Monday, March 6, 2017

A Life for God, A Rabbi's Analysis of Life, the Cross, and Eternity

Reading a Biblical perspective written by a Jewish author was very enlightening for me. As I read Rabbi Greg Hershberg's book, I felt I'd received a secret key to unlock some of the deep mysteries of the Bible. The more I read about Jewish history, customs, and word meanings, the more the Bible came alive for me and I realized, even after having been a Christian for 50 years, there were things I did not completely understand about God's Word. Scripture became alive and fresh as indicated by this verse: "For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart." Hebrews 4:12

Rabbi Greg Hershberg, is a Messianic Jew. Messianic Jews are Jewish people who believe and have accepted Yeshua (the Hebrew name for Jesus) of Nazareth as the promised Messiah of the Hebrew Scriptures. These people do not stop being Jewish, but they continue to remain strong in their Jewish faith. Many Messianic Jews refer to themselves as “completed Jews,” since they believe their faith in the God of Israel has been “completed” or fulfilled in Yeshua (Jesus).

A Life for God is Rabbi Hershberg's written effort to help both Jews and Christians alike come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. He presents an abundant amount of information gleaned from the Torah and from the Bible. He covers topics such as Eternal Life, Covenants, Offerings, the Crucifixion, the Greatest Commandment, and Gematria (Biblical symbolism of numbers).

Rabbi Hershberg writes his book well. It is easy to understand and filled with Scripture references. Not only did Hershberg take time to include specific Scriptures to illuminate topics, he also included history from Jewish manners and customs. The Greek and Hebrew word studies Rabbi Hershberg included were relevant and helped me gain a better understanding of Scripture. As I read each chapter in the book, I learned something I'd never known before. For instance, in the chapter entitled, "A Sacrifice, Living and Set Apart for God," Rabbi Hershberg is explaining details of the crucifixion. He describes the various types of wounds Christ endured before and on the cross. He tells about the Roman custom of breaking the legs of those crucified. This was usually done to hasten death so the bodies could be removed before sundown but in Jesus' case, his legs were not broken. Rabbi Hershberg states this was because they noticed he was already dead but more than that, it was to fulfill Scripture, Psalm 34:20, "He protects all his bones; not one of them gets broken." Next Rabbi Hershberg speaks about the wound Jesus suffered from the spear tip of the Roman when his side was pierced. Blood and water gushed out. I always wondered why water poured forth and I understood after reading the Rabbi's explanation - "By thrusting his spear into the side of Yeshua, the soldier actually fulfilled the prophecy of Zechariah. And from this wound, blood and water flowed, blood for the forgiveness of sin and water for the washing away of the guilt of our sin. If we recall the brazen altar and laver, we realize that Yeshua fulfilled that requirement for approaching the father. The blood was shed at the altar, and the guilt washed away at the laver, just as the blood and water flowed from Yeshua's side. He laid down His own life as a voluntary act. The incised wound was one of the last prophecies to be fulfilled while Yeshua was on earth."

A Life for God fills the reader with hope. If a devout Jewish Rabbi can understand and accept the truths of the Bible and share his understandings in such a clear and concise way, anyone who reads this book should be able to receive the message of salvation. For the skeptic, Hershberg presents practical evidence. For the Christian, Hershberg presents rich history stepped in Jewish tradition. For the Jew, Hershberg presents the gospel with tenderness and compassion but also with power and truth.

I enjoyed this book immensely. I have always wanted to learn and understand more about the Jewish life and Rabbi Hershberg helped me do that. I'm thankful he took time to include information about the Jewish faith and their history in this book.  I feel I have a better understanding of the Bible and a clearer picture of what life was like for Jesus as a Jewish man.

I was given a copy of the book, A Life for God, in exchange for my honest review. I would like to thank Aneko Press for the opportunity to read this book and I would like to recommend it to others interested in learning more about the Messianic Jewish movement and about how we should live for God.

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