By: Joe Butta and Steve Daskal
Christian Messianic Analysis and Apologetics
Can inanimate, purposeless, formless nothingness create something animate, purposeful, and alive? That would appear to violate the basic laws of physics [e.g., the laws of thermodynamics]. Before anything was or could be, there had to be Someone. Even the ancients understood this, and came up with a vast array of myths about one or more superhuman “gods” creating the world, starting with dust and water, and then everything else. Their reasons for doing so were obscure, but basically came down to either needing something to occupy themselves with [life and humanity as toys for gods] or needing workers to toil for them and feed their superhuman egos [life and humanity as slaves for gods]. But if these gods had the same vices and many of the same needs as mankind, how could they have created the universe, and why are they worthy of any respect, much less love?
The Bible presents a very different situation, in which an eternal, complete [God needing neither slaves nor toys] creates the universe to enjoy the process [aesthetics, accomplishment] and humanity with whom to enjoy it through interpersonal relationship.
By: Steve Daskal,
CHRISTIAN MESSIANIC ANALYSIS AND APOLOGETICS
** A brother in Christ recently asked me about a seeming inconsistency in the Exodus account of Moses’ interactions with God and the Israelites at Mt. Sinai. He thought it appeared as if the number of trips up and trips down didn’t match. I had never actually sat down to work this out, though I’ve been hearing and reading this story repeatedly since I was in grade school. This is what I found:
Ex 19 — The Israelites are three months after leaving Egypt via Rephidim [located in the Sinai desert]. They’ve reached Sinai, and set up camp in front of the mountain. Moses goes up the mountain the first time [v3], he returns to the people [v7] and warns them that they are going to get the terms of the Covenant, and they agree to them — without having heard them — based upon God’s taking them out of Egypt and providing for this huge mass of people in the desert for 3 months.
FROM: Steve Daskal
CHRISTIAN MESSIANIC ANALYSIS & APOLOGETICS
What Was Happening? Judah is on the Brink of Disaster
— Judah’s new king at this time, Jehoiakim, aka Eliakim, is a relatively young man. But he is characterized in 2 Chronicles 36:1-8 and 2 Kings 23:34-24:6 as being an evil king, who did not follow the pattern of godliness of his father Josiah. Josiah had been an ally of Assyria against Egypt who died in battle when the Egyptians had defeated the last remnant of Assyrian power at Megiddo [in the lands of the former northern Israelite kingdom of Israel].
— Jeremiah refers to him this way: “your eyes and your heart are intent only upon your own dishonest gain, and on shedding innocent blood and on practicing oppression and extortion.” [Jer. 22:17] While it may have required heavy taxes and harsh action to pay the required tributes to great powers and keep his throne in the face of widespread violence and disorder, the tone of Jeremiah’s condemnation [and those in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles] indicates that not only was Jehoiakim tough and demanding, he was also brutal and corrupt. Jehoiakim apparently reverted to the idolatry and unjust rule of his grandfather Amon and great-grandfather Manasseh [ref 2Ki21]. Jehoiakim also openly rejected and mocked prophetic warnings from Jeremiah [36:23-27] and had them destroyed.
FROM: CHRISTIAN MESSIANIC ANALYSIS AND APOLOGETICS
BY: Steve Daskal
The Jewish faith, as was being taught & practiced in Jesus’ day, was no longer a single unified faith focused on “the Law and the Prophets,” but was made up of several sects that at best disdained or ignored each other, each following its own particular interpretations that suited them.
The Sadducees denied that anything beyond Torah [The Law, Pentateuch, Five Bks of Moses] was inspired of or delivered from God. So, they didn’t accept that there would be a Messiah at all. The Torah references frequently cited, such as Gen 3:15 and in Deuteronomy when Moses tells them that a Prophet like himself will come to lead Israel back to God after they have “fallen away,” point to from the perspectives of Christians, and of Pharisees, but they aren’t unambiguous/direct statements. The Psalms & the Prophets were considered by the Sadducees the way we’d consider books by C.S. Lewis or G.K. Chesterton — good reading, edifying, but neither inspired nor authoritative for doctrine. The Kohanim [the priesthood-by-descent] and many of the other Levites were Sadducees. They controlled the Temple in Jesus’ day and had a sizeable presence on the Sanhedrin which was the religious court that had been granted ultimate socio-religious authority for the Jews of Judea under Roman rule.
It is easy today to hear many things from various sources. One of the modern day mantras is that Islam is a Religion of Peace. Upon closer inspection neither Muhammad nor any of his early followers used this argument as they defeated the Polytheists, Jews, Christians, Zoroastrians, Buddhists, Hindus and Sub-Sahara African polytheists and animists on the battlefield. 20th Century Pakistani Muslim scholar Abdul Maududi stated the following:
“But the truth is that Islam is not the name of a ‘Religion,’ nor is ‘Muslim’ the title of a ‘Nation.’ In reality, Islam is a revolutionary ideology and program which seeks to alter the social order of the whole world and rebuild it in conformity with its own tenets and ideals. Islam wishes to destroy all states and governments anywhere on the face of the earth which are opposed to the ideology and program of Islam regardless of the country or the nation which rules it. The purpose of Islam is to set up a State on the basis of its own ideology and program.” [CMAA emphasis]
No one has any control as to where they were born or to whom they were born. We are raised by parents who identify with a particular faith and that faith was transmitted to us. Some of us were then sent to religious schools where we were further indoctrinated into that faith. All faiths have variations within them. Movement within these variations can often cause at a minimum verbal conflict or shunning. In contemporary Christianity movement between Orthodox, Catholic, Traditional Protestant, Baptist and Evangelical occurs often without fear of physical repercussions. This cannot be said about Islam. Movement between Shi’a and Sunni groups can often end in violence. A Sunni who is a Salafi could never accept a relative or friend becoming Shi’a. This is so because Shi’ites are viewed as heretics. Judaism is extremely diverse. Rabbinical Judaism encompasses Ultra-Orthodox, Orthodox, Khabad Lubavitch, Conservative, Reform and Reconstructionist. Khabad Lubavich is one of several kHasidic [or, more commonly, Chasidic or Hasidic] sects which are a branch within what would be considered ultra-Orthodox [kHeredim] Judaism. Khasidim have a different worship style [more music, more dancing, more spontaneity than other kHeredim], but equally strict social and lifestyle rules and similarly insular [avoiding contact with non-Kosher-keeping people who are viewed as ceremonially unclean]. Modern Orthodox Jews keep most of the same rabbinic laws, but will work and do business with, and to a large degree socialize with, non-Jews and secular Jews.
25 But I know my living Redeemer,
and He will stand on the dust at last.
26 Even after my skin has been destroyed,
yet I will see God in my flesh.
27 I will see Him myself;
my eyes will look at Him, and not as a stranger.
My heart longs within me.
Analysis: Before the advent of the prophets Job posed an interesting question. Will the Lord actually stand upon the earth? Will those who have died be resurrected to see the Lord? It was clear from the prophetic books of the Tenakh [but not from Torah] that there would be a resurrection of the [“righteous”] dead in the Last Day, and that God would again be among the people as He was in Eden. The Pharisees accepted this, as do modern or rabbinical Orthodox Jews, though they often add to this the belief that only after the Jews “clean up the world” and become more faithful will Messiah come. [This is not too different from Muslim beliefs about the Mahdi, which are probably drawn from this.]