“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)
Katie and I are traveling in Israel and gathering information for SnyderTalk. While we are there, I am posting excerpts from His Name is Yahweh in SnyderTalk.
The message in the book is important. Please take the time to read it.
The Messiah in the Old Testament
Messiah means “Anointed One,” and Genesis 3: 15 is the first verse in the Bible that mentions Him:
“And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise Him on the heel.”[i]
The seed of the woman is the Messiah, and Satan is the one He will bruise on the head. In this verse, Yahweh says Satan will wound the Messiah, but He will achieve victory in the end, redeem His people, and destroy His archenemy. Christians are not the only ones who have interpreted this verse as a Messianic prophecy. Midrash Rabbah, an ancient rabbinic commentary, says this about Genesis 3: 15:
“R. (Rabbi) Tanhuma said in the name of Samuel Kozith: [She hinted at] that seed which would arise from another source, viz. the king Messiah.”[ii]
17 Prophecies of the Messiah’s First-Coming
The Messiah is the central figure in the Old Testament from Genesis to Malachi. Prophecies about Him deal with every facet of his life—His birth, His ministry on earth, His death, and His ultimate victory. Grant Jeffrey, a Bible scholar and author, has estimated the probability of anyone fulfilling just 17 prophecies about the Messiah’s first-coming, and his results are astonishing.[iii] Jeffrey’s probability estimates are presented below,[iv] and they are extremely conservative:
- He will be born in Bethlehem and descended from Judah—Micah 5: 2 and Genesis 49: 10—Probability: 1 in 2,400.
- A messenger will precede the Messiah—Isaiah 40: 3 and Malachi 3: 1—Probability: 1 in 20.
- He will enter Jerusalem on a colt—Zechariah 9: 9—Probability: 1 in 50.
- He will be betrayed by a friend—Psalm 41: 9—Probability: 1 in 10.
- His hands and feet will be pierced—Psalm 22: 16—Probability: 1 in 100.
- His enemies will wound Him—Isaiah: 54: 5—Probability: 1 in 10.
- His betrayer will receive 30 pieces of silver for betraying Him—Zechariah 11: 12—Probability: 1 in 50.
- He will be spit upon and beaten—Isaiah 50: 6—Probability: 1 in 10.
- The money for His betrayal will be thrown into the Temple and used to buy a potter’s field—Zechariah 11: 13—Probability: 1 in 200.
- He will be silent before His accusers—Isaiah 53: 7—Probability: 1 in 100.
- He will die with thieves—Isaiah 53: 9—Probability: 1 in 100.
- People will gamble for His garments—Psalm 22: 18—Probability: 1 in 100.
- His side will be pierced—Zechariah 12: 10—Probability: 1 in 100.
- None of His bones will be broken—Psalm 34: 20—Probability: 1 in 20.
- His body will not decay—Psalm 16: 10—Probability: 1 in 10,000.
- He will be buried in a rich man’s tomb—Isaiah 53: 9—Probability: 1 in 100.
- Darkness will cover the earth at His death—Amos 8: 9—Probability: 1 in 1000.
Using Jeffrey’s estimates, the odds of anyone in earth’s history fulfilling these 17 prophecies is 1 in 480,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000.[v] We can state this number another way: 1 in 5 trillion multiplied by 96 trillion. The denominator in this fraction is so large that it boggles the mind.
Here is a way to think about these odds. In 2001, The United States’ national debt was about 5 trillion dollars. Imagine you have in front of you 5 trillion times 96 trillion $1 bills. It would take an area the size of Texas to pile them up. We mark one of the $1 bills, hide it somewhere in the pile, blindfold you, and tell you to pick the marked bill out of the pile in one try.
The probability of you picking the correct $1 bill in this example is the same as the likelihood of anyone fulfilling these 17 prophecies about the Messiah by chance, but there are hundreds of Messianic prophecies in the Bible—not 17. Thus, logic and probability indicate that anyone who fulfills these prophecies must be the Messiah.
There is (and Can Be) Only One Messiah
As you think about Jeffrey’s estimates, remember that most of them require God’s direct intervention. For instance, no one decides where to be born. Neither can anyone choose the family into which he or she will be born. Obviously, these decisions are Yahweh’s alone. Therefore, we must conclude that the Messiah’s birth was a gift from God that no man could copy or manufacture under any set of circumstances.
To his credit, Jeffrey’s estimates are conservative in every instance. For example, his 5th prophecy deals with the Messiah’s crucifixion. Somewhere between 1010 B.C. and 970 B.C., King David prophesied that the Messiah would be crucified. In Psalm 22: 16 he wrote,
“For dogs have surrounded me; a band of evildoers has encompassed me; they pierced my hands and my feet.”[vi]
Crucifixion is a form of capital punishment that was invented by the Romans in the 1st century B.C. In David’s day, stoning was the prescribed method for capital punishment so his prophecy that the Messiah would be crucified at least 800 years before crucifixion was invented is remarkable. Jeffrey estimates the probability of this happening as 1 in 100, but I believe it is closer to zero. David simply could not have foretold the Messiah’s crucifixion unless God explained it to him.
Many Jewish people believe Christians have misinterpreted the Hebrew word in Psalm 22: 16 that is translated as “pierced.” The Hebrew word appearing in this verse is “ariy” (ar-ee’). Its present-day meaning suggests violence, and it seems to involve a lion or a young lion. Based on this fact Samuel Levine, author of You Take Jesus, I’ll Take God, has said,
“That verse of ‘they pierced my hands and feet,’ which seems to point to Jesus, is a mistranslation, according to all the classical Jewish scholars, who knew Hebrew perfectly. In fact, the Christians have invented a new word in the process, which is still not in the Hebrew dictionary.”[vii]
Even though the contemporary definition of “ariy” seems to indicate something other than “piercing,” I believe Mr. Levine is mistaken, and this is why. The Jewish authorized Greek Septuagint[viii] Tanach (the version of the Tanach I mentioned earlier that was translated by 70 rabbis in 285 B.C.—i.e., almost 285 years before Jesus’ birth) and Targums[ix] written at that time interpret “ariy” as “pierced” exactly the way Christians have translated the word.[x] No one alive today has a better understanding of the Hebrew used in the Tanach than that group of rabbis, so I defer to them and rely on their translation of “ariy” to support my conclusion.
Furthermore, Zechariah 12: 10 refers to the “piercing” of the Messiah. The Hebrew word translated as “pierced” in this verse is “daqar” (daw-kar’), and it means “to stab” or “to thrust through.” This is what the Babylonian Talmud (Sukkah 52a) says about Zechariah 12: 10:
“What is the cause of the mourning? It is well according to him who explains that the cause is the slaying of Messiah, the son of Joseph, since that well agrees with the Scriptural verse, ‘And they shall look upon me because they have thrust Him through, and they shall mourn for Him as one mourneth for his only son.’”[xi]
I will not go into much detail about this issue, but many Jewish sages[xii] and rabbis over the millennia have had difficulty with the notion that the Messiah Son of David had to suffer for His people. They understood that the Bible describes a suffering Messiah, but they could not accept the fact that He was the Messiah referred to as the Son of David. Therefore, they called Him by another name—the Messiah son of Joseph—even though the only Messiah referred to in the Bible by Name is the Messiah Son of David.
According to Raphael Patai, a Jewish Bible scholar,
“When the death of the Messiah became an established tenet in Talmudic times,[xiii] this was felt to be irreconcilable with the belief in the Messiah as the Redeemer who would usher in the blissful millennium of the Messianic age. The dilemma was solved by splitting the person of the Messiah in two: one of them, called Messiah ben Joseph…would fall victim….The other, Messiah ben David, will come after him…and will lead Israel to ultimate victory, the triumph, and the Messianic era of bliss.”[xiv]
It is perfectly clear that all classical Jewish scholars do not agree with Mr. Levine, and neither do I. Obviously, the 70 rabbis who translated the Greek Septuagint Tanach in 285 B.C. do not agree with him, and I would be foolish to accept his interpretation over theirs. It is also perfectly clear from the weight of evidence and from the Word of God that there is (and can be) only One Messiah. He is the Messiah Son of David; He is the suffering Messiah described in Isaiah 53; and He is the victorious King Messiah described throughout the Old Testament and the Tanach.
Now, take a look at Jeffrey’s 17th prophecy. It deals with darkness covering the entire earth at the time of the Messiah’s death, and it is almost impossible to predict. Amos 8: 9 says,
“‘It will come about in that day,’ declares Adonai Yahweh, ‘That I will make the sun go down at noon and make the earth dark in broad daylight.’”[xv]
Amos was a sheep breeder from Tekoa, a town about 10 miles south of Jerusalem, and he wrote this prophecy in about 755 B.C.[xvi] He was not a scientist, and he did not possess sophisticated instruments to calculate the movements of heavenly bodies. Furthermore, this event could not have been a total eclipse of the sun because an eclipse would not affect the entire earth all at once. According to Jeffrey, two ancient historians, Thallus and Phlegon, confirmed that an unusual darkness did blot out the sun for 3 hours during Passover in the year the Messiah was crucified.[xvii]
Jeffrey estimates the probability of Amos predicting this event more than 700 years before it happened as 1 in 1000. In my opinion, it is almost zero for the same reason I stated before. There is only one rational explanation for this event. It was an act of Yahweh, and Amos was simply declaring it hundreds of years in advance.
To see videos that explain the importance of God’s Name, click here.
“The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one; I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and loved them, even as You have loved Me. Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am, so that they may see My glory which You have given Me, for You loved Me before the foundation of the world.” (John 17: 22-24)
See “His Name is Yahweh”.
[i] Genesis 3: 15.
[ii] Midrash Rabbah XXIII 5-6. As quoted in Dr. Moore’s book The End of History—The Messiah Conspiracy, Vol. I, p. 9.
[iii] Jeffrey, Grant. Jesus: The Great Debate, Frontier Research Publications, Inc.: Toronto, 1999, pp. 230-239.
[iv] The Appendix contains information on the fulfillment of all the prophecies listed in Exhibit 8.1. Jesus fulfilled all of them, and many more as well.
[v] To calculate this probability, simply multiply all 17 probabilities (i.e., probability 1 times probability 2 times probability 3….times probability 17).
[vi] Psalm 22: 16.
[vii] Levine, Samuel. You Take Jesus, I’ll Take God, Hamoroh Press, 1980, p. 34.
[viii] Brenton, Sir Lancelot C. L. The Septuagint with Apocrypha: Greek and English, 9th Printing, originally published by Samuel Bagster & Sons, Ltd., London, 1851. This version published by Hendrickson Publishers, 2001.
[ix] A Targum is a Jewish commentary on the Old Testament, and it means translation.
[x] Eastman, Mark and Chuck Missler, The Search for Messiah, Fountain Valley: Joy Publishing, 1996, pp. 31-33.
[xi] Babylonian Talmud, Sukkah 52a.
[xii] A sage is a wise person. The word does not suggest or imply rank, title, or position, although many people consider sages to be wiser and more perceptive than ordinary people.
[xiii] “Talmudic times” refers to an era between the Babylonian captivity that began in 597 B.C. and about 400 A.D. During Talmudic times, Jewish Sages wrote about virtually every area of life, religion, custom, folklore, and law. Their writings in Hebrew and Aramaic contain approximately 2,500,000 words that are published as books called the Talmud, and they are studied today. The Babylonian Talmud is the best known and most authoritative of all the Talmud writings.
[xiv] Patai, Raphael. The Messiah Texts, Wayne State University Press: Detroit, 1979, pp. 166-167.
[xv] Amos 8: 9.
[xvi] Ryrie, Charles. Ryrie Study Bible Expanded Edition, Moody Press, Chicago, 1995, p. 1400.
[xvii] Jeffrey, Grant. Jesus: The Great Debate, Frontier Research Publications, Inc.: Toronto, 1999, pp. 230-239.