There are literally hundreds of prophecies of Jesus in the Old Testament - when and where He would be born, His precise lineage, how He would lead a sinless life, the type of sacrificial death He would endure, and His resurrection back to life. These predictions are called prophecies – a way that God can show His “fingerprints” to us, that He has had a hand in something coming to pass.
Let’s look at the meaning of God’s Fingerprints, why the Bible is unique when it comes to prophecy, and some prophecies of Jesus in the Bible.
God’s Fingerprints Are All Over Jesus
One of the things that God says in the Bible that makes Him different from other gods is that He is able is tell of a thing before it happens. This is commonly referred to as “prophecy” in biblical terms. Why is this a
“fingerprint” of God? Because one of His characteristics, besides all powerful, is that He is “all knowing”. As Creator of matter, space and time, He was before “any thing”. He always was, always is, and always will be. Period. Other “gods”, diviners, spirit beings, and people – being created beings, simply can’t do this. They may try, but most of the time their predictions are way off. Only the I AM can do this reliably, every time, because He exists *outside* of space, time and matter. He simple knows what is going to happen, whereas we don’t.
So it is not strange that when Moses asks Him His name, He replies: “And God said to Moses, I AM WHO I AM. And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you.” (Exodus 3:14). The great “I AM” — the Name of the self-existent One.
Which Book Has God’s Fingerprints? The Bible!
The Bible is unique from ALL other so-called holy books in this respect. When it comes to the Bible, more prophetic statements are contained in the Bible than any other book. Other holy books may have a few vague predictions, but nothing like the the huge number contained in this unique Book.
- From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is filled with predictions that have come true, are coming true, or will come true in the future
- Over 27% of the Bible consists of prophetic material1
- Of the 66 books in the Bible, only 4 are without prophetic statements: Ruth, the Song of Soloman, Philemon, and 3 John2
Which shouldn’t surprise us, if indeed the Bible is the uniquely inspired Word of God, it should be full of prophecy and be markedly different from all other books in this respect.
Everything. IF Jesus is who He said He was, then all of biblical scripture should be filled with prophecies
of Jesus. IF Jesus is the promised Redeemer, the Savior which was to come, then we should see evidence of prophecies about Him all through the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms. In fact, this is what Jesus told His disciples when He was with them:
Then He said to them: “These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.” (Luke 24:44)
Indeed, Jesus taught that the entire Hebrew Bible foretold of His birth, life, sacrificial death and resurrection:
Then He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Ought not the Christ to have suffered these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” (Luke 24:25-27)
And indeed this is precisely what we find – predictions concerning Jesus are all throughout the Hebrew Bible — starting with Genesis.
- Prophecies of Jesus are in every one of the books of the Old Testament3
- Jesus literally fulfilled dozens of Old Testament “types”, prefigurements, and prophecies!
Could Jesus Have Simply “Played the Part” to Fulfill Prophecy?
Some say that Jesus “played the part”: studied the Scriptures, arranged events, and purposely fulfilled these prophecies. The problem with this assertion is that most of these predictions about Jesus were outside of His control. He simply couldn’t have “arranged” to fulfill most of these predictions. Lets consider some of the astounding predictions concerning Jesus — and see if He doesn’t have God’s “fingerprints”.
What Were the Prophecies of Jesus?
There are many prophecies in the Old Testament that were fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth (as many as 456 have been documented by one scholar!4). And these only pertain to His first coming. Lets look at just a sampling of some of these predictions that He fulfilled (predictions made hundreds of years before His birth):
- He would be born in a city not His parent’s own Micah 5:2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth have been from of old, From the days of eternity.” Luke 2:4-6 “And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem … while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.”
- He would be born of a virgin Isaiah 7:14 “Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son…” Matthew 1:20 “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she shall bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”
- That He would be born into a specify lineage and family Gen 12:3; “I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Matthew 1:1 “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham…”
- He would be announced by a special messenger from God - John the Baptist Isaiah 40:3 “The voice of one crying in the wilderness; Prepare the way of the LORD” Matthew 3:3 “For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah…”
His Life and Mission
- He would grow up in Nazareth of Galilee Isaiah 9:1-2 “… in Galilee of the Gentiles, The people who walked in darkness Have seen a great light…” Matthew 2:23 “And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth…” Matthew 4:15 “..Galilee of the Gentiles” the people who sat in darkness saw a great light…”
- His message would include the Gentiles Isaiah 42:1-3 “Behold My Servant whom I uphold, My Chosen one in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the Gentiles..” Mathew 12:17-21 “that it might be fulfilled which was spoke by Isaiah the prophet, saying: “Behold, My Servant whom I have chosen …”
- But He would be rejected by His own people Psalm 118:22 “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone.” Acts 2:11 “This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.”
- He would perform miracles
Isaiah 35: 2-6 “They shall see the glory of the LORD, the excellency of our God. Strengthen the weak hands, and make firm the feeble knees. Say to those who are fearful-hearted, “Be strong, do not fear!” v5: “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.” Matthew 5: “The blind receive their sight and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up, and the poor have the good news preached to them.”
- He would be a Shepherd struck with a sword, resulting in the sheep being scattered Zechariah 13:7-8 “Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd…Strike the Shepherd, And the sheep will be scattered…” Matthew 26:31 “Then Jesus said to them, “All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: “I will strike the Shepherd, And the sheep of the flock will be scattered.'”
- He would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver, the money be returned, and used to buy a potter’s field! Zechariah 11:12-13 “So they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter – that princely price they set on me…” Matthew 27:3-10 “..Judas was remorseful and brought back the 30 pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders…Then he threw down the the pieces of silver in the temple and departed…the chief priests took the silver pieces and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the treasury, because they are the price of blood.” And they took counsel and bought with them the potter’s field…”.
His Suffering and Death
- He would be rejected Isaiah 53:3 “He is despised and rejected by men…” John 1:10-11 “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came unto His own, and His own did not receive Him”.
- He would be horribly beaten Isaiah 52: 14: “…His appearance was marred more than any man…” Isaiah 53:5 “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” Matthew 27:26-30: “..scourged Jesus…stripped Him…when they had woven a crown of thorns, they put it on His head…they spat on Him…struck Him on the head.”
- While being accused He would not speak Isaiah 53:7 “He was oppressed and afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.” Matthew 27:12 “And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He answered nothing.”
- His bones would be out of joint Psalm 22:14 “I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint”. Although not specifically quoted, the Roman practice of crucifixion usually resulted in both arms being pulled out of joint.
- His flesh would be pierced Zechariah 12:10 “…they will look upon Me whom they have pierced..” John 19:34 “But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.”
- He would ask His Father a unique question before giving up His Spirit, fulfilling the prophecy in Psalm 22:1 “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me? Mark 15:34 “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?” which is translated, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
- His hands and feet would be pierced Psalm 22:16 “…They pierced My hands and My feet” Luke 23:33 “And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him…”
- But his legs would not be broken Psalm 34:20 “He guards all his bones; Not one of them is broken” 19:33 “But when they came to Jesus and saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs.”
- He would be mocked by men Psalm 22:8 “He trusted in the LORD, let Him rescue Him; Let Him deliver Him, since He delights in Him!”. Matthew 27:43 recounts how the chief priests, scribes and elders mocked Jesus at the cross: “He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said: “I am the Son of God.”
- They would cast lots for His clothes Psalm 22:18 “They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.” Matthew 27:35 “Then they crucified Him, and divided His garments, casting lots…” Luke 23:34 “And they divided His garments, and cast lots.” John 19:23-24 “Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts…Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece. They said therefore among themselves, “Lt us not tear it, but cast lots for it …”
- He would be punished with the wicked Isaiah 53:12 “…He poured out His soul unto death, And He was numbered with the transgressors..” Matthew 27:38 “Then the two robbers were crucified with Him, one on the right and another on the left.”
- But buried with the rich Isaiah 53:9 “And they made His grave with the wicked, But with the rich at his death.” Matthew 27:57-60 “Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body be given to him. Ad when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock…”
- He would rise from the dead
Psalm 16:10 “…Nor will You allow your Holy One to see corruption.” Mark 16:6 “But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.” Acts 2:31 “he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.”
Why So Many Prophecies of Jesus?
Two reasons: 1) to make identifying the Messiah obvious, and 2) to make an imposter’s task impossible.
There is simply no way that Jesus could have “arranged” to fulfill all of these predictions — most were outside of His control. His fulfillment of these prophecies is clear, undeniable evidence that He was and is the Messiah, the Anointed one of God sent to save mankind and bring him back into fellowship with his Creator.
Footnotes and Sources:
1. Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy, by Dr. J. Barton Payne
2. Fast Facts on Defending Your Faith, by John Ankerberg and John Weldon
3. Christ: The Theme of the Bible, by Dr. Norman Geisler
4. Edersheim documents 456 distinct prophecies concerning Christ in the Old Testament … and of course
5. The Bible – New King James Version.