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There are over 300 prophecies in the Bible about the “Messiah”, the Person whom God promised to send to save us from our sins and to reconcile us to God. All of these prophecies have been fulfilled in the Person of Jesus Christ. Further down I have calculated the astronomical odds of one person fulfilling just a handful of these prophecies. God, who knows and directs the future, uses Bible prophecy as a very definitive way of demonstrating to us that Jesus is indeed the Messiah so that we may believe and be saved.
“Now that same day [when Jesus was resurrected] two of them [Jesus’ followers] were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.
He asked them, ‘What are you discussing together as you walk along?’
They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, ‘Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?’
‘What things?’ he asked.
‘About Jesus of Nazareth,’ they replied. ‘He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.’
He said to them, ‘How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in the Scriptures concerning himself.” (Luke 24:13-27)
About one third of the Bible is prophetic. It contains hundreds of prophecies about various nations, people and events. For example, the book of Daniel contains remarkably detailed and accurate prophecies about the rise and fall of the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Greek and Roman empires as well as Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander the Great and the Ptolemy and Seleucid dynasties.
Perhaps the most remarkable prophecy in Daniel (and arguably in the entire Bible) is when he predicted, 600 years prior to its fulfillment, the exact year the Messiah (Christ) would come and be hailed as the King and Messiah and afterwards be “cut off” (killed) (Daniel 9:25-26). Christians commemorate this event as “Palm Sunday”. Archaeological discoveries have validated the correct dates of the fulfillment of this prophecy.
With impeccable accuracy, Biblical prophecies have been given hundreds or even thousands of years before they were fulfilled. While there are so many notable passages I could highlight, I want to focus on just one.
The following prophetic passage below was spoken by the prophet Isaiah approximately 700 years before its fulfillment. The prophecies are about the “Messiah” (Greek: “Christ”, meaning “Anointed One”).
The Messiah was the person God promised to send us to save us from our sins. (See “Message“).
In fact, seven times (the Biblical number for completeness) in this passage it is prophesied that the Messiah would die in order to pay the punishment for our sins.
For those who are familiar with the New Testament gospel accounts of Jesus’ life (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John), this passage in Isaiah speaks loudly and clearly of Jesus Christ, particularly the circumstances surrounding his death and resurrection.
(A little further down, as a fascinating science experiment, I have calculated the statistical odds of one person fulfilling some of these prophecies. The results are astronomically amazing!)
Compare the following prophecies made in Isaiah 52:13-53:12 with their New Testament fulfillment in Jesus Christ:
–Jesus would be physically brutalized (through abuse, flogging and crucifixion) beyond human recognition. Prophesied: Isaiah 52:14. Fulfilled: Matthew 26:67-68; 27:26, 28-30, 35.
–Jesus would be rejected by the people (particularly the religious leaders). Prophesied: Isaiah 53:1-3. Fulfilled: John 1:11, 9:22, 11:45-47; Luke 7:30.
–Jesus, though sinless, would take our sins upon himself and bear the punishment for them. Prophesied: Isaiah 53:4-6, 10-12. Fulfilled: Mark 10:45; John 1:29, 3:14-18.
–Jesus would be put to death by being pierced (crucifixion). (This was prophesied 500 years before crucifixion was invented). Prophesied: Isaiah 53:5. Fulfilled: Mark 15:24.
–Jesus, when he stood on trial, would be silent before his accusers and would not defend himself. Prophesied: Isaiah 53:7. Fulfilled: Matthew 26:62-63; John 19:8-10.
–Jesus was falsely accused, condemned and executed. Prophesied: Isaiah 53:8. Fulfilled: Matthew 26:59-61; 27:1-4.
–Jesus would die as a ‘criminal’. Prophesied: Isaiah 53:9. Fulfilled: Matthew 27:38.
–Jesus would be buried in a rich man’s tomb. Prophesied: Isaiah 53:9. Fulfilled: Matthew 27:57-63.
–Jesus would surrender to God’s will to die for our sins. Prophesied: Isaiah 53:10-12. Fulfilled: Matthew 26:36-56, Mark 14:32-49, Luke 22:39-42, John 18
–Jesus would be resurrected. Prophesied: Isaiah 53:11. Fulfilled: Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, John 20-21.
“See, my servant will act wisely; he will be raised and lifted up and highly exalted. Just as there were many who were appalled at him–his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness–so will he sprinkle many nations, and kings will shut their mouths because of him. For what they were not told, they will see, and what they have not heard, they will understand.
Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? He grew up before him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground. He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised and we esteemed him not.
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”
Although this is one of the most direct and lengthy prophetic passages about the Messiah, it is estimated that the Bible actually contains over 300 Messianic prophecies! (Some of these prophecies are duplicated in different books by different prophets; however, nearly 200 of these are distinctly different prophecies).
And Jesus fulfilled every single one of them!
So what are the statistical odds of one person fulfilling all 300+ Biblical prophecies?
But for the sake of demonstrating the certainty of the Messiahship of Jesus and of the prophecy of Scripture, let us examine just a handful of these prophecies and calculate the mathematical odds.
(My dad, a metalurgical engineer who enjoys doing these kinds of difficult math problems all day long, has painstakingly led me through all of these calculations step by step! Thanks, Dad, for still helping me with my math homework!)
I have chosen 5 specific Messianic prophecies and have given conservative estimates of the odds of someone fulfilling them. At the end, I have calculated their composite probability (the probability of all 5 prophecies being fulfilled by the same person).
To begin with, the first prophecy I have chosen is that the Messiah would be descended from King David, who lived around 1000 BC. Based upon this I have restricted my calculations to the total number of people who have lived since 1000 BC (the time period in which King David lived) to a generous estimate of 100 billion people (10^11).
Here are the 5 prophecies I have selected:
1) The Messiah will be a descendant of King David. (Prophesied around 1000 BC by the prophet Nathan.)
“The LORD declares to you [David] that the LORD himself will establish a house for you: When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body…and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his father, and he will be my son.” (2 Samuel 7:11-14)
King David came from one family out of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. About 10 million people claim Israeli descent today.My conservative estimate: 1 in 10^5. Less than 1 in 100,000 people who have lived on earth over the last 3000 years would be directly descended from King David.
2) The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, Israel.
(Prophesied around 700 BC by the prophet Micah.)
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times [from days of eternity].” (Micah 5:2)
Today Bethlehem’s population is around 30,000 people. However throughout most of its history it’s had a population around 10,000 or less.
My conservative estimate: 1 in 10^5. Less than 1 in 100,000 people who have lived in the last 3000 years have been born in Bethlehem.
3) The Messiah would remain silent before his accusers. (Prophesied around 700 BC by the prophet Isaiah.)
“He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7)
How many completely innocent people convicted of a capital crime and facing the death penalty (the next day) would remain entirely silent and not plead their innocence? Probably just about no one.
My conservative estimate: 1 in 10^6. Less than 1 in 1,000,000 people is quite a generous estimate.
4) The Messiah would be betrayed for exactly 30 pieces of silver. (Prophesied around 500 BC by the prophet Zechariah.)
“Then I said to them, ‘If it is agreeable to you, give me my wages; and if not, refrain.’ So they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said to me, ‘Throw it to the potter’–that princely price they set on me…” (Zechariah 11:12-13 NKJV)
In context, this is an excerpt out of a longer, much more complex prophecy, but I will treat the betrayal for 30 silver pieces as only one prophecy.
My conservative estimate: 1 in 10^5. Though the real probability is likely a lot more rare than the estimate I have chosen, I will stick with less than 1 in 100, 000 people who have lived since 1000 BC have been betrayed for exactly 30 pieces of silver.
5) The Messiah would be crucified (pierced). (Prophesied around 1000 BC by the prophet King David.)
“…a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.” (Psalm 22:16)
(What makes this prophecy even more remarkable is that crucifixion would not be invented for another several hundred years after King David uttered it. Isaiah also prophesied the Messiah would be, “…pierced for our transgressions” (Isaiah 53:5).)
My conservative estimate: 1 in 10^5. Less than 1 in 100,000 people in the last 3000 years have been crucified.
To calculate the composite probability (the odds of one person fulfilling all 5 of these prophecies), we must multiply the individual probabilities (by adding the powers of 10). This works out to be 1 in 10^26.
Then, to be completely accurate, we must divide this (by subtracting the powers of 10) by the total number of people who have lived since 1000 BC, which I already generously estimated to be 100 billion people (10^11).
So we come up with a final composite probability of 1 in 10^17. In other words:
The odds of one person fulfilling these 5 prophecies is less than 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000 (That is 1 with 17 zeroes after it)!
This number is pretty unfathomable, so to help us visualize it I have quantified it through a simple example.
To get a grasp on ‘odds’, imagine a bucket of 100 golf balls. Take one out and mark it. Then put it back into the bucket and mix them all up. The odds of you reaching into the bucket and grabbing your marked golf ball are 1 in 100.
Now imagine that you fill the United States, Australia, Japan, France and Germany with golf balls 30cm (12″) deep. Grab one, mark it, throw it back in and mix uniformly. The odds of you reaching back in and grabbing your golf ball on the first try are actually a little better than 1 in 10^17 —the odds of one person fulfilling these 5 prophecies.
Now, to carry this demonstration a little further, let’s select another 5 prophecies of equal rarity to the first 5 we chose. Remember this is quite reasonable considering we have over 300 Messianic prophecies to choose from, many of which are rarer than the ones I selected. For example, Zechariah prophesied that the 30 pieces of silver for which Judas betrayed Jesus would be thrown into the temple and that that money would be used to buy a field that was owned by a potter. In addition, Daniel prophesied the exact day Jesus would ride into Jerusalem on a donkey (the first Palm Sunday).
So to figure out the odds of someone fulfilling 10 prophecies (of equal rarity to the first 5) we need to multiply 10^26 x 10^26. We end up with 1 in 10^52. Then we must divide this number by the total population over the past 3000 years (100 billion), 10^11.
When we do the calculations, the odds of one person fulfilling 10 prophecies works out to be less than 1 in 10^41!
That is 1 with 41 zeroes after it! (Which I won’t bother to write out for you.)
Now to help us visualize this unfathomable number, take your golf ball and throw it into a bucket of 10^41 golf balls.
To do so, you will have to imagine a huge sphere of golf balls tightly packed together whose diameter is the same distance as the earth to the sun……
….about 15 times over again.
That is how big your “bucket” of 10^41 golf balls is. Chuck your golf ball back in, mix it all up and draw one out. You have the same odds of grabbing your golf ball as one person does fulfilling 10 of these Messianic prophecies.
Now let’s select another 5 prophecies to make it 15 prophecies of equal rarity.
We end up with less than 1 in 10^67 chance of the same person fulfilling all 15 Messianic prophecies.
Now you need to go find a bucket that will hold 10^67 golf balls. Unfortunately, distances from the sun to the other planets in our solar system won’t be of any use to us now. In order to visualize a sphere of 10^67 golf balls, we will need to measure it in light years.
A light year is the distance that light travels in one year. The speed of light is about 300,000 km (186,000 miles) per second. So what we need to do is calculate how many seconds there are in one year and multiply that by 300,000 km per second to get the distance of a light year.
There are 9.46 x 10^12 kilometres (9,460,000,000,000 km) or 5.9 x 10^12 miles (5,900,000,000,000 miles) in one light year.
Now 10^67 golf balls will occupy a tightly packed sphere whose diameter is 1.04 x 10^18 km (6.5 x 10^17 miles).
How many light years is that???
About 110,000 light years.
How many kilometres is that equal to???
1,040,680 351,983,888,100 kilometres
(How many miles is that equal to???
So…hop into your spaceship and travel 300,000 km (186,000 miles) per second for the next 110,000 years……..and whatever you do, don’t forget your golf ball! (And in reality, this is just the distance of the sphere’s diameter. To travel half the circumference of your sphere would take you a bit longer). Sometime on your journey, throw your golf ball into that sphere, mix uniformly and draw one back out again.
The odds of you selecting your golf ball are about the same as one person fulfilling 15 prophecies– less than 1 in 10^67.
Amazingly, these are the odds for only 15 prophecies…remember we still have over 285 more to account for…
For the rational human being, this science experiment clearly indicates a few things:
1) Jesus is the Messiah (Christ) promised through the prophecies of the Scriptures.
2) The Bible is of divine origin, for only God can know and reveal the future to his prophets.
Peter, one of Jesus’ diciples, said in a letter to Christians written about 30 years after Jesus’ resurrection:
“We did not follow cleverly invented stories when we told you about the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty…And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:16, 19-21)
3) God is extremely concerned about declaring and authenticating his message about Jesus Christ, the Messiah, to us.
If God has gone to such great lengths to demonstrate that Jesus is indeed his prophesied Messiah, for what purpose was he sent and of what importance is that to us?
The answer is found in Isaiah 53 (quoted earlier). As I stated before, this lengthy prophetic passage declares a symbolic seven times that Jesus the Messiah’s mission was to come and take the punishment for our sins so that we may be reconciled to God and receive eternal life.
God created us to be in loving fellowship with him. However, God is perfect in holiness and cannot be in the presence of sin. Sadly, because each one of us has chosen to sin against him (Romans 3:23), we are all alienated from him (Romans 6:23).
Even so, God still dearly loves us and has provided the way for us to be reconciled to him (John 3:16, 14:6).
He sent a Savior–Jesus, the Messiah–to come and save us from our sins and to reconcile us to God (2 Corinthians 5:17-21). Jesus lived the perfectly sinless life that none of us could live. Then, although he was innocent, he took upon himself all of our sins and bore the punishment for them through his death on the cross (Romans 8:1-4, Hebrews 10:10). He died as a ransom and substitute to all who would repent of their sins and trust in him as Savior.
Nothing is more important to us than Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. He died in order to ransom us from our sins and their penalty, which is death and hell (Mark 10:45). He came to restore us to what our sin had prevented us from having–a loving, personal relationship with God.
In order to be reconciled to God you must:
1) Repent (confess and turn away) from your sins and ask God to forgive you.
2) You must place your trust in Jesus, that he has personally paid the punishment for all your sins through his atoning death and resurrection. (See “Message“).
As soon as you place your trust in Jesus as your Savior, God forgives you of all your sins–past, present and future. You will enter into a loving, personal relationship with God that will continue throughout eternity. He will save you from hell, the just punishment for your sins, and from the “Tribulation”, the period of time immediately preceding Christ’s Return when God will pour out his just wrath on all of those who persist in their sins and stubbornly reject God’s gracious offer of reconciliation and salvation through faith in his Son, Jesus Christ. (See “The Tribulation” (Signs of The Times Series)).
When we consider the accuracy of the prophecy of Scripture, we have substantial reason to believe what God says in the Bible about Jesus, reconciliation to himself and the reality of heaven and hell are real and true.
Furthermore, when we consider God’s prophetic track record concerning Christ’s first coming, we also have substantial reason to believe all has said in the Bible about Christ’s Second Coming. (Interestingly, for every 1 prophecy in the Bible about his first coming there are 8 concerning his Second Coming.)
We have observed some of these End Times prophecies being fulfilled before our eyes, such as the re-formation of Israel as a nation in 1948. We can also see many nearing fulfillment such as the movement towards a global government and monetary system, the rise of the East in political and military power, the rapid increase of knowledge (through technology) and the ability for people all over the world to ‘witness’ events anywhere in the world at the same time they happen (through the internet and television).
Although no one knows the day or hour Christ will return (Matthew 24:36-44), of one thing we can be absolutely certain: At great personal cost, God came to earth in order to reconcile us to himself. He clothed himself in humanity (Philippians 2:5-11, Romans 1:1-4) in order that he may identify with our human sorrows, sufferings and weaknesses. He suffered humiliation, rejection and an excruciating death……Out of his great love, he did all of this for us.
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8)
On a final note, I previously mentioned that the statistical odds of one person fulfilling 15 Messianic prophecies is less than 1 in 10^67. Those are the same odds of drawing your golf ball out of a sphere of golf balls 110,000 light years in diameter. Interestingly, 110,000 light years is about the length of our Milky Way galaxy.
About 3000 years ago, long before anyone understood what a light year was, King David, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, said, “Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies” (Psalm 36:5). Our modern understanding of the vastness of the universe brings whole new meaning to this verse. And to compare the immensity of God’s love for us to the size of the Milky Way is just the beginning…
The Lord has created hundreds of millions of other galaxies, the furthest ones yet discovered being some 13 billion light years away. When I think of this, I cannot help but echo the words of David, “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him?” (Psalm 8:3-4).
God’s love, expressed in Christ Jesus’ sacrifice for us, is so great that it is unfathomable…and yet at the same time, it is wholly tangible to us.
We have until the day we die or until the time of Christ’s Return to be reconciled to God. Either event could happen suddenly and unexpectedly. When Christ returns or when we die, it will be too late, for our gracious opportunity to be reconciled to God will be gone forever. Today is the day to be reconciled to God. (See “Today is The Day of Salvation” (Signs of The Times Series)).
“We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. God made him [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin [a sin offering] for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:20-21)
Written across my painting are 17 of the 300+ Messianic prophecies in the Bible. For each of the 17 prophecies, the Scripture reference of the original prophecy is written first (in italics). The paraphrased prophecy is listed second (in capital letters), and the Scripture reference of the prophecy’s fulfillment is listed third (in italics).
When we read the Scriptures, they reveal Christ to us.
Can you see Jesus fulfilled Biblical prophecies?
The following is a list of what is written on the painting:
Micah 5:2, BORN IN BETHLEHEM, Luke 2:4-7
Isaiah 7:14, BORN OF A VIRGIN, Luke 1:34
2 Samuel 7:16, DESCENDED FROM KING DAVID, Matthew 1:1
Psalm 110:1, SON OF GOD, Luke 1:32
Isaiah 35:5-6, HEALS PEOPLE, Luke 7:22
Isaiah 53:11, SINLESS, Hebrews 7:26
Zechariah 11:12-13, BETRAYED FOR 30 SILVER PIECES, Matthew 27:3-10
Zechariah 13:7, ABANDONED BY DISCIPLES, Matthew 26:56
Psalm 35:11, ACCUSED FALSELY, Mark 14:56
Isaiah 53:7, SILENT BEFORE ACCUSERS, Matthew 27:12-14
Isaiah 53, BORE OUR SIN, Hebrews 9:28
Psalm 22:16, CRUCIFIED, John 19:18
Isaiah 52:14-15, HIS BLOOD ATONES FOR SIN, Revelation 1:5
Isaiah 53:9, BURIED WITH THE RICH, Mark 15:43-46
Psalm 16:10-1, RESURRECTED, Mark 16:6
Psalm 68:18, ASCENDED TO HEAVEN, Acts 1:9
Acts 1:11, RETURNING
If you would like to learn more about Bible prophecy and Messianic Bible prophecies please see the article and links on:
If you would like to investigate the truth about God, please see:
Many thanks to Dr. Chuck Missler (Koinonia House, www.khouse.org ). I have used some of his material and adapted the statistical models from his book, Learn The Bible in 24 Hours (Hour 13: How Sure Can We Be?)
The aesthetics of this painting are adapted from the work of Costa Rican artist Rafael Azofeifa. http://www.azofeifa.com/
(To read about my personal journey to faith in Christ, see “About: About The Artist“. To read stories of how others first met Jesus, see “Salvation Testimonies”. If you have questions about God and want to learn more, please see “Is God Real?”).