The Old Testament in the Bible was completed some four hundred years before Jesus was born. It was translated from Hebrew into Greek in Alexandria some 150 years before He was born. And yet, these verses contain very specific prophecy about the life and ministry and suffering and death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.
Here are 26 specific instances:
“Therefore, the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and have a son, and name him Immanuel (or God with us). (Isaiah 7:14)
“He will be a sanctuary; but for the two houses of Israel, He will be a stone to stumble over and a rock to trip over, and a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 8:14)
“The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of darkness a light has dawned.” (Isaiah 9:2)
“For a child will be born for us, a son will be given to us, and the government will be on His shoulders. He will be named Wonderful Counselor, Mighty god, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. The dominion will be vast, and its prosperity will never end. He will reign on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish and sustain it with justice and righteousness from now on and forever. The zeal of the Lord of Hosts will accomplish this.” (Isaiah 9:6, 7)
“For He will give His angels orders concerning you, to protect you in all your ways. They will support you with their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” (Psalm 91:11,12)
“The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.” (Psalm 118:22)
“Those who hate me without cause are more numerous than the hairs on my head.” (Psalm 69:4)
“The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers conspire together against the Lord and His Anointed One.” (Psalm 2:2)
“Even my friend in whom I trusted, one who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” (Psalm 41:9)
“Strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered.” (Zachariah 13:7)
“Then I said to them, ‘If it seems right to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.’ So they weighed my wages, 30 pieces of silver. ‘Throw it to the potter,’ the Lord said to me – this magnificent price I was valued by them. So I took the 30 pieces of silver and threw it into the house of the Lord, to the potter.” (Zachariah 11:12-13)
“They are striking the judge of Israel on the cheek with a rod.” (Micah 5:1)
"I gave My back to those who beat Me, and My cheeks to those who tore out My beard. I did not hid My face from scorn and spitting.” (Isaiah 50:6)
“They pierced my hands and my feet.” (Psalm 22:16)
“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?” (Psalm 22:1)
“Everyone who sees me mocks me; they sneer and shake their heads: ‘He relies on the Lord; let Him rescue him; let the Lord deliver him, since He takes pleasure in him.’” (Psalm 22:7-8)
“They gave me gall for my food, and for my third they gave me vinegar to drink.” (Psalm 69:21)
“I am poured out like water, and all my bones are disjointed; my heart is like wax, melting within me.” (Psalm 22:14)
Isaiah 53: “Who has believed what we have heard? And who has the arm of the Lord been revealed to? He grew up before Him like a young plant and like a root out of dry ground. He had no form or splendor that we should look at Him, no appearance that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like one people turned away from; He was despised, and we didn’t value Him. Yet He Himself bore our sicknesses, and He carried our pains; but we in turn regarded Him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But He was pierced because of our transgressions, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment four our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds. We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished Him for the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet He did not open His mouth. Like a lamb led to the slaughter and like a sheep silent before her shearers, He did not open His mouth. He was taken away because of oppression and judgment; and who considered His fate? For He was cut off from the land of the living; He was struck because of My people’s rebellion. They made His grave with the wicked, and with a rich man at His death, although He had done no violence and had not spoken deceitfully. Yet the Lord was pleased to crush Him, and He made Him sick. When You make Him a restitution offering, He will see His seed, He will prolong His days, and the will of the Lord will succeed by His hand. He will see it out of His anguish, and He will be satisfied with His knowledge. My righteous servant will justify many, and He will carry their iniquities. Therefore I will give Him the many as a portion, and He will receive the mighty as a spoil, because He submitted Himself to death, and was counted among the rebels; yet He bore the sin of many and interceded for the rebels.”
“They divided my garments among themselves, and they cast lots for my clothing.” (Psalm 22:18)
“You may not break any of its bones.” (Exodus 12:46)
“He protects all his bones; not one of them is broken.” (Psalm 34:20)
“They will look at Me whom they pierced.” (Zechariah 12:10)
“For You will not abandon me to Sheol; You will not allow Your Faithful One to see the Pit.” (Psalm 16:10)
“You ascended to the heights, taking away captives; You received gifts from people, even from the rebellious, so that the Lord God might live there.” (Psalm 68:18)
“The Lord declared to my Lord: ‘Sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies Your footstool.’” (Psalm 110:1)
The Old Testament contains over 300 hundred prophecies that refer to the coming of the Messiah. Jesus Christ fulfilled these prophecies that were written several hundred years before His birth.
How can something so improbable be explained? American pastor and evangelist D. James Kennedy wrote, “It is noteworthy that in no other religious writings in the world do we find any specific predictive prophesies like we find in the Scripture. You will find no predictive prophecies whatsoever in the writings of Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed, Lao-Tse or Hinduism. Yet in the Scripture there are well over two thousand prophesies, most of which have already been fulfilled.”
Even Jesus Christ Himself acknowledged to his disciples that He was the one the Old Testament scriptures prophesied of. In Luke 24:25-27, He chastised two disciples on the road to Emmaus for forgetting these promises about Him in the Old Testament:
“He said to them, ‘How unwise and slow you are to believe in your hearts all that the prophets have spoken! Didn’t the Messiah have to suffer these things and enter into His glory?’ Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted for them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:25-27)
“In all the Scriptures” does not imply that all prophesy in the Old Testament is about Christ, rather that the entire scope of Scripture prophesies about Him. Some passages are directly prophetic, others are typological; but the whole thing is “messianic”.
Typology (because I had to look this up) is the idea that persons (e.g., Moses), events (e.g., the exodus), and institutions (e.g., the temple) can — in the plan of God — “prefigure a later stage in that plan and provide the conceptuality necessary for understanding the divine intent”. For example: The coming of Christ to be the new Moses, to effect the new exodus, and to be the new temple. (From He Who Gives Life by Graham Cole.)
In “Scripture, Reflections on the Psalms”, apologist C.S. Lewis makes the point: “He (Jesus) clearly identified Himself with a figure often mentioned in the Scriptures and appropriated to Himself many passages where a modern scholar might see no such reference. In the predictions of His Own Passion which He had previously made to the disciples, He was obviously doing the same thing. He accepted—indeed He claimed to be—the second meaning of Scripture.”
And we see in Acts that His disciples make the same distinction. An Ethiopian man, who was on His way home from worshiping in Jerusalem, meets with the disciple Philip. (Acts 8:26-39). The man has stopped by the side of the road and is reading Isaiah 53 while sitting in chariot. He did not know if the prophesy was speaking of the prophet Isaiah or someone else. So Philip gives the answer that the scripture is clearly pointing to Jesus as the servant who suffered for humanity’s sins, as described in Isaiah 53. This is the gospel or ‘good news’ (Acts 8:35).
The Old Testament prophecy is powerful in that it reveals the divine intelligence behind the Old and New Testaments and in doing so establishes the reality of God. The prophecy reveals the authenticity of Jesus and demonstrates that the Bible is inspired by God.
The entire Bible is about Jesus: The Old Testament is preparing God’s people for the coming of Christ, the Gospel books (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) are about the birth, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus (foretold in the Old Testament), and the remaining books of the New Testament are the early Christians living to follow Christ’s example.