It’s a mainstay of key times in the Christian calendar – Christmas and Easter – the fulfilment of ‘prophecy’! But it’s completely contrived, apparently Jesus started it as he used scripture throughout his ministry. He even said that the Old Testament prophets spoke about his death and resurrection. They didn’t! How could they? They had no idea, there is no prophecy about Jesus in the Old Testament. Most of what we have heard about prophecy is *completely wrong*.
Except in a very few places, scripture is always written after the events being recorded (and that’s assuming that the events happened). By the way, I’m writing this in church on Good Friday. Usually the accounts are written *long* after. Coming to the Good Book thousands of years later it is tempting to see it as an historical sequence with earlier prophecies being fulfilled, but they aren’t! It was written down later, it’s easy to talk about prophecy when you’re talking about the past.
Prophecy is something else, the Word of God for a particular time, a message for the moment. The famous mentions of a ‘virgin’ (not!) and a child being born in Isaiah were for the people who heard it then and have *nothing* to do with the time of Jesus, or Jesus himself. This idea of Jesus fulfilling prophecy then goes on to shape some wrong ideas about Jesus, which he rejected himself, the idea that he was ‘Messiah’ or ‘King’.
How has all this happened? The clue is in Jesus (duh!), he re-used or recycled scripture to show how it inspired him. Not to show how these words were directly about him. You can imagine him pointing to the Isaiah scroll in the synagogue and saying, ‘Look, this bit here, this is about me!’ No? Me neither. But his followers do, they lack sophistication.
‘Prophecy’ was used because it offered a good fit, no one had to work so hard to make the case about Jesus, because the prophecy could do it for you. Yeah, right! Look closely and it all falls apart – Jesus wasn’t a king, was he descended from King David, who knows? He didn’t bring in peace, or have a long reign or re-establish the kingdom. This was such a powerful and persuasive paradigm (or pernicious) that Jesus’ followers even invented prophecies that weren’t there in the original scripture. Yes, the whole thing is basically dishonest and false! And who will say it? Well, I guess you haven’t read it anywhere else. And you’re hardly likely to hear it in church.