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The Truth of Christianity By William Harry Turton Characters: 36352

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(A.) Isaiah's Prophecy of the Lord's Servant.

(1.) The historical agreement, very striking.

(2.) The doctrinal agreement, equally so.

(3.) The modern Jewish interpretation, quite untenable.

(B.) The Psalm of the Crucifixion.

(1.) Its close agreement, all through.

(2.) Two objections, unimportant.

(C.) The Divinity of the Messiah.

At least three prophecies of this; it is also involved in some hints as to the Doctrine of the Trinity.

(D.) Conclusion.

Why are not the prophecies plainer? Cumulative nature of the evidence.

We propose to consider in this chapter what is called the argument from Prophecy, using the word, as we did in Chapter XI., in the sense of prediction. Now it is a remarkable and undisputed fact that for many centuries before the time of Christ, it was foretold that a member of the Jewish nation-small and insignificant though it was-should be a blessing to all mankind. This promise is recorded as having been made both to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob;[365] and as a matter of fact, Christianity was founded by a Jew, and has undoubtedly been a blessing to the human race. This is at least a remarkable coincidence. And as we proceed in the Old Testament, the statements about this future Messiah become clearer and fuller, till at last, in the Prophets, we find whole chapters referring to Him, which Christians assert were fulfilled in Christ.

[365] Gen. 22. 18; 26. 4; 28.14.

This argument is plainly of the utmost importance. Fortunately it is much simplified by the question of dates being altogether excluded. As a rule, the most important point in an alleged prophecy is to show that it was written before its fulfilment. But here this is undisputed, since everyone admits that the whole of the Old Testament, except some of the apocryphal books, was written before the time of Christ. And as the writings have been preserved by the Jews themselves, who are opposed to the claims of Christianity, we may be sure that not a single alteration in its favour has been made anywhere.

We will now examine a few of the strongest prophecies, avoiding all those that were only fulfilled in a figurative, or spiritual sense; and selecting whole passages rather than single texts. For though many of these latter are very applicable to Christ, they might also be applicable to someone else. So we will first discuss somewhat fully Isaiah's prophecy of the Lord's Servant, and the Psalm of the Crucifixion; and then examine more briefly a group of prophecies referring to the Divinity of the Messiah.

(A.) Isaiah's Prophecy of the Lord's Servant (52. 13-53. 12).

It may be pointed out at starting that no one denies the antiquity of the passage, even if it was not written by Isaiah. And it forms a complete whole, closely connected together and not mixed up with any other subject. So in regard to its fulfilment, most of the details mentioned occurred within a few hours. We will consider first the historical, and then the doctrinal agreement.

(1.) The Historical Agreement.

With regard to this, the following is the translation from the Revised Version, together with the corresponding events. It will be observed that the sufferings of the Servant are usually expressed in the past tense, and his triumph in the future, the prophet placing himself, as it were, between the two. But the Hebrew tenses are rather uncertain, and what is translated as past in the Revised Version is translated as future in the Authorised (e.g., 53. 2).

52. 13. 'Behold, my servant shall deal wisely, he shall be exalted and lifted up, and shall be very high. The excellence of Christ's teaching and conduct is now generally admitted; while as to His exalted position, He is worshipped by millions of men.

14. 'Like as many were astonied at thee (his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men) so shall he sprinkle many nations; Yet at the time of His death, which was public so that many saw Him, the cruel treatment He had received must have terribly disfigured His face and body.

15. 'Kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they understand. But now even Kings are silent with reverence,[366] when contemplating such a wonderful life.

53. 1. 'Who hath believed our report? Indeed what the prophet is about to declare, is so marvellous that it can scarcely be believed.

'and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? The Arm of the Lord evidently means some instrument, or Person, which God uses for His work, as a man might use his arm.[367] And here it must be a Person, from the following words, 'For he grew up,' etc. It is thus a most suitable term for the Messiah, who was to be recognised by hardly anyone.

2. 'For he grew up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: This was because He lived at a place (Nazareth) which was always regarded as dry ground so far as anything good was concerned.[368]

he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. Moreover, His appearance was humble, and when at His trial, Pilate presented Him to the people, they did not desire Him.

3. 'He was despised, and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and as one from whom men hide their face he was despised, and we esteemed him not. But they at once rejected Him as they had done often before.

4. 'Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. While His life was not only one of grief and sorrow, but such a death seemed to show that He was accursed of God, for the Jews so regarded anyone who was crucified.[369]

5. 'But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. The scourging and other ill-treatment is here referred to; including probably the nails, and spear, for the word translated wounded is literally pierced.

6. 'All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

7. 'He was oppressed, yet he humbled himself and opened not his mouth; as a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before her shearers is dumb; yea, he opened not his mouth. Christ, who is sometimes called the Lamb of God, not only bore His ill-treatment patiently, but refused to plead at either of His trials (the verse repeats twice He opened not His mouth) to the utter astonishment of His judges.[370]

8. 'By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who among them considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living? for the transgression of my people was he stricken. He was not killed accidentally, or by the mob, but had a judicial trial; and was most unjustly condemned. While few, if any, of His contemporaries understood the real meaning of His death.

9. 'And they made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death (i.e., when he was dead. Comp. Ps. 6. 8); He was appointed to die between two robbers, and would doubtless have been buried with them, had not Joseph of Arimathea intervened; when, in strange contrast with His ignominious death, He was honourably buried, with costly spices, and in a rich man's tomb.

although he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. Although His judge repeatedly declared that He was innocent.

10. 'Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. Yet after His death He was to see His seed, and prolong His days, i.e., rise again from the dead. The word seed cannot mean here, actual children,[371] since He was to obtain them by His death. But it may well refer to the disciples, whom Christ saw after His Resurrection, and called His children.[372]

11. 'He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many: and he shall bear their iniquities. And this is confirmed by their being spoken of as the travail of His soul, not body. While the latter expression also implies that He had had some intense mental struggle comparable to the bodily pains of childbirth; which is very suitable to His mental agony in the Garden and on the Cross.

12. 'Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; His subsequent triumph in the Christian Church is here alluded to.

because he poured out his soul unto death, This implies that His sufferings were of some duration; and is thus very appropriate to a lingering death like crucifixion.

and was numbered with the transgressors: yet he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.' While the closing words exactly agree with His dying a shameful death between two robbers; yet praying for His murderers, 'Father, forgive them.'

[366] Comp. Job 29. 9.

[367] Comp. Isa. 40. 10; 51. 9.

[368] John 1. 46.

[369] Deut. 21. 23; Gal. 3. 13.

[370] Matt. 26. 62; 27. 14.

[371] Comp. Isa. 1. 4.

[372] Mark 10. 24; John 21. 5.

It seems hardly necessary to insist on the agreement shown above; it is indisputable. The sufferings and the triumph of the Lord's Servant are foretold with equal confidence and with equal clearness, though they might well have seemed incompatible.

(2.) The Doctrinal Agreement.

But the significance of the passage does not depend on these prophecies alone, though they are sufficiently remarkable, but on the meaning which the writer assigns to the great tragedy. It is the Christian doctrine concerning Christ's death, and not merely the events attending it, which is here insisted on. This will be best shown by adopting the previous method of parallel columns, showing in the first the six chief points in the Christian doctrine, and in the other the prophet's words corresponding to them.

All mankind are sinners. 'All we like sheep have gone astray.'

Christ alone was sinless. 'My righteous servant.' 'He had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.'

He suffered not for His own sins, but for those of others. Nor was this the mere accidental suffering of an innocent man for a guilty one; it was a great work of atonement, an offering for sin. This is the central

feature of the Christian doctrine, and it is asserted over and over again in the prophecy, which is above all that of a Saviour. 'Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows.' 'He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of (i.e., which procured) our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.' 'The Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.' 'For the transgression of my people was he stricken.' 'Thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin.' 'He shall bear their iniquities.' 'He bare the sin of many.'

And this Atonement was the fulfilment of the old Jewish sacrifices; especially that of the Paschal Lamb; so there was a special fitness in Christ's being put to death at the time of the Passover. This is shown by the language employed, the offering for sin being the same word as that used for the old guilt-offering.[373] And the curious expression So shall he sprinkle many nations evidently refers to the sprinkling of the blood in the Jewish sacrifices, as the same word is used, and means cleansing them from sin.[374]

Yet it availed not only for the Jews, but for all mankind. The many nations must include Gentiles as well as Jews.

Lastly, Christ's sacrifice was voluntary; He freely laid down His life, no one took it from Him (John 10. 18). 'He poured out his soul unto death,' implies that the act was voluntary, and this is rendered still clearer from the context; for it was because He did this that He was to divide the spoil, etc. And the words He humbled Himself, also imply that the humiliation was voluntary.

[373] E.g., Lev. 7. 1.

[374] E.g., Lev. 16. 19.

All this, it is plain, exactly suits the Christ in whom Christians believe; and it does not and cannot suit anyone else, since several of the Christian doctrines are quite unique, and do not occur in the Jewish or any other religion. This is indeed so striking, that if anyone acquainted with Christianity, but unacquainted with Isaiah, came across the passage for the first time, he would probably refer it to one of St. Paul's Epistles. And every word of it might be found there with perfect fitness.

(3.) The modern Jewish interpretation.

Now, what can be said on the other side? Many of the ancient Jews interpreted the passage as referring to their future Messiah;[375] but the modern Jews (and most critics who disbelieve in prophecy) refer it to the Jewish nation, or to the religious part of it, which they say is here personified as a single man, the Servant of the Lord. And it must of course be admitted that Isaiah does frequently speak of the Jews as God's servant (e.g., 'But thou Israel, my servant, and Jacob whom I have chosen,')[376] though he nowhere else uses the term 'my righteous servant,' which he does here, and which would have been inapplicable to the nation.

[375] References are given in Edersheim's 'Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah,' 1901, vol. ii., p. 727.

[376] Isa. 41. 8.

But it is important to remember that this prophecy does not stand alone, and a little before, we read in a similar passage, 'It is too light a thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth. Thus saith the Lord, the Redeemer of Israel, and his Holy One, to him whom man despiseth, to him whom the nation abhorreth, to a servant of rulers: Kings shall see and arise; princes, and they shall worship.'[377]

[377] Isa. 49. 6-7; comp. 42. 1-6.

Here it will be noticed the Lord's servant is clearly distinguished from both Jacob and Israel, and evidently means the Messiah. While His bringing salvation to the Gentiles, as well as to the Jews; His humiliation in being despised by men and hated by the Jewish nation; and His subsequent triumph, even Kings submitting themselves to Him; are all alluded to, much as they are in the present passage.

No doubt there is a difficulty in the prophet thus passing from one meaning of the word servant to another (especially, in a closely connected passage),[378] and various attempts have been made to explain it; but it does not alter the fact that he does so. Perhaps the best explanation is that Israel was intended to be God's Servant, but owing to their sins became unfitted; when God promised in the future to raise up a righteous servant, who should do all His pleasure and atone for Israel's failure. And, it may be added, the term Servant is applied to the Messiah both by Ezekiel and Zechariah, as well as in the New Testament.[379]

[378] Isa. 49. 3, 5.

[379] Ezek. 34. 23; Zech. 3. 8; Acts 3. 13 (R.V.).

Moreover, the Jewish interpretation not only leaves all the details of the prophecy unexplained and inexplicable, but ignores its very essence, which, as before said, is the atoning character of the sufferings. No one can say that the sufferings of the Jews were voluntary, or that they were not for their own sins, but for those of other people, which were in consequence atoned for. Or, to put the argument in other words, if the He refers to the Jewish nation, to whom does the our refer in such sentences as He was wounded for our transgressions? While v. 8 expressly says that the Jews (God's people) were not the sufferers, but those for whom He suffered. (For the transgression of my people was he stricken.) This interpretation then is hopelessly untenable, and the passage either means what Christians assert, or it means nothing.

In conclusion, it must be again pointed out that all these minute historical details attending Christ's death, and all these remarkable Christian doctrines concerning it, are all found within fifteen verses of a writing many centuries older than the time of Christ. It would be hard to over-estimate the great improbability of all this being due to chance; indeed, such a conclusion seems incredible.

(B.) The Psalm of the Crucifixion (Ps. 22).[380]

[380] This is discussed more fully in an article in the Churchman, April, 1912, by the present writer.

We pass on now to another most remarkable prophecy; for this well-known Psalm describes what can only be regarded as a crucifixion. The decisive verse is of course, They pierced my hands and my feet; but even apart from this, the various sufferings described cannot all be endured in any other form of death, such as stoning or beheading. And the Psalm agrees with the Death of Christ, both in its numerous details, and in its whole scope and meaning. We will therefore consider this close agreement first, and then some of the objections.

(1.) Its close agreement.

We need not quote the Psalm, as it is so well known; but will point out the agreement verse by verse.

Ver. 1. His feeling forsaken by God, and using these actual words: 'My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?'

2. as well as praying for deliverance during the previous night;

3. though in spite of His sufferings, He casts no reproach upon God.

4. His belonging to God's chosen people, the Jews, so that He could speak of our fathers;

5. who had so often been helped by God before.

6. His pitiable condition in being exposed to the scorn and reproach of men, and despised by the people.

7. His being lifted up to die in public, so that those who passed by could see Him; and the way in which they mocked Him, shaking their heads, etc.

8. The exact words they used: He trusted on the Lord that He would deliver

him, let Him deliver him seeing He delighteth in him (margin). These words show that the speakers themselves were Jews, and that He was thus put to death among His own nation. And the last clause can only be meant ironically in the sense that the Sufferer claimed that God delighted in him, claimed, that is, in some special sense to be beloved by God.

9. And, as a matter of fact, God had always watched over Him, and had saved Him in His infancy from being slain by Herod.

10. And in return His whole life had been dedicated to God; so that He could say that God had been His God, even from His birth.

11. His being abandoned by His disciples, and left without a helper;

12. though surrounded by His enemies, described as bulls of Bashan. This curious term is used elsewhere for the unjust rulers of the people,[381] and was therefore very applicable to the chief priests and rulers, who had so unjustly condemned Him, and now stood round the Cross reviling Him.

[381] Amos. 4. 1.

13. And they continually insulted Him, gaping with the mouth being a common expression of contempt;[382] ravening appropriate to the way in which they had thirsted for His blood before Pilate; and roaring to the great noise and tumult made at the time.

[382] E.g., Job 16. 10.

14. His side being pierced, so that there poured out a quantity of watery fluid (mixed with clots of blood), the probable cause of this-the rupture of the heart[383]-being also hinted at; while His bones were nearly out of joint, through the weight of the suspended Body.

[383] See 'The Physical Cause of the Death of Christ,' by Dr. Symes Thompson, 1904.

15. His suffering extreme weakness, and extreme thirst, immediately before His death.[384]

[384] Lam. 4. 4; John 19. 28-30.

16. His being crucified (i.e., His hands and feet being pierced), the men who did this being here called dogs. They seem to have been a special set of men, different from the Jews who had before been mocking Him. And as this was the very term used by Christ Himself for the Gentiles, in distinction to the Jews,[385] it was peculiarly appropriate to the Gentile (Roman) soldiers who crucified Him.

[385] Matt. 15. 26.

17. And they also exposed and stretched out His Body, so that the bones stood out in relief. And they then stood watching Him;

18. and divided His garments among them, casting lots for one of them.

19. Then follows a short prayer.

20. The term sword, like the dog, the lion's mouth, and the wild oxen, need not be pressed literally; but may be used here (as in other places)[386] for any violent death. And in the New Testament it seems employed for all punishments, including probably a death by crucifixion (St. Peter's).[387]

[386] Comp. 2 Sam. 11. 24; 12. 9.

[387] Rom. 13. 4; Matt. 26. 52.

21. Yet in spite of His troubles, and even death, He feels sure of deliverance.

22. And now the strain suddenly changes, the Sufferer is restored to life and freedom and at once declares God's name unto His brethren. And this exactly agrees with Christ's now declaring for the first time God's complete Name of, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, unto His brethren, as He calls them, the Apostles.[388] While if we identify this appearance with that to the five hundred, it was literally in the midst of the congregation-in the presence, that is, of the first large Christian assembly.

[388] Matt. 28. 10, 19.

23. Moreover, His deliverance is of world-wide significance, and great blessings are to follow from it. These commence with the Jews, who were to praise and glorify God; though with a strange feeling of awe and fear; all of which was exactly fulfilled.[389]

[389] Acts 2. 43-47.

24. And the blessings are somehow connected with God's not having despised, but having accepted, His sufferings.

25. And they include a reference to some vows (meaning uncertain);

26. and to a wonderful feast generally thought to refer to the Holy Communion.

27. And the blessings then extend to the Gentile nations also, even to the most distant parts of the world, who are now to become worshippers of the true God, Jehovah. And, as a matter of fact, Christians exist in all known countries, and wherever there are Christians, Jehovah is worshipped.

28. To Whom the whole earth, both the Jewish kingdom and the Gentile nations, really belongs.

29. And to Whom everyone will eventually bow down.

30. After this we read of a seed serving Him, probably used here, as in Isaiah, for disciples, each generation of whom is to tell of this wonderful deliverance to the next. And this they have been doing for eighteen centuries.

31. And so they will continue doing to generations that are yet unborn. While the closing words, He hath done it (R.V.) are often taken as referring to the whole Psalm, meaning that the work of suffering and atonement was now complete, It is done;[390] and they would thus correspond to Christ's closing words on the Cross, It it finished.

[390] Hengstenberg, Commentary on Psalms, 1867, vol. i., 396.

Everyone must admit that the agreement all through is very remarkable; though there are two slight objections.

(2.) Two objections.

The first is that there is nothing to show that the writer meant the Psalm to refer to the Messiah at all, though, strange to say, some of the Jews so interpreted it;[391] therefore if there is an agreement, it is at most only a chance coincidence. But the idea of all these coincidences being due to chance is most improbable. And there certainly is some indication that it refers to the Messiah, since, as we have seen, it leads up to the conversion of the Gentiles, which the other Jewish prophets always associate with the times of the Messiah.

[391] Edersheim, 1901, vol. ii., 713.

Moreover, if the Psalm does not refer to Christ, it is difficult to see to whom it does refer, since it is quite inapplicable to David, or Hezekiah, or anyone else at that time; as crucifixion was not a Jewish punishment, though dead bodies were sometimes hung on trees. Yet, as just said, verses 7-8 show that the Sufferer was put to death among his own nation. This strange anomaly of a Jew being put to death among Jews, though not in the Jewish manner by stoning, but by crucifixion, exactly suits the time of Christ, when Jud?a was a Roman province, and crucifixion a Roman punishment.

Many of the details also are quite inapplicable. David, for instance, never had his garments divided among his enemies; yet (even apart from our Gospels) there can be little doubt that the garments of Christ were so divided, as the clothes of a prisoner were usually taken by the guard who executed him.

And any such reference (to David, etc.) is rendered still more improbable, because the sufferer appears to have no sense of sin, and never laments his own wickedness, as the writers so frequently do when speaking about themselves. And here also the Psalm is entirely applicable to Christ, since (as we shall see in the next chapter) His sinlessness was a striking feature in His character. Nor again did the deliverance of David in any way lead to the conversion of the Gentiles, which, as just said, is the grand climax of the Psalm, and excludes all other interpretations.

But in any case this objection (which is also made to other Old Testament prophecies) cannot be maintained; for who, we must ask, was their real author? Was it the human prophet, or was it God Who inspired the prophet to write as he did? And the prophets themselves emphatically declared that it was the latter. The word of the Lord came unto them, or a vision was granted unto them, and they had to proclaim it, whether they liked it or not. In fact, as St. Matthew says, it was not really the prophet who spoke, but God, who spoke through the prophet.[392] There is thus no reason for thinking that they either knew, or thought they knew, the whole meaning of their prophecies; and the objection may be dismissed at once.

[392] E.g., Matt. 1. 22.

The second objection is, that some of the events fulfilling this, and other Old Testament prophecies, never occurred, but were purposely invented. This, however, destroys altogether the moral character of the Evangelists, who are supposed to tell deliberate falsehoods, in order to get a pretended fulfilment of an old prophecy. And the difficulty of admitting this is very great. Moreover, such explanations can only apply to a very few cases; since, as a rule, the events occurred in public, and must therefore have been well known at the time.

And even in those cases where the event was so trivial, that it might possibly have been invented, such an explanation is often untenable. Take, for example, the manner in which Christ on the cross was mocked by His enemies, who said, 'He trusted in God, let him deliver him now if he desireth him.'[393] A more probable incident under the circumstances can scarcely be imagined, the chief priests quoting the familiar language (just as men sometimes quote the Bible now) without thinking of its real significance. But, supposing the words were never uttered, is it conceivable that the Evangelist (or anyone else) would have invented them in order to get a pretended fulfilment of this Psalm, where the Crucified One is mocked with almost identical words; yet have never pointed out the fulfilment himself, but have trusted to the chance of his readers discovering it?

[393] Matt. 27. 43.

Neither of these objections, then, is of much importance; while the agreement of the Psalm with the events attending the death and Resurrection of Christ, seems, as in the previous case, to be far too exact to be accidental.

(C.) The Divinity of the Messiah.

Our last example shall be of a different kind from the others. It is that the Old Testament contains several passages which show that the future Messiah was to be not only Superhuman, but Divine. And considering the strong Monotheism of the Jews this is very remarkable. The following are three of the most important:-

'For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.'[394] Here we have a plain statement of the Divinity of One Who should be born a child. The two words translated Mighty God are incapable of any other translation, and no other is suggested for them in the margin of either the Authorised or Revised Version; while the same two words occur in the next chapter, where they plainly mean Mighty God and nothing else. Moreover, the term Everlasting Father is literally Father of Eternity (see margin) and means the Eternal One. This is another divine title, and does not conflict with the Christian doctrine that it was the Son, and not the Father, Who became Incarnate. While the following words, that of the increase of His government there shall be no end, and that it should be established for ever, also point to a Divine Ruler, in spite of the reference to David's throne. And it is significant that a few verses before it is implied that the Ministry of this future Messiah should commence in the land of Zebulon, and Naphtali, by the Sea of Galilee; where, as a matter of fact, Christ's Ministry did commence.

[394] Isa. 9. 6; 10. 21; 9. 1-2.

'But thou, Bethlehem Ephrathah, which art little to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall one come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.'[395] Here we have a prophecy of the birth of One who had existed from everlasting; thus showing the Pre-existence and apparent Divinity of the Messiah, who was to be born at Bethlehem, where, again, as a matter of fact, Christ actually was born.

[395] Mic. 5. 2.

'Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts.'[396] The word translated fellow is only found elsewhere in Leviticus, where it is usually translated neighbour, and always implies an equality between the two persons.[397] Thus God speaks of the Shepherd who was to be slain with the sword (a term, as before said, used for any violent death), as equal with Himself, and yet at the same time Man; so no one but a Messiah who is both God and Man-Fellow-God as well as fellow-man-can satisfy the language.

[396] Zech. 13. 7.

[397] Lev. 6. 2; 18. 20; 19. 11, 15, 17; 24. 19; 25. 14, 15, 17.

And here again the reference to Christ is confirmed by the fact that several incidents in His Passion are alluded to, in some of which His Divinity is likewise asserted. The most important are the way in which He (the Just Saviour) rode into Jerusalem on an ass; and the rejoicing with which He was received, when the people welcomed Him as their King. And the fact that He (the Lord Jehovah) should be sold for thirty pieces of silver, the money being cast down in the House of the Lord, and afterwards given to the potter; and also that He (again the Lord Jehovah) should be pierced.[398] These are, it is true, expressed in figurative language, and often mixed up with other subjects; so no instance by itself, affords a strong argument. But still their all occurring so close together, and all leading up to the violent death of a man, who was yet the fellow, or equal, with God, can scarcely be accidental. While the prophecy, like so many others, ends with the conversion of the Gentiles, the Lord Jehovah being recognised as King over all the earth; which seems to place the Messianic character beyond dispute.

[398] Zech. 9. 9; 11. 12-13; 12. 10; 14. 9; Luke 19. 37-38.

The Divinity of the Messiah is also involved in some hints which occur in the Old Testament as to the doctrine of the Trinity. For instance, the Hebrew word for God, Elohim, is a plural word, though, strange to say, it generally takes a singular adjective, and verb. Thus if we tried to represent it in English, the first verse of the Bible would read, 'In the beginning the Gods, He created the heaven and the earth.' Attempts have of course been made to reduce the significance of this by pointing out that a few other Hebrew words, such as lord and master, sometimes do the same; or by regarding it as a survival from some previous polytheistic religion; or else as being what is called the plural of Majesty, a sort of royal We. This, however, does not seem to have been in use in early times, and never occurs in the Bible, where kings always speak of themselves in the singular.[399] Anyhow it is very remarkable that the Jews should have used a plural word for God with a singular verb; especially as the same word, when used of false gods, takes a plural verb.

[399] E.g., Gen. 41. 41; Ezra 6. 12; 7. 21; Dan. 4. 6.

Moreover, God is at times represented as speaking in the plural,[400] saying, for instance, Let us make man in our image, as if consulting with other Divine Persons; since it is obvious that the expression cannot refer to angels, who are themselves created, and not fellow Creators. Yet just afterwards we read, 'God created man in his own image,' thus implying that there is still but one God. Another and even more remarkable expression is, Behold, the man is become as one of us. This cannot possibly be the plural of Majesty; for though a king might speak of himself as We or Us, no king ever spoke of himself as one of Us. Such an expression can only be used when there are other persons of similar rank with the speaker; therefore when used by God, it shows conclusively that there are other Divine Persons. So again when God says, 'Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?' it implies that He is both one, and more than one; which the previous thrice Holy, points to as being a Trinity.[401] The existence of such passages seems to require some explanation, and Christianity alone can explain them.

[400] Gen. 1. 26; 3. 22; 11. 7.

[401] Isa. 6. 8.

(D.) Conclusion.

Before concluding this chapter there is still one objection to be considered. Why, it is said, if these prophecies really refer to Christ, are they not plainer? Surely if God wished to foretell the future, He would have done it better than this: and a few words added here and there would have made the reference to Christ indisputable. No doubt they would; but possibly God did not wish to make the reference indisputable. Moreover, if the prophecies had been plainer, they might have prevented their own fulfilment. Had the Jews known for certain that Christ was their Messiah, they could scarcely have crucified Him; and it seems to many that the prophecies are already about as plain as they could be without doing this. The important point, however, is not whether the prophecies might not have been plainer, but whether they are not already too plain to be accidental.

Lastly, we must notice the cumulative nature of the evidence. We have only examined a few instances, but, as said before, Messianic prophecies of some kind more or less distinct, occur at intervals all through the Old Testament. And though some of those commonly brought forward seem weak and fanciful, there are numbers of others which are not. And here, as elsewhere, this has a double bearing on the argument.

In the first place, it does not at all increase the difficulty of the Christian interpretation; for twenty prophecies are practically no more difficult to admit than two. Indeed, the fact that instead of being a few isolated examples, they form a complete series, rather lessens the difficulty than otherwise.

On the other hand, it greatly increases the difficulty of any other interpretation; for twenty prophecies are far more difficult to deny than two. If one is explained as a lucky coincidence, it will not account for the next; if that is got rid of by some unnatural interpretation of the words, it will not account for the third, and so on indefinitely. The difficulties are thus not only great in themselves, but are all cumulative; and hence together they seem insuperable. Anyhow, it is clear that these Prophecies form another strong argument in favour of Christianity.

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