Judaism and Christianity Today
Dr. Jim Denison
According to 2008 statistics, the world Jewish population numbers about 13.3 million. About 5.5 million live in Israel and 7.7 million live in the Diaspora, with 5.5 million in the United States. That means that about 41.3 percent of the world Jews now live in the Jewish state.
Most Jews in the U.S. are “Ashkenazim,” descendants of Jewish communities in central and Eastern Europe. Others are “Sephardim,” descendants of Jews from Spain, Portugal, other Mediterranean countries, and the Middle East. Nearly all of them reject the Christian claim that Jesus is their Messiah and our Lord.
The Jews trace their beginnings to Abraham (ca. 2000 B.C.). The Lord promised him, “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you” (Genesis 12:2-3).
The Hebrew nation is traced from Abraham through Isaac to his son Jacob and his twelve sons (the “twelve tribes of Israel”). The Jewish people spent 400 years enslaved in Egypt, before God liberated them through the parting of the Red Sea and the Exodus. They eventually conquered the land of Canaan, the Holy Land today.
After the reigns of Saul, David, and Solomon, the nation split in two. The ten northern tribes were captured by Assyria in 922 B.C. and disappeared. The two southern tribes were enslaved by Babylon in 586 B.C., but returned to their land 70 years later. The nation existed until it was destroyed by Rome in A.D. 70. In 1948 the Jewish people regained their homeland, the modern state of Israel.
Orthodox: By the beginning of the 19th century, this term described those who maintained that the entire written and oral Torah was divinely revealed and immutable.
The Shulhan Arukh–the 16th century code of law compiled by Joseph Caro, together with commentaries and later decisions–constitutes a fixed and binding standard for proper Jewish life.
Reform: Rejects the idea of a permanently-binding religious law. Thus the most “progressive” of the three movements.
Conservative: Believes that Reform Judaism is in error in rejecting Jewish law. Also believes that Orthodox Judaism is mistaken in wedding adherence to Jewish law to a fundamentalism which rejects changes or developments in Judaism.
Apologetics and Judaism
The Jewish worldview is intensely practical and pragmatic; thus we must show our lives to be different and our faith real. With no world religion is the practical test more important.
We must show who Jesus claimed to be:
Messiah (Matthew 1:1)
Lord (John 13:13)
Savior (John. 3:16)
Ruler and King (Revelation 5).
Show that Jesus claimed to fulfill Messianic prophecy:
Matthew 5:17: “I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.”
Luke 24:27: “And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, he explained to them the things concerning himself in the Scriptures.”
Acts 17:2-3: “And according to Paul’s custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ.'”
Show that Jesus did fulfill such prophecy.
Offer the opportunity to be “completed” by faith in Jesus as his or her personal Messiah.