by Bill Nugent
Justin Martyr (c. 100-165 AD) born of nonchristian parents in what is now Israel was converted out of Platonism to Christianity largely because he learned about the Old Testament prophecies that were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The supernatural witness of predictive Bible prophecies were crucial in the conversion of Justin Martyr. He went about as a lay evangelist still wearing his philosopher’s robe until many years later when he was seized and beheaded in Rome.
We can agree with Justin Martyr that perhaps the most outstanding supernatural proofs of the divine inspiration of the Bible are the hundreds of predictive prophecies in the pages of the Bible and their fulfillments in biblical times and in history on down to the present.
In the Bible, God says: “I am God and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” (Isaiah 46:9-10).
No other holy book of any other faith comes anywhere near the Bible’s record of prophecy and fulfillment of prophecy. Holy books of other faiths contain few prophecies of any kind and none, to my knowledge, contain any fulfillments.
There are several prophecies in the Old Testament that predict various aspects of the birth of Christ.. Genesis 49:10 contains a prophecy predicting that the coming king (Messiah) would be born of the descendants of one of the tribes of Israel called Judah. One of the families of the tribe of Judah was that of king David (c. 1070-1000 BC) who was king of Israel during Israel’s golden age. Isaiah 9:6-7 prophesies that a Son shall be given to Israel and He will be called the Prince of Peaceand He will be heir to the throne of king David and therefore must, of necessity, be a physical descendant (on His human side) of king David. The New Testament faithfully records that Jesus was, in fact, a descendant of king David who was of the tribe of Judah.
Micah 5:2 prophesies that Bethlehem, a small town near Jerusalem that was the birthplace of king David, would be the birthplace of the Messiah (Messiah is the Hebrew equivalent of Christ). Christ was born in Bethlehem. Daniel 9:24-26 prophesies of the time that Christ would die. (See Defending the Faith #80for a fuller discussion of this.) Therefore the timing of Christ’s birth would be fixed at a time one generation earlier. Christ was born right on time! Isaiah 7:14 famously prophesies that Christ would be born of a virgin.
In addition to the prophecies of Christ’s birth, there are literally hundreds of prophecies in the Old Testament that were fulfilled in various aspects of the life, ministry, death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
One passage in Isaiah 52:13-53:12 gives a very comprehensive prediction of the atonement. The atonement is the suffering and death of the Messiah for our sins. Here is a brief quote from that passage: “He was pierced through for our transgressions . . . the chastening for our well being fell upon Him . . . the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him” (Isaiah 53:5-6 NASB). In fact, this passage in Isaiah, written 700 years before Jesus was born, taken as a whole, is in many ways more complete in its description of the atonement than any equivalent passage in the New Testament! No wonder this passage is often called “the Gospel according to Isaiah.”
Jesus, in His suffering and death, took upon Himself the punishment due us for our sins. Therefore, forgiveness is given freely to those who turn to God and ask for forgiveness of sins on the basis of Christ’s death and resurrection.