Editor’s Note: This material was first published in book form in
1989 by the John Ankerberg Evangelistic Association (now known as
the Ankerberg Theological Research Institute).
make predictions—that is easy. Having them fulfilled is another story
entirely. The more statements you make about the future and the greater
the detail, the better the chances are that you will be proven wrong.
think how difficult it would be for someone to predict the exact city in
which the birth of a future U.S. President would take place in the year
2700 A.D. But that’s what the prophet Micah did 700 years before the
How difficult do
you think it would be to indicate the precise kind of death that a new,
unknown religious leader would experience a thousand years from today?
Could you predict and describe now a new method of execution not currently
known—one that won’t even be invented for hundreds of years? That’s what
David did in 1000 B.C. when he wrote Psalm 22.
difficult would it be to predict the specific date of the appearance of
some great future leader hundreds of years in advance? But that’s what the
prophet Daniel did 530 years before Christ.
On the other
hand, if you did think up 50 specific prophecies about some man in
the future you will never meet, how difficult do you think it would be for
that man to fulfill all 50 of your predictions? How hard would it be for
him if 25 of your predictions were about what other people would do to him
and were completely beyond his control?
For example, how
could someone "arrange" to be born in a specific family? How does someone
"arrange" in advance to have his parents give birth to him in a specified
city, not their own? How does one "arrange" to be virgin born? How does
one "arrange" to be considered a prophet "like Moses"? How does someone
"arrange" (a) his own death, including being put to death by the strange
method of crucifixion, (b) being put to death, not alone, but with
company, specifically two criminals and (c) then "arrange" to have his
executioners gamble for his clothes during the execution?
And how does one
"arrange" to have God inform and send the proper "messenger" to go before
one? How does one "arrange" to be betrayed for a specific amount of money
(30 pieces of silver)? How does one "arrange" in advance that his
executioners will carry out their regular practice of breaking the legs of
the two victims on either side of him, but not his? Finally, how does a
pretender to being the Messiah "arrange" to be God? How does he escape
from a grave and appear to people after he has been killed?
It might be
possible to fake one or two of these, but it would be impossible for any
man to arrange and fulfill all these predictions in advance. If it can be
proved that such statements (prophecies) were predicted of the Messiah
hundreds of years in advance, and one man fulfilled all of them,
then that man would logically have to be the Messiah.
God gave a great
number of prophecies about the Messiah for at least two reasons. First, it
would make identifying the Messiah obvious. And second, it would make an
imposter’s task impossible.
the following account is an allegedly true story of how governments use
prearranged identification signs to identify correct agents. It’s taken
from the New Leader of April 2, 1951.
was a World War II traitor. He gave atomic secrets to the Russians and
then fled to Mexico after the war. His conspirators arranged to help him
by planning a meeting with the secretary of the Russian ambassador in
Mexico City. Proper identification for both parties became vital.
to identify himself with six prearranged signs. These instructions had
been given to both the secretary and Greenglass so there would be no
possibility of making a mistake. They were: (1) once in Mexico City
Greenglass was to write a note to the secretary, signing his name as "I.
Jackson"; (2) after three days he was to go to the Plaza de Colon in
Mexico City and (3) stand before the statue of Columbus, (4) with his
middle finger placed in a guide book. In addition, (5) when he was
approached, he was to say it was a magnificent statue and that he was from
Oklahoma. (6) The secretary was to then give him a passport.
prearranged signs worked. Why? With six identifying characteristics it was
impossible for the secretary not to identify Greenglass as the proper
If that is true,
think how impossible it would be not to identify the Messiah if he had
been given 456 identifying characteristics.7
One final thing
must be said. If we assume 456 prophecies are fulfilled in one person,
what does the science of probability say about this? In brief, it says if
accurate predictions were made about a future Messiah and fulfilled years
later by one person, this is proof that there is a God.
Here is why. The
science of probability attempts to determine the chance that a given event
will occur. The value and accuracy of the science of probability has been
established beyond doubt. For example, probability statistics are the
foundation on which all kinds of insurance rates are fixed.
Emeritus of Science at Westmont College, Peter Stoner, has calculated the
probability of one man fulfilling the major prophecies made concerning the
Messiah. The estimates were worked out by twelve different classes,
involving more than 600 college students.
carefully weighed all the factors, discussed each prophecy at length, and
examined the various circumstances which might indicate that men had
conspired together to fulfill a particular prophecy. They made their
estimates conservative enough so that there was finally unanimous
agreement even among the most skeptical students.
Professor Stoner took their estimates and made them even more
conservative. He also encouraged other skeptics or scientists to make
their own estimates to see if his conclusions were more than fair.
Finally, he submitted his figures for review to a Committee of the
American Scientific Affiliation. Upon examination, they verified that his
calculations were dependable and accurate in regard to the scientific
concerning Micah 5:2, where it states the Messiah would be born in
Bethlehem Ephrathah, Stoner and his students determined the average
population of Bethlehem from the time of Micah to the present;
then they divided it by the average population of the earth during
the same period. They concluded that the chance of one man being born in
Bethlehem was one in 2.8 x 105—or
rounded, one in 300,000.
eight different prophecies, they conservatively estimated that the chance
of one man fulfilling all eight prophecies was one in 1017.
how large the number 1017