Preview: What were people saying before Jesus was born?

Long before Jesus was born, the Bible predicted his life and death.

The Old Testament (the part of the Bible written before Jesus' birth) was completed in 450 B.C., hundreds of years before Jesus was born. A large number of prophecies were made in astonishing detail by many people throughout these books. In fact, fulfilled prophecy is one of the distinguishing marks of the Bible, authenticating its claim to be the inspired Word of God.

For instance, the Old Testament indicated Jesus would be betrayed by someone he trusted: "Even my close friend whom I trusted, he who has shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me" (Psalm 41:9). The New Testament, which records Jesus' life and resurrection, reveals that one of the 12 people Jesus chose to be part of his inner circle betrayed him: "Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them" (Mark 14:10).

More than 300 Messianic prophecies like this were made in the Old Testament and then fulfilled through Jesus' life, death and resurrection. The chances of one person fulfilling a mere 8 of these prophecies are 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000. For one person to fulfill 48 of these prophecies, the number becomes staggering--1 chance in 10 to the 157th power (1 with 157 zeros after it). Add to that the 250 other prophecies, and it becomes impossible for any other person except Jesus to ever fit that particular sequence of time and events.



Descendant of Abraham
Genesis 18:18 "Abraham will surely become a great and powerful nation, and all nations on earth will be blessed through him." Acts 3:25 "And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, 'Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.'"
Descendant of Isaac
Genesis 17:19 "Then God said, 'Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him.'" Matthew 1:2 "Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers."
Descendant of Jacob
Numbers 24:17 "I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel." Luke 3:34 "The son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham, the son of Terah, the son of Nahor."
The Messiah will descend from the tribe of Judah
Genesis 49:10 "The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his." Luke 3:33 "The son of Amminadab, the son of Ram, the son of Hezron, the son of Perez, the son of Judah."
The Messiah place of birth would be Bethlehem
Micah 5:2 "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times." Matthew 2:1 "After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod..."
The Messiah will be born of a virgin
Isaiah 7:14 "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: the virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." Matthew 1:18 "This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit."
Infants will be slaughtered
Jeremiah 31:15 "This is what the Lord says: 'A voice is heard in Ramah, mourning and great weeping, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because her children are no more.'" Matthew 2:16 "When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi."
Jesus, son of God, will escape into Egypt as a child
Hoseah 11:1 "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son." Matthew 2:14 "So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt."
Jesus will minister in Galilee and along the Jordan River
Isaiah 9:1-2 "Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan--The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned." Matthew 4:12-16 "Jesus...returned to Galilee. Leaving Nazareth, he went and lived in Capernaum, which was by the lake in the area of Zebulun and Naphtali--to fulfill what was said through the prophet Isaiah: Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali, the way to the sea, along the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles--The people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned."
Jesus will be rejected by the Jewish people
Isaiah 53:3 "He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not." John 1:11 "He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him."
Character of wisdom and understanding
Isaiah 11:2 "The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him--the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord." Luke 2:52 "And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men."
The Messiah will enter triumphantly into Jerusalem on a young donkey
Zechariah 9:9 "Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey." John 12:13-14 "They took palm branches and went out to meet him, shouting, 'Hosanna!' 'Blessed is the King of Israel!' Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it, as it is written."
The time of christ's entry was prophesied to the very day
Daniel 9:25-26 "Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Annointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven 'sevens' and sixty-two 'sevens.' It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two 'sevens' the Annointed One will be cut off and will have nothing." This prophesy refers to weeks of years, or 483 biblical years. Beginning with the exact day on which Persian King Artaxerxes gave the decree to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (March 5, 444BC), exactly 173,880 days later--Palm Sunday, March 30, AD33--Christ rode into Jerusalem the week before he was 'cut off' (crucified). This is the precise number of days spanning 483 biblical years, which were then measured as 12 months of 30 days each.1
Jesus would be betrayed by a close friend
Psalm 41:9 "Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me." Mark 14:10 "Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them."
Christ will be sold for thirty pieces of silver
Zechariah 11:12 "I told them, 'If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.' So they paid me thirty pieces of silver." Matthew 26:15 "And asked, 'What are you willing to give me if I hand him over to you?' So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver."
Money returned and used to buy potter's field
Zechariah 11:13 "And the Lord said to me, 'Throw it to the potter'--the handsome price at which they priced me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord to the potter." Matthew 27:6-7 "The chief priests picked up the coins and said, 'It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.' So they decided to use the money to buy the potter's field as a burial place for foreigners."
The Messiah will be silent when accused during his trial
Isaiah 53:7 "He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth." Matthew 26:62-63 "Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, 'Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?' But Jesus remained silent. The high priest said to him, 'I charge you under oath by the living God: Tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.'"
Jesus Christ will suffer for others
Isaiah 53:4-5 "Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed." Matthew 8:16-17 "When evening came, many who were demon-possessed were brought to him, and he drove out the spirits with a word and healed all the sick. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: 'He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases.'"
Jesus will be crucified with sinners
Isaiah 53:12 "Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors." Matthew 27:38 "Two robbers were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left."
Jesus hands and feet will be pierced
Psalm 22:16 "Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet." John 20:27 "Then he said to Thomas, 'Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.'"
Jesus will be mocked and insulted by the people
Psalm 22:6-8 "But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by men and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads: 'He trusts in the Lord; let the Lord rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.'" Matthew 27:39-40 "Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, 'You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!'"
Jesus will be given gall and vinegar to drink
Psalm 69:21 "They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst." John 19:29 "A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips."
Jesus's side will be pierced with a spear
Zechariah 12:10 "And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son." John 19:34 "Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water."
Soldiers will cast lots for Jesus clothing
Psalm 22:18 "They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing." Mark 15:24 "And they crucified him. Dividing up his clothes, they cast lots to see what each would get."
Not a bone of Christ's body will be broken
Psalm 34: 20 "He protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken." John 19:33 "But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs."
Jesus will be buried in a rich man's tomb
Isaiah 53:9 "He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth." Matthew 27:57-60 "As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus' body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock. He rolled a big stone in front of the entrance to the tomb and went away."
Jesus Christ will be resurrected after his death
Psalm 16:10 "Because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay." Matthew 28:9 "Suddenly Jesus met them. 'Greetings,' he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him."
Jesus will ascend into heaven
Psalm 68:18 "When you ascended on high, you led captives in your train; you received gifts from men, even from the rebellious--that you, O Lord God, might dwell there." Luke 24:50-51 "When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven."
*1 These dates are based on accepted research by a number of recognized Bible scholars, but all historical dates of antiquity are open to some debate.
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