Was Jesus Prophesized in the Old Testament?
Prophecy is a great business. All you have to do is pay attention and you will hear religious authorities bombarding big words about Jesus’ second coming and in the process there are millions of dollars being harvested. Historically speaking, every one of these prophetic statements has turned out to be false. But the propaganda doesn’t stop.
At another level of religious dissemination, we are told that there are verses in the Old Testament that talk about the coming of Jesus Christ hundreds of years before Jesus was actually born. In other words, Christian apologists claim that Jesus, the only one man in history, fulfills the Old Testament prophecies with respect to him being a Messiah, and he alone meets all of the requirements as being the prophesied Savior of mankind. Is it true? It has to be true because:
1. In the New Testament, even Jesus Christ has himself claimed by giving credibility to the idea of prophecy concerning him as recorded in the Old Testament. In John 5:46 Jesus said, “Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for which testify of me.” In John 5:39 Jesus said, “Search the Scriptures … they are they which testify of me.” And in Luke 24:44 Jesus said, “All things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me.”
2. According to Henry Morris & Martin Clark in their book The Bible Has the Answer: “there are hundreds of these prophesies, so that the possibility of their accidental convergence on any ordinary man is completely ruled out by the laws of probability. Morris in another of his book, Science and the Bible authenticated the probability as “chance fulfillment of only twenty of these messianic prophecies by one person in 10175, which is the same as saying that it is absolutely certain that they were not fulfilled accidentally by chance, but rather by divine omniscience.”
I have read the Old Testament (Hebrew Text) and honed in my eyes looking for these prophecies and every time I felt disappointed for not finding these alleged prophecies. I have consulted a number of Jewish scholars and every one of them denied any prophecy attributed to the coming of Jesus. If Biblical God (BG) and his prophets had so many of these prophecies in their mind without further complicating the matters, all they had to do was write down the name of Jesus at least once somewhere in the Old Testament.
Their failure to name Jesus anywhere has left me wondering why such a simple act was missed. Instead we are led to believe that there are hundreds of these prophecies that only through a process of proper interpretations we can link Jesus’ name to them. I am very uncomfortable undertaking this act because the art of Christian interpretations is often twisted, distorted, or simply perverted given the opportunity.
In the appendix section, Rev. Zekveld has mentioned the best 13 examples (out of so many) from the Bible to prove his case that indeed Jesus Christ were prophesied in the Old Testament. I will address each of the cited verses.
1. Rev. Zekveld wrote:
Genesis 3:15: immediately after the fall into sin our first parents, Adam and Eve, God announced the coming victory of Christ over Satan. Satan would strike Christ on the heel. This happened when He died on the cross by the hands of His enemies, but Satan would be crushed through Christ’s resurrection from the dead. To Satan, God says, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers, He (Christ) will crush your head, and you will strike His heel” (quote end)
This is hardly a prophecy. The story of Adam and Eve is a myth, and in the fall of man there is nothing to it other than Christianity’s self-serving interpretation to make a case. In Genesis 3:15, the name “Jesus” and/or “Christ” is not mentioned. One can apply Genesis 3:15 to any setting where any good person has fought evil. Gerald Sigal in his book The Jew and the Christian Missionary has said the following:
We see that “he will strike at your head, and you will strike at his heel” does not refer to Jesus since he neither stopped the power of Satan “shortly” nor did he abolish sin among his followers as Paul promised. It is, therefore, clear that the Christian missionary interpretation of Genesis 3:15 is yet another Christological dream that may be placed in the category of those prophecies unfulfilled by Jesus and which Christian missionaries hope will be fulfilled in what is called the “second coming.”
2. Rev. Zekveld wrote:
Isaiah 7:14: 700 years before Christ’s birth, God announced that the virgin would bear a child and His name would be Immanuel, “God with us”. “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.” These words are specifically referred to in Matthew 1:21-23 where we see its fulfillment! (quote end)
There are many problems with this prophecy. Jewish scholars have noted that in Hebrew the verse reads as “Behold the young woman is with child and bears a son and calls his name Immanuel.” Instead of “virgin” it should read “young woman.” Segal has this to say in his The Jew and the Christian Missionary:
The Hebrew word for “virgin” is betulah …. The word betulah is used in an explicit legal sense leaving no question as to its meaning. While almah does not define the state of virginity of a woman, betulah by contrast does. One would, therefore, reasonably expect that if Isa. 7:14 refers specifically to a virgin, the prophet would have the technical term betulah so as to leave no doubt as to the significance of his words.
Moreover, when you read Isaiah 7:14, nowhere it says that the child is to be a messiah. Oddly enough Jesus was never called Immanuel. Even today nobody calls Jesus as Immanuel. Not only that, Jesus being a Greek name is improper. He should be called Joshua which is a proper Hebrew name.
3. According to Rev. Zekveld:
Isaiah 9:7: 700 years before Christ’s birth, God announced the coming of Christ to His people Israel through His prophet Isaiah, “Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end. He will reign over David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.” Fulfilled in Luke 1:31-33. (quote end)
How could this be a prophecy? When did Jesus set up a government? When was there a peace established during his time? Isaiah 9:7 couldn’t be a prophecy about Jesus.
4. Furthermore, Rev. Zekveld quotes:
Micah 5:2: 500 years before Christ’s birth, God announced through His prophet Micah that Christ the King would be born in Bethlehem, “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.” Read Luke 2:4-7 for its fulfillment. (quote end)
This is no prophecy about Jesus. Jesus was no ruler in Israel. Moreover, there is a problem when dealing with “Bethlehem.” You see in, 1 Chron. 4:4,Bethlehem is the son of a man named Ephratah. Therefore, “Bethlehem Ephratah” as had been written in Micah 5:2 is depicting a man and certainly not the town ofBethlehem associated with the name of Jesus.
5. Rev. Zekveld wrote:
Deuteronomy 18:15: 1400 years before the birth of Christ, God through Moses said in the hearing of Israel, “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to Him.” (quote end)
Frankly I am lost here. Here is another quote from Today’s English Version (TEV): “Instead, he will send you a prophet like me from among your own people, and you are to obey him.” It seems Biblical God is telling that he will send a prophet “like” himself. If that’s the case then how could Jesus be “like” BG when in fact the Christians call Jesus himself a God? Again in the words of Sigal in his book:
It is claimed by Christian missionaries that these verses constitute a prophetic reference to Jesus. There is absolutely no truth to this contention. The Hebrew noun navi or “prophet” is used generically here and does not at all refer to a particular prophet.
6. Rev. Zekveld wrote:
Isaiah 53:3,4,5, 7, 12: About Christ’s suffering and death, God inspired the prophet Isaiah to write vividly, “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces He was despised and we esteemed Him not. Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought us peace was upon Him; and by His wounds we are healed … He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth, He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so He did not open His mouth.. . . Therefore I will give Him a portion among the great, and He will divide the spoils with the strong, because He poured out His life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.” One should read Isaiah 53:1-12 to get the complete picture. (quote end)
I often hear these verses from the evangelists. Here is a breakdown:
a. “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces He was despised and we esteemed Him not. Surely He took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered Him stricken by God, smitten by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities….”
How could this be a prophecy about Jesus? The entire quote is stated in past tense verbs meaning that the purported incidents had already happened. A prophecy should be addressed in the future and not in the past.
b. Therefore I will give Him a portion among the great, and He will divide the spoils with the strong, because He poured out His life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Nowhere in the New Testament did I find Jesus dividing the spoils with the strong. I urge my fellow Christians to refrain from using Isaiah 53:1-12 for the purposes of prophecies.
7. Rev. Zekveld wrote:
Zechariah 9:9: This was a prophecy spoken through the prophet Zechariah who lived about 500 years before the coming of Christ. It speaks of Christ’s entry into Jerusalem five days prior to His death on the cross as fulfilled in John 12:13-14: “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, you king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (quote end)
This is no prophecy by any stretch of an imagination. In fact Zechariah is congratulating his countrymen who are returning from captivity inBabylontoJerusalem. While John 12:13-14 tells of a ride by Jesus on one donkey, whereas in Luke 19:30 and Mark 11:2 Jesus uses the colt. In Matthew 21:7, Jesus rides on both the donkey and the colt.
8. Rev. Zekveld wrote:
Psalm 69:21: King David wrote the following words which were fulfilled when Christ was on the cross (John 19:29): “They put gall in My food and gave Me vinegar for My thirst.” (quote end)
According to Psalm 69:21 TEV: “When I was hungry, they gave me poison; when I was thirsty, they offered me vinegar.” Written in the past tense verb, how did this quote be a prophecy?
9. Rev. Zekveld wrote:
Psalm 22:18: On the cross we also see the following words fulfilled, “They divide My garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” We read about this fulfillment in Mark 15:24. (quote end)
Again according to Psalm 22:18 TEV: “They gamble for my clothes and divide them among themselves.” This is no prophecy.
10. Rev. Zekveld wrote:
Psalm 34:20: “He protects all His bones, not one of them will be broken.” Fulfilled in John 19:33 when Christ was on the cross. (quote end)
Again according to Psalm 34:20 TEV: “The Lord preserves him completely; not one of his bones is broken.” How can this verse be a prophecy?
11. Rev. Zekveld wrote:
Isaiah 53:9: “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.” We see these words fulfilled in Matthew 27:57-60 at the time of Christ’s burial. (quote end)
I have read the gospel accounts of Jesus and I can’t find where Jesus was with the rich in his death. As far as the violence goes, here is Sigal’s few words recorded in his book:
Jesus did commit certain acts of violence. Whip in hand, he attacked the merchants in theTemplearea, causing the fracas (Matt. 21:12, Mark 11:15-16, Luke 19:45, John 2:15). He caused the death, by drowning, of a herd of swine by allowing demons to purposely enter their bodies (Matt. 8:32, Mark 5:13, Luke 8:33) and he destroyed a fig tree for not having fruit out of a season (Matt. 21:18-21, Mark 11:13-14).
12. Rev. Zekveld wrote:
Psalm 16:10: “Because You will not abandon Me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.” These words are fulfilled in Matthew 28 at the time of Christ’s resurrection from the dead. His body did not see decay! (quote end)
Again according to Psalm 16:10 TEV: “Because you protect me from the power of death, and the one you love you will not abandon to the world of the dead.” I am baffled as to why our Christian brothers take extra steps to read Jesus where he shouldn’t be read.
13. Rev. Zekveld wrote:
Psalm 68:18: “When You ascended on high, You led captives in Your train, You received gifts from men, even from the rebellious – that You, O LORD God, might dwell there.” These words are fulfilled when Christ ascended bodily into heaven. Read Luke 24:50-51 and Ephesians 4:7-9. (quote end)
Again according to Psalm 68:18 TEV: “He goes up to the heights, taking many captives with him; he receives gifts from rebellious men.” By no stretch of an imagination this verse is a prophecy.
Acknowledgment: I owe to C. Dennis McKinsey and his book Encyclopedia of Biblical Errancy especially dealing with the topic of prophecy.