JESUS AND ISRAEL: PART 2
The Jewish Lineage of Jesus aligns Him with Israel
That Jesus (Heb: Yeshua) was born Jewish is one of the least contested truths of the Bible. The very first chapter of the Gospel of Mathew starts:
The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham …
Jesus came of the line of David, who was Jewish, link.
Jesus is a Jew, and so He kept Saturday as the Sabbath, as well as the holy days and feasts of Israel, link. He observed the food laws of Israel and He taught in the synagogue, reading from the Torah (the ‘Law’). Why did He do this? Is there a prophetic significance in the weekly and annual Jewish Sabbaths (holy feasts)? Some see a coded message to mankind here. And what about the marriage customs of His people? Is there hidden prophetic significance here too?
The fact that Jesus is a Jew is usually ignored by the church. So much truth and spiritual depth is missed, including a correct understanding of prophecy and the future role of national Israel. In short, church teaching about Jesus is often shallow, even deceptive, since the church prefers to be ‘politically correct’. The Bible says:
For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires (2 Tim 4.3)
The fact is, Jesus of Nazareth is a controversial personality whose Jewish origins nobody can deny. His link to Israel is deeper than most in the Christian world realize, or wish to acknowledge. So the following hard facts about Jesus The Jew could be eye-openers to traditional Christians. And to non-believers in Jesus, these thought-provoking declarations are worth noting. They will come to mind when declared events in prophecy come to pass. Let’s look at some hard facts about Jesus.
HARD FACT # 1: Jesus didn’t abolish the Law and the Prophets
In fact, He underscored to Law and “fulfilled” it. Jesus said:
Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.(Mat 5.17-19)
Let’s take a look at the Law in the Old Testament, as given to Moses, with assistance from angels.
Deuteronomy 30 verses 1-10: Prosperity After Turning to the Lord
When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come on you and you take them to heart wherever the Lord your God disperses you among the nations, and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you.
Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back. He will bring you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will take possession of it. He will make you more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors. The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live. The Lord your God will put all these curses on your enemies who hate and persecute you. You will again obey the Lord and follow all his commands I am giving you today.
Then the Lord your God will make you most prosperous in all the work of your hands and in the fruit of your womb, the young of your livestock and the crops of your land. The Lord will again delight in you and make you prosperous, just as he delighted in your ancestors, if you obey the Lord your God and keep his commands and decrees that are written in this Book of the Law and turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
Deuteronomy 30 verses 11-20: The Offer of Life, or Death
Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?” No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.
See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction. For I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, and to keep his commands, decrees and laws; then you will live and increase, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land you are entering to possess.
But if your heart turns away and you are not obedient, and if you are drawn away to bow down to other gods and worship them, I declare to you this day that you will certainly be destroyed. You will not live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess. This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Purpose of the Law: Whilst the Law offered Israel blessings in return for obedience, it served to demonstrate that it is impossible for man to keep the Law. Rather, it highlighted his sinful nature and could not provide eternal righteousness for man (Galations 3.21). But it did point to Christ who was to fulfill the Law:
Before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor (the Law). (Gal 3.23-25)
Fulfillment of the Law: The Law is fulfilled in that faith in Christ writes God’s Law on man’s heart and justifies man. Moreover, since Jesus is a Jew, then faith in Him makes Gentile believers “descendants of Abraham” (or “spiritual Israelites”) who will also receive what God has promised (Gal 3.29).
Law written on the heart: At the end of this age the Law will be written on Jewish hearts. Speaking to regathered Israel, God says:
“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days” declares the Lord, “I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. (Jer 31.33)
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances (Ezek 36.26,27)
HARD FACT #2: Jesus’ day of worship was Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath (Heb: Shabbat)
Jesus said “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” At the very least it is there as a day of rest for mankind. Long before Jesus said that, right from the very beginning in the book of Genesis, it is written that God rested on the seventh day and made it holy i.e. distinct and special compared to other days. He sanctified the day. God stopped working on that day and He commanded His creation to stop working on this day too!
In the book of Exodus, God wrote it in tablets of stone (the Ten Commandments), commanding man to observe the seventh day Sabbath rest. In Exodus 20 the fourth commandment says:
Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
In the book of Isaiah, chapter 58, we read:
If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath and from doing as you please on my holy day, if you call the Sabbath a delight and the Lord’s holy day honorable, and if you honor it by not going your own way and not doing as you please or speaking idle words, then you will find your joy in the Lord, and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob. The mouth of the Lord has spoken.
When Jesus was on earth He went to the synagogue on the Sabbath, as was His custom. He claims to be the son God, the Word Who did the creating. He too rested on the seventh day. After all, He instituted this commandment in His role as Creator in the Godhead!
In the book of Hebrews, Paul looks to the future when he claims “there remains a Sabbath rest.” He said that “the Sabbath is a foreshadow of things to come”. It foretells the coming rest when this sick and tired age will end and usher in a bright, new world governed by Jesus as King of the earth.
OK. What’s the big deal? Why rest? We have so many things to do and we need to earn as much as we can. Times are hard. What if I don’t want to rest and keep this day holy? The bottom line is that God created man and He said the Sabbath was made for man. He is saying that man needs physical and mental rest on one day in the week. Not only that. Man should keep the day as a special day to God – keep it holy.
OK. What if I chose a different day instead? Does it matter? To the Jew it does, since it is a special sign between God and His people. To the Gentile the Bible is less specific on the actual day, link.
The Sabbath in the Future: When this age ends and the Millennial age (Kingdom age) starts the world will honour the Jew and woship Christ
HARD FACT #3: Jesus blesses Israel because they keep the Sabbaths
The Israelites were banished from the land of Israel due to idolatrous practices and breaking of laws including the Sabbath. When the Israelite (Jewish) people were regathered and once more (in 1948) became a nation in the land of their fathers, the Jewish state made sure that the people as an entire nation observed the weekly Sabbath (on Saturday as commanded in the Torah). It is an official non-working day all throughout the land. All the other high Sabbaths (or holy feasts) like Passover, the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, the Feast of Weeks, the Feast of Tabernacles — all these are official feasts and non-working days in the land of Israel.
God is True to His Word: True enough, this regathered nation that keeps the laws and statutes ordained by the God of Israel has been blessed in amazing ways, link. Despite an arid land, agricultural technology makes them produce so much food that they export. Despite being surrounded by hostile neighbors, Israel continues to be protected. Despite being small, the Israelite people have been blessed with amazing intelligence in technology, medicine and finance, such that the country has a thriving economy.
Yes, Israel, the nation of Jesus of Nazareth, is blessed today. It is the only people who collectively obey the statutes of the God of Israel. Again, we come back to the fact that Jesus is a Jew. He therefore blesses His people and His land when they obey His rules. Would you dare to obey His rules? Are those rules hard and dictatorial? No. Man was given free-will to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
HARD FACT #4: Jesus’ teaching about our ultimate destiny is misunderstood
As stated in the Law (Deuteronomy 30), Jesus taught that man can choose to have eternal life. He corrected the Jews of His day and also filled in a few details. After the resurrection, life differs from life in this age. Let’s see what Jesus said in Mathew 22:
That same day the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection, came to him with a question. “Teacher,” they said, “Moses told us that if a man dies without having children, his brother must marry the widow and raise up offspring for him. Now there were seven brothers. The first one married and died, and since he had no children, he left his wife to his brother. The same thing happened to the second and third brother, right on down to the seventh. Finally, the woman died. Now then, at the resurrection, whose wife will she be of the seven, since all of them were married to her?”
Jesus replied, “You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God. At the resurrection people will neither marry nor be given in marriage; they will be like the angels in heaven. But about the resurrection of the dead—have you not read what God said to you, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not the God of the dead but of the living.” When the crowds heard this, they were astonished at his teaching.
HARD FACT #5: Jesus is a Jew, and as such He will govern the world from Jerusalem
The fact that Jesus is a Jew aligns Him closely with Israel, both the people and the land. Jesus loved Jerusalem and lamented over the city:
Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling (Mat 23.37)
As with hundreds of prophecies that have already come true, prophecy about the end of the age will also come true. In particular, Jesus will return to rule the nations from His glorious (new) temple in Jerusalem:
And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day there will be one Lord—his name alone will be worshiped (Zech 14.9)
For those who ignore Israel or minimise her significance in the world, the bold declarations in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible are hard to imagine indeed. More …