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"And if you say in your heart, 'How shall we know the
word which the LORD has not spoken?'--"when a prophet speaks in the name of the
LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the
LORD has not spoken"
- Deuteronomy 18
A) The Importance of ProphesyBeginning in Old Testament times there were men known as prophets who declared or spoke forth God's word. These prophets were "mouthpieces" of God with personalities similar to ours, and they would get a Word from the Lord and speak it out using their own personalities, and the message spoken out or written was the very word of God. Therefore it says:
2 Pet 1:20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
These prophecies declared blessings or curses, dealing with the present or future. They were given ideally to strengthen the people and give them hope in the Lord. The Jewish faith was preserved through the prophets and the Lord was brought near to Israel. Jehovah was seen as the ruler of the world, in whose hands are the destinies of the future. Through these prophecies the Jews recognized their God and realized His presence and divine providence. As a nation they experienced oppression and sorrow, and so also as a nation they were often cheered up by the prophets with messages of future deliverance and victory over their enemies. They could say with the Psalmist:Ps 46:1 God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.
God used the prophets to strengthen His people and give them hope. Something I often wonder about is when the kingdom of Judah was overthrown by Babylon, the holy temple that Solomon built, destroyed, the vessels and riches taken, and the people led captive to Babylon (an idolatrous land 600 miles across the desert), they might have thought "where is our God now," if it wasn't for the strengthening words of Jeremiah the prophet that there was a limit to their banishment, and that after 70 years the Babylonian empire would be destroyed, and they would be restored to "the land" of their fathers. And what's amazing is that we actually find Daniel , one of these exiles, calculating these 70 years, strengthening himself through the Word of the prophet, though unfulfilled:Dan 9:2-3 In the first year of his reign I Daniel understood by books the number of the years, whereof the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah the prophet, that he would accomplish seventy years in the desolations of Jerusalem. And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:
God's promises bring His people near to Him, regardless of exactly when they will be fulfilled.B) The Messianic Prophesies
The most important prophecies to the Jewish church and nation were the "Messianic Prophecies". Words about a Messiah King who would reign in righteousness. This was the Jewish faith and hope. In His days Judah would be saved, and Israel would dwell in safety. This more than anything else, preserved the faith of the nation to Jehovah their God. Though beaten down by their enemies, though carried captive into foreign lands, yet their spirits rose with the hopes of final deliverance and future greatness. They looked forward to a time when Messiah their anointed King, to whom the heathen would be given for an inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for a possession, would rule over them.It may be that they misunderstood the nature and meaning of their prophecies; it may be that they overlooked the predictions relating to the sufferings of the Messiah, thinking only of His glorious reign, but still these Messianic hopes were the life of the nation, and the source of all that was beautiful in it. Were it not for the hope in a Messiah, the Jewish religion would have degenerated into a dry performance of ceremony and ritual, without any insight into their meaning, without any understanding of the nothingness of mere form and outward religion and of the necessity of spiritual worship.
We sometimes think that the priests were the heart of Judaism and the ceremonies within the temple and tabernacle, but the prophets made very clear that Jehovah was there, in their midst, and they were to come with clean hands and a pure heart. When the people would dry up spiritually and just exercise outward observance the prophets would wake them up and denounce their sacrifices and offerings and foretell their discontinuance. These prophets were the great spiritual preachers among the Jews continually reminding them that sacrifices were worthless unless performed by pure hands; fasts, and assemblies, and new moons, if done outwardly, were worse than useless. As Isaiah said:Is 1:11-13 "To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices to Me?" Says the LORD. "I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fed cattle. I do not delight in the blood of bulls, or of lambs or goats. "When you come to appear before Me, who has required this from your hand, to trample My courts? Bring no more futile sacrifices; incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies-- I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting.
The Messianic future was to be an era of moral purity, war was to cease, and total peace was about to dawn upon the earth; God's Spirit was to be poured upon all flesh; and on and on were the blessings promised to Jerusalem, as Isaiah said:Is 62:1-7 For Zion's sake I will not hold My peace, and for Jerusalem's sake I will not rest, until her righteousness goes forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burns. The Gentiles shall see your righteousness, and all kings your glory. You shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD will name. You shall also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
You shall no longer be termed Forsaken, nor shall your land any more be termed Desolate; but you shall be called Hephzibah, and your land Beulah; for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married. For as a young man marries a virgin, so shall your sons marry you; and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you. I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem; they shall never hold their peace day or night. You who make mention of the LORD, do not keep silent, And give Him no rest till He establishes and till He makes Jerusalem a praise in the earth.Therefore it was by the messianic prophecies that true religion was preserved and nourished among the Jews, spiritual worship which alone pleases God. The true worshippers realized that God's promises brought them near to Him, regardless of exactly when they would be fulfilled.
The Jews could find great hope in promises yet to come, but even more important are the promises already fulfilled. Our faith and hope rest on a still surer foundation, the fulfillment seals the prophecy with the stamp of divinity. That which was to the Jews as a light shining in a dark place, is to us the dawning of the day, the rising of the day-star in our hearts. And if, among all the prophecies in the Old Testament, the Messianic predictions were of special importance to the Jews, just think how much more important they are to us, who believe that we see the fulfillment in Jesus of Nazareth.All other prophecies are of minor importance. The prophecies about the ancient cities of Babylon, Tyre, and Nineveh are very important and strengthen our faith in the Bible as prewritten history, but the prophecies concerning Messiah are so much more important and so interwoven with Christianity and an essential evidence of our faith.
Here is a list of some of the prophesies about Jesus. First the topic, then the Old Testament prediction, and the New Testament fulfillment:Messianic Prophecies
Gal 4:4 But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law,
Gal 3:16 Now to Abraham and his Seed were the promises made. He does not say, "And to seeds," as of many, but as of one, "And to your Seed," who is Christ.
Matt 1:2 Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers.
Lk 3:34 the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor,
Jer 23:5-6 "Behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.Rom 1:3 concerning His Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh,
Jn 6:14 Then those men, when they had seen the sign that Jesus did, said, "This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world."
Prov 30:4 Who has ascended into heaven, or descended? Who has gathered the wind in His fists? Who has bound the waters in a garment? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name, and what is His Son's name, if you know?Matt 3:17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."
Acts 13:35-37 "Therefore He also says in another Psalm: `You will not allow Your Holy One to see corruption.' "For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, was buried with his fathers, and saw corruption; "but He whom God raised up saw no corruption.
Matt 26:48-49 Now His betrayer had given them a sign, saying, "Whomever I kiss, He is the One; seize Him." Immediately he went up to Jesus and said, "Greetings, Rabbi!" and kissed Him.
Acts 1:9 Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.
Heb 5:5-6 So also Christ did not glorify Himself to become High Priest, but it was He who said to Him: "You are My Son, today I have begotten You." As He also says in another place: "You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek"
Matt 26:64 Jesus said to him, "It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven."
Is 28:16 Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, I lay in Zion a stone for a foundation, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; whoever believes will not act hastily.Matt 21:42-43 Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: `The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes'? "Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it.
Lk 1:34-35 Then Mary said to the angel, "How can this be, since I do not know a man?" And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.
Matt 4:13 And leaving Nazareth, He came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is by the sea, in the regions of Zebulun and Naphtali,
Is 53:7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; he was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.Matt 26:62-63 And the high priest arose and said to Him, "Do You answer nothing? What is it these men testify against You?" But Jesus kept silent....
Is 42:1 "Behold! My Servant whom I uphold, my Elect One in whom My soul delights! I have put My Spirit upon Him; he will bring forth justice to the Gentiles.Is 49:6 Indeed He says, `It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.'"
Matt 15:21 Then Jesus went out from there and departed to the region of Tyre and Sidon.
Matt 26:67 Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands,
Matt 26:28 "For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.
Jn 11:47 Then the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered a council and said, "What shall we do? For this Man works many signs.
Is 9:6 For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.Jn 8:24 "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I Am, you will die in your sins."
Jn 8:58 Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM."
Lk 2:4-6 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered.
Matt 21:12 Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves.
Matt 21:2-3 2 saying to them, "Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. 3 "And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, `The Lord has need of them,' and immediately he will send them."
Zech 12:10 "And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they have pierced; they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.Is 53:5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.
Jn 19:34 one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out.
Matt 26:31 Then Jesus said to them, "All of you will be made to stumble because of Me this night, for it is written: `I will strike the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.'
Heb 2:14 Inasmuch then as the children have partaken of flesh and blood, He Himself likewise shared in the same, that through death He might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil,Jn 19:30 So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, "It is finished!" And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.
The Story of the Bible - The Old Testament, Quick Summary, About, Divisions, Timeline, Charts, Maps, Creation, Adam and Eve, The Flood, The Tower of Babel, Abraham the First Hebrew, Isaac, Son of Promise, Jacob and the 12 Tribes, Joseph and Egypt, Moses and the Exodus, The Giving of the Law, The Tabernacle, The Wilderness Wanderings, Joshua and the Promised Land, The Judges, Samuel the Prophet, Saul, Israel's First King, King David, King Solomon, The Divided Kingdom, The Northern Kingdom of Israel, The Southern Kingdom of Judah, The Assyrian Captivity, The Babylonian Captivity, The Return From Babylon, The Prophets, The Messiah, Conclusion, Bibliography and Credits
Summary of the Old Testament Books - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Ruth, Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi
Bibliography Resources on the Old Testament
A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, Revised and Expanded by Archer, 508 Pages, Pub. 2007