Christian History

The Prophecy Plot – 3

The Prophecy Plot (3) (Naeem Osman Memon) For nearly 2000 years evangelical Christianity has furthered the cause of the Church on the basis of several Old Testament prophecies alleged to have been fulfilled with the advent of Jesus Christ. A thorough examination of these prophecies, with reference to the books of the Hebrew scriptures, not only shocks a reader but also shatters the very premise upon which evangelical Christianity has been based. The candid results of one such critical study of the canonised prophecies is being presented in our present series, The Prophecy Plot. The Son from Egypt “Out of Egypt have I called my son.” (Matth: 2:15). The Gospel of Matthew alleges that when Jesus was born, an angel of the Lord appeared unto his foster father saying, “Arise and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt and be thou there until I bring thee the word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.” It then proceeds to state that when Joseph arose “he took the young child and his mother and departed into Egypt”. Joseph’s exile into Egypt, with his wife Mary and her son Jesus, the author of Matthew’s gospel alleges, was predestinated: “That it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. ,,1 This passage, presented as a prophecy by the Gospel of Matthew has been borrowed from the Hebrew scriptures, the Book of Hosea,2 alleged to have been written by an 8th century contemporary of prophet Isaiah, Hosea son of Berri. Ironically, when reference is made to the original scriptures of the Old 1. Matthew 2:12-15. 2. Hosea 11: 1. 24 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS Testament, this particular passage in the Book of Hosea does not contain a prophecy of any description whatsoever. On the contrary, it refers to an event which according to Biblical evidences transpired some 733 years before the son of Berri began his ministry in the northern kingdom of Israel in Samaria. Background to Hosea’s Original Utterances Biblical evidences maintain that during its 86 years of unfortunate captivity in Egypt, the infant nation of Israel found itself heavily burdened by the oppression of the Egyptian Pharaohs. “The Egyptians made the children of Israel serve with rigour and they made their lives bitter with hard bondage.,,3 f But this captivity and oppression of the seed of Jacob, the scriptures maintain, t was not destined to continue for much longer as the Almighty Lord appeared unto the great Israelite prophet Moses, son of Amran and announced: “I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters: for I know their sorrows; And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them out of the land unto a good land. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me; and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt. ,,4 Moses, then a humble shepherd was hence commissioned to deliver the seed of Jacob from its bondage in Egypt but the task demanded of him by the Lord was well nigh superhuman. The Egyptians had been accustomed to cheap labour for nearly a century and the seed of Jacob was their main source of labour supply. The sheer multiplicity of their numbers in Egypt enabled their despotic masters to undertake some huge and prestigious constructional projects and because of this extraordinary dependence upon the Hebrew labour, the Egyptians were not likely to let the Jewish people leave the land of their captivity: “I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand.,,5 t But, the Almighty Lord had already determined in favour of His people i and he assured Moses: . ~ “Certainly, I will be with thee. And I will stretch out my hand, and smite the Egyptians with all my wonders which I will do in the midst 3. Exodus 1:13,14. 4. Exodus 3:6-10. 5. Exodus 3:19. I THE PROPHECY PLOT thereof: and after that he will let you go. And I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians.,,6 25 The great Israelite deliverer Moses obeyed his Master’s command and proceeded to Egypt but his efforts to secure the release of his brethren intensified their persecution still further7 whereupon he complained to his Lord: “Then the Lord said unto Moses, now shalt thou see what I do to Pharaoh. I am the Lord: And I have established my covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land of their pilgrimage, wherein they were strangers. And I have heard the groaning of the children of Israel whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered my covenant. Wherefore, say unto the children of Israel, I am the Lord and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you of their bondage, and I wiU redeem you with a stretched out arm and with great judgements. And I wiU take you for me a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shaU know that I am the Lord your God, which bringest you out from under the burdens ofthe Egyptians.,,8 The Almighty Lord finally fulfilled His promise to the house of Israel when He enabled His agent to wrought some supernatural miracles and eventually, Moses secured the release of some 600,000 Israelites whom he led: “through the way of the wilderness of the Red Sea: and the children of Israel went up harnessed out of Egypt.,,9 In the third month after their release from captivity Moses and his people reached the desert of Sinai where the Lord had commanded His agent to bring his people after their deliverancelO: “Moses went up unto God and the Lord called him out of the mountain, saying, Thus shalt thou say to the house of Jacob, and teU the children of Israel: Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles wings, and brought you unto myself. Now therefore, if you will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then shall ye be a peculiar treasure unto me above aU people: for all the earth is mine. And ye shaD be unto me a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation.”n It was at this juncture of the Israelite history that the Almighty Lord ordained the ‘Ten Commandments’ and enacted a moral code for the seed of 6. Exodus 3:12 & 20, 21. 7. Exodus 5:1-19. 8. Exodus 6:1-7. 9. Exodus 13:18. 10. Exodus 3:12. 11. Exodus 19:3-6. 26 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS Jacob. He required the Israelites to mould their lives in accordance with the law enacted on mount Sinai and this He demanded of them as a token of their appreciation for what He had done in bringing them out of nearly nine decades of captivity and bondage. Israel During Hosea’s Ministry Hosea, a minor Israelite prophet began his ministry in the northern kingdom of Israel during the reign ofJeroboam son of Joash. The infant Israel that had once come out of captivity in Egypt had now bloomed into a full blooded nation and the extraction and oppression of their ancestors was now lost in the annuls of history and long forgotten. The Israelite people were no longer appreciative of the wonders which the Almighty had wrought in bringing them out of their captivity. When Hosea began to prophesy in 758 BCE, the Hebrew nation had long discarded the commandments of the Lord enacted at mount Sinai. With the division of the Davidite empire, the northern kingdom began to witness the introduction of idolatry. Jeroboam son of Nebat, the first king of the ten tribe kingdom in Samaria: “said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David: If the people go up to sacrifice in the house of the Lord in Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord and they shall kill me. Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem; behold thy gods, 0 Israel, which brought thee out of Egypt. ,,12 This grave offence of Jeroboam was encouraged by subsequent Israelite rulers ofthe northern kingdom, Nadab, Baasha, Elah and Zimiri.13 Omri, the sixth king and founder of the third dynasty in Israel “did evil above all that were before him”14 and his son Ahab went a step further. He reintroduced the worship of the Canaanite idols Baal and Asherah15 until Israel was burdened with 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah. 16 Ahaziah son of Ahab continued to pay reverence to the heathen gods. 17 His brother Jehoram “put away the images of Baal, yet he cleaved to the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat. ,,18 . Jehu son of Jeshoshaphat, alleged to have been anointed as king on the \ 12. 1 Kings 12:26-28. 13. 1 Kings 15:26; 15:34; 16:3 & 16:9. 14. 1 Kings 16:25, 26. 15. 1 Kings 16:3G-33. 16. 1 Kings 18:19. 17. 2 Kings 1:2. 18. 2 Kings 1:2. THE PROPHECY PLOT 27 command of the Lord by the Israelite prophet Elisha rid Israel of its Baal worshippers and yet “did not turn aside from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat. ,,19 The worship of Jeroboam’s calves continued through the reign of Jehu’s successors Jehoahaz and Joash2o and when Hosea began his ministry during the reign of Jeroboam son of Joash, idolatry was extensively practised in Israel and the seed of Jacob had totally abandoned the commandments of the Lord enacted at mount Sinai.21 The Lord’s Lamentation Hosea son of Berri, being a man of exceptional piety, criticised the conduct of his people and on the authority of his Master declared: “Hear the words of the Lord, ye the children of Israel: for the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. By swearing and lying, and killing and stealing and committing adultery they break out, and blood toucheth blood. ,,22 The Almighty Lord, who spoke through His faithful witness Hosea lamented the moral laxity and the gross idolatry of the Israelite people: “my people ask counsel at their stocks and their staff declareth unto them: for the spirit of whoredom hath caused them to err and they have gone a whoring from under their God. They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills. They have set up kings but not by me: they have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold they have made them idols. Thy calf, 0 Samaria, hath cast thee off; mine anger is kindled against them: how long will it be ere they attain innocency?,,23 In the midst of this long lamentation of the sin of Israel and the ingratitude of the seed of Jacob, the Almighty God recalled the days of Israel’s infancy when He manifested His special love for the infant nation by adopting Israel as “his son, even His first born. ,,24 Hosea son of Berri recorded the Almighty Lord’s lamentation: “When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. As I called them, so they went from me, they sacrificed unto Baalim and burned incense to graven images. I taught Ephraima also 19. 2 Kings 10:39 & 10: 18-28. 20. 2 Kings 13.2 & 2 Kings 13: 11. 21. 2 Kings 24:24. 22. Hosea 4: 1, 2. 23. Hosea 4:12, 13 & 8:4, 5. 24. Exodus 4:22 & 4:23. a. Reference is made here to the ten tribes of Israel in Samaria. Ephraim being the dominant tribe in the kingdom, the ten tribes were often addressed as Ephraim. Hosea 13:1. 28 REVIEW OF RELIGIONS to go, taking them by their arm; but they know not that I healed them. I drew them with the cords ofa man, with bands oflove: and I was by them as they take otT the yoke of their jaws, and I laid meat unto them.,,25 Hosea’s record of the Almighty’s lamentations indicates that these words were “spoken of the Lord by the prophet” in relation to the ideal Israel which: “by the prophet the Lord brought out of Egypt.,,26 But this Israel, inspite of all the love and affection tendered upon it, disappointed the Lord through its iniquity and sin and the Almighty Lord decreed: “The sorrow of a travailing woman shall come upon him, he is an unwise son. ,,27 Hence, Matthew’s assertion that Joseph took Jesus and his mother and departed into Egypt: “that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.” is absolutely unfounded and has no scriptural authority whatsoever as such a prophecy was “neither spoken of the Lord nor was it ever recorded by any of His prophets.” A Flight That Never Was The flight of Jesus’s family to Egypt, if one is to give any credence to the evidence of Luke, could have been a fragment of Matthew’s imagination and not a fact of history. While Matthew places this alleged flight of the holy family to Egypt immediately after the departure of the “wise men from the east” ,28 the author of Luke makes the family tarry in Bethlehem until after the “purification days of Mary” had been accomplished and Jesus had been presented in the temple in Jerusalem.29 He then traces their footsteps back to Nazareth in Galilee: “And when they had performed all that according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth. And the child grew and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom and the grace of God was upon him. ,,30 25. Hosea 11:1-4. 26. Hosea 12:13. 27. Hosea 13:13. 28. Matthew 2:12-15. 29. Luke 2:22. 30. Luke 2:39, 40. THE PROPHECY PLOT 29 The author of Matthew also alleges that Joseph fled to Egypt to save his foster child from the wrath of the tyrant Herod the Great. But this massacre of the innocent children, from which Joseph and Mary are alleged to have fled with their infant son is not supported by the historical records compiled by any of the other three evangelists nor is there any mention of it in the other historical documents relating to that particular era when Jesus son of Mary is alleged to have been born in the city of Bethlehem in Judaea.31 Allah – Forgiver of Sins Allah says in the Holy Ouran: Ask forgiveness for thy frailties. (47:20) Ask forgiveness of Allah, surely, Allah is Most Forgiving, Merciful. (4:107) Glorify thy Lord with His Praise and seek forgiveness of Him. Surely He is Oft-Returning with compassion. (110:4) Whoso does evil or wrongs his soul, and then asks forgiveness of Allah will find Allah Most Forgiving, Ever Merciful. (4:111 ) 31. Matthew 2:5.