Biblical inerrantists never seem to tire of looking for vindication of the Bible in prophecy fulfillments. No skeptic discussing the Bible with a biblicist can question its divine origin for very long without hearing the biblicist say, "Well, what about all of the prophecy fulfillments?"
The best way to answer this question is with a question of your own: "What prophecy fulfillments?" This alone may be enough to stop the biblicist in his tracks, because he may well be a typical Christian who is uninformed in the Bible and is simply repeating something he has heard but doesn't know enough about to discuss intelligently. If, however, the biblicist is someone who does have specific prophecy fulfillment claims in mind, they can usually be rebutted by just analyzing the alleged prophecy in context to point out parts of the prophecy that seem to be missing in the fulfillment event. Such missing parts can almost always be identified. I have discussed in past articles this approach to debating prophecy-fulfillment claims, so I won't rehash it here.
Another effective method to use in such discussions is to turn the tables on the biblicist and ask him, "Well, what about all of the prophecy failures?" To do this, of course, one would have to be familiar with specific examples of prophecy failures. Several of these have been discussed in past articles, the most frequently mentioned one being Ezekiel's prophecy against Tyre. A simple way to make this prophecy failure more problematic for the biblicist is to compare it to Isaiah's prophecy against Tyre and focus on the inconsistencies in the two. We have seen in prior discussions of Ezekiel's prophecy that he predicted that Tyre would be destroyed and never rebuilt (26:14,21; 27:36,19), but in his many tirades against the nations around Israel, Isaiah uttered a prophecy against Tyre that predicted a destruction that wasn't quite as harsh as Ezekiel's. In 23:1, he said, "The burden of Tyre. Howl you ships of Tarshish; for it is laid waste, so that there is no house, no entering in: from the land of Kittim it is revealed to them." The prophecy continued in typical fashion through the chapter, predicting waste and devastation, but beginning in verse 13, Isaiah clearly said that the destruction of Tyre would be only temporary, not permanent:
Look at the land of the Chaldeans! This is the people; it was not Assyria. They destined Tyre for wild animals. They erected their siege towers, they tore down her palaces, they made her a ruin. Wail, O ships of Tarshish, for your fortress is destroyed. From that day Tyre will be forgotten for seventy years, the lifetime of one king. At the end of seventy years, it will happen to Tyre as in the song about the prostitute: Take a harp, go about the city, you forgotten prostitute! Make sweet melody, sing many songs, that you may be remembered. At the end of seventy years, Yahweh will visit Tyre, and she will return to her trade, and will prostitute herself with all the kingdoms of the world on the face of the earth. Her merchandise and her wages will be dedicated to Yahweh; her profits will not be stored or hoarded, but her merchandise will supply abundant food and fine clothing for those who live in the presence of Yahweh (23:13-18, emphasis added).
So we see that Isaiah had a very different opinion of Tyre's destiny. He said that it would be destroyed and forgotten 70 years but at the end of the 70 years, Yahweh would visit Tyre and it would be restored. Obviously, one could make a much better case for the fulfillment of this prophecy than for Ezekiel's. Nevertheless, Isaiah's prophecy against Tyre poses a serious problem for biblical inerrantists. They must explain why Isaiah predicted only a temporary destruction of Tyre, whereas Ezekiel predicted an everlasting destruction.
Biblicists, of course, will claim that they see no problem. A
favorite "explanation" of the discrepancy is that Isaiah, who lived
about 150 years before Ezekiel, was referring to a destruction of Tyre
that would happen before Ezekiel's time, but if this is so, when did
the destruction that Isaiah predicted happen? Even if we assume that
Isaiah's prophecy was fulfilled immediately after he made it, this
would mean that the island stronghold didn't exist for 70 of the 150
years between Isaiah and Ezekiel. This would have left only 80 years
for the city to be rebuilt before Ezekiel's era. If this happened,
where is the record of it? Surely, the total destruction for 70 years
of such a great city would have found its way into some records of the
time, but none exist. Could we stretch imagination and by using
Mitchell's formula assume that it is 0.99% certain that the city was
destroyed at this time but just wasn't mentioned in contemporary
records? It's seems far more probable that this was just another
prophetic ranting that failed to materialize.