- My Heart's Desire
- The Jewishness of the New Testament
- The Gospel in the Old Testament
- Major Messianic Prophecies
- The Promise of a Messiah
- Understanding Jewish Identity
- Is the Church Now Israel?
- The Jewish Festivals
- The 613 Commandments
- Must We Keep the Commandments?
- The Noahide Laws
- The Trinity: Jewish or Gentile-ish?
- Are There Two Covenants?
- Jan's Book of Hope
My Heart's Desire
Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for them is that they might be saved. – Romans 10:1
Paul's Burning Question in Romans 9–11
Paul wrote Romans 9–11 to answer this question:
If Israel is God's chosen people, and if he gave to them the sonship and the glory and the covenants (9:4), and yet by and large they have rejected the Messiah and are cut off from Christ (9:3), then has not the word of God fallen? And if the surety of God's word to Israel has fallen, how does it stand with us who hope in the promise that those whom he called he will also glorify?
This was a burning question for Paul. All his hope as a Christian, all the purpose of his apostleship, hung on this question: has God's word to Israel fallen? Have all the glorious purposes of God for this people aborted because of their unbelief?
The Jewishness of the New Testament
A Forgotten Book
Rabbi Isaac Lichtenstein was curious when he observed one of the teachers in his school reading a book printed in German. Asking the teacher what he was reading, the book was passed to him. He leafed casually through the pages until his eye fell upon the name, "Jesus Christ." Realizing that the little book was a New Testament, he sternly rebuked the teacher for having it in his possession. He furiously cast the book across the room. It fell behind some other books on a shelf and lay forgotten for nearly 30 years.
The Gospel in the Old Testament
Seeing the Gospel in the Old Testament
In witnessing to someone who is not Jewish you can easily present the Gospel from the New Testament, laying out the claims of Jesus as Messiah, showing how man is sinful and separated from God, and discussing reconciliation and redemption. But you should not do this when talking to Jewish people about Jesus. The New Testament is not acknowledged or recognized as authoritative in their life today. So the Gospel is best presented from the Old Testament.
Listed below is a chain of Old Testament passages, which, when linked together, help to clearly present the Gospel. You may wish to write these down in your Bible. Write the first verse in this Bible chain in the front of your Bible. When you have turned to the first verse, write down the second Bible verse at the bottom of that page. When you turn to the second Bible reference, write the third Biblical reference at the bottom of that page, etc. Your Bible will contain intact an entire chain of thought, without needing to memorize all the verses.
Major Messianic Prophecies
Knowing the Messiah
Often I’ve asked Jewish people this question, “When the Jewish Messiah comes, how you will know? How will you be able to identify the true Jewish Messiah from many over the centuries who have claimed to be Messiah, but weren’t?”
Most Jewish people today don’t know how they will identify the Messiah of Israel. They typically respond, “Well, when He comes, we will just know it.” Others say, “Our Rabbi will be sure to tell us when the Jewish Messiah is here, but we know He hasn’t come yet.”
The Promise of a Messiah
Messianic Prophecy and the Birth of the Promised Messiah
Each December at the Hanukkah and Christmas season, we find a fresh opportunity to review God’s great promises concerning the Messiah who would come to save us from our sins.
The very first Messianic prophecy is found in Genesis 3:12-15 following the fall of mankind:
The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”
Understanding Jewish Identity
The Identity of Jewish People
Frequently, as I have had the opportunity to minister in various congregations, I have asked people, ‘What do you think it means to be Jewish?’ People tell me that being Jewish is being part of the chosen people. Or it is a person who has the Jewish religion. Or it is a person who does not believe in Jesus. People also respond in other ways. Even Jewish people have difficulty defining ‘What does it mean to be Jewish?’
In the field of Jewish evangelism, definitions and terminologies seem to facilitate an understanding of how we might effectively communicate the message of Messiah. Jewish people are referred to as: Jews, Jewish people, Hebrews, Israelites, descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and the Chosen people. Some Christians even seek to boast that they have become the true Jews because of their circumcision of the heart through faith in Jesus.
Is the Church Now Israel?
Has the Church Replaced Israel?
There is an old saying, “Ask three Jewish people a question on one issue and you will get five opinions!” This one question brings much heat and sometimes little light because of historic positions, attitudes and sadly, anti-Semitism.
Perhaps to untangle this question it would be best to go back a bit in history. Israel, the people, are the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the twelve tribes.
Israel is not defined by religious practices (i.e. today that would be Reform, Conservative or Orthodox Judaism) but by the covenant God established: Genesis 12:1-3 and Jeremiah 31:35-37.
The Jewish Festivals
The Jewish Festivals
The cycle of Jewish festivals that govern religious life today are outlined in Leviticus 23. The first festival, held weekly, is given the highest place within Jewish life. It is known as Shabbat, the Sabbath. Leviticus 23:3 reads, “Six days shall work be done. But the seventh day is a Sabbath of solemn rest, a holy convocation. You shall do no work. It is a Sabbath to the Lord in all your dwellings.”
The Sabbath begins at sundown on Friday and runs through sundown of the following day, a time when the family comes together. The Sabbath is a time of joy, change, rest and reflection. It is also a time of worship, studying the Scriptures, and reflecting upon God, our Creator. A festive occasion, the Sabbath is welcomed as a bride, or as the “Queen Sabbath.”
The 613 Commandments
613 Mitzvot or 613 Commandments (Hebrew: תרי"ג מצוות transliterated as Taryag mitzvot; TaRYaG is the acronym for the numeric value of "613") are a list of commandments from God in the Torah. In Judaism, there is a tradition that the Torah contains 613 mitzvot (Hebrew for "commandments," from mitzvah - מצוה -- "precept", plural: mitzvot; from צוה , tzavah- "command").
According to tradition, of these 613 commandments, 248 are mitzvot aseh ("positive commandments" commands to perform certain actions) and 365 are mitzvot lo taaseh ("negative commandments" commands to abstain from certain actions). Three-hundred and sixty-five corresponded to the number of days in a year and 248 was believed by ancient Hebrews to be the number of bones and significant organs in the human body.
Must We Keep the Commandments?
Must We Keep the Commanemdnts?
There is an old Jewish tale which states that God was seeking a people who would carry out his Laws. He went to the Canaanites, but when they found out there was no idolatry, they passed. When the Hittites heard that they could not covet they passed too. Eventually after going to the 70 nations He came to Moses who said he would agree to take two tablets and call back in the morning.
Well, all humor aside, the giving of the Law to Moses on Mt. Sinai is one of the hallmark events in Israel’s history. But just what is the Law? Ask most Christians that question today and the answer is almost unanimous, “The ten commandments.”
The Noahide Laws
Gentiles and the Law
When God established His covenant with Israel through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, He created a Chosen People for a specific mission: To be a light to the gentiles. They were to declare to those lost in paganism, idolatry, heathenism and worse that there IS one and one only true God.
Some of the “God fearers” became proselytes (the initial definition of that word was for gentiles to follow the Jewish laws eschew all false gods.)
According to Jewish tradition and rabbinic interpretation, it is through the observance of the Seven Noachide Laws that the entire world becomes a decent, productive place, a fitting receptacle for the Divine. The Rambam (Moses Maimonides, 11th century Jewish philosopher and scholar) explicitly rules (Code, Kings 8:10): “Moshe Rabbeinu (Moses our teacher) commanded from the mouth of God to convince all the inhabitants of the world to observe the commandments given to the Children of Noach.”
The Trinity: Jewish or Gentile-ish?
The Lord is One
"Hear, O Israel, Adonai Eloheinu Adonai is one. These three are one. How can the three Names be one? Only through the perception of faith; in the vision of the Holy Spirit, in the beholding of the hidden eye alone.…So it is with the mystery of the threefold Divine manifestations designated by Adonai Eloheinu Adonai—three modes which yet form one unity." 
A Christian quote? Hardly. The above is taken from the Zohar, an ancient book of Jewish mysticism. The Zohar is somewhat esoteric and most contemporary Jews don't study it, but there are other Jewish books that refer to God's plurality as well.
Are There Two Covenants?
Are There Two Ways to God: One Jewish and One Gentile?
Numerous questions exist today in the field of comparative religions and missiology. This is especially true when it comes to discussions concerning Christianity and Judaism. Many question the need to share the gospel with Jewish people. In fact, many consider attempts to do this as being insensitive and judgmental.
Indicative of this is a quote from Eric Gritsch in a publication of the Lutheran Council in the USA, distributed by the ELCA. In it Gritsch states: There really is no need for any Christian mission to the Jews. They are and remain the people of God, even if they do not accept Jesus Christ as their Messiah.