Amazing things happened over the last three days! “I can’t believe what they’ve said! For someone to come back from the dead… That’s impossible!” ….Or is it?!
The two men were discussing the events of Jesus’ death and apparent resurrection while walking between Jerusalem and Emmaus. Suddenly, the two men met Jesus, who revealed through scripture, that He was the Messiah – the one who came to save us from our own sins. We read this encounter in Luke 24:27, Then Jesus took them through the writings of Moses and all the prophets, explaining from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself (NLT)
Later that evening, when Jesus met the group of His disciples gathered together, He also told them something similar: “When I was with you before, I told you that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and in the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day” (Lk 24:44-46 NLT).
These scriptures that Jesus shared with them – and which point toward Jesus – are called prophecies. A prophecy is not a message from a human being. We’re not supposed focus on the person who’s speaking it. Prophecy is a word from God of things that are to come in the future. Prophecies in the bible are spoken through a prophet. Oftentimes these prophecies came to the prophet through a vision, a revelation or when the prophet was taken by God into a trance.
The bible is full of prophecy. There are books in the Bible that we call “the prophets” because they record what God has said to through His prophets over 4000 years.
Dr. Mark Hitchcock, biblical prophecy expert and bible professor at Dallas Theological Seminary, explains that the more than ¼ of the bible is prophecy. He’s also calculated that the bible is made up of over 1000 prophecies and 500 of them have been fulfilled with 100% accuracy. (You can find his study here.) Today, more than ever, we need to know what the Bible says about Jesus, now, and looking forward toward His prophesied return.
Sure, one prophecy might point toward Jesus. But what about 5? Or 10? Or what are the odds that 450 prophecies about Jesus’ birth, life, and ministry would all point toward one person, Jesus? What are the odds?
In his Investigating Faith newsletter, Lee Strobel tells about a math professor, Peter Stoner, who gave his math students this assignment… For this illustration, assume that there were only 8 prophecies fulfilled by one person. What are the odds of that? According to Stoner, the students calculated that the odds against one person fulfilling all eight prophecies are astronomical — one person in ten to the 21st power (1021).
To illustrate that number, Professor Stoner gave them this example: “First, cover the state of Texas with silver dollars 2 feet high. Second, mark just one of those dollars and randomly mix it in with the others. Then, ask a person to walk across Texas, bend down, and select the marked dollar.” Here’s the catch – the person has to choose the marked dollar –blindfolded.
The odds of someone finding that dollar coin are similar to anyone in history fulfilling 8 prophecies. I think you can see what the odds would be. But based on history and what we know about the man we call Jesus, we know that one man, this Jesus of Nazareth, has fulfilled more than 450 of these prophecies. These sheer mathematical calculations point us to Jesus as the only one who could be the Messiah.
What if someone tried to fulfill a prophecy on his own? What if He said, I’m going to do “this or that” so I can say that I can be the one to fulfill a prophecy. It’s virtually impossible to organize and fulfill many of the Messianic prophecies. We have to consider that fulfilling some of the prophecies that point to Jesus simply couldn’t be planned. For instance, I couldn’t say, “I think I’m going to be born in Bethlehem.” And, “I think I’m going to find a virgin to carry me when while I develop in the womb.” Jesus couldn’t have planned that He was going to be of the lineage of King David, or that Kings would bring him gifts as was prophesied in Psalm 72.
And, really, how do we know that these prophecies weren’t made up – concocted by a bunch of crazies? These biblical prophecies were spoken over 4000 years by many different people. This proves that there couldn’t be any collusion or conspiracy between the writers. They are simply and unquestionably the voice of God to his prophets, shared with us. God has intricately created a road map for us, and it leads us to Jesus!
As a follower of Jesus, when you’re unsure about something or confused about making a decision in life, go to the bible for the answer. So, if prophecy is a question in your mind, if you’re thinking, “How can these all point to Jesus?”, listen to what the Bible says about it.
Peter, the same man who walked on the water with Jesus, and who was the rock on whom Jesus built his Church said this about prophecy:
From 2 Peter 1:19-21 (TPT) — And so we have been given the prophetic word—the written message of the prophets, made more reliable and fully validated by the confirming voice of God on the Mount of Transfiguration.
Peter is telling us that he saw an amazing sight on the Mountain. Moses and Elijah appeared as Jesus was transfigured and His face shown a brilliant light while His clothes became dazzling white. And then with a booming voice from heaven, God said “This is my dearly loved Son, the constant focus of my delight. Listen to him!” Imagine what that would have been like! It was this moment that catapulted Peter into understanding the truth of prophecy. He says that it verified the prophecies to him.
Peter continues: And you will continue to do well if you stay focused on it. For this prophetic message is like a piercing light shining in a gloomy place until the dawning of a new day, when the Morning Star rises in your hearts.
Notice the importance that Peter puts on this prophecy. Do you want to do well? You must stay focused on the prophecies that point toward Jesus.
And finally, Peter removes the mystery of prophecy: “You must understand this at the outset: Interpretation of scriptural prophecy requires the Holy Spirit, for it does not originate from someone’s own imagination. No true prophecy comes from human initiative but is inspired by the moving of the Holy Spirit upon those who spoke the message that came from God.
In our quest to know God’s Holy Spirit, it’s important to recognize that the Holy Spirit is essential to understanding scripture, and since prophecy makes up more than 25% of scripture, the Holy Spirit is absolutely necessary for understanding prophecy or any other part of scripture. Ask God for guidance as you read and listen to His Word. The Holy Spirit will be that voice who reveals the true meaning for you, because one of the roles of the Holy Spirit is to point us toward Jesus.
So, let’s return to where this blog started…. Right after the resurrection, Jesus revealed to the men on the Emmaus road the prophecies about Himself. And now, we’re here, just days after our celebrating His resurrection. How do you view Jesus, that one who fulfilled hundreds of prophecies?
I encourage you to jump in and examine the prophecies of God’s word. They’re like a G.P.S. – God’s Prophecy System – the directional device that positions us to look directly at Jesus. Prophecies are a message from God to you, that Jesus is truly who He says He is – the Son of God and the Messiah that we’ve all been waiting for. Mark my words.