The Covenant and Mercy of the Messiah –
I’ll admit I had an agenda when I purchased Michael Browns Volume 3 – Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus. Frankly I was interested in understanding how Dr. Brown interprets the prophecy of Daniel 9. Much of today’s Christian eschatology hangs upon this critical prophecy but surprisingly, in way too many instances, the Scriptural foundation for this prophecy is neglected. Lately I’ve been exploring how today’s influential Bible teacher’s answer 20 key foundational questions about the prophecy of 70 Weeks and that quest has led me to this book.
Let me say right up front the book was not what I expected. It’s been some time since I’ve enjoyed and learned as much from a book as I have from Dr. Brown’s Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus: Messianic Prophecy Objections. Questions about Daniel 9 aside, this was just a really informative book about a subject which love.
One of the first things that struck me about this book was the fact was Dr. Brown’s perspective. As a Jewish believer in Yeshua, writing to his Jewish brethren, Dr. Brown didn’t approach the subject primarily from the point of view of trying to convince his reader about the legitimacy of the prophetic Scriptures in general because his audience, for the most part, already has a great respect and love for the God’s words.
Rather Dr. Brown took the prophetic texts of the Bible and explored them from both a traditional Jewish (historical) perspective as well as Messianic Jewish (New Testament) perspective showing how a reasonable rendering of the evidence from both sources supports the view that Yeshua (Jesus) was the Messiah spoken of in the Torah and the Prophets.
As gentile believer in Yeshua this was a unique and enlightening exploration of the subject for me. I frankly was not aware of just how extensively the traditional Jewish sources had written about the Bible’s messianic prophecies or their messianic expectations for those prophecies.
Over the years I’ve read a little bit about the Jewish anti-missionaries arguments against Yeshua as the fulfillment of Bible’s messianic prophecies but until I’d read this book I did not have a good grasp of their basis nor the extent to which those arguments had been carried.
This book really changed that for me. Dr. Brown’s arguments were logical and persuasive yet given in a respectful and direct manner. Based upon many of the ancient Rabbinic sources Dr. Brown quoted in this book, it is difficult to see how anyone else but Yeshua (Jesus) fulfilled the prophecies found in the Torah and the Prophets. And for those of you my Christian peers who think Dr. Brown blindly tows the traditional evangelical Christian line on every interpretation of Bible prophecy, you too might be surprised.
I was especially intrigued by Dr. Browns view of the prophecy of Daniel 9. I found it surprising and refreshing that Dr. Brown, as one who believes in a literal and future second coming of the Messiah, sees a reasonable interpretation of Daniel 9 in which the 70 Weeks were fulfilled in the first century by Yeshua (Jesus). Granted this is the first book I’ve read by Dr. Brown but I found no evidence in this book that he, as a Jewish believer in Yeshua, has a preterists or suppersessionist view of the Scripture. On the contrary, Dr. Brown presents a strongly futurist view of the Jewish peoples future role in Gods plans for mankind.
Lately, I’ve been struck by how many of my Christian peers incongruently disassociate the 6 goal of Daniel 9:24 from Yeshua’s death and resurrection, placing them outside the 70 Weeks in some dispensational gap thus weakening the messianic redemptive nature of this pivotal prophecy, a prophecy which they claim is written directly too and for the Jewish people. Among futurists Dr. Brown seems to be a lonely but welcome voice, pointing to Yeshua’s death and resurrection as the most reasonable and Biblically sound understanding of the six goals of Daniel’s 70 Weeks prophecy.
To get sense of how Dr. Brown sees two of the six goals of Daniel 9:24 here is a quote from page 98:
“In other words, it was during his first coming that Yeshua died for the sins of the world, making atonement for iniquity and bringing in everlasting righteousness, in accordance with Daniel 9:24.
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In what I hope is considered friendly and edifying criticism, there are several area where I believe Dr. Brown’s explanation of Daniel 9 could have been established upon a more solid Biblical context. They are:
- The chronology of Ezra & Nehemiah
- The command (dabar) to restore and build Jerusalem
- Biblical time as it relates to the prophecy of 70 Sevens
- The Messianic context of Daniel 9:4
Because it relates more directly to the subject of this book I briefly explain the fourth point.
Ironically or appropriately, depending upon your point of view, this fourth point relates to the first messianic passage Dr. Brown looked at in this book, namely the Akedah.
In the opening pages of this book Dr. Brown explores one of my favorite prophetic foreshadowing of the Messiah found in Gen. 22. It is the story of the binding of Isaac. It is such a wonderful story of faith, innocence and obedience!
As a result of Abraham’s faith and obedience (regards to sacrificing his son Isaac) we find recorded in Gen. 22 the first time Yahweh swore an oath with any man in the Bible. In part this oath promised that through Abraham’s “seed” all nations of the earth would be blessed.
And the angel of YHWH called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, And said, By myself have I sworn [shaba], saith YHWH, for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son: That in blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of the heaven, and as the sand which is upon the sea shore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies; And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; because thou hast obeyed my voice. (Genesis 22:15-18)
This “oath” is confirmed some years later to Isaac:
Sojourn in this land, and I will be with thee, and will bless thee; for unto thee, and unto thy seed, I will give all these countries, and I will perform the oath [shebuw’ah] which I sware [shaba] unto Abraham thy father; 4 And I will make thy seed to multiply as the stars of heaven, and will give unto thy seed all these countries; and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed; 5 Because that Abraham obeyed my voice, and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws. (Genesis 26:3-5)
Later in Deuteronomy 7:7-9 & 12 Moses calls Israel’s attention to this “oath” Yahweh “swore” to Abraham.
YHWH did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because YHWH loved you, and because he would keep the oath [shebuw’ah] which he had sworn [shaba] unto your fathers, hath YHWH brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know therefore that YHWH thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;…
Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken tothese judgments, and keep, and do them, that YHWH thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware [shaba] unto thy fathers: (Deuteronomy 7:7-9, 12)
This brings us to Daniel 9 and the prophecy of 70 Weeks. In Daniel 9:4 the very first words out of Daniel’s mouth, when sets out to petition YHWH to forgive and redeem his people and restore Jerusalem, are a quote from Deu 7, those words are a call for YHWH to remember the “covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments”. That “covenant and mercy” in part was promise that through Abraham’s seed all nations of the earth would be blessed.
And I prayed unto YHWH my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love him, and to them that keep his commandments; (Daniel 9:4 )
It didn’t take long for the angel Gabriel to bring an answer to Daniel’s prayer. That answer was the prophecy of 70 Sevens which told Daniel exactly when that “seed” would come and what that Seed would accomplish.
In other words Daniel 9 begins with Daniel asking Yahweh to remember the “oath” (shebuw’ah) that He (Yahweh) sware (shaba), with Abraham. In answer YHWH sends Daniel the prophecy of 70 Sevens (shabuwa). And to add a really beautiful touch both shabuwa (sevens) and shib’iym (seventy) appear to come from the, primitive root, shaba, that is to sware. So in way we could look at Daniel’s 70 Weeks prophecy as an Oath of Sevens, at least that’s how I like to think of it now.
For further confirmation related to the messianic context of Daniel 9:4 consider the prophecy of Zacharias at the dedication of his son John. This prophecy talks about the coming redeemer as fulfillment of the covenant and mercy – the oath (shebuw’ah) Yahweh sware (shaba) with Abraham.
And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost, and prophesied, saying, Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;
As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:
That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, (Luke 1:67-73)
And finally the words of Peter confirming that the “covenant” made with Abraham was about the Messianic “seed” who turn Israel’s from their iniquities, the very theme of Daniel’s prayer (Daniel 9:4-23) as well as the prophecy of 70 Seven’s itself (Daniel 9:24-27).
Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities. (Acts 3:25-26)
So for those who might doubt Dr. Brown’s messianic/redemptive interpretation of Daniel 9, won’t you first take into account the “covenant and mercy” of Daniel 9:4. I don’t think you’ll ever look at this wonderful prophecy the same way again.
Covenant and Mercy Indeed!
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In closing, whether you are Jewish or Gentile, if you enjoy seeing a subject through another person’s eyes, Dr. Brown’s book is a valuable resource which will challenge you, giving you a brand new perspective on the Bible’s messianic / redemptive message. I thoroughly appreciate this fantastic book and the manner the in which the information was presented in it, so much so that I’ve already purchased volume 4.
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Author: Michael L. Brown
Book Title: Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus: Messianic Prophecy Objections
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Book Reviewed by: William Struse