I came across this question while looking for answers to a comment about how most biblical prophecies have failed and found the below text in a subreddit which i feel asks some good questions, more than i can think of that’s for sure. I expect this thread to be a long one but i would appreciate it if we could address these in order for ease of navigation, thanks.
"One argument I’ve heard come up here every once in a while for why anyone would ever think that any of this stuff is true, is prophecies. I’ve never understood that. First of all, let’s ignore the fact that so many of the biblical prophecies are so vague that even people who have studied the bible for years can’t agree what they are referring to. Let’s forget about the fact that the vast majority of them are self fulfilling prophecies (i.e, a person made them come true not a god, and not through miraculous means either). I don’t even care that it’s impossible to demonstrate that some of these weren’t written after the events they allegedly predict (or added in later, because apparently altering a body of written work is impossible)
Let’s leave all of those points aside and focus on one of the most damning pieces of evidence against prophecy. That is, failed prophecies. I’m not talking about prophecies that have yet to be fulfilled. That’s not evidence against, but I will say that a prophecy that hasn’t been fulfilled yet, definitely isn’t evidence in favor.
I’m talking about prophecies that were just flat out wrong.
- In Ezekiel chapter 26, the prophecy is made that Tyre will be destroyed and will never be rebuilt. Yet the city of Tyre still exists to this day.
Now, I am actually familiar with the apologetic response to this, however I do find it unconvincing. The traditional apologetic response claims that this was not referring to Tyre as we know it today, but to the mainland city of Tyre.
One article I read claimed that Tyre as it currently exists today is not a ‘rebuilt’ Tyre because it has no connection to the original ancient Tyre. So the city called Tyre has nothing to do with a city called Tyre? Do you see the problem here? If it was truly unrelated to the ancient city, why does it have the same name?
The article also claims that Ezekiel predicted ‘many nations’ would come against Tyre and that is another example of fulfilled prophecy. Here’s the thing. That’s not that impressive of a prophecy. You could make that prophecy about literally any country and it would be accurate given a long enough period of time. But this isn’t about vague and poorly worded prophecies, it’s about failed prophecies. And no amount of ‘interpretation’, can explain the fact that a place called Tyre exists today when your god clearly said that it would never exist again.
- —Ezekiel 29:8-12: Egypt would be a barren wasteland, This passage is one of the most erroneous in the Bible. Since Ezekiel was penned, Egypt has never been a desolate waste, there has never been a time when people have not walked through it, there has never been a period of forty years when Egypt was uninhabited after the civilization started there, and it has never been surrounded by other desolate countries
- —Ezekiel (he seemed to have a thing for failed prophecies) 30:12: The Nile will dry up, There is no evidence that this has happened in recorded history.
- In Isaiah 7:1-7 God tells the king of Judah that he shall not be harmed by his enemies. Yet it did come to pass. His enemies did harm him. as 2 Chronicles 28:1-8 tells us.
- In Isaiah 19:1-8 Isaiah tells us the Nile will dry up, ocean drains in the time of pagan Egypt. This is an interesting prophecy because Isaiah outlines a very clear timeframe, the alleged prophet is unmistakably referring to Pagan Egypt, which ceased to exist in the 4th Century. (Isaiah 19:1-3) Since then, Egyptians have stopped using charms, wizards, and there are no statue-worshiping idolaters anymore, (Isaiah 19:3) so the reader can conclude this isn’t an end times prophecy, unless one assumes they will resume doing these things. The alleged prophet blatantly identifies the dried up river (Isaiah 19:5) with the Nile (Isaiah 19:8). And he goes even further to say one of the seas Egypt borders will drain, and this appears to coincide with the Nile River drying up. There is absolutely no hint of this prophecy being interpreted symbolically or metaphorically. Isaiah actually goes out of his way to stress the literal, physical, carnal fulfillment of this prophecy.
- In Isaiah 19:18 Isaiah says Egyptians will learn the tongue of Canaanites Not only has the Canaanite language never been spoken by Egyptians, but it is now an extinct language. There is the very unlikely possibility Isaiah was referring to Hebrew, which is technically a Canaanite language. However, Hebrew was also never adopted by the Egyptians. And according to the context of this passage, Isaiah is specifically referring to Pagan Egypt, which ceased to exist in the 4th century. (See Above) So even if Egyptians started speaking Hebrew at this very moment, it would still be an inaccurate prediction, unless again they begin doing these things (highly unlikely). Also, it’s worth noting that Isaiah believes the Egyptians will convert to Mosaic Judaism (a dead religion) and start offering sacrifices to the LORD shortly after this incident, (Isaiah 19:21) a practice no longer done by Jews since the Temple was destroyed and priesthood lost.
- In Joshua 3:10 the eponymous Jew is quoted as saying the following: Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you, and that he will without fail drive out from before you the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Hivites, and the Perizzites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Jebusites.
This is a repetition of a promise had from God’s own lips in earlier books. However, mere moments later we learn that: As for the Jebusites the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the children of Judah could not drive them out; but the Jebusites dwell with the children of Judah at Jerusalem unto this day.
The Books of Samuel relate that Jerusalem eventually falls to David, however there is no mention of the Jebusites being driven out. The Book of Kings implies that the surviving Jebusites were made serfs
1 Kings 9:20: And all the people that were left of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, which were not of the children of Israel, 1 Kings 9:21: Their children that were left after them in the land, whom the children of Israel also were not able utterly to destroy, upon those did Solomon levy a tribute of bondservice unto this day.
The above verses from 1 Kings also contradict Deuteronomy 20:17 (ie. the Jebusites were meant to be slaughtered entirely):
But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee.
- In Exodus 23:27 God tells Moses that he will defeat every enemy he encounters. However, history indicates many defeats suffered by the Israelites. Believers usually pull a no true Scotsman and claim that the defeats happened only at times when the Israelites weren’t pious enough.
- Ezekiel 28:24-26 predicts that Israel will live in peace with its neighbors. A consistent aspect of history is that Israel has never gotten along with its neighbors. (Or, if you prefer, that its neighbors have never gotten along with it.) There’s still hope that Israel and the neighborhood will be peaceful one day, but it requires everyone in the region to stop “inflicting punishment” on each other.
Now, there is always the fan favorite ‘it’s a metaphor’ line that apologists like to use, but you don’t just get to whip that out as if that answers all the questions right away. If it’s a metaphor, what’s it a metaphor for? Symbolism is pointless if you can’t discern what it’s supposed to be symbolizing.
And I said I wasn’t going to talk about this, but I just can’t help myself, you do know that the vast majority of prophecies about Jesus were either self-fulfilling prophecies, or argued by some to [never actually have been prophecies in the first place] (Biblical prophecies - RationalWiki) right?
That is curious, how do you address the Jewish claim that the new testament authors intentionally misinterpreted the scriptures in order to believe they were making prophecies about Jesus? I guess that is a different question for a different time, but still a curiosity nonetheless.
The vast majority of biblical prophecies, either weren’t even prophecies to begin with, too vague to accurately tell what they were referring to, self fulfilling prophecies, or just flat out failed. I’m genuinely curious now how you think that prophecy is a convincing piece of evidence for the truth of Christianity"