Jesus Was Not the Messiah

by Luke Muehlhauser on July 13, 2009 in Bible,Christian Theology,Historical Jesus

According to the prophets, Jesus was not the Messiah.

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{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Taranu July 13, 2009 at 6:56 am

Wow. I just watched those you tube videos last week. I would like to here more about prophecies in the OT that aren’t pointing to Jesus as the awaited Messiah. Do you know where I could?
 

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Reginald Selkirk July 13, 2009 at 8:35 am

I watched part I. Some of this material was dealt with by Thomas Paine in The Age of Reason, part 3 over 200 years ago.

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Facilis July 13, 2009 at 10:09 am

I can’t believe you fell for this Luke.
This is the kind of stuff Thamas Paine said 200 years ago when we did not have biblical scholarship.
Modern scholars understand Jewish exegetical methods more and know that oftentimes they did not use a cut-and-pasted dry literal interpretation of passages and fulfillment.
Even Bart Ehrman says that when Matthew meant fulfillment he meant that it was to be used in a typological sense rather than a literal interpretation.
Here’s a piece on Jewish exegetical methods in the Old and New testament and typology.
http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/article_otnt_longenecker.html
He points out some of the examples of “misquotations”  T. Paine and prof rant about are really instances of typological fulfillment.
 

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Facilis July 13, 2009 at 10:12 am

Oh and I would agree most of the “prophecy” exa,ples christians use are bogus. I think it is a very poor apologetic, especially when they fail to consider typology.

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Lorkas July 13, 2009 at 1:35 pm

Facilis: This is the kind of stuff Thamas Paine said 200 years ago when we did not have biblical scholarship.

However, there are some very good points to be made. For example, the verse that is called a prophecy that Jesus would live in Nazareth (he shall be called a Nazarene) is based on a mistranslation of the term “nazarite”. In fact, anthropological evidence suggests that there was no such town at the time, but that the town of Nazareth was founded by Christians in the 4th Century CE.
 
Another great point is the fact that the idea that there was a prophecy stating that the mother of the messiah would be a virgin is false, as well. The word (mis)translated as “virgin” actually means “young woman”, and carries no implication about the woman’s sexual past.
 
So two major details of Jesus’s life–his town of residence (which probably didn’t exist at the time) and the circumstances of his conception–are claimed to be the fulfillment of prophecy, but in reality are just misunderstandings of earlier texts.

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Reginald Selkirk July 13, 2009 at 1:41 pm

Facilis: I can’t believe you fell for this Luke. This is the kind of stuff Thamas Paine said 200 years ago

Hooray for him.

when we did not have biblical scholarship. Modern scholars understand Jewish exegetical methods more and know that oftentimes they did not use a cut-and-pasted dry literal interpretation of passages and fulfillment. Even Bart Ehrman says that when Matthew meant fulfillment he meant that it was to be used in a typological sense rather than a literal interpretation. Here’s a piece on Jewish exegetical methods in the Old and New testament and typology. http://www.biblicalstudies.org.uk/article_otnt_longenecker.html He points out some of the examples of “misquotations”  T. Paine and prof rant about are really instances of typological fulfillment.

I’m familiar with the concept of apologetics, I’m just not impressed by it. The piece you link starts with the assumption that the most obvious and probable solution – that Matthew and the other gospel writers were just plain wrong – cannot be true, therefore we should look for a more complex understanding which explains why they wrote things that are apparently wrong.

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VorJack July 13, 2009 at 4:09 pm

“Matthew and the other gospel writers were just plain wrong”

It’s a little more complicated than that.  The Jewish methods of interpretation allowed for hidden and cyrptic meanings in the text, placed there by God. That makes it hard to call them wrong.  When the text may contain dozens of hidden meanings, the best you can do is argue that they aren’t applying the right meaning to the right circumstance. 

Or you could argue that the meaning of the text is plain and obvious, and that there are no hidden meanings.  This is generarally the stance I see in most American Protestants today.  That’s why I think these criticisms still work.  They would apply to the authors of the gospels, but they do apply to the bulk of the pew potatoes.

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Lee A. P. July 13, 2009 at 6:22 pm

Typology appears akin to “bullshit excuse making”.

Since it has been so thoroughly proven that a straight forward reading of prophecies fail to connect Jesus with Messianic old testament prophecy; and since it has been shown that the claims made in the gospels are horribly off base and show misunderstandings of the Hebrew text and even a misunderstanding of words…..well then just lets just invent some wild ass doctrine! Thats the ticket! The prophecies are still fulfilled, they are simply “esoteric” and “hidden”.

That is the lamest shit I have ever heard in my life. Given sufficient theological lubrication anyone can claim to fulfill messianic prophecy!

I hereby proclaim LUKEPROG the messiah! Sure, a straight forward reading of the Old Testament does not seem to say a thing about Lukeprog, but thats because you aren’t getting sufficiently esoteric with it.

Luke, will you be my magical, yet visible best friend and grant me internet wishes?

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Hylomorphic July 13, 2009 at 9:04 pm

The Jewish methods of interpretation allowed for hidden and cyrptic meanings in the text, placed there by God.

 
Which Jewish methods of interpretation? During which periods are/were these methods prominent? What reasons do we have for thinking these are legitimate methods of prophetic interpretation?
 
It’s not as if Jews have, for all their history, had a single unvarying hermeneutic for prophecy.

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VorJack July 14, 2009 at 6:33 am

“It’s not as if Jews have, for all their history, had a single unvarying hermeneutic for prophecy.”

True enough, nor am I arguing for such.  I would say that “cryptic interpretation” include a range of different methods, everything from gematria to creative retellings.  If there is the assumption that there is meaning hidden behind the apparent sense of the text, and that this meaning requires some method to draw it out, then I’d label that method “cryptic interpretation.”

As for the dating, I’d say that the Yavneh period was probably the heyday of cryptic interpretation, but that the roots of it go back to somewhere in the “dark ages” of the intertestamental period.  For example, it seems that the early Christians were aware of the Jewish story of Cain being a child of Satan, which seems to be based on a cryptic interpretation of Gen. 4:1.

As for whether or not these were “legitimate,” I don’t know how to answer.  Judaism was – and is – a diverse religion.  Obviously some groups would accept these methods and other wouldn’t.  If we can extrapolate from the stories of the Yavneh period, it seems like even people within the same group would arrive at different conclusions and argue until a rough consensus was reached.

I think it’s safe to say that while some Judeans would have accepted the method, most probably disagreed with the results.  Cryptic interpretation does tend to lead to a multitude of different possible meanings, after all.  If the consensus was against them, does that mean the interpretation were wrong?  If we take our answer from the Yavneh stories, then yes, they were wrong.  In one story, even God was made to back down before the arguments of the consensus.

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EvanT July 15, 2009 at 1:26 am

I honestly do not know whether Christianity can afford to fully endorse either literalism or symbolism, which is why they shift from one to the other as needed.
I don’t know about the Catholic church, but I’ve recently discovered that the official Orthodox church (at least here in Greece and Constantinople) decrees that the Bible is inerrant only in its “spiritual message” and all the rest (historical details, landmarks etc.) can be downright wrong without any problem!!
This, of course, places the church in direct opposition to some of its greatest and most celebrated theologists who were literalists. For example, St. Basil the Great in his work “Hexahemeros” (the Six Days of Creation) clearly states that it’s dangerous to apply allegorical meanings to the Scriptures since whoever does it basically superimposes his own mind over the words of God himself (something that borders blasphemy by his standards).
BTW, Luke,  (and bear with me, since I veer off topic here) I would urge your readers and you yourself, to study a bit of Orthodox theology and monasticism concepts, since they can serve as a powerful tool as well. I suggest this book. It was written for the non-Orthodox and can provide a great deal of insight in the “personal experience” argument of Christianity. I imagine, Luke, you can draw several new articles from that book alone.

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Teleprompter July 15, 2009 at 12:12 pm

Facilis,
So, if the prophecies were typological rather than literal, why is Jesus compared to a foolish sinner? Wouldn’t that be a major problem?
Of course, you may believe that those particular prophecies are bogus, since you have already stated that you believe that many of them are. So pardon me if I am asking you about something upon which we agree.

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Facilis July 15, 2009 at 4:57 pm

@Lorkas
“However, there are some very good points to be made. For example, the verse that is called a prophecy that Jesus would live in Nazareth (he shall be called a Nazarene) is based on a mistranslation of the term “nazarite”. In fact, anthropological evidence suggests that there was no such town at the time, but that the town of Nazareth was founded by Christians in the 4th Century CE.”
Could you please cite your sources for this claim? from what I read in John Meier’s book he said Nazareth was occupied since the 7th century BC.
One book also says
“Despite the Hellenization of the general region and the probability that Greek was known to many people it seems likely that Nazareth remained a conservative Jewish village. After the Jewish war with the Romans from AD 66-70 it was necessary to re-settle Jewish priests and their families. Such groups would only settle in unmixed towns, that is towns without Gentile inhabitants. According to an inscription discovered in 1962 in Caesarea Maritima the priests of the order of Elkalir made their home in Nazareth. This, by the way, is the sole known reference to Nazareth in antiquity, apart from written Christian sources….” Paul Barnett, Behind the Scenes of the New Testament, IVP:1990, p.42:
The Nazareth reference was probaly a pun on Samson’s “Nazarite” vow or just a reference to how the messiah would come from a humble place. It was probaly an instance of typological interpretation.
 

“Another great point is the fact that the idea that there was a prophecy stating that the mother of the messiah would be a virgin is false, as well. The word (mis)translated as “virgin” actually means “young woman”, and carries no implication about the woman’s sexual past.”
I’m not an expert in Hebrew so I won’t comment on this.

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Facilis July 15, 2009 at 5:40 pm

“I’m familiar with the concept of apologetics, I’m just not impressed by it. The piece you link starts with the assumption that the most obvious and probable solution – that Matthew and the other gospel writers were just plain wrong – cannot be true, therefore we should look for a more complex understanding which explains why they wrote things that are apparently wrong.”
So I suppose those New Testament scholars (including atheists like Bart Ehrman and Robert Price) are all apologists?
Of course if you looked at the link you see he talking about contemporary Jewishs exts using similar interpretive methods to those we find in Matthew.
@Lee A.
“Since it has been so thoroughly proven that a straight forward reading of prophecies fail to connect Jesus with Messianic old testament prophecy; ”
They do connect Jesus with Old testament prophecy.
See here
http://www.christian-thinktank.com/falsechrist.html
There are many typological passages while there are many literal passages that he fulfilled.
Prof’s analysis of some of the Old testament prophecies (such as Isaiah 53) were deficient and work in the dead Sea Scrolls and early rabbinical commentaries does anticipate some sort of priestly messiah.
 
“and since it has been shown that the claims made in the gospels are horribly off base and show misunderstandings of the Hebrew text and even a misunderstanding of words…..well then just lets just invent some wild ass doctrine! Thats the ticket! The prophecies are still fulfilled, they are simply “esoteric” and “hidden”.”
Umm no. New testament scholars unearth materials like the dead sea scrolls and read rabbinical commentaries and ask “What exegetical methods did the ancients use back then?”. They learn that they interpeted things in a typological framework.
“That is the lamest shit I have ever heard in my life. Given sufficient theological lubrication anyone can claim to fulfill messianic prophecy!
I hereby proclaim LUKEPROG the messiah! Sure, a straight forward reading of the Old Testament does not seem to say a thing about Lukeprog, but thats because you aren’t getting sufficiently esoteric with it.”
You are free to use typology on Lukeprog as you wish, but typology doesn’t prove anything.
 
 

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Facilis July 15, 2009 at 5:45 pm

“So, if the prophecies were typological rather than literal, why is Jesus compared to a foolish sinner? Wouldn’t that be a major problem?
Of course, you may believe that those particular prophecies are bogus, since you have already stated that you believe that many of them are. So pardon me if I am asking you about something upon which we agree.”
What I’m saying is that some of the intepretations of the Old estament in Matthew weren’t meant to be taken literally but taken in a tyoloogical sense. The same with the passage in the Psalms Matthew was comparing the zeal of the person with the zeal jesus had. It didn’t mean that Jesus literally was the same person as the sinner. It was just metaphorical.
I perfectly agree that metaphors cannot “prove” anything. It was just a standard method of exegesis

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Lee A. P. July 15, 2009 at 6:14 pm

There is not a single, solitary clear concise prophecy that points to Jesus Christ in the old testament. Not a one.

This “typology” bullshit is apologetic excuse making and nothing more.

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Lee A. P. July 16, 2009 at 10:57 am

Shygets from a “Debunking Christianty” (http://debunkingchristianity.blogspot.com/2008/02/is-this-how-we-should-do-exegesis.html)  blog post sums up my thoughts on “typology” thusly:

Is this not also the technique used by Nostradomians, John Edwards, and various phony “prophets” and “seers”? Make a vague and/or allegorical prophecy then do a post hoc stretching of the allegory to fit the facts? Is this type of prophecy, even if it were truly made and truly “fulfilled”, impressive? Supernatural? Predictive in any sense? Am I supposed to read prophecy in the Bible as an ancient form of cold reading?

How can Christians find typological fulfillment anything other than second-rate hokum?

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Facilis July 16, 2009 at 1:16 pm

@Lee A.
Did I ever say typological fulfillment “proved” anything ?
It doesn’t prove anything more than modern figures of speech like metaphors and similes do.
Of course there were prophecies that were fulfilled literally (like the stuff about hm coming on a donkey or dying for makind) those might be more in line with what you are looking for , but typological fulfillemtn doesn’t prove anything.

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Lee A. P. July 16, 2009 at 1:35 pm

I find it ironic that you would use Jesus’ self fulfillment Donkey ride as an example.
 
And what Jewish propecy says the messiah would die for all mankind?
On the otherhand we have tons of prophecys about a physical king — a ruler. Things Jesus failed to fulfill.

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VorJack July 18, 2009 at 4:49 am

“Of course there were prophecies that were fulfilled literally (like the stuff about hm coming on a donkey or dying for makind)”
That donkey ride is an interesting example.  Look at Matt. 21:7 – ” they brought the ass and the colt, and put their garments on them, and he sat thereon.”
Matthew is drawing his interpretation from a passage that contains the classic repetition of similar phrases that is characteristic of Hebrew poetry.  And so, somewhat clumsily, he has Jesus sit on both a colt and an ass at the same time.
Is this even physically possible?  Did Jesus use his godly powers in order to sit on two animals at once?  I’m guessing that’s not it.  Matthew must have made the event fit his interpretation of scripture, rather than make his interpretation fit the event.
That would also fit a form of Jewish midrash, sometimes called haggadah, which involved commenting on the meaning of an old text by rewriting it.  Matthew is focused on linking Jesus to the old prophecy, so he rewrites the old text in a new context.  The actual history of the event is secondary to the meaning of the event.

But that lets the camel’s nose into the tent, doesn’t it?  If Matthew is altering his retelling of events to bring out their meaning, how can we be sure what the actual history was?  And so you end up with scholars like Robert Price arguing that the gospel narratives are just a tissues of these OT rewritings that cannot be accepted as historic.  See his essay, “New Testaments Narrative as Old Testament Midrash,” http://www.robertmprice.mindvendor.com/art_midrash1.htm

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Dan July 20, 2009 at 12:52 am

Luke,
 
I suggest you read the “Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus” series by Dr. Michael L. Brown.  He answers all these objections and more.  It’s a very closed-universe argument, meaning that the conclusion is “If Jesus isn’t the Messiah, the Jews aren’t getting one.”  I think you’d agree with that conclusion, but not in the same way he does.
He does make a compelling case for why Judaism is clearly a myth if the Messiah didn’t come in the Second Temple Era.
 
–Dan

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Facilis July 20, 2009 at 6:29 am

@Vorjack
Jesus was probaly riding on the colt . Some suggest that the colt was really young and so needed its mother to keep it calm and provide company.
I heard Robert Price has changed hismind about the “typology” thing since his last book. I don’t know if you read it.
 

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Leviathan July 20, 2009 at 8:52 am

Price commented on messianic prophecy in the last two episodes of the Bible Geek (July 15 & 19). 

The way see it is, yes, typology was considered a legitimate method of interpretation by Jews in the 1st century and other periods. We should expect it, since Christianity grew out of Judiasm. Especially in Matthew, which is often called the most “Jewish” of the gospels, with it’s high regard for the Jewish Law (and, some would say, it’s theology of law-based salvation, but that’s another issue). But does the fact that this method was kosher to some Jews mean that we should overlook its obvious flaws? I don’t think so. It’s still ad-hoc, it still takes takes passages out of context,  and it’s selection of what is “cryptic meaning” is still arbitrary. Christian authors using bogus Jewish methods, even if some Jews swore by them, to support the Jesus’ messiahship, do not make it any more plausible. And, yes, Matthew’s fudging of the donkey-colt thing is a strike against him, a hint these typological prophecies may be less than inspired.  

As to “literal” prophecies, I still don’t think there are any. I don’t think Isaiah 53 is an example of a non-typological, literal prediction, as is often asserted. Even if the suffering servant is a messiah (that is, an annointed Jewish king, not the second divine being of a trinity of divine beings), his suffering is spoken of in the past tense, and the redemption of Israel (and certainly nothing about a resurrection) is the only event predicted for the future. You have to go typological to make it fit the Jesus story.

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Lee A. P. July 20, 2009 at 8:09 pm

So much of this is so incredibly LAME that I often feel as if I reside in an alternate reality where really smart people like Dr. Craig argue in favor of this obviously crazy mythical bullshit. There is no literal, clear, concise and obvious prophecy of Jesus in the old testament! Such a thing does not exist! I am not full of an evil spirit for realizing that! And this typology stuff is nonsense, as Price points out, weather or not there was a precedent for it in Judaism! It is meaningless horseshit!

I flutter back and forth from accepting the fact that Christianity is in fact a world reality and that even though I disagree, that there is still an awful lot of people who accept it and awful lot of really smart people who have clever arguments for it; to thinking that everyone that believes in this incredibly astoundingly hateful, primitive, and most of all LAME religion almost has to be a result of some sort of mass virus. Maybe a sort of defense virus or defense illness that we have not discovered yet that was advantageous once man realized his morality and started to contemplate existential issues. Something once advantageous and healthy for survival that has now just about run its course because Plantinga is almost right, evolution does not [i]neccessarily[/i]select for true beliefs.

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Shawn P Gell September 15, 2009 at 5:52 pm

I am glad that your videos have provided me with real reason not to believe in Jesus Christ as the messiah.

Even though I grew up and was raised in the Christian faith as a Baptist, I can totaly agree that the story of him is totally untrue as well as probably any story in the Bible.

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Mel Steffor July 9, 2010 at 7:24 am

There is even more proof that Jesus was not the Messiah in Genesis. It is told in the story about Adam and Eve.

The TREE in the Garden

Genesis 2:17 But as for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad you must not eat from it, . . .

Books are made from trees and contain knowledge. They also have leaves. The Tree is a Book. A tree is a metaphor for a book. This book contains knowledge of good and bad. The book is the Bible. So what is the Fruit in this book? Jesus was nailed to a tree.

The tree bears Jesus

Jesus is the fruit of the New Testament. God says “Do not eat the fruit, It is poison. Don’t eat Jesus.

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Mel Steffor July 9, 2010 at 3:33 pm

You can’t eat from a book, but you can digest a book. As in Readers Digest. You are taking the words in, like food. God says, you will positively die. The Book has poison in it. The poison is the fruit in the New Testament.

Who is Satan?. The next verse tells you exactly who Satan is. Your not going to like this.

Genesis 3 : 1 Now the serpent proved to be the most cautious of all the wild beasts of the field that God had made. So it began to say to the woman: “Is it really so that God said you must not eat from every tree of the garden?” 2 At this the woman said to the serpent: “Of the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat. 3 But as for [eating] of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, God has said, “You must not eat from it, no, You must not touch it that you do not die.’”

The snake talks. Again we know that snakes don’t talk so God again is talking in symbols. God says the snake is a wild beast. That is not true, snakes are reptiles. A beast is a mammal. Is God confused about reptiles and mammals? Is God having a senior moment? NO, he isn’t! He is telling you the snake is really a mammal. So the Serpent is really a mammal that talks. Man is the only mammal that talks. The serpent is really a man. How do snakes deceive us. We think the snake is a stick until we almost step on it. Then it moves. The Serpent is a Man with characteristics of a stick.

The snake talks from the stick.

A Cross is made from a Stick. Does this sound familiar: The Church talks from the Cross. There you have it: The Roman Catholic Pagan Church is Satan. Satan is the great deceiver. Satan says:

“Is it really so that God said you must not eat from every tree of the garden?”

The serpent knows what God said. How does Satan know what God said? The Romans read the Old Testament. The Roman Catholic Church (Satan) has deceived just about all of us. Except the Jews.

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Mel Steffor July 9, 2010 at 3:54 pm

There it is, a bible prophecy, in the story of Adam and Eve. This story is about the past and the present. Genesis was written over 3000 years ago. Thousands of years before before Jesus ever appears.

This is proof that the Old Testament came from a divine source. It came from God himself. Who could write a story in metaphors that no one could understand until now? Most of you thought Eve ate an Apple. Eve took in Jesus and she shared it with Adam. Adam and Eve are representatives of all of us. We all have something in common with Adam and Eve, and I don’t mean just DNA.

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Mel Steffor July 10, 2010 at 7:05 am

Vorjack is right on the money when he wrote the following:

“Matthew and the other gospel writers were just plain wrong”

It’s a little more complicated than that. The Jewish methods of interpretation allowed for hidden and cyrptic meanings in the text, placed there by God. That makes it hard to call them wrong. When the text may contain dozens of hidden meanings, the best you can do is argue that they aren’t applying the right meaning to the right circumstance.

God left a hidden and cyrptic message in The story of Adam and Eve. And I found it. This is how I do it: when something sounds odd or scientificly impossible I know God is talking in symbols. I then analyze each word and match it up with a familiar saying. And that is how God talks. Example in the book of Daniel, we have three men in the furnace. Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego. It is impossible for men to go into a furnace and come out alive, so I know this is symbolic. God is saying, 3 men are taking the heat and coming out fine. Which is similar to saying, “If you can’t take the heat get out of the kitchen.”

The reason I can do this is because I know God better than most of you and I know how he is.

Mel

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