Movies and Manifestations

Movies and Manifestations

Two of your friends just returned from going to the movies. They claim to have watched the same movie but in different movie theaters. One of your friends goes on and on about the content of the movie that he saw. While the other friend just speaks about the movie theater. He speaks about the beauty of the building, the plush seats, the air-conditioning system and the popcorn, but nary a word about the content of the movie. You don’t know what they saw but it is clear that these two people had two different experiences.

The meaning of this parable should be obvious. No one has seen God. But the prophets of Scripture did experience various encounters with God. Moses heard the voice of God from the flames of the burning bush, Israel saw the glory of God in the cloud that accompanied the in the wilderness and Isaiah saw God on an exalted throne in one of his prophetic visions.

But none of these encounters with God led to an exaltation of the medium through which the encounter took place. No one ever named a synagogue after the burning bush, and no one wrote a book expressing their love for the cloud of glory.

How does this compare to the Christian claims for Jesus? The missionaries contend that the person of Jesus was some manifestation of God as was the burning bush of Moses and the cloud that appeared in the holy of holies. But how do these compare? Why is it that those who witnessed that cloud of glory do not bother to compose songs about the cloud while those who saw Jesus sing about almost nothing but Jesus?

(This article is for those who believe that Jesus is somehow comparable to the manifestations of God that are recorded in the Jewish Scripture. The previous article, “Ambassadors and Prophets,” is for those who believe that Jesus is somehow comparable to the prophets of the Jewish Scriptures. These comparisons are both invalid. The effect of Jesus on those who accepted the validity of his mission is radically different than the effect of anything described in the Jewish Scripture (except idolatry). After all, the purpose of sending a prophet or presenting a manifestation is not so that some scholars can debate about the fine points of philosophy in their ivory towers. The purpose of prophecy is to teach the people.

Just check what the people learned.)

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Yisroel C. Blumenthal

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22 Responses to Movies and Manifestations

  1. cpsoper says:

    Hmmm. Do Messianic Jews and Christians say ‘nary a word about the content of the movie’?

    As one raised in an atheistic family and for a short while an atheist myself, I have found the knowledge of the Messiah has drawn me into a deep appreciation and love for the commands of God, the name of God and being of God, to learn Hebrew after learning Arabic. Reading the Tenach is a daily pleasure and discovery. There is much I acknowledge I still don’t understand, but without Yeshua, I would deride and dismiss Torah as much as most of my family still do. I and many others in more dramatic ways, have risked my career and reputation to champion B’Rashit’s account of creation, one I foolishly scoffed at as a teenager, almost as vehemently as my colleagues did me later, been kept from the outward sexual impurity that has ensnared almost every one of my unbelieving relatives, risked death to share this love and law of God’s with Muslims in the Middle East, and often preach and warn the neglect of the 10 commandments point by point in the market place – even this morning. Does any of this commend me? No, I know full well all my own righteousness is filthy rags, as rejected as a menstruous cloth, only the cut off and risen Messiah the high Priest/King can cleanse away sin, purify the leprosy of the heart, and soften a stony and ungrateful heart.

    Sorry I haven’t yet had time to read other posts here, I will try, still have mountains of overdue paperwork.

    • Tsvi Jacobson says:

      Epsoper I absolutely do not understand something you said that is vitally important. You say: “Without Yeshua you would deride and dismiss Torah” WHY! Obviously your belief in Yeshua brought you to the beauty of Torah. If Yeshua isn’t who you think he is this doesn’t mean Torah is to be dismissed. Frankly Torah was before Yeshua Yeshua stated if you believe in Moses you would believe in me. Just the other way around according to your testimony. I suggest you realize as a Jew you should weigh the belief in Yeshua on the basis of Torah and if you do you will find that Yeshua is idolatry, the New Testament cannot be trusted as the Tanach. I challenge you to really see if Yeshua is the fulfillment of Moshiach. If you are sincere and try to find some objectivity you will come to see he is a false Messiah.

      • Tsvi, I think what he means is that atheists, being somewhat skeptical, don’t give any credence to scripture at all, not because they are bad people, but because they see infighting, arguing, war, etc. all in the name of G-d, his land, and his book. They also don’t see good reason to believe in providence, or that G-d (if he exists) has a will of good intent towards men.

    • Dina says:

      Hi Charles! It’s good to see you again!

      We had been discussing the problems of the two genealogies before you left, do you remember? I had been hoping to hear from you, as I’d like to get your thoughts on the 15-generation difference between the two genealogies.

      Good luck with the paperwork mountain,

  2. I should really post my paper from my science and religion class, the prompt of which was, “which proof is the best proof of G-d’s existence.” It might illumine some things. Unfortunately my PC is broken, and I’ve been posting via other means. I think it’s really important to make a crucial distinction in what is being venerated, and for what reason. It’s true that you wouldn’t sing praises to the burning bush, the pillar of fire, or the Merkabah seen by the prophet, or even the man Jesus as a man. However, the “content of the movie” is expressed through the phenomenon. It’s the expression, the content, that leads you to say, wow! That’s no ordinary Bush! Wow, that’s no ordinary Vision! Wow, that’s no human speaking! The two natures of Jesus and hypostatic union are all about saying, “ok, something died. Was it G-d? No, it was a human mind, body, soul, and spirit that died, named Jesus. However, in light of this particular death, we see G-d bringing people to the knowledge of himself, and through the physical death and suffering of Jesus (knowledge of it), producing the spirit of contrition that only G-d can stir in man. So, G-d is reconciling to himself, sympathizing with human pain in Christ’s death.” In the teaching and life events of Jesus (which are the sum total of what makes his personality,) the wisdom or Logos of G-d is made known in its fullness uniquely through him. There is no importance to the human nature. In the way your article is describing things, you are making the physical thing more important to the people who experienced Jesus, than the content he brought In his personality. A more apt analogy in this vein would be if I saw Star Wars at Graumen’s Chinese theatre opening night in 1977. I indeed would speak of the plush seats, the history of the theatre, and also the breathtaking quality of the film at this particular place, at this particular time, along with the story I enjoyed. I would be justified in viewing this as a unique experience, and my description of it, would always go back to opening night. It’s not the theatre, it’s the totality of the experience.

    I’m going to pose a hypothetical question to you guys, so bear with me. Assuming the Torah narrative went the way that CB Demille’s film went, would Moses still be considered a true prophet? Would Moses by himself coming with the unique name of G-d, saying “I am the servant of the L-rd, and there is no freedom without him, and no servant is greater than his master,” be sufficient? If all the plagues happened as normal, like splitting of the sea, and if Moses said that miracles (like those of pharaoh’s magicians) were deemed adulterous and false, and he said that miracles and signs were unfit for proof, would that be enough? If Moses accomplished through the Exodus as Demille described, the unambiguous freedom of Israel from bondage in Egypt, as the stars foretold, would he be a true prophet?

  3. LarryB says:

    the catholic church teaches Jesus was true god and true man complete with a human mind and a human soul. The creator becomes the created. although they will tell you it was his son, since he is part of the mysterious trinity, he is god. One would have to swallow alot of mystery in light of this particular death to see god bringing people to the knowledge of himself through the suffering and death of Jesus.

  4. The creator did not cease being the creator, did not become limited to operating through Jesus, did not cease being omnipresent, and gentile polytheism by and large no longer exists. I wouldn’t say much mystery is required at all, to believe that Jesus’ death produced contrition for sins, or a knowledge of G-d. The church teaches true G-d and true man, without confusion of nature, or separation. The human nature is not the divine nature, any Christian will tell you that.

  5. Excerpt from the Catechism on the subheading Jesus the only begotten Son of G-d.

    432 The name “Jesus” signifies that the very name of God (Hashem) is present in the person of his Son, made man for the universal and definitive redemption from sins. It is the divine name that alone brings salvation, and henceforth all can invoke his name, for Jesus united himself to all men through his Incarnation,23 so that “there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”24

    What is this name? Hashem is salvation.

    • LarryB says:

      Psalm 146:3 ” do not put your trust in the son of man, in whom there is no salvation” -Time and again the christian bible says Jesus is the son of man. god tells you not to trust the son of man, because in him there is no salvation.

    • Dina says:

      If this isn’t making Jesus into God then I don’t know what is.

  6. LarryB, do you think that Christians are blind to verses like those you bring up? 2 Corinthians 5:16 carries with its meaning the jest of the psalm you quoted, as does this passage, Luke 4:5-8. We are not saying that G-d is flesh and bones,Luke 24:39, or that G-d is only Jesus or limited to working through him, Romans 2:14, Romans 11, John 13:16. We are saying that in Jesus, Hashem made himself known to us through the life of Jesus. 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4 tells us to watch out for those people (like Nero, Diocletian, Hitler, or others whoever they are) who would try to play G-d. The point that is missed again and again in these parables/discussions in favor of misconceptions, is that the Christian bible gives us the same warnings that the Torah gives. It reiterates them. Jesus didn’t come around saying he was better than G-d. He never even told his Jewish students to abandon the Torah. It’s true, Gentiles who were given lesser requirements (Acts 15) have common interpretations that say, that these were the sum total of his teaching, but it’s clearly not, and that must be rectified.

    I want people to know that I don’t post here so much because I want to cause trouble for Judaism, I post because there are gross misconceptions and misunderstandings of what in fact Christian doctrines mean, being posted for defensive purposes. (Which I understand btw, I don’t fault anyone.) Incarnation, for instance, is not about placing limits on G-d, or limiting his ability to act, but about saying that G-d can in fact be intimately known. He is not the abstract G-d of Hellenism, nor the nature pantheistic idea of Spinoza and gentile polytheism. He is the G-d who redeems people, in historical experience.

    • cFlat7 says:

      Psalm 146:3 is a jest? Really? This Psalm looks pretty serious to me. I can only think that you mistyped.
      It seems pretty clear not to put your trust in a human being. Who can be faulted for putting their trust in the God of Israel directly? It says in many places that Hashem is our salvation, and with no mention of the need for an intermediary, e.g. Isa 12:2, Isa 17:10.

    • LarryB says:

      I get that you believe “Hashem made himself known to us through the life of Jesus”
      Some one else made a great point” if the one God of the universe, wanted to convey to His people that He alone was God and there was no other who shared this unique distinction with Him, what words would He use so that there would be no possibility for error?” 39’See now that I, I am He, And there is no god besides Me”

  7. Principle VI. Prophecy
    And this is that it is known to man that this (prophet) is a type of man who are created beings of great stature and perfection of the character traits. Who have tremendous knowledge until a [(different intelligence attaches to them)] when the intelligence of the person clings to the intelligence of God. (Sounds like the Logos concept to me) and it rests upon him. And these are the prophets; and this is prophecy; and the idea of it. The explanation of it is very long and the intention is not to bring a sign for every fundamental and to explain it all, encompassing of all knowledge (i.e. God’s knowledge) but it is mentioned to us in a story form and all of the Torah attests to this.

    Principle VII. The prophetic capacity of Moses our Teacher, peace be upon him
    And this is that we accept that he was the father of all prophets that were before him and that will be after him. He was on a qualitatively different level than any other, and he is chosen from all other people before and after him of any that have any knowledge of God; for his was the greatest. And he, peace be upon him, rose to the levels of the angels. He was granted all areas of knowledge and prophecy and his physical attributes did not diminish. His knowledge was different and it is through this difference that it is ascribed to him that he spoke to God without any intermediary or angel.
    My intention was to explain this puzzling concept and to open up the sealed areas in the Torah regarding the verses of “face to face” and other similar references, but its length would be tremendous and it would require numerous proofs from the Torah and other sources and encompass many areas. Even to write it the briefest of briefest it would require 100 pages, so I will save it and write it in another book. I will now return to the intent of this seventh fundamental that the prophecy of Moses our teacher, peace be upon him, was different from all others in 4 ways:
    1) Regarding all other prophets, God spoke to them through intermediaries. Regarding Moses, it was without one, as it says, “face to face I spoke to him”.
    2) Regarding all other prophets, prophecy came to them at night while they were asleep in a dream as it says, “in a dream of the night” and other such references; or in the day but only after a deep sleep-like state came over them, and all their senses were shut off except their thoughts. Not so by Moses. Moses would receive a prophecy any time when he would stand between the two figures [fixed] on the ark, as God attests to it, “and I will make it known to you there” and “not so my servant Moses. Face to face I speak to him.”
    3) When a prophet would receive prophecy he would not be able to stand the intense effect and he would shake and not be able to stand, as it relates regarding Daniel in his encounter with the angel Gabriel. Regarding Moses, he did not suffer from this. As it says, “Face to face do I speak to him as a person speaks to his friend”. And even though this is the greatest connection to God, still, he did not suffer.
    4) All other prophets could not receive prophecy at their will, [but] only when God desired to tell them. Some would go days or months without prophecy. Even if they wanted or needed something, sometimes it would be days or months or years or even never that they would be told [a prophecy]. Some would have people play music to put them in a good mood such as Elisha. But Moses, peace be upon him, received prophecy whenever he wanted, as it says, “Stand here and listen to what God will tell you what to do” and “God said to Moses tell Aaron your brother that he can’t come to the holy of holies at any time [he wants]”. Our rabbis said, “Aaron was prohibited to come whenever he wanted, but not Moses.

    Moses had a unique understanding, that no human being before or after him had. If that is not the textbook definition of a mediator, I don’t know what is.

    • Dina says:

      Concerned Reader,

      You cut and pasted without attribution; I don’t know if you assume your readers will know at once who you are quoting from, but if that’s the case you are mistaken. It’s a basic rule to attribute quotes to their sources (and also to use quotation marks when quoting). So I think you need to go back to your college and demand your money back :).

      All these quotes do is show why the level of prophecy that Moses attained is higher than any other prophet’s; at the end of the day it’s just that: prophecy.

      At any rate, the comparison to Moses is fallacious. Moses is not the center of our religion, nor do we turn to him to mediate for us now that he’s gone. It’s perfectly acceptable to ask someone to pray for you on your behalf; we do it all the time. We also pray for ourselves on our own behalf. Moses does not figure in our liturgy. We don’t teach people to believe in Moses but to believe in God.

  8. The whole issue really comes down to this guys. Content as Rabbi B said. Even if I granted your view that Christianity were idolatry, it would be a truly unprecedented type, in that it intentionally glorifies Hashem. If Jesus is an idol, he’s the only idol that says “made by G-d, the G-d of Israel, please look up to him, love Jesus.” Other idols say things like”if G-d is one with an unprecedented unique oneness, you only know him indirectly through what he has made. Since you know him indirectly, all knowledge of him is only partial knowledge, so all paths are equally valid.” “If G-d is one and alone, he made us, he made evil, and must not be truly good, or maybe he does not care about us at all, or, maybe he doesn’t even exist.” “You say G-d made angels to carry out his will? What you call a created angel, we call a god, what is wrong with treating nature as sacred? See the immense difference?

    • Dina says:

      So what if it’s different? It’s still a worship unknown to our fathers and therefore according to the Torah is idolatry.

      Therefore, your argument that this idol claims to be made by the God of Israel is irrelevant.

  9. Pingback: A Tale of Two Teachers | 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources

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