02 Aug 2009

Old Testament Prophecies of Jesus

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For believing Christians, one of the more convincing pieces of evidence confirming their worldview is that Old Testament writers seemed to have uncanny descriptions of the life of Jesus. For example, here’s Psalm 22: 1-18:

1 My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?
Why are You so far from helping Me,
And from the words of My groaning?
2 O My God, I cry in the daytime, but You do not hear;
And in the night season, and am not silent.

3 But You are holy,
Enthroned in the praises of Israel.
4 Our fathers trusted in You;
They trusted, and You delivered them.
5 They cried to You, and were delivered;
They trusted in You, and were not ashamed.

6 But I am a worm, and no man;
A reproach of men, and despised by the people.
7 All those who see Me ridicule Me;
They shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying,
8 “He trusted in the LORD, let Him rescue Him;
Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!”

9 But You are He who took Me out of the womb;
You made Me trust while on My mother’s breasts.
10 I was cast upon You from birth.
From My mother’s womb
You have been My God.
11 Be not far from Me,
For trouble is near;
For there is none to help.

12 Many bulls have surrounded Me;
Strong bulls of Bashan have encircled Me.
13 They gape at Me with their mouths,
Like a raging and roaring lion.

14 I am poured out like water,
And all My bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax;
It has melted within Me.
15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
And My tongue clings to My jaws;
You have brought Me to the dust of death.

16 For dogs have surrounded Me;
The congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me.
They pierced My hands and My feet;
17 I can count all My bones.
They look and stare at Me.
18 They divide My garments among them,
And for My clothing they cast lots.

Now for those familiar with the gospels (i.e. the four books in the Bible containing accounts of Jesus’ life), the above description, made hundreds of years before Jesus lived, is downright eerie. It accords very well with the (Biblically alleged) fact that Jesus was conceived of the Holy Spirit (i.e. His mother was a virgin when she became pregnant with Jesus), and at His crucifixion the Roman soldiers cast lots for His garments, pierced His hands and feet with nails, threw a spear into His side so that He began bleeding water, and yet didn’t break any of His bones. And of course, just before He died Jesus proclaimed, “My God my God, why have You forsaken Me?”

So how does the atheist respond to this? I can imagine a few possibilities:

Objections a Hypothetical Non-Christian Could Give
(1) The Old Testament “predictions” were faked; they were written after the fact to fit Jesus’ experiences.

(2) The New Testament “facts” were doctored to match the Old Testament predictions. Jesus’ garments weren’t actually divided up by the Roman soldiers, or at the very least, the only proof we have of this is the assertion of a gospel writer.

(3) The Bible is a big book. If you squint hard enough, you’re bound to found all sorts of vague “predictions” that ended up coming true. It doesn’t mean there’s actually predictive power; look at all the Old Testament’s flowery poetry that doesn’t correspond to any obvious future event. Are those all examples of falsified predictions?

Am I missing anything? Now what do the Christian readers (many of you have much more knowledge in this area) say in response?

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