Do the messianic prophesies in the Old Testament really point to Jesus as the messiah, or did the disciples associate Him with unrelated passages? Actually, the answer is neither.
One way skeptics have denied the resurrection and divinity of Jesus is to point out that many messianic prophecies in the Old Testament never actually referred to a messiah. Yet, because Christians are so deceptive and power hungry, they wrote Jesus in such a way that made Him “fit” these OT passages. The argument is that since these passages never referred to Jesus Himself, the writers of the Gospels, believing that He was Messiah, simply joined the dots themselves. If one can explain why Jesus wasn’t the Messiah, His divinity and resurrection will fall as well. It’s a creative theory, but it sits on a false premise.
Most of the OT “prophecies” aren’t prophecies at all. Some, including Isaiah 53 and Daniel 9, are prophetic in nature. Others, like Hosea 11:1 or Psalm 41:9, clearly aren’t. The latter two are verses used by youtube atheist NumberOneSon, in his response to popular apologist Josh McDowell, to make his point. He asks that if these verses were never associated or seen as a messianic prophecy, why does Matthew, in verse 2:15, say He fulfilled it (the supposed prophecy being Hosea 1:11)?
New Testament scholar, Richard Longnecker, notes in his book Biblical Exegesis in the Apostolic Period that the majority of OT prophecies aren’t the OT predicting the future, as skeptics would have us believe, but the NT documenting a re-enactment of an event in the past.
In Biblical times, re-enacting an event in the OT or the Torah was a sure sign that one was an agent of God. In other words, it was their test of authenticity, since they believed that God’s acts in history would mirror the past. This is why Matthew says that Jesus “fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet.” Matthew is confirming that God has acted in history. This is also why the majority of Jesus’s miracles were similar to events in the OT. For example, compare Elisha feeding 200 people in 2 Kings 4 to Jesus feeding 5000 in the Gospels. A messiah would be expected to re-enact past events to show that He really was from God, and we see Jesus doing that time and time again.
Many times sceptics create these arguments from the teaching of mainstream Christian voices. The problem is, they themselves don’t know how to properly handle Scripture, so what we have is a classic example of the blind leading the blind. Of course, that doesn’t excuse skeptics from doing some research, but we should also keep in mind that mainstream Christianity is often kicking its own toes.