November 19, 2013

The Redeemer – Part 2: Identity Crisis

Posted in Jesus, Salvation tagged , , , at 12:49 PM by E. M.

NOPE

UH, NO

When I was a kid, I was in the car with my dad when I saw a billboard on the side of a building with the picture of a guy with a plastic looking hairdo and a vacant stare that read “Jesus the Christ is Here!” (followed by a phone number and an address in Florida).

I turned to my father and yelled, “Look dad!  Jesus has returned, and He looks just like our plumber!”  He looked over at me, shook his head and sighed (a frequent occurrence during my childhood).

Of course Jose-Luis de Jesus Miranda isn’t the Redeemer (I’m not even sure he’s real).  Yet he is not alone in claiming to be the Christ.  Many characters throughout history have made messianic claims.  And although most of them are easily dismissed, some have been taken seriously enough to have gained significant and devoted followings (as the Bible predicted).  So it would seem that we have an identity crisis.  Or rather, an identity Christ-sis (see what I did there?)

In the last post, I ended my review of the Redeemer’s mission and attributes with the conclusion that Jesus of Nazareth was the Redeemer.  This is of course the belief of mainstream Christianity as well.  But the fact alone that this belief is shared by a majority does not make it true.

As with any other supposition, it has to pass the test of contrastive thinking.  Only by proving that no one else could be the Redeemer can we know conclusively that Jesus is Him.  How do we do this?  By again taking the specific Biblical predictions (prophesies) about the Redeemer and seeing if they match anyone else in history.

There are over 300 specific prophesies written about the Redeemer before His advent. But how likely is it that these events and attributes could have also been fulfilled by someone else?  Let’s play the odds with a few of them and see.  And just to keep things as contrastive as possible, I’m going to give myself some handicaps with the figures below.

*BEGIN MATH ALERT*

Let’s assume that in the history of the planet, there have been 100 billion people who have lived and died (that is a VERY generous estimate, but as I said, I’m intentionally giving myself handicaps).  What are the odds that one of them (other than Jesus) could have fulfilled only nine of the prophesies of the Redeemer?

The Bible says that the Redeemer would be born in Bethlehem (Prophesied in Micah 5:2, fulfilled by Jesus in Luke 2:4-5, 7).  Bethlehem is a tiny city that has historically had a population well below 5,000.  But let’s double that for our handicap to 10,000.  What are the chances that a random person in history would have been born in Bethlehem?  We’ll take our total population of 100 billion and divide by the historic Bethlehem population of 10,000, and we get 100,000 (one hundred thousand).  So for our purposes, these is a 1 in 100,000 chance of someone being born in Bethlehem (this means that if we selected 100,000 people at random from everyone who has ever lived, one of them would have been born in Bethlehem.)  So far so good?  (Probably not but I’ll be more casual with my estimates from now on).

The Redeemer was born of a virgin (Prophesized in Isaiah 7:14 Fulfilled by Jesus in Luke 1:26-27, 30-31).  How many people in history experienced a virgin birth?  I’d estimate zero, but let’s be kind and say 1 person in every million (1,000,000) was born of a virgin.

The Redeemer will receive gifts from Arabian kings  – (Prophesied in Psalms 72:10, fulfilled by Jesus in Matthew 2: 1-11).  Let’s say 1 in 1000 people have been given gifts from Arabian royalty at their birth (Middle-Eastern hospitality and all).

He was a miraculous healer of the blind, deaf, and lame – (Prophesized in Isaiah 35:5-6, fulfilled by Jesus in Matthew 11:3-5) I’m sure at least 1 in every 100,000 people have done that.

He was rejected by the people who had been waiting for him for almost a thousand years – (Prophesized in Isaiah 53:3   Fulfilled by Jesus in John 1:11, Luke 23:14-18).  Happens all the time, right? 1 in 10,000 chance.

He was betrayed by a friend for 30 pieces of silver (Prophesied in Psalms 55:12-13, Zechariah 11:12, fulfilled by Jesus in Matthew 26:14-15, 49-50).  Who hasn’t had a friend like that? 1 in 10,000 chance.

He was Silent before His accusers even though He was innocent (Prophesied in Isaiah 53:7, fulfilled by Jesus in Mark 15:4-5).  A common occurrence –  1 in 1,000

He would be executed by crucifixion (Prophesied in Psalms 22, fulfilled by Jesus in Matthew 27:35-36).  We’ll estimates that it’s happened to 1 in 100,000 people (they probably deserved it).

He would be resurrected from the dead (Prophesied in Psalms 16:10, Psalms 30:3, Isaiah 26:19,   fulfilled by Jesus in Mark 16:6-7).  Not counting zombies, let’s say 1 in 100,000 people have come back from the dead.

Now remember, the Redeemer had to fulfill all of these prophesies, so we need the composite odds.  We get that by adding up all the zeros (40) which gets us to 1040 (1 with 40 zeroes after it).  Divided by our total historical population of 100 billion people (1011), gets us 1029

So the odds of any one in history other than Jesus fulfilling these nine prophesies is one chance in 1029.  That’s a REALLY big number (here’s what it looks like – 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000).

How big is that?

Well, if the universe is 15 billion years old (and I’m not going to debate that right now), and we break that down into seconds, the universe is only 1017 seconds old!

If someone other than Jesus tried to randomly fulfill just nine of the 300 prophesies of the Redeemer once every second for the entire history of the universe (and then 1012 more seconds after that) they’d fail!

But wait, it gets worse!  Let’s say we triple the prophesies to get the odds of someone other than Jesus fulfilling just 27of the prophesies (and lets also assume no decreases in likelihoods as an additional handicap), we’d have 1040 x 1040 x 1040 = 10120.  Divide by our population of 1011, and we get 1 chance in 10109!

Now we have a bit of problem.  This is a number so big, it’s virtually incomprehensible.  How big a number is it?

Well, scientists estimate that in the entire universe, there are “only” 1082 atoms!  So there is neither enough time in the universe nor enough matter in the universe to give anyone other than Jesus any chance to fulfill just 27 of the 300 prophesies of the Redeemer!

*END OF MATH ALERT.  YOU MAY RETURN TO YOUR SEATS.

Math tricks aside, you can prove the historic identity of the Redeemer by looking at one spectacular and exacting prophesy found in the book of Daniel which gives the exact day that the Redeemer would present himself to Israel!  :

“ Seventy weeks [of years]* are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy.

Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command
To restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks [of years] and sixty-two weeks [of years]…” – Daniel 9:24-25

According to this passage, when the order to rebuild Jerusalem was given (it had been destroyed by the Babylonians after Israel screwed up one too many times), the Messiah (Redeemer) would present Himself exactly 69 weeks of years [483 years** or 173,880 days] later.

It just so happens that the order to rebuild Jerusalem is a matter of historic record. On the 14th of Nisan [March/April of our current calendar] of the year 445 B.C. the Persian King Artaxerxes, commissioned the rebuilding of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:1-8). 173,880 days later is the 6th of Nisan, 32 A.D.  This was the only day that the Messiah of Israel could present himself!

Jesus fulfilled that prophesy on the very day.  This is the day Christians celebrate as Palm Sunday.

Jesus of Nazareth is the only one that was, is, or could be the Messiah of Israel and the Redeemer of humanity!

There is one final and very controversial aspect about Jesus that we will address in this series.  If He was both mortal and divine, how come someone be fully man AND fully God?

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*Ancient Jews divided their years into groups of 7 (called a week of years) the same way we divide years into groups of 10, called decades.

**Jews used a 360 day calendar

November 9, 2013

The Redeemer – part 1: Righteous Resume

Posted in Jesus, Salvation, The Dispensations, The Law tagged , , , , , at 7:09 PM by E. M.

Plan BFrom very early on in this blog (back when I actually had time to publish a post once a week (because I hadn’t yet gotten married or achieved an upper-management position, or adopted an overactive dog), I began to introduce and drop cryptic hints about “The Redeemer”.  This Redeemer would bridge the gap between God’s nature and our own, allowing us to attain the meaning of life through God’s plan.

Of course its rather obvious to the sophisticated reader Who I’m speaking of when I use the term “Redeemer”.  So why have I talked around His identity for so long?  Because the purpose of this blog isn’t to “tell”, its purpose is to “prove” – and to provide that proof in a logical and systematic manner.  I didn’t want to focus who and what He is, until the revelation of His identity and appearance fit the timeline of the dispensations.

With that in mind, it’s now time to focus on who the Redeemer is, by first focusing in on why He’s needed, what He needs to accomplish, and what He needs to do to accomplish it. This post will be a bit of a review and summary of much of what we have already examined.

God wants us to spend eternity with Him.  In order to do that, we need to be like him.  But we are not like him.  However we can choose Him since we have free will.  God set up the Dispensations as a contrastive way to allow man the opportunity to choose Him on our own.

In the First Dispensation, God created the first man and woman with an intimate spiritual connection to Him and gave them complete dominion over the earth. But the first man chose himself over God and broke his (and our) innate connection with Him. That was a pretty severe and high impact mistake.  It cost Adam his kingdom.  But the bigger consequence was death.

That broken connection with God resulted in man losing the ability to repair, which is lifePhysical life is in the blood.  And spiritual life is in our thoughts. When Adam sinned, he died spiritually, and his physical body lost the ability to repair and started to degrade. Furthermore, all Adam’s off spring are born dead (without that connection to life).

But since spending eternity with dead people probably isn’t a terribly attractive proposition to God, it would seem that Adam’s actions put God’s desire in jeopardy.

The problem is, death is a pretty permanent state.  Its kind of hard to get over.  But what if there was a way to reverse the curse?  What if there was a way to undo what Adam did?  How would this work?

What if we had a substitute who was willing to re-take the test Adam failed?  What if He, like Adam, was born with perfect blood and a perfect though process (since He would be intimately connected to God)? He could fulfill the role that Adam could not.  What if He was then willing to switch places with Adam and pay the penalty for his sin?  What if He gave us the opportunity to choose to become His spiritual offspring and inherit His life instead of Adams death?

This person would literally redeem Adam – and us.  The good news; the GREAT news; the GREATEST news ever – is that God anticipated, ordained and promised the advent of this Redeemer!  The Bible speaks volumes (literally) about Him – much of it centuries before His advent so that His coming could be understood and anticipated.  Here are some of His necessary attributes that are detailed in the Bible:

He had to be God. – Had to have the nature of God, to be always and completely right and just.  Thus He’d have a perfect thought process.

Had to be a physical man – so He’d have the free will to choose God.  He’d literally be another Adam.

Had to be seed of a womanborn of a virgin, so that God would be His Father and He’d have perfect blood

Had to choose God over himself

Had to be experience death unjustly – as opposed to Adam who deserved it

Had to accept God’s judgment in Adam’s place

Had to willingly sacrifice himself

Had to bear the burden of our sin and be rejected by God

Had to obey the Law completelybe sinless

Had to be resurrected – given new life that we could access

That’s a pretty lofty set of criteria to fill.  But wait, its gets worse! The Bible also predicts the things that would happen to him by living (and dying) in a world of evil men who would be antagonistic towards Him because His nature was so different from theirs, and by spiritual forces who would hate Him because He is the embodiment of what they rebelled against and His ultimate goal is to usurp their kingdom and punish them for their deeds.

Because of this, He would:

Live a lonely and grief stricken life

Despised and rejected by men

Be considered a bastard (due to the virgin birth, not because He was an a-hole)

Be Rejected by his (half) siblings

A disgrace to the community and a local joke

Have local drunks create bar songs about his alleged illegitimacy

Hunted by the authorities for most of his public life

Be virtually homeless

Nearly drowned at sea

Have multiple attempts on His life

Be betrayed by a longtime companion

Abandoned by His closest friends

Be brutally beaten beyond recognition

Be whipped until most of the skin on His back was gone and his beard torn off

Have the people He came to save reject Him in favor of a known thief and murderer.

Be executed by one of the most excruciating methods known to man.

Good grief!  Why would anyone endure all this to redeem a bunch of people who are naturally antagonistic to Him.  Because He loves us!  Because He wants us to spend eternity with Him!  He literally considers the prospect of eternity with us as His bride a joy worth enduring a wretched life and a torturous death!

This takes a great Man and great love.  A spousal Love beyond understanding.  The Redeemer considers His sacrifice a joy, and I get annoyed if my wife asks me to go across the room to get her a glass of water (in my defense, she always asks during the really good part of a TV show).

So who would and could possibly do all his?  Who is the redeemer?  Well obviously, the Redeemer is God!  Specifically the member of God’s tri-unity known as The Son.  The Son manifested Himself on earth as the man called Jesus of Nazareth.

But as I wrote earlier, this blog doesn’t just tell, it proves.  In the next post we will look at some more of the specific things the Bible says about the Redeemer BEFORE His advent that not only prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Jesus of Nazareth was the Redeemer, but that the Redeemer COULDN’T have been anyone else!  Next time.