Can We Trust The Bible...

One of the most common arguments I hear when discussing the Bible goes something like this - "I believe in God, but the Bible is written by man.  As such, it is full of fallacies."  I have my own personal thoughts about such statements, but it does bring out a valid point - How can I be sure that the Bible is accurate and dependable?  Well, one sure way is to put into practice the things you read and see how those principles bear out in your life.  There are several other ways, but the one I want to focus on today is Biblical prophecy.

Now, I must admit, many put Biblical prophecy into the realm of Nostradamus or Madame Cleo...but it is so much more.  God writes the future in advance so you can:
  • Know that He is who he says He is
  • Plan accordingly for the future
  • Gather strength and encouragement
  • Trust fully in Him and His provision
Consider current headline topics: U.S., UK, and the world experiencing global depression, hundreds of thousands dead in Darfur conflict, H1N1 flu virus pandemic, Iran boldly pursuing uranium enrichment, and the list goes on....  I dare say anybody would refute we are living in turbulent times...and the future only holds more of the same (or worse).  Wouldn't it be great to know, in advance, what is going to happen?  You can say no to yourself, but the reams of people reading and acting upon their daily horoscopes, seeking ancient wisdom through methods such as Kabbalah, and those seeking the services of mediums and fortune tellers say differently.  Even popular television shows like Medium bear witness to this phenomenon.  It is a safe bet to say we want to know.  The method we use to find out makes all the difference.

Chuck Missler, a favorite author and speaker of mine, makes quite a provocative challenge when he says, "We are being plunged into a period of time about which the Bible says more than about any other period in history, including the time when Jesus walked the shores of Galilee and climbed the mountains of Judea."  That is a bold statement, and I challenge you to ascertain the truth of it on your own...but to do so, you have to be able to believe that the Bible is truthful and relevant.  I hope to provide illumination towards the truthfulness and relevancy of the Bible with which we are so familiar but use so little in a practical sense.

The subsequent information presented is adapted from a series entitled "Learn the Bible in 24 Hours" (further information available at  Consider the following statements:
Until we can measure a thing, we really know very little about it.
                    William Thomson (Lord Kelvin)

For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.
                    2 Peter 1:16

As so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts;
                    2 Peter 1:19

Prophetic Scriptures

 8,362 predictive verses; 1,817 predictions on 737 separate matters.
                    J. Barton Payne, Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy

The Old Testament (The Tenach)

  • These Hebrew Scriptures were translated into Greek by 270 B.C.
  • They contain over 300 prophecies detailing the Coming Messiah

Old Testament Prophecies Quoted in the Gospels

  • He was to be of David's family (2 Sam 7:12-16; Ps 89:3-4, 110:1; 132:11, Isa 9:6, 7, 11:1).
  • He would be born of a virgin (Gen 3:15, Isa 7:14).
  • He would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).
  • He would sojourn in Egypt (Hos 11:1).
  • He would live in Galilee (Isa 9:1,2) ... in Nazareth (Isa 11:1).
  • To be announced by an Elijah-like herald (Isa 40:3-5; Mal 3:1; 4:5).
  • Would occasion massacre of Bethlehem's children (Gen 35:19-20; Jer 31:15).
  • Would proclaim a Jubilee to the world (Isa 58:6; 61:1).
  • His mission would include the Gentiles (Isa 42:1-4).
  • Ministry would be one of healing (Isa 53:4).
  • He would teach through parables (Isa 6:9-10; Ps 78:2).
  • He would be disbelieved, rejected by Rulers (Ps 69:4; 118:22; Isa 6:10; 29:13; 53:1).
  • Would make a triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Zech 9:9; Ps 118:26).
  • Betrayed by friend for 30 pieces of silver (Zech 11:1-13; Ps 41:9).
  • Would be like a smitten shepherd (Zech 13:7).
  • Would be given vinegar and gall (Ps 69:21).
  • They would cast lots for His garments (Ps 22:18).
  • His side would be pierced (Zech 12:10; Ps 22:16).
  • Not a bone would be broken (Ex 12:46; Num 9:12; Ps 34:20).
  • Would die among malefactors (Isa 53:9).
  • His dying words foretold (Ps 22:1; 31:5).
  • Would be buried by a rich man (Isa 53:9).
  • Rise from dead on 3rd day (Gen 22:4; Ps 16:10-11, Jon 1:17).
  • Resurrection followed by destruction of Jerusalem (Dan 9:26; 11:31; 12:1, 11).
There are others: these are quoted explicitly from the New Testament text....  There is an additional list for the final week....

The Old testament was translated into Greek by 270 B.C.  They contain over 300 prophecies detailing the Coming Messiah.  We are now going to examine just eight of them.

For this statistical analysis, I am indebted to Peter Stoner, Science Speaks (which I took as the basis and modified).  Can we measure our confidence that Jesus real was who He said He was?

Prophecy #1: Born in Bethlehem

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be the ruler in Israel; whose going forth have been from of old, from everlasting.
                    Micah 5:2

What is the probability of any person, taken at random, of fulfilling this?
                    p = 10,000/1,000,000,000
                    p = 10 to the 4th / 10 to the 9th (1:100,000)

Prophecy #2: King on Donkey

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.
                    Zechariah 9:9

How many have presented themselves a king to Jerusalem riding a donkey?
                    p = 1:100

Prophecy #3: 30 Pieces of Silver

And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear.  So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.
                    Zechariah 11:12

How many people have been betrayed for 30 pieces of silver?
                    p = 1:1,000

Prophecy #4: Temple, Potter, etc...

And the Lord said unto me, cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prized at of them.  And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord.
                    Zechariah 11:13

And the chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, "It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood."  And they took counsel, and bought with them the potter's field, to bury strangers in.  Wherefore that field was called, The field of blood, unto this day.
                    Matthew 27:6-8

The precision of Zech 11:13.  Price: 30 pieces of silver; location of the transaction: the House of the Lord (Temple); who ends up with the money? The potter!
                    p = 1:100,000

Prophecy #5: Wounds in Hands

And one shall say unto him, "What are these wounds in thine hands?"  Then he shall answer, "Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends."
                     Zechariah 13:6

Thomas' Unbelief

But he [Thomas] said unto them, "Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe."  And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them; then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, "Peace be unto you."  Then saith he to Thomas, "Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side; and be not faithless, but believing."  And Thomas answered and said unto him, "My Lord and my God."  Jesus saith unto him, "Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou has believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."
                    John 20:25-29 

How many people, taken at random, have been "wounded in their hands" and in "the house of their friends?"
                    p = 1:1,000

Prophecy #6:  No Defense Though Innocent

He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
                    Isaiah 53:7

How many prisoners, accused of a capital crime, make no defense even though innocent?
                    p = 1:1,000

Prophecy #7: Died with Wicked; Buried with Rich

And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
                    Isaiah 53:9

How many died among the wicked, yet were buried with the rich?
                    p = 1:1,000

Prophecy #8: Crucified

For dogs have compassed me; the assembly of the wicked have enclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet.
                    Psalm 22:16

(700 years before crucifixion invented.)  How many, taken at random, have died by having hands and feet pierced?
                    p = 1:10,000

Composite Probabilities

If a population has 60% male and 40% female, what is the probability that one taken at random is female?  40% or p = 0.4

If a population is 60% right-handed and 40% left-handed, what is the probability that someone taken at random is left-handed?  40% or p = 0.4

What is the probability of selecting a left-handed female?
                    p = 0.4 x 0.4 = .16

8 Prophecies
  • Micah 5:2               
    • Born in Bethlehem               
    • 1:100,000
  • Zechariah 9:9         
    • King on Donkey                    
    • 1:100
  • Zechariah 11:12     
    • Thirty Pieces of Silver          
    • 1:1000
  • Zechariah 11:13     
    • Temple, Potter, etc...          
    • 1:100,000
  • Zechariah 13:6       
    • Wounds in hands                  
    • 1:1,000
  • Isaiah 53:7             
    • No defense; innocent           
    • 1:1,000
  • Isaiah 53:9            
    • Died with the wicked, Grave with the rich        
    • 1:1,000
  • Psalm 22:16            
    • Crucified                              
    • 1:10,000
  • Total: 1:100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

8 Prophecies Combined
  • Total population # 100 billion (10 raised to the eleventh)
  • Combined probabilities: 10 to the 28th / 10 to the 11th = 10 to the 17th
  • A "bucket" of 10 to the 17th silver dollars?
    •  Would fill an area the size of Texas to a depth of 2 feet (above your knees)
    • Mark one silver dollar with a red X
    • Toss it down and somehow mix them all up
    • Place yourself randomly anywhere in the state and walk until you decide to pick one
    • The probability of picking the single dollar with the red X is the same as one person fulfilling just 8 of over 300 prophecies.
    • That person was Jesus!
16 Prophecies Combined
  • Over 300 to choose from
  • The next 8 would be more specific (each less likely than the previous)
  • Assuming no decrease in the likelihoods: 10 to the 28th x 10 to the 28th = 10 to the 56th
  • Combined probabilities: 10 to the 56th / 10 to the 11th = 10 to the 45th
  • How big a "bucket" do we need now?  A ball of silver dollars with a radius that is 30 times the distance between the earth and the sun!
48 Prophecies Combined
  • Over 300 to choose from
  • Assuming no decrease in likelihoods: 10 raised to the 168th
  • Combined probabilities: 10 raised to the 168th / 10 raised to the 11th = 10 raised to the 157th
  • Silver dollars won't work for this one...
  • Make a "ball" of every atom in the universe: 10 raised to the 66th
  • Make one for each atom of the universe: 10 raised to the 66th x 10 raised to the 66th = 10 raised to the 132nd
  • Repeat this exercise every second since the universe began: 10 raised to the 132nd x 10 raised to the 17th = 10 raised to the 149th
  • 10 raised to the 149th vs 10 raised to the 157th?
  • ...we are still short by 10 raised to the 8th: 100,000,000 times!
  • ...and we've dealt with only 48 of over 300 prophecies!
Once again I put forth the statement of Chuck Missler:  "We are being plunged into a period about which the Bible says more than about any other period in history...including the time when Jesus walked the shores of Galilee and climbed the mountains of Judea."  See for yourself if this is true!



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