In my last post, I talked about the importance of biblical prophecy in determining whether or not the Bible is truly inspired by God. I offered a list of criteria we could use to examine each prophecy, and that’s the criteria we’ll be considering as we move forward.
The importance of the Bible in our modern society can’t be diminished. It’s arguably the most significant book in Western culture, and many people believe that it is the inspired Word of God. But is it? Greek mythology was vitally important to the Greek and Roman Empires, but did that make it true? Examining the prophecies in the Bible can give us a good indication of whether or not it really is what it claims to be.
The first one I’d like to look at is found in Jeremiah 33. Verse 17 says, “For thus says the Lord: ‘David shall never lack a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel’”. This has long been considered a prophecy of Christ. At the time this was given, it’s likely that Jews believed it referred to the literal, physical kingdom of Judah. After the Babylonian captivity, they probably believed this prophecy pointed toward a reestablishment of that physical kingdom. In fact, the Jews in Christ’s day seemed to believe that very thing, according to the gospels. Of course, Christians have pointed out that this has not happened in a physical sense. So are they right in claiming that this prophecy refers to Christ?
I think an interesting component of that question centers around the next verse: “and the Levitical priests shall never lack a man in my presence to offer burnt offerings, to burn grain offerings, and to make sacrifices forever.” In my opinion, this is a real issue. Jeremiah is obviously referring to the Levitical priesthood under the Old Law. So how could verse 17 be referring to a spiritual kingdom? Since these are given together, it really only makes sense to see them as both referring to the physical priesthood and kingdom of Judah.
Of course, the bigger problem is that verse 18 didn’t come true. No Levitical priest has offered sacrifices for almost 2000 years. If we’re following the rule set forth in Deuteronomy 18:22, then apparently Jeremiah is not a true prophet.
How can we explain this issue? Verses 17 and 18 go together, so there’s no way to say verse 17 is talking about Christ and his spiritual kingdom when verse 18 is obviously talking about the Levitical priesthood. We could try to explain it by saying that Christ became our high priest, according to the book of Hebrews. But this doesn’t answer it either since Hebrews tells us he was high priest by the order of Melchizedek – not the order of Levi. Specifying Levites in this passage inarguably sets the context to the physical priesthood of the Old Testament. Honestly, I don’t see a way to really answer this problem. Jeremiah made a prophecy that did not come to pass. More than likely, he was just an individual who loved his country and wanted to see it go on forever. But that didn’t mean he was inspired by God. And when we see that his prophecy didn’t come true, it shows us that fact.
Is it possible for this one area to be wrong, but for the rest of the Bible to still be true? I don’t see how. Why would a perfect being allow his incredibly important message to be corrupted in a way that would cause it to look untrue? I think this one issue is enough to show that the Bible can’t be inspired, but when I was a believer one issue wouldn’t have been enough to convince me of that. But as it stands this is not the only issue. My next post will address that further.