Sunday, December 18, 2011

Why Isn't Messianic Prophecy More Detailed?

I just listened to Greg Koukl's interview with Michael Brown regarding Jesus' fulfillment of Messianic prophecy. An archive of the program should be appearing here sometime later this week. The interview is in the third hour of the December 18, 2011 program.

They didn't go into much depth, but a lot of good points were made. Isaiah's Suffering Servant prophecy in Isaiah 52-53 was discussed more than anything else, but some of the prophecies related to Christmas were discussed as well.

Unfortunately, Koukl raised an objection to the vagueness of the Messianic prophecies toward the end of the interview, and I don't think he or Brown handled the subject adequately. Given that this is the Christmas season and that they had just been discussing some of the Christmas prophecies, it was disappointing that neither of them mentioned some of the clearer and more detailed fulfillments associated with Jesus' birth. See what I wrote earlier today about Jesus' Davidic ancestry and birth in Bethlehem.

Regarding why the prophecies aren't more detailed, I'll make a few points. First, I think some of the prophecies are more detailed than Koukl suggested. In addition to the two examples cited above, see my older post here. Secondly, Steve Hays has made some good points over the years about potential reasons God could have for not providing us with a higher level of detail in some Biblical prophecies. See here, for example. Third, a cumulative case can carry significantly more weight than an argument from a single prophecy. One strand of a fingerprint may not single out an individual, but the combination of multiple strands can distinguish one person from billions of others. Remember, the primary issue we should be concerned about is whether the prophecies are sufficiently detailed, not whether they're exhaustively detailed. Given how well Jesus fulfills the Old Testament and the absence of any other candidate for Messiah who even comes close to Jesus' status in that context, asking for more detail is an inadequate response to the detail we have. If fulfilling such prophecies is so easy, let's see critics give us some examples of other candidates who are comparable to or better than Jesus.

See here for an index of many of our posts over the years on issues related to Bible prophecy. Keep in mind that Messianic prophecy isn't all we have. Even if Messianic prophecy were too vague, a premise which I reject, other types of prophecy would still have to be addressed.


  1. Michael L. Brown deals with the seeming vagueness of the messianic prophecies in these series of QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS (click here)

    His 5 volume book "Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus" is far more extensive. I have all five books and I refer to them constantly. Very useful.

    I would also recommend Arnold Fruchtenbaum's Life of the Messiah lectures (click here)

    and David H. Stern's Jewish New Testament Commentary

  2. This direct link to Dr. Brown's Q&A helps answer some of the problems with the vagueness of the prophecies.

  3. This forthcoming book should be of interest The Gospel according to Isaiah 53: encountering the suffering servant in Jewish and Christian theology (Kregel, Feb. 2012)

  4. John Gill's work "The Prophecies of the Old Testament, Respecting Messiah, Considered; and Proved to be Literally Fulfilled in Jesus, Containing An Answer to the Objections of the Author of the Scheme of Literal Prophecy." can be accessed at the following link.

    While Gill's work is dated, it's still a great place to start in defense of the true Messiahship of the Lord Jesus.

    Btw, Christmas didn't pass you by while you were reading the title of the book.

    Here's the link. Scroll down to the very bottom of the page. (click here)