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Jesus Fulfilled the Messianic Prophecies
Below are facts about Jesus’ life that prove He fulfilled the Messianic prophecies I discussed in chapter 8, and all of them are supported by an abundance of eyewitness testimony. Furthermore, His disciples devoted the remainder of their lives to His cause, and they were willing to die rather than abandon Him and His message about salvation. These, too, are compelling arguments that Jesus is the One He claimed to be.
- Jesus was born of a virgin named Mary (Miriam in Hebrew) in Bethlehem, a tiny village about 5 miles from Jerusalem, and He is from the tribe of Judah.[i]
- Before Jesus began His earthly ministry, John the Baptist prepared the way for Him by telling the people they needed to repent from their sins.[ii]
John the Baptist fulfilled Malachi’s prophecy about Elijah coming before the Messiah. Somewhere between 450 B.C. and 400 B.C., the prophet Malachi foretold that Elijah would return before the “great and terrible day of Yahweh…(to) restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers.”[iii] Because they knew about this prophecy, shortly after Jesus’ disciples understood clearly that He was the Messiah, they asked Him why the Jewish religious leaders said Elijah must return before the Messiah, and He told them,
“Elijah is coming and will restore all things; but I say to you that Elijah already came, and they did not recognize him, but did to him whatever they wished. So also the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.”[iv]
John the Baptist’s role in Jesus’ ministry was to turn the hearts and minds of the Children of Israel back to Yahweh by declaring that they needed to repent. The Hebrew word translated as “repent” (or “relent”) in the Old Testament and the Tanach is “nacham” (naw-kham’), and it means to sigh or to be sorry. The Greek word for repent that is used in the New Testament is “metanoeo” (met-an-o-eh’), and it means to think differently or to reconsider. Both of these words carry with them the connotation that people should change their behavior because they are sorry for what they have done and that they should begin immediately to think differently about sin. To repent, therefore, means to be sorry for sins already committed and to refrain from committing sins in the future. That is exactly what John the Baptist preached and that is exactly the role Malachi prophesied Elijah would play.
As you know, the Old Testament and the Tanach tell us that there is only one Messiah and that He plays two different roles at two different times. First, He had to come as Immanuel (God with us) to suffer and die for His people, to redeem us, and to atone for our sins.[v] Second, He will return as Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace to rule the earth before the “great and terrible day of Yahweh.”[vi] A person with the spirit of Elijah (John the Baptist) heralded the Messiah’s first coming, and many people believe another person with the spirit of Elijah will precede His second coming. That is exactly what Jesus meant when He said, “Elijah is coming and will restore all things.”[vii]
The second person with Elijah’s spirit is discussed in Revelation chapter 11, and he is described as one of Yahweh’s two witnesses. This witness will play a slightly different role than the one played by John the Baptist. While John preached a message of repentance from sin to avoid judgment, the witness depicted in Revelation chapter 11 will preach a message of repentance, but he will also initiate Yahweh’s judgment before what Christians call the “Great Tribulation” and what the Old Testament and Tanach refer to as the “great and terrible day of Yahweh.” This is what Malachi says about that day:
“‘For behold, the day is coming, burning like a furnace; and all the arrogant and every evildoer will be chaff; and the day that is coming will set them ablaze,’ says Yahweh Sabaoth, ‘so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. But for you who fear My Name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings; and you will go forth and skip about like calves from the stall. You will tread down the wicked, for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet on the day which I am preparing,’ says Yahweh Sabaoth.’”[viii]
- When He went to Jerusalem for Passover the year He died, He entered the city riding on a donkey, the colt of an ass.[ix]
- Judas, one of Jesus’ disciples, betrayed Him and collected 30 pieces of silver for turning Him over to the religious authorities.[x] When he realized what he had done, Judas returned the money to the priests. He entered the Temple and threw the silver coins at them. Since it was “blood money,” the priests refused to accept it. Instead, they used the money to purchase the potter’s field for use as a cemetery.[xi]
- During His trials before the priests, the civil authorities, and the Roman Governor, Jesus’ enemies treated Him brutally. They spit on Him and literally beat Him to a pulp. When they were through, He did not even look like a man.[xii] Yet, He was silent before His accusers.[xiii]
- Jesus was crucified on Passover, and His followers refer to Him affectionately as the Lamb of God. He is our Sacrificial Lamb. He willingly and gladly sacrificed His own life and spilled His own blood to atone for our sins.[xiv] He, therefore, is the Passover Sacrifice and the Yom Kippur Sacrifice.
- Two thieves were crucified along with Him,[xv] and the soldiers who nailed Him to the tree gambled for His clothing at the foot of the tree while He was dying to atone for their sins.[xvi]
As sundown approached, the priests asked the Roman Governor to kill the three men who had been crucified, including Jesus. Ironically, the priests shared responsibility for slaying Yahweh’s Passover Lamb, but they were oblivious to the role they were playing in His divine plan to redeem and save mankind through the Messiah’s shed blood. The Gentile rulers in Israel at the time (the Romans) also shared responsibility for the Messiah’s death so it is correct to say that both Gentiles and Jews nailed Him to the tree. All of mankind, therefore, shares guilt for slaying the Messiah. The Jewish people are not more or less guilty than everyone else.
- Complying with the priests’ request, the Roman governor sent his men to kill the three men. When they arrived at the crucifixion site, they could see that Jesus was already dead, but they pierced His side with a spear to make certain, and blood and water came pouring out of His body. They broke the legs of the other two men to hasten their deaths, but they did not need to break Jesus’ legs since He was already dead.[xvii]
- When Jesus died and gave up His Spirit, a strange darkness covered the land.[xviii] There was an earthquake, and the veil in the Temple separating the Holy of Holies from the Outer Chamber of the sanctuary was torn in two. The people standing near the tree where He was crucified knew something strange was happening, but they had no idea what it was. Yahweh was taking on Himself all the sins we will ever commit to redeem us and to atone for our sins so He could declare us righteous, give us eternal life, and restore the intimacy He had with His people before Adam sinned.[xix]
- As He was about to die, the Gospels tell us that Jesus said, “It is finished!”[xx] However, this is not a good translation. He actually said, “Paid in full!”[xxi] The price for our sins had been paid; we were redeemed; and our sins were forgiven.
- With His death on the tree, Jesus took the curse of the Law[xxii] on Himself so we can receive the blessings promised to Abraham’s descendants.
- Joseph of Arimathea, a wealthy friend of the Messiah, asked the Roman governor for permission to bury Him in a tomb he had dug for himself. It was located just a short distance from the crucifixion site in a beautiful garden.[xxiii]
- Most of Jesus’ own people, the Children of Israel, rejected Him,[xxiv] and for most of them He has become a stumbling block.[xxv] However, Gentiles followed Him,[xxvi] and today approximately 2 billion Gentile people living on earth, or about one third of the world’s population, claim to be Christians.
All these facts about Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection provide convincing proof that He is exactly who He claimed to be and that His death accomplished exactly what He said it would, and all of them have been confirmed. He lived His life in perfect obedience to the Law spelled out in the Torah, and His death sealed a New Covenant between Yahweh and all of mankind.
[i] Micah 5: 2 and Genesis 49: 10.
[ii] Isaiah 40: 3.
[iii] Malachi 4: 5-6.
[iv] Matthew: 17: 11-12.
[v] Isaiah 53.
[vi] Isaiah 9.
[vii] Matthew: 17: 11.
[viii] Malachi 4: 1-3.
[ix] Zechariah 9: 9.
[x] Psalm 41: 9 and Zechariah 11: 12.
[xi] Zechariah 11: 13.
[xii] Isaiah 52: 14.
[xiii] Isaiah 54: 5, Isaiah 50: 6, Isaiah 53: 7, Genesis 3: 15, and Isaiah 52: 14.
[xiv] Psalm 22: 16, Zechariah 11: 12, Zechariah 13: 7, Isaiah 53: 4-7, and Isaiah 53: 10.
[xv] Isaiah 53: 9.
[xvi] Isaiah 53: 12 and Psalm 22: 18.
[xvii] Zechariah 12: 10 and Psalm 34: 20.
[xviii] Amos 8: 9.
[xix] Isaiah 53: 12.
[xx] John 19: 30.
[xxi] Ryrie, Charles. Ryrie Study Bible Expanded Edition, Moody Press, Chicago, 1995, p. 1719.
[xxii] Deuteronomy 21: 23.
[xxiii] Isaiah 53: 9.
[xxiv] Isaiah 53: 3.
[xxv] Isaiah 8: 14-15.
[xxvi] Isaiah 11: 10.
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Ezekiel 22: 17-22
And the word of Yahweh came to me, saying, “Son of man, the house of Israel has become dross to Me; all of them are bronze and tin and iron and lead in the furnace; they are the dross of silver. Therefore, thus says Adonai Yahweh, ‘Because all of you have become dross, therefore, behold, I am going to gather you into the midst of Jerusalem. As they gather silver and bronze and iron and lead and tin into the furnace to blow fire on it in order to melt it, so I will gather you in My anger and in My wrath and I will lay you there and melt you. I will gather you and blow on you with the fire of My wrath, and you will be melted in the midst of it. As silver is melted in the furnace, so you will be melted in the midst of it; and you will know that I, Yahweh, have poured out My wrath on you.’”
- God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘Yahweh, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’ This [Yahweh] is my name forever, the name by which I am to be remembered from generation to generation.” (Exodus 3: 15)
- “Therefore behold, I am going to make them know—this time I will make them know My power and My might; and they shall know that My name is Yahweh.” (Jeremiah 16: 21)
- “Behold, the days are coming,” declares Yahweh, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch; and He will reign as king and act wisely and do justice and righteousness in the land. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely; and this is His name by which He will be called, ‘Yahweh our righteousness.’” (Jeremiah 23: 5-6)
Hosea 4: 6
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
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