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The Miracle of Prophecy: Christ’s birth foretold in scripture

Carl is a biblical scholar, minister, husband, father and life coach. In his mid-twenties he had a powerful encounter with God and saw miraculous healings as a result. He passionately shares these stories and empowers others to fulfill their God-given potential.

Christ’s birth was indeed a miracle but perhaps equally as miraculous is the fulfillment of prophecy, regarding His first coming. The blood line of an embryo follows the father, not the mother. Christ’s blood came from His Heavenly Father, and He was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, Christ’s blood was untainted by sin, being heaven sent, yet Christ lived in a sinful world, nonetheless.

Some modern Bible versions have perverted this truth, by inferring that ‘Joseph’ was Christ’s father instead (see Luke 2:33-NIV, AMP, ESV, NASB, ASV, RSV). Obviously, the notion that Joseph was Christ’s father, completely nullifies Christ’s supernatural conception. Matthew 1:18 states, that, “Mary was found with child, by the Holy Spirit” (MEV). The conception itself was metaphysical, as God was incarnated into our space-time continuum, from time everlasting. This is captured in the Holy Writ:

Luke 1:30–35, “But the angel said to her…, “Listen, you will conceive in your womb and bear a Son and shall call His name JESUS. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Highest…35“The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you. Therefore, the Holy One who will be born will be called the Son of God” (MEV).

The entire crux of Christianity hinges upon these verses from the Gospels, i.e., that the Holy Spirit came upon Mary and was found with child, by the Holy Spirit. If this isn’t true, Christianity is as reliable as a two-legged milking stool. Yet today, many modern theologians, are not entirely convinced that Christ’s birth was indeed supernatural, as the scripture attests. They question this core doctrine, amongst many other foundational truths. Coincidentally, these are the same liberal theologians who question Hell’s existence.

The pinnacle of history is the cross of Christ, which can never be contested. We measure our historical events, by referencing them either, before or after the cross.

Time and Chance happen to us all

Some people like to roll the dice in Vegas, others might lose fortunes at the poker table. King Solomon penned that, “time and chance happen to us all” (Ecc 9:11). Before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, men cast lots to determine Gods will in matters of importance. The outcome of taking a ‘chance’ was in God’s court. The word “lots” occurs 70 times in the Old Testament and seven times in the New Testament. It was believed that by casting lots (i.e., pulling the short straw etc.,) God’s will was confirmed. Before the Holy Spirit was indwelt with man, God approved of this means for determining His will, for a brief moment in time, but it was far from ideal.

We don’t know exactly how these lots were cast but it was believed, the Lord had the final say as to the outcome. Some have suggested pebbles were cast into the lap of the priest and others portend that dice were thrown. The last mention of ‘casting lots’ was Acts 1:26, when Matthias was chosen as Judas’s replacement. Matthias is not mentioned anywhere in the remainder of the New Testament. Perhaps he wasn’t God’s choice after all or at least, not the best choice.

Casting ‘lots’ to determine God’s will

Some scriptures referring to the casting of lots are: ‘The lot is cast into the lap, but the decision is from the Lord’ (Prov. 16:33); ‘the lot puts an end to disputes’ (Prov. 18:18); ‘the Lord has cast the lot for them’ (Isa. 34:17); ‘the lines have fallen for me in pleasant places’ (Ps. 16:6). The sailors on Jonah’s ship (Jon. 1:7) also cast lots to determine who had brought God’s wrath upon their ship. The casting of lots gradually fell into disfavor because direct access to God became available through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. As a result, there’s no mention of casting lots after the outpouring of God’s Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.

In the present day, God leads us by His logos Word and the unction of the Holy Spirit, within our heart. We no longer do things ‘by chance’ but seek God in every decision. Some people try to put out fleeces, just as Gideon did. I believe that if we do this in our current dispensation of Grace, it’s tantamount to tempting God. We don’t need to ‘cast lots’ or ‘put out fleeces.’ We’ve been filled with the precious Holy Spirit and endued with power from on High (Acts 1:8). We don’t need to turn backwards in time to a dispensation that had not yet seen the fullness of Christ, as we have.

The OT practice of ‘casting lots’ was not the best way to determine God’s will. The Holy Spirit now resides within us.

How many prophecies are there regarding Christ’s first coming?

Speaking of ‘chance,’ what would be the chance of Christ fulfilling each and every prophecy of His first coming? What if we were able to determine the odds of this happening? Biblical prophecy provides some of the greatest encouragement and hope available to us today. Scholars are divided as to the precise number of prophecies regarding Christ’s first coming. Alfred Edersheim posits there were 456 prophecies of Christ in the OT. In his Encyclopedia of Bible Prophecy, J. Barton Payne lists 191 prophecies that include personal references to Christ. Because scholars have different ways of classifying Messianic prophecies, there can be some variation in the number.

Clarence Larkin observed 109 prophecies fulfilled in Christ’s first coming and for the sake of argument, we will base our probabilities on his research. Just as the Old Testament is saturated with prophecies concerning Christ’s first coming, so both testaments are filled with references to the second coming of Christ. We should bear in mind that the Old Testament is quoted 845 times in the New Testament and 333 of these quotes, refer to Christ himself.

Because not all the prophecies associated with Christ, were fulfilled at His first coming, then evidently it will require another coming to completely fulfill them. The Apostle Peter expounds that, not even the prophets could distinguish between the suffering servant and conquering king (1st Pet 1:10-11). They did not perceive the time lapse between the cross and the crown, nor that the cross would precede the crown. This obfuscated distinction (between cross and crown) caused great disillusionment amongst Christ’s followers who thought He was going to overthrow the oppressive Roman regime at the time. They looked for a king, but the servant had to come first.

What are the odds of Christ fulfilling all the prophecies of His 1st coming?

Atheists and Agnostics take note; How can you possibly claim Christ isn’t God if He fulfilled just a small percentage of these prophecies? What would be the odds of that? Thankfully someone has already done the math for us. Of the 109 prophecies made in the Old Testament of Christ’s first coming, 25 of them refer to the betrayal, trial, death and burial of Jesus Christ. These predictions were made by several different prophets, during the period, 1000 BC to 500 BC, and these prophecies were all fulfilled literally within a 24-hr. period! Regarding the science of compounding probability, if we desire to ascertain the odds of consecutive prophecies coming to pass, then we must multiply the prophecies in question. For example the odds of rolling six consecutive sixes on a dice would be (1/6 x 1/6 x 1/6 x 1/6 x 1/6 x 1/6) = 1 in 46,656.

On that premise, according to the law of compound probability, the chance of all 25 prophecies regarding Christ’s crucifixion, coming to pass, is 1 in 33,554,432. Did you get that?, the odds of them all coming to pass, would be 1 in 33 million! Bear in mind, this only represents about one quarter of all prophecies concerning Christ’s first coming (according to Larkin). The chances of any collusion between prophets cannot be sustained when the prophets were not contemporaries. Some of them lived hundreds of years apart.

Using J. Barton Payne’s estimation of 191 consecutive prophecies coming to pass, the chances would be 1 in 3.318 x 10^57 (that’s a 1 in 3 chance to the power of 57 zero’s!).

Considering Alfred Edersheim’s 456 prophecies of Christ’s first coming, the probability would be an astounding, 1 in 186 x 10^135! Clearly Christ’s first coming was more than mere coincidence, it was timed to perfection long before time was even created. It’s hard to remain an atheist or agnostic when these calculations are presented, which only solidify God’s purpose from time immemorial.

Putting the odds of Christ’s birth into perspective

If these odds seem abstract to you, then consider the chances of winning either the Powerball or Mega Millions are roughly 1 in 292.2 million and 1 in 302.5 million, respectively. Therefore, in order for Christ to fulfill all 109 prophecies of His first coming (i.e., 1 in 1 Billion), this would be equivalent to winning several lotteries, back-to-back-to-back. These numbers are simply astounding and hard to wrap our brains around. Although somewhat gruesome, here are the odds of being killed by different means. These odds will help you put Christ’s miraculous birth into perspective, since we’re on the topic of life and death:

  • Plane crash: 11 million to 1
  • Car accident: 107 to 1
  • Falling out of bed: 2 million to 1
  • Flesh-eating bacteria: 1 million to 1
  • Lightning strike: 1.2 million to 1
  • Dog mauling: 118,776 to 1
  • Snakebite: 50 million to 1
  • Shark attack: 3.75 million to 1

Friend, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Christ’s first coming wasn’t happenstance but a planned event in the making. If you’re a skeptic by heart, these numbers should at least convince you that our Heavenly Father foretold Christ’s coming in His Holy Word, hundreds of years before He appeared on the scene. The prophecies of His first coming were so accurately fulfilled that we shouldn’t doubt His Second Coming.  

Jesus will soon return in the clouds for His church…Are you ready?

But what about His Second Coming?

One scholar has estimated there are 1,845 references to Christ’s Second Coming in the Old Testament, where 17 books give it prominence. In the 260 chapters of the New Testament, there are 318 references to the second advent of Christ—an amazing 1 out of every 30 verses! Twenty-three of the 27 New Testament books refer to this great event.

For every prophecy in the Bible concerning Christ’s first coming, there are eight which look forward to His second! The Second Coming of Christ is far more prolific in terms of scriptural references, than His first coming, so we should live each day as though Christ is coming at any moment!

There are 318 references to the Second Coming of Christ in the New Testament. That’s 1 out of every 30 verses! There are eight times as many verses regarding Christ’s second coming in comparison to his first coming.

Scriptures referring to Christ’s 2nd Coming

And then they will see the Son of man coming in a cloud with great transcendent and overwhelming power and all his kingly glory majesty and splendor” Luke 21:27.

Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing into heaven? This same Jesus, Who was caught away and lifted up from among you into heaven will return in just the same way in which you saw him go into heaven” Acts 1:11.

Lo, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the tribes of the earth shall gaze upon him and beat their breasts and mourn and lament over him. Even so must it be” Revelation 1:7.

For just as the lightning flashes from the east and shines and is seen as far as the west, so will the coming of the Son of man be … Then they will see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory-in brilliancy and splendor” Matthew 24:27, 30.

For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a loud cry of summons, with the shout of an archangel, and with the blast of the trumpet of God” 1 Thessalonians 4:16a 2.

Christ will return to judge the nations. Prophecies: Matthew 25:31–32; 1 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Timothy 4:1; 2 Corinthians 5:10; John 5:22.

When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats” Matthew 25:31, 32. 3.

The exact time of Christ’s return is unknown. Other prophecies include; Matthew 24:36, 44; 1 Thessalonians 5:2; Revelation 16:15; Matthew 25:13.

It’s important to note that when we use the term, ‘Second Coming”, Christ’s coming will come in two stages: Once for the rapture of the Church and secondly, returning with His saints to destroy the armies of the Antichrist at the end of the Great Tribulation.

For more information concerning His Second Coming, please click here.

Author – Carl G.M. Joseph

Have you believed on the Lord Jesus Christ? If not, click here to find out more…

Bibliography:

A. Colin Day, Collins Thesaurus of the Bible (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009)

Ronald F. Youngblood, F. F. Bruce, and R. K. Harrison, Thomas Nelson Publishers, eds., Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1995)

Dispensational Truth: God’s Plan and Purpose in the Ages – Clarence Larkin (Whitaker House, 2021)

https://www.thebalance.com/what-are-the-odds-of-winning-the-lottery-3306232

Galaxie Software, 10,000 Sermon Illustrations (Biblical Studies Press, 2002)

Mark Water, ed., AMG’s Encyclopedia of Bible Facts (United Kingdom: John Hunt, 2004)

Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (Hendrickson Publishing, 1993, Sixth Printing-2000

Dr. J Barton Payne, Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy: The Complete Guide to Scriptural Predictions and Their Fulfillment (Wipf and Stock Publishers, Sept 2020

https://empower.global/the-mathematical-probability-that-jesus-is-the-christ

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