by Bill Nugent
The best evidence for the divine inspiration of the Bible are the many hundreds of predictive prophecies contained in its pages. Let’s focus in on the very best of the best of the Bible’s predictive prophecies in order to understand this supernatural proof in a clear way.
In this article we will take a look at the CROWN JEWEL of Bible prophecy. I have often mentioned that the Bible is unique among sacred writings in that it contains this immense multitude of accurate predictive prophecies. No other holy book of any other faith contains anything approaching the Bible’s record of prophecy and fulfillment of prophecy. For instance, the Koran contains only about two dozen verses that are alleged to be predictive and these are rather vague and uncertain.
If someone approaches you on the street and asks you for the single best evidence for the Christian faith I would recommend that you point him or her to the predictive prophecy contained in the Bible in Isaiah chapter 53. This prophecy, written approximately 700 years before the birth of Christ, not only gives a description of some details about the life of Christ but repeatedly, in several ways, describes the fact that Jesus would come to die for our sins.
It is highly significant from a theological perspective that this prophecy so clearly predicts the heart of the Gospel message. (The prophecy actually begins in Isaiah 52:13-15 and continues through all 12 verses of Isaiah 53.) In reading this prophecy which consists of just fifteen verses, I have found no less than twelve direct or inferred references to Jesus suffering for our sins or taking our griefs upon Himself. This matter of repetition is of great theological significance.
In the Hebrew language the importance of things is indicated by repetition. For example, In Genesis 14:10 the treacherous tar pits are referred to in the original as “pit pits.” Instead of saying they are “bad pits” they are “pit pits.”
We see repetition all through the Hebrew scriptures most notably in Isaiah 6:3 which says “Holy, holy, holy is the LORD of hosts.”This is called by theologians the “thrice hagion” and the triple use of the word ‘holy” is meant to intensively emphasize that God is holy.
The Isaiah 53 twelve-fold repeat of the central mission of Jesus to die for our sins has no comparison in all of scripture. Even the New Testament itself which describes the substitutionary atonement in many passages has no single passage that compares with this twelve-fold repetition contained in Isaiah chapters 52-53!
It can be said that the Old Testament, in this predictive prophecy, has a more clear description of the central truth of the Gospel than any comparable passage of the New Testament. This also confirms that the crucifixion of Christ is the central event of all history and that Jesus is indeed the promised Messiah of Israel.
Just one verse of Isaiah 53, verse 5, contains a fourfold repetition of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice. The verse reads “But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed.” [NASB]
Animals were sacrificed in the Jewish temple at Jerusalem. The animal sacrifices were a prophetic picture of the ultimate sacrifice which was to come. Jesus fulfilled the prophetic significance of the Jewish sacrificial system when He offered Himself as “an offering for sin” (Isa. 53:10). When Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice there was no more need for sacrifice of animals. The sacrifice of animals under Judaism ended.
Isaiah 52-53 also contains other predictive elements of interest. Isaiah 53:9 reads “His grave was assigned to be with wicked men, Yet with a rich man in His death.” [NASB] This is a clear prediction of Jesus being buried in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy man (Matthew 27:57-60).
Isaiah 53:10 contains a prediction of the resurrection of Christ. Isaiah 53:10 contains the phrase “He will prolong His days.”[NASB] In other words, God will prolong the days of Christ by raising Him from the dead. The resurrection of Christ certainly has resulted in the prolonging of His days. The days of His life will never end.
He was raised from the dead and ascended into heaven and will return to rule and reign on this earth from the throne of David in Jerusalem (Luke 1:32). As Peter, the apostle, admonished us “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you.”
There are many predictive prophecies that foretold the coming of Christ and gave details such as His virgin birth (Isaiah 7:14), The fact that He would suffer death by crucifixion (Psalm 22:1-16), and there’s even a prophecy that foretold the time of His coming (Daniel 9:24-26) but the clearest prophecy of all is that incomparable, inescapable Isaiah 53!