Thanks again for moving this discussion forward keeping the focus on the issues.
1) Resurrection and Covenant
Your comments about the resurrections done through Elijah and Ezekiel entirely missed the mark. Do you think that I don’t believe in God’s ability to resurrect the dead? What did I say that would give you that impression?
What I did pointo, and which you completely ignored (in keeping with 2000 years of Church history), is the COMMANDMENT of God as articulated in Deuteronomy 13:2-6 (1-5). It is that Scriptural text that commands us to disregard resurrections, miracle healings, stopping the sun in the sky, and all other miracles if they are being used to justify a redirection of our worship as Christianity demands for Jesus.
It was in that context that I stated that a resurrection is utterly meaningless – and I ask you – do you not agree? Do you believe that a resurrection (or any miracle) could justify a redirection of our worship? Do you have a different interpretation of the passage in Deuteronomy?
Did I read you right? Were you stating (or implying) that Israel’s covenantal relationship with God is defined by belief in a resurrection or lack thereof? Wouldn’t you say that the prohibition against idolatry is much more central to the relationship than is belief in the resurrection?
In a certain sense I get the feeling that you view idolatry as some technical legality which happens to be prohibited and you don’t see it for the act of spiritual adultery that it is. Do you not agree that worshiping anyone other than the God who we stand with in covenantal relationship is the deepest violation of that relationship?
2) Bush, Serpent and lessons to be learned
The fact that you keep on bringing up the bronze serpent tells me that you believe that it is somehow relevant to this discussion.
It is not.
It could be compared to a woman who sees her husband driving is another man’s car and attempts to use this as a justification to commit adultery with that person.
I realize that perhaps you don’t consider worshiping Jesus an act of idolatry – but then this is what you should be trying to articulate – why it is that you believe that worship of Jesus is not idolatry instead of harping on the Bronze Serpent again and again.
As for your question – what is the lesson to be learned from the Serpent. I will respond – but before I do so let me point something out – Scripture does not clearly and explicitly tell us in a direct way what the lesson is – all we could do is try to figure it out in the spirit of Scripture as we have absorbed it.
The lesson is this (according to my understanding): The people were being bitten by serpents. The human tendency is to focus on the immediate problem and not see the hand of God behind the problem (as per Isaiah 10:5). God had the solution to their problem come about through the same medium through which He delivered their problem – namely a serpent. They were healed by looking at (note: not worshipping) a serpent. The message is that it is not the serpent that brings death nor is it the serpent that brings life – these are but agents in God’s hand to be used as He pleases for either life or death. When we turn from God and from His holy law we find death and when we turn to God and to His commandments God gives us life – that is the lesson.
3) Prophecy, Moses and Numbers 12
You argue that I set a standard for prophecy (that the prophet be kind and honest) – you argue that it is non-Scriptural and you refer me to Numbers 12. Numbers 12 makes a point about Moses’ humility – do you think that it is coincidental that the most humble person was also the greatest prophet?
The reason I make no reference to Numbers 12 in the context of identifying a false prophet is because it is not stated as a commandment – Deuteronomy 13 and 18 are. (It seems to me that you don’t appreciate the significance of God’s explicit command – perhaps you would care to explain your position on this).
Abraham would not have failed according to my standards and he was not dishonest – in any case, my standard of kindness and honesty was not to demand of the prophet that he or she never sin. But if someone who is clearly wicked (such as in unkind or dishonest – even according to human standards) – we could be sure that such a person is not a prophet. I don’t need Scripture to support such an obvious point – but if you insist I will point you to Isaiah 59:2 where it is stated that our sins stand between us and God – someone who is saturated with sin will not be someone who enjoys the connection to God inherent in prophecy (I understand that there may be some exceptions to the rule; such as with Balaam).
Your statement that Jesus was a prophet like Moses is contrary to Scripture. Moses was the greatest prophet because of the credibility that God granted to his mission (Exodus 19:9; Deuteronomy 34:10-12). Numbers 12 teaches about what was going on behind the scenes. Unless God explicitly teaches us what is happening between Him and any given prophet – we can never know what is going on in that private realm. This is not the measuring stick that God granted us through which we can evaluate the level of a given prophet.
4) Covenantal Responsibility
Do you not see how the claims of the Church concerning the alleged deity of Jesus as viewed from the position of the Jew represent the deepest violation of our covenantal relationship that we share with God? Can you please address this critical issue?
(P.S. It may please you to know that I’ve read most of the articles on your blog.)
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal