BY Harry R. Osborne
Is it possible to see in the facts about the life of Jesus any evidence of the existence of God and his inspiration of the Bible? As we have noted in the past, fulfilled prophecy regarding the nations gives evidence of God’s existence and his ultimate authorship of the Bible. We will see that the facts concerning the life and death of Jesus were foretold long before his coming and fulfilled in exact detail. Those prophecies are commonly called “Messianic prophecies.”
Someone might say that the prophecies made in the Old Testament about Jesus were actually made at or after the time of Jesus. However, such an objection is due to ignorance of the facts. The Old Testament was written over a 1500 year period ending in about 450 B.C. Even if one rejects that date for its completion, the entire Old Testament was translated into the Greek language during the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus by 250 B.C. That translation was called “the Septuagint” and no doubt exists about its completion by 250 B.C. Thus, it is clearly proveable that there were at least 250 years between the Messianic prophecies and their fulfillment.
Jesus repeatedly referred to the fact that the Scriptures of the Old Testament spoke of him. All of the gospel accounts contain statements by Jesus claiming to fulfill various prophecies concerning him from the Old Testament. One example of such a reference is found as Jesus spoke to his disciples shortly before his ascension. In Luke 24:44-46, we read the following:
Now he said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and He said to them, “Thus it
Specific Prophecies Regarding Messiah
Those prophecies from the Old Testament pointing towards a coming Messiah were not vague or limited to one part of his life, but were specific, detailing a number of facts about his life so people might recognize him by comparing his life with the events foretold. Floyd Hamilton wrote that there were “332 distinct predictions which were literally fulfilled in Christ” (The Basis of Christian Faith, 160). Sixty of those are often called “major prophecies.” Included are these:
The Messiah was to be born at Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).
The Messiah was to be preceded by a messenger (Isa. 40:3 and Mal. 3:1).
The Messiah was to enter Jerusalem riding a donkey (Zech. 9:9).
The Messiah was to be betrayed by a friend who ate with him (Psa. 41:9).
The Messiah was to be sold for 30 pieces of silver (Zech. 11:12).
The money was to be thrown into God’s house and used for a potter’s field (Zech.11:13).
The Messiah was to stand silent before his accusers (Isa. 53:7).
The Messiah was to die by crucifixion (Psa. 22:16; Zech. 12:10; Isa. 53:12).
Analysis of Probability Regarding Prophecies
Taking just these eight specific prophecies concerning the Messiah, Peter Stoner wrote in his book, Science Speaks, to show that mere coincidence cannot explain all of these being fulfilled in one man. He applied the science of probability to show the chance that all eight prophecies would be fulfilled in one man. That probability was calculated to be 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000! When Stoner’s calculations were submitted to the American Scientific Affiliation for verification, both a committee of review and the Executive Council found them “dependable and accurate in regards to the scientific material presented” (see foreword by H. Harold Hartzler in Science Speaks). Is there any comparison we can make to help understand that huge number?
It does not take a great deal of mathematical prowess to understand that 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000 shows that the odds are heavily against these prophecies being fulfilled as a result of shear chance. But do we really have any concept of how many 100,000,000,000,000,000 is? Is there any comparison we can make to help understand that huge number?
In the book Evidence That Demands A Verdict, Josh McDowell points out the fact that it would take 100,000,000,000,000,000 silver dollars to cover the state of Texas two feet deep. Suppose we marked one of those silver dollars and let a man with a blindfold wander as long and far as he wished, but instructed him to pick up one specific silver dollar. He would have the same chance of picking up the right silver dollar as that one man would have of fulfilling those eight prophecies about the Messiah.
Much More Evidence Available
The fact is that Jesus fulfilled all eight of those prophecies and many more. We have not even discussed the prophecies regarding the Messiah’s lineage as being through Abraham (Gen. 12:2-3; 22:18), Isaac (Gen. 21:12), Jacob (Num. 24:17), Judah (Gen. 49:10), Jesse (Isa. 11:1) and David (Jer. 23:5; 2 Sam. 7). Nor have we mentioned the prophecies of events like the virgin birth (Isa. 7:14) or the miracles done during his ministry (Isa. 35:5-6). The specific prediction of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on a donkey has not been examined (Zech. 9:9). Many prophecies about his death and burial remain untouched in this glance at eight prophecies.
How could the writers used to pen those prophecies know that one man would fulfill all those predictions? How could they see that precisely into the future? The fact is that they could not do it of themselves. They could only succeed in such prophecies be-cause the knowledge of God, not man, was ultimately responsible for those predictions. Peter notes that such should serve as evidence to us:
Concerning which salvation the prophets sought and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: searching what time or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did point unto, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glories that should follow them. To whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto you, did they minister these things, which now have been announced unto you through them that preached the gospel unto you by the Holy Spirit sent forth from heaven . . . (1 Pet. 1:10-12).
The more we study and examine the Bible, the more we see evidence of its divine inspiration. The God be-hind that inspiration has not left us without evidence of his existence, power and will. He has plainly shown the evidence which separates him from the false gods invented by man. Neither does his word bear the marks of human invention. The Bible bears the unmistakable marks of deity upon every page. That fact must be admitted by any objective person who searches the evidence which God leaves of himself through fulfilled prophecy. How fitting it is that the prophecies of the divine Messiah should themselves serve as a powerful evidence of the invisible God whose power and will are manifest through Scripture.
Guardian of Truth XL: No. 14, p. 6-7
July 18, 1996