The writer of Matthew had a prophecy fetish and seized every opportunity to declare that events in his version of the life of Jesus happened in order “that it might be fulfilled”.
In this series we are focusing on examples surrounding the birth narrative.
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is he who has been born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him; and assembling all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written by the prophet: “‘And you, O Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”Matthew 2:1-6 (ESV)
Matthew’s author quotes the book of Micah as foretelling the birthplace of Jesus. Does it?
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel,whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. Micah 5:2 (ESV)
It is evident that the ‘quote’ is not an exact one, but that is the least of our concerns. What is the context? Well, verse 1 of Micah 5 talks about a siege:
Now muster your troops, O daughter of troops; siege is laid against us;with a rod they strike the judge of Israel on the cheek.
Verses 3 and 4 talk about brothers returning to Israel (presumably from exile), and this ruler leading them to dwell in security. This all seems to be in the context of an actual ruler, leading the nation of Israel to security, not religious leader of some spiritual kingdom which is not of this world.
Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel. And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth.
Contrary to the claims of Matthew, Jesus was certainly not the ‘King of the Jews’. He was given that title on the cross, but only as a mockery. To this day, most Jews do not regard Jesus as their Messiah or king.
The clincher though, is to read on a little further in Micah; verses 5 and 6.
And he shall be their peace.When the Assyrian comes into our land and treads in our palaces,then we will raise against him seven shepherds and eight princes of men; they shall shepherd the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod at its entrances;and he shall deliver us from the Assyrian when he comes into our land and treads within our border.
Did Jesus lead a defensive attack against an Assyrian who invaded Israel’s borders? Uhhm… that would be “no”. Whatever Jesus was, he was decidedly NOT a military leader. Matthew’s gospel has once again plucked verses out of context, from the Jewish Bible - like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat.
Next in Matthew’s narrative, Herod is seeking to take the life of Jesus:
Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt I called my son.”Matthew 2:13-15 (ESV)
Well imagine that! Another ‘fulfilled’ prophecy. Let’s examine the context and see if it is as full of crap as the others. The quote is from Hosea chapter 11:1.
When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.
Hmmm. One problem I see is that Jesus and his family are being sent into Egypt, not being called out of it. But perhaps I am quibbling. Let us dig deeper.
The more they were called, the more they went away; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning offerings to idols. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk; I took them up by their arms, but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of kindness, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them. They shall not return to the land of Egypt, but Assyria shall be their king, because they have refused to return to me. The sword shall rage against their cities, consume the bars of their gates, and devour them because of their own counsels. My people are bent on turning away from me, and though they call out to the Most High, he shall not raise them up at all.
Hosea 11:2-7 (ESV)
Weird! It seems to be talking about the nation of Israel being led out of captivity in Egypt, then being disobedient and worshiping Baal, and as a result, being sent into Assyrian captivity. Unless Jesus was into Baal worship, I don’t think these scriptures apply to him. Also, I thought that he was killed by the Romans, not the Assyrians. To be fair though, the word “Egypt” does appear in the verse Matthew cites, so there is a geographic correlation, and if you ignore the context, the verse works pretty well as a proof of fulfilled prophecy.
Forget the rabbit from a hat. I’m going to say that Matthew’s author pulled this one straight out of his butt. Christians should be ashamed for thinking for one second that this is inspired. It is scripture-twisting trickery of the most blatant sort – worthy of a second-rate televangelist.
Am I the only one starting to see a pattern here?
We will save the final couple of prophetic ‘fulfillments’ from Matthew 2 for my next post which will describe one of God’s colossal blunders which resulted in Dead Babies for Christmas. At least, I call it a blunder, but knowing God’s track record in the Bible, dead babies were just part of his plan.
Written by J. M. Green