Hundreds and even thousands of years before Jesus, there were many prophets and prophesies that point to Jesus, the Messiah. They spoke of John the Baptist, the messenger who said it was time to prepare and repent. They spoke of Jesus’ birth, his ministry, his death, and the symbolism of him taking our place for our sins. It should strengthen our faith to realize God’s master plan and how the bible really does show us the way. This is especially true as we start a new year, reflect and think about resolutions to live differently.
There are hundreds of examples of these “Messianic prophesies” or prophesies about the Messiah or savior. For this edition of The Path, “Quick Church,” we’ll look at ten of those prophets in an order that fits the Christmas and Easter Story. (This blog is longer than usual, but I pray it will be more life-changing, too!) I’ll cite the chapter/verse, author and biblical translation as we go. (Example: NLT = New Living Translation) And as I’ll summarize at the end, these prophesies cover a period of 450 to 1,500+ years BEFORE the events happened!
1) Genesis 49:10 (Moses, NLT)
“The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from his descendants, until the coming of the one to whom it belongs, the one whom all nations will honor.”
Explanation and context: A scepter is an ornamental staff held by a ruler to help symbolize their royalty. To understand the geography better, let’s look at some maps. You may be familiar with the Mediterranean Sea area of the world, where Europe, Asia and Africa come together. Notice the small country of Israel on the far lower right, in lavender:
In addition, we need to understand the context of the region of Judah. Below is a biblical map of the twelve tribes of Israel. This was based on the twelve sons of Jacob, also known as Israel. Jacob divided the land for his sons. You can see the area of Judah in the south. Over time, the area known as Benjamin also became part of Judah and that included the important city of Jerusalem. So, this prophesy points to the royal lineage through generations and an ultimate king, ruling from this specific area.
Leviticus 17:11 (Moses, NIV)
“. . . for the life of the body is in its blood. I have given you the blood on the altar to purify you, making you right with the LORD. It is the blood, given in exchange for a life, that makes purification possible.”
Explanation and context: This isn’t a prophesy, but it helps us with context. In ancient biblical times, an animal sacrifice was used to make up for the sins of the people. It was this shedding of blood that purified or made it right. Other bible translations use the word, “atonement.” Jesus was a “substitionary atonement,” the sacrificial “lamb” of God, exchanging his life for ours. He took the punishment for our sins or mistakes. (For more on the ancient practice of sacrifices and another quick life lesson, see our Quick Church blog, A Living Sacrifice.)
2) 2nd Samuel 7:12-13 (Nathan, NLT)
“For when you die and are buried with your ancestors, I will raise up one of your descendants, your own offspring, and I will make his kingdom strong. He is the one who will build a house—a temple—for my name. And I will secure his royal throne forever.“
Explanation and context: The author of this section of Samuel isn’t known for sure. It’s known as the “Davidic Covenant” or agreement or promise, from God to King David. (This is the “David” from David and Goliath.) Matthew 1 – the first gospel account – begins with this same lineage or “family tree,” mentioning Jesus, David and Judah in the first couple of verses.
3) Daniel 9:24-27 (Daniel, NLT)
24 “A period of seventy sets of seven has been decreed for your people and your holy city to finish their rebellion, to put an end to their sin, to atone for their guilt, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to confirm the prophetic vision, and to anoint the Most Holy Place.”
Verse 25 continues and mentions that this time period starts when a ruler gives a command to rebuild Jerusalem. Verse 26 mentions when the anointed one (Jesus) will be killed, “appearing to have accomplished nothing.” Verse 27 mentions an “end to the sacrifices and offerings.”
Explanation and context: This is one of the more significant prophets and prophesies that point to Jesus. However, it requires a lot of study to truly understand it. For the simpler purposes of this blog, it’s accepted that the “seventy sets of seven” refers to 490 years (70 x 7). History, language and context confirm that. The ruler who declared Jerusalem to be rebuilt was Artaxerxes and we know the year. There is agreement that it is 490 years exactly from that declaration to when Jesus was killed “to atone for their guilt.” (verse 24, above) Many believe that the day Artaxerxes declared the rebuild is EXACTLY the same DAY Jesus was killed and fulfilled this prophesy – 490 years later! That’s an amazing and detailed prophesy, just on its own!
4) Isaiah 7:14 and 9:6 (NIV)
The above scriptures from Isaiah predict the “immaculate conception” of the virgin birth, the role of “God with us” on earth and the Messiah, and how important that role will be.
5) Micah 5:2 (NIV)
Micah’s prophesy predicts the birthplace in Bethlehem (which is right above the word ‘Judah’ in the second map, above). He also shows the continuing story and God’s master plan, “whose origins are from old . . .”
6) Hosea 11:1 (NIV)
Explanation and context: Egypt is in the lower right on the first map, above, in an olive green color, to the lower left or southwest of Israel. This prophesy from Hosea refers to the time King Herod was so threatened by a potential “new king,” that he ordered all male babies under the age of two to be killed. Matthew 2 records this story and how an angel of the Lord warned Jesus’ earthly father (Joseph) to flee to Egypt. Later, an angel notified Joseph that Herod had died and it was safe to go back to Israel. “. . . out of Egypt I called my son.”
7) Malachi 3:1 (NASB)
Explanation and context: The word “messenger” is used twice; first, to mean John the Baptist or Baptizer and second, to mean Jesus, the Christ. Jesus is the messenger of this “new covenant,” or new agreement – a new belief regarding sacrifices and a new way of life. Like a farmer tills and prepares the soil for planting, John’s role was to prepare peoples’ hearts for the Messiah, their savior. For more context, read what Jesus himself said about John the Baptist in Matthew 11. The whole chapter is relevant and powerful, but look at verses 7-15 in particular. Isaiah 40:3-5 and Malachi 4:5 also point to John the bapist. Jesus refers to this Malachi 4:5 verse in Matthew 11.
8) Zechariah 9:9 (NLT)
There was to be no fanfare or parade with horses and elephants – just the Messiah and the donkey’s colt he rode in on. This was the King everyone had waited for, for hundreds of years. But, this Palm Sunday scene happened only days before Jesus’ crucifixion.
9) Psalm 41:9 (David, NIV)
This prophesy from David refers to Judas, one of the 12 disciples. He was the one who betrayed Jesus to the mob, so that he could be captured and turned over to the Jewish authorities. See the following scripture, where Jesus fufills the above prophesy, with his words at the last supper to his disciples. Later, in verse 26 when asked who will betray him, Jesus hands the bread to Judas, to make it perfectly clear.
More from Zechariah 11:12-13 (NLT)
Explanation and context: Zechariah, the prophet and shepherd asks for his pay. However, he is insulted and sarcastic at the “wages” they give – the price of a slave at that time. Of all the prophets and prophesies that point to Jesus in this blog, this seems to be one of the most curious and unlikely. Judas betrayed Jesus for the same “price” – hundreds of years later:
It can be confusing when Matthew credits the prophesy of Jeremiah vs. Zechariah. However, the Hebrew bible was divided into three sections – the law, writings and the prophets. Jeremiah was the first book in the prophets section and the sections were sometimes referred to by the first book. In this case, “from the Jeremiah scroll” or section.
More prophesies from Isaiah and David:
Explanation and context: The four prophesies above all seem to give an eyewitness account at the crucifixion. All of these events are recorded in the gospels. Yet they were also written by Isaiah and David hundreds of years before that! How can we explain such detail?
10) Jeremiah 31:31 (NIV)
Verse 32 above continues: “not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt . . .” In verse 33 of the NLT, the Lord says, “I will put my instructions deep within them, and I will write them on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people.” And in verse 34: “And I will forgive their wickedness, and I will never again remember their sins.”
The above prophesy again connects Israel, Judah, and the new covenant or agreement or “testament.” We started there in this blog and covered the significance of the blood and the sacrifice to forgive sins. Jesus fulfilled it at the last supper and his symbolic, sacrificial death at the cross, per the scripture below. These two scriptures help complete these ten prophets and prophesies that point to Jesus, as well as reveal the overall plan.
The following table summarizes the ten prophets listed above and places them in order of the date written, from oldest to newest. Ten prophets and prophesies that point to Jesus – that tell quite a bit of God’s overall plan and many details of the story. At minimum, they were over 400 years prior to the actual events!
Here’s a great, lesser-known Christmas song to emphasize today’s message. Check out Downhere’s lyric video version of How Many Kings for more inspiration!
- In the chorus of “How Many Kings” above, the “least” refers to Matthew 24:40,45, which happens to be a favorite verse of Mother Teresa, about serving others.
- ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’
- ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’
- The Leviticus passage is one of several in the bible that point to how the bible and science can coexist. (Some naysayers disagree.)
- Judas hanging himself can be viewed as a sign of his remorse, but also his belief of who Jesus really was. Would you kill yourself for someone you thought was a fraud?
- The fact that so many prophesies came true should help us see that the bible is unbelievably believable! How else can we explain these sample prophesies and the many more, not included?
- These ten prophets and prophesies point to Jesus. How many events in your own life also point to Jesus?
- You might feel that Christmas is over and it’s time to “go back to reality.” However, as we start a new year – or at any time you’re reading this – I would challenge you to reflect more. I believe each of us has a decision to make about faith or not and to what degree:
- As the lyric in “Joy To The World” says, “Let every heart prepare him room.”
Lord, it is a challenging time and a time where we can easily get caught up in world events. May today’s message reach our hearts and help us see a new, heavenly perspective on life. Let us view Christmas and Easter as life-changing, personal, historical and supernatural phenomena – not just annual holidays that come and go. Help us to see the bigger picture – the master plan of a master planner over many centuries. Let us have confidence that you’re still in charge. You always have been and you always will be. Lead us away from fear, worry and other temptations. Build our trust and faith. Have your way with us. Bring out the best in us. Amen!
May God bless you!
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