The Significance of Prophecy

The Biblical prophets were inspired by God to speak His word to men. As forth-tellers of the Divine will they sometimes foretold future events. They prophesied, for example, of Christ and His mission hundreds and even thousands of years before He came. It is not surprising, therefore, that when some of Jesus' disciples dismissed reports of His resurrection, He responded: "O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken... And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself" (Luke 24:25,27).

The unique fulfillment of these prophecies in Jesus is presented by His messengers as one of the strongest evidences that He is the Christ whom God promised to send. Apollos, for instance, "mightily convinced the Jews... showing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ" (Acts 18:28). Although space permits us to note only a few of these Messianic prophecies, they surely are sufficient to convince any unbiased mind that they originated with God and are fulfilled in His Son.

The Promised Seed

Some 2000 years before Christ, God promised Abraham that one of his descendants would bring mankind the blessing of salvation. He said: "and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed" (Genesis 22:18). The inspired penman and apostle, Paul, pointedly identifies this descendant. He writes: "Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, and to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ" (Galatians 3:16).

The Virgin Birth

Luke tells us that an angel of the Lord informed Mary: "And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS... Then Mary said unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?" (Luke 1:31,34). When Joseph learned that Mary, his betrothed, was pregnant, he thought she had been unfaithful until the angel also appeared to him, "saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary they wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost" (Matthew 1:20).

Matthew very significantly adds: "Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us" (Matthew 1:22-23). This extraordinary prediction of the birth of Christ was uttered by Isaiah more than 700 years before the event occurred (see Isaiah 7:14).

The Place of Christ's Birth

Luke reports that in the year of Christ's birth, Caesar imposed a tax upon his subjects, requiring all to be registered for this purpose in the city of their lineage. Consequently Joseph journeyed with Mary to Bethlehem, where on their arrival, Christ was born (see Luke 2:1-20). The decree of a pagan ruler was thus remarkably instrumental in the fulfillment of a prophecy spoken by Micah seven centuries earlier: "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah... 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; cf. Matthew 2:1-6).

Note: This verse also points to the Deity of Christ. He is "from everlasting"--i.e., of ancient days.

The Death of Christ

Many of the events associated with Christ's death were striking fulfillments of prophecy. We not without comment the following examples:

  1. "And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots" (Matthew 27:35; see Psalm 22:18; John 19:23-24).
  2. "And with him they crucified two thieves... And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors" (Mark 15:27-28; see Isaiah 53:12).
  3. "They gave him vinegar to drink mingled with gall: and when he had tasted thereof, he would not drink" (Matthew 27:34; see Psalm 69:21).
  4. "And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into they hands I commend my spirit; and having said thus, he gave up the ghost" (Luke 23:46; see Psalm 31:5).
  5. "But when they came to Jesus, and saw that he was dead already, they brake not his legs... For these things were done, that the scripture should be fulfilled, A bone of him shall not be broken" (John 19:33,36; see Psalm 34:20).

The Resurrection of Christ

David long ago wrote: "I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoiceth: my flesh also shall rest in hope. For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption" (Psalm 16:8-10). Peter, however, points out that David, being now for many centuries dead and buried, could not have been speaking here of himself. "Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He, seeing this before, spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his oul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption" (Acts 2:30-31).

Christ as Prophet

Nearly fifteen centuries before Christ came, God promised to send a prophet who, like Moses, would be a deliverer. That prophet, Peter informed his fellow Jews, is Christ: "For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto... Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities" (Acts 3:22,26; see Deuteronomy 18:15). Christ had this same prophecy in view when He responded thus to an unbelieving Jewish audience: "For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote of me" (John 5:46).

Christ as King

When Pilate inquired: "Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice" (John 18:37). While many prophecies might be cited confirming Christ's claim of kingship, we have selected two contrasting scriptures, one stressing His humanity and the other His Deity.

  1. As Christ entered Jerusalum shortly before His death, some of the people met Him, shouting: "Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord. And Jesus, when he had found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter of Sion: behold, thy King cometh, sitting on an ass's colt" (John 12:13-15; see Zechariah 9:9).
  2. God, the writer of Hebrews tells us, "Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son... But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom" (Hebrews 1:2,8; see Psalm 45:6).

Christ as Priest

Thirty centuries ago David wrote: "The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek" (Psalm 110:4). The identity of this perpetual priest is clear. He is "Jesus, made an high priest forever after the order of Melchizedek" (Hebrews 6:20). The risen Christ, therefore, "because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them" (Hebrews 7:24-25).

Summary Truths

Jesus asks: "What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he?" (Matthew 22:42). Is He merely "the carpenter's son," as some have said? (Matthew 13:55). God declares: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him" (Matthew 17:5). His prophets, moreover, speak with one voice in confirming that Christ is God's Son and man's Savior. "To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins" (Acts 10:43). What do you think of Christ?

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