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Saturday, January 27, 2018

Was Christ predicted by the Old Testament?

Yesterday, over at Banned by HWA, Dennis Diehl posted an interesting article about whether or not Jesus Christ was predicted by the Old Testament. He wrote:  "As we all know, the New Testament is the sequel to the Old.  But consider this.  How hard would it be to look BACK into the Old Testament, knowing it's "prophecies" on many topics unrelated to Jesus and write a rather mythical account of Jesus life which would match what the OT already said?  That, of course, would look very much like the OT predicted Jesus when in fact the story of Jesus was written by mining the OT for scriptures to write the story.  It would be very easy to do and actually was what was done." For those who are interested, you can read the entire article here:  http://armstrongismlibrary.blogspot.com/2018/01/fun-sabbath-facts-inconvenient-truth.html

Mr. Diehl goes on to point out the misapplication of several Old Testament verses in Matthew's birth narrative about Jesus. As he skillfully points out, this is accomplished by taking scriptures out of context, using deliberately mistranslated texts and bending the meaning of those verses to fit the circumstances of Christ's life in the early part of the First Century. Of course, Mr. Diehl is not the first person to point out these inconsistencies, and this is only a problem for those who continue to regard Scripture as infallible.

Nevertheless, while Mr. Diehl provides strong evidence for making his point about certain features of Matthew's birth narrative, does his evidence prove that Christ wasn't predicted by the Old Testament? Where did the notion of a messiah originate? Did such a concept exist prior to the supposed birth of this Jesus person? In short, did Christians invent the notion of a messiah in the pages of the Jewish Scriptures in order to explain/justify the existence of their founder (Jesus Christ)?

In their article on the "Mashiach" (or Messiah), Judaism 101 makes clear that the notion of a messiah is an "ancient" and "fundamental" part of Judaism. See the entire article here:  http://www.jewfaq.org/mashiach.htm  In other words, Jewish people clearly believe that their Scriptures predict a messiah, and their belief that such a person would arise clearly predates the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in the First Century. What is the scriptural basis offered for this belief? They list the following: Isaiah 2, 11, 42, 59:20; Jeremiah 23, 30, 33, 48:47, 49:39; Ezekiel 38:16; Hosea 3:4-5; Micah 4; Zephaniah 3:9; Zechariah 14:9 and Daniel 10:14.

It should also be noted, however, that most Jews do not accept the person of Jesus as the fulfillment of these prophecies. Indeed, much of the Jewish commentary on the subject goes out of its way to make a distinction between the Christian and Jewish conceptions of the term messiah. Nevertheless, even the Jewish perspectives that underscore these differences make plain that the concept of a messiah was extant within Judaism long before the arrival of Jesus Christ on the world stage. See "The Jewish Concept of Messiah and the Jewish Response to Christian Claims" here:  https://jewsforjudaism.org/knowledge/articles/the-jewish-concept-of-messiah-and-the-jewish-response-to-christian-claims/

Hence, it must be admitted that there is a basis in the Old Testament for this notion of a Messiah. And, despite the attempts of the above referenced sites to discredit the notion that Jesus of Nazareth could possibly be the fulfillment of these prophecies, one has to acknowledge that 1) The notion of a Mashiach from the House of David, who will one day restore peace to the earth and rule over the nations is not foreign to Judaism or its Scriptures, and 2) The notion that there must be a sacrifice for sin, an atonement - the reconciliation of a people alienated by their sins from their God is also clearly an integral part of those same Scriptures. As a consequence, I would say that it is not unreasonable for Christians to discern a basis for their belief in the person of Jesus of Nazareth in the pages of the Old Testament.    

8 comments:

  1. The messianic age will bring about the third temple (Ezekiel 40 to 47). There will be animal sacrifices (Eze 43:18-27, 46:1-24) which refute the claims of Hebrews 10. Note that the sin offering (Lev 4) is only for unintentional sin (Num 15:22-29). There is no sacrifice for presumptuous sin (Num 15:30-31). Repentance is required for presumptuous sin - Hos 14:1-2; Ps 51:15-17; 1 Sam 15:22; Mic 6:6-8. Manasseh was restored after repentance (2 Chro 33:12-13), even before he was able to repair the altar and offer sacrifices (2 Chro 33:15-16).

    As for the trespass offering (Lev 5), flour can be used if one cannot afford an animal (Lev 5:11-13). This is contrary to Heb 9:22 ‘… without shedding of blood, there is no remission’.

    Heb 10:5 inserted ‘but a body you have prepared for me’. It’s not in Ps 40:6.

    Heb 8:9 altered Jer 31:32 by changing “My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them” to “because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them”. Replacement theology is contrary to God’s word (Jer 31:35-37). The establishment of the New covenant is in the messianic age. It will be made with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah (Jer 31:31). There are two things that characterize the new covenant period - God’s law written on our hearts and end of preaching (Jer 31:33-34). Clearly, we are not yet under the new covenant.

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  2. Your interpretations of the messianic prophecies is very literal (many devout Jews do not subscribe to this view). For instance, do you honestly believe that all carnivores will be transformed into herbivores during the messianic age? Do you think that it is possible that any of the sacrifices and prophecies which you cite in your remarks is symbolic in nature? What was the purpose of the sacrificial system? Are you suggesting that the New Covenant is racial - that God is more interested in genetics than deeds or what's in a person's heart?

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  3. I'm assuming that the 'devout Jews' you mentioned are ethnic Jews who are christians. Religious organizations such as Jews for Jesus and Messianic Judaism are really christian organizations which combine certain Jewish forms/appearances/practices with christian beliefs. One of them produced the Complete Jewish Bible which is a christian bible and different from the Chabad's Complete Jewish Bible (does not have NT).

    Now, if the 'devout Jews' you referred to are religious Jews who do not believe in Jesus/NT, may I know who are they? What are their beliefs concerning messianic prophecies? I'm not familiar with all of the different non-christian Jewish sects. I'm Asian, not a Jew. I was with WCG and LCG but am now no longer a part of any religious group.

    The old covenant was made with the Israelites. May I know what made you think the new wouldn't be with the Israelites also (see Jer 31:31)? The Hebrew word for new is chadashah from the root word chadash. The Hebrew word for new moon is chodesh from the same root word chadash. What happens to the old moon when there is a new moon? 'New' can be rendered 'renewed' as in 'renewed moon'. Brit chadashah can also be rendered 'renewed covenant'. God will be renewing His covenant with the children of Israel.

    Isa 2:2-4 mentions all nations shall flow to the mountain of the house of God. Ezek 44:9 states foreigners who are circumcised in heart will be allowed to enter the sanctuary. I cited OT verses regarding repentance showing God looks at the heart.

    Bezalel was the chief artisan of the first tabernacle (Ex 31:1-5). His name is a compound of two words found in Gen 1:27, Betselem (in the image of) and Elohim (God). His assistant was Oholiab (Ex 31:6-11). Oholiab is a compound of two words, Ohel = tent (Ex 31:7) and Ab = Father (Gen 44:19). The temple is the Father's tent or dwelling place (Ex 25:8; Ezek 43:7). It was God who showed the pattern (Ex 25:9; Eze 40:1-5). God built us a house (earth) with natural laws for us which He doesn't need. We, who are created in His image, in turn, build Him a house with laws for Him that do not make sense to us, i.e., laws of purity and impurity. The sacrificial system is related to this.

    Please read Zech 8:23; Jer 16:19-20; Jer 31:29-30; Eze 18:1-32; Deu 12:32-13:1-4.

    Shalom.

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  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. If we exclude Messianic Judaism and Jews for Jesus (which I would say are important elements within Judaism - like Armstrongism, however, I understand that there are many within the umbrella of Judaism who would exclude these elements as being part of the "true" body of believers), there is still a wide diversity of opinion about how to interpret the scriptural references to the Mashiach/Messiah. If you're interested, a good summary of the various schools of thought (both historical and current) can be found here:
    http://www.bibleandjewishstudies.net/articles/jewishmessiah.htm

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  6. "Mr. Diehl goes on to point out the misapplication of several Old Testament verses in Matthew's birth narrative about Jesus. As he skillfully points out, this is accomplished by taking scriptures out of context, using deliberately mistranslated texts and bending the meaning of those verses to fit the circumstances of Christ's life in the early part of the First Century. Of course, Mr. Diehl is not the first person to point out these inconsistencies, and this is only a problem for those who continue to regard Scripture as infallible."

    No so, for he imports his meaning as to what Matthew meant, finds that this meaning can't be supported, and finds that Matthew twisted scripture. However, he assumes that Matthew understood these passages to be predictive prophecies (and those that referred only to Christ). Rather They likely were seen as typological prophecies (Craig Blomberg has written on this in his "On the Historical Reliability of the Gospels", I believe); also, the notion that they were predictive prophecies with a minor and major fulfillment is ignored.

    See here: http://christianthinktank.com/typol.html AND http://www.tektonics.org/qt/typola.php

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    Replies
    1. Sorry, the URL didn't work. Nevertheless, I do appreciate your comments and perspective. Thanks for contributing. God bless!

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    2. Yeah, I guess you'll have to copy and past them. I don't know how to make them show up as links in comments. Though, the email I received from commenting and your follow up did have them as links. I don't know if you got such an email, though.

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