February 27, 2014.
Tonight during small group we are going to be discussing Messianic prophecy and its use as a apologetic tool for the Christian faith. What is interesting to me is why we don’t use this tool more often. It is clear from the New Testament scriptures (particularly the book of Acts) that this was the main evangelical tool that Peter and the rest of the apostles use. Now, keep in mind that most of the people that they were witnessing to were Jews who knew the Hebrew Scriptures very well and would have already known about the prophecies and would have likely been waiting to see them fulfilled. Our audience today will probably not know anything about messianic prophecy in the Old Testament. But still, more credence to this type of evangelism should be given, in my opinion, just based on the prevalence it has in scripture.
A couple things are important to note before one gets into the bulk of messianic prophecy. The first piece of background that you need to know is that the Hebrew Scriptures (what we refer to as the Old Testament) were definitely completed before the life of Christ. The Septuagint was commissioned by Ptolemy to have a Greek translation of the Hebrew Scriptures so those in Alexandria could read and study them. Over the course of three centuries, the Hebrew Scriptures were translated into Greek. Not only does this confirm that the Old Testament was around at least 200 years before Christ, but it also implies that it was already in existence before the project began. The second important thing to note is that messianic prophecies were known about before the life of Christ. There are many Rabbinic writings that expound on known passages of scripture that were believed to be messianic prophecy. Indeed, the Jews were looking for their messiah. Prophecy was not a fabrication of later Christians.
There are over 360 messianic prophecies in the Old Testament, all of which were fulfilled. This is simply mind boggling to me. You may be able to fake one or two, or just get lucky for a few of the prophecies, but there is no way you could fabricate your life to fit the prophecies. What’s more is that there was a confusion amongst Jewish scholars before the life of Christ as the what the Messiah would look like. They saw the prophecies of a glorious king that would save Israel along with the rest of the world, sitting on the throne forever, and then they saw the prophecies of a Messiah who looked very different, a suffering servant who would be led to his death like a sheep to the slaughter. Rabbis could not rectify the two, thus they came up with the idea that there must be two Messiahs coming to save them, one that would come as a sacrifice and another that would come to restore the kingdom to Israel. Even Jesus’ disciples in the first chapter of Acts still believed he was to restore a physical kingdom. Thus, even if someone tried to fake their lives around the prophecies in the time of Jesus, they would not have looked anything like the true Messiah.
I say all this to simply give a short background to messianic prophecy. Obviously I can’t go over every one on today’s post. However, if you would like to study more of them, I would suggest doing a quick google search. There is a ton of information out there. I would also suggest Apologetics Press, as they have a lot of resources. The reading today will be filled with messianic prophecy. For now, let’s simply go over the one that started them all:
“The Lord God said to the serpent, ‘Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestockand above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eatall the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.'”
Just after the fall of man we see God give the first prophecy of a coming Messiah that would conquer sin and death. This prophecy is a bit shielded and somewhat vague, but there are three points you can pull from it. One, the Messiah was to be born of a woman. Two, the Messiah would be wounded (or hindered) slightly or for a short period of time. Three, ultimately the Messiah would deliver the fatal blow to the serpent, or Satan. Though it could be considered vague in that it doesn’t say who the Messiah will be, it is very detailed in what his mission was and the effects of his life. Eve probably thought her next child would be the coming Messiah. All women who cam just after her I’m sure were looking to be the mother of this coming Savior, as most Jewish women even to the life of Christ probably had that desire in the back of their head. It would be a long time coming, but a thousand years in the eyes of The Lord is but a day. Many other prophecies of the Messiah, most of which were probably not recorded, were made throughout the following centuries. Christ came to fulfill them all. I encourage the further study of this type of prophecy in hopes that it will build your faith. See if you can pick it out in the reading today.
Suggested Daily Reading: Psalm 22, Isaiah 52-53, Acts 7, 8, 13.
The Lord be with you.