Where would we look to find a connection between Christians and ancient Israel? We need look no further than Messiah Himself. That’s what God told Moses:
The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear, according to all you desired of the Lord your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, “Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, nor let me see this great fire anymore, lest I die.” And the Lord said to me: “What they have spoken is good. I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him. (Deuteronomy 18:15-19 NKJV, emphasis added)
This is a major prophecy quoted by both the Apostle Peter (Acts 3:22) and Stephen the Martyr (Acts 7:37) in their explanations about Yeshua’s identity as Messiah. He is like Moses in that He speaks the Word of God directly to the people, but He is greater than Moses because He is God Himself. This is something Christians should have no problem understanding. But why is it that Jews have a problem with it?
Remember that Israeli café owner? He said he thought Jesus (Yeshua) was a good Jew who preached love and peace, but He didn’t give His followers the tools to practice those things. What were the missing tools? The Torah, also known as the Law of Moses, or Law of God. This Jewish café owner stated a common belief among both Jews and Christians that Yeshua did not intend His followers to follow Torah. And that is precisely the issue that Judaism has with Christianity. For centuries Jews have believed that Jesus was a false prophet because his followers rejected the commandments of God. And, in fact, they have good reason to think that. The standard God gave His people for recognizing false prophets is another thing Moses taught:
If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, “Let us go after other gods”—which you have not known—“and let us serve them,” you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken in order to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall put away the evil from your midst. (Deuteronomy 13:1-5 NKJV, emphasis added)
In other words, any prophet who tells people to disregard Torah is a false prophet because they are telling people to follow something other than the Lord God. It doesn’t matter if he or she has exciting miracles and other signs that come true. If they disregard God’s commandments, then they are false prophets.
And now we know one of the root causes of the division between Jews and Christians. Observant Jews think that Christians don’t worship on Sabbath or keep the Feasts of the Lord or obey the other commandments of Torah because Jesus told them so. That’s why they don’t accept the testimony of Christians that Jesus is Messiah because He did all kinds of wonderful signs and miracles. But what did Yeshua Himself say? Let’s go back to that Sermon on the Mount. Right after He opens the sermon with the list of character traits that bring blessing, and after He explains the persecution they will have, Yeshua tells the people they are to be the “salt of the earth and light of the world”. They are to bring the good things of the Kingdom of Heaven to the whole world by how they live their lives. And how are they to live? By the old standards God explained to Moses, and which Yeshua will give them the ability to live out in a new way. That’s the very next thing Yeshua says:
Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-19 NKJV, emphasis added)