Does the teaching of Bible prophecy validate Jesus is God?
Bible prophecy is one of the most ignored topics in churches today. Pastors avoid it like a plague. They usually assert that it is either too controversial or too difficult to understand. They often claim it is too other-worldly, meaning it has no relevance to Christian living here and now. The result is that one-fourth to one-third of God’s Word has been put on the shelf, and the average Christian ends up living with no anticipation or even yearning for the Lords’ soon return.
There are two areas of God’s Word that have been terribly ignored and abused in the history of the Church. They are the opening of the Bible and the conclusion of the Bible — the books of Genesis and Revelation. People have tended to spiritualize the opening of the Bible by claiming that the 6 days of Creation were really 6 million or 60 million or 600 million years. When you start out spiritualizing the Bible by claiming that it doesn’t really mean what it says, there is a tendency to do the same thing with the ending of the Bible, arguing that the book of Revelation really doesn’t mean what it says.
But, the abuses of Bible prophecy applies to more than just the book of Revelation. It applies to all of God’s prophetic word, and that is a shame, because the study of Bible prophecy is very important for many reasons.
I’m going to give you nine reasons why all Christians should be interested in studying God’s Prophetic Word. The following is the fourth reason.
4. Validates Jesus
Let’s consider another reason for studying Bible prophecy, and that is it validates Jesus as who He said He was, that He was God in the flesh. Bible prophecy I think is the greatest evidence of that.
Look, for example, at Micah 5:2. This is probably one of the best known prophecies about the First Coming of the Messiah. It says in Micah 5:2 that the Messiah will be born in the town of Bethlehem. This was written 500 years before Jesus was born. But, did you know it says more than that? It says He will be born in Bethlehem Ephrata. Do you know why He said that? Because when He wrote that prophecy there were two Bethlehems in Israel. There were two. There was one up near the Sea of Galilee and there was one down south of Jerusalem. Micah wanted to nail it. It’s like if today I ask where you were born, and you said, “I was born in Springfield.” I’d have to ask you another question because there is a Springfield, Missouri, and a Springfield, Illinois, and a Springfield in almost every nation in the union. There were two Bethlehems. The prophet nailed it precisely!
These are not general, vague prophecies like the ones that Nostradamus wrote that you could take and interpret in any way you want to interpret them. These are precise prophecies. The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem Ephrata.
Or, consider Psalm 22. This chapter has one of the most amazing prophecies of all about Jesus. The whole Psalm is about the Crucifixion. Psalm 22:16 says the Messiah will die by having His hands and His feet pierced. That was written 1,000 years before Jesus by King David! It was written at a time when the only way of execution by the Jews was by stoning. But, by Jesus’ time the Jews couldn’t stone because the power of execution had been taken away by the Romans. The Romans had developed a system called crucifixion in which the hands and the feet were pierced. This has to be supernatural knowledge for a person to prophecy that 1,000 years before Jesus is born and 700 years before the Romans developed crucifixion as a sophisticated way of killing people.
Or, look at the little book of Zechariah. It’s amazing the prophecies that are in that little book. People always say, “Oh, that is an apocalyptic book and doesn’t mean what it says.” How about the First Coming prophecies? It says the Messiah will come on a donkey. He will be hailed as a king. He will be betrayed. He will be betrayed by a friend. He will be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver. The 30 pieces of silver will be used to buy a potter’s field. It says He will be lifted up. It said He will be pierced. All of those prophecies are in that one little book and every one of them were literally fulfilled in the life of Jesus.
One time I did an intensive study of all the Messianic prophecies in the Bible and I came to the conclusion that there are approximately 330 prophecies in the Hebrew Scriptures concerning the First Coming of the Messiah, but many of those are repetitive. For example, many times it says the Messiah will be of the lineage of David or the tribe of Judah. So, if you go through and you take out all the repetitive prophecies I came up with, and I have these listed in a book I wrote called The Christ in Prophecy Study Guide, that leaves 109 separate and distinct prophecies. That’s 109 that Jesus fulfilled! That’s a lot of prophecies for one person to fulfill.
The odds of just eight prophecies being fulfilled accidentally in someone’s life are 1 in 10 to the 17th power. That is a one with 17 zeros after it or 1 in one-hundred quadrillion. That’s not my calculations, those are the calculations of an astrophysicist who taught at a college in California back in the 40’s and 50’s by the name of Peter Stoner. I never met Peter Stone. I wish I could have as he’s gone to be with the Lord now. He wrote a book that was published by Moody Press and in this book he calculated these odds. You can go to the book, you can find all the calculations there, and this was just eight of the prophecies, not 109. He just took eight of the most famous prophecies concerning the Messiah and he calculated the odds at 1 in 10 to the 17th power. That is beyond the realm of accidental! It just can’t be.
Again, I never met Peter Stoner, but I know he was a good guy, and the reason I know he was a good guy is because in his book, Science Speaks, he uses Texas to illustrate this point, and being a Texan I love that. Here is his illustration using the great state of Texas. He said, “I want to give you an idea of what 1 in 10 to the 17th is.” He said, “Lets fill the state of Texas knee deep in silver dollars. Then fly over the state and flip out one silver dollar that has a black check mark on it. Then turn lose 10,000 bulldozers and let them just bulldoze around the state for about 10 years and get those silver dollars really mixed up. Then take a guy and blindfold him. The odds that on the first draw he will reach down and pick up the silver dollar with the black check mark is 1 in 10 to the 17th power.” We are not talking about coincidence here. We are not talking about accidental things. We are talking about prophecy fulfilled supernaturally in the life of Jesus Christ.
In the third part of my teaching on the importance of Bible prophecy, we’ll look at how the teaching of Bible prophecy encourages evangelism and holy living.