Prophecy in History

Sometimes one hears an eager apologist cite the more than two hundred Old Testament prophecies that the New Testament teaches were fulfilled in Jesus. Then some miniscule mathematical probability of all these events events randomly coalescing in the same person is used to “prove” the messiahship and deity of Jesus. The problem is that only a small handful of these Old Testament references were predictive in their original contexts. Micah 5:2 (cited in Matt. 2:6) does indeed prophesy that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, a prediction that excludes most self-styled messianic claimant a priori. But Hos. 11:1 (cited in Matt. 2:15) does not even contain future-tense verbs; it declares a past event — “Out of Egypt I called my son.” In context, the prophet is referring to Israel collectively as God’s son and recalling the exodus event. But […] Matthew is following standard (indeed, fairly conservative) forms of Jewish “typology” in interpreting the Scriptures here. Key patterns of activity ascribed to God recur in striking, discernible patterns such that the believer can only affirm the same hand of God at work in both events. The apologetic is more subtle than with directly predictive prophecy but no less persuasive.

Craig L. Blomberg, Matthew, in Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, Beale and Carson, eds.

Good point and well made.