You write that Christianity and Judaism both rely upon faith, and, if I understand you correctly, this seems to mean to you that the Jew has no room to critique the Christian faith. This reflects a poor understanding of Torah, an understanding that has been built up from the mistakes of the Church. In this comment, I intend to show the difference between the two “faiths” and why they are essentially different. I will do this by comparing the Sinai experience to the corresponding Christian event, Pentecost.
But first allow me to say that the Torah observant Jew is uniquely qualified to speak to the truth or falsity of Christianity. This is because the Christian scriptures affirm the truth of the Jewish scriptures. This means that Christianity’s teachings must align with Tanach. Any deviation therefrom is a point where Christianity proves itself false. These are not two entirely separate and competing religions, each drawing upon their own prophets. The Church appends its works to Tanach, and therefore one may critique the teachings of the Church by the Jewish scriptures.
By way of analogy, I invite you to consider the claims of Joseph Smith. According to him, he was a prophet who received certain scriptures that can be said to complete the Christian canon. Because his teachings do not wholly align themselves with any of the traditional branches of Christianity, the Christian is well-equipped to declare the Book of Mormon and The Pearl of Great Price to be false. Their teachings do not match the NT when they claim to do so, making the NT a good standard whereby to test Mormon scripture and doctrine. The Mormon might say to you that just as God can raise a man in secret, so can he reveal a body of scripture to his prophet in private, that you and he must both rely upon faith. But you would be able to respond that anything revealed to a prophet must agree with previous revelation, with the NT that the Mormon also affirms to be true, and therefore you have good grounds for critiquing the teachings of Joseph Smith and subsequent prophets of the Church of Latter Day Saints.
Please forgive me for the following statement, which I fear will be offensive; it is meant in a purely descriptive sense, and is not meant to be inflammatory or insulting. Your comment reveals insufficient reflection regarding the grounds upon which Torah and the claims of the Church are to be accepted. The claims are of a rather different nature. Torah is not accepted upon the kind of faith that is taught in the NT. Torah appeals to the collective experience of the Jewish people at Sinai. This is quite different from the claim of the NT, which praises the faith of those that had no direct experience of the resurrection. Jesus praises those that have blind faith, when he says to Thomas: “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those that have not seen and yet have come to believe” (Jn. 20:29).
In this, the claims of Jesus and Joseph Smith and virtually any other founding prophets of various religions are similar—they are untestable. These men and women have private experiences of a divine nature. Because the experiences are private, it is exceedingly difficult to determine if they happened or not. Anybody is able to say that last night they heard from God or an angel or what-have-you. It is impossible that anyone can be obligated to put their faith in such a prophet, because to give credence to one, he must give credence to all despite their conflicting messages.
Imagine please, the following scenario. A man has two neighbors, Peter and Joe. Peter comes to the man one morning and says, “I heard from God last night, and he says that you are to follow the commandments he has given to me to give to you. You are to acknowledge me as His prophet, and you are to sell your house and give me the proceeds.” Surely the man must have some doubts that Peter heard from God. He most likely asks why God did not deliver this message to him. But perhaps he believes Peter. Perhaps Peter performs a compelling magic trick, and Peter believes this could only have been done by the hand of God. Then Joe comes to him, claiming to be God’s true prophet, that the man is to follow Joe and not Peter, and that the man should sell his house and deliver the proceeds up to Joe. And he too performs a convincing magic trick. At this point, the man is in a bit of a dilemma. He has no means to differentiate the one prophet from the other. Both make claims to his obedience and his property. This is the scenario that you have imagined when you said that both Judaism and Christianity relied upon faith. But Judaism’s claim in unlike Christianity’s claim.
It is true that the resurrection is like the unverifiable prophecy of Peter or Joe. Jesus claimed that he would be resurrected after three days. And, of course, the Church claims that this is exactly what happened. But this event was a private event, seen by few individuals. It was not publicized. Jesus did not make himself known. He did not walk the streets of Jerusalem. After forty days, Jesus floated into the sky. In all that time, his resurrection was not made known publicly, nor did Jesus reveal himself publicly.
Ten days after Jesus disappeared, his disciples announced that in fact Jesus had returned from the dead precisely as he said he would. But, of course, the disciples were unable to produce a live body. That would have been remarkable. One might then have thought that Jesus was a prophet. But no Jesus appeared. The new converts had to “just have faith.” They had to take Peter’s word for it. This happened on Pentecost, fifty days after Jesus died, and it corresponded to Shavuot.
But Shavuot and Pentecost could not be more different. On Shavuot, at Sinai, nobody had to “just have faith.” They did not have to “take Moses’ word” that he heard from God. Please read Exodus 19 and 20. The entire nation heard God speak. For a moment, they were all prophets. This is how they knew that God spoke to Moses, through their own prophetic experience, a shared prophetic experience. On top of that, the nation agreed that Moses should be a prophet: “When all the people witnessed the thunder and the lightning, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, they were afraid and trembled and stood at a distance, and said to Moses, ‘You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or we will die” (Ex. 20:19).
So, we have two events, Pentecost and Shavuot. On the one, Jesus fails to prove his prophecy. One is asked to believe the resurrection happened anyway. So desperate has the Church been to convince people of the resurrection, that it has tried to shift the burden of proof onto the shoulders of those that do not believe. They ask why the Jewish leadership never produced a body. Do not let the Church distract you with this empty rhetoric. The responsibility to produce a body was those that claimed it was up and walking around. It was up to Jesus to produce himself as a living, breathing, resurrected person. This did not happen, but the Church teaches one must believe or burn in hell. On the other event, the entire nation verified the prophecy of Moses first hand. Nor did the Jewish people seek to convince those that never heard God speak at Sinai. Those that believed at Pentecost had insufficient reason to do so, while those that believed at Sinai had sure knowledge.
Please consider that you have badly misunderstood the Sinai event and have not properly differentiated it from the founding events of other religions. Moses is not like Peter and Joe above. His verified claim to prophecy is unlike the unverified resurrection. Torah observance is based upon a public event, the knowledge of which has been preserved by the community for thousands of years. Christianity preaches faith precisely because it has no such public event. The word faith means something entirely different within Christianity than it does in Judaism. It is a gamble, an affirmation of the unknown and unknowable. Judaism, the Torah, does not teach one to gamble for his soul.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal
Oops, I forgot to follow.
Good observation on the difference and it really purifies the dirts in our walking with God.
I also wondered why resurrected Yeshua did not appear publicly to the whole citizens of Yerushalaim, instead to Galilee? Did he choose to make the Jewish disciples hero instead of making himself hero to be worshipped?
I do not know.
What good is it to hear the voice of God unless it empowers God’s people To observe the Torah and To act out the commandments of HaShem?
Right after the Shavuot-Pentecoat day in Yerushalaim 2000 years ago, the Jewish diaspora and Jews in Jerusalem showed the Roman Empire how to live together as human- God’s image bearer and whole citizens were rocked by their acting out the will of God in Torah. What made the Church (Ecclesia= Ecclesiastes= called out ones= Jews the covenant people) revive again? The power of the Spirit of God!!
Gean Guk Jeon,
Please forgive this late response to your comments. I was away from home for most of June, and I did not get to everything right away. I did not intend to ignore you. Please forgive me, if I in anyway offended you by my neglect.
Your comments in response to my article appear to me to misunderstand the significance of Jesus’ not appearing publicly after the resurrection. It is insufficient to search for a reason why he might have done so. The Christian claim is that the resurrection is proof of Jesus’ messiahship. However, it cannot be a proof in any sense, because there is no proof of the resurrection itself, as an event. To help illustrate how hollow the claim that the resurrection proves was the Messiah, whatever that means to the believer, please allow me to present the following analogy.
Let us imagine a man, a doctoral candidate, who must take an exam to earn his degree and title. He receives his exam, and he sits writing for some time. Once time is up, he confidently gives the exam to the qualifying board to review. But, they stare at the paper, mouths agape. They say to the candidate, “You have not answered even one question! You are clearly not qualifed to become a certified doctor.”
“No! No!” the man exclaims. “You have it all wrong! I wrote my answers in invisible ink. Rest assured, I do know everything there is to know about the field.”
Do you think that the certifying board will just take his word for it?
Yet this is what the Christian demands. He claims to have proof that Jesus is the Messiah, but his ‘proof’ is nothing of the kind. It is a mere assertion. It is an event to which virtually no one had any direct knowledge. It is like invisible ink. At first the Christian claims to have proof, but then he says that one must just take his word for it; he must just have faith. He holds simultaneously the contradictory views that Jesus proved that he was the Messiah and that no proof need be given. He claims that Jesus has passed the test of the prophet, while invalidating the test.
Now the missionary will bring other proofs for the messiahship of Jesus, as well. He will point to various prophecies within Tanach, prophecies of the Messiah, prophecies that Jesus fulfilled. Strangely, many of the fulfillments of these prophecies also were unverified. They also must be believed without any evidence. As such, they also cannot serve as proofs. The evidence meant to induce faith cannot itself rely upon faith.
One of these prophecies, the fulfillment of which was never verified, is the supposed virgin birth. One cannot know that Mary was a virgin when she conceived and bore Jesus; it has to be taken on faith. This means that, not only is it not a sign, it is not a proof. Similarly, Jesus’ birthplace and lineage was unknown to people, even in his lifetime (see John 7:40-42). Yet the missionary will proclaim that Jesus fulfilled prophecies relating to the Messiah and that this is proof that he is the Messiah. He claims that these prophecies were fulfilled in secret, where no one could see or investigate, and at the same time declares them to be irrefutable evidences of Jesus’ credentials as Messiah.
These are more answers written in invisible ink. Let us return to that exam. One of the certifying board says that, though this is highly inconvenient, he knows a way to read invisible ink. He has a special lamp that will warm the paper and will make the answers written thereon to present themselves. While he is gone to fetch the lamp, a fellow member of the board notices a further irregularity on the test. He does not remember all of these questions being part of the exam. Indeed, the questions betray a shocking lack of knowledge on the part of the one that wrote the question. He wonders aloud which of the board members might have added these questions, but they are all as puzzled as he is. Perhaps it was the fellow who went for the lamp.
After some time, their fellow returns with the lamp. He sets it up and begins waving the paper slowly back and forth under its specially calibrated heat. To the surprise of the entire certifying board, some of the questions begin to disappear. They notice that these are those with which they had no familiarity. They expected to see more, not less. The strange light of the lamp was erasing questions, while the answers remained invisible.
Shocked, they accused the doctoral candidate of fraud. It was obvious, they said, that he added questions to the test. He agreed that he did add the questions, but he denied any fraud. Instead, he claimed that the board did not know the proper questions to ask, and that he, in fact, knew better than they what the questions were.
This is what has happened with many of the so-called prophecies that are meant to prove Jesus is the Messiah. Not only are the fulfillments unverified and unverifiable, the prophecies are not legitimately prophecies regarding the Messiah. For the sake of brevity, I will not rehash all of these; they have been discussed at length. But it is clear, for example, that Isaiah 7:14 is not a prophecy regarding the Messiah. Hosea 11:1, which Matthew makes out to be a prophecy about the Messiah being called out Egypt, is about Israel. Moreover, it is not predictive, but refers to the past. Likewise, John 13:18 makes the betrayal of Jesus out to be a fulfillment of Ps. 41:9, which is also not about the Messiah. Missionaries make long lists of prophecies of which Jesus is supposed to have fulfilled. However, the great majority of them are not Messianic prophecies.
And if a prophecy when read is not clearly referring to the Messiah, and if it was not verifiably fulfilled by Jesus, then it is not a proof of his Messiahship at all; nor can it be.
It is at this point that the missionary will be like our doctoral candidate. He will argue that he has a special insight into the material and is best suited to declare what is a Messianic prophecy and what is not. He will argue that those judging his claims just do not understand the prophecies the way that he does, but that they are indeed proofs of the highest magnitude. The missionary becomes the apologist, no longer trying to give evidence of the Messiahship of Jesus, but evidence that his reading of scripture is the superior one.
But wait! One of the certifying board notices that one of the questions has been scribbled out. This question is partially faded. It is one of those added to the exam by the candidate. The whole experience has been rather irregular, and this attempted erasure is only more bizarre. The member of the board inquires why this question was first added and then subtracted from the exam questions. In response, the candidate begins sweating and stammering. He says that they should not even review this question, because he had obviously not intended them to see it. It would not be fair for them to review the question.
This has been the response of some missionaries to the refutation of Zechariah 13:6. Missionaries, such as Sid Roth, once used this passage as proof that Zechariah prophecied about Jesus. The verse, quoted alone, sounded rather Christological to the missionary, particularly: “What are these wounds in your hands?” After it was pointed out to them that this was written about false prophets, they stopped employing the passage, of course. They tried to sweep the whole thing under the rug. They tried to erase that exam question.
But the question must be asked: On what principle did they at first accept and then reject this as a prophecy about Jesus? The answers are obvious and need little explanation. They thought it was about Jesus, because superficially it sounded like him. Wounds in hands? That sounds like the nails that pinned Jesus to the cross! Afterward, they changed their tune, because the context of the passage would make Jesus to be a false prophet. It is the context of the passage that told them that the verse they quoted was not about the Messiah and would make the missionary wish to no longer associate the passage with Jesus.
Yet the missionary ignores the context of the verse in question in those other questionable passages. Hosea 11:1 is about Israel, not the Messiah. He applies it to Jesus anyway. Psalm 41 is about a man that has sinned, but the missionary applies v. 9 to a Jesus he holds to be sinless. Isaiah 7:14 is about a child born hundreds of years before Jesus, but the missionary applies it to Jesus anyway. In these cases, and many others, the context of the ‘fulfilled prophecies’ shows them not to be Messianic altogether. Based on the same principle that turned the missionary away from Zechariah 13:6, these others cannot be proofs used to substantiate Jesus. It is apparent that the missionary is playing a game. He is perpetrating a fraud. He knows that context matters to understanding a verse, but he only applies this principle when it suits him.
The next question that one must ask is: If Jesus was the Messiah, why must a fraud be perpetrated to establish his credentials? This answer, too, is obvious. The missionary abuses scripture to establish Jesus credential because insufficient evidence exists. Invisible proofs are not proofs at all. A secondary method to establish Jesus’ credentials was desired. They would declare him to fulfill prophecy. However, Jesus did not fulfill any Messianic prophecies, things like building the third temple. New prophecies must therefore be manufactured. To do so, verses would need to be taken out of context. The Church would need to fake Jesus credentials.
The fact that the Church needed to perpetrate such a fraud tells one all he needs to know. He can rest assured that Jesus is not the Messiah. If he had been, no need to misrepresent Tanach would exist. A little scrutiny of the Christian case for Jesus shows the proofs to be all hollow, mere nothingness. Some of the supposed proofs must be accepted on faith, denying their ability to prove anything, like the resurrection. Other proofs were based on fraud, which are easily exposed with a little study. All those things meant to establish Jesus as the Messiah, when exposed to the bright light of truth, evaporate as the dew evaporates under the warm sun.
Well done, Jim. Your wordiness is to be greatly commended :).
And I loved and savored each and every word!
Thank you, Alan!
Brother Jim, i appreciate this extensive writings. Your illustration of “invisible ink” has something to do with the prophecy of Isaiah 6:9-10? The certifying board could not and would not accept it, yes. That was God’s intention and Yeshua fulfilled the prophecy by teaching the truth in parables (Matthew 13:10-17). Otherwise, all the certifying board would not have delivered Yeshua on the cross. Paul explains this, “But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” (1 Corinthians 2:7-8).
I believe that Jews and Chrisitans are brothers and sisters, and they are used in the providential plan of God for the redemption of the world.
Gean Guk Jeon,
Thank you for your response. I think it is a very telling one. Underlying your response is an implicit admission that one has no good reason to believe on Jesus.
If such good reason existed, you would not be making excuses. You would instead demonstrate how Jesus did fulfill such and such a prophecy. You would instead demonstrate that the resurrection is a reliable proof. These things you cannot do. Indeed, the NT itself, testifies that Jesus did not show himself publicly after the resurrection. The NT shows, though unintentionally, that Jesus was not a prophet and that no one should heed him.
Instead of demonstrating the legitimacy of Christian claims, you have attempted to excuse their failures. In so doing, you nullify the Torah. The Torah gives means for identifying a prophet. This test you have ignored. By excusing Jesus’ failure of the test, you have made the test meaningless. You have effectively discarded that part of Torah.
In this sense, one can see that Jesus did not fulfill God’s Word. If he had done so, you would not have to void those parts that contradict your theology. You would not have to ignore the tests of a prophet established by the Torah. And, you would not need to offer any excuses on Jesus’ behalf.
Similarly, if Jesus was in the Jewish Bible, as the Christian says, you would not need to find an excuse why the Jewish people did not see him in there. For example, one can demonstrate clearly that Isaiah 7:14 has nothing to do with the Messiah and is not about a virgin birth. The Christian, who holds that this is a prophecy of Jesus, should be able to demonstrate the opposite, that this prophecy is about Jesus and not [only] a child born hundreds of years prior. He cannot merely claim that the reason the Jewish people do not see Jesus in the prophecy is because God did not want them to see it, that he closed their ears and blinded their eyes. In so doing, the Christian has admitted that he can bring no such demonstration. He has not established the validity of his claim.
And it seems that the FAITH which Yeshua showed and taught and the FAith in Hebrew 11 should be considered in your view of Christian faith.
What kind of Faith did he showed, if he is himself god? Yeshua does not show faith and trust in G-d, if he is god (part thereof)
You are right, brother! If we say Jesus is God (which the N.T. never even mentions), then he trust in himself.
Then he suicided and then God died…
Both Jews and Christians need to heed what the Scriptures (hope you will include N.T. too) Plainly says.