In our third look at this chapter, we are going to be doing exegesis today and looking at how the NT uses the prophecies of the OT. Of course, this constantly changes in skeptical circles. First, the prophecies are changed to make it look like Jesus is the Messiah, then the prophecies are misinterpreted, then the fulfillments are written after the fact, etc.
Now Loftus is sure that he’s shown the Virgin Birth and incarnation to be nonsense and that not even God can predict the future. For the first part, he hasn’t. For the second, we’ll have to look and see for there are several of these that the more we study them, the easier it is to say that prophecy has been fulfilled. Loftus wants to play the card that the verses were taken out of context. We’ll see as we move along.
Loftus complains about the Psalms. King David though believed that the Holy Spirit was speaking through him even in his prayers. (2 Samuel 23:2) I have no problem believing God guided the praises of his people somehow any more than I have a problem believing that God guided the thinking of Paul and the other writers of the epistles.
Psalm 2 is next on the list. It’s a hope. Yes. That’s correct. That assumes though that a hope can have no predictive fulfillment at all. It’s not an either/or. Psalm 110 is another one which was also seen strongly as messianic in Jewish circles of the time. David is speaking about someone who is greater than he, and this is obviously going beyond his son Solomon.
A humorous example is that Jesus is riding both a donkey and a colt in Matthew 21:2 based upon a misunderstanding of Zechariah 9:9. First off, the passage is actually Matthew 21:7. Secondly, hear what Craig Blomberg says about this passage in the New American Commentary on Matthew.
“The second ‘them’ in verse 7 has as its nearest antecedent in Greek the ‘cloaks’ of which probably more than one were put on each donkey, so there is little or no justification here for the common accusation that Matthw has created an absurd picture of Jesus straddling two animals.”
Please note that all it took was just a couple of minutes with a commentary to find a good explanation for what Loftus finds so unbelievable. Let’s also give the ancients the benefit of the doubt. They would know that one man could not straddle two animals like that at once. These people were probably much more familiar with animals than we are.
The next one we’ll cover is Matthew 2:14-15 with “Out of Egypt, I called my son.” Matthew is accused of misusing the text.
This is simply pesher interpretation which was accepted. Matthew sees Jesus as a new Israel as it were and sees the history of Israel taking place again in Christ. Let’s also consider this with Matthew. He’s writing to convince Jews, and these are Jews that do know their old testament. He’s not going to make a huge blunder like Loftus accuses him of if he’s trying to do that. Now we can say he’s wrong in his interpretation if we want, but let us not say he was ignorant of the OT. This is the same type in the use of Jeremiah with the slaying of the children in Bethlehem.
The last one is Matthew 2:22-23. This is one of my favorites as it talks about the word fulfilled through the prophets that he would be called a Nazarene. There is no direct text. I agree. However, when I studied this once, I noticed something. Every other time, Matthew speaks of “the prophet.” Here, he says, “The prophets.” What’s the point? I think Matthew is trying to show that according to the prophets, the Messiah would be lowly and rejected and Nazarene fits in quite well with that.
Now Loftus is upset about this saying that we wouldn’t use this method today or interpret by it. Oh my. Does anybody remember Loftus talking about the Outsider test and how one needs to begin with the worldview one is examining and understand it from their perspective? Apparently, the Outsider test doesn’t apply when it’s a worldview opposed to atheism.
It’s amazing that in all of this, only a few prophecies are seen. A websearch could give a list of several prophecies that were fulfilled in Christ. A key one would be to go to Daniel 9 and see how Jesus came at the exact time. I also think it’s convincing to look at Matthew 24 and see how Jesus accurately prophecied the destruction of Jerusalem. (So accurately most people think it was written after the fact!)
We shall conclude this section tomorrow.