Modern Revival of Jews for Jesus

Posted March 23, 2019 by Amy Wang

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In the last few decades, growing numbers of Jewish people have come to faith in Jesus, including even Holocaust victims and survivors. Events in modern day history are starting to fulfill the prophecies about the Jewish people by Moses, Isaiah, and other prophets. Below, we will look at many of these prophecies, including but not limited to the Jewish diaspora, regathering of the scattered Jewish people back into the land, the formation of the nation of Israel, and spiritual revival. The discussion below will also address a few concerns that Jewish people may have about Christianity.

Outline

1. The Scattering and Regathering of the Jewish People Were Foretold
2. The Salvation of the Gentiles Was Foretold
3. Jesus was Foretold and Foreshadowed
4. Why did so many Jews reject Christ if their scriptures predicted His coming?
5. Is the Trinity polytheistic and thus opposed to Judaism’s monotheism?

1. The Scattering and Regathering of the Jewish People Were Foretold

Just as there are many Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in the person of Jesus, there are also many Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in the history of the Jewish people. Although many of these have already been fulfilled, some may only be partially fulfilled.

  • Unfaithfulness to their covenant with God: God both foretold that the Israelites would worship other Gods, and that the curses for disobedience to the covenant would come upon them (Deuteronomy 31:20-21,29, 29:24-28).
  • Uprooted from Israel and Scattered: The Jewish diaspora is the phenomenon of the Israelites being plucked from the land and scattered to the kingdoms of the earth because they disobeyed God's covenant (Deuteronomy 28:25,63-66; Hosea 9:17; Zechariah 7:14, Deuteronomy 4:25-27, Leviticus 26:33).
  • Perishing among the nations: Another consequence of disobedience to the covenant mediated by Moses is that the Jewish people would perish among the nations and be occupied by fear, doubt, and anguish (Leviticus 26:38, Deuteronomy 28:25-26,65-66).
  • Spiritual Blinding (Isaiah 6:10, Romans 11:7-10, 2Corinthians 3:14) : The Jewish Old Testament book of Isaiah even foretold the blinding of many Jewish people from understanding the truth about the Messiah. Many Jews did not recognize Jesus as the Messiah (John 12:37-41, Romans 11:7-10) but rather rejected the Rock their Savior (Deuteronomy 32:15). There would be a blindness to the gospel except for a remnant that will be saved (Romans 11:25).
    • The Jewish people originally embraced the Septuagint (Greek) translation of the Bible, translated before Christ's first coming. However, when the Christians started using it in support of Jesus, it is said that the Jewish people stopped supporting the Septuagint. [1] Jewish people may view the Christian Bible with suspicion, but their Old Testament Hebrew manuscripts, such as the Masoretic manuscripts, also contain the same Messianic prophecies which point to Jesus.
    • Furthermore, it is reported that some of the Messianic passages were understood traditionally by Jewish people to refer to the Messiah. However, after Jesus came and was rejected by many Jews as the Messiah, they reinterpreted some of these passages to refer to the nation of Israel rather than the Messiah. This interpretation, however, has a number of difficulties, which Geisler/Turek points out because Israel did not fully satisfy the description of the suffering servant. [2] (See Who is the Suffering Servant : Jesus or the nation of Israel?)
  • Remnant: There are also prophecies regarding a Jewish remnant, which will be saved (Isaiah 10:22, Romans 9:27, Romans 11:25-26).
    • The small size of the remnant was also a consequence of disobedience (Deuteronomy 28:62).
    • Through organizations like Jews for Jesus, we can see that there is a growing remnant of Jewish people who are turning to Christ, Jews for Jesus, also known as messianic Jews. According to oneforisrael.org, the Jewish population in Israel has increased and the population of messianic Jewish believers in Israel has grown exponentially since 1948.
      • In 1948, Israel’s Jewish population was about 600,000 out of about 10 million worldwide, but only 23 of those in Israel believed Jesus was their Messiah and there were no Messianic congregations.
      • In 1989, Israel’s Jewish population was about 3.5 million, with an estimated 1,200 Messianic believers and 30 Messianic congregations.
      • In 1999, Israel’s Jewish population was about 4.8 million, with an estimated 5,000 Messianic believers and 81 Messianic congregations.
      • In 2017, Israel was estimated to have 30,000 Messianic believers and 300 Messianic congregations. [3]
  • Spiritual Revival: Spiritually, the Israelites would be brought back to life again (Romans 11:15). They will see the one they pierced and grieve (Zechariah 12:10, John 19:37).
    • Dry Bones Prophecy: The dry bones (representing the whole house of Israel) would be put back together with tendons and skin and a breath added from the four winds to bring them back to life (Ezekiel 37:1-14). This may symbolize the physical restoration of the people back into their land before the spiritual revival represented by the breath.
    • New Covenant: A future covenant of peace would be made that would be everlasting (Ezekiel 37:26). They would be given one heart and fear of God, so as not to depart from him, and there would also be a new, everlasting covenant (Jeremiah 32:39-40,31:31-34). See also Hebrews 8:10, 10:16.
    • Turning Point around 1967: One messianic Jew I met observed a few incidences that marked a turning point in the revival of Jewish people coming to Christ, around the year 1967: (a) the Jesus movement of the late 1960s and (b) the Six Day War in 1967 [4]. In the Six Day War, Israel was delivered despite being outnumbered and they regained control of Jewish holy places in Jerusalem [5]. The Egyptian commander supposedly surrendered on the second day after seeing a great army, which some think may have been angels, similar to the story in 2Kings 6:15-16. God is sometimes referred to as the Lord of Hosts, which is translated in one version as “Lord of the Angel Armies.”
  • Regathering and Flourishing:
    • Regathering: When the Jewish people take to heart the blessing and curses and return to the Lord and obedience, a reversal would occur, including the re-gathering of Israel out of all countries (Deuteronomy 30:1-3, Jeremiah 32:37, Ezekiel 20:34,20:41). This would take place after Jesus’s first coming (Isaiah 11:10-12). God would gather the Israelites out of all countries from the east, west, north, and south (Isaiah 43:5-6) back to Israel. Certain countries which formerly did not allow the Jewish people to leave for Jerusalem supposedly changed their policies to allow it.
    • Planted back into the land: They would be planted back into the land, not to be pulled up again (Amos 9:14-15, Jeremiah 32:41, Ezekiel 11:17, Deuteronomy 30:5).
    • Purchase land: They would be able to purchase land (Jeremiah 32:44).
    • Flourishing: They would blossom and bud, and fill the world with fruit (Isaiah 27:6)
  • Nation of Israel: The nation of Israel was created suddenly and unusually in one day (Isaiah 66:7-8). Fulfilled in 1948. [6]
    • United with one ruler: Israel has no king nor sacrifice for a period of time (Hosea 3:4), but eventually there would be one nation with one ruler, “David,” who would be prince forever. The kingdom would no longer be split into two (Ezekiel 37:21-22). One Christian interpretation is that this ruler is Jesus Christ, the descendant of David, who was the shepherd over one body.
    • Restoration of language: Hebrew became the national language– The book Tongue of the Prophets: The Life Story of Eliezer Ben-Yehuda is about the first family in modern times to speak Hebrew at home in Israel (Zephaniah 3:9). Instead of being simply for literary study and prayer, and "as dead as ancient Latin," there was a push for the revival of Hebrew as a spoken language [7]. This was fulfilled about a century ago.
    • Jerusalem: Jerusalem becomes a burdensome ‘stone’ to the world (Zechariah 12:3). A large percentage of U.N. resolutions are related to this small nation.

2. The Salvation of Gentiles Was Foretold

A Jewish person may have questions about the inclusion of Gentiles in God’s plan of salvation, so it is helpful to look at their own scriptures which reveal that this was God’s plan all along, even before Christ was born. The following are some interesting Old Testament scriptures (shared by both Jews and Christians) that are consistent with salvation coming to Gentile believers.

  • Genesis 12:1-3 - Abraham was to be a blessing to all families of the earth, not just Abraham’s descendants.
  • Isaiah 49:6-7 - God’s servant would be a light to the gentiles, and salvation would reach the ends of the earth. Jesus is the light who enters Galilee of the Gentiles in Matthew 4:12-17, as foretold in Isaiah 9:1-2.
  • Daniel 7:13-14 includes peoples, nations, and men of every language in God’s kingdom, a kingdom which will not be destroyed (See Revelation 7:9-10).
  • Hosea 2:23 (Romans 9:25) - Those who were not considered God’s people will be God’s people. God granted the Gentiles repentance to life (See Acts 11:18).
  • Deuteronomy 32:21 (Romans 10:19-20) : Moses said God would make the Israelites jealous by that which is not a nation; (Deuteronomy 32:21). Romans 11:11-12,30-32 explains that the fall of the Jews allowed God to show mercy and bring salvation to the Gentiles.
  • Isaiah 65:1 (Romans 10:19-20) - God was found by those who did not seek God.

Provoking the Jewish People to Jealousy through the Gentiles

The mystery of God’s plan for the Gentiles is explained in Romans 11. It teaches that in God’s sovereignty, through the disobedience and fall of the Jews, mercy and salvation came to the Gentiles, to provoke the Jews to jealousy (Deuteronomy 32:21, Romans 10:19-20). The result is that Gentiles would be fellow heirs and partakers of the promise of Christ and belong to the same body with the Jews (Eph 3:6). Because this plan has been difficult for some Jews to accept, God gave Peter a vision to help him understand that salvation had come to the Gentiles (Acts 10-11).

The Collective Body of Jewish and Gentile Believers

Collectively, the body of Christ has been compared to a temple and the bride of Christ. We are being built up into a temple, in which the apostles and prophets are the foundation and Jesus is the cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20). Together, the church body would also be as the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:23-25), which made herself ready (Revelation 19:7), arrayed in fine linen symbolizing the righteous acts of the saints (Revelation 19:8). The heavenly city of New Jerusalem, prepared as a bride for her husband, will have written on it the names of the 12 apostles and 12 tribes (Revelation 21:12,14), but ultimately the whole family is named from Jesus Christ (Eph 3:15).

3. Jesus was Foretold and Foreshadowed

Who is the Suffering Servant : Jesus or the nation of Israel?

There are a few passages like Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 that Christians have used to point Jews to Jesus. However, some passages traditionally considered to be Messianic (e.g., Isaiah 53) were later reinterpreted to be about the suffering Jewish nation. Shlomo Yitzchaki (c.1040-1105) is perhaps the first Jew who made the claim that the suffering servant was Israel. In response to this, Geisler and Turek point out that Israel does not match the Bible’s description of the suffering servant, because Israel was not sinless (Isaiah 53:9) but rather the Bible portrayed Israel as sinning again and again by breaking commandments and chasing other gods [2]. Israel was described as a rebellious people (Isaiah 65:2, Romans 10:21). Unlike the suffering servant, Israel did not submit without resistance nor die as a substitute to atone for sins and redeem other nations.

Prophecy

The Jewish Old Testament provides prophecies of Jesus Christ, including prophecies related to his birthplace (Micah 5:2), the timing of Jesus's first coming, lineage, miracles, crucifixion, etc. (See Why Biblical Prophecy is Compelling Evidence for Christianity). However, not all Jews accepted this.

  • The Septuagint was popular among Jewish people during the Diaspora, but supposedly lost favor after Christians used it for defending Christianity. However, note that the same prophetic passages that point to Christ are also in the Hebrew manuscripts.
  • Even the Dead Sea Scrolls manuscript of Isaiah which predates the birth of Jesus contains prophecies that point to Christ.

Foreshadowing

In addition to prophecies, the Old Testament accounts also strongly foreshadow Jesus Christ. The study of foreshadowing is also known as Typology. Something or someone is referred to as a "type" of Christ if it foreshadows Christ.

  • For example, Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac, knowing that God could resurrect him, but God provided the substitute. This points to God’s sacrifice of His only son Jesus who was later resurrected (Hebrews 11:9).
  • The Passover lamb foreshadows Jesus, the Lamb of God, who was sacrificed on our behalf, and whose blood provides for atonement (John 1:29).
  • The Israelites were healed by looking at a bronze snake that Moses lifted up, which foreshadows Jesus being lifted up and dying on the cross (Numbers 21:9, John 3:14-15).
  • There are also striking parallels between the life of Jacob’s son, Joseph, and Jesus.
  • The spring biblical holidays feasts foreshadow Jesus’s 1st coming: The Passover (Death), Unleavened Bread (Burial), First Fruits (Resurrection), and Pentecost 50 days later (Holy Spirit).

4. Why did so many Jews reject Christ if their scriptures predicted His coming?

The Jews are stewards of the Old Testament manuscripts which foretold Christ's coming. However, many of them rejected Jesus, despite his fulfillment of these prophecies. Some believe this is evidence against Jesus being the Messiah. However, because the Bible foretold the partial blindness of Israel (Isaiah 6:10, Romans 11:25), their rejection of Jesus, and the remnant who would be saved (Isaiah 10:22), Blaise Pascal claims the rejection is actually evidence consistent with the Bible. Pascal also explains that it is useful from an evidential standpoint. If the Jews all supported Jesus, we might suspect their testimony of bias. We might suspect that they manipulated the prophecies after the fact to support Jesus. However, because as stewards of the manuscripts which foretold Jesus, they still denied Jesus, that is one type of evidence against manuscript manipulation.

But how could the Jews misinterpret their own scripture? This, too, has a credible explanation. While some passages may be clear, Pascal explains that many passages appear to be equivocal, with potentially both a temporal and spiritual interpretation. Hence, they may have chosen the temporal meaning and missed the hidden spiritual meaning.[8] As for the passages that seem more clearly to point to Jesus, like Isaiah 53, Jewish services may intentionally avoid that passage.


5. Is the Trinity polytheistic and thus opposed to Judaism’s monotheism?

Some Jewish thinkers claim that Christianity is a polytheistic religion, because of the doctrine of the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). A key passage often used to support monotheism is Deuteronomy 6:4:

Deuteronomy 6:4 Hear, O Israel! The LORD [YHWH/Jehovah] is our God [Elohim], the LORD is one [echad]!

However, note that the Hebrew word ‘Elohim’ is a plural noun for god, and ‘echad' is used to represent a composite unity (e.g., a single cluster of grapes). In Genesis 2:24, the same word ‘echad’ is used when Adam and Eve became one. Thus, Deuteronomy 6:4 might actually favor the concept of plurality in unity! [9]

Christians claim they do believe in one God, but that God is made up of three persons, the three-persons-in-one God. These three persons are each God, and they are also united as one. Other Old Testament verses may also be suggestive of the trinity, include the following:

  • Genesis 1:26-27 Let us make man in our image …
    • Plural noun Elohim used with singular verb for “created” (bara)
  • Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
    • Also uses plural noun Elohim.
  • Genesis 18:1-3
    • In this passage, three men visit Abraham, and they are referred to by Abraham as “My Lord.” (There is some debate whether these three men really represent God, as opposed to angels.)[10]

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