In honor of the Jewish New Year, Yom Kippur or “The Day of Atonement,” I thought I might share the once in a lifetime opportunity I was given a few weeks ago.
September 30, 2016 I attended an apologetics conference where some incredible scholars spoke about the scientific and historical evidence for the Christian faith. While I was here, I had the opportunity to examine and even touch a 300 year old Torah scroll that is one of only a few surviving of its kind. As I stood at the end of the 92 foot long scroll, I was awestruck by this piece of history lying in front of me.
The scroll was believed to have belonged to the Ashkenazi Jews in Germany and is dated roughly from or back to 1750. It is thought to have survived the Holocaust and the tragic Kristallnacht event of 1938 where on November 9-10, hundreds of Synagogues were torched by the Nazis and over 800 historic scrolls were burned. Many Rabbis risked their lives to save these precious scrolls and had to flee to the forests to keep them safe till the end of the Holocaust.
As I listened to this incredible story, I felt the soft parchment and observed the “jots and tittles” on the text. The speaker explained that these were very small markings present on certain Hebrew letters that differentiate one letter from another. I had to pick up a magnifying glass to observe them because they were incredibly small. I recalled a verse I was taught as a child where Yeshua is talking about “jots and tittles” and how he would follow the law to the very letter in order to atone for the sins of the world (Matthew 5:18).
Hearing the history of this ancient Torah scroll and observing the “jots and tittles” was incredibly special for me. If it had not been for the Jews careful preservation of ancient documents such as these, I would not have my Bible as it is today. Nor, would I have any of the old testament for that matter. Lastly, without the careful preservation of the old testament, I would not personally know my Messiah (Yeshua). Yeshua is the one who fulfilled the Isaiah 53 prophecy of “The Suffering Servant” who would be “pierced for our transgressions and crushed for our sins.”
On this of Yom Kippur, I wish to express my gratitude to the Jews who made my personal faith possible. I also wish to express my appreciation to my Messiah Yeshua who grafted me, a Gentile, into His family. “For we all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” – Isaiah 53:6
photos by Shelby Hartshorn