, Jesus could be understood to fulfill this prophecy.

#3  And others say that this suffering servant refers to the nation of Israel. However, Jesus, as the Son of David, the Israelite King, serves as the representative of the nation. He fulfills the prophetic role by suffering for the sins of the people.

No matter which of these three interpretations you think is correct, Jesus still fulfills the prophetic role of the suffering servant by dying for the sins of the people.

The Suffering Servant of Isaiah Chapters 52 and 53

First read all the verses from Isaiah 52:13 through Isaiah chapter 53 listed in the left column. Then return to the beginning and read each point in Isaiah’s profile along with the New Covenant parallel.

Isaiah’s Profile

 

New Covenant Parallel

 

Messiah exalted

 

“See,   my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly   exalted.” (Isaiah 52:13)

 

“The   crowds that went ahead of him [Jesus] and those that followed shouted,   ‘Hosanna to the Son of David!’ ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the   Lord!’ ‘Hosanna in the highest!’ ” (Matthew 21:9)

 

Messiah disfigured by suffering

 

“Just   as there were many who were appalled at him—his appearance was so disfigured   beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness.” (Isaiah   52:14)

 

“He   [Pilate] had Jesus flogged.… Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the   Praetorium.… They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head   again and again.” (Matthew 27:26–27, 30)

 

Messiah amazes kings and nations

 

“So   will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of   him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not   heard, they will understand.” (Isaiah 52:15)

 

“After   Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi   from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been   born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship   him.’ ” (Matthew 2:1–2)

 

Messiah not believed

 

“Who   has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? He grew up before   him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty   or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should   desire him.” (Isaiah 53:1–2)

 

“Even   after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still   would not believe in him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet:   ‘Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been   revealed?’ ” (John 12:37–38)

 

Messiah despised

 

“He   was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with   suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we   esteemed him not.” (Isaiah 53:3)

 

“The   people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, ‘He saved   others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen   One.’ ” (Luke 23:35)

 

Messiah—the burden-bearer

 

“Surely   he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him   stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.” (Isaiah 53:4)

 

“This   was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: ‘He took up our   infirmities and carried our diseases.’ ” (Matthew 8:17)

 

Messiah wounded

 

“He   was pierced for our transgressions …” (Isaiah 53:5)

 

“One   of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of   blood and water.” (John 19:34)

 

Messiah—the spiritual healer

 

“…   he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was   upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)

 

“He   himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins   and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” (1 Peter   2:24)

 

Messiah—the sin-taker

 

“We   all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and   the Lord has laid on him the   iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)

 

“Christ   died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you   to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit.” (1   Peter 3:18)

 

Messiah’s silent suffering

 

“He   was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a   lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he   did not open his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7)

 

“Jesus   made no reply, not even to a single charge—to the great amazement of the   governor.” (Matthew 27:14)

 

Messiah cut off

 

“By   oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his   descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the   transgression of my people he was stricken.” (Isaiah 53:8)

 

“ ‘In   his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants?   For his life was taken from the earth.’ The eunuch asked Philip, ‘Tell me,   please, who is the prophet talking about, himself or someone else?’ Then   Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news   about Jesus.” (Acts 8:33–35)

 

Messiah’s burial in a rich man’s tomb

 

“He   was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death …”   (Isaiah 53:9)

 

“As   evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph.…   Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his   own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock.” (Matthew 27:57, 59–60)

 

Messiah’s sinless behavior

 

“…   though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.” (Isaiah   53:9)

 

“He   [Jesus] committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” (1 Peter   2:22)

 

Messiah—the guilt offering for the people

 

“Yet   it was the Lord’s will to crush   him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord   makes his life a guilt offering …” (Isaiah 53:10)

 

“Christ   loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to   God.” (Ephesians 5:2)

 

Messiah’s resurrection from the dead

 

“…   he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. After   the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied …”   (Isaiah 53:10–11)

 

“Seeing   what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not   abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay.” (Acts 2:31)

 

Messiah—our sin-bearer

 

“…   by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear   their iniquities.” (Isaiah 53:11)

 

“Christ   was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many people; and he will appear   a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are   waiting for him.” (Hebrews 9:28)

 

Messiah numbered with the sinners

 

“I   will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with   the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with   the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:12)

 

[Jesus   said] “It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors’; and I   tell you that this must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is   reaching its fulfillment.” (Luke 22:37)

 

Messiah’s prayer for those who crucified Him

 

“He   bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah   53:12)

 

“Jesus   said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are   doing.’ ” (Luke 23:34)

 

Question: “If Jesus was really the Messiah, why did He have to die?”

Answer: All Jewish people know from the Book of Leviticus and the Book of Exodus that only a blood sacrifice would provide the proper covering for our sins in order to reconcile us to God. The Messiah was the sacrificial Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the people of Israel. God designed the blood of atonement stating,

“The life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.” (Leviticus 17:11)

Sacrificial animals provided a temporary covering for sin, but Jesus, the sinless Messiah, provides the permanent blood atonement for all sins.

“You know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” (1 Peter 1:18–19)

C. Eight Signs Pointing to the Messiah

Jewish people today get their spiritual beliefs more from the Torah and Talmud (the Law and the traditions) than from the prophets. Perhaps you, like many Jewish people, do not know what your own prophets, such as Ezekiel, Isaiah, and Daniel have said. Therefore, you may find yourself amazed once you are fully introduced to both the prophets and their prophecies.

Old Testament Prediction

 

New Testament Fulfillment

 

Messiah’s lineage from Abraham

 

“Through   your offspring [seed] all nations   on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” (Genesis 22:18)

 

“The   promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. The Scripture does not say ‘and to seeds,’meaning many   people, but ‘and to your seed,’ meaning one person, who is Christ.”   (Galatians 3:16)

 

Messiah’s lineage from Judah

 

“The   scepter will not depart from Judah,   nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it   belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.” (Genesis 49:10)

 

“See,   the Lion of the tribe of Judah,   the Root of David, has triumphed. He [Jesus] is able to open the scroll and   its seven seals.” (Revelation 5:5)

 

Messiah’s lineage from David

 

“I   have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant, ‘I will establish your line forever and make   your throne firm through all generations.’ ” (Psalm 89:3–4)

 

“After   removing Saul, he [God] made David their king. He testified concerning him:   ‘I have found David son of Jesse a   man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.’From this   man’s descendants God has brought to Israel the Savior Jesus, as he   promised.” (Acts 13:22–23)

 

Messiah’s birthplace

 

“You,   Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you   are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will   be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”   (Micah 5:2)

 

“After   Jesus was born in Bethlehem in   Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem   and asked, ‘Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his   star in the east and have come to worship him.’ ” (Matthew 2:1–2)

 

Messiah’s messenger

 

“ ‘See,   I will send my messenger, who will   prepare the way before me. Then   suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of   the covenant, whom you desire, will come,’says the Lord Almighty.” (Malachi 3:1)

 

[Spoken about   John the Baptist] “This is the one   about whom it is written: ‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ ” (Luke 7:27)

 

Messiah’s ministry in Galilee

 

“In   the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the   future he will honor Galilee of   the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan.” (Isaiah 9:1)

 

“When   Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he returned to Galilee.… To   fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah: ‘Land of Zebulun and land   of Naphtali, the way to the sea, along the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles—the people living in darkness have seen a   great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has   dawned.’ ” (Matthew 4:12–16)

 

Messiah’s role as prophet

 

[Spoken by   Moses]

“The   Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen   to him.” (Deuteronomy 18:15)

 

[Spoken by the   Jewish disciple Peter about Jesus]

“Moses   said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up   for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to   everything he tells you.’ ” (Acts 3:22)

 

Messiah’s entry into Jerusalem on a donkey

 

“Rejoice   greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king   comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a   donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9)

 

“Jesus   found a young donkey and sat upon   it, as it is written, ‘Do not be afraid, O Daughter of Zion; see, your king   is coming, seated on a donkey’s colt.’ ” (John 12:14–15)

 

Question: “How could Jesus be the Messiah since He did not fulfill the predictions concerning the Messianic Age?”

Answer: The issue here is not how you view Jesus, but how you view the timeline regarding predictions of the Messiah and the Messianic Age. If all predictions must be fulfilled at one time, then certainly Jesus could not be the Messiah. The Messiah ushers in the Messianic Age—a time of worldwide peace—which our world has yet to see.

One interesting pattern in Hebrew Scripture reveals specific predictions that have multiple fulfillments—even fulfillments separated by a long stretch of time.

—  For example, the Lord promises the land of Canaan to Abraham’s offspring—“To your offspring I will give this land” (Genesis 12:7). It is natural to assume that his son Isaac will possess the Promised Land. Yet, this prophecy was fulfilled through Joshua over 440 years later.

—  A second example highlights Moses’ warning to Israel.

“After you … have lived in the [promised] land a long time—if you then become corrupt … you will quickly perish from the land.… The Lord will scatter you among the peoples.” (Deuteronomy 4:25–27)

Israel did indeed become corrupt—numerous times. Was Moses predicting the Assyrian attack of 722 BCE or the Babylonian captivity of 586 BCE? Both fulfillments are true, even though they are separated by 136 years. Therefore, a biblical precedent is already established that a prediction can have more than one fulfillment over a long period of time. Just as these prophecies were separated by a long span of time, the Messiah came first as the Suffering Servant and will come again as the King of Kings.

D. Ten Prophecies about the Death of the Messiah

The Messiah, God’s anointed King, hung from a cross as a convicted criminal! How could this be? How could this Christ, with no visible, earthly kingdom, be the one whom the prophets had spoken of in the Hebrew Scriptures … their long-awaited Savior … the Prince of Peace for the whole world? Yet, the Jewish writer and apostle John refers to Isaiah, who predicts that many hearts of Israel will be hardened and many eyes blinded to the truth of God’s promised Messiah. Even so, many did believe.

“Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: ‘Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?’ ” (John 12:37–38)

Old Testament Prediction

 

New Testament Fulfillment

 

Messiah mocked and insulted

 

“All   who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: ‘He trusts in the   Lord; let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him,   since he delights in him.’ ” (Psalm 22:7–8)

 

“The   people stood watching, and the rulers even sneered at him. They said, ‘He   saved others; let him save himself if he is the Christ of God, the Chosen   One.’ ” (Luke 23:35)

 

Messiah sold for silver

 

“I   told them, ‘If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.’ So   they paid me thirty pieces of silver.”   (Zechariah 11:12)

 

“[Judas]   asked, ‘What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?’ So they   counted out for him thirty silver   coins.” (Matthew 26:15)

 

Messiah betrayed by a friend

 

“Even   my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his   heel against me.” (Psalm 41:9)

 

“While   they were eating, he [Jesus] said, ‘I tell you the truth, one of you will   betray me.’ … Then Judas, the one who would betray him, said, ‘Surely not I,   Rabbi?’Jesus answered, ‘Yes, it is you.’ ” (Matthew 26:21, 25)

 

Messiah offered vinegar and gall

 

“They   put gall in my food and gave me vinegar   for my thirst.” (Psalm 69:21)

 

“There   they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed   with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it.” (Matthew 27:34)

 

Messiah prays for His persecutors

 

“He   … made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:12)

 

“Jesus   said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are   doing.’ ” (Luke 23:34)

 

Messiah commits His Spirit to God

 

“Into   your hands I commit my spirit;   redeem me, O Lord, the God of   truth.” (Psalm 31:5)

 

“Jesus   called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’When he had said this, he breathed his last.”   (Luke 23:46)

 

Messiah’s clothing divided by casting lots

 

“They   divide my garments among them and cast   lots for my clothing.” (Psalm 22:18)

 

“When   they had crucified him, they divided   up his clothes by casting lots.” (Matthew 27:35)

 

Messiah’s bones not broken

 

“He   protects all his bones, not one of   them will be broken.” (Psalm   34:20)

 

“When   they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs.” (John 19:33)

 

Messiah’s body pierced

 

“I   will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit   of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him   as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves   for a firstborn son.” (Zechariah 12:10)

 

“Instead,   one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’   side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.” (John 19:34)

 

Messiah’s raised body experienced no decay

 

“You   will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.” (Psalm 16:10)

 

“Seeing   what was ahead, he [David] spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he   was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay.” (Acts 2:31)

 

Question: “Couldn’t Jesus, who knew the Hebrew Scriptures, simply have conformed His words and actions to match the Messianic predictions?”

Answer: Even if you discount some of His words and actions, which in theory Jesus could have controlled, there were many other fulfilled prophecies that He Himself could not have controlled. For example, when His family lived in Nazareth, Jesus as an ordinary man could not have planned to be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). Nor could He have planned that He would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12) or that He would be buried in a rich man’s tomb (Isaiah 53:9).

E. Are You Looking for Peace and Fulfillment

Seven Key Questions for You

#1  What Is God’s Special Purpose for Choosing You?

•     The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob created you for the purpose of having a personal relationship with Him and commissioned you

—  to tell about the one true God

“… my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.” (Isaiah 43:20–21)

—  to be a light to the nations

“I, the Lord, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles.” (Isaiah 42:6)

—  to bring God’s salvation to the world

“He says: ‘It is too small a thing for you to be my servant to restore the tribes of Jacob and bring back those of Israel I have kept. I will also make you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring my salvation to the ends of the earth.’ ” (Isaiah 49:6)

•     In turn, God promises

—  to direct you

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5–6)

—  to fulfill you

“You have made known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.” (Psalm 16:11)

#2  What Keeps You from Fulfilling God’s Purpose?

•     Throughout history, a great gulf has come between Israel and her God. Each time it has prevented the Jewish people from fulfilling God’s purpose and has resulted in God’s discipline rather than God’s blessings. That same great gulf causes that same separation today. That gulf …

—  separates you from God

“Your iniquities [sins] have separated you from your God.” (Isaiah 59:2)

—  causes spiritual death

“The soul who sins is the one who will die.” (Ezekiel 18:4)

“Everyone will die for his own sin.” (Jeremiah 31:30)

—  has been experienced by everyone

“There is no one who does not sin.” (1 Kings 8:46)

“There is not a righteous man on earth who does what is right and never sins.” (Ecclesiastes 7:20)

#3  What Is God’s Only Way to Deal with What Separates You?

•     The God of your forefathers instituted a means whereby individual and national sins could be removed and would not cause a separation from God.

—  Your faith (relying on God and His promises) results in true righteousness (being right in God’s sight).

“Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6)

—  Your sin is atoned for (covered) by having faith in the blood sacrifice.

“The life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life.” (Leviticus 17:11)

—  Your self-righteous acts (good works) are not acceptable to God.

“All our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” (Isaiah 64:6)

—  Your self-righteousness ends in death.

“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (Proverbs 14:12)

#4  Do You Know That God Has Provided the Blood of Atonement for You?

•     The sacrificial system instituted by God through Moses provided a temporary covering for the sins of the people. But the blood sacrifice of the Messiah took away your sins personally.

—  God provided a perfect sacrifice for your sins.

“He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)

—  God promised Messiah as the perfect sacrifice for everyone.

“We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)

—  God requires that you have faith in what the prophets said.

“Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” (2 Chronicles 20:20)

—  God provided prophecy so you could identify the Messiah. Read Psalm 2.

◦     The Messiah will come from the lineage of   David.

 

Jeremiah   23:5–6

 

◦     The Messiah will be born in Bethlehem.

 

Micah   5:2

 

◦     The Messiah will bring honor to Galilee.

 

Isaiah   9:1, 6

 

◦     The Messiah will be rejected by His own.

 

Isaiah   53:3

 

◦     The Messiah will die for the sins of all   people.

 

Isaiah   53:6

 

◦     The Messiah will have soldiers cast lots   for His garments.

 

Psalm   22:18

 

◦     The Messiah will come before destruction   of the second temple (AD 70).

 

Daniel   9:26

 

◦     The Messiah will arise from the dead.

 

Psalm   16:10

 

#5  Do You Know Anyone Who Fulfilled All These Prophecies?

•     Jewish prophets spoke of the Messiah as both a reigning king over an eternal kingdom and as a suffering servant who would save His people from their sins. His appearance as king is yet to come, but His appearance as servant has already come.

—  History has revealed that only Jesus (Yeshua) of Nazareth fulfilled these prophecies and many other prophecies.

—  According to the science of probability, if these eight prophecies were fulfilled in one man, the odds would be at least 1 in 1017. That would be 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000.

—  In His day, many Jewish people recognized Yeshua (Jesus) as Messiah.

◦     Andrew

“We have found the Messiah.” (John 1:41)

◦     Philip

“We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote—Jesus of Nazareth.” (John 1:45)

◦     Simon Peter

“Simon Peter answered, ‘You [Jesus] are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ ” (Matthew 16:16)

—  Throughout the centuries, many Jews and Gentiles have seen the prophecies and believed that Messiah Yeshua was the Anointed One who would save them from their sins.

“The Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)

“[An angel of the Lord said to Joseph] ‘She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.’ All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel’—which means, ‘God with us.’ ” (Matthew 1:20–23)

Question: “How could any thinking Jewish person believe in the Virgin Birth?”

Answer: A virgin birth would certainly not be the natural order of conception. Such a birth would have to be supernatural. This should not be problematic to any devout Jew, for the God of Abraham had long before performed a miraculous conception when Sarah was beyond childbearing years. Yet through the supernatural power of God and according to the perfect will of God, Sarah and Abraham had their promised son, Isaac, in a truly miraculous birth.

“Abraham and Sarah were already old and well advanced in years, and Sarah was past the age of childbearing.” (Genesis 18:11)

#6  Do You Know That God Gives You Freedom to Choose?

•     You can choose to receive a personal relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob through Messiah Yeshua.

•     You can choose to receive full forgiveness for your sins through the blood sacrifice of Messiah Yeshua, who died in your place.

•     You can choose to complete your Judaism. By accepting Yeshua as your Messiah, you are not denying your Jewishness, for you become a completed Jew.

•     You can choose to ask Messiah Yeshua into your life to save and fulfill you.

#7  Do You Know That You are Only a Prayer Away from Fulfilling God’s Purpose for You?

•     Pray, admitting that you have sinned against God and that you are truly sorry.

•     Pray, asking Messiah Yeshua to cleanse you with His blood of atonement.

•     Pray, asking Messiah Yeshua into your life to be your strength and source of fulfillment.

If you believe God is leading you to enter into a genuine relationship with Him through Messiah Yeshua, you can pray this prayer right now.

Dear   God,

I   know I have gone astray from Your truth many times—I have sinned against You.   I need to be forgiven of my sins. Now I see that Messiah Yeshua is the   Anointed One of the Holy Scriptures, who has provided the blood atonement for   me. Thank You, Jesus, for shedding Your blood on the cross for my sins. You   died in my place. I receive You as my Messiah. Please come into my heart and   cleanse me of my sin. Thank You for forgiving me, and thank You for   fulfilling me. In Your Name. Amen!

 

Question: “Judaism presents salvation as coming through doing good works according to the Law. Why does Christianity depart from doing good works and require only faith in Jesus?”

Answer: This is a common misunderstanding both about Judaism and Christianity.

—  First, Abraham could not have been saved by “keeping the Law” since the Law was given through Moses 400 years later.

—  Second, Abraham, the founder of Judaism, was saved by his faith, not by his works. “Abram believed the Lord, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6)

—  Additionally, faith and good works are not opposites. When a person becomes a genuine believer in Jesus as Messiah—an authentic Christian—that new believer’s faith will result in good works. If there is the root of faith, there will be the fruit of faith. The New Covenant explains,

“Faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.” (James 2:17)

Did You Know …

•     That the first Christians were Jewish?

•     That the disciples were Jewish?

•     That Jesus was Jewish?

Yes! All the above statements are substantiated in the Scriptures. Any and all prejudice against the Jewish people is unbiblical. In fact, the apostle Paul, whose lineage was the tribe of Benjamin, made this significant statement …

“I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”

(Romans 1:16)

F.  Have a Heart for All Jewish People

•     They have a great zeal for God.

“I [Paul] can testify about them that they [the Jewish people] are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge.” (Romans 10:2)

•     The Jewish heritage is their spiritual heritage.

“Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.” (Romans 9:4–5)

•     Their right to the land of Israel was promised in Scripture.

“The Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you. Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back. He will bring you to the land that belonged to your fathers, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers.” (Deuteronomy 30:3–5)

•     Their rejection of Christ the Messiah was prophesied.

“Not all the Israelites accepted the good news. For Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our message?’ ” (Romans 10:16, quoting Isaiah 53:1)

•     God has an everlasting love for Jewish people.

“The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: ‘I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness.’ ” (Jeremiah 31:3)

•     God will turn their hearts toward Christ.

“ ‘The Redeemer will come to Zion, to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,’ declares the Lord. ‘As for me, this is my covenant with them,’ says the Lord. ‘My Spirit, who is on you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will not depart from your mouth, or from the mouths of your children, or from the mouths of their descendants from this time on and forever,’ says the Lord.” (Isaiah 59:20–21)

•     God will bless those who bless the Jewish people.

“I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:3)

Question: “Why do some people feel compelled to talk with Jewish people about Jesus?”

Answer: To have a lifeline, yet not throw it to someone drowning, is selfish. To have the cure for cancer, yet not share it, is cruel. To be unwilling to share with the Jewish people the Good News that Jesus is their personal Messiah Yeshua, their prophesied Savior, is uncaring. Believers want their Jewish friends to study the Jewish Scriptures to discover the One who will deliver them from the guilt of their sin upon their receiving Him as their personal Lord and Savior. The apostle Paul, from the tribe of Benjamin, described his own longing.

“Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.” (Romans 10:1)

G. How to Share Jesus with a Jewish Friend

When you are discussing the Messiah with Jewish people, show familiarity and understanding of the Jewish Scriptures and how their prophecies are fulfilled in the New Testament. This can easily endear you to those of Jewish heritage and thereby invite a warmer discussion.

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.”

(1 Peter 3:15–16)

•     Pray that the heart of your friend will be open to the Messiah Yeshua.

“Do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert.” (Hebrews 3:8)

•     Phrase your wording carefully with sensitivity, but realize that the gospel of God will offend some. (Some offense cannot be entirely avoided.)

“A man finds joy in giving an apt reply—and how good is a timely word!” (Proverbs 15:23)

•     Prepare to speak or ask about current Middle East situations.

“A wise man’s heart guides his mouth, and his lips promote instruction.” (Proverbs 16:23)

•     Point to the Jewish Scriptures. Your friend will be surprised at the Messianic nature of the Old Testament. The Old Testament says much about Jesus. The New Testament says much about Judaism.

“All your words are true; all your righteous laws are eternal.” (Psalm 119:160)

•     Plan to share fulfilled prophecy about the Messiah.

(Read Isaiah chapter 53.)

•     Propose that they read the Gospel of Matthew to see how Matthew used Old Testament passages to show that Jesus is the prophesied Messiah. Of the four biographies about Jesus, Matthew is written from the most Jewish perspective. Additionally, the Gospel of John includes discussions with Jewish religious leaders in chapters 9 and 10.

•     Plant thought provoking questions.

—  “Have you ever had a prayer answered?”

—  “Have you ever had your life spared?” [If yes …] “Do you think it was a coincidence?”

—  “What do you want most in life?”

—  “Is your life fulfilling or frustrating?”

—  “May I tell you about the peace and fulfillment I found when I came to know the God of Israel?”

“The wise in heart are called discerning, and pleasant words promote instruction.” (Proverbs 16:21)

•     Present Messiah Yeshua as the only way to find fulfillment in life.

“Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ ” (John 14:6)

H. Present Clear Terminology

“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.”

(Proverbs 12:18)

Don’t Say

 

Do Say

 

Christ (Greek,   “The Anointed One”)

 

Messiah   (Hebrew, “The Anointed One”)

 

Christian

 

Believer or   Messianic believer

 

Church

 

Congregation,   assembly, fellowship, a meeting of Bible believers

 

Converted Jew

 

Completed or   fulfilled Jew

 

Cross, the

 

Tree, the

 

Gospel of   salvation

 

Plan of   atonement

 

Holy Ghost

 

Spirit of God

 

Jesus (Greek,   “salvation”)

 

Yeshua   (Hebrew, “salvation”)

 

Jew

 

Jewish person

 

Jewish   Christians

 

Messianic Jews

 

Messianic   synagogue

 

Messianic   congregation

 

Missionary

 

Outreach

 

New Testament

 

New Covenant

 

Old Testament   or “My KJV”

 

Tanakh, Jewish   Scriptures, or Hebrew Scriptures

 

Relationship   with Christ

 

Relationship   with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

 

Religion

 

Relationship

 

Testimony

 

Story

 

I.  The Seven Annual Festivals of Israel

The Practices and Promises of The Leviticus   Festivals

 

Jewish Holy Days

(feasts   or festivals)

 

Passover

pesach

 

Unleavened Bread

matzoth

 

Firstfruits

bikkurim

 

Pentecost (or Weeks)

shabuoth

 

Scripture References

 

Leviticus   23:5

Exodus   chapter 12

 

Leviticus   23:6–8

Numbers   28:17–25

 

Leviticus   23:9–14

 

Leviticus   23:15–22

Numbers   28:26–31

Deuteronomy   16:9–12

 

Length

 

One   day

 

Seven   days

 

One   day

 

One   day

 

Time of Year

 

14th   day of first month, Nisan (March/April)

 

15th–21st   days of first month, Nisan (March/April)

 

Sunday   after Passover in first month, Nisan (March/April)

 

50th   day after firstfruits of the barley harvest, in third month, Sivan (May/June)

 

Primary Offering

 

Lamb   without spot or blemish

 

Removal   of all leaven in house

 

Wave   offering of sheaf from first harvest

 

Wave   offering of two loaves of leavened bread

 

Past Memorial

 

Deliverance   of Jews from Egyptian slavery

(Exodus   12:27)

 

The   removal of leaven from Jewish households to commemorate their flight from   Egypt

(Exodus   12:39)

 

Dedication   of the first of the barley harvest, memorializing how God brought the Jews   into the fertile Promised Land

 

Dedication   of the first of the wheat harvested after the Exodus

 

Future Foreshadowing

 

The   blood of Jesus (the Lamb of God), delivering every believer from the bondage   of sin

(John   1:29; 1 Corinthians 5:7)

 

The   cleansed lives of believers in Jesus and the need to maintain holiness

(1   Corinthians 5:7–8)

 

The   resurrection of Jesus as the first of many to be raised from the dead

(1   Corinthians 15:20–23)

 

Initially,   the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on believers to form the church. Now, the   indwelling of the Holy Spirit in every believer, writing God’s law on the   heart

(Acts   chapter 2; Hebrews 10:15–16)

 

Types/Signs

 

Passover   lamb = the Lamb of God

Egypt   = the world

Israel   = sinners

Pharaoh   = Satan

Moses   = Christ

 

Leaven   = sin

Unleavened   bread = the sinless Christ, the true church

Absence   of leaven = dedication of life to God

 

First   fruits = bodily resurrection of Christ and guarantee of bodily resurrection   of all believers

 

50   days = time between the Crucifixion and coming of Holy Spirit on church

Loaves   = the church

2   loaves together = Jews and Gentiles become one

Leaven   = sin in church

 

Portrait of Christ

 

Crucifixion   of Christ

 

Communion   with Christ

 

Resurrection   of Christ

 

Coming   of the Spirit of Christ

 

Jewish Holy Days

(feasts   or festivals)

 

Trumpets

rosh   hashanah

 

Day of Atonement

yom   kippur

 

Tabernacles (Booths)

suckoth

 

Scripture References

 

Leviticus   23:23–25

Numbers   29:1–6

 

Leviticus   23:26–32

Numbers   29:7–11

 

Leviticus   23:33–43

Numbers   29:12–40

 

Length

 

One   day

 

One   day

 

Seven   days

 

Time of Year

 

1st   day of seventh month, Tishri (Sept./Oct.)

 

10th   day of seventh month, Tishri (Sept./Oct.)

 

15th–21st   days of seventh month, Tishri, (Sept./Oct.)

 

Primary Offering

 

Trumpet   blown in preparation for day of atonement

 

Bulls   and goats

 

Harvest   offering

 

Past Memorial

 

The   trumpet (shofar) that ushers in the period of the holy days of the seventh   month, reminding the people of their covenant relationship with God and calling   them to deep repentance

 

The   annual sacrifices and temporary atonement made by the high priest for the   forgiveness of sins

 

God’s   provision and protection during Israel’s wilderness wanderings

 

Future Foreshadowing

 

The   sound of the trumpet that signals the return of Jesus to gather believers to   Himself

(Matthew   24:31; 1 Corinthians 15:52)

 

The   onetime, permanent atonement for the sins of the world brought about by   Jesus, who shed his blood for us

(Hebrews   chapters 9 and 10)

 

God’s   sheltering of peace and prosperity during the Millennium

(Zechariah   14:16)

 

Types/Signs

 

None   identified

 

Blood   sacrifices = the blood sacrifice of Christ on the cross for the forgiveness   of sins

 

Tent   = mortal human body awaiting glorified body

(2   Corinthians 5:1–4)

 

Portrait of Christ

 

Rapture   and Second Coming of Christ

 

Crucifixion   of Christ

 

Millennial   reign of Christ

 

Sources:   Kenneth Boa, The Seven Feasts of   Israel, Timeless Insights (Atlanta, GA: Walk Thru the Bible, 1980); Kay   Arthur, The Gospel of John, Precept   Upon Precept: An Inductive Bible Study (Chattanooga, TN: Precept   Ministries, 1977), 54–73; W. A. Criswell, ed., The Believer’s Study Bible: New King James Version (Nashville:   Thomas Nelson, 1991), 115; Dorothy Kelley Patterson, and Rhonda Kelley, eds.,   The Woman’s Study Bible: The New King   James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995), 137; John Fischer, The Meaning and Importance of the Jewish   Holidays (Palm Harbor, FL: Menorah Ministries, 1979); with special   appreciation to Steven Ger of Sojourner Ministries.

 

Never   think that you as a Jewish person should convert to Christianity. The   Christian is the one who converts to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—to   faith in the Jewish Messiah, Jesus. The Christian is merely the wild branch   grafted into the True Vine. Every Jewish person who accepts Jesus as Savior   is not converted to Christ, but is simply completed in Christ.

June   Hunt

 

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

With grateful appreciation for early editorial review by Alan Bond of Jews for Jesus.

http://www.jewsforjesus.org

Brotman, Manny. Have You Heard of the Five Jewish Laws? Messianic Jewish Movement International.http://www.mjmi.org/laws.php.

Brown, Michael L. Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus: General and Historical Objections, Vol. 1. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000.

Brown, Michael L. Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus, vol. 2, Theological Objections, Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000.

Fishbane, Michael A. Judaism: Revelation and Traditions. Religious Traditions of the World, ed. H. Byron Earhart. New York: Harper San Francisco, 1987.

Frank, Anne. The Diary of a Young Girl: The Definitive Edition. Translated by Susan Massotty. Edited by Otto H. Frank and Mirjam Pressler. New York: Bantam, 1997.

How to Introduce Your Jewish Friend to the Messiah. Rev. ed. Charlotte, NC: Chosen People Ministries, 1991.

Hunt, June. Counseling Through Your Bible Handbook. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.

Hunt, June. How to Forgive … When You Don’t Feel Like It. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2007.

Hunt, June. How to Handle Your Emotions. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008.

Hunt, June. Seeing Yourself Through God’s Eyes. Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 2008

Introducing the Jewish People to Their Messiah. Orangeburg, NY: American Board of Missions to the Jews, Inc., 1977.

McDowell, Josh. The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1999.

Prager, Dennis, and Joseph Telushkin. The Nine Questions People Ask About Judaism. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1981.

Questions and Answers. Jews For Jesus, n.d.

Rosen, Moishe, and Ceil Rosen. Witnessing to Jews: Practical Ways to Relate the Love of Jesus. San Francisco: Purple Pomegranate Productions, 1998.

Rosen, Ruth. Testimonies of Jews Who Believe in Jesus. 3rd ed. San Francisco: Purple Pomegranate Productions, 1992.[1]

 


[1] Hunt, J. (2008). Biblical Counseling Keys on Jewish Fulfillment: Finding the Peace God Promises (1–32). Dallas, TX: Hope For The Heart.

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