Review of ‘The Unusual Suspects 25 Jewish people defy the final taboo’ by Richard Gibson

Review of ‘The Unusual Suspects 25 Jewish people defy the final taboo’ by Richard Gibson

From a diverse range of backgrounds including strict-orthodox on one end of the spectrum to reform Jewish folk, liberals and those involved in other religions and ‘isms’ at the other end; more Jewish people now than ever are turning to Yeshua as their Saviour and Messiah. This is demonstrated through the candid accounts of twenty- five Jewish people born in different parts of the world mentioned in this engaging collection of narratives.

Many of the barriers to Jewish people believing in Jesus are culturally derived and have arisen through antisemitism resulting in misconceptions and misunderstanding. Several of the testimonies recorded harsh experiences at school from others and also later on in life. For others, even from an early age they were genuinely interested to hear more about who Jesus was and what He did, though were also prevented from that by the stigma of social taboos.

Some Jewish people believe that Yeshua is the Messiah, though that might be incredibly difficult for their family and friends to comprehend and make sense of in the context of their community. This involves a great cost, yet as Jim Elliot famously said, ‘he is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose’. Consequently, they might even become estranged from their loved ones. A Messianic Jew might appear to be an oxymoronic identity both for Jewish people and Gentiles though that is clearly not the case.

Painfully, many from within ‘Christendom’ have ignored the extensive Jewish background within the whole Bible and have made Jewish people feel unwelcome either through ignorance, prejudice, and poor understanding. Two thousand years ago the Jewish context of the New Testament at the Jerusalem Council dealt with the question as to whether Gentiles were required to be circumcised (Acts 15:1-2)! In addition, persecution over centuries from those claiming to be ‘Christians’ has caused colossal damage and rather than loving and encouraging Jewish people to discover the Jewish Messiah who is the Saviour of the whole world, have unceasingly persecuted them.

Despite all of the above, many Jewish people have discovered that believing in Yeshua does not mean that Jewish identity is removed but is actually completed. A Jewish believer in Jesus does not suddenly lose their Jewishness. The most Jewish thing to do is to believe in the Jewish Messiah. The New Testament is not just for Gentile people; it was authored by Jewish writers. Paul wrote that the gospel is for the Jew first and then the Greek (Romans 1:16). When Jewish people find other Jewish believers in Jesus, and Gentiles that genuinely love them and recognise the Jewishness of the Bible and Messiah, these obstacles to faith are often removed.

Each of the feasts have richer and fuller meaning when it is revealed how they point towards the first and second coming of Messiah. As one of the testimonies noted regarding the Afikomen in relation to its derivative meaning ‘the coming one’. The spring feasts point towards the first coming of Jesus and the autumn ones towards His second coming.

When Jewish people have repented of their sins and come to trust in Yeshua as their Messiah it is important to find a good fellowship where they will receive sound teaching and where they will be welcome. Another account recalled a bewildering experience of being in a church where the teaching was a hindrance. In some churches the curses from the Old Testament are generally directed towards the ‘Jews’ and the blessings to the ‘Church’. However this is illogical and inconsistent and is usually a result of reading into the context and is known as replacement theology, the idea that the church has replaced Israel.

In reality the Abrahamic covenant regarding the people, land and blessing through Messiah is an everlasting covenant and if hypothetically God had ‘finished with Israel’ then could He not also finish with the church? Both the Old Testament and New Testament emphatically affirm that God has great plans for Israel (Jeremiah 31:31-37; Romans 11:1-36). It is therefore important to either find a Messianic fellowship with good and sound teaching or a church which also has sound teaching and is welcoming to Jewish people and recognises that Yeshua is our peace and has broken down the wall of separation (Ephesians 2:11-22).

What is encouraging is that these testimonies are written not by people that were emotionally unstable or cajoled into ‘making a decision’ or became believers for selfish motives. It is wonderful how they chart the course of their lives and how they came to know Yeshua and their joy in Him as their reason for living and as one of them put it-twice chosen!