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WHICH HOLY BOOK IS THE WORD OF GOD
PROPHECIES ABOUT THE MESSIAH FULFILLED
The New Testament is all about Jesus Christ as the Messiah. Let’s examine Old Testament prophecies that Jesus fulfilled to prove that He was indeed the prophesied Messiah to come. These fulfilled prophecies provide proof that both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible are indeed the word of God.
Can Prophecies be Fulfilled by Coincidence?
One can argue that prophecies by an individual can be fulfilled by coincidence. One individual can fulfill one prophecy in his life by chance. The probability of the same individual fulfilling two prophecies is less. The same individual fulfilling three prophecies by coincidence reduces further exponentially. The same individual fulfilling four prophecies becomes further remote and so on.
The Jewish scriptures prophesied the coming of the Messiah and gave many prophecies about His birth, life, and death that He would fulfill so that we may recognize Who He was. Literally God’s truthfulness and His Almighty Power are at stake if these prophecies were not fulfilled.
Peter the apostle confirmed in Acts 3:18: “18 But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.” He also stated in 2 Peter 1:16: "For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty." Peter also warned in 2 Peter 3:2-4 to "be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets" because "scoffers will come in the last days" questioning and ridiculing Scripture, "saying, 'where is the promise of His coming?'"
As God and Jesus Christ fulfilled all their prophecies about ancient empires and nations, they certainly would have made sure to fulfill their prophecies about the life, death and resurrection of the Messiah. Let’s now look at specific Old Testament prophecies that foretold the birth, life and death of the Messiah which Jesus fulfilled.
The UCG booklet: “Jesus Christ: The Real Story” states on p. 16:
“To claim that you are God is one thing—but to convince people that you are indeed what you say you are is quite another. So how did Jesus' closest followers come to be so convinced that they would lay down their lives for that belief?
“Many Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah were fulfilled in precise detail by Jesus of Nazareth. Neither the Jews nor the disciples of Jesus understood at the time that Jesus was fulfilling the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament—even though at times He told them this was the case (Luke 18:31; Matthew 26: 56).
“After Jesus was resurrected, He began to help His disciples understand the Scriptures, and the disciples were inspired to declare that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. The proof they offered was the very Scriptures [or prophecies] they had not previously understood.”
Then on p 18: “The New Testament writers cite messianic prophecies from the Old Testament more than 130 times. By some estimates the Old Testament contains 300 prophetic passages that describe who the Messiah is and what He will do. Of these, 60 are major prophecies. What are the chances of these prophecies being fulfilled in one person?
“…the mathematical odds that all of these prophecies could have converged by chance in the events of the life of Jesus are staggeringly minute—to the point of eliminating any such possibility.
“Astronomer and mathematician Peter Stoner, in his book Science Speaks, offers a mathematical analysis showing that it is impossible that the precise statements about the One to come could be fulfilled in a single person by mere coincidence.
“The chance of only eight of these dozens of prophecies being fulfilled in the life of one man has been estimated at 1 in 10 to the 17th power. That would be 1 chance in 100,000,000,000,000,000.
“How can we put this in terms we can comprehend? Dr. Stoner illustrates the odds with this scenario: "Take 1017 silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas [with its approximate land area of 262,000 square miles]. They will cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one [that was marked].
"What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man."
“But that is only eight of the dozens of prophecies of the Messiah. Using the science of probability, the chance of as many as 48 of these prophecies coming to pass in one person is 1 in 10 to the 157th power—a 1 followed by 157 zeros (1963, pp. 100-109).
“One or two fulfilments in Jesus' life could be dismissed as coincidental. But when the instances of fulfilled prophecies are counted up, the law of probability quickly reaches the point where mere probability becomes certainty. This is one of the proofs Jesus was the promised Messiah—the messianic prophecies were accurately and precisely fulfilled in Him.”
Many aspects of Jesus' birth, life, suffering and death were prophesied in great detail before they actually happened. Let’s look at these prophecies.
The Virgin Birth
Isaiah 7:14 prophesied, "Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel."
Details about the fulfillment of this prophecy are provided by the gospel writers Luke and Matthew. Matthew 1:18-23 (NKJV) states, “18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19 Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. 20 But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins." 22 So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 23 "Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel," which is translated, "God with us."
The virgin birth was also prophesied at the time when Adam and Eve ate of the forbidden fruit. Genesis 3:15 (NKJV) stated the curse on the serpent, or Satan, “15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel." The woman’s Seed is in the singular meaning one man and not her descendants. Here the curse on the serpent does not state that her Seed would be Adam’s Seed as well, but only the woman’s Seed, thus pointing to a virgin birth of the Messiah who would bruise Satan’s head by remaining sinless and qualifying to remove Satan from the rulership of the earth.
No Israelite except Jesus has ever claimed a virgin birth. That literally excludes everyone except Jesus being the Messiah.
Descendant of Abraham and King David
God promised Abraham in Genesis 12:3 (NKJV), “…And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." The same promise is repeated in Genesis 18:18 and 22:18. The promise was passed on to Abraham’s son Isaac (Genesis 26:4) and onto his son Jacob (Genesis 28:14).
Then the promise of the scepter, or rulership was passed on by Jacob to his son Judah in Genesis 49:10, “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet…” Since the rulership forever will belong to the Messiah, this prophecy implies that the Messiah would be a descendant of Judah. This was confirmed by Isaiah the prophet in Isaiah 11:1-2 to David’s father Jesse, “1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: 2 And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.”
Jeremiah the prophet confirmed that the Messiah would be a descendant of David in Jeremiah 23:5, “5 Behold, the days come, says the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.”
Paul the apostle confirmed in Galatians 3:16 that the promises to Abraham were fulfilled in Jesus Christ, “16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ.”
Matthew and Luke provide detailed genealogies of Jesus to show that He was a descendant of King David both on his mother’s and father’s side, thus fulfilling these prophecies.
Using probability of one individual fulfilling this prophecy by chance narrows the field to descendants of David only. But at the time of Jesus they would still number millions in the world.
Messiah to Come from Bethlehem
The place the Messiah would come from was prophesied in Micah 5:2 (NKJV), “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting."
When Herod inquired of the Jews where the King of the Jews would come from, they had no hesitation in referring to this prophecy (Matthew 2:5-8).
This prophecy was very precise. There were two Bethlehems, one in the land of Judah and the other in the land of Zebulun to the north. The prophecy was specific in stating that the Ruler would come from Bethlehem in Judea. That Jesus was born in Bethlehem Ephrathah in Judea is confirmed in Matthew 2:1.
This prophecy narrows the field to less people who could qualify to fulfill the prophecies concerning the Messiah, if we exclude the virgin birth prophecy.
The Exact Year the Messiah Would Appear was Prophesied
Daniel 9:25 (NKJV) prophesied when the Messiah would appear: “25 "Know therefore and understand, That from the going forth of the command To restore and build Jerusalem Until Messiah the Prince, There shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; The street shall be built again, and the wall, Even in troublesome times.”
This prophecy provides the number of years from the time the decree to build Jerusalem would be issued till the appearance of the Messiah as seven plus 62 weeks or a total of 69 weeks. Sixty-nine weeks would number 483 days. There is a principle of a year for a day in fulfillment of prophecy. When Israelite spies spied out the land of Canaan for 40 days and refused to go in and possess the land they were punished for 40 years. In the same way the prophesied Day of the Lord will be of one year duration in its fulfillment. So, 483 days of this prophecy would equal 483 years till the appearing of the Messiah from the time the decree to build the walls of Jerusalem would be issued.
UCG booklet “Jesus Christ: The Real Story” on p. 21 describes how this prophecy was fulfilled:
“After Jerusalem's destruction by the Babylonians in 586 B.C., the Babylonian Empire was succeeded by the Medo-Persian Empire. This empire's kings issued several such decrees that were recorded in the Bible (by Cyrus in 538 B.C., found in Ezra 1:1-2, and by Darius in 520 B.C., described in Ezra 6:8).
“But the one that was issued by Artaxerxes Longimanus in 457 B.C. (Ezra 7:11-26) points us specifically to Christ's ministry. Counting 483 years from the 457 B.C. date of this decree brings us to A.D. 27 (keep in mind that because there is no year "0" we have to add one year to the calculation).
“A.D. 27 was a significant year. Jesus was baptized this year and began His public ministry.
“The Jews of Christ's day were certainly familiar with Daniel's prophecy. And regardless of which decree one might choose as the starting point of the 483 years, the time for the Messiah to appear had elapsed during Jesus' day. Messianic fervor was rampant with the realization that the fulfillment of this prophecy was near at hand (compare John 1:41; 4:25).
“If the Messiah was to come, He would have to arrive on the scene just when Jesus did—in the exact year!”
When we consider the fulfillment of this prophecy the individuals who could fulfill these prophecies so far can probably be narrowed only to one individual, Jesus Christ. But let’s continue to see the many other prophecies Jesus fulfilled.
The Lamb of God
When one considers the prophecy in Micah about the ruler to come and the fact that the Messiah would be a descendant of King David, one can understand why the Jews in Jesus’ day would think that the Messiah would be a conquering King who would deliver them from Roman rule and restore Israel to a glorious state as a nation. None of these prophecies specifically pointed to the Messiah being a sacrifice for sins. Nobody could have connected the sacrificial system with the sacrifice of the Messiah as the Lamb of God. Isaiah 53 specifically prophesied about the death and suffering of One, but these prophecies could not be specifically connected to the Messiah by human reasoning alone. The Jews were focused on the Messiah being a conquering King.
Only when the angel announced the conception of Jesus Christ was it first revealed in Matthew 1:21 that His life would be connected with delivering Israel from their sins. Only after Jesus’ sacrifice was it revealed to His disciples that He was the Lamb of God who took away the sins of mankind. But John the Baptist had declared it to be so.
John the Baptist said of Jesus in John 1:29, “29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”
Killing of the Passover lambs on the 14th day of the first month in ancient Israel was a prophecy about the sacrifice of the Messiah as the Lamb of God to be sacrificed for the sins of mankind. Jesus Christ fulfilled this prophecy by being arrested, tried, crucified and dying on the exact day the Passover lambs were sacrificed.
Hebrews 10:4 (NKJV) says, “4 For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins.” But verses 12-14 state that the sacrifice of Jesus Christ was the offering for sin once and for all, “12 But this Man, after He had offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 from that time waiting till His enemies are made His footstool. 14 For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.”
Hebrews 10:8-10 state, “8 Previously saying, "Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them" (which are offered according to the law), 9 then He said, "Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God." He takes away the first that He may establish the second. 10 By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.”
The author of Hebrews here explains that the sacrificial system God instituted in ancient Israel in the Law was a representation of Jesus' sacrifice that would take away the first, meaning the sacrificial system, replacing it with His sacrifice as the price paid for sin once and for all to sanctify the people.
The life of the Creator was of more value than the lives of all His creation put together. That’s why the shed blood of the Creator could pay for the sins of all His creation. Thus, the sacrificial system of ancient Israel, but particularly the Passover lambs were a prophecy about the sacrifice of the Messiah.
Betrayal, Suffering and Death of the Messiah
Many prophecies concerning the betrayal, suffering and death were fulfilled by Jesus Christ. The sheer number of prophecies fulfilled now leaves no doubt that all these prophecies could not be fulfilled by one particular man by coincidence. They leave no doubt that Jesus Christ was the prophesied Messiah. Here are some of the prophecies fulfilled by Jesus Christ:
• Messiah would be betrayed by a familiar friend. This was prophesied in Psalm 41:9, "Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me." his prophecy was fulfilled by Judas Iscariot as stated in John 13.
• Messiah would be forsaken by His followers was prophesied in Zechariah 13:7: "Strike the Shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered." This was fulfilled when all His disciples forsook Him and fled when He was arrested (Mark 14:50).
• The price of His betrayal would be 30 pieces of silver. This was prophesied in Zechariah 11:12-13: "…so they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver. 13 And the Lord said to me, "Throw it to the potter"--that princely price they set on me.” This was fulfilled when Judas Iscariot covenanted for 30 pieces of silver with the chief priests to betray Jesus (Matthew 26:14-15).
• That Messiah would be put to death with criminals was prophesied in Isaiah 53:12: "And He was numbered with the transgressors." This was fulfilled when "two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and another on the left" (Matthew 27:38).
• Messiah would be crucified. This was prophesied in Psalm 22:16: "They pierced My hands and My feet." Remarkably, this prophecy described a form of execution, the crucifixion, which would not come into practice for some 800 years after it was written.
• Messiah’s body would be pierced. This was prophesied in (Zechariah 12:10): "They will look on Me whom they pierced". In fulfillment John tells us in John 19:34 that "One of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out."
• Messiah would be offered vinegar and gall. This was prophesied in Psalm 69:21: "They also gave me gall for my food, and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. This was fulfilled when Jesus was offered vinegar with gall to drink as stated in Matthew 27:34, “34 They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall.”
• None of His bones would be broken was prophesied in Psalm 34:20: "He guards all his bones; not one of them is broken." When the Jews came to break the legs of the 3 crucified men, they did not break Jesus’ legs because He had already died on the cross when the Roman soldier pierced His side with a spear, as described in John 19:32-34.
• People would cast lots for His clothing. This was prophesied in Psalm 22:18: "They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots". John confirms in John 19:23-24 that this prophecy was fulfilled.
• Messiah would not retaliate was prophesied in Isaiah 53:7 (NKJV): "He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth." Its fulfillment is described in Matthew 27:12-14: “12 And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing. 13 Then Pilate said to Him, "Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?" 14 But He answered him not one word, so that the governor marveled greatly.”
• Messiah would pray for those who would have Him put to death. This was prophesied in Isaiah 53:12: "He... made intercession for the transgressors." This was fulfilled when Jesus prayed on the cross, "Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do." (Luke 23:34).
Thus, we see that the God of the Bible prophesied in detail the manner of the death of the Messiah and all the prophecies were fulfilled in precise detail in the crucifixion and death of Jesus Christ. Probabilistically it is impossible for a particular one man to fulfill all the prophecies by mere coincidence. Therefore, we can be certain that Jesus was the prophesied Messiah and He died for the sins of mankind as God foretold.
Despite so many prophecies being fulfilled, some still argue that Jesus contrived to fulfill these prophecies.
Was fulfillment of Prophecies Contrived?
Some critics argue that Jesus manipulated events to fulfill prophecies. One example they site is in Matthew 21:1-7 (NKJV) where Jesus instructed His disciples to procure a donkey and its colt to fulfill the prophecy, “5 "Tell the daughter of Zion, 'Behold, your King is coming to you, lowly, and sitting on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.' " 6 So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them.”
Another example is given in Luke 22:37-38 (NKJV) in which Jesus made sure that His disciples had swords so that He could be numbered with the transgressors or criminals, “37 For I say to you that this which is written must still be accomplished in Me: 'And He was numbered with the transgressors.' For the things concerning Me have an end." 38 So they said, "Lord, look, here are two swords." And He said to them, "It is enough."
Jesus as God of the Old Testament had prophesied in Isaiah 46:11, “Indeed I have spoken it; I will also bring it to pass…” In His life as a human He brought it to pass as He prophesied. He was fulfilling these prophecies exactly as He had prophesied.
But the notion that Jesus manipulated events to fulfill prophecies is so far-fetched. Just imagine as a human being the kind and number events He would have had to contrive to fulfill all the prophecies He fulfilled.
He would have had to manipulate His human ancestry, His place and year of birth, and virgin birth. He would have had to manipulate events with Roman and Jewish authorities to fulfill all the prophecies related to His suffering, crucifixion and death. And what purpose could He have had in manipulating events to fulfill prophecies? All to die a horrible death preceded by terrible suffering? People were willing to make Him King (John 6:15, 12:12-19), but He avoided the opportunity and chose the route of suffering and death. What purpose would manipulating events that would lead to His suffering and death have served? Thus, the theory that He contrived to fulfill all the prophecies is sheer nonsense.
Jesus fulfilled all the prophecies to fulfill God’s purpose. He chose to become a humble servant to suffer and die to pay the death penalty for the sins of mankind and “give His life a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28). A person of such character could not have been a deceiver, a charlatan or a fake who would manipulate events for personal gain. He had nothing personal to gain by dying.
Peter stated, "...Those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He [Jesus] has thus fulfilled" (Acts 3:18).
Paul confirmed that "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures" and that "He was buried, and ...He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures" (1 Corinthians 15:3-4).
Jesus fulfilled prophecies foretold 300 – 1000 years ahead of time so that we may believe without any shadow of doubt that He was the Messiah. Fulfilled prophecies are proof that the Bible is indeed the inspired word of God as Jesus Himself affirmed.
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