He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them. Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.
The scripture of Abraham gazing at the stars as God prophesied to him about his prophetic destiny came to life for me when I visited Israel and gained a deeper understanding of the heritage and inheritance of Jesus from a Jewish viewpoint rather than from a Western standpoint.
I learned that being Jewish was both a culture and a religion. While Jesus is the actual Messiah and Lord, and His religion is ultimately Christianity, he is Christ Jesus. Jesus is also culturally Jewish. However, he is not a religious Jew; he is still a cultural Jew, which means that all the Jewish people experienced in Israel are part of the legacy and culture that Jesus also experienced.
Five Candles Representing All The Children Who Died in The Holocaust
When we visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, we learned that the museum included the principal themes and timeline of the Holocaust, a genocide against the Jewish people in which six million Jews were killed in World War 2 by the leadership of Hitler.
Towards the end of the exploration of the museum, after they had gone over the massive injustice and terrible annihilation of the Jewish people, there was a room with five candles that symbolized children, which represented all the children who had died, as well as who they might have become, and who their children’s children could have been.
This was very eye-opening because these five stars turned into thousands, if not millions of lights, spread across space as they reflected off the many mirrors.
It resembled the scene in Genesis 15:5 when Abraham gazed up at the heavens and attempted to count the number of stars. When I glanced at this chamber, it brought to mind a text that describes a Jewish way of thinking, which states that Jews believe that their identity is passed down from generation to generation and that this is the heritage they have received from God. They have access to the Torah and the Old Testament, which include this text initially written down in the Old Testament.
It demonstrated how accurate the Bible is to them, not just in the context of a biblical study but also in the culture and way of day-to-day existence. It dawned on me that they had lived this way for thousands of years.
How Jewish People Maintained their Historical Narrative
One way they preserved this culture was by keeping their customs and festivals, as well as all their regulations and holidays. Even though the Jews are dispersed throughout the world, many still maintain this legacy that we find in the Bible. This is because they kept what the word said in the Old Testament by their traditions.
When we got to experience a Jewish Shabbat, we found them singing Proverbs 31 over the mother/wife, and then they proceeded to bestow blessings onto the children as done in the Bible. They did this every Friday!
I thought to myself what if I read Proverbs 31 over my wife and sang scriptures of blessings over my kids every Friday? How much would that change the culture of my house, and the legacy of my family?
The Jewish inheritance has a strong reverence, respect, and honor towards women and children, which I find amazing because I don’t see that in western culture.
Meeting the Holocaust Survivor – Rena Quint
I recall that we met Rena Quint, one who survived the Holocaust. When the Holocaust occurred, she was six years old, and it has been many decades since the Holocaust happened. Her life was thrown into disarray when she was just six years old, and her mother instructed her to flee whenever the army approached.
As a father of a six-year-old, I cannot fathom being in a situation where I have to instruct my child to flee if an army invades. As she escaped, her mother was shot, and then Rena was caught and sent to a concentration camp, where she would remain until the British army came and rescued her.
After she was rescued from the Holocaust, she was eventually taken in by another family and raised as their child. Her newly adopted mother passed away shortly after the family adopted her. And because of this, she felt it was typical for her mothers always to die.
She married a Jewish rabbi, and for decades after their marriage, he sent her love letters daily. The notes would say something along these lines, “I can’t wait to go home so we can enjoy leftovers together, and I will love you for the rest of my life.”
I could sense the love and respect that they had for one another in their interactions with one another.
Women and Children in Jewish Inheritance
Treating one’s family with honor and reverence is part of the Jewish heritage. What shocks me about the Holocaust is how the Nazis tried to take women and children away from their families, keep them apart, and kill them. It must have been a devastating ordeal for the Jews.
In contrast to the United States, where abortion and divorce are legal, a right to be fought for, not as rape, or unplanned pregnancies, but as a civil right for us to choose to kill babies. Then you have the Jewish people singing hymns of praise and reciting scripture over their families, namely their wives, children, and the head of the family. They do as a people, as a family, as a identity, not a government right. Big difference. Every single week, the father is the one who takes the helm to preside over this time of prayer. That enlightens me even more about how Jesus invited the younger children to come to him. How Jesus valued the Samaritan lady, honored all the women he encountered, and even miraculously cured the woman who stretched out and grabbed hold of his robe are all indications of how Jesus honored women.
Jesus has this honor for infants and women. That is far more than the message that is delivered in a sermon. This has been their heritage for thousands of years, and it remains important to them.
The Resilience of the Jewish People After the Holocaust
Something that pushes me as a Christian is to learn about who Jesus is and what this means for my Christian heritage from the Christian perspective.
So, considering everything, after the Holocaust, the freed Jews had two thousand marriages. The following year, there were a total of three thousand newborns. Yet, amazingly, despite having suffered such a devastating loss of six million Jewish people being systematically murdered, they did not give up their faith in the promises of God found in the Bible, which stated that they would receive an inheritance similar to the one that Abraham had given them. As a result, they fought for the inheritance that Abraham had given them.
The fact that Jews did not have a nation at this time makes it all the more surprising that Israel was established many years later. Israel is 75 years old, but before that, where did the Jewish people dwell?
Once again, this occurred immediately after the Holocaust, demonstrating their resilience, much like the oak trees of righteousness, in being examples of what they’ve learned from the Bible and what they know about God. They genuinely believe in the prophetic promises in the Scriptures, something we can learn significantly from.
Jesus Wept For Jerusalem As an Ethnic Jew
As he approached Jerusalem and saw the city, he wept over it and said, If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace—but now it is hidden from your eyes.
Israel gave me a love for Jerusalem in the same way it says in Luke 19:41 that Jesus went to Jerusalem, and when he saw the city, he started to cry. He wept because he desired peace for his people in his identity as Jesus Christ, but his people did not recognize him as Christ. There was also this tie that Jesus had to the city of Jerusalem.
It has shown me several things, one of which is that even on the Western Wall, where it’s been hundreds of years that they’ve been crying at this wall, they hope they can one day pray for peace in Jerusalem. I never considered the possibility that Jesus, who was Jewish not in terms of religion but culture, shed tears for Jerusalem as a Jew and that the Jewish people shed tears for Jerusalem as a people even today.
What really is Jewish culture, and how can we learn from it here and now as Christians?
Because I am of Filipino American descent, the fact that Jesus reacts to the city of Jerusalem in the same manner as the Jewish people is startling to me. It’s simply that I’ve never considered things from this angle. Simply said, it opened my eyes to the truth. It makes me want to share it with as many young leaders, Filipinos, Asians, and the various individuals with whom I come into touch throughout my mission so that we may expose the origin of the Bible and the origin of Jesus.
Even when I think about peace for Jerusalem, I always think about my trip there and remember how big of a deal Jesus Christ will bring salvation to all of creation on earth as it is in heaven. This will be how peace is restored to the land, not only in Israel but also in the rest of the world. My journey with Jesus has been forever transferred with my trip to Israel.