APOLOGETICS: IS YESHUA THE MESSIAH?
“Is Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah?” If He is the Messiah, this has the most profound implications for each individual, and also for the entire human race. To answer that question, first we need to answer some preliminary questions: Is there a God who sent the Messiah? How can we know anything authoritative about God and the Messiah?
IS THERE A GOD WHO SENT THE MESSIAH?
FIVE ARGUMENTS FOR GOD’S EXISTENCE
One of the most important responsibilities that Christians and Messianic Jews have is to engage in bold evangelism – telling a confused, lost and dying world the Good News about the salvation that Messiah has made possible for those who come to know the Three-In-One God and transfer their loyalties to Him. The problem is that the majority of people in our society are secular humanists who don’t believe in God or that the Bible is the divinely inspired Word of God. Since they don’t believe in God or accept the Bible as true, simply quoting a verse like John 3:16 is generally not enough to convince these secular humanists of the truth about God and salvation. We need to engage in pre-evangelism – helping the secular humanists come to the point where they’re able to believe in God and think the Bible may be the Word of God. During my freshman year of college I was exposed to arguments about God’s existence, and they helped me come to the point where I thought it likely that God existed. Subsequently, when I heard the Good News being proclaimed, I was able to receive it. I want to present five arguments for God’s existence. These arguments may be useful to help others believe in God and be receptive to the message of the Word of God.
- The Argument From Cause And Effect
The cause is the reason something happens, and the effect is what happens as a result. Everything has a cause. The universe exists and must have a cause. We exist and must have a cause. Something greater than us and greater than the universe must be the First Cause, Himself uncaused. Consider this: The universe exists. The discoveries of modern science are indicating that the universe isn’t eternal, but in fact had a point of beginning. The universe isn’t personal. It has no mind, emotion or will. Either we believe that an impersonal, non-intelligent universe always existed; or it created itself out of nothing (which is logically inconsistent, since by definition it’s impossible for anything to create itself out of nothing, since nothing can’t produce something); or else, a personal God created the universe. Since there is mind, will, emotion and personality in the universe, in the form of human beings, doesn’t it make more sense to believe that “in the beginning God created the Heavens and the Earth” rather than something came out of nothing, and this something exploded, and that explosion caused increasing levels of order and personality and thought?
- The Argument From Intelligent Design
The argument from intelligent design is similar to the argument from cause and effect. Just as we infer an intelligent designer for any product in which we discern evidence of purposeful adaptation to some end, so too the universe gives evidence of purpose. The universe functions according to laws governed by precise mathematical formulas. The universe exhibits purposeful design, order, regularity, elegance, beauty, complexity and simplicity. The logical conclusion is an Intelligent Designer created the universe.
Human beings know intuitively about design and designers. If you were walking on a path in a forest and saw a beautiful watch on the ground that was in working order and keeping accurate time, would you assume that it came together over millions of years by chance processes? Since the watch gives evidence of intelligent design, you would correctly assume that a watchmaker purposely made it. If a visitor from outside the universe visited the universe, he would likewise correctly assume that there was a Creator.
Other evidence of design: Scientists have been discovering fine-tuned parameters for the universe, and if any of these parameters were just a little off, the universe as we know it wouldn’t exist. These include the constants in equations for gravity, electromagnetism, strong and weak nuclear forces, and the ratio of proton to electron mass. They have also discovered other fine-tuned parameters for life to exist on Earth. Earth’s distance from the sun; the size, temperature and type of the sun; the Earth’s size, axial tilt, rotation speed and moon – all are necessary to make life possible on Earth.
Scientists are also making similar discoveries in the area of biology. In our cells there are complex molecular machines and complex information systems like DNA that show tremendous evidence of design. There is no excuse for ignorance about God. The universe – from the smallest sub-atomic particles to the largest galaxies -proclaims there is compelling evidence that God exists: The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge (Psalm 19:1-2). In Romans 1, Rabbi Paul made it clear that God’s existence should be obvious to all human beings because God has made it plain to them. Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – His eternal power and divine nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse for not believing in the one God (Romans 1:19-20).
- The Argument From Morality, Ethics, Conscience And Belief In God
Human beings are inherently moral. I don’t mean that human beings are inherently good, but rather that human beings intuitively have an idea of what is good or right. Where did this sense of right and wrong come from? Where does man’s conscience come from? Also, there is a universal belief in God or gods in every society among mankind. Even after 70 years of atheistic communism, belief in God in the former Soviet Union couldn’t be stamped out. Where does this intuitive knowledge of God come from? The answer is that our awareness of Someone Greater Than Us, and our consciences, our sense of right and wrong and ethics come from our Creator, in whose image we were made. God is perfectly moral and gave us an inner sense of morality, a conscience and an intuitive awareness of Himself. Rabbi Paul taught us this truth in Romans 2: When the Gentiles who do not have the Torah, do instinctively the things of the Torah, these, not having the Torah, are a Torah to themselves, in that they show the work of the Torah written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness, and their thoughts alternatively accusing them or else defending them (Romans 2:14-15).
- The Argument From Historical Realities
Evidence for God can be seen by historical realities. The history of the Chosen Nation is evidence of the Creator. This one little nation has affected the world more than any other nation. Our prophets and our Bible, and most of all, our Messiah, have changed the course of world history. Little Israel, conquered and scattered among the nations – not once, but twice – and then regathered to our ancient homeland, in fulfillment of detailed prophecies, shows that the God of the Chosen People is real and at work in human history. God’s fingerprints can also be lifted from the Resurrection of Messiah. Yeshua claimed to be Immanuel, God With Us. He claimed that He would live a perfect life, and then be rejected by the majority of the nation and die a special kind of atoning death, but then He would be resurrected from the dead, overcoming our greatest enemies – Satan, sin and death – so that we could be reconciled to the Creator and live forever. And there is compelling historical evidence for Yeshua’s resurrection: The empty tomb: Both Jews and Romans admitted that the tomb was empty (Matthew 28:11-15). The graveclothes: They were undisturbed, but no longer contained a body. Yeshua’s post-resurrection appearances: According to New Testament eyewitness testimony, the risen Messiah appeared on various occasions to various people in various circumstances, showing there was no way they could all be dreaming or hallucinating together. He appeared to Mary (John 20:11-18), to the other women (Matthew 28:8-10), to Simon Peter (Luke 24:34), to the two on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), to the Ten (Luke 24:36-43), to all Eleven eight days later (John 20:24-29), to seven by the Lake of the Galilee (John 21:1-23), to 500 at once (1 Corinthians 15:6), to James (1 Corinthians 15:7), and finally to Paul (Acts 9:1-16). And these weren’t just mysterious visions or apparitions. Yeshua actually spoke with His followers, and ate bread and fish with some of them. He even allowed Thomas, the most skeptical of the disciples, to touch His scars.
If you were part of a jury and heard a reliable eyewitness who testified that he saw a certain man at certain time doing specific things, would you believe him? What if there were two or three reliable eyewitnesses who all said they saw the same thing? What if there were seven, eight, 11, 500 reliable eyewitnesses who all said they saw Yeshua alive again after He died – and those people were willing to die rather than change their story – wouldn’t you believe them? Of course you would!
- The Argument From Human Happiness
Augustine observed that the human heart can never rest, until it rests in God. We can never be truly fulfilled or happy until we are in a right relationship with the God who designed us. So, here is how we appeal to the secular humanists: We ask them: Is it any wonder there is so much unhappiness, mental illness, despair, drug and alcohol abuse, sexual immorality, so much senseless violence and so many suicides when people believe that we’re the result of a Big Bang that took place some 20 billion years ago; that we evolved from an amino-acid primordial soup; evolved into a simple cell, which learned how to reproduce itself; then we developed into a bacteria, or a one-celled animal, then a slug or a fish, then an amphibian, then a lizard, then a small mammal-like rodent; then we further evolved into monkeys and ape-like men, and then finally into Homo-sapiens; that our lives ultimately mean nothing because when we die we die, because there is no God and no after-life? We ask them: Are you happy? Are you completely satisfied? (If they’re honest, the answer will be no.) Wouldn’t it be wonderful if the universe was not the result of chance processes and random activity, but the creation of a God of great wisdom and compassion who loves us and wants to live forever with us? Wouldn’t it be amazing if Yeshua was the risen Messiah and Savior, and His words were true: Whoever comes to Me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty? Wouldn’t it be fantastic if we didn’t have to die alone and die forever? That when we died, a loving God existed and we could live forever with Him in a real and wonderful place? If that is at all possible, isn’t it worth thoroughly investigating?
The fool says in his heart, “there is no God” (Psalm 14:1). And the opposite is true: The wise person says in his heart, “there is a God”. Let’s be wise ourselves and help today’s fools become wise!
Being an atheist is logically inconsistent. How could a human being ever know with 100 percent certainty that there was no God? What if God was beyond the universe and chose not to reveal Himself? One would have to be knowledgeable about the entire universe and beyond it to have any credibility when making such a claim. It is “the fool who has said in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” The fool may have a Ph.D., but if he denies the existence of God, when there is so much evidence for His existence, knowing that human beings have such limited knowledge of the universe, and with so much to lose if he is wrong, he is displaying ultimate stupidity. Pascal reasoned that we should treat the issue of the existence of God like we would betting on a game. When the odds that God exists or does not exist are even, then the smart man will gamble that God exists. This is a bet that all men must make – the game is in progress and a bet must be laid. Since the odds are even, reason is not violated by either choice. Since there are reasons for both choices, reason cannot determine which bet to make. Therefore the choice should be made pragmatically, based in terms of maximizing one’s happiness. If one wagers that God exists and He does, then one has gained eternal life and infinite happiness. If He does not exist, you have lost nothing. On the other hand, if one wagers that God does not exist and He does in fact exist, then you have suffered infinite loss. If He does not exist, then you have gained nothing. Therefore the only prudent choice is to believe that God exists, and start searching for Him. Therefore the intelligent, wise, rational individual is open to the possibility that God exists, and begin to seek for Him. God promised the Jewish people, “you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).
THE BIBLE IS THE AUTHORITATIVE SOURCE OF INFORMATION
ABOUT THE MESSIAH
The Tanach composed of the Torah, N’vee-eem (Prophets) and the K’tuveem (Writings)] tells us who the Messiah is. In ancient Israel, prophets, priests and kings were anointed with oil as a symbol of being qualified to assume their office. The Messiah is the Anointed One, the ultimate prophet, priest and king that God promised to send, who would rule over us with justice and righteousness, bringing peace and restoration to Israel, the nations, and even nature itself. The Brit Chadasha (the New Testament Scriptures) reveal that Yeshua is in fact the Messiah.
HOW DO WE KNOW THAT THE BIBLE IS TRUE?
Ten Evidences That Demonstrate That The Bible Is Unique Among All The Religious Books Of The World, And That It Is The Divinely Inspired Word Of God (Adapted from an article by Mike Gendron, founder of Proclaiming The Gospel Ministries)
One of the most important responsibilities that Christians and Messianic Jews have is to engage in bold evangelism – telling a confused, lost and dying world the Good News about the salvation that Messiah has made possible for those who come to know the Three-in-One God and transfer their loyalties to the Three-In-One God. The problem is that the majority of the people in our society are secular humanists who don’t believe in God or that the Bible is the divinely inspired Word of God. Since they don’t believe in God or accept the Bible as true, simply quoting a verse like John 3:16 is generally not enough to convince them of the truth about God and salvation. We need to engage in pre-evangelism – helping the secular humanists come to the point where they area able to believe in God and think the Bible may be the Word of God. Believing in the Divine Inspiration of the Bible is one of the most important things that we believe. Here are ten evidences for believing that.
- Divine Origin
The first way that the Bible is unique is in its divine origin. It’s one of the few books that makes the claim to be the Word of God. It claims to be the uniquely inspired communication from our Creator to us. The phrases, “Thus says the Lord,” or “the Word of the Lord” are used hundreds of times.
The authors claim that their words were inspired by God. We see that in 2 Timothy 3:16: All Scripture is inspired by God, or God-breathed. “This means that God is the author of the Bible. The writers produced a product, which, while it was their own, was also the Word of the Living God” (Harold Lindsell, The Battle For The Bible, page 35). Paul taught the full inspiration of every letter of the Bible when he based an argument in Galatians 3:16 on one word – zerah, seed, and not the plural zera-eem – seeds. The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds” (quoting Genesis 13:15 and 17:8), as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Messiah. With these claims we would expect that the Bible would meet or exceed the highest standards for accuracy – and it does.
- Unique in Unity and Harmony
God commissioned 40 different Jewish authors from all walks of life, over a period of 1600 years on three continents to write the 66 books of the Bible. From Genesis to Revelation, the writers unitedly reveal a complex drama about God’s redemption of man from eternity past to eternity future. Think just how incredible this is! It’s hard to get two or three people in the same room to agree on several important ideas, yet here you have 40 men separated by1600 years and three continents all agreeing about dozens of important theological ideas.
- Popularity and Influence
If it was the divinely inspired Word of God, you would think that the Bible would make an impact on the world. And it has! The Bible is the most circulated book in history. It has been read and studied and quoted by more people than any other book. No other book has impacted society and culture so impressively or has changed lives so dramatically – evidence that it the Word of God.
The Son of God taught that because it was divinely inspired, not even the smallest part of one Hebrew letter could be broken – and it hasn’t been. Truly I say to you, until heaven and Earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished (Matthew 5:18). And, that is exactly what has happened. The Bible has withstood intense scrutiny by thousands of skeptics and survived continuous attacks by emperors, kings and dictators. They all failed in their attempts to silence the message.
People have heard that the text of the Bible has been corrupted over the centuries, but that is not true. The Hebrew Scriptures have been meticulously transmitted, as the Dead Sea Scrolls demonstrate. A shepherd made a great discovery of Bible manuscripts in 1948. Complete manuscripts such as Isaiah, the Psalms and Deuteronomy were copied over 2,000 years ago and found in these caves near the Dead Sea. These ancient manuscripts are essentially the same as our modern copies. This proves that they were transmitted over the years with extraordinary precision. When it comes to the New Testament, thousands of New Testament documents, some of them, written very early, in the First and Second Centuries, show that the text of the Bible has not been corrupted, but has been faithfully transmitted. We know that the heavens and the Earth will pass away, but God’s Word will stand forever! The Bible is the Word of God because of its indestructibility.
- Unique Message of Salvation
The Bible is unique in its message. It proclaims that we have been so damaged by joining the rebellion of the fallen angels, and the forces of sin and death, that salvation can only be attained as a free gift of God’s grace through our coming to know the Messiah and transferring our loyalties to the Three-in-One God. All other religious books teach that human beings must earn salvation through religious rituals or their own efforts. No other religion offers salvation by God’s grace through faith. The message of the Bible stands alone in this regard, and it is what we would expect if it was the revelation of the true God, who alone is the God of our salvation.
- Painfully Honest
The Bible is unique in that it is painfully honest in the accounts of its heroes. In most other books with claims to ultimate truths the heroes are praised for their accomplishments and their shameful and sinful activities are covered up. Not the Bible. The Bible shows that Jacob, one of the fathers of God’s chosen people, was a deceiver. It shows Moses, the Lawgiver, as a murderer. It shows David, Israel’s most loved king and spiritual leader, as an adulterer and murderer. It shows Peter, one of the greatest of the apostles, as a betrayer of the Messiah. It shows Paul, who wrote over half the New Testament, as the worst of sinners. The Bible is painfully honest about the lives of the people involved, which is another indication that the Bible is truthful, and divinely inspired by God – not man.
- Historical and Geographical Accuracy
Archeologists continue to unearth evidence of ancient peoples, places and cultures that are all described in the Bible. The descriptions have always proven to be completely reliable and accurate.
Here is one example: The Bible talked about the Hittites, yet for centuries there was no archeological evidence of their existence. Was the Bible wrong? No, the Bible wasn’t wrong because archeological evidence of the ancient Hittite kingdom was finally discovered within the past two hundred and fifty years.
Here is another example: “William Ramsay is regarded as one of the greatest archeologists ever to have lived. Although initially skeptical about the accuracy of the Book of Acts, after some research he became aware of the meticulous accuracy of its historical details, and his attitude changed. He concluded that ‘Luke is a historian of the first rank… this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians’” (From More Than A Carpenter, pages 43-44).
- Scientific Accuracy
While not claiming to be a textbook on science, the Bible reflects accurate scientific knowledge of the universe. Scientific references about the physical universe recorded in the Bible thousands of years ago were not discovered until modern times using advances in science and technology.
The Earth is round (Isaiah 40:22). It is He who sits above the circle of the Earth.
The Earth is suspended in space without support (Job 26:7). He stretches out the north over empty space and hangs the Earth on nothing.
The stars are countless (Genesis 15:15); the water cycle, sea currents (Psalm 8:8) the paths of the sea; living things reproduce after their kind; many insights into health, hygiene, diet, physiology (such as the importance of blood, e.g., Leviticus 12:3, the eighth day after birth being high in blood coagulant); the second law of thermodynamics (Isaiah 51:6). Lift up your eyes to the sky, then look to the Earth beneath; for the sky will vanish like smoke, and the Earth will wear out like a garment. From page 18 of The Revised and Expanded Answers Book, edited by Don Batten, Master Books, 1990.
The Bible reflects accurate scientific knowledge, which is not surprising since the God who created the universe and set in motion the laws that govern our world is the same God who inspired the writers of the Bible to record these fascinating facts.
- The Bible describes reality better than any other philosophy or religion or worldview
It tells us why the universe has laws, design, order, complexity, simplicity, elegance, symmetry and beauty – because there is a great and wise and powerful Designer.
It tells us why there is beauty, love, wisdom, justice, truth and personality. These are not the results of chance processes, and random activity, but they come from God who has these attributes.
It tells us why there is evil, suffering, death, injustice in the world. It’s due to humanity joining the rebellion of the fallen angels and the sin and alienation from God that resulted.
It tells us the way of salvation, and that life can be meaningful, full of purpose and eternal significance. Our lives are not the result of the chance coalition of impersonal atoms that ultimately mean nothing.
But, someone observed that if a person believes that the universe comes from an impersonal Big Bang, where something came out of nothing, which took place some 20 billion years ago, and that we are the result of billions of years of time and chance; that we evolved from an amino acid primordial soup, grew into a cell, which is an amazingly complex thing, which somehow learned how to reproduce itself; then we developed into a bacteria, or a one-celled animal, then a slug or a fish, then an amphibian, then a lizard, then a small mammal-like rodent, then into monkeys and ape-like men; if a person believes that this universe will continue for billions of years, and then experience either a gradual heat death, so that there is no activity, or that the universe will start contracting, and all the galaxies will reverse themselves and everything will return to its beginning point – one singularity; if a person believes he is ultimately nothing more than an advanced sea slug, a meaningless bit of temporary matter, and that when we die we die, because there is no after-life, no God, and therefore no moral or spiritual absolutes and that his life is ultimately meaningless – no wonder there is so much unhappiness, depression, despair, mental illness, drug and alcohol abuse, sexual immorality and moral decay, so much senseless violence and so many suicides! The secular-humanist worldview doesn’t work!
In contrast to that the Bible has a world view that fits the facts, that lines up with reality and with human nature and gives us hope and happiness. No wonder King David would write: The Lord’s teaching is perfect, restoring the soul; the precepts of the Lord are right, bringing happiness to our innermost being. They are more desirable than gold, yes, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the drippings of the honeycomb.
The Bible describes reality better than any other philosophy or religion or worldview and it works because it is true!
- Bible Prophecy
The last evidence that Bible is unique and the divinely unique is its Bible prophecy. The Bible contains hundreds of detailed prophecies that foretell specific details about individuals, cities, nations, particularly the nation of Israel, and most particularly about the Messiah. Fulfilled prophecy is clear evidence that the Bible was inspired by a sovereign God who controls all things. In fact God claims, I am Adonai (the Lord), that is My name; I will not give My glory to another nor My praise to graven images. Behold the former things have come to pass, now I declare new things; before they spring forth I proclaim them to you (Isaiah 42:8-9, see also Isaiah 44:6-8). The Lord claims that He will tell us the future for the express purpose of demonstrating that He is the true God, so that we will believe in Him and His Word, the Bible.
The Bible is unique in its ability to tell the future. The Koran, Hindu or Buddhist books don’t predict the future. The Bible is the only religious book that accurately predicts the future – years, centuries and even millennia, in advance.
The Bible’s ability to predict future events lets us know that God, who is not limited by time, was in communication with Israel’s prophets, with Yeshua and His apostolic representatives.
FULFILLED PROPHECY ABOUT ISRAEL
God created the Jewish people for a special reason. The Jewish people were chosen to know the one true and living God, so that we would be His witnesses to a world that had fallen away from the living God, so that the nations might be restored to a right relationship with God. You are My witnesses, declares Adonai (the Lord) and My servant whom I have chosen, in order that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me. I, even I am the Lord; and there is no savior beside Me (Isaiah 43:10-11). From Israel came the Torah and the Prophets, Moses and the Ten Commandments, the Emissaries (Apostles) and the New Testament, and the greatest blessing and revelation of all – Messiah Yeshua, the Son of God and the Savior of the world.
Along with our chosen peoplehood came a chosen Land, the Land of Israel, which is strategically located in the middle of Africa, Asia and Europe. But due to our lack of faithfulness, the Jewish people would be exiled from the Land of Israel. Life in the Diaspora among the nations would be very difficult and precarious, but we would survive (Deuteronomy 28:15-68, Leviticus 26:31-45). It happened and is happening right now!
Then, spiritual restoration to God and physical restoration to the Land of Israel would follow (see Deuteronomy 30:1-5). It’s happening right now!
Just before the Messiah’s return, the Jewish people would be regathered from all the nations and established in our ancient land (Isaiah 11:11-12, Isaiah 43:1-8, Isaiah 49:8-13, Jeremiah 31:10-11, Zechariah 10:6-12, Ezekiel 36:24-32, Ezekiel 37:21-22). It’s happening right now!
The Word of God foretold that our return to our ancient homeland would provoke a reaction from Israel’s surrounding neighbors. They would claim that the Land of Israel belong to them, and seek to drive the Jews into the Sea (see Ezekiel 36:1-12). It’s happening right now!
This would cause Israel to be a difficult situation for the surrounding nations, a “cup that causes reeling” and a “heavy stone.” Eventually the conflict will be internationalized and an army made up of a coalition of United Nations will invade Israel, but the invading army will be destroyed (see Zechariah 12:1-10). You can see how easily this scenario can happen.
The author of the Bible is indeed the One who knows the end from the beginning, and we should pay close attention to what He has revealed in His unique and divinely inspired Word.
Ten Evidences That Demonstrate That The Bible Is Unique Among All The Religious Books Of The World, And That It Is The Divinely Inspired Word Of God. May we use them to help bring our secular-humanized Jewish and Gentile communities to a saving knowledge of the Three-In-One God!
FULFILLED PROPHECY ABOUT ISRAEL
* God created the Jewish people for a special reason. For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession out of all the people who are on the face of the Earth (Deuteronomy 7:6). The Jewish people were chosen to know the one true and living God, so that we would be His witnesses to a world that had fallen away from the living God, so that the nations might be restored to a right relationship with God. You are My witnesses, declares Adonai (the Lord) and My servant whom I have chosen, in order that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, and there will be none after Me. I, even I am the Lord; and there is no savior beside Me (Isaiah 43:10-11). From Israel came the Torah and the Prophets, Moses and the Ten Commandments, the Emissaries (Apostles) and the New Testament, and the greatest blessing and revelation of all – Messiah Yeshua, the Son of God and the Savior of the world.
* Along with our chosen peoplehood came a chosen Land, the Land of Israel, which happens to be centrally and strategically located in the middle of Africa, Asia and Europe. But due to our lack of faithfulness, the Jewish people would be exiled from the Land of Israel. Life in the Diaspora among the nations would be very difficult and precarious, but we would survive (Deuteronomy 28:15-68, Leviticus 26:31-45). Moses predicted that both a time of obedience and blessing would come upon the Jewish people, and then a period of disobedience and exile – the last 2000 years. Then, spiritual restoration to God and physical restoration to the Land of Israel would follow (see Deuteronomy 30:1-5).
* Just before the Messiah’s return, the Jewish people would be regathered from all the nations and established in our ancient land (Psalm 69:35-36, Isaiah 11:11-12, Isaiah 43:1-8, Isaiah 49:8-13, Jeremiah 31:10-11, Zechariah 10:6-12, Ezekiel 36:24-32, Ezekiel 37:21-22).
* The prophetic Word of God foretold that our return to our ancient homeland would provoke a reaction from Israel’s surrounding neighbors. They would claim that the Land of Israel belong to them, and seek to drive the Jews into the Sea (see Ezekiel 36:1-12). This would cause Israel to be a difficult situation for the surrounding nations, a “cup that causes reeling” and a “heavy stone.” The conflict will be internationalized and an army made up of a coalition of United Nations will invade Israel, but the invading army will be destroyed (see Zechariah 12:1-10).
* Israel’s cities would be rebuilt and the land would experience an agricultural miracle (Isaiah 27:6, 41:18-20; Amos 9:13-15; Ezekiel 36:8-15, 24-28, 33-38) The desert would rejoice and blossom as a rose (Isaiah 35:1-2). The Earth will be transformed into a new Garden of Eden (Isaiah 11:6-10).
* All nations will worship the God of Israel in the renewed city of Jerusalem, where Messiah Yeshua will be ruling with peace and justice (Isaiah 2:1-4, Isaiah 11:1-9) Zechariah 8:2-3, 14:16).
WHY PEOPLE DON’T BELIEVE IN THE BIBLE
* They’ve been told that the theory of evolution is fact, and that the Earth is billions of years old, while the Bible tells us that God created the universe and the Earth relatively recently, only some 6,000 to 10,000 years ago.
Evidences For A Young Universe
* The Influx of minerals and elements into the oceans. We have a good idea of how much minerals and elements flow into the world’s oceans each year. If the oceans were 2 billion years old, they should have been saturated with salt and other minerals long ago. Of course, they are not!
Chemical Element Years to Accumulate in the Oceans from River Inflow
* Accumulation of bottom sediments on the oceans yields a maximum of 30 million years.
* The Decay of the Earth’s Magnetic Field: the strength of the magnetic field has been carefully measured for 135 years, and its strength has been decaying exponentially with a most probable half-life of 1400 years. Only 7000 years ago, it would have been 32 times as strong, which is about the maximum possible for life as we know it to exist on Earth. See Scientific Creationism, pages 131 to 170, for the above.
* The Shrinking Sun: Recent measurements indicate that the size of the Sun is shrinking. At the present rate of shrinkage, one million years ago the Sun’s size would have been so large the radiation coming from it would have made life on Earth impossible. See The Evidence for Creation, pages 24-45.
* Erosion of the Continents: given the present rate of erosion, the continents could be completely eroded to sea level within 14 million years, less than one-half of one percent proposed by the theory of evolution. See The Evidence for Creation, pages 24-45.
* Oil and Gas Deposits: there is extremely high pressure associated with oil and gas deposits beneath the Earth’s surface. Many of these deposits are surrounded by porous material that would allow the dissipation of the pressures over millions of years. See The Evidence for Creation, pages 24-45.
* The Mississippi River Delta: Approximately 300 million cubic yards of sediment are deposited into the Gulf of Mexico each year. By carefully studying the volume and rate of accumulation of the Mississippi River Delta, the age of the Delta is no more than 4,000 years old. From The Collapse of Evolution, by Scott Huse, Baker Books, 1983, page 40.
* The Rotation of the Earth: the rotation of the Earth is gradually slowing due to the gravitational drag of the sun, moon and other factors. If the Earth is billions of years old, and it has been slowing down uniformly, then its present rotation should be zero. From The Collapse of Evolution, by Scott Huse, Baker Books, 1983, page 41.
Evidences For A Worldwide Flood
The Bible tells us that there was a worldwide flood some 5000 years ago that dramatically changed the Earth’s climate and geography. There are flood stories in dozens of cultures, from all over the world. Of course, the Bible’s version is the accurate one. Sedimentary rock covers most of the Earth, with billions of fossils in that sedimentary rock all over the Earth, indicating a sudden death by drowning and rapid burial on a world-wide basis. Coal and oil deposits, sometimes several miles under sedimentary rock, indicate that huge amounts of animal life, marine life and vegetable matter were rapidly buried.
Arguments Against Evolution
* There should be millions of intermediate changes in animals, but they are never found. Specimens are found fully developed, not in transitional form.
* Dating methods use circular reasoning or may start with assumptions that may not be true (like Carbon 14 dating, Potassium-Argon and Uranium-Lead methods – see Scientific Creationism, pages 131-149). For example, how old is a particular rock layer? Supposedly, we can tell by certain key fossils. And how do we tell how old certain fossils are? By where they appear in certain rock layers! It’s circular reasoning.
* Evolution goes against the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics: “The First Law of Thermodynamics is also known as the Law of Energy Conservation. It states that energy can be changed from one form to another, but it can neither be created nor destroyed. There is absolutely nothing in the present economy of natural law that could possibly account for its own origin. The scientific fact is in direct conflict with the basic concept of naturalistic, innovative evolution. The present structure of the universe is one of conservation, no innovation as required by the theory of evolution.”
“The Second Law of Thermodynamics is known as the Law of Energy Decay. Every system if left to its own devices tends to move from order to disorder. In other words, the universe is proceeding in a downward, degenerating direction of decreasing organization… Given enough time, all of the energy of the universe will have died what is commonly referred to as a heat-death… Evolution required billions of years of constant violations of the Second Law of Thermodynamics if it is to be considered even remotely feasible! Those who believe in the Bible understand the Second Law of Thermodynamics to be a result of the curse placed on creation due to the Fall of man (see Genesis 3:17-19). We also believe that creation will ultimately be released from this bondage to decay and corruption (see Romans 8:18-23).” From The Collapse of Evolution, by Scott Huse, Baker Books, 1983, pages 75-78.
* Neither “Natural Selection” nor “Mutations” add any genetic information to an organism. Mutations merely mix up or diminish the usefulness of the information that already exists in the DNA.
* We don’t see any species evolving. We see the extinction of many species, which is what we would expect from a world that is fallen, and operating by the law of entropy. We don’t see evolution taking place, merely adaptation. Darwin’s finches probably came from one original pair. Over time they adapted to different environments, and a number of sub-species developed, each subspecies ending up with less generic information than the originators. The same holds true with dogs. Starting with one pair rich in genetic material, small breeds, like the Jack Russell Terrier that I have, or large breeds, like Great Danes, can come. Each is still a dog, but it has less genetic information that its originators.
* There are thousands of reputable scientists who believe in it, including the founders of most of the branches of science! (see Men of Science, Men of God), Henry Morris, Master Books, 1982.
* The Bible, which has a supernatural worldview, centering around a moral God who sets standards, who is capable of doing miracles, conflicts with the spirit of the age, which is a mixture of secularism, anti-supernaturalism and post-modernism.
* The Bible records that miracles are real but rare: they happened only a few times in history: at the time of Creation, the Fall when the Earth was cursed, at the Flood, during the Exodus, during the times of Elijah and Elisha, and during the time of Yeshua. Miracles are treated circumspectly. Miracles are consistent with a God who can make the universe out of nothing.
* If a miracle took place, how would you know if you weren’t there to witness it? And say were an eyewitness to a miracle? How would you prove it? What would happen if you were taking a philosophy course with 25 other students, and suddenly, a giant, seven-foot chicken appeared out of thin air, and flapped its giant wings, and the professor rose from the ground, and floated in the air for a minute? Then the giant chicken flapped its wings again, and the professor descended back to the floor, and the giant seven foot chicken disappeared. What evidence would remain? How would anyone know 20 years from now? The only way to transmit this kind of information would be by means of eyewitness testimony. The Bible gives us reliable, eyewitness testimony about miracles.
* They have been told that “you can’t prove it scientifically.” But we prove historical events differently from repeatable, controlled and verifiable experiments in a laboratory. We must use legal-historical proofs to show that events in history took place. How do we know Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo? That Julius Caesar invaded Britain? That Columbus discovered America? A verdict is reached on the basis of the weight of the evidence, based on testimony and exhibits, so that the conclusions drawn are beyond a reasonable doubt.
* Indications that the universe is not purely mechanistic and material: It is subtle and complex, almost miraculous! For example, this podium looks solid, dull, inactive, but the reality is that it is an absolutely amazing thing! It is composed of trillions upon trillions of atoms, and each atom is composed of protons, neutrons and electrons, themselves composed of many sub-atomic particles. Electrons are particles with a negative electric charge that are whizzing around the positively charged core at a fantastic speed. If we could slow down these electrons, and take out all the space between the electrons and the core of neutrons and protons, the atom would be much so much smaller, probably less than the size of a pin head! What is the matter that makes up the universe? It is basically energy moving close to the speed of light. Matter seems to me to be more like “thought with power.” Isn’t that more in keeping with a dynamic, supernatural worldview, a worldview that acknowledges “and God said… and there was,” rather than a mechanistic, materialistic, anti-supernatural one?
* One reason why most people don’t believe the Bible is because everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. Most human beings prefer to continue doing what is wrong, because changing can be painful. It’s like the man who has been held in complete darkness for a long time, and suddenly comes out into a bright, sunny day, and his eyes hurt.
Coming to the Light means exposure, and most people dislike being exposed. Coming to the Light means admitting that you have been involved in darkness. It means exposing your bad attitudes, wrong practices, false beliefs, that many of the things you have been doing, and the attitudes that you have maintained, and the beliefs you have held, and the practices you have been engaged in doing, are wrong. That’s painful, and most humans beings won’t do it. Most human beings hate the Light. The truth is too good, too demanding to live up to. It’s more comfortable, more soothing to self, more convenient, and easier on their pride, to avoid the Light.
Not only do most hate the Light, but sadly, they love the darkness. They want to continue doing what they are doing, when they are doing, how they are doing it, with whom and to whom they are doing it. They dislike the Bible’s restrictions. Its morality limits what they can do. They dislike its message, that God is in control, that He sets our moral and ethical standards, and one day He will call them to account, and judge if they have measured up to His standards. But fallen human nature likes to call the shots, to be in control, bow to no one, to be master of their destiny, to do it their way, to be as God.
We reject the Bible because we have an anti-God bias deep within us. After Adam and Eve sinned, and God appeared in the Garden of Eden, they ran away from God, and hid in the trees. Our natural orientation is to avoid God. We are uncomfortable approaching God. He makes us aware of our failings. He confronts us with our unwillingness or inability to live by His standards.
WHY DO WE NEED THE MESSIAH?
We are fallen, sinful, alienated from God, who is Ha Makor, the Source of life, joy, peace, being, existence and meaning. Since we are alienated from God, who is the Source, we are also alienated from life (we will die), from ourselves (unhappiness, mental, emotional illnesses, despair, suicide, depression, drug and alcohol abuse), from each other (crimes, injustice, inhumanity, wars, genocide) from nature (destruction of the environment).
We may sense this alienation but not know the reason for it. The Holy Scriptures give us the reason. 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 blessing, happiness and life. The entire world was 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 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). Only by having faith in Yeshua are we reconciled to God, and restored to true life.
HOW DO WE KNOW THAT YESHUA IS THE MESSIAH?
There are six main lines of evidence: Messianic Prophecies, Yeshua’s Miracles, Yeshua’s Prophecies, Other Evidences, Yeshua’s Resurrection From Death, and Yeshua’s Impact On The World.
The amazing Messianic prophecies that are found in the Tenach and fulfilled in the New Testament Scriptures demonstrate that the Bible is a supernatural book inspired by God, and that Yeshua is the Messiah.
* Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem and yet originate from the days of eternity (Micah 5:1-2). Yeshua was born in Bethlehem. See Matthew 2:1-6, Luke 2:1-20.
* Messiah had to be a Jewish man, from the tribe of Judah, and from the family of King David (Isaiah 9:7, 11:1-9, Jeremiah 23:5-6). Yeshua was! See Matthew 1:1-17.
* Messiah was to come before 70 AD (Daniel 9:24-27). Yeshua did. See Luke 1:5, 2:1-7.
* Messiah was to enter Jerusalem triumphantly, yet humbly on a donkey, (Zechariah 9:9). Yeshua did. See Matthew 21:1-9, John 12:12-16.
* Messiah was to be initially rejected by the majority of Israel, especially the leaders (Isaiah 53:1-3, Psalm 118:22). Yeshua was. See John 1:11, 12:37-43, Acts 4:1-12. The fact that the majority of Jewish people don’t believe in Him is a strong point for the fact that He is the Messiah!
* Messiah was to be tried and condemned even though He was innocent (Isaiah 53:8). Yeshua was. See Matthew 27:1-2, Luke 23:1-25.
* Messiah was to be silent before His accusers (Isaiah 53:7). Yeshua was. See Matthew 27:12-14, Mark 15:3-4, Luke 23:8-10.
* Messiah was to be beaten and spit upon (Micah 5:1-2, Isaiah 50:6). Yeshua was. See Matthew 26:67, Mark 27:30, Mark 14:65.
* Messiah was to be mocked and taunted (Psalm 22:7-8). Yeshua was. See Matthew 27:39-43, Luke 23:11, 35-36.
* Lots would be cast for Messiah’s garments (Psalm 22:18). They were. See Matthew 27:35, Mark 15:24.
* Messiah was to be pierced (Zechariah 12:10). Yeshua was. See John 19:18, 34-37.
* Messiah was to die by crucifixion (Psalm 22:14-17). Yeshua was. See Matthew 27:31, Mark 15:20, 25.
* Messiah was to wrongly suffer with transgressors yet pray for His enemies (Isaiah 53:12). Yeshua did. See Matthew 27:38, Mark 15:27.
* Messiah was to die as an offering for sin (Isaiah 53:5-6, 8, 10-12, Daniel 9:24-27, Zechariah 9:9, 12:10, Psalm 16:10, 22). See John 1:29, 11:49-52, 1 Corinthians 15:53.
* Messiah was to be raised from the dead (Isaiah 53:12, Zechariah 12:10, Daniel 9:24-27, Psalm 16:10, Psalm 22, Psalm 118:22-23). Yeshua was! See Matthew 28:1-10, Acts 2:22-32.
* Messiah was to be God born into humanity (Isaiah 9:6-7, Jeremiah 23:5-6, Psalm 110:1, Proverbs 30:4). Yeshua was and is! See John 1:1, 20:28, Hebrews 1:8.
* The Messiah was going to have a world-wide impact on the Gentile nations (Isaiah 49:6). Yeshua has! “Jesus has become the most popular, the most studied, the most influential figure in the religious history of mankind… No sensible Jew can be indifferent to the fact that a Jew should have had such a tremendous part in the religious education and direction of the human race…. Who can compute all that Jesus has meant to humanity? The love he has inspired, the solace he has given, the good he has engendered, the hope and joy he has kindled – all that is unequaled in human history… Rabbi Hyman Enelow, past president of the Central Conference of American Rabbis
The probabilities that any one human being could fulfill all these are infinitesimally small. Yeshua fulfilled these, and many others, so He must be the Messiah that God promised to send into this world!
Few prophets in Israel’s long history ever performed miracles – Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha, and a few others, but Yeshua’s miracles exceeded them all. He turned water into wine, walked on water, healed the sick, cleansed lepers, brought sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, fed five thousand men from a few loaves of bread and some fish, stilled the winds and waves with just a word, and raised the dead. This lets us know that Yeshua is the Messiah sent by God.
* Yeshua predicted His own death, along with many of its details and amazingly, His own resurrection (John 2:19, 3:14, Matthew 20:17-19).
* Yeshua predicted that the Second Temple would be destroyed to such an extent that not one stone would be left on top of another (Matthew 24:1-2). When the troops of Roman General Titus broke through the walls and destroyed Jerusalem in 70 AD, the Temple was sacked, and subsequently disassembled stone by stone. The inside of the Temple had been with overlaid with gold, and a fire in the Temple caused the gold to melt. The Romans took every stone apart to retrieve as much gold as possible. Thus Yeshua’s prophecy was fulfilled concerning the destruction of the Temple, even to the detail of every stone being taken down.
* Yeshua predicted due to our lack of belief that He was the Messiah, and our rejection of Him, Jerusalem would be destroyed, we would be exiled among the nations, but eventually, we would return to Israel (Luke 21:23-24). This prophecy began in 70 AD when Jerusalem was destroyed, and then again in 135 AD, when the Jewish people revolted a second time against the Roman Empire. We were scattered to the nations, and lost control of Jerusalem. There were always some Jewish people who remained in the land of Israel over the past 2000 years, but starting in the 1880’s, this prophesied regathering of Jewish people to Israel picked up speed. Now there is a reborn nation of Israel, with Jerusalem as its capital, with more than 4.5 million Jewish people regathered from more than 70 countries, just as Yeshua predicted.
* Yeshua predicted that His words would endure forever, and that His movement would succeed despite all opposition (Matthew 16:18, 24:35).
* An evidence that Yeshua is the Messiah comes from the Talmud, in Yoma 39 A and B: “The Talmud records that four ominous events occurred approximately forty years before the destruction of the Temple. Those four events were to warn the rabbis of the Temple’s impending doom. According to Jewish tradition, all four of these signs came to pass.
The four signs were:
- The lot for the Lord’s goat did not come up in the right hand of the High Priest.
- The scarlet cord tied to the door of the Temple on the Day of Atonement stopped turning white after the scapegoat had been cast over the precipice.
- The westernmost light on the Temple candelabra would not burn.
- The Temple doors would open by themselves. The rabbis saw this as an ominous fulfillment of Zechariah 11:1, ‘Open your doors, O Lebanon, that fire may devour your cedars.’ The opening of the doors to let in the consuming fire foretold the destruction of the Temple itself by fire.” (From pages 104-105 of The Fall Feasts of Israel, by Mitch and Zhava Glaser, Moody Press, 1987.
* The New Testament records that at the moment of Yeshua’s death, the huge, thick veil in the Temple was torn from top to bottom. There was also an eclipse, and an earthquake (Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38, Luke 23:44-45).
EVIDENCES FOR YESHUA’S RESURRECTION
Taken from The Resurrection Factor by Josh McDowell
- Yeshua’s Resurrection forms the basis for the Messianic Faith: The Resurrection of Yeshua is the central fact which validates the rest of the New Testament. There is no way to overemphasize its importance. Messianic Judaism and Christianity stand or fall with the Resurrection of Yeshua.
- The Reliability of the New Testament: Scholarly evidence exists in abundance to document that the New Testament can survive the most severe scrutiny by modern archeology. There is better manuscript evidence for the accuracy of the New Testament than for any other ancient text. There are 24,000 New Testament manuscripts versus 700 manuscripts for the Iliad.
- The Possibility of the Supernatural: Many have ruled out the Resurrection on the basis of presuppositions. They presume that miracles can’t happen, which is not good methodology.
- The followers of Yeshua were neither ignorant nor naive: They were practical men raised in a tough environment and knew the difference between fact and fable. Israelis were schooled to believe in historical events like the Exodus. Greeks believed in myths.
- The Scientific Method isn’t Applicable: It can’t be used in investigating the Resurrection because this method can only be used to validate phenomena which can be repeated in observable, testable fashion. The same criteria must be applied when investigating the Resurrection as are applied to any other event in history. By those standards the case for the Resurrection is extremely strong. We investigate the Resurrection by the criteria of history, not science.
- The Testimony of History: Dr. Simon Greenleaf, Professor of Law at Harvard, wrote a book on called A Treatise on the Laws of Evidencearound 1842. He was one of the greatest authorities on evidences in law. That book is still considered to be an authoritative book on evidences in law. Dr. Greenleaf was a religious skeptic. He was challenged by a student to use his knowledge of evidences and apply it to the Resurrection of Yeshua. Dr. Greenleaf did so, and He concluded that the Resurrection of Yeshua is one of the best established facts of ancient history, and that there is more evidence for the historical fact of Yeshua’s resurrection than for almost any other event in human history. Dr. Greenleaf became a committed Christian.
The Evidence That Yeshua Was Dead And That His Body Was Secured From Theft And Tampering
- Yeshua’s Trials: Yeshua underwent not one, not two, but six trials between His Last Supper and the Cross.
Trial # 1 Before Annas John 18:12-23
Trial # 2 Before Caiphas John 18:24-27, Matt 26:57
Trial # 3 Before Sanhedrin Matthew 27:1-2, 26:59
Trial # 4 Before Pilate Matthew 27:1-2, 11-14
Trial # 5 Before Herod Luke 23:4-12
Trial # 6 Before Pilate again Luke 23:11-25
Those involved in prosecuting Him at those trials had heavily vested interests in making sure that the execution was carried out successfully.
- The Manner of Yeshua’s Death: He was so terribly beaten that He couldn’t carry His cross. It involved blows, whipping, crucifixion. His legs were not broken; it wasn’t necessary. He was pierced by a spear. Water and blood came out. Death certified by centurion, a man who knew about death (Mark 15:44-46).
- He was entombed in a solid rock tomb: There were no panels, no way out.
- First century Jewish Burial Ritual: The body was probably inspected to make sure the individual was dead. In Yeshua’s case it was then wrapped in linen and 100 pounds of spices, probably forming a cocoon-like encasement.
- The Stone at the Mouth of the Tomb: Burial stones weigh commonly around two tons. That will keep anyone in or out.
- The Roman Security Guard: 4 to 16 trained soldiers. Four shifts, one on, three off (Matthew 28:11, “Some of guard”). The Tomb was guarded continuously.
- The Roman Seal: Tomb sealed under official authority of Rome to open it or allow it to be opened was to defy Rome and resulted in automatic death penalty. Seal was a type of authentication that guaranteed the body inside was Yeshua.
The Evidence That Something Unprecedented Happened To The Body Of Yeshua
- The broken Roman seal: The feared power of Rome was ignored by whoever broke open the seal to the tomb.
- The large stone was moved:A two ton stone was somehow moved away from the mouth of the tomb under Roman guard.
- The Roman guard went AWOL: A disciplined Roman guard fled their watch and had to be bribed by the authorities to lie about what happened – a lie so flimsy that they wouldn’t have concocted it themselves. They would have been killed for sleeping on duty and allowing the disciples to steal the body.
- The graveclothes: They were undisturbed, but no longer contained a body.
- The empty tomb: Both Jews and Romans admitted that the tomb was empty (Matthew 28:11-15). Any theory must deal with this fact.
- The nature of His post-resurrection appearances: Yeshua appeared to a wide variety of witnesses, under widely varying conditions, in widely varying numbers, under circumstances which belie the accusation of mass hallucination. Miriam (John 20:11-18), to the other women (Matthew 28:8-10), to Simon Peter (Luke 24:34), to the two on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35), to the Ten (Luke 24:36-43), to all Eleven 8 days later (John 20:24-29), to Seven by the Lake of the Galilee (John 21:1-23), to five hundred at once (1 Corinthians 15:6), to Ya’akov (1 Corinthians 15:7), and finally to Saul of Tarsus (Acts 9:1-16).
- The fact that women saw Him first: due to the low view of women’s credibility (they weren’t allowed to be witnesses in Jewish courts of law) it makes no sense to believe that the account of women being the first to discover the empty tomb was a contrivance.
Five Theories Used Historically To Suggest The Tomb Wasn’t Empty
Any theory which seeks to explain the empty tomb must take into account all the known facts. The evidence must not be forced into conforming to some preconceived conclusion.
- The Unknown Tomb:Yeshua’s body was cast into some unknown pit by executioners. The fact that the body’s whereabouts were unknown made room for the possibility of a resurrection cult. Objections: this disregards New Testament statements about Joseph’s tomb, the seal, and the guards. They knew where the right tomb was.
- The Wrong Tomb: The disciples went to wrong tomb. Objections: the authorities would have later found the right tomb. Disciples found the right tomb with the grave clothes. Roman guards knew which tomb was the right one.
- The Legend Theory: Stories of Yeshua’s resurrection didn’t crop up until years later. Objections: Unbiased scholars say that almost all of the New Testament was written by 64 AD, just a short time after the events took place, which was not enough time for myths or legends to develop. Luke mentions that he based his book on eyewitness testimony. 1 Corinthians was written by Paul around 56 AD, and mentions the Resurrection and the fact that most of the 500 eyewitnesses were still living.
- Spiritual Resurrection:Yeshua’s resurrection was only spiritual – His body decayed in grave. Objections: He ate with them. There was nothing revolutionary about a spiritual resurrection. Still left with the fact of an empty tomb.
- Hallucination theory: All of Messiah’s post resurrection appearances were hallucinatory hoaxes. Objections: Only certain kinds of people have hallucinations, usually a paranoid or a schizophrenic. Hallucinations very individualistic. But these were in public, not private, different numbers, circumstances, times, settings, personalities, to those not expecting a resurrection. Still doesn’t explain the empty tomb.
Five Theories Used To Explain An Empty Tomb Not Due To Resurrection
- Yeshua’s Body was stolen by disciples: Objections: The tomb was guarded by Roman soldiers: The disciples would have to overcome these fighting forces. It’s not likely that the Roman soldiers would have been sleeping, since the death penalty was the punishment. The disciples were discouraged and in hiding. They were in no mood to start fighting Romans soldiers, defying Rome and Jerusalem. Why would grave robbers unwrap the burial clothes and neatly place them to the side? These men were not known as men of deception, lies and hoaxes. They were known instead for their sterling character, not as body snatchers and liars. What possible reward motivated this hoax? What did the disciples have to gain by stealing the body and preaching Yeshua’s resurrection?
This wasn’t some elaborate swindle that made them all rich. All they got out of it was persecution, prison, and death. They had no earthly gain, and if they lied about Yeshua’s resurrection, they would have been advocating a false Messiah, and could look forward to God’s punishment on the Day of Judgment.
- Yeshua’s Body was stolen by Roman or Jewish authorities: Objections: It doesn’t make sense to deny that Yeshua’s body was gone. If His body was still around, when the disciples started claiming that Yeshua was alive, the government officials and religious authorities, who were hostile to Yeshua and His disciples, would have produced the body to show that Yeshua was still dead. But Yeshua’s body had completely disappeared, and they were unable to produce His body.
- The Swoon theory: After His beatings, whipping, crucifixion, being pierced by a spear, covered with grave clothes and spices. Yeshua was ‘revived” in a cool tomb, pushed away a two ton stone, slipped through a Roman guard, walked miles on bleeding, mangled feet to convince His disciples he had overcome death. That takes more faith than believing in the Resurrection!
- The Passover Plot: Yeshua planned His fulfillment of a number of messianic prophecies, and was drugged by an accomplice on the cross. His plot went awry when stabbed by the Roman soldier. Somehow some of the women from His group and His disciples mistook another man for Him and no one ever set them straight.
- The Koran suggests that someone else was crucified, and that Yeshua was taken up to Heaven without experiencing death or resurrection.
Note: All of these theories ignore the New Testament data that doesn’t support their thesis. They are theories built upon hypotheses rather than on the evidence. When all is said and done we are left with the fact of the empty tomb.
Circumstantial Evidence For The Factuality Of The Resurrection
- The existence of the Messianic Movement: If Yeshua wasn’t resurrected, the Messianic Movement never could have started in Jerusalem. All the hostile authorities would have had to do to crush the Messianic Movement would have been to produce Yeshua’s body. The movement would have died an early death in Jerusalem.
- Transformed lives: Yeshua’s disciples were in no frame of mind to fabricate his resurrection. Why would they? An immediate resurrection wasn’t part of the thinking of first century Judaism. In fact they refused to believe it when they first heard about it! Only Yeshua’s resurrection could have transformed cowardly disciples and hostile family members from a dispirited group into a fearless band that were willing to give up their lives and transformed the world.
Ya’akov (James), his brother who didn’t believe in Him, became the leader of the Jerusalem congregation. Peter who denied Him three times, shortly thereafter, became a fearless advocate. Saul of Tarsus, the worst opponent of the Messianic Jews, was transformed into the greatest missionary that the world has ever seen. There have been millions of people since that time that have claimed to encounter the risen Yeshua and have been transformed by Him.
The Implications Of Yeshua’s Resurrection
Yeshua’s resurrection validates Yeshua, His actions, His deeds, His words and His message. It is God’s seal of approval on everything that Yeshua did and taught. It declares that He is Lord and Messiah. It declares that He is God in the flesh, as He claimed. This makes Yeshua absolutely unique in the history of the world and puts him on a level far higher than any of the prophets of Israel or any other religion. It sets Messianic Judaism and Christianity apart from all the other major world religions. Buddha is still in his tomb. Mohammed is still in his grave. Confucius is still buried. Only Messiah Yeshua of all human being has been raised from death and overcome it. We ought to listen very carefully to every word He ever uttered, and trust what He said.
Messiah’s resurrection guarantees our resurrection, if we join ourselves to Him by having faith, confidence and trust in Him. Yeshua said to Martha, I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this? (John 11:25-26) Do you? When the resurrected Yeshua appeared to doubting Thomas, Yeshua said to Thomas, reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into My side; and be not unbelieving but believing. Thomas answered and said to Yeshua, My Lord and my God. Yeshua said to him, because you have seen me you have believed? Blessed are they who did not see and yet believed. (John 20:27-29). Do you believe?
IT’S ALL OR NOTHING
By David Feddes
Perhaps the strongest evidence that Yeshua is the Messiah is His resurrection from the dead. If Yeshua is alive, you’d be a fool not to believe in Him. And if He is dead, you’d be a fool to believe in Him, no matter who you are. There’s no in-between. It’s all or nothing.
The reality of the situation is this: if the Resurrection didn’t happen, if Yeshua is dead and His body has decayed and He is not alive now, then the New Testament is a lie – its claims are not true for you or me or for anyone else. If Yeshua never came back to life, you can have all the feelings and opinions you want, but they won’t change the fact that Yeshua is dead and that your faith is worthless.
Christians and Messianic Jews believe that God became a Man in the person of a Jewish carpenter from Nazareth. We believe that after this carpenter was tortured and executed and buried, His dead body was raised to life again by God’s power. We believe that certain women spoke with Him and even touched Him after His resurrection, and that the risen Messiah spoke with His disciples, and that He broke bread with them and even ate broiled fish with them. We believe that today, at this very moment, Yeshua is physically present in Heaven in His resurrection body, and that He will return someday soon to Earth physically and visibly to raise and transform the bodies of all who have believed in Him, and loved His appearing. These are all definite and physical claims, and they all depend on whether or not His resurrection actually happened.
As Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 15, written around 56 AD: If Messiah has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Messiah … If Messiah has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Messiah have perished. If we have hoped in Messiah in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. But now Messiah has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who are asleep (1 Corinthians 15:14-20).
We have to consider several important points here. The first is that if Messiah has not been raised, then the foundation of Messianic Judaism and Christianity is destroyed. If Messiah has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. If Messiah has not been raised, the Emissaries are liars, and the New Testament is worthless. The Emissaries would be false witnesses about God, for they “testified about God that He raised Messiah from the dead.” And if the Emissaries are liars, then the New Testament is a web of lies, since it is the record of the Emissaries’ testimony.
If Yeshua has not been raised, then the founder of Christianity and Messianic Judaism, Messiah Himself, was either a liar or somewhat of a lunatic. After all, Yeshua claimed to be equal with God. He predicted that He would die for the sins of His people and then be raised again by the power of God. Obviously, if Yeshua didn’t overcome death, He was wrong and wasn’t Emmanuel (God with us), at all. In that case, this man who claimed to be God was either a deceiver or someone who wasn’t in his right mind. Either way, His message is not worth listening to.
However, if Yeshua has been raised, if He’s alive right now, then the situation is completely reversed: the foundations of Christianity and Messianic Judaism are firm and immovable. If Yeshua has been raised, then He was and is exactly who He claimed to be – the almighty Son of God, the Messiah of Israel and the Savior of the world.
What’s more, His handpicked Emissaries who testified as eyewitnesses to His resurrection are accurate and inspired, and we should believe every word they wrote under God’s inspiration. If Yeshua is alive, then the New Testament is rock solid and reliable.
If the Resurrection is real, it proves that Yeshua is God, confirms that the Bible is true, and thus firmly establishes the foundations of Messianic Jewish and Christian belief. If Messiah has not been raised, our faith is vain, empty and ultimately worthless; but if He has been raised, our faith rests on a foundation that cannot be destroyed. It’s all or nothing, and it all depends on the Resurrection.
Rabbi Paul then makes another point: if Messiah has not been raised, your faith is worthless and you are still in your sins. The New Testament teaches that only by means of Yeshua’s death and resurrection is true forgiveness and final atonement possible. If Yeshua was not raised from the dead, then God did not accept Yeshua’s death as a sufficient sacrifice to pay for the sins of the world. If God didn’t raise Yeshua, then the death of that carpenter-turned-rabbi was just another case of a man getting himself killed. But if God did raise Yeshua, then He accepted Yeshua’s death as the perfect sacrifice and final payment for sin. God’s full and final atonement then is applied to everyone who belongs to Yeshua. But if Yeshua has not been raised, His death was useless and we are still in our sins. It’s all or nothing and it all depends on the Resurrection.
Rabbi Paul makes a related point: if Messiah has not been raised, then Messianic Jews and Christians have no future. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Messiah have perished. If we have hoped in Messiah in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied (1 Corinthians 15:18-19). We believe that our bodies will be raised and that we will live forever only because Messiah arose again, overcame death, and makes it possible for us to live forever. But if Messiah didn’t rise, then we won’t rise. Once we die, we will remain dead. If that’s so, argues Paul, Messianic Jews and Christians are the most self-deceived, pathetic fools around.
On the other hand, if Yeshua has been raised up and has a glorified resurrection body, then those who have gone to their graves trusting in Him will also be raised to everlasting life. Death is not the end of the story. Life has conquered death, and the followers of Yeshua can look forward to a glorious future. They will enjoy eternal life and unending joy and pleasures and blessings that last forever! So, we have either a bleak future or a blessed one. Either we are the most pitiful people on Earth, or we are rich beyond measure. It’s all or nothing, and it all depends on the Resurrection.
Paul makes another point about the significance of the Resurrection in verse 32, where he says that without the Resurrection, life has no final meaning or purpose except to maximize our own pleasure and minimize our own pain: If from human motives I fought with wild beasts at Ephesus, what does it profit me? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” Why would anyone stand up for his beliefs, even to the point of being thrown to the lions, if death is the end? If there’s nothing beyond death, then it’s stupid to be a hero. Be a hedonist instead. Grab all the gusto while you can. Have as much fun as you can before you die. “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you die.”
If death is the end, then there’s no ultimate meaning to life. If death is the end, then there is no day of Judgment; God will never punish you for your sins, or reward you for your righteousness. If death is all there is, you might as well live by seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. If the dead are not raised, then the saints are stupid and the those who devote their lives to having fun are smart. But if Messiah has been raised, then death is not the end, and each of us must stand before the judgment seat of Messiah. Selfishness will be punished, and self-sacrifice will be rewarded. Hedonism will turn out to be stupid, and heroism will turn out to be smart. Rejecting Messiah will prove to be Hell, and accepting Messiah will turn out to be Heaven. So when you think about the final meaning and purpose of your own life, you have two basic choices: you should either live it up and do whatever you like, or you should devote your life to following Yeshua, loving God and loving others as He commands, even if it means making great sacrifices.
I think you can see why we can’t afford to be fuzzy in our thinking when it comes to Yeshua’s resurrection, because so much depends on it. The foundations of Messianic Judaism and true Christian teaching, finding genuine atonement and peace with God, our future destiny and the ultimate meaning of life all depend on whether Yeshua was raised from death. If He’s dead, the only choice is to forget Him. If He’s alive, the only sensible choice is to follow Him.
Once we clearly understand what’s at stake in this issue of the Resurrection, the next thing to do is find out whether it actually happened. What evidence do we have? Are there any solid reasons for thinking that Yeshua is alive? Is there any more reason to believe that Yeshua lives than to believe that Elvis lives? In answer to these questions, the inspired Word of God encourages us to look at the data, to consider the evidence, to weigh the arguments.
One line of argument is that the Resurrection fulfills Scripture from the Tenach, the Hebrew Scriptures. In 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 Paul writes, I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Messiah died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. When you read the Tenach, you will find prophecies about the Messiah that came true in the life of Yeshua. Is that just a coincidence? If all the predictions about the Messiah seem to fit one particular Person, then He almost has to be the Messiah. And if He is, doesn’t it make sense that He would also fulfill the Scriptural predictions about His resurrection?
Take just one example, from Isaiah 53:8-9, written 700 years before Yeshua came. He was cut off out of the land of the living for the transgression of my people. His grave was assigned with wicked men, and He was with a rich man in His death… Then in 53:11-12 it says, If He would render Himself as an offering for sin, He will see His seed, He will lengthen His days, and the good pleasure of Adonai will succeed in His hand. As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied… Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong; because He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.
Other prophecies about the Messiah’s death and resurrection are found in Zechariah 12:10, Daniel 9:24-27, Psalm 16:10, Psalm 22 and Psalm 118:22-23. Still, if prophecy had been the only proof, it’s unlikely that any of the early Messianic Jews would have come to believe in the Resurrection. As Yochanan – John puts it, “For as yet they did not understand the Scripture that Yeshua must rise again from the dead” (John 20:9). Yochanan (John) tells us that what first convinced him of the Resurrection was Yeshua’s empty tomb. This emissary who was loved by Yeshua went into Yeshua’s tomb, and saw with his own eyes that Yeshua’s body was gone. He saw the linen wrappings and the face-cloth that had been wrapped around Yeshua’s head, but Yeshua Himself was nowhere to be found. John saw that, and he believed (John 20:3-8). But even the empty tomb didn’t really convince most of the disciples. It was enough to convince John, but most of the others were convinced only by an actual encounter with the risen Messiah.
In 1 Corinthians 15:5-8 Paul mentions these encounters as a primary reason for believing the Resurrection: Yeshua appeared to Peter, then to the Twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep (died); then He appeared to Ya’akov – James, then to all the Emissaries, and last of all, as it were to one untimely born, He appeared to me also.
According to the biblical record, the risen Yeshua appeared on quite a number of occasions. And these weren’t just mysterious visions or apparitions. No, Yeshua actually spoke with His followers, and He broke bread with them, and He ate fish with them. He even allowed Thomas, the most skeptical of the disciples, to touch His scars. When Yeshua appeared to some women, they fell before Him and actually held on to His feet and worshiped Him. On some occasions, He even appeared to large groups of people, some 500 at one time, who all saw and heard Him at the same time. There was no way they could all be dreaming or hallucinating together.
Now, if you were part of a jury and you had the testimony of hundreds of reliable, level-headed people who all said they saw a certain person – and those people were even willing to die rather than change their story – wouldn’t you believe them? Sir Edward Clark, a British lawyer, wrote, “As a lawyer, I have made a prolonged study of the evidences for the events of the Messiah’s resurrection. To me the evidence is conclusive, and over and over again in the High Court I have secured the verdict on evidence not nearly so compelling.”
Paul mentions a final kind of evidence that is also very important: the change that Yeshua makes in people’s lives. In 1 Corinthians 15:9-10 Paul points to himself as a prime example: I am the least of the Emissaries, who am not fit to be called an Emissary, because I persecuted God’s Messianic Community. But by the grace of God, I am what I am, and His grace to me did not prove vain. Yeshua didn’t just appear to Paul; He transformed him. Paul was once a self-righteous Jewish leader who helped to imprison and kill the truly righteous Jews, the Messianic Jews, but the living Messiah transformed Paul into one of the greatest spiritual forces who ever lived.
And Paul wasn’t the only one Yeshua changed. Simon Peter had denied Yeshua, but after the Resurrection, he became a courageous leader and teacher. Yeshua’s half-brother Ya’akov, James, along with the rest of His relatives, had once thought that Yeshua was out of His mind. But when Yeshua appeared to His brothers after His resurrection, they believed in Him, and they became completely different people. Yeshua makes a difference whenever people put their faith in Him.
That’s true throughout the history of the Messianic Jewish movement and the Christian church, and it’s still true today. Physically Messiah has remained in Heaven since His ascension, but by the written testimony of His Emissaries and by the power of His Spirit, Yeshua continues to convince people that He is real, and He turns them around and changes their lives. Millions of people from every nation and racial background, young and old, rich and poor, illiterates and geniuses have been transformed by the Messiah. They have a dynamic, living, vital relationship with Him that transforms them into happier, better people.
When you put the evidence together – the predictions from the Tenach, the empty tomb, the hundreds of calm, rational people who insisted they saw the risen Messiah and even talked with Him and touched Him, and the millions throughout history whose lives have been changed by Him – it only makes sense to believe in Yeshua’s resurrection. It only makes sense to say with rabbi Paul, Messiah has been raised from the dead (1 Corinthians 15:20). It also makes good sense to become a Messianic Jew, or a Christian – to put your faith in Yeshua, the risen Lord and the eternal Son of God.
This article is slightly modified from the original article, “All or Nothing” by David Feddes, and is used by permission of The Back To God Hour of the Christian Reformed Church in North America, 6555 West College Drive Palos Heights IL 60463. All copyrights are retained by the Back to God Hour.
YESHUA’S IMPACT ON THE WORLD
Where Yeshua’s true disciples have been numerous, Yeshua’s influence has impacted their societies, especially in the areas of human rights and political freedom. Some examples are the anti-slavery and abolitionist movements in the United States, and social welfare movements, especially in England in the 18th century.
The young rabbi from Nazareth never wrote a book, and yet the libraries in the world are full of books that have been written about Him. As far as we know, He never wrote a song, and yet more songs have been written about Him than anyone else. He never founded a college, yet all the schools put together can’t compare to the number of all His students. He never led an army, and yet no leader ever had more volunteers. He never studied psychology, and yet He has healed more broken hearts than all the psychiatrists and psychologists the world has ever produced. He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another obscure village, where He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty.
Then for three years He was an itinerant preacher. He never had a family or owned a home. He never traveled more than two hundred miles from His birthplace. He never wrote a book, or held an office. He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness. While still a young man, the tide of popular opinion turned against Him. His friends deserted Him. He was betrayed to His enemies, and went through a mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves. While He was dying, His executioners gambled for the only piece of property He had – His coat. When He was dead, His body was taken down and place in a borrowed grave. Twenty centuries have come and gone, and today Yeshua is the central figure for much of the human race. All the armies that have ever marched, all the navies that have ever sailed, all the parliaments that have ever sat and all the kings that have ever reigned have not affected the lives of men as powerfully as this “One Solitary Life.”
We are now in the year 2006, which means that 2,000 years have passed since Yeshua came to Earth and clothed Himself with humanity. Much of the world marks time because of Yeshua’s impact on the world!
Human beings are born into spiritual darkness. They are confused and unaware of ultimate truth. It’s like we are living in a cave, with just a little light. Since that’s all we know, we think that is all that there is to reality. We need to be able to break through to the outside to get a different perspective. Life will never be fully successful, meaningful or understandable, unless you start with God and His revelation. If you begin with man and what you think is objective reality, you will remain in the cave, in darkness.
While it is impossible to prove that God exists, or that Yeshua is the Messiah, or that the Bible is true, there are plenty of data points on the graph of reality that we can interpolate that lead us to those conclusions. Please have an open mind, and seek after truth. Don’t be one of those who are “always learning but unable to come to the truth.”
If you are not a true Christian or a Messianic Jew, my advice to you is seek, and you will find. Knock on the doors of Heaven, and they will be opened. Ask the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to reveal the truth to you. You might want to pray the following prayer: God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, please reveal Yourself to me in a deeper way than I have ever known You before. Please show me whether or not the New Testament is true, and if Yeshua really is the Messiah. Give me the courage to follow Him if He is the Messiah, no matter what the cost.
I strongly recommend that you do what I did more than 30 ago – get a copy of the Bible and simply begin reading it. It is the most powerful and truest book ever written. The simple act of reading this book often authenticates to the reader the incredible truth of what it says. Just reading it can be a powerful spiritual experience. You might want to start reading the Book of John in the New Testament part of the Scriptures.
You can also contact us for a free copy of More Than A Carpenter by Josh McDowell. Josh McDowell was a skeptic who was convinced that anyone who believed in the Bible was out of their mind. After intensive research he realized that the Bible is 100% reliable and faith in it is intellectually feasible. More Than A Carpenter is the result of his research. It examines the Bible’s claims about itself, God, the Messiah, and the resurrection. Chapters include: Are the Biblical Records Reliable? What about Science? Will the real Messiah please stand up? What makes Yeshua so different? Isn’t there some other way? We will send you this fascinating 128 page book without charge.
I’d like to invite you to visit our synagogue, Congregation Shema Yisrael. Services are held Saturday mornings at 10:30 a.m. at the facilities of Bloomfield Hills Baptist Church, 3600 Telegraph Road in Bloomfield Hills.
Finally, I would be willing to communicate further with you about Messianic Judaism, how Yeshua can be the Messiah, and how we can be Jewish and believe in Him. Feel free to respond if you are interested. I hope to hear from you!
Rabbi Loren Jacobs
Probe Ministries at www.probe.org
Institute for Creation Research at www.icr.org
Answers In Genesis at www.AnswersInGenesis.org
The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? by F. F. Bruce
The Stones Cry Out: How Archeology Confirms the Truth of the Bible by Randall Price
Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell
More Than a Carpenter by Josh McDowell
The Case For Christ by Lee Stroubel
The Case For Faith by Lee Stroubel
Why I Believe by D. James Kennedy
Many Infallible Proofs by Henry Morris
Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics by Norman Geisler
Scientific Creationism by Henry Morris
The Genesis Flood by John Whitcomb and Henry Morris
Darwin’s Black Box by Michael Behe
The Privileged Planet DVD by Illustra Media
Unlocking The Mystery Of Life DVD by Illustra Media
The Case For A Creator DVD by Illustra Media