One of the strongest evidences supporting the Bible is the fulfillment of prophecy by Jesus Christ. The Old Testament was completed in the fifth century B.C. Malachi is usually dated between 444 and 432 B.C., and it is the final message of God until John the Baptist came preaching in preparation for Christ (Malachi 4:5-6; Matthew 3:1-17). If all specific historical predictions made about Christ are exactly fulfilled, if they were made over four-hundred years before His birth, and if there were many such predictions, we are forced to accept that evidence as conclusive proof that Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, the Son of God.
The Bible, of course, presents its prophecies as evidence that it is true. God promised Adam that He would send One who would bruise the head of Satan (Genesis 3:15). God promised Abraham that He would make a great nation out of his family and that out of that nation would come the Messiah (Genesis 12:3). When David was king, God promised him that out of his seed would come the Messiah (II Samuel 7:12-13). Jesus claimed to fulfill those prophecies (John 5:39,46; Luke 24:44-45). The Apostles also preached that Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies of a coming Messiah (Acts 3:18,21,24; 10:43; 13:27; 17:2-3).
In 1884, Harvey W. Everest published a book entitled The Divine Demonstration (St. Louis, MO: Christian Publishing Company). In it Everest presented a wonderful chapter on “Messianic Prophecies.” The heading of the chapter said, “The writers of the Bible left on record a long line of prophecies concerning the Messiah and his kingdom which find exact fulfillment in Jesus and his religion.” After three preliminary points (I. The Eternal Purpose of God; II. The Divine Promise of a Messiah; and III. The Prophecy and Fulfillment Presented in Types and Antitypes), Everest presents ten categories of Jesus’ life which were prophesied in the Old Testament:
“IV. The Time of the Messiah’s coming was clearly foretold”.
Jesus would come In the “last days” (Isaiah 2:2; Joel 2:28; Daniel 2:28) before the people of Judah would cease to be a distinct nation of people (Genesis 49:10). The last days are the gospel age (Acts 2:16-17; Hebrews 1:1-3). Daniel also said that the kingdom would be established in the days of a fourth world empire (Daniel 2:31-45). That empire was the Roman empire (Luke. 2:1; 3:1). Paul told the Galatians that all this occurred in the “fulness of time” (Galatians 4:4).
“V. The place of the Messiah’s nativity was a matter of prophecy”.
Micah foretold that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). Bethlehem was just a little town south of Jerusalem. Unless God had told him long before, there was no way for Micah to know (or even guess) what would otherwise be trivia about Jesus’ life (Matthew 2:1).
“VI. The lineage of the Messiah was declared in the Jewish Scriptures”.
His human lineage was to be from woman (Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 7:14; Galatians 4:4; Matthew 1:18-21) and His divine lineage from God (Isaiah 9:6; Matthew 1:23). He was to come from the family of Abraham (Genesis 12:3; 22:18; Galatians 3:8-16; 4:4), from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10), and from the house of David (2 Samuel 7:12-13; 23:1-7; Isaiah 11:1,2,11; Acts 13:22-23).
“VII. The Messiah was also to partake of the divine nature”.
Zechariah spoke for God in calling Him “my fellow” (Zechariah 13:7). He would be eternal (Micah 5:2). He was called the Son of God, signifying that He was of the same nature as the Father (Psalm 2:7; Matthew 3:17; 17:5; Hebrews 1:6-8). He was therefore equal with God in basic nature (Philippians 2:6; John 10:30).
“VIII. The character of Messiah was minutely described by the prophets”.
The prophets describe:
- “his wisdom” (Isaiah 11:1-4);
- “his obedience” (Deuteronomy 18:18; John 6:38; 12:49; 15:15; Luke 22:42; Hebrews 5:7-9);
- “his love of righteousness” (Psalm 45:7);
- “his gentleness and tenderness” (Isaiah 42:1-4);
- “his compassion” (Isaiah 61:1-3; Luke 4:21); and
- “his piety” (Psalm 40:7-8; Hebrews 10:7).
“IX. The main events in the life of Jesus were minutely and accurately predicated”.
The prophets predicted the following events which exactly occurred as they said:
- “A divinely appointed harbinger was to announce the Messiah’s coming and introduce his public ministry” (Malachi 3:1; 4:5; Isaiah 40:3; Luke 1:17; Matthew 17:9-13; Mark 9:9-13). John the Baptist was the “harbinger” who prepared the way of the Lord.
- “The Messiah was to be anointed, or consecrated, for his threefold office of prophet, priest, and king, by the Holy Spirit” (Isaiah 42:1; 61:1; Matthew 3:16-17).
- “The Messiah was to enter upon his ministry in Galilee, in the tribes of Zebulun and Naphtali” (Isaiah 9:1-2; Matthew 4:13-16).
- “The Messiah was to confirm his mission by the working of miracles, and miracles of a particular kind” (Isaiah 35:5, 6).
- “In the words of Isaiah, chapter 53:3, the Messiah was to be ‘a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.’”
- “The Messiah was to enter Jerusalem in triumph” (Zechariah 9:9).
- “The Messiah was to be rejected by the Jewish people” (Isaiah 53:1-3; John 1:11; Matthew 27:22-23).
“X. The betrayal and trial of the Messiah”.
The prophets foretold that thirty pieces of silver would be paid for Jesus, that he would be quiet during his affliction, and that he would suffer great abuse (Zechariah 11:12-13; Isaiah 53:7; 50:6; Matthew 27).
“XI. The crucifixion and burial”.
The prophets foretold that Jesus would be crucified (Psalm 22:15-18) as the result of unjust judgment (Isaiah 53:8; John 19:23- 24). He would be scourged prior to his death (Isaiah 50:6). The soldiers would part his garments (Psalm 22:18). He would be numbered with transgressors (Isaiah 53:12) and would die in the midst of his enemies (Psalm 22:11). He would be cruelly mocked (Psalm 22:6-8; Matthew 27:39-44). His bones would not be broken but his side would be pierced (Psalm 34; Zechariah 12:10; Psalm 22:16; John 19:31, 34, 37). The Messiah would be buried with the wicked and with the rich in his death (Isaiah 53:9; Matthew 27:57-60; John 19:39-42). All these prophecies were exactly and completely fulfilled.
“XII. The resurrection, ascension and coronation of the Messiah”.
The prophets said that the Messiah would rise from the dead (Isaiah 53:10-11; Psalm 16:10; 2:6-7). After dwelling among men for a time, he would ascend on high (Psalm 68:18; 24:7) to be crowned with power and glory (Daniel 7:13-14; Acts 2).
“XIII. Jesus fulfilled the Messianic prophecies concerning the kingdom that the Christ should establish”.
Jesus would be a king (Psalm 2:6; 110:3) in a kingdom of peace (Isaiah 9:6-7; 11:5-6; 2:2-4). He would also hold the positions of priest (Psalm 110:4; Zechariah 6:12-13) and prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15-19; Acts 3:22-23; Hebrews 1:1-3).
These prophecies could only be revealed by a Divine God who both knew what would happen in the future and who had the power to guarantee that it happened. If God truly revealed these things and exercised his power to see that they were accomplished and if Jesus is truly the Messiah as these prophecies declare, then the Bible must be a special Divine revelation from God and Jesus of Nazareth must be the Christ, the Son of God. There is no other conclusion that a thinking man can accept.