Prophets: Setting the odds
There are two types of reasoning which we use to reckon the world around us. There is deductive reasoning, which we use to prove and eliminate facts. For example: The object in the box is either a pencil or a rock. The only pencil is behind my ear. Therefore it is a rock. The other kind is inductive reasoning. This is the process of making assumtion based on past experience and probability. Inductive reasoning goes a lot further than we think in fleshing out our understanding of the universe. For instance: I have eaten many tomatoes and not been poisoned. Experience suggests that this tomato is not poisonous. Therefore, I will have a BLT. We rely on odds every day without realizing it. I walk to the market frequently, confident that I will not be struck by lightning. It can happen, but it is improbable enough to discount. I have made plans to preach this sermon, confident that the probability of a fatal heart attack hitting me before Saturday is negligible. Knowing the odds of something helps us to understand the world, determine truth and live our lives.
So if an event occurred that fulfilled a large number of improbable predictions about it, would you dismiss it as coincidence, or would you sit up and take notice? If I told you that you would be shaved bald and confronted by a pickle-shaped alien in your garage while hooting like a monkey, and it actually happened, You'd probably want to know how I predicted such an incredibly likely event, and I bet you'd believe whatever I told you next.
There are hundreds upon hundreds of prophecies about Jesus in the Old Testament. Jesus is one incredibly improbable person. The odds of anyone fulfilling all the prophecies about Him are astronomical. let's take a look at some of them. I'll be listing a paraphrased version of each prophecy, followed by its reference and the reference of its fulfilment.
1. The messiah would be the descendant of Eve (Genesis 3:15, Galatians 4:4), Abraham (Genesis 12:3,18:18; Acts 3:25,26) and Judah (Genesis 49:10, Matthew 1:2 and Luke 3:33).
2. He'll be a prophet like Moses. (Deuteronomy 18:15-19, Acts 3:22,23)
3. He is the Son of God (Psalm 2:7, Matthew 3:17)
4. He will be raised from the dead (Psalm 16:10,11, Acts 1:3)
5. He will be crucified (Psalm 22, John 19,20)
6. His bones will not be broken. (Psalm 22:17, John 19:31-33,36)
7. Men will gamble for his clothing (Psalm 22:18, Matthew 26:59,60)
8. False witnesses will accuse Him (Psalm 35:11, Mark 14:56,57)
9. People will hate him without cause (Psalm 68:18, John 15:23-25)
10. A virgin will give birth to Him. (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:18-25)
11. He will heal the disabled (Isaiah 35:5,6, Throughout the gospels)
12. His first spiritual work will be in Gallilee. (Isaiah 9:1-7, Luke 1:26-35)
13. He is to be born in Bethlehem. (Micah 5:2, Matthew 2:1)
14. He will ride into Jerusalem on a donkey. (Zecheriah 9:9, Matthew 21:1-11)
15. The price of His betrayal is 30 pieces of silver. (Zechariah 11:12,13, Matthew 26:15)
16. He would be preceded by a messenger. (Isaiah 40:3, Matthew 3:1,2)
17. His hands and feet would be pierced. (Psalm 22:16, Luke 23:33)
18. He would be spit upon and beaten. (Isaiah 50:6, Matthew 26:67,68)
19. He responds to accusation with silence. (Isaiah 53:7, Matthew 26:62,63)
20. He would die for our sins. (Isaiah 53:4,5, 1 Corinthians 15:3)
You may want to check me on those references. It was rather late when I did my research.
I have listed twenty of the biggest prophecies here, but there are over three hundred messianic prophecies in the Old Testament. The odds of one person meeting all of them, even if they meant to, is ten to the power of seventeen to one against. (10^17:1)
Many of these prophecies are extremely specific. It has been theorized that these prophecies were written after the fact. The discovery of the dead sea scrolls has silenced most of this nonsense. Of some passages it is claimed that they were not meant to be messianic prophecies. It is true that some are difficult to recognoize until after the fact. However, most of these were accepted and discussed as messianic prophecies by Hebrew scholars before Jesus' birth.
At the risk of sounding unobjective, there is absolutely no doubt that Jesus of Nazereth, son of Mary and stepson of Joseph, is the Messiah predicted in the Old Testament.
It must have been a fascinating experience for the prophets to write about the Messiah. I can just see Isaiah looking over his work and saying "why in the world did I write that?", then investigating his own writing to discover more. The prophets did not understand what they wrote because each one of them had an incomplete picture, almost like a cartoon advancing through the various stages of production. We, on the other paw, have the completed picture. We can read and understand exactly who Yeshua Messiah is and what He did.
This puts a greater responsibility on our shoulders. We have available to us the knowledge of the Messiah and the details of God's plan of salvation. We are therefore held accountable for what we do with it. This means two things...
If you have not accepted Jesus as your savior, you are now without excuse. It has been statistically demonstrated that Jesus is the one true Christ, the Son of God and the propitiation for our sins. If you're unsaved and have read this message, you can no longer claim ignorance.
If you have already accepted Christ, then as His children, your job becomes that of the witness. Our first duty is to love and serve our God. Our second duty is to tell others about Him and His plan of salvation. Let us discharge this duty with all good haste and enthusiasm and bring others into His love.
Today's reading: Isaiah 53
1 Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted.
5 But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.
9 He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it was the Lord's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.
11 After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied ; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was