In response to Dr. Brown’s response ( https://yourphariseefriend.wordpress.com/2016/10/23/dr-bros-response-to-comment-429/ )
The purpose of this dialogue is that we put our respective arguments out in the open, so the public can see them and judge for themselves. After all these years you have finally supplied some answers to questions that I had asked you so long ago. Now that you put the answers on the table we (meaning the public, myself included) can judge for ourselves and see what it is that your faith stands on.
I have responded to the majority of your arguments below. I have not responded to every one simply because I believe that the reader can see through them without my help and because I have already responded to your arguments in previous writings. So please do not accept my silence on any one point as agreement. (My responses proceed in the order of your responses.)
I demonstrated that you contradicted yourself on the subject of messianic prophecy. You had this opportunity to show why this is no contradiction. So what did you say in your defense?
You start out by saying that my words are a “gross oversimplification.” Why? Because there are “other factors” that need to be considered. And what are they? That the timing of the “Branch” building the Temple would seem to apply to Second Temple as opposed to third.
So how are my words a “gross oversimplification”? I said exactly that when I wrote that there seems to be a problem with the timing of some of the prophecies.
You have no problem throwing out empty rhetoric, at the same time, when I state that I demonstrated something, after I took the pains to do so, you take me to task for making such statements. Do I need your permission to use the word “hypocrite”?
You bring up the Temple prophecies in Ezekiel. I wasn’t building my case on that prophecy (I explicitly said that I will put those prophecies aside for argument’s sake), so this is another distraction of yours.
You make the statement that the alleged prophecies of Messiah’s miracles are not fraught with interpretative difficulties as are the Temple building prophecies.
Here too, you just say what you want completely disregarding what I have written. You might as well sing the Polish national anthem and tell your audience that you “answered” my questions.
The three prophecies that you quote to support the claim that the Messiah must perform miracles are fraught with all of the difficulties that the Temple prophecies are fraught with plus more. The three passages that you quoted (Isaiah 35:1-6; 42:6-7; 61:1-3) are all tied in with events that have nothing to do with Jesus’ career. All of these are contextually explained with the understanding that the miracles are not literal. And the prophecy of chapter 61 is predicting the precise opposite of what Christianity stands for. Christianity is looking for the further shame of Zion’s mourner’s, not their comfort.
You state that you have an exegetical basis for your arguments and you claim that Rambam (Maimonides) is “lacking. Well you had an opportunity to prove your point and you didn’t. So we know now that you have NO exegetical basis for your arguments.
You justify your pointing to the actions of Jesus as a valid Scriptural interpretative tool by telling me that when my Messiah comes I will do the same. My Messiah won’t need armies of lawyers working for 2000 years to try to make a case for his Messiah-ship. You won’t have any questions.
You accuse me of playing a polemical game. I simply pointed to the fact that you need to point to Jesus’ actions as an interpretative Scriptural tool, that Tanach in and of itself is insufficient for you. You now tell me that you could make a case on the basis of Tanach without pointing to Jesus’ actions. Go ahead and do so.
You tell me (and the audience) that I cannot separate my tradition from my understanding of God and Israel. You do not substantiate this accusation, you just threw it out without any supporting evidence. I did not quote my traditions in my arguments, you quoted Jesus.
You claim that you do not minimize the hope for future peace. Of-course you do. If I tell you that I am expecting a delivery of apples from a certain shipping service and you tell me that the apples will only come after 2000 years of deliveries of oranges, then you have drowned (and minimized) the delivery of apples.
The prophets made it abundantly clear that the Messiah is associated with peace. They did not say anything about a new election, a virgin birth, a new faith and a 2000 year interlude between “two acts” of the Messiah. By adding all of these on to the Messianic portrait painted by God’s prophets you have minimized what they actually did say.
I asked you if the number of verses supporting a specific doctrine is a valid standard by which to measure the Scriptural basis of a given position. What is your answer?
I pointed out how you take the same prophecy and make it important and unimportant at the same time. How do you answer this? Is the prophet trying to highlight this passage by associating a human being with the Messiah or is he not? How could the same passage be “the most overt” and “fringe at best”?
You say that the out of say 10 Messianic prophecies that were expected to be fulfilled at the rebuilding of the Second Temple, only 5 were fulfilled at the time while the rest await fulfillment in the future. This is inaccurate. All of them were fulfilled on a miniature scale at the time of the return and the full fulfillment will come in the future.
You claim that the day of vengeance described in Isaiah 61:2 refers to the destruction of the Second Temple. I find this horrifying. Don’t you realize that this day of vengeance is the same as the one described 34:8; 35:4 and 63:4? This is God’s revenge against Israel’s enemies and NOT God’s punishment of the sinful Jews. Your Scriptural interpretation is exactly the opposite of what the prophet intended.
You tell me that my argument about David being the antithesis of Jesus is inaccurate (you speak of the “folly” of my argument). So do you believe that you and only you are authorized to tell us what the prophets meant when they compared the Messiah to David? I would suggest that we all step back and look at the big picture of David’s life, his primary accomplishments before God and for his nation and I trust that we will get a picture of the real Messiah. And indeed, it is difficult to think of a person more antithetical to God’s David than is Christianity’s Jesus.
You claim that Jesus brought glory to the Temple with his “divine” presence, his miracles and the spirit he sent to his people after his “ascension.” Pray tell, did anyone ever associate these events with the Temple? No, the followers of Jesus (yourself included) tell us that they came into a richer spiritual experience with the destruction of the Temple. Jesus taught that the Temple is superfluous. If this is honor then what is shame?
You claim that Jesus purified the Levitical priesthood in fulfillment of Malachi’s prophecy (3:3) by raising up Levitical priests who followed him. So were the sacrificial offerings of Israel and Judah pleasing to God as they were in days gone by? Was Malachi speaking of a limited number of priests? Or was he speaking of the priesthood as a whole? Didn’t you write that with the advent of Jesus the Levitical high-priesthood and the sacrificial system are set aside because it is weak and useless (vol. 4 pg. 263)? Whose leg are you trying to pull? You might as well sing the Polish national anthem.
And your explanation of Daniel 9 also fails miserably. I pointed out that according to Daniel, the cutting off of the anointed one happens at the same time as the destruction of the city and sanctuary. Your response is that there may be a short hiatus between the 69th and 70th week. But where does the prophet say that the one (cutting off of the anointed) is to occur after 69 weeks while the other (destruction of Temple and city) occurs after the 70th week? The prophet tells us that they happen together (Daniel 9:26). Polish national anthem?
Let’s move on to your responses on the passage of Isaiah 53.
You say that Isaiah 53:9 cannot refer to the nation of Israel. So I ask you my question again; was Israel guilty of the crimes that her persecutors accused her of?
You say that people would be shocked if Jesus turns out to be God’s servant. Indeed they will, but not for the reason that the servant of Isaiah 53 arouses shock. The servant of Isaiah is considered subhuman, while Jesus is not considered subhuman. Jesus is rejected because we do not believe that he is divine, not because we think that he is not human. And when you speak of the Moslem, Hindu, and nominal Christian being shocked – their shock has nothing to do with the identity of the servant at all. They would find the concept of God’s salvation shocking in and of itself. The identity of the servant will play no role in their shock. In fact, these people all consider Jesus to be a positive figure, not a negative one.
You tell me that Isaiah 26:2 is irrelevant because it is an end-time prophecy and does not speak of Israel’s righteousness in exile. Did you read what I wrote? I acknowledge that it is an end-time prophecy but I pointed out that Israel is being praised for a quality that they maintained in exile; guarding their loyalty to God. This concept is reflected in Micah 7 verses 8 and 9 where Israel, while sitting in darkness suffering for her sins still enjoys God’s light.
You completely ignore the Scriptural references that demonstrate that Israel maintains a certain loyalty to God even in exile and even while sinning. Your video presentation on Isaiah 53 ignores this Scriptural truth.
In your video presentation you tell us that the references to Israel and Jacob in chapters 49 through 53 of Isaiah are proportionately less than the references to Israel and Jacob in the preceding chapters. You say this to give your audience the impression that the prophet shifts his focus from the nation to the righteous individual in the chapters leading up to Isaiah 53. But you don’t tell your audience that the prophet has other ways of referring to Israel. “Zion”, “Jerusalem”, “the nation with My Law in their hearts”, are just a sampling of references to Israel in these chapters. There are well over 100 nouns and pronouns clearly referring to Israel in these 5 chapters (49-53). How can you claim that the prophet shifted his focus? Have you no shame?
You tell us that the last reference (before Isaiah 53) to Israel as God’s servant appears in 48:20. You are technically correct if you limit your focus to the word “servant.” But wouldn’t you agree that the description “armor bearers of the Lord” describes a special servant? Don’t you realize that this reference to the nation appears just 2 verses before the passage in question (52:11)?
You claim that Isaiah 49 says that the nations will accept the Messiah while Israel will reject him. This concept is to be found nowhere in that chapter or in any other part of Tanach. It is about as anti-Scriptural as you can get. I take the liberty of quoting myself (I sent this to you a few years ago).
“At one point in his presentation Dr. Brown makes the preposterous assertion that the Messiah is FIRST to be a light to the Gentiles and only AFTERWARD is he going to be recognized by the Jewish people. This statement is patently false and is roundly contradicted by the prophets of Scripture
The scriptures clearly tell us exactly how the conversion of the world will be achieved. The message is repeated quite a number of times in an open and unambiguous manner. Isaiah compares the error of the nations to a veil that covers their faces (25:7), and to a thick cloud of darkness (60:2). The prophets teach that God will use the physical salvation of the Jewish people to dispel this dark error. When the downtrodden and persecuted nation is exalted, and their enemies are destroyed, the nations will see the light and be converted to the service of God. Israel’s deliverance is the catalyst for the conversion of the nations. This lesson is repeated by the prophets again and again (Isaiah 17:12 – 18:7, 25:1 – 8, 30:26, 34:1 – 35:10, 40:1 – 11, 41:17 – 20, 49:8 – 13, 52:7 – 10, Zephaniah 3:8 – 20, Psalm 9:8 – 13, 40, 66, 69, 98, 102, 117 ). Any faith that the nations are coming to before the light of God is openly revealed upon Israel, can only be a part of the darkness that the prophets yearned to see dispelled (Isaiah 60:1 – 3).”
Your quote from Ezekiel 39:23-24 has the word “only” in it. You realize of-course that the word appears nowhere in the Hebrew. You must have spent time looking for a translation with this word because even the corrupt NIV didn’t put that word in there.
Furthermore, don’t you realize that Ezekiel 39:23,24 actually confirms the Jewish interpretation of Isaiah 53 (even if you leave the word “only” in there). What were the nations thinking before they realized that the exile was caused by Israel’s sins? According to the prophets the nations think that Israel is loyal to a powerless God and that is the cause of their suffering. Ezekiel is teaching us that the nations will realize that Israel was loyal to the true God and it was their sins that caused the exile. It clearly follows that the nations will realize that they had been following the wrong god as Isaiah 49:23 so clearly testifies. This is the “going astray” described in Isaiah 53 of which Israel is NOT guilty (as per Isaiah 26:13 which you choose to ignore).
You deny having written that the holocaust came upon us for rejecting Jesus. Please read what you wrote in volume 1 page 107; “because we rejected the Messiah when he came (the rejection of no other person could cause such suffering for us as a people), we forfeited the blessings of God and inherited his curses instead.”
I will conclude by thanking you for taking the time and effort to write your response. Now that you put some more of your cards on the table we can more easily demonstrate that your faith has nothing to do with God’s truth.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal