You have asked me, Lucilius, why, if a Providence rules the world, it still happens that many evils befall good men. This would be more fittingly answered in a coherent work designed to prove that a Providence does preside over the universe, and that God concerns himself with us.
You're bound to encounter, not only as Bono of U-2 so succinctly puts it, "A preacher on the Old Time Gospel Hour stealing money from the sick and the old", but invariably you will hear these high-tech thieves "proving" Jesus is the Son of God, and thus the one to tithe for, by reading "prophecies" from the Old Testament allegedly foretelling of Jesus.
Many sincere kind people are duped by this type of fortune telling. The truths Tom Paine reveals in the following essay concerning the prophecies, if given a large enough popular audience, will cripple the religious right and their money machine.
His essay removes a fundamental plank key to the continuation of the Christian myth. Secondly, those which translators and commentators have, of their own imagination, erected into prophecies, and dubbed with that title at the head of the several chapters of the Old Testament.
Of Book thief essay it is scarcely worth while to waste time, ink, and paper upon; I shall, therefore, confine myself chiefly to Book thief essay referred to in the aforesaid four books of the New Testament. If I show that these are not prophecies of the person called Jesus Christ, nor have reference to any such person, it will be perfectly needless to combat those which translators or the Church have invented, and for which they had no other authority than their own imagination.
I begin with the book called the Gospel according to St. And she shall bring forth a son, and call his name Jesus; for He shall save His people from their sins. I ask not, therefore, whether Joseph if there was such a man had such a dream or not, because admitting he had, it proves nothing.
So wonderful and irrational is the faculty of the mind in dream, that it acts the part of all the characters its imagination creates, and what it thinks it hears from any of them is no other than what the roving rapidity of its own imagination invents.
It is therefore nothing to me what Joseph dreamed of; whether of the fidelity or infidelity of his wife. I pay no regard to my own dreams, and I should be weak indeed to put faith in the dreams of another. The verses that follow those I have quoted, are the words of the writer of the book of Matthew.
It is no such thing, and I go to show it is not.
But it is first necessary that I explain the occasion of these words being spoken by Isaiah. The reader will then easily perceive that so far from their being a prophecy of Jesus Christ, they have not the least reference to such a person, nor to anything that could happen in the time that Christ is said to have lived, which was about seven hundred years after the time of Isaiah.
The case is this: On the death of Solomon the Jewish nation split into two monarchies: The kingdom of Judah followed the line of David, and the kingdom of Israel that of Saul; and these two rival monarchies frequently carried on fierce wars against each other.
Ahaz and his people became alarmed at their danger, and "their hearts were moved as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind. In this perilous situation of things, Isaiah addresses himself to Ahaz, and assures him in the name of the Lord the cant phrase of all the prophetsthat these two kings should not succeed against him; and to assure him that this should be the case the case was however directly contrary tells Ahaz to ask a sign of the Lord.
This Ahaz declined doing, giving as a reason, that he would not tempt the Lord; upon which Isaiah, who pretends to be sent from God, says, verse 14, "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign, behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son - butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil and choose the good - for before the child shall know to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land which thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings" - meaning the King of Israel and the King of Syria who were marching against him.
Here then is the sign, which was to be the birth of a child, and that child a son; and here also is the time limited for the accomplishment of the sign, namely, before the child should know to refuse the evil and choose the good.
The thing, therefore, to be a sign of success to Ahaz, must be something that would take place before the event of the battle then pending between him and the two kings could be known.
A thing to be a sign must precede the thing signified. The sign of rain must be before the rain. It would have been mockery and insulting nonsense for Isaiah to have assured Ahaz a sign that these two things should not prevail against him, that a child should be born seven hundred years after he was dead, and that before the child so born should know to refuse the evil and choose the good, he, Ahaz, should be delivered from the danger he was then immediately threatened with.
But the case is, that the child of which Isaiah speaks was his own child, with which his wife or his mistress was then pregnant; for he says in the next chapter Is.
The tense is also falsified in the translation.
Levi gives the Hebrew text of Isaiah vii, 14, and the translation in English with it - "Behold a young woman is with child and beareth a son. This translation agrees with the other circumstances related of the birth of this child which was to be a sign to Ahaz. But as the true translation could not have been imposed upon the world as a prophecy of a child to be born seven hundred years afterwards, the Christian translators have falsified the original: I pass on to the second passage quoted from the Old Testament by the New, as a prophecy of Jesus Christ.Unlike most editing & proofreading services, we edit for everything: grammar, spelling, punctuation, idea flow, sentence structure, & more.
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