Chapter 23 - Was Jesus' coming Prophesized?|
However, the "prophesies" that Jesus fulfilled are odd. They are a collection of rather strange, oblique references scattered throughout the Old Testament. People have grabbed onto them as somehow indicative of something having to do with Jesus, although it is not clear why they do that. Let me show you several of them so that you can see what I mean.
Here is a complete chapter from the book of Isaiah so that you have plenty of context:
Isaiah chapter 7:
2 Now the house of David was told, "Aram has allied itself with Ephraim"; so the hearts of Ahaz and his people were shaken, as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind.
3 Then the Lord said to Isaiah, "Go out, you and your son Shear-Jashub, to meet Ahaz at the end of the aqueduct of the Upper Pool, on the road to the Washerman's Field. 4 Say to him, 'Be careful, keep calm and don't be afraid. Do not lose heart because of these two smoldering stubs of firewood-because of the fierce anger of Rezin and Aram and of the son of Remaliah. 5 Aram, Ephraim and Remaliah's son have plotted your ruin, saying, 6 "Let us invade Judah; let us tear it apart and divide it among ourselves, and make the son of Tabeel king over it." 7 Yet this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
" 'It will not take place,
10 Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, 11 "Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights."
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 men? Will you try the patience of my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. 15 He will eat curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right. 16 But 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."
18 In that day the Lord will whistle for flies from the distant streams of Egypt and for bees from the land of Assyria. 19 They will all come and settle in the steep ravines and in the crevices in the rocks, on all the thornbushes and at all the water holes. 20 In that day the Lord will use a razor hired from beyond the River-the king of Assyria-to shave your head and the hair of your legs, and to take off your beards also. 21 In that day, a man will keep alive a young cow and two goats. 22 And because of the abundance of the milk they give, he will have curds to eat. All who remain in the land will eat curds and honey. 23 In that day, in every place where there were a thousand vines worth a thousand silver shekels, there will be only briers and thorns. 24 Men will go there with bow and arrow, for the land will be covered with briers and thorns. 25 As for all the hills once cultivated by the hoe, you will no longer go there for fear of the briers and thorns; they will become places where cattle are turned loose and where sheep run.
You have the context of the entire chapter -- do you see anything here that indicates we are talking about Jesus? Then there are all the other "prophesies" in this same chapter -- the flies and the bees, the curds and honey, the razor from across the river, the cow and the goats, the briers and thorns, etc. What is the relationship between curds and honey and Jesus?
Here is another example. In the book of Hosea, chapter 11, there is an important prophecy about Jesus. This is the entire chapter so you have plenty of context:
You have the context of the entire chapter -- do you see anything that indicates we are talking about Jesus besides the random pair of words "my son"? Even verse 2 is nonsensical. There are all the other "prophesies" in this same chapter -- the Ba'als, the incense, E'phraim, the bands of love, the return to the land of Egypt, the kingdom of Assyria, the sword, the yoke, Admah, Zeboi'Im, the lion, the birds, the doves of Assyria and so on. What is the relationship between all of this random material and Jesus?
In Zechariah Chapter 9, there is a prophesy that Jesus will ride into Jerusalem on a donkey. Here is the context and the verse:
In Micah Chapter 5 verse 2 there is a "prophesy" that Jesus will be born in Bethlehem:
There is something else that you may notice in this passage. Look at this phrase: "with a rod they strike upon the cheek the ruler of Israel." Let's say that, at some point in the Gospels, Pontius Pilate had struck Jesus with a rod on the cheek. If that had happened, then Micah 5:1 would be a prophecy about Jesus' coming. Since Jesus is never struck on the cheek with a rod in the New Testament, this "prophecy" is never mentioned. Once you understand that, you completely understand the "300 prophecies of Jesus."
This "rod and cheek" phenomenon is where the "prophecies" of Jesus are coming from. The Old Testament contains thousands and thousands of words, most of them total nonsense. Out of those thousands of words, you are going to get some that happen to match up with the New Testament accounts of Jesus in some obscure way. However, you are going to get thousands more, like the rod and the cheek, the curds and the honey, the razor from across the river, the Nimrods and all the rest, that do not. If you look for the ones that do happen to randomly match up and completely ignore the thousands and thousands that do not, you can claim that the Old Testament "prophesizes" the coming of Jesus. Any normal person, on the other hand, sees it all as gibberish. Any correspondence is complete coincidence.
In chapter 17 of this book we discussed the amount of nonsense in the Bible. In all of the quotes that you have seen around these prophecies, do you find that you are left in amazement at the word of the Lord? Or have you found it all to be completely meaningless to you? Why, if the Bible and these "prophecies" are the word of the Lord, is book filled to the brim with such meaningless, useless, ridiculous nonsense?
Here is one last thing to consider. No one would care about these "prophecies" in the Old Testament if Jesus had actually proven that he is God. Since Jesus did not prove that he is God (see chapter 19), Christians have to fall back on the "prophecies" because this is all they've got. Since any normal person can see that the prophecies are completely meaningless, this is a very sad place for a Christian to be.
Reaching a conclusion
If you are a Christian, you have heard the following statement over and over again: "Jesus' coming was prophesized hundreds of times in the Old Testament, centuries before Jesus' birth! The ONLY way that could have happened is if God wrote the Bible and if Jesus were sent by God! The chances of one man fulfilling all of these prophecies together are infinitesimally small -- Jesus MUST be God!" You've heard it so many times you've simply taken it on faith.
But have you ever actually taken the time to read the Bible and check out these "prophesies"? Have you ever looked at the context around them as we have here? Have you ever noticed that the "prophecies" are scattered far and wide throughout the Old Testament without a single thing tying them together and absolutely nothing indicating that they point to Jesus? Have you ever noticed that there are thousands of other prophesies -- like the rod and the cheek, the bees and the curd, the seven shepherds, the eight princes, the Nimrods, the doves of Assyria, the razors from across the river, etc., etc., etc. -- that never came to pass?
If you read all of the examples in this chapter, and especially if you read the material in the Bible surrounding the "prophecies", I believe that you will understand two things. First, the "prophecies" that "prove" that Jesus is God are irrelevant and meaningless. Any unbiased observer can see that. Jesus' coming was never "prophesized" in the Bible. These prophesies are as random and arbitrary as your horoscope in the newspaper -- so vague and diffused among so much irrelevant material that they are completely meaningless.
The second thing you will see is a reiteration of chapter 17 -- much of the Bible is irrelevant to us today. Since God is all-knowing and timeless, it is difficult to understand why that would be unless we assume that God had nothing to do with the Bible.
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