Yesterday was the “Day of Prayer for the Salvation of the Jewish.” Did you feel the prayers of Christians and churches? I hope so! Tzedakah Ministries hopes that many hundreds (perhaps thousands) came from every corner of the world to pray and gather together to truly pray Psalm 122:6 – “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee.” For true peace (Shalom — wholeness, completeness) comes only through a personal relationship with Messiah Jesus.
Don’t be fooled, there are many organizations that seek to provide a temporary peace through food kitchens and homeless shelters in Israel; however, the only peace and hope that matters is whether one has received Jesus as their personal Messiah and LORD. This is the only focus of Tzedakah Ministries and there is still time to sign up to be a part of the Day of Prayer 2016 (here).
Every year, Tzedakah Ministries seeks to prepare the minds and hearts of the Prayer Warriors by publishing a series of devotional thoughts in advance of the event along with the day of and the day after the Day of Prayer for the Salvation of the Jewish People. The previous days devotional thoughts are available on this blog along with today’s. By the way, there is no set end date to praying for the salvation of the Jewish people and the truth of Romans 1:16! Keep praying!
EXPLORE MESSIAH … Prophecies
Many who have been reading this blog every day this week have probably been wondering when Tzedakah Ministries would get to the question of … prophecies. For many jump immediately to the issue of prophecies but I have waited until today to discuss them. Are you wondering why? No worries … I will tell you.
It is because for many Jewish people the issues of the Incarnation, the question of the existence of Jesus, the problem of Christianity, the burden of the Holocaust, the perceived differences between the Old and New Testament and the self-identity of being Jewish take much greater priority than the issue of the fulfillment of prophecies. Why? According to the Pew Research Group, only 11% of Jewish people believe the Torah/Tanakh/Hebrew Scriptures is the literal Word of God!
Therefore … we often have to jump through a lot of hoops of relationship building and obstacles before we can even get to the concept and reality that Jesus fulfilled the prophecies concerning His First Coming and will fulfill the prophecies of His Second Coming. Additionally, I don’t think we should inundate a Jewish person or any person in fact with the supposed 300+ prophecies related to Jesus. I think that perhaps focusing on 5 to 7 Messianic prophecies is actually a good place to start. And with this blog post, I will focus on simply three – Daniel 9:24-27; Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53. Use them as you will but use them!
Of all the Messianic prophecies, Daniel 9:24-27 (esp. v. 25-26) is one of the most complicated and convoluted. Interpretation depends on whether one views the prophecy to be literal and when the order to rebuild Jerusalem was actually given. The classic work by anti-missionary Issac Troki argues for a Cyrus fulfillment of the passage based on Ezra 1 and 2 Chronicles 36; however, this called for only a rebuilding of the Temple. Is this a fulfillment of the passage in Daniel and how does one respond to the cutting off of the anointed one (Messiah) after the sixty-nine weeks if that would be 483 years after 536 BC and Cyrus’ decree? The Messianic/Christian option is to consider this fulfillment of Daniel 9 to lie with the order of King Xerxes’ order to rebuild the walls of the city in c.445 BC which would bring fulfillment and the cutting off of the anointed one around AD 29-30. The Messianic fulfillment in Jesus does make more logical sense; however, it is the relative avoidance of the passage by anti-missionaries (except for Troki) and the neglect of the passage in the synagogue that would open the passage up for an apologetic consideration among both the Jewish people as well as the non-Jewish audience. Controversy is contagious for discussion, especially when one considers that regardless of when the order of Daniel 9 began to be fulfilled the Messiah (anointed one) should have appeared before AD 70.
Given that Daniel 9 provides the timing of the arrival of the Messiah (pre-AD 70), the next prophetic passage is in what form should the Messiah come. The next prophetic passage of Isaiah 53 provides the answer and this is one of the most discussed in the Christian world and one of the most avoid in the Jewish world. The passage is not included in the Haftarah portion of synagogue readings and from anecdotal experiences it can be stated that most Jewish people have never studied the passage for themselves. However, there is virtually little difference between the Christian and Jewish version of the text, especially in verse 5, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed (KJV).” Therefore, and this is true for both the non-Jewish and Jewish audience, a simple exposure to the text opens and perhaps even “blows” the mind of those who hear/read it for the first time. Incidentally, Tzedakah Ministries has developed a simple tract on Isaiah 53 for Christians and churches to use to explain how the common anti-missionary options for the Suffering Servant fail and how Jesus is the literal fulfillment of the passage.
Therefore, Daniel 9 provides the timing of the Messiah’s arrival. Isaiah 53 depicts the nature of how the Messiah would be received, the Suffering Servant. Psalm 22 provides the details of His suffering. Consequently, these three prophecies provide a layering which provide the reality that the Messiah was to die/suffer for the sins of the world. And while there is controversy over the translation of verse 17, “Dogs surround me; a pack of evil ones close in on me, like lions [they maul] my hands and feet,” between the Jewish (see above) and Christian Bibles, the point of the passage and perhaps the reason why Jesus purposefully called out verse one from the cross is that an innocent man died for the sins of others and in this death lost a connection, for a while, to the Father God. This final layering of Biblical prophecies is intrinsically important based upon an anecdotal experience in which an Israeli believer related that everyone who heard Jesus shout out, “My God, my God,” knew that He was claiming Psalm 22 for Himself. Therefore, Jesus came at the right time (Daniel 9), came as the right Servant (Isaiah 53), and died in the right manner for the right reason (Psalm 22). This layering of prophecy creates an apologetic method that would be difficult for anyone, Jewish or Gentile, to counter.
Therefore, as you prayed for the Jewish people yesterday on this Day of Prayer for the Salvation of the Jewish People and will continue praying, consider how you might use this information to not only pray but also share Jesus with a Jewish person. And if you are Jewish and reading this blog, return soon as Tzedakah Ministries will be taking the question of prophecies even deeper as we launch Explore Messiah…? in the coming weeks. Shalom. God bless.