In Part 1 of this teaching series, we reviewed the meaning of “salvation” and the Jewish expectations of what the Messiah will do when he comes, based on both the Tanakh and the Talmud. Today, in Part 2, we will examine why Yeshua was not, and still isn’t, accepted as the Messiah by the majority of the Jewish population.
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For the purposes of this discussion, when we talk about “the Jews” during the time of Yeshua’s ministry we are referring to the main portion of the Jewish population living in and around Jerusalem during the First Century. And we need to remember that these people were mostly “Am Ha’aretz“, which means people of the land. The reference is not very complimentary and refers to those who are not well educated regarding the Bible or Jewish tradition. At that time, people looked to the Sanhedrin and their local Levites for instruction and guidance in their worship and how to live. Even today, most of the Jewish people look to their Rabbi for instruction and interpretation, and not to God through the guidance of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit.)
As we are told in the New Covenant writings, Yeshua performed many miracles and taught in a different and more meaningful way. Yet, he was not accepted by the majority of the Jews. And, even with the publication of the B’rit Chadashah (New Covenant), in modern times “mainstream” Judaism still rejects him, not just as the Messiah but some even reject the idea that he ever existed! And, as we will soon see, the actions “Christianity” has performed against the Jewish people over the millennia have made it nearly impossible for a Jewish person to believe anything a Christian says.
The Jews living during the time of Yeshua’s ministry rejected him based on his inability to meet the expectations they had been taught regarding their Messiah.
First off, Yeshua had no father. The Tanakh tells us the Messiah will be a son (i.e., descendant) of David, and because Judaism is a Patriarchal religion, one’s heritage comes through the father’s line. Because Yeshua was not conceived by Joseph he had no father, therefore he couldn’t be a son of David.
Another reason for the Jewish rejection of Yeshua is because the Bible says that God will raise up a prophet like Moses; however, Jewish tradition stated that the age of prophecy ended circa 300 BCE, centuries before Yeshua was born. Because the Talmud taught there were no more prophets, Yeshua could not be a prophet like Moses.
One of the major expectations was that the Messiah will rebuild the Temple and reestablish the Levitical service. Well, when Yeshua walked the earth, the Temple was there! The service was actively being performed! Therefore, how could Yeshua be the Messiah? Besides, this, there was no peace throughout the world, and under Roman rule there most certainly wasn’t a world government that recognized God as the one and only King of kings ruling from Jerusalem.
The Pharisees, who saw Yeshua as a threat to their political power over the people, also spread lies about him that last to this very day. One of these was that Yeshua changed the Torah because he violated the Shabbat (see John 9:14.) The Rabbis since then have added that Isaiah 53, one of the strongest and most accurate prophecies about Yeshua found in the Tanakh, was not prophesizing about the Messiah but about Israel. They say the references to the suffering servant are a metaphor about the nation of Israel and should not be taken as a literal prophecy about a person. In fact, in modern times this one chapter from the book of Isaiah is not even read in the Synagogue!
One of the strongest and hardest to refute arguments against Yeshua being the Messiah is that the Messiah was to bring salvation to the world, a universal redemption for the people of Israel. Yet, while Yeshua lived that did not happen. There was neither spiritual nor political nor even a social redemption of any kind.
It is easy to understand why it was so difficult for the Jewish people at that time to accept him: he didn’t perform many of the expected events the people had been taught by the Rabbis he was supposed to do, and he was rejected by the leaders of the people. As we are told in John 12:42, even those in leadership who accepted him as their Messiah kept that fact a secret out of fear of retribution by the Sanhedrin.
But what about since then? What about all that we have learned, the additional events recorded in Acts, the miracles of the Gospels that many other Jews have been able to read about who didn’t know about it then? Why, with all this historical evidence, haven’t the Jewish people readily accepted Yeshua as the Messiah God promised to Israel?
The reason is simple: early Christianity totally separated itself from Judaism at the Council of Nicene, and since then has been such an enemy of Judaism that no Jew in his or her right mind would accept anything “Christian.”
Huh? What could they have done that was so terrible? Good question. Here are some examples:
- During the Crusades hundreds of thousands of Jews were slaughtered because they refused to accept Jesus Christ as their Savior and reject Judaism (even his name was changed from Yeshua to Jesus to remove any trace of “Jewishness” from their Messiah);
- The Inquisition also saw the torture and slaughter of thousands upon thousands of Jews, not to mention all Jews being expelled from Spain, if they refused to reject Judaism and accept Jesus as their God (by now God, himself, was being left behind as Christianity gave all glory to Jesus);
- Because to a Jew, all non-Jews are Gentiles, a Gentile is the same as a Christian. During the Second World War, the Nazi’s (really, only a select group of them) murdered millions of Jews, but do you know what was inscribed on their belt buckles? “Gott mit uns”, which means “God is with us.” This statement of divine hatred for Jews was no different than what had been heard by Jews being killed by Christians since the second century; and
- The on-going persecution of Jews by the Gentile (Christian) world. The Pogroms in Russia, the rejection by America of Jews trying to escape Nazi Germany, and even today we see the constant unjustified accusations by the media against Israel through the use of fake news and purposefully not showing the Israeli side. Don’t even ask me about the unbelievable injustice against Israel being done at the United Nations. As far as I am concerned, it should be renamed “The United Nations against Israel!”
To conclude today’s lesson, let’s review why the Jewish people haven’t accepted Yeshua as their Messiah. The answer is two-fold: first, during his ministry, Yeshua did not perform many of the activities that the Messiah was supposed to perform based on Talmudic interpretation of the Tanakh, and he was rejected by the power elite of the Jewish people.
Secondly, and I believe even more influential in why Jews have rejected Jesus, is the historical and continual hatred for and persecution of Jews by “Jesus-loving” Christians that began as early as the end of the First Century. That was when the Gentile followers of Yeshua first began to separate themselves from their Jewish roots and reject the Torah. This separation was “set in stone” with Constantine and the Council of Nicene in the Third Century, which created the dogma and traditions of modern Christianity.
Should we really be surprised that Rabbis throughout the centuries have taught against Jesus Christ and the religion he created, which has tried to destroy Judaism? Why would any Jew even think of accepting or believing anything that is in the Christian Bible?
The rejection by the Jewish people of Jesus Christ as the Messiah is completely understandable when we consider the above reasons. I was, as most every Jew is, brought up being taught that Jesus Christ was a Jew who rejected the Torah and Judaism, creating his own religion that wants to destroy Jews.
Next time we will look into what Christians believe their Messiah will do, and why there is such a difference between the Jewish and Christian expectations.
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Until then, l’hitroat and Baruch Ha Shem!!