This is the first time I have tried to give a teaching that will be formatted in a series of small lessons. I would appreciate any comments, either during or after the entire lesson is completed, which will let me know if any of you like this form of teaching. I will continue to post my normal “Drash to Start the Day” individual messages, but if you like these more in-depth lessons posted a bit at a time, please let me know.
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Before we look at the different views of salvation that exist between Jews and Christians, we should agree on what we mean when we talk about “salvation.” Salvation is the forgiveness of sin, meaning we are freed from the consequences (which could be either spiritual, physical or both) of the violations of God’s law that we have committed, which also means redemption from spending eternity in Hell (whatever form that takes) enabling us to have eternal life in the presence of God.
Since salvation is redemption from a crime or a sin, how do we achieve it? Well, in the case of a Civil crime, if we go to court and the judge finds for us, we are saved from paying a fine. If a corporation is suffering failure and a larger one comes along and merges with them, injecting new funds, that corporation has found salvation from bankruptcy. And what about life insurance? If a spouse passes away, there are many expenses that must be incurred and life insurance can be a real (pardon the pun) life-saver by providing the needed funds which could be salvation from debt.
These are types of salvation we find in the physical world, but we want to discuss the “religious” kind of salvation, which is first and foremost given to us in the Torah: we call it the Sacrificial System.
In Judaism as in Christianity, the shedding of innocent blood is the only way to atone for sin, and God outlined in the first 7 chapters of the Book of Leviticus the different types of sacrifices to be made in order to receive forgiveness for the different types of sin we commit.
In Christianity, the way to receive salvation is not through this sacrificial system but by means of the sacrifice performed by the Messiah, Yeshua ha Mashiach (Jesus Christ), which we receive when we profess faith in him.
Ultimately, salvation comes from faith. Just as with Abraham, whose faith was credited to him as righteousness (meaning sinless in God’s eyes), the way we find salvation is through our individual repentance and faith in God and the Messiah; a faith that inspires obedience.
The one thing about salvation that is agreed upon in both Jewish and Christian theology is that salvation, meaning forgiveness from sin and eternity in the presence of God, will come about through the intervention of a Messiah.
Judaism is the progenitor of the idea of a Messiah and is also from whence the Messiah will originate. The Tanakh (the “Jewish” Bible) has over 130 different references to the Messiah, and there are also many references to him in the Talmud, all of which tell us what to expect of him so that when he arrives we will be able to recognize him. In order to understand the Jewish expectations of the Messiah, let’s review some of these now.
Even before the Messiah comes, there will be specific events that signal his arrival. In Ezekiel 38:16 we are told there will be wars and suffering before the coming of the Messiah. The prophets Isaiah (11:11-12), Jeremiah (23:8 and 30:3) and Hosea (3:4-5) prophesied that before Messiah arrives God will regather his people back to their land (Israel.)
Because of what the prophets have said, Jews expect other things from the Messiah, as well. For instance, there will be the restoration of the religious courts of justice and we will have a one-world government (Isaiah 2:2-4, 11:10, and 42:1; Jeremiah 33:15.) The prophet Zephaniah (3:13) said there will be an end to wickedness, sin, and heresy. There will be rewards to the righteous, the rebuilding of Jerusalem, the restoration of the line of David and one of the greatest of all Messianic (Jewish) expectations: the restoration of the Temple in Jerusalem and the temple service (Jeremiah 33:18.)
Besides the general expectations we have seen already for what the Messiah will do, the Tanakh gives us very specific instructions on how to recognize the Messiah. Micah 5:12 tells us he will be born in Bethlehem, Isaiah 7:14 tells us he will be born of a virgin (there is an on-going argument about the use of the word “almah” in this passage), Isaiah 35:56 and 42:18 tell us that he will have the power to heal people, Daniel 9:24-26 tells us exactly when the Messiah will come (which has been mathematically worked out to the day Yeshua rode into Jerusalem on the back of a colt), Zachariah 11:12 lets us know he will be sold out for 30 pieces of silver, and (finally) Isaiah 53:5-7 and 53:12 give us the best news of all- his death will atone for the sins of all mankind.
This ends the first portion of this teaching, which is to identify the Jewish expectations of their Messiah and how they should recognize him when he arrives. Next, we will discuss why within Judaism, at that time and since then, the Jewish people (as a whole) have not accepted Yeshua as their Messiah.
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Until the next time, lehitraot and Baruch HaShem!!