What is Judaism?
“If you wait until you find the meaning of life, will there be enough life left to live meaningfully?" - The Lubavitcher Rebbe
Judaism and Christianity are the most closely related of all the world religions. In fact, Christianity cannot exist without Judaism. As it is through the Jewish lineage that our Savior came to be born (Matt. 1).
Even with that being the case, most people know very little of the Jewish faith. So, this post will provide some background, shared beliefs and differences between Judaism and Christianity.
In terms of background, it should be fairly common knowledge for the Christian. As the Jewish background and history is Christianity’s background and history.
Specifically, God revealed Himself to a man named Abraham, who then became the founder of Judaism. Jews believe that God made a covenant with father Abraham that dictated that he and his many descendants were “chosen” and would become a great nation (Genesis 17). This promise, after many years, eventually came into fruition (Joshua 1).
Fun fact: with the religion being so closely related to a specific people group, it results in some Jewish people that don’t even practice the religion. They are generationally Jewish. Their connection is purely cultural, not spiritual.
With this, being God’s chosen people is a fundamental belief of Judaism. Christians and Jewish people share this belief actually.
In fact, Christians and Jewish people share lots of core beliefs:
- A belief in one God who is omniscient, all - knowing, almighty, eternal, holy, loving, righteous, merciful and infinite.
- A belief in the authority of the Hebrew Scriptures. Christians see it as the Old Testament, not the complete Bible. Whereas Jews consider it their entire book of authority. But both recognize its authority in their practices.
- A belief in an eternal Heaven and Hell. Both belief systems believe God has created an eternal paradise with Him and an eternal location of separation away from Him.
- A belief in a consistent moral code: judeo - Christian. This code condemns things like drunkenness, murder, jealousy, sexual sin and so on.
Despite what some may think, Judaism and Christianity are very closely connected in many ways.
Yet, there is one difference... a really big difference. Which is: what each respective religion thinks of Jesus Christ.
Many Jewish people see Jesus as a blasphemer and a heretic. A figure that should not be vindicated what so ever. Remember, it was the Jewish people at the time who called for the crucifixion of Christ (Acts 2:23).
On the other hand, some Jewish people see Jesus as a brilliant teacher and possibly even a prophet. But certainly not the Lord and Savior of the world, like Christians do.
Knowing this, Christians believe Jesus was God (John 1). Yet, traditional Jewish practitioners strongly deny that fact. They see him as merely a man, not the messiah.
How big of a deal is this really though? Does one core belief about one man really matter? Absolutely, yes.
What one thinks of when they think of Jesus is the most important thing about them. He is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6). In Him all things were created (Col. 1:16). He is the Savior of the World (John 3:16).
When all of those facts are forced to the side and exchanged with just “good teacher”,“prophet” or even ”heretic” that is eternally significant.
To be fair, Jewish people do a lot of things Christians could learn from. Such as their discipline in learning the Hebrew scriptures, their desire to obey God’s commandments without hesitation and observance of the Sabbath.
Unfortunately though, theirs and our good works are only “filthy rags” to God (Is. 64:6). It’s not about our attempts at righteousness, it’s about Who we trust in to bestow it upon us (1 Cor. 1:30).
Without a saving relationship with Jesus, we are all doomed - Jewish people included.
So in conversations with a Jewish person, the discussion must always make it back to the person and work of Christ in the world. That is for them, and most other religions, the distinct differentiator.
Overall, Christians and Jewish people share many beliefs and history, but end up very far apart in the end. It is this distance that determines being with God or away from Him for eternity.