Imagine the entire state of Texas covered two feet deep with silver dollars. If you have ever spent any time driving in Texas, you realize this is a huge number of coins. In addition, let’s say one of the coins is painted red.
What are the odds that someone could be blindfolded, walk into Texas, and pick up the red coin on the very first try? The chances of doing so would be exceedingly low, almost nonexistent. Peter W. Stoner, the former Chairman of the Departments of Mathematics and Astronomy at Pasadena City College placed the likelihood of doing so at 1017 or 1 in 100, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000.
Peter W. Stoner joined with Robert C. Newman to write the book Science Speaks in which they calculated the odds of any one person in history fulfilling eight key prophecies regarding the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Their calculation came out to the number above, 1 in1017 or same odds as the blindfolded person walking into Texas and picking up the red silver dollar on the first try.
Old Testament Prophecies of Jesus’ First Coming
In all, Jesus fulfilled forty-eight clear and specific prophecies during His first coming. Christmas reminds us of so many of these prophecies.
The prophet Micah, whose ministry lasted from about 750-700 BC, predicted Jesus’ birth in the town of Bethlehem (5:2). The Scribes and chief priests knew this, but failed to investigate the claims of the wise men (Matt. 2:1-4).
Matthew recounts Isaiah’s prophecy and fulfillment that a virgin would conceive and give birth to a Son whose name would be Immanuel (see Isa. 7:14 and Matt. 7:22-23).
Other prophecies concerning Jesus’ birth include the killing of the Jewish children in Bethlehem (Jer. 31:15) and the journey to Egypt to escape the killing (Hos. 11:1).
I am sure you are aware of the many other prophecies that Jesus fulfilled through His birth, life, death, and resurrection. Including the specific promises referenced above, there are over 300 verses in the Old Testament that speak of Jesus’ First Coming.
The Promise of Jesus’ Second Coming
What about Jesus’ Second Advent? Are there as many Bible references to it?
Yes, Dr. Grant Jeffries estimates that there are about 2,400 verses in the Bible dealing with Jesus’ return to the earth.
The Old Testament prophets speak often of Jesus’ return to earth as King and of His rule over a restored Israel. Isaiah 9:6-7 speaks both of Jesus’ birth and future reign on the throne of David. Isaiah 25:6-9 depicts the Lord’s future rule as a time of feasting, of the elimination of death, and of the wiping away of all tears.
Zechariah 14:9 says, “And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day the Lord will be one and his name one.” Many verses in the Psalms echo this same hope such as 99:1, “The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake.”
Jesus describes His Second Coming in a couple places in the book of Matthew (24:29-31; 26:64). Almost the entire book of Revelation speaks of events leading up to Christ’s return, His coming in great glory and power, His defeat of the antichrist, and His future kingdoms.
Almost every epistle in the New Testament makes reference to Jesus’ appearing to take His church back to His Father’s house as Christ first introduced to His disciples in John 14:1-3.
The Bible is full of references to Jesus’ return and what that will mean for the end of history as we know it. As such, it has great implications for our lives.
What Does This All Mean?
In Matthew 16:1-3, Jesus chided the Pharisees and Scribes for not recognizing Him as the Messiah. While they recognized the signs of an approaching storm based on the sky, they could not “interpret the signs of the times.” They missed recognizing their Messiah due to their misunderstanding of prophecy.
What does that say for us who have eight times more verses relating to the end times than what they had for Jesus’ first arrival on earth?
What does all this tells us about our hope?
- Jesus’ return is an extremely important event in God’s eyes. Why would we have so many more verses regarding Jesus’ return than for His first coming if this were not the case? Clearly, the Lord wants us to be ready and watching as He so often instructs us in Matthew 24-25. If Jesus chided the Pharisees for ignoring the signs of His coming, how much more does He expect us to be aware of the indications of the end times?
- The study of future things is not something to be ignored or overlooked. God gave us 2,400 verses for a purpose; He intends for us to know about His return and be aware of the signs of His return. This subject is not simply something for theologians to discuss; it’s intended for all of us to study and know.
The signs of fulfilled prophecy abound all around us, yet overall the church is so silent on the return of the Lord. The Pharisees were so obsessed with keeping the Law as a part of everyday life and did not pay attention to what Scripture predicted about the Messiah. Is the church today making the same mistake today with its emphasis on living the Christian life and corresponding ignorance of the end-time prophecies?
- We are not meant to live solely focused on this life. Clearly, the multitude of verses points us to eternity over and over again. We are not meant to live as though this life represents the sum total of our existence.
The Lord intends us to put our hopes in eternity and let the joy ahead for us filter back to relieve our anxieties and fears.
I like the way Paul David Tripp refers to our lack of attention to eternity:
It is an item on each of our theological outlines, but we don’t actually live as though we believe it. We all say that we believe that this is not all there is. We say we really do believe that there is life after this one ends. Our formal theology contains the fact of a new heaven and a new earth to come. But we tend to live with the anxiety and drivenness that come when we believe that all we have is this moment.[i]
In 1 Peter 1:13 the apostle says, “. . . set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Our hope is not in this fleeting life where disappointments and frustrations so frequently rule the day. All too quickly our health fades and then what?
That’s why Scripture so frequently speaks of Jesus’ return and our future hope. It’s meant to relieve our striving as though this life were all that matters.
Prophecy gives us hope for tomorrow. Regardless of what we face today, a much, much better day is coming. As followers of Christ, we will live forever in immortal bodies that will never grow old or get sick. That alone should make us rejoice.
Since Jesus fulfilled all 48 specific prophecies regarding His first appearance on earth, He will certainly fulfill all the prophecies of His return. We can count all the predictions of the last days coming to past just as the Bible tells us. God’s Word will never fail to come to pass.
If Jesus can claim to be God, accurately predict both His death and resurrection, then we can know with absolute certainty He will come to take us back to His Father’s house, just as He promised.
[i] Paul David Tripp, New Morning Mercies – A daily Gospel Devotional(Wheaton: Crossway 2014), March 11
Jonathan C. Brentner
North Liberty, Iowa