Rabbi Ariel ben-Lyman HaNaviy
A Series of Practical Messianic Living (halachah)
(Note: all quotations are taken from the Complete Jewish Bible, translation by David H. Stern, Jewish New Testament Publications, Inc., unless otherwise noted)
O.K., now that you know all of this stuff about Judaism, you (a Gentile Christian) are now ready to go out and begin witnessing to the lost Jews, right? You share the Good News of Yeshua’s salvation with them and suddenly you are stopped cold by a reply that might sound something like this: “I don’t need to believe in your Jesus to be saved, I already believe in God!" After all (they might quote some verses), our Bible teaches us Jews to believe and serve only ONE God. If I accept Jesus, that is one God too many.” The verse that many Jewish People are referring to is the “Sh’ma” (Hebrew for “hear”), found in Deuteronomy 6:4. I want to share with you what I believe the Sh’ma can be hinting at, using the typical Jewish answer first, and then go on to explain how a non-Jewish believer can better “arm” himself against such an answer. This is simply an exercise designed to explain to Christians why many Jewish People are unwilling to give up their monotheism. It is not to be used as a standard witnessing technique among my people.
To familiarize you the reader with the verse, let’s quote this “watchword of Jewish faith” found in Deuteronomy 6:4,
“Sh’ma Yisra’el, ADONAI Eloheinu, ADONAI echad [Hear, Isra’el! ADONAI our God, ADONAI is one].”
Anyone with some knowledge of the Hebrew text will realize that the word translated ADONAI is the four-letter name for HaShem, Y-H-V-H, also known as the ”Tetragrammaton.” The Jewish people use this name only in a very sacred and personal way. To be sure, today Torah-observant Jews, in reverential fear of misuse never speak it. Because of the understanding that the Shema “defines” the oneness of Y-H-V-H (which is what the Hebrew word echad implies), many Jews are fiercely monotheistic. After all, is this not what the plain sense (p’shat) of the verse in Deuteronomy is teaching?
But, by understanding what the B’rit Chadashah (New Covenant) teaches believers about the unity of Yeshua and the Father (John 10:30), we are given the ability to interpret the Shema in a more theologically correct light. ADONAI is echad…. Yet, according to Yeshua’s own testimony, He and the Father also constitute an echad. Is HaShem more than one?! No! Is Yeshua “meshugga” (Yiddish for “crazy”)? Of course not! This relationship of the Father to the Son has long since been a problem for my people to grasp. And we’re not even talking about the concept of “Trinity” yet!
A small amount of light is shed on the subject when we, as believers remember that the Torah teaches that “stoniness, to a degree, has come upon Isra’el, until the Gentile world enters in its fullness; and that it is in this way that all Isra’el will be saved.” (Rom. 11:25b, 26) Although this passage speaks of the corporate salvation of the nation, that is, as a whole, many individual Jewish people can and have been accepting Yeshua for thousands of years! Baruch HaShem!
Love for the Jewish people, especially from the Christian body of believers, will melt away the “stoniness”. Before we as believers start listing the reasons as to why Jews reject the Messiah, we should seek to eliminate the reasons as to why we aren’t more actively involved in their salvation process, both corporately and individually. I have good news for you, ifyou are a Christian and reading this article, then you just might (unknowingly) already be actively involved in bringing Messiah to the Jews!
(For more on the “shomer mitzvot” series, read the next issue!)