DID JESUS FULFILL THE
When you read the New Testament it appears that every aspect of Jesus’
life was a fulfillment of prophecy! How could this be? Rabbi Singer charges that the New Testament
“paints” Jesus into the Jewish Scriptures. Is Singer correct in his charge that Christians
distort the Tanakh in order to read Jesus into it? He also claims that Christians read the
“Old Testament” through the lenses of the New.
Actually, the reverse is better. The New Testament must be read through the
Jewish Scriptures in order to be properly understood. The promise of the coming of a Deliverer, later called
the Messiah (“Anointed One”) is very ancient. Intimations are found as far back as the
beginning of Genesis. As the centuries passed, more and more details were added about this Person
-- what he would do and what he would be like. Jesus claimed to be the fulfillment of those
prophecies. Is there evidence to support his claim?
His Genealogy: the Promise of the Seed
The Seed of the Woman
Ever since sin entered our world and brought ruin, God sent hope through the
promise of the Seed (Heb. zerah). The first intimation of help came when the LORD God cursed
the serpent by promising that the woman would have a Seed who would crush the serpent’s head
(Gen. 3:15). Though the word “seed” can be either collective or singular, the promise is
singular and masculine.
I will put enmity between you [the serpent] and the woman
and between your seed (collective) and her seed (collective);
he (singular) shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.
The first two lines promise warfare between the descendants of the serpent (the
followers of the serpent or Satan) and the descendants of the woman (God’s people). The second
two lines promise warfare between the serpent himself and a descendant of the woman. Picture a man
walking barefoot in the garden when a snake bites his heel. The snake bite is fatal to the man -- he
dies. But before he dies, he crushes the head of the snake. The snake may writhe for awhile, but its
death is certain.
This is the first promise in the Bible that God would send a Deliverer who would
die, but in the process would crush his enemy, the devil. This Deliverer would be the child of the
woman. Though the Hebrew people reckoned genealogies through the male line, this Deliverer was
uniquely the child of a woman.
Christians see Jesus as the fulfillment of this prophecy. Jesus was born of a
woman only (a virgin), conceived of the Holy Spirit (Matthew 1:18-25). He died at the hands of men
under demonic control. But his death made possible the ultimate destruction of Satan.
The Seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
As history unfolded, the promise of the Seed focused on a specific line of
descent. God promised Abraham: “In your seed shall all nations of the earth be blessed”
(Gen. 22:18). The promise was renewed to his son Isaac (26:4, KJV) and Jacob, later called Israel
(28:14, KJV). Seed in each case is collective but could have a singular meaning also. The
promised blessing to the world would come through the descendants of Abraham, but also through one
A Prophet Like Moses
Shortly before Moses died, he predicted who this Person would be:
And the Lord said to me, . . . I will raise up for them a prophet like you from
among their brethren; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all
that I command him (Deuteronomy 18:17-18, emphasis supplied).
After Moses died, the Bible writer said,
And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord
knew face to face, none like him for all the signs and the wonders which the Lord sent
him to do in the land of Egypt, and . . . for all the mighty power and all the great and terrible
deeds which Moses wrought in the sight of all Israel (Deut. 34:10-12, emphasis supplied).
Jesus claimed to be that prophet.
1. He knew God face to face. “No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who
is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known” (John 1:18).
2. God put his words in the mouth of Jesus. “The words that I say to you
I do not speak on my own authority; but the Father who dwells in me does his works” (John
14:10; see also 17:8).
3. God sent him to do signs and wonders. He said, “The works which the
Father has granted me to accomplish, these very works which I am doing, bear me witness that the
Father has sent me” (John 5:36). Since Jesus came as Life-giver rather than destroyer, his
“signs” are the opposite of the plagues on Egypt. Instead of turning water to blood, he
turned water to wine (Exodus 7:17-18; John 2:9, 11). While Moses called down thunderstorm, hail, and
terror, Jesus stilled the storm and brought calm (Ex. 9:23-25; John 6:18-21). While Moses invoked
darkness upon Egypt, Jesus gave light to those in darkness and proclaimed himself the light of the
world (Ex. 10:22-23; John 9:5-7; 8:12). While the angel of death slew the firstborn of Egypt, Jesus,
in his crowning act, raised a decomposed body to life (Ex. 12:29-30; John 11:43-44). Paralleling the
gift of manna, he fed thousands with bread and fish, presenting himself as the “bread of God
which comes down from heaven” (Ex. 16:11-30; John 6: 9-14, 32-33). In astonishment, the people
said, “This is indeed the prophet who is to come into the world!” (John 6:14,
A King from Judah
As Jacob lay dying, he prophesied of a single individual from the tribe of Judah
who would rule over the people.
The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his
feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be (Gen. 49:10, KJV).
Later in Israel’s history the prophet Balaam looked forward to this ruler.
I see him, but not now;
I behold him, but not nigh:
a star shall come forth out of Jacob,
and a scepter shall rise out of Israel;
it shall crush the forehead of Moab,
and break down all the sons of Sheth (Numbers 24:17, RSV, emphasis supplied).
The words scepter and star suggest a mighty ruler or king, who
would conquer his enemies. This oracle is recognized by the Jewish people as a prophecy of the
The Seed of David
When Israel demanded a king, God selected “a man after his own heart”
to be prince over his people (1 Samuel 13:14). He directed the prophet Samuel to go to Bethlehem, to
the home of Jesse, and anoint his youngest son, David, the shepherd boy, as king (16:13).
King David, the son of Jesse, began to fulfill the promise of a “scepter”
arising out of the tribe of Judah. But God made many promises to David that looked beyond him to the
coming Messiah. First of all, He renewed the promise of a “seed.”
I will raise up your offspring (Heb., zerah, seed) after you who shall come
forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will
establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son . . . . And
your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for
ever. (2 Sam. 7:12-16.)
This promise looks beyond Solomon, David’s successor, to a dynasty that would
The royal Psalms expand the promise to immense proportions. They envision a
reign of righteousness, justice, and peace, that encompasses the whole world and lasts forever and ever.
These Psalms portray not only a Messiah, but one who is divine.
Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever (Psalm 45:6).
Endow the king with your justice, O God,
the royal son with your righteousness.
He will endure as long as the sun,
as long as the moon, through all generations.
In his days the righteous will flourish;
prosperity will abound till the moon is no more.
He will rule from sea to sea
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
All nations will be blessed through him,
and they will call him blessed. (Ps. 72:1, 5, 7-8, 17, NIV).
Isaiah enlarges upon the theme of a divine Child to rule on David’s throne.
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever (Isaiah 9:6-7, NIV).
A Branch from David’s Stump
But David’s throne did not last forever. The promise was conditioned upon
obedience. The Lord told Solomon:
If you walk before me, as David your father walked, doing according to all that I
have commanded you and keeping my statutes and my ordinances, then I will establish your royal throne,
as I covenanted with David your father saying, ‘There shall not fail you a man to rule
Israel.’ But if you turn aside and forsake my statutes and my commandments which I have set
before you, and go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will pluck you up from the land which
I have given you (2 Chronicles 7:19-20).
Most of the kings descended from David failed to keep the covenant. How then could
the sure promises to David ever be fulfilled? If their fulfillment depended on human performance they
were bound to fail. The reason the promises to David were so sure was that they depended upon God
Himself! His divine Messiah would fulfill the covenant! “I have given you as a covenant to the
people” (Isa. 42:6). The promises to David of an everlasting kingdom could reach fulfillment
only by a divine descendant of David, someone who would not fail.
Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him,
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not fail or be discouraged
till he has established justice in the earth;
and the coastlands wait for his law (Isa. 42:1-4).
David’s dynasty was cut off like a tree with only the stump remaining. After
four centuries of Davidic rule, King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon conquered Judah and deposed her king,
cutting off the dynasty of David. How, then, would God’s promises to David be fulfilled? Just as
the stump of a tree sends out branches, the prophet Isaiah predicted that a shoot would come forth from
David’s father, Jesse.
There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse
and a branch shall grow out of his roots.
And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,
the spirit of wisdom and understanding,
the spirit of counsel and might,
the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. . . .
. . . with righteousness he shall judge the poor,
and decide with equity for the meek of the earth;
and he shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth,
and with the breath of his lips he shall slay the wicked.
Righteousness shall be the girdle of his waist,
and faithfulness the girdle of his loins (Isaiah 11:1-5).
In that day the root of Jesse shall stand as an ensign to the peoples; him
shall the nations seek, and his dwellings shall be glorious (v 10, emphasis supplied).
Notice that Messiah would be both the root (source) and offspring of Jesse. He came
before Jesse and also was born a descendant of Jesse.
Jeremiah prophesied of the Messiah:
Behold the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will raise up for David a righteous
Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the
land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he
will be called: “The LORD is our righteousness” (Jeremiah 23:5-6; see also 33:15).
The Branch from David was called, “The LORD” -- as Isaiah had said: the
Child would be called, “Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isa. 9:6).
Through the divine seed of David all the promises of an everlasting kingdom would
eventually be fulfilled.
The Fulfillment of the “Seed” Promises
Jesus Christ uniquely fulfilled the promise of the “Seed.” Genesis 3:15
says he would be the seed of the woman. According to the New Testament, Jesus was the child of a woman,
Mary, but not of her husband, Joseph. When Joseph found that his espoused wife was pregnant, his first
impulse was to divorce her.
But as he considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream,
saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived
in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save
his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:20-21).
Matthew continues the story:
All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold,
a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel” (which means, God
with us) (vv. 22-23).
Christians believe that Jesus had existed in heaven as God before he became a human
being. (See my article, “Is God One or
Three-in-One?”) Thus he was both divine and human. His human birth introduced him
to the humanity as “God with us” -- God again tabernacling with his people.
Matthew traces the ancestry of Jesus through the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, Jacob,
and Judah to the Davidic line of kings. (See Matt. 1:2-16) Jesus was “the son of David,”
the “shoot from the stump of Jesse,” the “Branch,” as predicted by the prophets
The Place of Messiah’s Birth
Since Messiah was the Son of David, it is not strange that he would be born in
David’s city, Bethlehem.
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose origin is from of old,
from ancient days (Micah 5:2).
The Jewish leaders in the time of Christ recognized this passage as a prophecy of
Messiah’s birth (Matthew 2:3-6).
Since Jesus’ parents lived in Nazareth in Galilee, it was not natural for him
to be born in Bethlehem in Judea. It took a decree from the Emperor Caesar Augustus to bring the parents
of Jesus to the right place at the right time.
In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be
enrolled. . . . And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. And Joseph also went up from Galilee,
from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of
the house and lineage of David, to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while
they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and
wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the
inn (Luke 2:1-7).
The Time of Messiah’s Appearance
On his deathbed the patriarch Jacob prophesied of the time of Messiah’s
The scepter shall not depart from Judah,
nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet,
until he comes to whom it belongs;
and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples (Gen. 49:10).
This prediction indicates that rulership would belong to the tribe of Judah, later
identified as David’s line, until the one came to whom the throne belonged. Because of the
wickedness and rebellion of the kings of Israel and Judah, the prophet Ezekiel thundered:
And you, O unhallowed wicked one, prince of Israel, whose day has come, the time of
your final punishment, thus says the Lord God: Remove the turban, and take off the crown; things shall
not remain as they are. . . . A ruin, ruin, ruin I will make it; there shall not be even a trace of it
until he comes whose right it is; and to him I will give it (Ezekiel 21:25-27; Masoretic Text 21:30-32).
Jewish rule ended in stages: the Davidic dynasty ended in 586 BCE when the Babylonian king
Nebuchadnezzar took the last king, Zedekiah, captive. Upon return from exile the Jews had limited
self-rule under Persian, Greek, and Roman domination. The complete termination of Jewish rule occurred
in 70 A.D. with the destruction of the second temple and with it the government of the Great Sanhedrin.
After the second Jewish revolt in 132-135 CE the Romans destroyed the city and expelled all Jews from
The prophet Malachi had predicted that “the Lord whom you seek will suddenly
come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming,
says the Lord of hosts” (Mal. 3:1, emphasis supplied). This is a prophecy that Messiah would
come to the second temple! According to these prophecies, Messiah must have already come before the
temple was destroyed in 70 CE!
A more precise prophecy of the time of Messiah’s coming is found in chapter
9 of Daniel. The prophet had been mourning for Israel’s sins and pleading for God’s
forgiveness and the restoration of the land, the city, and the temple (vv. 1-19). The angel Gabriel
announced the coming of the Messiah (Heb. “anointed one”) who alone could make right the
wrongs Daniel mourned over.
Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city, to
finish transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting
righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most holy. Know and understand this:
From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler,
comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens’ (v. 24, NIV,
This prophecy describes certain events to happen within a period of 490 years
(“70 sevens”), beginning with the rebuilding of Jerusalem, which conclude with the coming
and death of the Messiah.
After the sixty-two ‘sevens’ the Anointed One will be cut off, and will
have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. The end
will come like a flood: War will continue until the end . . . . (Dan. 9:26, NIV).
Here the sequence is clear:
1. the coming of the “Anointed One, the ruler” (27 CE)
2. the death of the “Anointed One” (Jesus was crucified in 31 CE)
3. the destruction of the city and the sanctuary (70 CE).
Evangelical Christians have several interpretations of this text based on which
decree they accept as the beginning date, but they all place the date of Christ’s crucifixion
within a few years of 30 CE. Jesus died at the time prophesied by Daniel.
The Ministry of Messiah
The prophets gave many descriptions of the ministry of Messiah. His coming would
be announced by a messenger. He would heal the sick. He would shepherd his flock. The prophet Zechariah
described the climax of his ministry, his triumphal entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey.
“Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me” (Malachi 3:1).
“A voice cries: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the
desert a highway for our God’” (Isa. 40:3).
“In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea,
‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ For this is he who was spoken of by
the prophet Isaiah when he said, ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare the
way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’” (Matt. 3:1-3).
“Then the eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf will be
unstopped. Then the lame will leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb will shout for
joy” (Isa. 35:5-6).
And Jesus went about all the cities and villages...healing every disease and every
infirmity (Matt. 9:35).
“He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms, he
will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young” (Isa. 40:11).
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep”
“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout aloud, O daughter of Jerusalem! Lo, your
king comes to you; triumphant and victorious is he, humble and riding on an ass, on a colt the foal
of an ass” (Zechariah 9:9).
“And they brought the colt to Jesus, and threw their garments on it; and he sat upon
it. . . . And those who went before . . . cried out, ‘Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the
name of the Lord’” (Mark 11:7-9).
Details about Messiah’s Death and Resurrection
Since David was the ancestor and type of Messiah, it is not surprising that Jesus’
experiences paralleled those of David. Psalm 22 contains many laments that seem much more applicable to
Jesus as he hung upon the cross than to David. So it seems that this Psalm is actually a prediction of
Jesus’ agony on the cross. Note the parallels:
Psalms of David
“Even my bosom friend in whom I trusted who ate of my bread, has lifted his heel
against me” (Ps. 41:9).
Jesus . . . was troubled in spirit, and testified, “Truly, truly I say to you, one
of you will betray me” (John 13:21).
My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? (Ps. 22:1).
Jesus cried out with a loud voice. . . “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken
me?” (Matt. 27:46)
All who see me mock at me, they make mouths at me, they wag their
Those who passed by derided him, wagging their heads (v. 39).
“He committed his cause to the LORD; let him deliver him, let him rescue him, for
he delights in him!” (verses 7-8).
“He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he desires him”
I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax, it
is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue cleaves to
my jaws . . . (vv. 14-15).
Jesus said, “I thirst.” (John 19:28).
Yea, dogs are round about me; a company of evildoers encircle me; they have pierced
my hands and feet (v. 16, Heb., v. 17).
I can count all my bones -- they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments
among them, and for my raiment they cast lots (vv. 17-18).
And when they had crucified him, they divided his garments among them by casting
lots (Matt. 27:35).
Insults have broken my heart, so that I am in despair. I looked for pity, but there was
none; and for comforters, but I found none. They gave me poison for food, and for my thirst
they gave me vinegar to drink (Ps. 69:20-21).
They put a sponge full of vinegar on hyssop and held it to his mouth (John 19:29).
(The resurrection) “Therefore my heart is glad, and my soul rejoices: my body
also dwells secure. For thou dost not give me up to Sheol, or let thy godly one see the Pit
[or Heb. corruption]” (Ps. 16:9-10).
“Brethren, I may say to you confidently of the patriarch David that he both died
and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that
God has sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants upon his throne . . .
he foresaw and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor
did his flesh see corruption” (Acts 2:29-31).
There is no account that David’s garments were divided by his enemies or that
he was given vinegar to drink when he was parched with thirst. The description fits the crucifixion
exactly -- Jesus was stretched out on the cross with his bones protruding; after the blood-letting he
was consumed with thirst; and all he heard was the taunts of heartless enemies.
Isaiah paints an incredible picture of the sufferings of the Servant of the Lord
which is easily recognized as a description of Jesus.
“I gave my back to the smiters, and my cheeks to those who pulled out the
beard; I hid not my face from shame and spitting” (50:6, emphasis supplied).
“And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe upon him. . . . And kneeling before
him they mocked him. . . . And they spat upon him, and took the reed and struck him
on the head” (Matthew 27:28-30, emphasis supplied).
“He was despised and rejected by men” (53:3).
“. . . the rulers scoffed at him, saying, ‘He saved others; let him save
himself, if he is the Christ of God, his Chosen One!’ The soldiers also mocked him”
“He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; . . . and like
a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.” (53:7).
“By oppression and judgment he was taken away” (v. 8).
“But when he was accused by the chief priests and elders, he made no answer. Then
Pilate said to him, ‘Do you not hear how many things they testify against you?’ But
he gave him no answer, not even to a single charge; so that the governor wondered greatly“
“He was pierced for our transgressions” (v. 5, literal
“There they crucified him” (John 19:18).
“But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there
came out blood and water” (John 19:34).
By his stripes we are healed (v. 5).
“Then Pilate took Jesus and scourged him” (John 19:1).
“Then he released for them Barabbas [a criminal], and having scourged Jesus,
delivered him to be crucified” (Matt. 27:26).
“He . . . was numbered with the transgressors” (53:12).
“Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him.
And when they came to the place which is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the
criminals, one on the right and one on the left” (Luke 23:32-33).
‘And he was reckoned with transgressors’ (Luke 22:37).
He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities (53:5).
“He bore the sin of many” (v.12).
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live
to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24).
“He . . . made intercession for the transgressors” (53:12).
[While the soldiers were crucifying him] “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them;
for they know not what they do’” (Luke 23:33-34).
“They made his grave with . . . a rich man in his death” (53:9).
“When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph. . . . And
Joseph took the body, and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud, and laid it in his own new tomb”
“He shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied” (53:11).
“Fear not, I am . . . the living one; I died, and behold I am alive for evermore and
have the keys of Death and Hades” (Revelation 1:17-18).
In this article we have traced the development of the concept of a Deliverer or
Messiah throughout Bible history. It began with the promise of a “Seed,” a descendant
through a special line of chosen ones who would crush the head of the enemy (Gen. 3:15) and bring
blessing to the world (12:3). Then God promised a prophet like Moses (Deut. 18:17-18) who by the
power of God would deliver, protect, and sustain His people throughout their earthly pilgrimage.
Later the concept expanded to that of a royal Person, an everlasting King who would reign in
righteousness (2 Sam. 7:12-16), establish justice, and slay the wicked (Isa. 11:1-5). Isaiah also
saw him as “the Servant of the Lord,” humble, rejected, and stricken for the sins of
his people (chap. 53), bringing comfort to the mourners and proclaiming the day of God’s
vengeance (chap. 63:1-3). Further, he would be born in Bethlehem and appear before the destruction
of the second temple.
Jesus fulfilled all these prophecies, up until the “day of vengeance of our
God,” when His enemies are destroyed and Messiah rules in justice over a peaceful world. (See
my article, “Why Didn’t Jesus Bring in the
The odds against any one person’s fulfilling all the above prophecies are
astronomical. Yet Jesus fulfilled all of these prophecies!
1 “How Do Missionaries Paint Jesus into the Jewish
Scriptures?” (MP3 download, 36.1MB), a lecture available on the web at outreachjudaism.org, “Judaism’s Response to Christian Missionaries” under
“Rabbi Singer Answers Your Questions.”
2 Some Christians have similar concerns. They wonder whether
the NT interpretation of an OT text is, in fact, the meaning intended by the OT author. “If
it is not in the OT text, who cares how ingenious later writers are in their ability to reload the
OT text with truths that it never claimed or revealed in the first place?” Walter Kaiser,
Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (JETS), 42/1 (1999) 99-102, cited in John H.
Sailhamer, “The Messiah and the Hebrew Bible,” (JETS) 44/1 (March 2001) 5.
3 “The NT is not so much a guide to
understanding the OT as it is the goal of understanding the OT. Unless we understand
the OT picture of the Messiah, we will not understand the NT picture of Jesus. The OT, not the
NT, is the messianic searchlight.” John H. Sailhamer, ibid., 11.
4 He told his critics: “You search the scriptures,
because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me”
(John 5:39). “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me” (v. 46).
His last words to his disciples include the following: “These are my words which I spoke to you,
while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the law of Moses and the prophets and
the psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44).
5 The royal Psalms, applied initially to David and Solomon,
are Psalms 2, 72, 89:19-37, and 110.
6 The rulership of the tribe of Judah continued through the
Davidic line until the captivity into Babylon, which lasted 70 years. After the return from exile
under Ezra, rulership resided in the Davidic prince Zerubbabel and the Levitical priest Joshua, and
their descendants. During the centuries that followed, Judea was under the rule of the Greek Seleucids
in Syria and the Greek Ptolemies in Egypt until the Roman Pompey conquered Judea in 63 BCE. Rulership
of Judea was taken away from the Idumaean Herods and put directly under Roman control, with a Roman
procurator, Pontius Pilate in control, in the year 26 CE. Under the Romans the Jews had their own
governing body, the Great Sanhedrin, which met in the Jerusalem temple until 70 CE, when it was
destroyed. According to Jacob’s prophecy about Judah, Messiah must already have come by this
7 Some question whether this prophecy applies to the Messiah
(Heb., “anointed one”), since kings and priests were also anointed. It is evident that a
more-than-human person must do what the chapter calls for -- to finish transgression, put away sin,
atone for wickedness, and bring in everlasting righteousness.
8 The prophecy begins with a decree to restore and rebuild
Jerusalem, followed by 69 “sevens,” or 483 years, when Messiah would come (Daniel 9:25).
Ezra 6:14 indicates that it took three decrees for the restoration of Jerusalem to take place: 1)
Cyrus’s decree in 538 BCE that gave permission to rebuild the temple (Ezra 1:2); 2)
Artaxerxes’ decree in 457 which, gave Judea permission to govern itself and apparently
involved authority to erect the walls of Jerusalem (Ezra 7:6-7; 9:9; cf 4:12); and 3) the permission
to Nehemiah in 445 to finish rebuilding the walls (Neh. 2:7-8). The second alternative leads to the
date 27 CE, which is the time when Jesus began his ministry. For further details about this remarkable
prophecy, see the lesson entitled “Cleansing the Temple” on the Amazing Facts: Storacle Lessons webpage.
9 The Hebrew here has a double meaning, possibly a play on
words: ka’rie (“like a lion”) or ka’ro, “they have bored
or digged.” Verse 13 already mentions a lion: “they open wide their mouths at me, like a
ravening and roaring lion.” The composite meaning would be, “like a lion they have pierced
my hands and my feet.” Perhaps David is here thinking of a lion’s sharp teeth piercing his
hands and feet. It could be a prediction of the crucifixion -- piercing Jesus’ hands and feet
10 Someone has estimated that the odds against it are one in
1017 (ten followed by 17 zeros). To comprehend what this means, mathematician
Peter Stoner gives the following illustration:
Suppose we take this number of silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas.
They will cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the
whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far
as he wishes, but he must pick up that one marked silver dollar. What are his chances?
Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict (San Bernardino, CA:
Here’s Life Publishers, 1986) 167.
See also Mathematical Probabilities of Fulfilled Prophecies. (Note:
Linked webpage may require horizontal scrolling to view “Probabilities” article.)