Messianic Prophecy

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POM CoverThe principle of Messianic Prophecy is well established in the Bible. From the beginning of the Hebrew prophets, it was understood that a Messiah was promised by God in The First Prophecy of the Bible. This web site contains a detailed list of 365 Messianic Prophecies that fully validate the promises and fulfillments of God’s desire to send the Anointed One to earth.

At the time that Jesus was born, the arrival of the Messiah was considered imminent. Even the ungodly king, Herod, was aware of the Hebrew prophecies which described the arrival of the Messiah. Herod was one of the most paranoid individuals of all time. He was said to be so afraid that someone would conspire to take his throne, that he had his wife and sons murdered. Confirmation of Herod’s vitriol fear of a usurper to his throne, comes from an extra-biblical source by a Roman writer, Macrobius, who described Herod’s paranoia:

“When he [emperor Augustus] heard that among the boys in Syria under two years old whom Herod, king of the Jews, had ordered to kill, his own son was also killed, he said: it is better to be Herod’s pig, than his son.”[1]

This comment by Macrobius also confirms the Gospel account of Matthew 2:16-18, describing the reason for this massacre of innocent children: to kill the infant Jesus. As Herod issues an order to kill all of the baby boys in Bethlehem who were two years old and under, he also orders the execution of his own son.

This gives us an additional secular source for confirmation of Jesus existence as a child in Bethlehem, in fulfillment of the prophecy of Micah 5:2 for the birth of the Messiah, and Jeremiah 31:15 for the unsuccessful attempt on His life.

Four facts of history that the Roman historian, Macrobius, confirms from the Gospels of Matthew and Luke in their account of Jesus birth:

1. Caesar Agustus was Emperor (Luke 2:1).
2. Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Matthew 1:8, 2:1).
3. Herod was king of Judea (Matthew 2:3).
4. An attempt on Jesus life (Matthew 2:16-18).

This gives us further empirical evidence from secular history that the Gospel narratives of Jesus Christ are accurate and reliable.

Herod became aware of Micah’s prophecy of a coming Messiah who would be the King of Israel, by the ancient Prophecies of the Messiah.

The whole world knew that a King was about to be born in Bethlehem. When the wise men came from the east, crossing the borders of Israel where Herod ruled, he sent word to these men to come and tell him where this new king was located so that he could also come and “worship Him.”

The prophet Micah predicts that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.

Micah 5:2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.

Jeremiah records the execution of children in Bethlehem, by the orders of Herod.

Jeremiah 31:15 Thus says the LORD: “A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted for her children, Because they are no more.”

New Testament Fulfillment:

Matthew 2:16-18 Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men. Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: “A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted, Because they are no more.”

There has been some dispute regarding whether Jeremiah was writing about the murder of innocents in Bethlehem or he was specifically writing about a near-future event, the captivity of the northern kingdom.

Matthew 2:16-18 (above) confirms the words of Jeremiah regarding the lamentation and weeping of Bethlehem when Herod dispatched soldiers to kill every infant under two years of age. The near application of Jeremiah’s prophecy was intended for Rachel at Ramah who would weep at the loss of her future descendants in the northern tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, through Joseph, and Benjamin in the south—in 722-721 B.C. There is some discussion as to whether this prophecy may also be referring to a later occurrence in 586 B. C.[2]

Matthew makes it certain that the murder of children which occurred after the birth of Jesus, was a direct fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy in applying it to Jesus as the Messiah.

Rachel was the wife of Joseph. Here Jeremiah describes her as weeping for the children of Israel who will be deported to Babylon in 586 B.C. Ramah was located just five miles north of Jerusalem, where all of the exiles were assembled before they were taken to Babylon. Rachel is described prophetically as weeping for her future descendants who will be taken from their homes, in fulfillment of Jeremiah’s previous prophecy of captivity for the Jews in Babylon for 70 years.[3]

This is an interesting prophecy by Jeremiah for a couple of reasons.

First, this is a near future prophetic look at an actual event that Rachel is weeping for, the captivity of the Jews who were taken to Babylon.

Second, this is a distant future prophetic look at the actual murder of many of Rachel’s children, the young boys in Bethlehem whom Herod dispatched soldiers to execute (Matthew 2:16-18, above). Before Jesus began His ministry to save the world, satan was working through evil men to end His life.

By this example, we observe how it is possible for an Old Testament prophet to give us a word of prophecy regarding both a close fulfillment of his words, as well as future fulfillment of the same prophecy, hundreds of years later.

When we consider that Jeremiah and Micah both wrote their predictions of the Messiah about six hundred years before Jesus was born, these two prophecies become two of the most extraordinary predictions in the Bible. The details of which are confirmed by the secular, historical, accounts of Macrobius, as occurring precisely as the Old Testament had predicted, and the New Testament confirmed.

Understanding Messianic Prophecy

The Prophecies of the Messiah are a difficult subject to grasp for many people today. Either by a lack of knowledge in what God has written, or a disregard for what He has said—the importance of these prophecies remain unknown to the vast majority of the world.

It was the intention of God that He would make Himself known by these pre-recorded predictions—which would validate His Son when He arrived on the earth. About 700 years before Jesus appeared in Jerusalem, the prophet Isaiah described the arrival of the Messiah and His fulfillment of over 400 prophecies, as unbelievable.

Old Testament Prediction:

Isaiah 53:1 Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

When John wrote that Isaiah’s prophecy was written for, and fulfilled by, Jesus, he was just as shocked at the revelation of this truth as the world is today.

New Testament Fulfillment:

John 12:37-43 But although He had done so many signs before them, they did not believe in Him, that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spoke: “Lord, who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?” Therefore they could not believe, because Isaiah said again: “He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, Lest they should see with their eyes, Lest they should understand with their hearts and turn, So that I should heal them.” These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him. Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

Who would believe this amazing story of the Messiah when it was told them? Even so, the prophet continues that this is how the arm of the LORD is revealed. The arm of the LORD is a reference to His power. Who would imagine that the great power of the eternal God, which He predicted, would be revealed by the coming of the Messiah—under such difficult circumstances?

• Born to a poor family
• An attempt on His life as a baby
• Fleeing to Egypt to save His life
• Growing up as the son of a carpenter
• No home of His own
• No possessions except what He wore
• Rejected by the leaders of Israel
• Rejected by the people of Israel
• Arrested and convicted of crimes He did not commit
• Beaten so severely, He was not recognizable as a man.
• Crucified between two criminals
• Mocked, spat upon and ridiculed while He is dying

Isaiah asks the question: Who has believed our report? No one could have anticipated that God would send His Son into the world under such dire and difficult circumstances. Worst of all, though He came and endured such horrible treatment, His own brothers, the leaders of Israel and the common people of Israel did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah, they rejected Him.

We would logically conclude that those who were entrusted with the word of God at the time Jesus arrived—would have anticipated Isaiah’s prophecy and foresee the Messiah’s rejection. The leaders of Israel should have prepared themselves to receive anyone who met the qualifications which the prophetic word required. God made it very easy to recognize the Messiah, simply by comparing His words and actions to those of the prophetic scriptures. Unfortunately, the leaders of Israel did not understand the Prophecies of the Messiah, nor were they ready to receive the kind of Messiah that Jesus presented to them at that time.

The Prophecies of the Messiah were not understood

Many of the things which Jesus had said and done at that time, were not known or understood by the disciples of Jesus when the events took place. It was not until after Jesus had risen from the dead that these men realized that He had fulfilled all the Prophecies which had been written for the Messiah.

John 12:16 His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things were written about Him and that they had done these things to Him.

Without the prophecies of the Messiah, we would have no method by which we could validate Jesus as the Savior of the world. The disciples were uncertain who Jesus was, until they remembered certain prophecies which had been written in the Old Testament—that Jesus was fulfilling right before their eyes.

It is safe to say that these Prophecies of the Messiah are essential to our understanding of the entire Bible. Once a person realizes what was predicted of the Messiah, and how Jesus fulfilled each of these prophecies—the entire scope and purpose of the Bible comes into view.

Why was a large entourage of pagan Astrologers traveling such a great distance—across perilous terrain, just to see a newborn baby in Bethlehem?

Matthew 2:1-8 Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.

These men had studied the stars, as they moved through the visible sky, and they noticed something incredible. Apparently, these Magi were also students of the Hebrew Prophecies, and they believed that these scriptures were inspired and written by the God of the Hebrews to announce the coming of the Messiah to Israel.

It is likely that these wise men from the east had read the prophecy from book of Micah that predicted the coming of the Messiah at Bethlehem:

Micah 5:2 “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, From everlasting.”

Along with their study of the Scriptures, these men also observed an event in the movement of the stars which led them to believe that this King, described in Malachi’s prophecy, was about to be born in Bethlehem. Confirmation of Micah’s prophecy is given to us in the narrative of Matthew’s gospel:

Matthew 2:2-4 The wise men saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born.

Notice that these travelers from the East, had followed a sign in the heavens, which they attributed to the fulfillment of Micah’s prophecy. These men considered the words of Micah as the very words of God Himself. This king who would be born, would be the key to all life and the very reason for our existence. Today, we have lost this expectation and excitement for what God has promised. We have forgotten that the God who created this vast universe—is completing a plan which He engineered and set into motion, long before any of us had come to this planet.

God is finishing what He has started. He has told us in advance how He is going to accomplish His will. He has recorded the events that will take place on the earth that will complete His purpose for this world. Those who take interest and seek to understand what God has said will be counted as the wise. None of the wicked will understand, nor will they care.

Daniel 12:10 Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand.

May those who read and understand The Prophecies of the Messiah, be counted as “the wise.”

You might also be interested in the following articles on this web site:

How Messianic Prophecy is Determined
Criticism of Messianic Prophecy
The First Prophecy of the Bible
Messianic Prophecies Chart

See the 3,000 page treatise on the 365 Messianic Prophecies of the Old Testament, fulfilled by Jesus of Nazareth, in the new book: “The Prophecies of the Messiah,” now available at Amazon for $7.77


NOTES:

[1] Ambrosius Theodosius Macrobius c. 395-423, Saturnalia, book II, chapter IV:11: “Cum audisset inter pueros quos in Syria Herodes rex Iudaeorum intra bimatum iussit interfici filium quoque eius occisum, ait: Melius est Herodis porcum esse quam filium,”
[2] Jeremiah now turns back to the sad conditions of his day. He pictures Rachel at Ramah weeping disconsolately for the loss of her children. She was an ancestress of the northern tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh (through Joseph), as well as of Benjamin in the south. Undoubtedly, she is lamenting the exile of her children in 722- 721 B. C. Some place the incident later at 586 B. C. The first is preferable because it relates specifically to the captivity of the northern kingdom. This, however, need not rule out her weeping for the Exile yet predicted, which occurred in 586 B. C. Ramah was a town five miles north of Jerusalem, the very place where exiles were gathered before deportation to Babylon (cf. 40:1). Rachel weeping is a poetical figure looking forward to her seeing her posterity carried off into exile. Jeremiah himself was in a camp for exiles in Ramah (cf. 40:1). She who had so longed for children (cf. Gen 30:1) is cruelly bereaved of them, but God purposes to restore them. Source: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary.
[3] Jeremiah 25:11 And this whole land shall be a desolation and an astonishment, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.

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