<!><!>John the Baptist, who was sent by God to prepare the people for the First Coming of Jesus (Luke 3:16,17), wondered, along with most of the Jews, whether Jesus was the only Messiah or else He would be followed by another. He sent two men to the Lord to ask, “Are you the one who was to come, or should we expect someone else?” (7:19). Jesus replied, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor” (7:22). His implication was that He was fulfilling the ancient prophecies about both a serving Messiah and a conquering Messiah who had Authority over disease and death. So they should expect no one other than Him to come.
In September, 1991, the Huntington Museum in San Marino, California, released copies of their photographic records of the Dead Sea Scrolls. The scrolls, discovered in caves at Qumran, Jordan, during the years from 1947 to 1953, were written by the Essenes, a faction of Jews having their own communities in the wilderness.
These scrolls were written during a period extending from the last part of the third century B.C. up through more than half of the first century A.D. They were hidden in the caves, near the Dead Sea, around 68 A.D. while the Romans were invading the area. The scrolls include transcriptions of all the books of the Old Testament (excluding Esther), and many of the later scrolls were commentaries on the times (including the period during which Jesus lived in the early first century), equivalent to our newspapers.
On a “Praise the Lord” Show (tape #1202-91), aired on TBN a few months after the release of the scrolls, Christian historian Grant Jeffrey spoke about some of the newly found information. He discussed an article from the Jerusalem Post of November 16, 1991, titled, “Scrolls mention ‘piercing’ of a ‘Messiah.’” The article referred to a scroll which mentioned the execution of a Messiah-like leader of the community, as well as piercing wounds, indicating a crucifixion. As far as I know, no one in history who ever claimed to be the Messiah has been crucified—other than Jesus. Furthermore, the article said that the scroll text used Messiah-related terms such as the “Branch of David” and the “Root of Jesse” (see“Messiah’s lineage” and “Jesus’ lineage”: P-II). It went on to explain how it was said that this person had died for the sins of the people.
Also, there is an excerpt in another scroll equivalent to the following passage written by Paul: “He [God] appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory” (1 Tim. 3:16). There is a fragment in a scroll which is a reference to the episode, described by Mark, of Jesus’ feeding the four thousand (Mark 8:1-9a). And yet another reference named Jesus as the suffering Messiah who was crucified. Remember, these are commentaries of the day (like “newspapers”), not holy writings. These apparently were contemporaries of the writers of the Gospels.
Commenting on these remarkable, heretofore unknown findings in the scrolls, Bible scholar Hal Lindsey said that God essentially kept this confirmation of the Gospels in a “time-warp” until now. He added that, after the surfacing of this evidence, the committee which was formed to decide what Jesus “said and did not say” in the Gospel accounts should disband themselves if they are intellectually honest.
Conservative Christian scholars generally have held that the Gospel accounts in the Bible are true and were, in fact, written by the authors associated with them. On the other hand, many liberal scholars, within the past fifty or so years, have claimed that the Gospel accounts were written at least 150 years after the events they allegedly described concerning Jesus. They have said that the accounts were inaccurately written after many years of being handed down by word of mouth, and that editors created statements that Jesus actually did not say. Many insist that He was not the true Messiah He claimed to be.
However, Michael O. Wise and James D. Tabor have said that Scroll #4Q521—most likely written after 100 B.C., but at least written sometime between 200 B.C. and the destruction of the Jerusalem temple in 70 A.D.—indicates otherwise:
Three striking features of this text are significant: First, it speaks of a single messianic figure who will rule heaven and earth. Second, in the clearest possible language, it describes the resurrection of the dead expected to occur during the time of this Messiah. And third, it contains an exact verbal parallel with the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.
In addition, according to Wise and Tabor, Scroll #4Q246 states,
“He shall be called the Son of God; they will call him Son of the Most High ... He will judge the earth in righteousness ... and every nation will bow down to him ... with [God’s] help he will make war, and ... [God] will give all the peoples into his power.”
<!><!><!><!>Compare this with similar statements made, first of all, by an angel to Mary in Luke’s Gospel account: “You will be with child and give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. ... So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God” (Luke 1:31,32a,35b). King David said, “He will judge the world in righteousness; he will govern the peoples with justice” (Psalm 9:8). David also affirmed, “All kings will bow down to him and all nations will serve him” (72:11); and Paul concurred “...that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth...” (Phil. 2:10). And Zechariah declared, “Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. ... The Lord will be king over the whole earth” (Zech. 14:3,9a).
Flavius Josephus, a Jewish general living at the time of Jesus, has given this account of Jesus:
Now, there was about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works—a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him, for he appeared to them alive again the third day as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.
This testimony, by a Jewish man, clearly indicates that Jesus “...was a doer of wonderful works...” (including miracles), “...was [the] Christ [= Messiah]...,” and “...appeared to [His disciples] alive again the third day [following His death]....” This, along with the information contained in the Dead Sea Scrolls, is just further evidence that Jesus was and is the real and true Messiah predicted to come by the ancient Jewish prophets.
It would seem that, of all the people who would believe that Jesus is the Messiah, it should be the Jewish people. After all, Yeshua (Hebrew for “Jesus”) was Jewish. Also, He satisfied 100% of the Old Testament prophecies about the humble, suffering servant, something no one else in history has done (or will do). However, Jewish people, as a whole, do not acknowledge Jesus as Messiah (although, fortunately, more Jews than ever before have accepted Him in recent years). Most Jewish unbelievers are still looking forward to the initial arrival of their Messiah.
<!><!>Why is this? One reason is because many Jews feel that to accept Jesus is to somehow reject their “Jewishness.” They do not realize that Jesus (who was a Jew) and the early Christians (who were Jews) followed the Hebrew laws (Acts 21:20-24) and kept all of the Hebrew feasts, festivals, and holy days, and that accepting Jesus (Yeshua) as Messiah does not mean one must discard one’s Hebrew ways and customs. Also, many of them do not realize that all books (except possibly two) in the Christian Bible were written by Jews.  (The New Testament books of Luke and Acts were written by Luke, commonly presumed to be a Gentile physician, although I have read compelling evidence indicating that he was Jewish.) Paul (named Saul prior to his miraculous conversion on the road to Damascus—Acts 9:1-19), the Hebrew writer of most of the New Testament epistles, was “...circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee; as for zeal, [initially] persecuting the church; as for legalistic righteousness, faultless” (Phil. 3:5,6).
<!>However, a more important reason for most Jews’ lack of acceptance of Jesus relates to what Moses said to the children of Israel, “With your own eyes you saw those great trials, those miraculous signs and great wonders. But to this day the Lord has not given you a mind that understands or eyes that see or ears that hear” (Deut. 29:3,4). Centuries later, God commanded Isaiah,
Go and tell this people [the Jews]: “Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.” Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed (Isa. 6:9,10).
A natural consequence of this is related by John: “Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him” (John 12:37).
<!><!><!><!><!>But why would God cause most of the children of Israel not to understand nor to believe the truth? I feel it stems from the fact that God hates (and will tolerate only a certain amount of) rebellion and disobedience which, as was shown inC-2, P-III, was prevalent among the Israelites (Jer. 5:20-31) as it is among people everywhere. He sent prophets among them to inform them of the truth and to show them the way; yet they preferred not to hear it (Isa. 30:9-11; Amos 7:12,13; Micah 2:6,7ab). He even disciplined them, but they did not learn from His correction nor take it to heart (Isa. 42:23-25). The fact that God (reluctantly) shuts off the truth from anyone who would rather not hear nor acknowledge it is shown by what God will do to many in the last days who will choose to reject Him and, instead, will accept and be deceived by counterfeit world and religious systems and by a coming great but evil ruler:
They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness (2 Ths. 2:10b-12).
This refers to anyone, Jew or Gentile, who rejects the goodness of God and the saving truth of Yeshua haMashiach (Jesus, the Christ).
<!><!>At the Council of Javne (where the survivors of the Jewish holocaust, by the Romans, fled after 70 A.D.), every reference to a suffering Messiah was stricken from Jewish liturgy. Also, the Septuagint (the Greek version of the Old Testament dating to the third and second centuries B.C.) was condemned by the Jews. They still look to their ancient writings for the truth, not realizing that the ultimate Truth is found in Yeshua, their Messiah, who is the fulfillment of Hebrew Scripture (Isa. 61:1,2a), as claimed by Yeshua/Jesus Himself (Luke 4:18,19,21).
Paul, a great (Hebrew) apostle of Jesus, wrote,
But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ [Messiah] is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord [Yeshua/Jesus], the veil is taken away (2 Cor. 3:14-16).
Happily, more and more Jews, even in Israel, are having their spiritual veils removed and are seeing the Light of Jesus. This conversion will escalate up to the end of the age, when the survivors within the nation, as a whole, will accept the truth:
And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The deliverer [Messiah] will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my [new] covenant with them when I will take away their sins” (Rom. 11:26,27).
Although most Christians are non-Jews, and most Jews are not believers in Yeshua (Jesus), there are many Jews who do accept Yeshua as their Messiah, Lord, and Savior of the world. The few believers I have known personally seem to project the love, peace, and wisdom of Jesus more than most Gentile Christians. Maybe this is because God has given these particular Jews, constituents of the people He initially chose to be His own, special insights into His ways because they have chosen the One He sent, as originally was purposed for Jews to do.
I have seen many Jewish believers (who often refer to themselves as “Messianic Jews”) on television, heard them on radio and in church, and read their books. They not only seem to possess an exceptional discernment of the Word and ways of God but also a zeal for their Lord unparalleled by most other Christians. (I believe that God made Jews to be natural activists for His cause, as the first Jewish disciples and apostles were; unfortunately, many non-believing Jews, as well as many non-believing Gentiles, focus this energy on unworthy causes that do not glorify the Lord.) Just a few “on-fire” Jewish believers are strong-man John Jacobs (Power Team Ministries); attorneys Jay Sekulow and Stuart Ross (A.C.L.J.—American Center for Law and Justice); Rabbis David Chernoff (Congregation Beth Yeshua) and Robert Solomon (Congregation Bethel El); and evangelists and Bible scholars Zola Levitt (Zola Levitt Ministries) and Marvin Rosenthal (Zion’s Hope Ministries), most of whom have appeared on Trinity Broadcasting Network (TBN).
God commanded the Jews to observe certain festivals and holy days each year. One purpose of these special times of celebration and commemoration is to define, demonstrate, explain, and reinforce God and His Plan to the Jews. But, more importantly, the main purpose of all of these festivals/holy days is to confirm and point to major works or displays of the Messiah (or Christ), specifically Jesus. Unfortunately, Jews as a whole (as well as most Gentiles) have failed to see these very clear truths in the festivals/holy days.
<!><!><!><!>In Leviticus 23 are listed four Spring or “former rain” feasts/festivals/holy days:
|Spring Festival/Holy Day||Reference|
|Passover (Pesach)||Lev. 23:5|
|Unleavened Bread||Lev. 23:6-8|
|Weeks (Shavuot)||Lev. 23:15-22|
<!><!>and three Fall or “latter rain” feasts/festivals/holy days:
|Fall Festival/Holy Day||Reference|
|Trumpets (Rosh haShanah)||Lev. 23:23-25|
|Atonement (Yom Kippur)||Lev. 23:26-32|
|Tabernacles (Sukkot)||Lev. 23:33-36|
The Spring and Fall festivals and holy days represent actual events occurring during the respective First and Second Comings of the Messiah.
Biblically, there are two Hebrew calendars. The civil calendar begins in the Fall, with Tishri (or Ethanim) being the first month (commencing in late September or early October and lasting 30 days). The religious calendar begins six months later in the Spring, with Aviv (or Nisan) being the first month (commencing in middle to late March and extending into April, lasting 30 days). So, actually, there are two major Hebrew New Year’s Days each year: Tishri 1 and Aviv 1. All of the Hebrew festivals and holy days are figured on the religious calendar.
The civil calendar is a traditional calendar that is acknowledged by many Jews today. After the Israelites left Egypt, though, God indicated to Moses that the count of the months would begin in the Spring, in the month of Aviv:
The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in Egypt, “This month is to be for you the first month, the first month of your year” (Exodus 12:1,2).Up to that point (as in Genesis 8:4), Aviv was the seventh month. Once God gave His decree to Moses, though, Aviv has been the first month of the religious year; while, for some, Tishri is observed as the first month of the civil or secular year.
Since all of the festivals/holy days point to aspects of the Messiah, then the first four describe things coinciding with His First Coming, while the last three describe events which will happen concurrently with His Second Coming. The next two chapters contain more details pertaining to how the Hebrew festivals and holy days allude to these two comings of Yeshua haMashiach (Jesus the Christ).
Proceed to Chapter 4
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Copyright © 1998– by Ted M. Montgomery, O.D. Most rights reserved.