Is Jesus Really the Promised Messiah?
by: Vince Aquilino
I) But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.'' (Micah 5:2)
In previous issues we have been dealing with specific prophesies about the return of Messiah (the second coming of Jesus Christ). But as Christmas approaches and the Christian world celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ, we would do well to consider our claim that Jesus Christ is, in fact, the promised Messiah. For the past two thousand years, Christmas has been one of the most sacred of Christian holidays. This year is no exception for millions of Christians world-wide. Christianity, through the divinely inspired scriptures, claims to provide the answers to life's mysteries. Is there life after death? Is there a Heaven and a Hell? Why am I here? How can I know for sure there is a God? Is there a right and a wrong, or are there no moral absolutes and anything goes? Is Jesus really the Messiah sent to give us the choice of eternal life or was He just a great man, teacher and prophet as the Jewish Rabbis believe? Are the Rabbis right? The Bible holds the truth. But is the Bible really divinely inspired, or is it just a book of myths and stories about the Jewish people?
As we have discussed in previous issues, the Bible is the only book in history that accurately predicts future events before they occur. We call this prophecy. This is how we know for sure the Bible is divinely inspired. God is outside time; He sees the past, present and future as a moment in time.
This is how we know the Bible is from God. The Bible is God's message to us authenticated by the inclusion of prophecy. It contains over 300 specific prophecies which must be fulfilled if the individual claiming to be the Messiah is authentic. And remember, it is a matter of secular history that the Old Testament was in black and white almost three centuries before Christ was born. Is Jesus really the Messiah of Israel and the Son of God He claimed to be? Or was it just through coincidence and manipulation that the scriptural predictions of the Messiah, as set forth in the Old Testament, were fulfilled? Let's take a scientific approach to answering this question.
Let's examine the probability that one man in history, totally due to chance, fulfilled the prophesies concerning the Messiah.*
To determine the chances of any one person in history fulfilling the Messianic prophesies entirely due to chance and coincidence, we must use combinatorial probabilities. For example, assume that in a room 50% of the people are male and 50% are female. Also assume that the males and females are 50% left-handed and 50% right-handed. What is the probability that the next person to leave that room is male? Intuitively it is 1/2, or one chance in two. What is the probability that the next person to leave that room is male and left-handed? Again the probability that the person is left-handed is 1/2, and the probability that the person is male is 1/2 so the probability, at random, that the next person to leave that room is male and left-handed is 25% or one chance in 4; the way you compute combinatorial probabilities is to multiply the denominators of the odds of each singular event occurring - so 1/2 * 1/2 is 1/4 or one chance in 4.
Combinatorial probabilities allow us to examine the occurrences of seemingly random events and determine if the fact that the events occurred together was just some extremely rare occurrence or if they have been deliberately caused by some unknown force or design. Let's take a look at just 48 prophesies, out of over 300 Messianic prophesies, fulfilled by Jesus Christ and determine if Jesus fulfilled them by some fluke or if they were fulfilled by supernatural design. Remember that many of these predictions are things over which a mere man would have no control; like where you are born.
Let's start with eight of them.
Micah 5:2 - The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.
What is the probability that one person, picked at random was born in Bethlehem? A reasonable estimate would be to divide the population of the world at that time (two billion) by the population of Bethlehem (10,000).
2 x 10(9)/10,000 = one chance in 200,000. That is to say you would have to collect a random sample of 200,000 people before finding one born in Bethlehem.
Zechariah 9:9 - The Messiah would present himself to Jerusalem as a king riding on a donkey.
There is only one King I know of who presented himself to Jerusalem riding on a donkey. However, let's assume that less then one person in 100 chosen at random would just happen to be a king who presented himself to Jerusalem on a donkey (a colt - the foal of an ass, an unbroken donkey).
Zechariah 11:12 - The Messiah would be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver.
This was exactly the amount Judas received for his betrayal of Christ. How many historical leaders were betrayed for 30 pieces of silver? There is no historical tally, but it is safe to assume no more then one in 1000.
Zechariah 11:13 - The Messiah was betrayed for thirty pieces of silver, but also the transaction will take place in the temple and the money would be ultimately be given to a potter.
This is exactly what happened to Jesus. The odds of this happening to any other person, who also fulfilled the over 300 other prophesies, is beyond human comprehension, but let's assign a probability of one chance in 100,000 of this particular event happening by chance alone.
Zechariah 13:6 - The Messiah will have conspicuous wounds in his hands.
What is the probability that someone, selected at random, would have conspicuous wounds in their hands? Conservatively we'll assign a probability of one in a thousand.
Isaiah 53:7 - The Messiah at His trial, though innocent, will not open His mouth to defend himself.
Not many people facing the death sentence would remain silent before their accusers. Jesus was the only one I know of, but we'll assign a probability of one in one thousand.
Isaiah 53:9 - The Messiah would die with the wicked and make His grave with the rich.
This is exactly what happened. Jesus was crucified between two thieves and buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, one of the richest persons in the area. Let's assign a chance of one in a thousand, which is ridiculously conservative.
Psalm 22: 16,17 - The Messiah would be crucified.
Psalm 22, written about 800 years before the birth of Jesus, reads as if it were written in the first person singular by Jesus himself hanging from the cross. And crucifixion was not even invented until about 90 B.C.
What is the probability that a person being executed, selected at random, throughout history, was crucified? Let's say one chance in 1000; again, ridiculously conservative.
The composite probability of all eight events occurring at random is 10(28) (that's a 10 with 28 zeros after it). To compute the odds of one person chosen at random fulfilling all eight of these predictions, we have to divide by the population which yields 10(17) 10(28)/10(11)=10(17). 10(17) is a large number; it is roughly equivalent to covering the state of Texas with silver dollars two feet thick, marking one coin on the bottom with an ``X'', sending out a blindfolded man to wander the state and then reach down and pick up the silver dollar we have marked.
But this is just eight prophesies. Let's consider 16 prophesies, with the next eight having the same probability of occurring at random as the first eight (the second eight are most certainly more rare).
For sixteen prophesies, the odds are one in 10(28) * 10(28) / 10(11) or 10(45). Now if we use silver dollars to perform the same experiment, we would need a ball of silver dollars 30 times the distance from the earth to the sun or 30 * 93,000,000 which is a ball of silver dollars 2,790,000,000 miles in diameter. Now mark one dollar and send out a blindfolded person in a space suit. The chance that he would pick the silver dollar we marked is about the same odds of one person in history at random fulfilling 16 of the Messianic prophesies due purely to chance.
For 48 prophesies we would have 10(28) * 10(28) * 10(28) * 10(28) * 10(28) * 10(28) / 10(11) or 10(157). To visualize these odds, we need to use atoms.
1) To do this we would make a ``ball'' of each atom in the universe [estimated at 10(66) atoms].
2) Make many such balls; make one such ball for each atom in the universe or 10(66) * 10(66) = 10(132) balls.
3) keep repeating steps one and two once each second since the universe was created:
10(132) * 10(17) = 10(149) and we're still 10(8) short. Now mark an atom, get into your space suit and pick the atom we marked. You can see the odds are getting ridiculous, but let's continue
And that's with only 48 prophesies individually estimated with very conservative odds. In fact, we were very conservative -- to the point of being absurd -- in establishing probabilities. If you don't like the probabilities assigned, then compute the result yourself using whatever numbers you like, but remember over 300 prophesies were fulfilled by Jesus Christ. In the final analysis, you will demonstrate to yourself that anyone rejecting Jesus Christ as the Son of God is rejecting a fact proven more absolutely than any other fact in the world. Jesus' fulfillment of the 300 prophecies was by supernatural design, not by chance.
And do not forget that over 300 Messianic prophesies were fulfilled by Jesus Christ in His lifetime. Any other candidate would also have to do so, ALL IN ONE LIFETIME.(1)
II) Bible gives Date of Messiah's Presentation(2)
In the book of Daniel (9:25) we find a startling prediction:
``Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Messiah, the Prince, comes, there will be seven `sevens', and sixty-two 'sevens.' It will be rebuilt with streets and a wall, but in times of trouble."
The idiom, a 'seven', refers to a week of years and was used to describe a ``Sabbath for the land" (the land was to lay fallow every seventh year). "Messiah the Prince" is "The Annointed One, the ruler" or in Hebrew, "Meschiach Nagid".
Jesus Christ always avoided the attempts of the people to crown Him king, but on April 6, 32 A.D. Jesus presented Himself as King riding into Jerusalem on a donkey in fulfillment of Zechariah 9:9.
On March 14, 445 B.C., Artaxerxes Longimanus issued the command to restore and rebuild Jerusalem.
The Jewish and Babylonian calendars used a 360 day year. The angel Gabriel told Daniel that there would be 69 weeks of years between the command to rebuild Jerusalem until the presentation of Messiah the King, which is exactly 173,880 days (69
* 7 *360).
How many days are between March 14, 445 B.C when the command was issued to rebuild Jerusalem to April 6, 32 A.D.?
445 B.C. to 32 A.D. is 476 years (there is no year zero)
476 * 365 days per year = 173,740 days
March 14 - April 6 = 24 days
days for leap years = 116 days
Grand Total = 173,880 days.
Jesus presented himself as king on the exact day as predicted by Gabriel's prophesy. And that, we call Checkmate. This is evidence that demands a verdict. Jesus is the Messiah, the Bible is divinely inspired, there is a heaven and a hell, and our acceptance or rejection of Jesus' free gift of salvation will dictate where we spend eternity. It was C. S. Lewis who stated that ``Jesus was either a liar, a lunatic or Lord''. Clearly, Jesus Christ is Lord. And you have a decision to make (Joel 3:14).
False Messiah Will Appear on World Scene
The Bible is clear that there will be a false Messiah appearing which will received by the Jews as authentic. Jesus himself said ``I come in my Father's name and you do not accept me, but another will come in his own name, and him you will receive.``(John 5:43) This false Messiah will not be able to fulfill these prophecies, but will be accepted anyway because he does supernatural signs and wonders (2Thes 2:9). He will certainly not be able to prove he is of the seed of David (Isaiah 11:10) because the genealogies were kept in the temple, and the temple was destroyed in the year 70 AD. To be absolutely sure the person presenting themselves is the Messiah, he would have had to fullfill all the prophesies, in his lifetime, and prove he was of the seed (lineage) of David (which could only be done before the year 70). The Messiah had to appear before the year 70. Jesus is the only person in history to have the qualifications of Messiah.
THE BIBLE IS DIVINELY INSPIRED AND AUTHORED. JESUS CHRIST IS LORD AND SAVIOUR, Choose this day whom you will serve.
IV) Give Yourself the Gift of Eternal Life:
How to Be Saved Through Jesus
Jesus Christ did not die for His own sins. He came as God's supreme gift to you and I. The Bible pointedly asks: ``How shall we escape, if we neglect so great a salvation?"(Hebrews 2:3) Right now you can receive God's gift of eternal life by asking God to forgive your sins and asking Jesus Christ into your life as Lord and Savior. ``For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whomsoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life."(John 3:16)
This is evidence that demands a verdict. If you have chosen to accept God's free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ, please email us and let us know so we may also rejoice with the angels in heaven over your new adoption into the family of God. Jesus is coming soon. Seek the Lord while it is still light, for the darkness is coming where no one may seek Him.
Even so, come quickly, Lord Jesus.