10 Years without Christianity – Part 4

Hesedyahu: Hi again. I’m speaking with David Dryden, a man who left Christianity almost 10 complete years ago. Since it is coming to that 10th year anniversary, we thought this interview would be informative. So now we come to the nitty-gritty of this series. David summarized how he came to the point of questioning the messiahship of Jesus. So David, how did you approach the question of whether Jesus was the messiah or not?

David: After thinking about it, I realised there was only one way to prove whether Jesus was Messiah or not: he had to fulfil the criteria that the “old testament”, more properly the Jewish Bible, applied to whoever the Messiah was meant to be. That means that the Jewish Bible had to make clear statements that described either the person of the Messiah, what he would accomplish, and what would happen in his days. I had to deal with verses in their different contexts and, if possible, in the original languages.

Hesedyahu: But aren’t you ignoring the miracles that Jesus is said to have done? Or the wisdom he taught? What about the resurrection itself? Christians say that these set Jesus apart from anyone else and help establish the claim that he is Messiah.

David: I couldn’t use them as things that identify the messiah. I couldn’t use miracles because ancient magicians could do fantastic things and produce miracles. Just look at magicians of Egypt in the times of Moses. They could replicate a fair amount of what God allowed him to do. So magic or miracles can’t be the way to identify the messiah. We could be fooled by them. Even the new testament has Jesus saying that many false teachers would come doing miracles that would be so amazing. But they were false. That just shows that miracles can’t be the way find out who is messiah. And there seem to be many ways to trick the eyes and the mind that miracles can’t be the way to ascertain that someone is the messiah. This also disqualifies the resurrection as evidence of Jesus’ messiahship (or even the claim that Jesus is God, as some christians put forward).

Also wise teachings can’t prove that Jesus is the messiah. Even idiots can say smart things at time. And a good deceiver knows how to mix lies with truth in order to attract and keep his audience. So this can’t be what makes a person a messiah.

No, the only way for a person to know that anyone is the messiah is for him to match everything that is said about the messiah figure. It can’t be a partial fulfilment either because it is possible for any deceiver to fulfil a certain portion of the prophecies. And it would be that if whoever who fulfil some of the criteria says that the fact he fulfils some of the criteria makes him messiah, anyone else could use what that person has failed to do to disprove the idea. But it is not possible for someone other than the messiah to fit all of the criteria. So that’s why it must be that a person must fulfil all of the criteria of messiah to really be able to make the claim and have it stand.

Hesedyahu: So how did you find out what the Jewish Bible said about messiah?

David: I think I took a different approach other than just reading the Jewish Bible and trying to spot the criteria for messiah. I did two things.

1) I found out what the Hebrew term for “messiah” meant and how the Jewish Bible used it.

2) I had heard christians say that there were hundreds of prophecies in the Jewish Bible that pointed to Jesus as Messiah. So I looked for the most complete list of these prophecies and found a list of over 300 prophecies that are meant to point to Jesus. What I would do is read each of these prophecies in context and see if they really pointed to Jesus. My aim was to see if these passages, when read in their natural context without Jesus in mind, led a person to conclude that Jesus could be the only one to fulfil these criteria. It’s almost as if I had to answer the question: if I lived around the time of Jesus, having no previous allegiance to him, would I be convinced of his messiah claims?

By doing this I would no longer just be living the faith of my parents only because my parents and family believed it, but I would be doing it because I knew that God’s word, the Jewish Bible, had led me to that conclusion.

Hesedyahu: So what did you find out about what a messiah is?

David: The Hebrew word that became “messiah” is actually a word that sounds like “mo-shee-yakh” and is normally put into English by Jews as “moshiach”. It comes from a verb that means “to smear with oil” or “to anoint”. Thus the Hebrew word “moshiach” means “one who is anointed” or “an anointed one”. It is first used in Leviticus 4 to refer to the high priest who is called “the anointed priest” or “the moshiach priest”. And according to the Jewish understanding of the Torah, the oil that was a special one spoken of earlier in the Jewish Bible in the latter chapters of Exodus, the same oil used to consecrate the Tabernacle, the moveable temple. This was the same special oil that was used to anoint priests and, in times after the years of Moses, kings. Anyway, when you read the Jewish Bible, the word “moshiach” is clearly used for two sets of people: kings, especially kings that ruled politically over Israel or Judah or both, and Aaronic priests. Although there are some more metaphoric usages in the Jewish Bible, it’s important to focus on the literal understanding and usage of the word.

With regards to the kingship, because all of this is based on the land and nation of Israel, it is their sort of kingship that we are talking about it. And since King David, all kings of Israel and thus all “moshiachs” or “anointed rulers” have to be literally and biologically descended from King David. And based on all the chronologies in the Jewish Bible, that kingly lineage goes through the biological father. You’ll see in Genesis 5, 10, 11, Numbers 2, 1 Chronicles 1-3, that the most important link was that from father to biological son.

Hesedyahu: I can see by the look on your face that there’s already an issue.

David: Yeah, of course. Jesus never ruled Israel in any way that is comparable to the old moshiach kings (anointed kings). He didn’t rule like King Saul, King David, King Solomon. He didn’t even have an authority like the wicked kings of Israel and Judah. And he can’t be a Levitical priest based on the new testament, because it is adamant that Jesus is firmly linked to Judah, not Levi and Aaron, and had no biological human father and in order to be a Levitical priest, your biological father had to be a descendant of the Levites through his paternal lineage. In fact the same thing is true for any claim of Jesus being a “son of David”. He wasn’t, because his biological father wasn’t even human, much less a descendant of David.

Hesedyahu: David, you know that christians have many explanations for that. Some say the lineage went through the mother, Mary. Some say that Jesus was adopted and gained the kingly right that way. They have explanations for what you’ve just said.

David: And that’s the problem. It’s only because the simple biblical precedent that kingly right passes from biological father-to-son is totally ignored and eradicated by the new testament doctrine of the virgin birth that all of these “explanations” are needed. What was needed to fulfil the prophecy clearly was a biological father-son generational link from King David to Jesus. So at the very root of his claims, Jesus’ link to David is messed up.

So these other explanations don’t hold much weight. Again, the biblical precedent of father-to-son makes the claim of Mary’s lineage redundant. In fact no genealogy in the new testament clearly mentions the lineage of Mary, only that of Joseph. Again, the biological father-to-son link which is needed undermines the adoption idea because that would be an overt admission that Jesus was not the son of David according to biblical precedent. (These and other excuses are mentioned here is a bit more detail.)

Also, just think about it. I’m supposed to be thinking like someone living in Jesus’ time with no previous allegiance to him, only having his claims and the Hebrew Bible to go on. Why would I need to create “explanations”? They would only be needed if I were already convinced that he is the promised messiah for some other unbiblical reason. All these “explanations” would do more to show me that Jesus did not fulfil prophecy in a simple straight-forward and clear way, that someone was putting the cart before the horse, accepting the conclusion before the question was investigated.

But this still isn’t the death blow to the Jesus question. It is serious, but not the death blow. Because if the vast majority of the 300 prophecies could apply to him then the multitude could cover the one seeming contradiction. If those 300+ prophecies did actually point directly to Jesus then I would have a reason to think that maybe there was something hidden about his link to David. But that’s a big “if” as will be shown when we start talking about the 300+ so called messianic prophecies.

Hesedyahu: Problems already then. Hmmm …. it’ll be interesting to see what happened with those 300+ prophecies. But we’ll have to wait until next time. Thanks to anyone that reads this. Maybe we’ll see you in the next part of this “dialogue.” Enjoy your day.


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