Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Did Jesus fulfill Old Testament prophesies?

Is it possible to prove the Bible is inspired by God, rather than merely a human product? While nothing can be proven beyond all doubt, evidence for the divine inspiration of the Bible is very strong, much more so than most people realize. The Old Testament was written over a period of about 1,000 years, beginning around 1,400 BC with the writings of Moses to completion around 450 BC. The Old Testament was completed about 450 years before the birth of Jesus Christ. Many very specific prophesies concerning the messiah were part of the established written record and were fulfilled by Jesus. Most of these could not have been self-fulfilling prophesies. This is an extremely powerful apologetic for the divine inspiration of the Bible as well as the divinely ordained mission of Jesus of Nazareth. Below is a listing of some of those prophesies made by Old Testament writers, with the accompanying date of the writing, and New Testament fulfillment. This list is not exhaustive.

1.   Born of a virgin
Isaiah 7:14 (740-697 B.C.):  “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.”
Matthew 1:18,25  - “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit … [Joseph] kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus.”

2.   Descendent of Abraham
Genesis 22:18 (1,400 B.C.):  God said to Abraham “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed”.
Matthew 1:1 – “The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham”.
Galatians 3:16 – “Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed He does not say, ‘And to seeds,’ as referring to many, but rather to one, ‘And to your seed,’ that is, Christ”.

3.   From the Tribe of Judah
Genesis 49:10 (1,400 B.C.):  “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.”
Hebrews 7:14 – “For it is evident that our Lord was descended from Judah”.

4.   Descendent of King David
Jeremiah 23:5-6 (written ~600 B.C.):  “’Behold, the days are coming,’ declares the Lord ‘When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely; and this is His name by which He will be called, 'The Lord our righteousness.’”
Luke 3:23,31 – “Jesus … being, as was supposed, the son of Joseph … the son of David”

5.   Born in Bethlehem
Micah 5:2 (written ~700 B.C.):  “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you one will go forth for me to be ruler in Israel.  His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity."
Matthew 2:1 – “Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea”

6.   Presented with gifts
Psalm 72:10 (written ~1,000 B.C.):  “Let the kings of Tarshish and of the islands bring presents; the kings of Sheba and Seba offer gifts.”
Matthew 2:11 – “After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”

7.   King Herod would kill the children
Jeremiah 31:15 (600 B.C.):  “Thus says the LORD, ‘A voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping. Rachel is weeping for her children; she refuses to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.’"
Matthew 2:16 – “Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi.”

8.   Preceded by a messenger
Isaiah 40:3 (written 740-697 B.C.):  “A voice is calling, ‘Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.’”
Matthew 3:1,2 – “Now in those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’"

9.   Ministry would begin in Galilee     
Isaiah 9:1 (740-697 B.C.):   “He shall make it glorious, by the way of the sea, on the other side of Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles.”
Matthew 4:12,17 – “Now when Jesus heard that John had been taken into custody, He withdrew into Galilee … from that time Jesus began to preach”.

10.       Would perform miracles (healing the blind, deaf, and lame)
Isaiah 35:5-6 (740-697 B.C.):  “Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will shout for joy”.
Matthew 9:35 – “Jesus was going through all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness.”

11.       Speak in parables
Psalm 78:2 (1,000 B.C.):  “I will open my mouth in a parable”
Matthew 13:34 – “All these things Jesus spoke to the crowds in parables and He did not speak to them without a parable.”

12.       Enter Jerusalem on a donkey
Zechariah 9:9 (written 520 B.C.):  “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”
Luke 19:30,35 – “Go into the village ahead of you; there, as you enter, you will find a colt tied on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it and bring it here … They brought it to Jesus, and they threw their coats on the colt and put Jesus on it.”

13.       Betrayed by a friend
Psalm 41:9 (1,000 B.C.):  “Even my close friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.”
Matthew 10:4 - “Judas Iscariot, the one who betrayed Him”.

14.       Sold for 30 pieces of silver
Zechariah 11:12b (520 B.C.):  “I said to them, ‘If it is good in your sight, give me my wages; but if not, never mind!’ So they weighed out thirty shekels of silver as my wages.”
Matthew 26:14,15 – “Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, ‘What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?’ And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him.”

15.       Money used to purchase Potter’s Field
Zechariah 11:13a (520 B.C.):  “Then the Lord said to me, "Throw it to the potter, that magnificent price at which I was valued by them”
Matthew 27:7 – “and they conferred together and with the money bought the Potter's Field”

16.       Money thrown in the Lord’s house
Zechariah 11:13b (520 B.C.):  “I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the Lord.”  
Matthew 27:5 – “And he (Judas) threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed”
17.       Forsaken by disciples
Zechariah 13:7 (520 B.C.):  “Strike the shepherd that the sheep may be scattered”
Mark 14:50 – “and they all left Him and fled”

18.       Accused by false witnesses
Psalm 35:11 (1,000 B.C.):  “Malicious witnesses rise up; they ask me of things that I do not know.”
Matthew 26:59,60 – “Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death. They did not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward”

19.       Beaten severely
Isaiah 53:5 (740-697 B.C.):  “ He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.”
Matthew 27:26 – “after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified”

20.       Struck and spit on
Isaiah 50:6 (740-697 B.C.):  “ I gave my back to those who strike me, and my cheeks to those who pluck out the beard; I did not cover my face from humiliation and spitting.”
Matthew 26:67 – “Then they spat in His face and beat Him with their fists; and others slapped Him”

21.       Hands and feet pierced
Psalm 22:16 (1,000 B.C.):  “they pierced my hands and my feet”   
Luke 23:33 – “When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him
John 20:25 – “he (Thomas) said to them, ‘Unless I see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe.’"

22.       Crucified with thieves
Isaiah 53:12 - (740-697 B.C.):  “He poured out Himself to death, and was numbered with the transgressors”
Matthew 27:38 – “two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and one on the left.”

23.       Interceded for persecutors
Isaiah 53:12 (740-697 B.C.):  “He Himself bore the sin of many, and interceded for the transgressors.”
Luke 23:34 – “Jesus was saying, ‘Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing’”

24.       Rejected by own people
Isaiah 53:3 (740-697 B.C.):  “He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and like one from whom men hide their face. He was despised, and we did not esteem Him”
Luke 23:21 – “they kept on calling out, saying, ‘Crucify, crucify Him!’"

25.  Friends stood far off                   
Psalm 38:11 (1,000 B.C.):  “My loved ones and my friends stand aloof from my plague; and my kinsmen stand afar off.”
Luke 23:49 – “And all His acquaintances and the women who accompanied Him from Galilee were standing at a distance, seeing these things”

26.   Clothing parted and lots cast                      
Psalm 22:18 (1,000 B.C.): “They divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.”  
John 19:23,24 – “Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His outer garments and made four parts, a part to every soldier and also the tunic; now the tunic was seamless, woven in one piece. So they said to one another, ‘Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, to decide whose it shall be’; this was to fulfill the Scripture”

27.       Given gall and vinegar
Psalm 69:21 (1,000 B.C.):  “They also gave me gall for my food and for my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink.”
Matthew 27:34 – “they gave Him wine to drink mixed with gall; and after tasting it, He was unwilling to drink.”

28.   Felt forsaken by God                
Psalm 22:1 (1,000 B.C.):  “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning.”
Matthew 27:46 – “About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying ‘Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’”

29.  Bones not broken            
Psalm 34:20 (1,000 B.C.):  “He keeps all his bones, not one of them is broken.”
John 19:33 – “but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.”

30.   Side pierced                       
Zechariah 12:10 (520 B.C.):  “they will look on me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn.”
John 19:34 – “But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.”

31.  Darkness over the land            
Amos 8:9 (760 B.C.):  “’It will come about in that day,’ declares the Lord God ‘That I will make the sun go down at noon and make the earth dark in broad daylight.’”
Matthew 27:45 – “Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour.”

32.   Buried in rich man’s tomb                 
Isaiah 53:9 (740-697 B.C.):  “His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death”
Matthew 27:57-60 – “When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away”.

33.  Resurrection                     
Psalm 16:10 (1,000 B.C.):  “You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; nor will you allow your Holy One to undergo decay.”
Matthew 28:5,6 – “you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified. He is not here, for He has risen”.               

Someone may reply that the prophesies were written around, or even after, the time Jesus lived, thus rendering the evidentiary value unconvincing. Josh McDowell, PhD. Talbot Theological Seminary, Magna Cum Laude, answers:
“If you are not satisfied with 450 B.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 Christ.”[1]

It may be possible to object that a few of these prophesies are somewhat general and could be true of a population group. However, added together, the evidence compounds geometrically, leading to infinitesimally small odds of one person fulfilling these by chance.

No human could accurately make all of these predictions with perfect accuracy.  We can’t even predict who will win a presidential election or the Superbowl. Only God could cause all of these to come true. The evidence is overwhelming that the Bible is divinely inspired and Jesus Christ was sent from God.

For further study on this subject, an outstanding resource is Josh McDowell’s book Evidence that Demands a Verdict.  It is written in a scholarly manner and meticulously footnoted. 

[Biblical references are from the NASB version.]

[1] Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict (San Bernadino, CA:  Here’s Life Publishers, 1986), 144.

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