The Bible says you shouldn’t “treat prophecies with contempt”… at least not without testing them first. Then you can reject the bad ones. So let’s do that. Let’s see how many of the Bible’s prophecies have turned out to be wrong (according to the Bible and/or in reality).
I’m not quite going to be able to “test them all“, though, because a lot of prophecies are unfalsifiable. That means even if they are in fact false, even if those predictions are never going to come true, there’s no way to know that. It’s always possible that those particular things just haven’t happened yet. But here’s what I will be evaluating:
- Prophecies that specify or imply any kind of deadline for fulfillment. (These can be falsified (shown to be false) if the deadline has gone by.)
- Prophecies that are no longer possible to fulfill, even if they didn’t originally have a deadline. (If it hasn’t happened yet in that case, it’s a false prophecy.)
- Prophecies that say something will never happen. (These can be falsified if it does happen.)
- Prophecies that are considered to be already fulfilled. (Some of these may not exactly be falsifiable, but I can still dispute the supposed fulfillment.)
I’ll be writing about true predictions in later posts. For now, here are some of the false ones:
Acknowledged false prophecies
The Bible doesn’t completely deny that prophecies can be false. Usually it tries to portray the false ones as having nothing to do with God, but then of course it has to go and contradict itself and attribute ALL prophecy to God.
Sometimes in the Bible, God even intentionally has prophets make false predictions. He had Ahab’s prophets tell him he would be victorious, when he knew Ahab was going to die in battle. Even God’s own prophet Micaiah, who could never prophesy anything God hadn’t put in his mouth, gave the same false prediction at first. God’s prophet Elisha, too, told a king he would live when he knew the king was about to die. God deceived his people when he told the prophet Jeremiah that they would have peace.
No more false or delayed prophecies?
In Ezekiel 12, though, God tells Ezekiel that from now on, not only will there be no more false prophecies ever again, there won’t even be any more delayed prophecies. God is tired of people thinking his predictions aren’t going to come true any time soon (if ever). So he says from now on, all prophecies will be fulfilled without delay.
That means every prediction that is made after this chronologically and isn’t fulfilled immediately is not only a false prophecy itself, but also shows that this Ezekiel 12 prediction is false. And there are plenty of those. The very next chapter is all about false prophets, who aren’t supposed to exist anymore.
In the chapter after that, God says his people are going to stop going astray and sinning. Did that happen immediately? No, if they had, God would have instantly forgiven them and not punished them. Instead, God immediately starts talking about how much he’s going to punish his people, and how much they deserve it. And he goes on like that for at least several chapters.
A few chapters later, we hear about the false prophets again, who are still having “false visions” despite God’s prediction that they wouldn’t anymore. Then God says he’s going to destroy Ammon, Moab, Edom, and Philistia. But that doesn’t happen without delay. All of those nations lasted at least another century, except Philistia… which had already been conquered two centuries earlier.
Next, God claims that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon will completely and permanently destroy Tyre. Nebuchadnezzar did attack Tyre during Ezekiel’s time, but unsuccessfully. It wasn’t really conquered until decades later (by a different king, after Babylon was taken over by Persia). Tyre wasn’t actually destroyed until hundreds of years later, by Alexander the Great. And Tyre did later recover. It existed in the New Testament, and it still exists today.
God also claims he’s going to make Egypt a desolate uninhabited wasteland,1 which never happened. Then in the next chapter, he says the day of the Lord is near, when all nations will be destroyed. That certainly didn’t happen immediately. A couple of chapters after that, God describes a bunch of nations being destroyed. But that should have already happened if the “no more delay” thing was true, since he had already said all the nations would be destroyed. Some of those nations had in fact already come to an end before Ezekiel was written, and others continued to exist for a long time after.
God told Ezekiel that the Jews would return from captivity, which didn’t happen for a few more decades, and that the other nations would never scorn or oppress them again, which wasn’t true at all. He said Israel would no longer have malicious neighbors, but Israel has never been completely at peace with its neighbors.
He went on to claim that all the Israelites would return from the nations where they had been thoroughly scattered, so the twelve tribes would live in their land again. That never happened. The people from the former kingdom of Judah returned, but the majority of the tribes (which formed the kingdom of Israel and which were exiled first) never came back as far as I know. God says Israel will then be attacked after reassembling “in future years”. That sure doesn’t sound like it’s happening without delay.
Daniel, too, made false or delayed predictions after God claimed that those would never be made again. He predicted the rise of a unique kingdom that would “devour the whole earth“, which never happened. And he predicted that sin would permanently come to an end in “seventy sevens” (490 years?), which would be a significant delay even if it was true. And then there’s Jesus, who is said to have promised he would return “soon“, yet 2000 years later he still hasn’t come back. His words were certainly not “fulfilled without delay”.
More unacknowledged false prophecies
Back when Adam and Eve were expelled from Eden, God claimed that from then on all animals would become submissive and would fear humans. But the Bible says some animals, like the Leviathan, remained fearless and never submitted to humans at all.
God said if Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, all the water in Egypt would turn into blood. Not just the big exposed natural bodies of water, but all the water everywhere in Egypt. But that’s not quite how it turned out. People were still able to get actual water in Egypt. They just had to dig a little.
Through the prophet Isaiah, God promised his people that he would never inflict his wrath on them again, or even rebuke them again. But God does continue to constantly rebuke his people and talk about how he’s planning to punish them, all throughout Jeremiah and Ezekiel, and quite a few times in other later books as well. God can’t even predict his own actions.
Isaiah said the uncircumcised would never enter Jerusalem again, but Jerusalem does not have a ban on uncircumcised visitors. God failed to predict his own actions again when he said he would bless his people from then on, but then later he decided to curse them all.
John the Baptist predicted that someone greater than him would come after him. This is supposed to have been fulfilled by Jesus. But according to Jesus himself, as someone born of a woman, he could not have been greater than John.
Jesus claimed that anyone who came to him would never be hungry or thirsty again. So are all Christians “breatharians“, able to live without eating or drinking? Of course not. Jesus is wrong, as usual. Even if you interpret his claim metaphorically, he’s still wrong.
Jesus also claimed that everyone who believed in him would be able to do everything he could do and more. Specifically, he said they would be able to handle snakes and drink poison without being harmed. Unfortunately, he was wrong, and a lot of people have died trying to do those things. Being a Christian doesn’t give you any of those abilities.
Attempts to predict success
God told Moses that he was sure the king of Egypt would not be willing to let the Israelites go unless someone more powerful compelled him to do it. But the king turned out to be more willing to do what God said than God expected, sooner than he expected. God actually had to repeatedly compel him NOT to obey, in order to make it look like his failed prediction of the king’s complete stubbornness was right.
When Moses was about to try to take the people through Edomite territory, God told him the Edomites would be afraid of them. But when they encountered the Edomites, the Israelites were the ones who were actually afraid.
God told the Israelites that no one would covet their land after the other nations were driven out of it. He was wrong. The Ammonites wanted their land back. God also told the Israelites they would lack nothing in that land. Apparently he didn’t see all those famines coming.
When God chose Joshua to conquer the promised land, he told him no one would be able to stand against him all his life. That was consistent with what Joshua’s predecessor Moses had said, but it wasn’t true. Joshua failed to defeat Ai at first. Some of the Amorites survived his attack. And Joshua’s army was never able to defeat the Jebusites, the Canaanites in Gezer, or the Canaanites in the region where the tribe of Manasseh would later settle.
According to Psalm 89, God said the enemy would not get the better of David, and the wicked would not oppress him, because God would keep his covenant with him forever. Then David’s walls and strongholds were destroyed, his enemies defeated him, and everyone around plundered him, because God rejected him, renounced his covenant with him, stopped helping him, and decided to help his enemies instead.
The prophets at Jericho weren’t good enough to be able to predict that their search for Elijah would fail.
Attempts to predict people’s decisions
Joseph had dreams that were interpreted as predictions that his father, mother, and brothers would all bow down to him. But his mother was already dead when he had those dreams, so she obviously never did. It does say his brothers bowed down to him later, but not his father. In fact, Joseph bowed down to his father after they were reunited, not the other way around.
God thought his people would stop grumbling against him and Moses after they saw Aaron’s staff sprout. They didn’t. Later, God said he thought his people would return to him. They didn’t. He thought they would be faithful to him. They weren’t. He thought they would surely repent after he gave them a little correction. They didn’t.
When the Israelites decided to appoint a human king over themselves, God had the prophet Samuel warn them that their king would enslave the people and confiscate a lot of their property. But King Saul never did any of that. He was good to his people. Some of the later kings may have done some stealing and enslaving, but even that doesn’t really match Samuel’s description. The way Joseph treated his subjects in Egypt sounds a lot more like what Samuel was saying. But of course, Joseph wasn’t a king of Israel or Judah.
When God appeared to Job, he said he would question Job, and Job would answer him. But Job never answered a single one of God’s questions. (Not that they were worth answering.)
Isaiah has a prophecy about a chosen servant of God who will not cry out or be heard in the streets. Matthew claims this is about Jesus, but Jesus did cry out, and was heard in the streets. Isaiah also has a prophecy about someone remaining silent as he’s being killed, which Christians claim is also about Jesus. If these really are predictions about Jesus, they’re false ones. All four gospels agree that Jesus did not suffer silently.
God told Isaiah that Cyrus would rebuild God’s city, but Cyrus only had the temple rebuilt. Artaxerxes still had to have the rest of the city rebuilt later. God also told Isaiah that foreigners would rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, but they were actually rebuilt by Jews. And God also told Isaiah that the salvation he was going to bring his people would not be delayed. Is that supposed to be about Cyrus letting the Jews return to their own land and rebuild the temple? Because that was delayed by over 100 years.
According to some of the gospels, Jesus predicted that Peter would disown him three times before the rooster crowed. But according to Mark, the rooster crowed for the second time immediately after Peter’s third denial. So it must have already crowed before he got in all three denials.
David wrote about people conspiring against God. The apostles later claimed that this was a prediction that had been fulfilled by Herod and Pilate. (And that those guys were doing what God’s will had already decided should happen.) But what David wrote was obviously just a description of what was happening at the time, not a prediction. And even if it was a prediction, how could a prediction of people conspiring against God be fulfilled by people doing God’s will?
According to Paul, when God found David and decided to make him king, God said that David would do everything he wanted him to do. But he didn’t. God wanted David to name his son Jedidiah, but David named him Solomon instead. God also wanted David to refrain from doing a lot of things that he did not refrain from doing. God didn’t want his king to have many wives. He didn’t want any of his people to commit adultery. But David did those sinful things, and a whole lot more.
David asked God if his enemy Saul would come to the city he was hiding in, and if the people of the city would hand him over. God said yes, all of that would happen. But none of it actually did happen, because David ran away from that city.
After David was established as king of Israel, God said wicked people would not oppress them anymore, Israel would no longer be disturbed, and they would have rest from all their enemies. In the next chapter, David attacks the surrounding nations. Had they provoked that attack? Either David was killing people for no reason, or God was wrong. Actually, he was wrong either way, as you can see from all the conflict that followed:
Two chapters later, Israel was disturbed by the Ammonites. Later, Judah seceded, and its evil kings were at war with Israel. One king of Judah brutally oppressed his own people. God didn’t just fail to predict that Aram would oppress Israel, he made it happen! And Shalmaneser totally conquered Israel. God’s claim that his people would have peace was completely false. He told them the same thing again later, which would have been unnecessary if it had been true in the first place. And it was a lie this time, too.
Daniel had a vision where he was told how long it would be before the Anointed One would be put to death and would put an end to sacrifice. The vague numbers given here can be interpreted as pointing to about the time of Jesus. Christians consider Jesus to be the Messiah, which literally means “the Anointed One”. And they believe the death of Jesus made sacrifice rituals no longer necessary. So this could easily be seen as a prophecy about Jesus. But if it is, it’s another false one. Jesus didn’t set up an abomination in the temple and have his followers destroy Jerusalem, did he?
God told the prophet Joel that his people would never again be shamed. Has everyone always been perfectly respectful to Jews since then? I don’t think so. He told the prophet Zechariah that no oppressor would ever overrun his people again. He would make sure of that. God is supposed to not just know everything, but also be actively preventing anything like this from ever happening. He has no excuse for getting this wrong.
Even when God makes up stories about himself, he can’t even make it seem like he’s any good at predicting what others will do. In a parable Jesus told, the character representing God sends his son to deal with some violent people, thinking they will respect his son. They end up killing his son.
Attempts to predict life events
God told Isaac that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the sky. The number of stars in the observable universe is like a trillion times more than the number of humans who will ever exist. So that prediction is way off, unless it means just the number of stars that are visible to the naked eye (a few thousand). And if that’s the case, the promise is awfully unimpressive compared to the real number of Hebrews.
Jacob predicted that Ephraim’s descendants would become a group of nations. They only became part of one nation.
The gospel of John has people talking about supposed prophecies about the Messiah, which as they point out, Jesus did not fulfill. Supposedly there were predictions that no one would know where the Messiah was from, and that he would come from Bethlehem, and definitely not from Galilee. Oddly, these prophecies aren’t actually present in the Old Testament. Usually when the New Testament authors make up messianic prophecies, they try to make them sound like accurate descriptions of Jesus!
God told Abraham he could be certain that his descendants would spend 400 years in a country where they would be enslaved. This is obviously supposed to be a prediction about the Israelites’ time in Egypt. But the Bible lists Kohath among the 70 or so members of Jacob’s family who initially moved to Egypt, it says Kohath lived 133 years, his son Amram lived 137 years, and Amram’s son Moses was 80 when he brought Israel out of Egypt. So they must have only been in Egypt for less than 350 years.
God told Jacob he would no longer be called Jacob. But everybody still calls him Jacob. God called him Jacob later when he told him he would bring him back after he went to Egypt, which was also false. Jacob died in Egypt.
Jacob predicted that Simeon and Levi would be scattered and dispersed in Israel, which was only half true. The tribe of Simeon wasn’t particularly scattered; that describes Manasseh better than Simeon.
Jacob said Zebulun’s territory would be by the seashore and extend toward Sidon. I don’t see anything about any of that in the description of the land Zebulun actually got. Moses said Naphtali would “inherit southward to the lake“. I don’t see anything about a lake in the description of the land Naphtali actually got. And Naphtali was one of the northernmost tribes. The only way it would be at all accurate to describe Naphtali’s inheritance as “southward” would be if he had just been talking about Asher… which he didn’t mention until after Naphtali.
God told Jeremiah about a future righteous savior descended from David. Could this be a prophecy about Jesus? If it is, it’s yet another false one. This savior isn’t supposed to appear until Israel and Judah have returned to their homelands and have been restored just the way they were before. The kingdoms of Israel and Judah were not re-established 2000 years ago.
It would be pretty hard for the people of both Judah and Israel to return to their own lands at all, since nobody’s been keeping track of which people are descended from the kingdom of Israel. But God told Ezekiel that the scattered people of Israel would return to their own land, not leaving any behind, and they would live there forever in safety. He told Amos more or less the same thing. He had it all planned out exactly what land each of the twelve tribes would get when they returned from exile.
The closest thing to a fulfillment of this is when some people returned to Judah (not Israel) from other countries. But they did not live there in safety, or for very long. A bunch of them got killed, the rest got kidnapped, and even after they were rescued, they lived in fear of the Babylonians. So they fled to Egypt, where they all died.2
God also told Ezekiel that after the scattered people of Israel returned to their own land, they would be attacked by several nations at once. And that they would also experience a bunch of enormous supernatural disasters. That and the prophecy about living peacefully there forever can’t both be true.
God said Eli’s family would serve Israel as priests forever. Then he changed his mind.
Jonathan thought he could predict the future by interpreting signs from God, but his predictions weren’t always right. He made a failed prediction that he would be second-in-command when David was king. (He actually died before David became king.)
Jacob said the ruler’s staff would not depart from Judah until the rightful ruler finally came, who all the nations would obey. This sounds like some kind of messianic prophecy or something. But it sounds like it’s saying the Messiah is supposed to come as soon as there is no longer any other king reigning over Judah. That didn’t happen, did it? Unless Nebuchadnezzar was the Messiah. And is Jacob saying all of Israel’s kings until then will be from the tribe of Judah? Because the Bible says Israel’s first kings were from Manasseh and Benjamin.
God told David that he would never take his love away from David’s son Solomon, and David’s family and kingdom would endure forever.3 He said David’s descendants would always rule over Israel, even if they didn’t obey God. David was quite excited that God was revealing his family’s future to him.
But it didn’t turn out the way God told him it would. When Solomon turned away from God, God got angry at him and took most of the kingdom away from Solomon’s descendants. The house of David was left with only the much smaller kingdom of Judah, which was no longer part of Israel. And the kingdoms of Israel and Judah both eventually came to an end.
Several prophets predicted that a future king would reign on David’s throne over his kingdom. If we assume, as Christians do, that these prophecies are about Jesus, that makes them false prophecies.4 There’s also a similar prediction by an angel in the New Testament that actually is about Jesus, so that’s definitely a false prophecy. While some people did falsely accuse him of trying to become king, Jesus actually actively refused to be king of the Jews. And the Jews didn’t consider him their king either. His kingdom was something else.
If Jesus actually had become the king of the Jews, though, that would make another prophecy false. Jesus was a descendant of Jehoiachin (AKA Jeconiah), whose descendants Jeremiah said would never rule on David’s throne again. Speaking of Jehoiachin, he was the successor to Jehoiakim, who Jeremiah predicted would not have a successor at all.
Jeremiah emphatically predicted in God’s name that David would never fail to have a descendant to reign on the throne of Israel. He really should have known better. This prediction was made shortly before the end of the reign of the last king of Judah (a descendent of David), more than a century after the end of the kingdom of Israel, and more than three centuries after the last time Israel had a king who was a descendent of David.
Daniel had a vision where he was told about a mighty king of Persia who would arise five kings after the then-current king Cyrus. Then this king’s empire would be weakened and broken up and given to unrelated people, not to his descendants. Five Persian kings after Cyrus was Artaxerxes I, who in reality was succeeded by three of his own sons, and then by four more descendants of one of those sons. Some people seem to think the mighty king is supposed to be Alexander the Great, but he came later, not just five kings after Cyrus like the prophecy said.
God said Ahab’s family would be destroyed in the days of his son. It wasn’t actually destroyed until after two of Ahab’s sons had succeeded him and died, and the kingdom had been taken over by someone unrelated.
God had the prophet Elijah tell Ahab that dogs would lick up his blood in the vineyard he had stolen from Naboth. He then emphasized that he was talking specifically about Ahab’s blood. Later, the king who destroyed Ahab’s family claimed that this prophecy was being fulfilled when he killed one of Ahab’s sons and then had him thrown into Naboth’s vineyard. But the prophecy was about Ahab, not his son. Ahab himself died in battle in Ramoth Gilead, not in Naboth’s vineyard.
Isaiah told Hezekiah he would not recover from his illness. And he recovered.
The prophet Huldah said Josiah would be buried in peace. Josiah died in battle. Jeremiah said Zedekiah would die peacefully. The Babylonians attacked his city, captured him, killed all his sons in front of him, gouged out his eyes, and kept him in prison till he died. Would you call that peaceful?
Ezekiel prophesied about a “prince” having to have a hole dug through the wall, and then being captured and taken to Babylonia, where he would die without ever being able to see the land, because he’d be covering his face. If this is supposed to be about Zedekiah, the last king of Judah, it doesn’t match what the Bible says actually happened to him. Zedekiah didn’t have to dig a hole in the wall to escape the besieged city; he went through a gate. And if he couldn’t see the land,5 it was because the king of Babylon gouged his eyes out, not because he covered his own face.
When Peter drew his sword, Jesus warned him that all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Peter died by crucifixion.
Paul told the men he was sailing with that their voyage would bring great loss to their lives. But later he predicted that they would all survive, which is what actually happened. Did he think he could get away with making opposing predictions, and that everyone would just ignore whichever one turned out to be false?
Failed predictions of survival
According to the Bible, God’s predictions about whether someone is going to die are completely unreliable. If he says you’re definitely not going to die, it’s quite possible that you’ll die anyway, and vice versa.
God told Jeremiah that the people of Israel would not be disdained or have their numbers decreased. He failed to predict that the Nazis would disdain the Jews so much that they would decrease their numbers by 6 million.
Paul wrote to the Philippians that he knew he would remain alive in this world for their sake. He said he was confident that he would be able to visit them soon. This was when Paul was awaiting his trial before Nero, who would have him executed about two years later.
Paul also claimed that Jesus had destroyed death. If that was true, nobody would ever have died since then.
When an angel was talking about multitudes of people coming back to life, someone asked him how long it would be before that happened. The angel’s answer sounded more like he was talking about how long something would last. So maybe the angel just failed to answer the question he was asked. But if his reply was actually about what he was asked, and if the usual interpretation of that answer as 3 1/2 years is correct, it’s clearly a false prediction. Everybody didn’t come back to life and become immortal back in Daniel’s time.
God told the prophet Malachi that he was going to send the dead prophet Elijah to try to redeem his people before God destroyed everything. Jesus claimed that this had been fulfilled, that Elijah had come, and that the rumors that John the Baptist was a reincarnation of Elijah were true. But John himself said he was not Elijah. If he was really Elijah, wouldn’t he know it?
According to all four gospels, Jesus (repeatedly) predicted that he would be buried for three days and three nights. But according to the gospels, he died in the afternoon on the day of Preparation before the Sabbath, and he rose before dawn on the first day of the week. That’s less than two days and two nights.
According to the Bible, God can’t predict the downfall of a city or nation any more reliably than he can predict the death of an individual. If he says a kingdom will be destroyed, it’s quite possible that it will actually go on doing just fine, or vice versa.
Moses said God would help his people completely eliminate all the nations that were already living in the land he was giving the Israelites. But later, God decided to leave some of them there. Moses’s successor Joshua also told them God would drive out the nations before them, including the Jebusites. But the Israelites weren’t able to get rid of the Jebusites, and had to live alongside them.
Isaiah said (after two chapters of describing how Moab would be completely destroyed) that Moab’s downfall would come within three years. He also said Kedar would come to an end within one year. Moab and Qedar lasted hundreds of years after Isaiah’s life.
Edom, on the other hand, is apparently somehow not supposed to be destroyed until after the heavens are destroyed, according to Isaiah’s prophecy. Yet in reality, the sky is still there, even though Edom was destroyed thousands of years ago.
God told Jeremiah that all nations would serve Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar did expand his kingdom, but I don’t think he took over the whole world.
God told Jeremiah the day had come to destroy all the Philistines. But the Philistines were never destroyed like that. Instead, they were assimilated into the Babylonians and Persians. And even that didn’t happen until more than a century after Jeremiah. So no, the time had not come.
Ezekiel prophesied that the Ammonites wouldn’t even be remembered anymore. This mention of the Ammonites was then included in the #1 best-selling book of all time, ensuring that that prediction would be false. He also said Tyre would never be rebuilt. That’s a city that exists today, and has been continuously inhabited for thousands of years.
Jonah prophesied that Ninevah would be overthrown in 40 days. That wasn’t what was actually going to happen, and Jonah knew it, but God forced him to deliver the false prophecy anyway. Centuries later, Ninevah still had yet to be destroyed.
The end of Egypt
Isaiah said that one day, some areas in Egypt would convert to an Abrahamic religion and would also start speaking the language of Canaan, and Egypt, Israel, and Assyria would become completely co-operative with each other. None of that ever happened in the past, and it’s not likely to happen in the future either, now that the Assyrian nation and the Canaanite language are dead.
Jeremiah predicted a devastating attack on Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar, where he would demolish the sacred pillars in Heliopolis, and the Egyptian city of Memphis would be completely laid waste. Nebuchadnezzar never really invaded Egypt at all, he didn’t destroy Memphis, and the sacred pillars of Heliopolis are still there.
Ezekiel said Nebuchadnezzar would conquer Egypt, and God would scatter the Egyptians and make their land into a desolate wasteland, where there wouldn’t even be any animals for 40 years. None of that ever happened.7 He said Egypt would never rule over other nations again, which it certainly did.
The end of Babylon
Isaiah prophesied that Babylon would immediately come to an end after being overthrown by the Medes, and would never be inhabited again. The Medes never conquered Babylon, it was never violently destroyed the way Isaiah described, it continued to exist for another thousand years, and there are still people living in that area today.
Jeremiah, too, prophesied that the Medes were going to destroy Babylon, which of course they never did. He said in 70 years, God was going to make Babylon desolate forever. But Babylon was not always desolate after 517 BC. He said there wouldn’t even be any animals in Babylon anymore, which even those same chapters of the Bible admit is wrong.
The king of Babylon had a dream that Daniel interpreted to mean that his kingdom would be followed by an inferior one, then a kingdom that would rule over the whole earth, and then one more strong kingdom that would crush all the others, but would be divided. And in the time of those kings, God would establish a kingdom that would last forever and would crush all the other kingdoms. It’s not clear whether the everlasting kingdom is supposed to be the same one as the fourth kingdom, or a fifth one. But in any case, this prediction doesn’t seem to match what actually happened:
Babylon became part of Persia, then Greece. Then the empire was divided before there had been enough new kingdoms to match the prophecy. Then Babylon became part of the Persian Empire again, rather than a new fourth kingdom. Was that the everlasting kingdom of God that Daniel predicted? Or maybe he was talking about when Babylon would later be taken over by Muslims?
Daniel had a vision where he was told that that the king who would conquer Babylon after the Greek kingdom was divided would consider himself superior and would destroy the holy people. In reality, Mithridates I of Parthia was known for his religious tolerance, and he obviously didn’t kill all the Jews.
The end of Israel and Judah
The prophet Micah complained that false prophets were falsely prophesying that Israel was not coming to an end. He said God was going to destroy his people’s land just because those prophets said he wouldn’t. But those prophets weren’t the only ones making false predictions about the end of Israel and Judah. The Bible-approved prophets of God weren’t any better at it. Micah himself said God said Jerusalem was going to be destroyed. But then God changed his mind and didn’t destroy it. Then he predicted that Israel would be rescued when the Assyrians invaded, which they weren’t.
God told Isaiah that Aram, Ephraim, and the son of Remaliah (the king of Israel) were plotting to invade and take over Judah, but that what they were planning would not happen. Yet the Bible says that’s pretty much what did happen. Judah was defeated by precisely the same people God said wouldn’t defeat them.
Then God told Ahaz king of Judah that the king of Assyria would attack him and devastate his land. But Ahaz actually got the king of Assyria to help him instead of attacking him. Israel, not Judah, was defeated by the Assyrians. And Judah was later defeated by the Babylonians, not the Assyrians.
Isaiah made a prediction about the demise of Israel, which would have been true thanks to the unnecessarily late 65-year deadline. But then he shortened the deadline to just the few years it would take for a child to become capable of moral reasoning, which is probably too short. This prediction was made before the beginning of the reign of Hoshea of Israel, and Israel was defeated in Hoshea’s ninth year, so that’s at least nine years after the prediction. I’d say Isaiah’s revised prediction of the timing of the end of Israel was wrong. Unless you consider that it didn’t specify when this child would be born… But if he could be born at any time, that makes the prediction unfalsifiable and pointless.
The New Testament misinterprets that prophecy as being about Jesus. If that was really what it was about, that would also make it a false prediction, because they gave him the wrong name. And also because if Jesus is God, he should always have known enough to reject the wrong and choose the right. And if this was about Jesus, that would also make the deadline for laying waste the land way more absurdly unnecessarily late than even Isaiah’s original 65-year estimate.
Jeremiah prophesied that all Judah would be completely carried away into exile, but not all the people were.
Strangely, Isaiah and Jeremiah both prophesied that Jerusalem (which was the capital of Judah) would never be disturbed. That’s neither true nor consistent with their other predictions about Judah. Different religious groups have been constantly fighting over Jerusalem over the centuries.
God told Hosea he wouldn’t devastate Ephraim again. Ephraim was part of the kingdom of Israel, which was conquered about 30 years later.
God showed the prophet Amos visions of disasters that were supposedly going to happen to Israel. But then he decided not to actually do those things. So if you were wondering where all those “false visions” come from that God keeps complaining about prophets having, now you know. False visions come from God.8
God told Amos the time was ripe for Israel, and that he would spare them no longer. Israel lasted at least another 25 years and six kings.
God told the prophet Nahum that wicked people wouldn’t invade Judah anymore. That was before Nebuchadnezzar invaded Judah and put an end to that kingdom.
God told Noah that as long as the earth exists, day and night will never cease. But he told Zechariah about a time when the earth will still exist, but there will be no day and night. So who did God lie to?
Isaiah prophesied that one day the moon would shine like the sun and the sun would be seven times brighter. If anything like that ever happened, I don’t think anyone on earth would survive it. Yet this is unrealistically presented as part of a general improvement of God’s people’s situation, not as an apocalyptic prediction.
Even more absurdly, Isaiah and Jesus both said that when the world does end, the stars will fall out of the sky. That’s clearly false. Space does not work that way.
Jesus’s disciples seemed to think the world was going to end when the second temple was destroyed, and Jesus didn’t correct them, because he didn’t know any better than them. The temple was destroyed just a few decades later, but the world didn’t end.
Jesus said the gospel would be preached to the whole world, and then the end would come. And according to the Bible, the disciples did go out and preach everywhere, the message of Christ has been heard all over the world, and the gospel has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven. It seems pretty unlikely that they would have actually been able to reach everyone in the world back then. But if we assume all these claims are true, that would mean the world would definitely have ended by now.
Peter claimed that Joel’s prophecy was being fulfilled, but hardly any of the prophecy he quoted (which included the sun turning dark and the moon turning into blood) had anything to do with what the Bible says was happening at that time. The only thing that was even close to the prediction was that some people (not all people, like Joel said) were given the Spirit, leading them to speak in tongues (not to prophesy, like Joel said).
The end is near?
Several prophets claimed that the day of the Lord was near, when the sun, moon, and stars would disappear and everyone would die. God gave Habakkuk a revelation about the end, and told him it would not delay. Thousands of years later, none of that has happened, so no, the day of the Lord was not “near”.
Daniel had a vision where an angel was talking about the appointed time of the end, and said it would take 2300 days for it all to happen. This seems to be a false prediction that the world would end just a few years after Daniel had that vision, thousands of years ago. Though it’s also possible that the angel here is once again mistaking a question about when these things will happen for a question about how long these things will last.9
Jesus told the twelve apostles they would not finish going through the towns of Israel before “the Son of Man comes”. Since Jesus, who called himself the Son of Man, was obviously already there when he said that, I’ll assume he was talking about his second coming. In that case, what he said is misleading at best. The only way it can be even technically true is if those particular people never finished going through those towns at all.
But judging by the other things he said, that’s not what he meant. Jesus said some of the apostles would not die before they saw him coming in his kingdom. The apostles died, and his kingdom never came, so that’s a false prediction.10 And if the coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, as Jesus once claimed, that prediction is not just false, but impossible.
When Jesus was asked about the second coming and the end of the world, he described what he thought was going to happen around that time, and he said his generation would not pass away until all these things had happened. Those apocalyptic events have certainly not happened, and there aren’t any 2000-year-old people around today waiting for those things to happen before they die. So that’s a false prediction.11
Paul thought the world was about to end, and he told his followers to stop acting like they were going to be able to go on living in this world. He thought they would all still be alive when Jesus returned. The other writers of epistles in the Bible agreed that it was the last hour, that the signs of the last times were already appearing, that the end of all things was near, and that Jesus would come in just a little while and would not delay. They were all wrong.
Finally, the book of Revelation, which is all about the end of the world, says the time is near and the events it reveals will take place soon. It even has Jesus himself repeatedly state that he will be coming soon. “Not for thousands of years” is not “soon”.12
False predictions are one of the signs of a false prophet. Real prophets don’t make false predictions. Check out this post to see how many of the prophets in the Bible should be considered false prophets according to the Bible.