“Seychel” means common sense, wisdom, or sharp thinking. When you are witnessing to a Jewish person, you must be sensitive to the fact that you are involved in a cross-cultural ministry. Please do not be intimidated by this information. Just keep it in mind as you witness. The more religiously observant the Jewish person is, the more these items apply; the less religiously observant the Jewish person is, the less they apply. Go for it!
- The number one reason why a Jewish person will hesitate to accept Jesus as Messiah is caught in the statement, “I don’t want to stop being Jewish.”
- If you know the pronunciation of God’s personal, memorial name (YHVH), please do not pronounce it.
- When talking about God it would be advisable to use the phrase, “the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”. The Lord or Hashem are fine terms to use as well.
- Be sensitive and polite. This may seem incredibly obvious; however, I have met far too many Believers who are insensitive, rude, and impolite when they witness.
- Terminology: using appropriate terminology will do much to facilitate communication and bring down barriers of misunderstanding.
- Avoid telling jokes about Jewish people. A Gentile telling Jewish jokes is often interpreted as anti-Semitism. Tell jokes that are neutral in nature or tell jokes about you. To avoid any misunderstandings let a Jewish person tell the Jewish jokes.
- Avoid criticizing Jewish leaders. A Jewish person might take your remarks to be anti-Semitic. Let Jewish people criticize Jewish leaders.
- Avoid calling yourself a “spiritual Jew”. This term will simply confuse the Jewish person. Just as a matter of clarification: while Gentile believers in Yeshua are “grafted in”, they do not become Jewish just as Jewish believers do not become Gentile. There are no distinctions between Jew and Gentile in respect to salvation and sanctification; however, the distinction does remain in respect to heritage (just as it does in respect to gender).
- Avoid anti-Semitic terms, ideas and beliefs. Don’t dodge the issue of “Christian” anti-Semitism. Don’t let yourself be intimidated by the actions of others. You are not responsible for them, only for yourself. Educate yourself about the atrocities of the past and personally repudiate them.
|Instead of saying:||Use:|
|Christian (as a description)||Messianic, Biblical, or Scriptural|
|Christian (as identification)||Messianic, Believer|
|Christ (Anglicized Greek)||Mashiah (Hebrew), Messiah (Anglicized Hebrew)|
|Jesus (Anglicized Greek)||Yeshua (Hebrew)|
|“Died for my sins”||“Atoned for my sins”|
|Holy Spirit/Ghost||Spirit of God, Ruach HaKodesh (Hebrew)|
|Trinity||Compound unity, Triunity, Triune nature|
|Gospel (transliterated Greek)||Good News (English)|
|New Testament||New Covenant, Brit Chadashah (Hebrew)|
|Old Testament||Tenach, Hebrew Scriptures, Bible|
|Baptism (Anglicized Greek)||Immersion, Tevilah (Hebrew)|
|Convert/conversion||Turning, completion, repentance|
|Second coming of Christ||Return of the Messiah|
|Blood of Christ||Death/substitutionary sacrifice of Messiah|
The key to sharing the gospel with Jewish people is found in the words of the Apostle Paul in I Cor. 9:20:
“To the Jews I became as a Jew, so that I might win Jews; to those who are under the Law, as under the Law though not being myself under the Law, so that I might win those who are under the Law.”
In other words, EMPHASIZE THE JEWISHNESS OF YOUR FAITH! Facts you can bring out are: “Jesus was Jewish,” “Jesus spoke to a Jewish audience,” “Jesus’ disciples were Jewish,” “the first Believers in Jesus were Jewish,” or “the New Testament was written by Jewish writers.”
Scriptures to Use
- Isaiah 52:13 through chapter 53
- Isaiah 9:6, 7; Psalm 2:7, 8; Proverbs 30:4
- Micah 5:2-4
- Zechariah 12:9-10
- Isaiah 42:6; 11:10; 49:6
- Daniel 9:26
- Zechariah 9:9-10
Messiah suffered to atone for our sins. Note: The “Servant” could not be Israel as some contend, because in verse 8, you have “My people” (which could only be Israel!) and “He” in the same phrase. In addition, overall, the nation of Israel does not fit the description of the Servant. Note: The Spirit of God has used this chapter to bring more Jewish people to Jesus than any other passage in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Messiah will be the Son of God.
Messiah’s birthplace is foretold, and He was to be “from everlasting.”
Both of Messiah’s comings appear in this one verse. The ancient Jewish rabbinic writing, the Babylonian Talmud (Sukkah 52a), states: “the cause of the mourning is the slaying of Messiah.”
Messiah will be a light to the Gentiles.
Messiah will be cut off before the destruction of the second temple in 70 AD.
Messiah will come to Jerusalem having salvation, yet He is humble and mounted on a donkey.
Most Jewish people are not used to reading the Bible. Scriptures that are bursting with meaning to you will, most likely, not be understood by them upon their initial reading. Make sure that they understand the passage. How? By asking them questions about the passage and/or paraphrasing the verse after reading it with them. Many Believers are unaware of just how little most Jewish people know about their “own” Bible. Most of them do not know that Isaiah or Jeremiah are books of the Hebrew Bible. Therefore, when presenting a passage like Isaiah 52:13-53:12, we must tell them that this is a passage from the Hebrew Bible, written by the Jewish prophet, Isaiah, in 700 B.C.E. Do not tell them where the passage is from until after they have read it and have answered the question, “Who do you think this is talking about?” It is most effective if it is used in this manner.
Two of the Most Often Heard Jewish Objections
The Messiah is supposed to bring world peace. There are still plenty of wars. Since Jesus did not bring world peace, He cannot be the Messiah.
There are two facets of the Messiah. One facet concerns the “Reigning Messiah,” and one facet concerns the “Suffering Messiah.” Both facets have to be accounted for when we consider the concept of the Messiah. It is true that the “Reigning Messiah” will bring in a time of universal peace and prosperity. However, that is only half the picture. One-half of the description of the Messiah has been left out. The other half of the picture shows us a Messiah who suffered and died on behalf of Israel and all mankind. This is the facet of the Messiah that Jesus fulfilled during His First Coming. At the Second Coming, Jesus will fulfill the predictions that the Messiah will bring in world peace.
Our ancient Rabbis did not understand how these two, apparently contradictory, pictures about the Messiah harmonized. Their solution was the “Two Messiah Theory.” They looked for two Messiahs to come. The first would be “Messiah ben Joseph” (Messiah son of Joseph), the Suffering Messiah. He would suffer and die during the wars of Gog and Magog. The second Messiah, Messiah ben David (Messiah son of David), would follow him. This would be the Kingly Messiah who would conquer Israel’s enemies, rebuild the Temple, and bring in a time of universal peace. However, the New Testament provides us with a more elegant and straightforward harmony of the biblical material. Instead of two Messiahs, each coming once, there is one Messiah coming twice. Yeshua is the Suffering Messiah as well as the King Messiah.
Scripture texts to show the validity of this position would be Isaiah 52:13-53:12, Zechariah 12:10, and Psalm 22:16.
Someone cannot be true to the picture of the Messiah that is drawn in the Hebrew Scriptures if they leave out Messiah’s sufferings. A good resource to have on hand is the book The Messiah Texts by Raphael Patai. Dr. Patai, an unbelieving Israeli, devotes an entire chapter to the concept of the “Suffering Messiah.”
How could Jesus be the Messiah? Look at what his followers did. The Christians have persecuted and killed the Jewish people down through the centuries.
You must show your Jewish friend the difference between a true Christian and one in name only. It is possible to wear the label “Christian” and not be one. Bring out the fact that many people follow an historical religion, but do not know God personally. Show them that Yeshua dealt with this exact problem in His day by quoting Matthew 7:22-23, “Many will say to Me on that day (the day of judgment), ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” Yeshua will condemn phony “Christians.”
It would be instructive to point out the parallel between what Yeshua said and what Jeremiah said in Jeremiah 23:14. “Also among the prophets of Jerusalem I have seen a horrible thing: The committing of adultery and walking in falsehood; and they strengthen the hands of evildoers, so that no one has turned back form his wickedness. All of them have become to Me like Sodom, and her inhabitants like Gomorrah.” Jewish people can follow an historical religion and not have a personal relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. God will, likewise, condemn hypocritical Jews.
Now you have the opportunity to tell them that a true Christian is a “Follower of the Messiah” (that is the meaning of the word Christian). In order to be a genuine “Follower of the Messiah” one must have a spiritual birth from the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Then take them to John 3:1-21 where Yeshua discusses all of this with a leading Jewish Rabbi. The result of being “born again” is that a genuine Christian will support the Jewish people because his Savior is Jewish. Finally, the very job description of the Messiah lies in the fact that He loves and supports the Jewish people. He does not persecute them.
Thanks to Israel Opportunities for the Sharing Seychel presented on this page