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