Jesus: The Promised Messiah

One of the evidences of the authenticity and inspiration of the Bible is its prophecy. It not only provides an irrefutable proof for the existence of the God who inspired the prophets but also distinguishes the Bible as God’s Word out of the “sacred books” of the world’s religions.

Biblical prophecies revolve around two major themes: the nation of Israel and Jesus the Messiah who came through Israel as the Saviour of all mankind. This piece will focus on the latter.

God inspired the Bible prophets to provide details about the lineage, birth, mission, death and resurrection of the Messiah and these were accurately fulfilled in Jesus. Thus, Jesus stands out as unique and without any rival out of the founders of religions (e.g Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius).

Some skeptics who intend to disprove Bible prophecy propounded what I call the “Passover Plot” theory. It claims that Jesus conspired with Judas and the apostles to fulfil the messianic prophecies of the Old Testament so as to convince them He was the Messiah.

But let’s take a look at these messianic prophecies and how they were fulfilled.

1. Virgin birth. The first promise of the Messiah was given in Genesis 3:15. God foretold that there will be enmity between Satan and the Messiah which was identified as “her seed.” The phrase “her seed” points to the virgin birth which was fulfilled in Jesus. He was born of Mary alone, without Joseph’s participation (Mt. 1:16).

In Isaiah 7:14 a promise was given to the unbelieving King Ahaz: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son…” The Hebrew word rendered as “virgin” is almah which is also used for Rebekah as a virgin (Gen. 24:43), maids of the young (Ex. 2:8) virgins/unwed young women (SOS 11:3) and damsels (Ps. 68:25-26). The word almah “never refers to a maiden who has lost her virginity” (Gleason Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, 1982, 266-68)

A writer claimed this prophecy failed because vs 16 says before Jesus reaches the age of maturity, two Jewish countries would be destroyed. This is a classic display of ignorance. After vs. 14-16, Isaiah wasn’t talking about Jesus but “the boy” whom he later names as “Maher-Shalal-Hash-Baz.” He was the son of Abi, the bride of King Ahaz (Is. 8:3).

The prophecy said that “two kings” Ahaz dreaded “will be laid waste” and this was fulfilled about 3 years after this boy was born, when the two kings of Syria and Ephraim were killed (2 Kings 15:30; 16:9).

2. Patriarchal Line. God’s promised Abraham that “in you all the family of the earth shall be blessed” (Gen. 12:2). This is connected with the Messiah coming from his line. The same promise was repeated to Isaac and Jacob (Gen. 17:19; 25:23).

Numbers 24:17-19 says a “star will come out of Jacob; a scepter [ruler] will rise out of Israel” who will crush the enemy and have dominion. These promises were fulfilled in Jesus who came from this very lineage (Mt. 1:1).

3. The Line of Judah. Genesis 49:10 says “The sceptre will not depart from Judah … until he comes to whom it belongs.” The sceptre was still in Judah when Jesus was born, though by the time Jesus had completed His mission, it had departed as evidenced by the rabbis’ inability to exact the death penalty (Jn. 18:31).

4. The Line of David. In God’s promise to David, He included the coming of the Messiah who would have an everlasting dynasty (“house”); rule (“throne”) over people (“kingdom”), and His rule would be “eternal.” (2 Sam. 7:12-16) This promise was expanded in Psalm 89 and by prophet Isaiah that the Messiah will reign on the “throne of his father David” (Is. 9:7).

Jesus fulfilled this by coming through the lineage of David (Mt. 1:6). Matthew gives a lineage of Joseph while Luke gave that of Mary, but only placed Joseph’s name in place of Mary (Lk. 3).

5. His Place of birth. Micah 5:2 predicted the birthplace of the Christ as Bethlehem, a town so small and insignificant in Judah that it was not often listed. This was the town where Jesus was born (Lk. 2:4).

The lineage, place and timing of the Jesus’ birth as foretold were obviously beyond the influence of any ordinary mortal or a “passover plot”. His birth had to occur before the sceptre departed from Judah (Gen. 49:10), while the temple was still standing (Mal. 3:1), while the genealogical records were available to prove His lineage (2 Sam. 7:12) and shortly before the temple and Jerusalem were destroyed (Dan. 9:26).

These weren’t mere coincidences or chances. There was a narrow time range within which the Messiah had to come – and He did. Jesus’ coming followed a divinely arranged time-table. “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman [i.e virgin born]…” (Gal. 4:4).

6. His forerunner. Isaiah predicted that the Messiah would have a forerunner who will call men to repentance and “prepare the way for the Lord” (Is. 40:3). Prophet Malachi calls this forerunner a “messenger who will prepare the way before” the Messiah (Mal. 3:1). This messenger was John the Baptist who prepared the way before Jesus (Jn. 1:23, Mk. 1:2-3).

7. His mission. Isaiah says that “The Spirit of the Lord God” will come upon the Christ to empower and anoint Him to preach the gospel and release those in spiritual bondage (Is. 61:1). The Spirit of God came on Jesus and anointed Him (Jn. 1:32). God promised to “honor the Galilee of the Gentiles” and show them His light. In fulfilment Christ settled in Nazareth – in the midst of the Gentiles – a Roman province (Is. 9:1-2; Mt. 4:15-16).

8. His life. In Isaiah 7:14, the coming Messiah was called Immanuel meaning “God with us.” This was fulfilled in Jesus’ life and ministry. The name sums up the words and works of God which Christ acutely demonstrated. Thus, God’s people could testify: “God has come to help his people.” (Lk. 7:16)

9. His ministry. Isaiah speaks of the Lord’s coming when “the eyes of the blind” will open “and the ears of the deaf unstopped” (Is. 35:5) along with the promises of “freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners” (61:1-2) from the Lord’s anointed.

This fits in perfectly with Jesus’ earthly ministry in opening the eyes of the blind, opening the ears of the deaf, expelling demons, raising the dead, healing the lame and preaching the gospel to the people (Mt. 11:5-6). Isaiah 42:2-4 predicted that the Messiah would not be warlike or contentious, but kind and compassionate. This is said of Jesus (Mt. 12:19-21).

10. His teaching. Prophet David predicted One who will “open [his] mouth in parables … [and] utter hidden things, things from of old” (Ps. 78:2). In the same way, Jesus “spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable” (Mt. 13:34-35).

11. His presentation. Prophet Zechariah predicted that the King of Israel who is “righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding a donkey” will enter into Jerusalem (Zech. 9:9). This was fulfilled at the triumphal entry of Christ into Jerusalem (Lk 19:37). This flies in the face of the “passover theory” as a Bible teacher noted:

Where did Jesus get the money to pay off the multitude that lined the road into Jerusalem and hailed Him as the Messiah when He rode in on a donkey – the last beast one would expect a triumphant king to choose – precisely as foretold in Zechariah 9:9? It was Nisan 10 (April 6), A.D. 32, the very day the prophets had declared that this amazing event would occur – 483 years to the day (69 weeks of years as Daniel 9:25 foretold it) after Nehemiah … had received received (on Nisan 1, 455 B.C.) authority to rebuild Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:1)!” (Dave Hunt, A Woman Rides the Beast, Oregon: Harvest House, 1994, 32).

12. His rejection. David likens the Messiah’s rejection by the Jewish people to “the stone the builders rejected” (Ps. 118:22). This was precisely what happened to Jesus (Matt. 21:42). It was also predicted that the Messiah would be forsaken by all His friends at a crucial moment (Zech. 13:7). This was fulfilled also. (Matt. 26:31).

13. His betrayal. David in a double reference, foretold treachery of a close associate of the Messiah, “he who shared my bread has lifted up his heel against me” (Ps. 41:9). This happened as foretold (Jn. 13:18, 21-30). Prophet Zechariah predicted “thirty pieces of silver” which will be thrown “into the house of the LORD to the potter” (11:12-13)

This was fulfilled when Judas betrayed Jesus with 30 pieces of silver which he used to buy a potter’s field and finally threw down at the feet of the rabbis at the temple (Mat. 26:14-16). Did Jesus make a “Passover plot” with the rabbis to pay Judas that exact amount?

Isaiah foretold how Christ will be “oppressed and afflicted yet he [will] not open his mouth” (Is. 53:7). In the same vein, Jesus didn’t defend Himself before His accusers (Mt. 26:62-63; 27:12-14; Lk. 23:8-10). The only time He spoke was when He was with Pilate in private (Jn. 18:36). This has to be pointed out because some misinformed critics have attempted to find contradictions here whereas there are none.

14. His suffering and death. Isaiah predicted the Messiah’s suffering and disfigurement by scourgings. This was meted out on Jesus (Is. 52:14; Jn. 19:1). In Psalm 22:6, David describes in actual words how the Messiah would be insulted and it came to pass as foretold (Mt. 27:39, 43).

Verse 16, says that His hands and feet would be pierced. This was an apt description of the Roman crucifixion centuries before this means of execution became known. God in His foreknowledge knew Jesus wouldn’t die by stoning (the Jewish execution) because the rabbis had lost the power to exact the death penalty by 7 A.D. (Jn. 18:31).

This is why the “passover plot” theory is false. It would have been ludicrous for Jesus to get Himself killed in order to convince a small band of inept followers that He was the Messiah. The Jews (even His disciples) had expected the Messiah to be victorious and deliver them from the Roman oppression, so Jesus’ death could only have meant that He wasn’t the Messiah.

The prophecies about Christ’s death (e.g Ps. 22:16, Is. 53:5-8) were avoided by the Jews because the same Messiah is also predicted to “extend [His] mighty sceptre from Zion” and “reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom” (Ps. 110: 2; Is. 9:7). How can He suffer and die and then reign as king? The Jewish interpreters decided to reject what didn’t fit into their mindset.

But this is no contradiction because: the promised Messiah had to come twice. First, to die for man’s sins and second, to reign as King. Yet some Jews today are still awaiting the first coming of the Messiah!

David’s prophecy speaks of His bones which would be kept intact (Ps. 22:17; 34:20). Even though this wasn’t the normal custom, Jesus’ bones were kept intact (Jn. 19:33-36). Psalm 22:18 says that soldiers would gamble for Christ’s clothes and it came to pass (Jn. 19:24).

How could Jesus had known which soldiers would be on duty so as to bribe them to do this? Did He also arrange with them to offer Him vinegar and gall at the cross? (Ps. 69:21) The prayer Jesus prayed in Matthew 26:39 was prophesied in Psalm 22:24.

15. His burial. Jesus was buried in a rich tomb as it was predicted of the Messiah (Is. 59:3; Mt. 27:57-60). Did He also arrange where He should be buried?

16. His resurrection. Psalms 16:10 predicts the Messiah’s bodily resurrection before seeing decay and this happened as foretold (Acts 2:24-27, 31). Had the Romans soldiers allowed the disciples to secretly steal His body, they would have been on those crosses the next day for breaking a tomb with the Roman seal. The only logical explanation of the empty tomb is that Jesus rose from the dead.

17. His ascension. Psalm 68:18 predicts the end of Jesus’ earthly life. His exaltation to God’s right hand was also predicted in Ps. 110:1. This was fulfilled (Acts 7:56, Eph. 4:8).

18. His Reign. David describes Christ’s millennial reign as King in Jerusalem over the nations of the world (24:7-10). Isaiah describes Him as the Son whose governmental rule will be a reign of justice over the restored Israel and the world (9:6-7; 11:5-16) along with the great blessings of this reign (Is. 35:1-10). Zechariah also predicts the destruction of Israel’s enemies and Christ’s rule over all the nations at His second coming (Zec. 14:9-12).

The fulfilment of these prophecies proves beyond a doubt that Jesus is the Messiah and Saviour of the world. This gives us a strong confidence in the one True God and His infallible Word – the Bible.

The Golden Lie of Purgatory

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The Vatican II Council (Austin Flannery, Vol. 2, 394) states:

The doctrine of purgatory clearly demonstrates that even when the guilt of sin has been taken away, punishment for it or the consequences of it may remain to be expiated or cleansed … [I]n purgatory the souls of those who died in the charity of God and truly repentant but who had not made satisfaction with adequate penance for their sins and omissions are cleansed after death with punishment designed to purge away their debt.”

Sins must be expiated. This may be done on this earth through the sorrows, miseries and trials of this life and, above all through death. Otherwise the expiation must be made in the next life through fire and torments or purifying punishments…” (Vol. 1, 63).

Purgatory is said to be a place (or a state) where sins which have not been discharged off on earth can be removed through fire and torments until a dead soul is totally purified of his sins and sent to heaven.

What this means is, even though your sins are forgiven through Christ’s death, you must still suffer some punishment for them here in this world or in purgatory before the gates of heaven can open for you after death.

Every Catholic looks forward to spending some unknown length of time in purgatory, but no one – even the pope – can know when his sins will be totally purged. This doctrine is rife with problems:

I – Sin cannot be cleansed from the soul by any kind of suffering. Suffering may only temporarily alter a person’s attitude to sin, but once the pain is forgotten, the old tendencies return, because sins come from the heart.

Until the heart is cleansed – by what? suffering? No! By the blood of Christ shed on the cross and renewed by God’s Spirit through faith in Christ, it will persist in sin.

II – Sins are cleansed by Christ (on earth) and not at a place of fire after death. The Bible declares that Christ “when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high” (Heb. 1:3).

It also says, “the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin” (1Jn. 1:7), in fact, “without the shedding of blood is no remission [of sin]” (Heb. 9:22).

But purgatory is said to be not a place of blood shedding but a place of “purifying fire” Can fire remove sin? The only possible purging of our sins was accomplished by Christ and it is effected on the heart by grace when received by faith.

III – The Vatican II quoted above speaks of “adequate penance.” What is adequate penance? No one knows and Rome has never defined it.

This is why many Catholics crawl on their knees at Marian shrines, whip themselves, wear hair shirts to ‘atone’ for their sins and by-pass purgatory through suffering. This reflects a rejection of Christ’s perfect substitutionary sacrifice on our behalf.

God made Jesus “to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2Cor. 5:21). “For by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy” (Heb. 10:14).

Since we have been perfected forever by Christ’s sacrifice, there is no “work” or suffering of ours that can cleanse our sins. The perfect work of Christ at the cross puts out the mythical flames of purgatory.

IV – Romans 6:23 says “The wages of sin is death [i.e eternal separation from God]” not a limited time in purgatory. Since no one can escape from hell, “working off” the penalty of sins is impossible.

We would be lost forever apart from Christ’s sacrifice for our sins. We are finite beings and could never pay the infinite penalty that Christ paid. Being the God-Man, only He could pay the price.

V – Purgatory implies that Christ’s sacrifice on the cross (which “is finished” John 19:30) was insufficient to purge sin, but the Catholic Mass, which allegedly repeats that sacrifice, does the purging.

They claim Christ’s sacrifice is not enough to get us to heaven, but the forgiven sinner must suffer torment to add to Christ’s sacrifice to be purified.

So on one hand you must suffer to expiate your sins and at the same time, you need not suffer if enough Masses are said for you. This is a fatal contradiction. What makes the sacrifice of Christ less effectual than its alleged repetitions by priests?

VI – The Vatican II Council (2:205) also says:

The Church offers the Paschal Sacrifice for the Dead so that … the dead may be helped by prayers and the living may be consoled by hope. Among Masses for the Dead is the Funeral Mass which holds the first place in importance…

Masses are said to help the dead by shortening their time in purgatory. Thus, Catholics have to pay priests to perform Masses on behalf of their dead loved ones.

A funeral Mass is often infused with big money with big shot priests and Catholic dignitaries in attendance. Like an Irish saying goes: “High money, High Mass; Low money, Low Mass; No money, no Mass!”

The Catholic church has never been able to define how much of reduction each Mass would grant a soul or when exactly the souls would leave purgatory, so the money has to keep flowing in to the men in robes for more Masses.

That’s why some Catholics still hold Masses for parents who have died over 30 years ago.

While the Lord said it’s hard for a man who trusts in his riches to enter heaven, Catholicism teaches the opposite, that with money you can buy a lesser burning time in purgatory (Mt. 19:23-24).

Psalm 49:6-7 says for “those who trust in their wealth … No man can redeem the life of another or give to God a ransom for him.” Now, if money can’t redeem a living man, how can it redeem the dead?

The fruit of this doctrine have paved the way for priestly control and exploitation. Purgatory is not only a lie, but also a very golden lie. It’s literally “the goldmine of the priesthood!”

Purgatory “Proof texts?”

(a) 1 Samuel 31:13 “And they took their bones, and buried them under a tree at Jabesh, and fasted seven days

Where’s purgatory here? It’s absent! The fasting observed was a Jewish custom of mourning the dead for some number of days eschewing food (Genesis 50:3-4, 10, Numbers 20:29).

(b) Luke 12:59 “I can guarantee that you won’t get out until you pay every penny of your fine.”

This is teaching restitution on settling monetary debt with an adversary, yet it has been snagged on to cement a deadly heresy – that one can pay the price for one’s own sin and save oneself from purgatory.

“Following in Christ’s steps, those who believe in him have always… carried their crosses to make expiation for their own sins and the sins of others…[to] help their brothers to obtain salvation…” (Vatican II, 1:65, 68)

The truth is, no man can purge himself from sin because to do so, he would have to be sinless.

Even in the Old Testament, the animals to be offered had to be without blemish. This symbolised Christ, the sinless “Lamb of God” who would takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29).

Jesus had to be sinless to be able to die for our sins, otherwise He would have been under the penalty of His own sins. Christ “the just [suffered] for [us] the unjust that he might bring us to God”[i.e to heaven, not to purgatory]” (I Pet. 3:18).

You either accept His pardon and be saved or reject it and be damned forever.

(c) Matthew 12:32 “…it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come.”

The Greek word translated world is “aion” which means age or a period of time. The term “this world” refers to the period between the first and second advent of Christ (Mt. 24:14, 29-31) while the “world to come”  refers to the millennium following the second coming of Christ. The Bible calls it “the dispensation of the fullness of times” (Eph. 1:10).

It takes a great deal of craftiness to link “the world to come” with purgatory.

(d) 1 Corinthians 3:15 “If his works is burned up, he will suffer the loss. However, he will be saved, though it will be like going through a fire.

The preceding verses show that this is about a believer’s “rewards according to his labour” (v. 8). The quality works are like gold, silver and precious stones and those whose works are inferior are like wood, hay or stubble.

“Every man’s work shall be manifest…and fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is” (v. 13). The passage is about Believers’ works tested by fire, not souls in purgatory.

(e) Colossians 1:24 “Who now rejoice in my suffering for you and fill up what is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body sake which is the church.

Paul was not suffering to purge himself or anyone’s soul from sin neither was he claiming Christ’s sacrifice is insufficient, rather his suffering was for the sake of bringing the gospel to others (“my suffering for you”).

There was no lack in the suffering of Christ rather Christ Himself said that Paul must suffer greatly “for my name sake” (Acts 9:16).

In Philippians 3:10, Paul expressed his passion to know Christ “and the fellowship of his sufferings” which he says brings him into conformation with His death and lifestyle.

Therefore the suffering Paul refers to is for the sake of Christ here on earth – in the hands of sinners – not in a pagan “third state” called purgatory.

(f) 2 Timothy 1:18 “The Lord grant unto him [Onesiphorus] that he might find mercy of the Lord in that day…

There’s not even a hint of purgatory here and there’s no evidence that this man was dead when Paul wrote this.

(g) 2 Maccabees 12:45 “It is a holy and wholesome thought to pray for the dead, that they may be loosed from their sins.

This comes from the spurious apocryphal books which contradicts the Bible: “People die once, and after that they are judged” (Heb. 9:27). It’s too late to pray for the dead. Also, the dead Jews referred to that verse were guilty of idolatry:

“But under the tunic of each of the dead they found amulets sacred to the idols of Jamnia, which the law forbids the Jews to wear” (2 Macc. 12:40 NAB).

According to Catholic doctrine, idolatry is a mortal sin which would land these men in hell, so praying for them would be a sheer waste of time, if not blasphemy.

The book of Maccabees also admits that divine inspiration had ceased at this time. At best, it’s an uninspired story book.

In the absence of Biblical evidence, the Catholic Encyclopedia (11:1034) admits:

In the final analysis, the Catholic doctrine of purgatory is based on Tradition not Sacred Scripture.”