How do you explain the fate of the Jews?

Dear Ralph,

From an apologetic viewpoint, defending creationism is easier for me- because I do have a background in Biology and have extensively studied evolutionary theory. However, there are many other troublesome areas that I am at least attempting to help my brother find answers in.

The first major question is the fate of the Jews. You see, examining the Old Testament alone, there seems to be no "endpoint" or conclusion as the New Testament has in Revelation. My brother poses the question this way:

Christians and Jews are supposedly worshipping the same God- Jehovah- although the Christians beleive in the trinity and of course the son of God, Christ. Now- a major point I made to my brother about Judaism is that the historically- the Jews place great emphasis on the law of God- perhaps so much so that they lose sight of God's goal for us- to love Him and learn of Him more by studying His word, and making disciples of Christ throughout the world. In a sense I describe God as a loving Father- who is loving and also just. Our Father sets laws for us to live by not to restrict or harm us, but so that we can grow towards fulfillment and ultimately an understanding of Him.

And the Old Testament shows time and again, how God loved even disobedient children like King David, not because David could attain righteousness by his strict adherence to the law, but because David truly loved God and wanted to learn of Him more. The Jewish man my brother talks to seems to look at the Scripture as proof of God only working in terms of obedience/disobedience, and I think he is missing God's real point. Much like a student that writes down formulae but never tries to understand the bigger goal or picture. God wants our obedience, but more than that He wants our love and faith.

So my brother's question is about the Jews- the chosen people of God. They are his "kin". They spent thousands of years trying to obey His laws, and yet they cannot enter heaven because they rejected the messiah. Why would God spend the time as He did in the Old testament with the children of Israel, only to see them fail at the most critical point in human history and fail to enter the Kingdom of Heaven? To him- that sounds unfair. Maybe Jews are too concerned with God's laws, but maybe they love Him as much as the Christian does, they just don't understand His goals. Why then would God send them to the same Hell as those who did not even look to Jehovah at all?

My response is in Green:

Those can be very tough questions. But there are answers to them. For example, God is not done with the Jews, He still has a plan for them. In fact one of the best witnesses for God is the Jewish people. No other people in human history have been scattered among the nations and yet survived as a people group. No other group has last more than two or three generations among other nations and then come back as a country and a people group. Not to mention that no other people group has ever been attacked and tried to be exterminated by so many different other nations as the Jews, yet they are still a very definite group, distinct from the people of the nations they live in. You see God's hand in their very existence. Not to mention that His word predicted 2,400 years ago that they would again be a nation, which happened in 1948!! Then all you have to do is look at the wars Israel has been involved in since 1948. Let me see there was a 3 days war, there was a 7 day war, etc... Out numbered, out gunned, and yet who was the victor? Not only that but they ended up gaining land instead of losing the war.

Those things alone show that God is not done with the Jewish people, but the Bible gives us much more evidence that He is not finished with them. He says that He will draw them back to their own land and that eventually He will draw their hearts back to Him:

(Jeremiah 31:33-34 NIV) [33] "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the LORD. "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. [34] No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the LORD. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."

They have been and will be punished for rejecting their Messiah, but God has not rejected them, He will bring them back to Him, but like all mankind they have free will to make a choice to follow Christ or reject Him. Now did God leave them without a sign? No. I want to show you a few of the many Messianic prophecies in the Bible. I won't quote the verses, there are too many, but I will give them to you and tell you what they tell:

Genesis 3:15 - Messiah will come from humanity or in other words will be a man. Genesis 22:18 - The Messiah will be a Jew, a descendant of Abraham Genesis 49:10 - The Messiah will be from the tribe of Judah. Let me stop here a moment. This is a very important prophecy. As I said before we can still today know who the Jews are, so having a Messiah who is a Jew would be no problem if He showed up today. But think about this, if a Jew claimed to be the Messiah today he would have to prove that he was of the tribe of Judah. That is impossible at this point. Here is the reason. In AD 70 the Romans destroyed the Temple. In the Temple were the genealogical records of all the Jews, which tribe they were from etc... You can no longer tell which tribe a Jew is from with on exception. That is the tribe of Levi, which are the priests. You will see a lot of Jews named, Levi, Levitt, etc... They can tell they are from the Tribe of Levi, but none of the other tribes are so lucky. So if the Messiah were to show up today, he could not prove that he qualified to be the Messiah. So this prophecy proves that the Messiah had to have come before AD 70.

I will get back to the prophecies in a moment but this brings up a very special and interesting fact. The Talmud and the Mishna are what are called Rabbinic writings or sage writings. The Jews put a lot of faith in them and believe what they say, sometimes even when they contradict the Bible itself. Anyway there is a very interesting passage in the book of Yoma in the Mishna it is Yoma 39.

Let me kind of set this up for you so that it makes sense. Every year on the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) there were two goats taken to the High Priest at the Temple. They cast lots to see which one would die as a sacrifice. The other goat would have the sins of Israel symbolically put on it. The High Priest and the Elders of Israel would place their hands on the 'scapegoat' and confess the sins of the nation over it. Then it would be lead out into the wilderness, far enough to make sure it could never come back. In fact some sages tell that the person who took it out would often push it off a cliff to make sure it did not come back to Jerusalem. This was done because they believed that if it came back their sins would come with it.

Now when the scapegoat was taken away the Talmud tells us that the High Priest would put a piece of scarlet wool cord on the door to the Temple. The sages say that the cord would turn white and then the High Priest would proclaim to the people that God had accepted their sacrifice and forgiven their sins. Okay with that all in mind now read about Yoma 39:

The Talmud (Tractate Yoma 39:b) records in essence that on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) it was customary to tie some red wool to the temple gate. Miraculously, after the lamb died to take away or atone for our sin, the red wool always turned white as a sign to the people that they had been forgiven. But during the 40 years before the destruction of the temple and the altar in 70 AD, the red wool tied to the temple gate remained red. The rabbis concluded God was saying, "I will not forgive, I will not forgive."

Now think about those dates. We know the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, so 40 years before that would be about the year 30 AD. What happened about the year 30 AD? Christ, the perfect sacrifice died for our sins. If the people had accepted God's perfect Lamb they would not need another scapegoat. God quite forgiving sins through the scapegoat at that time. Unfortunately the Jews including the very sages who wrote this did not see the significance of that date. I guess if they had they would not have written what they did because it sure helps prove who Jesus Christ was.

Okay back to prophecy:

Genesis 49:10 also shows that Messiah will be a King. Deuteronomy 18:15-19 Messiah would be a prophet Isaiah 7:14 Messiah would be born to a virgin, Messiah would be the God-man (both God and man) Isaiah 8:9-10 Messiah would be a King, in the line of David. Again this shows that Messiah had to have come before the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, since you can't tell who is in the ling of David any longer. Of course there is no longer a need to, since their last King has already come and will reign for all eternity.

Isaiah 9:6-7 I do want to quote this one:

(Isaiah 9:6-7 NIV) [6] For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. [7] Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.

Notice that in verse 6 it says to us a 'child' is 'born' meaning that the Messiah would be a man. But it goes on to say that He would be called Mighty God, Everlasting Father, showing that He would also be God. Again it shows He will reign on David's throne, meaning He had to be a descendant of David, again showing He had to have come before 70 AD.

Isaiah 11:1-2 Messiah would come from the line of Jessie, which was David's father. Again only possible to prove if he was born before 70 AD.

Are you beginning to see how often God showed the Jews who their Messiah would be? Or at least proved to them by what time He had to come, so that they could look back and know who He is.

Isaiah 49:1-3 Messiah would be rejected by the Jews at His first coming. The message of salvation would be preached to the Gentiles (praise God!!) Eventually the Jews will recognize the Messiah for who He is. This will be accompanied by their being re-gathered to their own land (we are seeing that in our life time.)

Isaiah 52:13 - Isaiah 53:1-12 These passages show that the Messiah would be a suffering servant and be killed but not for His own sins, but rather for the sins of the people. Yes the Jews miss all these and still reject the idea of the Messiah dying for their sins.

This is getting long, so I will skip many others.

One last one: Daniel 9:24-27 This passage predicts that 483 years from the time the decree is issued to rebuild Jerusalem the Messiah would come. We know when the decree was issued and guess what 483 years later puts us right at about 30 AD. This of course is before the Temple records were destroyed so Jesus could prove who He was descended from, which tribe and when family in that tribe. This all comes through Mary, but also through His adopted earthly father. That is why there are two different genealogies listed in Scripture. One is Josephs and the other is Mary's.

So again God has been merciful to the Jews. He told them that the Messiah would be both man and God at the same time. He told them that He would be born of a virgin in the town of Bethlehem. He showed them in a round about way that the Messiah had to have come before 70 AD and He even gave them the very year that the Messiah had to come. So either the Messiah has already come and they rejected Him even with all the evidence for His being the Messiah or there will never be a Messiah.

Following the Law was never good enough to save anyone, including the Jews. The Law was instituted for two purposes, one to show man that it is impossible to please God by our own works, and two to show God's holy nature and the need for a perfect sacrifice to cover our sins.

I hope that will help your brother. I am sorry it got to be so long, but believe it or not, I have only scratched the surface.

Ralph

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