This post is written by a member of the Messianic community in Israel or guest contributor. The opinions and views expressed are solely those of the author and may not necessarily reflect those of Kehila News Israel.

The real truth about why Jews reject the Messiah

How Judaism radically changed throughout the centuries and why

Have you always wondered why modern Jews do not accept Yeshua (Jesus) as the Jewish Messiah? You are not alone. In order to understand their virulent rejection, though, you would have to understand the major shift which took place centuries ago which completely and totally redefined Judaism.

From a visual perspective, it didn’t help that Yeshua was artistically portrayed, as early as 300 A.D., in ways which obscured any Jewish reference to him culturally or racially. Most artists have depicted a blonde, blue-eyed individual hanging on a Roman cross with a golden halo streaming from above him. Other paintings show his mother, looking like a nun or a saint, holding this baby in her arms – both also seen with gleaming halos. Not only is there nothing particularly Jewish about those renderings, but they remove any Semitic profile which might connect both the Messiah and His mother to the Jewish people as one of them.

Historically, his original Hebrew name was changed from Yeshua to Jesus, the faith was deliberately repackaged from being Jewish to taking on a more Greek flavor, including use of the highly charged word “Christ” instead of Messiah – a word which for millennia has been associated with Jewish persecution and even death (Jews have been called Christ-killers for centuries). The adherents to this new religion labeled themselves “Christians.” Today, that religion still speaks to them of antagonistic sentiments towards Jews, a polarizing societal clique of them vs. us and an awareness of the need to keeping one’s distance from those who would seek to rob them of their heritage, identification and unique peoplehood.

What is, perhaps, the most powerful component behind all of this, but not realized by the Jewish community at large, are the spiritual powers at work to obscure the true identity of the Jewish Messiah so that God’s chosen people could not recognize Him as their Promised Messiah. Imagine if they had all embraced Him – it would’ve brought world redemption that much sooner. So this is why there has been a concerted effort by Satan who has done all he could to obscure the true identity of Yeshua of Nazareth who was foretold in the Jewish scriptures as the Son of David and the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.

He used individuals such as Constantine, the Roman emperor in the 3rd century who conquered Pagan Rome and sought to create a new religion and an empire. The Jewish Messiah was appropriated for Rome via identity theft. Pagan holidays were incorporated into this new religion so that it would attract the masses – part of those were Christmas and Easter which became associated with this new religion called Christianity – using the Greek rendering of the name in order to further strip it of its Hebrew character. Christmas played right into it, because it was believed to have been the birth date of the Greek god Mithras, also born of a virgin, died and resurrected, but it was totally a pagan belief. Sabbath changed to Sunday by the Christian world – because that was the day the believers met (first day of the week) to commemorate the Lord’s supper – Acts 20:7.

It was during these first centuries that Jews rejected Christianity as relevant to them, because they didn’t see it as anything coming from Judaism. Since the Jews had been waiting for a conqueror, deliverer and political figure who would bring peace and end Roman domination, they saw the crucifixion of Yeshua as not fulfilling that role but rather as the death of yet another false Messiah who would not bring about their redemption. They just didn’t understand that, first and foremost, the Messiah would bring personal peace to the individual heart through His sacrifice – taking our punishment (Isaiah 53).

Further alienation resulted from the destruction of the Second Temple, causing the Jews to disperse throughout the rest of the world. Consequently, a great fear grew on the part of Jews that they would assimilate, not only into the other cultures but also into adopting the other religions. With the destruction of the Jerusalem temple, there could no longer be animal sacrifices, and so a whole new system had to be put into place.

It was during the famous Revolt of Bar Kochba when the Jews of the Roman province of Judea in 132-136 BCE rebelled from religious and political tensions. Much to their disappointment, though, Bar Kochba was defeated but still regarded by many Jews as the Messiah and someone who would restore their national independence. They still had no clue about the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53.

The power of Rome was so great that any idea of rebuilding the temple was nothing more than a pipe dream. The time had come when Plan B had to be constructed, and that involved Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakkai and the sages who were terribly concerned for the survival of Judaism. As a result, they gathered at Yavneh, a town to the west of Jerusalem to become the new centre of Jewish religious life.

Their goal was how to devise a framework within which the religious identity of the Jews could be preserved without the Temple and sacrificial cult. The result was the birth of Rabbinic Judaism. Rabbinic views relied upon an Oral Law alongside the Written Law. Simply stated, the written law was expressed in Exodus 31:8 which said, “When He had finished speaking with him on Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the Testimony, tablets of stone, written with the finger of God.”

In contrast to this, the Oral Law was set up by the religious authorities of the day. It comprised a written compilation of teachings, commentaries, laws and interpretations all written by revered rabbis, scholars and sages. These new words were found in the Talmud, a set of teachings and commentaries on the Torah that were claimed to form the basis for Jewish law, along with the Mishnah (a code of Jewish religious law called “Halakha” which is a collection of existing oral laws, traditions and traditional wisdom) and the Gemara (component of the Talmud, comprising rabbinical analysis of and commentary on the Mishnah), all containing the opinions of thousands of rabbis from different periods in Jewish history. Finally, there was the Midrash (rabbinic literature which contains early interpretations and commentaries on the Written Torah and Oral Torah) in the 4th century.

This was a major shift in the political and religious life of the Jewish people. Judaism literally was redefined: Instead of the scriptures, authority would come from the word of rabbis, scholars and sages.

Wikipedia defines Rabbinic Judaism as having been the mainstream for Judaism which gained predominance within the Jewish diaspora between the 2nd to 6th centuries, with the development of the Oral Law and the Talmud to control the interpretation of Jewish scripture and to encourage the practice of Judaism in the absence of Temple sacrifice and other practices no longer possible, while waiting for the Third Temple. Rabbinic Jewish literature is predicated on the belief that the Written Law (the Bible) cannot be properly understood without recourse to the Oral Law.

The rabbis also did NOT accept that the Bible was divinely inspired. They saw it as having been authored by humans. But all these commentaries differed. One example is found in the well-known two sages: Shamai vs. Hillel

There are 315 recorded differences between Hillel and Shammai in the Talmud. Here are a few:

  • Torah Study: Shammai: Only worthy students should be admitted to study Torah. Hillel: Anyone can study it.
  • White lies: Whether one should tell an ugly bride that she is beautiful. Shammai said it was wrong to lie, and Hillel said that all brides are beautiful on their wedding day.
  • Divorce: Shammai held that a man may only divorce his wife for a serious transgression. Hillel allowed divorce for even trivial offenses.
  • HanukkahShammai held that on the first night eight lights should be lit, and then they should decrease on each successive night, ending with one on the last night; Hillel: one should start with one light and increase the number on each night, ending with eight.

Things like this began to cause factions between Jews and they were the cause of many splits. Why? Because since the word of rabbis lacked the same Spirit-breathed inspiration contained in the Word of God, the human opinion was then subject to argument. This was in direct contrast to 2 Timothy 3:16 which said, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. (New Living Translation)

Yet, in Deuteronomy 4:2, there is a stern warning that we are not to add to what God commanded us nor to subtract from it, but rather to keep the commands which God gave to us.

Once that was disregarded, it gave way for yet more counterfeits to be birthed. In the 1800’s, the Chasidic movement came into the fore. It was defined as a spiritual revival movement that started in the Western Ukraine during the 18th century, and spread rapidly throughout Eastern Europe. Israel Ben Eliezer, the “Baal Shem Tov” is regarded as its founding father. It became known for religious conservatism and social seclusion. Outwardly, it took on its own distinct “look,” with Eastern European garments and its own language of Yiddish.

Its spiritual source was the Kabbalah – a set of esoteric teachings forming the foundations of mystical religious interpretation. The Kabbalah sought to define the nature of the universe and the human being, the nature and purpose of existence, and various other philosophical questions.

Teachings were believed to define the inner meaning of both the Hebrew Bible and traditional Rabbinic literature and their concealed dimension, as well as to explain the significance of Jewish religious observances.

This gave rise to independent sects known as “courts” or dynasties, each headed by its own hereditary leader, a Rebbe. Reverence and submission to the Rebbe became key tenets, as he was considered a spiritual authority with whom the follower must bond to gain closeness to God. To become a Rebbe, it entails birth into a specific community and allegiance to a dynasty of Rebbes.  

A great part of the identity of these Chasidic Jews is tied up in their outer appearance. As mentioned previously, Jews adopted distinctive dress voluntarily, to separate themselves from the prevailing culture. The Jews of Eastern Europe came to adopt fashions of the early modern Polish nobility, such as the black robe (caftan) and the fur hat (shtreimel), which are still worn by various groups of ultra-Orthodox Jews. Some attribute the yarmulke, skullcap to the Jews’ need or desire to differentiate themselves from Christians, for whom removal of the hat was a sign of respect. Equally, married women covered their heads so as not to draw the attention of other men.

It’s important to note that there were other contributing factors as to why Yeshua is so vehemently rejected. The centuries of Jewish persecution by the church and by nations went a long way in causing Jews to be fearful, isolated and distrustful of the very people who tried to convince them that their Christian faith was not only the truth faith but one which must be adopted by them also. Many were given the choice of conversion, expulsion or even death. These events in history included much more than the Inquisition of the Middle-Ages and the Holocaust. Here is a list of expulsions since the third century.

109 Locations from where Jews have been expelled since AD 250

                      YEAR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .PLACE

                        250 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Carthage

                        415 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Alexandria

                        554 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Diocèse of Clermont (France)

                        561 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Diocèse of Uzès (France)

                        612 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Visigoth Spain

                        642 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Visigoth Empire

                        855 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Italy

                        876 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Sens

                       1012 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Mainz

                       1182 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – France

                       1182 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Germany

                       1276 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Upper Bavaria

                       1290 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – England

                       1306 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – France

                       1322 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – France (again)

                       1348 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Switzerland

                       1349 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Hielbronn (Germany)

                       1349 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Saxony

                       1349 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Hungary

                       1360 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Hungary

                       1370 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Belgium

                       1380 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Slovakia

                       1388 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Strasbourg

                       1394 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Germany

                       1394 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – France

                       1420 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Lyons

                       1421 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Austria

                       1424 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Fribourg

                       1424 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Zurich

                       1424 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Cologne

                       1432 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Savoy

                       1438 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Mainz

                       1439 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Augsburg

                       1442 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Netherlands

                       1444 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Netherlands

                       1446 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Bavaria

                       1453 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – France

                       1453 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Breslau

                       1454 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Wurzburg

                       1462 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Mainz

                       1483 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Mainz

                       1484 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Warsaw

                       1485 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Vincenza (Italy)

                       1492 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Spain

                       1492 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Italy

                       1495 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Lithuania

                       1496 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Naples

                       1496 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Portugal

                       1498 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Nuremberg

                       1498 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Navarre

                       1510 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Brandenberg

                       1510 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Prussia

                       1514 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Strasbourg

                       1515 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Genoa

                       1519 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Regensburg

                       1533 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Naples

                       1541 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Naples

                       1542 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Prague & Bohemia

                       1550 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Genoa

                       1551 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Bavaria

                       1555 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Pesaro

                       1557 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Prague

                       1559 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Austria

                       1561 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Prague

                       1567 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Wurzburg

                       1569 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Papal States

                       1571 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Brandenburg

                       1582 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Netherlands

                       1582 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Hungary

                       1593 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Brandenburg, Austria

                       1597 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Cremona, Pavia & Lodi

                       1614 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Frankfort

                       1615 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Worms

                       1619 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Kiev

                       1648 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Ukraine

                       1648 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Poland

                       1649 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Hamburg

                       1654 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Little Russia (Beylorus)

                       1656 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Lithuania

                       1669 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Oran (North Africa)

                       1669 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Vienna

                       1670 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Vienna

                       1712 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Sandomir

                       1727 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Russia

                       1738 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Wurtemburg

                       1740 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Little Russia (Beylorus)

                       1744 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Prague, Bohemia

                       1744 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Slovakia

                       1744 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Livonia

                       1745 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Moravia

                       1753 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Kovad (Lithuania)

                       1761 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Bordeaux

                       1772 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Deported to the Pale of Settlement (Poland/Russia)

                       1775 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Warsaw

                       1789 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Alsace

                       1804 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Villages in Russia

                       1808 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Villages & Countrysides (Russia)

                       1815 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Lubeck & Bremen

                       1815 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Franconia, Swabia & Bavaria

                       1820 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Bremen

                       1843 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Russian Border Austria & Prussia

                       1862 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Areas in the U.S. under General Grant’s Jurisdiction

                       1866 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Galatz, Romania

                       1880s – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Russia

                       1891 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Moscow

                       1919 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Bavaria (foreign born Jews)

                       1938-45 – – – – – – – – – – – – – –  Nazi Controlled Areas

                       1948 — – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – Arab Countries

Most Jews today do not know how Judaism changed and evolved over the last 2,000 years.

Yet, there is a picture of the Messiah which is accurate and the one that the Jews need to see?

  1. His given name – Yeshua (Hebrew for “Salvation”)
  2. His lineage – The Tribe of Judah Matthew 1:1–6 and Luke 3:31–34 described as a member of the tribe of Judah by lineage. Revelation 5:5 Lion of the tribe of JudahGenesis 49:10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people. (Meaning of Shiloh: the one to whom it belongs) – Messiah would come from Judah.
  3. His culture and background – Grew up in Israel, celebrated the feasts, went into the synagogues to teach, lived as an observant Jew who followed the laws in the scriptures.
  4. Understanding the Messianic Prophecies in the Old Testament
  • Suffering Servant:  Isaiah 53,
  • His birth – born of a virgin – Isaiah 7:14
  • Bethlehem, Micah 5:2
  • Isaiah 9:6 Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace
  1. Understanding that if there is no temple and no sacrifice, that God made a way back to Him before the destruction of the temple.

The destruction of the temple came as no surprise to God, and if God knew it would happen, thereby leaving mankind without the possibility to shed the blood of animals to make atonement for sins, he would have to set up His plan which would account for a new way back to Him.

Today’s Jews have forgotten the concept of blood sacrifice as relayed in Leviticus 17:11 – For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul.

Without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins, and no path to eternal life. So the final atonement would have to have been made before the destruction of the temple, otherwise mankind is hopeless with no way of being reconciled to God since there is no proper venue in which to obey the directive of God concerning forgiveness of sins.

Today, the government of Israel only accepts Rabbinic Judaism as the sole legitimate expression of the faith of Jews. To believe exclusively in the scriptures, as a Jew, will not get you citizenship into the land. In fact, you are required to bring a letter from a recognized rabbi stating that you adhere to the tenets and teachings of Rabbinic Judaism.

The government knows that there are thousands of Messianic Jews in the land but they can’t do anything about the ones already there, so they try to prevent new ones from coming in. However, it requires either taking great pains to hide and obscure faith in Yeshua as Messiah or being willing to fight in court for your rights as a Jew regardless of your religious beliefs.

The challenge to the non-Jewish body of believers is, first and foremost, to understand where their salvation came from as well as the roots of their faith. Salvation was first offered only to the Jewish people as seen by the response of the Samaritan woman at the well in John 4:22 who rightly said, “salvation is of the Jews.”

However, when the Jews rejected Yeshua as the Jewish Messiah, the offer was made to the gentiles – Romans 11:11- “Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.”

Does it then mean that biblical Judaism evolved into a new faith called Christianity which now must be adopted by Jews? Not at all. In fact, salvation is a gift which was extended to those who were not born Jewish, but there is a warning for them not to forget how they got in on this good thing. Romans 11:17 states: “You, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not consider yourself to be superior to those other branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.”

In the last few years, some gentile believers and churches have tried to be more authentic in returning the faith to its roots. That has included the celebration of biblical feasts (Passover – which is a perpetual feast or Succoth – the Feast of Tabernacles which must be celebrated in the end of days according to Zechariah 14).

Some groups have changed their meeting day to Saturday instead of Sunday, going back to the origin of the biblical Sabbath day as instituted in the Ten Commandments. Others have made a decision to no longer observe the pagan holidays which were incorporated into Christianity – such as Christmas and Easter even though today’s observance of them have more to do with the birth and resurrection of the Messiah as opposed to the original pagan worship of false gods.

These are personal decisions, but Jews cannot be expected to adopt a foreign religion with foreign practices that they see as not belonging to them.

So what is true biblical Judaism and who are Jews called to be? Per Jeremiah 31:33, they are called to be those whose hearts will have the laws written on them – meaning that the knowledge of the Lord will be so ingrained in them that it will permeate all they do and say. It is only then that God will acknowledge them as His own. “I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

The new heart and new spirit which will be given to them as stated in Ezekiel 36:26, 27: will change them internally, giving them a “heart of flesh.” This special sensitivity will allow them to keep God’s laws from a motive of love rather than obligation. “And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”

They will still remain a discernable and distinguishable people, because their lives will bear witness to a living faith. We see that in Zechariah 8:23 which says: ‘In those days ten men from all the nations will grasp the garment of a Jew, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” It will no longer be their Rabbinical Jewish garments which will differentiate them from the nations but rather the obvious anointing which accompanies them wherever they go. That is the life intended by God for the Jewish nation and one which will impact the entire world.

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