Heard any prophecies lately?
Sure you have. Check out the opinion section of any newspaper or online news feed. Listen to any political talk show, right or left. Ask your doctor how your health is doing. Any of these sources is willing to tell your future—or the future of modern civilization—and give their earnest reasons why things will turn out the way they say.
Here are some “prophecies” from the past, taken from one of my favorite books, The Experts Speak:
- “We don’t like their sound. Groups of guitars are on the way out” (Decca Recording Company executive, turning down the Beatles, 1962).
- “The Japanese auto industry isn’t likely to carve out a big share of the market for itself” (Business Week, 1968).
- “There is no reason for any individual to have a computer in their home” (Ken Olson, president of Digital Equipment Corporation, 1977).
Of course, none of the “prophets” above seems to have claimed divine inspiration. But think how different our world would be if their predictions had come true! I wouldn’t have a clue about how to hum “Let It Be.” I wouldn’t be driving my Toyota. And I’d be whacking out this article on a manual typewriter, on two sheets of paper with a carbon sheet in between!
As you know, the above prophecies aren’t that crucial. For centuries, we somehow survived without the Beatles, Corollas, Macs, or Windows. But what about the really important matters—such as what happens to our consciousness four seconds after we die, or what’s the best way to live our life until then? Such matters as, does God really care about us, and will He give us a future that’s happier than the present we’re living through? The three predictors whose quotes I printed above were wrong, wrong, and wrong. But is there a prophetic source that’s always right?
There is; it’s the Bible, and I’m going to prove it to you. And the way I’ll do it is to show you several hair-raisingly accurate predictions about Jesus. Watch this.
Jesus, the Satan-crusher
Earthly sin was just a few hours old. A silent snake coiled itself on Eden’s beautiful grass, watching as its Creator spoke gently to His two human children. Finally, God turned His head and fixed the serpent with a remorseless stare: “I will put enmity between you and the woman,” the Almighty murmured, “and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15).
As prophesied, four millenniums later, Jesus came to earth and delivered several crushing blows to the devil. He resisted Satan’s three tailor-made temptations (Matthew 4:1–11). Jesus submitted to God’s will in Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36–46), and then He died on the cross to redeem those who would believe in Him (Matthew 27:32–56). The devil now knows that he has just a short time (Revelation 12:12) and that God will finally destroy him in a lake of fire (Revelation 20:10).
Jesus, the God-Man
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given.” Isaiah wrote these words seven centuries before Jesus’ birth, and he added these words: “the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
Decades ago, while repeating her wedding vows, soon-to-be Princess Diana endearingly bungled Prince Charles’s four names, calling him “Philip Charles Arthur George” rather than “Charles Philip Arthur George.” Quite a mouthful for a nervous bride, right? Jesus has many more names—Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, Immanuel, and others. But we don’t need to memorize them—we just need to let them remind us how comforting and talented and powerful and loving these prophecies prove Him to be!
Jesus, the Bethlehem Baby
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,” prophesied Micah of Moresheth, who probably knew Isaiah personally, “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” (Micah 5:2).
This Bethlehem prophecy came breathtakingly true at Jesus’ birth. His mother, Mary, and his adoptive father, Joseph (“adoptive” because Jesus was born of a virgin by the aid of the Holy Spirit [Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18]), arrived in Bethlehem just in time for the baby to be born in a stable.
Meanwhile, in what may have been in a country that today is known as Iran, a group of truth-seeking, spiritually minded astrologers noticed a bright celestial star where there hadn’t been one before. As they pondered its meaning, it seems clear that they remembered a 1,500-year-old prophecy they’d read in an ancient Hebrew manuscript: “I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel” (Numbers 24:17).
Probably impelled by the same Holy Spirit who was responsible for Mary’s pregnancy, these “wise men” fixated on that star and decided that they must do more than observe it. After all, the prophecy contained not only a star but a “scepter,” which had to mean royalty. They decided to follow that star to where they could meet and worship this Heaven-favored King.
The trip must have taken them months because they most likely had to skirt north around the Arabian Desert. But they finally arrived in Jerusalem, ten miles from Bethlehem.
“Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews?” they asked around town. “We saw his star in the east when it rose and have come to worship him” (Matthew 2:2).
Herod, the Jews’ current king, was startled and frightened. “When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. When he had 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,” and they quoted Micah’s prophecy (verses 3–5). When Herod informed them of this, the wise men immediately hurried south and gave the infant King their gifts and their worship.
Jesus, the Suffering Savior
Now we come to the heart-wrenching part. Even though the above prophecies came triumphantly true, God had predicted in Eden that Satan, the serpent, would damage Jesus, the offspring of Adam and Eve. You see, Satan didn’t admit defeat and slither quietly away through the grass. Instead, he’s a fighter—but he never fights fair, and he always fights falsely. Jesus once called him the “father of lies” (John 8:44). Jesus’ close friend Peter warns us, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8). And Satan’s chief target was Jesus.
Therefore, among those Old Testament Messianic prophecies were ones that predicted the horrendous, fatal trauma Jesus would go through to rescue us from sin and Satan. Listen to these prophecies, all from Isaiah chapter 53:
Verse 2: “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” Forget every Hollywood-handsome Jesus-actor you’ve ever seen. Christ was so ordinary looking that in Gethsemane, Judas had to kiss Him to point Him out to His captors (Matthew 26:47–49).
Verses 3, 4: “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and carried our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted.” Almost everyone at Jesus’ trial and execution scorned, taunted, and cursed Him (Matthew 27). Priests, Bible scholars, religious rulers, Roman authorities, common soldiers, onlookers—they all despised Him and snarled or shouted their contempt. “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” they screamed.
Verse 5: “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 we are healed.”
Verse 12: “He poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.”
Paul, as he often does, sums it up perfectly. “You see,” he says, “at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:6–8).
So how can you tell whether a prophecy is true? This is important because Jesus warns us to “watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many.” “And many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.” “For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:4, 5, 11, 24).
Our only safe guide for true prophecy is the Word of God, the Bible. “To the law and to the testimony: If they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them” (Isaiah 8:20, KJV). I’m going to keep trusting God’s Bible prophecy because it not only has proven the truth about Jesus’ life and death but also especially reveals His self-sacrificing love!
Maylan Schurch is pastor of the Bellevue Seventh-day Adventist Church in Bellevue, Washington. He’s a frequent contributor to Signs of the Times®.