A couple of weeks ago, someone asked me why I am so interested in studying Jewish beliefs. I am pretty terrible at organizing my thoughts into words unless I have had time to think and write, so after some consideration, this is my reply.
This is a pretty important question, considering the fact that I almost always bring up some aspect of Jewish belief or understanding during our Sunday School lessons. The ladies in the class always respectfully listen to me ramble on, even if they are not interested or do not know how it applies to them.
I have come up with six reasons that I pursue this kind of knowledge. This post contains the first one:
The Christian faith is an extension of the Jewish faith. It is what the Jewish faith would have become if they had believed on Jesus as their Messiah. That is, if they had believed the report that the Father gave of the Son. “He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.” I John 5:10. This verse is not saying anything new. It is saying that God testified of His Son already, and that some people reject Him.
The Jews say they believe their own writings, that of the Old Testament. However, they do not believe it when it speaks of the Son. I spoke before about Isaiah 53, and how the Jewish rabbis knew this passage referred to the Messiah, that is, until Jesus came and fulfilled it. Then they changed their minds. Look into it, and you will be amazed by what you discover. This is why I love studying what they believed then, and what they believe now. It is so revealing!
“Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” Isaiah 53
I have so many things to say about this passage. I will try to be brief.
First of all, I believe John is thinking about Isaiah 53:1 specifically when talks about those who do not believe the record of the Son. Do you see how similar the passages are? He explains that when you deny the Son, you are calling God a liar. You have not believed His report. To see specific references to the Father/Son relationship, see Psalm 2:7, Proverbs 30:4, Isaiah 9:6 (Remember the verse in Genesis 1 about seed bearing fruit after its kind? You can’t be God without having come from God. If the son mentioned in Isaiah is also the everlasting Father, he must be the seed of the everlasting Father – that is, His son.) Isaiah 7:14 (Born of a virgin. Who then, is His Father, if not God? Immanuel means “God with us.” A virgin gives birth to God. Messiah has to be the son of God.)
I Chronicles 17:13-14: “I will be his father, and he shall be my son: and I will not take my mercy away from him, as I took it from him that was before thee: But I will settle him in mine house and in my kingdom for ever: and his throne shall be established for evermore.” – The record God gave of His Son.
New favorite chapter, Psalm 89. Here are verses 26-29, but this whole chapter is full of Messianic prophecy:
“He shall cry unto me, Thou art my father, my God, and the rock of my salvation. Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth. My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven.” – The record God gave of His Son.
Second, the arm of Yahweh is a person. That is evident from reading Isaiah 53. It is also an extension of Yahweh Himself, naturally. Also, if you look at the photo I have used in this post, you will see the Ancient and modern Hebrew spellings of God’s name (read right to left). Arm, which, as a function of the Hebrew alphabet, often denotes work being done, spirit or worshiping man, which can also mean behold, or look, tent peg, which often denotes hooking something together (it is also the Hebrew symbol for “and”), and spirit or worshiping man. Do you see how the arm of Yahweh hooks us to Himself, and that there is nothing we can do to save ourselves – nothing we have to do to earn salvation, aside from standing back in amazement as He completes the plan of salvation? Also, you can easily see in the written Hebrew language the foreshadowing of the way Christ wrought salvation – hand, nail, worshiping men. “And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.” Exodus 14:13. See also 2 Chronicles 20:17. (Look into the ancient Hebrew letters and their meanings. Every word has meaning and is written using letters that reveal that meaning.) Also, do you know that Yeshua (Jesus’ Hebrew name) is the same as the word salvation? Yeshua is literally the salvation of Yahweh. Now that you know, read Jonah 2 all the way through. Do you see it? I almost fell out of my chair the first time I read Jonah after learning the meaning of Jesus’ name and the meaning of the word LORD (in all caps) in the King James Version – Yahweh. These are things I never knew before looking into the Hebrew language. Is my excitement showing?
Third, it is foretold in Isaiah 53 that the Messiah would be rejected. Psalm 118:22 says “The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.” This is interesting, because Psalm 118 is part of the Hallel. Wikipedia says “Hallel (Hebrew: הלל, “Praise”) is a Jewish prayer, a verbatim recitation from Psalms 113-118, which is used for praise and thanksgiving that is recited by observant Jews on Jewish holidays.” They may already have been singing the hallel as they traveled to Jerusalem, bringing their lambs into the city in preparation of the Passover feast. It’s where we get our word “hallelujah,” “jah” being short for Yahweh or Jehovah. Here’s where it gets really interesting: just 4 verses later, in 118:26 we read “Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the LORD: we have blessed you out of the house of the LORD.” This is the passage the Jewish people cried out when they hailed Jesus as their king, the Messiah, choosing as a nation the lamb that would be rejected and slain only 4 days later.
“Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house: And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats: And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening. And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.” Exodus 12:3-7
During those 4 days, He was daily examined by the scribes and Pharisees, and the high priest. The entire Passover feast and everything surrounding it, including lamb selection day, foreshadowed the last week of Jesus life. By the way, Hosanna means “save now” (Matthew 21:9). Jesus rose from the grave on the Feast of Firstfruits (Leviticus 23), becoming the firstfruits of the resurrection (I Corinthians 15). He was first, and we will follow. Do you see why I love studying this stuff? How it sheds so much light on Jesus our Messiah? I am trying to give you the references for everything, but please look these things up for yourselves! Why would we not want to know everything He has revealed to us about Himself? He is amazing! On top of that, there is zero probability that all of this could have happened by chance. God gave a record of His son. We should be able to give that record to men seeking Him. Sharing personal testimony is fantastic, but this stuff is irrefutable proof.
Fourth, the Jewish idea of being “cut off” is to die relatively young and without children (according to the forums that I read). Isaiah 53 tells us that the Messiah would be cut off (also see Daniel 9:26), yet “he shall see his seed…” That’s us. We are the seed. This proves that he would be resurrected from the grave after having died. The Jewish concept of being cut off is everywhere in the scriptures. Now aware of the idea, I am seeing some very interesting things as I read back through the Bible, shedding light on even more verses that I could not fully comprehend until I understood this concept.
Earlier, I said, “The Christian faith is an extension of the Jewish faith. It is what the Jewish faith would have become if they had believed on Jesus as their Messiah.”
Hopefully, they would also have listened to Him as He preached against the Talmud, or oral law – the doctrine of the Pharisees. (I couldn’t figure out how many individual regulations the Talmud contains, but according to Wikipedia, “The entire Talmud consists of 63 tractates, and in standard print is over 6,200 pages long.”) To give you an idea at how out-of-hand these rules have become, look here. You can easily see that they stretch the scriptures to say something they do not mean, and then invent extra regulations, and regulations for those regulations, etc. I also found some strange rules last year when I was researching how they prepare for the days of unleavened bread. Here is what Yeshua Messiah has to say about this issue:
“He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, as the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.” Mark 7:6-9
“For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.” Matthew 23:4