18/06/2009

Jews do come to faith in Jesus...

I would like to quote an article that I have read in this amazing website, jews for jesus. I hope that it will enlighten any Jewish readers who are still wondering if Jesus is the Messiah. Follow the link:
QUESTION: Would it be possible sometime to explain in the Newsletter how Isaiah 53 is interpreted by Jews who are nonbelievers in Jesus? Is that chapter included in the Hebrew Scriptures? Is it read in the synagogue? Is it discussed in Hebrew school?

ANSWER: Isaiah 53 is definitely included in the Hebrew Scriptures. Jewish religious leaders down through the ages have had too much respect for the Scriptures to tamper with them. They would not delete a controversial passage. On the other hand, they will use a variant translation wherever possible in order to play down or entirely avoid the obviously Christological portent of some Old Testament passages.
With Isaiah 53, however, no matter how freely one interprets the language, the passage very obviously describes one who was allowed by God to suffer and die for the sins of others. It so closely parallels the life, ministry and death of Jesus of Nazareth that nonbelieving Jewish scholars have been hard pressed to find other logical interpretations.
There are two most widely used Jewish explanations concerning the identity of the Suffering Servant described in Isaiah 52:13-53:12. One theory holds that the passage refers to the entire nation of Israel; the other theory holds to the thought that the passage refers to Isaiah himself. The obvious answer to both of these explanations is that the pronouns used there do not lend themselves well to either theory.
A minority of Jewish people do hold to another thought, which is that the passage does refer to a suffering messiah, but not to Jesus. Proponents of this idea say that there will be two messiahs—one the Messiah ben Joseph, who will come to suffer, and the other Messiah ben David, who will come to conquer and reign.
Although Isaiah 53 is definitely contained in the Hebrew Scriptures, it is omitted from the liturgical synagogue readings during that portion of the calendar year when the Prophet Isaiah is normally read.
As for this "problem passage" being discussed in Hebrew school, it would be highly unlikely below seminary level. Generally the prophetic writings are not studied at the lower levels of religious training that comprise the experience of the average Jewish person. For this reason, most Jewish people are unaware that the Isaiah 53 passage even exists. A very common response from a Jewish person who is shown that text for the first time is, "That's not from our Jewish Bible. That sounds like the New Testament."

Showing a Jewish person Isaiah 53 does not automatically guarantee that he or she will believe in Jesus. Isaiah himself wrote that as a nation, Israel would hear and not understand, and they would see and not perceive (Isaiah 6:9, 10).
Nevertheless, individual Jews do come to faith in Jesus as the Messiah, often without ever having seen Isaiah 53. When such people see the passage for the first time, they are usually quite startled to discover that it was there all along.
Isaiah 53

1Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows;yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities;upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed.
6All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way;and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.
8By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who consideredthat he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?9And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death,although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.
10Yet it was the will of the LORD to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makesan offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
11Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied;by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.

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