Of all the claims made by those who believe in Yeshua (Jesus), the most troubling to many is the claim that Yeshua is the only way to God. The concern might be expressed like this:
“You claim that you are the only ones in the world who know God and are going to heaven. You claim that all people who don’t believe like you, including Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus, are going to hell. How arrogant and narrow-minded can you be?”
Many people spend a lifetime searching for meaning and satisfaction through various religions. Many ask, “How can I find God?” While these are important concerns, perhaps a more probing question would be: “What is keeping me from God?”
Through the Jewish prophets, we are told that one, and only one thing keeps people separated from God. Isaiah, who wrote in about 700 B.C.E., said:
“Behold, the Lord’s hand is not so short that it cannot save; neither is His ear so dull that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He does not hear.” Isaiah 59:1-2
Our sins are what keep us from God. Thus, any person can know God—as long as he or she has no sin! Unfortunately, all of us have sinned against God, whether we are Jewish, Moslem, Christian or of another faith.
King David, writing in about 1,000 B.C.E., said:
“The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside; together they have become corrupt. There is no one who does good, not even one.” Psalm 14:2-3, Psalm 53:2-3
King Solomon, the wisest king in history, said,
“Indeed, there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and who never sins.” Ecclesiastes 7:20
Since all of us have sinned and sin keeps us from God, the critical issue becomes, “How can our sins be removed or forgiven?” Many believe that God will accept us if we do a lot of mitzvot (good deeds). However, the Jewish Bible tells us that even our best deeds cannot remove our sins.
“For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment; and all of us wither like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.” Isaiah 64:6
Even our best deeds are filthy compared to God’s holiness.* We cannot erase our sins with good deeds any more than we can become clean by washing ourselves in mud. Our “righteous deeds” only add more “filth” to our sins.
Jewish people throughout the world attest to this truth every year on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur when singing the “Avinu Malkenu,” prayer, which says:
“We have no deeds to commend ourselves to You.”
There is absolutely nothing we can do to remove our sins. Fortunately, God has provided a way to remove them for us. Isaiah tells us that God placed our sins on a certain Jewish man who bore them for us. Concerning him, Isaiah said:
“But he was wounded because of our transgressions, he was crushed because of our iniquities: The chastisement of our welfare was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep did go astray, we turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath made to light on him the iniquity of us all…For he was cut out of the land of the living, for the transgression of my people to whom the stroke was due.” Isaiah 53:5-6, 8a
The one described in this passage is the Jewish Messiah who bore our sins for us 2000 years ago, removing the barrier of sin that we could not remove ourselves. Other Jewish prophets tell us even more about the Messiah. He is clearly identified as a descendant of King David who would come from Bethlehem, and be a great teacher who would die by crucifixion before 70 C.E. (See Psalm 89:4-5 (verses 3-4 in other translations), Jeremiah 23:5-6, Micah 5:1 (verse 2 in other translations); Isaiah 50:4, Psalm 22:16, Zechariah 12:10, and Daniel 9:25-26.)
Yeshua (Jesus) is the Jewish Messiah described by Isaiah. Concerning him bearing our sins, Isaiah asked this critical question:
“Who would have believed our report?” Isaiah 53:1a
Each of us must ask: “Do I believe this report of the Messiah?” For our sins to be removed, we must repent of our sins and embrace the Messiah who died in our place. If we reject Yeshua and the forgiveness of sin he provides, we will remain separated from God, not only in this life, but forever.
People have devised many “ways” or “paths” to find God. Some of these “paths” do not even attempt to remove sins. However, our sins will not go away by ignoring them.
Other “ways” often rely on a person’s own efforts to become righteous. But we can never cleanse ourselves with good deeds, because even our best deeds are filthy to the Lord. That is why none of these “ways” can bring us into a full relationship with God.
Those of us who embrace the Jewish Messiah should reflect a heart of gratitude and never become arrogant. Our sins were forgiven only because of what the Messiah did for us—not because of anything we did. In fact, for anyone to admit that his or her sins need forgiving, and to turn from those sins to embrace the Jewish Messiah, takes humility, not arrogance.
May God give all of us the humility needed to turn from our own ways and embrace Messiah Yeshua, the one who died for the sins of all people to restore us to God.Written by: Jonathan Sacks Sacks Messianic Ministries P.O. Box 51764 Bowling Green, KY 42102-6764
* The Hebrew word translated “filthy garment” in Isaiah 64:6 literally means “used menstrual cloth.” This strong metaphor is used to show us that even our best deeds are utterly filthy in God’s sight.
** That this passage speaks of the Messiah has been recognized by the vast majority of rabbis over the centuries. See “What the Rabbis Have Said about Isaiah 53”, available from Sacks Messianic Ministries, for a listing of the views of rabbis over the last 2,000 years concerning this passage.