BIBLE Basics
Study 7: The Origin of Jesus
Old Testament Prophecies of Jesus | The Virgin Birth | Christ's Place in God's Plan | "In the beginning was the word" | Digressions (The Historical Jesus, "I came down from Heaven", Did Jesus Create the Earth?, "Before Abraham was, I am", Melchizedek) | Questions

7.1 Old Testament Prophecies Of Jesus

Study 3 explained how God's purpose of salvation for men was centred around Jesus Christ. The promises which He made to Eve, Abraham and David all spoke of Jesus as their literal descendant. Indeed, the whole of the Old Testament points forward to, and prophesies about, Christ. The Law of Moses, which Israel had to obey before the time of Christ, constantly pointed forward to Jesus: "The law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ" (Gal. 3:24). Thus at the feast of Passover, a lamb in perfect condition had to be killed (Ex. 12:3-6); this represented the sacrifice of Jesus, "the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world" (John 1:29; 1 Cor. 5:7). The spotless condition which was required for all the animal sacrifices pointed forward to the perfect character of Jesus (Ex. 12:5 cp. 1 Peter 1:19).

Throughout the Psalms and prophets of the Old Testament there are countless prophecies about what Messiah would be like. They particularly focus on describing how he would die. Judaism's refusal to accept the idea of a Messiah who dies can only be due to their inattention to these prophecies, a few of which are now presented:-

Old Testament prophecy Fulfilment in Christ
"My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?" (Ps. 22:1). These were the very words of Jesus on the cross (Matt 27:46).
"I am despised of the people. All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the Lord that he would deliver him: let him deliver him" (Ps. 22:6-8). Israel despised Jesus and mocked him (Luke 23:35; 8:53); they shook their heads (Matt. 27:39), and said this as He hung on the cross (Matt 27:43).
"My tongue cleaveth to my jaws...they pierced my hands and my feet" (Ps. 22:15,16). This was fulfilled in Christ's thirst on the cross (John 19:28). The piercing of hands and feet refers to the physical method of crucifixion used.
"They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture" (Ps. 22:18). The precise fulfilment of this is found in Matt. 27:35.

Note that Ps. 22:22 is specifically quoted as applying to Jesus in Heb. 2:12.

"I am become a stranger unto my brethren, and am an alien unto my mother's children. For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up" (Ps. 69:8,9). This well describes Christ's feeling of estrangement from his Jewish brethren and his own family (John 7:3-5, Matt.12:47-49). This is quoted in John 2:17.
"They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink" (Ps. 69:21). This happened while Christ was on the cross (Matt. 27:34).

The whole of Isaiah 53 is a remarkable prophecy of Christ's death and resurrection, every verse of which had an unmistakable fulfilment. Just two examples will be given:-

"As a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth" (Isa. 53:7) Christ, the Lamb of God, remained silent during his trial (Matt. 27: 12,14).
"He made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death" (Isa. 53:9). Jesus was crucified along with wicked criminals (Matt. 27:38), but was buried in the tomb of a rich man (Matt. 27:57-60).

It is little wonder that the New Testament reminds us that the "law and prophets" of the Old Testament is the basis of our understanding of Christ (Acts 26:22; 28:23; Rom. 1:2,3; 16:25,26). Jesus himself warned that if we do not properly understand "Moses and the prophets", we cannot understand him (Luke 16:31; John 5:46,47).

That the Law of Moses pointed forward to Christ, and the prophets prophesied of him, should be proof enough that Jesus did not exist physically before his birth. The false doctrine of the physical 'pre-existence' of Christ before birth makes a nonsense of the repeated promises that he would be the seed (descendant) of Eve, Abraham and David. If he were already existing up in heaven at the time of these promises, God would have been incorrect in promising these people a descendant who would be Messiah. The genealogies of Jesus, recorded in Matt. 1 and Luke 3, show how Jesus had a pedigree which stretched back to those people to whom God had made the promises.

The promise to David concerning Christ disallows his physical existence at the time the promise was made: "I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels...I will be his father, and he shall be my son" (2 Sam. 7:12,14). Notice the future tense used here. Seeing that God would be Christ's Father, it is impossible that the Son of God could have already existed at that point in time when the promise was made. That this seed "shall proceed out of thy bowels"shows that he was to be a literal, physical descendant of David. "The Lord hath sworn in truth unto David...Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne" (Ps. 132:11).

Solomon was the primary fulfilment of the promise, but as he was already physically in existence at the time of this promise (2 Sam. 5:14), the main fulfilment of this promise about David having a physical descendant who would be God's son, must refer to Christ (Luke 1:31-33). "I will raise unto David a righteous Branch" (Jer. 23:5) - i.e. Messiah.

Similar future tenses are used in other prophecies concerning Christ. "I will raise (Israel) up a Prophet like unto (Moses)" (Deut. 18:18) is quoted in Acts 3:22,23, which defines the "Prophet" as Jesus. "A virgin (Mary) shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (Is. 7:14). This was clearly fulfilled in Christ's birth (Matt. 1:23).