Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Messianic prophecy: Proof that Christianity is true!: Introduction & index

This is the first of a planned series on Messianic prophecy, subtitled: "Proof that Christianity is true and Naturalism is false!"

[Right: Kaiser, W.C., Jr., 1995, "The Messiah in the Old Testament," Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI.]

But because each subject line would be too long, I have abbreviated it to "Proof that Christianity is true!" It is part of my particular interest in presenting objective evidence (i.e. true whether it is believed or not) that Christianity is true, and therefore Naturalism is false. See my "Daniel's 70 `weeks': Proof that Naturalism is false and Christianity is true!" And although I haven't yet posted a message with the subject: "The Shroud of Turin: Proof that Christianity is true and Naturalism is false!" on my The Shroud of Turin blog, I intend to do so.

By "Christianity" I mean what Christian apologist C.S. Lewis called, "'mere' Christianity ... the belief that has been common to nearly all Christians at all times":

"Ever since I became a Christian I have thought that the best, perhaps the only, service I could do for my unbelieving neighbours was to explain and defend the belief that has been common to nearly all Christians at all times. ... what Baxter calls 'mere' Christianity." (Lewis, C.S., "Mere Christianity," Fount: London, 1977, Reprinted, 1997, p.vi).

and by Naturalism I mean, "the metaphysical position that `nature is all there is ...'":

"Metaphysical naturalism ... Naturalism is the metaphysical position that "nature is all there is, and all basic truths are truths of nature." ("Naturalism (philosophy)," Wikipedia, 8 October 2010).

By "messianic prophecy" I mean predictions or allusions in the Old Testament that converge uniquely on Jesus of Nazareth being the Messiah (see below).

By "proof" I mean beyond reasonable doubt.

This Introduction page has an index to Bible verses containing messianic prophecies. The order is canonical but I will post each verse(s) in assumed chronological order. Each verse(s) will be linked to a page devoted to that specific messianic prophecy. As I post each new page, I will link it back to this first page. However, I may add and/or delete verses from this list.


Messianic Prophecy: Proof that Christianity is True!: Index

Gn 3:15; 9:26-27; 12:1-3; 17:1-6; 22:10; 38:11; 49:10-12; Num 24:15-19; Dt 18:15-18; 1Sam 2:1-10; 2:35-36; 2Sam 7:12-16; Job 9:33; 16:19-21; 23-21; 33:23-28; Ps 2:1-6; 8; 16:10; 22:1,7-8, 16-18; 35:11; 40; 45; 68::18; 69:4,9,21; 72; 78:1-2; 89; 102:25-27; 109:7-8, 25; 110:1-4; 118:22; 132; Isa 4:2-6; 7:14-16; 8:17-18; 9:1-7; 11:1-16; 16:5; 24:21-25; 28:16; 30:19-26; 31:5; 32:1-2; 33:5-6, 17; 35:11; 40:3; 41:9; 42:1-17; 49:1-13; 50:4-11; 52:13- 53:12; 55:3-5; 60:3; 61:1-11; 63:1-6; Jer 23:5-6; 30:9,21; 31:21-22; 33:14-26; Eze 17:22-24; 21:25-27; 34:23-31; 37:15-28; 44-48; Dn 2:44-45; 7:13-14; 9:24-2; Hos 1:10-2:17; Joel 2:23; 3:4-5; 11:1; Am 8:9; 9:11-15; Jnh 1:17; Mic 2:12-13; 5:1-14; Hab 3:12-15; Hag 2:6-9, 21-23; Zec 3:8-10; 6:9-15; 9:9-11; 10:4; 11:4-14; 12:10; 13:7; Mal 3:1; 4:2-5.]

Jesus claimed that the Old Testament contained prophecies which were fulfilled in Him:

"Appeal to Messianic Prophecy .... JESUS `Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish, but to fulfill.' - Matthew 5:17. `And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in the Scriptures.' - Luke 24:27. `Now He said to them, "These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled."' - Luke 24:44. `You search the Scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is these that bear witness of Me ...' - John 5:39-40 ..." (McDowell, J., 1979, "Evidence That Demands a Verdict," [1972], Here's Life Publishers: San Bernardino CA, Revised edition, Twenty-ninth printing, 1988, Vol. I, pp.142-143. Emphasis original).

The New Testament writers also claimed that the Old Testament contained prophecies which were fulfilled in Jesus:

"NEW TESTAMENT WRITERS APPEAL TO PROPHECIES FULFILLED IN JESUS `But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ should suffer, He has thus fulfilled.' - Acts 3:18. `Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name every one who believes in Him has received forgiveness of sins.' - Acts 10:43. `And when they had carried out all that was written concerning Him, they took Him down from the cross and laid Him in a tomb.' - Acts 13:29. `And according to Paul's custom, he went to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ."' - Acts 17:2,3. `For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.' - I Corinthians 15:3,4. `Which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy Scriptures[, concerning His Son].' - Romans 1:2. ...." (McDowell, 1979, p.143. Emphasis original).

There are hundreds of these messianic prophecies:

"Prophecy, as Proof of the Bible. One of the strongest evidences that the Bible is inspired by God ... is its predictive prophecy. Unlike any other book, the Bible offers a multitude of specific predictions-some hundreds of years in advance-that have been literally fulfilled or else point to a definite future time when they will come true. In his comprehensive catalogue of prophecies, Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecies, J. Barton Payne lists 1817 predictions in the Bible, 1239 in the Old Testament and 578 in the New (674-75). The argument from prophecy is the argument from omniscience. Limited human beings know the future only if it is told to them by an omniscient Being ... Messianic Predictions. There are two broad categories of biblical prophecy: messianic and nonmessianic. Payne (ibid., 665-70) lists 191 prophecies concerning the anticipated Jewish Messiah and Savior. Each was literally fulfilled in the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus of Nazareth " (Geisler, N.L., 1999, "Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics," Baker: Grand Rapids MI, pp.609-610. Emphasis original).

Many were very specific and were beyond mere human ability to fake their fulfillment. And the probability that even sixteen of these messianic prophecies were fulfilled in one man, Jesus, is astronomical:

"Prophecy and the Messiah. It is important to note unique things about biblical prophecies. Unlike many psychic predictions, many of these were very specific, giving, for example, the very name of the tribe, city, and time of Christ's coming. Unlike forecasts found in tabloids at the supermarket checkout counter, none of these predictions failed. Since these prophecies were written hundreds of years before Christ was born, the prophets could have been reading the trends of the times or making intelligent guesses. Many predictions were beyond human ability to fake a fulfillment. If he were a mere human being, Christ would have had no control over when (Dan. 9:24-27), where (Micah 5:2), or how he would be born (Isa. 7:14), how he would die (Psalm 22; Isaiah 53), do miracles (Isa. 35:5-6), or rise from the dead (Psalms 2, 16). It is unlikely that all these events would have converged in the life of one man. Mathematicians (Stoner, 108) have calculated the probability of sixteen predictions being fulfilled in one man (e.g., Jesus) at 1 in 1045. That forty-eight predictions might meet in one person, the probability is 1 in 10157. It is almost impossible to conceive of a number that large. ... All the evidence points to Jesus as the divinely appointed fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies. He was God's man, confirmed by God's signs (Acts 2:22)." (Geisler, 1999, pp.612-613. Emphasis original).

Also, many of these messianic prophecies depended on the reactions of others to Jesus, over which, if He was merely a man, He would have no control:

"Contrary to the `Passover Plot,' messianic prophecy is supernatural .... And in the case of Christ there are many reasons that he could not have manipulated events to make it look like he fulfilled all the predictions about the Old Testament Messiah. First of all, this was contrary to his honest character as noted above. It assumes he was one of the greatest deceivers of all time. It presupposes that he was not even a good person, to say nothing of the perfect man the Gospels affirm him to be. There are several lines of evidence that combine to demonstrate that this is a completely implausible thesis. Second, there is no way Jesus could have controlled many events necessary for the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah. For example, he had no control over where he would be born (Mic. 5:2), how he would be born of a virgin (Isa. 7:14), when he would die (Dan. 9:25), what tribe (Gen. 49:10) and lineage he would be from (2 Sam. 7:12), and numerous other things. Third, there is no way short of being supernatural that Jesus could have manipulated the events and people in his life to respond in exactly the way necessary for it to appear that he was fulfilling all these prophecies, including John's heralding him (Matt. 3), his accuser's reactions (Matt. 27:12), how the soldiers cast lots for his garments (John 19:23, 24), and how they would pierce his side with a spear (John 19:34). Indeed even Schonfield admits that the plot failed when the Romans actually pierced Christ. The fact is that anyone with all this manipulative power would have to be divine-the very thing the Passover hypothesis is attempting to avoid. In short, it takes a bigger miracle to believe the Passover Plot than to accept these prophecies as supernatural." (Geisler, 1999, pp.585-586. Emphasis original).

I will expand on these points in future posts in this series. To be continued in Gn 3:15. "The seed of the woman who will crush the head of the serpent."

References
Ankerberg, J., Weldon, J. & Kaiser, W.C., Jr., 1989, "The Case for Jesus the Messiah: Incredible Prophecies that Prove God Exists," Harvest House: Eugene OR.

Delitzsch, F., 1891, "Messianic Prophecies in Historic Succession," [1887], Curtiss, S.T., transl., Wipf & Stock: Eugene OR, Reprinted, 1998.

Geisler, N.L., 1999, "Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics," Baker: Grand Rapids MI.

Kaiser, W.C., Jr., 1995, "The Messiah in the Old Testament," Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI.

Lockyer, H., 1973, "All The Messianic Prophecies of the Bible," Zondervan: Grand Rapids MI, Reprinted, 1995.

McDowell, J., 1979, "Evidence That Demands a Verdict, Volume 1: Historical Evidences for the Christian Faith," [1972], Here's Life Publishers: San Bernardino CA, Revised edition, Twenty-ninth printing, 1988.

Smith, J.E., 1993, "What the Bible Teaches About the Promised Messiah: An In-depth Study of 73 Key Old Testament Prophesies About the Messiah," Thomas Nelson Inc: Nashville TN.

Stoner, P., 1963, "Science Speaks: An Evaluation of Certain Christian Evidences," Moody Press: Chicago IL.

Links
"Messianic Prophecies," Clarifying Christianity, 13 October 2010.

"Messianic Prophecies," J. Hampton Keathley, III, Bible.org, 13 October 2010.

"Messianic Prophecy - Compelling Predictions," Messianic-Prophecy.net, 6 January 2010.

"Messianic prophecy - Old Testament prophecies fulfilled by Jesus Christ," AboutBibleProphecy.com, 13 October 2010

"Prophecies of the Messiah in the Hebrew Bible," Jews for Jesus, 13 October 2010.

Stephen E. Jones, BSc. (Biology).
My other blogs: The Shroud of Turin & Jesus is Jehovah!

6 comments:

Jason Dulle said...

I am a conservative Christian, and I agree that the OT has messianic prophecies in them, but the vast majority of those typically cited were neither predictive in nature, nor obviously about the Messiah in their original contexts. While Christians may be able to look back into the OT after the Christ event and see a fuller meaning of these texts, since many of these were either not predictive or not messianic in their original context, unbelievers will not be impressed and amazed.

There are passages we can point to in the OT that were predictive and messianic in their original context, but the list is not 100s of passages long, but only about a dozen.

I have a brief write-up on this issue at my blog if you care to take a look. http://theosophical.wordpress.com/2009/09/09/limited-apologetic-value-of-%e2%80%9cfulfilled%e2%80%9d-messianic-prophecies/#more-1635

Stephen E. Jones said...

Jason

>I am a conservative Christian, and I agree that the OT has messianic prophecies in them,

Thanks for your comment.

>but the vast majority of those typically cited were neither predictive in nature, nor obviously about the Messiah in their original contexts.

Disagree. I take Jesus' teaching in Luke 24:44:

"... ALL THINGS which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled"

to mean that there MANY messianic prophecies in the OT.

>While Christians may be able to look back into the OT after the Christ event and see a fuller meaning of these texts,

I assume (especially when the NT cites it as a fulfillment) that that "meaning" is REALLY THERE, it being written in by the Holy Spirit who is the ultimate author of prophecy:

2Pet 1:21. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

>since many of these were either not predictive or not messianic in their original context,

One of those often cited (including by yourself) as "not predictive or not messianic" is Matthew's teaching that Jesus fulfilled Hos 11:1 in His return from Egypt:

Hos 11:1. When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.

Mt 2:15. And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

But I assume that was one of those passages that JESUS identified as pointing to Him.

The Bible repeatedly states that God reveals His truths such that only those with spiritual "eyes that see or ears that hear" can receive it (Dt 29:4; Isa 6:10; Jer 5:21; Eze 12:2; Mt 13:15-16; Acts 28:27; Rom 11:8).

>unbelievers will not be impressed and amazed.

Since when is the impressing of "unbelievers" who CANNOT understand "the things that come from the Spirit of God":

1Cor 2:14. The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.

the arbiter of what is messianic prophecy?

In my experience few (if any) unbelievers are impressed even by the clearer messianic prophecies. So I see my role as bearing witness to the truth (Jn 18:37) and I leave it up to God to use that truth or not (Isa 55:11; 1Cor 3:6).

And impressing "unbelievers" is not the only, or even the main, reason for my posting messianic prophesies. Building up believers (including me!) by giving them additional objective (i.e. true irrespective of whether it is accepted) reasons for
their belief in Christianity, is at least as important a reason to me.

>There are passages we can point to in the OT that were predictive and messianic in their original context, but the list is not 100s of passages long, but only about a dozen.

Disagree. Four times the New Testament states that "ALL THE PROPHETS" bear witness to Christ:

Lk 24:27. And beginning with Moses and ALL THE PROPHETS, he explained to them what was said in ALL THE SCRIPTURES concerning himself.

Acts 3:18. ... God fulfilled what he had foretold through ALL THE PROPHETS, saying that his Christ would suffer.

Acts 3:24. "Indeed, ALL THE PROPHETS from Samuel on ... have foretold these days.

Acts 10:43. ALL THE PROPHETS testify about him ..."

and there are at least 15 prophets in the Old Testament, not counting multiple messianic prophecies in their books, so that alone refutes your "dozen."

In fact McDowell's "Evidence Demands a Verdict" lists at least 60, and Payne in his "Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecies" lists 191, messianic prophecies cited in the NT.

>I have a brief write-up on this issue at my blog if you care to take a look.

Thanks for the link. But I prefer to believe Jesus and the NT writers rather than you!

Stephen E. Jones

Edward T. Babinski said...

Stephen, Maybe you and J.P. Holding at Tektonics can iron out exactly how useful it is to try and cite O.T. passages as prophecies concerning N.T. events. Holding doesn't think it's a very useful. Perhaps you can get Holding to tell you why. Here's what he wrote:

MYTHS ABOUT CHRISTIANITY #10

OT prophecy fulfillment is a good apologetic.

It actually isn't useful in the way it was at first. We need to understand (as do Skeptics) Jewish exegesis of the first century.

It is not so much that the OT predicted the NT events as that the NT writers looked at history and sought OT passages that echoed what they had seen. This does not mean that there is not actual predictive prophecy at all (for even then God may have orchestrated the pattern) but rather that we cannot present an apologetic on this basis as we normally have; or else we are forced into a corner of explaining ie, why the NT allegedly uses OT passages "out of context". http://www.tektonics.org/af/christianmyths.html

Edward T. Babinski said...

Also, The Book of Daniel is second century. It even contains a few references to the earliest portions of the Book of Enoch, another intertestamental work (see J. J. Collins, a scholar with lots to say on the genre and date of Daniel).

Also, did you know that Josephus explained that the Jewish War and a subsequent rise in Jewish Messiahs was due in large part to the rise in popularity of the intertestamental book of Daniel? So any claims that the book of Daniel contained "prophecies" about the rise of a Messiah are self-fulfilling at best. Many Messiahs indeed were sought after and arose during that time period from the time of the Maccabean rebellion against Greek Rulers to the Dead Sea Scroll community to the first century AD rebellion against Roman rulers.

Stephen E. Jones said...

Ed

Good to hear from you again. A Happy New Year to you and yours.

>Maybe you and J.P. Holding at Tektonics can iron out exactly how useful it is to try and cite O.T. passages as prophecies concerning N.T. events. Holding doesn't think it's a very useful.

Whether it is "useful" or not is irrelevant to me. As I stated above, "Jesus claimed that the Old Testament contained prophecies which were fulfilled in Him" and so did the NT writers, and that is good enough for me.

I will just present the evidence and let the readers make up their own minds. Those who are committed atheists/agnostics like yourself, and even some `sophisticated' Christians (like "J.P. Holding" aka. Robert Turkel), will probably reject it out of hand on apriori philosophical grounds regardless of the evidence.

Although Holding/Turkel at the item you cited, "[Myth]10. OT prophecy fulfillment is a good apologetic" does not actually reject messianic prophecies as untrue, but rather that the Christian apologist will have to explain "why the NT allegedly uses OT passages `out of context'" (my emphasis):

"This does not mean that there is not actual predictive prophecy at all (for even then God may have orchestrated the pattern) but rather that we cannot present an apologetic on this basis as we normally have; or else we are forced into a corner of explaining ie, why the NT allegedly uses OT passages "out of context".

I don't regard explaining why a minority of messianic prophecies may seem to be "out of context," as being "forced into a corner," but rather as a necessary part of the the Christian apologist's job of explaining ancient Eastern Jewish writings to modern Westerners.

Ed, you may not be aware, but my CED blogs' comments are not my old CED Yahoo discussion group redivivus. I closed that discussion group in 2005 and started blogging, because too much of my time was being wasted in debating individuals like yourself who will (barring a miracle) never change their minds. So my policy is to normally restrict comments under each of my blog posts to one or two only per individual. Accordingly, if you respond again under this post, your response may not appear.

I hope to post my next in this series, "Messianic prophecy: Proof that Christianity is true: Genesis 3:15" in the near future, and you may comment under that, if you wish.

Stephen E. Jones

Stephen E. Jones said...

Ed

>Also, The Book of Daniel is second century. ...

Disagree. I have already covered this in my post "Daniel's 70 `weeks': Proof that Naturalism is false and Christianity is true!."

But I will post again the evidence why the Book of Daniel is 5-6th century BC (and certainly not post-Maccabees late 2nd century BC) when I get to the first of Daniel's messianic prophecies.

Ed, you seem to be back to your old trick of posting a barrage of (usually off-topic) messages. I have one from you in my moderator's box about "the evolution of Christology" which I am about to delete. And I will also delete as off-topic your published post starting with "First century Jews were grumbling and agitating against Roman rule before Jesus was born ..."

If you wish to comment, then save your comments for future posts and keep them on-topic, i.e. about that specific prophecy. Otherwise if you continue your barrage (aka "bombing run") tactics, I will mark all comments from you as SPAM.

Stephen