How To Make A Prophecy Out of Literally Anything

According to the gospel of Matthew, these verses are all prophecies about Jesus:

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

…out of Egypt I called my son. (Hosea 11:1)

Behold, your king is coming to you; righteous and having salvation is he, humble and mounted on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9)

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 coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. (Micah 5:2)

However, these verses are not prophecies about Jesus:

He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. 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 7:15-16)

The more they were called, the more they went away; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning offerings to idols. (Hosea 11:2)

I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the war horse from Jerusalem; and the battle bow shall be cut off, and he shall speak peace to the nations; his rule shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth. (Zechariah 9:10)

…and he shall deliver us from the Assyrian when he comes into our land and treads within our border. (Micah 5:6)

How does he know? Simple: by taking the verses completely out of context and fitting them to whatever he wants in his narrative. For all we know, the author of Matthew was writing his gospel around these “prophecies” to artificially bolster his case for Jesus being the Messiah!

If you’re willing to take passages out of their original context, you can make pretty much anything sound prophetic. For instance, I think I can make a case that Shakespeare was the greatest prophet of his generation. Take this bit from The Tempest:

As you from crimes would pardoned be, Let your indulgence set me free.

Was Shakespeare predicting the pardon of Richard Nixon by Gerald Ford? Sure looks like it to me! How about this from Richard III?

Now is the winter of our discontent

To think that, in the 1600s, Shakespeare could predict the Democrats’ anger at the inauguration of President Trump! Here’s a good one from Hamlet:

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

How could Shakespeare, writing before the modern telescope, predict the discoveries of modern cosmology? Clearly he was a sage beyond compare!

This is why Christian apologists fail when they claim that “no mere man could have fulfilled all of these prophecies.” Of course not! They’re not all about the same man.

Prophecy Breakdown: The Virgin Shall Conceive

As I started inching away from Christianity and began to examine my faith from a more objective distance, I started noticing inconsistencies that were so obvious that I couldn’t believe they’d never occurred to me before. One of the biggest issues concerned messianic prophecies, a key tool of the apologist’s arsenal. I was taught that the odds of Jesus fulfilling so many specific predictions was so astronomically small, he must have come from God himself!

However, the issue isn’t as cut-and-dry as the apologists would have you believe. It only takes minimal scrutiny of prophecies quoted by the gospels to notice that they don’t apply to Jesus at all! One of the most damning examples comes from Isaiah 7:14, quoted by Matthew, and by extension every Christmas pageant ever written:

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

So the big question is: what is the context here? Who is the Lord giving a sign, and what is the sign meant to confirm? Let’s start from the beginning of chapter 7:

In the days of Ahaz the son of Jotham, son of Uzziah, king of Judah, Rezin the king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah the king of Israel came up to Jerusalem to wage war against it, but could not yet mount an attack against it. (v. 1)

Judah is under attack, and its inhabitants, even up to King Ahaz himself, are quaking with fear (v. 2). So God sends Isaiah to Ahaz to deliver reassurance that this attack will not succeed:

Be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint because of these two smoldering stumps of firebrands, at the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria and the son of Remaliah. (v.4)

It shall not stand, and it shall not come to pass. (v. 7)

Not only does God send Ahaz a message through Isaiah, he tells Ahaz he can ask for any sign he wants as confirmation (v. 11). Ahaz is hesitant, but apparently God has a sign at the ready that he just has to dole out, even if it’s not requested. This is the sign in verse 14, the one attributed to Jesus in the Christmas narrative.

The problem is that this child is clearly not a future Messiah. The succeeding verses make it clear that his life will be contemporary to Ahaz and the kings that have beset him:

For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted. (v. 16-17)

Where does it mention a coming Messiah? Where does it speak of the savior of all mankind? There’s no reason to think that Isaiah 7:14 is speaking about Jesus, and every reason to think the verse was manipulated and reinterpreted to fit a new situation it was never meant to predict.