Case-Making 101: Prophecy and the Bible

We have been laying out a “Case for the Bible” over the past few posts and the evidence collection has been based on a question that many have posed: How do we know the Bible is the Word of God? You can be skeptical of the Bible as I once was but at some point, in light of the avalanche of evidence, you have to pause and ask yourself: Could it be true? If there is at least a 50/50 chance based on the evidence you’ve seen here that the Bible is the Word of God (and its more like 90/10) don’t you owe it to yourself to consider it?

J. Warner Wallace, Cold-Case Homicide Detective and former atheist turned Christian Apologist says: “There is so much evidence for the reliability of the Bible that it is like death by 1000 paper cuts,” and this is exactly the type of evidence he has used in prosecuting and winning cold-cases in the span of his career.

Some of the evidence we have looked at so far includes the following:

Physical Evidence:

  • Consistent internal evidence of a cohesive historical document spanning at least 1500 years of time with at least 40 authors from various walks of life yet a singular mega-theme runs through all of the 66 individual books
  • Confirmation by both Christian and non-Christian scholars as a reliable and valid historical document of antiquity
  • Deemed a literary masterpiece by both Christian and non-Christian scholars
  • Supported by Jewish history that was well established centuries before the time of Jesus
  • Strict Scribal copying rules (4000+) over the centuries that contributes to the accuracy of transmission
  • Massive amounts of early manuscripts and fragments in the original languages available for comparison (over 25,000)
  • Strong archeological support from over 25,000 finds confirming Biblical accounts, none ever discounting any Biblical record

Eyewitness accounts:

  • Multiple eyewitness testimony reported in primary sources both inside and outside the Bible
  • Non-Christian testimony from historians and hostile witnesses that support the Biblical record
  • Millions (maybe billions) of changed lives over the centuries evidenced in personal testimonies and experiences with Jesus through the Word of God

In addition to an abundance of evidence in the above categories we have fulfilled prophecy. The evidence in this category is so overwhelming that even ardent atheists have been swayed. Nothing is more profound than Biblical prophecy and its fulfillment!

There are many people over time who have claimed prophetic abilities but they all fall short when it comes to accuracy in their predictions and specific details of the fulfillments. This is not the case with the Bible.

The difference we find in the prophecies of the Bible is that they are always 100% accurate, none have failed!

It begins as far back as the Fall of man where God immediately promises a plan of salvation (Genesis 3). God’s plan becomes clearer as it unfolds in the Covenants throughout the Old Testament:

  • Genesis 3:15 – The Original Promise and curse Adamic Covenant
  • Genesis 6:18 – Passed to/through Noah Noachian Covenant
  • Genesis 12:3 – Expanded to Abraham Abrahamic Covenant
  • Exodus through Deuteronomy – Unfolded by Moses through the Law Mosaic Covenant
  • 1 Chronicles 17:11-14 – Specified in David’s royal lineage Davidic Covenant

These Covenants are supported by hundreds of prophecies that point to the promise of a coming Savior, Messiah! For example…

But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.  –Isaiah 53:5

The book of Isaiah was written hundreds of years before the time of Jesus yet many parts of Isaiah, especially chapter 53, read like a biography of Jesus!

 

A prophecy of the Messiah and the Covenant Promise made sure:

I, the LORD, have called you in righteousness; I will take hold of your hand. I will keep you and will make you to be a covenant for the people and a light for the Gentiles, to open eyes that are blind, to free captives from prison and to release from the dungeon those who sit in darkness. I am the LORD, that is my name! I will not give my glory to another or my praise to idols. See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.  –Isaiah 42:6-9

Who wrote these prophecies concerning the coming of a Messiah, and when were they written?

  • The Old Testament contains over 300 places where prophecy is given concerning a promised Messiah.
  • In addition to Moses, Joshua and other Old Testament authors there are 16 prophets who wrote about the coming Messiah.
  • These prophets wrote to the Northern and Southern Kingdoms of Israel from the time period prior to, during, and after their captivity and exile (Northern Kingdom to Assyria and Southern Kingdom of Judah to Babylon), ca. 855-430 BC.
  • God spoke through these prophets in very different circumstances. Some prophesied to kings, some to foreign nations, and others to the people in general. God communicated to these prophets either directly, in dreams and visions, or through angels.
  • Many of the prophecies are two-fold and relate to things the Nation of Israel would face both eminently and futuristically.
  • These Old Testament prophets not only made predictions but they were investigative reporters and preachers. They exposed moral corruption, condemned it, and demanded repentance.

 

Prophets spoke for God in two main ways:

1. Proclamations: These forthtellings pointed the people back to God and His principles by…

  • Condemning society’s immorality and wickedness
  • Exposing religious hypocrites
  • Calling out people to repent from their wickedness
  • Warning of God’s wrath and judgment
  • Speaking of God’s desire to forgive and restore a relationship
  • Explaining God’s plan to redeem His people

2. Predictions: These foretellings came directly from God, were never small in nature, and were not generalized (like predicting a sporting event or the stock market). The predictions were specific usually concerning the Nation of Israel, in some cases concerning an individual, and in many cases pointing to the promised Messiah. The predictions…

  • Related to spiritual matters
  • Often focused on what would happen if the people did not repent
  • In some instances, were encouraging or motivating
  • Include hundreds about the coming Messiah that are fulfilled in Jesus
  • Include future events (apocalyptic) yet to be fulfilled, and studying these types of predictions, or end times, is referred to as eschatology.

Prophecy is the most compelling evidence for the accuracy, inerrancy and inspiration of the Bible. No other book or person has the amazing prophetic accuracy that the Bible has! Of the 26 other “so called” religious books not one has prophetic predictive accuracy.

  • The mark of true prophecy is 100% accuracy.
  • 27% of the Bible contains predictive prophecy.
  • The Bible’s prophecy has been 100% accurate.

Skeptics often say things like: “Couldn’t a group of Christians have just thought up these prophecies and then placed them in the Bible after the fact or, couldn’t Jesus have attempted on his own to fulfill these prophecies?”

Answer: NO WAY!

1. Dead Sea Scrolls confirm the Old Testament prophecies are not made up:

  • The Dead Sea Scrolls contain the entire Old Testament (except the book of Esther) and a complete copy of Isaiah, dated between 200 and 100 BC, as well as all the other prophets and prophecy passages.
  • The Dead Sea Scrolls match our Old Testament today with over 95% accuracy (any errors are grammatical, spelling or word order and nothing in meaning or doctrine is affected).

2. Jesus could not have planned prophecies concerning specific circumstances of his life, for example:

  • Specific details of His birth
  • The time in which He lived
  • Specific details of His death

If we look at the mathematical probability of just 8 prophecies being fulfilled in the person of Jesus we would find this to be equivalent to 1 chance in 10 to the 17th power. That is 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000!

For fulfillment of 48 prophecies it would be 1 in 10 to the 157th

  • That’s 1 in 10 with 157 0s after it!  Imagine the number that describes the fulfillment of all the rest!

God has given us so much evidence in both nature and in His Word so that if we are willing to search for Him we could find Him. In fact He has made it plain for us to see His work and hear His message (see Romans 1).

Josh McDowell has spent his life studying the Bible and practicing Christian Apologetics, listen to what he has to say concerning prophecy:

Remember the former things long past, 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, and from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established and I will accomplish all My good pleasure;  -Isaiah 46: 9-10 (NASB)

Here are just a few examples of general prophecies fulfilled in the Old Testament times:

Event Prophecy Fulfillment
The Promise (Jesus-Satan-Death-Redemption); the Abrahamic Covenant (A people, land and blessing) Genesis 3:15; 12:1-3; 13:14-17; 15; 17:7; 21:2; Deuteronomy 31:7-8; 32:45-52; Josh. 1:1-5, 10-11 Matthew 1:1, 17; Luke 3:34; Acts 3:25-26; Galatians 3:16; 4:4; Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8
Sojourners: Abraham’s heirs will be afflicted for 400 years; will return to land in the 4th generation Genesis 25:7-8; 50:24-25 Exodus 7:14-12:29; 12:35-40; Hebrews 11:22
The fall of Israel and punishment of Assyria Hosea 1:4-6; Isaiah 9:8-10:4; 10:10-19; 37:7; 2 Kings 19:7; Amos 3:11-12; Micah 3-7 Happened in 734-722 BC 2 Kings 15:29; 17:3-6; 19:35-37; Isaiah 37:36-38;
Destruction of Ninevah: Prophesied 100 years before it happened when they were described as a great nation that took the Northern tribe of Israel into captivity. Jonah 3:3; 4:11 Nahum 1-3; Ezekiel 32:22-23; Zephaniah 2:13-15; Zechariah 10:11; Isaiah 10:12-19; 14:24-25; 30:1-33 612 BC smashed and transformed into a pile of sand never to be rebuilt.
Judah to be exiled to Babylon; The rebuilding of Jerusalem and regathering of Israel as a nation (prophesied before Babylon even came into power) Deuteronomy 28:64-68; Jeremiah 25:11-12; 29:10; 30:11; 31:38-40; Ezekiel 37:21-28; Isaiah 11:11-13; 44:24-28; Micah 4:9-10 Exile happened in 605 BC return happened the first time in 538 BC. Books of Ezra and Nehemiah. Secular sources: Josephus and Babylonian Chronicles 2nd return happened 5/14/1948
Cyrus specifically named as the one who would allow the exiles of Judah to return and rebuild (150 years before he was born) Isaiah 44:24-28; 45:1, 13 150 years later: Ezra 1:2-2-4
Josiah named 300 years before his reign as the one who would sacrifice bones of pagan priests on the Jeroboam’s pagan alter 1 Kings 13:1-3 300 years later: 2 Kings 23:15-17
Joshua prophesied that the person who rebuilds Jericho would be cursed: 1st son to die at the foundation; youngest at the setting up of the gates. Joshua 6:26 700 years later: 1 Kings 16:34
The demise of Edom Obadiah 2; 8; Jeremiah 49:15-20; Ezekiel 25:12-14 Disappeared after 70 AD and today is a bleak and desolate part of Jordan.
Destruction of Tyre Ezekiel 26:3-4 332 BC Alexander the Great annihilated Tyre and is bare ground today.
The Daniel Prophecies: Fall of Babylon; Interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dreams; the four empires; 490 years—Messiah’s triumphal entry 6th century BC book of Daniel; Nehemiah 2:1-8 Confirmed in historical accounts; triumphal entry Matthew 21; Jesus confirms Daniel in Matthew 24:15


Watch this entertaining clip on Jesus’ fulfillment of prophecy:


Here are some examples of Messianic prophecies fulfilled in Jesus:

 

Event Prophecy Fulfillment
Seed of a women and virgin birth Genesis 3:15; Isaiah 7:14 Matthew 1:1; 18; 24-25; Luke 1:26-35
Seed of Abraham Genesis 22:18 Matthew 1:1; Galatians 3:16
Seed of Isaac Genesis 21:12 Luke 3:23, 34
From the line of Jacob/Israel Genesis 28:4; 13-15; Numbers 24:17 Luke 2:23, 34
Tribe of Judah Genesis 49:10 Luke 3:23, 33
Jesse’s line Isaiah 11:1 Luke 2:23, 32
Born in Bethlehem Micah 5:2 Matthew 1:18, 24-25; Luke 1:26-35
Preceded and announced by one like Elijah who would live in the wilderness Malachi 3:1; 4:5 Matthew 3:3; 11:10; John 1:23; Luke 1:17
Would be presented with gifts Psalm 72:10 Matthew 2:1
Children would be killed Jeremiah 31:15 Matthew 2:16
Ministry begins in Galilee Isaiah 9:1 Matthew 4:12-17
Ministry peaks in Jerusalem; Messiah rides in on a donkey and appears boldly in the Temple Daniel 9; Zechariah 9:9; Haggai 2:7; Malachi 3:1 Matthew 21:12; Luke 19:35-37
Will heal the blind, deaf, lame and raise the dead Isaiah 35:5-6 All though-out the Gospel records—especially answered in Luke 7:22-23
Will teach the people using parables Psalm 78:2 All though-out the Gospel records—John 5:5-9; 9:6-11; 11:43-47 etc.
He would have zeal for God’s house, the Temple Psalm 69:9 John 2:15-16
A Light to the Gentiles Isaiah 60:3 Acts 13:47-48
Rejected by His own people; will be a stumbling block Psalm 118:22 Romans 9:32-33; 1 Peter 2:7
He is the Son of God Psalm 2:7; 1 Chronicles 17:11-14; 2 Samuel 7:12-16 Matthew 3:17; 16:16; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35; 22:70; Acts 13:30-33; John 1:24, 49
He pre-existed His birth Micah 5:2; Psalm 102:25; Proverbs 8:22-23; Isaiah 9:6-7; 41:4; 44:6; 48:12 John 1:1; 17:5, 24; Colossians 1:17; Revelation 1:1-2; 1:17; 2:8; 8:58; 22:13
He would be called Lord Psalm 110:1; Jeremiah 23:6 Matthew 22:43-45; Luke 2:11
He would be called Immanuel Isaiah 7:14 Matthew 1:23
He would be a Prophet Deuteronomy 18:18 Matthew 21:11
He would be a Priest Psalm 110:4 Hebrews 3:1
He would be a Judge Isaiah 33:22 John 5:30
He would be a King Psalm 2:6 Matthew 27:37
He would receive a special anointing by the Holy Spirit Isaiah 11:12 Matthew 3:16
Betrayed by friend for 30 pieces of silver that is thrown on the Temple floor and used to buy a Potter’s field Psalm 43:9; 55:12-14; Zechariah 11:12-14 Matthew 10:4; 27:3-10
Sheep (followers) struck and scattered; forsaken by His disciples Isaiah 53; Zechariah 13:7 Mark 14:50
Oppressed and falsely accused by malicious witnesses, but would not defend Himself Isaiah 53:7; Psalm 35:11; 38:13 Matthew 26:59-60
Hated by mankind, mocked, beaten, whipped and crushed for transgressions of mankind—He would bear and make intersession though He had done no wrong. Psalm 22:7-8; Isaiah 53:2-12 Matthew 26:67; 27: 26-29; John 19:11
Disrobed and had clothes gambled away Isaiah 53:12 Matthew 27:38; Mark 15:27
Executed with criminals Isaiah 52:12 Matthew 27:38; Mark 15:27
Hands and feet pierced for our transgression Isaiah 53:5; Psalm 22:16 Luke 23:33; John 20:25
Strength drained, extremely thirsty, heart broken with grief Psalm 22:14-15 John 19:28
He would be offered gall and vinegar Psalm 69:21 Matthew 27:24
Would plead for mercy for His accusers Isaiah 53:12 Luke 23:24
Friends would stand from far away Psalm 38:11 Luke 23:49
People would stare and shake their heads Psalm 109:25; Psalm 22:17 Matthew 27:39; Luke 23:35
Will ask God why He is forsaken Psalm 22:1 Matthew 27:46
Will commend Himself to God (give up His spirit) Psalm 31:5 Luke 23:46
His bones would not be broken Psalm 34:20 John 19:33
His side would be pierced Zechariah 12:10 John 19:34
Darkness will fall over the land Amos 8:9 Matthew 27:45
Would be with a rich man in His death Isaiah 53:9 Matthew 27:57-60
Would be resurrected from the dead Psalm 16:10; 30:3; 41:10;118:17; Hosea 6:2 Matthew 28:6; Acts 2:31
He would ascend Psalm 68:18 Acts 1:9
He would sit at the right hand of God Psalm 110:1 Mark 16:19; Acts 2:34-25; Hebrews 1:3 

 

Cross-referencing Scripture supports the connection from Prophecy:

Remember the former things long past, 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, and from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, ‘My purpose will be established and I will accomplish all My good pleasure;  –Isaiah 46: 9-10 (NASB)

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.  -”Matthew 5:17-18 (NIV)

And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star (Jesus, Messiah) rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.  –2 Peter 1:19-21

To conclude our “Case for the Bible” series please watch this presentation by Nabeel Qureshi who is, in my view, the top Christian Apologist of our day as he lays out an undeniably strong case for the Bible:

Additional Reference: Jesus on Trial” by David Limbaugh

Join us next week for more Christian Case-Making!

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You will not find this material in the public school curriculum even though it is based on solid evidence and grounded in research. It is ironic that following the evidence to where it leads stops at the door of our public schools as they will not let a “Divine footprint” in!  Join us as we examine evidence for Christianity and learn how to become a thoughtful defender and ambassador of your faith.

Click into the resource page of this website to view many of the top Christian thinkers and apologists along with some of their work; connecting to these types of resources is essential in your Christian growth.

Please let me know what you think: Give feedback, ask questions or send concerns in the comment section of the blog.

Teri Dugan

TeriDugan@truthfaithandreason.com

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