Most of us take the Western culture into which we were born for granted, without really understanding where it came from, or how it developed. Many are quick to blame the rabbinic Jewish religion, and rightfully so, for preventing its disciples from access to the modern world; to technology, core studies, and so on. The reason is that Western culture represents to the rabbis the one they hate most of all, Jesus.
In pretty much whatever field we look at in today’s culture, we will find its roots were developed by the disciples of the most famous rabbi in the world, Yeshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) and his teachings from the Bible. There is no doubt that throughout history bad people have used God’s name in vain by taking verses out of context, twisting their meaning, and using them to serve their own selfish agendas. A good example of that is the slave trade in America during the previous century. But that is a different subject. It would be wrong of us to blame such bad things on the Bible. Why? Because, if Western culture developed based on the Bible, then without it, the culture in which we live today wouldn’t exist.
In their book “Literature Through the Eyes of Faith”, researchers Gallagher and Lundin, write concerning the New Testament that:
“The Bible is one of the most important documents in the history of civilization, not only because of its status as holy inspired Scripture, but also because of its pervasive influence on Western thought. As the predominant world view for at least fourteen centuries, Christianity and its great central text played a major role in the formation of Western culture. Consequently, many literary texts, even those in our post-Christian era, frequently draw on the Bible.”
We would like to present to you ten ways that illustrate how the advanced enlightenment of the modern era originated in Jesus.
In the ancient days, art was used mainly to praise and glorify kings and rulers. But since the time of Jesus, art became public property. In fact, since the beginning of history, no book has inspired so many pieces of art as the Bible has; from classical music compositions to the most famous paintings in any museum we might go to in the world, we would immediately notice that there is no competition to the literary influence of Jesus’ words and the New Testament, whether in paintings, in songs, in drama and all areas of art.
Prof. Fish from Bar-Ilan University says the New Testament writings, “Provided the authors since the Middle Ages and on, many symbols, ideas, and a unique perspective on reality, more than any other composition, whether it is ancient or from our time. This influence expressed itself, not only in compositions directly related to characters or subjects from the Holy Scriptures, but also in countless compositions, songs and theater productions that are not dealing directly with the Bible, but supports their views on civilization and the world.”
By the way, even the very first radio station in Israel, “Kol Yerushalyim” Radio (Voice of Jerusalem), was started by a group of Anglican Christians and Messianic Jews.
2. MEDICINE, RESEARCH & SCIENCE.
During the time of Jesus, the Roman Empire and Greek philosophy ruled the world, teaching there is no real value to our bodies nor to matter in general, and that only ideas and thoughts hold real value. Jesus, based on the Hebrew Scriptures, taught that our physical body IS important, because it was created in the image of God, and that the quality of our individual lives is valuable. Thanks to that viewpoint, the fields of medicine and science have flourished. In fact, most of the first scientists in history were spiritual people who believed the Bible to be the Word of God, and Jesus to be the Messiah. And on them, modern science is based.
Here are a few examples: Founder of the Big Bang Theory, Prof. Georges Lemaître; founder of the Scientific Method, Francis Bacon; founder of Modern Rationalism, René Descartes; renowned physicist, Galileo Galilei; inventor of the Laws of Attraction, Sir Isaac Newton; one of the founders of the Theory of Astronomy, Nicolaus Copernicus; founder of Kepler’s Laws, Johannes Kepler; Blaise Pascal, who laid out foundations for geometry; among the founders of Electromagnetic Theory, Michael Faraday; Father of modern genetics, Gregor Mendel; among the fathers of Quantum Theory, winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics, Max Planck; and Father of Microbiology, Louis Pasteur. You’ll be able to find a list of hundreds more scientists who believed in the messiahship of Jesus here.
By the way, the first hospital in Israel was founded in 1884 in Jerusalem, by a messianic Jewish doctor, who brought a group of Anglican Christians from Great Britain. Together with them, he built the first hospital in the Old City in Jerusalem, and called it the “Jewish Hospital”. It was those who believed in Jesus who brought modern medicine to our country, provided it and taught it free of charge!
The Greeks taught that matter has no importance, and that we should take advantage of nature’s resources to satisfy our own desires. In contrast, Jesus taught that there IS an importance to our physical and material world in which we live, because it was created by God in order to bless us. And therefore, we should preserve and enhance the environment. Based on this teaching of Jesus, 2,000 years later what we know today as Environmentalism was developed.
While Greek philosophy preached that history is circular, with no direction or purpose, Jesus, in agreement with the biblical prophets, taught that there IS a purpose, direction and a general plan to historical events. We can see a great example for this today; The existence of the modern State of Israel is the fulfillment of biblical prophecies, a subject we covered in a different video which you can see here.
5. THE RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF OPINION AND EXPRESSION
Both Greek philosophy and the religious leaders of Israel in Jesus’ time preached to suppress the individual’s opinion and voice, claiming that only the society, the state or the tribe are important. Jesus, maybe as the very first social justice warrior in history, thought that not only the voices of high powered and influential men count, but that each and every person is important in God’s eyes, even the sinner, the weak, the needy and the rejected, and that their opinions and feelings are important and deserve respect. Jesus did not allow the religious leaders in His time to crush the weak. Jesus demonstrated this in action, while sitting down and dining with the sinners and outcasts of society. Based on Jesus’ example, what we know today as Human Rights were developed, and especially freedom of speech. The democracy of the Western countries are based on Jesus’ teachings. Look at the difference between the Western Christian countries and the Muslim countries, and you will immediately understand how far-reaching was Jesus’ influence on freedom of speech (even when, at times, it is taken advantage of).
6. MODERN JUSTICE
Greek Philosophy taught that there is no real value to our choices or actions, since everything is in the hands of destiny, which ultimately decides for us. Jesus, in complete contrast to that, and based on the Bible, taught that our choices are not only valuable, but that every decision we make or every thought that we have, including the smallest ones, may have far-reaching consequences; the ability to build or to be useful, or to hurt, destroy or to annihilate. Therefore, every person carries on his or her shoulders full responsibility for his/her actions, for which, one of these days, they will need to give an account to God. This is what the modern justice system is based on. And this is exactly the reason why we see in courtrooms in movies, the well-known expression: “In God we trust”.
While both the rabbis and Greek Philosophy taught that we should suppress our feelings and do away with our emotions, Jesus taught that we were created in the likeness of God, and therefore our feelings do not exist by mistake; rather, they are healthy, essential, positive and important and we should understand and guide them. Based on this teaching by Jesus, what we know today as “psychology” was developed. Entire concepts in psychology can be traced to verses in the New Testament. For example, in ancient days, crying was considered shameful and looked at as a weakness, but in the New Testament, Jesus is not only described as crying several times, but He even commands us: “Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.” We should identify not only with those who are joyful, but also with those who suffer, and to suffer with them, in order to comfort them. This is idea is so basic that, thanks to Jesus, most of us today take it for granted.
8. THE STATUS OF WOMEN
To the shameful status of women in rabbinic Judaism we dedicated a different video, which you can see here. But you don’t need to be a great historian to know what a degrading status women have had in religion and in ancient times in general. When the Pharisees (the rabbis of Jesus’ time) caught a woman in an act of adultery they wanted to stone her to death at Jesus’ feet. Jesus demonstrated God’s grace and love in an extraordinary way.
“Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning He came again to the temple. All the people came to Him, and He sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to Him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?”
…He stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.”
…When they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before Him.
Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
She said, “No one, Lord.”
And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.” “
If this is the kind of treatment women get from a perfect Messiah, so we, imperfect human beings though we are, should strive to demonstrate the same treatment.
See the words of 17th century historian Prof. Philip Schaff about Jesus and the New Testament:
“This Jesus of Nazareth, without money and arms, conquered more millions than Alexander, Caesar, Mohammad, and Napoleon;without science and learning, shed more light on things human and divine than all philosophers and scholars combined; without the eloquence of schools, He spoke such words of life as were never spoken before or since and produced effects which lie beyond the reach of orator or poet; without writing a single line, He set more pens in motion, and furnished themes for more sermons, works of art, and songs of praise than the whole army of great men of ancient and modern times.”
This is the love of God that appeared to us in the image of the Messiah, so we may have a perfect role model and source of inspiration in all aspects of life; for our physical, as well as our spiritual needs. Jesus changed the lives of those who chose to follow Him; gave them a hope and a future; renewed their hearts, minds and spirits, so that they can be a blessing to those around them. He further demonstrated this, when He gave up His honor by giving up His own life for us, imperfect people, so that we can also give, build, encourage, and create for the society in which we live in.
Jesus the Messiah IS the example, the role model and the perfection for our entire human experience.
This article originally appeared on One for Israel and reposted with permission.