Understanding the Hebrew Scriptures
Shalom, I am so glad that you are reading this month’s issue of The Chosen People newsletter. For decades we have dedicated the October edition of our newsletter to addressing both those who already believe in Jesus and those who are seeking the Lord. If you are one of those curious and brave individuals who is pursuing a relationship with the living God, let me especially thank you for taking the time to read the newsletter. This month, we are focusing on the Hebrew Scriptures, or as it is known to many, the Old Testament. Of course, if you are Jewish and do not accept the New Testament as holy Scripture, then there really is no such thing as an Old Testament! The Hebrew Scriptures is simply known as the Jewish Bible, with the first five books being referred to as the Torah.
We will discuss the impact and importance of the Hebrew Scriptures in Western society and in the hearts of those who believe these words were spoken by God Himself at Mount Sinai and through the mouths of prophets.
The Hebrew Scriptures impact every area of life: from issues of the heart, to practical wisdom, amazing prophetic predictions of the age to come, and of course our moral code and behavior. The older testament—if you can appreciate this new terminology—has been extremely influential in our lives, personally and corporately, even when we did not realize it! In fact, as the article will suggest, the Hebrew Scriptures have helped shape our culture and society more than the Constitution and Bill of Rights combined. Additionally, a good argument can be made to demonstrate that these documents that were so foundational in the formation of our country were based upon the words of the Hebrew Scriptures.
It would be virtually impossible for me, as a Messianic Jew, to believe in Jesus if I did not believe that the Hebrew Scriptures referred to Jesus in the promises and prophecies regarding the coming of the Messiah. This rationale for faith in Yeshua (His Hebrew name) is critical for a Jewish follower of the Messiah and also for those who are not Jewish. When more than a thousand years of biblical prophecy are so remarkably fulfilled in this one person, it gives us tremendous confidence in Him and also in the Old Testament where He is described. So much of what we understand about salvation, the nature of God, and His plan for each of us is firmly rooted in the Hebrew Scriptures. As King Solomon wrote so beautifully,
Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5–6)
Admittedly, at times, the Hebrew Bible is not the easiest to understand, especially in light of today’s cultural trends and ideas about morality. Frankly, the Hebrew Bible might seem out of sync with our modern world upon a first, surface-level glance. But, consider that the voice of the Hebrew Scriptures, though contrary to many of our current cultural values, might very well be a voice worth listening to. It has led so many of us to a fulfilling and meaningful life. The Psalmist David wrote about those who read, meditate, and obey what is written in the Hebrew Scriptures:
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. (Psalm 1:1–2)
I hope that you will enjoy the rest of the newsletter. My prayer is that it will motivate you to study the Hebrew Scriptures, to learn more about God’s plan for you, and that the very specific predictions about the coming of the Messiah will become personally meaningful to you. There is so much in these 39 books of the Old Testament to understand, and I hope you will take the time to read through the entirety of the Hebrew Scriptures to try and better understand one of the world’s great works of literature. You might not take my position in believing that the Old Testament is the inspired Word of God, but I think, if you have an open heart, you will find so many of the statements in these ancient pages to be comforting, relevant, and life-changing.
Enjoy the journey, and, if you are seeking the Lord, may I encourage you to take a look at followmessiah.com, which is a 16-part video study of the Scriptures, both the Old and New Testaments, which will help guide you towards a deeply personal relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
A belated Happy Jewish High Holidays!