Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Anouncement

Moving to Osaka to teach ESL. Arriving early October. Pretty damn stoked.

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Charlottesville, LARPers, and the Blame Game

Long term, what does Charlottesville mean for the nation? That's a big question and it's worth considering. I find myself doing so in my back yard as I watch the grass grow, high as balls on cold medication (I'm really sick right now). It's captured my attention in a way that nothing has since the Trump campaign.

The number one effect is that a fracture now exists between the Alt-Light and Nazi-LARP wings of the Alt-Right. Mild partisan bickering aside, the two groups were mostly willing to work together through the Trump campaign and indeed, up until now.

But for all the lumping together of the two groups (or three or four, or however many subgroups your taxonomy includes) done by the media, there was always a tension between them. It's difficult to put into words properly since there are so many splinter groups and individual opinions on each ideology, but there is an essential difference between a person who willingly calls themselves a Nazi and a person who does not.

"Saruman did nothing wrong guiz! Helm's Deep never happened!"
That's really the wedge of the issue, I think: are you willing to call yourself a Nazi? A Confederate? A Carthaginian? Any other of history's big losers? Regardless of whether you believe they were right at the time, or history would have been better if they won, or if their opponents were even worse, there's something inherently off about those trying to raise up these very, very dead causes while offering nothing new.

Part of the appeal of the broader Alt-Right brand was the bleeding edginess - the memes, the Rare Pepes, the devil-may-care attitude. As much as some might criticize them for being keyboard warriors, they got shit done, and that catapulted them above the trad-cons and neo-cons.

But for all of the losing that trad-cons and neo-cons do, at least they represent extant worldviews with some semblance of political power. The LARPers are 50% losers and 50% government informants. Their chances of overthrowing the Federal government or making an impact on the broader cultural landscape fall somewhere between The Nation of Yahweh and The Elf Queen's Daughters.

They are trying to get a movement up and running by shackling it to the corpses of America's enemies. They are determined to snatch defeat from the jaws of defeat.

Nazi LARPers, gearing up for a run
But as fun as LARPer bashing is, what does this mean long term? There are basically two reads here. If AntiFa, BLM, and other Left-leaning violent mobs cool their heels, we see the Alt-Light gain ascendancy over the Alt-White as normies get turned off of the Nazi brand and anything even vaguely related.

The downside here is that Alt-Light is easier to infiltrate and turn into the next Tea Party. It's the Alt-White faction (as distinct from the Nazi LARPers) that makes it more of a personal risk to embrace the Alt-Right label. Even if you're not Alt-White, knowing that you're sharing space with them puts you on an edge with your normie friend, relatives, and coworkers.

If AntiFa etc. get even more violent, I think we see further radicalization of the normies. The Left is able to mobilize larger mobs with SorosBux, college kids, and motherfuckers who just want to burn shit down. The game here is in provoking the other side into making a bigger mess so that the normies hate them more.

Remember, at the end of the day, the normies hate whoever they see as responsible for disrupting their lives. Normal people want to go to work and enjoy themselves, not obsess over historical trivia or delve into the facts of the latest civil disturbance. They want a clear Good vs. Evil narrative (A New Hope), not a complex mess of nebulous motives and political trivia (The Phantom Menace).

If you give people Nazis - like, actual people calling themselves Nazis and throwing Nazi salutes to Nazi flags, not a little old church ladies who aren't sure about the public praise of sodomy - then they will assume that those people are Nazis and that Nazis are bad. And people fucking love it when there's a clear bad guy that they can hate.

I know it's not fair. The other guys can call themselves Communists or Dog Fuckers or whatever else and no one gives a shit. You can either whine about it to people who do not give a single iota of a fuck, or push the Commies into committing atrocities and ruining their brand just as deeply as the Nazis.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

[BTT044] Conclusions

Previous: [BTT043] Luke 24:44-46 / The Entire Old Testament


Conclusion One: Some, but not all, prophecies can be intellectually grasped

Remember Matthew 2:1-6?
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”
When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.
So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:
‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”

Unlike the apostles, Matthew gives us no indication that the chief priests and scribes were privy to any special revelation about the meaning of prophecy. They read Micah 5:1-4, thought about it, and correctly identified the birthplace of the Messiah.

Others, like Mat 27:3-9 / Jeremiah 32:1-15, seem to defy rational explanation. I have no idea how you would get "the betrayer of the Messiah will be buried in a field purchased with the money he got for betraying the Messiah" from "I'm investing in Israeli real estate because we're all coming back."

Maybe you can find a plausible chain of logic for that. I freely admit that I can't. Some prophecies can be intellectually grasped, but some require the eyes of God to understand.


Conclusion Two: Applying standard exegetical methods to prophecy is unbiblical

Let me very quickly specify that it is not sinful to apply standard exegetical methods to prophecy (ie, look at the context, look at the exact meaning of the original language). It is simply not what the Bible does. The Biblical method for interpreting Bible prophecies ignores context, time, exact language etc.

It is amusing that we used standard exegetical methods to arrive at this conclusion (we asked the question 'how does the Bible itself interpret prophecy in the Bible?'), but then, we're not saying there is anything wrong with using standard exegetical methods on other sections of the Bible. Standard exegetical methods still work fine for the historical sections/the letters of Paul/etc.

But we don't interpret the Psalms the same way we interpret Romans. And we should stop interpreting prophecy the way we interpret the rest of Scripture. It is simply not how the Bible treats itself.


Conclusion Three: Prophecy is written from the Divine Perspective

I'm going to break from my usual methodology here and make an inferred conclusion – something which seems supported by the text but is not explicitly stated. So take this with a larger grain of salt than usual.

It seems clear to me that prophecy (which comes from God) is written from the Divine perspective. God is the creator of time and is not bound by its laws. He exists outside of time, as He has from before the beginning. So one explanation for the way prophecy jumps around time is that it is written from a perspective outside of time – the God's Eye View.

Again, this is nowhere explicitly stated in Scripture. It is built up from what we know about God and what we know about prophecy.


Conclusion Four: Prophecy is Pattern

This one is another inferred conclusion, and one that may require longer explanation elsewhere.

The Scriptures do not present us with the types of prophecies that we may expect. There is no reason to believe that prophecies are primarily about the future. There is no reason to believe prophecies are primarily about singular events. There is really no reason to believe that prophecies are primarily found in explicitly prophetic sections (most of our prophecies with non-ambiguous fulfilments come from the Psalms).

We may flesh this out later, but for now, I consider most of prophecy as repeating patterns. The same thing happens once and then again, or even over and over again. This is part of why prophecies have multiple fulfillments.

"Prophecy is Pattern" is not absolutely true. But it's less wrong than our standard take on prophecy. It's a step to get us from an incorrect view to a more correct view.


Conclusion Five: Prophecy is about Jesus Christ
We know that all of Scripture is ultimately about Jesus Christ, and yet we still spend pointless hours agonizing over whether or not the United States appears in Revelation. Whether the Mark of the Beast will be a tattoo or a computer chip. If the Anti-Christ will rebuild the Temple or if the Temple will be rebuilt before the Anti-Christ.

This is all bullshit. It's not the purpose of prophecy and does nothing to bring us closer to Jesus or help us understand Him.

The primary purpose of prophecy and of all the Scriptures is to show us Jesus Christ and lead us to Him. So if you want to understand New Testament prophecy, this is absolutely, 100% the place where you must start.

Monday, August 7, 2017

[BTT043] Luke 24:44-46 / The Entire Old Testament

Previous: [BTT042] Plēroō Passage Review

Luke 24:44-46 / The Entire Old Testament

Fulfillment

"These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures.

Original

Okay, so I'm not going to copy and paste the entirety of the Old Testament here.

Comparison


Jesus is continually fulfilling Old Testament prophecies throughout the New Testament, whether explicitly as in our plēroō passages or implicitly. We also see throughout the New Testament that Jesus' disciples are continually failing to understand Jesus' actions and how they relate to the Scriptures. Peter tries to fight off the Romans and Pharisees with a sword, not knowing why his Lord must die.

But here in Luke 24, the risen Jesus lays it all out for his apostles. He had told them before that all the Scriptures must be fulfilled, and they did not understand or believe Him. Now, after His work on earth has been fulfilled, they are finally able to understand.

And Jesus does something very interesting here - He does not simply give them a list of prophecies and how they were fulfilled. Instead, He opens their understanding. This implies two things. First, that the apostles did not have the ability to understand all of these prophecies until that point (there’s reason to believe they understood some of them). Second, that these prophecies can be mentally comprehended.

This seems similar to the acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior, in that there is an intellectually component and a faith component. On one hand, there absolutely are rational arguments for Jesus being precisely who He said His is, as the eloquent defenses of apologists throughout history show us.

On the other hand, accepting Jesus Christ as who He says He is requires the opening of the heart to the truth. Pharaoh's heart was hardened, even after seeing display after display of the miraculous power of YHWH. Saul of Tarsus had his heart opened, despite his rigorous indoctrination into the intellectual system of the Pharisees.

As with all spiritual truths, the true interpretations of prophecy are not anti-intellectual. At the same time, they can only be truly grasped by the mercy of God in opening hearts and minds.

There is one other thing of note here. We divide the Scriptures into different categories: the law, the prophets, the poetry, history, etc. While there may be a genre divide between these sections, Jesus Himself says that parts of all are ultimately prophetic. Writings which on the surface seem to be descriptive of the life of David also point to the life of Christ. Kosher laws which seem to regulate the eating of food and the wearing of clothing also point to the purity of the coming Messiah.

Just as importantly, all of these things - "the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms" - are all ultimately about Jesus, not about describing the future. Daniel didn't say, "Hey Nebuchadnezzar, after your kingdom falls in such-and-such a year, there's going to be a Persian Empire starting on such-and-such a date, followed a Greek Empire started by a cool guy called Alexander, then a Roman Empire that will have dapper brush helmets, and then a Church that won't be a literal empire." Instead, he focused on the coming Messiah. Prophecy and Scripture are not for tickling ears, they're for preaching Christ.

Now all Christians understand that there are prophecies which have already been fulfilled and prophecies which are yet to be fulfilled. The first coming of the Messiah has been fulfilled, the second coming has not. Salvation has gone to the Gentiles, but the lion does not yet lie down with the lamb. Our many, many swords show no signs of becoming plowshares in the immediate future.

It is natural to want to know when these things will come to pass, not simply to satisfy human curiosity, but because they are the fulfillment of the deepest desires of the human heart. But the Scriptures say that only God can open the eyes of our hearts to fully comprehend the Scriptures.

The apostles had their eyes opened in this exact way. As we turn our eyes to the future, let us first look at how the apostles understood the past.

Next: [BTT044] Conclusions

Friday, August 4, 2017

[BTT042] Plēroō Passage Review

Previous: [BTT041] John 19:32-37 / Psalm 34:20 (arguably Exodus 12:43-46; Numbers 9:12) / Zechariah 12:7-10

Plēroō Passage Review

Throughout this series, we've looked only at specific fulfillments of specific Old Testament prophecies as explicitly defined by the authors of the New Testament. While there are references to Old Testament prophecy outside of these passages, the lack of the verb plēroō leaves it ambiguous whether the authors are alluding to the Old Testament or claiming a fulfillment or prophecy.

While our standards have been strict, this was only to rule out any possible misidentification of prophetic fulfillment. Our current data set is also valuable in that it is limited to how Jesus and the apostles understood textual prophecies from the Old Testament – as we attempt to understand textual prophecies in the Old and New Testaments.

With that in mind, let's review our five points of prophecy:


Point One: Prophecies usually have multiple fulfillments

This one should not be a surprise to anyone who has studied prophecy. I went into this expecting to see it and was not surprised.

I was, however, surprised by how few prophecies only have one fulfillment. I was aware that multiple fulfillments were not unusual. I was not aware that singular fulfillments are unusual.


Point Two: The context may be misleading in prophecy

This one was a huge surprise for me. I went in expecting the larger context to explain away all seeming inconsistencies, but the larger contexts of the originals and the fulfillments generally make the inconsistencies bigger. It's kind of shocking just how little attention Jesus and the apostles pay to the original context of the verses they quote, when we've been told all our theological lives that "context is king."


Point Three: Past, Present, and Future do not matter in prophecy. Prophecies solely about singular future events are the minority.

At first glance, the second part of this point may seem like a retread of Point One – and in a way, it is. But it is important to stress the high levels of chronological schizophrenia at work here. Past, Present, and Future are meaningless concepts in prophecy.

A prophecy already fulfilled may be fulfilled again. A prophecy about a future event may also be about a past event. One paragraph of prophecy may have one line about the past, one line about the past which also looks forward to the future, and another line about multiple past and future events.

Again, this is in complete opposition to the 'common sense' definition of prophecy as being about future events. Looking at the Bible, it is clear that prophecy is far more than prediction.


Point Four: The exact wording does not matter in prophecy, or we have a different version of the Old Testament than Jesus


I was utterly dumbfounded by this because it goes against every Protestant jot-and-tittle instinct I have. And yet it cannot be denied that either Jesus and the apostles had a different Greek/Hebrew text than us or they didn't give a flying flip about exact quotations.

Even if they did have a different version, God chose not to preserve it for us. So even if these are exact quotations of a different version, apparently God thought it was fine to not preserve that exact wording.


Point Five: A passage does not have to be explicitly prophetic to be prophecy

This one did not surprise me, since the Psalms in particular are commonly seen as both about the life of David and Prophetic. We might even consider this a subset of the 'context doesn't matter' principle. It should, however, give us pause about what other seemingly non-prophetic passages may be prophetic.


There are our five points based solely on the conditions mentioned at the beginning of this series (Old Testament prophecies with explicit fulfillment in the New Testament). But there's one more plēroō passage that's worth taking into account that we're going to look at next time.

Now this particular plēroō passage is something of an odd duck. It technically doesn't fulfill our conditions, because it doesn't refer to any specific Old Testament passage. Instead, it refers the entirety of the Old Testament, and in my opinion, completely explains why the New Testament interprets the Old Testament in the way it does.

That's a big statement, so bear with me until next time.


Next: [BTT043] Luke 24:44-46/ The Entire Old Testament

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

[BTT041] John 19:32-37 / Psalm 34:20 (arguably Exodus 12:43-46; Numbers 9:12) / Zechariah 12:7-10

Previous: [BTT042] John 19:23-24 / Psalm 22:18


John 19:32-37 / Psalm 34:20 (arguably Exodus 12:43-46; Numbers 9:12) / Zechariah 12:7-10

Fulfillment

Then the soldiers came and broke the legs of the first and of the other who was crucified with Him. But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe. For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, “Not one of His bones shall be broken.” And again another Scripture says, “They shall look on Him whom they pierced.”

Original 1

Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
But the Lord delivers him out of them all.
He guards all his bones;
Not one of them is broken.

Original 2

And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the ordinance of the Passover: No foreigner shall eat it. But every man’s servant who is bought for money, when you have circumcised him, then he may eat it. A sojourner and a hired servant shall not eat it. In one house it shall be eaten; you shall not carry any of the flesh outside the house, nor shall you break one of its bones.

Original 3

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, saying: ‘If anyone of you or your posterity is unclean because of a corpse, or is far away on a journey, he may still keep the Lord’s Passover. On the fourteenth day of the second month, at twilight, they may keep it. They shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. They shall leave none of it until morning, nor break one of its bones.

Original 4

“The Lord will save the tents of Judah first, so that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem shall not become greater than that of Judah. In that day the Lord will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; the one who is feeble among them in that day shall be like David, and the house of David shall be like God, like the Angel of the Lord before them. It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn."

Comparison
The first quotation in John is relatively straightforward compared to some of the others we've looked at. Sure, the context of the original Psalm seems to be talking about righteous people in general, but whatever. It's nothing we haven't seen before.

The second quotation is also surprisingly straightforward: on the day when God gets around to destroying his enemies, the people of Jerusalem shall 'look on Me whom they pierced.' John changes that 'Me' to a 'Him', but we really should not be surprised at paraphrasing at this point.

Also – does anyone else get the feeling that God is being unusually coy in Zechariah? "Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn"? That's almost sarcastic. 'Oh, you guys are definitely going to mourn for Me as if I was your firstborn. Almost like I'm the only begotten. Eh? Eh? Wink, wink, nudge?"

What's truly amazing about the Zechariah passage is that it's the only one we've seen that was the prophecy of a singular future event, not something fulfilled multiple times throughout history. Our expectation for what prophecy is, is the absolute minority.

It's time to revise Points One and Three:


Re-Revised Point One: Prophecies usually have multiple fulfillments

Re-Revised Point Two: The context may be misleading in prophecy

Revised Point Three: Past, Present, and Future do not matter in prophecy. Prophecies solely about singular future events are the minority.

Re-Revised Point Four: The exact wording does not matter in prophecy, or we have a different version of the Old Testament than Jesus

Point Five: A passage does not have to be explicitly prophetic to be prophecy


And with this, we have come to the end of the plēroō passages. For whatever reason, there are no passages that meet our requirements outside of the Gospels. Next time, we'll review what we have learned.


Next: [BTT042] Plēroō Passage Review

Monday, July 31, 2017

[BTT040] John 19:23-24 / Psalm 22:18

Previous: [BTT039]  John 15:25 / Psalm 69:1-4


John 19:23-24 / Psalm 22:18


Fulfillment

Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece. They said therefore among themselves, “Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be,” that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says:
“They divided My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.”
Therefore the soldiers did these things.

Original
For dogs have surrounded Me;
The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.
They pierced My hands and My feet;
I can count all My bones.
They look and stare at Me.
They divide My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.

Comparison

What's to say? We might point out that this time the quotation in John is relatively close to the original (only the tense of 'divide' differs), but otherwise, it's just further confirmation of what we've already seen.

Again, one almost wants to smack John for skipping over "They pierced My hands and My feet," but alas.

Revised Point One: Prophecies often have multiple fulfillments

Re-Revised Point Two: The context may be misleading in prophecy

Point Three: Past, Present, and Future do not matter in prophecy

Re-Revised Point Four: The exact wording does not matter in prophecy, or we have a different version of the Old Testament than Jesus

Point Five: A passage does not have to be explicitly prophetic to be prophecy
Next: [BTT041] John 19:32-37 / Psalm 34:20 (arguably Exodus 12:43-46; Numbers 9:12) / Zechariah 12:7-10

Friday, July 28, 2017

[BTT039] John 15:25 / Psalm 69:1-4

Previous: [BTT038] John 13:18-19 / Psalm 41:9


John 15:25 / Psalm 69:1-4

Fulfillment

He who hates Me hates My Father also. If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would have no sin; but now they have seen and also hated both Me and My Father. But this happened that the word might be fulfilled which is written in their law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’

Original

Save me, O God!
For the waters have come up to my neck.
I sink in deep mire,
Where there is no standing;
I have come into deep waters,
Where the floods overflow me.
I am weary with my crying;
My throat is dry;
My eyes fail while I wait for my God.
Those who hate me without a cause
Are more than the hairs of my head;
They are mighty who would destroy me,
Being my enemies wrongfully;
Though I have stolen nothing,
I still must restore it.

Comparison

This is basically a carbon copy of the principles from the last passage. Jesus paraphrases a verse outside of its original context, a verse that doesn't seem particularly prophetic and was already fulfilled in the life of David.

There is a particularly interesting bit in Psalm 69 about "Though I have stolen nothing, I still must restore it" that smacks of the prophetic - Jesus paying the debt for sins that were not His own, but John doesn't cite it specifically. Regretfully, we must let it go.


Revised Point One: Prophecies often have multiple fulfillments

Re-Revised Point Two: The context may be misleading in prophecy

Point Three: Past, Present, and Future do not matter in prophecy

Re-Revised Point Four: The exact wording does not matter in prophecy, or we have a different version of the Old Testament than Jesus

Point Five: A passage does not have to be explicitly prophetic to be prophecy



Next: [BTT040] John 19:23-24 / Psalm 22:18

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

[BTT038] John 13:18-19 / Psalm 41:9

Previous: [BTT037]  John 12:35-41 / Isaiah 53:1-3 / Isaiah 6


John 13:18-19 / Psalm 41:9

Fulfillment

“I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.’ Now I tell you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe that I am He.

Original


All who hate me whisper together against me;
Against me they devise my hurt.
“An evil disease,” they say, “clings to him.
And now that he lies down, he will rise up no more.”
Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted,
Who ate my bread,
Has lifted up his heel against me.

Comparison

Here we have our second example of Jesus quoting Himself as the fulfillment of a specific prophecy. Once again, it comes from a Psalm that, in its original context, seems to be about the life of David and has no indication of being prophetic. In fact, it's about David being sick and his friends and enemies conspiring against him.

Once again, we see that Jesus considered a paraphrase to be fully adequate ("my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread" vs. "He who eats bread with Me").

So while this plēroō passage adds nothing new to our understanding of how Jesus and the apostles interpreted prophecy, it does re-confirm our five points directly from the words of Jesus.


Revised Point One: Prophecies often have multiple fulfillments

Re-Revised Point Two: The context may be misleading in prophecy

Point Three: Past, Present, and Future do not matter in prophecy

Re-Revised Point Four: The exact wording does not matter in prophecy, or we have a different version of the Old Testament than Jesus

Point Five: A passage does not have to be explicitly prophetic to be prophecy


Next: [BTT039] John 15:25 / Psalm 69:1-4

Monday, July 24, 2017

[BTT037] John 12:35-41 / Isaiah 53:1-3 / Isaiah 6

Previous: [BTT036] Luk 4:21 / Isaiah 61:1-4


John 12:35-41 / Isaiah 53:1-3 / Isaiah 6

Fulfillment

Then Jesus said to them, “A little while longer the light is with you. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you; he who walks in darkness does not know where he is going. While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” These things Jesus spoke, and departed, and was hidden from them.
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?”
Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again:
“He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts,
Lest they should see with their eyes,
Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn,
So that I should heal them.”
These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.

Original 1
Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.

Original 2

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts;
The whole earth is full of His glory!”
And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.
So I said:
“Woe is me, for I am undone!
Because I am a man of unclean lips,
And I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips;
For my eyes have seen the King,
The Lord of hosts.”
Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a live coal which he had taken with the tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth with it, and said:
“Behold, this has touched your lips;
Your iniquity is taken away,
And your sin purged.”
Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying:
“Whom shall I send,
And who will go for Us?”
Then I said, “Here am I! Send me.”
And He said, “Go, and tell this people:
‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand;
Keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’
“Make the heart of this people dull,
And their ears heavy,
And shut their eyes;
Lest they see with their eyes,
And hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart,
And return and be healed.”
Then I said, “Lord, how long?”
And He answered:
“Until the cities are laid waste and without inhabitant,
The houses are without a man,
The land is utterly desolate,
The Lord has removed men far away,
And the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land.
But yet a tenth will be in it,
And will return and be for consuming,
As a terebinth tree or as an oak,
Whose stump remains when it is cut down.
So the holy seed shall be its stump.”

Comparison

Our first plēroō from John is a double header, with John quoting two passages from (yet again) Isaiah.

The first quote is almost identical with the original (John adds "Lord," but that's it), which gives us some hope John will conform to our modern sensibilities. Unfortunately, the second quote differs wildly from the original. John quotes it as if the shutting hearts and closing eyes is something "He" (Jesus, according to John) is doing, whereas in the original it is a command from God to Isaiah.

So this plēroō passage provides yet another example of the original context not mattering. The passage John quotes is, as mentioned, clearly a command from God to Isaiah. The only aspect of what we would consider prophecy about the future is God's answer to the question "How long?"

It's clear that this Isaiah prophecy was already fulfilled with the destruction of Jerusalem under the Babylonians, and the remnant that remained at that time. It's also clear that John sees this prophecy as also applying to the ministry of Jesus (and perhaps, the destruction of Jerusalem under the Romans).

As such, I'm going to update Point One:


Revised Point One: Prophecies often have multiple fulfillments

Re-Revised Point Two: The context may be misleading in prophecy

Point Three: Past, Present, and Future do not matter in prophecy

Re-Revised Point Four: The exact wording does not matter in prophecy, or we have a different version of the Old Testament than Jesus

Point Five: A passage does not have to be explicitly prophetic to be prophecy


Next: [BTT038] John 13:18-19 / Psalm 41:9

[BTT036] Luk 4:21 / Isaiah 61:1-4

Previous: [BTT035] Mar 15:27-28 / Isaiah 53:10-12


Luk 4:21 / Isaiah 61:1-4

Fulfillment

So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written:
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.”
Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth. And they said, “Is this not Joseph’s son?”

Original

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”
And they shall rebuild the old ruins,
They shall raise up the former desolations,
And they shall repair the ruined cities,
The desolations of many generations.

Comparison

With Mark's clear adherence to our expectations behind us, we enter to our only plēroō passage in Luke. This time, we also get a surprise celebrity appearance from Jesus Himself. This is the first time in Scripture where Jesus unambiguously states (according to our rules, anyway) that He is the fulfillment to a specific, quoted Scripture.

While Luke's quotation is closer to the Septuagint than the original Hebrew (accounting for discrepancies like "Lord" instead of "Lord God"), there are also discrepancies with the Septuagint. "To set at liberty those who are oppressed" is not found in the Septuagint, but it is found in the Hebrew and in Luke.

So this brings us right back to where we stood with Matthew: the exact wording does not matter or else we have a different version of Isaiah than Jesus had. Actually, let's update Point Four to reflect that.


Point One: Prophecies may have multiple fulfillments

Re-Revised Point Two: The context may be misleading in prophecy

Point Three: Past, Present, and Future do not matter in prophecy

Re-Revised Point Four: The exact wording does not matter in prophecy, or we have a different version of the Old Testament than Jesus

Point Five: A passage does not have to be explicitly prophetic to be prophecy



Next: [BTT037] John 12:35-41 / Isaiah 53:1-3 / Isaiah 6

Friday, July 21, 2017

[BTT035] Mar 15:27-28 / Isaiah 53:10-12

Previous: [BTT034] Mat 27:35 / Psalm 22:16-18


Mar 15:27-28 / Isaiah 53:10-12

Fulfillment

With Him they also crucified two robbers, one on His right and the other on His left. So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with the transgressors.”

Original
Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise Him;
He has put Him to grief.
When You make His soul an offering for sin,
He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days,
And the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in His hand.
He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied.
By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many,
For He shall bear their iniquities.
Therefore I will divide Him a portion with the great,
And He shall divide the spoil with the strong,
Because He poured out His soul unto death,
And He was numbered with the transgressors,
And He bore the sin of many,
And made intercession for the transgressors.

Comparison

This is our sole plēroō passage in Mark, and that's not the only way he's completely different from Matthew. Not only is the quote word-for-word accurate, it works perfectly well in the context of Isaiah's Suffering Servant prophecy.

I mean, Isaiah does not say "And He was crucified among two thieves, one of whom will repent and one of whom will not," but it's an accurate quote and a fairly clear fulfillment.

One wonders why Matthew isn't more like this, but the point is clear: literal, one-time fulfillments of explicit prophecies where the author cares about the exact wording of the source text are the minority so far.


Point One: Prophecies may have multiple fulfillments

Re-Revised Point Two: The context may be misleading in prophecy

Point Three: Past, Present, and Future do not matter in prophecy

Revised Point Four: The exact wording does not matter in prophecy

Point Five: A passage does not have to be explicitly prophetic to be prophecy



Next: [BTT036] Luk 4:21 / Isaiah 61:1-4

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

[BTT034] Mat 27:35 / Psalm 22:16-18

Previous: [BTT033] Mat 27:3-9 / Jeremiah 32:1-15

Mat 27:35 / Psalm 22:16-18


Fulfillment

Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet:
“They divided My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.”

Original

For dogs have surrounded Me;
The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.
They pierced My hands and My feet;
I can count all My bones.
They look and stare at Me.
They divide My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.

Comparison

Finally, at the end of Matthew, we a have a quotation of prophecy that actually lines up with the original. Both texts read exactly the same, except for the verb tense of "divided." Even looking at the wider context, things look pretty good. Surely a "congregation of the wicked" enclosed Jesus; surely they pierced His hands and feet. This is the sort of correspondence between original and fulfillment that we like to see!

There is one slight issue. There is no indication in Psalm 22 that this passage is a prophecy. Rather, it appears to be taken directly from the life of David, describing his metaphorical torments at the hands of his enemies. Of course, Matthew being Matthew, the only prophecy he can quote correctly isn't from a book of prophecy, but from a song.

While Matthew is clearly saying that this Psalm should be considered prophetic, we should also recognize that there is no indication in the original context. Are all Psalms prophetic? Matthew indicates that at least some of them were.

At any rate, this seems as good a point as any to add a new point:


Point One: Prophecies may have multiple fulfillments

Re-Revised Point Two: The context may be misleading in prophecy

Point Three: Past, Present, and Future do not matter in prophecy

Revised Point Four: The exact wording does not matter in prophecy

Point Five: A passage does not have to be explicitly prophetic to be prophecy

Otherwise, Matthew is completely off base and the New Testament is suspect.

Next: [BTT035] Mar 15:27-28 / Isaiah 53:10-12

Monday, July 17, 2017

[BTT033] Mat 27:3-9 / Jeremiah 32:1-15

Previous: [BTT032] Mat 21: 1-5 / Zechariah 9:1-10


Mat 27:3-9 / Jeremiah 32:1-15

Fulfillment

Then Judas, His betrayer, seeing that He had been condemned, was remorseful and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.”
And they said, “What is that to us? You see to it!”
Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.
But the chief priests took the silver pieces and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because they are the price of blood.” And they consulted together and bought with them the potter’s field, to bury strangers in. Therefore that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day.
Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced, and gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.”
 Original

The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord in the tenth year of Zedekiah king of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar. For then the king of Babylon’s army besieged Jerusalem, and Jeremiah the prophet was shut up in the court of the prison, which was in the king of Judah’s house. For Zedekiah king of Judah had shut him up, saying, “Why do you prophesy and say, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Behold, I will give this city into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall take it; and Zedekiah king of Judah shall not escape from the hand of the Chaldeans, but shall surely be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon, and shall speak with him face to face, and see him eye to eye; then he shall lead Zedekiah to Babylon, and there he shall be until I visit him,” says the Lord; “though you fight with the Chaldeans, you shall not succeed”’?”
And Jeremiah said, “The word of the Lord came to me, saying, ‘Behold, Hanamel the son of Shallum your uncle will come to you, saying, “Buy my field which is in Anathoth, for the right of redemption is yours to buy it.”’ Then Hanamel my uncle’s son came to me in the court of the prison according to the word of the Lord, and said to me, ‘Please buy my field that is in Anathoth, which is in the country of Benjamin; for the right of inheritance is yours, and the redemption yours; buy it for yourself.’ Then I knew that this was the word of the Lord. So I bought the field from Hanamel, the son of my uncle who was in Anathoth, and weighed out to him the money—seventeen shekels of silver. And I signed the deed and sealed it, took witnesses, and weighed the money on the scales. So I took the purchase deed, both that which was sealed according to the law and custom, and that which was open; and I gave the purchase deed to Baruch the son of Neriah, son of Mahseiah, in the presence of Hanamel my uncle’s son, and in the presence of the witnesses who signed the purchase deed, before all the Jews who sat in the court of the prison.
“Then I charged Baruch before them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Take these deeds, both this purchase deed which is sealed and this deed which is open, and put them in an earthen vessel, that they may last many days. For thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: “Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.”’

Comparison

This passage may be the apex of Matthew's radical re-interpretation. He claims that Jeremiah is talking about someone buying a field with 30 pieces of silver, which they received as the price of a man's life. But that's completely at odds with the original context and the original text.

The passage in Jeremiah starts with the king of Judah complaining about Jeremiah prophesying that Babylon will defeat Judah. Jeremiah responds that he made a real estate deal (bought a field with silver). Why? Because even after Babylon inevitably curb-stomps Judah, there is still hope in the future. The children of God might be going away for a while, but they'll be coming back.

That's all well and good, but it bears no relation to what Matthew is talking about:

1). There is no mention in Jeremiah that the field is a potter's field.
2). The price paid for the field is seventeen shekels of silver, not thirty pieces of silver.[1]
3). There is no indication in Jeremiah that seventeen shekels is anything other than the worth of the field - it is not mentioned as "the value of Him who was priced, whom they of the children of Israel priced."
Again, we are faced with two possibilities: first, that Matthew had access to a version of Jeremiah that we do not; second, Matthew is doing whatever he wants with text. Matthew also cares nothing about the original context, or that the prophecy has already been fulfilled by the return of the Jews to Israel under Cyrus. He just does not give one iota of a crap about the principles we moderns use to interpret Scripture.


Point One: Prophecies may have multiple fulfillments

Re-Revised Point Two: The context may be misleading in prophecy
Point Three: Past, Present, and Future do not matter in prophecy
Revised Point Four: The exact wording does not matter in prophecy
Next: [BTT034] Mat 27:35 / Psalm 22:16-18

[1]Arguably, the thirty pieces of silver could possibly weigh seventeen shekels. Even if this is the case, the prophecy specifies a weight of silver, not a number of coins.

Friday, July 14, 2017

[BTT032] Mat 21: 1-5 / Zechariah 9:1-10

Previous [BTT031] Mat 12:14-21 / Isaiah 42:1–4



Mat 21: 1-5 / Zechariah 9:1-10


Fulfillment

Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.”
All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying:
“Tell the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your King is coming to you,
Lowly, and sitting on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

Original


The burden of the word of the Lord
Against the land of Hadrach,
And Damascus its resting place
(For the eyes of men
And all the tribes of Israel
Are on the Lord);
Also against Hamath, which borders on it,
And against Tyre and Sidon, though they are very wise.
For Tyre built herself a tower,
Heaped up silver like the dust,
And gold like the mire of the streets.
Behold, the Lord will cast her out;
He will destroy her power in the sea,
And she will be devoured by fire.
Ashkelon shall see it and fear;
Gaza also shall be very sorrowful;
And Ekron, for He dried up her expectation.
The king shall perish from Gaza,
And Ashkelon shall not be inhabited.
“A mixed race shall settle in Ashdod,
And I will cut off the pride of the Philistines.
I will take away the blood from his mouth,
And the abominations from between his teeth.
But he who remains, even he shall be for our God,
And shall be like a leader in Judah,
And Ekron like a Jebusite.
I will camp around My house
Because of the army,
Because of him who passes by and him who returns.
No more shall an oppressor pass through them,
For now I have seen with My eyes.
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you;
He is just and having salvation,
Lowly and riding on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.
I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
And the horse from Jerusalem;
The battle bow shall be cut off.
He shall speak peace to the nations;
His dominion shall be ‘from sea to sea,
And from the River to the ends of the earth.’

Comparison

Again, Matthew loves to paraphrase (or else has a version of Isaiah we don't). Compare:
“Tell the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your King is coming to you,
Lowly, and sitting on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.’”
With:

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you;
He is just and having salvation,
Lowly and riding on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.

This is actually pretty close by Matthew's standards – he's just added some extra rejoicing. So far we've seen him delete material ("And afterward more heavily oppressed her" from #4), add material ("Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem" from this one) and change things entirely ("And in His name Gentiles will trust" from #6)

But we've already covered Matthew's citation errors. Let's talk about context.

The larger context of Zechariah 9 is that God is going to utterly destroy Tyre, the Philistines, and all the others on His laundry list of enemies. God will dwell among His people, and the Messiah will come as a King of Peace who rules the world and destroys all weapons of war.

Jesus riding into Jerusalem on a donkey certainly seems to fulfill part of this prophecy. But again, looking at the larger context of the original complicates Matthew's interpretation. I don't know if Israel's military still uses horses, but they definitely don't have peace there, let alone "to the Ends of the Earth."

It's going to take all of our Points to explain this. This prophecy must have multiple fulfillments (the destruction of Tyre, Jesus riding on a donkey, the future end of war), or else it completely falls apart. The original context of Tyre is completely misleading in Matthew's interpretation. Past, Present, and Future must be compressed if Isaiah and Matthew are to be compatible. And clearly, Matthew is completely willing to play with the exact words of Scripture.

In fact, we're upgrading Point Four from provisional status. It's now a full-fledged point:

Point One: Prophecies may have multiple fulfillments

Re-Revised Point Two: The context may be misleading in prophecy

Point Three: Past, Present, and Future do not matter in prophecy

Revised Point Four: The exact wording does not matter in prophecy


Next: [BTT033] Mat 27:3-9 / Jeremiah 32:1-15

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

[BTT031] Mat 12:14-21 / Isaiah 42:1–4

Previous: [BTT030] Mat 8:16-17 / Isaiah 53:1-6


Mat 12:14-21 / Isaiah 42:1–4


Fulfillment

Then the Pharisees went out and plotted against Him, how they might destroy Him.

But when Jesus knew it, He withdrew from there. And great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all. Yet He warned them not to make Him known, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:

"Behold! My Servant whom I have chosen,
My Beloved in whom My soul is well pleased!
I will put My Spirit upon Him,
And He will declare justice to the Gentiles.
He will not quarrel nor cry out,
Nor will anyone hear His voice in the streets.
A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench,
Till He sends forth justice to victory;
And in His name Gentiles will trust.”

Original

“Behold! My Servant whom I uphold,
My Elect One in whom My soul delights!
I have put My Spirit upon Him;
He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.
He will not cry out, nor raise His voice,
Nor cause His voice to be heard in the street.
A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench;
He will bring forth justice for truth.
He will not fail nor be discouraged,
Till He has established justice in the earth;
And the coastlands shall wait for His law.”

Comparison

Matthew's interpretation here seems to be fairly reasonable. Jesus tells the crowd to keep things quiet - "He will not cry out...nor cause His voice to be heard in the street." Seems simple enough.

Unsurprisingly, Matthew once again quotes from a version of Isaiah that conflicts with the Hebrew. He ends the quote with:

A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench,
Till He sends forth justice to victory;
And in His name Gentiles will trust.”
Whereas Isaiah ends it with:
A bruised reed He will not break,
And smoking flax He will not quench;
He will bring forth justice for truth.
He will not fail nor be discouraged,
Till He has established justice in the earth;
And the coastlands shall wait for His law.”

This is getting to be a thing, isn’t it? Matthew loves to play it fast and loose with the exact wording of Isaiah.

There are two possibilities here. First, that Matthew is paraphrasing the end of the passage. Looking at Isaiah 41, we see that "the coastlands" could be an image for the Gentile nations - "the ends of the earth." It's reasonable for Matthew to try and make the point of the original clear, even if it conflicts with our modern sense of how Scripture should be handled. How many of you would be okay with the following translation?

"For Jesus so loved human beings that He came to Earth as a literally incarnate human being who was also fully God, so believe in Him."
-John 3:16
In fairness to Matthew, I've read some modern translations that were on that level.

The second possibility is that Matthew is quoting from a version of Isaiah now lost to us. This seems unlikely, and even if it were true, is unprovable until we find a version that matches up.

Point One: Prophecies may have multiple fulfillments
Re-Revised Point Two: The context may be misleading in prophecy

Point Three: Past, Present, and Future do not matter in prophecy

Revised Provisional Point Four: The exact wording does not matter in prophecy

If the exact wording matters, Matthew is in trouble (as is the New Testament).

Next: [BTT032] Mat 21: 1-5 / Zechariah 9:1-10

Monday, July 10, 2017

[BTT030] Mat 8:16-17 / Isaiah 53:1-6

Previous: [BTT029] Matt 4:12-16 / Isaiah 9:1-7

Mat 8:16-17 / Isaiah 53:1-6

Fulfillment

When evening had come, they brought to Him many who were demon-possessed. And He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:
“He Himself took our infirmities
And bore our sicknesses.”

Original

Who has believed our report?
And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant,
And as a root out of dry ground.
He has no form or comeliness;
And when we see Him,
There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
He is despised and rejected by men,
A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.
And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him;
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;
Yet we esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten by God, and afflicted.
But He was wounded for our transgressions,
He was bruised for our iniquities;
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
All we like sheep have gone astray;
We have turned, every one, to his own way;
And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

Comparison
Here we have another example of Matthew quoting from a different version of Isaiah.

Compare:

“He Himself took our infirmities
And bore our sicknesses.”
With:
"Surely He has borne our griefs
And carried our sorrows;"
Why do English versions of the Bible translate the two passages differently? We may be tempted to say they don't match because Matthew is quoting from the Greek Old Testament (the Septuagint) instead of the Hebrew original. Unfortunately, the Greek of Matthew doesn't match the Septuagint of Isaiah. So what gives?

Maybe Matthew used a Greek translation other than the Septuagint – perhaps this is his own personal Greek translation. This would explain why some of the other "quotations" don't match up (see #4 for another example).
But regardless, the simplest interpretation may be that Matthew doesn't care that much about the exact wording. He clearly cannot view the Septuagint as perfect, or else he would have used it. He also cannot view translations as invalid, or else he would have quoted the Hebrew original. The only possible explanation is that he viewed translations as valid but not authoritative. The Septuagint was not perfect, but it was perfectly usable.

I'm going to add a provisional point to our list:

Point One: Prophecies may have multiple fulfillments

Re-Revised Point Two: The context may be misleading in prophecy

Point Three: Past, Present, and Future do not matter in prophecy

Provisional Point Four: The original text matters more than translations (but translations are fine to use)


Again, this is reflected in how the New Testament is written. Translations were, apparently, good enough for the Holy Spirit.

Next: [BTT031] Mat 12:14-21 / Isaiah 42:1–4

Friday, July 7, 2017

[BTT029] Matt 4:12-16 / Isaiah 9:1-7

Previous: [BTT0028] Matthew 2:6-18 / Jeremiah 31:15-17

Matt 4:12-16 / Isaiah 9:1-7

Fulfillment

Now when Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, He departed to Galilee. And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:
“The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles:
The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light,
And upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death
Light has dawned.”


Original

Nevertheless the gloom will not be upon her who is distressed,
As when at first He lightly esteemed
The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali,
And afterward more heavily oppressed her,
By the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan,
In Galilee of the Gentiles.
The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.
You have multiplied the nation
And increased its joy;
They rejoice before You
According to the joy of harvest,
As men rejoice when they divide the spoil.
For You have broken the yoke of his burden
And the staff of his shoulder,
The rod of his oppressor,
As in the day of Midian.
For every warrior’s sandal from the noisy battle,
And garments rolled in blood,
Will be used for burning and fuel of fire.
For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
Comparison
This is a difficult one, and not only because Matthew seems to be quoting from a different version of Isaiah (note discrepancies between the verse in Isaiah and their quotation in Matthew).

The first thing we have to understand is that the triumph announcement of the coming Messiah - who will be both "a Child" born to Israel and the "Mighty God," comes directly after Isaiah 8's prophecy of the Assyrian invasion. This is what the "darkness" and "shadow of death" refer to.

If we look at the immediate context of Matthew, he appears to be saying that Isaiah was prophesying that the Messiah would spend some time in trans-Jordan area. That would be silly, because Isaiah is clearly saying that the Messiah will emerge to rule in truth, justice, etc. This seems double silly because Jesus was born long after Assyria existed. How could Jesus be the light of hope against an empire that no longer existed?

However, things start to make more sense when we take into account the idea that Past, Present, Future do not matter in prophecy. Assyria has been out of the picture for centuries, but the people of Zebulun and Naphtali are still under a different military occupation: Rome. We might even further spiritualize things and say that the true darkness is the darkness of sin and death.

The point is, both the original context and the fulfillment context can be misleading if you take them over-literally. Unless we keep in mind the idea that Past, Present, and Future get mushed together in prophecy, they become unintelligible.


Point One: Prophecies may have multiple fulfillments
Re-Revised Point Two: The context may be misleading in prophecy

Point Three: Past, Present, and Future do not matter in prophecy

Next: [BTT030] Mat 8:16-17 / Isaiah 53:1-6

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

[BTT028] Matthew 2:6-18 / Jeremiah 31:15-17

Previous:  [BTT027] Matthew 2:14-15 / Hosea 11:1-4

Matthew 2:6-18 / Jeremiah 31:15-17

Fulfillment

Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying:
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted,
Because they are no more.”

Original

Thus says the Lord:
“A voice was heard in Ramah,
Lamentation and bitter weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children,
Refusing to be comforted for her children,
Because they are no more.”
Thus says the Lord:
“Refrain your voice from weeping,
And your eyes from tears;
For your work shall be rewarded, says the Lord,
And they shall come back from the land of the enemy.
There is hope in your future, says the Lord,
That your children shall come back to their own border.

Comparison

Jeremiah speaks of "Rachel weeping for her children" to refer to the destruction of Israel, whose children were led away into captivity by Assyria. But the Lord stops Rachel's tears, saying that her children will be returned from captivity.

Matthew speaks about King Herod murdering every male child two years old or younger. Unfortunately, it does not look like these children will be coming back any time soon.

Again, the fulfillment defies the original. It is clear that the first half of this prophecy was already fulfilled by the Assyrian conquest and the second half by the return of the Israelites under Cyrus.

If anything, the New Testament seems to indicate that we should ignore the original context of these passages.


Point One: Prophecies may have multiple fulfillments
Revised Point Two: The original context may be misleading in prophecy

Sticking too closely to the original context leaves no room for Herod's butchery, since the original context is about a people who will return.

Point Three: Past, Present, and Future do not matter in prophecy

Next: [BTT0029] Matt 4:12-16 / Isaiah 9:1-7

Monday, July 3, 2017

[BTT027] Matthew 2:14-15 / Hosea 11:1-4

Previous: [BTT026] Matt 1:18-23 / Isaiah 7:3-17


Fulfillment

When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”
Original

“When Israel was a child, I loved him,
And out of Egypt I called My son.
As they called them,
So they went from them;
They sacrificed to the Baals,
And burned incense to carved images.
“I taught Ephraim to walk,
Taking them by their arms;
But they did not know that I healed them.
I drew them with gentle cords,
With bands of love,
And I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck.
I stooped and fed them."

Comparison

These two passages have perhaps less to do with each other than the last example. The passage from Hosea clearly refers to the nation of Israel - unless we are going to accept that Jesus sacrificed to the Baals and burned incense to carved images.

At this point, I think we have to acknowledge something: when the apostles interpreted Old Testament prophecies, they did not give the slightest crap about the original context. Hosea was talking about something that had already happened, not something in the future. Israel was called out of Egypt in the past tense.

Matthew’s interpretation is that when Hosea spoke about a sinful, false-god worshipping Israel who came out of Egypt in the past, he was actually talking about the Perfect Son of God who would come out of Egypt in the future.

If this is true, it means that prophecy views past and future as much the same thing. "Out of Egypt I called my Son," refers simultaneously to the past and to the future.

Point One: Prophecies may have multiple fulfillments

Point Two: The original context doesn't matter in prophecy
Or else Hosea said Jesus sacrificed to false gods.

Point Three: Past, Present, and Future do not matter in prophecy
Or else Matthew was incorrect to attribute the fulfillment of this prophecy to Jesus.


Next: [BTT028] Matthew 2:6-18 / Jeremiah 31:15-17

Friday, June 30, 2017

[BTT026] Matt 1:18-23 / Isaiah 7:3-17

Previous: [BTT025] Cut Passages 002

1. Matt 1:18-23 / Isaiah 7:3-17

Fulfillment:

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
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.”
Original:
Then the Lord said to Isaiah, “Go out now to meet Ahaz, you and Shear-Jashub your son, at the end of the aqueduct from the upper pool, on the highway to the Fuller’s Field, and say to him: ‘Take heed, and be quiet; do not fear or be fainthearted for these two stubs of smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria, and the son of Remaliah. Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah have plotted evil against you, saying, “Let us go up against Judah and trouble it, and let us make a gap in its wall for ourselves, and set a king over them, the son of Tabel”— thus says the Lord God:
“It shall not stand,
Nor shall it come to pass.
For the head of Syria is Damascus,
And the head of Damascus is Rezin.
Within sixty-five years Ephraim will be broken,
So that it will not be a people.
The head of Ephraim is Samaria,
And the head of Samaria is Remaliah’s son.
If you will not believe,
Surely you shall not be established.”’”
Moreover the Lord spoke again to Ahaz, saying, “Ask a sign for yourself from the Lord your God; ask it either in the depth or in the height above.”
But Ahaz said, “I will not ask, nor will I test the Lord!”
Then he said, “Hear now, O house of David! Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will you weary my God also? 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. The Lord will bring the king of Assyria upon you and your people and your father’s house—days that have not come since the day that Ephraim departed from Judah.”
Comparison

Right off the bat, we are hit with an extremely difficult prophecy. The relationship between the original prophecy in Isaiah and its fulfillment in Matthew is anything but clear.

Let's get the obvious objection out of the way. Matthew is quoting from the Greek Septuagint instead of the original Hebrew. In the Hebrew original, "virgin is "`almah" (עַלְמָה ), which can mean "young woman" in addition to "unmarried female virgin of marriageable age" - something which opponents of the Virgin Birth love to point out.

However there is no passage in the Old Testament in which 'almah is used in reference to an unmarried non-virgin, or even a married virgin. If anything, taking the Hebrew usage of 'almah into account makes the status of Mary even more appropriate - she was an unmarried female virgin of marriageable age when she conceived, fulfilling every single thing implied by the word 'almah.[1]

The issue is the original context of the Sign. Isaiah tells Ahaz to ask for a sign, but a sign of what? The issue on the table in Isaiah 7 is not the coming of the Messiah, but an alliance between Ephraim and Syria. Ahaz is not worried about salvation from sin, but salvation from a military invasion.

Isaiah's prophecy specifically says that within 65 years, Ephraim will be utterly destroyed, to the points that it will "not be a people." More importantly in terms of the sign, both Ephraim (Israel) and Syria will lose their kings - the kings plotting against Judah - before the promised Child is old enough to "refuse the evil and choose the good."[2]

This makes Matthew's interpretation of the prophecy problematic. If the Child is Jesus, the sign has come a bit late. While "Rezin…and the son of Remaliah" were most definitely off of their thrones before Jesus' birth, Ahaz was also long dead. How could the birth of Christ be a sign of political change in the days of Ahaz?

This seems to point to the idea that Isaiah is talking about two Childs (that's grammatically incorrect, but work with me here). The first Child was born in the time of Ahaz, the second Child was Jesus. The first Child was born as a sign to Ahaz and as a prefigurement of Jesus, who fulfilled the prophecy in its entirety.

But the matter is far from settled. As we have seen, the passage seems to indicate a Virgin Conception. If the passage can be interpreted as also allowing a non-Virgin Conception - i.e., a woman who at the moment of the prophecy was an 'almah got married and conceived in the usual way - then that means that the prophecy did not require a Virgin Birth. That would mean that either there is no Old Testament requirement for a Virgin Birth (making Matthew's citation of the passage incorrect) or that Ahaz could rightly call Isaiah a liar.

Alternatively, we could argue that the first Child was also the product of a Virgin Conception. If anything, this is even more problematic since it would imply the birth of Jesus was not unique. As far as we know from Scripture, only the Holy Spirit can cause a Virgin to conceive apart from the usual way. So was Jesus born twice?

Lastly, Isaiah says that the child's name will be "Immanuel," which, as Matthew reminds us, means "God with us." However, Gabriel instructs Mary to name the child "Jesus," or "savior."

So, looking at Isaiah, we would expect the following things:
1). An 'almah will conceive a child as a sign to Ahaz.
2). The child of the 'almah will be named "Immanuel," "God with us."
3). Before the child is old enough to choose the good instead of evil, Israel and Assyria will both lose their kings, who are plotting an alliance against Judah.
Looking at Matthew, we would expect the following things:
1). An 'almah will conceive a Child while still an 'almah hundreds of years after the death of Ahaz.
2). The Child of the 'almah will be named "Jesus," "Savior."
3). The Child will save His people from their sins.
To reconcile these two passages, we have the following options:
1). There were two Childs (Immanuel and Jesus), who both fulfilled the prophecy.
2). There were two Childs (Immanuel and Jesus), both of which fulfilled part of the prophecy.
3). There was one Child (Jesus), who provided a very poor sign to poor Ahaz.
Option two seems the most likely. For both Childs to fulfill the entirety of the prophecy, both Childs would have to be Virgin-born, both as signs to Ahaz. The more likely scenario is that a child named "Immanuel" was born as a sign to Ahaz, fulfilling that part of the prophecy and a child named "Jesus" was born to an 'almah hundreds of years later.

This is not a perfect explanation, but it provides us with a starting point. There are many themes here we will see repeated through the Plēroō Passages.

Point One: Prophecies may have multiple fulfillments

If not, this pairing of prophecy and fulfillment makes no sense whatsoever.


Next: [BTT026] Matthew 2:14-15 / Hosea 11:1-4

[1]See Gen. 24:23 and Sng. 6:8 for passages where 'almah refers to unmarried virgins.

[2]Of course, this will not prevent Assyria from invading and conquering Judah. Look, it's a complicated passage.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

[BTT025] Cut Passages 002

[BTT026] Cut Passages 001

Explicit Fulfillment, Ambiguous Prophecy
Matt 2:22-23 / Isaiah 11:1-2? Judges 13:1-5? Somewhere else?
Fulfillment

But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee. And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene.”
 Original?:

Isaiah 11:1-2

There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,
And a Branch (נֵצֶר , netser) shall grow out of his roots.
The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him,
The Spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The Spirit of counsel and might,
The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.



Judges 13:1-5?

Now there was a certain man from Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had no children. And the Angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Indeed now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and bear a son. Now therefore, please be careful not to drink wine or similar drink, and not to eat anything unclean. For behold, you shall conceive and bear a son. And no razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.”

Why was it Cut?

This verse does contain the word "plēroō," but it is not clear which Old Testament prophecy is being referenced. Theories abound on just what Matthew is referencing here. Some claim it is a reference to Isaiah 11:1 or Judges 13:5, although there are significant issues with these identifications. The Isaiah 11:1 theory is based on some fairly shaky etymology (netser is a pun on "Nazarene?") and Judges 13:5 clearly refers to the Nazarite vow, not to residence in Nazareth.

Others claim it is from one of the lost works of the Old Testament (the Book of Jasher, mentioned in Joshua 10:13; the Book of Shemaiah, mentioned in 2 Chronicles 9:29) or else an oral tradition passed down from one of the prophets. Obviously, it is impossible to prove this assertion - if a book is lost, that means we can't check it!

Whatever the true answer is, this ambiguity led to this passage being cut from the list. For what it's worth, I lean towards the theory that Matthew was referencing a prophecy now lost to us. While there is no clear evidence that the prophecy is from, say, the Book of Shemaiah, nothing in the Old Testament is a perfect fit.

There is precedent for extra-canonical quotations in other parts of Scripture. Jude and 2 Peter seem to reference the Book of Enoch, Hebrews may reference the Ascension of Isaiah, Jude may also reference the Assumption of Moses, and so on.

At any rate, while a prophecy is being fulfilled, we cannot say with absolute certainty what prophecy is being fulfilled. Since the whole point is to compare the original with the fulfillment, verses like this are unsuited to our present purpose.

There are also many passages where Jesus does this or that in fulfillment of prophecy without explicitly mentioning what specific prophecy is being fulfilled (see Mark 14:48-49 for a good example). While we should have no doubt that these are genuine fulfillments of prophecy, and we may even be able to determine which prophecy with a degree of certainty, these identifications remain ambiguous. As such, these verses were removed from the list.

Having looked at the passages which didn't make the cut, let's look at the ones that did.

Next: [BTT027] Matt 1:18-23 / Isaiah 7:3-17

Monday, June 26, 2017

[BTT024] Cut Passages 001

1. Specific Old Testament Prophecy, Ambiguous Fulfillment

Matt 2:1 -6 / Micah 5:1-4

Fulfillment?:

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” 
When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. 
So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: 
‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”
Original:

Now gather yourself in troops,
O daughter of troops;
He has laid siege against us;
They will strike the judge of Israel with a rod on the cheek. 
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Though you are little among the thousands of Judah,
Yet out of you shall come forth to Me
The One to be Ruler in Israel,
Whose goings forth are from of old,
From everlasting.” 
Therefore He shall give them up,
Until the time that she who is in labor has given birth;
Then the remnant of His brethren
Shall return to the children of Israel.
And He shall stand and feed His flock
In the strength of the Lord,
In the majesty of the name of the Lord His God;
And they shall abide,
For now He shall be great
To the ends of the earth;
Why was it cut?

The short version is that this verse does not contain the word "plēroō." The long version is that while Matthew does seem to indicate that the chief priests and scribes were correct when they applied the passage in Micah to the birthplace of the Messiah, he does not state it explicitly.

There are many verses that use phrases such as "thus it is written" or "he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah" (see Matthew 3:1-3). In most cases, it is fairly clear that Old Testament prophecy is being fulfilled. However, we must avoid all ambiguity. Unless the author explicitly states that a fulfillment has occurred, there remains a possibility that the author is simply referencing the Old Testament.

That said, I do want to discuss this passage in particular. It is telling that the chief priests and scribes were able to intellectually deduce that the Messiah's birthplace would be Bethlehem, which was indeed the birthplace of Jesus. Apparently these chief priests and scribes were able to get this one correct.

Even if the chief priests and scribes got pretty much everything else about the Christ wrong - He came to die for sinners, not to wipe out the Romans - they got this one thing right. This should give us both hope and humility. Hope, because if even the chief priests and scribes were capable of understanding prophecy by studying Scripture, then it stands to reason that we can as well. Humility, because even if they got one detail right, they misunderstood the most essential things about the Christ. Worst of all, most of them did not recognize Him when He came.

Let us "surpass the Pharisees" in this as well. It is good to study prophecy; it is better to recognize Jesus as who He says He is. No man can claim to understand prophecy while denying the widow and orphan justice, while oppressing the poor, while living in open defiance of the will of God. Those who understand prophecy understand that Jesus will return as "a thief in the night" - and woe to the ones not ready.

[BTT025] Cut Passages 002

Friday, June 23, 2017

[BTT023] How Does the Bible Interpret Prophecy?

[BT023] Doing A Better Job

When we look at the Scriptures, we see two ways in which the meaning of a prophecy is revealed:

1). Prophecies which have their meanings revealed almost immediately afterwards.

In other words, the prophet Abrabimilechaham has a dream or vision, he can’t understand it, and God reveals the meaning of the dream within the same chapter.

A good example of this is in Daniel 2, where Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar's dream. In that case, Nebuchadnezzar has a prophetic dream, and Daniel provides the interpretation almost immediately after. There can be no doubt of what God was trying to tell Nebuchadnezzar, because the interpretation follows in the text immediately.

2). Prophecies which do not have their meaning revealed until much later.

In other words, the prophet Enochathan has a dream or vision, writes it down, and it is not until hundreds or thousands of years later that the meaning is revealed.

An example of this is Jeremiah 31:31-34, where Jeremiah prophecies of a day in which God will write His law on the hearts of His people, which Hebrews 10:15-18 says is fulfilled in Jesus. There's a fairly significant gap between these two, so there were hundreds of years where it was not fully understood.

Now naturally, the first type of prophecy takes care of itself. There’s no need to interpret a prophecy that comes with its own interpretation! It’s the second type that we’re concerned with.

For that reason, we’re going to focus on a very, very specific type of prophecy: Old Testament prophecies that are explicitly quoted as being "fulfilled" in the New Testament. This is to filter out literary allusions and references to the Old Testament, leaving only indisputable fulfillments of prophecy.

These limitations were chosen because the New Testament authors were interpreting prophecies from a book – the Torah. This closely resembles our situation today. We are not interpreting new dreams and prophecies received from God directly, but prophecies that have been written down and passed through the ages. We want to see how New Testament authors dealt with this same situation.

Additionally, since we believe that both the Old and New Testament are the inspired word of God, we can have full assurance that when the New Testament says 'this was in fulfillment of prophecy,' this interpretation is correct.

In order to do this, we will limit our study to New Testament passages that use the Greek verb plēroō (πληρόω, "to fulfill") in conjunction with a direct quotation of Old Testament prophecy. Plēroō can also be used in the sense of "fulfilling" or "filling" other things – Jesus fulfilling the requirements of the law, Christians being filled with love/grace/the Holy Spirit. Since we are only interested in prophecy at the moment, we will not look at verses that use plēroō in these other senses.

Additionally, we will not be looking at isolated verses, but the passages in which they appear. This is necessary to understand precisely what actions and events are fulfilling the prophecy in question. We will also look at the Old Testament prophecy in its original context and compare how the New Testament fulfillment compares.

By my count, there are 17 passages in which a specific Old Testament prophecy is explicitly fulfilled (plēroō) in the New Testament. Before looking at these passages, we will look at some examples of passages that were rejected to better explain why we are looking at these 17 passages in particular.

[BTT024] Cut Passages 001