of a Jew
Our Bible lesson
this week tells about an amazing time prophecy that foretold exactly
when Jesus was to be anointed as the Messiah. This prophecy was
given over 500 years before the event took place. One of the reasons
for prophecy is to help us understand and believe the truth when
a predicted event takes place. Our lesson today will help increase
our faith in Jesus and help us to understand His mission more fully.
Our story this
week is of a young Jewish man named Samuel Srolovic Jacobson. Samuel
did not believe in Jesus because he was taught different as a child.
But he came to believe in the true Messiah because of a study of
the very prophecies that we will be studying in today's lesson.
We will let him tell it in his own words.
I was born and
reared in an Orthodox Jewish home in Lithuania. All during my childhood
I received religious training. In our home we kept all the biblical
and traditional holy days. As far back as my memory goes, I can
recall my father taking me to the synagogue. Only kosher foods were
served on our table, and we kept the seventh-day Sabbath very strictly.
Two world wars
marked my youth. My family was forced into exile to Russia with
only two days to prepare. We traveled for weeks in freight trains
under the most trying circumstances. Many Jews perished from cold,
hunger, and sickness. Others were hanged for their political views.
We were told
that the Jews were suffering because they did not have a country.
Consequently, my greatest desire was to return to the land of my
forefathers. Eventually, when the opportunity arose, I sailed for
the land of my ancestors, and was later joined there with my family.
Life in Palestine
was rugged. Settlers lost their lives to disease and civil war.
In spite of all this, farms, villages, and towns were established.
More trouble broke out, though, and travel became unsafe, which
caused the economy of the industries to suffer, and unemployment
among the Jews soared. Eventually I migrated to Southern Rhodesia
in South Africa.
World War II
broke out, and I joined the British Army hoping for active duty.
Instead I was kept busy building Air Force training centers. The
news of the war that filtered back was horrifying, but more terrible
still were the reports of the millions of Jews being destroyed.
What a cruel death was theirs! Questions milled around in my mind.
Why must the Jews suffer so much? Where is the integrity of civilized
people? Where is the God whom we serve? Yes, where is His protecting
Among my fellow
workers I frequently heard slurring remarks justifying the cruel
actions of the Nazis toward the Jewish people. However, within this
group I met one man who manifested a disposition just the opposite
of the others. He was refined, and he respected the dignity of man.
He treated all men with kindness, and thought of everyone as part
of one great brotherhood.
Jack had a sound
philosophy, and to my surprise, he unashamedly called himself a
"spiritual Jew." He had no Jewish ancestry, but loved
and obeyed the commandments of God. I was amazed at how well versed
he was in the Bible and its prophecies and at how he could show
that current events were taking place as predicted by the ancient
I learned how
meager was my own knowledge of our own prophets, such as the writings
of Moses. Although I came from an Orthodox home, my ignorance was
not surprising. Jewish tradition teaches that "A child at five
should study the Bible, at ten the Mishna, and at fifteen the Gemara."
No wonder, then, that a Jewish son of today has little possibility
of ever knowing the Bible well.
From my childhood
I had daily recited prayers that reminded me of the coming Messiah.
This was my life, my hope. My conversations with Jack led me to
an intensive study of the Holy Scriptures. The most important were
about the Messiah.
My study led
me to the conclusion that:
1. The Messiah
would be a descendant of Abraham.
2. He would
be born of the tribe of Judah.
3. He would
be a descendant of King David.
4. He would
be born in Bethlehem, the city of David.
During my discussions
with Jack, I became aware that he believed that Jesus of Nazareth
is the Messiah. This troubled me. How could it be that Jesus was
really a fulfillment of the promises made to our forefathers?
and concerned, I determined to search out for myself the truth.
I compared the Scriptures, passage by passage, praying all the while
that the God of my fathers would give me understanding.
One thing that
puzzled me was that Jesus claimed to be a divine being. How could
this be reconciled with Deuteronomy 6:4 the prime tenet for my people?
I knew it well:
O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord [YHWH] is one ['ECHAD]."
I had often repeated this verse to emphasize that we believe in
one divine being.
I was astonished
when Jack explained how 'ECHAD is used in the Scriptures. I discovered
it first in the Creation story:
was an evening, and there was a morning; one ['ECHAD] day"
Here I saw two
entities of time that, when joined together, are declared to be
"one" day. Then I read:
shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto
his wife: and they shall be one ['ECHAD] flesh" (Genesis 2:24).
Here we see
man and wife specifically spoken of as a unity 'ECHAD.
As I pondered
these scriptures, I could not fail to observe that each was a composite
unity. I also found that a different Hebrew word could have been
used to stress individuality, but Moses did not use it. Could it
be that he really was implying a unity of divine beings or persons?
I was deeply puzzled.
As I searched
more deeply into other Jewish writings, I found this in the writings
of Rabbi Maimonides:
O Israel, YHWH, Elohenu, YHWH, is One." These three are one.
How can the three names be one?. . . Three modes yet form one Unity.
in the Torah I found throughout the Creation account, that the form
of God's name being used was plural, and that even Solomon actually
said, "Remember now thy Creators in the days of thy youth"
(Ecclesiastes 12:1). Then I saw that God, in speaking of Himself,
often said us For example: "Let us make man in our image"
(Genesis 1:26). "Let us go down, and there confound their language"
(Genesis 11:7). "Man is become as one of us" (Genesis
Jack had called
Jesus the Son of God, but I wondered whether my Scriptures actually
said that God had a Son. Then I read in the Proverbs something that
startled me. This is what it says: "Who hath ascended up into
heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fists? who
hath bound the waters in a garment? who hath established all the
ends of the earth: what is His name, and what is His Son's name,
if thou canst tell?" (Proverbs 30:4 KJV).
What a flood
of light began to shine into my mind as I prayerfully continued
reading the sacred Word. My heart was overwhelmed with joy and amazement.
Now I could better understand why the Creator had said, "Let
us make man in our image, after our likeness" (Genesis 1:26).
came tumbling one after another as my mind opened to these new thoughts.
Why did sin enter our world? What was God's solution for it? I began
to study again the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
The strange prophecy of Genesis 3:15 began tugging at the corners
of my mind: "I will put enmity between thee and the woman,
and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and
thou shalt bruise his heel."
I couldn't understand
it all, yet I saw that a Redeemer would one day destroy the adversary
and bring deliverance to mankind. One would be born of "her
seed" that would bring salvation.
that there were in the Scriptures a great many prophetic promises
regarding Him. Like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, each contributed
its highlight or shadow, thus disclosing a beautiful portrait of
the Messiah, His mission, and work.
of his miraculous birth, and called Him "Immanuel, God with
us." Jacob said in Genesis that He would come before the "scepter
[departed] from Judah." Jeremiah answered my lingering question
about His divinity by saying:
the days come, saith the Lord [YHWH], that I will raise unto David
a righteous sprout, and he shall reign and prosper, and shall execute
judgment and justice in the earth. In his days Judah shall be saved,
and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall
be called, THE LORD [YHWH] OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS" (Jeremiah 23:5,6).
of when he would come had not yet been fully answered for me. Then
one day Jack told me that the Scriptures actually contain a prophecy
specifying the exact time when the Messiah could be expected to
appear. This claim interested me greatly. I eagerly read the passage
in the book of the prophet Daniel to which he referred. Turning
to the ninth chapter of Daniel, I found a discourse between the
angel Gabriel and Daniel. In this prophecy Gabriel announced the
time of the coming of the Messiah. "Seventy weeks are determined
unto thy people. . . . Know therefore and understand that from the
going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem
unto the Messiah [Anointed One] the Prince shall be seven weeks,
and threescore and two weeks" (Daniel 9:24,25).
When I first
read it I was a bit confused, but when I understood that a day was
a symbol for a year, the words seemed to leap off the page to my
eyes. Seventy weeks, why that would be 490 years, and 69 weeks that
would be 483 years. But when did that period of years begin? The
answer was quick and sure:
going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem.
. ." (Verse 25).
in 457 B.C." Jack explained. Quick calculations brought us
to the year A.D. 27.
I thought. "That would have been during Jesus' lifetime, but
He certainly wasn't born then, even Christians don't think that."
Jack responded, "but it calls Him the 'Anointed' in this verse,
and the year A.D. 27 was the year He was baptized, and the Holy
Spirit descended in a special way upon Him."
I found this
prophecy in Daniel 9 to be packed full of other rich prophecies.
In verse 26 it said He would be "cut off, but not for Himself."
Did Gabriel mean that He would die as the sacrifices died, as a
substitutionary sacrifice for the sons of mankind? This, indeed,
seemed to be the intent of Daniel's prophecy.
A dying Messiah
was repugnant to me, but as I meditated on this prophecy it began
to make sense. Adam and Eve, standing in their shame and sin, were
promised a coming Redeemer. Through the centuries patriarchs and
prophets had confessed their sins upon the heads of innocent animals,
which, as substitutionary sacrifices, were sacrificed in their stead.
I thought of
the prayer we Jews recite before the eve of the Day of Atonement.
Swinging a rooster three times around the head, we pray: "This
is my change, this is my compensation, this is my redemption. This
rooster is going to be killed and I shall be admitted and allowed
a long, happy, and peaceful life." I sadly had to admit that
the Messiah had come, but that most of us had not received Him as
More and more
I became convinced not only that the Bible was written by divinely
inspired Jewish prophets, but also that the New Testament Scriptures
were written by divinely inspired Jewish writers about "the
greatest Jew who ever lived."
crystallized that Jesus of Nazareth, a descendant of Abraham and
of David, and born of a Jewish virgin named Mary, in the little
town of Bethlehem, was the long-hoped-for Messiah of my people.
I could not
suppress the joy that surged within my heart as, in the light of
my new understanding, I read the account of His birth in Bethlehem.
How precious was the understanding that was now quickening my mind.
I felt like a blind man who had suddenly been given sight by some
miraculous operation. Israel's book of Holy Writings was becoming
a "lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path" (Psalm
After I allowed
Jesus to take control of my life, perilous times came. I could no
longer reside in a Jewish home. I moved in with a lovely Christian
couple who opened their home to me. My older brother came to see
me and pleaded with me to change my faith. Prominent Jewish people
came to see me and offered me free board for at least three years
if I would forsake my belief in the Messianic faith which had become
so very real and precious to me. How could I forsake Him who had
done so much for me?
the years since I have accepted Jesus as the Messiah, joy and peace
have come into my heart from knowing that my past sins are forgiven
and that I can live a victorious life by His grace, day by day.
As I look back
across the few years of my life, I stand amazed and humbled at the
leading of my heavenly Father. Some of my relatives would say, perhaps,
that my faith in Jesus is heretical and false, but not all. My dear
precious stepmother accepted Jesus as her Messiah and as her personal
Saviour and was baptized in the river Jordan by a Christian Jewish
minister. This brought peace into her soul such as she had never
known before. It brought her a deeper meaning and understanding
of the Holy Bible.
As a result
of accepting Jesus Messiah, God has opened my understanding to new
insights into the teachings of the Torah. I believe all the truths
written in the law and the prophets. I did not forsake Judaism.
On the contrary, I found that Jesus fulfilled the promises and predictions
made regarding the Messiah. He appeared at the right time, at the
right place, and did what the prophet said He would do as God's
suffering servant. I have left those man-made traditions and laws
that are not in harmony with Holy Writ. But the true Judaism, as
found in the Holy Scriptures, and the Christianity of the Old and
New Testaments, I have come to see, are one faith not two.1
Friend, as you
study this lesson, our prayer is that the pieces to this prophetic
puzzle of our Saviour will fit together even more clearly than ever
From your friends
at Steps to Life
1. Adapted from
The Quest of a Jew, by Samuel Jacobson, Review and Herald Publishing