Yeshua said: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6, NKJV).[i] Yeshua is the way to eternal life. That is clear. But what is truth? Pontius Pilot, the governor of the Roman province of Judaea, asked Jesus the same question.
Truth is conventionally defined as “that which is true or in accordance with fact or reality.” From a Christian perspective, the gospel is true. That being that we are all sinners and Christ died to pay for our sins. But what is the more profound understanding of truth from a Jewish perspective?
Let me begin with a rabbinic narrative on three seemingly contrasting characteristics—Justice, kindness, and truth. We read:
“A world built on both kindness and justice could not long endure since these two opposites would clash with each other constantly. Only with the concept of truth (Emet) could the world find its necessary balance. Truth decides when to utilize kindness, when to utilize justice, and when to temper one with the other. When kindness and justice and blended in the proper measure, the result is truth.”[ii]
Wow! That sounds like a powerful representation of the gospel. If God exclusively demonstrated His kindness towards us, then He has ignored our sin. And if He only showed His justice towards us, then we would continually be subject to His eternal punishment for our sin.
When kindness and justice are brought together, God’s truth is demonstrated to us in the form of grace. And Jesus is that grace, for it is written, “For the law [justice] was given through Moses, but grace [kindness] and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17). Here the writer has specifically linked grace and truth together. Grace is God’s love that He has manifested through His revealed truth—who is Christ. He is the one who has tempered God’s justice with His kindness.
Truth is also knowing and doing what is right—God’s law—but that is not what Yeshua spoke. Jesus did not go around telling people to follow the law as a means of obtaining God’s grace. No, he went around telling people to repent so they could receive God’s unmerited grace. Unmerited, because it was Christ who tempered God’s justice by taking upon Himself the punishment that we deserved. And more, Jesus bore the full wrath of God, and thus became the way, the truth, and the life. But most importantly, He demonstrated God’s truth—that when kindness and justice are blended in the proper measure, the result is truth.
Yeshua is the way, and the way of repentance is what leads us to our Heavenly Father. Yeshua is also the one who atoned for our sins, and this atonement resulted in our justification before God so that we could receive His eternal life.
Now that we have His life, the Lord has called us to restore His house—His Kingdom; for it is written, “Those from among you Shall build the old waste places; You shall raise up the foundations of many generations; And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach, The Restorer of Streets to Dwell In“ (Isaiah 58:12).
To the Jew first and then to the Greek, we share the good news of the Kingdom with all. This is how God’s house grows and His Kingdom advances. We share God’s kindness as a testimony to His love and how He delivered us from His strict Justice into His loving arms of compassion and mercy.
Unfortunately, there is presently much division within God’s house, fueled by a spirit of pride that has led to ignorance. Paul said, “For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion” (Romans 11:25).
However, the root of this division stems from an identity complex and a wounded spirit caused by our sin and separation from God. This wound, coupled with ignorance, has led to antisemitism and racism, even within the church. There are now thousands of factions and denominations, most of whom are severed from their Hebraic foundation.
How are we, the church, to rebuild the old waste places? How can we raise up the foundations of many generations? We cannot unless we are restored to the truth.
And what is this truth? Only, that the one who is called the way, the truth, and the life is a Jewish man. He is the Messiah of Israel and the nations, and He is called the King of the Jews. Those from the nations who have followed His way of repentance now receive His eternal life. They are grafted into the remnant of His Kingdom, Israel.
Paul said you have been grafted into Israel’s natural branches, and spiritually, we are already one. But in the natural world, God has yet to heal the wound of division in His family. Therefore, God’s prophetic destiny is for the Gentile church to reconnect with their Messianic Jewish brethren. This will occur by their repentance from the rejection of both the Jewish people and their Jewish Messiah. “For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a cultivated olive tree, how much more will these, who are natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?” (Romans 11:24).
Yes, it is their olive tree, and this tree has a Hebraic root and foundation. This does not mean that the Gentiles must become Jews to enter the Kingdom. No, the Gentiles have been joined with their Jewish brethren by being grafted into their tree. Together, we have become one new man in Christ and one people of God comprised of every tongue, tribe, nation, and people.
Now we are one, yet we are diverse. We are all equal, but we are not the same. Israel comprised twelve tribes, twelve separate families, each with their unique gifts and inheritance. But sadly, Israel became divided and later the church also.
As Christians, we must understand that there is no place for division in God’s household. There is no tolerance for racism, antisemitism, or injustice in His Kingdom. And those who refuse to accept the truth of scripture may find themselves cut off from the promise of their inheritance. As it is written, “Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off” (Romans 11:22).
Many in this nation are crying out for Justice. Justice for the murder of the unborn. Justice for corruption in our government and the violation of agreements with the American Indians. Justice for the tolerance of poverty caused by centuries of slavery and segregation. And the list goes on.
The secular world is also seeking justice. Their solutions span the political spectrum. They range from far-right libertarianism, liberalism, and utilitarianism to far left postmodern Marxism. All of these secular views conflict with scripture. Why? Because they remove God from the narrative. Each tries to establish boundaries of moral relativism without inserting God’s opinion on the issue.[iii] But God does indeed have an opinion.
In the story of the Exodus, we learn about a young priest named Phinehas.[iv] He was Aaron’s grandson and the son of Eleazar—the high priests and Kohanim of Israel. The Aaronic priesthood served as a type for the priesthood of Christ. Yeshua’s priesthood is per the order of Melchizedek, who is the fulfillment and the antitype.
Phinehas was displeased with Israel’s sexual immorality with the Midianites and Moabites. He mediated God’s justice for Israel by publicly executing an Israelite man and Midianite woman. Gruesome! Yes. But it reveals the ugliness of our sin and the wrath we deserve.
Yet here is the paradox. God made a covenant of peace with Phinehas and his descendants, declaring: “Phinehas the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, has turned back My wrath from the children of Israel, because he was zealous with My zeal among them, so that I did not consume the children of Israel in My zeal. Therefore say, ‘Behold, I give to him My covenant of peace; and it shall be to him and his descendants after him a covenant of an everlasting priesthood, because he was zealous for his God, and made atonement for the children of Israel” (Numbers 25:11-13).
How does a covenant of peace result from the execution of a man and a woman? Similarly, how the crucifixion of Christ, Yeshua’s public execution, resulted in our everlasting covenant of peace that has now been mediated by the Prince of Peace.
The sages tell us that because of Phinehas’s zeal for God’s justice and his bringing about peace between God and Israel that he will be the future Elijah, who will herald the arrival of the Messiah.[v] We read that it was a descendant of Phinehas, John the Baptist, who would fulfill this prophecy. As it is written, “He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” (Luke 1:17).
If John was a type and Christ is the antitype), has this mantle of peace been given to the church? Are we now to become the repairers of the breach and the restorers of all things of the Kingdom? Are we to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children? I believe, yes.
I am reminded of another story from the Bible, where the disciples wanted to call down fire from heaven to destroy the inhabitants of a community that had rejected Yeshua. But Jesus turned and rebuked them, saying, “You do not know what manner of spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them” (Luke 9:55).
Was Yeshua a pacifist that ignored human injustice? He was not, and we all know the story of Him turning over the money changers’ tables.[vi] Yeshua reminded His disciples: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’” (Matthew 5:38). In other words, Yeshua was saying that God demands justice.
This statement is an idiom, meaning Yeshua did not want us to poke out other people’s eyes. Instead, according to the Oral Torah, this law was a directive for monetary compensation to the injured party.[vii] As it is written, “Therefore the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants” (Mattew 18:23). But even this financial compensation was understood to never fully repair the damage, leaving us in the position of begging for forgiveness from the injured party.
Justice demands God’s judgment, and it is the church whom God has placed on the earth to execute these future judgments; for it is written, “Do you not know that the saints will judge the world?” (1 Corinthians 6:2).
How many people today are demanding reparations for past injustice? They cry out: Pay us for the damage you and prior generations have caused us. However, I am reminded that Jesus is the truth. What truth? That God’s kindness tempers His strict Justice. And we, the church, must learn the same. As the Lord declared: “I will leave in your midst A meek and humble people, And they shall trust in the name of the LORD” (Zephaniah 3:12).
If there remains injustice in our nation, especially within the church, we must do all possible to rid ourselves of it. But reparations and payment for injustice? It is not the time for the Day of Judgement is not yet upon us. Christ has paid the price for all damage caused by every sin and rebellious action since the Garden of Eden.
We live in a fallen and sinful world. And yet, there are many occasions for the church to fight for God’s justice, even striving until Yeshua returns to establish His perfect righteousness. But this fight for justice was always on behalf of others who were defenseless. Israel was commanded to protect the widows, the orphans, the poor, and the strangers.[viii] And we, the church, are likewise required to do the same.
Is there presently in this country injustice against vulnerable and underrepresented people groups? Yes. Shall we call down fire from heaven to consume those who cause injustice? Absolutely, no. Because we, like the son of man, are not being sent forth to destroy men’s lives but to save them. We have been sent in the truth—knowing that God’s kindness tempers His Justice.
We are all sinners deserving of God’s punishment, and it is Christ who carries all our iniquity. God has called every man to repent and receive His forgiveness.[ix] And now, Yeshua has asked that we also forgive others just as we have been forgiven.[x] We know there is no financial compensation that can ever fully repair the damage we have brought upon God’s creation and other people. Only the precious blood of Christ can atone for our iniquity and restore all things.
I believe that Martin Luther King understood this principle as he led many during the civil rights movement in a spirit of love, peace, and reconciliation. There were other leaders at that time, just as today, who believed that fire and wrath would turn this nation.
But let me ask you these questions. Have the carcasses of their gutted buildings been restored? And where are the monuments to these leaders of destruction? There is no one, yet we see Martin Luther King standing tall amid our nations’ capital.
What is truth? Yeshua is truth, and we, the church, must become examples of His truth—men and women who have a zeal for God’s justice but know that His kindness tempers His wrath. For it is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance.[xi]
It is time for the church to rise and shine and to be seen amongst the nations. We will become the repairers of the breach by repenting and allowing God to heal us of all division, racism, and injustice. And the Gentiles must return to their Messianic foundation and become fully grafted members of God’s household, repenting of their separation from the Jewish followers of Christ.
In the spirit of God’s kindness and truth, we will then turn the hearts of the fathers to the children. Therefore, I continue to pray that the Lord will leave us, the church, a meek and humble people in this nation. Yes, it is time for God’s truth to prevail and for the church to arise in the spirit of Elijah to restore all things.
[i] All Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Bible (NKJV) unless otherwise noted, Thomas Nelson Inc., 1982.
[ii] Rabbi Munk, Michael L. The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet: The Sacred Letters as a Guide to Jewish Deed and Thought. ArtScroll Mesorah Series, Mesorah Publications. 1993, 2007, 2012.
[iii] Keller, Timothy. A Biblical Critique of Secular Justice and Critical Theory. Justice & Race, series. 2020.
[iv] Exodus 6:25.
[v] Ibid. The Wisdom in the Hebrew Alphabet.
[vi] Matthew 21:12.
[vii] Shurpin, Yehuda. What Does ‘Eye for an Eye’ Really Mean. Chabad.org.
[viii] Exodus 22:21-22. Leviticus 23:22, 25:35.
[ix] 2 Peter 3:9.
[x] Matthew 6:14-15.
[xi] Romans 2:4.
Republished with permission of House of David Ministries. All rights reserved. To read more, visit www.thehouseofdavid.org.