I 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.