Jesus: The Fulfillment of Old Testament Messiah Prophecies

Blindfold silver dollars

What are the odd that anyone could have accidentally fulfilled the prophesies regarding the coming Christ (Messiah) foretold in detail throughout the books of the Old Testament?  Couldn’t Jesus have been in the right place at the right time and his fitting the profile be a coincidence?

The mathematical odds say, “Not a chance!”

Mathematician Peter W. Stoner laid out the odds, and Lee Strobel re

ports the odds in his book, The Case for Christ (p. 183):

The probability of just eight prophecies being fulfilled is one chance in one hundred million billion [1/1o^17].  That number is millions of times greater than the total number of people who’ve ever walked on the planet!  [Stoner] calculated that if you took this number of silver dollars, they would cover the state of Texas to a depth of two feet.  If you marked one silver dollar among them and then had a blindfolded person wander the whole state and bend down to pick up one coin, what would be the odds he’d choose the one that had been 


marked?  the same odds that anybody in history could have fulfilled just eight of the prophecies…

Stoner also computed that the probability of fulfilling forty-eight prophecies was one chance in a trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion [1/10^157]!…This is a staggering statistic that’s equal to the number of minuscule atoms in a trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, billion universes the size of our universe!

Guess what?  Jesus didn’t just fulfill eight prophecies.  He didn’t fulfill just forty-eight prophecies.  Of the (at least) 61 prophecies regarding the coming Messiah, Jesus fulfilled them all.  Yes, there are many other reasons to believe in Jesus as the Christ besides the math behind the prophecies, but the numbers certainly add up as well.

 

Jesus: True & Better

Jesus is the true and better reality of all that is good in the Old Testament.  “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, [Jesus] interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:27 ESV)

The video, Jesus: True & Better, based off a Timothy Keller sermon, illustrates some of these points artistically:

Writing of the Old Testament

The ice storm that hit Ohio on February 1, 2011 resulted in precarious road conditions and power losses.  As a result, my travel schedule for that day was wiped clean and I found myself with a rare opportunity to read a book that was  not related to work or grad school for more than a half hour.  I chose to pick up On the Old Testament by Mark Driscoll from his series of short books, “A Book You’ll Actually Read”.

In addition to giving a short overview of each book, emphasizing that the point of the Old Testament is Jesus, and giving some helpful resources on studying the Old Testament, Driscoll spends a large percentage of writing on how the Old Testament was written and its being God’s Word.  It is this portion of the book that received the most highlights from my pen.  Here are some of the notable quotables:

The belief that God wrote Scripture in concert with human authors whom he inspired to perfectly record his words is called verbal plenary inspiration. Very simply, this means that God the Holy Spirit inspired not just the thoughts of Scripture, but also the very details and exact words that were perfectly recorded for us as Scripture.  Jesus himself echoed this truth when he said that because God gave us Scripture, it could not be broken (Matt. 5:18; Luke 16:17; John 10:35; c.f. Ex. 19:6; Deut. 32:46-47; Prov. 30:5-6). (p. 20)

Therefore, the answer to the question, who wrote the Old Testament? is that God wrote the Old Testament through human authors whom God the Holy Spirit inspired to perfectly pen his truth.  Subsequently, Christians believe that Scripture is our highest authority, or metaphorical Supreme Court, by which all lesser authorities are tested.  Practically, this means that lesser courts of reason, tradition, and culture are under the highest court of truth, which is divinely inspired Scripture…Scripture itself tells us that God reveals truth to us in such things as creation and our conscience, but that the beliefs we may subscribe to from such forms of lesser revelation are to be tested by Scripture.  The Old Testament models this for us when it does occasionally quote other books such as the book of Jashar (Josh. 10:13; 2 Sam. 1:18) and the Book of the Wars of the Lord (Num. 21:14). In quoting them, the Bible is not saying that they should be included as sacred Scripture, but rather that they do contain some helpful truth. Practically speaking, this means that a mechanic, doctor, or computer programmer may not consult Leviticus to turn a brake drum, perform open heart surgery, or make an addition to a Linux program, but these experts do possess some helpful truths that, if not forbidden or contradicted by Scripture, are to be gladly received for our benefit (pp 21-22).

The Old Testament also provides richly revealing poetic images that further illuminate its characteristics. God invites our creative imaginations to not merely believe that Scripture is true, but to also meditate on the images through which the Holy Spirit will reveal to us a deeper appreciation for his Word. God does so because his is not only Creator, but creative, and he created us to appreciate such things as poetry, symbolism, and analogy (p 23).

 

Jesus in Every Book of the Bible

Jesus is the Supreme One in the entire Bible.  He is the subject and focus of all sixty-six books (Luke 24:25-27, 44-48; Acts 13:27; 2 Corinthians 1:20).  But how is He portrayed in every book of the Bible?  The young boy in the video gives some great examples of how we can find Jesus in every single book of the Scriptures.  Considering the overwhelming portrayals of Jesus throughout the Bible it can be inspiring to seek Him out in His Word – both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament

Archeology Backing the Bible (Again)

In the news today there was an article entitled, When Was the Bible Really Written?.  Initially suspecting a revisionist history approach attempting to undermine the Bible, I smiled when I saw that it was a revision of history that helped support the Bible.

Some have stated that the Old Testament could not have been written before the 6th century BC because “Hebrew writing did not exist until then”. A new find from a piece of pottery with inscriptions in Hebrew that has been carbon-dated to the 10th century BC has forced a change of at least several hundred years in this theory.

Bible scholars have placed the original writing of the books of Moses, Genesis – Deuteronomy, have been to around 1260 BC or 1446 BC (there is a debate among scholars as to the date of the exodus from Egypt which doesn’t really matter for the sake of this blog).  This would put the writing of the Pentateuch between the years 1260-1220 BC or 1446-1406BC since Deuteronomy was written forty years after the exodus.  The tenth century BC is a lot closer to these dates than the sixth century BC.  Once again archeology and science is tending to line up with Scripture rather than diverge from Scripture.  It would not surprise me to see future digs uncover evidence that brings our archeological data closer and closer to the time line that the Bible depicts for the writing of the books of Moses.

Exaltation Amidst Lamentation

Jeremiah warned the inhabitants and leadership of Jerusalem but they would not heed the words of the Lord.  The city fell.  Jeremiah looked upon the city and wept.  It was a time of great lamenting.  Yet there was exaltation amidst the lamentation.  Even though the people fully merited the judgment of God, there is hope found in the mercy and faithfulness of God.   For the unrepentant, judgment is in the future.  For the repentant – those who place their trust and faith in the Lord – there is hope and salvation.

It is easy to get so caught up in our own sufferings that we only proclaim lamentations.  We must not forget that our God is one of hope and faithfulness.  1 Peter displays that Jesus often uses times of trial to refine and perfect us to better display Him.  If we grasp this concept we, like Jeremiah, can exalt in the Lord in the midst of our sorrows.  Not exalting because we have hard times, but rejoicing in the faithfulness, love, and hope found in our Lord and Savior.  Trusting in His perfect plan.

Lamentations 3:19 Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall!
20 My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me.
21 But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:

22 The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end;
23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”

25 The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.
26 It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.

39 Why should a living man complain, a man, about the punishment of his sins?

40 Let us test and examine our ways, and return to the Lord!
41 Let us lift up our hearts and hands to God in heaven

55 “I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit;
56 you heard my plea, ‘Do not close your ear to my cry for help!’
57 You came near when I called on you; you said, ‘Do not fear!’

58 “You have taken up my cause, O Lord; you have redeemed my life.

Idol Mockery

I was reading through Isaiah last night and came to one of my favorite chapters – chapter 44.  I think it is one of my favorites because it demonstrates God’s sense of humor in a somewhat-mocking fashion. Just look at verses 12-17 (ESV):

12 The ironsmith takes a cutting tool and works it over the coals. He fashions it with hammers and works it with his strong arm. He becomes hungry, and his strength fails; he drinks no water and is faint. 13 The carpenter stretches a line; he marks it out with a pencil. He shapes it with planes and marks it with a compass. He shapes it into the figure of a man, with the beauty of a man, to dwell in a house. 14 He cuts down cedars, or he chooses a cypress tree or an oak and lets it grow strong among the trees of the forest. He plants a cedar and the rain nourishes it. 15 Then it becomes fuel for a man. He takes a part of it and warms himself; he kindles a fire and bakes bread. Also he makes a god and worships it; he makes it an idol and falls down before it. 16 Half of it he burns in the fire. Over the half he eats meat; he roasts it and is satisfied. Also he warms himself and says, “Aha, I am warm, I have seen the fire!” 17 And the rest of it he makes into a god, his idol, and falls down to it and worships it. He prays to it and says, “Deliver me, for you are my god!”

Whenever I read this section I can’t help but start laughing.  Isaiah portrays an excellent picture of the stupidity of worshipping created things.  This is especially potent when you look at how God is described in the surrounding verses:

  • The One who chooses (v1)
  • The Lord who formed you from the womb (2)
  • Pours out His Spirit & blessing (v3)
  • We are those who belong to the Lord (v5)
  • The Lord, the King of Israel, the Redeemer, the Lord of Hosts (v6)
  • The first, the last, no God besides Me (v6)
  • Establisher of the ancient nation (v7)
  • Omniscient (v7)
  • The Rock (v8)
  • The One who will not forget us (v21)
  • Wipes away our transgressions & sins as the Redeemer (v22)
  • Shows forth His glory in His people (v23)
  • The Lord, Redeemer, One who formed us in the womb (v24)
  • Maker of all things (v24)
  • Confirms the word of His servant & performs the purpose of His messengers (v26)
  • Builder of the temple (v28)

It is actually a lot more powerful to look at all those things within the verses themselves (yep…you’ll need to open up and read your Bible).  It is a wonder that we would end up in idolatry with such an awesome God.  Yet, I think we slip into idolatry – when we elevate something or someone to equal or greater status than God by our actions, thoughts, time, etc.   What are some of the idols in your life?

Here is a list of questions from page 168 of Vintage Jesus by Mark Driscoll that may help us discover the idols in our lives:

  • Who or what do I make sacrifices for?
  • Who or what is most important to me?
  • If I could have any thing or experience I wanted, what would that be?
  • Who or what makes me the most happy?
  • What is the one person or thing I could not live without?
  • What do I spend my money on?
  • Who or what do I devote my spare time to?