Imagine a little kitten. It is entirely possible for a person to find some positive feelings in his or her heart towards this kitten. Now, if someone were to encourage you to engender a positive feeling in your heart toward our kitten and place these positive feelings at the very center of your life. You are being encouraged to submit yourself in complete and total devotion to this baby cat. You are told that this kitten is the fourth person in the god-head and that it is a living incarnation of Jesus. You are further told that all of your love and devotion to Jesus is meaningless if you don’t live your life for this kitten.

I would guess, that as a Christian, you would have some serious philosophical, theological and Scriptural objections to this suggestion. I would further guess, that none of these objections would be mitigated in the slightest if you were told that in some mysterious way, this kitten and Jesus are one and the same.

But more importantly you would have a devotional objection. As a Christian you would say that Jesus is already the center of your life and that you lack nothing in the Trinitarian god that you worship. You would say that your relationship with the divine is complete and that there is nothing that your god is missing that a relationship with this kitten could supply.

If one of the followers of the kitten were to tell you that if you give your heart to the kitten you will become a greater messenger for Jesus, you will find a deeper assurance of your right standing for eternity and that your relationship with Jesus will be greatly enhanced, would you feel that he answered your devotional question? Or would you say that this follower of the kitten has no clue about what you feel in your heart toward Jesus?

P.S. Was David missing anything with God?

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Yisroel C. Blumenthal

Posted in The Ultimate Truth | 28 Comments

Heart of a Relationship

1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources

Heart of a Relationship

Christians contend that Jesus was a manifestation of God. They compare Jesus to the fire of the burning bush that Moses saw at Horeb (Exodus 3:4), to the pillar of cloud that led the Israelites in the wilderness (Exodus 13:21), and to the Angel of the Lord that appears throughout the Jewish Scriptures (Exodus 23:20; Judges 6:12; Isaiah 63:9).

This argument is rooted in a misunderstanding of the relationship that the Jewish people share with God. The relationship between God and Israel includes many activities that are ancillary to the essence of the relationship. The essence of the relationship is God’s love for Israel and Israel’s love and reverence for God. As expressions of His love, God guides His people, He speaks to their prophets, and he protects them from their enemies. As expressions of Israel’s heart for God we offer sacrifices, we build a Temple…

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The Real Jewish Messiah – Full Debate

Posted in Messiah, Response to Dr. Brown Line of Fire, Videos | 8 Comments

Assessment and Rebuttal

Assessment of the Debate between Rabbi Blumenthal and Dr. Brown on the Real Jewish Messiah

This essay is not a rebuttal to Dr. Brown’s third video. I will be doing that in a separate article which is posted below. At this time I just want to share two observations with you. I would like to articulate and bring to light certain themes that emerged from this debate.

Allow me to remind you of the context and the history of this debate.

Between the years 2000 and 2010 Dr. Brown published a 5 volume series entitled “Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus.” In this series Dr. Brown presented many arguments against Judaism and in support of Christianity. I responded to Dr. Brown’s series with a string of my own writings. Contra Brown, 2007, The Elephant and the Suit, 2010, and Supplement to Contra Brown in 2011. In these articles I expose the flaws inherent in Dr. Brown’s Answering Jewish Objections.

Dr. Brown has publicly declared that he would respond to the first 2 articles in writing, but he has not lived up to his word. Instead when I and others challenged him to respond to my refutation he responded by challenging me to a live debate. I refused to engage Dr. Brown in a live debate simply because I felt that the forum was is not conducive to education. I explained my position in an article entitled “Persuasion vs. Education.”

As time went by and Dr. Brown still hadn’t responded to the arguments that I had raised against his writings, I launched a video series entitled “Unanswered” in which I began to bring some of my arguments to the attention of a wider audience. Dr. Brown responded with some videos of his own, but again, his primary argument was that we engage in a live debate.

This “response” made no sense to me. If Dr. Brown truly had concise and cogent answers to my arguments why then would he need the forum of a live debate in which to present them? Why not just share them with the public in writing? Why not share them with the public in video lectures?

But in order to meet Dr. Brown and engage him on his own terms I offered a compromise. This 6 part virtual debate has some of the elements of a live debate in that each of us has an opening presentation, a rebuttal and closing statements each of which we presented without previously knowing what our opponent would say. It also has the advantage, in that each of us had time to consider our words before putting them out to the public. Dr. Brown accepted my proposal and you now have the 6 segments of the debate before you.

What did Dr. Brown teach us in the 3 segments that were allotted to him? Dr. Brown spoke for an hour, what arguments did he bring to the table? How did he respond to the arguments that I have raised?

Although he crammed many Scriptural citations in his first 2 presentations, he still didn’t present anything new. Almost every argument that Dr. Brown presented in parts 1 and 2 of this debate were already presented in his 5 volume book and were already addressed in my critique of his work.

It is in the third and final segment that Dr. Brown presents arguments that aren’t present in his book. These arguments consist of a critique of my handling of this debate. He accuses me of devoting less than 2 minutes to an argument that he believes I should have spent more time addressing, he points out that I didn’t address every one of his points in the time allotted to me, he argues that by introducing the issue of Israel’s trust in God I have thereby violated the rules of the debate and he accuses me of engaging in debating tactics.

These are the long awaited “answers” that Dr. Brown has been waiting to share with the public. And now we know why Dr. Brown needs the forum of a live debate. His “answers” don’t work in any other forum. It is clear that Dr. Brown has no response to my critique of his writings. His challenge to engage in a live debate is simply a smokescreen to hide the emptiness of his position.

This was the first accomplishment of this debate.

However, I think the second accomplishment is far more significant. It actually brought out into the open just how far Dr. Brown’s position is from Scriptural reality.

In the course of this debate Dr. Brown did his best to present the Christian viewpoint on the Messiah and I tried to present the Jewish perspective. As I watched Dr. Brown’s third presentation I realized that he simply doesn’t understand the Jewish position on Messiah. In his mind, the Jewish understanding of Messiah is nothing but the inverse of the Christian understanding of Messiah. In other words, Dr. Brown’s perception is that the Jewish view of the Messiah consists of all of the Jewish refutations to the Christian narrative. But Dr. Brown fails to understand that there is a positive Jewish understanding of the Messiah that is completely unrelated to Christianity.

Consequently, Dr. Brown expected my presentation to consist of the Jewish interpretation of all of the Scriptures that he had quoted in his effort to support his position. And when my presentation did not conform to his preconceived notions he feels that I have abused the setting of the debate. He seems to sincerely believe that I only introduced the question of the adequacy of Israel’s trust in God as a “debating tactic,” to deflect the conversation to a subject unrelated to the Messiah, which was the agreed upon topic of debate.

This is astounding. In presenting this argument Dr. Brown has demonstrated that his understanding of the Messiah is light years away from Scriptural reality.

Dr. Brown acknowledges that King David is representative of the Messiah. It is for this reason that Dr. Brown finds the need to associate the concept of vicarious atonement with David, and he does so by misrepresenting a handful of Scriptural passages. Yet at the same time Dr. Brown would have us disassociate the concept of trusting in God from the subject of Messiah. There is no concept more deeply associated with David than is the concept of trust in God. In Psalm 69 verse 7 we find that David turns to God praying that he live up to the task of vindicating Israel’s trust in God. David saw his mission of vindicating trust in God as something larger than himself. This is aside from the dozens of scriptural references which testify how vindication of trust in God is so deeply connected with the advent of the Messianic era (Isaiah 12:1,2; 25:3,4,9; 34:8; 40:9,31; 41:13,14; 45:14; 49:23; 50:7-9; 60:14; 62:1,2,11; 66:14; Micah 7:16; Psalm 22:25; 44; 46:12; 69:34; 83:19; 97:8; 102:18; 148:14).

If Dr. Brown finds the concept of vindicating trust in God foreign to the mission of his Messiah then he has told us in so many words that his Messiah has nothing to do with the Messiah of the Jewish Scriptures.

I will repeat this simply because it is so foundational. Just imagine if you were to walk into a bookstore looking for a biography of King David. You scan the bookshelf and two titles catch your eye; “vicarious atonement” and “trust in God.” Which of these two would you assume is the biography of King David? Who is the King David of the Jewish Scriptures? What is his primary mission? Is it vicarious atonement? Or is it perhaps vindicating Israel’s trust in God?

It is clear that vindicating Israel’s trust in God is what King David is all about. And if Dr. Brown can’t see what Israel’s trust in God has to do with a discussion about the Messiah then he did not begin to hear what the Bible has to say about the Messiah.

I will make one more point for the sake of definition, this is a dictionary point. Throughout my presentation I stated that every cause for trust and worship resides with God and with God alone. If you are a Jew it is clear to you that God and Jesus are two different entities. But for Christians these two entities may be intertwined in your mind as if they are one. So I will take a few minutes of your time just to help you see things in a different light.

Let me illustrate by way of a story. Late one night, I found myself working in my study, everyone in my family was already sleeping. I heard a knock on the door. Wondering who it might be so late at night I opened the door to find a kind looking old man. The fellow wanted a few words with me so we sat down on the couches in the living room and we struck up a conversation. At some point, without warning, the man stood up, positioned himself right in front of me and announced that he is an incarnation of the Creator of heaven and earth and if I do not offer a prayer to him then I am in essence rejecting the God of my fathers. I told the man that I would be very uncomfortable offering a prayer to him but I would be more than happy to go into my study, close the door behind me and offer up a prayer to the One Creator of heaven and earth. If this will satisfy him, then fantastic. And if it won’t satisfy him, then he has told me in so many words that he is not the Creator of heaven and earth.

If you are a Christian and you believe that Jesus is an incarnation of the One Creator of heaven and earth, then why do you see a need to convert Jews who pray to the One Creator of heaven and earth? And if you recognize that Jews are not praying to Jesus then you should also recognize that God and Jesus are two separate entities, they are not “one and the same.”

Allow me to provide another illustration. The Christian Scriptures tell us that Jesus prayed, that he worshiped God. Who was Jesus praying to? Was he praying to himself? I do not believe that any Christian would hold such a position. Christians would agree that Jesus prayed to what they call “God the Father,” the first person in the “godhead.”

My question is simply this. If “God the Father” is an adequate and complete God for Jesus then why is He not enough for you?

Let me illustrate this from a different angle. I am sure that you have heard of Unitarian Christians. These are people who believe that Jesus was a great teacher, a great prophet, the promised Messiah, a vicarious atonement but these people believe that he was not divine. There are two separate attractions pulling at the heart of the Unitarian Christian. On the one hand there is God, Creator and sustainer of all existence. And on the other hand there is Jesus who pulls at the Unitarian’s heart as a human hero.

Now imagine if this Unitarian were to become a Trinitarian. What would happen to this Unitarian’s love for Jesus? Will it simply disappear? No, not at all. He will simply elevate that love to the level of complete surrender that is appropriate toward God and tell himself that Jesus and God are in some mysterious way “one and the same.”

Or imagine if a Trinitarian would want to become a Unitarian. Would this Trinitarian need to develop a new love in his heart toward Jesus? Would he have to find a new attraction to connect his heart to Jesus? Of course not! All he will have to do is take that same love that he already has toward Jesus and downgrade it from total surrender to a level that is appropriate toward a human hero but he won’t have to invent a new love.

This clearly illustrates that the attraction that God has for the human heart and the attraction that Jesus has for the human heart are two different attractions.

And if you open the book of Psalms, the book in which David opened his heart you will find David’s love for God. You will hear the joy that David found in God. And you will find how David saw it as the mission of his life to articulate and to bring to life the truth that the God that he loved is the only God that your heart needs.

Additional Notes and Rebuttal to Part 3

1. Prayer for enlightenment

Dr. Brown begins his presentation by encouraging his listeners to pray to God for enlightenment. I second the motion. It is always necessary to pray for guidance. However, I would offer a word of caution. If God is in middle of speaking to you and you close your ears to His words and you begin praying for guidance, you can be sure that your prayer will not be answered. King Solomon taught us that one who turns his ears from hearing Torah (guidance), his prayer will be considered an abomination (Proverbs 28:8).

God is talking to us through His Scriptures. If we sincerely pray for God’s guidance we will not close our ears to His holy word.

2. List of “crimes”

Dr. Brown provides us with a list of “crimes” that he claims I committed in the course of this debate.

a) He tells us that I failed to address “key issues.”

My response to this accusation is simply, says who? The whole question of this debate is what are the key issues that the Scripture associates with the Messiah? He did not address many of the issues that I raised. Not only did he not address them in these 3 twenty minute segments. But he did not address them in the 1500 pages of his 5 volume series.

If I would have spent time responding to every one of his arguments, arguments that I had taken the time to refute in writing, I would have not had time to talk about the real Jewish Messiah.

b) He tells the audience that I admitted that he was “right” about something.

He is referring to my statement that Isaiah 53 is not referring to the fullness of the nation, but rather to those who trust in God. Dr. Brown chooses to read my words as if I accept that the text can in no way refer to the nation and he is assuming that I say so because of the arguments that he presented against this reading of Isaiah 53 (the reading which has it referring to the nation as a whole).

This is simply false. I never said that it cannot be referring to the nation. I simply said that the explanation that I favor is the one that sees the servant as the righteous of Israel. I believe that there is nothing in the text which absolutely precludes the nation as a whole from being the servant and that it is a viable interpretation. It is just that I feel that the interpretation which is closest to the simple reading of the text points to the righteous as opposed to the whole nation. Furthermore, the reason that I believe that the righteous are the ones the prophet is referring to as opposed to the nation has nothing to do with the reasons that Dr. Brown uses to argue against the national interpretation. I said that the word “servant” would denote someone who is in a special position of servitude to God. This would better apply to the righteous of Israel than to Israel as a whole. (The word “servant” also better applies to someone who sees himself as subservient to God as opposed to someone who sees himself as equal with God.) But it could still apply to Israel in the sense that they have generally avoided idolatry as a nation for the past 2000 years.

Dr. Brown has simply misrepresented my position showing no regard for the truth and no respect for the audience.

c) Dr. Brown claims that I deflected the discussion to a subject other than the agreed upon topic of debate.

I will address this accusation below (point # 4).

d) Dr. Brown claims that I ignored a “mountain of evidence.”

I find this claim amazing. Dr. Brown knows full well that I have not “ignored” his “evidence.” I articulated clearly and explicitly why his “evidence” is meaningless. I did not choose to fill my time refuting his arguments because they have been refuted already. Instead I chose to focus the time that was allotted to me in this debate to speak about the real Jewish Messiah. It is Dr. Brown’s “evidence” that is the distraction from the agreed upon topic of debate.
In point of fact, it is Dr. Brown who is ignoring a mountain of evidence. My critique of his 5 volume series contains much evidence that exposes his theology as false. Dr. Brown has simply ignored all of this evidence. Even in the context of this debate he has ignored the arguments that I have raised against his interpretation of Isaiah 53. (I cited 4 textual indicators that help us see that the servant is Israel (or the righteous of Israel). Dr. Brown simply ignored them.) Instead of responding with substance, Dr. Brown accuses me of “ignoring” the “evidence.”

e) Dr. Brown complains that I devoted not a syllable to his argument that the Messiah must appear before the destruction of the Second Temple.

I devoted pages of writing to refute this empty argument. I refused to be lured off topic in a debate that is focused on the real Jewish Messiah.

f) Dr. Brown argues that I fail to tell the audience that the arguments that work against the interpretation of Isaiah 53 which sees the servant as Israel also work against the interpretation that sees the servant as the righteous of Israel.

This accusation is a flimsy smoke-screen. Dr. Brown himself gives separate reasons why the servant cannot be Israel as a whole (because they are sinful) and why he cannot be the righteous of Israel (because their suffering did not bring blessing to the nations).

g) Dr. Brown claims that I quoted Scripture out of context.

Dr. Brown does not substantiate this accusation in the time allotted to him. I imagine that it is my reference to Isaiah 26:2 where the prophet calls Israel righteous that he is referring to. I quoted that verse to prove that the word “tzadik,” “righteous,” does not mean perfect sinlessness. Dr. Brown responds by arguing that it is referring to Israel in the Messianic era and not to Israel in exile.

My response to this “counter-argument” is that it makes no difference for the point I was trying to make. When the prophet entitles Israel with the word “tzadik” it cannot refer to sinless perfection no matter which point in Israel’s history the prophet was thinking about. So Dr. Brown’s accusation is baseless.

In any case, the prophet is telling us that when the nations see Israel in the Messianic age they will praise them for the loyalty to God that Israel maintained in exile.

h) Dr. Brown claims that I falsely accuse him of “filling in gaps” when he provided a systematic Scriptural basis for his theology.

For the purpose of definition, let me explain. “Filling in gaps” means teaching “trust in the Messiah” when the Scriptures never said a word about this. “Filling in gaps” means claiming that there is no forgiveness for sin without a blood offering when the Scriptures breathed not a word about this. “Filling in gaps” means claiming that a new election is established based on loyalty to the Messiah when Scripture said nothing about this. “Filling in gaps” means preaching worship of a man as part of a trinity when the Scriptures clearly prohibit such behavior in the plainest terms.

i) Finally, Dr. Brown accuses me of failing to “realize” what the priests do.

I did not fail to realize what the priests do. What I did say is that when the Scripture entitles someone with the title “priest” there is no logical way to jump from there and end up with “vicarious atonement.” And if the only connotation of priest is “vicarious atonement” then the nation of Israel would have to serve as a vicarious atonement as well.

3. Did Dr. Brown claim that Israel’s trust is misplaced?

Dr. Brown complains to the audience that I accused him falsely. I said that his theology would have us believe that Israel’s trust in God is inadequate and incomplete. He claims that he never said that. He tells us that he judges no one’s love for God.

Dr. Brown did not use the words “Israel’s trust in God is misplaced” but that is his whole point. In his first presentation he described Israel’s rejection of his Messiah as a rejection of God, the “greatest sin.” In his second presentation he asked the audience to “put their trust in the Messiah.” And he spent time describing how his vision of the Messianic era has him looking forward to a time when Israel shamefully “repents” for rejecting Jesus.

It is clear that Dr. Brown wants us to put our trust in his Messiah. Not the type of trust that we have for human beings, such as teachers and prophets but the type of trust that we have for God. But Israel believes that they know where that trust belongs and it is not Jesus. Not only do we believe that we know where our trust belongs but we see that knowledge as the center of our covenant with God. The Jewish vision of the Messianic era sees Israel’s testimony on this matter confirmed to the eyes of all who disagree with her. Dr. Brown’s vision of the Messianic era is the precise opposite.

4. Is the subject of Israel’s trust in God peripheral to the debate about the Messiah?

Dr. Brown argues that I only introduced the subject of Israel’s trust in God as a “debating tactic.” According to Dr. Brown this concept does not belong in a debate about the Jewish Messiah.

With this accusation Dr. Brown has in so many words conceded that his position is the polar opposite of what the Messiah of Scripture stands for. King David is all about vindicating Israel’s trust in God. And the Scriptures spell out that this vindication is a central goal of the Messianic age (Isaiah 49:23; Micah 7:16; Psalm 22:25; 69:34; 83:19; 102:18).

5. Did I introduce a “false dichotomy” when I separated faith in Jesus from faith in God?

Dr. Brown tells us that he puts his faith in one God and that when I point out that he trusts in Jesus aside from God I have introduced a “false dichotomy” because Jesus and God are one and the same, or so says Dr. Brown.

Jesus and God are clearly not one and the same. One is the Creator of heaven and earth and the other is but one of God’s subjects. It is Dr. Brown and the Church-men who have introduced a false trinity in their desire to justify their devotion to Jesus.

6. Do I apply a “double standard” when I discourage trust in Jesus but promote trust in the sages?

Dr. Brown accuses me of applying a double standard. On the one hand I argue against trust in Jesus but in my own life I trust in the sages, the teachers of Israel.

This analogy is invalid. No traditional Jew would attribute divinity to the teachers of Israel. We recognize that they are human beings and the trust that we have in them is simply the trust that is appropriate for human beings. But the trust that Dr. Brown is demanding for Jesus is the type of trust that is only appropriate toward the divine.

7. Which trust of Israel will be vindicated at the end of the age?

Dr. Brown acknowledges that Israel’s trust in God will be vindicated in the Messianic age. However he claims that it is only the trust that Israel comes to after they recognize their “mistake” in rejecting Jesus.

With this argument Dr. Brown has admitted that he believes that Israel’s trust in the One Creator of heaven and earth is inadequate and incomplete. All of his protestations notwithstanding, this is his position. According to Dr. Brown it is only trust in God together with Jesus that is deserving of vindication. Trust in God alone is not good for Dr. Brown.

But it is clear from the prophets that Israel’s trust in God that was maintained during the dark years of exile is the trust that will be vindicated. Micah 7 clearly describes Israel suffering in exile, yet trusting in God and that very trust is vindicated to the consternation of her enemies (Micah 7:9,10). Isaiah describes Israel’s joy at the time of her redemption and he tells us that Israel will exult with the words: “this is the God we had been hoping to” (Isaiah 25:9). Clearly it is the God that Israel hoped for in their time of trouble who will be exalted on that day and no one else. Psalm 102 describes the Messianic era as a response to Israel’s prayer in exile (verses 14-21). The entire book of Psalms is all about trust in God and in God alone and David’s message is that this trust is complete and adequate.

Dr. Brown’s claim which requires Israel to trust in Jesus before their faith can be vindicated flies in the face of the entire Messianic portrait painted by the prophets of the Jewish Scriptures.

8. Did Isaiah say anything about “believing in” the servant?

Dr. Brown claims that the words in Isaiah 53:1: “who has believed our report,” teach us that we need to “believe in” the servant described in Isaiah 53.

This argument has no basis in reality. The prophet is telling us that the servant’s exaltation will come as such a shock to the onlookers that they will exclaim, this is so surprising, who would have believed it had they not seen it. This is about shock and consternation. This has nothing to do with “believing in” anyone or anything.

9. Can vicarious atonement be compared to the Sabbath candles?

Dr. Brown makes the argument that the same hierarchy of authority that tells the Jew to light the Sabbath candles also teaches the Christian the principles of vicarious atonement. In other words, it is the leaders of Israel who are authorized by the system authority set in place by God teach us about the Sabbath candles. So it is with the Christian says Dr. Brown, it is the authority of prophecy that is invested in Jesus that tells the Christian all the details of vicarious atonement.

Here Dr. Brown has admitted that his theology on vicarious atonement is not to be found in the Jewish Scriptures. It can only be accepted once one believes that Jesus was a valid prophet. But the same system of leadership that gave us the Jewish Scriptures (as well as the Sabbath candles) tells us that Jesus was not an authentic prophet.

10. Why do I “need” to “mislead” the listening audience?

Dr. Brown charges me with “misleading” the audience. After informing the viewers that I have “mislead” them, Dr. Brown then asks why it is that I “need” to mislead them? He is implying that I have no substantive arguments that are rooted in truth hence the “need” to “mislead.”

Dr. Brown condemns himself again. Let us recap this segment of the debate and we will see exactly who is misleading the audience.

In his first presentation Dr. Brown contrasts chapters 40 thru 48 in the book of Isaiah over and against chapters 49 thru 53. In 40 thru 48 the greater focus is on the people and in 49 thru 53 the focus is on the servant, or so says Dr. Brown. To quote Dr. Brown: “So, by the time Isaiah 52;13 is reached, the spotlight is on a person, not a people.”

I responded by pointing out that this is simply false. The prophet speaks of Israel over 150 times in the 4 chapters leading up to Isaiah 53 (chapters 49 thru 52).

Dr. Brown responds by taking one word of mine out of context and pretending that this word was my entire point. In paraphrasing Dr. Brown’s argument I said that he claimed that the prophet shifted his focus away from Israel and directed our attention “elsewhere.” Dr. Brown responds with righteous indignation that he never said that the prophet directed our attention “elsewhere.” He claims that Jesus is the heart and soul of Israel so my argument is “misleading.”

It is clear to anyone who followed this exchange that my point has nothing to do with the word “elsewhere.” I had demonstrated that Dr. Brown had misrepresented Scripture and Dr. Brown has no way to hide his error. So he invents an error and attributes it to me so he can accuse me of “misleading” the audience.

11. Did I argue against myself concerning Isaiah 53?

Dr. Brown again nitpicks on my words when I speak of the “national” interpretation. Dr. Brown argues that I had just supported the interpretation which sees the servant as the righteous of Israel and not the nation as a whole. So when I argue in favor of the “national” interpretation, Dr. Brown accuses me of arguing with myself.

For the record, when I say “national” interpretation I mean either the nation as a whole or the righteous from among the nation. I use the word “national” to denote a group as opposed to an individual.

12. Did I contradict myself when I point out that the prophet says that the theology of Isaiah 53 will not be fully understood until the servant’s exaltation?

I pointed out that the prophet says that the theology of the suffering servant will not be understood until the servant is exalted to the eyes of the nations. I then argued that it is unwise for one to base an entire theological construct (or an entire religion) on the theology of this passage.

Dr. Brown then turns around and asks how I can claim to understand this passage if I believe that it is not readily understood.

Dr. Brown does not dispute my contention that the prophet teaches that the theology of the passage is not readily understood. He does not explain how he could be confident that his interpretation is correct if the prophet tells us that this passage will not be fully understood until the exaltation of the servant. Instead, Dr. Brown wants me to explain how I know that my interpretation is correct.

I never insisted that my interpretation is correct. I just present the interpretation that I see as fitting with the text and the theology of the Bible. I do not need to insist that my interpretation is the only viable one. My theology does not stand or fall on the interpretation of Isaiah 53. Dr. Brown’s theology does. Dr. Brown does not tell us how he is so confident that his interpretation works. He does not tell us how he explains the textual indicators which tell us that the passage is referring to the nation (as a whole or the righteous). Instead he demands that I explain my confidence in the interpretation that I presented.

It seems that Dr. Brown is left with no arguments of substance, only raw audacity.

13. Why did I not “explain” the priestly role of the Messiah?

Dr. Brown complains to his audience that I spent less than 2 minutes speaking about the priestly role of the Messiah.

Dr. Brown fails to tell the audience that if I would have devoted 2 minutes to every point he raised in his first presentation, I’d still be talking. Dr. Brown is well aware of the time constraints of a timed debate and he packs in dozens of errors in the time allotted to him and then he demands that I spend at least 2 minutes refuting every one of his misrepresentations and all this in 20 minutes.

Dr. Brown fails to answer a question I asked him over 10 years ago. If the word “priest” in association with the Messiah “must mean “vicarious atonement” then what does the word “priest” tell us about Israel? He had 10 years to answer this question and all we get is a “challenge” to a debate.

It is obvious to one and all that Dr. Brown’s “challenge” to debate is simply a distraction. In the context of a live debate Dr. Brown can play the dishonest games that he attempted to play in our video debate. But he has no answer of substance.

The arguments that you have just read only deal with a fraction of the errors that Dr. Brown crammed into his 20 minute presentation. Dr. Brown’s misrepresentation of Deuteronomy 18, Isaiah 42, Isaiah 49, Isaiah 53, and Zechariah 12 have already been exposed in various articles on my blog. All in all I would say that the winner of this debate is the real Jewish Messiah. It is clear beyond doubt that the only arguments that Dr. Brown can mount against the Messiah of the Jewish Scriptures are arguments of smoke and mirrors, rhetoric and word-games, dishonesty and deception. Study this debate and I trust that you will find the real Jewish Messiah.

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Thank You
Yisroel C. Blumenthal

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1000 Verses - a project of Judaism Resources


  • The dissemination of untruths with the express purpose of defaming another person or a group of people.

The Christian Scriptures present a caricature of the Pharisees which is untrue. Here is a brief list of Christian definitions of the Jewish sect of Pharisees which is the forerunner of Orthodox Judaism. These definitions are based on the Christian Scriptures.

If you read the literature of the Pharisees, and there is quite a bit of it, you will realize that this caricature is a pack of lies.

You have two choices. You can accept the definition of the Pharisees presented by their own writings and you will then realize that the gospels have nothing to do with truth and a lot to do with petty hatred. Or you can accept the definition of the Pharisees presented by their theological opponents. But then I will ask you to…

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The Doctoral Candidate – a parable by Jim

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 that Jesus 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.

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Yisroel C. Blumenthal

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