For the last few days we have been looking at sharing our faith with the Jews. The Jewish faith is very close to what we believe, but sadly you can be close and still not make it to Heaven. In the New Testament, many Jews believed in God’s redemptive plan, but they rejected Jesus Christ as their Saviour. Many of them are depending on their own good works, and their self-righteousness. Many are still doing that today.
What we have been looking at is from an interview with Ken Overby, with Jewish Awareness Ministries. This will be our last session on this.
As we try to reach Jews for Christ, the passage we are heading to is Isaiah 53. We are dealing with the fact that God became a man, that God has a Son, and that when God became a man He was still God in the flesh.
The next question is, can the Messiah suffer and die? If He is a man and God at the same time, can God suffer and die? To the Jew, this is unthinkable.
Isaiah 53 is a passage that will take a bit of time to work through so we won’t go through the whole thing. I don’t tell them that I am going to Isaiah 53. I have the text of Isaiah 53 typed out on a half sheet of paper with no verse markings and no title. The question at the top is, Who does this describe? On the back of this I have typed “This description was not given to Christians and it is not in the New Testament. This description was written by the Jewish prophet Isaiah in the 8th century BC.”
The average person will get down to the part where it says he was despised, acquainted with our grief, wounded for our transgression, and will shove it back at me saying this is Christian literature and it is talking about Jesus. I say no it is not, this was not written by Christians, they don’t know what is on the back yet. They will say, He was wounded for our transgression, etc., this is talking about Christ and the cross. I will tell them that this is not written by Christians and it is not found in the New Testament. Then I read them the back of the sheet.
I ask them, if it is so clear to you that it is talking about Jesus who died on the cross, and it is from your Jewish Scriptures, eight centuries before it happened, why have you never heard this in your Synagogue? Why have you never heard this from your rabbi?
This is dynamite. It is the power of the Gospel. This is a wonderful approach because, before they know who wrote it, they conclude that it is talking about Jesus Christ.
We make the mistake of thinking that Jews have had the opportunity to have Isaiah 53 explained to them, like the Ethiopian eunuch. They have been taught from birth, Jesus is for the Gentiles. He left them and became a traitor. To them, Jesus is no longer a Jew, and Christianity is a Gentile religion. They buy it hook, line, and sinker. No one has ever shown them from their Scriptures.
I want to look a little closer at the fact that they believe Jesus left His faith, and is a traitor. This means that when a Jew accepts Christianity, they also become traitors. I often ask why a Jewish person can believe in Allah, Buddha, or even no god, but you will still accept him as a Jew? Why is Christianity the only religion that is out of bounds?
We need to remember that Christianity was swallowed up by Christendom under Constantine from the fourth century through the dark ages, especially through the Catholic Church and the Spanish Inquisition. To the Jews, the cross became the symbol of forced religion. They were told, you will stop being a Jew and accept Christ, or you will die. This means they have been taught by those who claim to be Christians that they can’t be both Jewish and Christian. This is especially true after the Holocaust.
American and European Jews saw their Lutheran friends turn them in to the German authorities. Whole towns turned the Jews over to be put on the trains to be sent to the death camps. Holocaust survivors tell of the trains passing “Christian” churches singing “O Christ how we adore thee” after turning them in to be slaughtered. This is why becoming a Christian makes a Jew a traitor of all traitors. To them this means the agree with the Nazis.
This is a big wall to overcome when we try to reach Jews for Christ. We have to show them the true, New Testament, Biblical Christianity. We need to apologize to them for what has been done to them in the name of Christ. We need to show them that this is not who we are. There are many things that have been done in the name of Christ, that have nothing to do with Christianity.
Isaiah talks about the cross. What is the object of the cross? Man, bing a sinner, needs an atonement. What is the atonement? Is it Mitzvah, as the rabbis tell them? Let’s get away from Rabbinical Judaism and get back to Biblical Judaism.
Biblical Judaism is that which was given in the Old Testament. It had become pharisaic but the time of Christ. The only sect within Judaism that survived the destruction of the Temple was the Pharisees. All of the other sects were based around the practices of the temple. Modern Rabbinical Judaism is the biblical Pharisaic Judaism.
We have to take them back to the Old Testament principles of atonement. Leviticus 17:11 explains atonement.
For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul. ( Leviticus 17:11)
The shedding of blood is necessary for the forgiveness of sin, so we must ask what atones for their sins when they come to Passover or the Day of Atonement? Is it good works? Most Jews will say yes, their rabbi tells them that if they do good works, their sins will be absolved. I ask them if they have ever found that in the Scriptures? Usually, in their religious education, they are required to read through their Scriptures. If they have looked for it, they have found that it is not there.
There is no temple today, so when they come to Passover, no lamb is slain. When they come to the Day of Atonement, there is no lamb slain at their temple. There is no blood shed, so how do they have an atonement if God said that blood must be shed? By asking questions like this, you are leaving them with blanks that are not filled in by Judaism.
They need to come to grips with their sin. That is where most of us start and we shut them down by telling them that they are going to Hell. They know they are sinners, and they need to see that in modern Judaism there is no grounds for their atonement. They need to see that the temple is not necessary, and that God gave the way of atonement before the temple was destroyed.
These past few days give us a lot to chew on. It gives us the right way to approach Jews if we want to see them come to Christ for salvation. Spend some time studying these things. We need to remember that the Jews are still God’s chosen people, and He wants to see them brought to Christ. We are tools in His hands. Let’s learn the proper approach so we can be effective tools.
A the age of 14 I adopted Romans Romans 1:16 as my life’s verse:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (Romans 1:16)
I have made the first part of this verse the mission for my life. It has been my goal to be a model Christian and to stand for the precepts of God.
The last part of the verse says that the Gospel is the power of God to everyone that believes, and we should not be ashamed of this. It ends by saying to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. Our Saviour was a Jew, and the Jews are God’s chosen people. The Jews are in desperate need of a clear understanding of the Gospel. Many of them are caught up in “orthodoxy,” and it is full of false teaching. It is not the same religion as established under Moses. They are trying to get to Heaven by their good works, and the Bible is very clear that this will not work.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: [it is] the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
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