It is amazing to note that the Bible is scientific and historically accurate, but there is one other feature that is awesomely breathtaking—it can tell the future. The Holy Scriptures stand alone as being completely accurate when it comes to prophecy. While other men and other writings have made prophecies (such as Nostradamus) they have often been in error. There is no error in God’s word!
Last week I mentioned that the prophecy of Cyrus giving the order to rebuild the destroyed temple in Jerusalem was made around 150 years before the time of its fulfillment. This would be amazing if it were the only one, but one third or more of the Bible is prophecy. The claims that the Bible makes about Christ all rest on the accuracy of these prophecies. So are they really accurate? Let’s take a few predictions about Jesus, the suffering savior, and find out.
There have always been scholars and skeptics that felt Jesus manipulated Old Testament prophecies in order to appear to be the messiah. However, there are some events in the life of the messiah that could not be controlled or manipulated. How did Jesus make himself to be born in Bethlehem as Micah 5:2 states? This prophecy from Micah also states that the savior predates his birth by being eternal. How could he have made it appear that he was a descendant of King David as Isaiah 16:5 states? He would have also had to arrange a virgin birth to accommodate Isaiah 7:14, or cause himself to be born in the lines of Judah and Jesse as Isaiah 37:31 and 11:10 state. Did he arrange the massacre of the innocent children by Herod that was predicted in Jeremiah 31:15? Could he have made his parents flee to Egypt as Hosea 11:1 said? There are just too many to prophecies that could not have been controlled by anyone but God.
The crucifixion itself had many very clear and obvious predictions all written between 400 and 1000 years or more of his birth and death. Psalm 22 alone has such stunning predictions. He would be despised by many—verse 6. His bones would be pulled out of socket as would happen hanging on a cross—verse 14. His hand and feet would be pierced –verse 16. He would be encircled by wicked men and gentiles at his death—verse 16. His clothes would be gambled for—verse 18. The very first verse of this Psalm written by David around 1000 years before the birth of Jesus is the cry he made while on the cross—“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” He was forsaken when he carried our sin!
Another of the many passages that predict the cross is Isaiah 53. The prophet says, “But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5 KJV) At his death he would be buried with the wicked and the rich—verse 9. His soul would be an offering for sin in verse 10. Amazingly, it later says God would prolong his days and Messiah would see the travail of his soul in verses 10 and 11. The only way for this to be possible is to have a resurrection.
Only around half of the prophecies that involve the savior have been fulfilled. The rest of them involve a return someday. Before that return, many things would happen such as a battle where Russia, Iran, Turkey and several other nations invade Israel. Ezekiel wrote this prediction 3500 years ago and we are beginning to see this alignment of nations today. The Bible predicted the exact time that Israel would reenter its land, prosper in the land, and become a nation in a day after being disbanded for around 2000 years. The Bible predicted that there would be an exponential explosion in the amount of knowledge men would have, and it predicts that the Messiah will someday return to Jerusalem (which would become a problem city for all men just like we see today) and the Jewish nation will look on him whom they pierced.
The Bible treats the future much as we treat history. Isn’t it time you read it anew? What can it hurt? As Blaise Pascal challenged, “If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation that He is.”