WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW WHEN WITNESSING TO A JEWISH FRIEND
By: David M. Levy
A. WHO IS A JEW?
1. Judaism teaches one born of a Jewish mother.
2. The Bible teaches one born of a Jewish mother or father.
3. Gentiles can become Jewish through conversion.
B. WHAT ARE THE DIFFERENT SECTS IN JUDAISM?
1. Orthodox: Adhere strictly to traditions of Judaism.
2. Conservative: Do not adhere strictly to traditions.
3. Reform: Liberals who set aside most traditions.
4. Hasidic: An ultra-orthodox sect within Judaism.
5. Reconstructionist: Believe Judaism should continually change or evolve to meet the needs of Jews.
6. Nonreligious: Agnostic, atheist, or unaffiliated.
7. Zionist: A nonreligious political movement.
C. HOW RELIGIOUS ARE JEWISH PEOPLE?
1. 10% attend the synagogue on the Sabbath.
2. 25% never attend the synagogue.
3. 70% attend the synagogue only four times a year.
4. 55% in America do not belong to a synagogue.
5. 70% do not keep a kosher home.
6. Although many Jews are not religious, most hold strongly to a cultural identity with their people.
D. WHAT ARE THE CULTURAL TRAITS OF JEWISH PEOPLE?
1. Education: Strive hard for good grades.
2. Humanitarian: Involved in welfare programs.
3. Civic-minded: Involved in programs that shape and guarantee democratic rights for all people.
4. Arts: Excel in music, theater, entertainment, art.
5. Socially separate: Persecution, cultural identity, and religion have isolated Jews in society.
6. Business: Bargain hard to acquire the best agreement, sale, or purchase (so do Gentiles). Jews have had to be smart in business just to survive.
7. Abrasive: Jews are seen as forward, loud, blunt, outspoken, possessing a take-over attitude. Guard against prejudging by first
impressions. Jews are warm, friendly, outgoing, loving and very giving.
E. WHAT MISCONCEPTIONS DO WE HAVE ABOUT JEWISH PEOPLE?
1. All Jews are rich. Not true-many are very poor.
2. Jews are trying to control the world’s wealth. Not true-most Jews do not head large corporations, nor are they leaders of their countries.
3. Jews take from Gentiles. Not true – they are very giving and help those in need, expecting nothing in return.
4. Jews are outspoken, pushy, and abrasive, wanting their own way. Not true – (see cultural traits).
5. Jews think themselves better than others; refuse to mix with society. Not true – most Jews (except Orthodox) socialize with Gentiles.
6. Jewish people have a persecution complex; they think the world is out to destroy them. Not true, but anti-Semitism and persecution of Jews are worldwide.
7. He looks Jewish. Many Jews have blond or red hair and blue eyes. Often Arabs, Greeks, Italians, or other people are thought to be Jewish.
8. Jews know the Bible. Not true – many have never read the Old or New Testaments.
9. Jews have rejected Jesus. If they reject Him, it is because of Jewish teachings. When given scriptural proofs of Jesus’ Messiahship, many readily accept Him.
10. Jews killed Christ. Not true – all men are responsible for the death of Christ (Lk. 18:31-33; Acts 4:27).
11. Only Jews can win Jews to the Lord. Not true – most saved Jews have been brought to the Lord by loving Gentiles.
F. WHICH CHRISTIAN TERMS ARE MISUNDERSTOOD BY JEWS?
1. Christ: Thought of as a Gentile God.
2. Cross: Jews killed under its symbol; it is used to blame Jews for Christ’s death.
3. New Testament: Gentile religious book; Jews taught not to read it.
4. Confess Sin: Christians do this before their priests.
5. Saved: Something one does when shopping.
6. Born Again: Interpreted as reincarnation.
7. Convert: Changing one’s religious affiliation.
8. Christian: Gentiles who believe in Jesus; they hate and persecute Jewish people.
9. Missionary: Converts Jews to Christianity.
10. Old Testament: Jews interpret this to mean that their Scriptures are inferior to the New Testament.
G. WHAT ARE SOME STATEMENTS ABOUT WHICH JEWS ARE SENSITIVE?
1. Slang: Are you a Jew? Those Jews! You Jews! Jew boy! Go to Jew town!
2. Jewish jokes: Portray a negative stereotype.
3. Jews cause the world’s problems.
4. Criticism of Israel: Taken as being against Jews.
H. WHAT ARE SOME OF THE DOCTRINAL BELIEFS OF JUDAISM?
1. There is no set of doctrines or creed embraced by all branches of Judaism.
2. Doctrines: O – Orthodox/Conservative; R – Reform.
O: One God (Dt. 6:4); God is Spirit; has no form.
R: One God (Dt. 6:4); a power in the universe.
O: Created; fall resulted in death; emphasis on achieving highest human potential; no sin nature (inclination to do good or evil).
R: Rejects creation and fall of man; man has divine spark in his nature; emphasis on achieving highest human potential; no sin nature (inclination to do good or evil).
O: Sin is disobedience to the Law of God.
R: Same as above, but puts emphasis on social evil against man
O: Law (Torah) inspired; remainder of Bible is commentary to the Law; inspired in degrees.
R: Not divinely inspired; it is a legendary history of how Jews experienced God and wrote about Him.
e. Oral Law (Talmud)
O: Given to Moses; not written until 200 A.D.
R: Do not embrace or practice its teachings.
O: A man from God (not God) who brings peace, secures land for Jews, rebuilds the Temple.
R: A Messianic age of peace, but no Messiah.
O: Born into their religion, no need for salvation; emphasis on repentance, good works, prayer. Need to save men socially.
R: Same as above.
O: Everlasting peace and paradise on earth for Israel in her land with the Messiah ruling.
R: Peace for Israel in a Messianic age.
i. Eternal Life
O: For the righteous; emphasis on here and now.
R: No eternal life; memory of the individual lived through the family.
O: Righteous receive it.
R: Do not believe in a literal heaven.
O: Wicked suffer forever or are annihilated.
R: Do not believe in a literal hell.
I. WHY WITNESS TO YOUR JEWISH FRIEND?
1. Jesus commanded it (Mt. 28:19).
2. Jesus had compassion on His people (Mt. 9:36).
3. Many will become believers (Mt. 9:37).
4. No other way to be saved (Jn. 14:6; Acts 4:12).
5. Jews need salvation (Rom. 10:1).
6. Gospel is to the Jew first (Mt. 10:5; Rom. 1:16).
7. Paul went to the Jew first (Acts 9:20; 13:14,W-46; 14:1; 17:1-2, 10; 18:4; 19:8-9).
8. We are debtors to the Jew (Rom. 11:30-31).
J. WHY DO JEWISH PEOPLE OPPOSE OUR WITNESS?
1. They have been persecuted in the name of Jesus.
2. They reason that all Gentiles are Christian, and Christians hate and persecute Jews.
3. Jews need to be shown that not all Gentiles are Christian; neither do they hate Jewish people. Most people, after coming to Christ and reading the Scriptures, have come to love the Jewish people.
K. WHY DO CHRISTIANS FAIL TO WITNESS TO JEWISH PEOPLE?
1. They lack knowledge of Jewish history and culture.
2. They fear a hostile reaction and personal rejection.
L. HOW CAN WE BE TACTFUL IN OUR WITNESS?
1. Deal with Jewish people on a one-to-one basis, not in a group.
2. Jewish people love to talk and tell their personal stories or opinions. Be a good listener and gain insights to use in your witness.
3. Ask questions so they will have to explain their answers, not just give yes or no answers.
4. Show appreciation for what Jews have contributed to American culture in medicine, science, art, etc.
5. Do not rush your witness; let the Holy Spirit lead.
M. LOVE THEM TO LIFE
1. Begin by developing a friendship. He may not respond immediately, but be patient and persistent.
2. He may test your friendship by asking, “Why are you interested in me all of a sudden?”
3. Actions speak louder than words to Jews. Do something for the individual to show genuine friendship.
N. SETTING UP THE WITNESS
1. Take your Jewish friend to lunch or coffee, alone; or, better yet, invite him to your home for dinner.
2. Do not witness while he is doing business; it will not be effective. If he shows interest, take him out for coffee. You will need his
O. HOW DO YOU GET FROM THE SECULAR TO THE SPIRITUAL?
1. Start the conversation by discussing pleasantries, family, or general topics of mutual interest.
2. Get from the secular to the spiritual by asking, “Would you answer some questions I have about Judaism?”
3. Ask the questions so that he must explain his answers.
4. Ask, “Would you explain what is involved in your worship, Passover, Hanukkah?”
P. QUESTIONS TO BEGIN A SPIRITUAL CONVERSATION
1. How would you recognize the Messiah if He came?
2. Do you have hope beyond this life?
3. Do you know how to have peace with God?
4. Some concepts in the Jewish Scriptures changed my life. May I share them with you?
5. I had a life-changing experience a few years ago. Would you like to hear about it?
6. The shocking news of your friend’s death was a jolt to us. If that had happened to you, would you know for certain that you had eternal life?
7. Now that you have kept Passover [or any feast day], how did it affect your relationship with God?
8. Has your rabbi ever taught how a Jewish person can have eternal life?
Q. HOW DO YOU WITNESS TO YOUR JEWISH FRIEND?
1. Use Isaiah 53.
a. Ask, “Do you mind if I read something from the Bible?” Do not mention the above reference.
b. Read Isaiah 53 and then ask, “Who do you believe this is speaking about?”
c. He will most likely respond, “Jesus.”
d. Say, “I read this from the Jewish prophet in Isaiah 53. You are right, though, it is speaking about Jesus. May I show you how Jesus fulfilled what I have just read?”
e. Show from Jesus’ life how He fulfilled these prophecies and then explain that salvation can only be acquired by receiving Him as personal Savior.
2. Ask, “How would you recognize the Messiah?”
a. Set up a time to meet socially.
b. Begin with the secular; move to the spiritual.
c. Move into the spiritual by asking “Would you answer some questions about Judaism?”
d. Ask him to explain what he does in worship, Passover, Hanukkah, etc.
e. Ask the key question, “Would you explain your belief in the Messiah?”
f. He will give one of the following responses.
(1) Orthodox: “I look for a man to come and give us the land, rebuild the Temple, and bring peace to Israel.”
(2) Reform: “There is no Messiah, only a Messianic age.”
(3) “I forgot what I learned about the Messiah.”
(4) “The facts are fuzzy in my mind.”
(5) “I was never taught about the Messiah.”
(6) “Ask my rabbi. What he believes, I believe.”
(7) “My faith is personal; I do not discuss it.”
(8) “I do not believe in any Messiah.”
g. All of these answers are wrong or only partially true.
h. Ask, “May I show you what I have read in the Jewish Scriptures [Old Testament] about the Messiah?”
i. Paint a portrait of the Messiah from the Old Testament without mentioning Jesus; let him be the one to bring up the name of Jesus.
j. Show that the Messiah will…
(1) Be God/Man (Isa. 9:6).
(2) Be born in Bethlehem and preexisted (Mic. 5:2).
(3) Be scorned and rejected (Isa. 53:3).
(4) Suffer (Isa. 53:4).
(5) Submit to suffering (Isa. 53:7).
(6) Be killed (Isa. 53:5, 8-12).
k. You will receive one of two responses:
(1) “Are you saying this is Jesus?”
(2) He may be silent and not respond. Then ask, “Can you think of a person in history to whom this refers?” He will often say, “Jesus.”
1. Respond, “It is interesting that you said Jesus. I believe you are right. May I take a few moments and show you how His life fulfills what I have just read?”
m. You will receive one of three responses:
(1) “No, don’t try to convert me!”
(2) He will want to argue with you.
(3) He will say, “Yes, please show me.”
n. Show him:
(1) We are all sinners (Isa. 53:6; 59:2).
(2) We need a blood substitute (Lev. 17:11).
(3) He must repent of sin and receive Jesus as Messiah (Rom. 10:9-11).
(4) Ask him to receive Jesus as his Messiah.
3. How can a Jewish person find peace?
a. Some people believe they can find peace in…
(1) Pleasure: Having a good time.
(2) Popularity: Having many friends.
(3) Prestige: Having acceptability.
(4) Power: Having control over people.
(5) Position: Having made it to the top.
(6) Philanthropy: Having done benevolent acts.
(7) Possessions: Having money and prosperity.
b. Pursuits and possessions do not produce God’s peace in a person’s life. King Solomon found that the things mentioned above produce emptiness, not peace (Eccl. 2:11).
4. Can God’s peace be acquired by doing good works?
a. God’s estimate of man (Ps. 53:2-3).
b. God’s estimate of works (Isa. 64:6).
c. Why is man unable to experience God’s peace?
(1) All men are sinners (Eccl. 7:20).
(2) Sin separated man from God (Isa. 59:2).
(3) Man is spiritually dead (Ezek. 18:20),
d. How can a Jewish person possess God’s peace? God has provided peace through the atoning blood of the Messiah who died for our sins.
(1) Blood atonement needed (Lev. 17:11).
(2) Messiah was pierced for sin (Isa. 53:5).
e. Can you think of a person in history who fulfilled these Messianic prophecies?
(1) History has documented that Jesus fulfilled these Messianic prophecies.
(2) Through the centuries, thousands of Jewish people have received Him
as their Messiah.
(3) It is not enough to know what the Messiah has done for you in His atoning death; you must RECEIVE Him as your personal Messiah. In so doing God will take away your sins and provide peace.
f. How can you receive God’s peace through the Messiah?
(1) King David said by giving homage to the Son (Ps. 2:12).
(2) Another Jewish writer told us how to trust in the Messiah Jesus (Rom. 10:9).
(3) To receive God’s peace and forgiveness of sins, you must begin by repenting of your sin and following the plan of salvation.
R. HOW DO YOU USE THE JEWISH BIBLE?
1. Acquire the Masoretic text (it is in English).
2. Mark the Messianic references in the Bible.
3. Do not assume that he knows the Bible or has read it.
4. Let him read the verse to which you are referring.
5. Give him a New Testament. He probably will not want to receive it or read it, but be persistent in your offer.
6. Challenge him to read it by saying, “I’m surprised that you have never read the best-selling Jewish book of all time.”
7. It is important that he read the Bible distinctly; you must give him its meaning so that he can understand the Messianic passages (Neh. 8:8).
S. HOW DO YOU USE LITERATURE WITH A JEWISH PERSON?
1. Loan literature; do not give it.
2. By loaning literature, he cannot throw it away because it is yours, not his.
3. Ask him to read it because you want his opinion of it. In this way he will read it more closely.
4. Tell him you will return in a few days to discuss the literature with him. This leaves the door open for a second visit.
PROPHECIES OF THE MESSIAH
MESSIAH’S DIVINITY AND HUMANITY
Prophecy: For unto us a child is born, unto a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace (Isa. 9.6).
Fulfillment: And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary; for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father, David. And he shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end (Lk. 1:30-33).
MESSIAH’S VIRGIN BIRTH
Prophecy: Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel (Isa. 7:14).
Fulfillment: Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which, being interpreted, is God with us (Mt. 1:23)
MESSIAH’S PLACE OF BIRTH
Prophecy: But thou, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting (Mic. 5:2).
Fulfillment: Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod, the king… (Mt. 2:1; cp. Lk. 2:4-7).
Prophecy: He is despised and rejected of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not (Isa. 53:3). Fulfillment: He came unto his own, and his own received him not (Jn. 1:11). I am come in my Father’s name, and ye receive me not (Jn. 5:43).
Prophecy: A man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief (Isa. 53:3).
Fulfillment: Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even unto death (Mt. 26:38).
Prophecy: Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows (Isa. 53:4).
Fulfillment: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah, the prophet, saying He himself took our infirmities, and bore our sicknesses (Mt. 8:17)
Prophecy: But he was wounded [pierced] for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities (Isa. 53:5). They pierced my hands and my feet (Ps. 22:16)
Fulfillment: And when they were come to the place which is called Calvary, there they crucified him (Lk. 23:33). But one of the soldiers, with a spear, pierced his side, and immediately came there out blood and water (Jn. 19:34).
Prophecy: The chastisement for our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed (Isa. 53:5).
Fulfillment: Who his own self bore our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness; by whose stripes ye were healed (1 Pet. 2:24).
Prophecy: He is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth (Isa. 53:7).
Fulfillment: And when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he answered nothing. Then said Pilate unto him, Hearest thou not how many things they witness against thee And he answered him never a word (Mt. 27:12-14; cp. 26:62-63).
Prophecy: For he was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people was he stricken (Isa. 53:8). He hath poured out his soul unto death (Isa. 53:12; cp. Dan. 9: 26).
Fulfillment: And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit, and, having said this, he gave up the spirit (Lk. 23:46).
Prophecy: And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death (Lit., He was assigned a grave with the wicked, but He was with the rich in His death)(Isa. 53:9).
Fulfillment: There came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph… and begged the body of Jesus… And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb (Mt. 27:57-60).
Prophecy: For thou wilt not leave my soul in sheol, neither wilt thou permit thine Holy One to see corruption (Ps. 16:10).
Fulfillment: David… is both dead and buried, and his sepulcher is with us unto this day. Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He, seeing this before, spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hades, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses (Acts 2:29-30).
(The above material was published by The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, Inc., Bellmawr, N.J.)
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