XFiles Friday: Last and leastJune 12, 2009 — Deacon Duncan
(Book: I Don’t Have Enough FAITH to Be an ATHEIST, by Geisler and Turek, chapter 13.)
So far we’ve watched Geisler and Turek mining prophetic “fulfillments” with a traditional yet reckless abandon that would make a Mormon blush, but we’re not quite finished yet. For some reason, they feel the need to throw in a couple more prophecies, this time from Zechariah.
The prophetic case for Christ is strengthened even further when you realize that the Old Testament predicted that God himself would be pierced, as happened when Jesus was crucified. As recorded by the Old Testament prophet Zechariah (also written well before Christ), God says, “I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son” (Zech. 12:10).
And of course, we all know how bitterly the Jews (“house of David”) and the inhabitants of Jerusalem have been mourning God since the crucifixion.
Let’s take a look at what Geisler and Turek, as usual, have left out: the context of Zechariah 12.
The LORD… declares: “I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves… On that day I will make the leaders of Judah like a firepot in a woodpile, like a flaming torch among sheaves. They will consume right and left all the surrounding peoples, but Jerusalem will remain intact in her place. The LORD will save the dwellings of Judah first, so that the honor of the house of David and of Jerusalem’s inhabitants may not be greater than that of Judah… And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be great, like the weeping of Hadad Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. The land will mourn, each clan by itself, with their wives by themselves: the clan of the house of David and their wives, the clan of the house of Nathan and their wives, the clan of the house of Levi and their wives, the clan of Shimei and their wives, and all the rest of the clans and their wives.
Let’s ignore, for the moment, the fact that the clans of David and Nathan and Levi and Shimei have all ceased to exist without fulfilling this prophecy. Let’s look at the specific reference to piercing. The first thing we ought to ask is whether we’re talking about literal, physical piercing, or whether we’re speaking in metaphorical terms, as in causing someone great emotional pain. So what does the text say? “The house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem…will look on me, the one they have pierced.” Was Jesus pierced literally by the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem? Oops, that was the Romans.
The house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem are not literally the ones who literally pierced Jesus, nor is it accurate to say that they even delivered Jesus to the Romans to be pierced. The Sanhedrin, not the house of David, drove the demand to crucify him, and a common mob, not the whole city, let themselves be goaded into demanding Barabbas instead of Jesus. The “fulfillment” doesn’t quite line up with what the prediction actually says. Geisler and Turek, as is traditional among Christians, have seized on that one word “pierced” in that little out-of-context snippet, and have built upon it a detailed prediction that goes way beyond anything the text actually says.
Let’s move on, it gets better.
Later Zechariah predicts that the Lord’s “feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem” (Zech. 14:4) These predictions refer to Christ’s second coming, but the reference to God having been “pierced” (i.e. crucified) by the “house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem” obviously refers to his first coming. In fact, the apostle John quotes Zechariah 12:10 as prophetic of the crucifixion (John 19:37).
Gotta love that first sentence, eh? If you’re quoting verses to prove that Jesus fulfills Old Testament prophecies, why deny yourself a claimed fulfillment just because of picky little details like the fact that the prophecy has never been fulfilled? Here’s the prophecy:
A day of the LORD is coming when your plunder will be divided among you. I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle. On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him. On that day there will be no light, no cold or frost. It will be a unique day, without daytime or nighttime—a day known to the LORD. When evening comes, there will be light. On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter. The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.
Yeah, Jesus sure fulfilled that one all right.
Having wrapped up their prophetic tour de force, Geisler and Turek drop the scholarship (such as it was) to return to the evangelistic testimony of Barry, the Jewish athlete who started out hostile to Jesus but had a dramatic and inspiring conversion, apparently based on bad advice and a combination of gullibility and lack of critical thinking that prevented him from noticing the flaws in the strained “fulfillments” Christians have been using since the days of John the Apostle. Barry was convinced, and he was a Jew, so that proves everything, as far as Geisler and Turek are concerned.
Next week, Geisler and Turek will try to answer critical objections to their claims. Stay tuned.