One of the ways the bible distinguishes itself from other books is that it foretells of future events. One of the most amazing is that of the death of Jesus Christ.
Skeptics of the centuries have argued that Christians have corrupted manuscripts, that is they had written prophecies after the fact to better support their theology. This may have been a valid concern hundreds of years ago when the only manuscripts available were written a thousand years after Christ died. But today, this is not the case.
It is interesting to note that for a Jew, capital punishment meant stoning. There are many aspects of Jesus death and the prophecies that are not compatible with how an apostate or false teacher would be condemned.
In scripture, Jesus was the ultimate Passover lamb that took the sins of us all. In Exodus 12:46 and Numbers 9:12 we read about the restrictions for the Passover meal. One of them is they must take care not to break any of the sacrifices bones. If Jesus has been stoned, he would have had many broken bones.
There are several times in the Gospels where the religious leaders picked up stones to stone Jesus for who he claimed to be. If you had been stoned, many of the prophecies about him would not have come true.
Old Testament Book of ISAIAH (700-550 BC)
The book of Isaiah is believed by modern scholars to date back to between the First and Second Temple periods, about 700-550 BC. Of course we don’t have originals of that book but in 1947, among the dead sea scrolls, a complete copy of the book of Isaiah was found, and it dated to 125 BC. It is interesting that of all the books of the old testament that could be found, Isaiah is among the most important when it comes to the Messiah.
In Isaiah is a remarkable set of prophecies relating to Jesus Christ. Perhaps some of the most amazing passages are in Isaiah chapter 53;
3. 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.
7. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth, he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
8. Unjustly condemned, he was led away. No one cared that he died without descendants, that his life was cut short in midstream. But he was struck down for the rebellion of my people.
9. He had done no wrong and had never deceived anyone. But he was buried like a criminal; he was put in a rich man’s grave.
12. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
14. I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast;
15. my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
18. they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.
3. Jesus was rejected by his people and despised by the religious leaders who concocted how they might put to death. Also prophesied in Psalm 118:22 which dates back to between 1,000 and 500 BC.
Matthew 26:3-4; Then the chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they schemed to arrest Jesus secretly and kill him.
Psalm 118:22; The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; (1,000 BC)
Acts 4:11; Jesus is “ ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.
7. Although Jesus was innocent he did not defend himself
Matthew 27:12-14; When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer. Then Pilate asked him, “Don’t you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?” But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge
8. Jesus was an innocent man who died for the sins of others.
Matthew 26:59-60; The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for false evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death. But they did not find any, though many false witnesses came forward.
9. Jesus would die in disgrace but be buried in a rich man’s tomb.
Matthew 26:57-60; As evening approached, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who had himself become a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body, and Pilate ordered that it be given to him. Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb that he had cut out of the rock.
12. Luke 23:34; Jesus asked his Father to forgive the ones crucifying him
[But Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.”] Then they threw dice to divide his clothes.
14. According to medical experts, being crucified can dislocate the shoulders, and the driving of nails through the wrists could dislocate one or both of the arm bones. “my bones are out of joint”.
As the strength of the legs gives out, the weight of the body must now be borne by the arms and shoulders. The result is that within a few minutes of being placed on the cross, the shoulders will become dislocated. Minutes later the elbows and wrists become dislocated. [Dr. Mark Eastman; “Medical Aspects of the Crucifixion”]
15. Jesus said he was thirsty and was given sour wine
John 19:29; A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.
18. The Roman soldiers divided his clothes among them and gambled for his tunic
John 19:23-24; Now when the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes and made four shares, one for each soldier, and the tunic remained. (Now the tunic was seamless, woven from top to bottom as a single piece.) So the soldiers said to one another, “Let’s not tear it, but throw dice to see who will get it.” This took place to fulfill the scripture that says, “They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they threw dice.
Above is only one chapter of one book in an ocean of prophecies regarding Jesus
Luke 24:27, 44; And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.
He said to them, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”- Jesus
I would like to show you one more, perhaps one of the most compelling prophecies that point to Jesus’ crucifixion. The Jews had their own form of capital punishment and that was stoning. Remember, they stoned Stephen for blasphemy and picked stones up many times to kill Jesus for the same thing [John 8:59,]
John 10:31-33; Again his Jewish opponents picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?” “We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.”
This Jewish tradition and command of God is what makes Jesus’ crucifixion so interesting, because it would have been so unlikely to predict.
Psalm 22:16 has two versions. One makes sense grammatically, the other not so much. Scripture “B” is what is found in the Jewish Masoretic texts but they are not the oldest manuscripts we have.
A. Psalms 22:16; For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet I can count all my bone they stare and gloat over me;
B. Psalms 22:16; A company of evildoers encircle me, my hands and feet like a lion.
It has been believed by skeptics that the world “pierced” was inserted by Christians long after the texts were written. Many scholars now say that with the discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls, [that predate manuscripts that translate the “B” version of Psalms 22:16] puts the controversy to rest.¹
Although there are many manuscripts that use the “lion” translation, the oldest manuscripts including the Septuagint [LXX, 200 BC], Codex Sinaiticus and the Syriac Peshitta, use the “pierced” translation.
Below is a picture of an ancient fragment which includes chapter 22 verse 16 that shows the world that is correctly translated “pierced”.
The Codex Sinaiticus is the oldest full bible we have, written about 350 AD, it translated Psalm 22:16 , “gouged my hands and feet”.
Another interesting hint about Jesus’ death in Psalm 22:16 is that it would be at the hands of Gentiles, non-Jews. “The dogs have compassed [surrounded] me”. Jesus referred to non believers in God as dogs, meaning people who are like animals who live on instinct and not the truth, evil doers.
Matthew 15:26; Jesus responded, “It isn’t right to take food from the children and throw it to the dogs.
Revelation 22:15; Outside the city are the dogs—the sorcerers, the sexually immoral, the murderers, the idol worshipers, and all who love to live a lie.
For those who like to mess with odds, Professor of mathematics Peter Stoner gave 600 of his students the task of figuring out the probability of one person fulfilling eight specific prophecies. There answer was one in 10 to the 21th power. That is one chance in one with 21 zeros after it. The professor put the odds this way;
“First, blanket the entire Earth land mass with silver dollars 120 feet high. Second, specially mark one of those dollars and randomly bury it. Third, ask a person to travel the Earth and select the marked dollar, while blindfolded, from the trillions of other dollars.”
The professor’s work was reviewed and corroborated by the American Scientific Association.
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- Peter Flint’s Position on 5/6HevPs (cf. Flint, Peter W., Discoveries in the Judean Desert, Vol 38 (Oxford)