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