By Sam Nadler
To many Jewish people, it seems rather strange to think that the Messiah could have come, but that comparatively so few Jews believe in Him.
Many times the question is expressed like this: “So, with all the scholars and rabbis searching to discover the Messiah, you’re the only genius to figure this out?”
The number of living Jewish people who believe in Yeshua (Jesus’ name in Hebrew) numbers somewhere between 200,000 to over a million. Though this number is not insignificant, it is still not the majority of the Jewish people. Many believe that the truth is determined by the majority vote. However, as much as this may play a role in the politics of men, it has little to do with the truth of God.
In the Hebrew Scriptures (the Tanakh), the prophet Isaiah declares that most Jewish people would not recognize the Messiah when He would first come: “Who has believed our report? To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For He grew up before Him as a tender shoot, as a root out of dry ground; He would have no majesty that would attract us, nor any beauty that we would desire Him. He is despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, and we hid as it were our faces from Him; He was despised and we esteemed Him not” (Isaiah 53:1-3).
God knew and revealed to Isaiah a truth that seems obvious once we understand it: The majority of people don’t want God’s way of salvation – not even religious people! In fact, that’s exactly what Isaiah goes on to say: “All we like sheep have gone astray, each one has turned his own way; but the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6).
It was prophesied that although He would be our sin-bearer, the true Messiah would be rejected by the majority of the Jewish people when He would first come. Isaiah makes this matter crystal clear by further stating: “The remnant shall return, even the remnant of Jacob to the “Mighty God” (Isaiah 10:21).
God recognized that only a “remnant,” a very small portion of the whole nation, would believe and make teshuvah (repentance). Only this remnant would “return to the Mighty God.” This prediction is fulfilled in the Jewish people (like myself) who have come to believe in Yeshua. The New Covenant (see Jeremiah 31:31-34) also compares the present situation with the time of Elijah the Prophet, when the majority of the Jewish people were apostate: “Even so, then, at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace” (Romans 11:5).
Though the Scriptures make clear the phenomenon of general unbelief, there will be some who still wonder how the rabbis could have “missed it”. The Messiah whom God promised and sent was not the ‘Messiah’ whom the world or the rabbis were looking for. They wanted a Messiah who would immediately remove Roman domination from Israel and return it to its former glory. But the purpose of Yeshua’s coming was to die for sins as the perfect Passover Lamb. Rather than vindicate the self-righteous judgment of the rabbis, Yeshua insisted that the religious leaders of Israel repent as well! This was intolerable for the rabbinical leaders, and, though many in Israel did accept Yeshua as Messiah, the majority of the Jewish people and rabbis rejected Him, just as the prophets predicted.
However, there will come a time when our people as a nation will come to believe in Him. The Prophets also spoke of this future day: “I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and supplications: and they shall look on Me whom they have pierced, and mourn for Him as one mourns for an only son” (Zechariah 12:10).
“The stone which the builders rejected shall become the chief of the corner” (Psalms 118:22).
One day our people will trust in Yeshua, their Messiah and King.
But, before this glorious time, we are told that a “remnant” of Israel will believe in the Messiah. You can be part of this remnant if you will acknowledge Yeshua for what the Tanakh and the New Covenant declare Him to be: the true Messiah of our people. Shalom!
For more Messianic questions, we’ve got answers for you!