Prophecy, the Bible and Jesus
How do you respond to someone's claim that the Bible is not inspired? Is there a way to prove inspiration or, at least, intelligently present evidence for its inspiration? The answer is "Yes!" One of the best ways to prove inspiration is by examining prophecy. There are many religious books in the world that have many good things to say. But only the Bible has fulfilled prophecies--with more fulfillments to come. The Bible has never been wrong in the past, and it won't be wrong in the future. It claims inspiration from God (2 Tim. 3:16). Since God is the creator of all things (Isaiah 44:24), then He is also the creator of time. It is under His control. Only God, then, would always be right about what is in the future, our future.
Fulfilled prophecy is strong evidence that God is the author of the Bible because when you look at the mathematical odds of prophecy being fulfilled, you quickly see a design, a purpose, and a guiding hand behind the Bible. If just one prophecy failed, then we would know that God is not the true God, because the creator of all things, which includes time, would not be wrong about predicting the future. Deut. 18:22 says, "If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously" (NIV). Isaiah 46:9-10 says, "Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please."
One approach to use with an unbeliever is to turn to Psalm 22 and read verses 12-18. This is a detailed description of the crucifixion--1000 years before Jesus was born. After you read the section ask him what it was about. He'll say, "The crucifixion of Jesus." Then respond with something like, "You're right. This is about the crucifixion. But it was written 1000 years before Jesus was born. And on top of that, crucifixion hadn't even been invented yet. How do you think something like this could happen?" After a brief discussion, you could show him (or her) a few other prophecies like where Jesus' birthplace was prophesied (Micah 5:2), that He would be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14), that His side would be pierced (Zech. 12:10), etc.
Born of the Seed of the Woman
Gen. 3:15, "And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."
Matt. 1:20, "But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit."
Born of a Virgin
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."
Matt. 1:18,25, "This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary...was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit... But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus."
Son of God
Psalm 2:7, "I will proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, "You are my Son today I have become your Father."
Matt. 3:15, "And a voice from heaven said, 'This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.'"
Seed of Abraham
Gen. 22:18, "and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me."
Matt. 1:1, "record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the son of David, the son of Abraham:"
Son of Isaac
Gen. 21:12, "But God said to him, 'Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.'"
Luke 3:23-34, "Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli...the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor,"
House of David
Jer. 23:1, "The days are coming, declares the LORD, "when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land."
Luke 3:23-31, "Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli...the son of Mattatha, the son of Nathan, the son of David,"
Born at Bethlehem
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."
Matt. 2:1, "After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem."
He shall be a Prophet
Deut. 18:18, "I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him."
Matt. 21:11,"The crowds answered, "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee."
He shall be a Priest
Psalm 110:4, "The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: 'You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.'"
Heb. 3:1, "Therefore, holy brothers, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, the apostle and high priest whom we confess."
Heb. 5:5-6, "So Christ also did not take upon himself the glory of becoming a high priest. But God said to him, 'You are my Son; today I have become your Father.' And he says in another place, 'You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.'"
He shall be a King
Psalm 2:6, "I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill."
Matt. 27:37, "Above his head they placed the written charge against him: THIS IS JESUS, THE KING OF THE JEWS."
He shall judge
Isaiah 33:22, "For the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our lawgiver, the LORD is our king; it is he who will save us."
John 5:30, "By myself I can do nothing; I judge only as I hear, and my judgment is just, for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me."
He would be preceded by a Messenger
Isaiah 40:3, "A voice of one calling: 'In the desert prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.'"
Matt. 3:1-2, "In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, 'Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.'"
Rejected by His own people
Isaiah 53:3, "He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not."
His side pierced
Zech. 12:10, "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one mourns for an only son."
John 19:34, "Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water."
Psalm 22:1, Psalm 22:11-18, "For the director of music. To the tune of "The Doe of the Morning." A psalm of David. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?...Do not be far from me, for trouble is near and there is no one to help. Many bulls surround me; strong bulls of Bashan. Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing."
Luke 23:33, "When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals -- one on his right, the other on his left."
John 19:33, "But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs."
John 19:23-24, "When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. Let's not tear it, they said to one another. "Let's decide by lot who will get it." This happened that the scripture might be fulfilled which said, "They divided my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing." So this is what the soldiers did."
The Mathematical Odds of Jesus Fulfilling Prophecy
The following probabilities are taken from Peter Stoner in Science Speaks (Moody Press, 1963) to show that coincidence is ruled out by the science of probability. Stoner says that by using the modern science of probability in reference to eight prophecies, 'we find that the chance that any man might have lived down to the present time and fulfilled all eight prophecies is 1 in 1017." That would be 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000. In order to help us comprehend this staggering probability, Stoner illustrates it by supposing 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."
Stoner considers 48 prophecies and says, "we find the chance that any one man fulfilled all 48 prophecies to be 1 in 10157, or 1 in
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.
The estimated number of electrons in the universe is around 1079. It should be quite evident that Jesus did not fulfill the prophecies by accident."