The benchmark for God’s prophets was demanding. They had to bat a thousand! That perfect standard was intended to discourage speculators and false prophets. God demanded that His spokesperson speak His word truthfully and accurately, without hesitation or alteration. Moses wrote: “When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him” (Deuteronomy 18:22).
Over 300 Old Testament prophecies predicting the coming of the Messiah were completely fulfilled in the life of Christ. What are the odds of that happening by accident, chance, or by someone else? What are the mathematical probabilities of 300 prophecies being fulfilled by Jesus? In one word, it would require a miracle.
Peter Stoner, a professor of science at Westmont College in Santa Barbara, California, worked the mathematical probabilities of someone fulfilling the biblical prophecies about the Messiah. His findings were recorded in Science Speaks, published by Moody Press, in 1963. Stoner found that the odds of one man completely fulfilling only 8 Old Testament prophecies were 1 out of 100 quadrillion (1 of 100,000,000,000,000,000). Numbers that high are unimaginable, so to demonstrate the vastness of those odds, Stoner explained it this way: Imagine covering the entire state of Texas, two feet deep in silver dollars. Mark one silver dollar, then drop it from an airplane flying somewhere over Texas. Next: thoroughly stir up all the silver dollars from Texarkana to El Paso; from Amarillo to Laredo. Blindfold someone and let him travel anywhere in the state, stopping only once at a spot of his choice, so he can reach down and pick up one silver dollar. The probability of that person picking up the marked silver dollar is just as likely as one man fulfilling only eight Messianic prophecies. Yet, Christ fulfilled over 300 prophecies to the letter!
Long before Jesus was born, the Bible prophets predicted resurrection. The promise of life after death is not just a New Testament doctrine. In the 6th century BC, Daniel wrote, “Many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt” (Daniel 12:2).
Probably around 1500 BC, almost a thousand years before Daniel was born, Job also wrote about his Redeemer and future resurrection. He penned, “As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God; whom I myself shall behold, and whom my eyes shall see, and not another” (Job 19:25-27). Plainly, Job believed in a living God who would vindicate his life, even after his death. He expected his body, though decayed in the grave, to be raised to life and to stand before God again. His own eyes would behold God in the future.
But, the most intriguing prophecy of resurrection is found in Psalm 16. In these verses David confirms his faith in future resurrection, writing: “I have set the LORD continually before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will dwell securely. For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol; neither will You allow Your Holy One to undergo decay” (Psalm 16:8-10). In addition to David’s belief in his own resurrection, he also predicted Christ’s resurrection. One thousand years after David wrote this, Peter quoted these very words on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:25-28). As Peter applied this prophecy to Christ’s resurrection, he shared the powerful impact of it in verses 31 and 32. He said that David, “looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay. This Jesus God raised up again to which we are all witnesses.”
The apostle Peter explained, “Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear. For it was not David who ascended into heaven, but he himself says: The LORD said to my LORD, sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet” (verses 33-35). The Messiah ascended and is now at the right hand of the Father, awaiting the subjugation of His enemies, at which time He will reign on the throne of David.
Then Peter shared the implication of Christ’s resurrection: “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified” (verse 36). Christ’s resurrection means that, not only is He the Messiah (Christ), but He is also LORD, meaning God, or full deity.
One thousand years before His resurrection, God’s Word revealed that, not only would the Messiah die for our sins, but He would also come forth from the grave in power and great glory. In 1874, Robert Lowry put it like this:
Death cannot keep his prey, Jesus my Savior!
He tore the bars away, Jesus my Lord!
Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph o’er His foes!
He arose a victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose! Hallelujah, Christ arose!