Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak states that Jesus is not the Messiah based on the following claim: “I am a rational person, so I say wait a minute, if the Lord, blessed He, gave [the covenant of the Law] to the people of Israel, witnessed by millions, and let’s say that he decided to then say: I’m really fed up with you, I don’t want you anymore, now I choose Jesus and whoever follows him. That is possible, right? Why would you do it the first time in such a public way but this time do it in secret, like a thief whispering to him behind the mountain? If you want to declare and announce [a new covenant], then it should be done in public, at the very least as public as it was the first time.”
The rabbis think this is a very strong argument. But there are a few gaping holes in this line of thinking…
Rabbi Daniel Asor, Rabbi Ezekiel Sofer and Rabbi Zamir Cohen, also take great pride in this claim, which only proves how little they know the Pentateuch. So let’s get down to the bottom of Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak’s words.
First of all Jesus was Jewish, so if God forsook the people of Israel and wanted to choose a new people, then he should have chosen someone who was not Jewish. It’s possible that Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak forgot that although the rabbis call him “Jesus the Christian” it doesn’t alter that fact that he is Jewish. In contrast to the Rabbis’ sayings, the New Testament doesn’t claim that the people of Israel are no longer the chosen people, to the contrary!
In Paul’s letter to the community in Rome he writes: “I ask, then, has God rejected his people? By no means! For I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected his people whom he foreknew.” (Rom. 11:1-2)
Therefore quite clearly, according to the New Testament, God did not forsake the people of Israel. In addition to that, Jesus caused thousands of gentiles to abandon their idols and foreign gods, and to believe in the God of Israel. Many of them even had to give up their lives due to their loyalty to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob… And all this, thanks to Jesus.
Secondly, it’s important for us to clarify that as believers in Jesus we do accept God’s revelation to Moses on Mt. Sinai; in fact, the New Testament is dependent upon this revelation. We consider the Pentateuch to be God’s word – a holy book – and the New Testament as the direct continuation of the first covenant. More than that, it has to be said, one cannot understand or appreciate the New Testament to its full depth without knowing the Pentateuch and the Old Testament.
But back to Amnon Yitzhak’s claims. He says that Moses received the Law while millions of people were watching him. But the truth is that if we read in the book of Exodus about the Mt. Sinai event, we will find that Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak doesn’t know his Bible very well. Moses didn’t receive the Ten Commandments from God in front of Millions at all. Here is what actually happened:
Exodus 20: “Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off and said to Moses, ‘You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die.’ Moses said to the people, ‘Do not fear, for God has come to test you, that the fear of him may be before you, that you may not sin.’ The people stood far off, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.” (Ex. 20-18-21)
The people of Israel were afraid of God and so stayed away, at a distance. The people sent Moses up the mountain by himself. When Moses was with God, he was there alone:
“And the LORD said to Moses, ‘Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.’ So he was there with the LORD forty days and forty nights.” (Ex. 34:27-28)
As you remember, this is the second time already, because when Moses was on the mountain the people of Israel decided that they’d rather worship a golden calf:
“When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, ‘Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’” (Ex. 32:1)
You see? Moses received the Ten Commandments from God all alone – there weren’t millions of witnesses. From this, another important question arises – can the testimony of one man’s personal revelation be accepted? After all, Amnon Yitzhak ridicules and mocks anyone whom God revealed Himself to individually. But God revealed Himself individually to Adam in the Garden of Eden. God revealed Himself in individually also to Noah and Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; God made a covenant in private with our forefather Abraham. Even before Mt. Sinai, God revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush, in private. After the giving of the Law, God revealed Himself to King David and to the Old Testament prophets, all in private – none of them had “millions of witnesses”. Therefore, we can conclude that Rabbi Amnon Yitzhak doesn’t accept the words of the forefathers, of the prophets or of the kings in the Old Testament, to whom God revealed Himself in private.
It’s also important to understand that the New Testament doesn’t claim that Jesus received a new set of laws. To the contrary! Jesus affirmed everything written in the Old Testament, but refused to accept the interpretations and commandments which the rabbis invented and added. After all, Jesus himself said:
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matt. 5:17)
The Messiah is the only one who obeyed the entire Law, and therefore fulfilled it once and for all.
The special thing about the new covenant, made with the blood of Jesus, is that although it was made through the people of Israel (since Jesus is Jewish), it was meant to serve all the nations of the world – just as God promised Abraham when He made a covenant with him, in private. That was when God promised that from Abraham’s seed the Messiah would come and be a blessing to all the nations.
This is also the role of the people of Israel – to be a blessing to all the nations, and through Jesus the Messiah, it came to pass. Jesus was crucified and sacrificed for the sins of humanity, on Passover, right in front of the people of Israel.