Shabbat, March 14, 2015
To know Yeshua and to make Him known, particularly to Jews, a good place to start is to know Him as a prophet—like Moses, only greater. Like Moses—Israel’s greatest teacher, forth-teller, wonder-worker, and deliverer. Only Yeshua is greater—the Messiah of Israel and the whole world. V’eemru?
21 years ago Michael Shapiro published T: A Ranking of the Most Influential Jews of All Time. Any guesses who got the number 1 ranking? How about number 2? How about that? A 20th century New York Jewish author ranked Yeshua (aka Jesus of Nazareth) #2? Can we get our Lord up to #1? Yeshua is King of King, Lord of Lord and Jew of Jews! V’eemru?
We could start by comparing Him with Shapiro’s #1 Jew: Moses.That’s what the author of Hebrews did—since he was a Jew writing to other Jews, in Hebrews 3:3, “For He has been considered worthy of more glory than Moses, even as the builder of the house has more honor than the house.”For Jews, Moses is the greatest Jew—so Hebrews proclaims that Yeshua is more glorious than Moses. Whoa! Yet if it weren’t for Yeshua, would anyone other than Jews have ever heard of Moses? Hmm?
Moreover, Moses sets up this comparison, by telling Israel to look for another prophet like him, in Deuteronomy 18:15, “ADONAI your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your midst—from your brothers. To him you must listen.”A prophet like Moses—how would we recognize this prophet?First, he must be Jewish—for Moshe told Israel he would come “from your midst—from your brothers.” So Sun Myung Moon doesn’t qualify, sorry, and neither does Muhammad—oy, don’t cut off my head!
But Yeshua, He qualifies—Yeshua was (and is and ever shall be) a Jew. That’s an important fact.Otherwise He couldn’t make Shapiro’s Jewish 100… let alone Moshe’s prophecy.
It’s a fact that got obscured by anti-Jewish attitudes that flourished in Rome and Europe for millennia. To this day, many western Christians have an image of Jesus and blond and blue-eyed—not!
Yeshua is Jewish. V’eemru? Born of a Jewish mother, named Miriam, circumcised in the Temple, celebrated all the Jewish holidays, from Passover to Hanukkah, and He loves the lost sheep of Israel.If we want to tell Jews about Yeshua, that’s probably the first thing we need to establish and agree on.
Let’s consider what it means to be a prophet like Moses. As believers, we might zero in on the supernatural aspects of prophecies—the signs and wonders—but let’s bear in mind that nowadays, most Jews are highly secular and discount everything supernatural. I know 1 Corinthians 1:22 says, “Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom,” but today’s Jews are more like the Greeks were—more impressed with science than Scripture.
So I suggest that we start by comparing Moshe and Yeshua as Teachers of Israel. Last summer I gave a talk about the wisdom of Yeshua—when His opponents tried to trap Him with a question about taxes, Yeshua replied (Mark 12:16), “‘Give unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’ And they were completely amazed at Him.” Last summer my Mom was so impressed with the wisdom of Yeshua that she was willing to agree that Yeshua is the Messiah. Whoa!
Moshe brought us the 10 commandments. Yeshua gave us the Sermon on the Mount, which as I taught last month, are Yeshua’s mitzvot for the heart—for God knows our hearts, and outward behaviors have their origins in the attitudes of the heart. Anger unresolved leads to murder, lust unchecked leads to adultery—yet blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God!
You’ve heard that Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived. Yeshua is wiser than Solomon. Tell people about the Golden Rule—just compare Rabbi Hillel’s negative version with Yeshua’s positive version and ask, which version commands you to actually love your neighbors? Buddhism, Hinduism, Confucianism all have their versions of the Golden Rule—but they are all more like Hillel’s than Yeshua’s. God’s love is more than avoiding evil; it’s doing good. V’eemru?
Tell people about Yeshua’s time-honored parables and what they reveal about the kingdom of Heaven. No wonder the Jewish “crowds were astounded at his teaching, for He was teaching them as one having authority and not as their Torah scholars” (Matthew 7:28-29 and elsewhere).Moshe’s teaching is the foundation of our courts. Yeshua’s teaching has transformed millions of hearts. Are you convinced about Yeshua’s wisdom? Greater than Shlomo’s, greater than Moshe’s?
Now let’s talk the supernatural side of the prophet like Moshe. For in Deuteronomy 18, Moshe has more to say about how to recognize this prophet: 19 Now whoever does not listen to My words that this prophet speaks in My Name, I Myself will call him to account…. 21 Now should you say in your heart, ‘How would we recognize the word that ADONAI has not spoken?’ 22 When a prophet speaks in ADONAI‘s Name and the word does not happen or come true, that is a word that ADONAI has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously—do not be afraid of him.”
Moshe told Pharaoh in advance about each plague that would befall Egypt—and they happened.Moshe also told Israel the blessings and the curses that would befall Israel if they obeyed the mitzvot, or if they disobeyed—furthermore, he told Israel they would ultimately disobey, and as he foretold, Israel was defeated and exiled and oppressed, the land became a wilderness, and yet HaShem would not forget them or His covenant with them, but would bring them back and circumcise their hearts.Has what Moshe foretold come true? Indeed, Moshe was a very good prophet. Yeshua foretold His own rejection, suffering death and rejection—several times.Now it is one thing to predict one’s own death—though not something most people want to talk about.But it’s another thing to predict where it will happen and who will kill you. And it’s another thing to back that up with ancient prophecies, centuries old by His time—check out Isaiah 50 and 53, Psalm 22, Zechariah 12:10, and Daniel 9:26, for starters…
And it’s quite another thing to foretell that He would be raised… on the third day! The resurrection of Messiah was also prophesied in Isaiah 53, Psalms 16 and 22, Hosea 6:1-2…
Yeshua also foretold that His followers would become a worldwide force, several times, including Acts 1:8, “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
How many of you know that this prophecy is also being fulfilled in our day, as millions come to faith in Messiah Yeshua in Brazil and Argentina, all over Africa, in Korea, India, China, Iran, the former Soviet Union, and now the Good News is even coming back to Eretz Israel?
Given the life-changing, world-changing nature of His prophecies, how many of you say, Yeshua is greater?
Moshe was also a wonder-worker: water turning into blood, plagues, manna & meat from heaven.Elijah and Elisha were also wonder-workers: multiplying oil and grain, healing a man with tza’arat (not leprosy but a supernatural skin affliction), raising a child from the dead…
Yeshua gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf and mute, healed walking to the lame, healed many with tza’arat, walked on water and invited Peter to join Him, multiplied bread and fish for thousands of people several times, raised a child and several adults from the dead—Lazarus after he had been dead four days—and then He rose up from the dead Himself, appearing and disappearing at will. Awesome, or what?
Yet you know what makes Yeshua’s miraculous signs more awesome than Moshe? Not the signs themselves, but how every one reveals His compassion and the Father’s love for us.V’eemru?
To skeptics, we ask, if Yeshua didn’t do these things, why would anyone have continued to follow Him after He was dead? Why did His disciples go all over the world proclaiming the news about Him, even willing to suffer and die themselves, for Him?
Moreover, these signs are wonders are happening in His name, all over the world, to this day.In his book Miracles: The Credibility of New Testament Account, noted scholar Craig Keener documents hundreds of testimonies of supernatural miracles all over the world:Dr. Julia Ma reports a pastor’s wife who was healed of tuberculosis in both lungs, a doctor confirming that one of his deaf patients received hearing, “an old man who had such a critical spine problem that he could only crawl on his hands and knees like an animal” was “instantly healed, stood up and walked away, epilepsy healed, ,” goiter shrunk, blindness healed, the dead raised.These signs and wonders are a major reason why millions are coming to the faith, especially in countries that are less dominated by the spirit of secularism and unbelief that pervades the western world today.If anyone would like to take a look at this book or the modern day miracles, here is a link to the pages.
Yet Yeshua also prophesied that these things would continue to happen in His name. John 14:12, “I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”
Moshe was the great deliver of Israel, bringing them out of Egypt and through the Sea of Reeds. How does Yeshua top that? Messiah Yeshua is the deliverer of all humanity, bringing all who trust in Him out of bondage to sin and freedom from death. V’eemru?
Yes, Yeshua is Israel’s greatest teacher, forth-teller, wonder-worker, and deliverer. And I haven’t even mentioned yet that He is the Son of God.
Earlier this week, my Mom called and asked me point blank, “Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?”I replied just as I had when she asked this question last summer, “Mom, that’s graduate school. Let’s concentrate on college material first.” Then I proceeded to talk about Yeshua the Prophet.
Why? Well, for one thing, consider what Yeshua said to Peter in Matthew 16:15-17, “But who do you say I am? Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God. Yeshua said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven!” It was one thing to say that Yeshua might be a prophet, or even the Prophet—lots of folks in Israel were saying these things. But to confess Yeshua as the Messiah—that could come only by faith, as well as understanding the Jewish concept of Messiah. To declare that Yeshua is the Son of the Living God—that could come by revelation from the Father.
In 1979, Ed Conlin invited me to participate a Life in the Spirit Seminar. Ed asked me, “Do you believe that Jesus is the Son of God?”
I replied, “I’m Jewish … and I don’t even understand what you mean by ‘Son of God.’”
So Ed asked, “Then what do you believe about Jesus?”
“Well, for years I’ve been studying the Scriptures as literature,”I said, “including the theme of Messiah. I have concluded that Jesus fulfilled many of the Scriptures about the Messiah. So I believe that He is the Messiah.”
Ed said promptly, “That’s good enough for now.”
That was wise! I may have been a graduate student already, but I wasn’t ready to understand the concept of a human being as the Son of God. That wouldn’t come until after I had learned to walk with Him and talk with Him, and after I had studied the Scriptures many times more, with a spiritual mind.
Bennett, a while after began coming to Beit Simcha, asked me to explain the Son of God. I asked him, “Bennett, do you believe that Yeshua is the Messiah?” Bennett scratched his beard and said thoughtfully, “Ye-es…”
“Very good!” I said. “’Son of God’ is an advanced concept. You’ll understand it when you’ve read
the Scriptures more, with a spiritual mind.” How are you doing now, Bennett?
Many Christians, who are raised with the idea of Jesus as the Son of God, may take it for granted. But that doesn’t mean that most Christians understand it. Many times I’ve heard people—even pastors—say about such things, “It’s a mystery.” How many of you have heard that?
For Jews who are raised with the idea that God, if He exists at all, must be absolutely too huge and transcendent to ever become human, let alone have a son—it’s really hard to grasp
It’s even inscribed into the walls and ceiling of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem! Allah has no son!
However… Muslims are having dreams and visions of Yeshua and thousands are coming to faith. Charismatic evangelist Heidi Baker reports that Imams are becoming Pastors in Africa.
Is Yeshua the Messiah and the Son of the Living God? Absolutely! V’eemru? In Proverbs 30:4, a wise man asked these stunning questions:
“Who has gone up into heaven, and come down?
Who has gathered the wind in the palm of his hand?
Who has wrapped the waters in a cloak? Who established all the ends of the earth?
What is His name and what is the name of His son—if you know?”
Do you know? I hope you all know. But if you know anyone who struggles with these questions, let’s go back to basics: Yeshua was a prophet, like Moses, Israel’s great prophet, a great teacher. He was also a forth-teller, a wonder-worker, and a deliverer. Yes, Yeshua is a prophet like Moses. Only greater, because He rose from the dead, and only Yeshua gives eternal life to everyone who believes.V’eemru?
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