There is a list of the "Messianic Prophecies in scripture", commonly found on the Internet, containing a number of some 365 of said prophecies. Years ago, this list ended up in one of the hundreds of articles on The Refiner's Fire and was assumed "authoritative".
It turns out that The Refiner's Fire was victim to this common list of unknown origin (shame on us) as we did not review each and every listed "prophecy" for validity. Well, Australian Internet radio host Jono Vandor at "truth2u.org" along with a Canadian rabbi, Michael Skobac, have for weeks now been "picking apart" this “list” on their Internet radio show as "disingenuous and misguided" - (my words not theirs).
Truth is, when we evaluated the list, we did find there were some problems with it! Some of the "prophecies" were found to be "weak", at best (again, my words) and mistaken or misidentified at worst (meaning only that the scripture citation was simply erred or not understood). So, having had our hind-ends seriously lashed by these two “learned men”, we at The Refiner’s Fire made a concerted effort to review and revise the list!
This review took considerable time - a couple of weeks or more - as it was a rather intensive effort - and resulted in what ended up to be a list, reduced in number, inclusive of about 300 items rather than the original 365. (The original number, 365, held no special significance, so it was not our mission to either increase or decrease the number.) The main reason for the reduction in the number was certainly not withheld, and we openly explained that some of the prophecies seemed to be "duplicates", equating the same Tanach scripture to one or more New Testament citations, and it did not seem right to "count" them more than once. We stated this fact without obscuration! Additionally, we decided that not all the citations could be clearly described as "prophecies", so we chose to describe them as "connections" (my word - never imagining that Jono and his scholarly guest, Rabbi Skobac would enjoy admonishing the use of that word! )
Some of the things they said were downright pernicious, as it was clear in their dialogue, dripping with sarcasm, that they view us as illiterate or mindless bozos because we “believe” in Y’shua. I mean, we are talking about people who accept completely “by faith” alone that God created the world in 7 days, and that people in biblical times lived to be nearly a thousand years old, and that God flooded the entire world except for Noah and his family…(no PROOF, but hey, they believe it!) And they believe that God supernaturally kept Israel alive for 40 years by providing manna, and Moshe wrote the Torah (never mind that Moshe died before the end of Deuteronomy, and yet somehow, the Torah was magically finished!) And they simply accept that the Hebrews in the wilderness saw a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night; and that Moshe’s face was so bright when he descended the mountain where he somehow received two tablets of stone with ten commandments written by the “finger of God”! But for US to “believe” the promised Messiah is found in Y’shua without “evidence”? Well, THAT is just blasphemy and STUPID, isn’t it?
Regardless, we "republished" the new, reduced/refined list on The Refiner’s Fire, this time scripture citation inclusive; and, when needed, even provided an explanation about the citation so as provide details which may not be obvious from the scripture alone.
Well, Jono and Skobac were apparently delighted with the reduction in the number of prophecies, declaring the new list as the "Revised Standard Version" (the joke of which is not lost on us!) It was a lot fewer for them to pick apart which, of course, leaves more time to devote to their “cross-talk funtime” trashing of ALL things “New Testament” and those who are dumb enough to “believe”….
The new list – judging by the mocking tones and allegations of these Internet scholars - clearly did not provide any improvement over the old (is this reference lost on you?) It apparently only served to bring NEW charges against us! Our new list, while recognizing up front that a particular item may not be "clear" as a "prophecy" and thus may be seen (as we tried to indicate by the careful choice of the appropriate English word) more as a "connection" to the Messiah, was instead made out by these on-air experts to be an "apothenia"! Ouch!
An "apothenia", as Jono quoted on-air (apparently verbatim directly from Wikipedia), is "the experience of seeing patterns or connections in random or meaningless data." Jono's example, of "apothneia" was this: "You know, Michael, when people see...they look at clouds, and they go 'Oh that looks like a butterfly, or that looks like a face, or that looks like whatever'..." to which rabbi Skobac interjects: "Like a Rorschach test" – and Jono quickly agreed, and he then went on to compare the prophecies to "seeing the face of Jesus in your toast". OUCH! Thus, the entire list of Messianic prophecies and/or "connections" (a word which they clearly did not like) was reduced to the equivalent of seeing a "rubber ducky in the clouds" (my paraphrase of their tomfoolery). Wow! It’s actually somewhat surprising they did not accuse us of eisegesis! (Not at all sure why they chose the apothenia route: "That cloud looks like..." analogy, rather than "apparently this is what they WANT the scriptures to say" – the application of exegesis. Oh well, it's their radio show, and their time to admonish the world, all those who believe Y’shua is the long-awaited Messiah, well, they are all blithering, babbling idiots who live in a fantasy world!)
Nevertheless, whatever their charge, the ancient writings Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, James, Peter, in the available manuscripts (Greek to the 3rd century CE and Aramaic to the 2nd century CE) are apparently to be equated to a “child looking at the clouds and seeing visions" – patterns only pointing back to the unnamed Messiah! Their entire dialogue is to deny that some of the prophecies in the Tanach could have possibly already come true and are documented in the Brit Chadashah! In fact, Rabbi Skobac makes the point that “their belief” [in reference to weak-minded believers] first requires acceptance that Jesus is the Messiah, and only then do they find “connections” to the Hebrew scriptures as proof. Therefore these ancient writings which became the Brit Chadashah can't have possibly been fulfilled by a physical Messiah – because, after all, there is no evidence!
Indeed Skobac says:
“You can really start off with anything and find connections to a document as large as the Hebrew scriptures. But the real question is why begin at that point, meaning if there aren’t clear prophecies that identify Jesus as the Messiah, so why begin this entire enterprise of finding connections to Him, meaning that I think that the critical question is: Do the Hebrew scriptures contain clear evidence that identify Jesus as the Messiah? Now if that is the case, if it is clearly established that He is the Messiah, then it would be worthwhile to say ‘Well, you see, now that we know this with clarity, we can actually find, many, many connections and references and clouds and types and, you know, hints and that would be a worthwhile project.”
(Er, yeah, good question, Rabbi Skobac! So, we are wondering why you are willing to adhere to the Hebrew scriptures when they originated from the Masoretic Text, which, in turn, originated from the Septuagint! Doesn’t that make the Hebrew scriptures you hold so dear nothing but a “cloud” too? You guys rely on translations of translations yet have the audacity to sit there and make fun of the authority of the New Testament and our belief in Y’shua?)
In other words, the fact that the many connections, references and hints seen in the Messiah Yeshua as recorded in ancient documents (called the Brit Chadashah, “New Testament”) which match the connections, references and hints in the older Tanach, are simply not good enough because we did not already know in advance who the Messiah would be! This is like saying “Wait a minute, this birth certificate recorded at the courthouse says Mr. and Mrs. Skobac are the parents of Michael, but there is no clear evidence predating this piece of paper that Mr. and Mrs. Skobac would birth a son and name him “Michael” therefore there is no purpose in the exercise to argue that Michael is their son.”
No, according to these two men, we can't have it that a Messiah actually came and was written about in an ancient era 2000 years before their time, who taught of the Kingdom of YHWH, and the need for our steadfast obedience to the God of Abraham, and His offering of Himself for our salvation, so long as we obey! Can’t have that! According to Skobac, "our position" (on the Messiah) is that: "the person making the list begins with their belief that Jesus was the Messiah, and beginning at that point they then find connections..." (Thus "our position", being only a "belief" is therefore entirely invalid!) Get it? A “belief” is entirely invalid!
Excuse me? I reiterate: Is not the ENTIRE TANACH embraced and understood by traditional Judaism only "by belief"? Do you, Jono Vandor, Rabbi Skobac, or anyone else have ONE SHRED of evidence that "YHWH created the heavens and earth in 7 days", or that Abraham was asked to sacrifice Isaac and trusted in YHWH, or that Moshe saw YHWH in a burning bush and realized he was in His very presence, or that Jonah survived 3 days in the belly of a fish, or that Moshe lead thousands from Egypt - EXCEPT FOR YOUR BELIEF? So just what is so wrong with the 27 documents which became canonized as the Brit Chadashah describing the birth, death and salvation of the long prophesied Messiah that is so unbelievable from the 39 books of the Tanach that you absolutely refuse to believe them?
Worse, this duo, Jono and Skobac, go on to denigrate believers in the Messiah by challenging us that since "there aren't clear prophecies that identify Jesus as the Messiah" then why begin this "entire enterprise" (the exact words of Rabbi Skobac – see above!) to make connections to Him? Rabbi Skobac states: "Do the Hebrew scriptures contain clear evidence that identify Jesus as the Messiah?" Excuse me? Again, you accept without question, without the required (but missing) "clear evidence" that YHWH appeared AS MEN to Abraham at the Oaks of Mamre (Genesis 18:1), but you can't accept that YHWH appeared AS A MAN ~2000 years ago to show us the way to YHWH, which, after thousands of years of animal sacrifices had not yet brought us together as a community, within His guidance as Creator and live as He asks?
You find it so hard to accept that at the time, year, and century described in the Brit Chadashah, that the prophesied Messiah actually came, and that to prove it you must spend hours on end on the radio laughing and giggling and denying, for example, even the concept of a “virgin birth”, and the remainder of the list of prophecies and "connections" (my word, remember), that reveal the undeniable, staggering, statistical evidence that it may have actually happened? Must we "pick apart" line by line, the list that many thousands of scholars before us have identified, and argue instead, ad nauseum, that it did not happen? Do you not comprehend the meaning of the word "faith"? Again, is it not by faith that you believe ANY of the “Hebrew scriptures” (a term Rabbi Skobac loves to use)?
Really? Jono and Rabbi Skobac - Must you be so blind? I won’t apologize for my use of the word “connections” to describe some of the items in our list, rather than retaining the stronger word “prophecy” as originally applied to all of the list. But I chose that word only because I recognize that there are some valid arguments that one person’s interpretation of a “prophecy” might not be accepted by another’s interpretation and thus lead to valid differences of opinion. But I assure you that I was not “making connections” as if watching shapes in clouds or using “meaningless data” to draw conclusions. If I were to rely only on meaningless data, I’d continue listening to truth2u.org radio.
In closing, since you allowing your listeners to post sarcastic remarks attacking our belief as well as our characters, let us point out: Nowhere are you told in the Hebrew scriptures it is permissible to mock or attack PEOPLE or to poke fun at their supposed “lack of intellect” – which is what you condone! Not in Torah, not in Talmud! Here, in case you are not aware of it, from the “Code of the Jewish Law”, (the Shulchan Aruch), http://books.google.com/books?id=B83c7pHQuqQC&pg=PA138&lpg=PA138&dq=shulchan+aruch,+do+not+mock&source=bl&ots=qPo2OOFZEX&sig=91R1HAlAmWK9zlu5k8HIFrTAHV8&hl=en&sa=X&ei=dUllVLeCMo32yQSqzoDAAg&ved=0CCMQ6AEwAA#v=snippet&q=mock&f=false , it clearly states it is permissible to mock idolatry, but NOT the person you perceive to be an idolator….
Your scholarly mocking has not gone unnoticed.