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A Brief Note on Prophetic Evidence
SummaryOne of the important evidences for the truth of Jesus' claims to be God is that of fulfilled prophecy. The early followers of Jesus Christ often appealed to fulfilled prophecy as proof that Jesus was the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament. [31 p. 78] In fact, the Old Testament, which was written over a 1000-year period, contains a few hundred references to the coming Messiah. All of these were fulfilled in Jesus Christ, thereby establishing a solid confirmation of His credentials as the Messiah. [5 p. 141] Although we will not cover this topic in any great depth, it is worth having a quick look at some of the prophetic evidence.
Firstly, what are some common objections to predictive prophecies?
The prophecies were written at or after the time of JesusIf you are not satisfied with 450B.C. as the historic date for the completion of the Old Testament, then take into consideration the following: The Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures, was initiated in the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus (285-246 B.C.). It is rather obvious that if you have a Greek translation initiated in 250 B.C., then you had to have the Hebrew text from which it was written. This will suffice to indicate that there was at least a 250-year gap between the prophecies being written down and their fulfillment in the person of Jesus Christ. [5 p. 144]
Fulfilled prophecy in Jesus was deliberateThe above objection may seem plausible until we realize that many of the prophecies concerning the Messiah were totally beyond the human control of Jesus. He could not deliberately fulfill prophecies such as his place of birth, time of birth, manner of birth, betrayal, manner of death, piercing, burial and people's reactions. [5 p. 144]
Fulfilled prophecy in Jesus was coincidental, an accidentOne might argue that some of the prophecies may be fulfilled by any number of historical figures. This is partly true, one might find one or two prophecies fulfilled in other men. However, if one examines all the prophecies together, no one but Jesus could fulfill them all. [5 p. 144]
Peter Stoner and Robert Newman, in their book Science Speaks, demonstrate the statistical improbability of any one man, accidentally or deliberately, from the day of these prophecies down to the present time, fulfilling just eight of the hundreds of prophecies Jesus fulfilled. They demonstrate that the chance of this happening is 1 in 1017 power - 1 chance in 100000000000000000. [31 p. 78]
Stoner gives an illustration that helps to visualize the magnitude of such odds: [31 p. 78]
Suppose that we take 1017 silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. 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. 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, from their day to the present time, providing they wrote using their own wisdom.
It is mathematically absurd to claim that Jesus accidentally or deliberately fulfilled Old Testament prophecy.
Important Old Testament Prophecies About JesusThe Bible contains several hundred prophecies relating to the birth, life, ministry, death, resurrection, and future return of Jesus Christ. Some of the most important prophecies about Jesus are as follows: [31 p. 79] [5 p. 144]
Prophecy - Isaiah 7.14: Therefore the Lord himself
will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth
to a son, and will call him Immanuel [means God with us]
Prophecy - Micah 5.2: But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come
for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of
old, from ancient times
Prophecy - Malachi 3.1: "See, I will send my messenger,
who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking
will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire,
will come," says the Lord Almighty.
Prophecy - Zechariah 9.9: Rejoice greatly, O Daughter
of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you,
righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a
colt, the foal of a donkey.
Prophecy - Zechariah 11.12: I told them, "If you think
it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it." So they paid me thirty
pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord to the potter.
Prophecy - Isaiah 50.6: I offered my back to those
who beat me, my cheeks to those who pulled out my beard; I did not hide
my face from mocking and spitting
Prophecy - Isaiah 53.12: because he poured out his
life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore
the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Prophecy - Psalm 22.16: a band of evil men has encircled
me, they have pierced my hands and my feet
Prophecy - Zechariah 12.10: They will look on me,
the one they have pierced
Prophecy - Psalm 22.18: They divide my garments among
them and cast lots for my clothing
Prophecy - Isaiah 53.9: He was assigned a grave with
the wicked, and the rich in his death
Prophecy - Psalm 16.10: because you will not abandon
me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay
These are only some of the many prophecies that support Jesus' claim to deity. In the Old Testament, there are 60 major messianic prophecies and approximately 270 ramifications that were fulfilled in one person, Jesus Christ. [6 p. 212] No wonder Jesus and his early followers appealed to fulfilled prophecy to substantiate His claim!
(c) 1999 - Richard Helsby