The Problem with Prophecies
Prophecies and their fulfillment, how they are made and what do they mean
A prophecy may be defined as a statement predicting future events. As such prophecies are very common, and many people deal with them on the daily bases. For example a person wishing to make any form of financial investment would need to take into account possible future developments of such investment. That would be an attempt to predict the future, or in other words to create some form of a prophecy.
There are two types of prophecy. The difference is in the time location of the underlying information on which the prophecy is being based. The first one is based on the events that happened in the past. The second one on the events that are to happen in the future. The first one is usually called 'an educated guess', the second one 'mystic prophecy' or 'prophecy proper'.
An educated guess
An educated guess is used by any person who has some prior experience in a given field. For example a person may know the manner in which a particular type of animals behave. Knowing that and seeing some conditions that occur at the moment that person would be able to predict the manner in which the animals would respond. That would be an educated guess, or a prophecy of the first kind. We all find it very common and natural.
In most cases we do not list all of the reasons that lead us to any given prediction of this type. Like when we say: "Oh, it is going to rain". We would not say about the clouds, pressure changes etc. It is as we were expecting a listener to know all of those underlying reasons by himself, and only the final outcome is needed to be uttered.
The second type of prophecy is similar to the first one. The difference is in the time location of the underlying knowledge. Here the prophetic statement is based on the events that have not yet occurred. They are to happen in the future, and based on those future events one is trying to predict some future outcome.
There is an obvious problem related to the second type of prophecies. Namely, if the events on which the prophecy is to be based, have not yet occurred then there is some form of uncertainty associated with the mechanism governing the outcome being predicted. In fact what one is trying to say is something like the following: "If this and that happens in the future, then this outcome will occur". However a prophet does not say the first part of this statement. He only declares the outcome: "saying: this outcome will occur". In this respect the second type of prophecy is similar to the first one. One could say that the prophets do not bother to list all the reasons for a given prediction. They just inform us about the final outcome of a given problem.
If this is the case then the prophecy which is based on some future events is difficult to interpret. We do not know what the prophecy has been based on, (as those events did not happen yet and the prophet did not bother to tell us as well). All we hear is some future outcome that is supposed to happen, but we do not know what it is about.
Prophecies are open to interpretation
Having established the above we should be wary of assigning interpretations to the mystic prophecies. All of those prophecies seem to be fitting and sure to come. When we listen to them, we feel like they must be true. Moreover, we instantly build in our minds some form of realization that would seem to be fitting and most likely. It makes the prophecy even more natural to be believed in.
The reason for this is in the uncertainty described above. By her very nature a mystic prophecy is vague, unclear and open for interpretation. Only the actual realization of the prophecy places her within the proper context and clarifies the interpretation.
An Example - The Messianic Prophecy
Both Christianity and Judaism expect coming of the Messiah. Both religions keep some prophecies related to the event, and both assign some interpretations to those prophecies. However, those expectations, or more precisely interpretations of the prophetic text differ substantially between the two.
The difference between the Messianic coming as seen by Judaism and Christianity is so great that one may see them as completely different events. Moreover, the expectations differ so much that those religions may be thinking about two different persons as well. In Christianity the Messiah is to come to make some form of judgmental and devastating actions. Moreover, Christianity expects a particular person to come (namely Jesus).
Judaism expects someone constructive to come. He is to save the nation, rebuild the country, bring peace and prosperity. Moreover, Judaism claims that the identity of the Messiah is so much obscured that any Jew could potentially be considered as a candidate for the position.
How come, the same prophecies could bring about such contradicting interpretations? The reason is in the nature of mystic prophecies, and in particular in their vagueness.
The actual coming of Messiah may place the prophecies in some practical context that has not been taken into account by any of those religions.
The Devastating Messiah
Christianity believes that the coming of the Messiah is to bring judgment and destruction. In a way it has already started. Please consider the following:
The Messiah is to be a savior/liberator of the Jews. He is to act on their behalf and defend them. It does not seem Jesus fits that bill. As far as we know he was in deep conflict with the Jewish society. Because of that the Jews did not, do not and will never want to recognize him as the Messiah. However, if the Jews will not recognize him as the Messiah, he can not be one.
That brings Christianity to its biggest problem ever. If the Jews ultimately refuse to recognize Jesus as the Messiah, then the entire Christian religion is negated. There is no escape from such negation, and the only solution that the Christians could come up with was to remove the Jews entirely.
If the Jews fail to exist then there would be no problem of them rejecting Jesus. Surely, such a bold step would be called "the final solution" of the Jewish problem. However, execution of such solution brings another problem. This time, the problem is in the very fact of taking such bold step. In a way Christianity declared: "We have tried to convince the Jews that Jesus is the Messiah. We have spent two thousand years doing so, but were not able to do so. We have failed in this respect".
Thus the occurrence of the Holocaust may be seen as an declaration of failure on the Christian site. But if so, also of declaration of invalidity of the Christian faith. Surely, that would be a devastating consequence of the Messianic times.
Jewish interpretation of the Messianic prophecy
First of all, potentially, any Jew could be the Messiah. An effect of such assumption is that the Messiah would not be much different from any ordinary Jew. So he could not be a miracle maker for example. Miracle makers are not common among the Jews nowadays. Also, he could not be too smart, or outstanding in any particular field. If any of those were demanded from the Messiah then it would narrow the pool of potential candidates.
Moreover, he could not be a great achiever of sorts. Again, any of such would narrow the pool of the potential candidates. The effect of this is that we would expect the Messiah to be very ordinary as a person.
However, we would expect that he would accomplish some specific tasks. One of those is the rebuilding of the country (which seems to have been done to some extend already). Another, is bring peace (that has certainly not been achieved yet). Still more, we expect the Messiah to rebuild the Temple. This last expectation is somewhat difficult to realize but most importantly difficult to understand.
The question is: "What does it mean to rebuild the Temple?". If this is just a building which needs to be rebuilt then, in theory at least, anyone could do that. To build out of stone and brick is a human exercise. Many people around the Globe build masonry structures every day. Therefore, if one expects the Messiah to be an ordinary person, and to perform an ordinary task then, what do we need the Messiah for? We can do it ourselves any time we want it.
What I am trying to say is, that the assumption about the commonality of the Messiah demands the redefinition of the tasks he is supposed to perform (or the goals he is supposed to achieve). Either this, or one would have to resign from the original assumption, and expect the Messiah to be extraordinary in his abilities and nature. This is what the Christians did. They said that their Messiah is extraordinary by nature and his actions. Because of this he did not have to rebuild the Temple, establish peace for Israel, nor recreate the country. He was supposed to be making miracles most of his life. We do not want to follow this model here.
Our Jewish Messiah is to be an ordinary Jew, who accomplishes extraordinary tasks. Like for example, rebuilds the Temple. This can not be the building of stones and bricks only, as it would be an ordinary task. The notion of the Temple would need to be defined in the context of the spiritual interactions with God as experienced by the Prophets of the First Temple era. Such rebuilding would make it an extraordinary achievement. And this is what I would suggest as the interpretation of the prophecy related to the Messiah and the Temple. He would need to rebuild the Spiritual interaction of the Jewish Nation with relation to God, as experienced by the Jews of the First Temple era.
Maybe he would do it in a manner similar to the one I suggested on my welcoming page. Maybe he would choose another method. Still, this is what the final effect of his actions in this respect would have to be. The world of conscious interactions with God, would have to be re-established among the Jews. The age of miracles would need to be brought back to the Jewish Nation.
What about the Temple itself? What would the Temple look like when rebuilt? What we need to remember is, that God is Spirit, and all of the Temples build of stone represent in some form or another that Spirit's internal structure and nature.
This is one of those points that not everybody is aware of. God is singular and unique, but at the same time has some internal structure and nature. Many teachers claim that the nature and structure of God is not comprehendible to a human being. They claim that only God can describe God. But such statements mean that only the Messiah would be able to describe God. They also indicate the original reason and need for the coming of the Messiah. He is the only person who is capable of describing God. If so, then the only thing he needs to do is to write a book containing such description. Thus, an ordinary Jew would perform an extraordinary achievement without making any miracles in the process.
The Temples build of stone, the artifacts associated with the Temple, all represent some feature of the internal nature of God. This is why they had to be constructed in a specific form and fashion. There is something in God that the Ark of Covenant represents, also there is something in God that the Holy of Holies represents. The same with any other elements of the Temple, and even the building itself represents something that is in God.
To build masonry Temple, would be to build a building, which is a truthful representation of the nature and structure of God.
Look, how many prophetic interpretations I have provided above. I have even published a book accessible through this site that claims to describe the nature of God. All of that, to show how difficult it is to know the meaning of a prophecy before the time of its realization. Read the book, search this site for information, buy the Spirit through my welcoming page. If you want to know the answers, maybe you will find them here.