evidence in history that God gave specific information hundreds of years in advance about
a person He knew would live? What specific accounts are given and where can they be found?
Did the people to whom the information came recognize that they had been given special
information? Do these prophecies constitute solid evidence for us today? Is it possible
for us to account for this information apart from the fact it must have come from God? Did
the Jewish community before and after Christ believe these same Hebrew Scriptures pointed
to a coming Messiah?
These prophecies are like clues in a mystery story. In this
article we will try to gather enough clues to identify the special person who is talked
about in the Hebrew Scriptures. As we shall see, the clues will lead us to ask:
Who is the seed (offspring) of the woman who crushes the
head of Satan?
Who is the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob that will
eventually bless all the nations?
Who is the "prophet like Moses" of whom God says,
"You must listen to him"?
Who is the One crucified?
Who is David's "Lord"?
Who is the child that is God and will have an everlasting
Who was crushed and pierced for our transgressions? Upon
whom did the Lord lay the iniquity of all mankind?
Who is the righteous Branch, the wise King, who will be
called "the Lord our righteousness"?
Who is the "Anointed One" to be "cut
off" after 483 years?
Who is the One who is eternal, who will be the ruler over
Israel, who is born in Bethlehem Ephrathah?
Who is the King of Jerusalem, "righteous and having
salvation" who comes "gentle and riding on a donkey"?
Who is Jehovah, "the One they have pierced" for
whom Jerusalem and all the nation of Israel will weep and mourn?
When did God suddenly come to His temple? Who was the
messenger He sent before Him to prepare the way?
The Bible claims to be the unique revelation of God.
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for
reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness; that the man of God may be
perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works" (2 Tim. 3:16,17). If you do not
agree, the material discussed in this article should be of interest to you. The Bible's
claim to uniqueness and the prophecies of a future Messiah go together. If the prophecies
are truly fulfilled, then the Bible has given information about the future that could only
have come from God. Our goal will be to examine a handful of the many prophetic statements
and explain why anyone who looks at the clear meaning of the words will realize these
verses all point to a future Person.
When examining this evidence we are aware that some people
have applied different interpretations to these verses. We are aware of the disagreements
but are convinced they are the result of misinterpretation or biased assumptions that will
not allow the evidence to speak for itself (2,14).
But before we examine the specific prophecies and answer
the critics, we want to document the amazing fact that in the Bible God did promise to
give information through His prophets concerning the future.
Who then is like me? Let him proclaim it. Let him declare
and lay out before me what has happened...and what is yet to come -- yes, let him foretell
what will come...Did I not proclaim this and foretell it long ago?
God promised to speak through His prophets and said this
would be proof that He was God; indeed the true God for all the earth. He even challenged
one and all to make statements about the future that would be as accurate as His
statements about the future.
It is significant that in the most Messianic of all the
Hebrew Scriptures, Isaiah, God speaks most frequently of His ability to predict the
future. He challenges the false gods (idols) and their prophets to prove their case.
Declare to us the things to come, tell us what the
future holds, so that we may know that you are gods. (Isa. 41:23)
Who foretold this long ago, who declared it from the
distant past? Was it not I, the Lord? (Isa. 45:21)
I foretold the former things long ago, my mouth
announced them and I made them known; then suddenly I acted, and they came to pass....
Therefore I told you these things long ago; before they happened I announced them
to you so that you could not say, "My idols did them." (Isa. 48:3,5)
Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of
Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. For prophecy never had its
origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by His
Holy Spirit. (1 Pet. 1:20-22)
All the prophets testify about Him that everyone who
believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins through His name. (Acts 10:43)
...So I stand here and testify to small and great alike. I
am saying nothing beyond what the prophets and Moses said would happen -- that the
Christ [Messiah] would suffer and, as the first to rise from the dead, would proclaim
light to His own people and to the Gentiles. (Acts 26:22,23; emphasis added in the above
Concerning this last statement that the prophets and Moses
spoke about the Messiah, in the next point we will learn what people usually meant when
they used the word and spoke about the "Messiah."
The term "Messiah" is taken from Psalm 2:2 and
Daniel 9:25,26 where Mashiach (Heb.); Messias (Gk.) means "Anointed
One." The term took its meaning from the Jewish practice of "anointing"
prophets, priests and kings to their respective offices. As a generic term it could be
applied to an earthly king such as David (2 Sam. 19:21) who was "anointed" to
fulfill the divine purpose of his office.
However, there was one unique individual to whom the term
"Messiah" applied in a special sense. God spoke about a future Ruler of Israel
who would sit on the throne of David and usher in an age of righteousness and peace. He
would simultaneously hold all three offices of prophet (authoritative proclamation),
priest (spiritual duties) and king (political ruler). He would be the reality and ultimate
fulfillment to which all other usages of the term "Messiah" would be but shadowy
He would be the One to come whom God would uniquely
identify beforehand. As the Apostle Peter said, "But this is how God fulfilled what
He had foretold through all the prophets, saying that His Christ [Messiah] would
suffer" (Acts 3:18, emphasis added).
2. e.g., Pinchas Lapide and Ulrich Luz, Jesus in Two
Perspectives: A Jewish/Christian Dialogue (Minneapolis: Augsburg, 1985); Hugh J.
Schonfeld, The Passover Plot (New York: Bantam, 1969); Gerald Sigal, The Jew and
the Christian Missionary: A Jewish Response to Missionary Christianity (New York: KTAV
3. Franz Delitzsch and Paton
Gloag, The Messiahship of
Christ (Minneapolis, MN: Klock and Klock, 1983), Book 2, 50-53.
14. The Targumim (pl.) are ancient Aramaic
paraphrases of the Hebrew Bible. The best known are the Targum Onkelos [3rd century
A.D., on the Torah, the first five books of Moses], the Targum Jonathan [4th
century A.D., on the Prophets], the Targum Pseudo-Jonathan [650 A.D., on the Torah]
and the Jerusalem Targum [700 A.D., on the Torah].). Although the Targums
are dated A.D., Ellison makes an important observation in his The Centrality of the
Messianic Idea for the Old Testament: "Early rabbinic Messianic interpretation
merits re-examination. Very much of their interpretation of Messianic prophecy is,
allowing for the difference created by the rejection or acceptance of Jesus as Messiah,
the same as that of the New Testament and early Church.... Because the influence of Hebrew
Christian propaganda, which must have been felt for at least two centuries after the
resurrection, has been underestimated by most modern scholars, we have failed to realize
how impossible it will have been for the rabbis to adopt Christian interpretations of
prophecy, unless indeed they had been there all the time.... By the middle of the third
century Hebrew Christianity had lost its dynamic power and was rapidly becoming a sect
despised by Jew and Gentile Christian alike. It was therefore possible to allow
traditional interpretations of prophetic scripture once again to be taught." (H. L.
Ellison, The Centrality of the Messianic Idea for the Old Testament,
For more information: See our The Facts on Jesus the Messiah, available for a
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