Hi. My name is Meirav, I’m Jewish and I believe in Jesus. Some say: but that’s an oxymoron! Others say: no big deal, we all worship the same God anyway. I say: it’s a bit more complicated than that…
Who is the God I worship? Is this the same God that my forefathers worshipped? I think it depends how far back you go. I believe the God I worship is the same God that my forefathers Abraham, Isaac and Jacob worshipped. But if you look at more recent generations – I won’t suggest my father as an example as he was an atheist, but his parents were Orthodox Jews, and his grandfather was the head of a Yeshiva – then no, I don’t think we are talking about the same God.
Hang on, Meirav, what are you saying? Are you suggesting that Orthodox Jews today don’t worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob?
Well, yes, I guess that is what I’m saying. You see, I believe in Jesus, the Word of God, who was there right from the beginning. As John tells us, the Word was with God and the Word was God. As I read through the first part of the Bible, the part called the Tanach or the Old Testament, I see the plurality of God all the way through. I see the plurality of the Hebrew word Elohim, I see all those times again and again where someone called the Lord is talking about someone called the Lord in third person, I see the appearances of someone referred to sometimes as The Word of God and sometimes as The Angel of the Lord (the word translated as “angel” being a word meaning messenger) who accepts worship from people but also accepts food from Abraham and sits down to eat with him, I see this divine person who appears to people even though the Bible says no one may see God and live – check out Exodus 33, where we’re told that Moses got to speak with God face to face, but in the same chapter he’s told he can’t see God’s face or he’ll die: there’s obviously more than one person being referred to as God here – one who speaks to Moses face to face and one whose face he can’t see!
This is the God I worship – Elohim, who created the world and all that’s in it, who brought my forefathers out of Egypt, who is a united plurality including the Father who cannot be seen by human beings but also the Word, the one who was to become flesh and dwell among us and die as our atoning sacrifice but back in those pre-incarnation days he used to appear to people and speak to them! He appeared to Abraham and had a meal with him. He spoke to Moses face to face. The Jewish people back then – they knew him.
But then… then came the incarnation, the Word becoming flesh and dwelling among us – Jesus, the promised Messiah, recognised by some Jews but sadly, heartbreakingly, not recognised by the Jewish religious authorities, rejected and handed over to the Romans to be killed. And a few decades later the Temple is destroyed and the religious authorities face a huge crisis: the sacrificial system, instituted by God as a way for us to get atonement for our sins, is suddenly unavailable, so what are we going to do? How can people become ok with God when they sin?
The answer from a Jesus-believer’s point of view is simple: Jesus is our ultimate atoning sacrifice – believe in him and you’ll be fine! The Temple is no longer necessary, the blood of bulls and goats was just a foreshadowing of the blood of the ultimate, once-and-for-all sacrifice. It’s ok that the Temple is gone – it’s now superfluous to requirements.
But since the religious authorities back then had rejected Jesus, they needed to come up with an alternative. They made up a new system to replace the sacrifices God had commanded. They invented what I think of as Judaism 2.0 – based in large part on the original version, but a vital ingredient had been pulled out and a whole load of patches were needed to somehow make it work now. Or at least, to make it seem to maybe work. Because it doesn’t really – when you die and face your Maker, you will then find that you’re standing in front of the true and living God, and he won’t conform to this fake image you’ve been sold. You’ll be standing in front of the real deal, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who is and always has been a united plurality called Elohim, who always has included not just the Father but also the Son (aka the Word) and the Spirit.
Judaism 2.0, the Judaism of today, is based on a definition of God that is not in accordance with Scripture and that our forefathers wouldn’t recognise. It insists on a sole, single deity and insists not only that Jesus isn’t God but that he isn’t even the Messiah. It misinterprets “God is one” to reject his united plurality, and then invents all sorts of convoluted ways of explaining away all those awkward bits like Elohim being a plural word… They’re only awkward if you insist on writing Jesus out of the picture – because he was there right from the beginning.