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Answering questions about G-d, Eternal Life and Messiah emailed in by a Christian

February 19, 2014

Question 1: “Without Jesus, how do Jews become right with G-d and obtain eternal life with G-d?”

A clue that will help us answer this question is how did Jews become right with G-d and obtain eternal life before Jesus?

The Torah tells us how to live a life that is pleasing to G-d. If a Jew wants to know what G-d already told his forefathers about what He requires of us, all he has to do is open Torah.

In essence, the eternal life is to love G-d first and foremost, to the exclusion of any other “gods”, to love your fellow man as yourself and to strive to live a righteous life. How does one live such a life? It’s not at all impossible – the G-d of Israel is not a cruel god who supposedly gave humanity impossible requirements and then, as if some tyrant, capriciously punishes them for not being able to live up to them. One can live a righteous life by turning from sin and choosing to do what G-d requires of you in His Torah.

What about Gentiles? Does Judaism teach that a Gentile must become a Jew to have a place in Olam Haba (World to Come)? Not at all. Judaism teaches that the righteous of all nations will attain eternal life in G-d’s Kingdom on earth. Does living righteously mean that G-d wants them to  obey His commandments? Of course! However, for someone who is not a Jew the Torah requirements for righteous living are not always the same as what G-d requires of Jews (although it most matters there’s significant overlap).

Does G-d expect a human being to be sinless? No, He knows that we are but dust – after all, He made us. How does one get forgiven in the Hebrew Bible?

“Again, when a wicked person turns away from the wickedness he has committed and does what is just and right, he shall save his life.” (Ezekiel 18:27)

No waiting for man-god messiah to come save you from your sins, no waiting for someone to die for you and not even sacrifices (which are only external expressions of inward change). Turn away from wickedness and do what’s right and you will live. What G-d wants from us is to cling to Him with all of our hearts and pursue righteousness. Torah explains it quite simply and one doesn’t need a PhD in theology to grasp it:

“And now, Israel, what does the L-RD your G-d ask of you BUT to fear the L-RD your G-d, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the L-RD your G-d with all your heart and with all your soul, and to observe the L-RD’s commands and decrees that I am giving you today for your own good? (Deuteronomy 10:12-13)

Simple, right? Notice that Deuteronomy 10:12-13 is in a form of a question and answer all in one. But when a Christian comes along to a G-d-fearing Jew today (or during the last two thousand years), what does he say to him? He says to him, there is a new way and better way by which you can please G-d. All you have to do now is believe in a man Jesus who lived and died two thousand years, who is actually not a regular man but G-d. Not just G-d in the flesh, but one who died for your sins! Forget about what G-d told you in your Torah about G-d not having a form or being a man. Only in THIS new way, though belief in this man, you will really please G-d.

All that the observant Jew has to do is to ask where in the Torah (that G-d has given to Israel to observe for all generations) or anywhere in the Hebrew Bible can he find such a requirement for righteousness? It’s nowhere to be found. It’s a lie, idolatry and exaltation of humanity to G-d’s rightful place.

Question 2: “What exactly does the Jewish messiah do when he comes? Is he a human? When he does come, is it the end of the world and G-d comes down to Earth among us? What is the messiah’s relationship with G-d?”

The Jewish Messiah will be a direct patrilineal descendant of King David. He will be a normal mortal human being like you and I, but he will be as wise as Solomon and very righteous. Like King David himself and all other Israelite kings, priests or prophets, the future king will be anointed (which is what the word “messiah” means) of G-d for his royal office. Prophet Ezekiel calls him David (Ezekiel 37:24-28), although that could simply be a euphemism for “messiah” who is David’s descendant. The future Jewish king will be righteous, but he will not be a sinless demigod. Indeed, the future Davidic king will himself have to offer a sin sacrifice in G-d’s Temple:

“It will be the duty of the prince to provide the burnt offerings, grain offerings and drink offerings at the festivals, the New Moons and the Sabbaths–at all the appointed festivals of Israel. He will provide the sin offerings, grain offerings, burnt offerings and fellowship offerings to make atonement for the Israelites.” (Ezekiel 45:17)

What is then the role of the Jewish Messiah? When the real Messiah comes, he will fight against the enemies of Israel, initiate the Messianic Kingdom, lead the Jewish people and the rest of the world in perfecting the universal knowledge of the G-d of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He will, with G-d’s help, subdue all the wicked among the nations who oppressed the Jewish people, persecuted and robbed them of their inheritance, and divided Israel’s land. The Jewish king will then preside over a peaceful world with no more wars and bloodshed.

However, the perfected future world is not about this Jewish king, as great as he will be. It will be about worshiping the G-d of Israel and serving Him alone, to the exclusion of all other false gods. When the Temple is rebuilt in Jerusalem, G-d’s presence will once again reside in the Temple, just like it did before. G-d doesn’t need a human body to interact with humanity or to better understand and relate to us, as some Christians assume. He can do just fine the way He already is – some people forget that G-d had no problems communicating, displaying His glory and might, and being present among people way back during the Exodus.

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11 Comments leave one →
  1. February 19, 2014 3:57 pm

    This was a great article. As a Christian, I noticed Jesus’ words where you mentioned what the Torah tells us to do. You said, “the eternal life is to love G-d first and foremost, to the exclusion of any other “gods”, to love your fellow man as yourself and to strive to live a righteous life. Jesus said He gives the world two new commandments, and He brought love into the world. His two new commandments sum up the essence of the Ten Commandments, but previously love was implicit only. Jesus also said He will say, “get away from me, ye who practice lawlessness”, so He did tell people to be righteous too.

  2. February 19, 2014 4:34 pm

    “Jesus also said He will say, “get away from me, ye who practice lawlessness”, so He did tell people to be righteous too.”

    Yes, Shirley, Jesus did say that according to the NT. He was a Jew. And because he was one, it’s unlikely that he would have approved of someone calling him either sinless or G-d, since he himself rebuked a person by saying, “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good–except God alone.” (Luke 18:19). Being a Jew, he also would not have taught that salvation can be obtained by believing in him, a mortal human being, as the writers of the John’s gospels and other NT books have Jesus claim about himself. As a Torah-faithful Jew, he would certainly not allow himself to become the object of worship, since he himself rebuked Satan, a creature, for tempting Jesus to worship him, as we read: “[Satan said]: If you worship me, it will all be yours. Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Worship the L-rd your G-d and serve him only.'” (Luke 4:7-8). Think about it logically – if Jesus was G-d, “all” was already his to begin with, and being supposedly G-d and without sin, he couldn’t have been tempted by this offer. Likewise, we should learn from Jesus’ example and resistance to idolatry (even if offered the “next world” as a reward), and also refuse to worship a creature instead of L-rd our G-d only.

    So, you see, NT is a mix of both Jewish and pagan teachings, many contradictory to each other at their core. In the NT, you can find support for both Torah faithfulness AND words that nullify Torah and its purpose – to worship, obey and serve G-d and Him alone.

  3. February 19, 2014 4:47 pm

    Thanks. Please note though, I never once said that Jesus said to worship Himself: Jesus said to love the Lord your God, and He also said, He is the way to the Father.

    Though of course a Christian does believe that Jesus is God’s Son. I believe He was begotten (which means born) before the beginning of the world and He has been handed the throne by His Father and will judge mankind.

  4. February 19, 2014 4:54 pm

    Shirley – you don’t worship Jesus? Do you not pray to him? Is he not your Lord and Savior? I don’t want to assume anything about you, so if you could clarify, I would know better where you are coming from.

    When you say he was “born”, you believe that there was a time that he didn’t exist? (Are you a JW, Unitarian or Mormon)?

  5. February 19, 2014 5:18 pm

    You are now asking me some questions I ask myself and I still search for truth. I am still unsure which denomination I believe in, and I am currently non-denominational. I do believe there must have been a time when Jesus did not exist, because He was begotten by His Father in Heaven (begotten and not made, in the same way as an infant is born). This was before the world we know was created as Hebrews 11 says the world was created by the Father through Jesus, and Jesus was then the Word (and John says the Word became flesh). As I said, I believe Jesus was handed the throne by His Father, so yes, I worship Jesus as the Son of God as He points the way to His Father, but this cannot be in isolation.

  6. February 19, 2014 6:19 pm

    Apologies, I meant to refer to Hebrews 1. Thanks for your your blog posts and your comments, because they have made me question afresh.

  7. February 19, 2014 6:27 pm

    You are quite welcome, Shirley. One thing, as a Jew, today I can confidently say, from both the Tanakh and the witness of my people, is that one can’t go wrong worshiping G-d our Father and Him alone. However, we can all go very wrong – and the history of Israel and all the nations testify to that – when we tamper with this formula.

  8. February 19, 2014 6:34 pm

    Thanks. Because I am a Christian, I believe the Father send Jesus, and I take heed too of these words which Jesus spoke: “But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 10:33 KJV)

  9. February 19, 2014 7:09 pm

    I understand that you must believe that to remain a Christian. These words, however, written by the authors of these Greek writings, elevate a mortal human being to deity, and have for two thousand years griped billions of people with fear of eternal damnation simply for doubting the claims made on behalf of that mortal man. This way of righteousness before G-d is absolutely foreign to the Hebrew Bible and the Jewish people. Its home is in a Greek world filled with sons of gods, demigods, and saviors. It’s pure cruelty perpetrated on humanity and bondage to a creature. One day the G-d of Israel will eliminate all “gods” who have created neither heaven nor earth.

  10. February 19, 2014 9:54 pm

    It was always other people who said Jesus was the Son of God. Jesus never made any such claims, though He did tell the Samaritan woman at the well that He was the Messiah (John 4). And Simon Peter said, when asked by Jesus, that Jesus was the Messiah, the Son of God, and Jesus said flesh and blood had not revealed that to Simon, but His Father who was in Heaven (Matthew 16:16-17). Jesus said at his trial, “Ye say that I am”.(Luke 22:70). I hope to find the truth before I pass away in this lifetime! But for now I believe what I’ve said before, that Jesus is the Son of God, as I am a Christian. I’ve attended synagogue too, and I may again. Thanks.

  11. February 19, 2014 10:35 pm

    Shirley, much success in your search. You’re welcome to stop by and comment any time.

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