Saturday, May 23, 2015

Will the Irish Same-Sex Marriage Vote influence Justice Kennedy in the June Supreme Court Decision?

The world is changing.

Who would have imagined twenty years ago that one of the most Catholic countries in the world would vote to allow same-sex marriage?  But they have.  Yesterday, Irish voters approved same sex marriage on the emerald isle with an astounding 60% "yes" vote.

Will this affect the upcoming Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage in the United States, in particular, will it affect the vote of the swing vote on the court, Justice Kennedy?

Read this article regarding the Irish vote:  here

Friday, May 22, 2015

Fundamentalist Baptist Pastor Bill responds, Part 2

Gary,
 
Here is attached the writing I promised. I have another in the works and mostly waiting for this one to go out to your readers.  It is my contention that everything rises or falls on the truth or not, of the Bible record. If the Bible is true or not true is the question everyone ought to face. Myself included!

I trust these historical facts and records will motivate some to think and reason together with the Lord as to their real need for life and eternity. The Lord's love for us is fixed and cannot be changed even by the best of deniers...He loves and is love and that love demands His righteousness and judgement on and of sin....sure am glad I know Him and and am known by Him.

In Christ and Happy,

Pastor Billy
Col 2:6


Dear Readers of Gary's Blog:
 
I trust this simple discourse will bring many to realize the historic accuracy of the Bible.
 
The Bible record cannot be successfully challenged on the basis of history...the Bible is what it claims to be, the Word of God....The God Who loves so very much He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.... Having received the Lord Jesus as my personal Saviour some 48 plus years ago I highly recommend Him to all. Please consider this information and ask yourself, “What if it is true?”
 
In Christ and Happy,
 
Pastor Sutton, Wm
Col 2:6

Gary:  I will intersperse my comments in red.
 
Dear atheist and agnostic Readers:  Pastor Bill is a childhood family friend and a very nice, kind man.  If you wish to comment please do me a personal favor and be polite to him.  Thank you!
 
ACCURACY OF PROPHECY
 
Perhaps the most compelling of evidences demonstrating that the Bible is the word of God is its unswerving ability to accurately predict future events, often in minute details. Specific prophesies are conspicuously absent from the 26 other religious books that claim to be scripture, including the Muslim's Koran, the Book of Mormon, the Hindu Vedas, and Buddhist writings. This in itself should be a major eye‑opener to the honest skeptic. God through the prophet Isaiah once challenged the pagan idolaters of that time; Isaiah 41:23 (KJV) “Shew the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that ye are gods: yea, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together.”  

Here is a list of all the failed prophecies in the Bible:  here and another list here.
 
 
THE JEWISH NATION
 
Perhaps the greatest and most obvious testimony to the accuracy of Biblical prophecy is provided by the people and nation of Israel. The Jews went without a homeland for 1900 years, just as God had promised numerous times in the Old Testament, as a reluctant judgment on His rebellious chosen people. Moses warned Israel that if they corrupted themselves, then "the LORD shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even unto the other (Deut 28:64, KJV)". Remarkably, God restored the Jews to their ancient homeland, fulfilling many other specific Old Testament prophesies.

It is inconceivable to me how the honest skeptic could deny God's handiwork in the history of the people of Israel. Throughout history the "wandering Jew" has been hated and despised, yet despite the unbelievable persecution they endured, the Jews somehow managed to maintain their identity such that when God's time clock warranted they were able to re‑group as a nation in their ancient homeland.  Indeed, history is replete with once great nations which were eventually overrun and defeated, but whose people were over time absorbed into the culture of the conquering nation. The fact that this did not happen to the Jews is nothing short of miraculous.   There are American Jews, German Jews, Russian Jews, etc.; have you ever heard of a German Babylonian, or an American Philistine?  The plight of this small percentage of humanity is certainly unique and unprecedented in the annals of world history.  Jews themselves trumpet their resilience during centuries of persecution as a sign that the Jewish God is the one, true God.  However, this in no way proves that Christianity is the one true religion or that Jesus is the God of the Old Testament, the Creator of the Universe, as Christians claim.

The Basques of northern Spain and southwestern France have existed for circa 45,000 years, much longer than the Hebrews/Jews have existed.  Does their continuous existence for such a long period of time, almost always under the occupation and domination of other peoples, indicate that God has blessed them and protected them from assimilation?

The Jews have certainly been the subjects of horrific persecution ever since 70 AD, especially at the hands of the Nazis.  But other peoples have long histories of persecution and suffering such as the Kurds, the Armenians, and the Roma (Gypsies).  These peoples have also survived.  Is their survival a sign of God's protection and the truthfulness of their religions and belief systems ??
 
Finally, who can deny the volatility of the Middle East, with Israel as the boiling point, and the worldwide focus of attention she receives. Bear this in mind when reading the following Bible passage, written almost 2500 years ago, and also consider that this was written at a time when Jerusalem was in complete ruins; Zechariah 12: (KJV) 2 Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem. 3 And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.   How do we know when Zechariah was written?  There is nothing specific in this passage.  A Jew is predicting that his capital city will one day be great.  Is that so unusual?  Has Jerusalem ever been a great and powerful city?
 
Zechariah 14:2‑3 (KJV) 2 For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.  3 Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.   Is this a prophecy about a future event or is this a "prophecy" about a completed event:  the sacking of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar?
 
As noted author Dave Hunt so aptly put it:
 
The fulfillment of hundreds of specific prophecies in the ancient and modern history of the Jewish people is God's great sign to mankind‑‑a sign that no one can mistake or deny...Jewish history stands as a universal visible monument to God's existence.  This is true if one assumes as fact that the Old Testament authors were writing prophecies regarding events to occur in the future, and not writing "prophecies" about events that had already happened.  Most non-fundamentalist Bible scholars now believe that the Book of Daniel, for example, is a forgery, written in the third or second century BC during the occupation of Palestine by the Greek Empire. 

For evidence that the Book of Daniel is a forgery, read here and here.

Here again is the list of failed Bible prophecies:  Failed Bible Prophecies
 
Predicted Fate of Numerous Cities and Nations
 
What if I were to give you the following predictions:
 
1.   Mahmoud Ahmadinejad (Iran) will destroy all but the island portion of New York City.
2.   Many nations will fight against New York City.
3.   The debris from the buildings in New York City will be thrown in the water to access Long Island.
4.   New York City will be made a bare and flat like the top of a rock.
5.   Fishermen will spread their nets over the heap that was once New York City.
6.   New York City will never be re‑built.
7.   New York City's glory will never be restored.
8.   I will be laughed at and mocked, and disregarded as a lunatic.
 
I'm sure the last one is about the only one I would get right!  I would certainly have earned my rightful place in the heap of ridicule.  What is amazing is that the prophet Ezekiel made these same predictions (except for 8, of course), with Nebuchadnezzar replacing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and Tyre replacing New York City/Long Island ‑ his prophecy was fulfilled to the last detail!  This would indeed be remarkable if it can be demonstrated that the author of Ezekial had truly prophesied these events long before they happened and not recorded them after they had happened and pretended his book had been written long before it actually was.

The fact is that Nebuchadnezzar did not take Tyre.  Ezekiel made a mistake.
 

At the time Ezekiel made this prophecy (Ezekiel 26), Tyre was a powerful city holding a stature much like that of New York City today.   Three years after the prophecy Nebuchadnezzar indeed laid siege to the city.  The inhabitants all but abandoned the city and moved off‑shore to a nearby island, where they fortified themselves and remained a powerful city for several hundred more years. 

During this time it must have seemed that Ezekiel's prophecy was not wholly correct, but then came Alexander the Great, who eventually built a causeway to the island using debris from the old mainland city of Tyre!  More conquerors were to follow.  It wasn't until the 12th century A.D. before the final prophetic chapter was closed on the once great city of Tyre.  Its fitting that a secular historian would eventually write the following:
 
...[Tyre] never regained the place she had previously held in the world.  The larger part of the site of the once great city is now bare as the top of a rock ‑ a place where the fishermen that still frequent the spot spread their nets to dry.
 
Let's see how well the previous description of present‑day Tyre matches what the Bible had to say:
 
"And they shall destroy the walls of Tyrus, and break down her towers: I will also scrape her dust from her, and make her like the top of a rock.  It shall be a place for the spreading of nets in the midst of the sea: for I have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD: and it shall become a spoil to the nations (Ezek 26:4‑5 KJV)."  Again, prophecy or writing after the fact as if it were prophecy?  Here is a link to a counter argument against the "Tyre prophecy":  here and here
 
The Tyre prophecy is but one of many Old Testament prophesies of minute detail relating to cities or nations that have already been fulfilled.  So detailed that it is as if the event had already occurred and someone is simply recording known historical facts.  Anyone can verify the numerous fulfilled prophesies of such cities as Sidon, Edom, Samaria, and nations such as Egypt, Babylon, and Rome.

The above prophecy makes it sound as if the entire city of Tyre will remain a desolate place, however, if this is true, how then is it possible that both Jesus and Paul visited this city in the New Testament??
 
Speaking of Egypt, there is another prophecy also recorded in Ezekiel that I would like to share with you:  "and there shall be no more a prince of the land of Egypt (Ezek 30:13, KJV)." Twenty‑five hundred years have passed since this prophecy, and during this period of time not one of its numerous ruling princes were Egyptian!  This would be similar to my predicting that their would never again be an American elected President of the United States, and having it actually come true.  I am not familiar with this prophecy.  I will have to investigate it.

The rest of Ezekiel's prophecy against Egypt was a total failure.  Ezekiel prophesied that Egypt would be made desolate and its population scattered among the nations.  That did not happen.  Here is a article that discusses this prophetic failure.
 
 
MESSIANIC PROPHESIES
 
 
Dr. D. James Kennedy wrote of an encounter he had with a Jewish man who said he did not believe in Christ.  Dr. Kennedy responded that he was sorry to hear that, and added "...Since He is the Messiah of the Jewish people who was promised in the Old Testament, you have rejected your own Messiah."  He then went on to share with the Jewish man a few verses of scripture:
 
Psalm 22:7‑8 (KJV)
7 All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,  
8 He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him.  This passage could be referring to any Jew who was suffering hardship.
 
Isaiah 53:5 (KJV)
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.   Jews have a ready (and very good) refutation that the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53 is the nation of Israel, not Jesus.  Click here to read this fascinating Jewish article:  here
 
Psalm 41:9 (KJV)
9 Yea, mine own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, hath lifted up his heel against me.  Nonspecific.  Could be referring to anyone. 
 
Psalm 22:16 (KJV)
16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.   Is "pierced" the correct English translation in this verse?  Read here for an interesting refutation to the claim that Psalm 22 is a prophecy about Jesus:  here
 
Isaiah 53:12 (KJV)
12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.   As stated above, this entire passage is referring to God's Suffering Servant, the nation of Israel, not any one individual.
 
Zechariah 12:10 (KJV)
10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.   Nonspecific.
 
When Dr. Kennedy finished reading these scriptures to the Jewish man, he asked him to whom these verses were referring to.  The man responded that "Obviously they are talking about Jesus... So what?".  Dr. Kennedy then pointed out that all the verses he had just read to him were from the Old Testament!   The man was stunned and demanded to see the passages with his own eyes9.  An orthodox Jew would never be fooled by this well-worn missionary trick.  Only someone who is a nominal, secular Jew would fall for it. 

I recommend that every Christian read the book by orthodox Jewish author, Asher Norman, "Twenty-six Reasons why Jews Reject Jesus" in which he dismantles the Christian claim that the Jewish Bible (the Old Testament) has even one prophesy about Jesus.
 
According to secular sources, crucifixion was invented as a method of capital punishment no earlier than the 6th century BC. This is 4 centuries after David wrote in Psalms 22:16, "They pierced my hands and my feet". Even if critics try to persuade against a 1000 BC date for Psalms 22, they can't deny this Psalm existed in the Septuagint and Dead Sea Scrolls that were translated around 200 BC. Does the critic really want to try to convince us that a Jesus pretender would want to self‑fulfill such a terrible way to die?  Again, read this counter argument:  here
 
The Old Testament contains 333 prophesies regarding the Messiah, most of which were fulfilled by the first coming of Jesus Christ.  Even the most liberal critics acknowledge that these prophesies were written at least 400 years before Christ.  Mathematicians have easily shown that the odds of all these prophesies being fulfilled by chance in one man is greater than the number of atoms in the universe many times over.  The question must be asked:  Did Jesus fulfill Old Testament prophecies or did the anonymous Christian authors of the Gospels create stories and details about Jesus to "fulfill" Old Testament prophecies.  Many Bible scholars believe that the author of Matthew, in particular, scoured the OT to find prophesies for which he could create stories for Jesus to fulfill.  Christians don't want to consider this possibility, but in the real world which is more likely:  a man fulfills the prophecies of a god, or an author made up his "facts"?
 
NEW AGE "PROPHETS"
 
Some critics will point to the "success" of non‑biblical "prophets" such as Nostradamus, Edgar Cayce, and Jeane Dixon, to name a few.  A careful and subjective check of their methods, however, reveals that their predictions were really no better than you or I or the local fortune‑teller could make. Take Jeane Dixon, for example.  The prediction that made her famous, regarding the assassination of JFK, was really not that amazing after all.  She predicted that "the Democratic contender will win, but he will be assassinated or die in office, though not necessarily in the first term".  Considering the history of past presidents, and the fact that she allowed 8 years for the event to occur, her chance of success was 7 to 3!  She also prophesied that WWIII would begin in 1954, Nixon would defeat Kennedy (contradicting her earlier prediction!), and Jacqueline Kennedy would not marry Aristotle Onasis (she married him the next day!).  This is but a handful of her false prophesies.

I would say that Jean Dixon was just about as accurate as Ezekiel.  Not very.
 
These "prophets" were also frequently so vague in the predictions they made that you could mold them into about any historical event you wanted.  Its amazing to read about the events that Nostradamus supposedly prophesied about,  then compare the details of the event with what Nostradamus actually wrote. You're left asking, how in the heck did they draw those conclusions?!  Note that these "experts" on Nostradamus's work were only able to make their claims after the supposedly predicted event had passed.  This complete lack of a priori analysis, coupled with the incredibly vague nature of the Nostradamus "prophesies", should be more than enough reason for the honest inquirer to dismiss any claims of prophetic success put forth by Nostradamus's advocates. In contrast, most of the Biblical prophesies are specific and detailed, with quite a few interpreted a priori.
 
To the Christian the afore‑mentioned individuals are easily exposed as false prophets based on the Biblical tests for a prophet.  The Bible forbids the use of occult artifacts, which all were guilty of, and more importantly,
 
Deuteronomy 18:22 (KJV)
22 When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.   Jesus prophesied that he would be in the tomb for "three days and three nights".  However, a careful reading of the Synoptic Gospels has Jesus in the tomb for only TWO nights.  Therefore, if we follow the instructions of Deuteronomy 18:22, we must judge Jesus as a false prophet.
 
SUMMARY
 
The Bible contains over 2000 prophesies that have been fulfilled, many with very specific details.  One must ask himself why he would remain skeptical in light of this incontrovertible evidence.   Because the evidence is forged/fraudulent.  It would seem that if someone was honestly seeking the truth, it would certainly be a worthwhile effort to at least investigate a handful of these prophesies.  Psalm 22 would be a good start ‑ it contains several prophesies describing Christ's crucifixion, a method of execution that wasn't invented until several centuries after King David wrote about it.  A Bible and an encyclopedia is all one would need to verify the prophetic accuracy of Psalm 22.  Unless...an anonymous first century author, writing far away in a foreign land, in a foreign language, decades after the man in question is dead, scours the Old Testament for prophecies, and then makes up details about the dead man's life to fit those prophecies.
 
Isaiah 48:5 (KJV)
5 I have even from the beginning declared it to thee; before it came to pass I shewed it thee: lest thou shouldest say, Mine idol hath done them, and my graven image, and my molten image, hath commanded them.  
 
ARCHEOLOGICAL EVIDENCE
 
It would be extremely difficult for the honest skeptic to dispute the overwhelming archeological support for the historical accuracy of both the Old and New Testaments. Absolutely not true.  Modern archeologists no longer consider the Bible as a reliable, accurate source for ancient history or ancient archeology.  The overwhelming majority of archeologists in the world, including those of the nation of Israel, have publically stated that the stories of the Patriarchs, the Hebrew Slavery in Egypt, the Forty Years in the Sinai, the Conquest of Canaan, and the great of kingdoms of the biblical David and Solomon, as well as Solomon's temple, are fictional folk tales.  They are not historical.  There is ZERO archeological evidence for these biblical claims.  Fundamentalist Christian "experts" continue to fight this consensus opinion, but they are considered the fringe.  Numerous items discussed in the Bible such as nations, important people, customary practices, etc. have been verified by archeological evidence. So Egypt, Babylon, and the city of Tyre, etc. existed.  That doesn't prove that an ancient Hebrew god drowned the entire world with a forty-day-long thunderstorm, parted the Red Sea, or impregnated a Jewish virgin to give birth to his half-human/half-divine son.  Bible critics have often been embarrassed by discoveries that corroborated Bible accounts they had previously deemed to be myth, such as the existence of the Hittites, King David, and Pontius Pilate, just to name a few. The noted Jewish archeologist Nelson Glueck summed it up very well:
 
It may be stated categorically that no archeological discovery has ever controverted a single biblical reference. Scores of archeological findings have been made which confirm in clear outline or in exact detail historical statements in the Bible.  This statement is very, very dated and according to the overwhelming majority of archeologists, dead wrong.
 
When compared against secular accounts of history, the Bible always demonstrates amazing superiority. Not true.  Just one example:  Is it really possible that the great pharaoh of Egypt and his entire army is drowned in the Red Sea chasing after run away slaves...but no one in Babylon, Greece, or any other surrounding nation mentions this fantastic, monumental Egyptian defeat in their writings or engravings??  Why is the insignificant King Ahaz mentioned in the writings of Babylon, but the great King David and King Solomon are never even once mentioned by the Babylonians, Egyptians, Hittites or anyone else??  The noted biblical scholar R.D. Wilson, who was fluent in 45 ancient languages and dialects, meticulously analyzed 29 kings from 10 different nations, each of which had corroborating archeological artifacts. Each king was mentioned in the Bible as well as documented by secular historians, thus offering a means of comparison. Wilson showed that the names as recorded in the Bible matched the artifacts perfectly, down to the last jot and tittle! The Bible was also completely accurate in its chronological order of the kings. On the other hand, Wilson showed that the secular accounts were often inaccurate and unreliable. Famous historians such as the Librarian of Alexandria, Ptolemy, and Herodotus failed to document the names correctly, almost always misspelling their names. In many cases the names were barely recognizable when compared to its respective artifact or monument, and sometimes required other evidence to extrapolate the reference.
 
I believe one of the more overwhelming testimonies regarding the depth of archeological evidence for the New Testament is in the account of the famous historian and archeologist Sir William Ramsay. Ramsay was very skeptical of the accuracy of the New Testament, and he ventured to Asia minor over a century ago to refute its historicity. He especially took interest in Luke's accounts in the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts, which contained numerous geographical and historic references. Dig after dig the evidence without fail supported Luke's accounts. Governors mentioned by Luke that many historians never believe existed were confirmed by the evidence excavated by Ramsay's archeological team. Without a single error, Luke was accurate in naming 32 countries, 54 cities, and 9 islands. Ramsay became so overwhelmed with the evidence he eventually converted to Christianity. Ramsay finally had this to say:
 
I began with a mind unfavorable to it...but more recently I found myself brought into contact with the Book of Acts as an authority for the topography, antiquities, and society of Asia Minor. It was gradually borne upon me that in various details the narrative showed marvelous truth.

Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy...this author should be placed along with the very greatest historians.

Ramsay died in 1939, therefore his scholarship and his opinions are very dated (outdated).

Today, the opposite is happening.  More and more people are leaving Christianity due to modern research and archeology which demonstrates that the Bible is full of errors and discrepancies.

 The classical historian A.N. Sherwin‑White collaborates Ramsay's work regarding the Book of Acts:

Any attempt to reject its basic historicity even in matters of detail must now appear absurd. Roman historians have long taken it for granted.

Discoveries ranging from evidence for the Tower of Babel location??, to Exodus, to the Walls of Jericho, all the way to the tombs of contemporaries of St. Paul, have greatly enhanced the believability of the Bible. Though this vast archeological evidence does not prove God wrote the Bible, it surely must compel the honest skeptic to at least acknowledge its historical veracity. For the believer its yet another reassuring testimony to the reliability of the Bible. In the words of the University of Yale archeologist Millar Burrows:

 ...Archeological work has unquestionably strengthened confidence in the reliability of the scriptural record. More than one archeologist has found respect for the Bible increased by the experience of excavation in Palestine.

Modern archeology indicates there was no Slavery in Egypt, no mass Exodus of Jews, no Wandering in the Sinai, no Conquest of Canaan, and no great United Kingdom of David and Solomon.  Click here to read the details: 

 

 



Jews provide Proof that Jesus is NOT the Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53

Copied fromAish.com

The 53rd chapter of Isaiah is a beautiful, poetic song, one of the four “Servant Songs” in which the prophet describes the climactic period of world history when the Messiah will arrive and the Jewish people assume the role as the spiritual leaders of humanity.
 
Isaiah 53 is a prophecy foretelling how the world will react when they witness Israel's salvation in the Messianic era. The verses are presented from the perspective of world leaders, who contrast their former scornful attitude toward the Jews with their new realization of Israel's grandeur. After realizing how unfairly they treated the Jewish people, they will be shocked and speechless.
While the original Hebrew text clearly refers to the Jewish people as the “Suffering Servant,” over the centuries Isaiah 53 has become a cornerstone of the Christian claim that Jesus is the Messiah. Unfortunately, this claim is based on widespread mistranslations and distortion of context.

In order to properly understand these verses, one must read the original Hebrew text. When the Bible is translated into other languages, it loses much of its essence. The familiar King James translation uses language which is archaic and difficult for the modern reader. Furthermore, it is not rooted in Jewish sources and often goes against traditional Jewish teachings. Modern translations, while more readable, are often even more divorced from the true meaning of the text.

For an accurate Jewish translation of the Bible, read the “ArtScroll English Tanach."

The Context of Isaiah 53


The key to deciphering any biblical text is to view it in context. Isaiah 53 is the fourth of the four “Servant Songs.” (The others are found in Isaiah chapters 42, 49 and 50.) Though the “servant” in Isaiah 53 is not openly identified – these verses merely refer to “My servant” (52:13, 53:11) – the “servant” in each of the previous Servant Songs is plainly and repeatedly identified as the Jewish nation. Beginning with chapter 41, the equating of God’s Servant with the nation of Israel is made nine times by the prophet Isaiah, and no one other than Israel is identified as the “servant”:

  • “You are My servant, O Israel” (41:8)
  • “You are My servant, Israel” (49:3)
  • see also Isaiah 44:1, 44:2, 44:21, 45:4, 48:20

The Bible is filled with other references to the Jewish people as God’s “servant”; see Jeremiah 30:10, 46:27-28; Psalms 136:22. There is no reason that the “servant” in Isaiah 53 would suddenly switch and refer to someone other than the Jewish people.

One obvious question that needs to be addressed: How can the “Suffering Servant,” which the verses refer to grammatically in the singular, be equated with the entire Jewish nation?
The Jewish people are consistently referred to with the singular pronoun.
This question evaporates when we discover that throughout the Bible, the Jewish people are consistently referred to as a singular entity, using the singular pronoun. For example, when God speaks to the entire Jewish nation at Mount Sinai, all of the Ten Commandments are written as if speaking to an individual (Exodus 20:1-14). This is because the Jewish people are one unit, bound together with a shared national destiny (see Exodus 4:22, Deuteronomy chapter 32). This singular reference is even more common in biblical verses referring to the Messianic era, when the Jewish people will be fully united under the banner of God (see Hosea 14:6-7, Jeremiah 50:19).

As we will see, for numerous reasons this chapter cannot be referring to Jesus. Even in the Christian scriptures, the disciples did not consider the Suffering Servant as referring to Jesus (see Matthew 16:21-22, Mark 9:31-32, Luke 9:44-45).

So how did the Suffering Servant come to be associated with Jesus? After his death, the promoters of Christianity retroactively looked into the Bible and “applied” – through mistranslation and distortion of context – these biblical verses as referring to Jesus.

Missionary apologist Walter Riggans candidly admitted:
    “There is no self-evident blueprint in the Hebrew Bible which can be said to unambiguously point to Jesus. Only after one has come to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, and more specifically the kind of Messiah that he is, does it all begin to make sense...” (Yehoshua Ben David, Olive Press 1995, p.155)
The intention is not to denigrate another religion, but rather to understand the true meaning of the Divine word.

Isaiah 53 – Line by Line


Early in the Book of Isaiah, God predicts the long and difficult exile of the Jewish people. Chapter 53 occurs in the midst of Isaiah's "Messages of Consolation," which tell of the restoration of Israel to prominence as God's chosen people.

The key to understanding this chapter lies in correctly identifying who is speaking. Though the book was written by Isaiah, verses 53:1-10 are told from the perspective of world leaders. Following in the footsteps of the previous chapter (Isaiah 52:15 – “the kings will shut their mouths in amazement”), these verses describe how world leaders will be shocked with disbelief when God’s Servant Israel – despite all contrary expectations – is vindicated and blossoms in the Messianic age.


(1) Who would believe what we have heard! For whom has the arm of God been revealed!
מִי הֶאֱמִין לִשְׁמֻעָתֵנוּ וּזְרוֹעַ יְהוָה עַל מִי נִגְלָתָה

In this opening verse, world leaders are shocked at the incredible news of Israel’s salvation: “Who would believe what we have heard!”

This verse refers to “the arm of God.” Throughout the Jewish Bible, God's "arm" (זרוע) always denotes a redemption of the Jewish people from physical persecution. For example, God took the Jews out of Egypt “with a strong hand and an outstretched arm” (Deut. 26:8). (See also Exodus 3:20, 6:6, 14:31, 15:6; Deut. 4:34, 7:19; Isaiah 51:9, 52:10, 62:8, 63:12; Jeremiah 21:5, 27:5; Ezekiel 20:33; Psalms 44:3, 89:11, 98:1, 136:12).


(2) He formerly grew like a sapling or a root from dry ground; he had neither form nor beauty. We saw him, but without a desirable appearance.
 
וַיַּעַל כַּיּוֹנֵק לְפָנָיו וְכַשּׁרֶשׁ מֵאֶרֶץ צִיָּה לא תאַר לוֹ וְלא הָדָר וְנִרְאֵהוּ וְלא מַרְאֶה וְנֶחְמְדֵהוּ

This imagery of a tree struggling to grow in dry earth is a metaphor for the Jewish struggle in exile. A young sapling in dry ground appears that it will die. The Jews were always a small nation, at times as small as 2 million people, threatened with extinction. In this verse Isaiah describes Israel’s miraculous return from exile, like a sapling that sprouts from this dry ground. This idea appears throughout the Jewish Bible (see Isaiah 60:21, Ezekiel 19:13, Hosea 14:6-7, Amos 9:15).


(3) He was despised and rejected of men, a man of pains and accustomed to sickness. As one from whom we would hide our faces, he was despised, and we had no regard for him.
נִבְזֶה וַחֲדַל אִישִׁים אִישׁ מַכְאבוֹת וִידוּעַ חלִי וּכְמַסְתֵּר פָּנִים מִמֶּנּוּ נִבְזֶה וְלא חֲשַׁבְנֻהוּ

This verse describes the Servant as universally despised and rejected. This has been a historical theme for the Jewish people, as a long list of oppressors have treated the Jews as sub-human (the Nazis) or as a pariah state (the United Nations). See similar imagery in Isaiah 49:7, 60:15; Psalms 44:14; Nechemia 3:36.

While this description clearly applies to Israel, it cannot be reconciled with the New Testament account which describes Jesus as immensely popular (Matthew 4:25). “Large crowds” of people came from far and wide to hear him speak, and Jesus had to sail into the water to avoid being overrun by the crowds (Mark 3:7-9). Luke 2:52 describes him as physically strong and well respected, a man whose popularity spread and was "praised by all" (Luke 4:14-15). A far cry from Isaiah’s description of “despised and rejected.”

Although Jesus died a criminal's death, Isaiah is describing someone for whom rejection has spanned the ages – obviously referring to a nation, not an individual who suffered rejection for only a few hours.


(4) Indeed, he bore our illnesses and carried our pains – but we regarded him as diseased, stricken by God and afflicted.
 
אָכֵן חֳלָיֵנוּ הוּא נָשָׂא וּמַכְאבֵינוּ סְבָלָם וַאֲנַחְנוּ חֲשַׁבְנֻהוּ נָגוּעַ מֻכֵּה אֱלהִים וּמְעֻנֶּה

Throughout the centuries of Israel’s exile, many nations persecuted the Jews on the pretense that it was God’s way of “punishing” the “accursed” Jews for having stubbornly rejected the new religions. In these verses, until the end of the chapter, the nations confess how they used the Jewish people as scapegoats, not for the “noble” reasons they had long claimed.

Indeed, the nations selfishly persecuted the Jews as a distraction from their own corrupt regimes: “Surely our suffering he did bear, and our pains he carried...” (53:4)


(5) He was wounded as a result of our transgressions, and crushed as a result of our iniquities. The chastisement upon him was for our benefit; and through his wounds we were healed.
וְהוּא מְחלָל מִפְּשָׁעֵנוּ מְדֻכָּא מֵעֲוֽנתֵינוּ מוּסַר שְׁלוֹמֵנוּ עָלָיו וּבַחֲבֻרָתוֹ נִרְפָּא לָנוּ

This verse describes how the humbled world leaders confess that Jewish suffering occurred as a direct result of “our iniquities” – i.e., depraved Jew-hatred, rather than, as previously claimed, the stubborn blindness of the Jews.

Isaiah 53:5 is a classic example of mistranslation: The verse does not say, “He was wounded for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities,” which could convey the vicarious suffering ascribed to Jesus. Rather, the proper translation is: “He was wounded because of our transgressions, and crushed because of our iniquities.” This conveys that the Servant suffered as a result of the sinfulness of others – not the opposite as Christians contend – that the Servant suffered to atone for the sins of others.

Indeed, the Christian idea directly contradicts the basic Jewish teaching that God promises forgiveness to all who sincerely return to Him; thus there is no need for the Messiah to atone for others (Isaiah 55:6-7, Jeremiah 36:3, Ezekiel chapters 18 and 33, Hoseah 14:1-3, Jonah 3:6-10, Proverbs 16:6, Daniel 4:27, 2-Chronicles 7:14).


(6) We have all strayed like sheep, each of us turning his own way, and God inflicted upon him [Israel] the iniquity of us all.
 
כֻּלָּנוּ כַּצּאן תָּעִינוּ אִישׁ לְדַרְכּוֹ פָּנִינוּ וַיהוָה הִפְגִּיעַ בּוֹ אֵת עֲון כֻּלָּנוּ.
 
The nations realize that their lack of proper leadership (“shepherd”) caused them to treat the Jews with disdain. They further acknowledge how punishments that should have befallen the nations were averted through Israel’s suffering.


(7) He was persecuted and afflicted, but he did not open his mouth. Like a sheep being led to the slaughter or a lamb that is silent before her shearers, he did not open his mouth.
נִגַּשׂ וְהוּא נַעֲנֶה וְלא יִפְתַּח פִּיו כַּשֶּׂה לַטֶּבַח יוּבָל וּכְרָחֵל לִפְנֵי גֽזְזֶיהָ נֶאֱלָמָה וְלא יִפְתַּח פִּיו
 
In various contexts, the Bible uses the imagery of “sheep led to the slaughter” specifically in reference to the Jewish people. For example: "You give us as sheep to be eaten and have scattered us among the nations... we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered" (Psalms 44:12, 23).

This verse prophesizes the many hardships – both physical torment and economic exploitation – that the Jews endured in exile. Ironically, this prophecy refers in part to the 11th century Crusaders who "persecuted and afflicted” the Jews in the name of Jesus. In our time, while Jews in Nazi-occupied Europe were "led to the slaughter," they still remained like a "lamb that is silent before her shearers" – without complaints against God.


(8) He was released from captivity and judgment; who could have imagined such a generation? For he was removed from the land of the living; because of my people's sin they were afflicted.
 
מֵעצֶר וּמִמִּשְׁפָּט לֻקָּח וְאֶת דּוֹרוֹ מִי יְשׂוֹחֵחַ כִּי נִגְזַר מֵאֶרֶץ חַיִּים מִפֶּשַׁע עַמִּי נֶגַע לָמוֹ

The phrase, "land of the living” (Eretz HaChaim) refers specifically to the Land of Israel. Thus this verse, “He was removed from the land of the living,” does not mean that the servant was killed, but rather was exiled from the Land of Israel.

This verse again describes the world’s surprise at witnessing the Jewish return to the Promised Land. "Who could have imagined” that the nation we tortured now prospers? World leaders offer a stunning confession: “Because of my people’s sin, they [the Jews] were afflicted.”

Here the text makes absolutely clear that the oppressed Servant is a collective nation, not a single individual. This is where knowledge of biblical Hebrew is absolutely crucial. At the end of the verse, the Hebrew word for “they were” (lamoh – לָמוֹ) always refers to a group, never to an individual. (see for example, Psalms 99:7)


(9) He submitted his grave to evil people; and the wealthy submitted to his executions, for committing no crime, and with no deceit in his mouth.
 
וַיִּתֵּן אֶת רְשָׁעִים קִבְרוֹ וְאֶת עָשִׁיר בְּמתָיו על לא חָמָס עָשָׂה וְלא מִרְמָה בְּפִיו

Missionaries cite this verse as a claim that Jesus lived a sinless life, and was thus the Messiah. This is contradicted, however, by the Gospels themselves, who record that Jesus sinned by violating the Sabbath (John 9:16) and – by claiming to be God Himself – violating the grave prohibition against making any physical image of God (John 10:33, 14:9-10).

Throughout history, Jews were given the choice to “convert or die.” Yet as this verse describes, there was “no deceit in his mouth” – the loyal Jews refused to accept a pagan deity as their God. Rather than profane God’s Holy Name, they “submitted to the grave” – i.e. chose to die rather than renounce their faith. As such these Jews were often denied proper burial, discarded “to the grave as evil people.”

Further, wealthy Jews "submitted to his executions, for committing no crime" – killed so that wicked conquerors could confiscate their riches.


(10) God desired to oppress him and He afflicted him. If his soul would acknowledge guilt, he would see offspring and live long days, and God’s purpose would succeed in his hand.
 
ויהוָה חָפֵץ דַּכְּאוֹ הֶחֱלִי אִם תָּשִׂים אָשָׁם נַפְשׁוֹ יִרְאֶה זֶרַע יַאֲרִיךְ יָמִים וְחֵפֶץ יְהוָה בְּיָדוֹ יִצְלָח

"God desired to oppress” the Jewish people, in order to inspire them to return to Torah observance. If the Jews would only "acknowledge guilt," they would see their "offspring and live long days." This refers to the Messianic era when all Jews will return to Torah observance.

This verse emphasizes that the Servant is to be rewarded with long life and many children. This verse could not possibly refer to Jesus who, according to the New Testament, died young and childless. (Furthermore, if Jesus was alleged to be the immortal Son of God, it is absurd to apply the concept of “living long days.”)

Although missionaries may claim that the “offspring” refers to spiritual descendants, this is based on a distortion and mistranslation. In this verse, the Hebrew word for "offspring" (zera - זֶרַע) always refers to physical descendants (see Genesis 12:7, 15:2-4, 15:13, 46:6; Exodus 28:43). A different word, banim (בנים), generally translated as "sons," is used to refer to spiritual descendants (see Deut. 14:1).


(11) He would see the purpose and be satisfied with his soul's distress. With his knowledge My servant will cause the masses to be righteous; and he will bear their sins.
 
מֵעֲמַל נַפְשׁוֹ יִרְאֶה יִשְׂבָּע בְּדַעְתּוֹ יַצְדִּיק צַדִּיק עַבְדִּי לָרַבִּים וַעֲוֹנתָם הוּא יִסְבּל

Missionaries cite this verse to claim that Jesus died for our sins. The Christian idea of one’s sins being forgiven through the suffering of another person goes against the basic biblical teaching that each individual has to atone for his own sins by repenting. (Exodus 32:32-33, Deut. 24:16, Ezekiel 18:1-4)

This verse describes how God’s Servant “will cause the masses to be righteous” – not as some mistranslate, “he will justify the many." The Jewish mission is to serve as a "light to the nations," leading the world to righteousness through knowledge of the one true God. The Jews will accomplish this both by example (Deut. 4:5-8; Zechariah 8:23) and by instructing the nations in God's Law (Isaiah 2:3-4; Micah 4:2-3). As it says: “The world will become full of the knowledge of God, as water covers the sea” (Isaiah 11:9).


(12) Therefore, I will assign him a portion in public and he will divide the mighty as spoils – in return for having poured out his soul for death and being counted among the wicked, for he bore the sin of the many, and prayed for the wicked.
 
לָכֵן אֲחַלֶּק לוֹ בָרַבִּים וְאֶת עֲצוּמִים יְחַלֵּק שָׁלָל תַּחַת אֲשֶׁר הֶעֱרָה לַמָּוֶת נַפְשׁוֹ וְאֶת פּֽשְׁעִים נִמְנָה וְהוּא חֵטְא רַבִּים נָשָׂא וְלַפּֽשְׁעִים
יַפְגִּיעַ

This verse speaks of how the Jews always pray for the welfare of the nations they are exiled into (see Jeremiah 29:7). The verse continues to explain that the Jewish people, who righteously bore the sins of the world and yet remained faithful to God, will be rewarded.

Regarding the above passage, some have claimed that the "suffering servant" cannot be Israel, since Israel has sins. Yet this is a fallacy, since we know that no human being – not even Moses – is completely free of sin. Yet Moses was considered “righteous,” which takes into account not only one's good deeds, but also one's repentance after sin. If Jesus is God, these ideas have no meaning.

Immediately following this promise of reward for the Jews’ suffering (53:10-12), chapter 54 clearly speaks of the redemption which awaits the Jewish people. This point is acknowledged by all Christian commentaries.

Conclusion

 
In the days of Jesus, nobody ever understood Isaiah 53 to be predicting the death of the Messiah. When Jesus said, "I am going to Jerusalem where I will suffer and die," the Apostle Peter did not relate this in any way to the suffering described in Isaiah 53. Rather, Peter rebuked Jesus, saying, "Be it far from you Lord, this shall not be unto you." In other words, "God forbid – that cannot happen to you!" Peter never expected the Messiah to be tortured and killed (see Matthew 16:21-22).

Interestingly, the 20th century Christian New English Bible – Oxford Study Edition (annotation on Isaiah 52:13-53:12) clearly identifies the Suffering Servant as the nation of Israel which “has suffered as a humiliated individual."

If the context of Isaiah 53 so clearly refers to the Jewish people, how could so many Christian leaders have mistranslated the Bible? History shows that – for whatever motivation – many did so knowingly:
  • Lucius Coelius Firmianes Lactantius, 3rd century Church leader: "Among those who seek power and gain from their religion, there will never be wanting an inclination to forge and lie for it."
     
  • St. Gregory, 4th century Bishop of Nanianzus: "A little jargon is all that is necessary to impose on the people. The less they comprehend, the more they admire. Our forefathers and doctors have often said not what they thought, but what circumstances and necessity dictated."
     
  • Dr. Herbert Marsh, 19th century English Bishop: "It is a certain fact that several readings in our common printed text are nothing more than alterations made by Origen..."
  • Walter Brueggemann Ph.D., an ordained minister and author of 60 books on the Bible, writes: "[A]lthough it is clear that this poetry does not have Jesus in any first instance on its horizon, it is equally clear that the church, from the outset, has found the poetry a poignant and generative way to consider Jesus, wherein humiliation equals crucifixion and exaltation equals resurrection and ascension."

Why It Matters


When all the verses have been parsed, and all the proofs have been presented, one still might wonder: What difference does it make who is right?

The theological gap between Judaism and Christianity is not limited to the question: "Who is the Messiah," or a debate over the translation of a few biblical verses. Judaism and Christianity are two different belief systems, differing over core issues such as the existential nature of man, the role of our relationship with God, and the path to genuine spiritual fulfillment.

Jews have held steadfast to their beliefs for thousands of years, amidst all forms of persecution and hardship. They have done so in the belief that the Jewish people – as bearers of God’s message of morality and justice – have a unique and crucial role to play in human history. As the prophet Isaiah predicts, this will become eminently clear when the Messiah, the King of Israel, arrives. May it be speedily in our day.


Resources
 

For further study, see www.outreachjudaism.org, www.jewsforjudaism.org, www.jewishisaiah53.com and www.peninataylor.com, from which much of the information for this article was derived.
For an exploration of the core differences between Judaism and Christianity, see Rabbi Benjamin Blech’s online course: “Deed and Creed.”
For more on why Jesus can’t possibly be the Messiah, read Aish.com’s “Why Jews Don’t Believe in Jesus.”
For an accurate Jewish translation of the Bible, read the “ArtScroll English Tanach."


Only Matthew says that Jesus was buried in Joseph of Arimethea's Tomb

Copied from religious scholar James Tabor's blogTabor blog


Reading Mark and John: The

First Burial of Jesus

 

I have been amazed over the years at what one assumes is in the New Testament Gospels and what is actually there. I have been teaching these texts for over 30 years and hardly a year goes by when I don’t see something I had missed, or have something pointed out by my students that I simply had incorrect. I find these sources endlessly fascinating and encourage my readers and my students to delve into them in-depth.

A case in point. Everyone “knows” that according to all four of our N.T. Gospels Joseph of Arimathea, elsewhere unmentioned, goes to Pontius Pilate, the governor of Judea, and gets permission to remove Jesus’ body from the cross. He takes the corpse and lays it in his own new tomb late Friday night. A group of women, Mary Magdalene and others, follow and see the location of the tomb. Sunday morning when they visit, to complete the Jewish rites of burial, the tomb is empty.


Albrecht Durer: Hasty Burial of Jesus

Sounds accurate, according to the Gospels, except that the part in italics, that everyone assumes, is apparently not the case. The tomb into which Jesus is temporarily placed does not belong to Joseph of Arimathea even though every book, film, and preacher tells it that way.

Mark is our earliest account. Notice his words carefully:
And he [Joseph of Arimathea] bought a linen shroud, and taking him down, wrapped him in the linen shroud and laid him in a tomb that had been hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a stone against the door of the tomb” (Mark 15:46).
This is our core Synoptic account.  Mark is the source for both Luke and Matthew. But notice, nothing is said about Joseph putting Jesus in his own family tomb.
John, who offers us an independent tradition, offers a further explanation:
Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb where no one had ever been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, as the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there (John 19:41-42).
Notice what almost everyone has missed. The reason for this hasty and temporary burial carried out by Joseph of Arimathea was because of the imminent arrival of the Sabbath and the Passover. The tomb they chose was one that happened to be “close at hand.” Mark implicitly agrees. He notes that it is late afternoon on the “day of Preparation” with the Sabbath drawing near (Mark 15:42). John further explains that this particular Sabbath was a double-Sabbath or “high day,” with the Passover also beginning at sunset (John 19:31; 18:28).

So, as I often tell my students, “thank God for Mark and John.” Mark does not elaborate the choice of the tomb but John makes it clear that this initial burial of Jesus by Joseph of Arimathea is a temporary and emergency burial of opportunity. That the tomb is new and unused meant that it could be used for a few hours, until the Sabbath and Passover holiday were past. This particular tomb is chosen because it just happened to be near, as John plainly explains. The idea that this tomb belonged to Joseph of Arimathea makes no sense at all. What are the chances that he would just happen to have his own new family tomb conveniently located near the Place of the Skull, or Golgotha, where the Romans regularly crucified their victims? It is ludicrous even to imagine, but neither Mark nor John say anything of the sort.

Everyone has assumed Jesus is placed in Joseph’s own tomb because of two words added by Matthew in his editing of Mark, namely “he laid it [the body] in his own new tomb” (Matthew 27:60). Luke does not have this. And Mark and John are crystal clear as to why this tomb was chosen. This is an obvious interpolation by Matthew and it makes no sense in the context. A tomb that happened to be near the place of crucifixion, just outside the city gates, would not have belonged to Joseph. Matthew adds this phrase, as he often does, to try and make the action of Joseph a “fulfillment” of prophecy. This is one of the major characteristics of Matthew’s gospel, something he regularly does (see Matthew 1:22; 2:15; 8:17, etc.). So the idea that this temporary tomb belonged to Joseph was most likely added by Matthew for theological reasons. Matthew believes that the text in Isaiah 53 about the “Suffering Servant,” refers to Jesus (see Matthew 8:17 where he explicitly notes this). One of the details of that prophecy is that the slain “Servant” makes his grave “with a rich man” (Isaiah 53:9). Matthew seizes on this and suggests that the tomb must have belonged to Joseph of Arimathea–a “rich man.”

Taking then what we learn from Mark and John we are in a position to make some clear sense of our core tradition. Jesus is hastily buried just before the Passover Sabbath. After all, what does one do with a corpse a few hours before the Passover Seder, and how can it best be protected from predators? The new tomb, unused and possibly incomplete, that happened to be nearby, was a perfect temporary solution. The idea was that after the festival the full and proper rites of Jewish burial could be carried out and Jesus could be placed in a second tomb, as a permanent resting place.

In the Talpiot tomb discussion quite a few objectors have made the point that any Jesus tomb should be near the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Joseph of Armimathea had his tomb. I have no confidence that this site is the place of the crucifixion in the first place, but even it if was, given what we learn in our core traditions of Mark and John we would expect that Jesus would have been respectfully reburied in another permanent tomb after the holy day–not in that initial temporary one.
It seems to me that the only likely possibility would be that Joseph of Arimathea provided the second tomb, as a permanent family place of burial, since he had asked for and obtained the right to bury Jesus. He had the means and the influence and it makes sense that if he bothered to go to Pilate to get the body he would have seen that Jesus’ body was placed in a proper and permanent place. What that means is that the core of the “empty tomb” story might have an element of history to it as we would expect the body to be moved from the temporary location once the Sabbath was past–and that is precisely what all four gospels report. When Mary Magdalene goes early Sunday morning, even before dawn, to anoint the body and prepare it for burial she finds the tomb already empty. She expresses the obvious: “They have taken away my Master and I do not know where they have laid him” (John 20:13).

Even though all four gospels imply the “missing body” is evidence of Jesus having been raised from the dead, that is clearly a later theological overlay to the core tradition–that the tomb was found empty. Here we go with either history or theology and I think we have to assume that the burial process Joseph of Arimathea took legal responsibility for, he must have completed. Regardless of faith in Jesus resurrection, or more likely for the early community, his “exaltation” to heaven, Jesus’ corpse would have been reburied in a tomb somewhere else in Jerusalem.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Jesus made a Mistake. He prophesied Three nights in the Tomb, but was only there for Two.

Not only did Jesus fail to fulfill the six crucial messianic prophecies of the Old Testament, Jesus failed to fulfill one of his OWN prophecies!

'Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, “Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.”  39 But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.  40 For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.    ---Matthew 12:38-40

If you read the Synoptic Gospels, Jesus' body was allegedly placed in the tomb before sunset on Friday and the tomb was found empty either at or just before sunrise on Sunday.  That means that Jesus' body was only in the "earth" for TWO nights, Friday and Saturday nights, not three nights, as Jesus had "prophesied".

Jesus made a mistake. 

According to Deuteronomy 18:19-22 any prophet who makes an incorrect prophecy is to be marked as a false prophet and is to be put to death.

Jesus was not the messiah.  Jesus was not God.  Jesus was a man who made a mistake.

Jesus did NOT believe that he was God

Now behold, one came and said to Him, “Good[a] Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?”  So He (Jesus) said to him, “Why do you call Me good?[b] No one is good but One, that is, God.[c] But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.”

                                                                                              Matthew 19:16-17

Just what part of "Forever" do Christians not understand?

Christians teach that Jesus abolished the Jewish (Torah) Law and replaced it with faith in Jesus' death and resurrection as the means of salvation with God.  But what does the Bible that Jesus preached from say about this claim?



God said to Abraham, “As for you, you shall keep my covenant, you and your offspring after you throughout their generations. 10 This is my covenant, which you shall keep, between me and you and your offspring after you: Every male among you shall be circumcised. 11 You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and you.  

                                                                                             Genesis 17:9-10


 Therefore the Israelites shall keep the sabbath, observing the sabbath throughout their generations, as a perpetual covenant. 17 It is a sign forever between me and the people of Israel that in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed.”

                                                                                              Exodus 31:16


You shall love the Lord your God, therefore, and keep his charge, his decrees, his ordinances, and his commandments (the Torah Law) always.

                                                                                               Deuteronomy 11:1


If you will only obey the Lord your God, by diligently observing all his commandments that I am commanding you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth; all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the Lord your God...

(but if you do not obey all God's commandments--the Torah Law---), All these curses shall come upon you, pursuing and overtaking you until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the Lord your God, by observing the commandments and the decrees that he commanded you. 46 They shall be among you and your descendants as a sign and a portent forever.

                                                                                               Deuteronomy 28


The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the revealed things belong to us and to our children forever, to observe all the words of this (Torah) law.

                                                                                                Deuteronomy 29:29


And the statutes, the ordinances, the (Torah) law, and the commandment which He wrote for you, you shall be careful to observe forever; you shall not fear other gods.

                                                                                                 II Kings 17:37


And what did Jesus day about the Law?  Does the statement below by Jesus himself sound anything like the teachings of Pauline Christianity?

“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. 18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. 19 Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven."

Jesus may have believed he was the messiah, but like any other Yahweh-fearing Jew of his day, he did not believe that the Law should be abolished, but obeyed...to the letter.

 



"If any alleged Discrepancy in the Bible can be Harmonized, there is no Discrepancy"

I have had Christians tell me that if there is any possible harmonization, including a supernatural explanation, to an apparent contradiction or error in the Bible then there IS no contradiction or error.

Imagine if we did that for every event in our lives.

“Your Honor, we have demonstrated to the court that the overwhelming evidence points to the defendant being the perpetrator of the crime.”

“Objection, your Honor. My client cannot possibly be found guilty of this crime as we assert that an invisible ghost is the perpetrator of this crime and as this assertion cannot be proven wrong, my client must be found innocent.”
 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Did God have a Change of Mind in the interval between the Old and New Testaments?

I am currently reading a fascinating book by orthodox Jewish author, Asher Norman, entitled, "Twenty-six Reasons why Jews don't believe in Jesus".   I highly recommend that every Christian and ex-Christian buy it and read it. 

Was Jesus the Jewish Messiah as we have been taught since Sunday School...or an imposter? 

Here is an excerpt from Norman's book:


Malachi was the last Jewish prophet and therefore represented God's last communication to the Jewish people through the mouth of a prophet.  This may be compared to a final "deathbed" statement to one's family and friends.  At such a moment, a wise person says what they consider most important.  What was God's final message to the Jewish People through His final prophet Malachi?

"Remember the Torah of Moses, which I commanded him at Horeb [Sinai] for all of Israel---[its] decrees and [its] statutes."  Malachi 3:22

Christian theology requires one to believe that the very next thing God did after sending Malachi to remind the Jewish People to keep the commandments was to send Jesus to tell the Jewish people not to keep his commandments. This cannot be possible if God is logical and consistent.