When making a study of the life of Christ it would be remiss to not identify the prophecies foretold about a Saviour and how Christ fulfilled them. Many scholars identify over 350 prophecies fulfilled in Christ… but is that accurate? To answer this we must learn to recognize the difference between a true prophecy, a perceived prophecy and a picture.
- True prophecy is where God, a prophet or a man of God uses directly identifies accurately a future event. This includes new testament identification of old testament events as a prophecy specifically revealed.
- A perceived prophecy is looking back at past events and recognizing similarities between events and placing the perception of prophecy.
- A picture is where events are identified or shown as an example or to give clarity of a current event.
Luke 24:25 Then he said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken:
26 Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?
27 And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.
Example of a true prophecy
Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Validation as a true prophecy
- Is it God directed
- It is not in context of an historical event – it is made by a prophet – it is specific
- IT IS CLEARLY IDENTIFIED AS A PROPHECY
Examine the following verse in context… it does not fit within the historical account being given.
Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
The whole chapter of Isaiah 53 does not fit the historical accounts in 52 and 54, was made through a prophet and is specific to a future event.
Jeremiah 23:5 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.
6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.
It was the wording that many missed in the New Testament as they were looking for a King to save them from bondage.. not sin. Looking back we can easily see the difference… but Israel knew nothing of faith … only of the Law!
Jeremiah 31:31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
32 Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:
33 But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
34 And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
2ND Coming of Christ
Jude 1:14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints,
14 To execute judgment upon all, and to convince all that are ungodly among them of all their ungodly deeds which they have ungodly committed, and of all their hard speeches which ungodly sinners have spoken against him.
As these examples show they, and many others are, these prophecies are either God directed, the passage was not in context of an historical event, was made by a God called prophet plus the prophecy is specific and IS CLEARLY IDENTIFIED AS A PROPHECY.
Examples of perceived prophecy
Remember that perceived prophecy is where someone, looking across the finished work of God, perceives similarities between new testament events and old testament historical accounts and perceives them as prophetic. It’s important to know that oftimes a historical account is just that… a historical event. A careful bible student must “refrain” from reading into a passage a prophetical reference.
Here are a few examples of perceived prophecy that are commonly taught:
The crucifixion is of Christ after the fall of man in sin
Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
While this holds great similitudes to the crucifixion and the cutting off of the head of the beast in Revelation, if we place this verse to the scrutiny of prophecy… it appears more historical than prophetical.
Christ’s ascension foretold
Genesis 5:24 And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.
While this is a great picture of the resurrection of Christ or the Church (I’ve heard them both ways) it also does not maintain the basic rules for a prophetical reference (see above)
The last supper foretold
Genesis 14:18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was the priest of the most high God.
Jesus as the lamb of God –
Genesis 22:8 And Abraham said, My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering: so they went both of them together.
Jesus being in hell
Daniel 3:25 He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.
While all of these are perhaps great pictures of new testament events; they do not meet the prophetical criteria. Therefore they are in context a historical reference or picture.
Example of a Picture
A picture is where events are identified or shown as an example or to give clarity of a current event. Jesus himself makes many, many references to old testament events as an example or a picture so that the hearers get a better understanding.
Matthew 12:40 For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.
Romans 5:14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.
1 Peter 1:19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:
Enoch was a picture of the Rapture or ascension of Christ
Genesis 5:24 And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.
We See other pictures of Christ in:
- Passover Lamb – Exodus 12:3
- Brazen Serpent – Numbers 28
- Great Judge – 1 Sam 2:10
- Jesus Raised from the dead – Hebrews 11:19
- And more…
Picture of the rapture and blindness after
Genesis 19:4 But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter:
10 But the men put forth their hand, and pulled Lot into the house to them, and shut to the door.
11 And they smote the men that were at the door of the house with blindness, both small and great: so that they wearied themselves to find the door.
Picture of salvation and the end times in Noah’s ark
Matthew 24:37 But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be.
38 For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark,
More sure word
It is good to recognize the fact that we have the finished work of God, a more sure word of prophecy… meaning that what we have in the King James Bible is better that one speaking a prophetical announcement!
2 Peter 1:19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:
20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.
21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.