By Dr. Mark Creech
Christian Action League
A man and his dog were walking along the shoreline of a lake when they came upon another visitor. The owner of the dog was proud of his dog’s newly mastered feat – so he said to the visitor, “Watch this!” He tossed a piece of driftwood far out into the lake and the dog immediately ran on top of the water, fetched the driftwood and ran back. The visitor shook his head in disbelief. Whereupon the owner repeated the procedure several times again. Finally he asked the visitor, “Did you notice anything unusual?”
The visitor responded, “Your dog can’t swim can he?”
It seems that no matter how much evidence there is for Jesus’ claims to be the Son of God, the Messiah of the world, some people will persist in their unbelief and doubt his credentials.
By some counts there is between 300 to 400 messianic prophecies in the Old Testament. Some, however, believe that number is too high and count the major prophecies as less than 100. Apologists Josh McDowell has made a study of the major prophecies and numbers them conservatively at 61. He argues these 61 prophecies are identifications that any claim to being the Messiah must possess.
In his book Science Speaks, Peter Stoner took only eight of these prophecies, which are most basic and calculated the odds of all of them being fulfilled. Here is a list of those prophecies:
- Messiah would be born in Bethlehem (Mc. 5:2).
- Messiah would be proceeded by a messenger (Mal. 3:1).
- Messiah would come to Jerusalem riding on a colt (Zch. 9:9).
- Messiah would be betrayed by a friend (Zch. 13:6).
- Messiah would be betrayed by thirty pieces of silver (Zch. 11:2).
- Messiah’s betrayer would try to return the thirty pieces of silver, but it would be refused. The betrayer would then throw them on the floor of the temple (Zch. 11:13).
- Messiah would not speak in his own defense (Is. 53:7)
- Messiah’s hands and feet would be pierced (Ps. 22:16)
Most scholars don’t agree that number 4 or Zechariah 13:6 actually refers to the Messiah, so we might want to discount Stoner’s odds on that point. Nevertheless, the numbers Stoner used to calculate the odds were arrived at by himself and over 600 of his students over the course of about ten years. Whenever Stoner found reason for the odds to be revised, he made them even more conservative. Stoner and his students found in considering just these eight prophecies the odds that they would be fulfilled by any one man who lived between the writing of the prophecies and today is 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000. That’s 1 to the 10017 power. Even if Zechariah 13:6 is removed from the equation the odds are still astronomical.
Stoner then calculated the odds of forty-eight of the prophecies concerning Jesus and discovered that the odds were 1 in 10157 power.
As incredibly large as that number is, it must be remembered that conservatively speaking, as Josh McDowell argues, there are at least 61 major messianic prophecies. If the odds of 48 prophecies being fulfilled are statistically zero, how much greater are the odds of 61 prophecies.
The improbability is overwhelmingly mind-boggling.
Of course, some will still argue that these prophecies could be fulfilled intentionally. Well, perhaps entering into Jerusalem on a donkey could have been intentional. Nevertheless, how does one contrive their own place and time of birth, descendants, the actions of others (such as Christ’s betrayer), or his means of death?
The preponderance of the evidence that Jesus is the prophesied Savior of the world is demonstratively undeniable. Many men have claimed to be the Messiah through the centuries, but only one man has presented us with the proper ID. That man is Jesus Christ.
Will you believe in Him? Will you receive Him as your Savior?
And oh yeah, he really walked on top of the water too (Matt. 14:22-33).