(The Red Letter Words of Jesus) In other words You can’t have it without us!
“Ye worship ye know not what: we know what we worship: for salvation is of the Jews.” John 4:22, KJV
“When we Christians do not walk together with the Jews, we are in danger of regressing to the paganism from which we emerged. Franz Rosenzweig saw that Gnosticism, Pantheism, and assimi-lation to the idolatry of culture and nation are constant temptations for Christians.” (Richard J. Neuhause, Editor in Chief, First Things, 2001)
Franz Rosenzweig, (1886-1929) a German, Jewish religious man, became a great influential Jewish theologian. He said “…Christianity is Judaism for the Gentiles.” Wow. Think about that. He also said it is likely that what Jesus said in John 4:22, few thinkers in Christianity have digested. He felt the stumbling block lies in the fact that too many Christians cannot come to terms with the Jewishness of Jesus. “My Jesus a Jew? Never!” (the voice of a Protestant Christian). This past month of September (2019) brought a shocking headline to the internet. An Orthodox Christian priest in Halifax, Nova Scotia, was forced to resign his long held profession because he was asking his congregants to pray for Israel, and reminding the congregation that Jesus was a Jew.” (Israel Breaking News/WND staff). “Will the Real Jesus Please Stand up?” the title of a brochure given to me years ago. The title is more relevant than ever today. Who was, and is, Jesus in His humanity? A Catholic, Protestant, or a Jew?
The Lord’s undeniable name is Yeshua and literally means (no exceptions, absolutely) “salvation.” How much clearer can this be? Yeshua could have stated “Salvation was of the Jewish nation” or He may have meant exactly what He said: Salvation is of the Jewish people! The truth is—it is both. He reminds us “I am a Jew, do not forget it!” Yeshua points out in Revelation 22:16, “I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things in the churches, I am the Root and the Offspring of David…” backed up by the Jewish elders in Revelation 5:5: “…Behold, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, the Root of David…”. What a day of reckoning is coming, when Israel’s enemies bow low to the feet of a Jew! (Matthew 22:44). Shaul (Paul) tells us in Romans 1:3 “…concerning…Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh.” Timothy reminds us, “Remember that Jesus Christ, of the seed of David, was raised from the dead…” (2 Timothy 2:8). Even Shaul (Paul) made us aware of his own Jewish background “…For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin…” (Romans 11:1).
While studying the book of Jeremiah, chapter 23, there was a striking epiphany behind the words, and I suddenly realized—Jeremiah was correcting the Jewish religious leaders, of his time– nevertheless, there seems to be a similar situation in which we find much of the Church today. He admonished his people that there was little care for the sheep, few were tending to the flock spiritually as they should have been. In our days “meat in due season” (Matthew 24:1-3) needs to be served; i.e., the choicest cuts (so to speak) of the Word. Ultimately there is coming a day in Jerusalem, when the King returns, He will host a regal banquet, in His Honor, for His People, and those from the nations who come up to worship Him. “The LORD of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain; A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow, and refined, aged wine” (Isaiah 25:6, NAS). Should our leaders today be serving “milk-toast” sermons, or should they be delivering spiritual food expected for the latter times? God will not spare the very best for His Children, so why would we?
Christian leadership needs—especially now, when deception is rampant–to attend to the sheep, and prophetic messages in this stage of history need to be on the menu, (Psalm 145:15), including the meat of God’s Word, for everyone. Where there is no teaching on Bible Prophecy, no mention of the Second Coming, the Church’s Responsibility to Israel, the Jewishness of Jesus and the Coming Kingdom, there can be spiritual hunger after the meal. People from many nations want to travel to Jerusalem now to raise their bar on Christian Education. Our Jewish friends realize many Christians have not been raised on the whole counsel of God, and it is embarrassing. Biblical knowledge is important in Israel.
We all need to work toward the restoration of Israel in our churches. The need is to take hold of what they have not received, in some Bible colleges and seminaries. “Meat in Due Season” (Matthew 24:45) which clearly focuses on prophecy and the times in which we find ourselves. It is time to speak up and as leaders serve the meat of God’s Word. Don’t let it sit on the table, untouched. While many congregations serve “milk-toast” messages filled with pleasant promises of wealth and a trial-free lifestyle, out of Jerusalem must come choice cuts of the meat of God’s Word for those who are spiritually hungry. May everyone who visits Israel, return home bursting with excitement, about what they have learned about this nation. Yeshua established a strong case with the gentile woman in Samaria. He perceived that she was not walking on a straight spiritual path, and He clearly desired her to know that as a Samaritan, she was headed the wrong way. He opens His Lips and pronounced a strong proclamation without hesitation “Salvation is of the Jews.” Pastor Chuck Swindoll once said, “Jesus never lied. He could not lie.” Amen. So, can Christians welcome His Word and gain understanding from those red letter words!
Recreating the scene of the encounter between Jesus and the Samaritan woman, we learn the culture, the situation among the Jews and Samaritans, and how they related in His Days. If someone is reading this now that “salvation is of the Jews” and draws back repulsively, this story could mean the difference between life and death, due to the fact that there will be absolutely no anti-Semitism in God’s Coming Kingdom on earth. Even though we do not know her name, we know the woman was a Samaritan. Shocked that a Jewish man would speak to her—a woman and recognizing His physical characteristics (dark hair, dark eyes, beard, prayer shawl) she immediately blurts out “You, a Jew want to speak with me? You want me to give you a drink? It was shortly after entering into the conversation that Yeshua makes known what is on His mind: salvation comes from His People. Jesus could have easily said, “salvation is of Me.” Still He chose to say, “of the Jews.” Why? I believe He was speaking to all generations to come. He knew foresaw that Gentiles would betray His People, and He reminds us never to forget redemption of our souls has to do with His family. He is the way to the Father, but Father God is the God of the Hebrews.
Listen to What Jesus is Saying!
It might be earth-shattering to some; nevertheless, to those who have not thought about it, it is critical that we listen to what Yeshua is saying. Had He never spoken these words, many might continue to create their own Jesus to fit their culture, background and to their palate. While in China, we saw the face of Jesus painted as Chinese, in Africa, a black Jesus, in America and Europe, He has an Aryan appearance. Protestant Christians see him as the Good Shepherd with a gentile face, and certainly around Christmas time, He is laying in a manger as a baby, with blond hair and blue eyes. Catholic Christians see Him as an iconic figure on the cross. Is it not clear that His human identity-manhood has been hijacked? Someone took it upon themselves to throw out the Jewishness of the Lord, His family background, people and nation. Why is it that believers in so many churches are afraid of their Hebraic roots, and why do they say those who love Israel are under the law? What law? The Torah? They make a major mistake, because He taught us as a Jewish Orthodox Rabbi who followed the Torah, and fulfilled it. Nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus ever practice anything but the Torah. He also made it clear He had not come to the gentiles, but to the lost sheep of the House of Israel. He sent His Jewish disciples to the gentiles, but Jesus never left the borders of His Nation and People. I believe the Jewish Scriptures are weighty enough to tell us never to worship the Lord without thinking about who He is, where He came from, how He was raised, and to which people He is eternally linked. He certainly made it clear “We Jews know who we worship?”. (John 4:22) It indeed makes one feel troubled that most churches never give it a thought as to what they are missing…worshipping “what they do not know?”
Uncovering Jewish Text
Dr. Eli Lizorkin-Eyzenberg teaches that “all too often our understanding of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament, is clouded by centuries of Western misunderstanding”. If someone says they can be saved, without the foundation the Lord laid down, then they are saying they can be saved, independent of His own words. If salvation is of the Jews: it is! One cannot deny truth and accept it at the same time. By learning to understand the meanings behind the words that the Jewish prophets, apostles, as well as Jesus, spoke, understanding can grow and knowledge expands into new dimensions never dreamed of previously. When scholars pull back layers of translation and uncover the Hebrew text which supports a Biblical passage, it often feels like drinking refreshing water from a pure well. I love drinking from the wells of Jacob. One pastor, after visiting Israel, said “I’ve been preaching for twenty-five years, why didn’t I know all of this before? Now I see, now I understand!” We must remember, English is a translation from the original languages of Hebrew and Aramaic. Will the Church be able to lay down some of its prideful and settled assumptions, and admit that God is at work in Israel mightily today and that God is nowhere finished with the Jews? We need a “thumbs up” to Israel!
Yeshua as “King of the Jews” (as was written on the sign above His Cross) and Savior of the non-Jewish world. He is the Son of God. He is God in the flesh, and in His humanity, a Jew! This is truth which many Christians deny, or are shocked to hear; however, it is time we believe all of the red letter words of Jesus and let the Bible itself challenge us! Christians from the Far East are out front leading the flock of Jesus in learning and educating themselves about the Church’s responsibility to Israel, the debt owed to the Jewish people, and the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. The meat of the Word may need to be thundered from pulpits in today’s western world, to awaken multitudes to the importance of the Nations being connected to Israel. Let us bear in mind that Israel is key to coming world redemption. If the Church is to reach her fullness, it must awaken toward the nation of Israel. If Israel is to reach her fullness, she must awaken to Her King-Yeshua.
A Biblical Command
Blessing and joining the Jewish people is a Biblical command. (Genesis 12:3) Isaiah 56:3 is the place in Scripture where non-Jews are commanded never to separate from the Jewish people. Finding the missing link (Israel) in the Christian faith, will bring everyone into a deeper understanding of what Yeshua did for everyone, how He fulfilled the Jewish prophecies about the Messiah and how He followed the Torah on every point. This salvific link has been buried for centuries in the graveyards of our churches (as I explain in my forthcoming book, A Principle and A Promise). Why? (a) Because everything we possess came from the Jewish people, and (b) because everything to do with the Second Coming of Jesus, has to do with Israel and the Jewish people and (c) because Jesus is a Jew. These are three basic reasons.
The first red-letter New Testament was published in 1899 originating with Louis Klopsch, editor of The Christian Herald magazine. Klopsch was a supporter of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago and wanted to do more than get the Bible into people’s hands. Louis Klopsch, died in 1910, and would undoubtedly have taken pride in his vision for red letter Bibles. (Crossway Christian Ministry). Derek Prince always taught that the Church owes a great debt to the Jewish people. Lance Lambert said many times that the Jews gave us all we possess. Freda Lindsay knew it was the Jews who gave us the Sacred Scriptures. The Bible (Torah/Tanakh (termed Old Testament) and Brit Hadasha (New Testament) were written to the Jewish people, and are very Jewish books. It was Israel who gave the world Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Job, the Psalmists, Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi). The Apostles were Jews. The Torah will go forth from Zion when He returns. (Isaiah 2:3). Yeshua is the Jewish sacrifice and the Lamb of God for sin spoken about in the Jewish scriptures. He will return to earthly Jerusalem. His salvation message includes the Kingdom of God on earth-rarely spoken of in our churches.
Pillars of Faith
Shaul (Paul) clearly states that if anyone is proud against the Jewish people (who cannot see Him), they are to remember that they are not the pillars of faith for the Jewish people, but the Jewish people are the pillars of faith for us. They support us. We need to get that right. (Romans 11:18). Then Shaul says the almost unthinkable (so we don’t talk about it). “For if God did not spare the natural branches (Israel), He may not spare you either (the unnatural, the non-Jewish branches). “…consider (think about) the goodness of the Lord to you non-Jewish people, you are not the only Chosen People, you are a part of the Chosen People, the Israel of God that will come when their fullness has arrived “…if you continue in His Goodness (the same goodness He has shown you non-Jews) toward the Jewish people, otherwise, you also will be cut off!” (Romans 11:22). Loving the Jewish people unconditionally is so important to God. As someone said, no sour grapes toward Israel. We should never inflict harm to the apple of God’s eye.” We are to love our neighbor, and that includes the Jewish family next door. Just recently in Poland, two Jewish men were attacked and beaten severely by hate-filled Moslems while Polish people stood by, doing nothing, instead of stopping it. That’s also what happened in WWII. The next time you hear someone say “why do you want to study about the Jews, they are the last people I care about, then tell them “Go read the red letter words of Jesus” and then come back and we’ll talk more! Fighting against Israel means fighting God!
Dr. Yaakov Geller, Professor at the Schulman Center and Dr. Eli Lyzorken-Eisenberg, President of the Israel Center Bible Studies, has additional information on learning about the Samaritans at the time of Jesus; however,, the Bible gives an account in (2 Kings 17:24-31). According to Scripture, the Samaritans settled in the hills of Ephraim. They brought their pagan practices with them and accepted the Torah but did not integrate into the Jewish people, living as a separate group. The Samaritans did not believe in the sanctity of Jerusalem; instead, they believed only in Mount Gerizim and claimed to be the true Israel. They opposed the worship of Israel’s God in Jerusalem, therefore, they had taken the wrong path (Jesus was trying to warn the woman at the well that she was on the wrong way)…the God of Israel is not separable from the people of Israel…it follows then that to be in relationship with the God of Israel is to be in relationship with the people of Israel. Salvation that is from the Jews cannot be proclaimed or lived apart from the Jews. We share in the richness of their olive tree, but do not replace it. God forbid we take on the characteristics of Samaritanism.
The Lord will one day be Israel’s vindicator when He judges the nations for their harsh treatment of His People. He will lead the world by being The Voice from Zion, teaching the depth and the width of God’s Everlasting Words. This will bring renown for which the rebuilt City of Jerusalem will be known around the world and the knowledge of the One True God will cover the earth, as the waters cover the sea beds. (Habukkuk 2:14) Now is time for the worldwide Church to realize, and to learn (even if it hits like a bolt of lightning) that He said “Salvation is of the Jews!” In conclusion, and summing up redemption: these are the red letter words of the Lord Yeshua and the Church just can’t claim it without the Lord’s People!