Parsha Shoftim
Deuteronomy 16:18 - 21:9

The Test of A Prophet ©
By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

This study of the weekly parsha is dedicated in the loving memory of Mrs. Ida Simmons Belk and Mr.Will Belk , may they rest in peace.

In this week's parsha the Torah defines what constitutes a prophet. How does one determine a prophet? How is a prophet measured? Who qualifies as a prophet? Many Christian Messianics automatically accept without serious consideration that Jesus was a prophet. On the other hand not everyone agrees with their assessment. Jews do not accept Jesus as a prophet. If you would like to know why, this article will offer some insight.

The Torah's definition and directions regarding a prophet are found in Deuteronomy 18:22, "If the prophet will speak in the Name of Hashem and that thing will not occur and not come about -- that is the word that Hashem has not spoken; with willfulness has the prophet spoken it, you should not fear him."

There are many examples of Hashem speaking to His prophets:

When Hashem spoke to Moshe many of these statements began with the words, "Hashem spoke to Moshe saying, 'Speak to the Children of Yisroel...'"

When Hashem spoke to Isaiah and Ezekiel many of these statements began with the words,
"The word of Hashem came to Isaiah saying..."
"The word of Hashem came to Ezekiel saying..."

The Tenach also records the above phraseology for many of the other prophets...

When Hashem spoke to Jeremiah many of these statements began with the words, "The word that came to Jeremiah from Hashem saying..."

The point is that the prophet identifies that what he is about to say is directly from Hashem.

The writings that record Jesus' words do not make any such reference. Many of Jesus references are to his Father in Heaven. People of many different religious beliefs consider G-d their Father in Heaven. That is not unique or particular to one individual or one religion. Such statements should not be thought of as one speaking in behalf of G-d.

Many believe that Jesus has the inside track, so to speak, because they believe Jesus is a descendant of G-d. (I encourage you to read the article, G-d is Not a Man.) Yet when all is said and done, almost two thousand years after Jesus' death, there is no evidence of even one word of anything he said coming to pass. Jesus is credited with one statement in Matthew 24:2 used by Dr. Josh McDowell in his book Evidence That Demands a Verdict : "'See all these things! I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.'" This statement which appears to have been in regards to the Holy Temple was recorded after the destruction. When a prediction is written after an event takes place it cannot be acknowledged as a prediction as in this case. Now after two thousand years it is clear that Jesus' prophesies have not occurred and as a result according to Deuteronomy 18:22 Jesus cannot be considered a prophet.

Yet no one is prohibiting you from believing and believing and believing whatever you want. However, Christian Messianic claims that Jesus is a prophet are not supported by what he is purported to have said in the New Testament. (I use the word "purported" because many of the writings in the New Testament are from unnamed sources, not supported by dates and times.) This presents an interesting dilemma for those believing G-d is the Father and Jesus is His son. And the question is, Is G-d's word in Deuteronomy validated or expired? Many Christian Messianic religious leaders for a variety of reasons support the idea that G-d's word in Deuteronomy is expired. They support the concept of "Old Testament" with the purported meaning: 'no longer valid, phased out and replaced by the New Testament.'

Obviously, Jews do not agree with the Christian Messianic assessment of our Tenach, but I understand why Christian Messianics find it necessary to draw such unsupported conclusions. Many conflicts like the one aforementioned force them into this position.

Wishing you the best,

Dr. Akiva G. Belk

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