A natural question for every child growing up in a Christian home (and even adult unbelievers) is,
- “How do I know that the Bible is the Word of God?”
- “How do I know that Jesus is the real ‘religion’?”
- Often times there is nagging doubt that, “If I would just take time to read the holy books of the other religions I would find them to be similar to the Bible.”
- “If I really want to be open-minded about this I should read about the other religions.”
But the answer to that is quite simple. “Save yourself a lot of time. Look at the only holy book that has had predictive prophecy come true and look at the only religion that has had its founder rise from the dead.”
This article looks at the prophecies that Jesus fulfilled by his birth. Sometimes it is thought that Jesus deliberately fulfilled prophecies. Indeed, there are some he deliberately fulfilled, such as riding on a donkey into Jerusalem.
But the ancient Scriptures are filled with predictions of the lineage of the Messiah. No one can control their ancestors or their place of birth. These OT Scriptures taught the people that the Messiah would be:
A son of Abraham.
Around 1500 years BC the ancient Scriptures predicted “I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.“ (Gen 12:2-3)
I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.” (Gen 22:16-18)
But Abraham fathered two sons, Ishmael and Isaac. From which line would the Messiah come? Around 1500 years BC, the ancient Scriptures predicted: But God said to him, “Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned. (Gen 21:12)
But Isaac fathered two sons, Esau and Jacob. From which line would the Messiah come? Around 1500 years BC, the ancient Scriptures predicted: “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel. (Numbers 24:17; also Gen 35:10-12)
But Jacob fathered twelve sons. From which line would the Messiah come? Around 1500 years BC, the ancient Scriptures predicted: The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his. (Genesis 49:10)
But Judah had many descendants. From which descendent would the Messiah come? Around 800 years BC, the ancient Scriptures predicted: A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him. (Isaiah 11:1)
But Jesse had eight sons. From which descendent would the Messiah come?
- 800 years BC, the ancient Scriptures predicted: He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. (Isa 9:6)
- Around 550 BC Jeremiah says, ‘The days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will fulfill the gracious promise I made to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. “‘In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; he will do what is just and right in the land. In those days Judah will be saved and Jerusalem will live in safety. This is the name by which it will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness.’ For this is what the LORD says: ‘David will never fail to have a man to sit on the throne of the house of Israel.’ (Jeremiah 33:14-17)
- Around 550 BC, after David had died, Ezekiel says, “My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd.” (Eek 37:24ff)
And what would be the place of his birth? “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (Micah 5:2)
And what would be the manner of his birth? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Isa 7:14-15)
And what of this modern idea that Jesus is both God and man?
Around 800 years BC, the ancient Scriptures predicted: For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. (Isa 9:6)
So we can see that God predicts the coming Messiah, giving both his lineage and his place of birth. This helps establish the uniqueness of the Bible (where are the prophesies in the other holy books?) and the uniqueness of Jesus (what prophesies did the other religious leaders fulfill?).
Josh McDowell references a helpful illustration:
In his book, Science Speaks, Peter Stoner applies the modern science of probability to just eight prophecies regarding Christ. He says, ”The chance that any man might have … fulfilled all eight prophecies is one in 10 to the 17th. That would be 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000 (one hundred quadrillion).”
Stoner suggests that “we take 10 to the 17th silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They will cover all the state 2 feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly… Blindfold a man and tell him he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up [that one marked silver dollar.] What chance would he have of getting the right one?”
Stoner concludes, “Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing those eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man, …providing they wrote them in their own wisdom.”
So let us encourage our faith, our children, and unbelievers with the uniqueness of the Bible and the uniqueness of the birth of Jesus. No other holy book has predictive prophecy that points to the Messiah. God gives clues to those who are seekers after him, those who really want to know.