- – The Good News
Today scholars present us with many versions of the New Testament Jewish hero named Jesus. Some claim he was just a virtuous man with a world changing message, others that he was literally the Hebrew Immanuel, that is, God with us, and still others claim that he was just a figment of the imagination of some desperate first century Jewish sect.
So who has the most accurate view?
In his new book, The True Jesus: Uncovering the Divinity of Christ in the Gospels, author David Limbaugh takes his reader on a Biblical adventure in search of the true nature of the Bibles greatest hero. From Jesus of Nazareth’s birth, to his death, resurrection and ascension, Mr. Limbaugh reveals to his reader how the first century gospel writers understood the personality and person of the one they called the Christ.
A couple of things really stood out to me in this book.
• Mr. Limbaugh’s compelling portrait of not just Jesus’ divinity but also his humanity
• Mr. Limbaugh’s touching exploration of the disciples journey from followers to apostles
As the book unfolds Mr. Limbaugh walks you hand in hand with Jesus’ disciples as they discover for themselves the true Jesus. In a way, you see the story of Jesus through their eyes. I’m not sure exactly how he does it but Mr. Limbaugh is able to transport right into the story.
As you walk through the gospel accounts with Mr. Limbaugh you’ll feel the early excitement Jesus’ disciples experienced when they were called. You’ll feel the hope in their first tentative steps as followers and the doubts, misconceptions, and discoveries they learn from along the way. You’ll groan in their weakness and wonder in disbelief at their doubts and all along the way you’ll feel the reassuring hand of Jesus as he comforts, teaches, and prepares them for their world changing commission to take His good news of Yeshua (YHWH’s Salvation) first to their own Jewish brethren and then to rest of the world.
In reading Mr. Limbaugh chronological account of the gospels you can help but come away with an awesome sense of Jesus’ divinity juxtaposed with His real humanity as a man. I don’t know if anyone can totally fathom our Creator taking on a temporary dwelling of fallen human flesh and in utter unselfish humility standing in our place when the righteous judgement for our sins was carried out. I can say though that after reading The True Jesus, the redemptive picture of YHWH’s salvation is even more vivid and gripping than I’ve ever seen it before.
* * *
In a bit of respectful criticism there was one small part of the book where Mr. Limbaugh made a welling meaning assumption that is not based upon a reasonable rendering of the Biblical evidence. I know this may seem like nitpicking to some but sometimes the smallest details have unnoticed importance. I quote from the passage in question:
“In 458 BC, the scribe Ezra returned to the land along with a few thousand Jews and their families, and reinstituted the Law and the religious rituals (Ezra 7:21-25). In 444 BC, Nehemiah returned to the land with another group of exiles and was appointed governor of Judah. By the authority of Persian King Artaxerxes (Neh. 2:6), Nehemiah organized the rebuilding of the city’s walls, fulfilling Daniel’s century-old prophecy (Daniel 9:25).”
Doesn’t seem like much does it? In fact though, upon this little bit of 2nd temple era chronology hangs much of the framework of our futurist eschatology. Daniel 9, a 7 yr. tribulation, a future Anti-christ covenant with Israel, and numerous other prophetic passages all find their foundation in this little piece of Biblical history.
The problem with this chronology is that it is not supported with a reasonable rendering of the Bible’s 2nd temple chronology. What is left unsaid in Mr. Limbaugh’s chronology above is that Ezra’s father was killed in the 19th year of Nebuchadnezzar. By the 20th year of Mr. Limbaugh’s Artaxerxes, Ezra would be at his absolute youngest a quarter century older than Moses.
As Thomas Ice and Ed Hindson explain in their recent book Charting the Bible Chronologically: A Visual Guide to God’s Unfolding Plan, after the flood, the lifespan of mankind was subject to a decay curve. This curve saw the lifespan of mankind decrease from the multi century spans that occurred before the flood to the 70-80 years mentioned by King David (Psalms 90:10) following the flood.
Had Ezra been the only exception to this rule it might have been discounted as an unexplained oddity. But this same unreasonable age applies to many of the Priests and Levites who came up to Jerusalem under the decree of Cyrus (536 BC) and who were still alive by the 20th year of the unnamed Persian Artaxerxes of Nehemiah. (Neh. 10 & 12)
Also problematic is the chronology of Ezra 6 & 7 were it tells us of a Persian Artaxerxes who was part of Temple building efforts that were completed by the 6th year of Darius (‘the Great’ Artaxerxes). Just a few verses later in Ezra 7, we find Ezra on his way to Jerusalem in the 7th year of an unnamed Artaxerxes. The most natural reading of the passage, even the age of Ezra himself, suggests that the Artaxerxes of Ezra 7 is the one and same Artaxerxes of Ezra 6. But instead we add 60 years to Ezra’s age between Ezra 6 & 7 so that we make him a contemporary of the Persian king Longimanus.
Here is my point. No detail of YHWH’s incredible word in unimportant. By making exceptions and excuses for this neglected bit of Biblical history we as futurists have left a future stumbling block for those who use this chronology as the basis for their futurist expectations. My hope is that in some future writing Mr. Limbaugh will give this exceptionally important part of Biblical history the attention it so rightly deserve and rectify the neglect it has received in this current work.
* * *
In closing my criticism notwithstanding, this was the most moving exploration of the New Testament gospels that I’ve ever read. When reading this book you can’t escape the sense of wonder and thrilling discovery that Mr. Limbaugh shares with you as he takes you on an adventure that has the potential to transform your life. After reading this book I’d encourage you to open your Bible’s and see if these things be so.
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Author: David Limbaugh
Book Title: The True Jesus: Uncovering the Divinity of Christ in the Gospels
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Book Reviewed by: William Struse