The Unimportance of the Virgin Birth (Repost – 2013)

Annunciation (greek icon)
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We have four gospels in the New Testament, but half of them mention the Virgin Birth (Matthew and Luke), and only at the announcement of that Birth. Further, that means only two books of the 27 in the New Testament mention the Virgin Birth. There is nothing beyond Matthew and Luke in the entire New Testament pertaining to the Virgin Birth (although Galatians 4.4 might allude to in a strictly Pauline way).

Why?

This is a pivotal prophecy – one which no Messiah could do with out. Granted the Jews believe that the Hebrew means ‘young woman’ and indeed, it very well may. (Of course, what great sign from God would be a young woman with child?) Of course the Septuagint’s Translators understood Isaiah to mean ‘virgin’. Even without the prophesy in Isaiah, we have the words of God in Genesis concerning the Messiah being of the seed of a woman (Genesis 3.15). The first mention of the Messiah concerns the Virgin Birth – yet, again, it is mentioned twice in the New Testament.

This point is used by scholars and liberal theologians to attack the Virgin Birth. But what is the answer? Why, if the Virgin Birth is so important to the Messiah, is it mentioned briefly, twice, in the New Testament?

The answer is simple. The great majority of Scripture was written by the Apostle Paul. He was not writing to unbelievers, but to long-established congregations. He was writing doctrine for the Church, not to the unbelievers. It was not Luke’s job in Acts to detail to the unbelievers prophesies of Christ, as his was the history of the Church. According to Papias,

Mark having become the interpreter of Peter, wrote down accurately whatsoever he remembered. It was not, however, in exact order that he related the sayings or deeds of Christ. For he neither heard the Lord nor accompanied Him. But afterwards, as I said, he accompanied Peter, who accommodated his instructions to the necessities [of his hearers], but with no intention of giving a regular narrative of the Lord’s sayings. Wherefore Mark made no mistake in thus writing some things as he remembered them. For of one thing he took especial care, not to omit anything he had heard, and not to put anything fictitious into the statements. Matthew put together the oracles [of the Lord] in the Hebrew language, and each one interpreted them as best he could.

We find that Mark is the preachings of Peter – Mark wrote as Peter preached. (This does not line up with the scholarly ‘Q’ source, but Papias is rather old.) John wrote his gospel to fill in the gaps, which is evident by his epilogue,

And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:30-31 NKJV)

So, John wrote what the others did not, and for a purpose, to declare without a doubt the deity of Christ. He started at the very beginning (John 1.1), before the Virgin Birth, but allude to the act of the divine in the birth (John 1.14).

Matthew wrote to a community, most likely of converts and unbelievers, as did Luke. Mark was transcripts of preaching; John had a different agenda of deity. Paul wrote to established congregations, to affirm their faith and to establish a continuing doctrine for the Church as did Peter, James, and Jude. It is not mentioned by Paul because it was unnecessary to to bring up such a basic principle of Christ for those Christians who were years removed from conversion.

The Virgin Birth was not the Evangelists’ way of exploring the uniqueness of Christ, nor was it a myth conjured from surrounding paganism. The indwelling of the Virgin by the Spirit (Breath) of God is the initial sign of the coming salvation. It is a real event, meaningful to the Jews as a sign of the Messiah. It was used to show that Christ was the promised Messiah, God with us, and indeed, to the Gentiles to show that He alone fulfilled the prophesies. Once past the miracles, as with Paul, it was necessary to build up sound doctrine that relied upon Tradition and Scripture. It was not that the Virgin Birth was unknown to Paul or refuted by Paul, but it was not Paul’s mission to those congregations, to relay the foundation of the truth of Christ.

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Bare Your Arm of Salvation, A Traditional Hanukkah Song – Repost 2012

English: Hanukkah lamp unearthed near Jerusale...

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This is a long standing repost. I hope to visit it later to clean it up, etc…

Sundown approaches, darkness will cover the earth, and Hanukkah will being – it promises to be a bitterly cold night in some parts of the United States and moderately cool in Jerusalem. Here is song (and if you click the link at the bottom, it will take you to site to hear it sung in Hebrew) traditionally song, at least since the 13th century.

The last stanza strikes me, for God has indeed shown us His arm

But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke:
“Lord, who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?” (John 12:37-38 NKJV)

Maoz Tzur

O mighty stronghold of my salvation,
to praise You is a delight.
Restore my House of Prayer
and there we will bring a thanksgiving offering.
When You will have prepared the slaughter
for the blaspheming foe,
Then I shall complete with a song of hymn
the dedication of the Altar.

My soul had been sated with troubles,
my strength has been consumed with grief.
They had embittered my life with hardship,
with the calf-like kingdom’s bondage.
But with His great power
He brought forth the treasured ones,
Pharaoh’s army and all his offspring
Went down like a stone into the deep.

To the holy abode of His Word He brought me.
But there, too, I had no rest
And an oppressor came and exiled me.
For I had served aliens,
And had drunk benumbing wine.
Scarcely had I departed
At Babylon’s end Zerubabel came.
At the end of seventy years I was saved.

To sever the towering cypress
sought the Aggagite, son of Hammedatha,
But it became [a snare and] a stumbling block to him
and his arrogance was stilled.
The head of the Benjaminite You lifted
and the enemy, his name You obliterated
His numerous progeny – his possessions –
on the gallows You hanged.

Greeks gathered against me
then in Hasmonean days.
They breached the walls of my towers
and they defiled all the oils;
And from the one remnant of the flasks
a miracle was wrought for the roses.
Men of insight – eight days
established for song and jubilation

Bare Your holy arm
and hasten the End for salvation –
Avenge the vengeance of Your servants’ blood
from the wicked nation.
For the triumph is too long delayed for us,
and there is no end to days of evil,
Repel the Red One in the nethermost shadow
and establish for us the seven shepherds.

Maoz Tzur – Texts and Prayers – Chanukah – Hanukkah.

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Hanukkah, biblically known as the Feast of Dedication – Repost 2012

English: Judas Maccabaeus was a Kohen and the ...

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Sun down this evening begins the Jewish celebration of Hanukkah, or Chanukah for the Jewish among us. It is a celebration in commemoration of the re-dedication of the Temple by the victorious armies of Judas Maccabeus, who had led the armies of Israel against the Hellenizing forces of Antiochus.

Early in the morning on the twenty-fifth day of the ninth month, which is the month of Chislev, in the one hundred and forty-eighth year, they rose and offered sacrifice, as the law directs, on the new altar of burnt offering which they had built. At the very season and on the very day that the Gentiles had profaned it, it was dedicated with songs and harps and lutes and cymbals. All the people fell on their faces and worshiped and blessed Heaven, who had prospered them. So they celebrated the dedication of the altar for eight days, and offered burnt offerings with gladness; they offered a sacrifice of deliverance and praise. They decorated the front of the temple with golden crowns and small shields; they restored the gates and the chambers for the priests, and furnished them with doors. There was very great gladness among the people, and the reproach of the Gentiles was removed. Then Judas and his brothers and all the assembly of Israel determined that every year at that season the days of dedication of the altar should be observed with gladness and joy for eight days, beginning with the twenty-fifth day of the month of Chislev. (1 Maccabees 4:52-59 RSVA)

Christ took this time (not to celebrate His birth, mind you) to attend the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem that year, and while spoke of His divinity,

It was now winter, and Jesus was in Jerusalem at the time of Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication. He was in the Temple, walking through the section known as Solomon’s Colonnade. The people surrounded him and asked, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”

Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name. But you don’t believe me because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.” (Joh 10:22-30 NLT)

It was here at the Feast of Dedication, or Hanukkah, which Christ faced the question – are you Christ? Are the Messiah that would restore Israel to her Kingdom? It was no doubt on the minds of the Jews in attendance (and perhaps some of the Romans) as it was the celebration which celebrated a restored sovereignty – but not complete because it was not David’s line that sat upon the throne – to Israel and a restoration of the Temple to the Holy One of Israel.

Early in the morning, as the congregation gather to hear the Reader, they would hear

Then this message came to me from the LORD:

“Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds, the leaders of Israel. Give them this message from the Sovereign LORD: What sorrow awaits you shepherds who feed yourselves instead of your flocks. Shouldn’t shepherds feed their sheep? You drink the milk, wear the wool, and butcher the best animals, but you let your flocks starve. You have not taken care of the weak. You have not tended the sick or bound up the injured. You have not gone looking for those who have wandered away and are lost. Instead, you have ruled them with harshness and cruelty. So my sheep have been scattered without a shepherd, and they are easy prey for any wild animal. They have wandered through all the mountains and all the hills, across the face of the earth, yet no one has gone to search for them.

“Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD:

As surely as I live, says the Sovereign LORD, you abandoned my flock and left them to be attacked by every wild animal. And though you were my shepherds, you didn’t search for my sheep when they were lost. You took care of yourselves and left the sheep to starve. Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD. This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I now consider these shepherds my enemies, and I will hold them responsible for what has happened to my flock. I will take away their right to feed the flock, and I will stop them from feeding themselves. I will rescue my flock from their mouths; the sheep will no longer be their prey.

“For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search and find my sheep. (Eze 34:1-11 NLT)

Just prior to this account, two “illustrations” (10:6) of Jesus as the Good Shepherd (10:1-5 and 10:7-10) were given and then the Lord’s  interpretation of these parables (10:11-18) The Jewish reader would immediately pick up the messianic connotation of this discourse. The Davidic Messiah would be a Shepherd and here was Christ claiming to be the Good Shepard – on Hanukkah no less. The questions posed to Christ by the Jewish leaders reflected the expectation that was running high in Palestine during that time of the year – they were waiting for the Messiah.

In looking for another Judah Maccabeus – one which would take away again the reproach of the Gentiles (Rome) – they missed Jesus Christ would would take away the sins of the world which is the separation between God and all of humanity. It is at Hanukkah that Christians can find Christ as well – in that He is the Good Shepherd that has taken away the sins of the world. Truly, if there is a holiday in which to celebrate Christ during this time of the year, it is this one.

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Apple is the new religion

I only have one Apple made product. An iPod. Like a lot of other Apple products it was made in a Chinese factory owned by the Taiwanese conglomerate Foxconn. Foxconn has been accused of various less than adequate workplace safety procedures, with the latest incident involving 250 workers being exposed to pesticides in one of their Indian factories.

And there have been the well publicized problems with the new Foxconn made Apple iPhone 4.

Last week, Prof. Heidi Campbell of Texas A&M University, claimed in a research paper, and to Fox News, that:

The religious-like behavior and language surrounding Apple devotion/fandom is an example of ‘implicit religion’

and among other things, that:

Apple’s creation story epitomizes the humble garage origin of its technology — not unlike the humble manger of Jesus’ birth.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs is perceived as a messianic leader who was fired but rose again to save the company.

Apple has traditionally had an evil archenemy, the Devil, as represented first by Microsoft and now by Google.

Steve Jobs’s exasperation at media coverage of the iPhone 4’s ‘perceived’ problems, and trying to claim that BlackBerry and Nokia phones also had the same problem (denied by BlackBerry owner RIM), along with other problems such as those at Foxconn, shows that if he is a claimed Messiah, he clearly has flaws and is only human.

For Apple Followers, It’s a Matter of Faith, Academics Say | Fox News

Fulfilled Bible Prophecies of Jesus Christ and Israel

Fulfilled Bible prophecy is often used as evidence the Scriptures are inspired. These are two exceptionally amazing ones, the exact day Jesus presented Himself as Messiah from 600+ years before, and Israel’s 1948 rebirth predicted from 2,500+ years ago.

See more at The Miracle of Fulfilled Bible Prophecy

How long was the Ministry of Christ?

Mark Goodacre has a podcast that should make the believer think – where did we get that magical number that the ministry of Christ was 3.5 years. (Find it here)

Read more

Jesus of Siberia: an ex-traffic cop turned Messiah

Where is Yakov Smirnoff when you need him?

Read more

Barack Obama and The Truth Painting – Painter Cancels because of public outrage

That’s right – the Messiah Motif that people are placing on the President was taken to a new level recently.

'The Truth' by Painter Michael D'Antuono which will be unveiled ...

I find it rather silly, but then again, I know the real Messiah, so while this is silly, it does not bother me – but it bothered a lot of other:

Painter Michael D’Antuono has cancelled the planned public unveiling of his latest work “The Truth” at NYC’s Union Square Park on President Obama’s 100th day in office due to overwhelming public outrage. The artist’s decision was based in part on thousands of emails and phone calls; online blogs and other public commentary received in the first 48 hours following its release.

The painting which was first made public on Friday depicts President Obama appearing much like Jesus Christ on the Cross; atop his head, a crown of thorns. Behind him, the dark veil being lifted (or lowered) on the Presidential Seal. The photo was the most emailed picture on the web.

The artist insists that the work was intended purely as a political piece. “The religious reference was used metaphorically and not to insult anyone’s religious beliefs. If that is the effect that my art has had on anyone, I am truly sorry,” says D’Antuono.

Over the next several weeks, the artist hopes to make public much of the content received that helped shape his decision. He continues to welcome people’s questions, comments and feedback at thetruth@dantuonoarts.com.

Has Immanuel Come?

There is a movement afoot, which I have attempt to shed light to before, but will now venture again, to raise a question.

There are some that say that Immanuel has not yet come. They point to a future time when this Immanuel of Isaiah will arrive. Let us examine the evidence first,

Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. Curds and honey He shall eat, that He may know to refuse the evil and choose the good. For before the Child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land that you dread will be forsaken by both her kings. (Isaiah 7:14-16 NKJV)

If we deny, then that this applies to Christ, we are no better than those that deny that the Messiah has yet appeared. They will usually apply this text not to the Jesus that was born nearly two thousand years ago, but to the woman and child in Revelations 12.1-4

Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars. Then being with child, she cried out in labor and in pain to give birth. And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great, fiery red dragon having seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail drew a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. And the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born. (Revelation 12:1-4 NKJV)

They will usually start with Israel in 1948, and declared that the land torn away from her is the womb or child, or use the idea that Israel must declare Christ as Messiah because He can become Immanuel. No matter, really, they tie all of bible prophecy to a distant land of memory, forgetting that the capital city of this land was called Sodom and Egypt.

There will be a person that does this, indeed, who unites Israel and who all the world will declare the son of God; however, it will not be the one that these people are expecting. Instead, it will be the False Prophet.

I will not go into the fact that Revelation 12 is a chapter that contains all of human history, but I will say that anyone who denies that Christ is the Immanuel is denying the Scriptures. They will point out that He was never called ‘Immanuel’ while on earth, but that was never a requirement of the Scriptures. Instead, Immanuel points only to the Incarnation, when indeed, God was with us in the flesh.

This was affirmed by the Apostle Matthew,

So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:22-23 NKJV)

There is no specific requirement that Christ be declared the Messiah by Israel – and indeed, just the opposite.The idea that we are to look to a future figure that united Christianity and Judaism, perhaps when with Islam, is not a holy idea, but one which turns the eyes and hearts of the faithful to that with is perdition.

What did Christ really say at that well?

The woman said to Him, “I know that Messiah is coming” (who is called Christ). “When He comes, He will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.” (John 4:25-26 NKJV)

I was reading this the other day, and I figure it was worth a second glance. Let’s look at it in the Greek,

λεγει αυτω η γυνη οιδα οτι μεσσιας ερχεται ο λεγομενος χριστος οταν ελθη εκεινος αναγγελει ημιν παντα. λεγει αυτη ο ιησους εγω ειμι ο λαλων σοι

The goal of this exercise is εγω ειμι (ego eimi), which is used in Exodus 3.14 LXX, translated as ‘I AM’. (We covered a bit of this a few weeks ago.) The literal translation of verse 26 is, ‘I AM  speaks to you.’

Did Christ say that He was the Messiah, human, or did He say that He was the I AM, Messiah, Deity?

Jesus: Man, Messiah, or More? (Or, what are you listening to Scholars?)

If you need scholars to tell you who Jesus Christ really was, then it will take a scholar to convince you, down the road, that He was merely a man. Below is a documentary that might interest some of you.

Was Jesus really the Son of God and the Messiah the Bible claims, or was He merely human like the rest of us? For the last 10 years, a group of scholars have been studying this very issue. Watch as they put forth their evidence, and then decide for yourself who Jesus really was.

Jesus: Man, Messiah, or More? Overview, Part I.
Jesus: Man, Messiah, or More? Peter’s Confession, Part II
Jesus: Man, Messiah, or More? Jesus Enters Jerusalem, Part III Jesus: Man, Messiah, or More? The Temple Controversy, Part IVJesus: Man, Messiah, or More? The Last Supper, Part VJesus: Man, Messiah, or More? The Jewish Examination of Jesus, Part VI
Jesus: Man, Messiah, or More? The Crucifixion, Part VII
Jesus: Man, Messiah, or More? The Resurrection of Jesus, Part VIII