Prophetic Fullfilment

And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed.

(Isa 6:9-10)

Prophecy in the Bible is inherently highly symbolic and any interpretation of prophetic fulfillment is based on an ability recognize the relation of the symbol to the event it foretells. For that reason, both the hermeneutical method and the bias of the reader together determine when and where someone sees fulfillment of prophecy. By and large, these "refutations" simply use an assumption that the verses should be interpreted as not prophetic and therefore not fulfilled. In some cases the literal reading of the verses is ludicrous.

The opposite claim that these verses of the OT are prophecies of the messiah is done by projecting the events of the life of Jesus backward to interpret the older writings. Because of the symbolic nature of prophecy, this is usually the only possible way to interpret prophecy. You may not even recognize the writing as symbolic and prophetic until you see a fulfillment of it, in other words. In many cases, the NT writers specifically state that some act of Jesus was a fulfillment of a prophecy. That gives us (followers of Jesus) justification for using that hermeneutical method.

On another level it is possible to treat the entire history of the Israelites allegorically. Paul does this often in his writings. In Galatians 4:24, he specifically states that events in the life of Abraham are allegorical. In Col. 2:17 Paul claims the ordinances of the OT law are "shadows of things to come" that are representative of Christ. That allegorical method of interpretation is justified as well since Jesus taught using parables - a form of allegory. To those who follow Jesus, that use of parables is sufficient to indicate that allegory is a primary means by which God reveals knowledge. We can justifiably treat the OT as allegory on that basis.

Some people will be convinced of the claims about Jesus solely on the teaching, miracles and resurrection. Others apparently need to see Jesus as fulfillment of prophecy in order to believe. In my opinion, if these prophetic fulfillment claims help your understanding, use them. If not, just go with what Jesus himself said and did. Deeper understanding usually takes place over a long period of time.


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