Within the skeptics refusal to accept the dual fulfillment of Malachi 4:5-6, in the ministry of John the Baptist and next in the ministry of William Branham, we have the issue of the dual fulfillment of prophecy. That is, that prophecy can have multiple fulfillments. This is not a convenient doctrine for those that wish to make up any fanciful interpretation of Biblical prophecy. Rather, it is a clear Biblical teaching and method of interpretation for inspired writers of the New Testament. The list includes Matthew, Luke, Paul and Jesus himself. Let’s have a look at a few of the examples. The first that comes to mind is in the book of Matthew regarding Jesus and his family.
prophecy can have multiple fulfillments
Hosea 11:1 When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.
This appears not to be a prophecy, but rather a statement of historical fact regarding the nation of Israel and indeed it is. Read closely the context;
Hosea 11:2 As they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images.
This certainly cannot be spoken of the Lord Jesus. He did not go and sacrifice to Baalim. Instead, the nation of Israel, but from this verse Matthew takes it from its, seemingly, proper context and applies it to the life of Jesus our Messiah. Read the following.
Matthew 2:14-15 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: (15) And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.
This is the inspired written word of God that interprets the prophecy of the Scripture. Though context leads us to understand it speaks of the nation Israel it also is fulfilled in Jesus with Joseph and Mary returning to the land of Israel after having fled the sword of Herod for their safety. A clear and obvious example of dual fulfillment or it could even be said dual interpretation.
Isaiah 7:11-18 Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. (12) But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD. (13) And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? (14) Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (15) Butter and honey shall he eat, that he may know to refuse the evil, and choose the good. (16) For before the child shall know to refuse the evil, and choose the good, the land that thou abhorrest shall be forsaken of both her kings. (17) The LORD shall bring upon thee, and upon thy people, and upon thy father’s house, days that have not come, from the day that Ephraim departed from Judah; even the king of Assyria. (18) And it shall come to pass in that day, that the LORD shall hiss for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt, and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.
This prophecy was given to Ahaz, King of Judah, and its direct fulfillment was in the birth of Hezekiah. The name of Immanuel meaning God with us just as the name Joshua means Jehovah Savior. It is speaking of God bringing Assyria against the land of Israel and the land of Judah. However, through Hezekiah, the LORD showed that he was with them and delivered them from the hands of the Assyrians. However, Isaiah 7:14 has a secondary Messianic fulfillment. Since Hezekiah was born of a young maid, but not of a virgin that had known no man. Let’s read what the apostle Matthew writes;
Matthew 1:22-23 Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, (23) Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
So while it’s immediate fulfillment was in the birth of King Hezekiah, it’s ultimate fulfillment is in the birth of Jesus Christ.
Another example is of the prophecies of Daniel regarding the abomination of desolation. Let’s read a few of them together along with how Jesus applied this prophecy.
Daniel 12:11 And from the time that the daily sacrifice shall be taken away, and the abomination that maketh desolate set up, there shall be a thousand two hundred and ninety days.
Daniel 11:31 And arms shall stand on his part, and they shall pollute the sanctuary of strength, and shall take away the daily sacrifice, and they shall place the abomination that maketh desolate.
Daniel 9:27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.
This is speaking of the last days fulfillment during the final years of Daniel’s seventieth week.
Matthew 24:15-16 When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand:) (16) Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
So, one fulfillment of the sacrifice being taken away and abomination being done in the holy place was during the time of Antiochus Epiphanes who stopped the daily sacrifices and forced them to sacrifice pigs in the temple. This was even prior to the birth of Jesus. Next in Matthew 24 Jesus prophesies that there will be an abomination of desolation set up and that when that is seen those listening to him should flee into the mountains and run from Jerusalem. This was fulfilled in AD70 when the Roman General Titus besieged Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple and took many Jews into slavery and exile. It will also be fulfilled in the future when the final Antichrist sets up worship for himself in the rebuilt Temple.
Isaiah 61:1-2 The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; (2) To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn;
This is a clear prophecy regarding the Messiah which was to come. It speaks of the purpose of his ministry to heal, deliver and save those who are sick and captive to sins. It is a time of mercy and peace. And yet in this prophecy there is an allusion to God’s vengeance to be poured out. These two concepts seem strange to go together. Let’s look at how Jesus reads and applies these verses.
Luke 4:17-20 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, (18) The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, (19) To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. (20) And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
The notable portion that is left out is “the day of vengeance of our God.” He is not declaring this at the time of his first coming. It is not until the end time that this message is declared. Jesus came to set the captives free and this was his message. He had many harsh things to proclaim over the religious hypocrites and leaders of the Jews. However, it was not the time of God’s vengeance to be poured out.
Isaiah 49:5-6 And now, saith the LORD that formed me from the womb to be his servant, to bring Jacob again to him, Though Israel be not gathered, yet shall I be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, and my God shall be my strength. (6) And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth.
This verse on first glance appears to be a prophecy regarding the nation of Israel and God’s intention to work through them to be a light to the Gentiles and indeed it is, but the New Testament gives two different applications to it. First we read that the Messiah himself is the light to the Gentiles.
Luke 2:32 A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.
Next, we see that the apostle Paul applies this verse to himself and his ministry to the Gentiles. So it is fulfilled in the Messiah and those that carry the message of the Messiah to the Gentiles, the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Acts 13:47 For so hath the Lord commanded us, saying, I have set thee to be a light of the Gentiles, that thou shouldest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.
2 Samuel 7:12-16 And when thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. (13) He shall build an house for my name, and I will stablish the throne of his kingdom for ever. (14) I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: (15) But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. (16) And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: thy throne shall be established for ever.
We have shown six clear dual prophecies as applied by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit upon the New Testament writers.
This prophecy was directly fulfilled in the birth and kingdom of Solomon. He built the house for the name of Yahweh and his throne was established and he was chastised and rebuked for his sins. As the King of Israel he was considered the son of God and his throne was established for a long period of time. However, it was not established forever, it was removed and now we have been living in the times of the Gentiles since Babylon destroyed Jerusalem and took the Jews captive. In Hebrews we find that part 1 of verse 14 applies to Jesus Christ.
Hebrews 1:5 For unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? And again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son?
However, we know that Jesus was sinless so he did not need to be chastened with the rod of men, but Solomon indeed did. And in the millennium Jesus’ throne will be established forever and he will build a house for the name of God during his reign.
Psalms 2:7 I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.
This verse is also seen in our reference of Hebrews 1:5. And in Hebrews it refers to the birth of Jesus. However, the apostle Paul applies it differently in the book of Acts.
Acts 13:33 God hath fulfilled the same unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.
In this reference Paul says the fulfillment is the resurrection of Christ, again, another dual fulfillment of a prophecy. We can continue on and on with this approach, but I hope by now you can see that this is a common way to approach prophecy in the Bible.
We have shown six clear dual prophecies as applied by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit upon the New Testament writers. This helps us to understand that showing a dual fulfillment of Malachi 4:5-6 is not a wild interpretation of a cult like sect of people, but it is well within the realms of accurate and inspired prophetic interpretation.