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Meditation 1077

by: John Tyrrell

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A little over six weeks ago, I received a message from a Dennis Herman:

I just published a book about the prophecies Jesus fulfilled including the simple Bible study techniques explained when you study the prophecies in sequence. Let me know if you want a link of copy of the eBook to review.

I responded - and I'll admit I had hoped in my reply to discourage Mr. Herman - with:

I'm rather surprised you would ask me to review your book. The Apathetic Agnostic website has consistently been extremely critical of so-called prophecy and has expressed the view that it is nothing more than after-the-fact reinterpretations of texts to assign a meaning which is not directly suggested by the author's original words.

That said, if you want me to read your book and comment on it on the website, then send me the link.

He was not as discouraged as I had hoped and replied with:

You hit the nail on the head. The main focus on the book has nothing to do with future prophecy. It is about the prophecies Jesus fulfilled. I found over 200 New Testament texts referencing the texts Jesus fulfilled and wondered why, if it worked in those days and this is what Jesus told His disciples to preach and what God's Spirit directed them to..... where does the Bible tells us God changed His original plan? I can't find the any texts telling us to look at future prophecy and give it our best guess.

I look at it this way. Who is God going to reveal His secrets to? People who know Jesus or someone trying to be the 1st to uncover some hidden meaning? The book points people back to the prophecies Jesus fulfilled while teaching simple study techniques which will allow people to study God's Word on their own, to build a personal relationship. The rest is up to the Spirit. Just like the disciples taught. The disciples met with a group. Shared the scriptures Jesus fulfilled. Told their eye witness accounts. Prayed. Saw the Spirit on the people and moved on. Sounds too simple to be true, but it is.

I appreciate your comment on context. I tried to include lessons on context, staying in the same chapter and the author's thought pattern. Some times it is easy to follow when studying, but difficult to explain. Any suggestions will be appreciated.

For those interested, the book, Prophecies Fulfilled Exodus to Deuteronomy by Dennis Herman is available on lulu as in ePUB format. ($5.55)

I've spent some time with the book. I have not finished it. I doubt I will get beyond the 52 pages (of 193) that I've reached. But from what I've read so far, it cannot possibly change my mind about prophecy. In my opinion, prophecy still involves after-the-fact reinterpretation of texts to make them fit circumstances not intended by the original author. The problem with prophecy is that a clear testable statement is never involved. If clear testable statements were at issue, then we'd be talking about forecasts or predictions, not prophecies.

Of course, my mind was already made up. Changing it would be a real challenge. But, based on my reading of the book, I don't think that someone with an open mind on prophecy would be convinced either. Such a person is not going to read this and say "Wow! Prophecy does work after all."

But for those Christians who do believe the Old Testament is full of prophecies of the coming of Jesus, his works and his words - well the book is as the author intended and I'm sure many believers will find it useful for Bible study.

I do question one point of fact. In discussing Leviticus 2:11 as a prophecy, Mr Herman claims (p21) "The King James Version is still considered the best translation to use for word studies." He does not say by whom - if it is just his personal opinion, that's fine. But if he is referring to bible scholars in general, I would say he is quite wrong. For all its beauty and poetry, the KJV is long past its best-before date in capturing the intended meaning of the ancient texts. Newer translations (and Mr. Herman does frequently quote them) are much better at communicating in today's language.

But let's look at one prophecy Mr. Herman discusses - his examination of Leviticus 22:19 (p 48)

Leviticus 22:19 KJV Ye shall offer at your own will a male without blemish of the beeves, of the sheep, or of the goats.

When people see this verse, they immediately know it is about Jesus. ...

Right there, flags go up. For a start, I - as a person - do not immediately know it is about Jesus. Presuming I've read it in context with the previous verse, my interpretation is that it is providing additional details about a burnt offering relating to a vow or alternatively as a freely offered sacrifice. I'm going to go on and say that a Jew reading this verse is not going to immediately know it is about Jesus. The average non-believer is not going to immediately know it is about Jesus. And many Christians are not going to immediately know it is about Jesus. I suggest the chosen interpretation is not obvious.

And based on the verse, free will in making the sacrifice is an important issue. Mr. Herman chooses to emphasize "without blemish" and uses those words to link to NT verses as he continues the discussion to show why this verse applies specifically to Jesus. But, in terms of Jesus's sacrifice - he certainly was not offered up as a sacrifice by the free will of his followers - they would have prevented it if they could. They did not offer Jesus at their own will. And those that executed him willingly did not kill him as a sacrifice. He was not an offering. So offer at your own will, I would suggest, means the verse does not apply to Jesus. And remember, in context, the verse is about a burnt offering - it is a real stretch to apply that to Jesus.

It takes a selective interpretation to make Leviticus 22:19 a prophecy about Jesus. It does not work for me. I do accept that it may work for many of those that believe in Jesus and believe in prophecy.

Of course, prophecy is a game that anyone can play. Some Muslims claim that both the Old Testament and New Testament contain prophecies of Muhammad. Anyone can, like Humpty Dumpty, make words mean what they choose them to mean.

Let me try my hand at the game. The Iliad contains the words οινοψ ποντος, commonly translated as wine dark sea. Clearly Homer was inspired by God when he wrote these words of a wine-coloured ocean... wine and water... water and wine. Yes, Homer prophesied the wedding at Cana, and Jesus's miraculous conversion of water into wine.

And that "prophecy" from the Iliad is clearer than most of the ones from the Old Testament identified by Mr Herman.

I think Mr Herman does write reasonably clearly and it is possible to follow what he is trying to do in terms of bible study and prophecy. For those interested, it provides useful insight into a certain way of Christian thinking. But it is not going to change anyone's mind.

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