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Friday, December 6, 2013

Atheism, Israel, and the Virgin Birth

by Dave Hunt - thebereancall.org - Source Link
Dec 1 2013
Excerpted from  Cosmos, Creator, and Human Destiny  —  by Dave Hunt
We have tried to be fair in our citing of much scientific evidence refuting atheism, materialism, and evolution. These three fit hand-in-glove with one another and really constitute a rival religion to theism. We have shown that in spite of much effort on the part of their loyal adherents, they still lack convincing scientific evidence and must be taken by faith.
Arguments of a purely scientific nature could continue, but these alone would still leave the two sides far apart and with differences unresolved. There can be no argument, however, with clearly stated biblical prophecies or with the history recording their fulfillment.
Atheists know that they must destroy the Bible, and they have been attempting to do so for many years. Biblical Christianity, with the virgin birth, sinless life, death on a Roman cross, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah of Israel and the world, must be proved to be contrived fables. Together, in the final analysis, these attempts to discredit the biblical testimony are a rival religion—they must also be taken by faith.
Richard Dawkins calls the resurrection of Jesus Christ “petty, parochial, trivial, unworthy of the universe.” This statement makes him not only “anti-God” but “anti-Christ.” The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus are foundational to biblical Christianity. As did Carl Sagan, Dawkins (along with his fellow “Four Horsemen” and many other atheists) literally hates God but reveres the cosmos that he denies God created. Instead, atheists insist that it came about through a giant explosion of something called energy (though no one knows its origin or cause), leaving in its wake a chaos of gasses. The gasses that came out of this mysterious explosion somehow gathered themselves together into clumps, which, over an unknown number of billions of years, developed by chance into the cosmos that we are still trying to fathom today. What is energy and why does it exist? In spite of diligent effort and brilliant discoveries, scientists have found no answers to this or the many other “why” questions, to some of which we have already referred.
The Battle for Truth Heats Up
Declaring that theists don’t know the meaning of “theory” when they attempt to demean evolution by calling it “only a theory,” Christopher Hitchens says a theory is successful “if it survives the introduction of hitherto unknown facts. And it becomes an accepted theory if it can make accurate predictions about things or events that have not yet been discovered, or that have not yet occurred.” Evolution fails on both of these counts.
Sam Harris repeatedly betrays his monumental ignorance of the Bible and biblical Christianity while pretending superior knowledge of both. He also displays a perverse refusal to admit the vast differences between the many religions. Apparently, he sees no difference between Islam’s firm declaration that there is only one true god and Hinduism’s embrace of more than 300 million. Addressing Christians, he says, “CONSIDER: every devout Muslim has the same reasons for being a Muslim that you have for being a Christian.” He couldn’t be more wrong. The reasons a Christian has for believing in Jesus Christ and all that the Bible says about Him are as different from a Muslim’s reasons for believing in Allah and Muhammad as day is from night.  We just mentioned the resurrection and the fact that no leader of any religion rose from the dead except Jesus Christ. The Qur’an denies the death and resurrection, plus almost everything else foundational to Christianity. Yet Hitchens and most atheists treat all “religions” as if there were only petty differences among them.
As we have already noted, the God of the Bible is called “the God of Israel” more than 200 times. Not once is He called the God of the Germans or the French or the Spanish or the Arabs or the Muslims, although He gave His Son to die for all mankind. The Bible was inspired through 40 different prophets over a period of 1,600 years. We have their names and sayings and historical documents in support of each. They were from different times in history and widely different cultures. In stark contrast, Muhammad claimed to be the  sole prophet  of Allah, who allegedly inspired him  alone  to write the Qur’an. The claim that Muhammad is the sole prophet is an integral part of Islam, including the confession that every Muslim must make and every convert declare. In contrast, every prophet inspired to write the Bible has 39 other witnesses to what each one of them declares. We have only Muhammad’s word that he alone was inspired by the Prophet Elijah through the angel Gabriel to write the Qur’an. This one fact alone separates Christianity from Islam and from every religion in the world.
Betraying Their Ignorance and Bias
The Christian has archaeological, historical, and scientific proof for the Bible. Where else in the world’s religious literature is such proof offered? The Bible, the God of the Bible, and Jesus Christ as the Messiah are proved irrefutably by  hundreds  of prophecies. Nothing comparable is found anywhere else. Certainly atheism can offer no proof for its religious faith. Yet Harris mistakenly declares that Christians and Muslims have the same reasons for what they separately believe. It simply isn’t true. This is only one example of the disinformation Harris foists upon his unsuspecting following and to bolster his own faith in atheism.
Hitchens and the rest of atheism’s “Four Horsemen” condemn “religion” because many religious people are zealous in their attempts to make converts. With the broad brush he typically wields, Hitchens declares that religion “ must  seek to interfere with the lives of nonbelievers, or heretics, or adherents of other faiths.” Isn’t this the very same reason why atheists write books and spread their “gospel”? As we have shown, Richard Dawkins declares: “The  atheist movement  has no choice but to aggressively spread the good news.  Evangelism  [to convert the world to atheism] is a moral imperative.”
When I was an undergraduate math major at UCLA nearly 60 years ago, I read everything I could find that the atheists, skeptics, and critics had written against God, Jesus, and the Bible. The more I read, the more it strengthened my faith and confidence because the critics’ arguments were devoid of substance. One would think that in all the time that has elapsed since then, their rebuttals of the Bible would have improved. In fact, the same worn-out arguments are still in vogue, such as the denial of the prophecy that the Messiah would be born of a virgin. Here is the most maligned of those prophecies in the Old Testament: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin [ almah ] shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Sam Harris comments:
Unfortunately for the fanciers of Mary’s virginity, the Hebrew word  alma  (for which  parthenos  [Greek for virgin] is an erroneous translation [in the Septuagint]) simply means “young woman,” without any implication of virginity. It seems all but certain that the Christian dogma of the virgin birth, and much of the church’s resulting anxiety about sex, was the result of a mistranslation from the Hebrew. . . . It would appear that Western civilization has endured two millennia of consecrated sexual neurosis simply because Matthew and Luke could not read Hebrew. For the Jews . . . the dogma of the virgin birth has served as a perennial justification for their persecution, because it has been one of the principal pieces of “evidence” demonstrating the divinity of Jesus.
First, let’s correct a few of Harris’s most obvious errors. There is a vast host of Christians today (and there has been throughout history) who believe in the virgin birth and the divinity of Christ but would never persecute a Jew. In fact, they have a special love for Jews as God’s chosen people and as Christ’s brethren. The persecution came from the Roman Catholic Church because of its unbiblical teaching that the Church had replaced Israel as the people of God and that the Jews deserved to be hated because they had crucified Christ. Nor is the Christian belief in the virgin birth “one of the principal pieces of ‘evidence’ demonstrating the divinity of Jesus.”  Harris simply doesn’t understand the Bible, though he may have read it, and that makes his ideas about Christianity not only mistaken but inexcusably ridiculous. Equally ridiculous is the idea that these two disciples, Matthew, a Jew, and Luke (though a Greek, an educated physician), both living in Israel, couldn’t read Hebrew. How does Harris know this?
Harris reiterates this argument elsewhere, as do other atheists. The skeptics have directed their attack against the virgin birth by focusing on Isaiah:7:14. Let’s examine not only this prophecy but the many others that teach a virgin birth. Yes,  almah  means a young,  unmarried maiden. Though not true today in Israel, in Isaiah’s time an unmarried maiden was sure to be a virgin. Nor would it be a sign from God for a woman who was not a virgin to bear a child. Further, Immanuel means “God is with us.” Israel was sinking deeper into apostasy, and God’s judgment upon her had been pronounced by many prophets, including Isaiah, from his first chapter onward.
Therefore, this name could not have meant that God was with Israel to bless her but that the child would be God himself, born in Israel. Could any other child be called “God is with us”? And how could such a child enter the world except by a virgin birth? The only other use of this word is found two chapters later, when Israel is called, “thy land, O Immanuel.” So God’s land, the land of Israel, belonged to this child named Immanuel. But this is only one of numerous prophecies in the Bible, all of which corroborate one another.
The Overlooked, Irrefutable Proof
The Bible is about 28 percent prophecy. Its major subjects are Israel and the Messiah. Biblical prophecy has four primary purposes: 1) To prove irrefutably the existence of the Creator and that He is “the God of Israel”; 2) To identify Israel beyond any doubt as the chosen people to whom that disputed land in the Middle East was given by God for “an everlasting possession,” and thus belongs to them today; 3) To prove that the Bible is the Creator’s Word to mankind (there are no such prophecies in the Qur’an, Hindu Vedas, Baghavad Gita, Ramayana, sayings of Buddha, or Confucius, et al.), and 4) To identify the Messiah beyond dispute so that Israel would know who He was when He came. The fulfillment, without fail, of so many specific biblical prophecies given centuries and even thousands of years in advance proves all of these points for those willing to face the facts.
Later in Isaiah, the prophet presents a clearer prophecy concerning the “child” previously spoken of: “For unto us a child is born . . . a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David . . . even for ever.” This can refer only to the promised Messiah, who (as many other biblical prophecies foretell) will reign on David’s throne in endless peace. The declaration is also unmistakable that this babe is God’s Son and yet is God himself come to earth as a man. God is His Father, yet He himself is called both God and Father. Certainly, this one is Immanuel—and only a virgin could have the honor to be His mother. The rabbis picked up stones to kill Him when Jesus said, “I and my Father are one,” but His claim agreed with the Hebrew prophets.
What about this claim to be the one and only son of God? Jews in particular reject this term, claiming that it is found only in the New Testament’s record that when the angel Gabriel announced to Mary, an astonished young virgin, that she would bear a son, she was told that “He . . . shall be called the son of the Highest. . . .”
The prophet Micah declares where this amazing babe, the “son of David” and heir to his throne would be born: in Bethlehem, the city of David. The prophecy that He “shall be ruler in Israel” once again identifies this one as the coming Messiah. At the same time, Micah reiterates the fact that Israel’s Messiah could only be God himself because He existed eternally before being born of a virgin into this world:
But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
These are not the only prophecies declaring that the Messiah would be God, virgin-born into this world. Similar prophecies come from many different biblical prophets who never knew one another and who lived at various times in history and were part of diverse cultures. The critics never present the entire scope of biblical statements concerning the virgin birth of the Messiah. The atheists hammer away atIsaiah:7:14, but that Scripture is only one of many prophecies, which all speak with one voice....
With the threat by the pope of burning him at the stake, Luther bravely declared, “I stand captive to the Word of God. I can do no other.” Atheists likewise stand captive to the Word of God—not because they love God or believe His Word but because they passionately hate Him. A way of escape through faith in Christ is offered to atheists, but they refuse to accept it. One day, Christ’s warning will haunt them, “The words that I have spoken will condemn you in that day.”
We will give many other prophecies that are precise and that have been or are in our day being unmistakably fulfilled. Any honest reader will be forced by his conscience to concede that these prophecies (which are merely a sampling of hundreds in the Bible) could come only from the one true God, speaking His infallible Word to mankind.