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What happens to Jewish people who don't believe in Yeshua?

by Messianic Rabbi Loren Jacobs
Congregation Shema Yisrael, Southfield, MI

Incredibly, there are many so-called Christians, and even some Messianic Jews today, who suggest that Jewish people don't need to believe in Yeshua in order to be saved! They teach that since the Jewish people have a covenant with God, they don't need the New Covenant of the Messiah; or they teach that all religions will get everyone to Heaven. Little could be farther from the truth!

Very early in human history, our first parents rebelled against God, and sin and death took control of humanity. Instead of drawing nearer to God, Adam and Eve ran away from HaMakor - the Source of Life. The entire world was now cursed, along with all mankind; Adam and Eve were exiled from the Garden of Eden, and forbidden to eat from the Tree of Life. The whole world (which includes the Jewish people) remains dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). The whole world is perishing, decaying and headed for destruction like a rotten piece of fruit (John 3:16).

Rabbi Paul, the great theologian sent to the Gentiles, wrote the Church at Rome that he was not ashamed of the Gospel, "for it is the power of God for salvation, to everyone who believes, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek." Paul made it clear that Jewish people not only are not exempt from the need to receive Yeshua, but in fact the Good News is supposed to go to us first! Paul went on to declare that "all who have sinned without the Law will also perish without the Law, and all who have sinned under the Law (the Jewish people) will be judged by the Law... we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin... for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 2:12, 3:9, 23).

Simon Peter, one of the leaders of Yeshua's Emissaries, standing before the Sanhedrin, declared to the priests, Torah scholars and Rabbis of Israel that there is atonement in no one other than Yeshua of Nazareth, and there is no other spiritual reality anywhere in the universe which can bring us salvation. It doesn't get much clearer than that! John, one of the other Emissaries and Yeshua's friend, wrote that, "He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life." It's as simple as that.

The Son of God Himself said that He was the Way, the Truth and the Life, and that apart from placing faith in Him, no man could get to the Father. Rabbi Yeshua said to a group of Jewish leaders (men who believed in God, who knew the Torah, who went to the Temple in Jerusalem and who offered sacrifices), "Unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins" (John 8:24). If we could be saved by Judaism, Messiah Yeshua wouldn't have said to a Jewish man like Nicodemus that it wasn't enough to be born once, even if one was a knowledgeable or pious Rabbi. Even a leading Torah-teacher like Nicodemus needed to be born again - to undergo a spiritual rebirth, in order to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. There are scores of places in the Holy Scriptures which teach that all of humanity (including the Jewish people) is utterly lost, and that each and every Jewish person (along with everyone else), in order to be saved, must hear and believe the Good News about the Messiah.

Pretending the dying patient isn't sick doesn't help the patient. Acknowledging that he is sick, and then administering the appropriate medicine is what the dying patient needs. Allowing Jewish people to die without Yeshua is spiritual malpractice of the highest order!

What about those who say that Jewish people have never really heard about the Messiah, or that an anti-Semitic Jesus was presented to them by a corrupt church? Ignorance is no excuse. Hosea warned us that "my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." We are responsible for the information given to us through Moses and the prophets. Yeshua said, "They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them (Luke 16:29)." We have the revealed Word of God, written by our own Jewish prophets, which clearly points us to Yeshua. Didn't Moses specifically promise that God would raise up another great prophet, like himself, who would speak the words of God to us, and if we didn't listen to that prophet, God would judge us severely (see Deuteronomy 18:15-19)? The Son of God claimed that He was written about in our very own Torah! "The one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote of Me" (John 5:45-46).

No Jewish person is going to appear before God and say, "Judge of the whole Earth, I'm not responsible for not believing in the Savior you sent to us. I never knew." Or, "Master of the universe, I didn't like the way Yeshua was presented to me. Besides, my Rabbi told me not to believe in Him, so it's not my fault." These excuses won't be accepted! We are responsible for choosing the spiritual leaders to whom we listen. We are warned not to listen to false teachers. If the blind mislead the blind, so that both fall into a pit, both are responsible.

While it may be true that much of the Church has presented a Yeshua that has been stripped of His Jewishness, many true Christians have also shown us the love of God, often at great cost to themselves. Besides, there has also been a remnant of Messianic Jews in every generation. For example, there were many Messianic Jews in Poland before World War Two. It is reported that there were four Messianic Synagogues in Warsaw before the Holocaust, and that there were many Messianic Jews who were sent to the concentration camps, who had a Jewish witness to the reality of Yeshua to their fellow Jews.

There are some today who teach "Two-Covenant" theology, the idea that God has one saving covenant with the Jewish people, and a different saving covenant with the Church (the New Covenant); therefore Jewish people don't need to accept Yeshua, since He is part of the New Covenant. That's terribly wrong! The Messiah and His New Covenant was presented first to the Jewish people! It was specifically predicted by the prophet Jeremiah that the New Covenant was to be made with the Jewish people (see Jeremiah 31:31-34). While it is true that the people of Israel have had several covenants with God (the covenants made with Abraham, Moses, David, and the New Covenant made with Yeshua), that does not mean that an individual Jewish person can reject a covenant and still be saved. The fact that Israel has a national covenant with God does not save every individual Jewish person. After all, not all Israel are Israel. Since the coming of the Messiah, it is only those Jews who have welcomed Messiah Yeshua and the New Covenant who are saved.

There are certain theological boundaries that distinguish between orthodoxy and heresy: Inspiration of the Scriptures, the Trinity, the Deity of Yeshua, and the sanctity of human life in all of its stages. The need for all people, including Jewish people, to personally receive Messiah Yeshua in this life in order to be saved, is one of those boundaries that separates orthodoxy from apostasy. Every true child of God must repudiate any teaching that crosses this boundary whenever and wherever it occurs, and call it by its true names: heresy, apostasy, compromise and cowardice. If your denomination, Pastor or Rabbi isn't teaching the clear truth from the Word of God on the lostness of mankind (including the Jewish people), and the need for all people to accept Messiah Yeshua in order to experience atonement, forgiveness and salvation, I would encourage you to bring the truth to their attention. If they don't listen, then seek a new spiritual leader who does teach the truth.

Messianic Rabbi Loren Jacobs
Congregation Shema Yisrael
Southfield, Michigan

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