Posted on April 15, 2018


Today Christians celebrate the transcending moment that changed the world forever. I can assure you I am not talking of politicians, ideologies, liberty, diversity, sexual peccadillos, race, gender and other man-driven issues and problems that dog our world. One Sunday, more than two thousand years ago, prophecies from the Old Testament about the coming and life of the Messiah were fulfilled.

Prophecies may be judged true or not by whether they came to pass or not. That’s simple. Prophecies 101.

In Prophecies 102, we get a bit more complex. While prophecies of old must be judged in the light of what happened since they were created, some parts of the prophecies may have come to pass while other parts may not have come to pass, yet.

And to complicate it a bit further, perhaps the second half of Prophecies 102, both critics and supporters of prophecies will claim that timing is everything. Some prophecies have specific future dates set into their prophecy. Others do not. Prophecies on the coming “end of the world,” or the apocalypse, or “end times” (eschatology for eggheads and purists) all have different timetables.

The guy carrying his placard on the corner of a big city, “the end is near, repent,” is about as accurate as the world class theologian spending years in his study of eschatology, employing language and jargon that leaves most of us numb.

So, lesson number one is that we can measure the accuracy of prophecies by whether they came to pass or not. But, as mentioned above, other factors, such as timing or the wholeness of a prophecy, may have to be considered, lesson number 2.

Prophecies can also be divided into those with a religious significance and those that are more accurately just secular in nature. Religious prophecies tend to dominate the species.

A prophecy has three meanings according to our Merriam-Webster’s online:
1. An inspired utterance of a prophet
2. The function or vocation of a prophet; specifically: the inspired declaration of divine will and purpose
3. A prediction of something to come

In the Old Testament, beloved prophecies written by Isaiah (7:14), Micah (5:2) and in other books like Genesis, Hosea, and Psalms predicted the coming and nature of Jesus, often described in the prophetic literature as the Messiah or Deliverer of the Hebrews.

Christians will argue wholeheartedly that those prophecies were fulfilled, all described in detail in the New Testament, beginning with birth of Jesus and following with his ministry, his death and resurrection, and the founding and early evolution of the Church. Jews and Muslims believe that Jesus was indeed a prophet in his own right, but not the son of God, divine himself, or the redeemer of mankind.

So, from the Christian point of view, prophecy was fulfilled by the coming and life of Jesus. Not so from the view of Jews and Muslims. Therein lies the principal difference between these three different faiths which sprang out of the same book, the Bible.

Some say the last prophet in the Bible was John the Baptist, who prepared the way for Jesus by preaching repentance and baptizing his followers. But in Ephesians 4:11-12 we read “Christ himself gave [the Church] the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers,” sometimes referred to as the “five-fold” ministry. So, just like we have pastors, evangelists, and teachers today, so prophets and apostles also exist.

Prophets in the Old Testament also performed another, critical, function. They were enjoined to preach the word of God, and the consequences of not being obedient to God. The prophet Amos (Amos 3-7) told the Israelites if they did not repent and get right in God’s will, they were doomed. They then fell from prosperity into war, famine, pestilence, and captivity by their enemies.

On the other hand, Isaiah (40:3-5) soared when prophesizing the coming of Jesus: “A voice of one calling: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.’ ”

I certainly can’t improve on Isaiah, or his prophecy. The truth in Isaiah’s prophecies is the life of Jesus. We celebrate it today, Easter Sunday, with special reverence and joy at its fulfillment.

Published as “Jesus’ life fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah,” in The Tuscaloosa News, Sunday, April 1, 2018