Friday, June 5, 2009

Judaism Part 2

In the last post, we looked at the differences in Judaism- from the more traditional Orthodox to the more liberal Reformed and Conservative Judaism.

Obviously, as I touched on the last time, Christians do have some things in common with Judaism. We share the Old Testament and it's teachings. We believe in the same Holy. Righteous God. Both faiths share the same view of Deuteronomy 6:5,4 "The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength."

Both faiths accept the Law given by God the Creator. We share the same need to worship God, the importance of a strong family unit, and loving others. The difference of course is our view of Jesus Christ.

Many Jews do believe that Jesus was a good man, and rabbi. Many believe His teachings are good, but that's as far as they believe. Jewish people view the Gospel as something only for Gentiles. It is considered to be our religion only, and many don't believe they have any need for Jesus anyway. If a non religious Jewish person is considering a religion, it would be Judaism. Most Jews do not see Jesus as their Messiah because He claimed to be divine, and He did not deliver Israel from their oppressors. Jews of Jesus' time were looking, and many are still looking for more of a political leader type of Messiah, where they will finally be free from oppression. What they fail to understand through many of the prophecies, is that while Jesus came the first time as a servant and a sacrifice- He will come again to deliver His people.

Anther belief is that because Jews are Jewish by birth, then Christians too, are Christian by birth, not understanding the personal faith commitment made by people of all ages to have a relationship with Jesus. They don't see Christians as people from all backgrounds becoming Christian, because anyone who is not a Jew is a Gentile- no matter where that person is from. They don't seem to understand that no matter our heritage, once a person comes a believer in Jesus, we are following the Messiah. We have not changed our earthly heritage, but we have been adopted into the family of God- and we, through our belief in Jesus, believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The same of the Jewish roots.

One main objection that many Jewish people have by placing trust in Jesus as our Savior, is that they will no longer be Jewish if they do this. They believe that to become a Christian is to "lose" their Jewishness and turning their backs on their heritage, traditions and family. Whether a Jewish person is religious or not- they are still Jewish, and they have their own "Jewishness", or ways of doing and thinking and celebrating things. They see most Christians as being more quiet and subdued, more conservative in both political and religious life. Many don't understand that the early Church was made up of mostly Jewish converts. They have not read the New Testament, so they have not had the chance to read Books such as Hebrews, which clearly show the Jewishness of Christianity. They do not know the ancestors of Jesus, which includes King David. They do not know the Jewish roots and family of Jesus or His apostles. They do not know that Paul, who was once Saul, was also Jewish- being raised in a very religious home and one of the Pharisees, and that he was still a Jew after his "conversion". They don't understand that all the apostles and Jesus Himself observed all of the Holy Days and celebrations.

Jewish people also assume a standing with God. They don't speak of salvation because they don't believe they have anything to be saved from. If there is a God, then Jewish people already have a relationship with Him. As far as sin goes, Jewish people believe that everyone is born free to choose whether to be good or evil- that no one is born that way.

Christians believe that God is One as well, but uniquely Three persons in One. We believe that Jesus was who He said He is, and that He came to save ALL mankind. We can only have a personal relationship with God through Jesus the Son. We believe that all are born in sin, and all fall short of the Glory of God (Romans 3:10,23; 5:12) and it is only through Jesus that we are able to stand before God.

Jewish people believe that anyone, no matter Jew or Gentile can be saved through commitment to the true God and through living a moral and virtuous life. Christians however know that we are only saved through grace and by the sacrificial death of Jesus- the passover Lamb of God.
Many Jews find the salvation message as offensive. Many who live in Israel are under the belief that Christians are only interested in trying to convert Jews, and that we don't care about their homeland. Many have heard enough of the Revelation prophecies to believe that they will all go to hell if they don't believe in Christ. While there is some truth to this belief, there is so much more to the whole of prophecy (more than I can fit here) but they don't understand that Bible believing Christians know that God is still looking over and caring for His people. Many Jewish people don't understand the term "savior", but they know the word "redeemer", so if you are ever talking with a Jewish friend, it would be good to talk about Jesus as Messiah and redeemer.

One last thought here. Many Christians, knowing how the Gospel message is many times offensive to a Jewish person, will be hesitant to bring it up when talking with a Jewish friend. Many times, they will use the same "plan" of "loving someone to Christ" instead of witnessing. While loving people is certainly something we should do, and sometimes it will help in witnessing to people of other or no religions- it will not help in bringing a Jewish friend to a relationship with Christ.

First of all, most Jewish folks are already kind, loving and upstanding in character. Most are very charitable- giving to many good causes. Therefore, doing things such as acting right and loving, giving to Godly ministries and charities doesn't show any difference in Christian behavior or their own, and it will not show the message of the Gospel. Another topic is that of missions and missionaries. While these are worthy and spreading the Gospel message, to a Jew, it is offensive if they perceive you are acting as a missionary to the Jewish community. To the Jewish person, missions are for rescuing and helping derelicts, and missionaries are those who work among primitive people. Definitely not something Jewish people view themselves as!Even though not many Jewish people accept the truth of the Old Testament, they hold the Book in high respect. It is good to have the Old Testament ready when talking with Jewish friends, so you can show them the whole Gospel from the Word of God.

Don't ever think you can't witness to a Jewish friend. After all, Messianic Judaism is gaining a huge movement all over the world. Messianic Jews from all walks of life are believing in Yeshua- and that He is the promised Messiah who will be Israel's and the world's savior and redeemer!
Next time, we'll look into the major differences of the Christian "cults"- Mormonism and Jehovah's Witnesses.

Scriptures to review: Isaiah 49:5-26 (redemption for Israel) , Isaiah 53:4-6, (Prophecies about Jesus) John 1:10-12, (Jesus not recognised) 1 Peter 2:24,25, (Salvation through Jesus) Isaiah 53:7-9, (prophecies about Jesus) Matt. 27:57-60, (the burial) Luke 23:32,33, (crucifixion) Romans 10:12, (all in the Body- no Jews no Gentiles) Matthew 3:13-17, 28:19, (Baptism by immersion and the Trinity) 2 Corinthians 13:14 (Trinity), Romans 3:10,23,24,5:12, (on sin) Ephesians 2:8,9 (Salvation through grace not works) The Book of Hebrews (Paul's writings concerning the Jews)