Lesson 6: Prophecies Fulfilled in Jesus and IsraelRelated Media
The next major prophecies we will consider are those fulfilled in Christ. “Experts claim that there are about 300 Old Testament prophecies that were fulfilled just in the first coming of Christ. Thirty-three specific prophecies were fulfilled just in the final 24 hours of Jesus’ life on earth.”1 In virtually every Bible book, one will find references to the messiah. Let’s consider a few.
1. The Old Testament prophesied the lineage of Christ.
Christ would come from Abraham (Gen 12:3), Isaac (Gen 21:12), Jacob (Gen 28:14), Judah (Gen 49:10) and finally David (2 Sam. 7:12-16). Matthew and Luke show the fulfillment by recording the genealogy of Christ from both the adopted father, Joseph, and Christ’s mother, Mary.
2. The Old Testament prophesied the birthplace of Christ.
Micah predicted that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem over 700 years before Christ’s birth.2 There were two Bethlehem’s in Israel, and Micah even predicted that it would be the Bethlehem located in Judah. Micah 5:2 says: “As for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, seemingly insignificant among the clans of Judah—from you a king will emerge who will rule over Israel on my behalf, one whose origins are in the distant past.” Matthew 2:1-2, 5-6 gives the fulfillment:
After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, in the time of King Herod, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem saying, “Where is the one who is born king of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.” … ”In Bethlehem of Judea,” they said, “for it is written this way by the prophet: And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are in no way least among the rulers of Judah, for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
3. The Old Testament gives thirty-three prophecies that were all fulfilled on the day of Christ’s death.
Let’s consider a few:
- He would be betrayed by a friend (Ps 41:9).
- The price of the betrayal would be thirty pieces of silver (Zech 11:12).
- The money would be used to buy a potter’s field (Zech 11:13).
- He would be forsaken and deserted by his disciples (Zech 13:7).
- He would be accused by false witnesses (Psalm 35:11).
- He would be silent before his witnesses (Isaiah 53:7).
- He would be wounded and bruised (Isaiah 53:5).
- He would be hated without cause (Psalm 69:4).
- He would be struck and spit on (Isaiah 50:6).
- He would be mocked, ridiculed, and rejected (Isaiah 53:3).
- He would collapse in weakness (Psalm 109:24-25).
- He would be taunted with specific words (Psalm 22:6-8).
- People would shake their heads at him (Psalm 109:25).
- He would be executed among sinners (Isaiah 53:12).
- His hands and feet would be pierced (Psalm 22:16).
- He would pray for his persecutors (Isaiah 53:12).
- His friends and family would stand afar off (Psalm 38:11).
- His garments would be divided and won by casting lots (Psalm 22:18).
- He would be given gall and vinegar (Psalm 69:21).
- His bones would be left unbroken (Psalm 34:20).
- He would die for our sins (Isaiah 53: 4–6).
- His side would be pierced (Zech 12:10).
- He would be buried in a rich man’s tomb (Isaiah 53:9).
- The Old Testament prophesied Christ’s resurrection.
In Psalm 16:10, David prophesied Christ’s resurrection when he said, “because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead, nor will you let your faithful one see decay.” In considering David’s writing, Peter said it was fulfilled in Christ: “David by foreseeing this spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did his body experience decay. This Jesus God raised up, and we are all witnesses of it” (Acts 2:31-32). Isaiah seemingly prophesied it as well:
Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life an offering for sin, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand
Isaiah 53:10 (NIV)
Now, as we consider all these prophecies, certainly we must declare, “This is pretty convincing! If Jesus fulfilled all those prophecies, he must be the Son of God—he must be the seed that everybody was waiting for!”
What is the probability that a person would fulfill only eight of the Old Testament prophecies about Christ? Professor Peter W. Stoner states that the probability of just eight prophecies being fulfilled in one person is 1 x 10 17th. That is 100,000,000,000,000,000.
It has been illustrated like this: If you took 1 x 1017 silver dollars and placed them over Texas (the second largest US state), you would not only cover all of Texas but would have a coin pile two feet deep. If you blindfolded yourself, took one of the coins and threw it back into the pile, and walked from the beginning of Texas, stopping only once to find that coin, that is the chance that one person would fulfill only eight of these prophecies.3
The prophetic evidence concerning Christ is simply amazing! Again, the Old Testament sets forth over 300 prophecies that were fulfilled in Christ’s first coming, thirty-three of which were fulfilled on the day of Christ’s death. Each of these prophecies were written over 400 years before Christ’s birth—some of them thousands of years before his birth. God went to extraordinary lengths to make sure that the prophesied messiah was unmistakable to those who were genuinely looking.
Prophecies About Israel
“In a conversation about religion, Frederick II, king of Prussia (1740–1786), asked Hans Joachim von Zieten, a cavalry general, whom he esteemed highly as a Christian for his plain and uncompromised views, ‘Give me proof for the truth of the Bible in two words!’ To which Zieten replied, ‘Your majesty, the Jews!’”4 General Zieten’s observation was right. The Bible’s truthfulness and prophetic accuracy can be clearly verified in the Jews—their past, present, and future. The Bible gives many unique prophecies about them.
When God brought Israel out of Egypt, he made a covenant with them. He would be their God, and they would be his servants. In fact, the book of Deuteronomy is written in the form of an ancient contract called a suzerain contract. This was a common contract that a nation would make with a great king to secure his protection and blessing. In essence, it stated that if a particular nation would submit to a king and his commands, then that king would protect and bless them. If the covenant-bound nation would not submit to him, the king would curse and defeat them. In return for the king’s blessings and protection, the nation would be his servants—providing obedience, taxes, and reverence. That’s essentially the same type of contract God made with Israel. Throughout the contract are prophecies of blessings and curses based on Israel’s obedience or lack of it.
When considering Israel’s history, there are clear periods of blessing for obedience, such as when Joshua led Israel in conquering the promised land and when Israel was one of the more prosperous nations on earth during the reigns of David and Solomon. We also see times of cursing for disobedience, as seen during the times of Judges when Israel was continually ravaged by other nations and constantly in need of deliverance, and when God allowed Assyria and Babylon to conquer and exile Israel during the period of the divided monarchy. In fact, the prophetic books of the OT (such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Hosea) are primarily prophecies reminding Israel to repent or they would suffer the curses of the covenant, and if they obeyed, they would receive its blessings.
In Deuteronomy 28, the blessings-and-curses format is clear. Deuteronomy 28:15 says: “However, if you do not obey the LORD your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you.”
What are some of the curses promised for disobedience?
- Israel would experience all nations being terrified at Jewish persecution.
“The Lord will allow you to be struck down before your enemies; you will attack them from one direction but flee from them in seven directions and will become an object of terror to all the kingdoms of the earth.
Certainly, the Jews experienced harassment, enslavement, and wars within biblical history. But, what about outside of biblical history and specifically events and circumstances which drew widespread attention? Let’s consider a few:
1. The Jews were persecuted by the Syrian king, Antiochus Epiphanes.
As mentioned, during the intertestamental period the Syrian king Antiochus killed 80,000 Jews, took 40,000 more as prisoners, and sold another 40,000 as slaves. He also abolished their sacrificial system, burned their Bibles, and made their priests drink pig blood.
2. The Jews were persecuted during the Crusades in the Middles Ages.
During the crusades (1095-1291), there was great antisemitism. The crusades were a series of holy wars started by the Roman Catholic church in order to gain access to Jerusalem and its holy sites, which Muslims possessed. However, as the armies went out, they also persecuted the Jews for killing Christ. There were nine crusades over almost 200 years and at least 12,000 Jews were killed in the first crusade alone.5
3. The Jews were persecuted by Hitler during the Holocaust.
During the Holocaust (1933-1945), Nazis wiped out over six million Jews with the intention of extinguishing the ethnic group.6
Certainly, as promised in the covenant for disobedience, the Jews have experienced extreme persecution at the hands of other nations—often in ways that have never happened to other nations. As Deuteronomy 28:25 said, because of their horrible experiences at the hand of enemies, they would “become an object of terror to all the kingdoms of the earth.”
What other curses would Israel experience for disobedience?
- Israel would experience the deportation of their children.
Your sons and daughters will be given to another people while you look on in vain all day, and you will be powerless to do anything about it.
Their children would be deported from Israel to other nations. This happened in the Assyrian and Babylonian defeats, as Israel was exiled and their children taken captive. Daniel and his Jewish friends were part of the children deported from Israel to serve in Babylon.
- Israel would experience antisemitism in the nations of their exile.
The Lord will force you and your king whom you will appoint over you to go away to a people whom you and your ancestors have not known, and you will serve other gods of wood and stone there. You will become an occasion of horror, a proverb, and an object of ridicule to all the peoples to whom the Lord will drive you.
Certainly, this has happened in biblical history with Assyria, Babylon, and Persia but also outside of biblical history wherever Jews have lived (cf. Russia, Germany, America, Poland, etc.). Jews have always dealt with antisemitism.
- Israel’s various experiences of destruction would be considered signs and wonders by their descendants for generations.
All these curses will fall on you, pursuing and overtaking you until you are destroyed, because you would not obey the Lord your God by keeping his commandments and statutes that he has given you. These curses will be a perpetual sign and wonder with reference to you and your descendants.
Jews are very aware of their unfortunate history—the stories are passed down from generation to generation. Some of these events are remembered in their festivals, especially those from which God delivered them.
- Israel would experience judgment by foreign nations—making Israel so desperate, they would cannibalize their young.
The Lord will raise up a distant nation against you, one from the other side of the earth as the eagle flies, a nation whose language you will not understand, a nation of stern appearance that will have no regard for the elderly or pity for the young. They will devour the offspring of your livestock and the produce of your soil until you are destroyed. They will not leave you with any grain, new wine, olive oil, calves of your herds, or lambs of your flocks until they have destroyed you. They will besiege all of your villages until all of your high and fortified walls collapse—those in which you put your confidence throughout the land. They will besiege all your villages throughout the land the Lord your God has given you. You will then eat your own offspring, the flesh of the sons and daughters the Lord your God has given you, because of the severity of the siege by which your enemies will constrict you.
Jewish history is filled with nations coming against them, creating appalling situations. In 2 Kings 6:26-31, when Syria besieged Israel, the women were so desperate, they resorted to eating their own children, as Deuteronomy 28:53 foretold.
- Israel would experience a scattering amongst other nations, and while there, they would cease to worship God and instead worship false deities.
This is what will happen: Just as the Lord delighted to do good for you and make you numerous, he will take delight in destroying and decimating you. You will be uprooted from the land you are about to possess. The Lord will scatter you among all nations, from one end of the earth to the other. There you will worship other gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, gods of wood and stone. Among those nations you will have no rest nor will there be a place of peaceful rest for the soles of your feet, for there the Lord will give you an anxious heart, failing eyesight, and a spirit of despair.
As mentioned, Jewish history is filled with their scattering throughout other nations. Even today, most Jews do not live in Israel but in various nations around the world. This is extremely unusual. For comparison, approximately seven million Koreans live outside of Korea while forty-nine million live in Korea. In fact, since the destruction of Israel by Rome in AD 70, less Jews have lived in Israel than outside.
In addition, as Deuteronomy 28:64 prophesied, while in exile, these Jews would not worship God but instead worship the gods of other nations. Providing evidence for this, a 2012 Gallup poll showed that Jews were the least religious people in the world—54% considered themselves nonreligious and 2% considered themselves atheist.7 A 2011 study of American Jews showed that half of all American Jews had doubts about God, in comparison to 10-15% of other American groups.8 Romans 11:7-8 and 25, says this about the Jews current religious state:
What then? What the people of Israel sought so earnestly they did not obtain. The elect among them did, but the others were hardened, as it is written: “God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes that could not see and ears that could not hear, to this very day.” … I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in
Again, part of the covenant stipulated that while in exile, the Jews would not worship the God of their fathers, which has proved true in a unique way, compared to other ethnic groups.
- After being exiled, Israel would experience a restoration to the land when they returned to God.
“When you have experienced all these things, both the blessings and the curses I have set before you, you will reflect upon them in all the nations where the Lord your God has banished you. Then if you and your descendants turn to the Lord your God and obey him with your whole mind and being just as I am commanding you today, the Lord your God will reverse your captivity and have pity on you. He will turn and gather you from all the peoples among whom he has scattered you. Even if your exiles are in the most distant land, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back. Then he will bring you to the land your ancestors possessed and you also will possess it; he will do better for you and multiply you more than he did your ancestors.
The Jews have experienced multiple exiles from Israel and returns to it. Mark Hitchcock said this:
The Jews are remarkable in light of the testimony of history to exile and return. In all of human history there have been less than ten deportations of a people group from their native land. These people groups disappeared in history because they assimilated into the nations to which they were exiled. However, the Jewish people did not simply experience a single exile, but multiple exiles…9
Israel is the only nation to be fully deported and then return to their land, which has happened multiple times. Even more unique is the fact that they are the only nation to lose their native tongue (Hebrew) in their deportations and restore it again.10 Their exiles and returns are as follows:
-In 740-722 BC, the Assyrians conquered the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and they were exiled among the nations.11
-In 586 BC, the Babylonians conquered Jerusalem and exiled the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Smaller deportations happened in 605 and 597.
-In 538 BC, Zerubbabel led the first return to the land.12 The second return was led by Ezra in 458 BC and the third by Nehemiah in 445 BC.
-In AD 70, the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, and they were dispersed again for almost 1900 years, as only a few Jews remained in the land.13
-In 1871, a remnant of the Jews began to return, which has continued since.14
-In 1881 about 25,000 Jews were in the land
-In 1914 about 80,000 Jews were in the land
-In 1939 about 450,000 Jews were in the land
-In 1948 about 650,000 Jews were in the land
In May 1948, a major event in Jewish history happened. After the holocaust, Palestine was returned to the Israelites by the United Nations—ending British control of the land.15 Israel officially became a nation again after 1900 years primarily lived outside of their homeland. Since then, their return to the land has continued to increase dramatically.
-In 2009 about 5.4 million Jews were in the land—holding a greater population of Jews than any other nation.16 For comparison, in 2013, there were 5.3 million Jews living in the United States.17 In 1948, only 6% of Jews lived in Israel, and now 40% of Jews live there. It is estimated that by 2030 half of all Jews will reside in the land.18
In studying Jewish history, there is undeniable proof of biblical prophecy. When obedient, they were blessed by God, and when disobedient, they received his discipline. God has allowed them to suffer repeated persecutions. They have been exiled from their land and experienced returns multiple times, something which has never happened to any other nation. According to other biblical prophecies, one day Israel will not only return to the land but return to their God at Christ’s second coming. Romans 11:25-27 says:
For I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: A partial hardening has happened to Israel until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion; he will remove ungodliness from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them, when I take away their sins.”
At that point, there will be a final return, fulfilling Deuteronomy 30:1-9, as well as many other prophecies regarding the Jews at last returning to the land—never to be exiled again (cf. Ez 36:24-37, 37:21-28).
A very strong evidence for the accuracy of biblical prophecy is the nation of Israel. God made a covenant with her, and history bears witness to the conditions of that covenant.
- In the reading, what stood out most to you and why?
- How many prophecies are there about Christ’s first coming in the Old Testament?
- How many prophecies were fulfilled on the day of Christ’s death?
- What are some examples of how God’s covenant with Israel, as described in Deuteronomy, has played out historically?
- What other questions or applications do you have from the reading?
Copyright © 2020 Gregory Brown
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1 Hitchcock, Mark. The Amazing Claims of Bible Prophecy, (p. 86). Harvest House Publishers. Kindle Edition.
2 “Micah” accessed 8/6/19 from https://www.biblica.com/resources/scholar-notes/niv-study-bible/intro-to-micah/
3 McDowell, Josh. Evidence That Demands a Verdict (p. 231). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
4 Hitchcock, Mark (2010-04-01). The Amazing Claims of Bible Prophecy, (p. 95). Harvest House Publishers. Kindle Edition.
5 “A Brief and Incomplete History of Jewish Suffering” accessed 8/7/19 from https://www.chosenpeople.com/site/a-brief-and-incomplete-history-of-jewish-suffering/
6 “The Holocaust” accessed 8/7/19 from https://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/the-holocaust
7 “A New Poll Shows Atheism Is on the Rise, with Jews found to Be the Least Religious” accessed 8/7/19 from https://www.haaretz.com/jewish/jews-least-observant-int-l-poll-finds-1.5287579
8 “Judaism without God? Yes, say American Atheist” accessed 8/7/19 from https://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/religion/story/2011-09-26/jew-atheist-god/50553958/1
9 Hitchcock, Mark (2010-04-01). The Amazing Claims of Bible Prophecy, (p. 98). Harvest House Publishers. Kindle Edition.
10 Hitchcock, Mark. The Amazing Claims of Bible Prophecy, (p. 99). Harvest House Publishers. Kindle Edition.
11 “When and how was Israel conquered by the Assyrians?” accessed 8/7/19 from https://www.gotquestions.org/Israel-conquered-by-Assyria.html
12 “Zerubbabel” accessed 8/7/19 from https://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/Zerubbabel
13 “Map of Pre-1948 Palestine: The Roman Exile” accessed 8/7/19 from https://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/map-of-the-roman-exile-70-ce
14 Hitchcock, Mark. The Amazing Claims of Bible Prophecy, (p. 102). Harvest House Publishers. Kindle Edition.
15 Hitchcock, Mark. The Amazing Claims of Bible Prophecy, (p. 103). Harvest House Publishers. Kindle Edition.
16 Hitchcock, Mark. The Amazing Claims of Bible Prophecy, (p. 103). Harvest House Publishers. Kindle Edition.
17 A Portrait of Jewish Americans” accessed 8/7/19 from https://www.pewforum.org/2013/10/01/chapter-1-population-estimates/
18 Hitchcock, Mark (2010-04-01). The Amazing Claims of Bible Prophecy, (p. 103). Harvest House Publishers. Kindle Edition