How reliable are the T.N.Kh./ Old Testament prophecies, and how do we know?

Discussion in 'Religion' started by rakovsky, Feb 26, 2017.

  1. Xelasnave.1947 Valued Senior Member

    What should have said, but will say it now, if you choose to believe in God know that it can be based only on mere faith and to say otherwise is simply wrong.
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  3. rakovsky Registered Member

    In the Torah, God talks at length with numerous people like Adam, Enoch, Abraham, Moses, and the elders. He could have explained this at length to the elders at Mt. Sinai when they met and sat with him, for example.
    There is no requirement that the Torah specify at which point this knowledge was imparted.

    Yes, depending on how deep you want to get into it.
    If your parents write you a letter telling you about their trip to the zoo, you don't need to question their motivations behind writing the letter or the stories in it.
    The ancient Jews were writing the Torah because they wanted to teach their religion focused on worshiping God.

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  5. rakovsky Registered Member

    Good question:
    The four proposed methods I have come across are:
    1. God inspires the prophets, fills them with his spirit and makes them give predictions based on His divine gifts. They live upright lives, are filled with truth and love and faith for God, and then with the power and help and guidance of his spirit, they make the predictions.
    2. There exists a real ability that is supernatural or paranormal of foretelling the future. Different terms exist like precognition or foresight to describe this ability. I focused on this possibility in the OP.
    3. Another possibility is that the ancient prophets were Israel's "wise men" and used their wisdom to make predictions. Greeks and Egyptians had their own philosophers, for example. Different theoretical reasons could be made for their prophecies about how they thought out their conclusions based on the evidence.
      An easy example for Method #3 is that: You know that the earth will exist tomorrow based on past experience and evidence available, although you don't know this 100%. Theoretically, a galactic event could vaporize earth tomorrow.
    4. Another method is that on hearing the predictions, one can verify the prophecies' reliability by testing the source. Since the ancient Jews got their information from the prophets, they had a vested interest in verifying the prophets' reliability. So in Deuteronomy there is a law about checking the prophets' reliability, and Jeremiah said that the true test of a prophet is whether he makes a positive promise of blessing and the promise comes to pass or not.

    For each reason above:
    1. Based on their own trust of God and in honesty.
    2. Based on theories and studies of paranormal or supernatural abilities like I talked about in the OP, or based on personal experience of having premonitions like predictive dreaming. Many, if not most people have had some unexplained sense or premonition of the future, based on surveys.
    3. Based on their own experience of making predictions about the future based on available evidence.
    4. Based on the ancient Jews checking the prophecies as working out. They wouldn't want to go to battle if they were going to lose the war. They had a vested interest in checking their sages'/philosophers'/fore-tellers'/seers' reliability.
    Last edited: Mar 7, 2017
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  7. Xelasnave.1947 Valued Senior Member

    This must mean God has preordained the future which means free will is a myth wouldnt you think?
    I dont believe there is a God but I would think that if you did the conflict I point to must be a concern.
    Can you suggest a mechanism?
    Things do not happen by magic so what particles or fields do you consider could be responsible?
    With respect to all the wise men could it not be said that all they are doing is making an educated guess.
    So I predict the world will starve which is only a guess but nevertheless e tirely possible.
    If this comes to pass will the few remaining humans declare me to be a prophet?
    So my prediction of doom would not be prophesy I guess.
  8. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    Oh, what a tidy circle! Prove the prophecy by testing the prophet for the proof of his prophecies.
    And did any of them come true?
    Of -bloody-course they did!
    I predict that every nation on Earth will have some bad times (because they're being naughty) and some good times (because they're obeying the god).
    Ta-da! I'm a prophet.

    (Except, of course, when i say the trump era bodes ill for America - then I'm just being hysterical.)
  9. rakovsky Registered Member

    The Bible writers were not Calvinists, some of whom openly deny free will.

    The reason that foreknowledge (be it God or another person's) doesn't destroy free will is that knowing the future doesn't prevent one ability to act. You might know that your brother will run up a big phone bill, but that doesn't stop you or your parents from intervening by limiting his phone time.

    The future is probably foreordained, in the sense of the claim of scientists that past and future are an illusion and there is only reality of a time continuum. However, the existence of the continuum by itself doesn't prevent humans from using their will to check their fates.

    God created men not as soulless hard inanimate objects, but as beings with their own wills with which he can interact.

    May I please ask if you read the Opening Post, Xelas?

    The articles I cited discussed this, one example being what I repeat below:
    If you read them, I can provide more information from Carl Jung, Synchronicity, Quantum Entanglement, and Retrocausality theories.

    Is this your actual personal prediction?

    I think they can say you were making an educated guess, as you called it. global starvation is a realistic possibility, depending on circumstances like drought, the OZONE, global warming. They can say that it was not a supernatural event you were predicting nor one with a 1 in a million chance. Further, even if what you are predicting were extremely unlikely, they can still say it was random.

    If you are calling yourself and showing yourself a very spiritual person and making numerous predictions like these and they come true, then they are going to start to think maybe you are a prophet.

    Good example: John Brown. He was an abolitionist in an extremely moral struggle to end slavery. IIRC: He was very religious (Protestant) and infused religion into his discourse on ending slavery. He died as a martyr, and predicted that there would have to be major blood spilled for the slavery to end, which he believed would occur. And indeed within a few years there was indeed a very bloody civil war which came to be a fight to end slavery, successfully.

    Now, was John Brown a prophet? This is an interesting question for me. I think typically people would say No, he was not an Old Testament Bible prophet with a miraculous ability to predict the future. And indeed, I don't know how reliable his predictions are just because he says them. I am inclined to think that even if God works in the abolitionists and inspires them that if they make a prediction like slavery will end in 10 years, that it might not happen. And yet, I notice that John Brown did make a correct prediction and that it's curious how he could have foreknown there would be such a bloody battle, as opposed to the North and South simply continuing to have freedom and slavery, respectively.

    One possibility is that he had information that military figures or politicians on either side were preparing for war. Another possibility, what most people probably think, is that he simply made a rational educated guess based on moral judgments and how society works.

    The other thing is that modern Americans are usually not into prophecy the same way their forefathers were. Sure, some Protestants talk about the End Times and Book of Revelation, but generally they limit the prophecymaking to the Biblical period. They don't seem to care much about ongoing prophecymaking and new prophets and "apostles". So since you aren't living in the Biblical period and probably aren't very religious, I think it's not likely that they are going to see it as prophecy in the old miraculous sense.
  10. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    Yeah it does. Because if intercession was possible, the prediction wouldn't be true. If God knows the future, that means your choices aren't choices, you are a robot following a programmed path.
    Of course not. Everyone who lived at the time knew that slavery was an issue surrounded by strong feelings on both sides. Predictions must be specific, detailed, and not obvious.
  11. rakovsky Registered Member

    Sure, some came true, like Jeremiah's prediction of Jerusalem's desolation, which occurred because of Babylon's conquest.

    However, that is not exactly all that the Biblical Jews supposedly did to test the prophets. In Deuteronomy it says that you are supposed to see whether any of their prophecies come true, and in Jeremiah, Jeremiah says that this definitely counts for positive promises. If half the time your blessing predictions come true and half the time they are disproved, then it means you did not pass the test of a prophet.

    Further, it is not really bad circular logic to say: "Prove the prophecy by testing the prophet for the proof of his prophecies."

    This is actually quite a normal approach in science. In science, one can: "Prove a theory by testing the scientist for the proof of his theories."

    So someone can prove Nikola Tesla's theories by testing him for his proofs. You can carefully watch what proofs Tesla makes for his scientific teachings, as well as whether his theories check out in real life. If Tesla's theories include radio waves and tesla coils, and then those theories check out, you have a decent basis for thinking that he is on to something and is a respectable, good scientist who you can trust.

    Same thing with Einstein. Do you know for sure that all his theories are right? Some of them could get disproved. But he has enough good ones that we believe he tends to be reliable.

    Problem with your first prophecy was that you spoke in very vague generalities, eg. "some good time and some bad".
    Potential problem with the second one could be arbitrariness or vagueness. Did Clinton's era fare well for America? I tend to think it was good. But in some indicators like the income of the poorest people, it may have actually gotten worse.
  12. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    Ah, not exactly. We don't test scientists, we test the hypothesis. And even then, you never trust the scientist. That amounts to an argument from authority. Scientists never achieve some level of respectability whereupon their theories can be trusted without testing.
  13. Xelasnave.1947 Valued Senior Member

    Thank you for that and your welll considered reply.
    rakovsky likes this.
  14. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    If you time your blessing prophecies for years of no political upheaval or drought and your curse prophecies for years of bad weather and imperial expansion, you're home free. All you have to do is hang around the marketplace, listen to all the gossip, worries and complaints that the king never hears.

    Gee, ya think? That's why they never say exactly when or exactly how.

    Of course not. And it wouldn't matter if he had been right - with precise duration and quantity - a hundred and five times in a row. The hundred and sixth theory would still have to get the bejeezus tested and challenged out of it before it were taken as fact.
  15. rakovsky Registered Member

    Thanks Xelasnave!
    It is nice to get a rare nice comment.

    Peace, (Xena's slave?)
  16. rakovsky Registered Member

    Yes, what I said is what I think about what you said. To just say "some good time and some bad" is so general to the point where it practically couldn't get disproven.
    To make something analogous to Biblical prophecy, there would have to be more details and to make it relevant it would have to have a way to occur or not. Jeremiah gave an example of prophecy in his book where he said the Israeites would get conquered for their apostasy. So if Jeremiah said the Babylonians would conquer them, and then the Israelites kept on apostasizing, remained unconquered, and Babylon turned into a helpless Persian vassal state with no strong king, it would look pretty much like a failed prophecy.

    A good example of a when and how prophecy would be Daniel 9. Christian and Jewish traditions say that it refers to the Messiah's advent and gives a timing for tte first c. BC-AD. (A) In Christianity, it's seen as referring to Jesus, whereas (B) Talmud and Rambam say that Messiah didn't come when he was supposed to. (C) Rashi and other rabbis though say that it was about King Herod and that the prophecy was fulfilled after all.

    It's an interesting question. It looks to me like the Lord did send Jesus in the 1st c. AD as His agent to spread knowledge of the Lord to the nations. So I would say that the underlined portion matches interpretation (A) above. It raises an interesting question. Let's say that Daniel 9 did intend to say that Messiah would come in the 1st c. to spread eternal righteousness, and then we see that Jesus came and was a catalyst to spread righteous moral teachings and belief in the Lord to the world. Would those things imply that all the other major miracle claims about the Jewish Messiah or about Jesus came true?
  17. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    That's because it was in jest, sarcastically, tongue firmly in cheek. If i were half the showman that a Jeremiah or Isaiah would have to be, I'd make a big production of listing all the bad things that befall in a poor harvest year, complete with ewes heavy in lamb stricken down in the prime of life, thankless sons and wayward daughters, smoke clouds and ravens over the broken towers, etc. etc, probably in rhyming verse set to the lyre.
    So, the prophecy was open to interpretation? And if you asked three or four different prophets, you'd have to do some odd mental contortions to make them match up to the same event. You'd think, an event of such importance, all of the certified reliable prophets would have had an inkling.
    Did anyone say: when the Messiah showed up: "Of course, right on time, we have his room ready."?
    "24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. 25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.
    26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.
    27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate."

    What, exactly? When exactly? What's his name again? Wall - yeah, somebody somewhere is building one, even as we speak. Flood? Sure, most years, there is one someplace. War? In the Middle East - what a surprise!
    Some prelate - several centuries later - must have had fun with arithmetic!

    It looks that way yo you, because that's what you've been taught to consider the significant event. All the other lay preachers and self-proclaimed prophets who came and went from that prophecy to the crucifixion of that one Jehoshua, and had contemporary followers who were sure this guy Shimon, or Moshe, or Shmuel is the real deal, failed to get a mention in your book. Not because they didn't conform to the prophecy, but because they didn't get an influential advocate in Rome.
    Everything came true in retrospect. All you have to do is pick your prophecies and historical facts very, very carefully.
    (It's like the tv show House : his diagnosis is always right, because the first seven [wrong] diagnoses don't count. )
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2017
  18. rakovsky Registered Member

    Jeeves, I understand your point that prophecy is too open to interpretation to be meaningful. However, I don't think that it's necessarily the case. If a person wakes up dreaming that they had a car accident at an intersection outside a restaurant named Arthur's, then it's rather specific, although I guess that a car accident outside a house party held by a man named Arthur would also be commonly considered a "fulfillment". Basically, there needs to be a significant connection between the elements of the premonition and the fulfillment.

    In the case of Daniel 9, there would have been much more clarity about what was being talked about, like whether it was Messianic. If you accept the theory that Daniel's Book was really written in the 2nd century BC like some scholars do, then you could go ask the writers what they meant. Or if it was written int he 6th century by the historic Daniel who was supposedly a great dream interpreter, then you could ask him the inner true meaning.

    Nonetheless, based on the information we have 2100+ years later, I believe that its that it's Messianic based on the context, like the fact that it's a prophecy about sealing vision and eternal righteousness and talks about the Messiah or Anointed One directly, as well as based on Jewish and Christian Traditions.

    According to the Christian Narrative in the New Testament, that kind of thing happened. For instance in Luke Chapter 2, there is the story of Simeon and the prophetess Anna recognizing Jesus as an infant as the Messiah:
    There are other examples like the story of the Magi, and the prophetic leader John the Baptist recognizing Jesus, and people in the audience during Jesus' ministry considering him the Messiah.

    Josephus and other writers from the period talked about how there were heightened Messianic expectations among Judeans due to Biblical prophecy, particularly the Book of Daniel, supposedly referring to their time period.

    The Messiah was supposed to be a descendant of David and the religious establishment kept track of people's lineagues. It's reasonable to think that a religious leader who was going around supposedly performing healings, preaching on hilltops, and was descended from David would tie into those expectations. I believe that Jesus was deliberately implying to his audience that he was the Messiah too, due to lots of Messianic allusions he makes, like calling himself greater than Solomon.

    Jesus apparently persuaded Nicodemus about his legitimacy and was Nicodemus or another supporter who provided a room for Jesus for the Last Supper, and then Joseph of Arimathea provided the tomb.

    An important issue is why didn't the Jewish establishment leaders recognize him as the Messiah. The fact that the Messiah would be rejected was also part of the prophecy that we find in Isaiah 53 as well as Daniel 9. As you cited in verse 26: "Messiah [shall] be cut off". "Cut off" was used elsewhere in the Bible to refer to rejection and exclusion. In fact, if Jesus or another Messianic candidate was never rejected by anyone, I think that the nonrejection would suggest that he wasn't actually the Messiah.
  19. rakovsky Registered Member

    The weeks mean periods of 7 years, so it is saying that there are 490 years in this prophecy, and that Messiah is supposed to be rejected after 483 of those years.
    The countdown starts with the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, which was given in Ezra's time according to one of the books in the Old Testament about Ezra. Scholars claim that this refers to c.454 BC based on the references to the Persian rulers in the story, but I am not a good enough scholar to know that date myself.
    As far as I can tell, this prophecy never gives his first name.

    The etymology of the name Jesus (Yeshua) in Hebrew has Messianic significance, and in Matthew 1 it refers to this in God's words to Joseph:
    "She will give birth to a son, and you shall give Him the name Jesus, because He will save His people from their sins.”

    But the Old Testament doesn't explain clearly that this would be the Messiah's first name, AFAIK. I am by nature somewhat of a skeptic. There are some modern writers who claim that the Old Testament gives Jesus' name, but I haven't researched that enough and it isn't obvious enough to my limited knowledge of the O.T.

    I know what you mean, but the destruction of the Temple during the war with Rome is a pretty specific event that occurred in AD 70, and "flood" is used as a reference to war elsewhere in the Old Testament. So we are stuck thinking that this is a prophecy that the Messiah would come before 70 AD.

    And in real life the Temple was destroyed in the first century after Jesus was rejected.

    Yes, Jews and Christians make a big math calculation about it sometimes.

    Actually, the book of Acts names some of them in Gamaliel's discussion comparing Christianity to other Messianic movements of the period.
  20. spidergoat pubic diorama Valued Senior Member

    Because, frankly, the era was full of messianic figures and movements. Jesus was only the most well known. Everyone wanted to kick out the Romans, Judea was an occupied territory.
  21. rakovsky Registered Member

    One relevant question is whether retrocausality is even possible or if it's not even conceivable. That is, could a person have a "gift" or ability to directly perceive the future, or is that as inconceivable and irrational as the flat earth concept due to the Principle of Forward Causality?

    San Francisco Gate in its article Science Hopes to Change Event that Have Already Occurred gives this diagram below. Isn't it impressive?:

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!
    The underlined part in the paragraph below did not make sense to me:
    As I understand it, based on what the beginning of the paragraph says, if the photon passes through both the slits and the screen and then you raise the screen, the fact that later on you choose to raise the screen must be irrelevant. It's only going to record that it acted like a wave.

    If the photon passes through the slits only and you raise the screen so it doesn't pass through the screen, the fact that there was ever a screen there will also be irrelevant.

    I don't see how any of the underlined part above seems to affect where the photon went.

    Can someone please say how they understand this underlined issue?
  22. rakovsky Registered Member

    The existence of other claimants was not the crucial reason he was not recognized by the establishment, since Bar Kohba later had a big following.
    Jesus took on the religious and political Judean establishment with his social criticisms. That's a big motivator for the establishment not to accept him.

    The 18th to 19th centuries were an era full of new political and economic reforming philosophies in Western Europe, such as Nationalism, Marxism, and Republicanism. The fact that there were numerous philosophies was not the reason itself why the French Monarchy did not accept Republicanism or that the Capitalist establishment did not accept Marxism as its own philosophy. There were major conflicts of interest.
  23. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

    Retrocausality. Cool. I'll just go unhave that car accident last year and save myself a peck o' woe.

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