It is very hard for human beings to predict the future. Many have tried and failed miserably.
“A rocket will never be able to leave the earth’s atmosphere.”
The New York Times, 1936
“There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in his home.”
Ken Olson, president of Digital Equipment Corporation, 1977.
“The horse is here to stay but the automobile is only a novelty—a fad.”
President of the Michigan Savings Bank advising Henry Ford’s lawyer not to invest in the Ford Motor Co., 1903
Even with sophisticated technology and analytics, we cannot accurately predict the weather, the stock market or even election results! Why? Because our knowledge and understanding is limited.
The Bible says this about God:
For I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning. Isaiah 46:9b-10
The one true God says that one way we can identify Him is that He knows what will happen in the end, from the very beginning. Unlike men, who are limited, God can indeed predict the future. Thus one of best evidences for the truth of Christianity is the prophecies which were made concerning the Messiah, written hundreds of years before the birth of Christ, but which were subsequently fulfilled in His life.
Writings about Jesus before he was born
Scripture passages in the Old Testament which tell details about the time and place where Jesus would be born, as well as the way he would die:
— Micah 5:2 predicted that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.
— Psalm 22 contains details of His life and death on the cross.
— Isaiah 53 describes the suffering of the Messiah as a Substitute for the sins of the people of God.
These prophecies are amazing. The prophecy in Micah (written 700 years before Christ) that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem was so well-known in the first century that when Herod asked the Jewish religious leaders where the Christ would be born, they could immediately tell him: “In Bethlehem of Judah, for this is what has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; for out of you shall come forth a ruler who will shepherd My people Israel.” (Matthew 2:5-6)
— Psalm 22 (written over 1000 years before Christ) so accurately portrays the death of Jesus that it contains the very words He would utter on the cross: “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”, as well as a description of the piercing of His hands, and the dividing of His garments by His killers. (See the fulfillment in Matthew 27:35,46)
— Isaiah 53, written 700 years before Jesus was ever born, so reflects the life of Jesus that one contemporary American, thrilled with what he had read in the chapter, typed it out and took it to work with him, without putting the name of the Bible book or any reference to the scripture on the printed page. He showed it to his fellow workers in his office and asked them: “Who do you think this was written about?” Everyone who read it said “That is describing Jesus.” In fact this man showed the page to a Jewish co-worker (the Jews believe in the Old Testament, but do not believe in the New Testament, or accept that Jesus is the Messiah). He asked him, “Who do you think this was written about?” His Jewish co-worker said: “That is obviously from your New Testament, and it is talking about Jesus.” The first man told him, “NO; it is from YOUR Old Testament, the Book of Isaiah — and it so clearly describes Jesus that even you recognize Him in it!” There are many other prophecies besides these, which reveal to us the power of God to predict and then bring about future events. And they are yet another reason that we can have confidence that Jesus is who He said He is: God the Son, and the one true way to God and eternal life. (John 14:6)
To take it further:
— Read Psalm 22 and list any references to Jesus’ life and death you can find in these verses.
— Read Isaiah 53 and see if you can recognize Jesus, who was born 700 years AFTER this chapter was written.
— Scan through the first 4 chapters of the Book of Matthew. See how many fulfilled prophecies you can find there from the early life and ministry of Jesus.
Point to think about:
- How much more confidence do these fulfilled prophecies give you that Jesus is the true way to God, vs. the claim of a supposed prophet or teacher who did NOT have such prophecies about them? Which would you tend to believe?
- How do the prophecies of the coming Messiah provide proof that Jesus was not just a man?