Prophets & Apologetics

LD Testament prophets served to warn the nation of Israel of God’s judgment and to encourage them with a vision of God’s promises. The New Testament writers apply these Old Testaments prophecies to Jesus. The apostles understood and preached Jesus as the fulfillment of the promises of the old covenant.

That is why the Apostle Paul calls Jesus the “final Adam,” the promised child in Genesis 3:15, the son of Eve, who came to crush the serpent’s head. The trajectory of the Old Testament is the cross, the resurrection, and the appointment of the rightful King. The law, the wisdom literature, and the prophets all point to and are fulfilled in God’s chosen Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Numerous apologetics resources outline the Old Testament prophecies and assign probability for them all being fulfilled in one person [1]. For example, Peter Stoner, former Professor of Science at Westmont College, catalogued the Old Testament prophecies and suggested the probability of one person fulfilling just eight of the major prophecies as one chance in 100,000,000,000,000,000 [2].

Christ fulfilled over three hundred Old Testament prophecies. The following list with Old Testament and New Testament parallels is a small sample of prophecies fulfilled by Jesus: that the Messiah would come out of Egypt (Hosea 11:1, Matt 2:14-15), be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2, Matt 2:4-6), there would be a forerunner to the Messiah, a prophet calling from the wilderness (Isaiah 40:3-4, John 1:23), the Messiah would be despised and rejected (Isaiah 53:3, Luke 4:28-29), he would enter Jerusalem on a donkey (Zech. 9:9, Matthew 21:8-10), he would be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver (Zech. 11:12-13, Matt 27:6-10), he would be killed by crucifixion (Psalm 22:16, John 19:36-37), they would cast lots for his clothing (Psalm 22:18, John 19:23-24), and the Messiah rise from the dead (Psalm 118:17-18, Luke 24:5-7).

As pastor and author Tim Keller has said, it is intellectually irresponsible to ignore the historical person of Jesus. While particular prophecies can be dismissed as coincidental, the cumulative effect of scores and scores of prophecies is more difficult, though not impossible of course, to ignore. The biblical apologist should not disregard the miraculous nature of the fulfillment of these prophecies, but use them as the apostles did, in preaching the gospel with the force of God’s word revealed to the prophets, and in these last days, in the person of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 1:2).

[1]    Such resources are helpful in different ways, but ultimately probability theories can be both confusing and contested. For skeptics, these large numbers can feel like a cheap trick used by apologists. The probability for any event can be mind-boggling. The probability that I would be sitting in a specific coffee shop, on a specific day, facing a specific direction at my table, wearing a specific outfit, and working on this specific article is itself highly improbable. Yet here I am. There is a use and place for such theories in considering the significance of Jesus fulfilling the Old Testament prophecies regarding the Messiah, but one should use them sparingly and with a good deal of caution.
[2]    McDowell, Sean. The Apologetics Study Bible for Students. Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2009, 744.