Unfulfilled Messianic Prophecy Pt 1 (2022)

One of the main reasons for employing an allegorical interpretation method is due to a specific set of beliefs regarding the future fulfillment of prophecy. Specifically, the belief that future fulfillment of prophecy can’t possibly be literal.

One apparent foundational belief of the allegorical method is that there is no future millennial Kingdom, but generally that the Kingdom is of an indeterminate duration that has already begun. This is referred to as amillennialism, or “not millennialism”. Therefore, it is believed in amillennialism that all the unfulfilled prophecies must be fulfilled allegorically rather than literally.

An alternative belief is that of millennialism, which states that the prophecies God gave of a future kingdom that have not been fulfilled literally at this point will be fulfilled literally at a future point. Those who ascribe to this belief are often called premillennialists.

One well known and regarded amillennialist, O. T. Allis, wrote that “the Old Testament prophecies if literally interpreted cannot be regarded as having been yet fulfilled or as being capable of fulfillment in this present age.” [2]

Another amillennialist, Floyd Hamilton wrote that “we must frankly admit that a literal interpretation of the Old Testament prophecies gives us just such a picture of an earthly reign of the Messiah as the premillennialist pictures.” [3]

If prophecy were clearly split into two sections in the Old Testament, where one section contained all the prophecies that have already been fulfilled and the other section contained all the prophecies that have not been fulfilled, then perhaps the case might be made that the unfulfilled prophecies might be interpreted differently than the already fulfilled prophecies.

However, as has already been noted regarding near and far fulfillment, numerous prophecies of the Messiah have been partially fulfilled. The other half of many of the prophecies that are part of the same sentence or paragraph in the original language are yet unfulfilled, and there is no logical reason that there should be a shift in method of interpretation for different parts of the same sentence or paragraph.

Partially Fulfilled Prophecies

Zechariah 9:9-10

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem!
Behold, your King is coming to you;
He is just and having salvation,
Lowly and riding on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.
I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
And the horse from Jerusalem;
The battle bow shall be cut off.
He shall speak peace to the nations;
His dominion shall be ‘from sea to sea,
And from the River to the ends of the earth.’” [1]

The first half of this prophecy was fulfilled literally when the Lord Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey in the week before He was crucified, recorded in Matthew 21:5. If half the prophecy was fulfilled literally, then there is coming a day when He will end war and bring peace, and will have dominion from sea to sea.

Zechariah 13:7-9

“Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd,
Against the Man who is My Companion,”
Says the LORD of hosts.
“Strike the Shepherd,
And the sheep will be scattered;
Then I will turn My hand against the little ones.
And it shall come to pass in all the land,”
Says the LORD,
“That two-thirds in it shall be cut off and die,
But one-third shall be left in it:
I will bring the one-third through the fire,
Will refine them as silver is refined,
And test them as gold is tested.
They will call on My name,
And I will answer them.
I will say, ‘This is My people’;
And each one will say, ‘The LORD is my God.’ ” [1]

The first part of this prophecy was fulfilled literally in the garden when the Lord Jesus was taken into custody, as recorded in Matthew 26:31 by the Lord Jesus Himself. The second half has not been fulfilled yet, for it is clear that this time of trouble will result in a third of the people remaining in the land faithful to their God. The destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70 does not fit, for the vast majority of the Jewish people were exiled or killed, with only a small remnant remaining. Therefore, there is a literal future time of trouble for Israel that will turn them back to the Lord.

Daniel 2:31-45

“You, O king, were watching; and behold, a great image! This great image, whose splendor was excellent, stood before you; and its form was awesome. This image’s head was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its belly and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay. You watched while a stone was cut out without hands, which struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in piece. … And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand forever. Inasmuch as you saw that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it broke in pieces the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver, and the gold—the great God has made known to the king what will come to pass after this. The dream is certain, and its interpretation is sure.”” [1]

Most of this prophecy has been fulfilled literally. Nebuchadnezzar was explicitly told that he was the head of gold, and that other kings would follow after him. The second, third and fourth kingdoms have quite clearly come and gone. The fifth, iron and clay, has not come yet, and therefore the kingdom God will set up, which will strike that fifth kingdom, has not yet been established. Therefore, there is a future literal kingdom of men that will precede the literal kingdom that God will establish, which will encompass the whole earth.

Psalm 110:1-2

“The LORD said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”
The LORD shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion.
Rule in the midst of Your enemies!” [1]

This prophecy is mostly unfulfilled. Hebrews 1:3 makes clear that the Lord Jesus has “sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high” [1], and so the first part has been fulfilled literally. The remainder is still future. There will be a literal time when the Father will place all things under His feet. However, the writer to the Hebrews explains that “now we do not yet see all things put under him” (Hebrews 2:8) [1], so this fulfillment is still future. Therefore, there is a future defeat of all the enemies of God, following which the Son will rule over His enemies out of Zion.

Psalm 22

The Lord Jesus on the cross cried part of Psalm 22:1. Psalm 22:18 was fulfilled by the soldiers who crucified Him. He cried “I thirst”, in fulfillment of Psalm 22:15. Many of the other verses in the first part of the psalm are direct references to the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus, which, while they use figurative language were literally fulfilled.

The second half of the psalm, however, remains unfulfilled. Given the literal fulfillment of the first part, the second part should be fulfilled literally too. This includes a future time when all the ends of the world will turn to the Lord (vs 27), Who will rule over the nations (vs 28).

[1] New King James Version, 1982, Thomas Nelson, Inc.

[2] Oswald T. Allis, “Prophecy and the Church”, The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, Philadelphia, 1945.

[3] Floyd E. Hamilton, “The Basis of Millennial Faith”, Eerdmans Publishing Company, Grand Rapids, 1942.

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