A campaign to raise awareness of the 53rd chapter of Isaiah from Chosen People Ministries, which included billboards and a full page ad in the New York Times promoting a free book explaining the chapter, also featured a public open-mic debate with Dr. Brown at a Marriott in downtown Manhattan on July 15th. The debate began with a presentation from Brown on Isaiah 53, and followed with an opportunity for anyone in attendance to challenge his presentation. Below is a report from Dr. Brown, including live excerpts from the presentation and comments/challenges from some of those that came to the mic:
Reaction from Jewish counter-missionaries (those that actively oppose the message of the gospel being spread to the Jewish people) to the campaign and debate included the following from 5 Towns Jewish Times:
Last Thursday night, Chosen People Ministries held a poorly attended public debate at Manhattan’s Marriott East Side, featuring top missionary lecturer Dr. Michael Brown, author of a five-part book series which purports to answer Jewish objections to JC. Among the few Jews who attended were several countermissionary experts, including Rabbi Moshe Shulman, executive director of Judaism’s Answer (www.judaismsanswer.com). Shulman engaged Brown in collegial exchange and scored several points in refuting Brown’s scholarly allegations that Isaiah 53 definitively supports the messiahship of JC.
Commenting afterwards, Rabbi Shulman noted, “Debates with Jews about the messiah are not new. Over 500 years ago, the Spanish Jewish communities suffered such indignity as part of the Inquisition. Today it’s more subtle, and Jewish apathy is furthering missionary inroads into Russian, Israeli, Bukharian, Persian, and American Jewish communities. The Orthodox can no longer claim to be immune. And what’s happening here is equally unfolding in Israel with little resistance or outrage.”
As well as the following from The Jewish Star:
The chapter, according to the translation in The Times, speaks of a singular “suffering servant,” which Glaser maintains is a reference to Jesus.
Isaiah 53 is a standard polemic text that missionaries use, said Rabbi Tovia Singer of Outreach Judaism.
“Isaiah 53 is the fourth Servant Song which began in Isaiah 41,” Rabbi Singer explained. “In the first three Servant Songs it identifies the servant who suffers at the hands of the nations as Israel. Isaiah introduces the servant of G-d, both in the singular and plural, who endured tremendous pains, but who is ultimately vindicated in the Messianic days… The chapter [is] molested, ripped out of context and mistranslated and presented to Jewish people who know nothing about the faith that they are being asked to abandon.”
In response to allegations such as these from counter-missionaries that the campaign should elicit “resistance and outrage” from Jewish people, and that the 53rd chapter of Isaiah is “molested, ripped out of context and mistranslated” by Messianic missionaries, Brown said the following:
When you hear almost hysterical charges like these from Rabbi Singer, you can only ask yourself why the counter-missionaries are protesting so loudly. Could it be that Isaiah 53 speaks for itself so clearly?
Really now, why would a Jewish rabbi get so upset when we tell our Jewish people to take their Bibles (in Hebrew or in a good Jewish translation) and read Isaiah 53 for themselves? Are we being criticized by professional counter-missionaries for encouraging fellow Jews to read their Bibles, pray, and think for themselves?
In reality, the greatest evangelistic tool we have is not our gospel literature or our arguments or our debating abilities. It is just the text of the Tanakh, the Hebrew Scriptures. Countless thousands of Jews have embraced Yeshua as the Messiah based on their study of Isaiah 53, and we are confident that many thousands more will come to faith as well.
For more information on messianic prophecy, including Isaiah 53, see Real Messiah’s Messianic Objections section, and the book Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus: Volume 3.
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