3 Reasons Why Messianic Jews Believe The Scriptures (Pt 2)
By Rabbi Barney Kasdan
Besides the strong arguments of the inspiration and preservation of the Bible, Messianic Judaism can look to other evidence that confirms the accuracy of the Holy Scriptures. It has only been since the 19th century that the field of archaeology has become a major source of information for Bible scholars. Especially since the establishment of the modern state of Israel we now have access to incredible discoveries which throw new light on the Scriptures. Recent digs in the Middle East have revealed lost civilizations (e.g., the Hittites), controversial leaders (e.g., the Pilate stone in1961 and Ciaphas ossuary in 1990) as well as inscriptions referring to Bible history (e.g., the Silver Scroll in 1979 and the reference to “Bet David” found in 1993). While there may always be naysayers regarding such discoveries, for Messianic Judaism these continue to illustrate the historical accuracy of the Scriptures from evidence beyond the pages of the Bible. One can only wonder what still lies beneath the dirt of Israel! Many of those working in this exploding field of archaeology (including many non-believers in the Bible’s message) are being forced to objectively reevaluate the external evidence around them. Of particular interest to us are some of the conclusions reached by famous Jewish archaeologist and rabbi, Nelson Glueck. As a former president of Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, he took part in many excavations including his well-known work in the Negev. He was even known to use the Bible as a guide to find some of his key discoveries. So it shouldn’t surprise us as one hears Rabbi Glueck’s assessment of the relationship between the Bible and external evidence.
“As a matter of fact, however, it may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference. Scores of archaeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible. And, by the same token, proper evaluation of biblical descriptions has often led to amazing discoveries. They form tesserae in the vast mosaic of the Bible’s almost incredibly correct historical memory” (Randall Price, The Stones Cry Out, p.323).
Add to this, the capstone of biblical uniqueness; that is, fulfilled prophecy as observed in human history. I remember in 1967, as a secular Jewish kid from Southern California, being captivated by the reports of the battle in the Middle East. As I heard the news broadcast over my eighth grade class public address system, it was as if for the first time it seemed to me that there might be a God doing something! Like so many other Jews, the events of the 6-Day War certainly created a new awareness in me and, in my case, a curiosity to even read the Bible. It wasn’t until several years later that I realized that these events were not just coincidences of geo-political history. I was astounded to discover that there are specific predictions in the Hebrew prophets that there was coming a day when our people would be reestablished in the Land with Jerusalem under Jewish control (cf. Jeremiah 31:1-14; Ezekiel 36:22-28). Many of us who have become Messianic Jews have come to that conviction because of this intriguing quality of the Scriptures. And Israel is not the only subject of biblical prophecy. There are hundreds of incredible predictions in the Bible that no other religious book would dare to even attempt! There are prophecies in the Tenach concerning the fate of our people (Deuteronomy 30), the fall of once powerful empires (Jeremiah 50) and even the current political situation in the Middle East (Zechariah 12).
Of special interest to us Messianic Jews are the numerous detailed prophecies concerning the coming of Mashiach. What other religious book in human history would dare to predict, hundreds of years before the fact, the exact details of their coming great leader? Buddism is unconcerned with such historicity; Islam does not make any such claims in regard to Mohammed. Yet, in the Hebrew Scriptures, and often confirmed in the rabbinic commentaries, we find various predictions on how we as Jews would recognize the true Messiah. His place of birth is identified (Micah 5:1 in Hebrew), his miraculous works of healing (Isaiah 53:1-6), his surprising suffering before the destruction of the second Temple (Daniel 9:24-27) and his ultimate victory and kingdom (Isaiah 11:1-10). The more one studies in the Tenach about the specific predictions of Messiah, the more it sounds like the controversial rabbi from Galilee! What is especially striking is that these are not mere internal claims or subjective opinions, but such predictions can be tested by the empirical reality of human history. Certainly these confirmed evidences of history, archaeology and prophecy is one of the strong reasons why Messianic Jews (and millions of other believers) adhere to the Bible as a holy, infallible revelation from the God of the universe.
In considering reasons why Messianic Jews believe the Scriptures, these three stand out; 1) claims of inspiration, 2) diligence in preservation and 3) evidence of confirmation. In an age of growing relativism and confusion, many people think that literal belief in the Bible is a leap in the dark. It is quite the contrary for us followers of Yeshua who have found belief in the Bible to actually be a jump into the light! I suppose I should add a forth reason which is the transforming power which the Scriptures have brought into our very lives. As the writer to the first century Jewish believers testified,
“See, the Word of God is alive! It is at work and is sharper than any double-edged swordâ€”it cuts right through to where soul meets spirit and joints meet marrow, and it is quick to judge the inner reflections and attitudes of the heart” (italics mine, Hebrews 4:12).
The simple yet profound truth is that the Word of God actually works! The Scriptures are not just a “dead” historical record or merely a list of religious mitzvot. The Bible contains a living message that has dynamic power even today for those who take it seriously. Tens of thousands of Messianic Jews can personally testify to that practical reality in our day. Has it worked in your life? Have you given it a chance? There are some good reasons to believe.