Life: God promises the Messiah

• The Bible Studies for Life lesson for July 28 focuses on Isaiah 53:2-12.


In the book of Luke, Jesus said, “Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms” (Luke 24:44). The Old Testament is full of prophesies about the coming Messiah. Some describe his appearance while others foretell events in his life. Some prophecies give the timing of his birth, while others divulge the details of his death.

There are more than four dozen major predictions in the Old Testament. Isaiah reveals the Messiah would be born of a virgin; Micah pinpoints Bethlehem as the place of his birth; Genesis and Jeremiah list his ancestral line; the Psalms describe his betrayal and death. The list goes on and on.

In The Case for Christ, journalist Lee Stroebel sets out to disprove Christianity. He travels, researches and interviews scholars and Christians across the globe. He asks them pointed questions and digs deeply into Scripture and history books to find the truth about Jesus. At one point, he sits down with a Jewish Christian, Pastor Louis Lapides, and talks to him in depth about the Messianic prophecies. Stroebel poses four objections to Jesus as the fulfillment of prophecy, and Lapides answers each one.

Could it be an accident?

First, Stroebel asks if it were possible Jesus could have fulfilled the prophecies accidentally. Perhaps several men in history coincidentally fit the mold? Lapides answers his question with mathematical odds. The probability of just eight prophecies being fulfilled is one chance in 100 million billion. It has been calculated if you took this amount of money in silver dollars, they would cover the state of Texas and stack up two feet high. If you marked one of those silver dollars, blindfolded a person, and had them walk all over the state and bend down and pick up one, the odds they would choose the marked coin are the same odds as someone in history fulfilling just eight of the Messianic prophecies. Jesus fulfilled them all.

Second, Stroebel asserts the Gospel writers could have fabricated details in their accounts to make it appear Jesus fulfilled the prophecies. Lapides said God created checks and balances both inside and outside the Christian community. When the Gospels first started circulating, people who had witnessed Jesus and circumstances surrounding his life still were living.

If a Gospel writer misrepresented Jesus, someone would have corrected him. Matthew died because he followed Jesus. Why would he willingly suffer and die if he were following someone he knew was not the true Messiah? Also, the Jewish community would have spoken up if details were incorrect. If Jesus’ bones had been broken during his crucifixion, Jews certainly would have corrected the accounts. The Jewish Talmud may refer to Jesus in derogatory ways, but it never claims the fulfillment of prophecy was falsified.

Was it intentional?

Third, Stroebel says some skeptics have asserted Jesus intentionally lived his life in such a way to fulfill the prophecies. For example, Jesus could have chosen to ride a donkey into Jerusalem because he knew it was predicted. Lapides responds this example leaves that open for question; however, Jesus could not control many other prophecies.

For example, he could not control the amount of silver offered to Judas by the Sanhedrin, his ancestry or the place of his birth. Jesus couldn’t ensure the soldiers did not break his legs or force them to gamble for his clothing while he was on the cross. It’s impossible for Jesus to have manipulated his life in such a way to fulfill all the prophecies.

Fourth, the final argument is perhaps Christians have taken passages out of context and misinterpreted them. Lapides said he reads objections to our beliefs all the time and researches them, seeking answers. The prophecies have stood up as truth in every single case. He encourages skeptics to research, read and search on their own. Many books and tons of information are available to help. He believes God will make the truth clear to everyone who seeks.

Jesus is the sole individual in history who has matched the prophetic description of God’s anointed one. Jesus was God’s plan all along. Since the fall of humanity, all history pointed to and prepared for Jesus.

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