Old Testament Verses For Jews To See Jesus In Their Hebrew Scriptures

Night of Broken GlassI received the following linear presentation of verses from Pastor Kevin Parviz of the LC-MS congregation, Chai v’Shalom, in a small class-style discussion/presentation.  The verses were presented as they would arise within the natural flow of conversation about God with a Jew.  The premise if it can be setup in advance is that the Christian is known to be a Christian by the Jew and that the Christian agrees to only talk about God with the Jew using the Old Testament Scriptures without mentioning Jesus.  For the sake of getting better hits from Google searches, I used the name Old Testament in the title of this blog post, but in the conversation the Christian should use the term, Hebrew Scriptures (Tanakh).  The concept with this approach is that Jews won’t listen to talk about Jesus being God and they do find their texts authoritative (at least to some degree).

Starting Off Point

Many Jews have rejected God; they don’t even believe him.  Why?

The Holocaust.  If he’s real, or cares, he would have prevented such tragedy against his people.

Enter Isaiah 59:1-2:

“Behold, the LORD’S hand is not so short
That it cannot save;
Nor is His ear so dull
That it cannot hear.

But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God,
And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.”

The answer then is clear.  God can save.  But the reason there is a barrier between God and his people is their sins.

Jews usually don’t think they are sinners though – heck most of us don’t think along these lines.  We generally think we are good people, and we justify ourselves, which is what Jews will likely do after hearing this verse.  Think about it.  Most of us aren’t criminals!  Most of us haven’t had to go to prison.  In the realm of civil righteousness, we are typically good.

Regardless of sin, are you going to die?

Jews today often consider death to be the result of entropy, but that is not what the Prophets say.  The Prophets say it’s more than just natural decay.

Enter Ezekiel 18:1-4:

“The word of the Lord came to me:“What do you people mean by quoting this proverb about the land of Israel:

“‘The parents eat sour grapes, and the children’s teeth are set on edge’?

“As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, you will no longer quote this proverb in Israel. For everyone belongs to me, the parent as well as the child—both alike belong to me. The one who sins is the one who will die.”

This verse clearly states that God holds each individual responsible, so quit blaming your mom.  You will die because of your personal, actual sin.

So, what happens to you after you die?

Most Jews will say, “Nothing.”  You no longer exist.

If this is the case, then why do they do what they do as Jews, especially for the Orthodox?

The answer is to be remembered… they live on through the memory of the Jewish community.  How long does this last though?  Maybe four generations at best.  So this is far from eternal.

Enter Daniel 12:2

The prophet says that after death we all will be “awakened.”  The righteous to everlasting life and the wicked to everlasting contempt.

If this is true, how will you be judged?

Most Jews will say… probably I’ll be good.

Enter Isaiah 64:6

“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away.”

Even our best is wretched.  And we will all die and our sins will remove us from the earth. We all fade to black.

At this point however, the Jew will likely point out if they are thinking it through, that Daniel said that some are righteous.

The answer then is that if our best is still sinful, this must mean that those that are righteous must have been forgiven and that those who are wicked, must have not been forgiven.

How are we forgiven?

Enter Leviticus 17:10-11

“And any man from the house of Israel, or from the aliens who sojourn among them, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people.‘For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.”

The answer is atonement.

The Jews will then point to their Day of Atonement.  Since they no longer have the priesthood or the temple, the instructions for the Day of Atonement in Leviticus 16 cannot be followed, but Jews today fast on this day and pray for forgiveness.

But fasting and prayers are deeds, and Isaiah says that even our good deeds are like filthy rags.

Nowhere in the prophets does it say that our good deeds merit us forgiveness of sins.

Enter Jeremiah 31:31-34

“Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,” declares the LORD. “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. “They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,” declares the LORD, “for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.”

Here we see that the new covenant God will make will replace the Mosaic covenant.  We just read from the Mosaic covenant in Leviticus 17.  Even in Jeremiah’s time, the Jews broke that covenant.  Now, Jews don’t even have a temple.

Enter Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Once you read this, they will say it is about Jesus!

They invoked the name of Jesus, not you.

In this passage you find the forgiveness of sins come through the “Suffering Servant” of the Lord who bears the iniquities of all people.

The Jew will likely not have an immediate conversion at this point, but it’s recommended to give them a list of these verses to read over to verify by reading them in context.  This will likely be the first time they’ve heard these verses.  Like most American homes who have many Bibles that are never opened and read, the same is for many Jewish homes that have Hebrew Scriptures.  The Jew who first encounters these verses will likely want to read more and talk more and take time to consider the message of forgiveness from God that was just received from the Hebrew Scriptures.

3 Forms of the Word of God

The word of God comes to us in three forms: the personal word, the spoken word, and the written word. This article will explain what each form is and what God accomplishes through each form of the word.

Luther pionting to Jesus

Jesus of Nazareth claimed to be God and that his exemplary life, his miracles, his teachings, his death, burial, and resurrection all serve as credentials to verify” those claims. Jesus also affirmed the accepted text of Scripture among his people, the Jews, to contain eternal life and proclaimed that their words testify about him.  He also promised that when he returned to his Father in heaven, he would send the Spirit of Truth to his apostles who would remind them of everything he had taught them.  Because Jesus of Nazareth is God in the flesh, we can trust that he knows best what words, spoken or written, accurately reveal who he is, what he expects of humanity, and what he has done for us – what words are from him and what words are ultimately his words of revelation.  This is why the Church has trusted Jesus at his word, recognizing that the Bible (the Hebrew Scriptures of Jesus’ day and the New Testament texts that originated from within the apostolic circle) is God’s written word of divine revelation – written so that we might believe Jesus is the Son of God and that by believing in him we might have life in his name.

What I have described is wholly unique to Christianity.  In no other religion has God become a human being to personally speak to his creation and save his people from death.  Jesus, the Son of God, sent by God the Father, born of the virgin Mary, was God’s deputy.  He was given authority to speak on his Father’s behalf (authorization) and he spoke all that he had received from his Father to speak (superintendence).  If people saw Jesus, they saw the Father, if they heard Jesus, they heard the Father, because Jesus is the personal word of God.  With his words, Jesus spoke the truth of God and proclaimed the forgiveness of sins in his ministry of reconciliation to restore creation back into a right relationship with God.

The ministry of reconciliation continued with Jesus’ apostles, who he deputized to teach everything he had taught them.  As stated previously, Jesus promised that the Spirit of Truth would remind them of everything he had taught them.  This means that we can trust that the words they spoke were all that Jesus had taught them and that the words they proclaimed were true and forgave sins, just as Jesus’ words were and did.  The Apostles were therefore speaking the word of God. The apostles deputized other believers into this ministry of reconciliation, giving the Church the authority to teach what Jesus taught according to the witness they gave and to forgive sins in continuity with the proclamation of the Gospel (good news of Jesus Christ) they declared.

From within the apostolic circle, arose certain written texts that were typically written at the request of those who heard the apostolic message and wanted their words in writing, to preserve the teachings of the apostles, or to serve as reminders of what was spoken in person.  Because these texts were the written form of what the apostle’s spoke on the authority of Jesus, the personal word of God, and because they arose from within the apostolic circle (either from apostles themselves or people who wrote based on the directly received spoken word of the apostles), the Church came to recognize these texts to be the definitive versions of the apostolic proclamations in written form. The collection of these texts is the New Testament Canon; this written form of God’s word is the revelation of God that guides and norms the Church’s spoken proclamations of God’s word today.

In summary, three forms of God’s word have been presented: the personal word of God, the spoken word of God, and the written word of God.  The personal word of God is Jesus as God’s word to us.  The spoken word of God is the proclamation of God’s word to us through the prophets, apostles, pastors, teachers – all Christians – in preaching, evangelism, and through the mutual conversation and consolation of the brethren.  This form of God’s word is the “means of grace” word; it is the spoken form that has “causative authority” to create faith, as Scripture clearly states that faith comes from hearing.  In that last sentence, the function of the written form of God’s word was at work.  Scripture has “normative authority” to be the rule and guiding principle for all of God’s spoken word and it is the definitive standard by which all teachers’ and preachers’ words are to be judged.  Put another way, the written form of God’s word is the norming norm and the spoken form of God’s word is the normed norm.

In conclusion, these three forms are to be distinguished, but not separated.  Jesus is the personal word that gave the apostles the words they spoke and later wrote.  In the 21st century, we read the revelation of God in the written form, which serves the spoken word that proclaims God’s commands and promises, which delivers the personal word – all for our salvation and the restoration of God’s creation.

Credit: This article is largely based on class notes from Professor Nafzger’s lecture entitled, “The Word of the God of Word” given on Sept. 24th, 2018 at Concordia Seminary and the class discussion of the lecture on Sept. 27th, especially the use of the deputizing language and the descriptions of the type of of authority attributed to the spoken and written form of God’s word.

98. Sharing the Gospel with Kids

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Dave, Tim, and Andy sit down to discuss how to go about sharing the Gospel with kids.

Andy shares two articles from church leaders who advocate for not sharing the Gospel with children at all.  They say it’s too violent; that the Gospel shows God to be an advocate of child sacrifice, and that the good news of Jesus is just plain developmentally inappropriate for kids.   Dave and Tim share their expertise on how to respond to such objections, as well as how to best share the Gospel with little ones.

Show Links:

“How To (and not to) Talk to Kids About Easter)” – Article

“Protect Children from the Violence of the Cross” – Article

“How to Teach the Crucifixion… even to Preschoolers” – Article Shared by Dave

Teaching the Faith at Home: What does this Mean?  How is this Done? – Dave’s Book

“Who is Serving in your Service?” – Reconnect Episode 30

“Keep the Kids in the Church Service?” – Dave’s Last Reconnect Episode

Hephatha Lutheran Church and School

The Christian Life is Like a Draft of Guinness Stout

guinnessIf you pour a glass of Guinness Stout, you will see some very dark beer.  Blacker than Black.  If poured properly you will have a nice, thin layer of white head on top.  This whiteness is pure as snow in comparison to the depths of the darkness below.

How is this like the Christian life?

Our lives are dark and stained with sin.

In faith in Christ, when God the Father looks down at us, He does not see the darkness of our lives.  The darkness that demands his wrath.  Instead, He sees the cleanliness in the pure whiteness of the righteousness of his Son, Jesus, that covers us and justifies us as being in a right relationship with God.

This simple analogy has left out any long and detailed explanations of sin and the effects of sin.  It has assumed that everyone understands that Jesus is God and that the Father is God, and that there is another person in the nature of God, and he is the Holy Spirit.  These three persons are distinctly different, but still there is only one God.  Now I’m probably confusing matters worse to state this, but I also didn’t give a definition for righteousness or explain how a loving God has to punish sinners, because he is also just and holy.  I didn’t explain or prove any of this from the Bible, science, philosophy, or logic.  This analogy simply states that our lives are dark and deep with evil, wholly depraved, but that nonetheless, the depths of our depravity are covered and made clean through the perfect life and work of Jesus.  That’s why I can say that . . .

The Christian Life is like a Draft of Guinness Stout!

83. Evaluating the Best Evangelism Conversation Starters

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In Episode 83 of Reconnect, Wes and Andy kick around some thoughts on a list of spiritual conversation starters compiled by Southern Nazarene University.  To frame the discussion of this list of questions, they use three evaluation points for evangelism conversation starters as laid out and described by J. Warner Wallace in his article, “The Best Question To Ask When Starting A Conversation About God?”: Diagnostic, Disarming, and Directed.  In other words, does the question let us know what the other person believes when he answers the question (Diagnostic), is the question easily received and doesn’t cause the person to put his guard up and make him want to flee the conversation (Disarming), and is it a question that has a trajectory set on sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ (Directed)?

Show Links

J. Warner Wallace’s “The Best Question To Ask When Starting A Conversation About God”

SNU’s List of Questions that Wes and Andy Discuss in this Episode