Summary: Much of what the Gospels proclaim are prophecy fulfilled. Of all the religious leaders in the world, Jesus Christ is unique. Unlike any other religious leader, there were 100’s of prophecies written about Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection and Second
When you hear the word prophecy, what do you think of? Nostradamus? The thousands of people throughout history who have predicted the end of the world, only to see the date come and pass? Do you think of people who have told others they are going to be healed only to have nothing happen and their faith crushed? Do you think of the preachers on Bourbon Street? Or do you think of the Bible? 28% of the Bible is dedicated to prophetic pronouncements.
But what is prophecy? Prophecy, simply put, is history from God written in advance. Isaiah 46:9-11 says, “Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me. I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come….What I have said, that will I bring about; what I have planned, that will I do.” The fulfillment of historical prophecy is the very foundation of the Christian faith and our belief that Jesus’ is the Messiah. This is the connection between the Jewish and Christian faith, between the Old and the New Testament. The Old Testament verses are the prophecy and the New Testament verses proclaim the fulfillment. For“Jesus said to them, ‘This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.’” Luke 24:44 (NIV)
But why is prophecy important for us today? First, prophecy acquaints us with God’s plan. If prophecy is history from God written in advance, then prophecy tells us what God plans to do. God wantst us to know his plans before he acts. This is the message of the parable of the ‘Ten Virgins’ (Mt. 25:1-13) where ten women are waiting for the arrival of the Bridegroom. Five were wise and had enough oil in their lamps and 5 were not. When they ran out of oil, they went to get more causing them to miss the bridegroom’s arrival. This parable teaches us the necessity of knowing God’s plan. God’s desire is for us to know His plan and we learn that through the prophecies in His word.
The parable of the ten virgins also teach us a second point: we need to be prepared. We not only need to know God’s plan but we need to be prepared for when His plan begins to be enacted. If not, then we will not be available or ready to participate in God’s work.
Third, prophecy is proof of God and His trustworthiness. God is the only being capable of predicting the true future. Many have tried and apart from God have failed. How can we know that a prophet is real and proclaiming Truth? Deuteronomy 18:22 “when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.” A true test of a prophet of God is that everything, not just some things, but that everything spoken by him comes to pass. And that can only come from God.
Fourth, prophecy offers hope in uncertain and difficult times. II Thessalonians 2:16 Hope is key to survival in this world. Without hope, there is no reason to live. In prophecy we have abundant hope: hope that in persecution we are protected (Romans 8:35-39); hope that this is not all there is to our existence (John 10:28) and hope that God will have the final victory.
Much of what the Gospels proclaim are prophecy fulfilled. Some of the phrases in the gospels that refer to prophecy fulfilled include: “It is written…” “So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet…” and “God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets…” The gospel writers used these to alert their readers to some of the different prophecies of the Old Testament that were fulfilled in Jesus life. Of all the religious leaders in the world, Jesus Christ is unique. Unlike any other religious leader, there were 100’s of prophecies written about Jesus’ birth, life, death, resurrection and Second Coming before he ever came into the world. We have all those prophecies today, recorded in the Bible and through the New Testament, we have proof that those prophecies were fulfilled by Jesus. That in fact, Jesus is prophecy fulfilled for He fulfilled almost 200 Old Testament prophecies!
What are the odds of a man even fulfilling just a few prophecies? Dr. Peter Stoner, Professor Emeritus of Science at Westmont College, authored a book entitled Science Speaks, (Moody Press, 1969, P.109) in which he wrote about the law of "compound probability" in reference to just 8 of these prophecies about Jesus coming true. He found that the odds of one man accidently fulfilling 8 of these detailed prophecies is 1 in 10 to the 17th power. That’s 1 with 17 zero’s after it. In order for you to understand how incredible that number, he says “imagine you had that many silver dollars: 1 in 10 to the 17th power. Those silver dollars would cover all of Texas 2 feet deep. Now, let’s suppose you took one of those silver dollars and marked with a red dot and then dropped it from an airplane. Then, you thoroughly stirred up the entire mass. Now, you blind fold a friend and tell them they can go wherever they want in the state of Texas, stop, reach down and try to pull up that one specific coin marked with the red dot. What are the odds that they are going to select the red dotted coin? The same odds of 8 of these prophesies being fulfilled by Jesus, and yet he fulfilled almost 200!