Even More Evidence To Believe in Jesus
Testament Prophecies Fulfilled in the Life and Time of Jesus
Short Answer Version
When I first became saved, a prevailing popular set of evidence in favor of believing in Jesus involved the many prophecies written before Jesus was born, that were later fulfilled in His earthly life.
If you are not aware, the Old Testament account covered a period from the beginning of creation to about 500 years before Jesus was born. Any predictions we read about Jesus in the Old Testament were probably written between 4,000 B.C and 500 B.C.
As we will see below, it is thought that hundreds of these prophecies were fulfilled during the time Jesus came to earth and thereafter. Starting with the details of His birth, continuing through His resurrection, and even into the spread of Christianity, many details were foretold.
Long Answer Version
To understand at face value the significance and profundity of the many fulfilled prophecies requires a deep dive.
Peter Stoner, author of the book ''Science Speaks'' calculated the odds for the life of Jesus fulfilling just 48 of the prophecies about His coming. Stoner computed the likelihood to be the ratio of one over 10 to the 157th power. This is 1.57 googols, which is equal to about twice the number of elementary particles in the universe thought to exist when Stoner wrote. This level of probability speaks for itself. It is especially obvious regarding prophecies of Jesus fulfilled in ways impossible to orchestrate by human means.
Jesus could not, by His own strategy, have been whipped, crucified, killed, and risen again. He couldn't be the one to decide He would be born in Bethlehem, or in what area He would grow up, Galillee. The apostle Matthew cited from "the prophets" that Jesus would be called a Nazarene because He grew up in Nazareth.
Unique prophecies were given by Old Testament writers living hundreds of years apart from each other. Some of the ancient prophecies are in the category of typology. A typological prophecy uses a person, situation, or thing to represent a different future person, situation, or thing. In this manner, the original one is called a ''type'' of the future one.
The preponderance of compelling evidence from Old Testament prophecies is unmistakable. We will examine some of them below.
The Branch - First Predicted by Isaiah
Prophets received messages from God. Some were words, others visions, and still others directions to do things. Isaiah predicted the coming of a person he called "The Branch". About 300 years later another Prophet, Zechariah, received more messages about ''The Branch''.
The prophets portray Him in glory. Isaiah first uses the term ''The Branch'' in Chapter 4 of his book, where he said, ''In that day the Branch of the Lord shall be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth excellent and appealing for those of Israel who have escaped.''
Notice the relationship between ''The Branch'' and the excellent, appealing fruit. In the New Testament, similar concepts of fruit are recurring themes seen as stemming from Jesus.
In Isaiah Chapter 11, it is clear that ''The Branch'' is a descendent of Jesse. In the Old Testament David was often simply called ''the son of Jesse'', who was his father.
''There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch will grow out of his roots. The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord.''
This prophecy goes on to give the benefits that come from the Branch, and in verse 10 it says ''And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the gentiles shall seek Him and His resting place will be glorious''.
This branch language is a bit like our use of a family tree. ''The Branch'' is in a large family tree starting with King David, son of Jesse. On that tree one branch was meant to symbolize Jesus, who came approximately 1,000 years after David.
Jeremiah's Prophecy About The Branch
God later gave the prophet Jeremiah another look into this Branch.
''Behold the days are coming says the Lord that I wil raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. And Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called:
THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.''
Zechariah's Amazing Prophecies
The other prophet elucidating on ''The Branch'' was Zechariah. He was the author of the Old Testament book by his name. Like Isaiah, he had visions, divine messages, and prophecies of a coming savior called ''The Branch''.
The ministry of Jesus and the New Testament fit with Zechariah's prophecies of the Branch in an astonishing way.
There is a series of prophetic passages I find very fascinating and I'd like to share them with you.
The high priest at the time of Zechariah, was named Yeshua. The book of Ezra's historical account indicated Yeshua was a prominent figure. So we have historical context from two different writers. Jews who returned from the Babylonian captivity in 537 BC spoke predominantly Aramaic.
Zechariah's manuscript used ''Joshua'' from the Hebrew language, but Joshua and Yeshua were one and the same person. He was a key player in the leadership of the rebuilding the temple.
Zechariah was a prophet. There are two parts to his prophecy. In the first part, God through Zechariah says to Yeshua, who was his contemporary in decades before 500 BC:
''Hear, O Yeshua, the high priest, you and your companions who sit before you, for they are a wondrous sign, for behold I am bringing forth My Servant the Branch.''
the second part of the prophetic word, God tells Zechariah, ''. . . Take
the silver and gold, make an elaborate crown, and set it on the head of
Yeshua, the high priest, the son of Jehozadak. Then speak to him, saying,
‘Thus says the LORD of hosts, saying:
When God spoke through Zechariah He used the word ''Behold''. It was to draw our attention to Yeshua the high priest standing posed with the crown of a king on his head. It was painting a future picture with apt symbolism.
There had never been a king/priest in Israel before. For this reason, Zechariah's prophecy was something unheard of. The prophecy continues:
''From His place He shall branch out, and He shall build the temple of the LORD; Yes, He shall build the temple of the LORD. He shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule on His throne; So He shall be a priest on His throne,'' and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.''
(Some Bible translations render ''between them both'' as ''between both offices'', [King and Priest]''.)
I submit to you that this prophecy did identify by name, our Lord Jesus, Yeshua, over 500 years before He was born. He is the One rightly called the Highest King, and the Highest Priest. He is ''The Branch''.
The sacrificial atoning death of Jesus for us was the highest offering of the highest High Priest. This is attested to in the New Testament book of Hebrews, which says, ''Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.''
In Zechariah, God did not merely give the prophet a vision, but commanded him to do something in the natural. It was a symbolic, prophetic action.''
Such symbolic actions are common among prophets in the Old Testament, and were usually initiated by God's direction to the prophet and had a profound meaning. It is therefore possible that Zechariah obeyed and physically involved Yeshua the priest, and may have had others whatch on.
I can imagine that when Zechariah stated ''Behold, the Man whose name is the Branch'', He was physically referring, perhaps even gesturing, to the priest Yeshua who was acting out a picturesque role as the coming Messiah, also named Yeshua.
I can imagine that when Zechariah was in effect saying, Behold! Yeshua! The Branch! The Highest King! The Highest Priest!
That priest's name was ''Yeshua''. Today, 2,500 years later the English language pronounces it ''Jesus''. Yeshua was the name Jesus Christ went by in His native language, Aramaic. Everyone knew Him as Yeshua.
Zechariah's message with the friendly cooperation of his contemporary, Yeshua the High Priest, would fall into the category of typology.
The man was Yeshua son of Jehozadak. He was a real priest of the day, a High Priest. He was historically a person who built God's temple in the natural. Yet, in the spiritual sense, he represented the builder of God's ultimate temple, sometime in our future, Jesus.
The priestly Yeshua who acted out this prophecy for Zechariah was not a king or the One who branches out and bears the glory, as He rules on His throne.
Yeshua the priest would be considered a ''type'' of Yeshua the messiah, the priest/king whose reign enlarges by branching out, one who ''bears the glory''.
Yeshua, ''The Branch'' will not merely sit on a throne of a king. He will sit specifically on the LORD's throne. Therefore, many Bible translators capitalized ''His'' in ''His throne'', meaning meaning ''God's''. Yeshua is both Man and God, ''Immanuel'', ''God with us'' as Isaiah predicted. Zechariah's prophecy contained meaning hidden at the time, but it would not be understood until later.
You might notice that some Bible translations spell the word ''Yeshua'' in Zechariah as ''Joshua''. It is the same wYeshua, ''The Branch'' will not merely sit on a throne of a king. He will sit specifically on the LORD's throne. Therefore, many Bible translators capitalized ''His'' in ''His throne'', meaning meaning ''God's''. Yeshua is both Man and God, ''Immanuel'', ''God with us'' as Isaiah predicted. Both Isaiah's and Zechariah's prophecies contained meaning hidden at the time, but not understood until later.
You might notice that some Bible translations spell the word ''Yeshua'' as ''Joshua''. It is etymologically the same word in Hebrew and Aramaic. Slight pronunciation changes also happened over the years, but with the same meaning. It means ''The LORD is Salvation''.
This reminds me of what Isaiah predicted: ''His name will be called THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.'' Salvation and righteousness are said to come through Jesus alone.
There are other instances of symbolism and typology in Zechariah's two part prophecy. Yeshua was prophetically called a brand plucked from the fire. Maybe that represented the resurrection of Jesus, in which God the Father snatched Him from the abode of the dead.
In Zechariah's vision Yeshua was clothed in filthy garments (perhaps representing the sins of the whole world, which Jesus took on Himself).
God said ''Take away the filthy garments from him. And he said, ''See, I have removed your iniquity from you and I will clothe you with rich robes, let them put a clean turban on his head.'' Perhaps this represents Jesus going through the glorification process as He said just after His resurrection that He would.
The stone in Chapter 3 ornamented with seven eyes, might coincide with the apostle John's vision of Jesus, the lamb who had been slain having seven eyes which are identified as the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth (Revelation 5:6).
The passage in Revelation 5:6 is the only other passage in the Bible where seven eyes are mentioned, and they belong to Jesus, described by John in a way suggesting the divine attribute of omniscience.
Jesus at that instant takes a scroll out of the right hand of God the Father and all heaven erupts in worship.
The next line in Zechariah's prophecy says ''I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.'' That is what God did through Jesus on the cross, the lamb that was slain, and through His resurrection. It was that act that will have a direct result one day of ridding the world of evil and iniquity.
Many Other Prophetic Examples
The original character Joshua in the Bible was the one who led the children of Israel into the promised land. Who is to say that that original Joshua was not a prophetic type of our Lord who bore the same name?
When Moses was nearing death, he assigned his protege Joshua to take over for him. Joshua finished Moses's job as Israel's savior from slavery in Egypt. He brought them into the promise land. He then set up righteousness in the land and fought evil. He taught people to love and worship God.
Other people, occurences or things we should consider types that may have foretold the coming of Jesus were these:
1) Joseph the son of Jacob was betrayed by his brothers. But afterward he became the overseer of all the food supplies in Egypt. From that position he saved the children of Israel and others from mass starvation, leading to 400 years of Israel's population growth.
2) The ram Abraham saw caught in the thicket, sacrificed.
3) The pole and image of a fiery bronze serpent Moses lifted up in the wilderness to heal many people.
4) The rock Moses struck that gushed out water in the desert to keep Israel form dying of thirst.
5) Israel's atonement sacrifices, prefiguring the sacrifice of Jesus.
6) Jonah, who saved Ninevah from destruction. Though often considered figurative, Jonah's own words indicate he died in the belly of the big fish, and revived when it spit him out. Thus, prefiguring the death and resurrection of Jesus. This event was referred to by Jesus as a sign of how He would die and be raised again, ''the sign of Jonah''. The book of Jonah is a short read, see for yourself.
These few examples of action/prophecies each feature a typology within them, in my opinion. We will look at other types and prophecies later. But there are many more instances we could mention.
Jesus and His apostles explained that God deliberately made these prophecies clearer to people who follow Jesus, than to those hundreds or thousands of years beforehand, who first heard them. We can understand because of hindsight and faith-sight with God's enlightenment.
These New Testament writers thereby intimate God was wisely shielding the intended future meanings of the types and prophecies from the people of the time (1 Peter 1:10-12, John 12:37-41, Luke 8:10).
When many of the prophecies foretelling Jesus were originally given, they were not yet clear as to their predictive nature.
Some had a separate predictive element that was discovered later when things fell into place. For example, Psalm 118 says ''The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord's doing; It is marvelous in our eyes.''
Jesus proclaimed the above as a prophecy about Himself. Long before the ''builders'' strongly rejected Jesus, He told us it would happen, such as in Luke 9:22 where Jesus predicted: "The Son of man must suffer many things, and be rejected of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be slain, and be raised the third day." Long before that statement, Psalm 118 foretold it.
Today, we can say that Jesus IS the chief cornerstone. The entirety of Christianity started with that one building stone. He is widely considered ''the name above all names'', as the New Testament proclaims.
If Jesus hadn't deciphered this building-block prophecy for us, we might still be unaware of its ultimate meaning.
Psalm 2:2 is another example: "The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and against His Anointed One . . ." This entire verse could have two literal applications. One for King David and one for Jesus.
At first the prophecy looked like a statement about then current King David. King David was anointed with oil for the office of King by Samuel the prophet in I Samuel 16:12-13. This passage says "the Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward."
Biblically, to be anointed means to be smeared with the Holy Spirit's power divinely for ministry or service. The words Messiah or Christ literally mean "Anointed One". The New Testament proclaims it is a prophecy about Jesus. -Acts 4:26.
As it pertained to Jesus, kings such as Herod the Great, and Herod Antipas set themselves against Him as spelled out in the four books of the New Testament. Jesus is the primary Anointed One in human history and in the future".
The prophet Micah said ''But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.''
Of course, Jesus was born in Bethlehem, fulfilling the prophecy. His goings were from of old. He claimed ''Before Abraham was born, I Am''.
Isaiah made many prophecies about Jesus. One was that a virgin would conceive and bear a son, and call His name ''God with us''. Jesus was God with us, according to the New Testament. You know the story of Christ's virgin birth.
One of my personal favorite Old Testament Prophecies is in Daniel chapter 9, verses 24 to 27. It is a presented as a message from the angel Gabriel appearing in a vision.
''Seventy sevens [translated weeks, but more likely 7 year periods] are determined for your people and for your holy city, to finish the transgression, to make an end of sins, to make reconciliation for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy.
Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince, there shall be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublesome times.And after the sixty-two weeks Messiah shall be cut off, but not for Himself; ''
Up to this point the prophesy is predicting the first coming and crucifixion of Jesus, the Messiah. Ancient calendars and historical chronology data were not preserved to the satisfaction of today's experts. The Jewish calendar appears to have varied from 353 to 385 days long. Was Daniel using the Bablyonian or Persian calendars? No exact date of the command to restore Jerusalem or even for the date of the crucifixion can be derived.
It has been postulated that the 62 weeks coincides with the historical period starting when the command to rebuild Jerusalem was given, to the period just before Jesus died for our sins. Even though, none of this can be proven with today's limited knowledge, I generally favor that assessment. In my opinion, enough information exists to say Daniel's time frame is surprisingly close to the era of Jesus. It could be plus or minus ten percent off.
Now think about trying to predict something you think will happen about 500 years in the future to within ten percent accuracy. Statistically, it is still within the realm of probability that Daniel had it right all along.
Daniel's vision says after this ''Messiah will be cut off, but not for Himself''. This is a direct prediction that Jesus would die on behalf of others. Jesus would die for the sins of others, but not for His own (because He was ''without sin'').
When Jesus did this, He ''finished the transgression'', ''made an end of sins'', by making possible ''reconciliation for iniquity'', leading to ''everlasting righteousness''. This was a list of the things Jesus accomplished in His atoning death and resurrection.
Daniel was the only Old Testament writer to use the word "Messiah". He did so only in Chapter 9. Messiah means ''anointed one'', Jesus was the Anointed One, ''the Most Holy''. ''Messiah the Prince'', the Prince of Peace, should not be confused with the second prince in the sentence of Daniel 9:26. ''the prince who is to come'', because that prince would be the opposite kind of prince, the prince of darkness.
''and the people of the prince who is to come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end of it shall be with a flood, and till the end of the war desolations are determined.''
This part of Gabriel's prophecy to Daniel is often explained as pertaining to our future, because the prince who makes desolate has not yet come, at least not in full. Jerusalem and its temple were destroyed in AD 70 by the Roman Empire. These people were probably ''people of the prince''. But the world could still be in the period of the war and desolations Gabriel mentioned.
Personally, I'm not sure about what will happen in the future, but I'm pretty sure of what happened in the past, and that is that Jesus, the Son of God was crucified for the sins of all mankind at the time the prophecy predicted, which many say coincided with the period from the day of the triumphal entry to Passover a few days later. By the way, the feast of the Passover celebrated the day when God saved the first born of Israel from annihilation, and saved the people from Egypt.
Symbolically, the first passover was a day when the blood of the lamb was used to mark the doorways of the Israelites and protect them from death. I mention this because Jesus was abruptly recognized in the beginning of his earthly ministry by the prophet John the Baptist. He said, ''Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.''
The first passover in Egypt was recognized by John as typology for the work of Jesus on the cross to save humanity.
What we have discussed here about prophecies predicting Jesus, only scratches the surface of the persuasive prophetic evidence.
Prophecies by Jesus
Some writers skip over the prophecies by Jesus Himself that were fulfilled after He pronounced them. For example, Matthew 12:38-42 says:
''Then some of the scribes and Pharisees answered, saying, ''Teacher, we want to see a sign from You.''
But He answered and said to them, ''An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. The men of Nineveh will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and indeed a greater than Jonah is here. The queen of the South will rise up in the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and indeed a greater than Solomon is here.''
Here Jesus predicts His own death and resurrection, and prophecies that the generation of His time would reject Him. In this passage He also proclaims Himself greater than the wisest king known to exist, Solomon''.
Jesus made a prediction that was fulfilled six days afterward:
''And He said to them, ''Assuredly, I say to you that there are some standing here who will not taste death until they see the kingdom of God present with power.''
Then the passage goes on to say, ''Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them. And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, ''Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah''— because he did not know what to say, for they were greatly afraid.
And a cloud came and overshadowed them; and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, ''This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!'' Suddenly, when they had looked around, they saw no one anymore, but only Jesus with themselves.
Now as they came down from the mountain, He commanded them that they should tell no one the things they had seen, until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept this word to themselves, questioning what the rising from the dead meant.''
Again (here in Mark 9:1-10) He predicted His death and resurrection. He did so several other times before He was crucified.
Jesus predicted that the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day Pentecost was to take place ''not many'' days after He leaves the earth and ascends into Heaven.
He predicted that the temple in Jerusalem would fall again, with not one stone left upon another, which it did at the hands of Roman soldiers in AD 70.
Jesus made many other prophecies that were fulfilled after His death and resurrection. For example, He predicted Peter's means of being led away to martyrdom, the coming persecution of believers, the building of the worldwide Christian church, and the growth of the kingdom of God on earth.
For every scriptural claim supporting why a person should want to believe in Jesus, skeptics emerge. These creative people try to question or discredit it. A question never proves anything - not even a multitude of unanswered questions.
The process of discrediting has no merit, no creedence in and of itself. If a claim is merely discredited, no proof, one way or another, exists. For example, someone might discredit you in front of others using mere innuendo, without substantiating any of their claims.
In the end faith is the answer to being both convinced and saved. You can find out more about faith at our page, ''What Does It Mean To Believe?''
Keep Your Eyes Open for More Evidence to Support Believing
Many more points of evidence abound. Here is one that I discovered. About 20 years ago, I felt I needed to be encouraged, so I went to a popular search engine and typed in ''encouragement''. All the sites had been created by Christians, giving wonderful messages of encouragement for all who would read them.
Today the search results bring up encouragement by many people of different backgrounds and beliefs. I suspect that is the influence of Christianity rippling through our culture.
Of course the Christian messages of encouragement today do more for me than the secular messages like ''I am deserving of patience and self-love''. A nice sentiment, but missing the point of how much God loves us and wants the best for us.
Here is a menu with lots of great information that might help you decide to become a follower of Jesus.
If, as a result of viewing this website, you decided to believe in Jesus as your Savior, please click here for next steps.
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