Friday, October 5, 2012

The Christian Prophesy Challenge!

It's time to put my money where my (virtual) mouth is, so I officially issue this...

Christian Prophesy Challenge!

And here it is:
Find any one prophesy in the Old Testament of the Bible in which the entire prophesy, considered in its own context, is an accurate depiction of Jesus and/or Christianity.

To the first person to find such a prophesy, I will send a $200 Walmart Gift Card!  How can you be sure that I will?  Well, I know you'll have difficulties trusting an atheist on this, but, believe me, $200 isn't going to break my bank and I'll be glad to send it to you.  I've just become so very disheartened that every prophesy I read seems to be "wrong" for Jesus that I'll be happy to be wrong in this case!

Besides, what have you got to lose by studying the Bible more closely?  ;-)  It should be really easy!  Right?  There are so many prophesies directly referenced in the Gospels.  You just have to play by these rules:
  1. No verse cherry-picking allowed.  You have to use the entire prophesy.  For example, if you reference Psalm 22:18 because the soldiers cast lots for Jesus' clothes (Matthew 27:35, Mark 15:24, Luke 23:34, John 19:23-24), then you have to consider all of Psalm 22.  For example, in verses Psalm 22:19-25 if we consider this to be about Jesus, then Jesus was trying to bargain with God, saying that in exchange for God saving Jesus' life (not resurrecting it), he vowed to tell everyone about how great God is.  But Jesus' life was not spared.  Furthermore, Jesus knew it was essential for himself to die and knew that he would be resurrected, so pleading for God to save his life was unrealistic (John 12:27).  So this does not exactly match up with Jesus.  (There are other oddities about this particular Psalm as an entire prophesy, but we'll save that for another time.)
  2. There can't be any contradictory material.  In other words, even if 95% of the prophesy seems to match, but one verse is not accurate, then the whole thing is considered to not match Jesus and/or Christianity.  God should be perfect in His omniscient prophesies, right?
  3. Metaphorical language is subject to the context.  If a literal interpretation of a verse or phrase works within the context of the prophesy, then it is unlikely to have been meant as a metaphor.  This will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, but such metaphors will probably not be accepted.
  4. The entire prophesy may be subject to the context of associated prophesies and contemporaneous events.  Often, some language in prophesies is a little ambiguous, so we may need to turn elsewhere in Scripture to resolve its meaning; concentrating on other prophesies and events of the time for the appropriate context.
  5. The prophesy must be already fulfilled.  [This is a late addition to the rules.]  It is a bit difficult to say if a prophesy for the future is accurate, excepting when one prophesy for the future contradicts another prophesy for the future.  So, in most cases we will have to limit ourselves to what was fulfilled through Jesus and what is fulfilled by subsequent Christianity in this great wait for the Second Coming.
  6. I will be the final judge for the contest, but...  I recognize that I have biases.  So if I don't feel as though my case is strong, or if I do feel like yours is, I'll try to bring in some extra council to help me come to a fair judgement.  And if you feel I haven't fully considered your points of view, feel free to prod me into a second opinion.
To enter, simply post a comment citing the prophesy and explain why you think it matches perfectly.  If necessary, go ahead and provide a link or address to another page describing it in detail.  Or, if you need to send me a document, you can do so at

Good luck!

By the way, here is a list of prophesies already addressed as inaccurate in my studies:

Isaiah 7:14Matthew 1:18-25The Messiah would be born of a virgin and called Immanuel (God-With-Us).
Hosea 11:1Matthew 2:14-15God would call His son out of Egypt.
Jeremiah 31:15Matthew 2:17-18Rachel weeping for her children / the Massacre of the Innocents
N/A (Not in the Bible)Matthew 2:23The Messiah would be called a "Nazarene."
Malachi 3:1Mark 1:2, Luke 7:26-27God would send a messenger ahead of the Messiah to prepare the way.  (See also this post about preparing the way.)
Isaiah 40:3-5Matthew 3:3, Mark 1:3, Luke 3:4-6, John 1:23A voice crying in the desert, making the path straight for God.
Exodus 12Jesus' SacrificeThe Passover was a foreshadowing of the atoning blood sacrifice of Jesus.
Isaiah 9:1-2Matthew 4:15-1Gentiles have seen a great light.
Isaiah 53:4Matthew 8:17The Messiah would take up infirmities and diseases.  (See this detailed study on Isaiah 53.)
Isaiah's Suffering ServantJesus being mistreated, beaten, rejected, etc.God has a Suffering Servant in Isaiah 42, Isaiah 49, Isaiah 50, and Isaiah 53.
Malachi 4:5Matthew 11:13-14The messenger to prepare the way for God would be Elijah, and John the Baptist was Elijah.
Isaiah 42:1-4Matthew 12:18-21Part of Isaiah's Servant prophesies. The Messiah will have God's spirit, will not shout or quarrel, nations will put their hope in him bringing justice, etc.
Isaiah 6:9-10Mark 4:11-12, Luke 8:9-10The Messiah would speak in parables.
JonahMatthew 12:39-40The sign of Jonah.
Psalm 78:2Matthew 13:34-35The Messiah would speak in parables.
Isaiah 61:1-2Luke 4:18-19The Messiah would preach good news to the poor, free prisoners and the oppressed, proclaim the year of God's favor.
Isaiah 29:13Matthew 15:7-9, Mark 7:6-8Pharisees worshiping God only with their mouths, and following the rules of men instead of God's Law.
Daniel 9:24-26Luke 12:54-56The signs and times of God's Kingdom, the timing of the Messiah, and the Messiah's death.
Zechariah 9:9Matthew 21:5, John 12:15Israel's King would humbly ride to them on a donkey's colt.
Isaiah 56:7Matthew 21:13, Mark 11:17, Luke 19:46The Temple will be a house of prayer for all nations.
Psalm 69:9John 2:17Zeal for God would consume the Messiah.
Psalm 110:1Matthew 21:42, Mark 12:10-11, Luke 20:17A rejected Jesus would become the cornerstone in God's Kingdom.


  1. I'm not going to get a $200 gift card. Not because you can't be trusted--as a personal friend, I consider you to be at the top of the list in terms of trustworthiness--and certainly not because you can't spare $200. I'm not going to earn a $200 gift card because in all the years I've debated with you, you've *never* conceded defeat and admitted that I was right about any substantial point, and that's not a track record that's about to change right now. But that's okay, because I'm not here to earn money. I appreciate the opportunity to discuss the prophecies regarding my savior. I'll list five of them here, and let you indicate which of these you consider to pass the test you stated above ("You have to use the entire prophecy"). Note the principal of dual fulfillment ( In many cases the prophecy in its entirely has a short-term fulfillment (applying to, say, Israel), but also has within it a long-term Messianic prophecy which is very clearly distinct from the short-term prophecy.

    Isaiah 7:14: "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. 15 He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. 16 For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted."

    Isaiah 9:6: "For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
    and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."

    Isaiah 42:1: "Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
    my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
    I have put my Spirit upon him;
    he will bring forth justice to the nations.
    He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,
    or make it heard in the street;
    a bruised reed he will not break,
    and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
    he will faithfully bring forth justice."

    Isaiah 53:5: "But he was wounded for our transgressions;
    he was crushed for our iniquities;
    upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,
    and with his stripes we are healed."

    Micah 5:2: "But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
    from you shall come forth for me
    one who is to be ruler in Israel,
    whose origin is from of old,
    from ancient days."

  2. Reply Part 1
    Hello Mr. Wallflower!

    If you score on this, I'll be happy to pay out. Freely have I received, so freely shall I give. ;-)

    "In many cases the prophecy in its entirely has a short-term fulfillment (applying to, say, Israel), but also has within it a long-term Messianic prophecy which is very clearly distinct from the short-term prophecy."
    That, sir, is my primary point of contention. I have not found one single entire prophesy about Jesus and/or Christianity. Furthermore, when you read the entire prophesies, it appears to me that they often point to an entirely different kind of happily-ever-after, such that it is no surprise that the Jews did not put their faith in Jesus. I'm OK with dual fulfillment, provided the entire prophesy is dually fulfilled. On the other hand, when only one, or two, verses from a prophesy get applied, well, that seems rather suspect to me.

    Mostly you've chosen good prophesies here. I don't have much time, so let me know if something is unclear in my reply.

    Isaiah 7:14 - Prophesy: Isaiah 7:14-25*Contradiction: The whole thing. -> The set-up is odd, in that Ahaz answered Isaiah correctly (just like Jesus answered Satan - Matthew 4:7) that he would not test God, but this somehow tries God's patience (Isaiah 7:12-13)? Anyway, the child in this part of the prophesy serves as nothing more than a timer, and before the child is old enough to tell right from wrong, the two kings who the Israelites dread will be overturned. The prophesy does not hint about Jesus or Christianity.

    Isaiah 9:6 - Prophesy: Isaiah 8:11-22, Isaiah 9:1-7 Contradiction: It's a little complicated -> This is actually connected with the verse you noted above too in the storyline. From Isaiah 9:1's start, "Nevertheless," we know that it connects to the previous chapter. A connection is also made to Isaiah 8:1-10 through the mention of the children as signs in Isaiah 8:18. Isaiah 8:8 and Isaiah 8:10 both reference Immanuel. But besides that, Isaiah 9:6-7 refers to a boy being born and taking over the leadership of the nation, ruling with peace, etc., etc. It does not mention the boy-ruler being killed by his own people, disappearing for 2000 years while establishing an invisible kingdom, or, the central Jesus-tenant, forgiveness of sins. Isaiah 9:4 likens the coming time to "Midian's defeat," which should pale in comparison to what is promised through Jesus. Isaiah 9:5 brings us back to the real world as opposed to some idealized afterlife, where battle gear will be burned.

    Yet, if this prophesy actually becomes fulfilled, I'll be happy to pay up. Until then, we'll have to wait for the proof on who has the correct interpretation.

  3. Reply Part 2
    Isaiah 42:1-4 - Prophesy: Isaiah 42:1-4 or Isaiah 42:1-9 Contradiction: Isaiah 42:1, Isaiah 42:2, Isaiah 42:4 -> Jesus hasn't brought justice tot he nations. Remember Jesus clearing the temple? It sure seems like Jesus raised a big fuss there. Plus, Jesus has faltered in establishing justice on the earth. At least, I count 2000 years of waiting as faltering. Besides, Isaiah 42:8 says that God wouldn't share His praise with anyone, presumably even His son.

    Again, when this prophesy is actually fulfilled, I'll be happy to pay up. We have yet to see the proof.

    Isaiah 53:5 - Prophesy: Isaiah 53 Contradiction: Isaiah 53:3, Isaiah 53:5, Isaiah 53:7, "Suffering Servant" -> In the Gospels, Jesus was despised by the religious authority figures, but the common folk all loved Him and followed Him around in big crowds. Jesus' crucifixion hasn't brought peace (at least not yet). Depending on which Gospel you read, Jesus did open his mouth when accused. Furthermore, this is part of the "Suffering Servant" group of prophesies. Isaiah 49:3 makes the explicit identification of who this servant is; Israel. Continued reading of this prophesy group indicated that it was (naturally) a subset of the Israelites... those who were faithful despite all that was happening to them... the collateral damage of the faithful due to the sins of others.

    Micah 5:2 - Prophesy: Micah 5 Contradiction: Micah 5:1, Micah 5:5, Micah 5:6, Micah 5:10-14 -> There was no siege against Jesus as ruler. This ruler will defend against the Assyrian attack. This ruler will rule with a sword, as in, not peacefully. God will bring down many things "in that day" which do not really exist in our day with any significance.

  4. Risky contest considering that Jesus was aware of the OT and believed himself to be the messiah. Any prophecy filling Jesus did was likely self-fullfilled. I don't know enough to help judging, but if you need help, I recommend fellow bible blogger Hausdorff.

  5. Grundy's position (that Jesus knew the OT Messianic prophesies, and therefore would have attempted to fulfill all of them if he were trying to convince people that he was the Messiah) is a stronger one if your goal is to invalidate Christianity. I think, however, that you are simply trying to make the point that there is no singular prophecy that applies exclusively to the Messiah. That much is true, so "The Christian Prophecy Challenge" should be considered over, but I think we should take one of the prophesies above--or a different one, if you prefer--and examine it in detail, including the contradictions you've noted. So pick one and let's look at it in depth.

    The reason that so much is made of the Messianic prophesies is that they are so numerous, and many of them would have been incredibly difficult for an impostor to pretend to fulfill. Appearing to fulfill them *all*, it has been argued, would have been impossible. A good list can be found at the link below:

  6. From what I've seen, Grundy, most, if not all, of the prophesies already "fulfilled" by Jesus were cherry-picked. (The Isaiah 7:14 reference above being a classic example.) The other ones, ones promised but not yet fulfilled, I can't yet consider in this challenge because we haven't seen their end. (Hausdorff is ahead of me in the NT, but I think I may have the OT covered well.) But you know what? Not having all of the OT prophesy knowledge, you (and Hausdorff) may be great as an impartial judge. :-)

    Well Ollie, I'm not sure that I would agree with you. (Surprise!) There are Messianic prophesies in the OT, so I don't think that the statement that "no singular prophecy that applies exclusively to the Messiah" is accurate, unless you start with the assumption that Jesus was the Messiah.

    There are many troubles with lists like the one you provide a link to. For starters, they reference a lot of non-prophesies, like Psalms. And they are some of the chief offenders of the cherry-picking rules, like (selected at random) where it says that the Messiah would be a descendent of David and then references 2 Samuel 7:12-13 as the prophesy. It skips the next verse, 2 Samuel 7:14, which states that God would have men beat this prophesied "son" when he did wrong. Given that Jesus never sinned, that's not going to happen and is not even applicable.

    "but I think we should take one of the prophesies above--or a different one, if you prefer--and examine it in detail, including the contradictions you've noted. So pick one and let's look at it in depth."
    Sure, that sounds good. Pick whatever one you want, or choose a different one if that works better or has a stronger case. As noted above in the earlier replies, it will be difficult to prove or refute yet-unfulfilled prophesies, so I would recommend concentrating on a prophesy about Jesus' life, or even John the Baptist's life. In fact, John the Baptist may be easier to deal with, given that his job is completely done.

  7. What I meant was that the OT does not contain an entirely *discrete* prophecy that deals only with the Messiah. Even Isaiah 53 is sandwiched between other prophecies. Most of the Messianic prophecies are mixed in with other prophecies, narratives, songs, etc. 2 Samuel 7:12-14 is a case in point. Clearly Solomon is the subject of this prophecy, yet I would argue that the reference to an eternal kingdom in verse 13 must be pointing to the reign of someone immortal (a Messiah), for no human kingdom can last forever. This interpretation would be invalidated by a prophecy of an eternal kingdom coming from a lineage other than David's, and it would be validated by prophecies supporting this idea that the Messiah would be a descendant of David, which is why it's so important to look at all the prophecies taken together as a whole.

    The closest thing to a distinct Messianic prophecy would be Psalm 22 or Isaiah 53. I realize that last year you covered Isaiah 53, and I realize that you don't even consider it a Messianic prophecy, but it's probably the best choice in light of the stipulations you've set forth above, so let's go with that one.

  8. "...the OT does not contain an entirely *discrete* prophecy that deals only with the Messiah... ...the Messianic prophecies are mixed in with other prophecies, narratives, songs, etc."
    This is something which has always seemed exceedingly odd to me. Doesn't it seem strange to you? Maybe not because you are used to it, but it seems strange to me. One of the things I've often heard said about the Jewish rejection of Jesus was that they are expecting a different kind of Messiah. I'm pretty sure I know why that is, and nesting prophesies in other prophesies, narratives, and songs probably didn't help that.

    "Clearly Solomon is the subject of this prophecy, yet I would argue that the reference to an eternal kingdom... ...This interpretation would be invalidated by a prophecy of an eternal kingdom coming from a lineage other than David's..."
    This is a great point to examine. The figurative language really makes it messy, but there are traces of meaning which provide the correct interpretation (in my opinion). I think you've got to keep Jewish patriarchal society in mind to get the right contextual meaning.

    First, you remember how God promised to make Abraham's offspring as numerous as the stars (Genesis 15:5). But Abraham didn't have that many children, did he? Though he was given credit as the "father of many nations," he didn't father many nations at all. Instead, it was his grandsons, great grandsons, great-great grandsons, etc. which did the nation-building. Yet the Biblical perspective is that Abraham was the father of those nations. He got the "credit," if you will.

    So when we get to 2 Samuel 7, we've got some perspective of that eternal lineage credit system. That's why 2 Samuel 7:12-13 states that God would establish (implicitly) Solomon's kingdom forever, only to double-back to it being David's kingdom forever as well in 2 Samuel 7:14. I believe what these verses tell us is nothing more than lineage. David's lineage would rule forever... Solomon's lineage (a subset of David's lineage) would rule forever... David "passed the test," so to speak, ensuring rulers from his lineage. Which subset of David's lineage it belonged to was conditional, as Solomon indicated in 2 Chronicles 6:16.

    So when we see verse about someone ruling for an eternity, it probably doesn't mean that they will actually rule for eternity. Rather, their lineage will do so. Interestingly, this concept is remarkably consistent with other prophesies, where, after the big Judgement Day, life will go on much like it was back then, only better, as you see in Ezekiel 40+, which still carried on regulations about marriage and dead bodies (Ezekiel 44:22-27), Joel 3:20 which speaks of generations, and Zechariah 8:4-5 which speaks of people growing old and young children running around, all in God's eternal kingdom of Israel.

  9. Hi, long time.

    So what do you make of Luke 4:21. "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing." (referring to the previous bit of Luke you listed)? You can argue Jesus was "cherry picking" or fulfilling the specific prophesies He could. Of course that kind of presumes He was not the Messiah.

    The interesting question is why did so many Jews come around to believing He was the Messiah after the Resurrection? That's a different challenge though isn't it :-)


  10. Hi David! How are you doing? I had checked your blog about three weeks ago, but I got distracted shortly after starting to read about your preacher exchange. It had been a long time since I last checked, as I completely missed your link to the "Atheist Reply" in the previous post. Thanks! And that love-feedback loop... I would have appreciated that too, but I'm sure that appeals to a smaller audience. ;-) It's been a while since you posted, huh? Just last week I ran across a comment where I had told you I would answer some of the questions you posed when I got time, but I haven't yet. (This has been one crazy summer for me, and memory doesn't always coincide with free time.) I do have a post in progress, but it's been in draft for a while.

    Anyway, enough rambling for now. :-)

    So about Luke 4:18-21... that covers the prophesy Isaiah 61. Unfortunately, most of prophesy is still yet to take place, so that makes it difficult to say that it is accurate or not with 100% certainty. However, such highlights as ancient ruined cities being rebuilt (Isaiah 61:4), Gentiles doing manual labor for the Jews (Isaiah 61:5), Israel feeding off of the wealth of other nations and boasting in those riches (Isaiah 61:6), and subsequent generations of Jews being acknowledged by Gentile nations as being a people blessed by God due to God rewarding them (Isaiah 61:9) suggests that this prophesy is at least out of harmony with the modern Christian concept of the afterlife. In fact, that last verse in particular suggests non-eternal life. Yet, given that Scripture cannot be broken, it will come to pass, right?

    Speaking of which, David, I should warn you that part of my confidence in disbelief of the Bible is rooted in prophesy. You've got a kind and generous heart, so I don't really want to dissuade you from the path you walk. But if you want to take a little bit of a deeper look at prophesy issues, I like to point people in the direction of Ezekiel 40+ for starters.

    "The interesting question is why did so many Jews come around to believing He was the Messiah after the Resurrection?"
    I assume you are referring to the accounts in Acts, written by the same author as the Gospel of Luke, right? Well, as it turns out, I think that "Luke" has a few credibility issues. ;-) I could bore you with some details sometime...

    I would answer your question with counter question: Why did so many people start following Joseph Smith, Mohammed, L. Ron Hubbord, etc.? Or perhaps more Biblically relevant, though older, I would ask why was idolatry such a rampant problem? Humans have a tendency to put their faith in things which just aren't true, for one reason or another. I include myself in that mix too. Although, I try to only put my untrue faith in positive things, like believing that my wife is always thinking about what a swell husband I am. ;-)

  11. Your response to David raises some very interesting issues, but I'm going to force myself to stick to the issues we were discussing above. Mostly because I have to leave for work in 15 minutes. ;-)

    To answer your question, I don't think it's strange, but it definitely makes the job of an apologist more difficult. I mean, if God (through his prophets) had delivered a long, discrete prophecy of the Messiah that included every last detail of his life in very plain, literal, technical language, it would be much easier to debate this issue. But I also have no doubt that people like you would still find a way to dispute its validity. ;-) I know people who deny that we put men on the moon, who claim that the Holocaust really wasn't bad at all, and who think that the events of 9/11 were all orchestrated by the U.S. Government. And they have loads of "evidence" to prove it. Obviously you're nothing like *those* people (thankfully!); my point is just that when somebody wants to believe, or deny, something, he'll find a way to justify it and support his position with well-constructed arguments. And I'm sure that in your view, that's a description of *me*. ;-)

    Was Abraham's offspring as numerous as the stars? Well, if God was referring to the stars visible to the naked eye on a moonless night in that part of the world at that time, then we're talking about fewer than 10,000 stars. If he was referring to all the stars in the universe, then obviously the answer is no from a literal standpoint. Did the lineage of David rule on the throne forever in a physical sense? Definitely not, and it's clear to me that a physical reign was not in view here, because other prophecies predict exactly the opposite (e.g., that Israel would fall from power).

    It's already been 15 minutes. Before I go, tell me, what's the best way to discuss Isaiah 53? Should I go to your blog post from last year that deals with it? Should you make a new blog post? Should we discuss it right here?

  12. Hmmm, so you say "Unfortunately, most of prophesy is still yet to take place..." which implies acceptance of His claim to fulfill that fragment of Isiah. Which of course opens the door to the fragments previously listed.

    In keeping with Ollie's comment I believe there is a profound impact our approach to Scripture (prophetic or otherwise) has on our understanding. Comprehending and understanding are two words reflective of that attitude. Will you grasp God or submit? You cannot grasp Him you can only submit. If, as I believe, He is, then He surpasses your grasp. If I am wrong there is nothing to grasp. If, as I believe, He is, then Isaiah 45:23 will be fulfilled and you will submit. If I am wrong you will still submit to eternity, the nothingness we ascribe to God. So I suppose that prophesy too will be fulfilled.

    On a lighter note :-) I have been meaning to post but too lazy to work the ideas into words. I'll get there.

    P.S. Thanks for the kind words.


  13. Thanks for the quick reply before work, Mr. Wallflower.

    "I mean, if God (through his prophets) had delivered a long, discrete prophecy of the Messiah that included every last detail of his life in very plain, literal, technical language, it would be much easier to debate this issue."
    That would be great, but that's not what I would be expecting. Instead, I would expect many prophesies, much of them overlapping, some of them having unique details, all pointing to Jesus, in an array similar to what you find for the prophesied exile of the Israelites. Obviously, that collection doesn't exist.

    "And I'm sure that in your view, that's a description of *me*."
    Not exactly. I'd put conspiracy theories and religion in different categories. For many people, their faith in their religion involves at least one personal life experience event that they feel can only be explained within the bounds of their religion. If memory serves me correctly, that would describe you as well. I can't refute your experiences. The Bible... now that's a different story. :-)

    Regarding Abraham's offspring, you missed my point a little, probably just because you were rushed. I was not citing the contradiction of star count, but rather noting how everything gets assigned to the patriarch. Abraham didn't father many children personally, but even the Jew's in Jesus' time considered Abraham their "father" (Matthew 3:9). He got the credit. Just like how the throne of Israel is referred to as David's throne despite David being long since gone, and how Jesus was called the "son of David" (Matthew 9:27).

    "Did the lineage of David rule on the throne forever in a physical sense?"
    I'm surprised that you've missed this meaning here. Perhaps it's due to your time constraints again. The throne of Israel (or, actually Judah, but you know what I mean) belongs to David's lineage for all eternity based on God's promise, just like the physical land of Israel belongs to the Jews for eternity based on God's promise. However, David's lineage could only use the throne while they obeyed God (2 Chronicles 6:16), just like the Jews could only use the land of Israel as long as they obeyed God (Deuteronomy 28-30).

    You know, it's like Parenting 101. You may take away a toy from a child when they misbehave, but the toy still belongs to them. ;-)

    As for Isaiah 53, I guess that depends on how much detail you would like to go into. I've already briefly rebutted your claim here in the comments with a few noted contradictions and a perspective of the Suffering Servant. And, as you note, I made a post on that on the other blog. These were just some of the highlights. If you'd like me to dish out a comprehensive position on the prophesy, perhaps a separate post would be in order. That may be the best option, as opposed to stringing along an ever-expanding debate in the comments. Such a post will take a little time to construct, mainly to collect the appropriate cross-references, so give me a week or two.

  14. David, you said that my statement "...implies acceptance of His claim to fulfill that fragment of Isiah." Actually, my point was that we need to look at the prophesies objectively when considering their veracity. If there is a section of a prophesy which is about the future, then it can't be objectively proven in and of itself.

    However, when a future prophesy directly conflicts with another one, then there are logical issues which discredit at least one of the prophesies. Ezekiel 40+ speaks of the future Temple of God, where animal sacrifices will continue. Compare this with Hebrews 10, which claims that Jesus' sacrifice ended all of that. How do you resolve that?

    This is not a matter of submission, at least not for me. If it was, I would be a Christian. I don't have a problem with the concept of a supreme deity, I'm not rejecting Christianity simply as an excuse retreat guilt-free to my own sinful ways, and I am a happy follower by nature.

    This is a matter of comprehension and understanding. It turns out that when you start mapping out all of the OT prophesies for yourself, a picture does materialize, and understanding flows naturally. The Ezekiel reference noted above is just one of many, many references to a prophetic future which looks nothing like what Christianity has in mind. I just like that particular prophesy the best because it is so thorough, if even monotonous, in its detail of what is to come. Or, rather, based on anachronistic elements, I should instead say "what was to come."

    As for submitting to the nothingness... well, it didn't really seem to bother me that the universe was around before I was born and cognizant of it. So I imagine I'll have a similar disposition when I die. Until then, I'll just cherish the time I have to spend with my loved ones.

    By the way, in my next post this Friday on my other blog, I'll be indirectly touching on the "why" line of questioning you mentioned in your previous post as part of a refutation of a another NT prophesy.

  15. I realized that I had missed your point, but was too late for work to do anything about it. )-: It's never a good idea to rush things. Unless you're in the path of an oncoming train.

    You are, of course, exactly right about the patriarch's name being associated with his descendants, and the king's name being associated with future rulers.

    I recognize and agree that "David's lineage could only use the throne while they obeyed God," but I have a different view regarding your statement that "the throne of Israel belongs to David's lineage for all eternity." In a physical sense, that's not true--indeed, no earthly throne *could* last for eternity--but in a spiritual sense, it is, because Jesus was to be a direct descendant of David.

    Okay, I'll wait until you create a new post for Isaiah 53. In the meantime, I'll address the issues you've raised regarding the other four prophecies, starting with the first one. Here's what you wrote:

    "Isaiah 7:14 - Prophesy: Isaiah 7:14-25*Contradiction: The whole thing. -> The set-up is odd, in that Ahaz answered Isaiah correctly (just like Jesus answered Satan - Matthew 4:7) that he would not test God, but this somehow tries God's patience (Isaiah 7:12-13)? Anyway, the child in this part of the prophesy serves as nothing more than a timer, and before the child is old enough to tell right from wrong, the two kings who the Israelites dread will be overturned. The prophesy does not hint about Jesus or Christianity."

    The reason God is upset with Ahaz is that God *told* him to ask for a sign, and Ahaz refused and then made it appear as if his reason for refusing to do so was his piety ("I will not put the Lord to the test")--as if doing what God explicitly asked him to do would be putting him to the test.

    Your objections to this prophecy are as follows: 1) That the child in this prophecy serves only as a timer, and 2) That the prophecy does not even hint about Jesus or Christianity. I presume that you're implying that the child referred to here is *not* the Messiah. That being the case, who, then, could this prophetic child be, who is born of a virgin and called Immanuel? And what are your reasons for claiming that the child spoken of is someone other than the Messiah?

  16. Mr. Wallflower, I was somewhat surprised by your statement that "[i]n a physical sense, that's not true--indeed, no earthly throne *could* last for eternity--but in a spiritual sense, it is, because Jesus was to be a direct descendant of David." My memory is a little fuzzy on your vision of eschatology, and I get the sense that there are some correlated implications in what you are saying that I do not fully understand, because from what I have seen in Scripture I would argue the opposite. (Of course, from a purely secular perspective, that is absolutely correct.) I'd love to get a clarification on that. Feel free to email me about it or add it to the next comment.

    "The reason God is upset with Ahaz is that God *told* him to ask for a sign..."
    Indeed, God (through Isaiah) did tell him to ask for a sign. If a cop told you to rob a bank, would you do it? Furthermore, if you refused, would the cop be justified in his anger at you? It is a different case, I know, but humans have a problem with this kind of moral conundrum when an authority figure tells them to break the law. I mean, I don't know about you, but it still feels a little strange to me when a traffic cop waves me on through a red light, unless it's in a massive exodus from a stadium event or similar situation. So I can understand Ahaz's pious hesitation much easier than I can understand Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac in a burnt offering at God's request, but that's another story...

    "That being the case, who, then, could this prophetic child be, who is born of a virgin and called Immanuel? And what are your reasons for claiming that the child spoken of is someone other than the Messiah?"
    Well, given that this child was to be a sign for the aforementioned Ahaz, I suspect that it was some child born back then. That would certainly be the logical expectation, right?

    Exactly who this child is/was is a little bit of a mystery, but he is bound in by time, because the prophesy associates his time with that of the king of Assyria (Isaiah 7:17).

    From Isaiah 8, there are several strong parallels suggesting that possibly this Immanuel had another name: Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz (Isaiah 8:3). Two rulers oppressing the Israelites would meet their end while the child was very young (Isaiah 7:16, Isaiah 8:4). Then God would bring the king of Assyria to attack the Israelites (Isaiah 7:17, Isaiah 8:6). The phrase Immanuel (God with us) is used twice there (Isaiah 8:8, Isaiah 8:10).

    However, Isaiah 8:18 says:

    "Here am I (Isaiah), and the children the LORD has given me. We are signs and symbols in Israel from the LORD Almighty, who dwells on Mount Zion." NIV

    So Isaiah mentions multiple children as signs, meaning that there could be both an Immanuel and a Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz. While one English interpretation appears to carry an implied connotation that the referenced children are fathered by Isaiah, I am sure that if you review the Hebrew text, you will find that is not the case. The statement is just a confirmation that the children are signs given by God.

  17. To clarify: No matter which view one takes regarding Rev. 20 and the so-called "Millennial Kingdom" and the "new Heaven and Earth," the Earth and the heavens as they now exist will be completely destroyed (2 Pet. 3:10, 12). Presumably this includes any physical thrones.

    I definitely understand your sentiment regarding Ahaz. Reading the story in English and from my cultural perspective, I, too, kinda get the feeling that Ahaz was trying to do the right thing by refusing to ask for a sign. But Ahaz was *not* a good man, and God knew his heart and called him on his false piety. I also think that God's intention in asking Ahaz to ask for a sign wasn't "Go ahead, do it, I dare you." I think God was being sincere and direct in asking him to ask for a sign, and I think Ahaz knew that. In any case, trying to read between the lines here, as we are attempting to do, is a very inexact science--especially when you're reading the text over 2,000 years after it was written, and in a different language.

    I'm of the opinion that that there is only one child in view here--Immanuel, the Messiah. The prophecy is addressed to Ahaz directly, but also to the House of David in general (v. 13); presumably because it concerns the coming Messiah. I take verse 16 to mean that the united land of Syria/Ephraim will be destroyed before this child is born (some 700 years later). This likely gave Ahaz some comfort. But verse 17 would have been both troubling and surprising to him. I don't think verse 17 has anything to do with the child spoken of in verse 16.

  18. Hi Mr. Wallflower,

    RE: The end of the world - Thanks for clarifying. Ah, yes, I was stuck on my Jewish prophesies, where God promised the physical land of Israel to the Jews for eternity. The "new heavens and a new earth" idea originates from Isaiah 65-66. I'd temporarily forgotten about the Christian versions. I would argue that the context in the original prophesies makes it obvious that the "new" ideas are metaphorical, but that's something to be argued at another time.

    RE: Ahaz - I had to go back and do a little more checking on Ahaz. For any poor soul following this comment string, you can refer to 2 Kings 16-17 and 2 Chronicles 28 for the more of the story of Ahaz. You're right, he was hardly an ideal Jew when it came to God-worshiping, so his piety was certainly questionable. However, I suspect that Isaiah's position as a prophet of God was, at the very least, intimidating to Ahaz, especially given that his father, Jotham, was devoted to God.

    "I'm of the opinion that that there is only one child in view here..." Does that include the references I mention in Isaiah 8, or are you trying to say that Isaiah 8 is not applicable despite the strong parallels?

    "I take verse 16 to mean that the united land of Syria/Ephraim will be destroyed before this child is born"
    That's an odd interpretation to me. Verse 16 says "...before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right..." My guess is that you subscribe to the idea that Jesus existed before He was physically born, being part God. And certainly Jesus/God knows to choose right, right? It seems that for this to be possible Jesus would have to be physically born already, in that diminutive human state. Furthermore, during Ahaz's reign, both the king of Damascus and the king of Israel were conquered, exactly like Isaiah 7:16 and Isaiah 8:4 said would happen.

    Consider it this way: If I said to you "Before a child is born miraculously, we will go to war with Iran." What value would that be to me, or anyone? Such a claim has an apparently infinite timeline to be completed. Even if a war comes and goes with Iran, but no child is born miraculously, the prophesy becomes pointless. Or, more specifically, the reference to the miraculous child is pointless.

    But, if I say "A child will be born miraculously, and before he eats his first bowl of Cheerios with milk, we will go to war with Iran." And then a miraculous child is born. And then we go to war with Iran. And the next day the child eats a bowl of Cheerios with milk, suddenly I would have an awesome respect for God's omniscience.

  19. By the way, Mr. Wallflower, I will post a study exclusively regarding Isaiah 53 and its relation to Christianity on the other blog on Friday, October 19, 2012.

  20. I consider the child born to the prophetess and called Maher-shalal-hashbaz (8:3) to be a different child than the child born of a virgin and named Immanuel (7:14).

    Yes, of course I believe that Jesus existed before he was physically born here on Earth, but he was not a boy in that spiritual state. Verse 16 is saying, in rather poetic language, that before the Messiah, Immanuel (God with us), would be born, the two kings so feared by Ahaz would no longer be an issue, and the land they reigned over would be deserted. This not only predicted the downfall of Ahaz's enemies (an important prediction to Ahaz that was ultimately unimportant to everyone else), but also predicted the Messiah (an unimportant prediction to Ahaz that was very important to everyone else). In other words, God was using this opportunity to prophesy something of long-term value along with something that was of immediate interest. He did this kind of thing many times.

    To modify your modern-day analogy a little, it would be more like saying, "A great event will someday occur in the United States, but before it does, the land whose leaders you dread--North Korea and Iran--will be made desolate." The "great event" might not spark much interest due to its vagueness, but the prediction that our most-feared adversaries would *not* destroy us with nuclear weapons would be of great value (and comfort).

    October 19, huh? I guess I should make plans now to lock myself in the computer room that weekend. Or I could do what normal people do, and pace myself. How about we take it one verse at a time? ;-)

  21. Mr. Wallflower, I'm not sure why this doesn't seem the least bit odd to you. Do you feel the same way about me, only in reverse? :-)

    Maybe I could rephrase it another way:

    Let's say you ask someone for directions, and they reply "We are two weeks away from a full moon. Turn left on Abrams St. Drive three blocks and then turn right on Main." You would be wondering why the guy had bothered to tell you something about the moon, which is completely irrelevant to your situation, right?

    "[God] did this kind of thing many times."
    To some extent you could say this and be accurate, but never (to my knowledge)in conjunction with signs given to specific people, and probably far less often than any non-Christian would think.

    I've got one more plea to you to hopefully get you to reconsider your position on this, and it comes from the context within the prophesy itself.

    You said that "Verse 16 is saying, in rather poetic language, that before the Messiah, Immanuel (God with us), would be born,...." To be sure, poetic language is often employed in Biblical prophesies, and sometimes it is difficult to tell what is poetic and what is literal. However, in this case, there are clues which indicate a literal interpretation.

    v 14
    "Therefore the Lord himself will give you (Ahaz) a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." NIV

    So the sign is given to Ahaz, and the sign is this child being born. Obviously, Ahaz never got to see Jesus.

    v 15
    "{This child] will eat curds and honey when he knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right." NIV

    This verse only exists as a timing reference. There is no other point to it. When the child understands morality, he'll eat curds and honey. This is a necessary indicator because it is not inherently obvious when a child fully understands morality. In contrast, it was never recorded that Jesus ate curds and honey, but rather ate and drank like everyone else (Matthew 11:19, Luke 7:34).

    So, what is that timing reference for?

    v 16
    "But before the boy knows enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, the land of the two kings you dread will be laid waste." NIV

    This verse is obviously tied to the preceding one. So before this boy chooses to eat curds and honey, these two kings will be laid waste.

    So this appears to me to be all literal.

    And finally, if you take this to be Jesus, then you have the theological problem of trying to figure out how Jesus could not know enough to "...reject the wrong and choose the right."

    Feel free to provide a final rebuttal. I will likely not counter, as I feel I've made all the necessary points in my text. Further debate would better be done in person.

    As of Isaiah 53, well, it should come as no surprise to you, but I think context is very important. Plus, Isaiah 53 is far, far closer to being a prophesy about Jesus than most other prophesies. So I think the most prudent way is to lay out my argument completely, context and all. If you'd like to debate verse-by-verse thereafter, that's fine with me. ;-)

  22. Why, yes, Mr. Fool, you do seem odd to me. J/K ;-)

    You make a good point: God said he would give Ahaz a sign, and the first part of this sign involves a child who is never even seen by Ahaz. My best response to this criticism is that this was only part of the sign, and a part that wasn't intended for his benefit. The part of the sign that Ahaz cared about was the part about being delivered from his immediate enemies (the two kings).

    As for your analogy of giving directions to someone and preceding it with superfluous and irrelevant information, that would be absurd if the audience was just a guy looking for directions. But if the audience were bigger--say, millions of people throughout history....

    Regarding curds and honey, these were staple foods of the ancient Near East, used for millenia to feed young children. Jesus, like everyone else, would have eaten these foods at a young age. The point of verse 15 is not to say something unusual about the child's diet. It appears to say something about timing, as you say, but *what* timing is hard to determine. Verse 15 says nothing in relation to the timing of events outside of the child's life. It appears to say that Immanuel would be like any other young child, not able to choose right from wrong in the early stages of life. Verse 16 seems to be saying, "And, by the way, Ahaz, before this child is grown up, the land whose kings you are so afraid of will be desolate."

    How could Jesus not know enough to reject the wrong and choose the right, as you say? Well, Jesus took on the frailties and limitations of a human. As a baby, he was not a model of virtue and morality. If a poor widow dropped her only copper coin on the floor near the baby Jesus, he would have taken it (to eat or play with), despite the fact that this could have caused great hardship for the woman. I'm making this up, of course, but I think it's safe to assume that Jesus as a baby and toddler was just like everyone else at that age--reckless, careless, and clueless. It wasn't until later in life--when his mother had stopped feeding him curds and honey--that he would be able to make decisions about morality.

    You've said that you will likely not counter my response, and that's fine with me (this thread has gotten incredibly long, I know!), but I think it might be a good practice for us to summarize our thoughts and arguments when it appears that we've reached the end of our debate. So here are my reasons for thinking that this prophecy refers to the Messiah:

    1) The prophecy is addressed to not only Ahaz, but also to "the house of David."

    2) A virgin will be with child--a strange thing to say when you consider that the word used for virgin ("almah") is used to mean "an unmarried woman" in nearly every other instance of its use in the OT (Exodus 2:8; Ps. 68:25; Prov. 30:19; Song of Solomon 1:3; 6:8).

    3) "Immanuel" means "God with us." No one in history other than Jesus, to my knowledge, was given the name Immanuel. It's hard to imagine that any other child but Jesus *would* be given a name that means, essentially, "God is now with us."

    4) Matthew understood this prophecy to refer to Jesus. Matthew 1:22-23 says, "And all this hath come to pass, that it may be fulfilled that was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, `Lo, the virgin shall conceive, and she shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel,' which is, being interpreted `With us he is God.'"

    Those are the primary reasons that I believe this prophecy to be predictive of the Messiah. As the owner of this blog, I'll let *you* have the last word. ;-)

  23. Hi Mr. Wallflower. Thanks for the summary. That's a great idea. Also, you raised some points that were not mentioned before, or that I had not address, so I will briefly counter them as necessary in the summary. Here is my summary of why Isaiah 7 prophesy should not be considered to be about Jesus:

    1) God is giving Ahaz the sign, so reasonably we should expect that the miraculous child was born in his time. Assyria is mentioned in the prophesy too, providing a time reference for its fulfillment.

    2) I believe that the "House of David" reference is quasi-metaphorical. By that I mean that the word choice was specifically chosen to be a rebuke to Ahaz. Ahaz had not followed the ways of his father, who worshiped God, and Ahaz was not behaving in line with the patriarch of his lineage of David, who was a man after God's own heart. Ahaz was the present patriarch within the House of David, and thus such a reference of him as the House of David would be accurate. So this was meant as a reminder of how far he had deviated from God, not as a message for future generations for the House of David.

    3) If taken to be a partial Messianic prophesy about a child, there is little information about this child to be significant. There is only his name and vague identity of a type of mother. There is no mention at all about the significance of the child, its lineage, or its association to Salvation. In other words, there is nothing about what the child will do to suggest that it is a Messiah figure.

    4) In the Gospel record, Jesus was never once called "Immanuel" in his life. At least, in his per-crucifixion life. ;-)

    5) Strong parallels in Isaiah 8 suggest that the child was born in Ahaz's time. The phrase Immanuel (God with us) is used twice there (Isaiah 8:8, Isaiah 8:10). Isaiah 8:18 refers to child-signs being present with him.

    6) As for the significance of "Immanuel"'s meaning, while I can't speak for if anyone else was named Immanuel (besides the implication in Isaiah 8), God-centric names were common. "God with us" or "God is with us now" could easily be a generalized expression simply referring to having God's support, which is how it is used in Isaiah 8. In fact, a far better Messianic reference and name is in Jeremiah 23:5-6. Besides that, any of the following names could have been good for the Messiah:

    Jemuel "Day of God"
    Jahzeel "Allotted by God"
    Eleazar "God has helped"
    Eliab "My God is father"
    Othniel "Lion of God"
    Samuel "Name of God; God has heard"
    Zedekiah "Righteous of the LORD"
    Josiah "Supported of the LORD."
    Jonathan "Whom the LORD gave"
    Jehu "The LORD is he"
    Joab "The LORD is father"
    Elijah "One whose God is the LORD"
    Elisha "My God is salvation"
    Eliakim "He whom the LORD will raise up"
    Jehoiakim "He whom the LORD has set up"
    Elishaphat "My God is judge"
    Uriel "My light is God"
    Isaiah "Salvation of the LORD is salvation"
    Immanuel "God with us"
    Jeremiah "Appointed of the LORD"
    Obadiah "Servant of the LORD"
    Ariel "Lion of God"
    Gabriel "My strength is God"
    Uriah "Light of the LORD"
    Ezekiel "God will strengthen"
    Daniel "My judge is God"
    Malachi "My messenger"
    Zechariah "Renowned of the LORD"

    7) Context ties in verses 14-16 which uses the child as a timing indicator, and that indicator implies that the child is alive to observe for these indications.

    I guess given that we did churn over some new ground here, feel free to give a final rebuttal if you'd like.

  24. Also, by the way Mr. Wallflower, the whole curds and honey thing could also tie into the verse later in that prophesy, Isaiah 7:22, where it speaks of all who are still in the eating curds and honey, which is also tied to the Assyrian invasion.