Christ is central in prophecy

As the New Testament apostles preached about Christ, they were careful to announce that:

When Paul stood up in the synagogue in Antioch of Pisidia and took up the invitation to speak some words of exhortation to the people, his message was instantly recognisable as a presentation of the salvation that is in Christ alone.

Acts 13:23 is a fair summary of his preaching: “Of this man’s seed hath God according to His promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus.”

Christ is so obviously central in their preaching – and in prophecy.

However, this begs the question ... What Old Testament prophecies did Jesus actually fulfil? Do these really prove that He is the promised Messiah, the only Saviour of sinners?

To remind ourselves of Paul’s words (Acts 13:23): “Of this man’s seed hath God according to His promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus.”

Christ Jesus was not some accidental time traveller in history who just happened to appear at the time He did. Rather, He came in precise and perfect answer to all that God had predicted of Him through the messages of all His prophets. He slotted into God’s plan for this universe perfectly!

In this sermon delivered in the synagogue at Antioch, Paul noted that Jesus, in fulfillment of Scripture:

A Saviour ... according to God’s plan and promise!!

“Of this man’s seed hath God according to His promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus.”

The word “promise” (epaggelia) points us to the announcement, or pledge, or a promised good or blessing.

Throughout the Old Testament, good was promised – and every shred of this good was stored up and centred in the Messiah.

Over and over again Jesus appealed to the prophecies of the Old Testament to substantiate His claims as the Messiah.

For example, to those two weary disciples on the Road to Emmaus, “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27).

The 44th verse of the same chapter records how Jesus said to them, “These [are] the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and [in] the prophets, and [in] the psalms, concerning Me.”

By these statements our Lord was indicating that all Scripture points to Him.

The apostles, the New Testament writers, etc., constantly appealed to fulfilled prophecy to substantiate the claims of Jesus as the Son of God, the Saviour, the Messiah.

A book written by Robert Weaver was published in 1829 ... ‘The Scriptures Fulfilled: Or, The Bible the Word of God:’ in seven lectures on the fulfilment of Scripture prophecies, especially those whose fulfilment may be seen in the present day.

There is plenty of scope for such a book.

In the Old Testament there are 60 major messianic prophecies and approximately 270 ramifications that were fulfilled in one person, the Lord Jesus Christ.

We live in an age of information technology ... and, increasingly, of a time of invasion of privacy, where all kinds of data concerning us is held on computers across the globe!

All of a sudden the shock we used to feel when we discovered that an organisation / business possessed our home address and telephone number almost fades into insignificance!

The details of our name and address set us apart from the 6 billion other people who also inhabit this planet.

Postcodes in the UK were introduced by Royal Mail over a 15-year period from 1959 to 1974. The first postcodes were introduced on a trial basis in Norwich in 1959 with the first three characters of the code (‘NOR’) representing the name of the city, and the last three characters of a particular street.

At the basic level, we could consider all the biblical predictions that were fulfilled in Christ as His “address.”

With infinitely greater precision than our postcode system, God wrote an address in history to single out His Son, the Messiah, the Saviour of mankind, from anyone who has ever lived in history - past, present, or future. Certainly God was writing an address in history that only the Messiah could fulfill.

Approximately 40 major claims to be the Jewish Messiah have been made by men. Only one - our Lord Jesus Christ - appealed to fulfilled prophecy to substantiate His claims, and only His credentials back up those claims.

Remind us of some of those details?

This is the first messianic prophecy. In all of Scripture, only one man was “born of the seed of a woman” - all others are born of the seed of a man. Here is the one who will come into the world and undo the works of Satan (“bruise His head”).

In Genesis 9 and 10 God narrowed the address down further.

Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Today, all of the nations of the world can be traced back to these three men. But in this passage, God effectively eliminated two-thirds of them from the line of Messiahship. The Messiah will come through the lineage of Shem.

Continuing on to the year 2000 B.C., we find God calling a man named Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldees.

With Abraham, God became still more specific, stating that the Messiah will be one of his descendants (Genesis 12; 17; 22). All the families of the earth will be blessed through Abraham. Abraham had two sons, Isaac and Ishmael, but many of his descendants were eliminated when God selected his second son, Isaac (Genesis 17:21).

So this Book clearly documents that God’s Man will not only be of the seed of a woman, the lineage of Shem, the race of the Jews, the line of Isaac, the line of Jacob, the tribe of Judah, but that He will also be of the house of David.

To narrow the options even more significantly

Several prophecies recorded in Isaiah and the psalms describe the social climate and response that God's man will encounter:

Then, through a series of prophecies, God even defined the time sequence that would set His Man apart.

And additional details within some of the prophecies make fulfilment by any other person totally remote; effectively impossible.

Consider the prophecy that stated that Messiah would be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver.

There are at least seven ramifications of this prophecy (Zechariah 11:11-13; cf. Psalm 41, Jeremiah 32:6-15, and Matthew 27:3-10) that narrow the drama down even further.

In this prediction, God indicates the Messiah will be:

The precise lineage; the place, time, and manner of birth; people’s reactions; the betrayal; the manner of death. These are just a fraction of the hundreds of details that made up ‘the address’ to identify God’s Son, the Messiah, the Saviour of the world.

And to those who dismissively say that such Fulfilled Prophecy was purely coincidental ... “You could find some of these prophecies fulfilled in Bush, Brown, Chirac, etc. ... .”

You could possibly find one or two prophecies fulfilled in other men, but not all 60 major prophecies and 270 ramifications!

In a book endorsed by H. Harold Artzler, of the American Scientific Affiliation, Peter W. Stoner examines the evidence about the Messiah and shows that coincidence is ruled out by the science of probability.

Stoner says that by using the modern science of probability in reference to just 8 prophecies, “we find that the chance that any man might have lived down to the present time and fulfilled all eight prophecies is 1 in 1017.” That would be 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000.

These prophecies were either given by inspiration of God, or the prophets just wrote them as they thought they should be. In such a case the prophets had just one chance in 1017 of having them come true in any man, but they all came true in Christ!

Why did God go to all this trouble?

No doubt He wanted Jesus Christ to have all the credentials He needed when He came into the world. He came with a full, unmistakable ‘address’!

However, the most exciting thing about our Lord Jesus Christ is that He came to convert souls and change lives (Luke 19:10). He alone proved the hundreds of Old Testament prophecies that described His coming to be correct. He alone can fulfill the greatest prophecy of all for those who will accept it - the promise of new life:

Therefore we may conclude that:

It was Jesus who said in John 10:35, “The Scripture cannot be broken.” It is impossible to destroy Bible's validity, power, authority, and permanence.

“Of this man’s seed hath God according to His promise raised unto Israel a Saviour, Jesus.”

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