STATISTICAL PROPHECY PROOF OF JESUS COMPARED TO OTHERSMany specific prophecies about Jesus have been reviewed. We know that the Old Testament manuscripts were made before the time of Jesus. Likewise the New Testament manuscripts, widely circulated during the time of Jesus, provide evidence that the fulfillment of prophecies was accurate.So the essential question is, what does this mean? Are the prophecies statistically reliable enough to draw conclusions about Jesus and his claims? To answer these questions, let’s start with an estimate of only 30 of the prophecies about Jesus.Messianic Prophecy A “Guesstimate” of Odds1. Shem an ancestor (Genesis 9-10) 1/32. Abraham an ancestor (Genesis 22:18) 1/10003. Isaac an ancestor (Genesis 26:4) 1/10,0004. Jacob an ancestor (Genesis 28:14) 1/100,0005. Judah an ancestor (Genesis 49:10) 1/1,000,0006. Jesse an ancestor (Isaiah 11:1-5) 1/10,000,0007. King David an ancestor (2 Samuel 7:11-16) 1/100,000,0008. Bethlehem Ephrathah as birthplace (Micah 5:2) 1/100,0009. Star connected with birth (Numbers 24:17) 1/100,00010. Called “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14) 1/100,00011. Calming the sea (Psalm 107:29) 1/10,000,00012. “Special” miracles (Isaiah 35:4-6) 1/100,000,00013. Names given (Isaiah 9:6) 1/10,00014. Use of parable (Psalm 78:2) 1/1015. Ultimate king over all (Isaiah 45:23; Psalm 22) 1/1016. Sin offering and Passover Lamb (Isaiah 53) 1/10017. Will die with “wicked men” (Isaiah 53:3-9) 1/1018. Will be buried with a rich man (Isaiah 53:3-9) 1/1019. Timing of entry into Jerusalem (Daniel 9:20-27) 1/10,000,00020. Entering Jerusalem as a king on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9) 1/10021. Betrayed by a friend for 30 pieces of silver (Zech. 11:12-13) 1/100022. Rejection by Israel; will say nothing at his trial (Isaiah 8:10; 53) 1/10,00023. Hands and feet pierced (Psalm 22) 1/10,00024. Identifying the place of crucifixion (Genesis 22) 1/1,000,00025. Will thirst while being put to death (Psalm 69:20-22) 1/10 26. No bones broken (Psalm 22) 1/1027. Identification of words at the beginning and end of execution (Psalm 22) 1/100028. Lots cast for clothing (Psalm 22) 1/100029. Will be given gall and wine (Psalm 69:20-22) 1/1030. Will be “pierced” (Isaiah 3:5; Zechariah 12:10) 1/100The cumulative probability of all these prophecies randomly coming true in one person would be 1 chance in 10 exp110. This would be like winning about 16 lotteries in a row. Even if a skeptic were to substantially reduce some of the above estimates, the result would still be deemed impossible. For example, let’s very conservatively assume the above estimates are off by a factor of a trillion trillion! This would still result in the “impossible odds” of all prophecies coming true in one man, Jesus, of one chance in 10 exp86 ! How remote are these odds? They would still be like taking all of the matter in the entire universe (that is, one billion billion stars and solar systems) and breaking it all down into subatomic particles, and randomly selecting one marked electron! Truly the prophecies made about Jesus in the Old Testament alone verify his divinity because they verify the Bible’s claims about him, and his claims about himself.
Prophecies Made by Jesus HimselfOld Testament prophecies provide powerful evidence about Jesus. However, there is also evidence that Jesus himself is a divine prophet. Although he prophesied many things, by far the most significant were his multiple prophecies that he would be betrayed, crucified, and on the third rise from the dead: Now as Jesus was going up to Jerusalem, he took the twelve disciples aside and said to them, “we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life!” (Matthew 20:17-19).Jesus prophesied his death and resurrection numerous times, in all four Gospels:• Matthew 12:40;16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19; 26:61; 27:40; 27:63• Mark 8:31; 9:30-32; 10:32-34; 14:58; 14:58; 15:29-30• Luke 9:21-22,44-45; 18:31-34• John 2:13-22; 3:14-16; 12:32-34If there was ever an unusual and amazing prophecy, it would be one with the specific details of the prophesier’s death, and far more, that he would rise from the dead in three day! Out of all kinds of prophecy, this one is phenomenal and would be beyond any odds imaginable!So central was this prophecy to Jesus’ life that he stated it many times; it was recorded in the Gospel accounts in 18 places! It is a prediction that only an all-knowing God could make and fulfill.In addition to this, Jesus also prophesied specifically about other things as well:• One of his disciples would betray him (Matthew 26:21; Mark 14:17-21; Luke 22:21-22)• His disciples would desert him (Matthew 26:30-31; Mark 14:26-27).• Peter would disown him three times (Matthew 26:33-34; Mark 14:29-30; Luke 22:31-34).• He would meet the disciples in Galilee after he had risen (Mark 14:28).Other People Believed That Jesus Was GodAn obvious question is, with all the prophetic evidence, did the Jews of the day, who certainly would be aware of the prophecies in the Tanakh, think that Jesus was God? In fact, the Jews in Jerusalem were very rapidly accepting reported that the number who immediately believed in the resurrection (presumably the eyewitnesses) was at least 120 (Acts 1:15) before the Feast of Pentecost, which was 50 days after the resurrection. (It could have been more since this verse refers only to believers present at that setting.) When Peter spoke on the Day of Pentecost, immediately 3000 men were added to the group of believers (Acts 2:41). Why was Peter’s message so compelling? Because it was based on the prophecies the Jews knew and the events they had witnessed or had heard about. The Bible further reports that the number increased daily (2:47).One of the most striking indications of the early belief that Jesus was God in the Gospel of John. John himself was an eyewitness to all the events of Jesus’ life, and his account was both written and circulated during the lifetime of other eyewitnesses: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was withGod in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it.There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. [This is speaking of John the Bap-tist.] He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men mightbelieve. He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world.He was in the world, and through the world was made through him, the world did not recognizehim. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who receivedhim, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, children bornnot of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of theOne and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:1-14).John’s words clearly show that he believed that Jesus was God. And others who were close to him also believed that he was God.• Peter worshiped him (Luke 5:8). A Jew would worship no one other than God.• Likewise, Thomas worshiped him (John 20:28).• Peter, James and John witnessed and reported the “transfiguration” (Matthew 17), a visible demonstration that Jesus Possessed the same glory as God the Father.• Elizabeth, Jesus’ relative, believed that he was God (Luke 1:41-55).• Simeon, a devout Jewish prophet, believed that Jesus was God (Luke 2:25-35).• Anna, a prophetess, believed he was God (Luke 2:36-38).• Even Jesus’ half brothers James and Jude eventually believed that Jesus was God (see the books of James and Jude).• A Roman centurion and others who were at the crucifixion believed Jesus to be God: At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook and the rocks split. The tombs broke open and the bodies of many holy people who had died were raised to life. They came out of the tombs, and after Jesus’ resurrec- tion they went into the holy city and appeared to many people. When the centurion and those with him who were guarding Jesus saw the earthquake and all that had happened, they were terrified, and exclaimed, “Surely he was the Son of God!” (Matthew 27:51-54).The high priest and others at Jesus’ trial believed that Jesus was claiming to be God incarnate: 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.” “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.” Then the high priest tore his clothes and said, “He has spoken blasphemy! Why do we need any more witnesses? Look, now you have heard the blasphemy” (Matthew 26:63-65). Not only did the high priest officially declare that Jesus had blasphemed, but his tearing of clothes was a sign of mourning and revulsion over blasphemy.Other Holy Books Fail the Prophecy TestGiven that prophecy is a true test of something from God it is not surprising that very few holy books attempt any prophecy. After all, since only God can prophesy, and we would expect that most supposed “holy books” are not really from God, it would be difficult to concoct testable prophecy that would beverifiable (like the Bible).Considering other well-known religions, we find the following:Eastern religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucius, Shinto). These religions are essentially “mystical,philosophical” religions and therefore tend not to use or depend on prophecy.Islam (and the Qur’an). Although Islam is history-based and agrees with many of the same historical figures mentioned in the Bible (Abraham, Ishmael, Jesus, Mary, and so on), it cannot prove its inspiration from God using prophecy. The Qur’an was written based on dictation by Muhammad (570-632 A.D.).
Sura 9:14; Sura 28:85; Sura 48:16-21,27,28; Sura 54:44-48; and Sura 56:1-56 all deal with end time prophecy that was excluded). Sura 5:70; 15:9; 41:42; and 15:96 are not prophecies, but generalities and warnings. Sura 24:55 is a promise of blessing of land and wealth to believers is Islam. However it does not specify what land, as in the case of Israel. Sura 54:44-48 prophesies military action against enemies of the religion, but this doesn’t say much, as it is what people tend to do anyway. And Sura 110:1-2 promises help from Allah (Islam’s God) in time of war. Again, this isn’t specific, for instance, a claim to victory in a specific battle or war.Sura 30:2-4 is the only potential historical prophecy, although it has problems. It essentially says that, “The Roman Empire has been defeated in a land close by; but they, (even) after (this) defeat of theirs, will soon be victorious with a few years. With Allah is the Decision, in the past and in the Future: on that Day shall the Believers rejoice.” In history, the Persians were victorious over the Eastern Roman Empire in A.D. 615,and then the Romans returned to defeat the Persians 13 years later in 628. According to Muhammad, “a few” years in this prophecy was meant to mean 3 to 9 years, with 13 falling outside of this range. Even so,the prophecy would not be particularly surprising since there was an ongoing war in this region, and it was not uncommon for territory to be recaptured.Mormons (the Book of Mormon, Doctrines and Covenants). The Book of Mormon was actually written in the early 1800s, supposedly translated from golden plates written before the time of Jesus (unfortunately,these valuable plates have never been available for verification). Even so, giving the plates the benefit of the doubt, the Book of Mormon contains two prophecies about Jesus, both of which are false: And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yes even the Son of God (Alma 7:10, Book of Mormon).Of course Jesus was born in Bethlehem, not Jerusalem. Some may claim that Bethlehem is a suburb ofJerusalem; however, when transportation was by foot, a town an hour and a half away would not be considered a suburb. Even the Book Mormon indicates it is a separate city (1 Nephi 1:4). Here’sanother example: But behold, thus saith the Lord God: “When the day cometh that they (the Jews) shall believe in me, that I am Christ, then have I covenanted with their fathers that they shall be restored in the flesh, upon the earth unto the lands of their inheritance” (2 Nephi 10:7, Book of Mormon).Of course the Jews did return to the land in 1948 despite not yet “believing” in Jesus.The Mormon book of Doctrine and Covenants contains several prophetic errors (with none right, in fact)regarding a Temple that was to be built in western Missouri within a generation of Joseph Smith’s prediction in the early 1800s: 1) A temple was to be built at a consecrated site in Jackson County, Missouri (“Zion”), within a generation of 1832 (Doctrines and Covenants 84:5,31). 2) The city (“Zion”) was “never to be moved” out of that place (98:19; 101:17-21). Over 150 years have passed with no temple built there.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses (The Watchtower, Studies in Scripture). This non-Christian group has repeatedly failed in attempts to prophesy the end of time.• (2:101) – 1914 to be the year of the “battle” of the great day of God Almighty (Revelation 16:14)• (1914 edition) – “end of the world” date changed to 1915• (7:62) – date changed to 1918• (7:542) – date changed to 1920• (Miscellaneous other publications) – date of the end of the world repeatedly changed to 1925, 1942,1975, 1980…With continuing research, one would find that there is no religion, person, or holy book that contains prophecy of any substance whatsoever, and certainly nothing close to the prophecy in the Bible. This would lead one to carefully heed the words of the Bible as truth.