Trust and Repentance

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Trust and Repentance

Rabbi Shlomo Ibn Gabirol describes the process of repentance as escaping and fleeing from God to God. When we realize the weight of God’s judgment and the evil of sin we recognize that we need to escape. But there is only one place to run and that is to take shelter in God Himself. And God promises to protect and preserve those who trust in Him and only in Him (Nahum 1:7; Psalm 18:31).

Trusting in God means trusting in no one and in nothing else. Not in our works, not in our merits, not in our strength or wealth, not in the blood of any sacrifice and certainly not in the works of someone who claimed to be sinless. God told Moses that he will have compassion on whom He will have compassion (Exodus 33:19). If someone looks to God and to God alone for compassion…

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The Gentile Perspective on Jewish Suffering

A continuation of my response to Dr. Brown’s article – https://askdrbrown.org/library/how-rabbi-blumenthal-missed-forest-trees-–-part-3

The Gentile Perspective on Jewish Suffering

In my article entitled “Diminishing References and Dr. Brown’s
Staggering Mistake, part 3” I put forth the claim that the gentile
nations believe that Israel is suffering because they bear testimony to
a corrupt message. Dr. Brown countered with the following paragraph:

“Who told him that? Where does the Bible state that? To the contrary,
Scripture states that when the nations see the Lord’s Temple destroyed
and His people in exile, they will ask, “Why has the LORD done thus to
this land and to this house?” What will the answer be? “Then they will
say, ‘Because they abandoned the LORD, the God of their fathers who
brought them out of the land of Egypt, and laid hold on other gods and
worshiped them and served them. Therefore he has brought all this
disaster on them.’” (2 Chr. 7:21-22) This is what Scripture says; Rabbi
Blumenthal must rewrite the Bible to fit his narrative.”

Indeed, in this passage in Chronicles, the Bible gives us one facet of
the Gentile perspective on Jewish suffering. But this is only a part of
the picture. The more common attitude attributed by the Bible to
Gentiles who witness Jewish suffering is described by Joel, Micah and
the author of the Psalms (Joel 2:17; Micah 7:7-10; Psalm 42:4,11; 79:10;
115:2). The nations taunt Israel with the words “where is your God.” The
nations see Israel’s suffering as a sign that the God that they are
following is a powerless God. In other words, the message that Israel
carries about One God, is faulty.

Interestingly, Dr. Brown himself confirms that this is the Gentile
attitude towards Jewish suffering. He writes: “in the ancient world,
the pagan nations thought that the god of an exiled nation had been
defeated. The deity was powerless to stop the enemy!”

But it is not only ancient pagans who believe that Israel suffers
because her God is powerless. Modern Christians like Dr. Brown believe
the same thing today. According to Dr. Brown, God without Jesus cannot
forgive sin, cannot redeem His people and cannot have a meaningful
relationship with His own creations. Judaism worships God without Jesus,
and according to Christianity, this is a powerless God. Christians have
been telling Jews that if they would but worship Jesus together with
God, their troubles would end. And the Jewish response has always been
and will always remain; “Our God is all-powerful and does not need your
Jesus to help Him in any way shape or form. We are suffering because of
our sins and when we repent He will restore us as He promised through
His prophets.”

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Redeemed, Redeemer and Priests

A continuation of my response to Dr. Brown’s article – https://askdrbrown.org/library/how-rabbi-blumenthal-missed-forest-trees-–-part-3

Redeemed, Redeemer and Priests

One of the central themes of Dr. Brown’s most recent article is the
recurrent question; “redeemer” or “redeemed?” The premise behind this
question is that Isaiah 53 describes a “redeemer” and since the
righteous of Israel are “redeemed” and not “redeemers” they cannot be
the servant of Isaiah 53.

I responded by pointing out that while it is true that the righteous of
Israel are “redeemed” but they also play an active role in God’s plan
for humanity and as such they are also redeemers. The point of my
argument is simply that contrary to Dr. Brown’s assertions, Scripture
assigns an active role to the righteous of Israel in the redemption process.

In his effort to refute my argument, Dr. Brown misrepresents my
position. Dr. Brown tells his audience that Rabbi Blumenthal
“consistently points to Israel rising through its own efforts to lead
the way in redemption.”

Needless to say I never said anything of the sort even once let alone
“consistently.” I clearly explained how the prophets described
Israel’s role in God’s process of redemption and I encourage the readers
to read what I wrote to understand my position and not trust Dr. Brown
who has consistently misrepresented my position.

In this article I will take the opportunity to expose how the underlying
premise of Dr. Brown’s argument is not rooted in Scriptural reality.

Dr. Brown’s question as to whether Israel is a “redeemer” or “redeemed”
is rooted in the assumption that Isaiah 53 describes the work of the
redeemer. But this is simply not true. Isaiah 53 describes the
consternation of the enemies of God’s servant when that servant is
redeemed. The arm of the Lord intervenes on behalf of the servant in
order to redeem him and that is what the nations of the world are
witnessing.

This should come as no surprise to Dr. Brown who insists that Psalm 22
describes the same scenario as Isaiah 53. Psalm 22 describes how a
suffering individual is saved and how his salvation brings glory to God.
The Scriptural theme which describes God saving a righteous individual
or nation while the nations of the world who witness this salvation gain
understanding and light, is repeated in Isaiah 52:10; Joel 4:16,17;
Micah 7:7:15,16; Psalm 69:36; 98:1-9; 102:16-23. Isaiah 53 is describing
a servant who is being redeemed. The prophet is not describing the work
of a redeemer.

Furthermore, Dr. Brown insists that the servant of Isaiah 53 is granted
the role of priest for the world in the Messianic age, interceding for the sinners and
bearing the responsibility of their sin and I agree with Dr. Brown in
principle, although I do not agree with his application. But what Dr.
Brown failed to realize is that if another word for the servant of
Isaiah 53 is “priest of God” then the prophet left us with no doubt who
it is that bears that title. Isaiah 61:6 clearly teaches that the
righteous of Israel are the priests of the world in the Messianic age.
It is clear that the function of priesthood is a function assigned to the
redeemed and not a function that identifies a redeemer. And it is also
clear that Dr. Brown’s vision for the Messianic age has no basis in the
reality of Scripture. According to Dr. Brown’s vision of the future,
Jesus fulfills the role of priest for the world. What priestly functions
will Jesus leave undone that the righteous of Israel need to fill in for
him?

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Challenge

 

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Who Do You Say Israel’s Opponents Are?

A continuation of my response to Dr. Brown’s article –  https://askdrbrown.org/library/how-rabbi-blumenthal-missed-forest-trees-–-part-3

Identifying Israel’s Opponents

In the chapters leading up to Isaiah 53, the prophet speaks of the shame
and consternation of Israel’s opponents.  One example is in Isaiah 41:11 which states “Behold all those incensed against you shall be ashamed and confounded; those who quarreled with you shall be as nought and be lost.”    In an effort to identify these
opponents and to understand how the words of the prophet apply to
historical reality I wrote the following:

“If you are familiar with the history of God’s nation you will know
that it was the Church and the Mosque that were the greatest obstacles
in the path of the Jew who tried to stay loyal to Israel’s covenant with
God. If you studied the history of Israel you would have read about her
willingness to suffer and die for her message of loyalty to God. It
would then follow, that when God consoles His people by telling them
that their opponents will be confounded (41:11, 12; 49:25, 26; 51:7, 8,
22, 23; 52;1), He is talking about these theological entities that set
themselves up as opponents to the Jew’s loyalty to God.”

Dr. Brown completely misunderstood what I wrote and misrepresents my
position. I quote:

“Remarkably, rather than agreeing with the Tanakh and stating that that
our people have primarily suffered because of our own sins (whatever
those sins might be), he blames Christianity and Islam: “If you are
familiar with the history of God’s nation you will know that it was the
Church and the Mosque that were the greatest obstacles in the path of
the Jew who tried to stay loyal to Israel’s covenant with God.” So, it’s
not our fault, it’s everyone else’s fault. This sounds eerily similar to
Adam blaming Eve and Eve blaming the snake back in the Garden of Eden.
To repeat: The entire testimony of the Tanakh is against this kind of
thinking.”

I did not “blame” the Church and the Mosque for our suffering. I
acknowledged and continue to acknowledge that the root cause of our
suffering is our own sins. If not for our sins, our enemies would have
no power to harm us or to stand in our way. It is only our sin that
allows our enemies to persecute and fight with us. But I was not
discussing the spiritual cause of our suffering. I was focusing on the
words of the prophet and trying to identify Israel’s opponents that the
prophet mentions so many times.

Amazingly, Dr. Brown has already written 3 lengthy articles about the
chapters leading to Isaiah 53 and he has yet to identify Israel’s
opponents who figure so prominently in the passages leading up to Isaiah 53.

His silence speaks volumes.

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The “Broad Strokes” of Dr. Brown’s Position

The “Broad Strokes” of Dr. Brown’s Position

Towards the beginning of his most recent article,

https://askdrbrown.org/library/how-rabbi-blumenthal-missed-forest-trees-–-part-3

Dr. Brown presents
what he sees as the “broad strokes” of his position. He makes the claim
that these have not been successfully rebutted.

I will allow Dr. Brown to speak for himself.

“Before responding to Rabbi Blumenthal’s most recent article, let me
reiterate the broad strokes of my position, none of which have been
successfully rebutted to date. First, Israel was in exile for sin and
rebellion and therefore cannot be the subject of Isaiah 53, since the
subject of that chapter was a righteous individual who was not suffering
for his own sins. Second, the righteous remnant of Israel cannot be the
subject of Isaiah 53, since God judged the nations that mistreated His
people, and so their suffering brought judgment on the nations, not
healing. Third, there are no explicit references to the nation of Israel
as the servant of the Lord after Isaiah 48. Fourth, Isaiah 49 and 50
clearly focus on an individual servant, not a national servant. This is
in harmony with the thrust of Isaiah 49-53, in which the prophet
increases his focus on the nation but, much more so, focuses on the
individual servant within the nation, Yeshua, the Messiah of Israel.”

I addressed each of these arguments many times over. Here is the
synopsis of my responses to these arguments. I leave it to the reader to
judge if Dr. Brown’s arguments have been refuted or not.

1) First, Israel was in exile for sin and rebellion and therefore
cannot be the subject of Isaiah 53, since the subject of that chapter
was a righteous individual who was not suffering for his own sins.

The text of Isaiah 53 does not say that the servant was not suffering
for his own sins. That is perhaps what a superficial read of the text
would lead one to believe, but the prophet does not say that. The
prophet says that the servant suffers for the sins of others but this in
no way precludes that his suffering also atones for his own sins.

2) Second, the righteous remnant of Israel cannot be the subject of
Isaiah 53, since God judged the nations that mistreated His people, and
so their suffering brought judgment on the nations, not healing. 

Not every nation persecuted God’s servant, those who did not persecute
the servant will be healed and blessed. The prophet tells us that in the
Messianic age all the nations will serve God together with Israel in the
Temple (Isaiah 56:7). Even those nations who did persecute the servant
and who will ultimately be judged at the time of the servant’s
exaltation, experienced healing and blessing until the time of their
judgment.

3) Third, there are no explicit references to the nation of Israel as
the servant of the Lord after Isaiah 48.

The prophet has other ways of expressing the concept “servant” without
using the actual word “servant.” And these expressions are used right up
to Isaiah 53. In 52:11, Israel is referred to as the “armor bearers” or
the “vessel bearers” of the Lord. These concepts both tell us that
Israel is not only a servant of the Lord, but a very significant servant
of the Lord (see 1Samuel 14:1; Numbers 10:21; Isaiah 61:6).

4) Fourth, Isaiah 49 and 50 clearly focus on an individual servant,
not a national servant. This is in harmony with the thrust of Isaiah
49-53, in which the prophet increases his focus on the nation but, much
more so, focuses on the individual servant within the nation, Yeshua,
the Messiah of Israel.”

Simply false. The prophet does not focus more on the individual servant
over the nation. The nation remains the primary character of Isaiah
right up until chapter 53. In chapters 51 and 52 the focus on the nation
intensifies greatly, while the individual servant isn’t mentioned even
once. If the focus of the prophet in the chapters preceding Isaiah 53
will determines the identity of the servant, it will have to be the
righteous of the nation and not the individual.

Judge for yourself.

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Staggering Mistake or Strengthened Argument

Staggering Mistake or Strengthened Argument?

Between May and July of 2017 I debated Dr. Brown under the title “The Real Jewish Messiah.” In the course of this debate, Dr. Brown presented a faulty argument. When Dr. Brown realized that he made a mistake he put forth the claim that this mistake does not affect his overall argument. Dr. Brown actually claimed that the discussion around his mistake “strengthened his argument” rather than weakened it. I strongly disagree with Dr. Brown’s assessment of the situation and I presented my opinion in various articles on my blog. Dr. Brown responded with some articles of his own and by now there are quite a few pages of discussion about Dr. Brown’s mistake.

The focus of the discussion has been Dr. Brown’s claim that his argument has been strengthened. I am more than satisfied to leave things as they stand now. I encourage you to read what I have written on the matter and what Dr. Brown has written in his defense and I trust that you have enough information to make an educated judgment.

The focus of this article is my claim. I have described Dr. Brown’s error as “staggering.” On what basis did I make that claim? Why did I use that word to describe his mistake?

Please allow me to explain.

The Christian sees Isaiah 53 as one of the most important if not the most important passages in the Jewish Bible. Dr. Brown acknowledges that the only honest way to read Isaiah 53 is in light of the chapters that lead up to Isaiah 53. In fact, this was the very basis for his argument in which he committed the aforementioned error.

Dr. Brown’s error revealed that he is not aware of the fact that Israel is the primary character of the chapters immediately preceding Isaiah 53. Not only was he not aware of this obvious fact but he was deeply convinced that in the four chapters preceding Isaiah 53 Israel is only a secondary character. This error was so deeply entrenched in his mind that when he was told, in plain English, that he erred he did not comprehend what he was being told.

Now this man has been preaching Isaiah 53 for about 30 years now and he has an inaccurate understanding of the chapters preceding Isaiah 53. He got confused between the primary and secondary characters of these chapters.

What word would you use to describe the error?

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