Letters to a Messianic Jew
I am writing this letter with the hope that you will stop and reconsider the most important decision you made in your life.
I realize that this hope of mine is a brazen one, or as we say in Yiddish: “chutzpa”. Perhaps I should be minding my own business and stay out of your life.
Perhaps – but your own actions encouraged me to write this letter. You see, you spend your own time and energy in an effort to get Jewish people to rethink their commitment to traditional Judaism. You would want people to realize that you are motivated by the feelings of kinship that you harbor in your heart towards your brothers and sisters. You would want people to realize that you are moved by a sincere desire to help your people.
Please view my words in that same light.
You have asserted that your decision is based on the Jewish Bible. You maintain that the words of the Jewish prophets inspired you to commit your life to Yeshua.
It is difficult for me to accept your assertion at face value.
If you truly based your decision on the Bible, it should have taken you much longer to come to a decisive conclusion.
You would have first studied the differences between Judaism and Christianity. You would have made sure to understand the viewpoint of Judaism from a Jewish source, and you would have acquired an understanding of Christianity from a Christian source.
With the two opposing world-views clear in your mind, you would have then approached the Jewish Bible. You would have read it carefully and thoughtfully from cover to cover, all the while asking yourself, which of the two belief systems is supported by this text. Many sections of the Bible cannot be properly understood with a casual reading. You would have had to devote more than a little time and energy in order to master the Jewish Bible.
You came to your decision too quickly.
It is not too late. You can start again. You can study. It may take time and it may be difficult.
But then your decision will truly be based on the Bible.
I am writing again. There is something else I want to talk to you about.
Let us step back and think about the big picture. What did you mean when you told me that you had based your decision on the Bible? I want to point out to you that there are certain principles that one must accept before your assertion can begin to make sense.
Before justifying your decision with the assertion that it is based on the Bible, you must first accept that the Bible is the guidance and the direction that God provided for mankind.
You see, a chain cannot be stronger than its weakest link. If the only way you know that the Bible is true is because “someone” told you it is true, than your trust in the Bible cannot be stronger than the trust that you place in the word of that “someone”.
How indeed do you know that the Bible is really God’s word? How do you know that the prophets of the Jewish Bible actually lived? How do you know that they were authentic prophets? And how do you know that each of the books of Scripture truly belongs in the Biblical canon?
If God gave you the Bible for guidance, and if God expected you to make life-changing decisions on the basis of this book, He would have presented you with solid answers to these questions.
And He did. After all – He is the God of truth.
My dear brother. Are you a man of truth? Can you honestly say that you based your decision on the Bible if you cannot articulate how it is that you know the Bible is authentic?
You owe it to yourself to find the answers to these questions:
How were the Jewish Scriptures canonized?
What were the requirements demanded of a claimant to prophecy before his or her books were accepted?
Who determined that these requirements were indeed met, and how can we be sure that the judgment of these people was indeed accurate?
When you find the answers to these questions, and when you are honestly satisfied with those answers then, and only then, can you say that you decision is based on the guidance that God has provided.
Here I am again.
This time I want to ask you if you know what it means to be a Jew?
It was not so long ago that if you wanted to be called a Jew, it would have cost you dearly. If you wanted to be called by the name Jew you would have to give up your basic civil liberties. You would not be considered a citizen in most countries, you would not be allowed to own land, you could not live outside of the ghetto walls, and you could not practice most professions. Often enough, your insistence at being called a Jew would cost you your life.
But our ancestors proudly carried the name “Jew” through fire and water.
Our ancestors appreciated their calling as a nation chosen by God. That calling was dearer to them than life itself.
You are probably aware that our ancestors would not have been pleased with your decision to follow Yeshua. What you may not be aware of is how deeply your decision would have pained them. You see, they did not view a decision such as yours as a mistake, a sin or even a terrible transgression. It goes much further than that.
From the standpoint of our ancestors, the path you have chosen violates the very core of our calling as a nation before God. The way our ancestors look at it, the faith that you presently follow represents the precise opposite of what it means to be a Jew.
I recognize that you have a different understanding of the word “Jew” and of our calling as a nation before God. But wouldn’t you agree that you owe it to your ancestors to find out why they were so convinced that you are wrong?
After all, it was through your ancestors that you inherited the name: “Jew”. The price that they paid so that you can carry this name was nothing less than their very life-blood.
Won’t you at least allow them to share with you their appreciation of what it means to be a Jew? Will you let them talk?
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal