I am beginning a series on Jesus in the Old Testament. We are going to look at prophecy in general, and then we are going to look at some of the prophecies and also some of the other places we can find Jesus in the Old Testament.
For clarity, please note that prophecy and prophecies are nouns and prophesy and prophesies are verbs.
I love the Old Testament. Many people don't understand it or just dismiss it, claiming that it isn't important, but I disagree. There are many reasons why I find the Old Testament important, but the biggest one is that it prophesies of the coming of Jesus.
Jesus tells us in multiple places that He fulfilled the prophecies listed in the Old Testament.
"Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill." Matthew 5:17 (NASB)
"You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me." John 5:39 (NASB)
"'Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?' Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures." Luke 24:26-27 (NASB)
"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.' Luke 24:44 (NASB)
What is the purpose of prophecy? I believe that there are two main reasons for prophecy. The first one is to instill hope into the hearers.
One of my favorite prophecies of hope is Isaiah 9:6. I find it difficult to temper my joy and hope when I read this verse.
"For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace." Isaiah 9:6 (NASB)
If you've not heard Handel's Messiah, "For Unto Us a Child is Born" you should definitely press play on this video below. It may not be your cup of tea, but it is one of my favorite songs from The Messiah. It's long and repetitive, so I don't mind if you don't listen to it in full, but I do hope that you enjoy it enough to listen to the whole thing. Just don't forget to keep reading below the video!
The second purpose for prophecy is to validate the Messiah. The Old Testament prophesies the circumstances of Jesus' birth, His lineage, His life, and His death. The following verses are a few examples of validating prophecies.
"Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel." Isaiah 7:14 (NASB)
"But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity." Micah 5:2 (NASB)
"Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, and a branch from his roots will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and strength, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord." Isaiah 11:1-2 (NASB)
"Then the eyes of the blind will be opened and the ears of the deaf will be unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute will shout for joy." Isaiah 35:5-6a (NASB)
"His grave was assigned with wicked men, yet He was with a rich man in His death, because He had done no violence, nor was there any deceit in His mouth." Isaiah 53:9 (NASB)
"For You will not abandon my soul to Sheol; nor will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay." Psalm 16:10 (NASB)
What I have listed so far is a sampling of the prophecies about Jesus. If you want to see more, follow this link to a chart that lists more (but not all) of the prophecies of Jesus. Just as a warning, I have not examined this chart in full, so please forgive me if the author of the chart has made any errors. (Make sure you come back and finish here, though!)
So just how many prophecies did Jesus fulfill? People tend to have different counts on just how many He fulfilled. In my research, I've seen 100, 315, 365, and 400. One reason for the different numbers is that one passage of prophecy may be counted as multiple prophecies in some listings.
You might wonder if it is possible that it is just coincidence that Jesus fulfilled all these prophecies. I find it very hard to believe that it could have been an accident. The probability has been figured, and the enormous chance that Jesus would have fulfilled all these prophecies purely by accident is laughable.
"Scientist Peter Stoner estimated that the probability of fulfilling 48 prophecies was one chance in a trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion!"
That's only 48. Even at 48, it's hard to imagine that this could be achieved on accident. When you add another 52, or another 352 prophecies, I can't even begin to think that it could all be by accident. And many of those prophecies could not have been orchestrated, such as where Jesus was born, where He grew up (both Egypt and Nazareth are included in prophecy), and specific details of His crucifixion (His side was pierced, but no bones were broken).
Over the next several weeks, we are going to look at Jesus in the Old Testament, starting with a little more information about prophecy in general, and then we're going to look at some of the prophecies about Jesus' birth, His life, and His death. Following that, we will look at some "types" of Jesus and christophanies included in the Old Testament. Finally, we will tackle a mysterious character in the Old Testament and how he relates to Jesus.
If you have any questions so far, feel free to comment below, and I will try to answer them the best that I can, either with a comment or a post, depending on which is more appropriate and effective.
I hope you come back to see what I have to say on those topics. If you haven't yet subscribed to my blog, you can click here or click on "Subscribe Here" at the top of the page.