What would you say to someone who is skeptical about “dual prophecy” where the prophecy was already fulfilled in a sense but could also refer to Jesus? For example, some Jews would assert that Isaiah 53 is about Israel and not about Jesus. I suspect this is not the only prophecy where this objection is used.


On double prophecy, let us allow God to decide what he wants to do with his own Scripture.  We can decide a-priori that God would never do such a thing (as many, including skeptics of Christianity, do), but that is obviously presumptuous, and it can possibly make for circular reasoning.  It can go something like this.  It would be confusing for God to allow a prophet to speak a prophecy which interweaves predictions about two or more future events.  Obviously, God would not do this.  Therefore he did not.  Therefore, anyone who proposes that a particular prophecy has a double or even a triple fulfillment is wrong.  End of story.
Well, if it were true that God would not do this, then the result would be correct, but the argument would still be circular reasoning and invalid!!!  This is clear presuppositional argument.
Here is the bottom line.  There are multiple clear and (in my humble opinion) obvious examples of what some call double prophecy in the Scripture.  If this is the case, then the question is settled, not because of circular reasoning, but because of the evidence.  Clear and obvious examples include Matthew 24 (about the destruction of Jerusalem is a slam dunk, and about the second coming is also a slam dunk), as well as Ezekiel 36 and Ezekiel 37 (and several other examples in Ezekiel), which are unmistakable and obviously about both the return of Judah to Palestine and about the establishment of the church.  I could cite literally dozens of examples.
Are there prophecies about which it is debatable whether they are double prophecies?  Yes, of course, but that they exist is established, not by appeals to reason, but by the evidence.
You mention what may be the most common example of a messianic prophecy which some try to simply dismiss because of this presupposition that the prophecy must be about one thing and one thing only.  In Isaiah 40-55 there are a number of references to the Servant or the Suffering Servant.  Some of these are rather obviously a reference to Israel, and are almost certainly NOT about Jesus.  Others are rather obviously messianic and NOT about Israel.  Still others seem to go both ways.  The argument is that the Servant of Isaiah 40-55 MUST be about only one thing, and scholars say it certainly is about Israel, and therefore is not about the Messiah.  This is false reasoning.  Plain and simple.  Besides, if we read Isaiah 53:1-12, if it were about only one (it is not), then it would be about the Messiah.  Jesus was pierced for our transgressions.  Jesus was silent when accused.  Jesus was assigned a grave with the wicked (plural) and with the rich (singular) in his death.  It is by Jesus’ wounds that we are healed.  Does some of this apply to Israel? Probably.  Would the Jews in the time of Isaiah have interpreted it that way?  Perhaps, but the fact is that some Jews saw messianic elements in Isaiah 53 even before Jesus lived.
In summary, this argument is not logically valid.  It is based on a presupposition, and, besides, it is presumptuous to tell God what he can or ought to do.  Most importantly, it is disproved by the evidence, and that alone would be sufficient to bury this false claim that there are no “double prophecies” in the Bible.
John Oakes

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