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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ

Don Stewart :: Did Jesus Fulfill the Prophecies about the Messiah?

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Did Jesus Fulfill the Prophecies about the Messiah?

The Life and Ministry of Jesus Christ – Question 4

Jesus made it clear that the Old Testament predicted His coming. He said to the religious leaders of His day,

You search the Scriptures because you believe they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! (John 5:39 NLT)

Jesus said that the Old Testament was all about “Him.” This being the case, we should take a look at the various prophecies which He fulfilled at His First Coming. Some of the Old Testament prophecies that Jesus fulfilled include the following.

The Family Line of the Messiah Was Predicted

God the Son, Jesus Christ, fulfilled a number of predictions that have to do with the Messiah’s genealogy, or family line. As we study the Scripture, we find that God narrowed down the family line of the Messiah in such a way that eliminated most people who have ever been born. The evidence can be seen in this manner.

Prediction: He Will Come from the Family of Shem

First of all, the Messiah was to come from the family line of Noah’s son Shem. We read of this in the Book of Genesis:

He also said, “Blessed be the LORD, the God of Shem! May Canaan be the slave of Shem. May God extend the territory of Japheth; may Japheth live in the tents of Shem, and may Canaan be his slave.” (Genesis 9:26, 27 NIV)

Noah had three sons—Shem, Ham and Japheth. God eliminated one third of humanity when He said the Messiah would come through the line of Shem. The line of Japheth and Canaan were not given the same blessings as the line of Shem. While there is no specific reference to the Messiah in these verses, it sets the stage for what will follow.

The Fulfillment Recorded

Luke records the fulfillment that Jesus was a descendant of Shem:

Shelah was the son of Cainan. Cainan was the son of Arphaxad. Arphaxad was the son of Shem. Shem was the son of Noah. Noah was the son of Lamech. (Luke 3:36 NLT)

Luke lists the genealogy of Jesus. It records Jesus was a descendant of Shem.

Prediction: The Christ, or Messiah, Will Be a Descendant of Abraham

While Shem had many descendants the Lord made it plain that the Messiah would come through the line of Abraham. We read of this promise in the Book of Genesis. It says,

Then the LORD told Abram, “Leave your country, your relatives, and your father’s house, and go to the land that I will show you. I will cause you to become the father of a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and I will make you a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. All the families of the earth will be blessed through you”. (Genesis 12:1-3 NLT)

Now God eliminates all the families of the earth but one—the family of Abraham. Whoever claims to be the Messiah has to be a descendant of Abraham for God told Abraham that one of his descendants will bless all the earth. This prediction is clear.

The Fulfillment Recorded

The fulfillment is recorded in Matthew. He writes,

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham. (Matthew 1:1 NKJV)

The Apostle Paul, in the New Testament, emphasized that God specified one from Abraham’s line would be the Christ:

God gave the promise to Abraham and his child. And notice that it doesn’t say the promise was to his children, as if it meant many descendants. But the promise was to his child—and that, of course, means Christ. (Galatians 3:16 NLT)

The Apostle Paul says that God uses the “singular” rather than the “plural” to emphasize it will be one particular descendant of Abraham who will bless the world. That descendant would be Jesus.

Prediction: He Will Be a Descendant of Isaac

Abraham had two sons, Isaac and Ishmael. God promised Isaac that the Messiah would be through his family line:

Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed. (Genesis 26:3, 4 NIV)

Isaac was the son of promise. The Messiah would come through his descendants, not through the descendants of Ishmael as some claim.

The Fulfillment Recorded

The New Testament records the fulfillment of this prophecy. We read about this in the following in the Gospel of Matthew:

An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. (Matthew 1:1, 2 NRSV)

Jesus was from Isaac’s line. Again, the predictions were fulfilled.

Prediction: The Messiah Will Come from the Family of Jacob

The Messiah was also to be a descendant of the younger of Isaac’s two sons, Jacob. In the Book of Genesis, it records God saying the following to Jacob,

And God said to him, “I am God Almighty; be fruitful and increase in number. A nation and a community of nations will come from you, and kings will come from your body. The land I gave to Abraham and Isaac I also give to you, and I will give this land to your descendants after you”. (Genesis 35:11, 12 NIV)

Isaac had two sons, Jacob and Esau. Scripture says that the chosen line was through Jacob. This continues to narrow the possible candidates for the Messiah.

The Fulfillment Recorded

Matthew records how this was fulfilled. He writes,

The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham: Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob. (Matthew 1:1, 2 NKJV)

Jesus was also from the line of Jacob.

Prediction: He Will Come from Tribe of Judah

Jacob had twelve sons. God eliminated 11/12 of the line of Jacob by saying the Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah. The prediction reads as follows:

The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. (Genesis 49:10 RSV)

Only a descendant of Judah could claim the right to be the Messiah. The ruler’s staff belong to his descendants.

The Fulfillment Recorded

Jesus Christ descended from the line of Judah. In the first chapter of Matthew we read of this. It says,

An account of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers. (Matthew 1:1-2 NRSV)

Again, Jesus fulfilled the prediction.

Prediction: The Messiah Will Be from Family Line of Jesse

There were many family lines in the tribe of Judah, but only through the family line of Jesse could the Messiah come. He is the Branch that will bear fruit. We read of this in the Book of Isaiah. It says,

A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. (Isaiah 11:1 NIV)

The Branch is a title for the Messiah. He would have to be a descendant of Jesse.

The Fulfillment Recorded

Matthew records how this was fulfilled. He writes,

This is a record of the ancestors of Jesus the Messiah, a descendant of King David and of Abraham...Salmon was the father of Boaz (his mother was Rahab). Boaz was the father of Obed (his mother was Ruth). Obed was the father of Jesse. (Matthew 1:1, 5 NLT)

Jesus descended from Jesse.

Prediction: He Will Descend from the House of David

God told King David that the Messiah would be from His line. The promise is given by the Lord as follows:

When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come forth from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. (2 Samuel 7:12 NRSV)

Jesse had at least eight sons. God eliminated 7/8 of the sons of Jesse when He said the Messiah would be through the line of David. Again, the list of potential candidates gets narrower and narrower.

The Fulfillment Recorded

The very first verse of the New Testament records the fulfillment of this prophecy. Matthew writes,

Jesus Christ came from the family of King David and also from the family of Abraham. And this is a list of his ancestors. (Matthew 1:1 CEV)

Jesus descended from David.

When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary announcing Jesus’ birth, he confirmed that Mary’s child would be a descendant of David. Luke writes,

And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name JESUS. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. (Luke 1:31, 32 NKJV)

Jesus was David’s descendant.

All of These Prophecies Were Fulfilled by Jesus

Consequently, whoever the promised Messiah would be, He would have to be a male physical descendant of David the king. No other individuals would qualify. Therefore, from the predictions with respect to the genealogy of the Messiah, the great majority of the people who have ever been born are eliminated from contention. Jesus, however, fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies about the family line of the Messiah by being a descendant of David.

The Place of His Coming Was Predicted

Not only is the family line of the Messiah predicted, In addition, the exact place of His birth was predicted in the Old Testament.

Prediction: He Will Born in Bethlehem

God predicted, through the prophet Micah, the exact city where the Messiah would be born. It would be the tiny town of Bethlehem. He wrote,

But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity. (Micah 5:2 NASB)

Every city in the world was eliminated but one, Bethlehem. Thus, even if someone was a descendant of King David, yet was born in any other city than Bethlehem, he would not qualify as the promised Messiah. The descendant of David had to be born in this city to qualify.

The Fulfillment Recorded

Matthew records this fulfillment of this prediction. Jesus was born in Bethlehem:

When Jesus was born in the village of Bethlehem in Judea, Herod was king. During this time some wise men from the east came to Jerusalem. (Matthew 2:1 CEV)

Jesus was not only born in the right family, He was also born at the right place.

The Time of His Coming Was Predicted

Finally, we have the prediction with respect to the time in history of the Messiah’s coming. These predictions are as follows.

Prediction: He Will Be Killed before the Temple and the City of Jerusalem Are Destroyed

The Scripture predicted the death of the Messiah. We find this in the writings of Daniel the prophet. Scripture says,

After this period of sixty-two sets of seven, the Anointed One will be killed, appearing to have accomplished nothing, and a ruler will arise whose armies will destroy the city and the Temple. The end will come with a flood, and war and its miseries are decreed from that time to the very end. (Daniel 9:26 NLT)

We learn three things from this verse.

  1. The Messiah will come on the scene of history.
  2. He will be killed.
  3. After His death, the city of Jerusalem and temple will be destroyed.

These three predictions are specific.

The Fulfillment Recorded

When Jesus Christ came to the earth, the city of Jerusalem and the temple were still standing. Teaching at the temple was an important part of Jesus’ ministry. The temple, as well as the city, was destroyed in the year A.D. 70. This was forty years after His death and resurrection.

Therefore, Jesus fulfilled certain prophecies about the coming Messiah.

  1. He was born in the right family line—David’s.
  2. He was born at the right place—the city of Bethlehem.
  3. He was born at the right time in history—before the city of Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed.

Two Important Points Need to Be Noted

These three areas of prophecy that we have looked at reveal two startling things: literal fulfillment and no human manipulation. The evidence is as follows.

The Prophecies Were Fulfilled Literally by Jesus

First, the prophecies were fulfilled literally—exactly as they were written. Jesus was literally a descendant of King David, He was literally born in the city of Bethlehem, and He literally came upon the scene of history and was killed before the city of Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed. He fulfilled the predictions exactly as they were written.

Jesus’ Birth Fulfilled These Prophecies

Second, these three lines of prophecy were all fulfilled without any human manipulation or fulfillment. There is no way Jesus could have deliberately fulfilled them, seeing they were all fulfilled by His birth.

Before He gave any sermons, before He did anything miraculous, Jesus supernaturally fulfilled these prophecies. He was born in the right family, at the right place, and at the right time in history. Humanly speaking, there is no way Jesus could control these factors. However, Jesus was more than a human being. Indeed, He is God Almighty.

Therefore, we conclude that Jesus of Nazareth did indeed fulfill the Old Testament predictions about the coming of the Messiah. Many of these were, humanly speaking, impossible to arrange. Indeed, only God Himself could arrange Jesus being born in the right family, at the right place, and at the right time.

Summary – Question 4
Did Jesus Fulfill the Prophecies about the Messiah?

Jesus Christ claimed that the Old Testament, or Hebrew Scriptures, spoke of Him. Indeed, He claimed to have fulfilled the predictions of the coming Messiah. The evidence says that He did indeed do this.

Jesus told the religious leaders to search the Scriptures and discover where they spoke about Him. From the Old Testament we find that the coming Messiah was to be born in one particular family. This would be through Shem, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, and David. The New Testament is clear that Jesus was a descendant of David. This means that Jesus was born in the proper family to have the credentials of the Messiah.

The Old Testament prophet Micah predicted the Messiah would be born in the small town of Bethlehem. Matthew tells us that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Again, Jesus fulfilled that which was predicted.

Daniel the prophet said the Messiah would be killed before the city of Jerusalem and the temple were destroyed. This assumes that the Messiah would come and that the city and temple would again be destroyed.

Daniel was correct. Jesus Christ came upon the scene of history before the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple. He was crucified about forty years before they were destroyed.

We note that the prophecies that Jesus fulfilled were fulfilled literally. He was a literal descendant of David, literally born in Bethlehem, and literally died before the city and temple were destroyed.

Furthermore, these three lines of prophecy were all fulfilled by Jesus’ birth. There is no way, humanly speaking, that He could have deliberately fulfilled them. Yet Jesus fulfilled them as they were written.

In sum, the coming of the Messiah was predicted in the Old Testament. Jesus fulfilled these prophecies and, in doing so, has the right to claim to be the promised Messiah.

If Jesus Was without Sin, Then Why Was He Baptized? ← Prior Section
Did Jesus Come to Bring Peace on Earth? Next Section →
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