Q. Thank you so much for all of your hard work and study for this site. I check in to see what is new all of the time and have really enjoyed it.
I ran across this article and see the Jewish blindness to Jesus as Messiah. Can you tell me how they arrive at this explanation of the passages sited in Ezekiel?
A. I’m familiar with the teachings of this Rabbi. You should know that he’s made it his life’s work to try and reverse the gains that organizations like Jews for Jesus have made in opening Jewish eyes to their Messiah. Many years ago he began lamenting the fact that these Messianic Missionaries knew more about the Old Testament than most Jews, a sad fact that has resulted, according to him, in the conversion of more Jews in the 20th century than in all the 19 centuries preceding. And so he has set about teaching Jews how to respond to Messianic evangelism with deflective answers meant to put missionaries on the defensive.
For example, on the website you referred me to, he says that Jews didn’t accept Jesus as their Messiah because He failed to fulfill any of the primary Old Testament prophecies, and then he listed those he claims are primary to Jews. Since they all relate to the 2nd Coming, he’s technically correct, but in the process he’s ignored over 300 prophecies from the first coming including Isaiah 53, the one chapter responsible for more conversions than all the rest of the Bible combined. In so doing, he can re-direct the discussion to where the Bible promises 2 comings, something that can only be inferred. This tactic is meant to take control of the discussion by putting missionaries on the defensive.
And regarding Ezekiel 18 he’s also technically correct. Not even the most righteous of men is qualified to atone for the sins of another, and the Bible does forbid human sacrifice. But his logic is flawed in the same way as the Pharisees of the Lord’s time. Contrary to their view and his, Jesus is not just a righteous man, but is God in human form, and nowhere does the Bible forbid the God of the Universe giving His life as a sacrifice for sin. Once again, this is intended to re-direct the discussion. Where in the Old Testament does it clearly say that the Messiah is God? The Jewish view of Messiah as merely a righteous man, by the way, is a weak spot in their position. If He’s just a righteous man, how does he manage to live through the entire Kingdom age?
His claim that Ezekiel 18:20-23 teaches that repentance is all that’s required for forgiveness is also true in the earthly sense. Jews who repented of their sins within in the alotted time before Yom Kippur each year received forgiveness and their names were written in the Book of Life for another year. Since most Jews don’t believe in a literal resurrection, I don’t know how he addresses eternal life.
But the context of Ezekiel 18 is God’s rebuttal to the Jewish accusation in 600BC that they were being made to pay for their fathers’ sins. In effect God said that both judgment and forgiveness were personal. Sinners die for their own sins, not the sins of their ancestors, and those who repent are forgiven. The Israelites refused to repent of their idolatry and were judged, not for their fathers’ sins but their own. Even as the Babylonians were breaking down the gates of Jerusalem, God had Jeremiah offer King Zedekiah one last chance to surrender, promising to spare the city, the Temple, and the people including his own family if he did. Zedekiah refused. (Jeremiah 38:17-28)
The Lord calls the unbelief of learned men like this Rabbi disobedience, taking the view that He has made His presence too clear to be disputed. I wouldn’t want to be in this man’s shoes. He needs our prayers.