Unveiling Old Testament Prophecy
by Dcn. Joseph Gleason
In the Old Testament, let us take a look at an impressive prophecy about Jesus Christ. Years before Jesus was ever born, the Holy Spirit inspired one of His prophets to tell the future, and to write down some things which had not happened yet. In this prophecy, we hear about someone who claims to be the Son of God, and who is tortured, and is condemned to a shameful death. This prophecy is written from the perspective of those who condemn Christ. Many years before they are even born, we get to hear the internal thought processes of the Pharisees. Here is the prophecy itself, word-for-word from the Old Testament:
Let us lie in ambush for the righteous man, because he is useless to us and opposes our deeds; he denounces us for our sins against the law and accuses us of sins against our upbringing. He claims to have knowledge of God, and he calls himself a child of the Lord. He has become for us as a refutation of our purposes; even seeing him is a burden to us, because his life is unlike that of others; for his paths go in a different direction. We are considered by him as a hybrid, and he avoids our ways as something immoral.
He considers the last things of the righteous as blessed and pretends that God is his Father. Let us see if his words are true, and let us put these last things to the test at the end of his life. For if the righteous man is a son of God, He will help him, and deliver him from the hand of those who oppose him.
Let us test him with insult and torture that we may know his gentleness and test his patient endurance. Let us condemn him to a shameful death, for there shall be a visitation because of his words.
This is one of my favorite prophecies of Jesus, because of its incredible clarity. It is almost as if we have secretly wiretapped a meeting place for the religious leaders of ancient Israel, and are actually listening in on the Pharisees as they plot the murder of Jesus. Written many years before Jesus was even born, this striking prophecy predicts that the Messiah would claim to be the Son of God, that he would chastise the religious leaders for their lawlessness and hypocrisy, and that the religious leaders would condemn him to a shameful death.
This prophecy includes some of the specific thought processes which the Pharisees display in the New Testament. Consider the following passage from the book of Matthew:
Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’”
This passage can be found in Matthew 27:41-43. And it is a very specific fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecy we looked at earlier. In the prophecy, the Pharisees say,
“For if the righteous man is a son of God, He will help him, and deliver him from the hand of those who oppose him.”
They are focusing on Jesus’ claim to be God’s son, and they suggest that God should save him from death if his claim is true. Likewise, in Matthew 27, the Pharisees mockingly say that God should deliver Jesus from death, since Jesus claimed to be the Son of God.
These sorts of prophecies demonstrate the fact that the Scriptures are inspired by the Holy Spirit. On his own, man is not able to predict the future like this. So when we read prophecies like this one, written many years before the actual events ever took place, we are able to see the very signature of God.
In Scripture, God announces that He stands alone in the universe. He alone has the ability to declare what will come to pass in the future. In Isaiah 46:9-10, we read the following:
I am God, and there is no other;
I am God, and there is none like Me,
Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times
things that are not yet done,
Saying, “My counsel shall stand,
And I will do all My pleasure”
In prophecies such as the one we read earlier, we can clearly see the fingerprints of God:
Years before the birth of Jesus, how could anyone have known that the Messiah would chastise the religious leaders of Israel, and that they would be the ones to condemn him to a shameful death?
How could anyone know that the Messiah would claim to be the Son of God?
Many years before the events ever happened, how did the author of this Old Testament prophecy write down something that would eventually be fulfilled in the 27th chapter of the book of Matthew?
There is no reasonable explanation for this, except for the inspiration of Scripture. There is no way to explain this, except to submit to the majesty of our omniscient God, who knows all, and who declares the end from the beginning.
Prophecies like this help strengthen our confidence in the Scriptures, as we recognize that the words of the Bible are the very words of God. God left His signature on Scripture, setting it apart from all other books in the world.
With all of this in mind, think about your own home. Imagine that just across the street, in easy walking distance from your own front door, a grand, beautiful, magnificent new church is built. Before you even leave your own front yard, you are in awe of this incredible architectural work of art. The very sight of this new church fills you with wonder, and lifts your thoughts to Heaven.
Intrigued, you decide to investigate this church for yourself. You want to find out whether this church is as impressive on the inside, as it is on the outside. You barely make it through the front doors of the church, and you are nearly swarmed with friendly people. This is not the work of a professional greeter– a guy who stands near the door greeting you because that’s his job–this is person after person simply being friendly. One after the other, they walk up to you with a smile, shake your hand, introduce themselves, and they show a genuine interest in getting to know you better. This is definitely the warmest, friendliest church you have ever visited in your life!
You take your place in the pew, and you wait to see what the worship service is like. You are blown away by the sheer majesty and beauty of the music. The singers and musicians are all extremely talented, and are very impressive. Yet they perform in such a way that they don’t draw attention to themselves individually. The music is beautiful, and it is all directed to the glory of God. When you hear the music, and when you sing along, your thoughts and your heart are again drawn up into Heaven itself.
The sermon is just as impressive. The pastor’s voice is pleasant, his stories hold your attention, and you agree wholeheartedly with the message itself. He does such a good job that you decide to get a CD copy of the sermon, so you can listen to it again, and then pass it along to your friends.
After the service, you get up to leave, expecting everyone to race out the door in a hurry. But one of your new friends in the congregation stops you, and invites you to the most delicious Sunday luncheon you have ever attended. The sheer variety of mouthwatering food makes you feel like you have stumbled into the banquet of a great king. There are tender roasts, perfectly seasoned hams, casseroles, stews, soups, and some of the richest chocolate desserts you have ever tasted. You ask what the special occasion is, and you friend tells you, “We enjoy this same sort of fellowship meal every single week, right after church.”
Truly, to say this church has impressed you would be an understatement. Everything seems almost too perfect. Everything about this church, from the people, to the music, to the sermon, to the banquet, all make you want to come back again for more.
Over the next several weeks, you continue attending, and you are not disappointed. With a regularity that amazes you, this wonderful church consistently provides you with what you feel is the perfect worship experience. Your every desire is fulfilled. Every Sunday, without fail, you love the music, you love the food, you love the sermon, and most of all, you love all the friendly people.
But then one Sunday you have a very strange experience. At this otherwise perfect church, you encounter something which is so bizarre, that you never even dreamed it would have needed investigation.
That morning, you had been in a hurry, and you accidentally left your Bible at home. Initially, it seemed to be no problem, since there are Bibles available for everyone at church. After walking into the church and saying hello to a couple of your friends, you pick up one of the Bibles, and you take your seat. While the pastor is preaching, you flip open to the passage he is talking about, and you read along. The sermon is impressive as usual, and for the moment, you don’t notice anything strange.
But then after the service is over, you decide to flip over to read one of your favorite passages of Scripture. The 23rd Psalm comforts you every time you read it.
“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. . . .”
But as you turn the pages of this Bible, you become very confused. You find the book of Job, and the book of Ecclesiastes, but in between them, there is no book of Psalms, and there is no book of Proverbs! Your first thought is that some kid tore out the pages. But when you look closely, you don’t see any evidence that the book has been damaged in any way. Then you think,
“Maybe this Bible doesn’t put books in the same order as usual . . . maybe it’s ordered chronologically, or something like that.”
So you flip over to the table of contents, to figure out where the Psalms are. To your amazement, you discover that the book of Psalms is not listed anywhere in the table of contents either. Neither is the book of Proverbs. It is as if all the Psalms and all the Proverbs simply disappeared from the Bible, without leaving a trace!
You start flipping through this unusual Bible to see whether it is missing anything else. Thankfully, the book of Genesis is intact. It would be odd indeed if the first book of the Bible was missing. Exodus is also there. But as you continue turning pages, you discover that the book of Psalms is not the only book of Scripture which is missing from this Bible. You find that the books of Joshua and Judges are there, but the book of Ruth is missing. You remember it is the story of a beautiful Moabite woman who became a widow and almost lost everything, but then married a kind and wealthy landowner named Boaz, and they became the great-grandparents of King David. This book contains one of the most beautiful and romantic stories in all of Scripture, and you are saddened to discover that it is missing from this Bible.
You turn further, and you are shocked to see that the book of Isaiah is missing! This really bothers you, because you know that many of the Old Testament prophecies about Jesus are in the book of Isaiah. Then you look for John 3:16 — your favorite verse in the Bible — and your jaw drops when you see that the Gospel of John is missing too. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are there, but not John. You are happy to see that the book of Acts is there, but the book of Romans is gone. You turn further, and find that most of the books are still there, but several are missing. Even the book of Revelation is gone! All those prophecies of Christ’s return, all those magnificent descriptions of the incense, robes, and singing in Heaven . . . gone without a trace.
What in the world is going on?!?
Part Two will be published tomorrow.