Ultra-Orthodox Jews are taught that Jesus Christ is not the Messiah. And yet, as Stoyan Zaimov recently reported, hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jews are nevertheless turning to Jesus.
What in the world could bring about such a surprising development? Well, here are 7 longings that motivate some Jews to turn to Jesus:
1. A Longing for Perfection
People all over the world engage in strict religious practices in their pursuit of perfection. These devotees in various religions are not comfortable with compromise, and so they seek to reach the pinnacle of their religious experience through a rigid lifestyle involving endless rules and ironclad regulations.
Jewish tradition teaches that there are 613 commandments. That's a lot of rules to follow, and it presents an incredibly challenging path to perfection. Ultra-Orthodox Jews have quite a task in front of them if they hope to stand before God in holiness and without any sin.
Once a person who is striving for perfection comes to realize that such a feat is impossible, he is a step closer to meeting the only One who ever lived a perfect life, died a perfect death, and rose again on the third day in order to redeem imperfect people.
2. A Self-Awareness Concerning Their Hostility Toward Christ
The anger and hostility that many people feel toward Jesus often gets directed at those who bear the name of Christ. This hostility is irrational, and yet it drives those who are consumed by it. Until someone begins to gain a self-awareness of its ugly power over their heart and mind, one is liable to continue perpetuating the myth that such hostility is compatible with spiritual health.
When an ultra-Orthodox Jew finally discovers from firsthand experience that a Messianic Jew is someone worthy of appreciation, the walls begin to come down and a new world springs forth right in front of their eyes.
3. A Search for Peace
Rules without relationships can produce much pride, but rarely any real peace. Apart from a relationship with the Son of God through faith, human beings remain restless no matter how hard they work at fulfilling their religious duties. Every ultra-Orthodox Jew is on a journey, but not every spiritual path leads to a rainbow.
There is only one God, and only one Redeemer of mankind. The prophet Isaiah foretold His coming: "For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. And He will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." (Isaiah 9:6)
The Jewish carpenter who fulfilled the Old Testament Messianic prophecies is the same one who said, "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest." (Matthew 11:28) Until you personally experience the Savior's peace, you will know only religion, but nothing of what it means to have a relationship with the Messiah.
4. A Desire to Be Intellectually Honest About the Messianic Prophecies
One would have to bury his head in the sand in order to ignore Jesus of Nazareth. Amazingly, God fulfilled about 300 prophecies in the Person of Jesus Christ.
Here are just 8 of those 300 prophecies:
The Messiah will be born in Bethlehem. (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:1; Luke 2:4-6) The Messiah will be a descendant of Jacob. (Numbers 24:17; Matthew 1:2) The Messiah will enter Jerusalem as a king riding on a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9; Mark 11:4-11) The Messiah will be betrayed by a friend. (Psalm 41:9; Luke 22:47,48) The Messiah's betrayal money will be used to purchase a potter's field. (Zechariah 11:13; Matt. 27:9,10) The Messiah will be spat upon and struck. (Isaiah 50:6; Matthew 26:67) The Messiah's hands and feet will be pierced. (Psalm 22:16; John 20:25-27) Soldiers will gamble for the Messiah's garments. (Psalm 22:18; Luke 23:34)
These are facts of history, and there is no intellectual honesty in attempting to rewrite history.
5. An Openness to Divine Revelation
The Jewish theologian David Novak said, "The Jewish tradition presents itself as the greatest revelation of God's truth that can be known in the world. That is why we call ourselves 'the chosen people.' It is not that we choose ourselves. It means that we have been elected by God and given the Torah."
The Jewish people obviously know quite a bit about divine revelation. After all, consider their history with God from the beginning of time. Over the centuries, God has chosen to reveal Himself to His people in miraculous ways.
When Saul of Tarsus was converted on the road to Damascus, (Acts 9:1-19) it was a supernatural example of divine revelation. And the millions of Jews and Gentiles who have met Jesus over the centuries have also been the recipients of divine revelation. It's not just Abraham, Moses, and King David who received a message from God. Every believer in Christ has also been blessed with divine revelation.
It's the only way to know the truth, and it's the only way to understand God's eternal plan of salvation.
6. A Greater Passion for Truth Than for Traditional Orthodoxy
Truth is not determined by your religious upbringing. After all, religions contradict each other in their teachings. And no prophet other than Christ fulfilled the Messianic prophecies. Regardless of your religious background, it is critical that you desire truth more than you desire to follow the traditions of your family upbringing. Millions of people live and die enslaved to religious traditions that do nothing to give them forgiveness, peace, and eternal life in heaven.
Growing up in an "orthodox" setting can be a blessing or a curse depending upon whether or not you are willing to believe the truth once it is presented to you. Growing up in the midst of a strong religious tradition is one thing. Getting to know the Messiah is another.
If you truly desire to know the truth, then the 53rd chapter of Isaiah would be a great place to start. And from there, the Gospel of John, the Book of Romans, and the Book of Hebrews.
7. A Longing to Meet God Without the Veil
The New Testament clearly describes what happens when a person is brought to God through faith in Christ. The blinders come off and you begin to experience a personal relationship with God.
"We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed, because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away." (2 Cor. 3:13-17)
This is the ultimate reason an ultra-Orthodox Jew would turn to Jesus. Spiritual enlightenment changes everything. "Whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away."
Turning to Jesus brings you to God, and you begin to understand His plan of salvation. The result is joy and peace in your heart, and eventually paradise in God's eternal kingdom. This message can never be understood and accepted merely with human reason. It requires divine revelation.
For example, the apostle Paul (formerly Saul of Tarsus) shared this testimony with the churches in Galatia.
"I want you to know, brothers, that the Gospel I preached is not something that man made up. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ. For you have heard of my previous way of life in Judaism, how intensely I persecuted the church of God and tried to destroy it. I was advancing in Judaism beyond many Jews of my own age and was extremely zealous for the traditions of my fathers. But when God, who set me apart from birth and called me by His grace, was pleased to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles, I did not consult any man." (Galatians 1:11-16)
Does Paul's experience of meeting God without the veil make you jealous of seeing what he saw, and knowing what he knew? Or instead, do you feel rather ashamed to even admit that Jesus was a Jew and a noble Man? I assure you of this my friend. Once you meet the Messiah, you won't be ashamed of Him any longer.
The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the God of fulfilled prophecy, absolute truth, and eternal salvation. You can walk with Him and talk with Him. You can turn to Him, or not.
What will you do with the Messiah?
Why not ask God to reveal the truth to you this day. That is, if your soul desires truth more than tradition, and if divine revelation is more important to you than your family's approval.