The Rational Believer

A Five Volume Series on Jewish Faith

Vol. 3, Jewish Objection to the New Testament

Jesus as a False Messiah

 

Overview: The identity of mankind’s most-wanted man is still a mystery. A man named Jesus claims he’s got the title. Can he be the Messiah prophesied in the Bible?

The most important doctrine of Christianity is the belief that Jesus is the long-awaited Saviour of mankind. Is there any credibility to this claim?

The Bible provides criteria to identify the Messiah. He will be identified through the actions that he is prescribed to do. Namely, the rebuilding of the Temple,[i] establishing universal peace,[ii] retuning the exiled Jewish captives,[iii] and establishing the throne of David.[iv] Because Jesus clearly didn’t fulfill these, not even in the slightest, why are we to assume that he’s the Messiah?!

So Christian theologians right away point to the “Second Coming” mentioned in Paul’s writings; that although Jesus has yet to finish the job—nor started—he will return at some point in the future to do so. But if a Second Coming idea is being brought up—which is, by the way, an idea never mentioned in the Bible[1]—then anyone has the potential of being the Messiah! Consequently, one can even use this very same “Second Coming” theory about their Gentile grandmother. That is, that she will be reborn at some point as a Jewish male who will perform all the tasks of the Messiah mentioned in the Prophets.

There were dozens of false Messiahs throughout history that claimed the “Messiah” title,[2] many even (claimed to have) performed miracles. So what’s the chances—statistically—of it being Jesus?

We indeed have no way to determine who will be the Messiah before he actually performs the Messianic acts.

Furthermore, not only is it not probable, it’s likewise impossible:

 

“And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, a spirit of wisdom and understanding, a spirit of counsel and heroism, a spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord.”  (Isaiah 11:2)

In addition to this biblical source, it’s a logical conclusion that the big hero and righteous redeemer of Israel won’t transgress the most basic of biblical commandments.

But Jesus, as recorded in the New Testament,[v] publicly transgressed the Shabbos (or, at least, permitted his disciples to do so, by encouraging them to rub the grain in their hands). But who is to say that the rabbinic interpretation of Shabbos violation is the true one? So, while we did already address this question at length and more generally the credibility of the Oral Law in general, we will now mention one point briefly.

“Do not do any work on the Shabbos… One who does work on the Shabbos shall be put to death…” [vi] What is considered “work” (melacha)? The term is too generic to define through Scripture alone?

But we see that the Supreme Court can execute the violators of Shabbos, which implies that we do have an explanation for “work” on the Shabbos. For in order to know who is considered a “violator,” there’s got to be clear-cut definitions of work. This specific unique character of “work” (the explanation intended by G-d) is in the hands of the High Court, for it was passed down in the Oral Tradition from generation to generation all the way back to Sinai. That is how they have the power to execute its violators. It was from this Oral Law, received together with the Written Torah, that the Jews knew the “wood-gatherer” was performing a form of “work” that is enough to get killed.[vii]

Comes a charismatic individual after hundreds of years of the Supreme Court functioning, and he denies their legitimacy and power to execute the violators of Shabbos—and we should crown him “Messiah” instead of “heretic”?!

But perhaps the term “work” simply means business or labour-work and thus Jesus didn’t violate anything?

First of all, that is a great question, for is it business or labour-work? Second, even in that of itself, there are clearly different levels of “business” or “sweating.” Thirdly, this can’t be the case, for the Torah forbids lighting fire on the Shabbos[viii]—which is neither business nor labour, but seemingly a simple trivial act, yet an act of forbidden “work” on the Shabbos.[3]

[Jesus’ attempt[ix] to compare it to when King David ate the consecrated bread forbidden to him[x] is illogical. For there it was a clear life-threatening situation, being that it was the only bread for David which was fleeing from King Saul, in which case it becomes permissible to transgress Mitzvos (in most cases). With Jesus’ case, however, they were simply hungry. In addition, they could have requested or begged for food from the Pharisees nearby. Would the “Messiah of Israel” really permit desecrating the Holy Shabbos just for convenience proposes?!]

Similarly, we find all throughout the New Testament how Jesus mocked at the Pharisees and the Supreme Court in Jerusalem and disobeyed them.[4] This is the Supreme Court who’s authority is supported by the Torah in Deuteronomy 17:8-13 where we are commanded to follow their rulings. This power is not only in civil laws but in religious matters as well, as can be proven from II Chronicles 19:10 (discussed at length in chapter “The Scriptural Basis for a Supreme Court” in Vol. 2 of The Rational Believer series).

Hence, not only is it just statistically irrational to proclaim Jesus as the Messiah, but it’s impossible as well.

The issue of whether Jesus was the Messiah or not isn’t merely a surface issue in a detail of Judaism—the identity of the Messiah. It relates to a much broader issue concerning the validity of the Oral Law. In addition, it is viewed as the first step of organized religious attempts to integrate the Jewish community into Gentile culture. Yesterday it was about the identity of the Messiah, today it is about the eternity of Mitzvos, and tomorrow it will about the very fabric of Jewish religion and Jewish identity.

 

Light unto the nations

Some missionaries point to the world and say “please tell me who made these Gentiles believe in Monotheism if not for Jesus?! Is this not the role of the Messiah described in the Prophets?!” No other claimed-Messiah went as far as Jesus did in terms of worldwide influence. So why do we dismiss his claim as we do with the others?

The very same passages that speak of Messiah ruling over the nations and influencing them, also speak of the remaining Messianic prophecies such as building the Temple, gathering the dispersed of Israel and bringing universal peace.[xi] Splitting the passage into two, one as the “First Coming” fulfilment and one as the “Second Coming” fulfilment is an idea solely based on belief with no scriptural basis, while not being logical either.

Moreover, the Muslims just so happen to have the same claim! With their population numbers just trailing behind Christianity’s—and growing, they too brought monotheism to the world. [Now, explaining that Islam is in fact a branch of Christianity (for they believe in Jesus as a holy person) does no good, because Christianity in itself is a branch of Judaism. This is besides for the fact that Islam is barely any branch of Christianity as it argues on key Christian doctrines, such as the accuracy of the Masoretic text and the identity of the Messiah.]

Finally, bringing “light” onto the nations and teaching them G-d’s Torah, doesn’t specifically translate into monotheism. These very same disgraced people who believed in Christianity’s monotheism and in Jesus, caused the most violence and bloodshed that ever faced the planet. This includes Hitler, Elizabeth Bathory, Vlad Dracula, Ivan the Terrible, and Tomas de Torquemada among countless others. Is this the “light” of G-d?! In fact, G-d describes His anger against these barbaric humans in Deuteronomy 30:7 “The Lord your G-d will inflict all those curses upon the enemies and foes who persecuted you [Israel].” This is all the result of the Christian Messiah, Jesus. “Well” one might insist, “those murderers weren’t real Christians and didn’t follow the ways of the New Testament.” But that statement just answered the very question! If they weren’t real Christians, then is it about the slight minority of decent moral Christians in the past that the missionaries claim got “the light of Messiah”?![5] Hence, Jesus hasn’t fulfilled the Messianic prophecy of “being a light onto the nations.”

 

The concept of Jesus being a Deity, the most fundamental concept in Christianity (which naturally causes Christians to argue over its nature) will now be briefly addressed. While it is clear that the rabbinic tradition and understanding of the second commandment of the Ten Commandments invalidates the Trinity concept and regards it as clear idolatry, from a strictly Scriptural perspective it becomes hard to disprove the theory. This is because of the flexibility of opinions on the actual extent of Divinity in Jesus and its nature, plus the flexibility of interpreting the passages. Comes out, that the concept of Jesus being a deity (even if the concept is possible) falls under the same “belief” category as believing him to be the Messiah, with absolutely no shred of evidence for it. In fact, it is even less likely than the slim chances of him being the Messiah, because the concept of Messiah at least has Scriptural sources in contrast to this theory created out of thin air.

 

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[1] As opposed to the Talmud—which Christians don’t believe in—which mentions it as a possibility (see e.g. Sanhedrin 98b). Also see Rambam Hilchos Melachim 11:4.

[2] Wikipedia encyclopaedia lists 65+ Jewish claimed Messiahs (of the more famous ones—in reality there being much more) throughout history. See “list of messiah claimants” on Wikipedia for such a list.

[3] Some scholars explain the lighting-fire prohibition that because of the much labor involved in it with chopping the wood etc. it was forbidden. Even if granted this explanation, an Oral Law would still be required because: What if it is a case where there is no toil involved (for instance, the wood was pre-prepared), would it still be forbidden? Either way that will be answered, another question arises. If it is permitted in cases where no toil is involved, we would need more information to define “toil” which is clearly an extremely generic term. And if we will suggest that it is prohibited in principle and no exceptions are allowed (because there usually is toil involved we forbade it entirely), we can ask that maybe perhaps the Torah over here is teaching us to make such principles in similar situations where toiling is frequent? In that itself, how far do we take it? All these questions require an Oral Tradition to answer them.

[4] While it is clear that he didn’t hold the rabbinic traditions as legitimate, he seemingly did grant it at least cultural credibility (it is for this reason that many Jewish Christian organizations celebrate some rabbinic holidays and practice some rabbinic traditions). That is to say, that he did grant the civil law authority to the rabbis in the courts, celebrated rabbinic Jewish holidays, and practiced some traditions—but he clearly didn’t hold them as divinely binding, and when the tradition, in his opinion, contradicted the Scriptures, he gave no authenticity to that tradition. He seemingly held that the Oral Law was not given to Moses at Sinai but are instead cultural practices which are important in their own regard. He also believed that the Sages were not given the power to legislate laws or to even interpret the meaning of “work” on Shabbos.

That was what most missionaries believe. A minority, though, hold that Jesus did give credit to the idea of oral traditions from Sinai, yet he criticized what he believed were mistakes or wrong-directions in the Oral Law and rabbinic legislations. The issue with this view is that Jesus argues with some of the key teachings of the Oral Law, for example the definition of the term work on Shabbos. If the Oral Law messed-up so badly, then none of it could be trusted.

[5] The modern civilized Western World is no fruit of Christian beliefs [one might think so because of the violent uncivil and often barbaric Muslims, in contrast to the Christians] but of modern realization or whatever theory you will think of, but all historians would agree that it’s not Christianity’s light [and for this reason atheists, agnostics, eastern religions and even some Muslims are included in this civil society]. Furthermore, even if theoretically, it was the fruits of Jesus, the cons weigh out the pros throughout the years by far! Besides, even if they currently believe in G-d because of Jesus, what good does that do if most of them would have been immoral and killing Jews right and left (as was done for centuries), if not for the modem civilized way of thinking (which has nothing to do with religion but a totally positive secular movement).

 

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[i] Ezekiel 37:26.

[ii] Isaiah 11:6.

[iii] Tzefanyah 3:20, Isaiah 54:7, 56:8 60:4, Jeremiah 29:14, 30:3, 32:37, Ezekiel 20:34, 41, 28:25, 34:13, 36:24, 37:21, 38:8, 39:27, Hosea 2:2, and many, many more.—While some are referring to the Babylonian exile, others cannot as they portray a complete and ultimate redemption.

[iv] Ezekiel 36:24.

[v] Mark 2:23-27.

[vi] Exodus 35:2.

[vii] Numbers 15. Their only inquiry was with which method was he to be killed with.

[viii] Exodus 35:3.

[ix] Mark 2:25.

[x] I Samuel 21:6.

[xi] Isaiah 17:12—18:7, 25:1—8, 30:26, 34:1—35:10, 40:1—11, 41:17—20, 49:8—13, 52:7—10, Zephaniah 3:8—20, Psalm 9:8—13, 40, 66, 69, 98, 102, 117.

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