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Does the Old Testament predict the coming of Jesus Christ?

The importance of this question cannot be overstated. The entirety of the Christian faith rests on the faithfulness of God, which is something proven time and time again through the fulfillment of God’s promises and prophecies through the ages. If Jesus is not the Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament, then everything we believe in as Christians is false. But if Jesus is the promised Messiah, then He is indeed God in the flesh, crucified, resurrected, enthroned forever as our Lord, and the fate of every soul is with Him.

Thankfully, we have many Messianic prophecies in the Jewish scriptures, and every clear one was fulfilled by Jesus. This critical proof has been provided across centuries to give us a firm foundation to believe Jesus is the Savior of the world.

The Suffering Servant

One of the most often cited prophecies about Jesus is Isaiah 53:3-11, which begins, “He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief, and as one from whom men hide their faces, he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” We see in the New Testament how the Jews of Jesus’ time despised Him and rejected Him, plotting several times to have Him arrested or killed (Matthew 26:3-4; Mark 6:2-3, 14:1; Luke 22:1-2, 23:20-23; John 11:47-53).

Isaiah continues to describe the “suffering servant” of God who would be oppressed (tortured) and how He would be “like a lamb led to slaughter” and, ultimately, murdered (Isaiah 53:5-9). Jesus again fits the description, since He was beaten and even stood silent before His accusers (like a lamb), offering no defense (Mark 14:60-61) before His execution.

The core of this prophecy is in Isaiah 53:5: “But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” This is the sacrifice of Jesus in a nutshell. Crucifixion and wrath laid upon Him, and through His suffering and resurrection, we can become children of God.

But it's not just Isaiah 53 that prophesied Jesus’ life and death...

Born of a Virgin

As we search through Isaiah, we'll find that the prophet also speaks of Jesus’ birth. In chapter seven, he mentions that the Messiah will be born from a virgin. In chapter nine, Isaiah declares that this Child will be called Mighty God, among other names (Isaiah 7:14, 9:6). Unless the Messiah is the subject of idolatry (calling a man “god”), then the Messiah must be God in the flesh (or God "incarnate"). Ironically, it was for this very thing – claiming to be God incarnate – that Jesus was charged with blasphemy (John 10:33).

Even More Parallels

The New Testament (NT) makes many bold parallels between Jesus and the Old Testament (OT) prophecies. In several places, the NT authors and even Jesus Himself match OT prophecies with Christ-centered events as evidence of Jesus’ prophetic fulfillment. Here are some examples:

At the very beginning of His ministry, Jesus goes to the synagogue in His hometown of Nazareth. There, He takes the scroll of Isaiah, and read, “The spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor,” (Luke 4:16-19; Isaiah 61:1-2). He then turned to the crowd and said, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21).

After His resurrection, Jesus went to His disciples in disguise (Luke 24:13-27). As they were traveling together, Jesus chastised them, saying, “Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” (v. 26), in reference to the prophesied suffering that would mark the coming Messiah. Luke goes on to say, “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (v. 27).

Upon revealing Himself, Jesus repeats what He said earlier: “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44).

Matthew 4:12-17 mentions another prophecy about Jesus. Here, Jesus comes out of the wilderness after forty days of temptation and begins His ministry in Galilee to fulfill the prophecy of Isaiah 9: “The land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, the way of the sea, beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles – the people dwelling in darkness have seen a great light, and for those dwelling in the region and shadow of death, on them a light has dawned” (Matthew 4:15-16; Isaiah 9:1-2).

In Matthew 11, Jesus appeals to a prophecy in Isaiah 61 when messengers of John the Baptist ask Him if He is the Christ (v. 2-3). Jesus responds by saying, “the blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them” (v. 4-5).

These aren't even all the prophecies and parallels. Check out Daniel 9:24-27, Isaiah 50:6, Zechariah 12:10, and many, many more.

Jesus: Light of the World

Jesus is the One the prophecies talked about. He is the light of the world; the salvation of the Jews first, then of the Gentiles (i.e. everyone else) (Romans 1:16). “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor or the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God,” (John 1:11-13).

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TL;DR

The question of whether the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ was predicted in the Old Testament is pivotal to our faith. If Jesus did NOT match the Old Testament prophecies, then He is not the Messiah. If He DOES match the prophecies, then He is the Son of Man, Almighty God, Prince of Peace, Savior, Redeemer, Messiah. When we look at the Old Testament, particularly the book of Isaiah, we see that no one in history has matched Old Testament prophecies the way Jesus did. From the Messiah being God incarnate to being despised and rejected and tortured, we find many prophecies that told of Jesus—long before He was born.

Writer: Brian Blevins

When he’s not with his family or studying God’s Word, Brian is making the most of the outdoors. He loves answering questions and sharing reasons for the hope that we have so that other people’s faith can be as strong as possible. He loves his family, friends, and his dog, and he's here to help with anything that comes up. Nothing is off limits.

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