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Saturday, December 3, 2016

Honest Advent: Jesus Hasn't Fulfilled This Prophecy

A statue of Justice, blindfolded, holding a set of scales. Image source.
For Honest Advent, I'm looking at Jeremiah 33:14-16:
“‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will fulfill the good promise I made to the people of Israel and Judah.

“‘In those days and at that time
I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line;
he will do what is just and right in the land.
In those days Judah will be saved
and Jerusalem will live in safety.
This is the name by which it will be called:
The Lord Our Righteous Savior.’
I like this. It's about the kingdom of God and resurrection. It says someday, God will bring justice, righteousness, and safety.

Because "a righteous Branch ... from David's line" is mentioned, Christians take this to be a prophecy about Jesus- specifically, the birth of Jesus. But here's the problem: Did Jesus actually do these things? Did Jesus change the world (or Israel in particular) so it's now a place characterized by righteousness, totally safe, with perfect justice?

Ha. No.

Yes, Jesus was an activist who dedicated his life to love and justice, and spoke out against the corrupt powers of his day. Yes, he made a difference, and he set an example for us. But he didn't quite do what this verse says he would do. "Jerusalem will live in safety"? A lot of violent stuff has gone down in Jerusalem over the past 2000 years. (And not just Jerusalem- pretty much everywhere in the world has been not very "safe" at some point.) Jesus did "what is just and right in the land" as far as he was able, but the world is still a messed-up place.

Jesus did not fulfill this prophecy. Or rather, he hasn't yet. I believe he will eventually. But it's super shady when Christians say things like "There were SO MANY Old Testament prophecies about the messiah and Jesus fulfilled EVERY SINGLE ONE! That COULD NOT have happened by chance. This is PROOF that the bible is true!" Because, no. There are prophecies like this one, which talk about the utopia that God will eventually bring about, and guess what, that hasn't happened. (Yet.) So basically Christians are finding things in the Old Testament that seem sort of related to Jesus' life, and marking those as "messianic prophecies", and wow would you look at that, Jesus fulfilled them all 100%. Okay then. Circular argument is circular.

I believe what these verses in Jeremiah 33 are saying. Someday God will bring resurrection, and the whole world will be full of righteousness, justice, and safety. Jesus will do it. But he hasn't done it yet. So be very suspicious the next time someone tells you how "it's so amazing that Jesus fulfilled every Old Testament prophecy."

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