No, I’m not talking about Rashi or Rambam or even your local rabbi – there is a better prism, a better lens to interpret the Hebrew Scriptures through. Here comes the shock – it’s the New Testament, with Yeshua, Jesus, being the interpreter. I want to persuade you to change your prisms. I want to persuade you that we have inherited a false prism and that we only need the the New Testament to interpret the Hebrew Scriptures, not the Mishnah, Gemara, Zohar or the Shulchan Aruch.
Perhaps we should start by asking ourselves if we even know the Tanakh well. We shouldn’t be five-book Jews who occasionally mention the other 19 books of the Hebrew Scriptures. We are 24-book Jews who embrace the whole of the Hebrew Scriptures. Unavoidably a 24-book Jew will understand the Hebrew Scriptures in a way a five-book Jew cannot hope to. But what about our new lens, our new prism? The New Testament brings us back to the Hebrew Scripture on every page. The New Testament doesn’t come up with original ideas. The New Testament only ever gets its thinking from the Hebrew Scriptures, because it is a Jewish book, written by Jewish authors, talking about the Jewish Messiah.
So let’s take an example. If you’re reading the Tanakh through the wrong lens, you might say, “God is happy to be compassionate at the expense of his justice. God is a judge who knowingly pardons the guilty and He is doing his job well if the guilty are repentant. Sins are a debt that can just be written off. God not only erases sin but credits us with a good record. Sin is erased without any need for justice to be served. There is no point in even punishing the guilty.”
Spiritual debt has to cleared legally. Debts must be paid. Justice must be served.
However the lens of the New Testament tells us something different. Spiritual debt has to cleared legally. Debts must be paid. Justice must be served. This speaks volumes about God’s character. Whether you feel guilty or not, spiritual debt (sin) can never be written off. The sacrificial system and especially Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) teach us that sin can never be written off. God is angry with our sin and must have His wrath satisfied, and He must remove our sin from us and place it on another, a substitute in order for us to be at peace with Him. Sin is far more deadly than we initially realise. Sin is a moral offence to the living God. Death entered the world because of sin. Sin causes death. Sin separates us from God eternally until the moment God brings us back to Him with a sacrifice. Sin means death. We die because we sinful.
Thankfully, the New Testament not only explains our deep problem, but resolves the tension between the Holiness of God and the sinfulness of man. The death of the divine Messiah atones for our sin, as he receives the penalty we deserve. The death of the truly righteous one atones for everyone who believes. As death came into the world through one man, Adam, eternal life and forgiveness of sin is brought in through the divine Messiah Jesus.
We must place the blood of the Messiah on the doorposts of our hearts.
In the book of Isaiah we read that the suffering servant will die, taking the punishment for our sins. He is cut off out of the land of the living and buried and then raised to life again. This means today forgiveness is available for all who trust Yeshua as the Son of God, the eternal uncreated, Messiah and Lord. Like our ancestors in Egypt, we too must put the blood of the lamb on our doors to avoid the coming judgement. We must place the blood of the Messiah on the doorposts of our hearts. If we remain unprotected we surely await God’s eternal judgment.
We must as a result seriously ask ourselves – which version of God’s judgement equates to God’s judgement in our Jewish Tanakh? God is a gracious God yes, but He’s also holy and righteous. What if we’ve been using the wrong lens all along and haven’t taken God’s judgement seriously? What if we’ve never even read the Tanakh through the lens of the New Testament? Today is as good a day as any to not only ask yourself those questions, but to take action on them. After all, if what the Tanakh and the New Testament say are true, your life depends on it!
Faulty prisms or how I came to see clearly