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The Good News

The Good News

The world needs the light of truth! The multiplicity of different religions and philosophies, which frequently contradict each other, indicate that we are in the dark. Things have been like this from earliest times, and to remedy it God gave to his people Israel the great gift of his written word, the Holy Scriptures. His goal was that its light would eventually spread to all nations. That is happening right now, the light is shining. But the Holy Scriptures is a big book, so our aim on this page is to make clear its core message for Jews and Gentiles. Please read on, get to the heart of things, and don’t head off too early to the rest of our site in case you miss the wood for the trees.

 

God’s way of saving us
“Saving us! Saving us from what?” Sounds a bit drastic, doesn’t it? Some would prefer words like “improving” or “enlightening”. Let me explain. We would all agree that the peaceful, truthful, happy and contented life we desire is frequently thwarted by events, other people and, yes, ourselves. There is room for improvement, no doubt about it. But then, perhaps not everyone would agree?  Some would suggest we should just accept that life is an inevitable mixture of troublesome events and times of pleasure, so we should make the best of it while we can, before we ‘shuffle off this mortal coil and sink into cold abstraction’, as Shakespeare put it.  And that’s it. I would contend that everything in us rebels against such a thought, because there are certain things we intuitively know.

The hope for peace and happiness leads us to believe that there is such a thing as lasting peace and happiness. Our awareness of moral failure tells us there is a moral perfection we fall short of. Our readiness to approve or condemn leads us to expect that things will be set to rights at some point in the future. The design, beauty and power of the natural world tells us there is a supreme power who is personal, beautiful, wise and powerful – God. We know these things intuitively, just as we perceive things such as love, hope and despair without a word being spoken or a scientist making measurements for us.

God’s written word confirms all these things. The revelation given to Israel by the one true God makes them all clearer, telling us how we should live, and that there is blessing in obedience but punishment for disobedience. This is where the word saved comes in. We need to be saved from the consequences of going our own way, instead of God’s.

Can we save ourselves? Most seem to think so. Surveys reveal that if you ask the question, “Why should God let you into his heaven?” most people reply with something like, “I have done my best, not harmed anyone etc etc….” Jewish people would seem to have a strong case for such an answer. After all, did God not give them his Law? Presumably he thought they could keep it sufficiently well to meet his approval. That is a fatal misunderstanding, perpetuated by the rabbis. It was not how either Moses or David understood things. Moses wrote: “He (God) will provide atonement for His land and His people.”1 King David understood this when he wrote: “Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. Blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity.”2 Atonement and forgiveness do not depend on our best efforts, even the most diligent keeping of mitzvot, but on God providing atonement and deciding not to impute our sins to us (i.e. he treats us as if we have not sinned!)

 

Is that just?
How can God simply forgive us when he has said disobedience must be punished (with death)? Is he going to ride roughshod over his own Law? Long ago he taught Israel the answer, but today it is so often ignored. A vast but essentially simple system of animal sacrifice made the point that our disobedience deserves death, but that God provides a substitute to die in our place3. By such a method His justice is upheld and mercy can be shown. His law is satisfied and the repentant sinner can be freely forgiven. He is a gracious God.

But with no sacrifices today, where does that leave us? Unsaveable? Or has God changed his mind and adopted another method, as the rabbis would have us believe? They teach that charity, prayer and repentance will provide atonement. Does God change his mind on such things? Why bother with all those sacrifices in the first place if just obeying lots of other commands could be sufficient?

 

Atonement for all, for all time
About 800 years after Moses, the prophet Isaiah made it clear that the principle of sacrifice would never be dropped. He prophesied of a sacrifice to come, the voluntary death of a particular individual, the Servant of the LORD. He describes this person as an asham4, the Hebrew word Moses uses for the guilt offering5. According to Isaiah, this Servant would come and freely offer himself to be a sacrifice for sinners! He would suffer and die for our sin6. God has not set aside the need of a sacrifice for atonement. So why are there no temple sacrifices today? Because the Servant of the LORD has come! He has offered himself for us, therefore no more Temple sacrifices are necessary. To make that abundantly clear, God allowed the Temple to be removed.

 

The Servant of the LORD
So, who is this Servant of the LORD? When he came, 700 years after Isaiah wrote of him, he summed up the purpose of his life in this way: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life a ransom for many.7” He taught that he was the Servant of the LORD, who came to do what the sacrifices of the Torah portrayed and the prophets predicted – to pay the price to set us free from the consequences of our failure and rebellion. His name is Jesus, or Yeshua to use his Hebrew name.

2,000 years ago, outside Jerusalem, he freely offered himself as an asham when he allowed himself to be arrested, tried and crucified, yes, crucified! What love! For you, for me! A sinless person made the sacrifice for sin. All this was according to God’s will, plainly shown by the fact that God raised him from the dead. If Yeshua was a just another deluded, religious fanatic, God would have cast him away, left him dead; but God raised him, declaring that all he taught was true and that the sacrifice he made was acceptable. Subsequently, he was seen by many eyewitnesses (all of them Jewish, and many more in number than Moses’ law required for capital punishment _ there is no )

Not surprisingly, those who witnessed all these things started to tell others. Who wouldn’t! They told the good news in Jerusalem, Judea and all around, and many believed. They experienced the joy of sins forgiven, the hope of everlasting life, and a relationship with the God of Israel who had forgiven them. They then began to tell the world—what God had promised to Abraham, that all the nations would be blessed through him – began to happen at last. Later on, some of those witnesses wrote down an accurate record, and some suffered painful deaths rather than deny what they knew. We call those records the Gospels. And that’s why I can write this, and you can read it today.

That same experience of forgiveness, joy and hope is available today to all who repent of their sins and ask God to save them, trusting in the atonement made by Yeshua. This is God’s way of saving you. It’s the Jewish way, but it’s for Gentiles too.

Here is God’s light of understanding for us – light which saves us. It explains the bad state of the world, and our own bad behaviour and frustrated hopes. It opens the way to forgiveness and a relationship of love, first with the God who made us, and then with others.

 

Perhaps you have questions. Our website aims to provide some answers, so please look around, or just contact us and we are ready to help. Whatever you do, do not put off till tomorrow what you can do now. None of us knows what a day will bring.

 

 

1Devarim 32:43
2Tehillim 32:1,2
3Vayikra 17:11
4Isaiah 53:10
5Vayikra 5
6Isaiah 53:6,8,12
7Mark 10:45