I am currently enrolled in a master’s program in Messianic Jewish Studies and have been reading textbooks and other resources that are required for my studies. I am reminded again that there are many critics of Biblical Christianity who all try to offer evidence that supports their continued unbelief by casting doubts on the Scriptures—especially the prophecies concerning Jesus from the Old Testament.
So as we approach the Christmas season celebrating the arrival of our Messiah and Lord, I thought it would be a good time to provide substantial (truly overwhelming) evidence for the truth claims surrounding the identity of the Messiah as being fulfilled in Yeshua, our Lord Jesus Christ.
HERE ARE 10 PROPHECIES LITERALLY FULFILLED IN JESUS:
- Place of Birth—Bethlehem. Bethlehem means “House of Bread.” Isn’t it interesting that the Bread of Life was born in the house of bread?
Prophesied 700 BC—Micah 5:2 (NLT) But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village among all the people of Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel whose origins are in the distant past, will come from you on my behalf.
Fulfilled—Matthew 2:1a (NLT) Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod.
- Born of a Virgin. Immediately after Adam and Eve sinned, God promised that a Savior would be born of the seed of the woman who would crush Satan under His heel. Then Isaiah prophesied that Messiah would be born of a virgin. This passage is hotly debated, but the clear meaning of the prophecy is unmistakable.
Prophesied approximately 4,000 BC—Genesis 3:15 (NLT) “And I will cause hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”
Prophesied 750 BC—Isaiah 7:14b (NLT) Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’).
Fulfilled—Matthew 1:18 (NLT) This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit.
- Enters Jerusalem in Triumph on the colt of a donkey. It was prophesied that the Messiah-King would enter Jerusalem on, not a donkey, but very specifically on a donkey’s colt.
Prophesied 500 BC—Zechariah 9:9 (NLT) Rejoice, O people of Zion! Shout in triumph, O people of Jerusalem! Look, your king is coming to you. He is righteous and victorious, yet he is humble, riding on a donkey— riding on a donkey’s colt.
Fulfilled—Luke 19:30–31 (NLT) “Go into that village over there,” he told them. “As you enter it, you will see a young donkey tied there that no one has ever ridden. Untie it and bring it here. If anyone asks, ‘Why are you untying that colt?’ just say, ‘The Lord needs it.’ ”
- Betrayed by a Close Friend. Judas was one of the trusted Twelve. He had seen Jesus perform countless miracles and yet determined to betray Him.
Prophesied 1,000 BC—Psalm 41:9 (NIV84) Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.
Fulfilled—Luke 22:47–48 (NLT) But even as Jesus said this, a crowd approached, led by Judas, one of the twelve disciples. Judas walked over to Jesus to greet him with a kiss. But Jesus said, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?”
- Hands & Feet Pierced. King David describes crucifixion in amazing detail in Psalm 22 one thousand years before the Romans used this as their form of execution for enemies of the state.
Prophesied 1000 BC—Psalm 22:16 (NLT) My enemies surround me like a pack of dogs; an evil gang closes in on me. They have pierced my hands and feet.
Fulfilled—Luke 24:39 (NLT) Look at my hands. Look at my feet. You can see that it’s really me. Touch me and make sure that I am not a ghost, because ghosts don’t have bodies, as you see that I do.”
- Gamble for His Clothing. This is interesting to me as it says that they divide the clothing and cast lots for it. So which is it: did they divide His clothing or cast lots for it? Of course they did both.
Prophesied 1000 BC—Psalm 22:18 (NLT) They divide my garments among themselves and throw dice for my clothing.
Fulfilled—John 19:23–24a (NLT) When the soldiers had crucified Jesus, they divided his clothes among the four of them. They also took his robe, but it was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. So they said, “Rather than tearing it apart, let’s throw dice for it.”
- Died with Criminals.
Prophesied 750 BC—Isaiah 53:12b (NCV) He willingly gave his life and was treated like a criminal. But he carried away the sins of many people and asked forgiveness for those who sinned.”
Fulfilled—Luke 23:33 (NLT) When they came to a place called The Skull, they nailed him to the cross. And the criminals were also crucified—one on his right and one on his left.
- Buried in a rich man’s grave. Do you see the irony of dying like a criminal and yet being buried in a rich man’s grave?
Prophesied 750 BC—Isaiah 53:9 (NLT) He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave.
Fulfilled—Matthew 27:57–60 (NLT) As evening approached, Joseph, a rich man from Arimathea who had become a follower of Jesus, went to Pilate and asked for Jesus’ body. And Pilate issued an order to release it to him. Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a long sheet of clean linen cloth. He placed it in his own new tomb, which had been carved out of the rock. Then he rolled a great stone across the entrance and left.
- His Resurrection. This is by far the most significant of all of the prophecies. In fact, Jesus hung His entire ministry on His resurrection when He said in effect, “There is only one sign you will be given as to the veracity of my truth claims and it is the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah was three days in the whale, so I will be three days dead in the ground” (Matt. 12:39-40). Additionally, the Apostle Paul boldly declared, “If Jesus did not raise from the dead then our faith is pointless” (1 Cor. 15:14, 17).
Prophesied 1000 BC—Psalm 16:10 (NLT) For you will not leave my soul among the dead or allow your holy one to rot in the grave.
Fulfilled—Matthew 28:6 (NLT) “He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead, just as he said would happen. Come, see where his body was lying.”
- His Ascension. When His work of redemption was done Jesus ascended to heaven and took His seat at the right hand of the Father where He is ever ready to intercede on behalf of us who are His people (Heb. 7:25; 8:1).
Prophesied 1000 BC—Psalm 68:18a (NIV) When you ascended on high, you took many captives
Fulfilled—Luke 24:51 (NLT) While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up to heaven.
WHAT ARE THE CHANCES OF THAT? This is a good question. I’ll defer to Dr. Hugh Ross (a research astrophysicist at Caltech) who writes, “Unique among all books ever written, the Bible accurately foretells specific events—in detail—many years, sometimes centuries, before they occur. Approximately 2500 prophecies appear in the pages of the Bible, about 2000 of which already have been fulfilled to the letter—no errors. (The remaining 500 or so reach into the future and may be seen unfolding as days go by.) Since the probability for any one of these prophecies having been fulfilled by chance averages less than one in ten (figured very conservatively) and since the prophecies are for the most part independent of one another, the odds for all these prophecies having been fulfilled by chance without error is less than one in 102000 (that is 10 with 2000 zeros written after it)!” To put this in perspective, scientists estimate that the number of atoms in the universe is 1078 (10 with 78 zeroes behind it).
We have more than enough reasons to believe, but not so much that makes our faith unnecessary!