After assembling all the chief priests and experts in the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. “In Bethlehem of Judea,” they said, “for it is written this way by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are in no way least among the rulers of Judah, for out of you will come a ruler who will shepherd my people Israel.’”
(Matthew 2:4-6 ESV)
As we learned yesterday, Herod was not a Jew so he would not be expected to know much about the Old Testament prophecies regarding the birth of the Messiah. So he turns to the chief priests and experts in the law. These men knew that the Christ (which is the Greek word for the Hebrew “Messiah”, which means “Savior”) was to be born in Bethlehem of Judea. They even quote the Old Testament passage in Micah 5:2 which contains this prophecy.
This particular prophecy tells us what town Jesus would be born in hundreds of years before He was actually born. Even more amazingly, it recognizes the fact that Jesus would be born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea, which is about 5 miles south of Jerusalem, as opposed to Bethlehem in Zebulun which is further north. How did Micah know the exact city Jesus would be born in? He could only know it if God told him so.
Some might argue that the prophecies of the Old Testament were written later than their predicted events. But we know this is not true as we have copies of the Old Testament dating back to 500 BC in the form of the Dead Sea Scrolls. Some others will claim that Jesus manipulated His life to fulfill prophecy. But someone can’t manipulate where they were born. And, as we’ll see in the upcoming days, other events happened in Jesus’ childhood that He could never have manipulated.
When I was a rabid, foaming-at-the-mouth atheist I had no idea such precise prophecies were in the Bible. When I discovered this it made me stop and think that perhaps I might be wrong. Biblical prophecy played a big role in my deciding that the Bible was real and Jesus was who He said He was – God in the flesh who provides the one and only way to heaven [John 14:6].
Biblical prophecies are not vague, Nostradamus-like predictions that can be applied to dozens, if not hundreds, of subsequent events. They are precise. This is a major difference between the other allegedly divine writings such as the Quran or the Book Of Mormon. We are told that they were divinely inspired. But they contain no internal proof to support such a claim.
There is no other rational conclusion to the hundreds of precise and accurately-fulfilled prophecies the Bible contains than that it came directly from God.
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