How Can I Identify Someone I Have Never Seen Before?
In our daily lives, we may describe certain features of ourselves in order to help someone who has never seen us before identify us easily. In our previous article, we have understood that the only route to recognising God is through the Bible, then how exactly does the Bible enable us to identify Him? It is through the prophecies of the Bible.
The Bible contains numerous prophecies of how God will appear to us when He comes to this earth, when He will come and where He will appear. By looking at all the prophetical points, we will be able to find and recognise our true Saviour.
Was this the working method that God used to let people know that Jesus was the Christ 2,000 years ago? Let us find out.
Prophecies Led Us to Jesus
Immanuel Born Through a Virgin
How would God Almighty come down to this earth? Would he just appear out of nowhere? Since the Bible prophesied that God would be born as a ‘child’ and as a ‘son’ (Isaiah 9:6), He must be born through a woman. However, not just any woman. Isaiah prophesied that the Christ would be born through a virgin.
Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
According to this prophecy, Jesus was born through Mary, a virgin chosen to give birth to the Saviour.
Matthew 1:18-23 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit… She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”(which means “God with us”).
How did we recognise that Jesus was the Immanuel? It was because Jesus fulfilled the prophecy written by prophet Isaiah.
The Creator Comes from Bethlehem
To us, the Earth can be quite a vast place with hundreds of nations. Did the Bible pinpoint a specific location where God would be born?
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.”
The only one whose ‘origins are from of old, from ancient times’ is God our Creator, and the Bible prophesied that God would come from Bethlehem.
Matthew 2:1-6 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? … King Herod … called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Messiah was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’ ”
Joseph and Mary (through whom Jesus was born) resided in Nazareth, Galilee. Around the time when Jesus was to be born, the Roman emperor called for a census to be taken, and that was why Joseph and Mary travelled to Bethlehem. While they were there, Jesus was born according to the prophecy (Luke 2:1-7).
Though a small city, Bethlehem was the place where God came from 2,000 years ago.
A Light Seen in Galilee
The Bible also prophesied the place God would preach at.
Isaiah 9:1-2 … In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honour Galilee of the nations, by the Way of the Sea, beyond the Jordan— The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned.
It was prophesied that the people of Galilee (Zebulun and Naphtali are part of Galilee) would see a great light. Who is this light?
Matthew 4:12-16 When Jesus heard that John had been put in prison, he withdrew 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 of the Sea, beyond 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.”
As Jesus fulfilled the prophecy, it goes to show that He is the light, namely, God (1 John 1:5).
The Sacrificial Path
700 years before Jesus came to this earth, prophet Isaiah prophesied in detail how God would suffer in the future because of our sins.
Isaiah 53:1-5 … He was despised and rejected by mankind… But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds (stripes, KJV) we are healed.
As prophesied, Jesus was flogged and pierced.
Matthew 27:26-30;35 … But he had Jesus flogged, and handed him over to be crucified. Then the governor’s soldiers took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the whole company of soldiers around him. They stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him… Then they knelt in front of him and mocked him. “Hail, king of the Jews!” they said. They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again…When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots.
John 19:34 Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.
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 27:38 Two rebels were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left.
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.
The New Covenant
Jeremiah 31:31 “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will make a new covenant with the people of Israel and with the people of Judah.
Fulfillment of Prophecies—an Absolute Sign of the Christ
Some may question if all these were mere coincidental series of events. Professor Peter Stoner calculated that the probability of fulfilling just 8 of the prophecies is a mind-blowing 1 out of 10 chance.1) Keeping in mind that, in actuality, He fulfilled over 100 prophecies, the chances of an accidental fulfillment is virtually impossible.
Some may also say that Jesus knew some of the prophecies and fulfilled them purposefully. Of course, it may be true for certain prophecies (e.g. the prophecy of the Saviour coming on a donkey in Zechariah 9:9), but is it possible to control certain events such as those concerning His birth and death as detailed above? In fact, regarding a prophecy written in Psalm 22:16 that Jesus’ hands and feet were to be pierced (which was fulfilled at His crucifixion), when this prophecy was written, the method of execution of that time involved having people stoned to death. It was only when Israel came under Rome’s occupation that people were put to death through crucifixion.
In our age, God comes again a second time. What prophecies are there in the Bible about Him? Before we find out about that, let us take a lesson from history and find out why the people rejected God who came to save us 2,000 years ago in the next article.