How firm a foundation?

Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein has published a book entitled, “How Firm a Foundation – A Gift of Jewish Wisdom for Christians and Jews” in which he seeks to explore “potential areas of agreement” between the two communities in an attempt to reconcile Jews and Christians. The book is written as an appeal for Christians to better understand Jews and their beliefs.

There is a perception among many Christians that Jews and Christians share much common ground in that we all profess to believe in Moses and the Prophets. However, Jesus himself made the following indictment about those who profess to believe Moses but reject him: “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote about me. But since you do not believe what he wrote, how are you going to believe what I say?” (Jn. 5:46). He also said, “Everyone who listens to the Father and learns from him comes to me” (Jn. 6:45). Moses and the Prophets spoke of the coming Messiah. Those who reject the Messiah, in truth, reject the very word of God!

When Peter and John were brought before the Sanhedrin to be interrogated in connection with the healing of a man who had been crippled from birth they were asked, “By what power or what name did you do this?” In answer, Peter quoted from Psalm 118:22: “It is by the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. Jesus is ‘the stone you builders rejected, who has become the capstone.’ Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:10-12). The apostle Paul affirmed that Jesus Christ is the very foundation of the faith of Israel. Those who reject him have indeed rejected the Cornerstone and are cut off while they persist in their unbelief (cf. 1 Cor. 3:11 & Rom. 11:19-23). It is naive for Christians to think that without Jesus, Jews have “a firm foundation”.

Rabbi Eckstein writes, “Who are these people, Israel, the Jews? They are God’s witnesses in the world.” Unfortunately, like those who call themselves Jehovah’s witnesses, they bear false witness concerning God’s own testimony. Indeed, ever since the coming of Jesus, the Jewish leaders have systematically tried to suppress and destroy the very testimony of God Himself who raised Jesus from the dead. The scriptures themselves bear witness to this. The chief priests tried to kill Lazarus because he was a living testimony of Jesus’ authority: “…a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him” (John 12:9-11). The Jewish leaders also bribed the guards who had been posted at the tomb to give false testimony in order to suppress the truth about the resurrection of Jesus! The Rabbinical Judaism of the last two thousand years is a rebel movement that rejects the testimony of God! They are certainly not God’s witnesses: “Anyone who believes in the Son of God has this testimony in his heart. Anyone who does not believe God has made him out to be a liar, because he has not believed the testimony God has given about his Son. And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 Jn. 5:10).

Rabbinical Judaism is predicated upon the rejection of Jesus the Messiah. In their efforts to preserve their own position and authority, which was threatened by the followers of Jesus of Nazareth, the Rabbis have deliberately suppressed ancient sources that would support the belief that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, reinterpreting many of the prophecies that were previously regarded as Messianic. Yet Eckstein writes concerning the Jews: “They are a people who not only pray, dream, and yearn for Messiah and the world’s salvation, but also insist on actively preparing the world for his coming by alleviating human suffering in the here and now; they are a people who thirst for peace but who have had to engage in war to survive.”

Unfortunately, while they oppose God’s anointed one (Messiah), they are preparing the people for deception, wrath and judgment! “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 Th. 2:10-12).

Scripture declares that those who suppress the truth are in fact incurring the wrath of God upon themselves: “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness” (Rom 1:18).

Eckstein says they thirst for peace, yet they spurn the very Prince of Peace. Jesus said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink” (Jn. 7:37).

The apostle Paul endured immense hardship and persecution from his own countrymen to spread the good news of the Messiah. He referred to this in his letter to the Thessalonians: “You suffered from your own countrymen the same things those churches suffered from the Jews, who killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets and also drove us out. They displease God and are hostile to all men in their effort to keep us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved. In this way they always heap up their sins to the limit. The wrath of God has come upon them at last” (1 Th. 2:14-16).

Despite the efforts of those who try to suppress the truth, the gospel has reached every nation and has been translated into every language so that all peoples, nations and men of every language now worship the Anointed Saviour who is the only true God of Israel (cf. Daniel 7:13-14).

The writer to the Hebrews said that Jesus the Messiah “will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him” (Heb. 9:28). There is only one way to prepare the world for the second coming of Jesus and that is to proclaim the truth – “Salvation is found in no-one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)