Tuesday Theology—September 1 2009
Prophetic Evidence of Scripture Part 3
This is a little different than last week. Last week, there were some passages to look at that are debatable whether you accept the New Testament as accurate or not. Basically, these were Old Testament prophetic passages that we can look at today to see if they were fulfilled objectively.
There's another set of Old Testament prophecies that are a little harder to verify. What makes them hard to verify? They are prophecies regarding the coming of the Messiah. And it's hard to verify because, as a Christian, I see them as fulfilled and explained in the New Testament. But, if you're not a Christian, you might not find the New Testament trustworthy. You might recognize that Isaiah 7:14 is a prophecy that the Messiah will be born of a virgin. I then look at Matthew 1 and say, “See? Fulfilled in Jesus!” You then respond “I don't think Matthew is being honest.” At this point, we've got an impasse.
So, I want to submit a thought to you about this. Based on several different sources, you can peg the number of Old Testament prophecies about the coming of the Messiah somewhere between 100 and over 400! Apparently, there are some areas that are in dispute. There are, though, about 60 that are very definite, and are demonstrably fulfilled in the New Testament life of the Lord Jesus Christ. Statistically speaking, you're dealing with a nearly impossible task of someone meeting these prophetic expectations unless the prophecies are accurate . Now, it's true that some prophecies could be deliberately fulfilled by a human actor, but who chooses the place of their birth? If you argue that God could choose it, and so Jesus chose Bethlehem just for the sake of fulfilling Micah 5:2, you're allowing that Jesus is God. If you consider “born of a virgin,” there's another that couldn't be deliberate. The Magi, the slaughter of the babies of Bethlehem, these are prophesied, and certainly would have been difficult for Joseph, Mary or Jesus to force into being.
My point is, you're really faced with option of acknowledging that these prophecies are accurate or that the New Testament is false, especially the Gospels. If you choose that opinion, I'd like to ask this question:
What good would it have been to falsify the story of Jesus Christ? If both religious and secular historical sources are to be believed, the first 150 years of supporting this story didn't profit anyone anything, if it was false. Why bother? Objective history supports that these writings were done before Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire in the 4 th Century AD, so it wasn't a political ploy. Even if it's a plot to undermine the Empire, it's got to be one of the most ill-conceived plots in history. Brutus and Cassius killed Caesar in a lot less time than it took Christians to take over Rome.
Do we think that a group of fisherman and tax collectors, surrounded as they were with redeemed sinners, former prostitutes, and a few wealthy people, thought that they could set up a religion that would eventually become the dominant force on a different continent than they lived on?
Seeing the strong interaction between Old Testament and New Testament shows the unity of Scripture. This also demonstrates the trustworthiness of the whole Bible, that those parts that seem not to have come true yet can be trusted. It may not be clear yet, but it can be trusted.