Messianic Prophecies as They Relate to Us Today

BY: Brian E. Trenhaile, MTh, March 17, 2008

Table of Contents

INTRODUCTION

I.       Prophecies at time of Birth

Born in Bethlehem

Flight to Egypt

Slaughter of the Innocents

II.      Prophecies at Death

Not a Bone Broken

They Pierced His Side

Buried in a Rich Man’s Grave

III.    Proof and Application for Today’s World

Proof of Bible’s Veracity

Fulfillment of Future Prophecies

CONCLUSION

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

Messianic Prophecies
as They Relate to Us Today

INTRODUCTION

Fulfilled Messianic prophecies are an amazing way that God utilized to prove His existence and demonstrate His love for mankind.  These prophecies are tied into the original purpose of man’s existence.  These prophecies point to the means God has already provided for mankind to come into right relationship with God.  The Messiah, Jesus Christ, is the means God has provided to save mankind from their sins (cf. Matthew 1:21).  The Messiah also came to teach us about the relationship that God wants to have with Him (cf. John 17:3); and to empower us for continuously living (c. f. John 1:12) in proper relationship with God.

Many skeptics believe that Jesus positioned Himself to fulfill the prophecies, so that He could claim to be the Messiah.  To answer these critics, this paper focuses on prophecies that Jesus fulfilled in which he could have had absolutely no hand in fulfilling.  It focuses on fulfilled prophecies that occurred either while he was a very small baby or after he had already died.  There are more than six hundred prophecies that Jesus fulfilled in His first advent.  So this paper only scratches the surface of this expansive topic.

I.          prophecies at time of his birth

This section contains a small but important sampling of prophecies that Jesus fulfilled when He was born.

Born in Bethlehem

Jesus, inside the womb, had no control over the place of his birth.  The prophecy of his birthplace is contained in the following verse: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2).[1] The incredible odds of Him being born in Bethlehem are described in the following quotation:

This prophecy predicts that the Christ is to be born in Bethlehem. Since this is the first prophecy to be considered there are no previously set restrictions, so our question is: One man in how many, the world over, has been born in Bethlehem?  The best estimate which we can make of this comes from the attempt to find out the average population of Bethlehem, from Micah down to the present time, and divide it by the average population of the earth during the same period. One member of the class was an assistant in the library so he was assigned to get this information. He reported at the next meeting that the best determination of the ratio that he could determine was one to 280,000. Since the probable population of the earth has averaged less than two billion, the population of Bethlehem has averaged less than 7,150. Our answer may be expressed in the form that one man in 7,150/2,000,000,000 or one man in 2.8 x 105 was born in Bethlehem (Stoner, ch. 3).

Jesus was born in Bethlehem as a result of the emperor’s decree (cf. Luke 2:1-7).  In addition to Luke’s meticulous documentation, Josephus documents the fact that Emperor Augustus indeed called for a census while Quirinuis was governor of Syria.  This census caused Joseph and Mary to go to Bethlehem in order to be registered.  As a little baby still inside his mother’s womb he certainly had no control of what the emperor would decree.  His birth in Bethlehem rather than Nazareth shows the hand of God in selecting His birthplace.

Flight to Egypt

Shortly after His birth, Joseph took Jesus and Mary to Egypt.  He did this because he was warned to do this in a dream (cf. Matthew 1:13-15).  This action resulted in fulfilling the following prophecy; “I loved Him, and out of Egypt I have called My Son (Hosea 11:1, NIV; cf. Matthew 2:15; Lockyer, 70).  Once again Jesus was a little child; he had absolutely no control over His parents taking Him to Egypt.  It appears that God also provided the finances to go down into Egypt.  Jesus’ parents probably used the gifts that the three wise men brought to finance their travels and to stay in Egypt.

Slaughter of the Innocents

It was prophesied that Rachel would be mourning for her children.  This prophecy is as follows, “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 (Jeremiah 31:15, NASB).”   When Herod ordered the slaughter of the babies in Bethlehem this prophecy was fulfilled (cf. Matthew 2:16-20; Lockyer, 84-85).  Once again Jesus was a little baby and he could have had no hand in this prophecy being fulfilled through the king of Judea, Herod the Great.

II.  Prophecies About His Death

This part contains a small sampling of prophecies Jesus fulfilled after He died.  Since He was already dead, He could have had absolutely no control over their fulfillment.

Not a Bone Broken

It was the custom of Roman soldiers to use clubs to break the legs of crucified criminals.  Crurifragium is the Latin word that the Romans used to describe this practice (cf. Lockyer, 154).  They did this in order to speed up death.  But in Jesus case they did not follow their custom because he was already dead.  Even if he was dead they could have broken His legs just to follow tradition and make sure, but they did not.  This unconventional action by pagan Roman soldiers fulfilled the following prophecy: “Not a bone shall be broken” (cf. Psalm 34:20; Exodus 12:46; Numbers 9:12; John 19:36).  This lack of broken bones, qualified Him to be Passover Lamb for Israel and also for the whole world.

They Pierced His Side

Because Jesus was already dead, just to make absolutely sure that He was dead; the Roman executioner pierced his side with a spear.  This action caused the prophecy “They shall look upon him whom they have pierced (cf. Zechariah 12:10; John 19:34, 37; Revelation 1:7; Lockyer, 155-156)” to be fulfilled.

Buried in a Rich Man’s Grave

It was prophesied that Jesus would be buried in a rich man’s grave.  The prophecy is “He made his grave … with the rich in his death” (Isaiah 53:9).  The following narrative gives us the details of the prophetic fulfillment.

After these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. So he came and took away His body.  Nicodemus, who had first come to Him by night, also came, bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight.  So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen wrappings with the spices, as is the burial custom of the Jews.  Now in the place where He was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid.   Therefore because of the Jewish day of preparation, since the tomb was nearby, they laid Jesus there (John 19: 38-42, NASB).

This treatment of a crucified person’s corpse is unusual, because the Romans usually throw the dead bodies of the crucified to the wild dogs (Lockyer, 157).  Once again the Roman tradition was not followed in the case of Jesus.

III.   Roof and Application for Today’s World

Messianic prophecies provide conclusive proof of the divine inspiration of the Bible.  In lieu of it’s proven divine source, it would be wise for us to heed Biblical prophecies that will yet be fulfilled.

Proof of Bible’s Veracity

Mathematically it is just stupendous for Jesus to fulfill all the prophecies that have been fulfilled with just His first advent.  The following reference states that more than 300 prophecies were fulfilled at his first advent:

Our Bible students claim that there are more than three hundred prophecies dealing with Christ’s first advent. If this number is correct, and it no doubt is, you could set your estimates ridiculously low on the whole three hundred prophecies and still obtain tremendous evidence of inspiration. For example you may place all of your estimates at one in four. You may say that one man in four has been born in Bethlehem: that one of these children in four was taken to Egypt, to avoid slaughter; that one in four of these came back and made his home in Nazareth; that one in four of these was a carpenter; that one in four of these was betrayed for thirty pieces of silver; that one in four of these has been crucified on a cross; that one in four was then buried in a rich man’s tomb; yes, even that one in four rose from the dead on the third day; and so on for all of the three hundred prophecies and from them I will build a number much larger than the one we obtained from the forty-eight prophecies.  Any man who rejects Christ as the Son of God is rejecting a fact proved perhaps more absolutely than any other fact in the world.  (Stoner, ch. 3).

Further quoting this author, “We have studied its prophecies with respect to Christ and found that Jesus Christ fulfilled every one of them to the last minute detail. We have shown numerical evidence that this fulfillment proved Jesus Christ to be the Son of God, the promised Savior” (Stoner, ch. 4).  The possibility of Him fulfilling all these prophecies is well beyond the realm of chance.  The only satisfactory explanation is the hand of God was involved for all of them to be fulfilled.

Fulfillment of Future Prophecies

Since there are so many prophecies already fulfilled, there is no reason to expect that God will not or cannot fulfill the rest of the prophecies regarding the Messiah (cf. Lockyer, pp. 184-210).

We need to always be ready for the Messiah’s return (cf. Wilkerson, The Last Revival).  Jesus said “Watch therefore” (Matthew 24:42).  Peter said “The day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night” (II Peter 3:10).  James said, “Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh” (James 5:8).  Having the blessed hope of His soon return is one of the best and most effective ways to always be ready for His return (cf. Wilkerson, Getting Ready for the Coming of the Lord).  Paul said, “Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing” (II Timothy 4:8).  John the Beloved had this blessed hope, “He who testifies of these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Revelation 22:20, NASB).  Focusing and meditating upon Messianic prophecies, both past and future, is a great way of building up the blessed hope of His coming.

Conclusion

Messianic prophecies and their fulfillment are one awesome and powerful means that God has provided to prove His existence and the gracious salvation that He offers mankind.  It would be extremely unwise for anyone to ignore the enormous evidence and warnings that God has provided through Messianic prophecies.  We should be expecting His coming, since what was prophesied about in the past come true, we can confidently expect His future prophecies will also be fulfilled.  Messianic prophecies are another form of His love reaching out to us, giving us even more evidence to believe in His greatness and goodness.

Bibliography

Lockyer, Herbert. All the Messianic Prophecies of the Bible.  Grand Rapids, Michigan:  Zondervan, 1973.

Stoner, Peter W., and Robert C. Newman.  Science Speaks, Scientific Proof of the Accuracy of Prophecy and the Bible.  Chicago, Illinois:  Moody Press, 1976.  Quoted 2002 version of this book, available online <http://www.geocities.com/stonerdon/science_speaks.html&gt;.

Wilkerson, David. The Last Revival, World Challenge Pulpit Series.  4 pp. Lindale, Texas:  World Challenge, Inc., 18 Jan 2008.

Wilkerson, David. Getting Ready for the Coming of the Lord, World Challenge Pulpit Series.  4 pp. Lindale, Texas:  World Challenge, Inc., 18 February 2008.

Unless otherwise indicated, all scriptural quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.

Scripture references marked NKJV are taken from the NEW KING JAMES VERSION, Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982, by The Thomas Nelson, Inc.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

Scripture references marked NASB are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Scripture quotations marked AMP are taken from the Amplified® Bible, Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.” (www.Lockman.org).

Scripture references marked NIV are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION ®. NIV ®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by the International Bible Society.  Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.  All rights reserved.

Scripture references marked NLT are taken from the NEW LIVING TRANSLATION ®. NLT ®.  Copyright © 1996, 2004 by the Tyndale Charitable Trust.  Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers.  All rights reserved.


[1] That the Messiah should be born in Bethlehem was a well known in the days of Jesus birth.  The scribes quoted it to King Herod when he asked where the Messiah was to be born (cf. Matthew 1:4,5).

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One Response to Messianic Prophecies as They Relate to Us Today

  1. Pingback: Added Article “Messianic Prophecies, As They Relate to Us Today.” | Scripture Jewels

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