Dear David, thank you for your willingness to hear me out.
“Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one!” As you know, these
words of Moses (Deut. 6:4), known as the Shema (listen), became part
of Jewish morning and evening prayers, and a copy is kept at front doors.
Unfortunately, Israel has not always listened well. God lamented through
Asaph, “But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me”
(Psalm 81:11*). The prophets were either ignored or persecuted. When God
sent the good news of salvation to Jews first, most rejected it, so it was
sent to the Gentiles (Matt. 28:19, Acts 1:8, 13:46, 47, 18:6). For twenty
centuries the yearning of Yahweh has been echoed back from the Gentiles to
Does my burden to persuade Jews seems presumptuous or futile to you? Yes, I
may be a voice calling in the wilderness. At age nine, my life was
miraculously saved by a passing physician. In gratitude, I bought a Bible
with gift money and began my study of the Good Book. As theological student
and pastor I gained further insight into God’s Word. When I retired, God
granted me the privilege to fulfill a long cherished ideal by writing three
devotional Bible-studies covering the whole Bible. I love the book God gave
to the world through Israel.
read The Christian and the Pharisee consisting of correspondence
between Dr. R.T. Kendall and Rabbi David Rosen, so I am aware of the
differences between Christian and Jewish interpretations of Hebrew
Scripture. Please, consider the following seriously.
All Bible writers, except Luke, were Jews. For three millennia, from Moses
to Gutenberg, scrolls and codices were meticulously copied by hand in order
to multiply copies or to replace decaying ones. Protestant churches founded
the first Bible Societies to print and distribute Bibles in as many
languages as possible. The best seller of the past five centuries was given
to humanity by God through Israel. Is Israel listening with open minds to
the book they produced and maintained in God’s name? Has the Oral Tradition
become more important to you than the written Word of God?
Some of the most distinguished thinkers were Jews: Moses, David, Solomon,
the Prophets, Yeshua, the Apostles, and more recently: Marx, Freud, Frankl,
and Einstein. Jews enjoy creative thinking and heated debates. I challenge
you to consider my views with the courage of true thinkers who dare ask
themselves, “Can this be true? If so, how will I face God?”
The Passover Lamb
Consider the possibility that Mosaic Law was not an end in itself but a
means to and end. God could have given through Moses an object lesson to his
people about the coming Messiah. Maybe the Passover lamb pointed to One who
would pay the sin-debt of humans by his death, thus letting the wrath of God
pass over them, resulting in forgiveness and salvation. Amazingly, Yeshua
was crucified with Passover on Mount Moriah where Abraham promised Isaac,
“God himself will provide the lamb for the burnt offering, my son” (Gen.
22:8). What if Yeshua was God’s Lamb? A Jewish prophet pointed to Yeshua
saying, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John
1:29). Like the Passover lamb, Yeshua’s bones were not broken (John
The Sacrifices, Feasts, and Laws
Vicarious atonement was a crucial part of Mosaic Law. What if the sacrifices
and feasts pointed to the Messiah who would atone for man’s sin by his blood
and so reconcile man to God (Heb. 9:12), enabling man to feast with God in
gratitude (Rev. 3:20)? It may well be that God terminated the symbolism of
the blood-sacrifices AD 70, because the reality behind the symbols, the
blood of his Son, has been shed to atone for those who accept Yeshua as
their Savior (John 3:16). The sacrifice of animals—and of Yeshua—had to be
matched by the right attitude in the heart to be affective. Maybe all 613
commands emphasized the love for God and neighbor as reiterated by Yeshua
(Matt. 22:36-40) and symbolized by the vertical and horizontal bars of his
The Messianic Psalms
Could the literal fulfillment of Psalm 22 at the crucifixion of Yeshua be a
mere coincidence? Look carefully at these verses played out on Golgotha.
Verse 1: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Verse 6-8: “Scorned by
men and despised by people. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults,
shaking their heads: ‘He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him.’”
Verse 15: “My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth.” Verse 16: “They have
pierced my hands and my feet.” Verse 18: “They divide my garments among them
and cast lots for my clothing.” Compare these verses to Yeshua’s crucifixion
described in Matt. 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, and John 19.
Psalm 16:10 points to Messiah’s resurrection: “You will not abandon me to
the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.” Psalm 110 affirms that
the Messiah will sit at the right hand of God. Psalm 2:12 warns, “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.”
Micah foretold that the Messiah—existing from eternity—would be born at
Bethlehem Ephrata (5:2). Isaiah said he would be born from a virgin (7:14),
that he would bring light to the Gentiles (9:1-2), and that he would be God
in the flesh (9:6). Jacob prophesied (Gen. 49:10) that Judah’s reign will
last until Shiloh (Messiah) comes. Judah’s reign ceased in AD 70, so the
Messiah had to come in the first century. All these prophecies fit Yeshua.
Could anyone surpass Isaiah’s description (53:3-9) of the suffering Messiah
eight centuries before it happened?—“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 53:8 and Daniel 9:26
affirm Messiah would die for the sins of others.
Yeshua said that Isaiah’s prophecy (61:1-2) was fulfilled in him: “The
Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news
to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and
recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the
year of the Lord’s favor” (Luke 4:16-21).
the application of Zechariah’s prophecies on Yeshua of Nazareth really
far-fetched?—“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” (9:9, Matt.
21). “They will look on me, the one they have pierced” (12:10, John
19:33-37). “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered” (13:7,
Yeshua and the Apostles
Yeshua accused the Pharisees of misinterpreting Hebrew scripture (Mark
7:5-13). After his disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit they realized
that many Hebrew passages were fulfilled in Yeshua (Acts 2, 4). When Paul of
Tarsus, a fanatic Jew, had a vision of the glorified Yeshua on the Damascus
road, he saw well-known scripture about the Messiah in a new light. As far
as he traveled he visited synagogues first and showed them how scripture was
fulfilled in Yeshua (Acts 13, 17:1-3, 18:4-5, 18:19). Both Jews and
Christians have been persecuted through the ages because they worship the
same God and read the same Book. Sadly, the two faiths sometimes persecuted
The destruction of Jerusalem—predicted by Yeshua—became a horrible reality
in AD 70. For nineteen centuries Jews were scattered over the earth without
a homeland. Having been mingled with the Gentiles placed them in a favorable
position to be a light to the nations (Isaiah 49:6, 56:7). However, because
of Israel’s unbelief, God gave that task to the church, which carried the
Jewish Book to the ends of the earth.
Dear friend, when you only once dare to read scripture from Yeshua’s
viewpoint, a great light may dawn on you. Rabbinic literature acknowledged
two kinds of prophecy about the Messiah: some point to his glory and some to
his suffering. Some scholars tried to solve the riddle by saying there will
be two Messiahs. What if there are not two Messiahs but two visits by one
Messiah—a first coming in humility to save the repentant and a second coming
in glory to judge the unrepentant? On which side will you be? What if God’s
Messiah was different from the expectations construed by humans?
Yeshua's famous invitation still stands: "Just as Moses lifted up the snake
in the desert, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who
believes in him may have eternal life. For God so loved the world that he
gave his one and only Son, that whosoever believes in him will not perish
but have eternal life" (John 3:15-16). As the Son of Man he can understand
us; as the Son of God he can save us.
urge you to view the DVD titled My Search for Messiah by Michael
Rydelnik, professor of Jewish Studies. (DVD obtainable from
www.rbc.org). Michael was shocked when he discovered that his Jewish
mother was a Christian. He decided to do his best to convince her from
Hebrew Scripture that Jesus can’t be the Messiah. Please listen to his
gripping search for the truth.
Jacob Van Zyl
*[Scripture is quoted from the NIV.]