30. Old Testament prophecies of Jesus

The Old Testament has many prophecies of a Messiah who would be king in Israel. It tells of his birth, his ancestry, his life and his death, as well as his eternal reign as king. In this chapter, we look at the Old Testament prophecies that Jesus Fulfilled before he went to heaven. The apostles used these prophecies to show that Jesus is the Messiah.

Focus passage: Psalm 22

This psalm was a prayer of David as he suffered from the continual attacks of his enemies. It is also prophetic of the circumstances of Jesus at his crucifixion, and is quoted several times in the gospels.

  1. List the places where this Psalm is directly quoted in the New Testament.
  2. List the places where this Psalm refers to the crucifixion, but is not directly quoted.
  3. Are there any verses that could not refer to the circumstances of Jesus’ crucifixion?

His life foretold

Many events in Jesus’ life were predicted in the Old Testament. Here is a selection.

  • He would come from the tribe of Judah.

    “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.” (Genesis 49:10)

    Fulfilled: Luke 3:33

  • He would be a descendant of David.

    “When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.” (2 Samuel 7:12–13)

    Fulfilled: Matthew 1:6,16

  • He would be born of a virgin.

    “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)

    Fulfilled: Matthew 1:18

  • He would live in Galilee.

    “Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan— The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” (Isaiah 9:1–2)

    Fulfilled: Matthew 4:12–16

  • He would be rejected.

    “He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.” (Isaiah 53:3)

    Fulfilled: John 1:11

  • He would enter Jerusalem riding on a donkey.

    “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9)

    Fulfilled: John 12:13–15

  • He would be executed.

    “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken.” (Isaiah 53:7–8)

    Fulfilled: Matthew 27:12–14

  • He would be crucified.

    “Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.” (Psalm 22:16)

    Fulfilled: Matthew 27:38

  • People would cast lots for his clothes.

    “They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” (Psalm 22:18)

    Fulfilled: John 19:23–24

  • He would be raised from the dead.

    “… because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.”

    Fulfilled: Matthew (Psalm 16:10) 28:5–9

There are many others. See if you can find some of them.

Pointers to Jesus
Not only are there direct prophecies of Jesus, there are numerous “types” that point forward to him. For example, at the feast of Passover, a lamb in perfect condition had to be killed (Exodus 12:3–6). This represented the sacrifice of Jesus, the “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). Some people were also types of Jesus. For example, Abraham was told to offer his son Isaac as a sacrifice on Mt Moriah near Jerusalem, just as God offered his son as a sacrifice near Jerusalem. What other types of Christ can you think of?
Some relevant passages
Early prophecies Genesis 3:15; 49:10; Deuteronomy 18:15–19.
Son of David 2 Samuel 7:12–16; Isaiah 11:1–2; Ezekiel 37:24–28; Luke 1:30–33.
Son of Abraham Genesis 22:15–18; Galatians 3:16.
Psalm 2; 8; 16; 22; 69; 110; 118:22.
Isaiah 7:14; 9:1–2,6–7; 11; 42; 49; 53; 61.
Later prophets Jeremiah 23:5–6; Daniel 7:9–14; 9; Micah 5:2; Zec. 9:9; 12:10; 14:3–4.

Thought provokers

  1. Read Matthew 1:18 – 3:3. List the prophecies that are quoted and read each of the passages. If you were living at the time of Jesus’ birth, how many of these prophecies of Jesus would you have identified? Is Matthew interpreting the Old Testament properly?
  2. Isaiah 53 is a famous prophecy about the suffering and death of Jesus. However, Jews interpret the prophecy as referring to Israel, the nation. How would you answer this claim?

Further investigation

  1. Read through the speeches of Paul and Peter in Acts 2, 3 and 13, and list the Old Testament prophecies that they used to prove that Jesus was the Messiah.
  2. One prophecy that is not quoted in the New Testament is Daniel 9:25–27. It describes the Messiah (Anointed One) being “cut off” 69 ‘weeks’ after the decree to rebuild Jerusalem. Each day of the ‘weeks’ represents one year. So 69 weeks is 69×7 = 483 years. Find out about when the decree was made and how this prophecy was Fulfilled at precisely the time predicted.
  3. [Harder] Some prophecies of Jesus are quoted in the New Testament, but are difficult to find in the Old Testament. Read Matthew 2:23. Where is the prophecy of the “Nazarene”? Read Luke 24:45–47. Where is the prophecy that Jesus would rise from the dead on the third day?

Want to know more?

See also

    1. God’s inspired word
    2. Reasons to believe the Bible
    31. Jesus as Messiah
    32. Jesus: Son of God and Son of Man
    40. God’s promises to Abraham and David
    45. The kingdom of God

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