197: Isaiah 35:5-6

COPYRIGHT WARNING

365 Prophecies: Prophecy 197

The Messiah will have a ministry of healing to validate His identity.

Old Testament Prediction:

Isaiah 35:5-6 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, And the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, And the tongue of the dumb sing. For waters shall burst forth in the wilderness, And streams in the desert.

New Testament Fulfillment:

Matthew 11:1-6 Now it came to pass, when Jesus finished commanding His twelve disciples, that He departed from there to teach and to preach in their cities. And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?” Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.

Matthew 9:29-30 Then He touched their eyes, saying, “According to your faith let it be to you.” And their eyes were opened…

Matthew 15:30 Then great multitudes came to Him, having with them the lame, blind, mute, maimed, and many others; and they laid them down at Jesus’ feet, and He healed them

Application:

Can you imagine a person coming into to the world who has the power to heal every sickness and disease of mankind as well as raise a person from the dead, simply by speaking to them or touching the afflicted person? The only human being who has ever possessed these abilities is Jesus of Nazareth, as evidenced by the New Testament. Jesus presence on the earth was an event of unparalleled importance in the history of the world. This is the reason that so many copies of the original record of His life was distributed to cities all over the earth in the first century. It is preposterous to claim that the New Testament we have in our possession today is not reliable because we don’t have the original documents which recorded these events.

Logic dictates that if there are over 24,000 copies of the original documents for any event, this event must have been of enormous importance to those who meticulously copied and redistributed these letters all over the world. The fact that all of these records of Jesus life have been used by the Christian church for 2,000 years, and were found in the custody of the church, add tremendously to their authenticity. There are no other documents of antiquity which can match the substantial record of the New Testament.

The fact that we have so many copies of the New Testament in various forms, in different languages scattered all over the face of the earth, and they all agree in the basic tenets of the Christian faith, is an amazing and substantial proof that these events actually took place. No other document of antiquity can match this record.

Validating ancient documents

If we take any ancient event that has been recorded and handed down to us over the centuries, in every case, there are no complete original manuscripts from those events that have survived intact for more than 2,000 years. In supporting any event of ancient history, scholars rely upon the available copies of the original manuscripts.

In validating all secular literature, scholars accept copies of original documents that are in far greater distance to the time the events actually took place, than any book of the New Testament.

All of the major documents of ancient history, such as Plato, Aristotle, Homer, or Tacitus, were written at much greater distance from their occurrence than any event of the New Testament; yet, no scholar today disputes the authenticity of these secular documents.

In fact as you can see from the graphic below, the New Testament has the rare distinction of being the only ancient documents that are written closer to the actual occurrence of the events they portray, than any other document of antiquity.

Copies of the New Testament[1]
See the chapter: Historical Evidence for Jesus Resurrection.

How the 24,593 copies of the New Testament exist today:
Copies of the New Testament02[2]

With this stellar authority of written testimony for the events that occurred in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we have absolutely no valid reason to question the authenticity or reliability of any account given for Jesus Christ in the New Testament.

Opposition to the New Testament record

In spite of the massive evidence in favor of the New Testament, some liberal Biblical scholars claim that these accounts of Jesus life, death, and resurrection are not reliable because we don’t have the original documents.

Modern Agnostic scholars such as Dr. Bart Ehrman state that the historical arguments for the resurrection of Jesus are unreliable because they were written by secondhand knowledge, not by eye witness accounts. He states that these accounts: were written 35 to 65 years after Jesus’ death—35 or 65 years after his death, not by people who were eyewitnesses, but by people living later.[3]

If we used Dr. Ehrman’s argument that any document which has been written from 35 to 65 years after the events took place, are not reliable, then all ancient historical accounts are unreliable. From the chart above you can see the the secular document written in closest proximity to the events they describe, is Homer, at 500 years.

We notice from these charts that all ancient documents which are considered reliable and have been accepted as valid accounts of ancient history, are written and copied at much greater distance from their occurrences than any of the New Testament documents.

If we did not have a single New Testament in our possession today, we could completely reconstruct all the events that it records, from the 24,000 copies that we have accumulated over the past 2,000 years of history.

It is very easy to use the power of a scholar’s platform to inaccurately make statements which are not only untrue but unscholarly. Dr Ehrman’s conclusions come from the premise that Jesus could not have said and done the things that the New Testament records, because he believes these events are not possible for any human being to accomplish.

The importance of eye witness testimony

Irregardless of whether or not we might believe these events are possible, the integrity of the testimony given by the New Testament narrative, demands our respect. Those who were there when these things took place, said that they happened and recorded their occurrence for our posterity. We may chose not to believe in Jesus Christ, but we must believe that the events happened, because they are a firm and established part of ancient history.

Dr. Ehrman freely admits that he lost any resemblance of true faith in the Bible as the word of God when he attended college and began to listen to the liberal theological arguments, which he himself embraces today.

Impossibility of fraud

If the writers of the New Testament were intending to deceive us into believing that Jesus Christ said and did the things that are written of Him, when in fact they never happened, the level of deception required to accomplish such a feat would be impossible. Experts have examined the narrative of the four gospels for indications of fraud for nearly the entire 2,000 year period of time since their composition. There are many key indicators that would signal fraud that are absent from the writings of the New Testament. What some critics see as inconsistencies or contradictions in the gospels are actually indications of authenticity. At the same time, there is an element of supernatural structure to the four gospels. Matthew is writing his account of Jesus for the Jews to prove from the Hebrew scriptures that Jesus is the fulfillment of all the prophecies concerning the Messiah. Mark is writing to demonstrate that Jesus is a servant who has come to give His life for us. Luke writes from the perspective of a medical doctor, showing us the humanity of Jesus. Finally, John writes to prove beyond any doubt that Jesus is God in human flesh.

As each of these writers presents their own distinct testimony of Jesus, they do so through the lens of the particular view of Jesus they want the reader to see. What Matthew observes in Jesus, Mark may have missed. The points highlighted by John are absent from Luke’s account.

A sure sign of fraud would have been four gospel accounts of Jesus life, death, and resurrection, that were all in perfect symmetry, stating the precise same points in all four gospels.

One of the world’s great experts in determining valid written testimony in the area of evidentiary authenticity, is Dr. Simon Greenleaf. Of the four gospels, Dr. Greenleaf has written extensively that it is his professional opinion that in every area that could possibly be tested, the four accounts of Jesus Life, death, and resurrection, are authentic, true accounts of the actual events that took place.[4]

If any man came to earth and accomplished the things that the New Testament records of Jesus of Nazareth, we would expect to find the precise evidence that is in our possession today, and nothing more.

Secular validation of the New Testament

There is also a substantial secular record of Jesus life, death, and resurrection found in the annuls of Rome’s history and the history of the Jews.

As early as the second century Tacitus writes in his “Annals” of the Roman Empire, 116 A.D, (Annals 15,44) that under Caesar Nero, Pilate ordered the execution of Jesus of Nazareth by crucifixion.[5]

“Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus.”

This record of Jesus execution by crucifixion under Pontius Pilate, written by Tacitus, is of immense value for the historicity of Jesus Christ.

Professor Peter Schäfer, in his book: “Jesus in the Talmud”, records that Talmud Sanhedrin 43a contains the following text regarding Jesus of Nazareth:[6]

“On (Sabbath eve and) the eve of Passover, Jesus the Nazarene was hanged and a herald went forth before him forty days heralding, “Jesus the Nazarene is going forth to be stoned because he practiced sorcery and instigated and seduced Israel to idolatry…

I have taken the time to make these important points because this 197th Old Testament prophecy states that when the Messiah arrives, He will have the power to heal every sickness and disease. Couple this prophecy with the actual accounts of Jesus Christ which are left to us in the New Testament and you have a record of over 2,700 years, from the Old Testament period through the New Testament period, that are consistent in thousands of copies of the original documents, right up to the present day. All of the prophecies of the Old Testament agree that the Messiah will possess supernatural abilities—unknown to any man in the history of the world. Jesus of Nazareth did in fact possess these great powers over sickness and disease, and even death itself.

Those who observed what Jesus said and did, recorded these events for us, and when under the threat of death to recant their claims regarding Jesus, refusing to change their testimony. All of those who recorded the testimony of Jesus were all killed, except the Apostle John.[7]

All of the arguments against the authenticity of the New Testament are invalid, based on the massive record of evidence that we have in our possession today.

Would they die for a lie?

The men who witnessed Jesus accomplish these incredible works were compelled to record them, preserve them, and give their lives in defending the certainty that they actually took place.

All of the men who said that Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead and forgave sins died horrible deaths, defending their testimony as absolute truth. A man may contrive a story and stand by it all the way up until he is required to give his life for that story. No sane person would ever willingly die for a lie. Job records the fact that all that a man has, he will give to save his own flesh.

Job 2:4 … Skin for skin! Yes, all that a man has he will give for his life.

The men who witnessed the life of Jesus of Nazareth—what He said and did, ensured the accurate and worldwide distribution of their testimony, finally dying for that testimony. This is again, overwhelming evidence that the New Testament accounts of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection are true and accurate.

Virtually, everything we believe regarding past history is because of the eyewitness testimony of others who were there at that point in time. How do we know that George Washington and Abraham Lincoln were actual persons in past history? We read the testimony of those who saw them, heard them, and then recorded the events of their lives, for us. The man Jesus Christ is a real person from history whose life has been recorded for us by honest men who saw, and heard the amazing things they recorded. There is more historical evidence for the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ than any other historical person in the history of the world.

Isaiah recorded that one of the ways in which we would be able to identify the Messiah, was by His ability to open the eyes of the blind, the ears of the deaf, and make whole the limbs of the disabled.

Are You the Coming One?

John the Baptist was the last of the Old Testament prophets. His coming was predicted by Malachi.

Malachi 4:5 Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet Before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.

Jesus confirmed that John the Baptist was intended by God to fulfill the ministry of Elijah, as described by Malachi 4:5. Due to Jesus rejection and crucified by the leaders of Israel, John’s ministry as Elijah was also cut short and delayed by necessity, until a later time.

Matthew 11:14 And if you are willing to receive it, John (the Baptist) is Elijah who is to come.

When John was arrested and placed in prison, as he sat there all alone, he began to wonder whether Jesus was the promised Messiah. “If Jesus is the one whom God promised, why then am I sitting here in prison? After all, I was appointed by God to go before the Messiah and announce His arrival. If Jesus is the One, why has all this happened to me?”

John sent a message from prison to Jesus to ask Him if He was the promised Messiah.

And when John had heard in prison about the works of Christ, he sent two of his disciples and said to Him, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?

Jesus’ reply back to John is the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy in chapter 35:5-6: Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, And the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, And the tongue of the dumb sing.

Jesus instructed the messengers who were sent by John: Go and tell John the things which you hear and see: ‘The blind see and the lame walk; the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear; the dead are raised up and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.’

...Blessed is he who is not offended because of me...

Often when we suffer as followers of Jesus, we wonder if He really is the Messiah. We imagine somehow that following Jesus will mean that our problems will be fewer and our life will be easier. In reality, trials and tribulations in our life will never end until Jesus returns for us at the Rapture. Jesus told us ahead of time that we could expect trials to continue in this life but to not be in despair because He has already overcome the world.

John 16:33 “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.”

Though trials are certain for all of us who follow Jesus, we have confidence that He will help us make it through each one. A natural result of following Jesus and trusting Him through our trials is finding greater peace in the midst of those trials. Our response in all moments of fear, anxiety, and difficulty is to pray and commit ourselves fully to the will of the Father.

Philippians 4:6-7 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

We can endure all things and continue to trust in the Lord because we are able to look back at the cross and see how much God loves us. Since Jesus was willing to die for us, we have confidence that His love is infinitely greater than all of our trials. Along with the difficulties which He permits in our life, He will also provide His help and care to get us through each one.

Romans 8:32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?

The ministry of healing that Jesus displayed, was intended as a sign to the whole world, both during the days when Jesus performed these works, as well as today. There has never been another person who could simply touch the eyes of the blind and make them see. Jesus healed everyone who came to Him, not only on a few occasions, but always. The eyewitness testimony of Jesus describes Him opening blind eyes, causing deaf ears to hear, and making the crippled stand and walk. His ministry of healing is the Old Testament prophetic sign of the Messiah that He fulfilled in the New Testament.

Jesus is the promised One whom all the Hebrew prophets described.


NOTES:
[1] Data for this chart came from:
1. F.F. Bruce; “The New Testament Documents, are they Reliable?” Publisher: Wilder Publications (September 8, 2009) ISBN-10: 1604598662 SBN-13: 978-1604598667
2. Ibid, Data for this chart from Josh McDowell, Evidence that Demands a Verdict.

The New Testament first copy of 63 A.D.:
1. Dr. Carsten Peter Thiede, the director of the Institute of Basic Epistemological Research in Paderborn, Germany
2. Thiede, Carsten Peter & D’Ancona, Matthew, The Jesus Papyrus, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 1996.
[2] McDowell, Josh (1999-03-02). Evidence That Demands a Verdict, 1 (Kindle Locations 1208-1209). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.
[3] A Debate between William Lane Craig and Bart D. Ehrman, College of the Holy Cross, Worcester, Massachusetts March 28, 2006
[4] Dr. Simon Greenleaf, “A Treatise on the Laws of Evidence, Hardcover: 2456 pages, Publisher: The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. (January 30, 2001), Language: English, ISBN-10: 158477116X, ISBN-13: 978-1584771166
[5] Theissen 1998, pp. 81-83
Green, Joel B. (1997). The Gospel of Luke : new international commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids, Mich.: W.B. Eerdmans Pub. Co.. p. 168. ISBN 0-8028-2315-7
[6] Peter Schäfer, Jesus in the Talmud, Princeton University Press, 2007. p 64-65
Bernhard Pick, The Talmud: What It Is and What It Knows of Jesus and His Followers, 1887 (reprint Kessinger Publishing, LLC, 2007. p 115)
Talmud Sanhedrin 43a
[7] Foxe’s Book of Martyrs, Hardcover: 377 pages, Publisher: Hendrickson Publishers (June 1, 2003), Language: English, ISBN-10: 1565635043, ISBN-13: 978-1565635043

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