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Christianity vs. Judaism [Aug. 1st, 2004|03:56 pm]


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Christianity came out of Judaism, so we will give you some background information to make the answer clearer. The sacred Jewish writings are called the “Tanakh,” an acronym representing the three main divisions of the Hebrew Bible (Torah, Neviim, and K’tuvim). They are a group of 39 books written between about 1450 BC and 430 BC. Although the Tanakh arranges the books in a different order, they are the same books that make up the “Old Testament” section of the Bible. Both the Tanakh and the Bible start with the same 5 books: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The Tanakh calls these 5 books the “Law” (“Torah” in Hebrew).

Judaism follows the Law. The book of Leviticus most resembles a “law book,” but the most famous laws are the “Ten Commandments” listed in Exodus chapter 20, verses 3-15 (3-17 in the Christian Bible, where the verses are numbered differently). Most of these laws deal with what you are allowed to eat and touch, how you celebrate special days and so forth. On the Sabbath, their weekly holy day (sundown Friday to sundown Saturday) they do not do regular work. They also worship at their church, called a “synagogue.”

Note: Even though Judaism tries to follow the Law, it actually does not follow it very well. For example, Jews no longer perform the numerous animal sacrifices specified in the books of Leviticus and Numbers.
The Tanakh (Old Testament) contains hundreds of predictions about an “anointed one” (“Messiah” in Hebrew) who will arrive in the future. The Messiah will “deliver” or “save” all the Jewish people (bring them to paradise or heaven). The Tanakh also states that the Messiah will save all the other people in the world “through the Jews.” These predictions are referred to as Messianic prophecies, since they are predictions of the future (prophecies) that deal with the Messiah. Jews continue to follow “The Law” and wait for the coming of the Messiah.

About 4 BC, a miraculous event occurred—a boy named Jesus was born to a virgin named Mary. You can read His story in the book of Luke in the Bible’s “New Testament” (toward the back of the Bible). Starting at age 30, Jesus fulfilled more and more of the Messianic prophecies written in the Bible. Fulfilling these prophecies was very spectacular: Jesus gave sight to the blind, made the lame walk, cured those who had leprosy, gave the deaf hearing, and raised people from the dead! These miracles and others were done many times in front of thousands of witnesses for three years. Also, many prophecies (where Jesus was born and so forth) were not in His control—yet He fulfilled them all. Finally, about 30 AD, Jesus was crucified (a prophecy) and died (a prophecy). Three days later He rose from the dead (another prophecy) and was seen by over 500 witnesses. These witnesses, almost all Jews, realized that by coming back to life, Jesus proved beyond any doubt that He was “The Messiah” (in Hebrew) or “The Christ” (in Greek). From that time, Jesus has been called “Jesus, The Christ” or “Jesus Christ.” You can learn more about the Messianic Prophecies by clicking on this sentence.

So now we arrive at the answer to our question. The basic difference between Christianity and Judaism is that Christians believe the Messiah (Jesus) has already come and that we no longer have to follow “The Law” to go to heaven. To Christians, salvation has indeed come “through the Jews” as the prophecies predicted. (By the way, it is impossible to perfectly follow “The Law” all of your life, and we show that using only the Ten Commandments—a small part of the rules listed in The Law. See our discussion regarding the Ten Commandments on our going to heaven page.)

Interestingly, the fact that some Jews do not believe that Jesus is the Christ is also predicted many times in the Tanakh—their own scriptures. The Tanakh states that those “who are first will be last.” Using many similar phrases it becomes clear that the chosen people, the Jews, will be blinded to the truth until everyone on the earth hears about Jesus Christ. This is good news, since everyone gets a chance to accept the Messiah as their Savior and go to heaven.[1] Once that happens, the remaining followers of Judaism will suddenly realize that Jesus was the Messiah [2] and can accept Him. Then Jesus will return to the earth to bring those who accepted Him as their savior with Him to heaven. Those who have not accepted Him as their savior will be cast into a lake of fire (hell). The Bible states that this is fair because evidence was given to everyone.

[1] Romans 11:25-27
[2] Zechariah 12:10-14