Does Jesus fulfill the messianic prophecies?
1) why, where, and when


"Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves."

- John 14:11

"Nothing but falsehood ever attested itself by signs and wonders."

- Robert G. Ingersoll

4.1 Why believe Jesus is the one?

Of the billions of people born since the Old Testament prophecies were given, relatively few have claimed to be the Messiah. But among those who profess to be the rightful holder of this office, why should we believe Jesus to be the Christ, the promised Messiah? Why not someone else? Why not Jim Jones, David Koresh, Marshall Applewhite, or Sun Myung Moon? These latter characters may not seem like the most likely of candidates, but knowing how to identify the true Messiah remains a very critical concern.

The Old Testament looks forward to the Messiah's coming and the kingdom he was to establish. Because of the pre-eminent importance of the Messiah and of his mission, God revealed numerous unique qualifications through his prophets that allow for the Messiah's positive identification. The messianic prophecies qualify what the Messiah's gender will be, his lineage, place of arrival, year of appearance, how he would be received, the characteristics of his life and death, his resurrection, his kinship to God, his destruction of the wicked, and his reign into eternity.

The first characteristic we can glean from prophecy is that the Messiah will be a male. Obviously this narrows down the possible candidates from everyone to about half the population. We can further narrow down the possible candidates as we take each prophecy into account concerning the Messiah's birth, death, and return.

Now, there are also prophecies which tell what his demeanor will be, and how and what he will teach. Those particular prophecies may arguably be within the power of a person to self-fulfill. Because of this, we will set some of those aside and mainly focus on the prophetic fulfillments which the Messiah would have had little or no possibility of fraudulently manufacturing.

4.2 Where will the Messiah arrive?

PROPHECY (all quotation emphases mine):

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times. Micah 5:2 NIV


So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David... While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born... Luke 2:4,6 NIV

4.3 What will be the Messiah's lineage?


The Lord had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you... and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you." Genesis 12:1-3 NIV

Then God said, "Yes, but your wife Sarah will bear you a son, and you will call him Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his descendants after him." Genesis 17:19 NIV

The scepter will not depart from Judah, ...until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his. Genesis 49:10 NIV

I see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near. A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel. Numbers 24:17a NIV


Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he began his ministry. He was the son, so it was thought, of Joseph, the son of Heli, the son of Matthat,... the son of Nathan, the son of David, the son of Jesse,... the son of Judah, the son of Jacob, the son of Isaac, the son of Abraham,... Luke 3:23, 31-34 NIV

4.4 When will the Messiah arrive?


Seventy 'sevens' are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven 'sevens', and sixty-two 'sevens'. It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. After the sixty-two 'sevens', the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing. The people of the ruler who will come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. Daniel 9:24-26a NIV


The first question one might ask about this prophecy is, "What is a seven?" This can be traced back as early as the book of Leviticus. In Leviticus (25:2-5), the Lord decrees that land is to be farmed for six years and then "the land itself must observe a sabbath to the Lord". Every seventh year closed a sabbatical cycle in which the land was to be left unfarmed. This is illustrative of the seven being used here by Daniel (years are also the contextual units of time he opens the chapter with).

The first paragraph of this prophecy states that within the seventy sevens (70 x 7 = 490 years) God would accomplish six different tasks. But the second paragraph explicitly states that in seven plus sixty-two sevens ((7 + 62) x 7 = 483 years) after a decree is issued to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, the Anointed One would come and afterwards be cut off, or killed. At the time Daniel recorded this, the Israelites were still in captivity to Babylon.

So when was the decree finally given and what happened 483 years later?


The decree was most likely issued by Artaxerxes. Artaxerxes issued two decrees which could place the death of the Anointed One in either AD 30 or 33. Dr. D. James Kennedy explains the older of several different schools of thought on this:

...We find that the 69 weeks [sevens] end in AD 26 with the Messiah being 'cut off' in AD 30. The traditional view which places the appearing of the Messiah at AD 26 would seem to be the most rational and clear understanding of this Old Testament passage.

It is very noteworthy, therefore, that it places the appearing of the promised Savior and King of the Jews at the same time as the baptism of Jesus. How do I know this? Luke makes it very clear that Jesus was baptized by John and publicly proclaimed to be the promised Messiah on the 'fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar' (Luke 3:1). Tiberius Caesar began his rule in AD 11 and therefore the fifteenth year of his reign would be AD 26.

This, therefore, clearly dates the baptism of Christ and His anointing by the Holy Spirit at the same time as the fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy. It also places Christ's death on the cross in AD 30, the very time when Daniel prophesied that the Messiah would be 'cut off, but not for himself'. 1 [emphasis mine]

Thus the six tasks that Daniel prophesied God would accomplish find their fulfillment in Jesus:


The other schools of thought concerning these seventy seven's or weeks of Daniel are probably indistinguishable to non-Christians or those unfamiliar with this issue. One includes the belief that the last seven of the 490 years is not contiguous to the first 483 years and is specially set aside for the time immediately preceding Christ's return (the prophetic fulfillments of God's six tasks then being more fully realized).

The other idea is that it was the pagan king Cyrus who issued the decree from which Daniel's timetable is to be calculated. Though Cyrus' decree slightly precedes Artaxerxes' (but proponents would argue for the same date as Artaxerxes), a rather compelling argument might be made from Isaiah chapters 44:26 through 45:4.

Regardless of your preferred interpretation of Daniel, any of these leave us with the fact that Jesus' appearance coincided with the prophesied time of the Messiah's arrival. Anyone hoping to claim messiahship had to arrive at that time. No one showing up years before or years after can claim to be the Messiah; certainly no one today can, nor can anyone in the future.

Daniel lastly prophecied that after the Messiah's death, the city and the sanctuary (temple) would be destroyed. This is exactly what the Roman army carried out on Jerusalem in AD 70 - a total annihilation of the city's people, temple, and structures. <continued>



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NEXT: Does Jesus fulfill the messianic prophecies? - part two

See also:

What do we know about Jesus from non-biblical sources?

Isn't one interpretation just as good as the next?

When were the biblical books written?

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If Jesus did not fulfill the O.T. prophecies pertaining to the coming Messiah (or Christ), then Jesus is not the Messiah.

However if Jesus did fulfill all the messianic prophecies, then he is the Messiah.

It's about that simple.

This first of three parts concerns O.T. prophecies for the Messiah's lineage and arrival.