Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Was Jesus Foretold?

There are plenty of sites on the internet that proudly proclaim how Jesus satisfied various numbers of prophecies. This one for example, claims 360 of them!:

"Over 360 prophecies foretold Jesus/Yeshua as the Jewish Messiah (Mashiach ben David)"

However, this web page cites ten, which is a more manageable number to look at on a forum thread:

There are a number of features a prophecy requires to be considered valid. Firstly, it must be made before the event. All these are OT prophecies of Jesus, so no problem there. Secondly they must make a specific claim. Prophesying that a man will walk through a door is not going to cut it. Thirdly,  we must have some evidence the prophecy was fulfilled.

Let us look at these ten...

1. Jesus will come from the line of Abraham. Prophecy: Genesis 12:3. Fulfilled: Matthew 1:1.
Genesis 12:1 The Lord had said to Abram, "Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you.
2 "I will make you into a great nation,
    and I will bless you;
I will make your name great,
    and you will be a blessing.
3 I will bless those who bless you,
    and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
    will be blessed through you."
Nothing about a messiah there. This is about Abram (Abraham) being great, it does not even mention his descendants. Sure, Matthew traces Jesus' genealogy back to Abraham, but that does not magically turn Genesis 12:3 into a prophecy about him.

2. Jesus’ mother will be a virgin. Prophecy: Isaiah 7:14. Fulfilled: Matthew 1:18-23.
Isaiah 7:12 But Ahaz said, "I will not ask; I will not put the Lord to the test."
13 Then Isaiah said, "Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of humans? Will you try the patience of my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you[c] a sign: The virgin[d] will conceive and give birth to a son, and[e] will call him Immanuel.[f] 15 He will be eating curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, 16 for before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste. 17 The Lord will bring on you and on your people and on the house of your father a time unlike any since Ephraim broke away from Judah - he will bring the king of Assyria."
A. The word here translated as "virgin" actually means young woman (it is virgin in the LXX, which is probably where Matthew got it from).

B. Let us suppose Isaiah really meant virgin. The prophecy is saying that a virgin will conceive. This happens. Virgins have sex, conceive and go on to have a baby. Nothing miraculous about it.

C. The "virgin" conceiving is a sign from God that the nations that the Jews were worried about would fall. This is God saying, in a couple of years the two kings you fear will be dead, so just try to bear up until then. If this was a Jesus prophecy, this would be God reassuring his people that the two kings would be dead in a few centuries! The reality is that this is a prophecy about the fall of two kings; the child merely gives a time frame.

3. Jesus will be a descendent of Isaac and Jacob. Prophecy: Genesis 17:19 and Numbers 24:17. Fulfilled: Matthew 1:2.
Genesis 17:19 Then God said, "Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.
Like the first one, this so-called prophecy does not mention a messiah. It predicts that the leader of the Jews would have descendants!

4. Jesus will be born in the town Bethlehem. Prophecy: Micah 5:2. Fulfilled: Luke 2:1-7.
Micah 5:2 Marshal your troops now, city of troops,
    for a siege is laid against us.
They will strike Israel’s ruler
    on the cheek with a rod.
2 "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    though you are small among the clans of Judah,
out of you will come for me
    one who will be ruler over Israel,
whose origins are from of old,
    from ancient times."

5 And he will be our peace
    when the Assyrians invade our land
    and march through our fortresses.
We will raise against them seven shepherds,
    even eight commanders,
6 who will rule[c] the land of Assyria with the sword,
    the land of Nimrod with drawn sword.
He will deliver us from the Assyrians
    when they invade our land
    and march across our borders.
This is a prophecy about a military leader. Jesus never stood against the Assyrians (they were no longer an independent state from 605 BC, so no point). Jesus never had eight commanders, never ruled Assyrian with the sword. If this was a prophecy about Jesus, he failed.

5. Jesus will be called out of Egypt. Prophecy: Hosea 11:1. Fulfilled: Matthew 2:13-15.
Hosea 11:1 "When Israel was a child, I loved him,
    and out of Egypt I called my son.
2 But the more they were called,
    the more they went away from me.[a]
They sacrificed to the Baals
    and they burned incense to images.
3 It was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
    taking them by the arms;
but they did not realize
    it was I who healed them.
Again, not a prophecy. Read in context, this is about the people of Israel, who had been called out of Egypt centuries earlier.

6. Jesus will be a member of the tribe of Judah. Prophecy: Genesis 49:10. Fulfilled: Luke 3:33.
Genesis 49:8 "Judah, your brothers will praise you;
    your hand will be on the neck of your enemies;
    your father’s sons will bow down to you.
9 You are a lion’s cub, Judah;
    you return from the prey, my son.
Like a lion he crouches and lies down,
    like a lioness - who dares to rouse him?
10 The scepter will not depart from Judah,
    nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until he to whom it belongs shall come
    and the obedience of the nations shall be his.
11 He will tether his donkey to a vine,
    his colt to the choicest branch;
he will wash his garments in wine,
    his robes in the blood of grapes.
12 His eyes will be darker than wine,
    his teeth whiter than milk.
This is a prophecy about the tribe of Judah, nothing about a messiah here.

7. Jesus will enter the temple. This is important because the temple was destroyed in A.D. 70 and was never rebuilt. Prophecy: Malachi 3:1. Fulfilled: Luke 2:25-27.
Malachi 3:1 "I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the Lord Almighty.
2 But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. 3 He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, 4 and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord, as in days gone by, as in former years.
5 "So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me," says the Lord Almighty.
So Jesus is just God's messenger now? But at least this is a prophecy of someone coming! It just fits better for that someone to be an angel or prophet, who would more accurately be described as a messenger.

Note that the Bible predicted someone would come, and that person would enter the temple. Impressive. I would guess every prophet in the Bible fulfilled this prophecy!

8. Jesus will be from the lineage of King David. Prophecy: Jeremiah 23:5. Fulfilled: Matthew 1:6.
Jeremiah  23:5 "The days are coming," declares the Lord,
    "when I will raise up for David[a] a righteous Branch,
a King who will reign wisely
    and do what is just and right in the land.
6 In his days Judah will be saved
    and Israel will live in safety.
This is the name by which he will be called:
    The Lord Our Righteous Savior.
7 "So then, the days are coming," declares the Lord, "when people will no longer say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the Israelites up out of Egypt,’ 8 but they will say, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who brought the descendants of Israel up out of the land of the north and out of all the countries where he had banished them.’ Then they will live in their own land."
Did Jesus rule wisely, doing right in the land? Was Judah saved? Did Israel live safely? No, no and no. Jesus failed this prophecy.

9. Jesus’ birth will be accompanied with great suffering and sorrow. Prophecy: Jeremiah 31:15. Fulfilled: Matthew 2:16.
Jeremiah 31:15 This is what the Lord says:
"A voice is heard in Ramah,
    mourning and great weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children
    and refusing to be comforted,
    because they are no more."
16 This is what the Lord says:
"Restrain your voice from weeping
    and your eyes from tears,
for your work will be rewarded,"
declares the Lord.
    "They will return from the land of the enemy.
17 So there is hope for your descendants,"
declares the Lord.
    "Your children will return to their own land.
Again, nothing about a messiah here. It mentions children, but not specifically a birth, and if taken literally, Jesus' mother would be Rachel, not Mary (presumably it refers to Jacob's wife Rachel, and means her descendants, i.e., the Israelites as a people). This is about the Babylonian captivity, which is why it talks about people returning from the land of the enemy. It was obsolete by the time of Jesus.

10. Jesus will live a perfect life, die by crucifixion, resurrect from death, ascend into heaven, and sit at the right hand of God. Prophecies: Psalm 22:16; Psalm 16:10; Isaiah 53:10--11; Psalm 68:18; Psalm 110:1. Fulfilled: 1 Peter 2:21-22; Luke 23:33; Acts 2:25-32; Acts 1:9; Hebrews 1:3.

I guess they wanted ten as a nice round number, but could not decide which to skip.

10a. Psalm 22:16
Psalm 22:1My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
    Why are you so far from saving me,
    so far from my cries of anguish?
2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
    by night, but I find no rest.[b]
14 I am poured out like water,
    and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
    it has melted within me.
15 My mouth[d] is dried up like a potsherd,
    and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
    you lay me in the dust of death.
16 Dogs surround me,
    a pack of villains encircles me;
    they pierce[e] my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
    people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
    and cast lots for my garment.
Sounds like a prophecy that someone will be crucified. But who? Someone who feels forsaken by God, as verse 1 makes clear. Someone whose heart has turned to wax. That certainly cannot be Jesus then, as he is God. This is a lament of Israel, not a prophesy of Jesus. The Jewish nation was surrounded by hostile countries, who argued with each other as to who would get their treasures.

10b. Psalm 16:10
Psalm 16:9Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest secure,
10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
    nor will you let your faithful[b] one see decay.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
    you will fill me with joy in your presence,
    with eternal pleasures at your right hand.
Again, no messiah here, just one of God's faithful rejoicing that he will have an afterlife.

10c. Isaiah 53:10-11
Isaiah 52:1 52 Awake, awake, Zion,
    clothe yourself with strength!
Put on your garments of splendor,
    Jerusalem, the holy city.
The uncircumcised and defiled
    will not enter you again.
14 Just as there were many who were appalled at him[c] -
    his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any human being
    and his form marred beyond human likeness -
53:4 Surely he took up our pain
    and bore our suffering,
yet we considered him punished by God,
    stricken by him, and afflicted.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked,
    and with the rich in his death,
though he had done no violence,
    nor was any deceit in his mouth.
If this prophecy was fulfilled then Jesus was so ugly, so disfigured he did not look like a man. Strangely art has not reflected that. Also, this would mean Jesus was buried in a criminal grave, and yet any Christian will insist that that did not happen.

What this is about is clear from Isaiah 52:1. This is not a prophesied messiah, but the nation of Israel again.

10d. Psalm 68:18
Psalm 68:11 The Lord announces the word,
    and the women who proclaim it are a mighty throng:
12 "Kings and armies flee in haste;
    the women at home divide the plunder.
13 Even while you sleep among the sheep pens,
    the wings of my dove are sheathed with silver,
    its feathers with shining gold."
14 When the Almighty[f] scattered the kings in the land,
    it was like snow fallen on Mount Zalmon.
15 Mount Bashan, majestic mountain,
    Mount Bashan, rugged mountain,
16 why gaze in envy, you rugged mountain,
    at the mountain where God chooses to reign,
    where the Lord himself will dwell forever?
17 The chariots of God are tens of thousands
    and thousands of thousands;
    the Lord has come from Sinai into his sanctuary.
18 When you ascended on high,
    you took many captives;
    you received gifts from people,
even from the rebellious -
    that you, Lord God, might dwell there.
19 Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior,
    who daily bears our burdens.
20 Our God is a God who saves;
    from the Sovereign Lord comes escape from death.
21 Surely God will crush the heads of his enemies,
    the hairy crowns of those who go on in their sins.
This is about God coming as a conqueror. Kings and armies did not flee in haste from Jesus, he crushed no heads. If this is about Jesus, Jesus has yet to fulfill it.

10e Psalm 110:1
Psalm 110:1 The Lord says to my lord:[a]
"Sit at my right hand
    until I make your enemies
    a footstool for your feet."
2 The Lord will extend your mighty scepter from Zion, saying,
    "Rule in the midst of your enemies!"
3 Your troops will be willing
    on your day of battle.
Arrayed in holy splendor,
    your young men will come to you
    like dew from the morning’s womb.[b]
4 The Lord has sworn
    and will not change his mind:
"You are a priest forever,
    in the order of Melchizedek."
The meaning of this is unclear. Some believe it is addressed to one of the patriarchs (David or Abram). The patriarchs did rule in the midst of their enemies, and would have been addressed as "lord". If we suppose it refers to Jesus, what exactly is the prophecy? Jesus sits at the right hand of God and is a priest forever. That may be the case, but prophecies of events beyond this realm are difficult to verify, to say the least. Can God be a priest of himself?

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