A Different Future
Prophetical books were presumably included in the Bible to offer the reader insight into the days of supernatural extravaganzas yet to come. Fortunately, the test of time has shown the majority of these bleak prophecies to be total bunk. In fact, there hasn’t been a single verifiable prophecy fulfillment outside of those incredibly obvious to predict. As a few notable zealots have often altered clear meanings of specific terms or taken passages out of context in order to create biblical intent in lieu of their agendas, we’ll take a realistic approach toward studying the fulfillments in question so that you can better understand why the apologetic methods of interpretation aren’t reliable.
Even Jesus was among those guilty of making false prophecies. The most condemning of such prophetic statements were his predictions of a return to earth during the long-passed era that he designated. Even though you’ve no doubt been repeatedly told that the Bible doesn’t indicate when Jesus is going to make his return, such statements are demonstrably false. The truth is that Jesus failed to follow through on the promises unambiguously included in the text as his own words. I imagine such a bold declaration may be difficult to swallow at first for two primary reasons: you’ve received an overwhelming wealth of information to the contrary, and it seems that Christianity would crumble at Jesus’ failure to reappear. Probably for these very same reasons, early Christians found a way to circumvent the problem and convince their associates not to renounce his imminent return.
Prophecies Yet To Be Fulfilled
We’ll initiate our discussion of the future according to the Bible by looking at prophecies very unlikely to be fulfilled due to a variety of current circumstances. Isaiah predicts, “Damascusis taken away from being a city, and it shall be a ruinous heap” (17:1).Damascus, the largest city inSyriawith a population of sixteen million inhabitants, is now the most ancient capital in the world. It’s highly unlikely thatDamascuswill be in ruins any time in the foreseeable future unless massively cataclysmic natural forces are doing the destruction. In such a scenario, we should deem Isaiah’s conjecture as painfully obvious with respect to the eventuality of these types of predictions. Nature will inevitably drive all cities to become ruinous heaps, but not in a manner shocking enough to warrant special mention from an infallible prophet.
Isaiah also warns, “for the nation and kingdom that will not serve [God] shall perish” (60:12). I agree 100% with his assessment, but to reiterate, nations and kingdoms won’t perish based on their refusal to worship Isaiah’s interpretation of God. Nations and kingdoms will eventually fade from existence because it’s the nature of a dynamic global society. Countries are established, conquered, and reconquered in continuous cycles. If we leave the verse alone in its obvious intention of conveying a causal relationship between the downfall of a region and its refusal to worship God, we should note that this prophecy remains unfulfilled.
Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah offer an additional geographical speculation by guessing that theNileRiverwill eventually run dry (19:5, 30:12, and 10:11, respectively). The Nile is currently the largest river in the world and has never given any indication to reinforce the claims of these three prophets, but again, nature will take care of theNileone day. What factor of this natural event is important enough to warrant special consideration? Every river will cease to run at some point; every mountain will crumble to the ground one day; every living being will be erased from existence after a matter of time. Such developments will play out in natural cycles, not because oblivious ancients prophesied that they would take place.
Ezekiel also expresses that a time will arrive when the people ofIsrael“shall dwell safely therein” (28:26). It seems rather obvious that every country would enjoy an era of peace at some point during its existence. Ironically,Israelis one of the few to fail in ever obtaining this luxury. Based on events from the past few decades, the chances ofIsraelrealizing Ezekiel’s promise don’t seem to be improving. Instead of peace and freedom, the country has witnessed the occupation of several foreign states, such asRomeandPalestine.
Jeremiah predicts, “…at that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the Lord; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the Lord, to Jerusalem” (3:17). To paraphrase, every country will come together and worship the Hebrew god one day. Barring a return of the universe’s creator to set the record straight on which religious interpretation is, indeed, correct, there will certainly never be only one religion. Every passing year produces a growing and diversifying number of beliefs, sects, denominations, and cults. Even if God did appear before us, as I proposed before, many countries and religious groups would absolutely refuse to accept the truth because it’s [insert the local evil spirit here] trying to tempt them away from the true god(s).
Prophecies That Cannot Be Fulfilled
The prophets of the Old Testament also offer several predictions that are either provably false or unattainable due to the constraints placed upon them. In addition, there are several still-outstanding prophecies that cannot be fulfilled due to cultural changes that have taken place since the prophets recorded their predictions.
Isaiah and Jeremiah both speculate thatBabylonwill never be reinhabited after its fall in 689 BCE (13:19-20 and 50:35-39, respectively). Withstanding the wisdom of God’s appointed speakers, Nebuchadnezzar II reconstructed the city less than a century later.Babylonwould thrive until Alexander the Great conquered the city in 330 BCE. Isaiah and Jeremiah have unquestionably demonstrated their prophetic incompetence once again. Why has God provided his inspiration to those who transmit blatantly false information to their readers? Well, this magnificent holy invention of the people is flawed as well because God says he’ll makeBabylon“perpetual desolations” in Jeremiah 25:12. I suppose the all-knowing god of perfection prefers to demonstrate his changing desires instead of his omniscience.
Jeremiah declares Hazor to be a region of enduring desolation while it serves as a dwelling place for dragons (49:33). As common sense told you before reading contrary information in the Bible, there’s no reliable reason to accept the existence of mythological dragons at any point in the past. Furthermore, Citadels remained in Hazor until the first century BCE. Nevertheless, as I’ve mentioned before, predicting that a city will undergo desertion is as easy as predicting that the sun will shine tomorrow. Nature will eventually satisfy these vague and unconditional predictions.
Jonah also enjoyed a short six-verse stint as a reliable prophet. In 3:4, he says Ninevehwill be overthrown in forty days. However, God scratches the foretold destruction of the city in 3:10. This is an extraordinary example demonstrating the flaws even the “divinely inspired” carry over into their works. If Jonah was stimulated to write an outright mistake, what falsehoods without subsequent corrections may have found their way into the text? Being swallowed by a fish, perhaps?
Egypt, the former nemesis ofIsrael, has predictably found itself at the losing end of several Old Testament forecasts. Jeremiah tells us that God will kill all the Israelites migrating intoEgypt“by the sword, by the famine, and by the pestilence and none of them shall remain or escape from the evil that I will bring upon them” (42:15-18). Even so, I believe we can be reasonably certain that people fromIsraelhave journeyed intoEgyptwithout suffering God’s wrath. SinceEgyptis no longer an archenemy ofIsrael, would God even display his anger at the Israelites for trying to get along with their neighbors? Correspondingly, Isaiah predicts that there will be five cities inEgyptto undergo a language conversion to the Canaanite tongue (19:18). This prophecy has failed to be the least bit accurate, and the language of the Canaanites is now dead. There’s virtually no chance a dead language would make an appreciable return, much less one triumphant enough to satisfy the conditions Isaiah has set forth.
A few verses later, Isaiah alludes to a coalition amongEgypt, Assyria, andIsrael(19:23-25). This affiliation has also failed to take place, andAssyriais no longer a nation. Even if Assyria reformed and made a pact with modern-dayEgyptandIsrael, the newAssyriawouldn’t necessarily be valid toward fulfilling the prophecy because it’s not the same country to which Isaiah was clearly referring. If this man truly had a gift for seeing the future, one would certainly expect him to mention such a significant detail. If Isaiah wasn’t divinely inspired with futuristic knowledge, one might expect him to earn the same low success rate as you or me for predicting the future. So you must ask yourself, which of these two scenarios have we witnessed thus far?
Isaiah also informsJerusalemof a time when the “uncircumcised and the unclean” will no longer visit the city (52:1). This transcendentally imposed impediment has yet to be set in effect, and there’s no credible reason to believe it ever will. The notion of “uncircumcised equals unclean” is superstitious, ancient, and nonsensical. We can reasonably assume that uncircumcised men have consistently resided inJerusalemsince its foundation. The chances of a government passing a law in this modern age in order to enforce such senseless views are exceedingly remote. Besides,Jerusalemhas much larger problems to contend with than the condition of its male inhabitants’ reproductive organs.
Ezekiel purports God making claims that the Ammonites will be “no more remembered” (21:32). The difficulty with accepting this bold declaration is the very act of this statement’s inclusion into the Bible. Ironically, the Bible would need to become obsolete if we were truly to forget the Ammonites. If this happens, however, the prophecy is no longer of importance because no one will remember it! God seriously fouled up on the logical consequences of this one.
Amos and Ezekiel claim that the Israelites will enjoy a permanent place of residency while God protects them from encroaching enemies (9:15 and 34:28-29, respectively). First, the Israelites have never enjoyed a home of undisputed territory. Second, we’ve never witnessed God lifting a finger to save the hapless Israelites from their enemies. Third, this omnipotent being apathetically watched in unnervingly lonesome silence as Hitler exterminated his chosen people by the millions. With these facts in mind, suggesting that God protects the Israelites in some immeasurable fashion is disturbingly wicked.
A common underlying theme of false biblical prophecy is the prediction that all these events are to take place sometime in the immediate future. Joel, Obadiah, and Zephaniah claim that the day of reckoning is “near” (2:1, 1:15, and 1:14, respectively). Keep in mind that the human race was supposedly only 3500 years old during the lives of these prophets. As was the case for Peter defending the actions of the multilingual disciples, it would be erroneous and extremely foolish to assume that there was any implication “near” could have meant 2500+ years from the time that such allegations were made. These predictions failed, and they will certainly continue to fail. Although these instances do a sufficient job of removing credibility from biblical scribes, we’ll look at some much more devastating “near” prophecies very shortly.
The Old Testament contains a seemingly endless list of scriptures that Christians point to as references for the foretelling of Christ. Since there’s no reliable evidence that anyone can predict the future to a respectable degree of accuracy, the burden of proof is on those who assert that people capable of this gift once existed. As you should already be able to tentatively conclude that the Old Testament prophets were void of this talent, you might have quickly deduced that apologists have taken these verses out of context or ran some translatory manipulation on them in order to make the upcoming proposals feasible.
From my experiences, I’ve noted approximately fifty passages consistently used to support the quasi-reality of a fulfilled prophecy. Since debunking all these claims would require a retort lengthy enough to lose the majority of the audience’s attention, we’ll analyze what I feel are the ten most popular claims that biblical apologists offer in defense of prophecy realizations. Unless you wish to do some independent research on the validity of these reports, you’ll have to trust me again when I say that not one of the overlooked passages has any more foundation in reality than the ones discussed at length in this chapter.
We’ll begin with the verse that I believe Christians most commonly cite as a prophecy fulfillment. Isaiah 7:14 reads, “A virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Even so, the claim of a prophecy fulfillment fails miserably due to both context and content of the message.
Let us consider the content of Isaiah 7:14 first. In this passage, the English word virgin was translated from the Hebrew word almah. However, the most accurate term in the Hebrew language for conveying a sexually untouched woman is betula. Almah is a general term for a young woman, not necessarily a virgin. If Isaiah wanted his audience to believe that a virgin was going to give birth to a child, he had a much better word at his disposal. One would do well to think that he should utilize this more specific term for such a unique event so that his contemporaries wouldn’t first have to know that he was invoking the much less anticipated, potentially vague meaning of almah. Furthermore, Proverbs 30:19 is extremely detrimental to the virgin translation of almah: “The way of an eagle in the air; the way of a serpent upon a rock; the way of a ship in the midst of the sea; and the way of a man with [an almah].” Since the term doesn’t necessarily mean virgin, one must look for the obvious connotation of the original Hebrew word. With this responsibility in mind, virgins don’t have children. In all reasonable likelihood, almah refers to a young woman in this passage. Even so, Matthew 1:23 may have tried to relate the Immanuel birth to Jesus by altering the obvious content of the Old Testament prophecy. Ironically, even the Greek word parthenos used in Matthew doesn’t necessarily mean virgin, as repeatedly demonstrated in Homer’s Iliad.
A second and seemingly more overlooked clue in the passage’s content is the name of the child, Immanuel. To put it in the simplest of terms, Jesus’ name wasn’t Immanuel. The fact that Immanuel means “God with us” doesn’t make one iota of difference because hundreds of Hebrew names have references to God. For example, Abiah means “God is my father,” which, in my opinion, would have been slightly more impressive. The verse plainly declares that she “shall call his name Immanuel,” but the so-called Messiah’s mother called him Jesus.
As for the contextual misapplication of Isaiah 7:14, one must read the chapter in its entirety since this supposed prophecy is part of a larger story. Within this passage, a battle is about to begin in which Rezin and Pekah are planning to attack Ahaz. God informs Ahaz that he may ask for a sign as proof that this battle will never ensue. Ahaz is reluctant to put God to a test, but Isaiah interjects and declares that there will be a sign. God will reaffirm his reliability on the issue when a young woman gives birth to a son named Immanuel who will eat butter and honey. Before this boy can choose evil over good, the land will fall out of the grip of Rezin and Pekah.
We can continue studying context by reading ahead to Isaiah 8:3-4, where we find a prophetess who has recently given birth to a son. This is immensely more likely to be the child that Isaiah wanted us to believe he predicted, especially when you figure in the fact that Isaiah 7:14 uses the more specific term ha-almah, translated as the woman, to specify a particular woman most likely known by the author and his audience.
When you consider the most accurate translation of almah, the actual name of the child, the context of the message, and the contiguous birth of an ordinary child, this passage is in a different ballpark from reports of Jesus’ birth from his virgin mother. Even though the case for Isaiah 7:14 appears solidly shut, we should consider two more questions. If Isaiah wanted to predict a virgin birth story, wouldn’t he have drawn more attention to the most important and unique event in human history? If God were truly interested in convincing more people of Jesus’ authenticity, wouldn’t he have Isaiah make a more direct and less disputable prophecy?
More Alleged Prophecy Fulfillments
A lesser-known prophecy made by Isaiah reads, “for unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be Wonderful, Counseller, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (9:6). This sounds like the version of Jesus we’ve all heard, but where is the textual evidence of a link between him and this verse? The Jews have always maintained that this passage, full of usual praises given to a King, refers to King Hezekiah. Furthermore, the following verse says that this individual will run the government with great power while sitting upon the Throne of David. Jesus never sat upon a throne or ran a government “upon his shoulder.” Since a plethora of circumstances could make bits and pieces of a prophecy come true, a divinely inspired prediction for the future should be clear and accurate in all of its details if we are to accept the legitimacy of such a bold statement.
We can also find another supposed reference to Jesus as the subject of Isaiah 53. In the last part of Chapter 52, God mentions one of his servants who will be exalted, only to be later despised, rejected, oppressed, afflicted, imprisoned, judged, acquainted with grief, wounded for our sins and transgressions, and loaded with iniquities. The man in question was sans deceit or violence. On the surface, there seems to be a strong correlation with Jesus; once we vigorously inspect all the facts, the analogy once again fails. One of the poorest translations possible fuels the misdirection. The grief acquainted with this servant is actually sickness, from the Hebrew word choli. God “putting our iniquities on him” is better translated as “hurting him with our sin,” as if to punish him. Furthermore, this superior translation parallels better with the physical injuries he sustained in the previous verse. The children this man had (Hebrew word zera) are direct descendants, not a spiritual family as it has been suggested in order to add credence to apologetic claims. Finally, Isaiah claims that the oppressed and afflicted man never opened his mouth. How can such a statement apply to Jesus who did a lot of preaching and correcting? Can we honestly state with reasonable certainty that this was a divinely inspired passage referring to Jesus Christ?
The delusional author of Matthew would like for the reader to believe that Jeremiah correctly predicted the timeframe of Jesus’ birth by asserting that a girl named Rachel crying for her dead children is a reference to King Herod’s alleged child massacre in the era of Jesus’ birth (Matthew 2:17-18 referring to Jeremiah 31:15). First and foremost, no historian contemporaneous with Herod’s reign ever mentioned this incredible act of brutality. In addition, if you continue to read the passage Matthew referenced, as all honest researchers should, you’ll discover God telling Rachel that their deaths were not in vain because the people will return to their homeland (31:16-17). With a modest background in Ancient Middle Eastern history, one can easily surmise that the passage in Jeremiah refers to the Babylonian captivity, not the time of Jesus’ birth. Since there are no true prophecies of Jesus’ arrival, apologists must resort to grasping straws that appear increasingly remote.
Daniel 9:24-27 proclaims that in seven sets of seventy weeks (490 weeks), a ruler will arrive and reconstruct a city. The Hebrew word for week, septad, actually means sevens, but the Israelites commonly used the term to refer to a set of seven days. In order for the upcoming prophecy to fit, disingenuous apologists must alter the obvious meaning of septad to seven years in quintessential post hoc fashion. Nevertheless, even if we give the benefit of the miniscule doubt to the apologists and assume that septad refers to a set of seven years, the arrival of this ruler would take place in 55 BCE. We know the starting point of the time in question because the passage refers to Cyrus’ order of cleansing the city in 545 BCE. Thus, prophecy inventors must once again alter the obvious intent of the passage and claim that Cyrus’ heir, Artaxerxes, was the one who gave the order. This puts the new date of arrival around 39 CE, approximately seven years after the presumed death of Jesus. Next, the apologist must shorten the length of a year by averaging the length of a solar year and the length of a lunar year in order to make the prophecy fit nicely with the year of the crucifixion. Even when you allow all of these absurd leniencies, there’s no potent evidence to support the notion that this passage refers to Jesus in any way, shape, form, or fashion. Jesus wasn’t a ruler, and he didn’t rebuild any cities. Even so, a few Christian zealots would like the world to believe that this is a fulfilled prophecy. Would these same apologists bend over backwards to support the text if such statements were found in the Qur’an?
Hosea 6:2 reads, “after two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight”. This might seem to be another loose reference to the death and resurrection of Jesus if you haven’t read the passage in its proper context. The preceding verse, an important piece of the whole picture, concerns a group of people who will return to God in order to be restored through him. After two days, God will revive the people; on the third day, they’ll arise so that they can live in his sight. When a more thorough analysis replaces the shallow one, the reader will discover that the verse has nothing at all to do with Jesus. This claim of a prophecy fulfillment is just another use of a passage out of context in order to meet an apologetic agenda.
Hosea has another supposed Jesus prophecy in the first verse of Chapter 11: “WhenIsraelwas a child, then I love him, and called my son out ofEgypt.” This is supposedly an allegory for Mary and Joseph fleeing the country. In this case, Jesus would be represented in the verse by “Israel.” If the reader takes time to review the next verse, as it would only be responsible to do so, the lack of merit in the apologetic interpretation becomes obvious. In 11:2, we learn thatIsraelsacrificed to Baalim (Baal) and “burned incense to graven images.” The Jesus of the scriptures certainly wouldn’t be guilty of observing this blasphemous ceremony. A realistic investigation would lead us to believe that the verse is a certain reference to the Israeli Exodus fromEgypt. As authors often refer to groups and countries in the singular form throughout the books of prophecy, this conclusion is far more sensible than the apologetic stretch.
Micah offers another Jesus foretelling of great popularity in the Christian crowd, but it fails to hold the aforementioned qualities of valid prophecy fulfillment for several reasons. The passage in question says, “but thou, Bethlehem Ephratah though you be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler of Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (5:2). Once again, a quick sweep across the surface might lead the reader to believe that this verse is about Jesus’ birth. Such an assertion is especially convincing with the inclusion of his hometown,Bethlehem, but you might wonder what role “Ephratah” serves in this passage. We can find the answer all the way back in 1 Chronicles 4:4. There, we learn that Bethlehem Ephratah was a person:Bethlehem, the son of Ephratah. In essence, the prophecy refers to the line of descendants from that individual. Even if we blindly assume that Ephratah was a more specific location withinBethlehemrather than a people, apologists still have the problem of Jesus never having ruledIsrael. The authors of Matthew and John both conveniently leave Ephratah out of their references to this prophecy (2:5-6 and 7:42, respectively). This disingenuous act can only be the result of a desire to add credibility to an otherwise convincingly weak case. Furthermore, if the ones making this claim read to verse six, they would discover Micah predicting that this same individual will lead a battle againstAssyriain order to deliver people out of slavery. No record of Jesus ever performing this noble deed exists, nor would we expect one to.
Zechariah informs us that a just King will arrive in Jerusalemriding upon an ass and a colt (9:9). In fact, Jesus did ride intoJerusalem on an ass and a colt according to the account given by Matthew (21:1-7). The primary problem of claiming a miraculously fulfilled prophecy in this instance is the awareness of Matthew and John (12:14-15) that Zechariah had made the prediction. The others involved, including Jesus, were almost certainly aware of the Old Testament passage as well. In fact, Matthew 21:4-5 says, “all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by saying…thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass.” To paraphrase Matthew, the disciples had Jesus ride intoJerusalem using this method just so that they could fulfill the prophecy. You must forgive me if I personally deem this quasi-actualization unimpressive. Had the group honestly been unaware of the forecast, there might be the slightest hint of some underlying validity for those presenting this claim.
For the final investigated prophecy, we’ll switch gears away from Jesus for a moment. The author of Mark implies that the arrival of John the Baptist satisfies Malachi’s prophecy of God sending Elias/Elijah forth “before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord” (Mark 8:28 referring to Malachi 4:5). He makes this erroneous proposal because the observers thought John was the reincarnation of Elijah. Making people think something has happened isn’t the same thing as the event actually taking place. Since John himself even denies being Elijah (John 1:21), we can safely assume that he’s not involved with Malachi’s prophecy.
I hope that these passages will be beneficial toward demonstrating the absence of a verifiable prophecy fulfillment concerning Jesus’ birth or any other futuristic happenings. The fact that Jesus and the Gospel writers deceitfully invented their own prophecies and fulfillments, a charge we will now investigate, lends a hand to this assessment.
Jesus makes the claim that his persecution, death, and resurrection are realizations of an Old Testament prophecy (Luke 18:31-33). I assure you that there is no such statement in the Old Testament; I challenge anyone to find it. Jesus also claims that Moses foretold his arrival (John 5:46). Not only is it highly unlikely that Moses wrote any part of the Pentateuch, there’s no mention of Jesus in that text either; I challenge anyone to find it. The author of Matthew says Jesus “dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene” (2:23). Not only do the prophets fail to offer such conjecture, there’s not a passage in the Old Testament that includes a single word related to Nazareth or Nazarene; I challenge anyone to find it. Finally, the author of John claims that a prophecy was fulfilled when the bones of Jesus remained unbroken throughout the crucifixion (19:36). Again, there is no such prophecy in the Old Testament; I challenge anyone to find it. No one has brought forth and verified any information with the potential to lend credence to these fortune-telling products for obvious reasons.
The Return Prophecies
This is the part you’ve probably been anticipating. Did Jesus truly put a timeframe on when he would reappear? When he instructs his disciples to preach the good news on all their ventures, Jesus warns, “Ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that endureth to the end shall be saved. But when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily I say unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of Israel, till the Son of man be come” (Matthew 10:22-23). In comprehensible modern English, Jesus is saying that he’ll return to earth before the disciples finish their journeys to all ofIsrael’s cities. The word of God has long completed its travel throughout the region, but Jesus continues to fail Promise Keeping 101.
When Jesus’ disciples beg him to avoid any actions with fatal consequences, he comforts them by proclaiming, “For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works. Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom” (Matthew 16:27-28, also see Mark 9:1 and Luke 9:27). In this instance, Jesus unambiguously informs his followers that there were people living on the earth at that time who would still be alive when he made his ultimate return.
While preaching to his disciples, Jesus says, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other…Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled” (Matthew 24:29-34, Mark 14:24-30). Aside from projecting scientifically erroneous notions, Jesus yet again gives a proclamation that includes his return during that generation.
In a scene involving Jesus with the high priest, “the high priest arose, and said unto him, ‘Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee?’ But Jesus held his peace. And the high priest answered and said unto him, ‘I adjure thee by the living God, that thou tell us whether thou be the Christ, the Son of God.’ Jesus said unto him, ‘Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven’” (Matthew 26:62-64, also see Mark 14:60-62). Jesus informs the priest that he will personally witness the imminent return of the son of God and gives clear indication that these events will transpire while the high priest is still alive. The high priest is long dead, and Jesus has been truant for nearly 2000 years.
Speaking to a crowd of Pharisees, Jesus preaches about a series of events destined to come upon them that inevitably conclude with their damnation to Hell (Matthew 23). When will these scenarios play out? “Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation” (Matthew 23:36). The connotation is clear: the events mentioned throughout the chapter were to take place during the lifetimes of those living in that generation. In order to defend Jesus’ statement, some Christians claim that the makers of the KJV Bible should have translated the Hebrew word genea as age or race. While modern lexicons may support this translation for the very same reason that Christians believe it, what evidences contemporaneous with the era do they have to support this assertion? Nowhere in the New Testament did the translators interpret genea to be anything other than generation. The obvious choice of translation is also consistent with all other failed return prophecies. Again, they begin with the faulty premise of inerrancy and search for the most likely way to maintain this quality. What religion wouldn’t survive an infallibility test given such luxurious leniencies?
The celebrated Paul was also convinced that the arrival of Jesus was drawing near. In his letter to the Romans, he says, “now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand” (13:11-12). In his first letter to the Corinthians, he says, “the time is short” (7:29). In his letter to the Philippians, he says, “The Lord is at hand” (4:5). In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul reminds them that “the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord” (4:16-17). Paul clearly held an unwavering belief that some of those living at the time would serve as witnesses to these divine occurrences. As you will see in the upcoming chapter, however, Paul was making predictions for Jesus’ primary visit to the earth, long after his alleged crucifixion during a prehistorical era. Nowhere did Paul mention a “return” because nowhere did Paul claim any knowledge of Jesus’ earthly residency as told in the Gospels.
A variety of other New Testament authors also believed that Jesus was returning soon. “The day of Christ is at hand” (2 Thessalonians 2:2). “God…hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son” (Hebrews 1:1-2). “For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise. For yet a little while, and he that, shall come will come, and will not tarry” (Hebrews 10:36-37). “Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh” (James 5:8). “Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you” (1 Peter 1:20). “The end of all things is at hand” (1 Peter 4:7). “Little children, it is the last time: and as ye have heard that antichrist shall come, even now are there many antichrists; whereby we know that it is the last time” (1 John 2:18). “The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John…Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand” (Revelation 1:1-3). “I come quickly” (Revelation 3:11, 22:7, 22:12, 22:20). Jesus wasn’t the only one on a train bound for misdirection.
The second book of Peter, penned around 120 CE and probably the last of the New Testament Epistles to be completed, came at the heel of the generation promise allegedly made by Jesus. His followers were no doubt starting to become impatient, and they demonstrate a hint of restlessness by inquiring, “Where is the promise of his coming?” (3:4). In order to settle doubts and downplay the “generation” claims, Peter says, “be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day” (3:8). Unfortunately, Peter’s explanation satisfies absolutely nothing. Not once did Jesus offer a return date in terms of days and years. However, Jesus does give us a rough timeframe in reference to generations and lifetimes. Jesus did not satisfy the conditions that he personally established in order for all his future worshippers to appreciate. Peter’s speculative assertion is an incredibly futile attempt at solving Jesus’ perpetual absence.
Looking At The Fortune Tellers
This chapter demonstrates several important points: prophets of the Old Testament made predictions that have yet to come true; predictions made by those same prophets are either erroneous or impossible to fulfill; there are no prophecies from the Old Testament truly satisfied by the alleged arrival of Jesus Christ; Jesus and the Gospel writers invented supposed prophecy fulfillments; Jesus failed to return within the timeframe he promised; and it was commonly believed that Jesus was going to return about 1900 years ago. These factors inevitably subtract even more credibility from the authors’ claims of divine inspiration.
While we shouldn’t honestly expect a self-proclaimed prophet to have the ability to predict the future with any appreciable accuracy, there should be an elevated level of expectation for those who Christians claim that God divinely inspired. The Old Testament prophets are nowhere near meeting this reasonable expectation. What we do see is a Nostradamus-like post hoc set of poor explanations and analyses of old scriptures undoubtedly designed to invent prophecy fulfillments. Thus, we can conclude that not one of the prophets truly mentions anything interpretable as the supposed arrival of Jesus. Bits and pieces extracted from here and there do not add up to a verifiable resolution of this indispensable difficulty.
Jesus Christ did not satisfy any prophecies made in the Old Testament, and some of the prophetical forecasts that he and the Gospel writers claim as fulfilled weren’t even included by any known preceding authors. If we are to consider Jesus’ biblical proclamations accurate, he undeniably made several statements requiring him to return within the century. As further evidence in support of this conclusion, there was a consensus among the alleged divinely inspired authors that Jesus would be returning extremely soon. When people thought that the earth was only 4000 years old, “soon” did not mean 2000+ years later, nor will it mean 20,000+ or 200,000+ years later when those times inevitably arrive undisturbed. In short, Jesus defiantly broke his promise of returning. This brings us to wonder how many of Jesus’ quotes and workings we can actually consider for the realm of historical plausibility. Consequently, we will explore this essential consideration of utmost importance in the next shocking chapter.