Answering Jewish Objections: “Jewish People Don’t Believe in a Suffering/Atoning Messiah”: Part Three
“And Joshua said to the people, ‘Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” Joshua 3:5
This series, Convince Me There’s A God, is my answer to questions atheists have been asking me for more than 40 years about why I ‘abandoned’ atheism and ‘converted’ to Christianity. Many have accused me of being on drugs at the time of my conversion or having gone insane. Neither is true. I became convinced after a lengthy investigation into the claims of Christianity that the God of the Bible exists and Jesus Christ rose from the dead.
My conversion from atheism to theism was intellectual, not emotional. It was based on many kinds of evidence, but the evidence that kept me reading and asking questions about the Bible was archaeological evidence. Did that evidence “prove” God’s existence to me? No, but it did show me that the Bible was a credible ancient historical document and kept me interested in learning more.
I am thankful for the opportunities that I have had to connect with apologists all over the world. I am greatly impressed by the intellectual ability of Christians striving for the Gospel. I know some who read books on philosophy and science whose titles I can’t even pronounce. We badly need these intelligent defenders of the faith.
But do we sometimes miss out on our most important resource?
Are we so motivated to read that newest book on philosophy of religion/historical Jesus/ intelligent design that we have lost our interest in the Bible? Did you know that it possible to be more passionate about the inerrancy of the Bible than about the Bible itself?
Think about what the Bible claims to be. The Bible is a God-breathed text. God knew that we needed reliable information about who he is, who we are, what he wants and how to be right with him. Instead of leaving us to our own devices, God inspired people over many centuries to write the books that would eventually make up the Bible.
We’ve spent the past 10 posts in the Book of Acts building a case for the connection Paul had directly to Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, the 12 Apostles, and the disciples of Christ in Judea, Samaria and Syria. We’ve also demonstrated confirmation by the 12 Apostles of Paul’s call to be an apostle to the Gentiles. Not once in the Book of Acts do any of the 12 Apostles call Paul a fraud or apostate.
We come now to the direct challenge to Paul’s Apostleship. Many who believe Paul is a fraud use the “steamroller approach,” asking scores of questions accompanied by Scripture to give the questions an appearance of truth. Don’t be fooled by that technique. The proof is in the quality, not the quantity.
Peter uses Old Testament prophecy in Acts 3:18, where he declares: “But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that this Christ should suffer, he thus fulfilled.” Where in the prophets are we told that God’s “Christ (or Messiah) should suffer”? Isaiah 53 is probably what Peter is alluding to. Probably the most explicit case for Isaiah 53 being used is in Acts 8: 32-34 in the exchange between Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. Many scholars have asked what might of led to the acceptance of a Suffering Messiah. Let’s see if we can trace the history here: The Binding of Isaac Story and the Maccabean Martyrs: The Binding of Isaac or the “Akedah” tells the account of when God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. Because of Abraham’s faith God would be able to resurrect the slain Isaac. The sacrifice of Isaac corresponds to “that of Christ in the following respects: (1) They both involve the sacrifice by a father of his only son. (2) They both symbolize a complete dedication on the part of the offerer. Mark Kinzer notes in the post- Biblical tradition, the Akedah story took on a new significance: it becomes the model for martyrdom: This is first seen in texts dealing with the martyrs of the Maccabean period: [Read more…]