False Prophecies: The Old Testament does not predict the coming of Jesus Christ!
Christians often claim that the New Testament fulfillment of alleged prophecies from the Old Testament provides unassailable proof that Christian doctrine is true. Well it isn’t so. These alleged prophecies are not prophecies at all, but just passages taken out of context from the Old Testament and reinterpreted to fit Christian dogma. When read in context, it becomes clear that many of these so-called prophetic passages cannot possibly refer to Jesus. Here is a sampling of some of these false prophecies.
The claim: “All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel.” (Matthew 1:22-23)
The OT source: Isaiah 7:14
The reality: The “prophecy” is false on several grounds. Obviously, Jesus was not called Emmanuel. Also, by examining the context of Isaiah 7:14, it is clear that it cannot refer to Jesus. In the Isaiah passage, king Ahaz fears an imminent attack by two enemies. The birth of the child in verse 7:14 is part of a promise from Yahweh that the lands of the two enemies feared by Ahaz will be deserted “before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good.” (Isaiah 7:15) So obviously the child was to be born during the time of this conflict, which is well before the birth of Jesus. And surely Jesus, if he truly was god, would have already known “how to refuse the evil and choose the good” so the Isaiah child, who has to learn these things, cannot possibly be identified with Jesus. Finally, the debate over whether Isaiah 7:14 should best be translated as “a virgin shall conceive” or “a young woman shall conceive” is of no consequence. There are reasonable arguments on both sides of this question. But even if “virgin” is correct, it carries no weight, because it would be very easy for the gospel writer to “fulfill” this prophecy by simply writing into his story a claim that Jesus was born of a virgin.
The claim: “He inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will govern my people Israel.” (Matthew 2:4-6)
The OT source: Micah 5:2
The reality: The passage from Micah cannot apply to Jesus, because Jesus never ruled overIsrael.
The claim: “And he [Joseph] rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, Out of Egypt have I called my son.” (Matthew 2:15)
The OT source: Hosea 11:1
The reality: The Hosea verse reads in full, “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out ofEgypt I called my son.” Thus, the “son” referred to is the nation ofIsrael, not Jesus. The passage from Hosea continues, “The more I called them, the more they went from me; they kept sacrificing to the Baals [false gods], and burning incense to idols.” (Hosea 11:2) The continuation calls attention to the sin and wickedness of the nation ofIsrael as they strayed from Yahweh’s commandments. Are we to understand that this sin and wickedness apply to Jesus? We also read in Hosea that “They shall return to theland ofEgypt.” (Hosea 11:5) But the gospels do not record any return toEgypt by Jesus after the birth story told by Matthew. Based on context, it is clear that Hosea 11:1 is not a prophetic reference to Jesus of Nazareth.
The claim: “And he went and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that what was spoken by the prophets might be fulfilled, He shall be called a Nazarene.” (Matthew 2:23)
The OT source: None. This alleged prophecy does not appear anywhere in the Old Testament, nor is the town of Nazareth mentioned anywhere in the Old Testament.
The reality: The suggestion that Matthew has Judges 13:5 in mind (“the boy shall be a Nazirite to God”) cannot be supported. “Nazirite” does not mean a person from thevillage ofNazareth, but “one consecrated to God by the taking of these special vows.” (Oxford Annotated Bible, 1973, p. 312) The passage in Judges is from the story of Samson’s birth, and has nothing to do with Jesus.
The claim: “He cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick. This was to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, He took our infirmities and bore our diseases.” (Matthew 8:16-17)
The OT source: Isaiah 53:4 (“Surely he has born our griefs and carried our sorrows.”)
The reality: In Matthew’s narrative, Jesus did not bear the diseases himself. He simply made them go away. So the correspondence with Isaiah is inexact.
This is one of the many passages from Isaiah referring to the “suffering servant” whom Christians identify with Jesus. Several of these references are from the 53rd chapter of Isaiah. But if you go back to chapter 40 and read up to chapter 53 to get the whole context, you’ll easily see that the servant referred to is not Jesus, but the nation ofIsrael. Chapters 40 through 56 of Isaiah anticipate the liberation of the Jews from the Babylonian exile and their return toPalestine, thanks to the conquest ofBabylon by the Persian king Cyrus. This all occurred during the 6th century BC. Throughout these chapters, there is reference to the “servant” of God, which is identified asIsrael. Yahweh assuresIsrael that its time of suffering is now over and that it will soon bask in the great honor and admiration of all the nations that previously had oppressed it. It is a poetic rendering, and is broken into four “Servant songs” spoken variously by Yahweh, the personified nation ofIsrael, or the author/prophet himself. Identification of the servant withIsrael is seen in Isaiah 41:8-10; 44:1; 44:21; and 49:3. So reading the full story tells us that Jesus is not the servant. Also, there is the small matter that if Jesus and God are co-equal, as Christian theology would have it, Jesus could not possibly be a servant of God because it would imply a degree of inferiority in relation to God the Father. A servant is always subordinate to his master.
The claim: Jesus orders two of his disciples to “go into the village opposite you and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me . . . This took place to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet, saying, ‘Tell the daughter of Zion, Behold, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'” (Matthew 21:2-5)
The OT source: Zechariah 9:9
The reality: Donkeys were a common mode of transportation in the ancient middle east, so this prediction is nothing remarkable. It would be like saying today that the messiah will arrive in an automobile – but so does everyone else. Again, the context shows that the claimed prophecy is not about Jesus, because the Zechariah passage continues: “He shall command peace to the nations; his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth.” But Jesus did not rule over all the nations, nor did he bring peace. He did not even claim that peace was his purpose: “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.” (Matthew 10:34)
The claim: “But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs . . . For these things took place that the scripture might be fulfilled, ‘Not a bone of him shall be broken.'” (John 19:33, 36)
The OT source: Psalm 34:20
The reality: This is a classic example of cherry-picking, for there are competing passages in the Old Testament, and you can pick whichever one fits your preference for broken bones or unbroken ones. If the Roman soldiers had broken Jesus’s legs, then the prophecy seekers could have used Lamentations 3:4 (“He has made my flesh and my skin waste away, and broken my bones.”) and Psalm 51:8 (“Fill me with joy and gladness; let the bones which thou hast broken rejoice.”) There are enough different passages in the Old Testament that you can find “prophecies” for pretty much anything you want.
The claim: “Then was fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Jeremiah, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him on whom a price had been set by some of the sons of Israel, and they gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord directed me.” (Matthew 27:9)
The OT source: None.
The reality: This quotation does not appear in the book of Jeremiah. There is nothing at all in Jeremiah that mentions 30 pieces of silver. There is one reference in Jeremiah to the purchase of a field, but in that case the price was seventeen shekels of silver, not thirty. (Jeremiah 32:9)
The claim: “I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: that the Christ must suffer, and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to the people and to the Gentiles.” (Acts 26:22-23)
The OT source: None. In contradiction to Paul’s claim, there is no such passage in the books of Moses or the prophets.
The reality: There is no mention of “Jesus” or “Jesus Christ” anywhere in the Old Testament, so there cannot be any passage that prophesies his suffering or resurrection. Furthermore, also contradicting Paul, Jesus was not the first to rise from the dead, even according to the Bible. Lazarus (John 11:43-44), the ruler’s little girl (Matthew 9:18, 23-25) and the widow’s son (Luke 7:12-15) already were raised from the dead before Jesus. There is also an Old Testament story about Elisha raising a child from the dead. (2 Kings 4:32-35)
The claim: Herod’s massacre of the Bethlehem babies “fulfilled what was spoken by the prophet Jeremiah: ‘A voice was heard in Ramah, wailing and loud lamentation, Rachel weeping for her children; she refused to be consoled, because they were no more.'” (Matthew 2:17-18)
The OT source: Jeremiah 31:15
The reality: This is another “prophetic” reference which ignores the context of the OT verses. Rachel is lamenting not the death of her children, but their exile inBabylon. The Jeremiah passage goes on to have God say, “There is hope for your future. . . and your children shall come back to their own country.” But Matthew tries to use it as a prophecy of death and permanent loss. So the passage does not support the meaning that Matthew gives to it.
THE BIBLE WARNS: BEWARE OF THE FALSE PROPHET JESUS
Using the same methods as the Christian apologists, we can easily discover that the OT actually warns against following Jesus and brands him as a false prophet. Check out the verses at the right, and notice how well they fit the circumstances of Jesus’s life and actions, as recorded in the New Testament:
“I am the LORD [Yahweh], and besides me there is no savior.” (Isaiah 43:11)
“They have no knowledge who carry about their wooden idols [i.e., crucifixes] and keep on praying to a god that cannot save.” (Isaiah 45:20)
“Write this man down as childless, a man who shall not succeed in his days; for none of his offspring shall succeed in sitting on the throne of David, and ruling again in Judah.” (Jeremiah 22:30)
“The men of Memphis and Tahpanhes have broken the crown of your head. Have you not brought this upon yourself by forsaking the LORD your God when he led you in the way?” (Jeremiah 2:16-17) [In Matthew 27:29-30 Jesus was beaten about the head while wearing the crown of thorns.]
“But what is left over from the flesh of the sacrifice on the third day shall be burned with fire.” (Leviticus 7:17) [i.e., Jesus did not rise from the dead on the third day, but was sent to burn in hell.]
“You are cast out, away from your sepulchre, like a loathed untimely birth, clothed with the slain, those pierced by the sword, who go down to the stones of the pit.” (Isaiah 14:18-19) [Explains the empty tomb, and getting pierced in the side.]
“God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should repent.” (Numbers 23:19) [Jesus often referred to himself as the “son of man.”]
“Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, of the son of man who is made like grass, and have forgotten the LORD, your maker, who stretched out the heavens and laid the foundations of the earth?” (Isaiah 51:12-13)
“A deluded mind has led him astray.” (Isaiah 44:20) [Recall Mark 3:21, where even in Jesus’s hometown people were saying, “He is beside himself.”]