Prophecies Fulfilled by Jesus  

For the faithful Jew, one of the most important events described by God in the Tanakh (the Old Testament) is the coming of the Messiah to assert God’s authority on earth, to redeem His chosen to Himself.  Most Jewish scholars see this described in the Old Testament in two ways.  There is outright prophecy, a description of some attribute the Messiah will have or some fact which will be true of Him.  There are also pictures in advance, or “types” where events in history act as analogies to some truth about Messiah.

As an example of types, consider the story of Joseph in the last few chapters of Genesis.  The Bible records that Joseph saved his brothers from death even though they had tried to kill him and had, when they arrived in Egypt, failed to recognize him.  Many consider this a picture, or analogy, of how the Messiah will be received by the Jews, God’s chosen people, when He comes.  Of course, we, and the Messianic Jews, believe He has already come and that this picture matches the life of Jesus exactly.

Although types make for very interesting study, they rely heavily on potentially subjective interpretations of the biblical texts.  As we are after clear, undeniable evidence of the Messiah and Jesus, we will focus our attention on the outright prophecies.  We will be taking special note of the many prophecies Jesus fulfilled which he could not have influenced if He were merely a man.  God provided the Messiah we need to be able to have a relationship with Him because of His infinite love for us.  That Messiah is Jesus. 

For Jesus to truly be the Messiah described in the Old Testament, He would have to fulfill every Messianic prophecy.  Depending on who you ask, the exact number of prophecies relating to the Messiah varys widely.  But, there is a large list of Old Testament verses which most agree are descriptions of the Messiah.  Let’s have a look at some of these and see how Jesus relates to them. 

The Lineage of Messiah

Some of the more interesting and surprising statements about the Messiah in the Old Testament are those concerning His lineage.  Contrary to what some might claim, there are very specific prophecies about this, each of which Jesus fulfilled.  In talking to the serpent in Genesis 3:15, God said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring.  He will bruise your head, and you will bruise his heel.”  This is taken by many as one of the earliest Messianic prophecies describing Satan’s brief vicory over Messiah and Messiah’s ultimate victory over Satan.  It is mentioned here because the offspring (Messiah) is described as being of the woman (Eve).  This is extraordinary as the nation of Israel has always been patriarchal; people are mentioned in terms of their fathers, not their mothers.  Because of this, many see this verse as also being a prophecy of Messiah’s birth through a virgin (see below).  Bearing this in mind, it is interesting to study what the Apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 4:4, again referring to the sending of a Son through a woman.

The Bible makes note of several other aspects of the earthly bloodline the Messiah will come from.  In Genesis 12:3, God is making a promise to Abram (later, Abraham) about the influence his descendants will have over the earth and says, “In you will all of the families of the earth be blessed.” This is accepted as a statement that the Messiah would descend from Abraham as Messiah is the source of all true blessings.  The bloodline is further refined to Isaac, son of Abraham in Genesis 17:19 and 21:12, to Jacob, son of Isaac in 28:14 and to Judah, son of Jacob (or Israel) in 49:10.  Matthew, in the first chapter of his Gospel, begins his account of the life of Jesus by describing His lineage as coming from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob to Judah and so on.  Luke echos this lineage for Jesus in Luke 3:33-34.

Building on the specificity of Messiah’s lineage, God promises King David, through Nathan the prophet in 2 Samuel 7:12-13, that Messiah will not only come from his own bloodline, but will also inherit his throne.  David’s throne is again promised as the seat of Messiah’s government in Isaiah 9:6-7, and in Jeremiah 23:5.  Taking a look at the accounts of Jesus shows Him to be a descendant of King David in Matthew 1:1, 1:6 and in Luke 3:31.  He is further described as heir to David’s throne with power by Paul in Romans 1:3-4.  It is important to remember here that Paul was once a Pharisee, which in his time meant that he possessed a strong knowledge and understanding of the Old Testament.  For him to claim Jesus as the foretold Messiah, was no small admission.  The Jewish leaders, his ex-companions, were very clear on Paul’s position; they repeatedly tried to kill him for it (study the latter half of the book of Acts). 

Messiah Bears God’s Attributes

Probably the most important claim the Old Testament makes about Messiah is that He is truly God.  These claims are made in the form of ascribing God’s traits to Messiah and describing Messiah as God’s Son.  One aspect of God is that He is eternal.  The prophet Micah tells us in Micah 5:2 that the Messiah Himself is eternal when he, talking about Messiah, says, “...whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.”  Compare this to the claim of eternality Jesus made in the New Testament in John 8:58.  Paul describes many attributes of Jesus which indicate an eternal Messiah in Ephesians 1:3-14 and in Colossians 1:15-19.

Another aspect of the Messiah is that He is the true and only Son of God, being Himself God.  The writers of Psalms and Proverbs make this link for us in Psalms 2:7 and Proverbs 30:4.  In Luke 1:32, an angel of God is telling Mary that she is about to become the mother of Jesus and says to her, “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High.  The Lord God will give to him the throne of his father, David.”  In Matthew 3:17, God Himself speaks at the baptism of Jesus and says of Him, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”

The Old Testament gets even clearer about the fact that Messiah is God, that God Himself will be the Messiah, that the name of the Messiah is Y-H-W-H.  Read the description of Messiah in Isaiah 9:6.  There we read of a Son who will be given to govern the world.  Of the five names listed that the Messiah will be known by, note that one of them is Mighty God.  The prophet Jeremiah is even more blatant about applying the name of God to the Messiah in Jeremiah 23:6.  Of course, the question is, does the Bible apply God’s name to Jesus?  Noting that the name Y-H-W-H is above any other name in authority, read what Paul wrote about Jesus in Philippians 2:9.  There he writes that God gave Jesus “the name which is above every name.”

Jewish scholars have little doubt about the deity of the Messiah, but many people have a hard time accepting that Jesus is God.  A more in depth discussion as to the deity of Jesus may be found here

What Messiah Will Do

The Old Testament also describes several things the Messiah will do while here on earth.  In Deuteronomy 18:15, Moses is addressing the people of Israel, and tells them, “Yahweh your God will raise up to you a prophet from the midst of you, of your brothers, like me; to him you shall listen” identifying the Messiah as being a prophet just like Moses was.  God assures us that it is the Messiah of whom Moses was speaking in verses 18-19 by the seriousness God places on those who will not listen to the coming prophet.  Taking a look at the New Testament, John tells us in John 7:40 that many Jews who heard Jesus really believed that He was the prophet Moses mentioned.  Also, Luke quotes the words of the Apostle Peter in Acts 3:19-22 who confirmed by his direct witness of Jesus that He was, in fact, the prophet Moses said was coming.

Isaiah describes in Isaiah 61:1-2 some aspects of the ministry the Messiah will have.  Compare this to the passage in Luke 4:18 where Jesus not only quotes the Old Testament passage but also claims to be its fulfillment.  An in-depth study of the ministry of Jesus throughout the gospels reveals this as truth, and not just some idle boast.  More specifically, Isaiah 35:5-6, describes a wonderful ministry of healing for any who need it.  Jesus describes the works He has done in almost the exact same words in Matthew 11:5.  Over and over and over again, all throughout the gospels, Jesus never turned away anyone who needed healing, even when He knew they would not turn to Him (note His healing of the ten lepers in Luke 17:12-19 though only one returned to give glory to God).  All this for the deep love He feels for each one of them, and each one of us.  He healed us even at the cost of His own life.

Isaiah also tells us in Isaiah 9:1 that Messiah’s ministry would begin in the region of Galilee.  All the gospels confirm to us that Jesus also began His ministry in Galilee.  In Matthew 4:12-17, Matthew goes so far as to claim that Jesus did so as direct fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 9:1.

In the Old Testament, there are many places where the character of Messiah is described.  We see the same character traits exhibited by Jesus in the New Testament.  In verses 40:11 and 42:3 of his book, Isaiah describes Messiah as demonstrating tenderness and compassion and in verse 12:15 of his gospel, Matthew says the same of Jesus when he relates that “Great multitudes followed Him, and He healed them all.”  As Matthew continues his narration, he even claims that what he is relating is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of verse 42:3.  The Apostle Peter goes farther and claims that Jesus is completely without sin in 1 Peter 2:22 and that, by quoting it, this fulfills Isaiah 53:9.

The Bible documents many more such parallels between the traits and actions of the Messiah and of Jesus.  The following table shows just a few of these.

The Messiah must...ProphecyFulfillment by Jesus
Bear the reproaches and sin of others Isaiah 53:12Romans 15:3
Be a priest Psalms 110:4Hebrews 5:5-6, 6:20, 7:15-17
Enter Jerusalem on a donkey Zechariah 9:9Matthew 21:1-11; Mark 11:1-11; John 12:12-16
Enter the Temple with authority Malachi 3:1Matthew 21:12; John 2:13-22

These are only a few of the prophecies about the things the Messiah will do from the Old Testament along with the descriptions of how Jesus fulfilled them.  But, since a determined faker could try to mimic the prophecies about what the Messiah will do, let’s have a look at prophecies which no human could bring off. 

What Will Be Done To Messiah

The Old Testament speaks even more about the things which will be done to Messiah and things about His life over which no ordinary human could have any control.  These are important to understand as most of them would be impossible for a false Messiah to fake since they would be out of a normal person’s control.  God loves us so much that He has given us the things to look for in Messiah in such a way that He cannot be impersonated successfully as long as we pay attention.  These things make it quite clear that Jesus is the Messiah foretold by the Old Testament.

One of the first things to note in the Old Testament is that God tells us exactly when Messiah would come to earth.  In Daniel 9:24-26, he gives us a total of 69 “weeks” (a euphamism of the day meaning a period of 7 years) or 483 years after Jerusalem and its wall were commissioned to be rebuilt for when the Messiah would be ”cut off” for our sins.  The best archaeological evidence dates the rebuilding of Jerusalem at approximately 453 B.C.  Four hundred and eighty three years after the city was rebuilt, Jesus was being crucified outside its walls.  We are given the historical information we need to accurately place Jesus’ birth in Matthew 2:1, 16 and 19 and Luke 3:1 and we know He was crucified 33 years later.

Another trait about Messiah can be found in Isaiah 7:14 where we are told that He will be born of a virgin.  There are many who contest the use of the word ”virgin” as the original Hebrew word simply means “young woman.”  However, the context of the usage of this word all throughout the rest of the Old Testament provides the connotation of an “unsullied reputation.”  Further proof of this lies in the Greek word chosen by the Jewish scholars who created the Septuagint (the original Greek Old Testament) written 200 years before Jesus was even born.  They chose the greek word parthenos which really does mean virgin.  Matthew uses this word when he quotes Isaiah in Matthew 1:23.  The declaration of Jesus being born of a virgin may be found in Matthew 1:18-Matthew 2:1 and in Luke 1:26-35.

We are also promised a messenger, one who would come before the Messiah to announce His arrival.  Read what Isaiah wrote in Isaiah 40:3-5 and what Malachi wrote in Malachi 3:1.  Both are statements of this promise from God.  In the New Testament, Matthew records the claim that John the Baptizer made that he was this messenger fortold by Isaiah.  John the Baptizer even quotes the Old Testament prophet in Matthew 3:1-3.  Luke records in his gospel in chapter 1, verse 17 the words of an angel speaking to John’s father saying the same thing.  Luke reiterates John as the fulfillment of Isaiah in Luke 3:2-6.

At the other end of His earthly ministry, we are given several details about His execution.  The Old Testament tells us that He will be “pierced.”  The prophet Zechariah associates this with the death of the Messiah in 12:10 and Psalms 22:16 tells us that this piercing will be in the Messiah’s hands and feet.  In Matthew 27:35 and John 19:18, we are told that Jesus is executed by crucifiction, which requires the piercing of the hands and feet.  Luke confirms in 24:39 the piercing really did happen by asking His disciples to inspect the holes after His resurrection.  John even claims this as fulfillment of Zechariah 12:10 in John 19:34-37.

Despite the cruel nature of His execution, we are promised that none of the Messiah’s bones would be broken.  In the Law of Moses, we are told that the Passover lamb should not have any of its bones broken (see Exodus 12:46 and Numbers 9:12).  Since the Messiah is the ultimate Passover Lamb whose blood protects the doorposts of our hearts, then His bones must remain unbroken as well.  This is reiterated in Psalms 34:20.  In John 19:33-36 we are told how the Roman soldiers did not need to break any of Jesus’ bones and that this was in direct fulfillment of the Scripture.

We are promised that, after His death, Messiah will be raised from the dead in Psalms 16:10 with support from Isaiah 53:9-10 and Psalms 2:7.  The descriptions of the resurrection of Jesus are found in Matthew 28:1-20 and Acts 2:23-36 and 13:33-37 which quotes Psalms 2:7.

The Bible also promises that, after His resurrection, Messiah would ascend to heaven and sit at the right hand of God.  The promise is found in Psalms 16:11, 68:18 and 110:1 and Jesus is described as fulfilling this in Luke 24:51, Acts 1:9-11 and 7:55 and Hebrews 1:3.

Below is a table which lists more things which are true of Messiah.  Read the Old Testament verses in their contexts and compare them with the New Testament descriptions of how Jesus fulfilled each and every one of them.

The Messiah must...ProphecyFulfillment by Jesus
Be born in Bethlehem Micah 5:2Matthew 2:1; Luke 2:4-7
Be adored by great persons Psalms 72:10-11Matthew 2:1-11
Be annointed with the Spirit of God Isaiah 11:2, 61:1Matthew 3:16; John 3:34; Acts 10:38
Be hated without cause Isaiah 49:7; Psalms 69:4John 15:24-25
Be undesired and rejected by His own people Isaiah 53:2, 63:3; Psalms 69:8Mark 6:3; Luke 9:58; John 1:11,
Be plotted against by Jews and Gentiles together Psalms 2:1-2Acts 4:27
Be betrayed by a friend Psalms 41:9, 55:12-24Matthew 26:21-25, 47-50; John 13:18-21; Acts 1:16-18
Be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver Zechariah 11:12Matthew 26:16
Have his price given for a potter’s field Zechariah 11:13Matthew 27:7
Be forsaken by His disciples Zechariah 13:7Matthew 26:31, 56
Be struck on the cheek Micah 5:1Matthew 27:30
Be spat on Isaiah 50:6Matthew 26:67, 27:30
Be mocked Psalms 22:7-8Matthew 27:31, 39-44
Be beaten Isaiah 50:6Matthew 26:67, 27:26, 30
Be thirsty during His execution Psalms 22:15John 19:28
Be given vinegar to quench that thirst Psalms 69:21Matthew 27:34
Be considered a transgressor Isaiah 53:12Matthew 27:38
Be buried with the rich when dead Isaiah 53:9Matthew 27:57-60
Be sought after by Gentiles as well as Jews Isaiah 11:10, 42:1Acts 10:45
Be accepted by the Gentiles Isaiah 11:10, 42:1-4, 49:1-12Matthew 12:21; Acts 10:45; Romans 15:9-12

Now that you have seen this comparison, you must answer this question, “What will you do about Jesus?”

So Where Does All This Leave Us?

As described above, there is a significant amount of biblical evidence which can lead us to only one conclusion.  Jesus is the Messiah.  He claimed it.  It was claimed by others of Him.  But more importantly, He demonstrated it by His fulfillment of every messianic prophecy we know of, leaving no room for doubt.  The mathematical probability that a person could fulfill even the prophecies listed here is astronomical, yet Jesus did it.

To get a feel for the probabilities involved, consider this.  An author and speaker named Josh McDowell calculated the odds of Jesus fulfilling only eight of the Messianic prophecies as 1 out of 1017 (a one followed by 17 zeros).  This is equivalent to covering the entire state of Texas with silver dollars two feet deep, marking one of them, mixing them all up and having a blind-folded person select the marked one at random the first time.

Only a few of the Messianic prophecies in the Bible have been presented here.  There are many more, not even including the ones (mostly from the book of Revelation which are still outstainding (have not been fulfilled yet).

Since Jesus is Messiah (and therefore God), then He is our creator and we are accountable to Him.  All He wants is to be your Savior and the Lord of your life, to love you in tangible ways, to have a personal, one on one relationship with you.  If you do not already have this relationship, you can read more here about how to get it started.  Jesus is knocking.  Will you open the door and let Him help you?

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Last updated on December 19, 2006 at 7:24 PM
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