What Jewish People Believe
There’s an ongoing joke that says if you put three Jews in a room you’ll get twelve opinions. Having grown up within Conservative Judaism I saw that reality play out time and time again. The Jewish people were meant to be leaders and leaders are supposed to be able to give wise counsel, not just opinions stemming from ignorance. But where the Scriptures are concerned, most Jewish People haven’t a clue what they’re all about.
When I teach in congregations I’m always quick to make this statement, which is true from my vantage point. If you’ve been in a Bible preaching church one time, you’ve probably heard more Scripture than the average Jewish person has over their lifetime. “My People perish for lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6)
Jewish People are taught that they can’t understand the Bible and that it’s the pursuit of the Rabbis to unlock the secrets of our ancient books. The average Jewish person may read books the rabbis have written, but hardly ever do they crack the books of their Holy Scriptures. And when I say may, I mean may. In Israel it’s reported that 42% of the Jewish People identify themselves as “secular.” I doubt that very many of those have either read the Scriptures, or any rabbi’s commentary on them. Because of this reality, for the most part, the Jewish People do not know about the Messianic prophecies that fill the pages of the Old Testament – what they call the “Tanakh,” an acronym that uses the first letters in the three divisions of the Hebrew Scriptures.
Torah: The five books of Moses, also called the Chumash (“five part” in Hebrew) and Pentateuch (“five scrolls” in Greek). Nevi’im: “The prophets”. Ketuvim: “Writings”. In the Jewish Scriptures the Ketuvim encompass “The Wisdom Books” of Job, Ecclesiastes, and Proverbs; “The Poetry Books” of Psalms, Lamentations and Song of Solomon; and “The Historical Books” of Ezra-Nehemiah and Chronicles.
Jewish People may know stories from their Bible, but most do not understand the concepts of the sacrificial system, blood covenants, covenants, the fall of man and its results upon humanity, the calling of the Jewish People to be a light to the nations and the promised Messiah who would bring restoration to a backslidden, idolatrous people.
Because of this, it’s essential when speaking to Jewish People to frame your conversation as if you’re talking to someone who has little to no understanding about the Messiah, or what the Holy Scriptures teach. Don’t assume that they have a correct understanding of the concepts of “sin,” “salvation,” or our need for a Savior.
In the Old Testament, illustrations of the Messiah can be seen symbolically through much of what God has revealed. We can see the Messiah in the Ark that protected Noah and his family from the flood that destroyed the earth; it shows us that Messiah will protect the people God has chosen, and who are obedient to Him, from eternal destruction. We can see the Messiah in the man Moses, who led the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt; Messiah leads us out of our personal slavery to sin. We can see the Messiah in the wilderness tabernacle and all its furnishings, as a place that God dwelt, and where people could meet with Him. It’s through Messiah that we can have an intimate and personal relationship with God, and these are only a few examples. The life of Joseph closely parallels that of Yeshua’s/Jesus’. Also, there are over 300 Messianic prophesies and Yeshua/Jesus fulfills every one of them!
The good news is that as Jewish people read the Scriptures, many eyes are being opened to the truth that Yeshua is the Messiah, as prophesied by God through the prophets of our Holy Scriptures.
But back to the topic at hand – what do the Jews think? Let me give you some typical beliefs. Remember there are exceptions to the rule, but keep these in mind the next time you encounter a Jewish Person. I’m believing that by just reading this article you’ll have greater understanding of the lies that need to be broken down in order to help Jewish People come to know the truth about their Messiah.
Some erroneous beliefs:
Jesus was a Catholic.
Jesus hates the Jews and wants them dead. This belief comes straight from the Holocaust because the Nazis would tell the Jewish People that Jesus told them to kill them.
Christians hate the Jews and want to convert them or kill them. This belief comes from the Inquisitions and the Crusades, as well as the antisemitism that some of the early Church Fathers displayed and taught.
Christians are Catholics – there is little understanding of Biblical Christianity to the average Jewish Person. Many believe if you’re not Jewish you are “Christian.”
I’m Jewish therefore I’m chosen and will automatically go to heaven.
There is no hell.
My good deeds atone for my sin when I go to the synagogue on the “Day of Atonement” each year.
Because of the destruction of the temple and the abolishment of the sacrificial system, the rabbis now teach the people that good deeds, prayer and forgiveness atone for sin. This is seen nowhere in the Scriptures.
The rabbis look to the Talmud (oral law and commentaries on the Tanakh) for the majority of the laws that they regulate and hold the Jewish People to. The written law (Tanakh) takes second seat to the oral law.
Jesus isn’t the Messiah – he was just a teacher or a prophet.
Not only are these typical beliefs in the minds of Jewish People. There are actually Jewish organizations aimed at keeping Jews away from believing that Jesus is the Messiah. Jews for Judaism is one of those groups and they are supported by Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein. Have you heard of him? He’s the founder of the Fellowship of Christians and Jews. He’s the one marketing the Church saying that he needs your money to help the Jews move back to Israel. Well, in reality a large part of that money goes to keeping the Jews away from Jesus. And the worst part about it is that many Christians think he believes in Jesus when he doesn’t. He stands on the side of the anti-missionaries. What do they believe and teach? Let’s look at some of the anti-missionary statements that they feed the Jewish People regarding Jesus:
Anti-Missionary Statements about Messiah: The Criteria
Anti-Missionaries say: The Jewish tradition of “The Messiah” has its foundation in numerous biblical references, and understands “The Messiah” to be a human being—without any overtone of deity or divinity—who will bring about certain changes in the world and fulfill certain criteria before he can be acknowledged as “The Messiah.”
We say: I base all my belief on Scripture, and nowhere does Scripture say that Messiah wouldn’t be deity. Yeshua has brought tremendous changes in the world through the countless number of lives He has changed. Murderers, drug dealers, thieves, etc. have had their lives changed dramatically by the power of Yeshua. These changed lives change the world.
Anti-Missionaries say: First of all, he must be Jewish. “…you may appoint a king over you, whom the Lord your God shall choose: one from among your brethren shall you set as king over you.” (Deuteronomy 17:15)
We say: Reading the first book of the New Testament (Matthew 1) we find the genealogy of Yeshua through His mother’s side (Rabbis use biblical genealogy to determine whether you are of the Jewish bloodline); this traces His ancestry to Abraham and King David. The Scripture in Deuteronomy confirms Yeshua as King.
Anti-Missionaries say: He must be a member of the tribe of Judah. “The staff shall not depart from Judah, nor the scepter from between his feet…” (Genesis 49:10)
We say: In the same passage in Matthew it says that Yeshua was from the same lineage as Judah. And by the victory He won in the spiritual realm two-thousand years ago, He will always have the staff and scepter of rulership!
Anti-Missionaries say: To be a member of the tribe of Judah, the person must have a biological father who is a member of the tribe of Judah.
We say: In Luke chapter 3 Scripture traces Yeshua’s bloodline on His earthly father’s side to Judah. Once again, proof that He really does fit the qualifications of the Messiah.
Anti-Missionaries say: He must be a direct male descendant of King David and King Solomon, his son. “And when your days (David) are fulfilled, and you shall sleep with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who shall issue from your bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will make firm the throne of his kingdom forever…” (2 Samuel 7:12 – 13)
We say: In both genealogies (His mother’s and His earthly father’s) King David is an ancestor. Yeshua is the seed whose Kingdom God will establish. On His mother’s side Yeshua is in the lineage of Solomon.
Anti-Missionaries say: The genealogy of the New Testament is inconsistent. While it gives two accounts of the genealogy of Joseph, it states clearly that he is not the biological father of Yeshua. One of the genealogies is through Nathan and not Solomon altogether!
We say: The Scriptures say that Messiah would be a descendant of King David, as the anti-missionaries already pointed out, and as I’ve already pointed out, He was a descendant of Solomon on His mother’s side.
Anti-Missionaries say: He must gather the Jewish people from exile and return them to Israel. “And he shall set up a banner for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” (Isaiah 11:12)
We say: In 1948 the state of Israel was born. It was the first time in two-thousand years that the Jewish people have been allowed to return to Israel. They are coming from all nations, from the four corners of the earth. We are seeing this today. There are more believers in Yeshua (Jewish and Gentile) in the world today than ever before. Believers know that Yeshua is alive and seated at the right hand of God in Heaven. Hence, He is doing the work of the Messiah as we see God’s plan unfold in the nation of Israel.
Anti-Missionaries say: He must rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem. “…and I will set my sanctuary in their midst forever and my tabernacle shall be with them.” (Ezekiel 37:26-27)
We say: Now that Jerusalem is in the hands of the Jewish people, the Temple is actually being rebuilt! Believers know that Yeshua is alive and seated at the right hand of God in the heavenly Temple. Hence, He is doing the work of the Messiah.
Anti-Missionaries say: He will rule at a time of world-wide peace. “…they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Micah 4:3)
We say: This will happen at the second coming of Messiah.
Anti-Missionaries say: He will rule at a time when the Jewish people will observe God’s commandments. “My servant David shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall follow My ordinances and be careful to observe My statutes.” (Ezekiel 37:24)
We say: God prophesied through the prophet Jere-miah that one day He would pour out His Spirit on all mankind, and that He would write His law upon our hearts (Jeremiah 31). This has happened. Believers in Yeshua are being taught of God how to honor Him, worship Him and keep His commandments. Messiah, David’s kingly descendant, is our King and Shepherd, as we hear His voice and follow Him. The fullness of the Jewish people’s observance of God’s commandments will come after the second coming of Messiah.
Anti-Missionaries say: He will rule at a time when all people will come to acknowledge and serve one God. “And it shall come to pass that from one new moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me, says the Lord.” (Isaiah 66:23)
We say: This is going to happen at the second coming of Messiah, when every knee will bow and every tongue will confess Yeshua as Lord (Philippians 2:9-11).
Anti-Missionaries say: If an individual fails to fulfill even one of these conditions, he cannot be “The Messiah.” A careful analysis of these criteria shows us that, to date, no one has fulfilled every condition.
We say: Yeshua filled every one of these conditions.
Anti-Missionaries say: Certainly NOT Yeshua.
We say: Whose leg are they pulling? None of their objections are based on truth!
And speaking of truth. Unless we know the truth we are captive to lies. That goes for any of us. Please pray for the Jewish People to come to the knowledge of the truth, which will set them free from the lies they believe. I truly believe, based on Romans 9-11 that you have a part to play in that. God has blessed us all with salvation so that we might provoke others to jealousy so that some might be saved. Thank you for praying for and sharing your faith, and the truth with the Jewish People the Lord brings in your path. Their acknowledging Yeshua/Jesus as Lord is a precursor to His second coming! (Matthew 23:37-39)