Sid Roth - Dr. Michael Brown's Amazing Testimony
Sid Roth: Hello. I'm Sid Roth your investigative reporter and I'm here with a friend of mine, Dr. Michael Brown. And Dr. Brown, you got what we Jewish call chutzpah, to say the foundations of rabbinical Judaism are faulty. Take me back to kind of the beginning when you began to even investigate, even think that Jesus could be the Jewish Messiah.
Dr. Michael Brown: Sid, the way I was raised on Long Island, nice Jewish home, my dad was a senior lawyer on the New York Supreme Court, I never thought about Jesus at all. He was for the gentiles just like Mohammed was for the gentiles.
Sid Roth: Were you Bar Mitzvahed?
Dr. Michael Brown: I was Bar Mitzvahed.
Sid Roth: Were both your parents Jewish?
Dr. Michael Brown: Both my parents were Jewish. The fact is though it was Long Island conservative Judaism, kind of wishy-washy. So that's what I thought Judaism was. I didn't got to synagogue unless it was the high holy days. So my dad would show up some weeks. He'd get a call in the morning that they're short one man and he needed to the synagogue because you needed at least ten people for the prayer group and so on. So I didn't grow up religiously. But I was religious enough to know Jesus is for the gentiles. I used to ask the question, because I learned somewhere that he was actually Jewish. I used to ask the question, when did he become Catholic, after he rose from the dead or something? Because it was just nonsense to me. Well when I was eight years old I started playing drums. By the time I was Bar Mitzvahed, 13 years old, I was a pretty good drummer. And it was just then, the late '60s, the whole rise in rock music and Woodstock, and the Age of Aquarius, and do your own thing, well I started to get into rock music, and I started to get interested in the whole drug culture associated with it. Those were my heroes. They were growing their hair long. They were doing whatever they wanted. They were getting high. So I got introduced to drugs at the age of 14 and just for the fun of it, started to get high. I wasn't searching. I wasn't looking for some philosophical meaning of life. I was just a teenager. I enjoyed getting high. It became part of my identity. By the time I was 15, I started shooting heroin just for fun. And I could use these large quantities of drugs, larger than any of my friends and survive, so now it was a source of pride for me.
Sid Roth: Now did your parents have a clue as to what was going on?
Dr. Michael Brown: They knew some of what was going on. Their ideas were a little liberal and if they knew that I was smoking pot they would have been a little bit concerned, but my dad wouldn't have thought it was that bad. When they found out some of the stuff I was doing, they really panicked. And then I convinced them, no I'm off of that. I'm not doing anything bad. And you know, they wanted to believe the best about me.
Sid Roth: You lied.
Dr. Michael Brown: Of course I lied. I had to cover the whole thing up. They knew something was up, but no clue to the extent of it. My two best friends who played in the band with me, gentiles, started going to this little church. They went to the church because they liked two girls who were in the church. The girls went to the church because their uncle was the pastor and their dad was praying for them. And this was a church that talked about the miraculous, people having demons in them, demons leaving, wild stuff. With our drug background, this was, we thought, wow, cool, speaking in tongues, miracles, demons being driven out of people. Wow. They started to go just kind of out of fascination. God started to deal with them and change them little by little, by little. I thought I didn't like it. I went to this church to pull them out in the summer of 1971. But the people were so nice, about 50 people. They were mainly older people. They were so nice I thought, well okay, you have your religion, I have mine. I'll do my own thing. And Sid, I did all the drugs, I did, I even stole money from my parents and I never felt guilty, not a single time. But they must have been praying for me because I started to be uncomfortable. I couldn't sleep at night when I would get high. I started to look at my life how I cheated friends, how I stole from my parents. I started to feel guilty. I didn't realize it was the Holy Spirit dealing with me. I had no clue. I went back to the church just because I was feeling guilty about being so mean to my friends, November 12, 1971, and at the end of the service, they said, "If you believe that Jesus died for your sins, come forward, you can accept him". And I thought, silly little thing. But you know, all these old people, they think I'm this wicked, wicked person. But when I went there the first time one of the girls wrote in her diary, "Antichrist comes to church". So I thought, you know, if I go up there with my long hairÖ
Sid Roth: Right.
Dr. Michael Brown: Öthey'll really think this is a neat thing. So I went up just not even meaning it. As I started to say these words out loud with the pastor, "I believe Jesus died for me," something started to go off in me. I said, I somehow believe this is true. I'm not willing to change. I'm not willing to give up my sins. I loved what I was doing. So I prayed this stupid prayer. I was just 16. I prayed a stupid prayer.
Sid Roth: What was that?
Dr. Michael Brown: God, you know when I go home tonight I'm gonna to shoot cocaine. I had just gotten a large quantity of cocaine. You know when I get home I'm gonna shot it. If you don't want me to do this, when I put the needle in my arms, don't let it have any effect. Stupid prayer. I wasn't even saved yet. I'm just starting to open my heart to God. So I went home. I smoked some powerful drugs then I got the cocaine ready, shot up my arm, my heart started to pound and then everything stopped. No high.
Sid Roth: Stop?
Dr. Michael Brown: Zero.
Sid Roth: Had that ever happened before?
Dr. Michael Brown: No.
Sid Roth: That can't happen.
Dr. Michael Brown: Well I did a lot of it, too. And my body began to respond and then stopped. Zero. So I realized, okay, something is up here. About five weeks went by and I was in turmoil. Should I do the will of God? And I knew that meant believing in Jesus and giving up my sins that meant no more being a rock star. I played on an album already at the age of 15 and I was pretty good. All my dreams are going to have go down the tubes. I'm going to have to live for God or am I going to keep following my sin. And I went to a service in December, December 17, and it was just they're singing these hymns that was culturally different from me. But there was this joy that came over me. And I realized God loves me. God loves me enough that he sent Jesus to die in my place for all the wicked things that I did and he's washed me clean, and he's invited me into his family. And I said, how in the world can I be doing what I'm doing. And right then on the spot, no coercion, no one talking to me, no one saying a word, I said, God, I will never put a needle in my arms again. Sid, that was...
Sid Roth: Did you?
Dr. Michael Brown: Never did it, from that moment on, not a single time. That was a huge mountain for me, Sid. Psychologically, mentally, physically, I had to do drugs. If it wasn't a physical addiction, it was a mental addiction. It was an addiction to the needle. It was emotional. I'd do the most, I broke into houses, I broke into a doctor's office just for drugs.
Sid Roth: There is something called withdrawal. To just stop cold turkey, the body, the mind develops...
Dr. Michael Brown: I was set free. I was instantly...
Sid Roth: No rebellion.
Dr. Michael Brown: Instantly free, physically, emotionally, psychology. Two days after that, I said, God, I will never get high again in any way. I got tempted one time to almost get high, to smoke some stuff, two weeks later, put it down, ran from it, never touched another thing from that point on.
Sid Roth: Listen, if I was your parents, especially an attorney with the State Supreme Court I'd trot you out to my local rabbi.
Dr. Michael Brown: Sid, that's what my dad did. He was thrilled. He said, "Michael, you're not doing," they saw the change. They knew it was real now on every level. They said, "Okay, great. Now what you need to do is come back to our traditions. You need to, I mean, it's good you're off drugs, but we're Jews". He called the rabbi and panicked, "What do I do? My son is getting baptized. What do I do"?
Sid Roth: You think.
Dr. Michael Brown: The rabbi said, "Don't worry about it. He'll just be a baptized Jew. Don't worry about him". So I started dialoging with the local rabbi. And you know what happened?
Sid Roth: What?
Dr. Michael Brown: This guy was a graduate from the Jewish Theological Seminar, brilliant young man, ten years older than me. He said, "Listen, you are more spiritual than I am, Mike. If we were both Buddhists, you would be a more religious Buddhist than I am". He said, "It's just your nature to be more religious than me now that you've found religion". He said, "But yours is a misguided spirituality". He said, "I'm not spiritual enough to help you because I'm just a conservative rabbi and conservative is really not deep enough for you. You need to meet the orthodox. You need to go with me to the Chasidim, to the ultra-orthodox, because they are just as spiritual as you are, but they're right". So we began a friendship.
Sid Roth: That does sound fair.
Dr. Michael Brown: Sounds fair. He brought me to Brooklyn, New York and I met some rabbis in the Lubavitch Chasidic group. Many people know them as some of the most zealous around the world. They have missionaries. They would have these things called mitzvah tanks, these big vans that would be in the streets of Manhattan. They'd tell Jews, come on, you're Jewish, come on, come on, come in. Put on filling, say the prayers. Do this, do that, you know.
Sid Roth: So they're very great at proselytizing.
Dr. Michael Brown: They are missionaries to the Jews, Jewish missionaries to the Jews.
Sid Roth: You would think Jews don't proselytize, but that's not true.
Dr. Michael Brown: For the most part, it's not customary and they're not reaching out gentiles. They're reaching out to Jews just like me to bring me back. So 1973, I'm just 18 years old, I've been reading the Bible day and night, I've memorized thousands of verses. Anybody that comes to come to talk to me, Sid, any person from a cult, a Mormon, Jehovah's Witness, whoever they are, I mow them down with my knowledge of Scripture. I answer their arguments. I get them to leave what they believe and come believe what I believe. I'm going to do the same with these rabbis, Sid. I'm gonna go in. I'm gonna mow them down with my knowledge of scripture. I'm going to show them Jesus is the Messiah. It's going to be great.
Sid Roth: So?
Dr. Michael Brown: Well first thing I get there and the rabbi has me stick my head in the synagogue there. See, the synagogue I went to, you walk in and there as a little box with yarmulkes, the head covering.
Sid Roth: Right.
Dr. Michael Brown: And you'd put one on, because you didn't wear it all the time. I walked in. He made sure my head was covered. He said, "Mike, they don't have a little box with yarmulkes here because they're all religious Jews. They wear the yarmulkes day and night". Well I look in and they look more Jewish than I did. I mean, when I saw them with their long beards and the shawls over their heads praying, I thought, that's the way I kind of pictured Moses and Old Testament people. Well I go to sit with these guys and I pull out my King James Bible and I've got all the answers.
Sid Roth: Ready for bed.
Dr. Michael Brown: Well they pull out their Hebrew Bibles and said, "Can you read Hebrew"? I remembered a little from my Bar Mitzvah. I hadn't started college yet and I promised this rabbi friend that I would start studying Hebrew in college. I had figured out the letters, but I couldn't even read it. They said, "Sit here, we'll explain it". They said, "You can't rely on those English translations". I'd read something and they'd go, "That's terrible". They said, "That's not what it says". I'd say, "Okay, what about that"? He answered. "This, what's your answer to this this"? And they'd pull out these commentaries. Then they'd read, they said, "There's your answer". Everything I hit them with, they had an answer. Nobody every answered my questions before. Nobody had ever responded to me like that.
Sid Roth: So what does Dr. Michael Brown do? He's up against someone that knows more than him. What does he do? Stay tuned. We'll be right back.
Sid Roth: Hello. I'm Sid Roth your investigative reporter. How would you like to be 18 years old, Jewish, father an attorney for the New York Supreme Court, good home. You come to the conclusion that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah. You memorize thousands of scriptures. You're good. And then you come against a Lubavitch rabbi that has devoted most of his life studying to prove that Jesus is not the Messiah. Mike Brown, what happened next?
Dr. Michael Brown: Well Sid, these guys were specialist. They weren't just learned rabbis. They were specialists in dealing with young people, old people just like me, compassionate, nice guys. In fact, when we met this guy on the street, my rabbi friend said to him, "How are you doing, Baruch HaShem," which is praise the Lord. He said, "Thank God, thank God". And I thought.
Sid Roth: Godly.
Dr. Michael Brown: I thought we were the only ones that said stuff like, praise the Lord and thank God, and these guys knew that they really didn't know God. They were just going through the motions. No, they were very religious, very kindly, reached out to me. They said, "You're a real mensch, you're all right". They were complimentary to me. But everything I threw at them, they had an answer. Now some of the answers I have to admit seemed a little silly to me. But whatever I'd hit them with, no reaction. When I'd finally hit them with one, I said, "You won't have any answer to this. This comes straight from the New Testament". And they said, "Normally people don't come from that angle". They pull out the commentaries, they give me an explanation. It took the wind out of me, and I thought, these guys are Jews. They're reading in Hebrew. They've studied all their lives. A lifestyle of studying prayer really appeals to them. They're telling me to come back to our traditions. Now they didn't try to call me in right then and there. It was a matter of nice talking, let's get together again. And I left there, and the rabbi I was with didn't realize how many questions I had, because he knew how deep my faith was. So we just kind of small talked on the way home. And I thought, God, what do I do here. I've got some genuine questions and I was determined, there's only one thing. Because I'd go to my Christian books and Christian commentaries, and I'd come back to the rabbi, and I'd say, "Well Rabbi, I've studied this," and he'd say, "Forget it, Mike, it's nonsense. They don't even know Hebrew". Now these guys did know Hebrew. They were good scholars. But he used to tell me, "They don't even know Hebrew". I told them, "Look I got this in the Concordance, in the back of the Concordance". There's a Hebrew dictionary. So while I'm looking up words in the Bible, he said, "Forget it, Mike, it's nonsense. You need to learn it on your own". So I started college as a music major. I went back to some texts in English, and I said, okay, whatever the rabbi said, now that I'm out of that presence, it almost put a spell on me, now that I’m out of that presence thinking clearly, okay, these passages, they really didn't answer. But I don't know Hebrew. How can I tell them they're wrong? What gives me the right? So I started studying Hebrew in college, ended up becoming a Hebrew major. That led to interest in ancient near eastern languages and I thought, if I'm going to learn this, I got to learn it right, so I can look in the eyes of any rabbi in the world and say, I differ with you, not because of what a dictionary tells me, not because of what a commentary tells me, because I studied it on my own. Because they kept telling me, "If you knew more you wouldn't be a follower of Jesus. You wouldn't be some kind of Christian. You'd be doing what we're doing". And in the midst of this...
Sid Roth: Were you, let me ask you a question, were you studying all of these near eastern languages, because your faith was threatened or because you wanted to really understand it? Why were you?
Dr. Michael Brown: I wanted to really understand. The aspect of my faith being threatened, honestly Sid, was a momentary kind of thing. It was in the midst of the arguments being thrown at me and the emotion, and the appeal. Look, you're a Jew, come back to our people.
Sid Roth: Why did you study all of those languages? I mean, I could see Hebrew. Why did you study, you speak, read or write some 12 different eastern, near eastern languages today. Why?
Dr. Michael Brown: Honestly, if you're really going to learn biblical Hebrew right, it's one language from the ancient dialects. To really learn it right, you've got to learn the other dialects. You've got to be able to compare. You've got to see where the words came from, how they're used. Because the Hebrew Bible is not that big a book and that's the main resource we have for the biblical language. So I really dove in. But there was an incident that happened along the way that's important. They kept telling me, as I'm learning Hebrew I started learning Arabic, I started studying Yiddish and German, and Greek, and Latin, these other languages in college so I could read all the relative literature. They said, "Look, you've spent Shabbat with us. You've never had a Sabbath experience with us". I said, "Well I go to church on Friday night. I'll drive". They said, "No you can't because then we're making and breaking the law". So I finally agree, one Yom Kippur, one Day of Atonement, I would go. It was 1975. I was going to be getting married the next year. I would go and spend Yom Kippur with them, and fast and pray with them the whole day. And I began to see God earnestly. I said, "God, I'm a Jew. I'm going to follow you no matter what. If following you meant renouncing Jesus and leaving everything behind, I'll do it because I love you and I want to please you. But if following you means doing what I believe and know to be true in following Jesus even if the whole community comes against me and I have to suffer the disgrace for you, I'll do it". And I'll tell you, being with these dear, sincere people praying, they said, "Okay, now you beat your chest and now you pray these prayers". Any religious Jew, secular Jew that goes to temple that prays these endless prayers, confesses every kind of sin, you leave the same way you came in, no assurance or forgiveness. And I would talk with them in between prayer times, and I would talk with the guys in the synagogue, and talk with the family I was staying with, and I was shocked. None of them had the relationship with God that I had. None of them knew God the way I did. None of them, yeah, they may have revered him and feel that if they do bad, bad things will happen, if they do good, it will go well. They were doing what their fathers did, their grandfathers, their great-grandfathers. They said, "It's pretty good, good enough for my father, good enough for my kids". I said, "What about knowing God? What about walking with God"? They said, "Well, there's one commentary that suggests that sometimes when you pray". I said, "What about your own experience with God"?
Sid Roth: Hold that thought right now. I want to find out some of the specific arguments that these learned rabbis had as to why Jesus is not the Messiah. We'll be right back.
Sid Roth: Hello. I'm Sid Roth your investigative reporter. I'm speaking to Dr. Michael Brown. He is, has a Ph.D. from New York University in eastern languages and literatures. And he's, as a young man, got together with rabbis, not just rabbis, specialists from the Lubavitcher movement, that have spent a lifetime almost trying to prove Jesus is not the Messiah, to rescue Jews like Dr. Michael Brown. Michael, tell me one argument that they posed to you and perhaps what your response is.
Dr. Michael Brown: Well one of the most common arguments is if Jesus is really the Messiah, why isn't there peace on Earth?
Sid Roth: Right.
Dr. Michael Brown: Since two thousand years ago, why have things gotten worse and worse, and worse, and worse? And the simple answer, see, the funny thing is the more I study, the more I learn. The stronger that my faith became, the more answers there were.
Sid Roth: It should be that way. People should not be afraid to study and think for themselves.
Dr. Michael Brown: No. The Bible never tells us to turn off our minds. When Jesus said that we're to love God, he said that we're to love God with our hearts, soul, mind and strength. That's what Yeshua was saying. So there's a simple answer. When you look at the Hebrew Scriptures, the Messiah had to come before the Temple was destroyed. He had to come, he had to make atonement for sins. There are three clear prophecies that indicate that Messiah had to come before the second temple was destroyed.
Sid Roth: Which was in 70 A.D.
Dr. Michael Brown: 70. A.D., which is over 1900 years ago. And not only so, there are traditions in the Talmud that say the last 40 years before the Temple was destroyed, God no longer accepted the sacrifices on the Day of Atonement.
Sid Roth: Why didn't God accept it?
Dr. Michael Brown: Jesus the Messiah died as a sacrificial lamb 40 years before the Temple was destroyed. And according to something I had never read, nobody ever told me about this, Jewish tradition as recorded in the Talmud, it says, "The death of the righteous makes atonement". So the perfectly righteous one, the Messiah, offered his blood on our behalf, died, we didn't need the other sacrifices. But people said, "But wait, wasn't he supposed to bring peace"? They don't realize the Talmud says, "If we are righteous, the Messiah will come with the clouds in Heaven," because that's what Daniel said. "But if we're wicked, he'll come riding on a donkey," because that's what Zachariah said. It's not either, or. It's both, and. He came riding on a donkey to a sinful generation and died for our sins. He'll come in the clouds of Heaven when we welcome him back as a people. One Messiah bringing redemption to the whole world and then when we Jews welcome him back, he'll come and establish his kingdom here. It's a simple answer. It makes sense biblical. It even makes sense according to Jewish tradition.
Sid Roth: Okay. I've got the most important question. The beginning of this telecast, we stated that you believe that the literal foundations of Rabbinic Judaism are faulty. What are their foundations? Why do you say they are faulty?
Dr. Michael Brown: We call it Rabbinic Judaism because it's the Judaism passed on by the rabbis. Traditional Judaism, it's the Judaism passed on by tradition. It says, I learned it from my father who learned it from his, back, back, back, back all the way to the rabbis of the Talmud, all the way back to the prophets, all the way back to Moses.
Sid Roth: It's like my father said, do it because I said do it.
Dr. Michael Brown: Right. And that's the way I learned it, by tradition. Now here's the whole thing. This is the view. We cannot understand the Torah by ourselves. We cannot understand the Hebrew Bible by ourselves. Someone has to explain what it means. Jews believe there was an oral law that God gave, this is the traditional view, God gave Mt. Sinai to Moses, a written law and an oral law, and the oral law explains the written. And now it's passed down, passed down, passed down to every generation that expanded, and so on. If you look at the Five Books of Moses, pretty small, just a couple hundred pages maybe. And then you look at Jewish tradition, look at the Talmud. Look at what's added on. Do you know on the Sabbath, according to traditional Jewish law, you can only brush your hair with a soft brush because with a hard brush it might actually be considered work. Sid, where did that come from? It supposedly came from the oral tradition. The problem is in many cases, the oral tradition contradicts the written.
Sid Roth: How could oral contradict the written, which we know came from Moses?
Dr. Michael Brown: That's one of the faulty foundations. See, if I believe that when the Bible says in Exodus 23, "Do not follow the majority, follow God," and the rabbis tell me that it actually means, follow the majority, do what we tell you. You know, there's Jewish tradition that says, if the sages, the rabbinical leaders tell you that the right hand is the left hand, believe them, because the spirit that used to be on the prophets is now on the sages. The bottom line is that many, many times our traditions make void the Word of God. God said, "If you sin, I'll destroy the Temple. I won't receive your sacrifices or your prayers". The Temple is destroyed. What do the rabbis say? Prayer has now taken the place of sacrifice. Instead of saying, God was wrong, we don't have a Temple, we don't atonement, prayer has not taken the place of sacrifice.
Sid Roth: What you're saying is absolutely outrageous. It's wrong and any fair-minded Jew that understands what you just said would agree. Why don't the Jewish people agree?
Dr. Michael Brown: First thing is a lot of them never really study it out. If you ask your average Jew, how come you're not a Buddhist? Well who's ever thought about it? If you ask your average Christian, how come you're not a Muslim, no one has thought about. They haven't been presented with the issue. They have learned from the very first day, a traditional Jew studying Torah, to believe the explanation given. It doesn't matter how twisted. It doesn't matter how illogical. It's like a chess game. If you carry it out long enough, see, we'll prove our point. One of the strongest proofs to me that I should not be a traditional Jew was traditional Judaism. The more I talked with the rabbis, the more I studied, the more I found out how Scripture was interpreted. They used to tell me, when you understand what commentary says, then you read the commentary on the commentary, you find that you didn't even understand the commentary, 300 times the Talmud has a legal discussion and it comes to a conclusion, let it stand, we have no conclusion, we don't have an answer.
Sid Roth: Wait a second. We have no answer? They've got so many books your library can't even hold it. Here's the answer. Ask God. Be honest before God. You remember Dr. Michael Brown prayed a prayer, he didn't even totally believe it. Pray this prayer right now out loud:
Dear God, I'm a sinner. I'm so sorry because it's against you that I've sinned. I turn from my sins. I believe that Jesus died for my sins and by his blood my sins are washed away. I make Jesus my Messiah and Lord. Amen.
For those of you that said that prayer or could not, just say, God, show me the truth about Jesus. That's all he's waiting for. Whether you're Jewish or gentile, God loves you. God has a plan for your life, a purpose, a destiny. Remember what Mike said, joy, joy. Not even contingent on circumstances. Just God. Just God.