Christians view the Jewish rejection of the Christian Messiah as the most significant issue dividing the Christian and the Jew. The fact is though that the difference runs much deeper. Our respective understandings of the very concept of Messiah stand poles apart from each other.
Aside from the technical issues, such as the difference of opinion about the virgin birth (Christians believe that the Messiah must be born from a virgin while the Jews believe that the Messiah must have a human father from the line of David,) there are some deep theological issues such as the questions of divinity and atonement. Christians believe that the Messiah must be divine, while the Jews believe that he is human. Christians believe that there is no atonement without devotion to the Messiah, while Jews believe that devotion to the Messiah has no bearing on the atonement process. (These two issues – divinity and atonement – are subsumed in the previous categories.)
Still, the list of differences does not end here. The entire thrust of the Christian concept of Messiah runs counter to the Jewish understanding of this same matter. Christians believe that a new election is achieved through devotion to the Messiah. This means that just as the Jews were elected by God on account of their fathers, Christians are elected by God on account of faith in their Messiah. Some Christians believe that this election supersedes the election of the Jewish people – in other words the Jewish people are no longer God’s elect. Others believe that these elections are parallel to each other and that there are two elect people, the Jews, and those devoted to the Christian Messiah. The Jewish people accept no such election. They see this claim to election as the antithesis of the entire thrust of God’s Messianic promise. The hope and yearning for the Messianic age is very different in the heart of the Jew than the hope that goes by the same name in the heart of the Christian. One yearns for the ingathering of the scattered of the Jewish people, a rebuilt temple, observance of the Law of Moses, and worldwide worship of the God of Israel, while the Christian looks forward to the vindication of the devotees of his Messiah to the shame of the Jewish people, he looks forward to a world in which the only recognized method of atonement is devotion to the same man. Many Christians are also looking forward to the ultimate nullification of the Law of Moses.
Finally, we have the issue of unfulfilled Messianic prophecy. So much of the prophecies concerning the Messiah have not been fulfilled.
Can we accept the Christian explanation of the second coming of the Messiah? Is there scriptural justification for this doctrine? Can one claim the title “Messiah” and demand the honor contained in that title without having fulfilled all of the Messianic prophecies?
We must examine the Jewish scriptures with each of these positions in mind. We must ask ourselves, on which side of this debate would the prophets of scripture have found themselves?
With the opposing views relating to these issues in mind we can begin our search of the Jewish scriptures. Which position does the Jewish scripture support, is it the Christian position or the Jewish one? Before we begin, I would like to make an important point. If our search turns out inconclusive (- I don’t expect this to happen, but just in case -), then I will consider it a modest victory for the Jewish position. Firstly, at least the myth of the supernatural Jewish blindness will have been successfully debunked. If the Jewish scriptures are inconclusive, then no supernatural explanations are necessary to explain the Jewish non-acceptance of Christianity. Of far greater magnitude though, is the issue of idolatry. If one is has the slightest doubt about the theology of the divinity of the Christian Messiah, then there is no moral justification to commit oneself in worship. The risk is far too great. If you are mistaken, then your worship is the greatest rebellion against God imaginable!
From the standpoint of the Jew, the first issue to be addressed would be the issue of idolatry. It is over this issue that countless Jews went to their deaths rather than direct their worship towards the Christian Messiah. The Jewish perception of God does not allow for the worship of a man, and the Law of Moses as understood by the Jew has God demand that we be willing to give our lives before committing idolatry.
From the Christian standpoint, the key issues would be atonement and Messiah. The Christian contends that without atonement then you are dead in your sins and cut off from before God. All of God’s promises cannot apply to one who is not freed from sin.
Perhaps scripture can guide us on this issue. What does God recommend? That we be preoccupied with our search for atonement, or that we focus on obedience?
I think that scripture is abundantly clear on this matter and it comes down very strongly on the side of obedience. Not only does scripture stress obedience time and time again (Genesis 26:5, Exodus 15:26, Deuteronomy 11:13, 15:5, 26:17, 28:1,2,13, 30:10 Jeremiah 11:4 Psalms 81:14, Ecclesiastes 12:13 – just some of many references), but scripture actually tells us that obedience is more important than the blood offerings. Now from the Christian standpoint blood offerings ought to be the most critical component in one’s relationship with God because it is the only process that embodies the concept of a life for a life. But scripture seems to disagree. 1Samuel 15:22, Jeremiah 7:21-23, and Psalm 40:7-9 clearly tell us that God wants us to be focused on obedience before we focus on blood offerings. This is not to say that blood offerings are insignificant and meaningless. God wouldn’t spend so much time talking about them if they wouldn’t be important. But scripture is teaching us that they are only important within the framework of obedience.
When it comes to the issue of idolatry, scripture spares no words in telling us how God wants us to avoid it. God’s anger towards idolatry is expressed countless times in scripture in the strongest terms and in the most central settings. Here are a sampling of references Exodus 20:2-6,19,20, 23:13,24,32-33, 34:11-17, Deuteronomy 5:6-10, 6:14,15, 7:1-6,25,26, 8:19,20, 11:16,17,26-28, 12:1-4,29-31, 13:2-19, 17:2-7, 27:15, 29:17-26, 30:17,18, 31:16-21, 32:15-21, Judges 2:1-23, 1Kings 11:4-11, 14:9,10, 12:18-40, 2Kings 17:7-23, 21:2-15, Isaiah2:8-22, 40:17-26, 44:6-23, 46:1-13, Jeremiah 1:16, 3:1-13, 7:17-20, 10:1-16, 11:9-17. I think that by now you can see that the Jewish concern to avoid idolatry is deeply rooted in scripture.
Originally posted on: https://yourphariseefriend.wor...