Thursday, June 11, 2009

Prophecies of Jesus as Messiah? (Part One)

Demian Farnworth at Fallen and Flawed recently composed a post entitled Who Do These 24 Statements Describe?

His list includes 24 prophecies he believes indicate Jesus as the Messiah.

I wanted to respond point by point to each verse in the comments section of Demian's blog, but after only making my way through two of the 24 verses, I realized that Demian would probably kill me for taking up so much room on a blog comment.

This response will span four parts - during each entry, I will comment on six of the proposed prophecies mentioned in Demian's post. This is part one of four.

Here we go:

1. Psalms 69:2 - "Those who hate me with out cause are more than the hairs of my head."

My NIV Bible indicates that this is a psalm of David. I am skeptical of this passage because in verse 5, the writer declares that "You know my folly, O God; my guilt is not hidden from you." So if Christians want to suggest that the figure who is hated without reason and who has enemies without cause is Jesus, then should they also suggest that Jesus is guilty and has committed folly? For those reasons, it does not seem likely that Psalms 69:2 is a prophecy of Jesus.

2. Psalms 2:2 - "The things of the earth take their stand and the rulers take counsel together against the LORD and against His Anointed."

At first, there were elements about this chapter that made me feel that it could be a convincing messianic prophecy, but after performing some comparative analysis on differing versions of the text, I have concluded that this is at best an ambiguous and unclear passage, and not a strong prophecy of Jesus - in fact, it may not even refer to a messianic figure.

Here's the text of Psalms 2 as found in my NIV:

"Why do the nations conspire (footnote: Hebrew; Septuagint rage) and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One (footnote: Or anointed one).
"Let us break their chains," they say, "and throw off their fetters."
The One enthroned in heaven laughs; the Lord scoffs at them.
Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying,
"I have installed my King (footnote: Or king) on Zion, my holy hill."
I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, "You are my Son (footnote: Or son; also in verse 12); today I have become your Father (footnote: Or have begotten you.
Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.
You will rule them with an iron scepter (footnote: Or will break them with a rod of iron); you will dash them to pieces like pottery."
Therefore, you kings, be wise; be warned, you rulers of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling.
Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

For comparison purposes, here is the text of Psalms 22 from a Hebrew-English Bible based on the Masoretic Text which I found at

Why are the nations in an uproar? And why do the peoples mutter in vain?
The kings of the earth stand up, and the rulers take counsel together, {N}
against the LORD, and against His anointed:
'Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.'
He that sitteth in heaven laugheth, the Lord hath them in derision.
Then will He speak unto them in His wrath, and affright them in His sore displeasure:
'Truly it is I that have established My king upon Zion, My holy mountain.'
I will tell of the decree: the LORD said unto me: 'Thou art My son, this day have I begotten thee.
Ask of Me, and I will give the nations for thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth for thy possession.
Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel.'
Now therefore, O ye kings, be wise; be admonished, ye judges of the earth.
Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.
Do homage in purity, lest He be angry, and ye perish in the way, when suddenly His wrath is kindled. {N}
Happy are all they that take refuge in Him. {P}

In the NIV version, there are several things which give the verse the appearance of referring to a Messiah:

1. The use of the phrase 'Anointed One' as distinct from the LORD.
2. The capitalization of words such as 'Son', 'King', and 'Father'.
3. The use of the phrase 'Kiss the Son' and the reference to taking refuge - this does sound like something that could be a plausible reference to Jesus.

However, in the comparison version of Psalms 22,

1. 'anointed' is used instead of 'Anointed One'.
2. 'king' and 'son' are not capitalized; I have begotten thee is used instead of 'Father'
3. The term 'Do homage in purity' is used instead of the phrase 'Kiss the Son', and the text generally does not seem to refer to taking refuge in a Son, but rather to taking refuge in the LORD generally.

It seems more plausible that 'son' in this chapter refers to King David, or to Israel itself, rather than to Jesus. Especially since verse 6 mentions that the king will be installed on Zion, and Jesus specifically claims that his kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36), it seems most likely that Psalms 2 is not a prophecy of Jesus - though I would certainly like to question whoever oversaw the compilation of the NIV text on their interpretation and rendering of Psalms 2.

3. Psalms 41:9 - "Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me."

My NIV Bible denotes this chapter as a Psalm of David.

Verse 4 of Psalm 4 indicates that the psalmist has "sinned against" God. Once again I ask, do Christians want to associate Jesus with the figure of a Psalm who has openly admitted his sinful behavior? This is in direct contradiction to Christianity's claim that Jesus is without sin. For those reasons, it seems most likely that Psalms 41:9 is not a prophecy of Jesus.

4. Zechariah 13:7 - "Strike the shepherd and the sheep may be scattered."

What exactly is this supposed to be a prophecy of?

In this verse, God says "I will turn my hand against the little ones." What does that have to do with Jesus? Yes, knowing my Bible, I can guess that you're going to say that it's a reference to the apostles fleeing after the crucifixion of Jesus - but to me, that's a definite stretch in this context, because in this verse, it is God himself who is doing the striking and the scattering, and turning his hand against the little ones. This doesn't seem to have much to do with Jesus, and the context of this verse does not fit coherently with the Jesus narrative at all. For these reasons, it seems probable that this verse is not a prophecy of Jesus.

5. Zechariah 11:12-13 - "I said to them, "If it is good in your sight, give me my wages; but if not, never mind!" So they weighted out thirty shekels of silver as my wages. Then the LORD said to me, "Throw it to the potter, that magnificent price at which I was valued by them." So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the LORD."

The author of Matthew 27:9-10 references this verse, but attributes it to Jeremiah instead of Zechariah. Oops?

Also, this passage is ambiguous at best. God is depicted here as telling Zechariah to throw the money at a potter; Judas is depicted as giving the money to Caiaphas, who is said to have bought a potters' field. Besides that, this passage says nothing about a messiah. It appears that the author of Matthew tried to make it appear that Jesus fulfilled prophecy, but ended up not only citing the wrong prophet, but mangling the prophecy in the process. For those reasons, it seems doubtful that this passage is a genuine prophecy of Jesus.

6. Micah 5:1 - "With a rod they will smite the judge of Israel on the cheek."

My version of Micah 5:1 reads "Marshal your troops, O city of troops (footnote: Or Strengthen your walls, O walled city, for a siege is laid out against us. They will strike Israel's ruler on the cheek with a rod."

What do "a siege is laid out against us" or marshaling troops have to do with Jesus? It seems more likely that this verse refers to an earthly ruler of Israel. Micah 5:4 claims that in the days of the promised ruler Israel "will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth." Yet as I noted earlier, Jesus is on the record as saying that his kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36), so it seems unlikely that he would marshal troops or prepare for a siege, or restore the kingdom of Israel, as the figure identified in Micah 5:2 is described as doing. For these reasons, again, it seems unlikely that this passage is a genuine prophecy of Jesus. This may be another attempt by the Gospels writers to make it appear that Jesus fulfills prophecy, but is clear that Jesus does not match the figure of the powerful earthly ruler described in Micah 5.


Messianic said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Teleprompter said...

I will delete all drive-by advertisements on the spot.

I do not delete comments - I do delete ads. They will not be tolerated.

Robert Madewell said...

Great work! You put much more work into it that I was willing to do.

Teleprompter said...

Thanks, Robert.

I discovered that I had the time, and I wanted to invest the effort.

For me, the essence of religious discussion is that some people make claims, and for me, it is annoying when unsupported claims are embraced without further consideration.