Silver-level articleFailed biblical prophecies

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For it is so written in

The Bible

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Some Christians claim that fulfilled prophecies prove the Bible’s inerrancy. Creationists conclude it is therefore accurate even on scientific subjects.

This article examines various prophecies from the Bible and gives an analysis of whether or not they have been fulfilled.

Contents

[edit] The nature of prophecy in the Bible

It almost goes without saying that the fulfillment of any prophecy (from your daily horoscopes to those in the Bible) largely depends on how one interprets vague allusions to even more vague events or people. For example, the line from Nostradamus, In the city of York there will be a great collapse, two twin brothers torn apart by chaos, seems perfectly built for 9/11, until you look at the whole thing in context. Thus, although it is possible to identify parallels between Bible verses and subsequently occurring events, alleged prophecy fulfillment is not sufficient to compel belief in the inerrancy of the Bible.

The Bible's own attitude towards prophecy differs from later takes. This is evident, for example, in the book of Jonah, a fictional parable[1] about a reluctant prophet. God has given him a command to travel to the pagan metropolis of Nineveh to preach the city's doom. Given this task, Jonah boards a ship headed in the opposite direction, towards Tarshish (contemporary Spain). This leads to the familiar adventure with the giant fish. Eventually Jonah makes it to Nineveh, where his message of doom is surprisingly well received. The people repent, and God changes his mind and spares the city. In the Bible itself, prophecy is a call for moral improvement, not an inexorable doom.

That said, mainstream Christians will actually claim that, for example, the Gospels are historical evidence of Isaiah being accurate prophecy (rather than works written with a copy of Isaiah to hand to claim fulfilment of prophecy), therefore the Bible is accurate and Jesus is Lord.

[edit] Unfulfilled prophecies of denial

[edit] Destruction of Tyre

For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will bring upon Tyrus Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon, a king of kings, from the north, with horses, and with chariots, and with horsemen, and companies, and much people. He shall slay with the sword thy daughters in the field: and he shall make a fort against thee, and cast a mount against thee, and lift up the buckler against thee. And he shall set engines of war against thy walls, and with his axes he shall break down thy towers. By reason of the abundance of his horses their dust shall cover thee: thy walls shall shake at the noise of the horsemen, and of the wheels, and of the chariots, when he shall enter into thy gates, as men enter into a city wherein is made a breach. With the hoofs of his horses shall he tread down all thy streets: he shall slay thy people by the sword, and thy strong garrisons shall go down to the ground. And they shall make a spoil of thy riches, and make a prey of thy merchandise: and they shall break down thy walls, and destroy thy pleasant houses: and they shall lay thy stones and thy timber and thy dust in the midst of the water. And I will cause the noise of thy songs to cease; and the sound of thy harps shall be no more heard. And I will make thee like the top of a rock: thou shalt be a place to spread nets upon; thou shalt be built no more: for I the LORD have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD. [2]

In this block of text God states quite blatantly that Nebuchadnezzar would completely sack and destroy the city of Tyre. However, the events given in this passage never did come to pass. After a 13 year siege, Nebuchadnezzar withdrew his forces. Despite being conquered and razed by Alexander the Great 240 years later, [3] Tyre still exists. [4]

[edit] Destruction of Egypt

Egypt. What a desolate wasteland
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will bring a sword upon thee, and cut off man and beast out of thee. And the land of Egypt shall be desolate and waste; and they shall know that I am the LORD: because he hath said, The river is mine, and I have made it. Behold, therefore I am against thee, and against thy rivers, and I will make the land of Egypt utterly waste and desolate, from the tower of Syene even unto the border of Ethiopia. No foot of man shall pass through it, nor foot of beast shall pass through it, neither shall it be inhabited forty years. And I will make the land of Egypt desolate in the midst of the countries that are desolate, and her cities among the cities that are laid waste shall be desolate forty years: and I will scatter the Egyptians among the nations, and will disperse them through the countries.[5]

This passage is one of the most erroneous in the entire Bible. Egypt has never been a desolate waste, there has never been a time when people have not walked through it, there has never been a period of forty years when Egypt was uninhabited after the civilization started there, and it has never been surrounded by other desolate countries.[6]

In Ezekiel 30:10-11 Ezekiel further predicts that Nebuchadnezzar will destroy Egypt:

This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will put an end to the hordes of Egypt by the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon. He and his army—the most ruthless of nations— will be brought in to destroy the land. They will draw their swords against Egypt and fill the land with the slain. (NIV)

However, Nebuchadnezzar was defeated in his only attempt to invade Egypt.[7]

[edit] Nile will dry up

Yep, still there

Ezekiel 30:12 continues with a prediction that the Nile River will run dry.

I will dry up the streams of the Nile and sell the land to evil men; by the hand of foreigners I will lay waste the land and everything in it. I the LORD have spoken. (NIV)

There is no evidence that this has happened in recorded history.

[edit] Triumph of Judah

In Isaiah 7:1-7 God tells the king of Judah that he shall not be harmed by his enemies.

And it came to pass in the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, the son of Uzziah, king of Judah, that Rezin the king of Syria, and Pekah the son of Remaliah, king of Israel, went up toward Jerusalem to war against it, but could not prevail against it. And it was told the house of David, saying, Syria is confederate with Ephraim. And his heart was moved, and the heart of his people, as the trees of the wood are moved with the wind. Then said the LORD unto Isaiah, Go forth now to meet Ahaz, thou, and Shearjashub thy son, at the end of the conduit of the upper pool in the highway of the fuller's field; And say unto him, Take heed, and be quiet; fear not, neither be fainthearted for the two tails of these smoking firebrands, for the fierce anger of Rezin with Syria, and of the son of Remaliah. Because Syria, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah, have taken evil counsel against thee, saying, Let us go up against Judah, and vex it, and let us make a breach therein for us, and set a king in the midst of it, even the son of Tabeal: Thus saith the Lord GOD, It shall not stand, neither shall it come to pass.

Yet it did come to pass. His enemies did harm him.

Wherefore the LORD his God delivered him into the hand of the king of Syria; and they smote him, and carried away a great multitude of them captives, and brought them to Damascus. And he was also delivered into the hand of the king of Israel, who smote him with a great slaughter. For Pekah the son of Remaliah slew in Judah an hundred and twenty thousand in one day, which were all valiant men; because they had forsaken the LORD God of their fathers.

[edit] Isaiah predicts the Nile drying up, Sea draining

In Isaiah 19:1-8 Isaiah tells us the Nile will dry up, ocean drains in the time of pagan Egypt.

Isaiah 19:1 The burden of Egypt. Behold, the LORD rideth upon a swift cloud, and shall come into Egypt: and the idols of Egypt shall be moved at his presence, and the heart of Egypt shall melt in the midst of it. 2 And I will set the Egyptians against the Egyptians: and they shall fight every one against his brother, and every one against his neighbour; city against city, and kingdom against kingdom.3 And the spirit of Egypt shall fail in the midst thereof; and I will destroy the counsel thereof: and they shall seek to the idols, and to the charmers, and to them that have familiar spirits, and to the wizards.4 And the Egyptians will I give over into the hand of a cruel lord; and a fierce king shall rule over them, saith the Lord, the LORD of hosts.5 And the waters shall fail from the sea, and the river shall be wasted and dried up.6 And they shall turn the rivers far away; and the brooks of defence shall be emptied and dried up: the reeds and flags shall wither.Isaiah 19:7 The paper reeds by the brooks, by the mouth of the brooks, and every thing sown by the brooks, shall wither, be driven away, and be no more. 8 The fishermen will groan and lament, all who cast hooks into the Nile; those who throw nets on the water will pine away.

This is an interesting prophecy because Isaiah outlines a very clear timeframe, the alleged prophet is unmistakably referring to Pagan Egypt, which ceased to exist in the 4th Century. (Isaiah 19:1-3) Since then, Egyptians have stopped using charms, wizards, and there are no statue-worshiping idolaters anymore, (Isaiah 19:3) so the reader can conclude this isn't an end times prophecy, unless one assumes they will resume doing these things. The alleged prophet blatantly identifies the dried up river (Isaiah 19:5) with the Nile (Isaiah 19:8). And he goes even further to say one of the seas Egypt borders will drain, and this appears to coincide with the Nile River drying up. There is absolutely no hint of this prophecy being interpreted symbolically or metaphorically. Isaiah actually goes out of his way to stress the literal, physical, carnal fulfillment of this prophecy.

[edit] Egyptians will speak the dead language of Canaan

In Isaiah 19:18 Isaiah says Egyptians will learn the tongue of Canaanites

Isaiah 19:18 In that day shall five cities in the land of Egypt speak the language of Canaan, and swear to the LORD of hosts; one shall be called, The city of destruction.

Not only has the Canaanite language never been spoken by Egyptians, but it is now an extinct language. There is the very unlikely possibility Isaiah was referring to Hebrew, which is technically a Canaanite language. However, Hebrew was also never adopted by the Egyptians. And according to the context of this passage, Isaiah is specifically referring to Pagan Egypt, which ceased to exist in the 4th century. (See Above) So even if Egyptians started speaking Hebrew at this very moment, it would still be an inaccurate prediction, unless again they begin doing these things (highly unlikely). Also, it's worth noting that Isaiah believes the Egyptians will convert to Mosaic Judaism (a dead religion) and start offering sacrifices to the LORD shortly after this incident, (Isaiah 19:21) a practice no longer done by Jews since the Temple was destroyed and priesthood lost.

[edit] Failure to smite Jebus

In Joshua 3:10 the eponymous Jew is quoted as saying the following:

Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites.

This is a repetition of a promise had from God's own lips in earlier books. However, mere moments later we learn that:

As for the Jebusites the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem unto this day.[8]

The Books of Samuel relate that Jerusalem eventually falls to David, however there is no mention of the Jebusites being driven out. The Book of Kings implies that the surviving Jebusites were made serfs

  • 1 Kings 9:20: And all the people that were left of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, which were not of the children of Israel,
  • 1 Kings 9:21: Their children that were left after them in the land, whom the children of Israel also were not able utterly to destroy, upon those did Solomon levy a tribute of bondservice unto this day.

The above verses from 1 Kings also contradict Deuteronomy 20:17 (ie. the Jebusites were meant to be slaughtered entirely):

But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee.

[edit] Israelites will be unbeatable

In Exodus 23:27 God tells Moses that he will defeat every enemy he encounters:

I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every nation you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn their backs and run. (NIV)

However, history indicates many defeats suffered by the Israelites. Note that most believers will pull a no true Scotsman and claim that the defeats happened only at times when the Israelites weren't pious enough.

[edit] Land promises

In the Bible, God allegedly made promises to Abraham to deliver him land then under the control of other tribes. For example, upon Abraham entering Canaan, Genesis 12:7 states, in part, "The LORD appeared to Abram and said, 'To your offspring I will give this land.'" (NIV) This promise was reiterated in slightly different ways throughout the books of Genesis and Exodus.

However, this did not reasonably soon thereafter come to be, as illustrated by Hebrews 11:13, which, regarding Abraham's descendants, states,

All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance. And they admitted that they were aliens and strangers on earth. (NIV)

Similarly, in Exodus 23:31 God promises to give the Israelites all the land from the Mediterranean to the Red Sea and from the Euphrates River to "the desert." Historically this never happened.

Joshua was also promised specific land. Per Joshua 1:3-5:

I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Great Sea on the west. No one will be able to stand up against you all the days of your life. As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you. (NIV)

Strangely, Joshua 11:23 indicates that he did indeed take the land:

So Joshua took the entire land, just as the LORD had directed Moses, and he gave it as an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal divisions. Then the land had rest from war. (NIV)

However, history and the Bible indicate all the land was not taken. Per Joshua 13:1-5:

When Joshua was old and well advanced in years, the LORD said to him, "You are very old, and there are still very large areas of land to be taken over. This is the land that remains: all the regions of the Philistines and Geshurites: from the Shihor River on the east of Egypt to the territory of Ekron on the north, all of it counted as Canaanite; the territory of the five Philistine rulers in Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath and Ekron—that of the Avvites from the south, all the land of the Canaanites, from Arah of the Sidonians as far as Aphek, the region of the Amorites, the area of the Gebalites; and all Lebanon to the east, from Baal Gad below Mount Hermon to Lebo Hamath. (NIV)

[edit] Israel will live in peace with its neighbors

A Merkava vineyard planter

Ezekiel 28:24-26 predicts that Israel will live in peace with its neighbors:

No longer will the people of Israel have malicious neighbors who are painful briers and sharp thorns. Then they will know that I am the Sovereign LORD. This is what the Sovereign LORD says: When I gather the people of Israel from the nations where they have been scattered, I will show myself holy among them in the sight of the nations. Then they will live in their own land, which I gave to my servant Jacob. They will live there in safety and will build houses and plant vineyards; they will live in safety when I inflict punishment on all their neighbors who maligned them. Then they will know that I am the LORD their God. (NIV)

A consistent aspect of history is that Israel has never gotten along with its neighbors. (Or, if you prefer, that its neighbors have never gotten along with it.) There's still hope that Israel and the neighbourhood will be peaceful one day, but it requires everyone in the region to stop "inflicting punishment" on each other.

[edit] Davidic line will endure forever

At several instances in the Old Testament God promises David that the descendants of Solomon will rule Judah forever. For example, in 2 Samuel 7:13-16 God tells the prophet Nathan:

He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with the rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men. But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever. (NIV)

There is no indication that this is anything other than a literal promise. In fact the promise is reiterated during times when the future of the earthly kingdom is in doubt. In 1 Kings 11:34-36:

But I will not take the whole kingdom out of Solomon's hand; I have made him ruler all the days of his life for the sake of David my servant, whom I chose and who observed my commands and statutes. I will take the kingdom from his son's hands and give you ten tribes. I will give one tribe to his son so that David my servant may always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem, the city where I chose to put my Name. (NIV)

Unfortunately for the prophet Nathan, the Davidic line ended with King Zedekiah in about 586 BC. [9] Biblical inerrantists, spotting a possible loophole, claim that Jesus , being descended from David, fulfilled this prophecy. Per Acts 2:29-31,

Brothers, I can tell you confidently that the patriarch David died and was buried, and his tomb is here to this day. But he was a prophet and knew that God had promised him on oath that he would place one of his descendants on his throne. Seeing what was ahead, he spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to the grave, nor did his body see decay. (NIV)

However, there are many reasons this is an unsatisfactory solution. Aspects of the 2 Samuel reference above, specifically "When he does wrong," do not seem consistent with Christian doctrine of Jesus as the Son of God. Additionally, the line of kings is described as being continuous. Consider Jeremiah 33:17:

For this is what the LORD says: 'David will never fail to have a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel, (NIV)

This leaves unexplained the near 600-year gap between Zedekiah and Jesus. Further, there is the question of the Davidic line after Jesus, as he apparently died childless. Note: Mark 6:3 and Matthew 13:55 as evidence for Jesus' siblings. Note: A precedent is previously set for biblical linage being a mantel rather then genetic linage due to Gen. 24 and 27, Jacob's theft of Esau's blessing and the selling of the birthright.

In reality the only evidence available that Jesus is a descendant of David is in the genealogies in Matthew and Luke. The alleged prophecy stresses the literal descendancy from David. We read in 2 Samuel 7:12:

When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. (NIV)

However, if the virgin birth doctrine be valid then Jesus is not actually the son of Joseph, making virgin birth seem incompatible with Jesus' descendancy from David.

Finally, several Bible verses seem to indicate that Jesus is in fact not of the line of David. For example Matthew 22:41-45 states:

While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, "What do you think about the Christ? Whose son is he?" "The son of David," they replied. He said to them, "How is it then that David, speaking by the Spirit, calls him 'Lord'? For he says, 'The Lord said to my Lord: "Sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet." ' If then David calls him 'Lord,' how can he be his son?" (NIV)

Indeed.

[edit] Unfulfilled prophecies of retrodiction

This section is for prophecies that were not written until after the occurrence of the events that they describe. It is easy to predict an event that has already happened.

[edit] Cyrus will conquer Babylon

100prophecies.org claims that before 681 BCE the prophet Isaiah predicted Persia would defeat Babylon and furthermore that this prophecy was fulfilled in 539 BCE. They cite Isaiah 45:1 as predicting that "Babylon's gates would open for Cyrus": [10]

This is what the Lord says to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I take hold of to subdue nations before him and to strip kings of their armor, to open doors before him so that gates will not be shut: (NIV)

Thus bible inerrantists would have us believe that Isaiah prophesied specifically that Cyrus would be Babylon's conqueror and would enter through gates, and that he made this prediction over 140 years before the event. In reality, this section of Isaiah was written shortly before 537 BCE, so even if the prediction was not made after the event its occurrence at least was imminent and the name of Cyrus would have been known.

Isaiah's reference to gates, although the actual means Cyrus used to gain entry to the city of Babylon, was nonetheless meant figuratively. This is evidenced by noting the continued use of obviously figurative language in the next verse:

I will go before you and will level the mountains; I will break down gates of bronze and cut through bars of iron. (NIV)

It should be noted that Babylon is not actually mentioned anywhere in the chapter.

It should also be noted that "anointed" as used in Isaiah 45:1 is translated into Hebrew as "messiah" and into Greek as "Christ." Although never admitted by Christians, this passage seems to assert that Cyrus is the messiah.

[edit] Unfulfilled prophecies that weren't

This section is for alleged prophecies alluded to that were never made or that were not intended to be prophetic.

[edit] Virgin birth

Main article: Virgin birth

Matthew alleges that Jesus' birth fulfilled a prophecy. Per Matthew 1:22-23 :

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"—which means, "God with us." (NIV)
Did this fulfill an Old Testament prophecy? Let's examine the context of the original verse in the Book of Isaiah. King Ahaz of Judah is concerned about aggression from the kings of Aram and Israel and he gets some advice from a prophet. Per Isaiah 7:14-16:
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. He will eat curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right. 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. (NIV)

Could this passage have been intended to refer to Jesus? It appears merely to be about people living at the time, and in fact in Isaiah 8:3 a male child is born. Jesus was called Immanuel, which means God with us. To support the claim that Jesus fulfilled this prophecy it would be necessary to demonstrate that he was born of a virgin, and the only evidence that this occurred is in the statements of Matthew and Luke, because they were the only two that said anything about his birth.

Additionally, this prophecy is debatably based on a possible mistranslation from Hebrew. As the Biblical inerrancy site 100propchecies.org explains:

[Non-Christian scholars] have challenged the interpretation for the Hebrew word "almah," which is often translated as "virgin," but they think it means "young maiden." It may be true that "almah" means "young maiden," however, the Bible never uses the word to refer specifically to a married woman. And an unmarried woman if found to be pregnant and engaged, as Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, would be stoned to death. [11]

In reality, with the exception of the Young's Literal Translation version, the New King James Version, and the English Standard Version neither is it remotely true that every instance of "almah" in the Bible is translated as "virgin." [12] Proverbs 30:18-19 in particular is translated, in the New International Version, as follows:

There are three things that are too amazing for me, four that I do not understand: the way of an eagle in the sky, the way of a snake on a rock, the way of a ship on the high seas, and the way of a man with a maiden.

It would seem problematic to substitute "virgin" in this case. At least to the observer who just takes one verse and reads it out of context.

[edit] The messiah will be born in Bethlehem

Matthew alleges that Jesus being born in Bethlehem fulfills a prophecy. In Matthew 2:4-6 King Herod is concerned about the birth of the "King of the Jews."

When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. "In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written: 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'" (NIV)

While the quote from the prophet, Micah, appears to predict Jesus will come from the city of Bethlehem, he was not quoted precisely. Micah 5:2 actually reads:

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. (NIV)

The original quote makes it clear that Micah was referring to a clan named Bethlehem and not a city.

The Micah quote has also been taken out of context, originally showing no indication of being a messianic prophecy and referring to a military leader who will "deliver us from the Assyrian when he invades our land." (v. 6)

Additionally there is no evidence outside the statements of Matthew and Luke that Jesus was in fact born in Bethlehem, and even they do not agree on the details. Luke has Joseph and Mary in Bethlehem from Nazareth for the dubious reason of partaking in a census in 6 CE, while Matthew has them starting in Bethlehem and escaping to Nazareth by way of Egypt at least ten years earlier.

[edit] Jesus will be a Nazarene

In the Bible, Jesus is born in Bethlehem but grows up in Nazareth. Matthew credits the Nazareth upbringing as a fullfilment of prophecy:

Matt. 2:23 And [Mary, Joseph, and Jesus] came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth; that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophets, that he should be called a Nazarene.

Unlike most of the other "prophecies" in this category, we can't even tell which Old Testament passage, if any, Matthew is twisting to fit the story; no OT prophecy seems relevant. It's almost as if he's just flat-out declaring that this was prophecied and hoping no one calls his bluff. Of course, even this one is't too big a stone for apologists to swallow. As web page dedicated to this particular problem puts it: "First, it is necessary to point out that a genuine textual problem only exists if one has exhausted every possibility of interpretation, and there simply is no reasonable explanation that resolves the difficulty."

The most popular Christian explanation is that "Nazarene" is a figurative expression for anyone who is despised or rejected, as Jesus is at various points in the New Testament and the Messiah at various points in the old. Not only is that a heck of a cop-out, but if it's Matthew's intention, then it makes little sense for him to say that Jesus moving to a literal Nazareth is a fulfillment of the "figurative Nazarene" prophecy. A likelier possibility, and one which makes the author of Matthew look less dishonest and/or stupid, is that "the prophets" doesn't mean the Old Testament authors, but some other person or group of people, or an oral tradition. Of course, in that instance the case for a "fulfilled prophecy" is left empty-handed (and it's a catch-all excuse for similar failures).

One potential concept for the misaligned statement was referring to various prophesies that Jesus would be a Branch of David, Jeremiah 33:15 "In those days and at that time, I will raise up a righteous branch from David’s line, who will do what is just and right in the land." The hebrew term for branch is ne·tser and the book of numbers, chapter 6, denotes becoming a nazirite to consecrate yourself to God. This is supported by the note that no pre-christian texts denote a town of nazereth at all, and the etymology in the name originates from that hebrew word ne·tser.

[edit] Jesus will be called out of Egypt

Matthew 2:15 cites Jesus' return from Egypt as being the fulfillment of a prophecy: "And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'Out of Egypt I called my son.'" In a footnote the NIV translation indicates the source is Hosea 11:1:

When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.

Note that the quote as it appears in Matthew is incomplete. The first part, the reference to Israel, is missing. In fact, the passage in Hosea is not a prophecy of Jesus leaving Egypt but rather a reference to the exodus of the Israelites.

In defense of the claim that Matthew gave an incomplete quote to hide the fact that Hosea was not intended as a prophecy, biblical inerrancy site AboutBibleProphecy.com notes, "Matthew wasn't trying to hide anything, he was trying to show that the life of Jesus had many parallels with the history of the Jewish people." [13] It should be noted, however, that per Matthew's own words he in fact intended to show that the words of "the prophet" were "fulfilled" and not to show a parallel.

It should also be noted that among the gospel accounts the journey of Jesus to Egypt is unique in Matthew.

[edit] Jesus will be pierced

John 19:37 claims that Jesus being pierced in the course of his execution fulfills a prophecy: "and, as another scripture says, 'They will look on the one they have pierced.'" The NIV translation in a footnote indicates the source of this prophecy is Zechariah 12:10:

And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. (NIV)

The first observation to make is that the verse in John is an inaccurate quote, leaving out the word "me." This is to alleviate inconsistencies with the one speaking, presumably John, also being the one pierced, claimed to be Jesus. In fact, this relates to the problem inherent in assuming the verse from John refers to Jesus--that the "me" who is pierced cannot be the same as the "him" who is mourned for.

Also the context of Zechariah 12 is of an invading army and is not intended as a prophecy of Jesus.

[edit] The suffering servant

Main article: Fourth Servant Song

The Fourth Servant Song, Isaiah 52:13-53:12, is frequently referred to in the New Testament as being the source of prophecies allegedly fulfilled therein. Although many Christian scholars maintain the author had foreshadowed Jesus' crucifixion, other (especially Jewish) scholars maintain that he had meant instead to refer to the mistreatment of the nation of Israel.

[edit] The great disappointment

In Daniel 8:14, it claims that:

For two thousand three hundred evenings and mornings; then the sanctuary shall be restored to its rightful state.

William Miller, a Baptist preacher, predicted and preached the imminent return of Jesus Christ to the earth. He first assumed that the cleansing of the sanctuary represented purification of the Earth by fire at Christ's Second Coming. Then, using an interpretive principle known as the "day-year principle", Miller, along with others, interpreted a prophetic day to read not as a 24-hour period, but rather as a calendar year. Miller stated: "My principles in brief, are, that Jesus Christ will come again to this earth, cleanse, purify, and take possession of the same, with all the saints, sometime between March 21, 1843 and March 21, 1844." Nothing happened, aside from a lot of confused Christians suddenly noticing Matthew 24:36 and starting up Seventh-day Adventism.

[edit] Unfulfilled prophecies of vagueness

A prophecy should be obvious as predicting an event before the occurrence of the event. If the prophecy is not obvious as having predicted the event even after the occurrence of the event, then it suffers from vagueness.

[edit] Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzar's dream

In Daniel 2:31-33 the prophet is asked to interpret the king's dream. The vision is described as follows:

You looked, O king, and there before you stood a large statue—an enormous, dazzling statue, awesome in appearance. The head of the statue was made of pure gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of baked clay. (NIV)

Daniel explains that the gold head of the statue apparently represents the Babylonian Empire and the remaining parts represent kingdoms that would follow.

The 100prophecies.org website claims Daniel herein predicted the rise of three specific historic kingdoms. They claim the silver chest and arms predicted the Medo-Persian Empire, which conquered the Babylonian Empire. They offer as evidence the observation that the two arms represent the Medes and the Persians. [14]

The proper name for the Medo-Persian Empire is the Achaemenid Empire, an empire formed when Persia conquered Media and other nations. [15] With this understanding it becomes unclear why the chest and arms should suggest this empire more than any other. Daniel describes this second kingdom as being "inferior" to the first in Daniel 2:39. It is not stated why this contextual observation or that this part of the statue is made of silver should suggest the Achaemenid Empire.

The website claims the brass belly and thighs predict the Grecian Empire, which conquered the Medo-Persian Empire. They offer as evidence the observation that the empire started out united under Alexander the Great but was divided up after his death.

The proper name for the Grecian Empire is Macedonia, a kingdom existing since well before Persia defeated Babylon, which included many but not all Greek city-states. It grew to briefly take over territories previously controlled by the Persian Empire under Alexander the Great before falling under the control of a series of smaller dynasties. [16] Ultimately it was absorbed by the Roman Empire although its society and culture remained largely unchanged through the birth of Christianity. [17] With this understanding it becomes unclear why the concepts of unification and division should suggest Macedonia more than any other empire that has risen and fallen or why the observation that this part of the statue is made of bronze should suggest this empire. In verse 39 Daniel predicts this third kingdom "will rule over the whole earth."

The website claims the iron legs and feet partly of iron and partly clay predict the Roman Empire, which conquered the Grecian Empire. No evidence is presented to support this claim.

In Daniel 2:40 Daniel predicts that the fourth kingdom "will crush and break all the others." No attempt is made to show that the Roman Empire defeated the Babylonian or Achaemenid empires. Daniel further predicts that the fourth kingdom "will be a divided kingdom" (Daniel 2:41) and "will be partly strong and partly brittle" (Daniel 2:42) and its people "will be a mixture and will not be united." (Daniel 2:43) It is not stated why either these contextual observations or that this part of the statue is made of iron and clay should suggest the Roman Empire.

It is unclear why the alleged prophecy should suggest the mentioned empires more so than any other kingdoms. The kingdoms of Egypt, Phoenicia, Edom, Media, and Ptolemy and the various Persian empires, for example, had great influence on the region of ancient Israel as well and all, in addition to many subsequent empires, would seem to as adequately meet the criteria of the Bible verses. In fact some of these kingdoms are included in several alternate interpretations that have been proposed by various Christian, Jewish, Mormon, and Jehovah's Witness camps as to which empires Daniel might have been predicting. [18] If this passage were unambiguously predicting the rise of future kingdoms why then can not, at the least in retrospect after the occurrence, the precise identity of the kingdoms be determined?

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