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OLD TESTAMENT PROPHECIES AND JESUS: PART SIX

 

Seeing and not believing: 

       Apostle John writes that the failure of the people to believe Jesus was a fulfillment of the word of Isaiah. The word of Isaiah apparently being referred to is found in Isaiah 53:1 and Isaiah 6:9-10.

John 12:37-41: Even after Jesus had done all these miraculous signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet: "Lord, who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?" For this reason they could not believe, because, as Isaiah says elsewhere: "He has blinded their eyes and deadened their hearts, so they can neither see with their eyes, nor understand with their hearts, nor turn--and I would heal them."

       Isaiah 53:1: Who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

       Isaiah 6:9-10: He said, "Go and tell this people: "`Be ever hearing, but never understanding; be ever seeing, but never perceiving.'  Make the heart of this people calloused; make their ears dull and close their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed."      

       Isaiah, during the reign of King Uzziah of Judah, had a vision of Adonai, which is seen throughout the OT as synonymous with YHWH.  To say Adonai is to say YHWH.  In 6:8, Isaiah hears the voice of YHWH asking “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?”   Isaiah answers: “Here am I. Send me!”  We then see YHWH giving to Isaiah the message He wants Isaiah to take to the people of Judah as recorded in 6:9-10.

       The context of Isaiah 6 is Isaiah responding to YHWH’s request for someone to go to the people of Judah and tell them it is because of their ever hearing and never understanding and ever seeing and never perceiving, that their cities will be destroyed. Isaiah volunteers to take this message to Judah.  Biblical history shows the Babylonians invaded Judah and destroyed their cities and took them into captivity.  

       In John 12:40, John paraphrases Isaiah’s quote of YHWH’s message to the people and applies it to the Israelites of Jesus’ day.  History shows first century Israel was judged when the temple and the city of Jerusalem were destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70 and many were killed or taken into captivity.       

       It is apparent that John applies what YHWH said to Judah to what was happening during the time of Christ.  There is nothing in the passage in Isaiah 6:9-10 that suggests this was a prophecy of what would occur during the time of Jesus.  The context of Isaiah 6 is all about God delivering a message to Judah through Isaiah. John appears to simply use this passage of Scripture as a parallel to what was occurring in the first century or as having a greater fulfillment during Christ’s time.

Judas betrayal:

       In John 13:18-19, Jesus speaks of Scripture being fulfilled in what appears to be a reference to Judas and his betrayal of Jesus.  The Scripture Jesus appears to be referencing is Psalm 41:1.

       John 13:18-19: "I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill the scripture: `He who shares my bread has lifted up his heel against me.'  "I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am He.

       Psalm 41:9: Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.

       This is a Psalm of David where he speaks of having an illness where his enemies are hoping he will die and even a close friend is against him.  The friend is not identified. That David is talking about himself is made clear in that David asks God to have mercy upon him because he has sinned.  Jesus never sinned.  There is nothing in the context of this Psalm that in any way points to Jesus or that can be construed as a prophecy about an event in Jesus’ life.  Again, we must conclude that Jesus is using a past fulfilled event as a parallel to or greater fulfillment of something that was about to occur in His life.

       The problem with this conclusion is that Jesus on several occasions instructs that Scriptures seen as fulfilled in events associated with His life are seen by Him as Scriptures that speak of Him in their original context.  The implication is that these OT events and utterances occurred with Jesus in mind and their alleged fulfillment in the life of Jesus is not just a greater fulfillment of an already fulfilled past event but a fulfillment of events specifically prophesied to occur in the life of Christ.  Yet, in many cases, when these OT events and utterances are seen in their original OT context, there is nothing to suggest the writer had Christ in mind and the original context clearly shows these events and utterances pertain to someone other than Christ.

       It is because of this apparent confliction that some scholars see the NT application of OT events to Christ as purely arbitrary and speculative with no logical basis for doing so. At best, they are seen as parallels and comparisons but not as fulfillments of OT prophecies about Christ. 

Hated without reason:

       In John 15:24-25, Jesus is quoted as saying that the perceived hatred directed toward Him and His Father by the religious leaders is a fulfillment of what is written in their Law. 

       John 15:24-25:  If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father. But this is to fulfill what is written in their Law: `They hated me without reason.'

       Psalm 69:4: Those who hate me without reason outnumber the hairs of my head; many are my enemies without cause, those who seek to destroy me. I am forced to restore what I did not steal.

       It is unclear what Jesus meant by “their Law” as there is nothing in the Mosaic Law that speaks of this.  We do find In Psalm 69 a reference to being hated without reason. Psalm 69 appears to show David talking about himself as verse 5 says “You know my folly, O God; my guilt is not hidden from you” (NIV).  Translations such as the KJV, NKJV, ASV and NET have “sins” in place of the word “guilt.”  We know Jesus never sinned.  This appears to be another example of Jesus taking an OT statement that contextually pertains to someone else and applying it to Himself.

I am thirsty:

       Just before Jesus died, the author of the fourth Gospel reports Jesus said He was thirsty which is seen as something having to occur so that Scripture would be fulfilled.  

       John 19:28-30: Later, knowing that all was now completed, and so that the Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, "I am thirsty." A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus' lips. When he had received the drink, Jesus said, "It is finished." With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

       While there is no OT statement to which the statement “I am thirsty” can be attributed too, there are statements in Psalm 22 and 69 that could be seen as relating to this event.

       Psalm 22:15: My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth; you lay me in the dust of death.

       Psalm 69:21: They put gall in my food and gave me vinegar for my thirst. 

       As covered in Part Four of this series, both these Psalms were written by David and appear to pertain to what David was experiencing.  There is nothing within the context of these Psalms that reading them without knowledge of the Christ event would lead one to believe they were prophetic of what Jesus would experience.  It is apparent, however, that Jesus believed these passages in Psalms were about Him or at least believed that He needed to behave in ways that would reflect what David wrote in apparent reflection on what he (David) was experiencing.   

Broken bones and the Lamb of God:

       John writes that the soldiers facilitating Jesus’ crucifixion came and broke the legs of the two men crucified with Jesus.  However, when they came to Jesus and found He was already dead, they did not break his legs. John sees this as a fulfillment of Scripture.

       John 19:36:  These things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled: "Not one of his bones will be broken,"

       The only OT Scripture that directly deals with human bones not being broken is found in Psalm 34.  This Psalm, written by David, is a Psalm of praise to YHWH.

       Psalm 34:19-20: 19.  A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all; he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.

       There is nothing in this Psalm that would indicate it was written with Christ in mind.  We do, however, have the account in Exodus 12 where lambs were killed and their blood spread over door frames to protect the Israelites from the death angel at the time of the exodus from Egypt  The Israelites were instructed to not break any of the bones of these lambs.  This same instruction was given to them in regarding to the celebration of this event in what became the annual observance called the Passover.

       Exodus 12:46:  "It must be eaten inside one house; take none of the meat outside the house. Do not break any of the bones.

       Numbers 9:2: They must not leave any of it till morning or break any of its bones. When they celebrate the Passover, they must follow all the regulations.

       Christian theology teaches that Jesus became a human sacrifice for sin when He was crucified.  Christian theology teaches Jesus is figuratively seen as the Lamb of God. It is believed OT events involving the sacrifice of a lamb prefigure Jesus as the Lamb of God.  For example, when God instructed Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, he was withheld from doing so and a lamb was provided instead.  This substitute of a lame for Isaac is seen as prefiguring the death of Christ as a substitute for human death.

       The killing of lambs at the time of the exodus is seen as foreshadowing the death of Jesus as the display of the blood from these lambs protected the people from death just as the shed blood of Jesus protects humanity from eternal death.  The killing of lambs and the pouring out of their blood in observance of Passover is seen as prefiguring the death of Jesus. 

       Although Christians see Jesus as the Lamb of God sacrificed for the sins of mankind, there are only two references in the entire NT that directly call Jesus the Lamb of God.  Both these references are found in John, chapter one, were the writer quotes John the Baptist.

       John 1:29: The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! 

       John 1: 35-36: The next day John was there again with two of his disciples.  When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, "Look, the Lamb of God!"

       Until we get to the Revelation, there are only three additional associations made between a lamb and Jesus.  Paul sees the Passover observance as having foreshadowed the death of Jesus and refers to Jesus as our Passover lamb.  The lambs killed at the time of the exodus were to be without blemish.  Peter appears to have this in mind in his reference to Jesus as a lamb. Obviously being without blemish included not having any broken bones.

       1 Corinthians 5:7: Get rid of the old yeast that you may be a new batch without yeast--as you really are. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed.

       1 Peter 1:18-19: For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.

       We also have the account in Acts 8 of the Ethiopian eunuch sitting in his chariot and reading from Isaiah 53 and Apostle Phillip coming to him and explaining that what he was reading applied to Jesus.  Here is what he was reading.

       Acts 8:32-33: "He was led like a sheep to the slaughter, and as a lamb before the shearer is silent, so he did not open his mouth.  In his humiliation he was deprived of justice. Who can speak of his descendants? For his life was taken from the earth."

       Phillip sees what Isaiah wrote about a lamb before the shearer as a reference to Jesus, thus showing the perceived association between a lamb and Jesus. 

       In view of the above, it is unlikely John had Psalm 34 in mind when he spoke of Scripture being fulfilled in that no bones of Jesus were broken.  He very likely was thinking of the unblemished Passover lamb which he believed foreshadowed Jesus and was fulfilled in Jesus (brought to greater fullness) at the time of the crucifixion.   

       It should be noted that while it is generally assumed the killing of lambs in the exodus, the Abraham/Isaac event and the Passover observance prefigured the death of Jesus, there is nothing in the OT that specifically says this.  Nowhere in the Gospels is it recorded that Jesus saw Himself as the Lamb of God or referred to himself as such.  Yet it is evident that John the Baptist, Paul, Peter and, as we will see, the author of the Revelation, saw Jesus as a lamb

       While there are only five references to Jesus as a lamb in the first 26 books of the NT, in the 27th book, the book of Revelation, there are 32 references to Jesus as a lamb. While the phrase “Lamb of God” is not seen in the Revelation, by context it can be seen over and over again that the lamb spoken of is Jesus.  (Revelation 5:6, 12, 7:7, 12:11, 13:13, 21:14). Revelation 1:1 states that the revelation was from Jesus which God gave Him and made known to John by an angel.  Therefore, it is evident that the associations between a lamb and Jesus are a reflection of God the Father seeing Jesus as a lamb since the revelation given to John originates with God the Father.

       In John the Baptist’s saying Jesus was “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world,” one would assume John the Baptist understood that Jesus would be killed and become the human sacrifice for sin. Yet, the Gospel’s reveal that the twelve disciples of Jesus were not expecting Him to die but to become the king of a restored Davidic Kingdom of Israel.  Even forty days after Jesus’ resurrection, the disciples were still looking for Jesus to restore the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6).  Some of the twelve appear to have previously been disciples of John the Baptist.  Yet they did not apparently understand what John the Baptist understood as to the purpose for which Jesus appeared.   

       It is only after restoration of the kingdom did not materialize in the manner the disciples expected that they began to preach that Jesus had to die for the sins of the people and that through faith in His death and resurrection, salvation could be obtained.

       It is evident that followers of Jesus came to understand that He was the human fulfillment of what was pictured in the sacrificing of lambs in OT times and carried forward in the Passover observance in NT times.  As the book of Leviticus shows, the sacrifice of a lamb without blemish and the shedding of its blood were used as a sin offering before God.  This shedding of a lamb’s blood as a sin offering is seen throughout the OT.  In the NT this is seen in the yearly Passover observance when lambs were slain and their blood poured out.  During the last meal Jesus had with His disciples before He was crucified, He introduced the elements of the bread and wine to represent His broken body and shed blood.  The sacrificing of lambs at Passover came to an end when the temple was destroyed in AD 70.

 You are my Son:

      One last reference to OT prophecy being fulfilled in Christ is seen in Acts chapter 13 were Apostle Paul references several OT writings as pertaining to Jesus.      

       Acts 13:32-37: "We tell you the good news: What God promised our fathers he has fulfilled for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is written in the second Psalm: "`You are my Son; today I have become your Father.' The fact that God raised him from the dead, never to decay, is stated in these words: "`I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David.' So it is stated elsewhere: "`You will not let your Holy One see decay.' "For when David had served God's purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his fathers and his body decayed. But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay.

       The phrase “You are my Son; today I have become your Father” is taken from Psalm 5 which is a Psalm that, by its wording, appears to be talking about more than just a physical king of Israel but of a ruler with divine power and prerogatives.  There is no OT passage that says, “I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David.”  The quote that says “You will not let your Holy One see decay,” appears to be taken from Psalm 16:8-9 which like Psalm 5, appears to be speaking of someone of great stature in the eyes of God.

Conclusion:

       As previously discussed, some scholars argue Jesus and His followers simply applied  OT prophecies, events and sayings to Jesus in an effort to make Jesus out to be what He and His followers wanted Him to be?  Jewish scholars in particular make this argument as they don’t believe Jesus is the promised Messiah to Israel. Therefore, they believe the followers of Jesus misappropriated OT sayings and events in making them look as prophecies of events in the life of Jesus.        

       However, it is apparent that in the providence of God, a number of prophecies, events and sayings that are recorded in the OT narrative were meant to pre-figure events in the life of Christ. While many of these prophecies, events and sayings can be seen as having an initial fulfillment in OT times, it is apparent they were meant to have a greater fulfillment in Jesus.  It appears to be in this sense that Jesus speaks of everything being fulfilled that is written about Him in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalm’s.

This concludes this series   

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