Updated: Mar 22
If God is real, what would class as convincing evidence for you to believe it? When studying the Old Testament prophecies regarding the long-awaited Jewish Messiah, I was astounded to learn that 351 verses/passages fit amazingly with the details of Jesus’ life, death, resurrection and teachings. The Old Testament writings were written and formulated during the 1660s to 400 BC. Therefore, the prophecies existed hundreds of years before Jesus was born and yet the remarkable details they contain accurately describe what we know of Jesus’ life. This seems to defy the odds of what is possible.
Peter W. Stoner (Maths and Astronomy Professor at Pasadena City College) calculated that the odds of one person fulfilling just eight of the prophecies are 1x10¹⁷. To put that into perspective, imagine filling the entire state of Texas with enough coins so the pile is two feet deep. Mark only one coin and hide it in the mass. Blindfold someone and get them to select just a coin at random. What would be the odds of selecting the marked coin? It would be the same chance the biblical prophets had for just eight of their prophecies being fulfilled.
Here is a snapshot of the prophecies regarding the Messiah:
He would be born in Bethlehem
He would be born of a virgin
He would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver
He would be crucified and resurrected
His clothes would be divided among the executioners as they gambled for them
He would be pierced, spat upon, shockingly abused, despised and rejected. He would thirst during his death and be given vinegar to drink. Not one of his bones would be broken
His sacrifice would bear the penalty for all of humanity’s sins
He would be buried in a rich man’s grave
He would be a descendent of David (a famous Jewish King, who God promised would always have a descendent upon the throne of Judah)
Here are the parallels in Jesus’ life as attested by the four Gospels:
Jesus was born in Bethlehem.
Jesus’ mother Mary, was visited by an angel and told that she would give birth to the “Son of the Most High”. She asked how this would happen “since [she was] a virgin”. Mary was betrothed to be married to a man called Joseph but they had not consummated their relationship as they weren’t yet married. Joseph sought to break off the betrothal once he realised that Mary was pregnant but not by him. God visited Joseph in a dream to validate Mary’s innocence.
One of Jesus’ disciples called Judas, betrayed Him to the Jewish leaders who wanted to kill him. He was paid 30 pieces of silver for this treachery.
Jesus was crucified which was a form of Roman execution that didn’t exist when the Old Testament prophecies were written. It was seen as a death for cursed men and criminals. This figurative description is found in the Old and New Testaments: "cursed is everyone who hung on a tree". His resurrection is documented in all four Gospels, with the Book of Acts describing how Jesus ascended into Heaven in bodily form, very much alive. The disciples touched Him after He resurrected, and ate with Him which shows He was not a mirage/hallucination.
The Romans gambled between themselves for His clothes when Jesus was stripped to be crucified.
He was given vinegar to drink on the cross to satisfy His thirst. He was mocked, spat upon, despised and rejected when they flogged Him and made Him carry His cross. All his disciples had fled. He was pierced in the side with a spear to check He was really dead: “a sudden flow of blood and water” gushed forth which is a sign of clinical death when the blood starts to separate. The Romans did not need to break His legs to speed up the execution because of this.
Isaiah 53 gives a detailed account of how the Messiah would be the “Suffering Servant” who had to die so we could “be healed by his wounds”. Jesus showed His wounds to doubting Thomas after His resurrection and explained to His disciples why He had to die – to offer the perfect sacrifice for sins.
Jesus was buried in Joseph of Arimathea’s tomb. Joseph was a highly distinguished member of the Jewish Sanhedrin. The 71 members of the Sanhedrin were the wealthiest men in Jerusalem. Thus, Jesus was “assigned a grave with the rich in his death,” as Isaiah prophesies.
The genealogies of Jesus show that He was a descendant of David via both Joseph and Mary’s genealogy.
From this snapshot of the 351 prophecies, the striking similarities are obvious. To return to my earlier question: what would count as sufficient evidence that God exists? I would propose that this is a solid starting point for belief in God; revelatory knowledge conveyed to mortal human beings who did not know the future. This phenomena needs a sufficient explanation: that 351 prophecies written hundreds of years before their fulfilment, all came to fruition in the life of Jesus. It seems like God was trying to warn us in advance to expect His coming. Indeed, the whole of Creation has been eagerly anticipating this event and History has been working towards it. He is “the lamb that was slain from the creation of the world”.
The odds of Jesus fulfilling this snapshot of prophecies is astronomical. Imagine the odds of fulfilling all 351! God revealed what He was going to achieve in the life of Jesus years before it happened. That knowledge of the future, documented over such a wide span of biblical history, attests to an omniscient God in control of the universe and a divulger of secrets. He gave us these prophecies (nearly one for every day of the year) so we wouldn’t miss the Messiah when He came. What a shame that so many did.
 Micah 5:2
 Isaiah 7:14
 Zech 11:12
 Deut 21:23, Zech 12:10 & 14:27, Psalm 22, Isaiah 53, Job 19:23-27
 Psalm 22:18
 Isa 50:6, Isa 52:14, Isa 53:3
 Psalm 69:21
 Psalm 34:20
 Isa 53:5-8
 Isa 53:9
 2 Samuel 7
 Luke 2:1-20
 Luke 1:26-38
 Matthew 1:18-25
 Matt 26:15
 Matt 27, Mark 15, Luke 23, John 19
 Deut 21:23, Gal 3:13
 John 21
 Psalm 22:18, Matt 27:35
 Psalm 69:21, Matt 27:34
 John 21:33-37
 John 19:34
 Isa 53:5
 John 20:24-27
 Isaiah 53:5, Luke 24:25-27, Mark 8:31-32
 Matt 27:57-61
 Matt 1 and Luke 3
 Romans 8:19
 Rev 13:8, 1 Peter 1:20
 Jeremiah 33:3