Saturday, March 7, 2009

Nit-Picking Matthew's Prophetic Claims -- by Richard C. Speaks

In my last post I dismissed the author(s) of Matthew's gospel as less than truthful. I thought I'd better show you why by researching Matthew's use of the Old Testament (OT) to show that Jesus' short life was foretold centuries before. These are unique to Matthew. Lots of things are. Let's see how well these OT connections hold up under scrutiny. I think you'll be surprised.

The first Christmas according to Matthew
This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being an upright man and wanting to spare her disgrace, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when suddenly the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.' Now all this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: ‘Look! The virgin is with child and will give birth to a son whom they will call Immanuel.’ A name which means ‘God is with us.’
MATTHEW 1:18-23

This verse establishes that Joseph was of the royal bloodline. But it also establishes that JC wasn’t his biological son!

The Bible doesn’t tell us about Mary’s family tree. I suspect it might have been included if royal blood ran in her veins, but maybe not. The Good Book didn't put very much stock in female bloodlines, or mitochondrial DNA.

The son of man might have bled Port for all we know.

Here’s the OT passage the author(s) of Matthew were referring to. Does it really foretell the coming of JC?

Yahweh spoke to Ahaz again and said, ‘Ask Yahweh your God for a sign, either in the depths of Sheol or in the heights above. But Ahaz said, ‘I will not ask. I will not put Yahweh to the test.‘ He then said: ‘Listen now, House of David: are you not satisfied with trying human patience that you should try my God’s patience too? The Lord will give you a sign in any case. It is this: the young woman is with child and will give birth to a son whom she will call Immanuel. On curds and honey will he feed until he knows how to refuse the bad and choose the good. Before the child knows how to refuse the bad and choose the good, the lands, whose 2 kings are frightening you, will be deserted. Yahweh will bring times for you, your people, and your ancestral House, such as have not been seen since Ephraim broke away from Judah (the king of Assyria).’
ISAIAH. 7:10-17

Was this holy child, promised to king Ahaz, really JC?

I seriously doubt that Ahaz would have cared about what was going to happen a thousand years after he was dead. I think he would be far more concerned with his near future. Wouldn't you?
I think this prophecy was really about King Ahaz’s unborn son, Hezekiah; who did bring about a renaissance to the often troubled throne of David's progeny.

Consider the following:

In the 3rd year of Hoshea son of Elah, king of Israel, Hezekiah son of Ahaz became king of Judah. He was 25 years old when he came to the throne, and he reigned for 29 years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Abijah daughter of Zechariah. He did what Yahweh regards as right, just as his ancestor David had done. He abolished the high places, broke the pillars, cut down the sacred poles and smashed the bronze serpent which Moses had made (Numbers 21:6-9); for up to that time the Israelites had offered sacrifices to it; it was called Nehushtan. He put his trust in Yahweh, God of Israel. No king of Judah after him could be compared with him-- nor any of those before him.
II KINGS 18:1-5

The part about the child being born of a virgin was just a mistranslation from Hebrew into Greek.

The “young woman" spoken of by Isaiah was probably Queen Abijah. The Israelites were often referred to metaphorically as a virtuous maiden in the Bible. Perhaps Abijah, daughter of the prophet Zechariah, mother of good King Hezekiah, may have been that paradigm of virtue they were referring to. The divine Mother of the just king.

The Good Shepherd cometh
After Jesus had been born in Bethlehem in Judea during the reign of King Herod, suddenly some wise men came to Jerusalem from the east asking, ‘Where is the infant king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose and have come to do him homage.’ When King Herod heard this he was perturbed, and so was the whole of Jerusalem. He called together all his chief priests and the scribes of the people, and enquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, ‘At Bethlehem in Judea, for this is what the people wrote: “And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, you are by no means the least among the leaders of Judah, for from you will come a leader who will shepherd my people Israel.

Here is the OT passage they were talking about. Does it really predict JC’s birth? You be the judge.

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, the least of the clans of Judah, from you will come for me a future ruler of Israel, whose origins go back to the distant past, to the days of old. Hence Yahweh will abandon them only until she who is in labor gives birth, and then those who survive of his race will be reunited to the Israelites. He will take his stand and he will shepherd them with the power of Yahweh, with the majesty of the name of his God, and they will be secure, for his greatness will extend henceforth to the most distant parts of the country. He himself will be peace! Should the Assyrian invade our country, should he set foot in our land, we shall raise 7 shepherds against him, 8 leaders of men; they will shepherd Assyria with the sword, the country of Nimrod with naked blade. He will save us from the Assyrian, should he invade our country, should he set foot inside our frontiers.
MICAH 5:1-5

This Messiah was coming to save his people from the Assyrians, not their sins.

Micah seemed to be hoping for a great warrior-king like David, who had been a good shepherd himself in his youth. Bethlehem was David's home town after all. A town whose origins go back to per-kingdom Israel, as depicted in the book of Judges.

I don’t think this has anything to do with JC.

Out of Egypt I have called my Son
So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him, left that night for Egypt, where he stayed until Herod was dead. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: ‘I called my Son out of Egypt.’
MATTHEW 2:14,15

"When Israel was a child I loved him, and I called my son out of Egypt. But the more I called, the further they went from me; they offered sacrifice to Baal and burnt incense to idols."
HOSEA 11:1,2

Hosea was talking about back-sliders, apostates, and idolatry. Not JC. This wasn't even a prophecy! Matthew was just fishing for "My son" references anywhere he could find them. This is the fishiest one of all!

BTW. I'm amused by the Christian fish icons glued to so many bumpers. I have another take on the meaning of the JC fish. I see it as an admission that the NT is a very fishy book. Especially Mathew. Sorry for the digression. My mind works in mysterious ways.

The Slaughter of the Innocents
Herod was furious on realizing that he had been fooled by the wise men, and in Bethlehem and its surrounding district he had all the male children killed who were 2 years old or less, reckoning by the date he had been careful to ask the wise men. Then were fulfilled the words spoken through the prophet Jeremiah: A voice is heard in Ramah, laminating and weeping bitterly. It is Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted because they are no more.
MATTHEW 2:16-18

Does the OT really foretell the slaughter of the innocents? A story uncorroborated by Mark, Luke, John, or by any historian. Let’s see for ourselves.

Yahweh says this: A voice is heard in Ramah, lamenting and weeping bitterly: it is Rachel weeping for her children, because they are no more. Yahweh says this: Stop your lamenting. Dry your eyes. For your labor will be rewarded, Yahweh declares, and they will return from the enemy’s country. There is hope for your future after all. Yahweh declares, your children will return to their homeland.
JEREMIAH 31:15-17

There is nothing in Jeremiah about King Herod, JC, or the slaughter of the innocents. Jeremiah was predicting the return of the captive Hebrews in Babylon.


Nazarene or Nazirite?
So Joseph got up and, taking the child and his mother with him, went back to the land of Israel. But when he learnt that Archelaus had succeeded his father, Herod, as ruler of Judaea he was afraid to go there, and being warned in a dream, he withdrew to the region of Galilee. There he settled in a town called Nazareth. In this way the words spoken through the prophets were to be fulfilled: He will be called a Nazarene.
MATTHEW 2:21-23

Here is the only passage in the OT that comes close, but it doesn’t mention the town of Nazareth. This is about another "Chosen One" -- Samson the Nazirite hero -- A Herculean Hebrew who kicked some serious Philistine ass back in his day.

Was this another Hebrew into Greek error, or more pious fraud? See for yourself.

There was a man of Zorah of the tribe of Dan, called Manoah. His wife was barren; she had borne no children. The Angel of Yahweh appeared to this woman and said to her, ‘You are barren and have had no child, but you are going to conceive and give birth to a son. From now on, take great care. Drink no wine or fermented liquor, and eat nothing unclean. For you are going to conceive and give birth to a son. No razor is to touch his head, for the boy is to be God’s Nazirite from his mother’s womb; and he will start rescuing Israel from the power of the Philistines.
JUDGES 13:2-5

The Philistines were long gone before JC's time. The Babylonians had put the Philistines out of business centuries before then. Matthew was such a fibber!

What is a Nazirite? I'm glad you asked. Here's what Moses has to say:

Yahweh spoke to Moses and said, ‘Speak to the Israelites and say: “If a man or woman wishes to make a vow, the nazirite vow, to vow himself to Yahweh, he will abstain from wine and fermented liquor, he will not drink vinegar derived from one or the other, he will not drink grape juice or eat grapes, be they fresh or dried. For the duration of his vow he will eat nothing that comes from the vine, not even juice of unripe grapes or skins of grapes. As long as he is bound by his vow, no razor will touch his head; until the time for which he has vowed himself to Yahweh is completed, he remains consecrated and will let his hair grow freely. For the entire period of his vow to Yahweh, he will not go near a corpse....
(ect. ect. ect.)
NUMBERS 6:1-21

The word Nazirite means set apart unto God. Ultra-kosher. Pure. Which didn't fit ol' Samson very well either. This sure doesn't fit JC. Perhaps the prophets of old were talking about John, The Baptist, or maybe JC’s brother, James, the vegetarian. Definitely not JC, who didn't seem to sweat Levitical law. Consider the following passage:

"For John came, neither eating nor drinking, and they say, 'He is possessed.' The Son of man came, eating and drinking, and they say, 'Look, a glutton and a drunkard, A friend of tax collectors and sinners.' Yet wisdom is justified by her deeds."
MATTHEW 11:18,19

The word Nazarene is'nt in the OT. As you can plainly see, Matthew was willing to take anything out of context to prove his gospel was backed up by the OT Prophets. Very fishy. Just like George Washington never telling a lie, chopping down a cherry tree before they were introduced to the New World, and chucking a silver dollar across the Delaware. So much for the truth. Fables are far more comforting.

As Paul once said:

You might as well say that if my untruthfulness makes God demonstrate His truthfulness, to His greater glory, then I should not be judged to be a sinner at all.

I'm not done with Matthew, but I think this is a good start. Stay tuned.

Betty Bowers Explains Prayer to Everyone Else

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Your logic is great, and I follow what you mean....(I think...) I could never understand why the lineage followed Joseph!! Or why no one else at sunday school understood my objection! If "son of god" that makes no sense.