22. What is an effective way to witness to a Jewish person?
There are many answers to this question, but, of the many techniques that are used to help Jewish people understand that Jesus is the Messiah, Messianic prophecy has to rank near the top.
When a Jewish person is open enough for someone to take them through the Old Testament prophesies and show them how they were fulfilled in the New Testament, it often has a great impact on them. It helps them see the close relationship that the Old Testament has with the New. Most Jewish people don’t realize how Jewish the New Testament is. They are told to simply reject it. But after they see how many Old Testament verses are fulfilled and directly quoted in the New Testament, it becomes difficult to simply throw it away.
Messianic prophecy establishes a good case for the authenticity of Scripture and the character of God. Anyone can make predictions, that’s easy. Having them fulfilled is another story entirely. If the prophecies are truly fulfilled, then the Bible has given information about the future that could only have come from God.
John Ankerberg, in his book entitled, The Case For Jesus The Messiah, explains why God gave Messianic prophesies. Mr. Ankerberg says, “God gave a great number of prophecies about the Messiah for at least two reasons. First, it would make identifying the Messiah obvious. And second, it would make an impostor’s task impossible.” If you think about those two reasons they make great sense.
Suppose you were going to meet someone you never met in person and you had no idea what they looked like. It would be necessary for each of you to give some sort of description of yourself to one another. Otherwise, how would you be able to identify your party? This is what God has done for us, via Messianic prophecy.
Josh McDowell, in his book, More Than A Carpenter, likens Messianic prophecy to an address. He says, “God wrote an “address” in history to single out His Son, the Messiah, the Savior of mankind, from anyone who has ever lived in history-past, present, and future. Certainly God was writing an “address” in history that only the Messiah could fulfill. There have been approximately forty major claims by men to be the Jewish Messiah. But only one-Jesus Christ-appealed to fulfilled prophecy to substantiate His claims, and only His credentials back up those claims.” God desires us to know who the Messiah is. That’s why He gave us His “address.”
As we look at some of these amazing prophecies, our hope is that you will find it personally helpful and useful in helping unsaved people see that Jesus is the Messiah.
MESSIAH WAS TO BE BORN IN BETHLEHEM
Micah 5:2 – “But as for you Bethlehem Ephrathah, Too little to be among the clans of Judah, From you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago.”
Note that the prophecy is specific. It identifies Bethlehem as “Ephrathah” which is the older name for Bethlehem – Gen. 35:19; Ruth 1:2; 4:11 – which distinguishes this Bethlehem from other towns named Bethlehem such as the one in Zebulun – Josh. 19:15.
The term “Ephrathah” also identifies Bethlehem as the town in which David was born – I Sam. 17:12. This helps to establish the connection between the Messiah and King David’s throne.
About seven hundred years later, Messiah Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Matthew 2:1-6 gives the fulfillment of this prophecy. To note something very interesting, look at vs. 4 and 5. Note that the Jews even recognized this as a Messianic prophecy. The common Jewish belief at the time of Christ was that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.
MESSIAH WAS TO BE BORN OF A VIRGIN
Isa. 7:14 – “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.”
For centuries, this verse has been debated. The discussion revolves around the word “virgin.” Does it mean “young woman” or “virgin”? Here are two things to consider. First, what kind of sign would it be for a young woman to have a child? This obviously happened all the time. Second, when the translators of the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the O.T. translated by 70 Jewish scholars) came to Isa. 7:14, they rendered the Hebrew word almah into the Greek text by the Greek word parthenos , the meaning of which cannot be denied. It means “virgin.”
The fulfillment of this prophecy is found in Matt. 1:18 – 25. In these verses we see a number of details that revolve around Christ’s birth. Joseph, being one of the prominent characters in this section is mentioned five times. In order to help Joseph understand what was taking place with Mary, an angel of the Lord appeared to him to explain the legitimacy of her being pregnant. According to the text, all of this took place in order to fulfill the O.T. prophecy (given over 700 year earlier) of Christ’s virgin birth. To close, please notice that until Jesus was born, Mary was kept a virgin. There’s no denying it, this is unique.
MESSIAH WOULD BE PRECEDED BY A FORERUNNER
Malachi 3:1 – “Behold, I am going to send My messenger, and he will clear the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight, behold, He is coming says the Lord of hosts.”
Isa. 40:3 – “A voice is calling, “Clear the way for the LORD in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.”
These two prophecies speak of John the Baptist, the forerunner for Jesus Christ. The fact that God sent a forerunner was His way of preparing the people for the Messiah.
In Matthew and Luke, the prophecy in Malachi is quoted. As Jesus was teaching the multitudes, John the Baptist, (who was in prison) sent two of his disciples to Jesus to inquire of Him as to His being the “Expected One.” With the multitudes around, Jesus began to speak to them about the ministry of John. In the process, Jesus asked them many questions. In Matt. 11:10 and Luke. 7:27, Jesus quoted Malachi 3:1 and specifically said that John the Baptist was the one who fulfilled these verses as the forerunner for the coming Lord.
In Mark 1:2-3 he quotes the prophecy that’s found in Isa. 40:3 while also alluding to the one in Malachi. In all three Gospels, John is seen as the one who fulfills these prophecies. This is quite amazing considering the fact that the book of Malachi was written about 350 years before Christ, and Isaiah was written about 700 years before Christ.
HIS ENTRY INTO JERUSALEM
Zech.9:9 – “…Behold your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
Note the specific details that are given concerning the donkey. We find the fulfillment of this prophecy in Matt. 21:1-11.
Jesus came to the Mount of Olives and sent out two of His disciples. He told them that they would find a donkey and a colt. They were to untie them and bring them back to Him. If they were questioned, they were to say, “The Lord has need of them.” The text goes on to say that all of this took place as a fulfillment of what the prophet had spoken and Zech. 9:9 is quoted.
Why did Jesus need the donkeys? He used them for His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. As He approached the city, people were crying out Hosannas, quoting some verses that are found in Psalm 118:25-26.
NONE OF HIS BONES WOULD BE BROKEN
Psalm 34:20 – “He keeps all His bones; Not one of them is broken.”
I believe what Matthew Henry said about this verse aptly describes what many people feel when they read this Psalm. “One would not expect to meet with anything of Christ here, and yet this scripture is said to be fulfilled in Him.”
In John 19:31-36 we find the fulfillment. The context is the crucifixion of Jesus the Messiah. The Jewish people being concerned about breaking the Sabbath asked that the legs of the three men could be broken. This would speed up their death and make it possible for them to be quickly taken down from their crosses. John tells us that the soldiers broke the legs of the two thieves, but when they came to Jesus, “they saw that He was already dead.” As a result of His already being dead, they didn’t have to break His legs. Is this a coincidence? Not hardly. John 19:36 plainly says that these things came to pass so that he Scripture in Psalm 34:20 might be fulfilled. The text also says that the soldiers thrust a spear in His side and when they did that, water and blood flowed out. This too is a direct fulfillment of an Old Testament prophecy.
MESSIAH WOULD BE HIT AND SPIT UPON
Isa. 50:6 – “I gave My back to those who strike Me, and My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard: I did not cover my face from humiliation and spitting.”
Again, if you think about what this prophecy is saying, you can see that it deals with small details. Nevertheless, they are very important. The more the details given, the easier it would be to identify the Messiah.
We find the fulfillment for this in Matthew 26:67. The context concerns the time when Jesus the Messiah was before Caiaphas, the high priest. False testimonies and false witnesses were sought against Jesus so the chief priests and Council might be able to put Him to death. None could be found, so they accused Him of blasphemy. The verdict is mentioned in verse 66, “He is deserving of death!” After they said that, then they began to spit in His face and beat Him with their fists.
Some would say that He staged everything so as to fulfill each of these prophecies. Sorry. These are God’s identification marks, to help us clearly identify the true Messiah.
THE ROMAN AND JERUSALEM ROAD
For many of us the “Romans Road” is a beautiful thing. It’s possible that because somebody took the time to explain it to you, you know the Lord Jesus personally. As precious as it may be to us, most Jewish people are not open to it. What then are we to do? Are we limited in our ability to witness to the Jewish community? What do we give them, if we can’t use the “Romans Road?
There’s no need to get discouraged. We simply give then the “Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ecclesiastes, Psalms Road or as some call it, the Jerusalem Road”. I think you get the point. The gospel is found in the Old Testament and we can use that. Where can we begin?
ALL HAVE SINNED
Rom. 3:23 – “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”
What’s the Old Testament counterpart to this truth?
1. Eccl. 7:20- “Indeed, there is not a righteous man on the earth who continually does good and who never sins.
2. Ps. 14:3- “They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt; There is no one who does good, not even one.
3. Isa. 53:6- “All of us like sheep gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way…”
4. Isa. 64:6- “For all of us have become like one who is unclean, And all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment…”
Even though most Jewish people will admit they have sinned, it seems that few really understand the true consequences of sin.
Rom. 6:23- “For the wages of sin is death…”
What does the Old Testament have to say about this?
1. Isa. 59:2- “But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you, so He does not hear.
2. Ezek. 18:20- “The person who sins will die…”
There are definite consequences to sin because God is a Holy God. He doesn’t simply ignore the iniquities of people as though they never happened.
The teaching in the Old Testament is clear, all have sinned and there are definite penalties because of it. In next quarters letter we’ll take up the fact that God sent His Son to make payment for our sins. We’ll also show that one must believe in the Son for the forgiveness of those sins.
GOD SENT HIS SON
Rom. 5:10 – “For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” This brings up a very important issue. Does the O.T. have anything to say about the Son? Most Jewish people don’t think so.
1. Psalm 2:7- “I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, Thou art My Son, Today have I begotten Thee.”
2. Psalm 2:12- “Do homage to the Son, lest He become angry, and you perish in the way…”
3. Isa. 9:6- “For unto us a child is born, a Son will be given to us; and the government will rest upon His shoulders…”
4. Pro. 30:4- “Who has ascended into heaven and descended? Who has gathered the wind in his fists? Who has wrapped the waters in His garments? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name…”
When I am witnessing, I stop here and ask, “Who is this referring to?” The only answer I’ve ever received is “God”. I then go on and show them the rest of the verse. “…or His son’s name? Surely you know?”
Surprise is often the result once they see these verses. Most Jewish people wouldn’t think for one minute that the O.T. says so much about the Son.
NECESSITY OF THE BLOOD
Rom. 5:9- “Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him.”
What does the Old Testament have to say about this?
1. Lev. 17:11- “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make an atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement.”
The Old Testament is clear that it was necessary for blood to be shed if there was going to be forgiveness.
A question I often bring up to Jewish people is, “Where is your blood sacrifice today?” Obviously there isn’t one. So what do they do? They usually say they do “good deeds.” After explaining to them that good deeds are not sufficient, sometimes they will ask me, “Where’s your blood?” I’m glad they asked. I answer in one word, Jesus.
I now want to direct our attention to perhaps the most powerful portion we have. It has been called, “The Fifth Gospel.” It’s quoted in the first six books of the N.T. as well as in other books. We have specific examples in the N.T. of how it was used to lead people to a saving knowledge of the Messiah. You probably already know that I’m referring to Isa. 53. This is a wonderful passage and has been used to point Jewish people to the Messiah down through the years. The key to this passage is using it. Sometimes when something becomes so familiar to us, we think everybody must know about it, and we fail to use it. That’s kind of like John 3:16. But sad to say, most Jewish people are not aware of Isa. 53. One reason is because it’s not read in the Synagogues. Here’s one way that I like to use this passage. I’ll tell the person that I am talking to that I’m going to read them a portion from the Bible. I don’t let them know if it’s the Old or New Testament. I read the first seven verses of Isa. 53 and then I ask them, “Who do you think this is referring to?” Every time, the answer has been “Jesus.” I agree with them wholeheartedly. I then ask them, “Where do you think I was reading from, the Old or New Testament?” Almost every response has been, “In the New Testament.” I show them that I was reading from Isa. 53 in the Old Testament. I also inform them that Isaiah wrote over 700 years before the Messiah was born. In many cases they are truly surprised. This is just one of the many ways this portion can be utilized. Again, the key to this passage is to use it!!!!!