We must now ask ourselves the same questions about Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Mary. How could the people of 1st century Palestine know whether he was a prophet? Did God provide a second witness? Did He cause Jesus to fulfill prophecies from previous scriptures? Or did He give miracles? Or after Jesus made prophecies did God cause them to be accomplished?
Fulfilled Prophecies from Previous Scriptures
Since many people have looked with approval on the mathematical study of the Qur'an attempted by Dr. Khalifa, we are going to make a mathematical analysis of some of the prophecies which were made in the Torah-Old Testament concerning ``the messiah''.
First we will examine several prophecies and their fulfillment. Then we will make an estimate as to the possibility that chance alone could account for the fulfillment of all of the prophecies by one person.
As an example of this type of mathematics we shall assume that you own 10 shirts, each of a different color - colors which are known to me; and I say to some of our mutual friends, ``Tomorrow he will wear a red shirt''.
When you arrive the next day at the cafe where we always meet, behold you are wearing a red shirt, so I say to everyone, ``Look! I'm a prophet!''.
But you can say, ``Ah, but it was just chance. You had one chance in 10 of being right just by luck.''
Now supposing that you also have five hats, each of a different style, and three pairs of shoes: a white pair, a black pair, and a pair of sandals. Now I have one chance in ten of getting your shirt correct, one chance in five for your hat, and one chance in three for your shoes. In order to calculate my chances of getting all three correct just by luck, we must multiplying 1/10 x 1/5 x 1/3. This equals 1/150 or one chance in one hundred and fifty.
Now that we have some idea of how the mathematics work we shall look at ten of the following 12 prophecies and their fulfillment. We shall omit the first one from our calculations - the virgin birth - because it is too unique; and we shall omit the last one - the resurrection of Jesus from the dead - because that is what we are trying to give evidence for.
We shall assign a probability to each of the other prophecies and then calculate the possibilities that the prophets could have written them by chance alone; or put the other way, that Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Mary, could have fulfilled all of these prophecies by chance alone. Because if chance could not account for the fulfillments, then they are signs and proofs to us that the Gospel WITH US today is true; and that the Eternal One, Yahweh Elohim, sent Jesus to save us from our sins.
1. The Prophecy.
A virgin shall bear a son so special that he is called ``Emmanuel'' which means ``God with us''.
``Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel.''
Isaiah 7:14 from 750 BC.
2. The Prophecy.
The messiah must be of the posterity of David.
`` `The days are coming', declares the LORD, `when I will raise up to David a righteous branch, a king who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD, our righteousness.' ''
Jeremiah 23:5-6 from 600 BC.
The Fulfillment of both 1. and 2.
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary ... The angel said to her,
``Do not be afraid Mary ... Behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David ... and of his kingdom there will be no end.''
And Mary said to the angel, ``How shall this be since I have no husband?'' And the angel said to her,
``The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called `Holy, the Son of God' ''
And Mary said, ``Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.''
We must now ask:
one in how many Jewish people belonged to the family of David? Originally David's family was one of hundreds of families in the tribe of Judah. But of course when his family became the royal family, the king's sons and daughters would have been married into all the other eleven tribes for political reasons, and everyone would remember their kinship with the royal family. Therefore we shall assume that 1 in 200 or 2 x 102 were related to the family of David.
3. The Prophecy.
An everlasting ruler is to be born in Bethlehem.
``But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.''
Micah 5:2 also from around 750 BC.
Though Joseph and Mary lived in Nazareth in the north, because of an order from Caesar Augustus for a census, Joseph had to take Mary to Bethlehem, his native town.
``In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled ... And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city.
And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David ... And while they were there ... she gave birth to her first-born son ... ''
This prophecy predicts that the Christ is to be born in Bethlehem, so our question is: One man in how many, the world over, has been born in Bethlehem?
The best answer that has been determined assumes that from the time of the prophet Micah until now, the average population on the earth has been two billion people and the average population of Bethlehem has been about 7000. Therefore 2,000,000,000/7000 = one man out of every 280,000 men or one man in 2.8 x 105 has been born in Bethlehem.
4. The Prophecy.
A messenger will prepare the way for the messiah.
``Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts.''
Malachi 3:1 from about 400 BC.
``A voice cries: `In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.' ''
``And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, ``Who are you?''
He confessed.., `I am not the Christ'.
``They said to him then, `Who are you?''
He said, `I am the voice of one crying, ``In the wilderness, make straight the way of the Lord'', as the prophet Isaiah said.
``The next day he saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, `Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of world! This is he of whom I said, ``After me comes a man who ranks before me, for he was before me.'' ' ''
And to this the Qur'an agrees in the Sura of the Family of `Imran (Ali `Imran) 3:39,45, from 2-3 AH, when it says that Yahya is to come,
``witnessing the truth of a Word from God'' whose ``name will be Christ Jesus, the son of Mary''.
Thus the Qur'an also records both the prophecy that Yahya (John the Baptist) would come to prepare the way for Jesus; and the fulfillment.
Our question here is: Of the men who have been born in Bethlehem, one man in how many has had a forerunner to prepare the way? But since there appears to be no material difference between the people of Bethlehem and those born any other place in the world, the question can just as well be general: One man in how many, the world over, has had a forerunner to prepare his way?
For example the Bahai say that a man called the Bab foretold the coming of Bahaullah. It seems very conservative to propose that one man in 1000 was a leader who had a forerunner, so we shall use one man in 1 x 103.
5. The Prophecy.
The messiah will do many signs and miracles.
``Say to those with fearful hearts, `Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution, He will come to save you.' ``Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf be unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb shout for joy ... ''
Isaiah 35:4-6a from 750 BC.
The Gospel states (as does the Qur'an) that Jesus did many miracles. The Biblical record speaks of only four prophets who did a large number of miracles - Moses, Elijah, Elisha, and Jesus. Of these Jesus did many more than all the others put together and is the only one that did all four types of miracles mentioned in the prophecy. In Appendix A you will find a list of the 37 miracles which are described in detail in the four Gospel records. In addition he sometimes healed ``all who came to him''. When all the information is considered, it is clear that Jesus did more than 1000 miracles.
Therefore, one could say Jesus was the one man in all men who fulfilled the prophecy. However, since many Muslims believe that there were 124,000 prophets, we will use that number and say that Jesus was the one man in 124,000 or 1.24 x 105.
6. The Prophecy.
In spite of these signs, his brothers were against him.
`` ... I have become a stranger to my brethren, an alien to my mother's sons. ''
Psalm 69:8 from 1000 BC.
``So his brothers said to him, `Leave here and go to Judea ... if you do these things, show yourself to the world.' For even his brothers did not believe in him.''
John 7:3a, 4b-5.
Our question here might be posed as: One ruler in how many would find himself alienated from his family?
This would appear to be uncommon, since one would most often want to be associated with a family member who is a ruler. Therefore, we shall use the figure 1 in twenty or 2 x 101.
7. The Prophecy.
The messiah king will come riding on a donkey.
``Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, your King comes unto you: he is just, and having salvation: lowly, and riding upon an ass - a colt the foal of an ass''
Zechariah 9:9 from around 520 BC.
``The next day the great crowd that had come for the feast heard that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem. They took palm branches and went out to meet him shouting, `Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel!' Jesus found a young donkey and sat upon it ... ''
Note: Obviously Jesus chose to ride on the ass, but the crowd fulfilled the prophecy when they praised him and spoke of him as a king. Our question here can be worded: One man in how many, entering Jerusalem as a ruler, has entered riding on a donkey? We know from the Bible that up to the time of his death King David rode only a mule (I Kings 1:33), but after that Kings seem to have ridden on horses or in chariots. Today it is probable that a ruler would come in a Mercedes. We will use the estimate of one man in 100 or 1 x 102.
8. The Prophecy.
Kings and Rulers shall plot against the Messiah. ``Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and his anointed (Messiah) ... ''
``And when (Pilate) learned that he (Jesus) belonged to (King) Herod's jurisdiction, he sent him over to Herod ... And Herod with his soldiers treated him with contempt and mocked him, then ... he sent him back to Pilate (Caesar's governor).
``So the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered the council, and said, `What are we going to do? For this man performs many signs' ... So from that day on they took counsel how to put him to death.''
In this case we might state our question as: One man in how many after raising someone from the dead, is sentenced to death? That is too restrictive a question (only three are mentioned in the Bible), so we shall rephrase the question as: One man in how many, after doing only good, has had the whole government against him? This could happen occasionally, since what is good to one man, may seem bad to another. Therefore, we will use the estimate of one in twenty or 2 x 101.
9. The Prophecy.
The messiah will be crucified.
`` ... a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet ... ''
Psalm 22:16 written by David 1000 BC.
``When they came to the place called the Skull, there they crucified him, along with the criminals - one on his right, the other on his left.''
The Jews are still looking for the coming of their messiah. He might have come at any time up to the present, or even in the future. So our question is: One man in how many, from the time of David on, has been crucified? Many methods of execution have been used over the years - the sword, the guillotine, hanging, the electric chair, etc; but the Jews used stoning. Crucifixion was not used by them, which makes this prophecy written by David all the more specific. Therefore, I am sure that it is a very conservative estimate if we say that over the centuries one man in 10,000 or 1 x 104 was executed by crucifixion.
10. The Prophecy.
They will divide his garments and cast lots for his robe.
``They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.''
``When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining. This garment was seamless, woven in one piece from top to bottom. `Let's not tear it,' they said to one another. `Let's decide by lot who will get it.' ''
For the soldiers to divide the garments of those who were crucified was probably standard procedure, but that the crucified person would have a seamless garment and they would cast lots for it, was probably fairly unusual. We will use 1 in 100 or 1 x 102.
11. The Prophecy.
Though he was innocent, he would be counted with the wicked transgressors; and he would be with the rich in his death.
``He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.''
... He was numbered with the transgressors.''
``They crucified two robbers with him.''
``And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit''
``As evening approached there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph ... a disciple of Jesus. Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus' body ... Joseph took the body, wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and placed it in his own new tomb ... ''
There are two parts to this prophecy. The first question is: One man in how many of those executed, is innocent? I hope that the truth is a much smaller number, but we shall use an estimate of 1 man in 10. The second question is: One man in how many who are executed are from a rich family or would be ``with the rich in their death''. Since the rich have less reason to steal or instigate rebellions, and they have friends to intercede and money to pay lawyers, we shall use the figure of one man in 100. Multiplying 1 in 10 by 1 in 100 gives one man in a 1000 or 1 x 103.
12. The Prophecy.
After dying he will rise from the dead.
``For he was cut off from the land of the living ... and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days ... ''
(The Sunday after he was killed by crucifixion)
`` ... Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, `Peace be with you.'
... `Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have ... '
... They gave him a piece of broiled fish and he took it and ate it in their presence.''
(As I said above, we will not assign a value to this prophecy of
Jesus' resurrection from the dead, since this is what we wish to
If the above estimates are considered fair the question may now be asked: one man in how many men, the world over, will fulfill all ten prophecies? This question can be answered by multiplying all of our estimates together, or one in
2 x 102; x 2.8 x 105; x 103; x 1.24 x 105; x 2 x 101; x 102; x 2 x 101; x 104; x 101; x 103.
This gives one chance in 2.78 x 1028, where 28 means that we have 28 ciphers following the 2.78. Let us simplify and reduce the number by calling it 1 x 1028. Written out this number is 1 chance in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. This is the answer to the question: One man in how many men would have fulfilled these ten prophecies by chance alone? But we are really concerned with the answer to the question: What is the chance that any man might have lived from the day of these prophecies down to the present time and have fulfilled all of the ten prophecies by luck? We can answer this question by dividing our 1028 by the total number of people who have lived since the time of these prophecies. The best information available indicates the number to be about 88 billion or 8.8 x 1010 which we will simplify to 1 x 1011. By dividing these two numbers we find that the chance that any man might have lived down to the present time and fulfilled all eight prophecies by luck is 1 in 1017.
Let us try and visualize this chance. Suppose that we take 1017 French 5 franc pieces and lay them over France, Belgium, Holland, Luxembourg, Denmark and Switzerland, a total of 702,000 square kilometers (271,000 square miles).
They will cover this whole area to a depth of one meter. Now mark one of these 5 franc pieces with a radio-active mark and stir all the coins over the whole area. Then choose a man and tell him to go in any direction that he wishes, but he must pick up one 5 franc piece and say that it is the right one.
Where is that coin?
Just imagine the problem! Where will he start looking? It might be near Marseille in southern France. It might be on some northern peninsula of Denmark. It may be on the top of Mont Blanc. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these ten prohecies and having them all come true in any one man by luck, if they wrote them in their own wisdom.
This means that the fulfillment of these ten prophecies alone proves that God inspired the writing of them to a precision which lacks only one chance in 1 x 1017 of being absolute. Furthermore these are not all the prophecies. We did not include Jesus' birth from a virgin. The chance would be one person in all the 88 billion people that ever lived for that one prophecy. In addition there are many other prophecies which we did not have time to look at. Appendix B shows that at Jesus' crucifixion alone 16 prophecies were fulfilled. We considered only four of them in our list of ten.
If we were to assign probabilities to Jesus' birth from a virgin, and to each one of the prophecies from the Torah-Old Testament which we saw in Chapter II of Section Five; and then add them to our present number; we would have such a large number that you could fill the whole universe with electrons and have only one chance to choose the marked electron.
That is the measure of the reliability of the Torah-Old Testament and the Gospel-New Testament. The great Creator God, Yahweh Elohim, guided the prophets and told them what to write by the Holy Spirit. Then He fulfilled their words, so that we could know that Jesus' death and resurrection for our sins is true.
Distributed among the many false problems which Dr. Bucaille has created in his criticism of the Bible are a few real problems to which we do not have good answers. But because of the many fulfilled prophecies and the miracles which Jesus did to prove that his words were from God, we Christians are quite willing to wait and see what the future brings. Every new archaeological discovery; every new discovery of an ancient copy of the scripture, confirms the truth of the Gospel which is WITH US, and shows that the criticisms mounted against it were wrong.
It is also on the basis of the miracles which Jesus did, and the prophecies which he fulfilled that we accept claims which are difficult for us to understand such as his claim that he is ``in the Father (God) and the Father is in him''; and his claim that the Father loves him because he ``lays down his life for his sheep''.
The first Christians did not make up and fabricate these doctrines. The first Christians were serious Jews who believed in the oneness of God. They had great difficulty accepting Jesus' statement that he could forgive sins, and that he had the right to call God ``his Father''. It was only because of the second witness, the attestation of God Himself in the miracles and the fulfilled prophecies, and finally in Jesus' resurrection from the dead, that these Jews were able to accept and believe Jesus' claims.
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