In the Gospel of Matthew, the author (Matthew) regularly claims that parts of Jesus’ life were “fulfilled” by the Old Testament. Christians claim that these were prophecies (predictions of future events) that were fulfilled. When looking up these passages in the Old Testament, Atheists call foul. Many of the verses, in context, have nothing to do with the events that Jesus did to fulfill them. In George H Smith’s Atheism: the Case Against God, he laments:
For another astounding prophecy, turn to Matthew 2.15, which refers to Jesus’ alleged flight into Egypt to escape Herod’s mass slaughter of children…
[Joseph and Jesus] remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt have I called my son.”
Observe the context of this “prophecy,” which was taken from Hosea 11:1:
When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.
This passage and those that follow clearly indicate that the “son” refers to Israel during its exodus from Egypt (such as in Exodus 4:22, where Israel is again referred to as God’s son). This “prophecy” refers to a past event. The author of Matthew, who would have us believe that Hosea 11:1 predicts a future event, is again very brazen in his distortion.
These are only two examples out of many similar cases. Time and again, Old Testament passages are distorted, misinterpreted and quoted out of context in the attempt to manufacture prophecies for Jesus.
Where Christians and Atheists disconnect is that the culture of ancient Judaism was not like modern American culture. In order to show events were true or from God, they were compared with parallel concepts. The concepts did not have to be exact or a prophecy (as Americans think of prophecy: foretelling future events). The point was more to show precedence: to show that God was doing something in the New Testament, the Old Testament was shown to have a similar concept. The apostle Paul is known to do this (see Romans 9:25 v Hosea 1:10 and 2:23). Matthew does this to no end, infuriating critics of Christianity.
A proper rendition of “fulfilled” would be “paralleled” (or “precedented”):
Mat 2:15 and was there until the death of Herod, paralleled by that which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “OUT OF EGYPT I CALLED MY SON.”