Ever increasing faith

Jake, the young Israeli whom Mike Moore met in September last year, now says he believes Jesus is the Messiah. Mike met up with him in London at the end of April and he recalls their meeting...

I’d not seen Jake since October last year so when he told me he was coming to London for a job interview in April, I seized the opportunity to meet him. Six months ago Jake felt unclean but now he believed Jesus was the Messiah and said he knew his sins were forgiven. The change came when, after reading the New Testament, Jake began reading the Tanakh, the Old Testament. Without anyone telling him, he recognised in a number of places that the Old Testament writers were speaking of Jesus but, after finishing the books of Kings, he became conscious of the seriousness of sin. God punished Israel because they followed the ways of the nations around them. It was apparent to Jake that he was not so different from his ancient ancestors; he too had followed the ways of the nations and deserved God’s punishment.

At the heart of ancient Israel’s apostasy was their turning to the gods of the nations. If Jake worshipped Jesus – who he acknowledges as Lord – would he be committing the same sin as his ancestors? Would he be worshipping a foreign god? I assured him that there is only one God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; if Jesus is that God, he is not a foreign deity.

What’s in a name?
I reminded Jake that the last time we met we saw that the most common Hebrew word for God is Elohim; a plural term. In Genesis 1:26, Elohim says, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness…’ In the account of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11 Elohim says, ‘Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language…’ In Isaiah 6, the prophet sees the Lord ‘sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple’ and the seraphim exclaiming, ‘Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts…’ The significance of ‘Holy, holy, holy’ in relation to the Trinity wasn’t lost on Jake. In verse 8 of Isaiah 6, the prophet hears the voice of the Lord, saying: ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Of particular significance is that the twelfth chapter of John’s Gospel quotes from Isaiah 6:9-19 and comments that Isaiah said these things when he saw the glory of Jesus ‘and spoke of Him.’

In the beautiful surroundings of St. James Park we looked at the names of Jesus in Isaiah 9:7: ‘Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.’ After looking at the Hebrew names – Pele Yoetz, El Gibbor, Avi Ad, Sar Shalom – several times, Jake acknowledged they were divine names. Jake could see what the Bible says about Jesus but although he would not deny the deity of Jesus, he had difficulty confessing him as God.

More than a man
I pointed out that the idea of a divine Messiah is found in certain branches of Judaism. Some Kabbalists, for example, see Wisdom in Proverbs 8 as divine and although most religious Jews say the Messiah will be purely human, what they expect him to do – bring world peace, cause all to worship the God of Israel, take the Jews back to Israel on clouds of glory, rebuild the temple and make Israel the head of the nations – is beyond the capabilities of a mere man. Above all, who but God could bear on his own shoulders the immense weight of human guilt and atone for our sins?

As I left, Jake said that the time we spent together had been helpful to him; his faith had been strengthened and he had been built up. Give thanks that Jake has made such a great advance of faith and pray he will come to a heartfelt recognition of Jesus as his Lord and God.

This article was first published in the Summer Herald 2015

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