In the Old Testament scriptures, which were written hundreds of years before Jesus Christ came to the earth, there are numerous prophecies regarding the coming of the Messiah, or Savior, who would redeem people from God’s punishment for their sins. In this regard, Lee Strobel says on page 262 of his book entitled The Case For Christ,
In effect, dozens of these Old Testament prophecies created a fingerprint that only the true Messiah could fit. This gave Israel a way to rule out impostors and validate the credentials of the authentic Messiah. . . . Jesus, and only Jesus throughout history, matched this prophetic fingerprint. . . .
On page 131 of The Case For Faith, a second book by Strobel, Norman Geisler, Ph.D., states, “According to Barton Payne’s Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy, there are 191 predictions in the Old Testament about the coming of Christ. . . .” Other Christian apologists believe that there are even more prophecies regarding the coming of the Christ, who is also referred to as the Messiah.
Following is a list of a number of the most noteworthy of the many Old Testament prophesies regarding the coming Messiah, and the corresponding New Testament scriptures that fulfill those prophecies:
|Prophecy||Old Testament Prediction||New Testament Fulfillment|
|He would be from the tribe of Judah||Genesis 49:10||Matthew 1:2-16
|He would be descendant of King David||Jeremiah 23:5||Matthew 1:1
|He would be born of a virgin||Isaiah 7:14||Matthew 1:18
|He would be born in Bethlehem||Micah 5:2||Matthew 2:1
|He would be preceded by a messenger||Isaiah 40:3
|He would be rejected by His own people||Isaiah 53:3||John 1:11|
|He would be betrayed by a friend||Psalms 41:9||Matthew 26:47-50
John 18: 1-5
|Betrayal price would be 30 pieces of silver||Zechariah 11:12||Matthew 26:14-16|
|Betrayal sum would be used to purchase potter’s field||Zechariah 11:13||Matthew 27:3-7|
|He would not speak to his accusers||Isaiah 53:7||Matthew 27:12-14
|He would be beaten and spat upon||Isaiah 50:6||Matthew 26:67
|His hands and feet would be pierced||Psalms 22:16
|He would be crucified with transgressors||Isaiah 53:12b||Matthew 27:38
|His garments would be taken by others||Psalms 22:18||Matthew 27:35
|He would be offered gall and vinegar for His thirst||Psalms 69:21||Matthew 27:34
|His bones would not be broken||Psalms 34:20||John 19:32-33|
|His side would be pierced||Zechariah 12:10||John 19:34|
|There would be darkness at noon||Amos 8:9||Matthew 27:45
|He would be buried in rich man’s tomb||Isaiah 53:9||Matthew 27:57-60|
|He would be resurrected from death||Psalms 16:10||Matthew 28:5-7
Some skeptics argue that Jesus deliberately attempted to fulfill the Old Testament prophecies. For example, Jesus could have ridden a donkey into Jerusalem, knowing it had been prophesied in the Old Testament that the Messiah would do so. However, Josh McDowell has a strong rebuttal to this argument. On page 109 of his book entitled More Than A Carpenter, he says,
This objection seems plausible until we realize that many of the details of the Messiah’s coming were totally beyond [His] control. For example, the place of birth. . . . The time of his coming. The manner of his birth. Betrayal by Judas and the betrayal price. The manner of his death. . . . The casting of dice for his clothes. . . . Half the prophecies are beyond his fulfillment.
Louis Lapides, M.Div., Th.M., on page 184 of Strobel’s book, The Case For Christ, asks, “[H]ow would he [Jesus Christ] control the fact that the Sanhedrin offered Judas thirty pieces of silver to betray him? How could he arrange for his ancestry, . . . or that soldiers gambled for his clothing, or that his legs remained unbroken on the cross?”
For eight particular prophecies that he considered, Peter Stoner, in a publication entitled Science Speaks, determined on the basis of the science of probability that the chance that any man could have fulfilled all eight prophecies is one in one hundred million billion (10 with 17 zeros after it). The eight prophecies Stoner considered were (1) the Messiah (Savior) would be born in Bethlehem, (2) He would be preceded by a messenger, (3) He would enter Jerusalem on a donkey, (4) He would be betrayed by a friend, (5) He would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver, (6) the betrayal sum would be used to purchase a potter’s field, (7) the Messiah would not speak to his accusers, and (8) He would be crucified with transgressors.
Whether Stoner appropriately applied the science of probability is subject to question. The probability that he calculated for these particular eight prophecies seems to be overstated. For example, of the eight previously-noted prophecies that he considered, two (#3 and #7) could be fulfilled by almost any man familiar with the applicable prophecies, if he chose to do so.
In this regard, McDowell, on page 319 of another of his books, Evidence That Demands A Verdict, states,
Some will say that the estimates given in some of these prophecies are too large and should be reduced. Others may say that some of the prophecies are related and should have smaller estimates. That may be true, so I would suggest that such a person go back over the prophecies and make his own estimates. They will be found to be still large enough to be conclusive.
Therefore, the apparent lack of credibility of Stoner’s calculations should not be a major stumbling block, since Jesus Christ fulfilled numerous other prophecies also. Furthermore, as previously indicated, the vast majority of the fulfillments of prophecy were beyond Christ’s control.
Old Testament prophesies indicate beyond a reasonable doubt that Jesus Christ is indeed the Messiah, or Savior, promised by God who would provide eternal salvation for everyone who trusts in Him for eternal salvation. [To learn more about the uniqueness of Jesus Christ, click on “Was Jesus Christ More than a Prophet?” and to learn how to be assured of eternal salvation, click on “What Must a Person Do to Be Assured of Eternal Salvation?”]