Torah Observant Movement: A Word on Prophecy

When it comes to the Torah Observant Movement, the Apostle Paul, the apostle to the Gentiles, is by far the most powerful antagonist to it; and, Paul single handedly delivers devastating critiques that totally undermine the movement. What we will see is that much of what I have been writing about Jesus, and the way he interpreted his own ministry and his own identity is further verified, and indeed intensified as Paul, God’s inspired spokesperson to the Gentiles, implements all that Jesus inaugurated. “Paul, the Torah, and the People of God: Galatians” will be the next post. First a word about prophecy, to wrap up some of what has been said about Jesus from the gospels.

Prophecy:

When John the Baptist calls Jesus the Lamb of God, what does this insinuate about Jesus? Obviously John doesn’t see Jesus as a four footed mammal. In what sense is it legitimate to call Jesus “the Lamb of God.” Would it be true that the true meaning of “the Lamb of God” was climactically expressed in Jesus, and that the former “lambs” are but shadows? How can a man be a more complete fulfillment for the title “lamb of God” than a literal white furred, four footed lamb? This is a problem that will come up in “prophecy” texts quite often.

This is the case with John the Baptist. In Malachi there is a prophecy about Elijah: Malachi 4:5;“Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. 6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”

There is no hint here that the person that God sends would be anyone other than Elijah. It does not say that the person will be in the Spirit of Elijah, it says it will actually be Elijah. Now, if people take prophecy in this way, seeking for a verbatim fulfillment; then no one with this approach will recognize John the Baptist’s role as Elijah.

So: was John the Baptist actually Elijah? No, he wasn’t the precise person of the Old Testament named Elijah. Not in the way that I would have expected him to be. But, did John the Baptist fulfill the role attributed to Elijah in this verse, in some way as Elijah? Yes; but why would anyone say that he was? Because Jesus: Jesus said and if you are willing to accept it, he is Elijah who is to come (Matt. 11:14).

The most significant point to make here is this: If the Torah Observant Movement’s method of interpreting prophecy is employed, like the one they use for Ezekiel, then there are two possibilities: 1. Jesus was wrong about John the Baptist, and John is not Elijah as prophesied in Malachi; or, 2. The method of interpreting prophecies used by the Torah Observant Movement is unsatisfactory and wrong. If their method is off on a single simple verse; why should it be pushed as though it is the serious most plausible interpretation of a much larger and more complex prophecy like Ezekiel 43-48. If their Method can’t get Malachi 4:5 right, then it most definitely wont get Ezekiel right. The New Testament’s way of claiming fulfillment doesn’t fit with the way they read prophecies.

This is a common trait of fulfilled prophecies. Strange, unexpected, sometimes borderline unfamiliar fulfillments of Scripture take place. This being one of the primary reasons that the Jews by and large did not entrust themselves to their Messiah; because they did not see him fulfilling the Scriptures as they expected. This is also a warning for us.

At the very least, there are numerous texts in the New Testament that clearly delineates truths about Jesus’s life and ministry, specifically his death and resurrection, that should operate as our navigational key in interpreting prophecies.

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