How Messianic Prophecy is Determined

COPYRIGHT WARNING

Upon a search of the internet for Messianic Prophecies, there are several sources that assert that the Bible does not contain prophecies that were fulfilled by Jesus Christ. Further, critics of Hebrew prophecy claim that none of the claimed prophecies of the scriptures were intended as prophetic during their writing.

These arguments are primarily asserted, due to a lack of knowledge in Biblical prophecy and Hermeneutic application.

In order to properly understand why an individual would fail to understand the relevance of a particular scripture, in applying it to the Messiah, we must see these scriptures from the view of the skeptic.

In Psalm 72, David writes a beautiful poetic terse of scriptures that describes his desire for God to bless his kingdom and rule. If we are not paying attention, we might never realize that these verses of scripture, are in fact, describing the coming Messiah.

1 Give the king Your judgments, O God, And Your righteousness to the king’s Son. 2 He will judge Your people with righteousness, And Your poor with justice. 3 The mountains will bring peace to the people, And the little hills, by righteousness. 4 He will bring justice to the poor of the people; He will save the children of the needy, And will break in pieces the oppressor. 5 They shall fear You As long as the sun and moon endure, Throughout all generations. 6 He shall come down like rain upon the grass before mowing, Like showers that water the earth. 7 In His days the righteous shall flourish, And abundance of peace, Until the moon is no more. 8 He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth. —Psalms 72:1-8

Verses 1-2: In order for David to be properly used by the Lord, he must conform himself into the requirements that God has instituted for righteousness. David uses the words: justice, (mishpateyka) and righteousness, (sedaqah) to describe his desire for his rulership. Regardless of David’s human abilities, unless he submits his life and rulership to the authority of the Lord, he will fail and the people of his kingdom will suffer the loss of all that God is desiring to give them.

Verses 2-4: In the same regard that God is the deliverer of His people, so also is David as the Lord’s chosen king. David will judge the cases brought before him with the same righteous judgment as God would. David will not look at the outward appearance, he will judge the hearts of those who come before him.

Verses 5-6: David’s desire is that by his righteous rule—in submission to God’s leadership, he will be permitted an enduring kingdom; “as long as the sun and the moon.”

Verse 7: The result of David’s wise kingdom, will be an extended time of peace. The Lord promises the king that as long as he follows and obey’s the Lord, righteousness and peace will continue.

Verse 8: David’s hope is that his kingdom will extend into time—through all generations, as well as space—a world-wide kingdom (Psalm 2).

As we begin to comprehend what David is saying, we must understand that the words that David writes, were not intended for himself only. David realized that from his line of descendants, God would bring the Messiah. For this reason, all that David wrote, was also intended for the kingdom of the Messiah. A rule of righteousness and peace, made possible by the perfect and sinless Savior that God would bring into the world.

Psalms 72:1-11 describes the Son who will have dominion from sea to sea and from rivers to the ends of the earth. Finally, all kings shall fall down before Him; all nations shall serve Him.

The kingdom that David is predicting is the same kingdom that was promised to Jesus at His birth.

His name is JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end. —Luke 1:31-33

If we simply read Psalm 72 for the surface meaning of the text, we will miss the subtle application of its long term purpose. Every verse of scripture in the Bible was assembled for the express purpose of revealing the Messiah to the world. When David writes, he is always thinking of Messiah. It was his intention that the reader would understand the things he has written—in light of the coming Messiah and apply these verses to Him. If we fail to perceive this important detail, we have missed the entire purpose of the Bible.

Becoming a diligent student of Bible prophecy requires that we read a verse of Scripture from the Old Testament, with the assumption that it is prophetic. The entire purpose of the scriptures is to point us to the Messiah. Therefore, all of the stories, people and events should be carefully scrutinized for their possible application to the Messiah, who is Jesus Christ.

John 5:39 (Jesus speaking) You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.

Jesus is making the assertion that the entire Bible is about Him. Therefore, it is always possible that a particular verse which does not appear at first to be predictive, may indeed, have a prophetic application. No one would have believed that Joel Chapter 2 was applicable to the birth of the church in Acts Chapter 2, unless Peter revealed this to us in Acts chapter 2. See Prophecy 318.

Comparing Scripture With Scripture

In being able to determine whether a particular verse of Old Testament scripture is applicable to Jesus as the Messiah, we must be willing to do the hard work required. If we expect to simply read through the Bible and immediately find those verses which describe the Messiah, we will find this nearly impossible. God has not engineered the Bible with all of the verses for a particular subject—in one place. We must learn how to study the entirety of the scriptures and compare them with other scriptures, in order to determine whether they are genuinely a Messianic Prophecy.

The Book of Numbers, Chapter 24, gives us the account of Balaam—who is acting in the capacity of a prophet of God by making a prophetic prediction about the tribe of Judah, from where the Messiah will one day come. Balaam states that God will bring him out of Egypt.

It has always amazed me that Balaam could act in the capacity of a prophet of God while doing so with evil intentions towards God’s people and his own selfish ambition and greed. The information that he passed along to the Midianites eventually led to the downfall of Israel. Later in the New Testament, Balaam is listed among those who are described as false prophets and are condemned for their actions by God.

They have forsaken the right way and gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Beor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness… —2 Peter 2:15

In Matthew Chapter 2:13-15, the angel of the Lord warns Joseph that Herod will seek to kill Jesus at His birth. Matthew writes that Joseph and Mary departed for Egypt, and this action was in fulfillment of this Prophecy found in Numbers 24:8.

God brings him out of Egypt…” —Numbers 24:8

This event is also predicted by the prophet Hosea:

“When Israel was a child, I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son.” —Hosea 11:1

We might never have known that this verse from the Book of Numbers and Hosea, were prophecies that concerned the coming Messiah, unless the Lord revealed it to us in Matthew’s gospel.

Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way. Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.” When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.” —Matthew 2:12-15

This is an important fact of Bible prophecy: We often do not know that a particular verse of scripture was written prophetically until after the event has taken place. I am sure that Matthew was not aware that Numbers 24:8 or Hosea 11:1 were speaking of the Messiah, until he had learned that the angel had warned Joseph to take Jesus and flee to Egypt not long after His birth. Matthew remembered the words from Hosea 11:1 and Numbers 24:8, as the Holy Spirit brought them to his remembrance. He recorded the fulfillment of this prophecy of the Messiah for us in his gospel.

This is why we should continually read the Bible over and over and become familiar with all of the verses of Scripture. The Holy Spirit can only bring to our remembrance the words of God which we have already read and studied. There have been several occasions when I was speaking to a person about Jesus, or teaching the word of God before a group of people, and the Holy Spirit would remind me of a particular verse of Scripture. Often, it is not a verse that I had really studied extensively. Because I had placed the verse in my mind by reading the word of God, the Holy Spirit was able to bring these verses to my remembrance and allow me to use them in teaching the Bible to someone else.

John 14:26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

These verses from Matthew and Hosea are a perfect match:

Matthew 2:15 “…that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”

Hosea 11:1 “When Israel was a child, I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son.

Notice that Hosea refers to Israel as a child who will be called out of Egypt. If we examine Balaam’s prophecy of Israel, in Numbers Chapter 24:8, he uses similar language in describing the many blessings that God will give Israel through the Messiah. Balaam utilizes the same phrase in verse 24:8 in speaking of Israel as he is called out of Egypt, that Hosea also uses in his description of Israel in chapter 11, verse 1.

Numbers 24:8 “God brings him out of Egypt…”

Examine the entire context of Numbers Chapter 24:

Numbers 24:8-9 God brings him out of Egypt; He has strength like a wild ox; He shall consume the nations, his enemies; He shall break their bones And pierce them with his arrows. 9 He bows down, he lies down as a lion; And as a lion, who shall rouse him?

Clearly, Balaam’s prophecy is speaking of the Messiah who will consume the nations, One who is also called the Lion. These are both descriptions of Jesus which are revealed in the Book of Revelation.

Revelation 19:15 Now out of His mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. And He Himself will rule them with a rod of iron. He Himself treads the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.

Revelation 5:5 But one of the elders said to me, “Do not weep. Behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has prevailed to open the scroll and to loose its seven seals.

The point of this exercise is to demonstrate that a verse of Scripture that many scholars might define as non-prophetic or non-Messianic can certainly be true on both accounts.

In all of the scholarly commentaries that I read concerning Numbers 24:8, not one found an application of this verse to the declaration of Matthew 2:15. When all of the evidence is examined, it is clear that both Hosea and Balaam are speaking of Israel—who will come out of Egypt. Both prophets are using the example of Israel as they speak of the future Messiah.

This same type of careful scrutiny was necessary in determining several Messianic verses that are included in the book: “The Prophecies of the Messiah”. It took a great amount of work to determine whether a particular verse should be included in this book. Instead of trying to look for verses to include, I took the opposite approach, by excluding a verse until it could be proven—a prophetic-Messianic verse that can be validated by a New Testament fulfillment.

Jesus said that not a single Jot or Tittle of the scriptures are there by accident:

Matthew 5:18 “For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.

The Jot and Tittle are the smallest artifacts of the Hebrew alphabet. The Jot is represented by a small dash or a hook above or below a letter. These seemingly insignificant parts of Hebrew words are described by Jesus as just as important as the words they highlight.

jot_and_tittle[1]

The Tittle is the small stroke at the edge of a Hebrew letter that allows letters of similar appearance to be distinguished from each other. Notice that in the example above, the small stroke added where the arrow is pointing, distinguishes this letter from the similar letter to the right.

When the man clothed in linen spoke to Daniel regarding the prophecies that he had been given of the last days, he told Daniel:

Daniel 12:10 …none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand.

According to the Bible, God does not reveal the deep meaning of the scriptures to people who are not in a personal relationship with Him—through His Son. For persons who have yet to receive Jesus as their Savior, only the surface of each scripture can be discerned. God will allow just enough knowledge for salvation—to those who read the Bible, while withholding the deeper significance for souls who love Him. Many of the prophetic portion of the bible will seem foolish and make no sense at all to people who do not know God—this is by design. The Bible describes the natural man, the person who has yet to be Born Again by the Spirit of God, as unable to receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to Him.

1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

The person who has come into a new relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, is able to understand the things of the Spirit of God. This person will be looking for the seemingly insignificant parts of the word of God to discover what the Lord might reveal. The intellectual, who does not have the Spirit of the Living God residing within them, cannot understand any of these things because they are spiritually discerned. I am not surprised that highly intelligent men and woman think that Jesus, the Bible, and Prophecy are foolishness. This is what the Lord said would happen when those who think themselves wise, are confronted with spiritual truth—they will not understand it.

1 Corinthians 1:21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

I have heard from many people whom I have led to Jesus as their Savior, that after they received the Lord and then read their Bible—it came alive and they were finally able to understand what it is saying.

The Glory Is in the Details

Jesus is giving us a hint: we should be paying attention to every tiny detail of the Bible and search out its deeper meaning. The skeptic of the Bible will often point out that it was written by men. They often claim that the Bible is full of contradictions, and that it cannot be relied upon. The truth is that great men have carefully scrutinized the individual books of the Bible for thousands of years. Before the sixty-six individual manuscripts became a single integrated book, these documents were judged to be the word of God and absolutely reliable.

The primary reason that many other alleged gospels of Jesus were not added to the cannon of the New Testament, is due to the diligence of men of the first century, chosen by God, to preserve the accurate text of the New Testament. It was well known prior to the canonization of the New Testament, the particular documents which contained inaccuracies. This is due largely to the knowledge of the true accounts of Jesus life and ministry which were written before 90 A.D, and very likely before the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. In every case, all conflicting documents which are today put forth as alternatives to the four gospels, were written at a time of great distance from the original four gospels.

All of the Gnostic gospels of Jesus, the most prominent of which—the Gospel of Thomas—was found with many other Gnostic texts, written in the third or fourth century.[2] The body of these texts are described as the “Nag Hammadi,” from the location of their discovery along the west bank of the Nile river, 60 miles north of Luxor.[3] Containing some 49 documents in three papyrus codices, none of the texts from these later writings which describe Jesus’ work and ministry—add to our understanding of the four gospels that were written before the end of the first century. In fact—they are in conflict with the writings of the four gospels which were complete by 90 A.D.[4]

Scholars Kellum, Köstenberger, and Quarles commented on the canonization of the gospels in their treatise, “The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown.”

“It was not too long after Jesus’ earthly ministry that the Synoptic Gospels were written (most likely, all before the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70). Originally, the four Gospels disseminated independently of one another. Their individual status as Scripture is usually not debated.”[5]

All other documents not canonized, which purport to contain information regarding the events of Jesus and His ministry, were proven unreliable and inaccurate by the scholars of the first century. These men had far greater ability to determine the authenticity of the documents which should be included in the New Testament, than any modern scholar today.

The first impression of scripture is not always discerned as Messianic Prophecy

The disciples of Jesus were apparently not aware that the Messiah must suffer and die and then be resurrected three days later. Finally, They did not understand that He would ascend back to heaven where He would remain, until the time of the Rapture of the church.

And Jesus began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again. —Mark 8:31

Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said. —John 2:22

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

The difficulty in identifying Old Testament prophecy is observed by the reality of the prediction, as it is often not recognized or understood as a valid prophecy, until after the fulfillment has occurred. Today, we have the benefit of history in understanding each of these prophecies because we can see how they were fulfilled by Jesus. It was not until after Jesus ascended back to heaven that the Holy Spirit revealed to Paul and the other disciples, how the things that Jesus had said and done were a direct fulfillment of these many predictions made—hundreds of years before.

Some have questioned why the gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection were not penned until many years after Jesus ascended back to heaven. I can only speculate, that it was through the passage of time that the disciples had the opportunity to reflect on the scriptures and put the things that Jesus had said and done, into proper perspective, before they were ready to record what they had seen.

John 2:17 Then His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for Your house has eaten Me up.”

The reason that I am able to write books regarding the Messianic Prophecies today, is that I have spent the past 39 years studying and teaching these things to people in the United States, Europe, and Asia. If I had not had the benefit of the past four decades, I would not be able to write sufficiently about what I have seen and heard—as the Holy Spirit has revealed these things to me.

When I began writing, one of the first points which troubled me was the fact that some of these prophecies were not really that clear. A prediction would be found in an obscure verse of scripture which did not seem to have any prophetic significance—as it was applied to the coming of the Messiah. When I began to examine the words that Jesus had spoken, which He said were a fulfillment of the Old Testament predictions, I realized just how these prophetic verses operate. God has disbursed these predictions throughout the Old Testament in places that we would not expect to find a revelation of the coming Messiah. Much like searching for gold, we must diligently dig deep into the Old Testament in order to find these bright and valuable nuggets of truth.

The following prophecy from Psalm 45, illustrates this point:

Prophecy 105

The Old Testament Prediction:

Psalms 45:2 “You are fairer than the sons of men; Grace is poured upon Your lips; Therefore God has blessed You forever.”

The New Testament Fulfillment:

Luke 4:16- 22 “So He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up. And as His custom was, He went into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. … And He began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.’ So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth

At first glance, when we read Psalms 45:2, we may not attribute this verse of scripture to an Old Testament prediction of the coming Messiah. It is not until we read the account described by Luke in chapter 4, verses 16-22, that we read:

Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” So all bore witness to Him, and marveled at the gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth…

When Jesus arrived at Nazareth in Luke 4:16-22 above, as He is handed the scroll of Isaiah, chapter 61, He informs those in attendance that He is fulfilling the words of Isaiah’s prophecy at that precise moment. Luke also describes Jesus as very gracious in all his words—a fulfillment of Prophecy 105 from Psalms 45:2.

In this regard we can observe how an obscure verse from the Old Testament may not at first glance, appear to be a relevant prophecy of the Messiah—until we discover the fulfillment of a related prophecy in the New Testament.

Sidebar: For those who are new to the study of Bible prophecy, the attribution of a verse of scripture from the Old Testament—to an act of Jesus in the New Testament, may seem like a stretch. It is important to learn the first fundamental principle regarding the study of the Bible: The entire purpose of the Bible is to reveal Jesus Christ to the world. Therefore, every word, every line, every paragraph—is about Jesus.

The entire purpose of the scriptures is to point us to the Messiah

Every story, every person, all events, of the Bible should be carefully scrutinized for their possible application to the Messiah. Jesus said that when we examine the text of the Bible, we should always understand that every word was written about Him.

John 5:39 (Jesus speaking) You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.

For this reason, this 54th prophecy taken from 2 Kings 2:11-12, may not appear to have any relevance to the coming Messiah—but it is in fact, extremely relevant.

2 Kings 2:11-12 “Then it happened, as they continued on and talked, that suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried out, ‘My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and its horsemen!’ So he saw him no more. And he took hold of his own clothes and tore them into two pieces.

In 2 Kings 2:11-12, Elijah is taken to heaven by God, but is this relevant to the ascension of Jesus back to heaven in Acts 1:9-11?

Here, Elijah is taken to heaven by God, but is this relevant to the ascension of Jesus back to heaven in Acts 1:9-11?

In order to fully understand why this verse in 2 Kings is applicable, we must understand that this is precisely why the Holy Spirit places these obscure verses throughout the Old Testament. Much like the parables which Jesus taught, the deeper understanding and revelation of what is being said can only be acquired by diligent searching and prayerful meditation.

Paul instructed Timothy to be diligent in dividing the word of God in such a manner that all the individual parts may be understood as a single message. In other words: search out relevant scriptures of similar context throughout the Bible and bring them together as a cohesive message.

2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

If we see an illustration for a bodily ascension by one of God’s prophets in the Old Testament, can we assume that it is the intention of the Holy Spirit to use this as an illustration, pointing us to the ascension of the Messiah when He returns to heaven? Absolutely, yes! The testimony from the Book of Revelation is that Jesus is the spirit of all prophecy.

Revelation 19:10 “…For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”

All of the Old Testament prophecies are intended to reveal who Jesus is, in one way or another. There are no accidents or coincidences in the Bible. God supernaturally designed every word, sentence, phrase, and prophecy, to point us to Jesus.

I believe that Elijah’s bodily ascension to heaven is an Old Testament allusion of the future event recorded in the Book of Acts, where Jesus ascends back to heaven, right before the eyes of His disciples.

Acts 1:8-9 (Jesus Speaking) “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight.

It is important to understand that the true purpose of prophecy is not always to predict the future but to show us that God knows the future. In many cases, we may not understand that a particular verse of scripture is a prophetic word until after the event has already taken place. It is obvious from this principle that God did not give us the prophetic word in every instance to predict future events but so that once the event has occurred, we would understand that He had told us these things ahead of time, so that when they occur—we would know that He is God. The purpose of prophecy, then, is to confirm God’s word and to establish that He is God, knowing all the events of the future and controlling all things by His sovereign will.

Jesus illustrated this by His description of the events that will occur prior to, and during, the seven year Tribulation period. At the conclusion of His message to the disciples, Jesus said this:

Matthew 24:25 See, I have told you beforehand.

In saying this, Jesus confirmed that He has the important attribute of God—Omniscience. Jesus knew all things that would take place concerning His life, death, and resurrection, and He was following a closely scripted plan that was determined before the foundation of the world.[6]

A Further Example of Old Testament Scripture Fulfilled:

Old Testament Prediction:

Psalms 2:1-2 “Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, ‘Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us.’ He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The LORD shall hold them in derision. Then He shall speak to them in His wrath, And distress them in His deep displeasure:

New Testament Fulfillment:

Acts 4:25-28 “who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: ‘Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things? The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the LORD and against His Christ.’ For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.”

Application:

When Peter and John stood before the high priest; Caiaphas, and his family, testifying that Jesus had been resurrected from the dead, these men asked where the Disciples received their authority to make the assertion that Jesus was the Messiah.

Acts 4: 6-7 …Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. 7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power or by what name have you done this?

Peter replied that it was by the authority of Jesus of Nazareth—whom they had crucified and who was risen from the dead. The leaders conferred together what should be done. They determined that they would warn Peter and John and the others from the church, to not speak of Jesus again.

When the people of the church heard the boldness of the disciples and the message which was declared about Jesus, they began to rejoice and spoke the following words from Psalms 2:1-5, as a fulfillment of this 59th prophecy.

Acts 4:24-26 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, 25 who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: (Quoting from Psalm 2:1-5) ‘Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things? 26 The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the Lord and against His Christ.’ ”

By their declaration, these believers confirmed that the prophecy of Psalms 2:1-5, which is clearly descriptive of the Messiah, is fulfilled by Jesus in Acts 4:25-28.

In the Book of Revelation Chapter 2, Jesus also quotes from the Book of Psalms Chapter 2. When the Messiah arrives on the earth during the last days, He will rule the nations by force.

Psalms 2:9 “You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

Revelation 2:26-29 Jesus Speaking: “And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations—‘He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’—as I also have received from My Father; and I will give him the morning star. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” 

This is a vivd depiction of how we can verify from the New Testament, all of the prophecies of the Old Testament, which are presented in the New Testament. In many cases, we would not know that these predictions were about the Messiah unless we had seen their fulfillment described in the text of the New Testament scriptures.

According to the second Midrashic exegetical rule, called the Middot, originated by Rabbi Hillel: where the same words or concepts appear in two separate scriptures, we are to give the same consideration in applying both scriptures to the same subject.[7]

The origin of Biblical interpretation

The term “Midrash,” came from the first use of the Hebrew word “darish” in the Old Testament—defined as “the seeking after knowledge, to search out, consult, inquire or study, for the purpose of discovering the deeper meaning,” as written in Ezra 7:10.[8]

For Ezra had set his heart to seek the law of the LORD, and to do it…” —Ezra 7:10

Ezra was “searching out” the true meaning of the Law of God so that he might teach it to the people. This began a long standing tradition amongst the earliest Hebrew scholars in understanding what God meant by each particular verse of scripture, in context with other similar verses, which described homologous concepts.

Also called “the Midrashim,” this form of Biblical interpretation is a method by which any person may understand what the specific meaning of a story or illustration is intending, from the mind and heart of God. This is accomplished by the comparison of other scriptures of similar context.

In the Midrashim, the Rabbi’s are not limited by the sequential reading of the text. As is so often the case, many of the prophecies of the Messiah in the Old Testament are distributed within text that frequently have nothing to do with the prophecy itself.[9]

In order to be able to correctly understand the prophecies of the Messiah from the Old Testament, certain rules should be observed to determine how much liberty a person may take in obtaining a correct understanding of the particular scriptures. Many people do not realize that there is no uniform agreements among scholars for how Biblical scriptures should be interpreted to produce the Midrashim. The two primary theses for correct interpretation come from Rabbi Akiva and Rabbi Ishmael B. Elisha. The differences between these two great men are substantial. Akiva is concerned with the smallest part of the text, which he believes can contain hidden meaning. Therefore, every letter is capable of producing a new law. Ishmael takes a more conservative view—believing that the Torah is written in the language of human beings and is intended for the common, ordinary person, as well as the scholar. Therefore, there are no hidden meanings in the text, only what is immediately perceived.[10]

A few of the Midrashic methods:

The most ancient of the Midrashim, called “the Baraita of Rabbi Ishmael,” began by Rabbi Hillel as seven specific rules to follow in order to properly clarify the Torah and to make correct deductions from the Laws of God.[11] These seven were later expanded to thirteen by Rabbi Ishmael.

Baraita of Rabbi Ishmael

1. Kal va-chomer: The principle of “from the simple to the complex, and the complex to the simple.” Conclusions regarding a particular word or passage of scripture are made from the simple to the complex or vice versa, depending on the nature of conclusion that the verse of scripture requires. This law is the same as the first rule of Hillel.[12]
2. Gezerah shavah: The principle of similar laws for similar verdicts. This is an argument by similarities of certain scriptures in parallel or likeness. A legal determination for one verse will also remain true for a second similar verse of scripture.[13]
3. Binyan ab: The principle of a standard being set by one verse of scripture, as the basis for a correct interpretation of many other scriptures. Where a principle is true of one verse, it will remain true for other verses which have characteristics in common. This rule is a combination of Hillel’s third and fourth rules.[14]
4. Kelal u-perat: The principle of the general and particular, which defines a verse by the limitations of it’s general use in any particular case.[15]
5. U-perat, u-kelal: The principle of the particular and the general, which defines a verse by the general use of a particular meaning.[16]
6. Kelal u-perat, u-kelal: The principle of the general, particular, and general, which derives an interpretation of a verse or story only from other cases which also resemble the particular verse of illustration.[17]
7. The general which requires clarification by the particular, and the particular which requires an explanation by the general.[18]
8. The particular implied in the general and excepted from it for instructional purposes clarifies the general as well as the particular.[19]
9. The particular implied in the general and excepted from it on account of the special regulation which corresponds in concept to the general, is thus isolated to decrease rather than to increase the rigidity of its application.[20]
10. The particular implied in the general and excepted from it on account of some other special regulation which does not correspond in concept to the general, is thus isolated either to decrease or to increase the rigidity of its application.[21]
11. The particular implied in the general and excepted from it on account of a new and reversed decision can be referred to the general only in case the passage under consideration makes an explicit reference to it.
12. A conclusion based on the context.[22]
13. When two biblical passages contradict each other the contradiction in question must be resolved by reference to a third passage.[23]

Today, many Bible readers assume that the narrative of the scriptures are written in chronological order. In antiquity, Hebrew scholars paid little attention to the flow of the stories, while placing great emphasis on the related topics that are interspersed throughout the scriptures themselves. There is an allusion to this important principle in the New Testament:[24]

2 Timothy 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

In the earliest form of the oral traditions of the scriptures, scholars committed the entire body of God’s word to memory. When a particular passage was recited, it would remind the listener of several other places in the scriptures where a similar passage spoke or illustrated a comparable principle.[25] It was through this method that early scholars divided the Hebrew Bible into sections. It was not until many years later that verses were added to delineate the text within the books of the Bible.

In the same manner, I have sought to rightly divide the scriptures. An Old Testament prophecy must have a similar counterpart of fulfillment in the New Testament, which exhibits similar characteristics to the Old Testament verse. The writers of the New Testament used this method themselves in determining which scriptures Jesus fulfilled from the Old Testament. They would often define these verses and their fulfillment by stating; “this was done, or this was said, that it might be fulfilled which was written by the prophet…”

Matthew 4:14 …that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Isaiah the prophet, saying:

It is by these techniques whereby we can rightly attribute Old Testament prophecies, that do not at first glance—seem to be attributable to the Messiah—as absolutely relevant to a correct understanding of any Old Testament prophecy.

Upon comparison of the 365 Old Testament prophecies contained within my new book: “The Prophecies of the Messiah,” with the New Testament verses that appear to be the fulfillment of what the prophets wrote, we find, in many cases, the precise events being carried out by Jesus. When we compare the Old Testament prediction with the New Testament reference, they come into focus, as written for each other.

The failure in misunderstanding, or not perceiving the certainty of Messianic prophecy—contained within the verses of the Old Testament Scriptures, is easily alleviated by an education in Biblical interpretation. Even the novice may quickly find the relevance of a Hebrew Prophecy when they understand the principles that should be used in interpreting these scriptures. These methods are handed down to us over thousands of years, from Hebrew scholars, who are proficient in Messianic prophecy.

Those who assert that the Bible does not contain prophecies that describe the coming Messiah, do so from ignorance. Once the misinformed are educated, unwillingness to receive instruction, digresses from ignorant to inimical.

See all 365 Messianic Prophecies

The Atheists Impossible Argument: “The Bible is a Fabrication”
The Errors of Atheists, Regarding the Correct Meaning of Hebrew Prophecies
365 Messianic Prophecies that were fulfilled by Jesus Christ
How Messianic Prophecy is Determined
The Prophecies of the Messiah, a 3,000 page treatise
Josephus as a Credible Witness
Tacitus as a Credible Witness


NOTES:
[1] Illustration by Rob Robinson
[2] F. F. Bruce. The New Testament Documents: Are They Reliable? (Kindle Locations 1104-1108). Kindle Edition.
[3] Ibid.
[4] Ibid.
[5] Kellum, L. Scott; Köstenberger, Andreas J.; Quarles, Charles L (2009-08-01). The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown (Kindle Locations .739-742 B&H Publishing. Kindle Edition.
[6] John 13:2-4 And supper being ended, the devil having already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray Him, 3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself.
John 19:28 After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!”
[7] Sion, Avi (2010), “Talmudic Hermeneutics”, in Schumann, Andrew, Logic in religious discourse, Frankfurt, M. [i.e.] Heusenstamm [u.a.]: Ontos-Verl., p. 105, ISBN 978-3-86838-061-3
[8] From Strong’s Hebrew Concordance word# 1875, “darish.”
[9] Ibid
[10] The Midrash, History, Content, and Purpose of a Major Genre of Jewish Exegetical Texts. kehillatisrael.net See also: “Rabbinic Midrash Methodologies (Exegetical Rules)” http://kehillatisrael.net/docs/learning/txt/m_RabbinicMidrash.html
[11] Ibid.
[12] Ibid
[13] Ibid
[14] Ibid
[15] Ibid
[16] Ibid
[17] Ibid
[18] Ibid
[19] Ibid
[20] Ibid
[21] Ibid
[22] Ibid
[23] Ibid
[24] Ibid
[25] Ibid

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