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Judaism versus Christianity

A comparison of Judaism and Christianity provides many interesting perspectives on the issue of faith that characterize and separates them. These two faiths have much in common yet there are glaring fundamental differences that separate them. What makes the contrasts between Judaism and Christianity so fascinating is that in spite of the much later origin of Christianity, the two faiths were in essence “separated at birth” because Christianity arose out of Judaism. An exploration of them both highlights where they have remained the same as well as where they have grown apart.

The details of their beliefs comprise the difference between them. Some of the differences are obvious and significant of nearly any examination of the two groups. Other differences may seem to take only a second to most examinations and maybe insignificant to the members of the two groups as well. Now let’s discuss a little bit on the basics of Judaism so we can all have a better understanding of how it works. Judaism is one of the world’s oldest religions, dating back up to 2000 years BC from the time when God first called Abraham to leave his home and follow him.

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At that time, God made a covenant (or agreement) with Abraham in which he promised to make Abraham the father of a great nation and that one day his descendants would inherit the land of Canaan if Abraham followed him. Now through Moses, God gave the law of the people of Israel and the fulfillment of the promises became conditional on abiding by the law. To Jews, the law is called the Torah and comprises the written law (basically the Old Testament) and the oral law which the Jews believe is handed down from Moses.

Since we know the basics of Judaism, let’s go into the similarities and differences between Judaism and Christianity. When it comes to similarities Christianity and Judaism both belief in one God who is almighty, omniscient\omnipresent, eternal and infinite. Both religions believe in a God who is holy, righteous, and just, while at the same time loving, forgiving, and merciful. Christianity and Judaism share the Hebrew scriptures (the Old Testament) as the authoritative word of God, although Christianity includes the New Testament as well.

Both Christianity and Judaism believe in the existence of heaven, the eternal dwelling place of the righteous, hell, the eternal dwelling place of the wicked (although not all Christians and Jews believe in the eternality of hell). Christianity and Judaism have basically the same ethical code, commonly known today as Judeo-Christian. They also believe and teach that God has a special plan for the nation of Israel, the Jewish people. Christians and Jews share lots of common heritage – after all, Jesus himself was Jewish too.

Though there are a lot of differences when it comes to both religions in this world, and most of the differences between Christianity and Judaism are mostly-about Jesus Christ. Now Christianity teaches that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament of a coming Messiah / Savior (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6-7; Micah 5:2).

Though Judaism only recognizes Jesus Christ as a good teacher, and perhaps even a prophet of God. Judaism does not believe that Jesus Christ was the Messiah or some may say the Son of God. Taking it a step further, Christianity teaches that Jesus was God in the flesh (John 1:1,14: Hebrew 1:8).

Christianity also teaches that God became a human being in the person of Jesus Christ so he could lay down his life to pay the price for our sins (Romans 5:8; 2 Corinthians 5:21). Judaism strongly denies that Jesus was God or that such
a sacrifice was necessary.

When it comes to down to it, Jesus plays an all-important role distinction between Christianity and Judaism, and the person and work of Jesus Christ is the major and number one issue that Christianity and Judaism cannot agree on. When it comes to this, Jesus being the saviour, for all mankind, there is always going to be a turning away by the people who follow Judaism. They are still waiting for their saviour to come.

They might have been more encouraged to believe in Christianity, or Christ as their saviour, if Christians had not laid aside the Torah. To the people following Judaism, the Torah is the sacred word from God, the instruction booklet for the survival and makeup of how mankind should be. In fact, in Mathew 5:17 Christ himself said” Do not think I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them.

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Christians took the stand that Christ nailed all that was in the Old Testament to the wall when he was crucified. Christians, or at least the majority of them, never understood that Christ was the law, or Torah incarnate. God sent his only begotten Son to be a living example of his laws. Whenever Yeshua (Jesus) is the primary subject between both religions, they are always going to agree to disagree. . A social factor that shows the differences between the two religions would be their form of worship services.

They vary, for example, Christians attend churches on Sunday where the service is led by a priest or minister and the sermon is usually referenced to the Bible. As for the followers of Judaism, their holy days are from Friday at sunset through Saturday at sunset. They attend their worship in a synagogue as opposed to a church. This is another major difference when it comes to religion, celebrations, and traditions.

Judaism religion believes that the Sabbath was supposed to be celebrated on a Saturday only because that’s the seventh day that God rested when creating the earth. Christians on the other hand celebrate it on a Sunday because of a movement that began in the First Century A.D. when Christians met on the first day of the week to worship (which is Sunday).

However, Christians are affected by the 4th of the Ten Commandments all of which are in force. The moral law of God has never been revoked, otherwise, Christians could do whatever immoral things they wanted to! Jesus also condemned all who would teach others not to keep God’s law; not the judicial, dietary part – the moral imperatives (Mat 5:17-20).

Both the followers of Judaism and Christianity believe in the existence of God who was the one to create the universe and everything inside it. What differs is the connotation of God. Christianity lays claim to the belief that God is a trinity. In Judaism God cannot be divided into different parts but is holistic. For believers of Judaism God is unique and a wholesome entity, which is “solid”. There is a difference between the two religions when it comes to holidays as well. So lets discuss the differences between Christianity and Judaism when talking about holidays.

Now everyone knows that there are two major Christian holidays that celebrate the life of Jesus Christ (well not everyone) which are Easter and Christmas. Easter is a day of celebration of when Jesus died on the cross for our sins, was buried and rose from the dead three days later. Christmas is the celebration of Jesus’ birth and of him coming into this world to sacrifice his life and save us from our sins.

This is referenced by scripture from the Old Testament. Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. That is a common passage referred to in regards to the birth of Christ. Judaism has there owned feast days as listed below:

1. Sabbath-(Shabbat)
Gen 2:1-3, Lev 23:3, Num 28:9-10, Exo 20:8-11, Deut 5:12-15
A convocation day. No work to be done.
Not a feast day (môʿêd—H4150) as it is not set by the new moon.

The 4th of the Ten Commandments is the only convocation day that occurs more than once a year. It was not a day that originated with the Jews and the Ten Commandments at Sinai, it preceded them. The seventh day (weekly) Sabbath is the Sabbath of the Lord (Lev 23:3), a memorial to the creation and the Creator established in Eden before the fall (Gen 2:1-3).

Because it began at creation, before sin, with no intrinsic animal sacrifices associated with it, it is separate and distinct from the sabbaths of the yearly sacrificial feast calendar of the temple (Lev. 23:37-38) that ended with Christ’s crucifixion and were a shadow or type of some future event that would be their fulfillment or antitype. When one of the yearly sabbaths fell on the seventh-day Sabbath, it was referred to as a high Sabbath day (John 19:31).

2. Feast of Passover

The 14th day of the 1st month (Abib / Nisan)
Exo 12, Exo 13:6-8, Lev 23:5, Deut 16:3-8, Num 28:16
Note: this was not a convocation day (no public gatherings)

The Jews consider this day to be the day before Passover (Pesah), which to them is the same as the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The type was the Passover in Egypt, with the blood of the lamb being smeared on the doorposts. Jesus and the disciples ate the Passover meal (Matt 26:18-20, Mark 14:12-16) of unleavened bread and wine in the early hours of this day (Exo 12:18), which would have been our Thursday evening (the biblical day begins and ends at sunset).

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Jesus was crucified, and died the afternoon of the 14th (Friday), at the time the Paschal lambs were being slain (Exo 12:6), at the ninth hour (3 pm.). Passover is a shadow or type of the sacrifice of Jesus (the antitype), the lamb of God, at the cross (1 Cor 5:7).

(Ta’anit Bechorim is a fast observed only by the first born. It is to commemorate being spared from the last plague to fall on Egypt- the death of the first born.)

3. Feast of Unleavened Bread (Pesah) a week long observance
First day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread
15th day of the 1st month (Abib/Nisan)
Lev 23:7, Num 28:17,

A convocation/sabbath day.

Firstborn dedicated to the Lord’s service.

Travel to the Sanctuary in Jerusalem required of all men (Exo 23:14,17, Exo 34:22, Deut 16:16).

A celebration of release from bondage in Egypt (Exo 13:6-10). All leavened bread (hametz) removed and replaced by unleavened bread (matzah).

This was the time of year of the latter rain (March/April).
On this day Israel began to eat from the old corn and the manna ended the following day (Josh 5:11)

4. The day of First Fruits (The Omer)

The 16th day of the 1st month (Abib / Nisan)
Exo 34:25-26, Lev 23:10-14, – Late Passover Num 9:10-11
Not a convocation day. No restriction on servile work.
Barley harvest – Firstfruits presented to the Lord (Lev 23:10-11)

This was the day of first sheaf waving (type), the first fruit of the barley harvest. The antitype was Resurrection Sunday which also occurred on 16 Abib / Nisan. It was the moment the barley sheaf was symbolically waved at the temple at the time of the morning sacrifice, the third hour (9 am).

It is important to note that it was not a day of convocation (NOT A SABBATH) to the Jews. This is because the yearly festivals were not just commemorative in nature, but also prophetic, pointing to future holy events as fulfillments. To suggest a new Sunday holy day was instituted on resurrection day, is to say the yearly festival calendar appointed by God was in error since it omits a weekly 1st-day observance.

In Jewish Tradition, the period called the Omer begins on 16 Nisan and extends for the count of 50 days to Pentecost or Shavuot

Manna ceased to fall on this day (Josh 5:12)

5. The last day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Yom Tov)
The 21st day of 1st month (Abib / Nisan)
Exo 12:18, 13:6, Lev 23:8, Num 28:25

A convocation/sabbath day. No servile work.

A traditional celebration of the crossing of the Red Sea.

6. Feast of Pentecost
Exo 34:22, Lev 23:15-21, Acts 2:1, Acts 20:16, 1 Cor 16:8
Occurs 50 days after the day of first fruits/barley sheaf waving (16 Nisan), on or about the 6th day of the third month (Sivan).

A convocation/sabbath day. No servile work is done.

Travel to the Sanctuary in Jerusalem required of all men (Exo 23:14,17, Exo 34:22, Deut 16:16).

Wheat harvest – Firstfruits presented to the Lord (Lev 23:17, 20)

Also called Feast of Weeks (Ex 34:22), the day of First Fruits (Exo 23:16, Num 28:26) Feast of the Harvest (Ex 23:16) and in the New Testament – Pentecost (Acts 2:1) A festival that celebrated the first fruits of the wheat harvest with the offering of two wave loaves of leavened bread (Lev 23:17, 20).

This feast was also a shadow or type because fifty days after the resurrection, at the third hour morning offering at the temple (9 am – Acts 2:15), the firstfruits of the resurrection of saints on 16 Nisan were again presented by Jesus before the Father in heaven, and there was the first outpouring of the Holy Spirit, that resulted in three thousand souls being added to the church in one day (Acts 2:41), this rapid growth being symbolized by the loaves of leavened bread.

7. Trumpets (Rosh Ha-shanah)
The 1st day of the 7th month (Ethanim / Tishri)
Lev 23:24, Num 29:1

A convocation/sabbath day. Not called a feast day. No servile work is done.

The first day of the Jewish civil year.

This was an announcement to Israel of impending judgment, which occurred on the Day of Atonement, nine days later. The antitype of Trumpets was the worldwide proclamation of the second coming in 1843, during the “Great Awakening” revival, which was based on the prophecy in Dan 8:14, which began in 457 B.C. and ended in 1844.

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8. Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur)

The 10th day of the 7th month (Ethanim / Tishri)
Lev 23:27, Num 29:7, Lev 16
A convocation/sabbath day. No work to be done.

Not called a feast day, but a day to “afflict your soul” which involved fasting that day (Joel 1:14-15, Acts 27:9).
This was the holiest day of the year and signified a cleansing of sins and reconciliation with God (Judgment day). The people were to afflict their souls and fast. On this day only the High Priest entered the Holy of Holies to atone for the sins of the people (Lev 16). The jubilee year begins on this day (Lev 25:9).

8. Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkoth)
The first day was the 15th day of the 7th month (Ethanim / Tishri)
Exo 34:22, Lev 23:34-36, 39-43, Num 29:12
A convocation/sabbath day. No servile work done.

Travel to the Sanctuary in Jerusalem required of all men (Exo 23:14,17, Exo 34:22, Deut 16:16).

Fruit Harvest – Firstfruits presented to the Lord (Exo 23:19, 14:1-5)

For seven days all Israel moved out of their homes and lived in temporary shelters called “Sukkah” as a reminder of their wanderings in the desert for forty years. The branches cut from palm (Rev. 7:9), willow and other trees were to be waved in celebration to the Lord during the first seven days of the feast (Lev 23:40).

9. The 7th Day of the Feast of Tabernacles (Hoshana Rabbah
21st day of the seventh month.

Considered by Jewish custom to be the final day of judgment. A ritual of beating willow branches on the ground is practiced, which is thought to symbolize the casting away of sin.

10. The 8th Day of the Feast of Tabernacles
22nd day of the seventh month.
Lev 23:36,39, Num 29:35

A convocation/sabbath day. No servile work is done.

The final day of Tabernacles was also a Sabbath, a day of a solemn assembly. At this time of year, the former or early rains fell (late October / November), when the fields were plowed and sown.

You can see that the holidays between Christians and followers of Judaism are widely different in several areas. This major difference between these two religions is the Jesus Christ factor. Followers of Judaism do not celebrate Christian holidays as they do not have the knowledge or belief in Jesus as Christians do. is the fact that they don’t believe in Jesus like the way Christians do. The peculiarity of Judaism is that people belonging to other religions are still the children of their God, who deserve his love and holy protection.

Another difference that can be looked at between the two religions is the attitude towards faith and good deeds. Judaism puts good deeds higher as a complete reflection of faith. Christianity does not consider good deeds to be sufficient if a person does not have faith inside. In terms of morale, followers of Judaism believe that a person is born neutral and only then shapes his moral values. Christianity states that a person inherits moral values. There are numerous other small differences, yet looking at it from an uncritical eye, it is easy to see that both of the religions possess the same message in their core beliefs- Love.

I would like to point out that there is a Messianic Christian movement rapidly growing across our planet. These are believers in the entire bible, both Old and New Testament. They profess belief in the followers of Judaism’s ways as well as accepting Christ as their Savior. All scripture is from God, moved by the Holy Spirit.

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