Against All Odds

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Living Stones Series: First Published in All Around Old Bridge Publication – January 2018

By Pastor Lloyd Pulley

“The Bible is full of fables and inaccuracies.”

If only I had a dollar for every time I heard this criticism of the Bible! I often teach that one of the most unique features of the Bible is how historically and archeologically testable it is, even when compared to other religious writings. In fact, many archaeologists use the Bible in their quest to locate ancient civilizations.

The Bible can also be tested in the area of prophecy. In the Old Testament, the Bible predicts many things will happen. The question then is – have they actually happened?

The answer, simply, is yes. The Bible’s predictions have been scrutinized for centuries and found true in their fulfillment again and again. This is especially true when it comes to the birth, life, and death of Jesus Christ. In fact, we recently celebrated Christmas and the New Year, and were reminded how many Scriptures Jesus fulfilled at His coming.

For example, Matthew records that “when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, [King Herod] inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. So they said to him, ‘In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet: “But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are not the least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you shall come a Ruler who will shepherd My people Israel (Matthew 2:4-6).”‘ When seeking where the Messiah would be born, the ancients looked to the Scriptures!

Now consider that only one of every 280,000 people is born in Bethlehem. That narrows down the list of prospective Messiahs considerably.

This simple list offers just eight of the hundreds of Bible predictions regarding the life and times of the coming Messiah:

  1. Jesus born in Bethlehem: Micah 5:2 fulfilled, see Matthew 2:4-8
  2. The Virgin Birth: Isaiah 7:14 fulfilled, see Matthew 1:18
  3. King Herod kills children in attempt to kill the Christ: Jeremiah 31:15 fulfilled, see Matthew 2:16
  4. John the Baptist’s ministry: Isaiah 40:3 fulfilled, see John 1:23
  5. Jesus enters Jerusalem on a donkey: Zechariah 9:9 fulfilled, see Luke 19:35-37a
  6. The Resurrection of Christ: Psalms 16:10 fulfilled, see Acts 2:31 (as well as Gospel accounts)
  7. Jesus betrayed for 30 pieces of silver: Zechariah 11:12 fulfilled, see Matthew 26:15
  8. Jesus crucified on a cross: Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53:12 fulfilled, see Matthew 27:38

To illustrate how unlikely it is for one person to fulfill even eight Bible prophecies, scientist and mathematician Peter Stoner offers this exercise – imagine covering the nearly 270,000 square miles of the state of Texas with two feet worth of silver dollars. Among these silver dollars, one silver dollar is marked with a black check mark. You must then find that marked coin, blindfolded, on your first try.

Of course, the task is nearly impossible!!! In fact, you have only a one in 100,000,000,000,000,000 (1 in 1017) chance of finding the marked coin on your first attempt!

This scenario illustrates how highly unlikely it would be for any one individual to fulfill just a few of the hundreds of prophecies from the Old Testament (the Hebrew Bible) predicting the coming of Christ the King (Messiah). In other words, the odds against any one person fulfilling these prophecies by chance are simply astronomical.

In his book Science Speaks, Stoner explains these improbabilities, writing, “The fulfillment of… eight prophecies alone proves that God inspired the writing of those prophecies.”

Back to Bethlehem for a moment. Joseph and Mary, as we studied at Christmastime, traveled to Bethlehem shortly before Jesus’ birth, because a Roman census required that all living within the Roman Empire be counted in their hometowns. Joseph took Mary, despite her late-stage pregnancy, to Bethlehem to be counted, and in Luke 2:7 we read, “And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.”

The Promised King, whose birth was foretold for centuries and heralded by an angelic host, was born in a barn because the world simply made no room for Him.

Even though Jesus fulfilled hundreds of prophecies, many people today are often too busy, too distracted, or too caught up with quick sound bites and 140-character tweets to closely consider Bible truths.

Bethlehem was terribly crowded, due to the census, and I wonder, is life today simply too crowded? Do we have no room to explore what the Bible says about Jesus and our daily lives?

As 2018 begins, I am challenging the congregation at Calvary Chapel Old Bridge and myself to make room for Jesus. By that I do not mean adding Him to all of our other activities, or going to church out of some sense of moral obligation. Rather, let’s get more serious about what the Bible says about Jesus. Let’s explore these ancient promises and their fulfillment in Christ.

As we glare at the dreaded pile of post-Christmas bills this month, let’s take heart by opening up the Bible, perhaps for the very first time in our lives. Let’s read – and more than that, believe – these timeless words of Jesus:

These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)

Aaron Salvato