Can you give me some evidence about messianic prophecies I can use to convince my atheist/mathematician friend?
My brother-in-law is an atheist and mathematician. He has a couple of master’s degrees in “pure math.” He also has completed all his doctoral classes in this area. He challenged me to send him a few of the most compelling prophecies and he would research them. He is contends with great assurance that God does not exist. I am a born-again Christian and a freelance writer. The “math” part of my brain does not work well and I feel out-challenged. I have read the article on your website about prophecies and math combined, but it is difficult for me to wrap my head around this subject. Would you be able to provide me some additional help?
I have three suggestions. First, I have written an entire book on the topic of Jesus in the Old Testament, including two chapters on prophecies, as well as several chapters on prefigures, foreshadows, types and antitypes. I strongly encourage you to consider picking up a copy. The book is From Shadow to Reality. It can be purchased at www.ipibooks.com.
Second, I have written an article and published a power point on this topic. This is the “short” version, but it has some of the most useful messianic passages. It anticipates some of the possible objections and responds to them as well. I suggest you go to the power point section of the web site to find the power point and an extended outline. I am copying and pasting the outline below.
One more thing. I just finished teaching a nine hour class on Jesus in the Old Testament. If you go to the front page of the web site you will find the recordings there, as well as even more extended notes and a power point. These can be helpful as well.
Purpose: To help those who are either skeptical or lack sufficient faith to move past some point in their Bible study.
John 5:39,40 Question: What is Jesus claiming here? He is claiming that the Old
Testament, written hundreds of years before he was born, was written
about him! Imagine the implications of this claim.
Luke 24:44 Jesus is claiming to have fulfilled all the prophecies of the Messiah!
The point: If Jesus’ claims above are true, then that would surely imply that he is the Messiah and that the Bible is the inspired Word of God. As you look at the following Old Testament prophecies and their fulfillment in the New Testament, for each one, ask yourself the following questions:
1. When was the prophecy written down?
2. Was this clearly a prophecy about the Messiah, or could it be just a random passage taken out of context, but not obviously about the Messiah?
3. Can we really be sure that Jesus actually did these things? Are they recorded in historical records outside the Bible?
4. Could Jesus have simply done these things so he could manipulate his way into a false claim to be the Messiah?
As to the first question, the entire Old Testament was translated into the Greek in what is known as the Septuagint Translation by around 200 BC. Also, the Dead Sea including an entire manuscript of Isaiah from 150 BC prove that these prophecies were written down at least 250 years before they were fulfilled.
Isaiah 53:1-9 Written about 750 BC. It should be noted that the Jews themselves
considered this passage to be about the Messiah.
a. v3 The Messiah to be despised and rejected. Fulfilled in Luke 23:18-24 and
many other places.
b. v5 The Messiah to be “pierced” for our sins. Fulfilled in John 19:31-37.
c. v7 The Messiah will be silent and meek when accused and led to his death.
Fulfilled in Mark 14:60,61, Mark 15:1-5 and other places.
Psalm 22:15-18 Written about 1025 BC. None of these events occurred during David’s life, so who is he talking about? This must be a Messianic prophecy.
a. v15 Thirsty. Fulfilled in John 19:28.
b. V16 The Messiah to be crucified. Fulfilled in Mark 15:25. It should be noted
That crucifixion was not invented for about six hundred years after David lived.
c. v17 No bones broken. Fulfilled in John 19:32,33, when they broke the bones
of the thieves, but not of Jesus, because he was already dead.
d. v18 Divided up and gambled for the Messiah’s clothing. These seem
contradictory, yet both were fulfilled in John 19:23,24.
Comment: The crucifixion of Jesus is an historical fact which even the die-hard skeptic cannot deny. Jesus could not have arranged for the fulfillment of any of these prophecies.
Zechariah 11:12,13 Written about 520 BC. Careful study of v7-11 shows this to be a prophecy about the Messiah.
a. v12 The Messiah will be “priced,” ie. sold for thirty pieces of silver. Fulfilled in Matthew 26:14-16.
b. V13 The money will be thrown into the Lord’s house and “to the house of
the potter.” Fulfilled in Matthew 27:3-10.
Micah 5:2 Written about 750 BC. This was a well-known Messianic prophecy to the Jews in Jesus’ day.
a. The Messiah must be born in Bethlehem. Fulfilled in Matthew 2:1.
Isaiah 9:1 Written about 750 BC. See v 6,7 to prove this is a prophecy about the Messiah.
a. Despite Micah 5:2, the Messiah must be raised in Galilee. Fulfilled in Matthew
Comment: If you look closely at a map of the tribal territories, finding the border between Zebulun and Naphtali, and compare it to a map which includes Nazareth, you will see that the town where Jesus was raised is on the border of these two territories.
Daniel 9:24,25 Written about 550 BC. This is a prophecy concerning “The Annointed One.” The Hebrew word Messiah means literally the anointed one.
The Messiah will appear in Jerusalem “seventy sevens” (490 years) after the
decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem. This decree was issued by the Persian
king Artaxerxes in the seventh year of his reign (Ezra 7:8-26), which was 458 BC.
Counting 490 years from 458 BC brings one to the year 33 AD . In other words,
the Messiah would come to Jerusalem to bring in forgiveness of sins in about 33
Summary. According to the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah, he must:
1. be despised and rejected.
2. be pierced.
3. be crucified.
4. have people divide and gamble for his clothing at his crucifixion.
5. be born in Bethlehem.
6. be from Galilee, in the vicinity of Nazareth.
7. be sold for thirty pieces of silver.
8. come to Jerusalem about 33 AD.
9. etc…. There are many other messianic prophecies.
As he claimed in Luke 24:44, Jesus fulfilled all these prophecies and many more. Many of these events are a matter of historical record, not just from the Bible. Many or most could not have been fulfilled on purpose by a manipulative fake. Is there any other conclusion to all these facts except that:
Jesus is the Messiah, sent by God
The Bible is the inspired Word of God
Question: Can you think of any other logical explanation of the facts?
Question: Do you see any implications for your life?