Thursday, June 11, 2009

Prophecies of Jesus as Messiah? (Part Two)

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

His list includes 24 prophecies he believes indicates 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 two of four.

Here we go again:

7. Isaiah 50:6 - "I gave My back to those who strike me, and My cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not cover My face from humiliation and spitting."

The version of Isaiah 50:6 from my NIV reads "I offered my back to those who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide my face from mocking and spitting."

It seems apparent to me that the figure identified in Isaiah 50 is the author of Isaiah himself, not Jesus. Isaiah 50:4 states that "The Sovereign LORD has given me an instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary."

Furthermore, Isaiah 50:7-9 affirms:

"Because the Sovereign LORD helps me, I will not be disgraced. Therefore, I have set my face like flint, and I know that I will not be put to shame.
He who vindicates me is near. Who then will bring charges against me? Let us face each other! Who is my accuser? Let him confront me!
It is the Sovereign LORD who helps me. Who is he that will condemn me? They will all wear out like a garment; the moths will eat them up."

Is it true that the Gospels portray Jesus as not being disgraced, as not being put to shame, as not being charged or accused? These things may very well be true of Isaiah, but if the Jesus narrative is to remain coherent, these things can absolutely not be true of Jesus.

Because the context of Isaiah 50 implies that the statement is made by Isaiah, and because the statements themselves seem to fit Isaiah well, and not do seem to correspond with the accounts of Jesus from the Gospels, it seems more likely than not that Isaiah 50 is not a genuine prophecy of Jesus.

8. Psalms 22:16 - "They pierced my hands and my feet."

My NIV Bible notes that this chapter is a Psalm of David.

As you may have discerned by now, I have a high level of skepticism for claims of prophecy which originate from David's exclamations, because it seems apparent to me that it is futile for Biblical interpreters to associate a sinful figure such as David with the supposedly sinless Jesus (especially with regards to verses like Hebrews 4:15).

Further, the footnote under this verse in my NIV suggests "Some Hebrew manuscripts, Septuagint and Syriac; most Hebrew manuscripts / like the lion,", rather than "pierced". Also, none of the New Testament writers cite this verse as a reference to Jesus's crucifixion. At best, this verse is highly controversial and ambiguous, and it's not clear at all that it even references a messiah. Once again, I am quite doubtful that this verse is a genuine prophecy of Jesus.

9. Psalms 22:1 - "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me."

As I just wrote immediately above, my NIV Bible notes that this chapter is a Psalm of David.

Do I have to repeat what I just said about my skepticism of conflations of the figures of David and Jesus, while one is portrayed as a sinner and the other is portrayed as sinless? The longer I do this, the more it becomes apparent that the authors of the Gospel are purposely trying to write Jesus into previous texts. What else can I say? There is no specific reference to a messiah in this chapter. For those reasons, it seems clear to me that this passage is not a genuine prophecy of Jesus.

10. Psalms 22:7-8 - "All who see me sneer at me; they separate with the lip, they wag the head, saying, "Commit yourself to the LORD; let Him deliver him; let Him rescue him, because He delights in him.""

Four of these prophecies are from Psalms 22. I understand, you think Psalms 22 is a messianic prophecy.

Clearly, I think this verse is referring to David, as is this entire chapter.

Again, there is no obvious reference to a messiah in this verse or in this chapter. It is ambiguous at best.

Again, I think it is extremely foolish to conflate the figures of a sinful David and a sinless Christ.

For those reasons, it is apparent to me that Psalms 22:7-8 is not a prophecy of Jesus.

11. Psalms 69:21 - "They also gave me gall for my food and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink."

My NIV notes that this chapter is a Psalm of David.

My objections to conflating the figures of David and Jesus should go without saying by this point, Demian. But here is a great example of why I am so skeptical of such claims:

"You know my folly, O God; my guilt is not hidden from you." - Psalms 69:5

We have already covered this, of course. But I wanted to remind you that it seems a direct contradiction to identify Jesus with a foolish sinner, as the author of this passage is portrayed.

Be honest. Is Jesus supposed to be a sinner? If not, how can this be a valid prophecy?

Furthermore, it is ambiguous and doesn't even specify a direct reference to a messiah. It's about David.

It is apparent to me, once again, that this passage is not a prophecy of Jesus.

12. Psalms 22:14 - "I am poured out like water; and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within me."

Crikey, not another passage from Psalms 22. (In case you haven't noticed by now, a Psalm of David.)

One last time:
1. No specific reference to a messiah is contained in this passage, making it highly ambiguous at best.
2. It's problematic to compare the sinful David and the supposedly sinless Jesus (to say that both figures are the same) because of verses like Hebrews 4:15.

For those reasons, it is apparent that Psalms 22:14 is not a genuine prophecy of Jesus.

No comments: