Enjoy the Podcast
With Part 4 in our series on Messianic Prophecies and my “Jesus or Bust” circumstantial argument, we will focus on the timing of the Messiah’s mission- there are a few prophecies that speak of when the Messiah had to come, either to fulfill his mission in full or at least in part; the upper time-bound for this to occur came with the destruction of the Second Jewish Temple by the Romans in 70 A.D.!
Establishing the Argument- Jesus or Bust Part 4
Daniel 9:24-27 is another famous Messianic prophecies in Scripture that Christians like to claim can prove the precise year the Messiah would come (funnily enough there are ways to get it to 30 A.D. or 33 A.D. depending on which date you prefer for Jesus’ crucifixion). It says,
“Seventy aweeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city, to bfinish the transgression, to cmake an end of sin, to make atonement for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and dprophecy and to anoint the most holy place. 25 So you are to know and discern that from the issuing of a edecree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until fMessiah the Prince there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with gplaza and moat, even in times of distress. 26 Then after the sixty-two weeks the hMessiah will be cut off and have inothing, and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And jits end will come with a flood; even to the end kthere will be war; desolations are determined. 27 And he will make a firm covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of labominations will come one who mmakes desolate, even until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, is poured out on the one who nmakes desolate.” (NASB).
Now, let me be clear, I have no interest in getting bogged down with intricate and complicated details about the prophecy that are ultimately irrelevant to my establishing the undeniable fact (or at least uncontroversial fact to avoid any false charges of my being too arrogant here) that the Messiah would have to come before the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 A.D. and fulfill certain elements of his mission, either in full or in part (for example whether the text speaks of two anointed ones or Messiahs- I’m good either way).
Now, when was the prophecy supposed to begin (the terminus a quo of the prophecy)? We have a total of 5 different options (see Brown Vol. 3 p.106-107), but what is undeniable is that the counting of the 490 year period begins with “the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem” (and by implication its destroyed Temple). The prophecy very clearly speaks of certain things that will be accomplished (in full or in part) within that period of time which will culminate in the Messiah being cut off (meaning death in Hebrew idiom) and the destruction of the Second Temple thereby putting an end to sacrifice. One interesting note is that there is an authoritative ancient Jewish tradition that all modern Orthodox Jews accept that says 40 years prior to the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 A.D. that the scarlet cloth hung in the Temple each year on Yom Kippur which would turn white if their saccrfice was accepted by God, all of a sudden stayed red meaning their sins were not forgiven according to this tradition. Yet every single year for a period of 40 years prior to the destruction of the Second Temple it stayed red meaning their sins were not forgiven- interesting! What event could have happened in and around 30 A.D. that would mean their sacrifices would be rejected by God?
For thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘Once more hin a little while, I am going to shake the heavens and the earth, the sea also and the dry land. 7 I will shake all the nations; and ithey will come with the wealth of all nations, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the Lord of hosts. 8 ‘The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine,’ declares the Lord of hosts. 9 ‘The latter glory of this house will be greater than the former,’ says the Lord of hosts, ‘and in this place I will give peace,’ declares the Lord of hosts.” (Haggai 2:6-9- NASB).
This prophecy tells us that the “glory” of the Second Temple will be greater than the former house (First Temple of Solomon), but this is not a reference to physical splendor but to the divine presence of the Shekinah which filled the Tabernacle and former Temple. How could peace be appointed by God in the Second Temple. Christians can easily explain this, the glory of the Second Temple was greater than the First, because God Himself entered the Temple in the form of God the Son (i.e. Jesus). What other Jewish Messianic candidate from before the destruction of the Second Temple claimed to have fulfilled this prophecy in terms of God filling it with even greater glory than the First Temple’s glory which had the Shekinah (or divine presence within it and was notably missing in the 2nd Temple according to the Jewish people themselves- both ancient and modern Jews say this much about the 2nd Temple).
Well, I can only think of one; Jesus Christ as God Incarnate entered the Temple complex and thereby glorified it to a much greater degree than the former Temple!
Overall Conclusion- Messianic Prophecy Circumstantial Argument
In the end, when all is said and done, I still think that I have a ways to go in order to establish this argument as being a “G-Belief Authenticating Event”. I hope you have enjoyed the series as I was trying to be bold enough to break the deadlock and break new ground on a new angle to approach the evidence from Messianic prophecies rather than studying from the tired and tested methods that have been employed by others in the past. It’s always risky to try and think up something new for people to consider and as it must be admitted that several components or criteria for my argument from Jesus or bust in terms of it constituting a G-Belief Authenticating Event have simply had to be overlooked in this series due to the inherent limitations of blogs/Podcasts but I do believe I have established enough to show there is perhaps a foundational structure present in this type of nuanced argument using Messianic Prophecies as evidence, one by which others might invest some time to more fully flesh it out and dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s.
I think what has been established here, is that there are certain things we can know about the Jewish Messiah and his mission based on the prophecies presented thus far in this series and that so far as we have seen based on David’s critiques, no other claimant who came on the scene before the destruction of the Second Temple can boast to having such “known unfalsified claims” in fulfilling them; thus it does seem like the circumstantial case that we do indeed have a situation where it is “Jesus or bust” with regard to the Jewish Messiah.
Messianic Qualifications Discussed in Parts #1-4 (As I see it)
1) CONFIRMED: A Jewish descendant in the line of King David (Micah 5:2).
2) CONFIRMED: Born of a young woman of marriageable age (possibly also a virgin) (Isaiah 7:14).
3) CONFIRMED: Their birth would serve either as a “momentous” (non-mundane yet natural) and/or “supernatural” sign for the House of David/Israel that God is with them (Immanuel = “God with us”) (Isaiah 7:14).
- POSSIBLE: The Messiah would possibly be born in Bethlehem and/or at least be said to “come out of” Bethlehem- the latter interpretation is tantamount to saying he would be a descendant of David though, so not persuasive but yet possible if the former Christian understanding is correct) (Micah 5:2).
- POSSIBLE: The Messiah would have his origins in the days of olam – meaning the days of “eternity”. This hints at the Messiah’s possible divinity and/or pre-existence (prior to the birth of King David himself) (Micah 5:2).
- CONFIRMED: The Messiah would establish a new covenant with Israel not like the covenant that He made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, instead this time He will put His law within them and write it on their hearts. A covenant whereby He would forgive their iniquities and remember their sins no more- (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
- CONFIRMED (PARTIALLY PENDING ASSESSMENT IN PART 3): The Messiah would not just come for the people of Israel but would also be a “light to the Gentiles” and would bring about “salvation to the ends of the Earth” (Isaiah 49:6).
- CONFIRMED: The Messiah would be “pierced” (i.e. slain perhaps via crucifixion), and the Jews will mourn over Him (implying a Resurrection) before He would come back to save Israel from its enemies (Zechariah 12:10).
- CONFIRMED: The Messiah (aka the Suffering Servant) would suffer and die for the iniquities of us all, make his grave with the wicked and be buried with the rich and then rise from the dead (Isaiah 52:13-53). None of the counter falsification elements provided by David against this prophecy referring to Jesus have been convincingly argued on a balance of probabilities (imo).
- CONFIRMED: The Messiah had to come and fulfill his mission (either in full or in part) before the destruction of the Second Temple in 70 A.D.; and as a possible bonus, God would also glorify this Temple in a greater way than the First Temple via His own divine presence in the form of God the Son (aka. the Messiah) entering its precincts (Daniel 9 & Haggai 2).
PRO- CHRISTIAN SIDE- Michael L. Brown on Daniel 9 (2 30 min videos) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kf1f10pPcao & https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M5efUqXI33w . The greater glory in the 2nd Temple (Haggai 2 and Malachi 3) = https://www.youtube.com/watch?timecontinue=680&v=MwNklvcpK4U .
Plus an excellent 3-hour discussion on Messianic Prophecy from Dr. Michael L Brown with a Q&A from skeptical and other Christian experts like Sam Shamoun see here = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKAnY1ULEWc .
Also, for a list of all the Jewish objections to Jesus from his 5 volume book series on “Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus”- ranging from General & Historical Objections, Theological Objection, Messianic Prophecy Objections to New Testament and Traditional Jewish objections- this link has video resources for every objection Jewish people have ever come up with against Jesus Christ and Christianity, see here = http://realmessiah.com/index.php/en/answers .
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qY3yRdYt20o (THE PSALMS SO NOT DANIEL- BONUS???).
CONTRA-CHRISTIAN SIDE– See Rabbi Tovia Singer 1 hour audio on Daniel 9 = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjV4XSpUXWY .
Also short 10 minute video on Malachi 3 and Haggai 2 = https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SjV4XSpUXWY .
Now, as some of you skeptics have complained about my displaying a certain boastfulness or lack of humility in presenting these prophecies- a charge that honestly baffles me given how careful I have been to qualify my case in the Podcasts, nonetheless to show my acknowledgement of the fact that interpreting Messianic prophesies is not a simple or uncomplicated matter in general, I wanted to provide Dr. Michael L. Brown’s presentation of 7 basic principles of Messianic prophetic interpretation that, while they may appear obvious or simple, have taken the better part of 2 decades to develop and therefore deserve to be considered and not dismissed by skeptics and Christians alike.
- Messianic prophecies are never clearly identified as such in the Bible.
- The Messianic hope in Israel developed gradually (not fully formed in an immediately recognizable form as Jews believe in today).
- Most biblical prophecies in general are fulfilled gradually in this way as well.
- The prophets falsely saw the Messiah as coming on the immediate horizon of history (issue of prophetic telescoping).
- It is important to read Messianic prophecies (as with every prophecy in general) in light of its overall context.
- The Messiah’s role is two-fold- both a Priest and a King- ignoring one to focus on the other is always a mistake (as the Jews who focus exclusively on his Kingly function while ignoring the Priestly function altogether).
- The Messiah is the ideal representative of the Jewish people (i.e. the nation of Israel) and fulfills its purpose when it fails to do so.
With these basic principles combined, you will be able to properly wade through many of the varying interpretations offered by Jews and skeptics alike and see the truth behind the curtain- Jesus is our Messiah!
Other Messiahs (Skeptic’s View)
There are a number of questions we have to answer to utterly defeat Dale’s case. He has had most of four weeks to make it. So forgive me if I don’t cover every point, or even most of them. I will spend most of my efforts making my own case. much of my case will be fleshed out in the links and sources.
There is a lot of terribly boring reading. I don’t necessarily recommend it. But if you really care, dive in. I will try to make the case simple enough so that the reading is unnecessary. You can get there from common knowledge and logic. Here we go.
Timing is not an issue
Dale’s big finale is that this messiah must appear before the destruction of the temple. That means that the messiah could not be referring to someone from the future. But we know that there must be some future aspect to the messiah because the fulfillment of the prophecies have not come. So in effect, we are still waiting for the messiah.
The best Dale can say is that some messiah figure got things started at some point before the second temple. But he cannot rule out the idea that another messiah figure will come along and actually fulfill the rest of the prophecies.
The two messiah theory makes hash of Dale’s case. That is because Dale suggests that the messiah is Jesus or no one. But the two messiah theory requires there be someone besides Jesus. Even if Jesus is one of them, someone else would have to be the other. So Dale has to argue that the two messiah theory is completely wrong. And he can’t do it.
There is also the aspect that Jesus came as the first messiah, and will reprise his messianic role at a later date since he rose from the dead. But every other dead messiah candidate could also rise from the dead and reprise their role and fulfill the rest of the prophecies. So again, there is nothing specific to Jesus with regard to these claims.
While I utterly reject Dale’s timing argument for reasons I don’t have time to get into, I will limit my search for other messiahs to roughly the timeframe Dale provides. My job is still trivially easy. I can give you at least one is is said to have risen from the dead.
Jewish acceptance of messiah candidates
Dale would have you believe that only Christians rightly dividing scripture are qualified to say who is or is not a Jewish messiah. What the Christian rejects is the right of the Jew to say who meets the criteria, or even what that criteria happens to be.
I do not pretend that i can determine who the messiah has to be because I am not a Jewish rabbi. And I am far from an expert on Jewish prophecy. There are many aspects in play. And I am the master of none of them. Here is some of what I mean:
- I do not know ancient Hebrew. And even knowing ancient Hebrew would not make me an expert of Hebrew prophetic literature.
- I am not an expert of Hebrew apocalyptic imagery.
- I am not an expert of Hebrew numerology.
- I am not an expert in Hebrew orthodoxy.
- I am not an expert in Hebrew hermeneutics.
Let’s take a look at that last one for a moment. It is almost certain that ancient Jews interpreted their scriptures by different rules than modern Christians. One of the ways Christians interpret Jewish scripture is to suggest that all of the writings on a subject have to be considered rather than just one or two.
We tend to make a list of every messianic passage, and list all of the attributes associated with the messaging. Then we look for one person that fulfills the entire list. I am pretty sure that is not how most Jews did the job. They might look at one prophecy. And if a person meets that criteria, they can be a messianic candidate.
The Christian also assumes that all prophets were on the same page and describing the same thing at all times. The Jew would not necessarily have made that assumption. As a reader of biblical literature, I certainly don’t. There is no reason to believe that Isaiah and Daniel had the same idea of who and what the messiah was supposed to be. So there is no reason to conflate their visions to create one person.
The Christian also makes the assumption that the messiah is one person. But the Jew does not. They might say there have been many messiahs over the years, with more to come. So ancient Jews had many reasons why they wouldn’t have accepted Jesus, but would have accepted many others as messiah. So we must take into consideration who the Jews considered as messianic candidates.
One more point before continuing: We assume we know what was actually messianic prophecy. A thing is not a messianic prophecy just because some Christians say it is. Jews include a lot of passages they call messianic that Christians do not. So even identifying what is or is not messianic prophecy is far from a done deal. Moving on…
Simon of Peraea and Judah
Simon was a slave of herod that took the crown after Herod’s death and gained many followers. Judah was also named a messiah. I only mention him because he taught much of the same message as Jesus before Jesus.
The interesting bit about Simon is that he was said to have risen from the dead after three days. This claim has been disputed. But the idea of a savior rising after three days was not original to Jesus. Simon had many followers who were crucified after they failed to overthrow Rome. This is the typical fate of all failed messiahs.
Simon bar Kokhba
While there is much written about bar Kokhba, the more interesting character might well be Rabbi Akiva: bar Kokhba’s John the Baptist. Akiva was known for many things. But he is perhaps best known as the father of modern rabbinic Judaism.
He cannot be passed over or hand-waived away as some kook with little knowledge of real Judaism, or what messianic expectations were all about. He did not see Jesus as a candidate. But he did see bar Kokhba as the messiah. The fact that he turned out to be wrong was irrelevant. The only point I need make is that bar Kokhba was candidate enough to convince people who knew the law the best.
It is not my intention to argue who the messiah was, or is, or may be in the future. I am simply arguing that credible, authoritative Jewish leaders near the time of Jesus found a number of candidates that met the Jewish criteria.
This is an important point: The Christian criteria fo the Jewish messiah is utterly irrelevant. The only thing that matters is the criteria that was relevant for Jews awaiting a messiah. From their perspective and understanding of Hebrew scriptures, Jesus didn’t qualify. And other people did. That is a problem Christians have to wrestle with if they want to claim that the only person who could be the messiah is one of the few people the Jews disqualified at that time.
Expanding the Timeline
The following video is the only thing you need to watch if you want to get your mind around just how complicated this issue is. This is rabbi Michael Skobac of Jews for Judaism. It is a 2 hour adventure through the 70 weeks passage in Daniel from the perspective of a Jewish Rabbi who is actually a Jew. If you don’t have a lot of time, skip to 1:40.00 and watch the last 13 minutes.
Not only does the video explain why Jesus cannot be the messiah, but why the messiah has to come after the destruction of the temple and not before. I have deep-dived into all of this, hopefully for the last time. And I have no intention of attempting to explicate the 70 weeks anymore than I would waste time trying to decipher any part of Revelation. Daniel 9 is of the same caliber as the fever dreams of Revelation. And you should not waste your time on it either.
What I can say is that Rabbi Skobac makes a lot of sense. Having talked to Dale behind the scenes about this, Dale assures me that Skobac is just wrong. Great! I declare Dale wrong. That gets us nowhere. Remember, I’m not trying to prove any particular theory. It serves me to have lots of competing theories where everyone declares everyone else wrong.
I only need to pose a possible, plausible theory that offers a different timeline opening up the possibility that the messiah Dale is looking for can be still in the future. This is in line with past and current Jewish thinking, and in keeping with Jewish scripture when rightly divided (at least from a Jewish perspective).
For Dale’s unique take to be correct, he must prove that all other theories are wrong. Needless to say, he cannot do that. We could devote the entire resources of this blog debating Jewish prophecy and religious relics like the shroud until the messiah comes, or returns. And we still would not make any headway.
This is my last word on the matter. We are officially closing the kook files.
And that is the view from the skeptic.
I have many more sources. But this is one of those occasions when I just don’t want you to waste you time on them. None of them prove anything. None of them represent the final authority. They just add to the endless noise of scholars wasting their lives debating things that cannot be resolved to anyone’s satisfaction. I am don’e with soothsayers and crystal balls for a while.