KEY VERSE FOR MEMORIZATION
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.” (Isaiah 9:6-7)
From cover to cover, the Bible is a book of prophecy. The Old Testament contains a wide range of predictions concerning individual nations, cities, peoples, and events. However, the primary subject of prophecy in the Old Testament is the coming Messiah. His story saturates the narrative — in fact, more than three hundred Old Testament prophecies concern Him. In addition, many other passages typify or hint at the work of redemption that He would accomplish.
The New Testament documents the fulfillment of many of those prophecies and types. Hundreds of years after the era of the prophets, the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, His lineage, His betrayal, His death, and His resurrection aligned precisely with what the prophets foretold. In addition, the New Testament contains prophecies about His coming back again.
Following Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, as He walked on the road to Emmaus with two of His followers, He explained to them how the whole of Scripture foretold His coming. Ezekiel, Haggai, Isaiah, and others had spoken of Him because the central component of the prophets’ teachings was the coming of the Messiah who would represent, save, and restore Israel. Jesus helped the two disciples understand that He was the “thread” woven throughout all Scripture when “beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:27).
Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we may at times be unsure about prophecies regarding Jesus. How do we know what applies to Him? And why is it so crucial for us to grasp what the Old Testament foretold about the Messiah? In this lesson, we will explore the answers to those questions and others.
1. The beauty of the Creation account in the first two chapters of Genesis was marred when Adam and Eve chose to disobey God. As a result, the relationship they had previously enjoyed with Him was severed, and the righteous nature with which they had been created was changed to a sinful one. In addition, the serpent who had tempted Eve to sin was cursed. God’s pronouncement to the serpent in Genesis 3:15 is the first Old Testament Messianic prophecy. How would you explain this prophecy?
Your students should understand that this is a prophecy of Jesus’ ultimate defeat of Satan. The word “seed” was a reference to Him — the Messiah and Deliverer who was to come. The statement “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed” points to the essential conflict between Satan and God, and between the followers of Satan and the followers of God.
God’s announcement that Satan would wound the Messiah (“thou shalt bruise his heel”) refers to the fact that Jesus, in taking on humanity, brought Himself into Satan’s domain so Satan could strike him. Not only did Jesus experience the humbling aspects of being human, but He willingly endured suffering and death on the cross to provide the atonement for our sins (see Philippians 2:6-8). Jesus crushed the head of the serpent (He would “bruise thy head”) and triumphed over Satan when He destroyed his work by defeating death through His glorious Resurrection. The ultimate fulfillment of Genesis 3:15 will occur when Satan is cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, to be tormented day and night for ever and ever (see Revelation 20:10).
It is important for your group to understand that God’s plan was not adjusted when Adam and Eve sinned. Long before the world was created, this plan was set in motion by our all-knowing, eternal God. We read in 1 Peter 1:20 that Christ’s death for mankind was “foreordained before the foundation of the world.” In 1 John 3:8, we are assured that “for this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.”
2. The prophecies of the Messiah span from Genesis to Malachi — the prophet Malachi said that the “Sun of righteousness” would arise with healing in His wings (Malachi 4:2). This was part of the final recorded utterance of the Old Testament prophets. Four hundred years passed, and during all that time, devout individuals waited for the promised Messiah. The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John present Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah. What do the following prophecies tell us about the Messiah’s birth? Genesis 12:3; 2 Samuel 7:12-14; Isaiah 7:14; Micah 5:2; Hosea 11:1
These verses prophesy the following regarding the birth of the Messiah.
• Genesis 12:3 — The Messiah would be a descendant of Abraham.
• 2 Samuel 7:12-14 — The Messiah would be an heir to King David’s throne and would reign for eternity.
• Isaiah 7:14 — The Messiah would be born of a virgin.
• Micah 5:2 — The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.
• Hosea 11:1 — The Messiah would be in Egypt for a time.
Follow up by pointing out to your group that we find the fulfillment of these Old Testament prophecies in the following New Testament verses.
• Genesis 12:3 is fulfilled in Matthew 1:1.
• 2 Samuel 7:12-14 is fulfilled in Matthew 1:6-16.
• Isaiah 7:14 is fulfilled in Luke 1:26-35.
• Micah 5:2 is fulfilled in Luke 2:4-6.
• Hosea 11:1 is fulfilled in Matthew 2:14-15.
3. Long before Christ’s birth, a number of Old Testament prophets described His mission on this earth. Isaiah was one of them. Though he lived about seven hundred years before the birth of Jesus, he gave us much insight about how and what the Messiah would preach. What details about the Messiah’s ministry do the following prophecies by Isaiah give? Isaiah 11:1-5; 42:1-4; 61:1-2
Isaiah foretold that the Spirit of the Lord would rest upon the Messiah, and He would have wisdom and understanding. He would judge in righteousness and reprove with equity (Isaiah 11:1-5). In addition, He would be a gentle Redeemer who would uphold justice and heal the broken (Isaiah 42:1-4; 61:1-2).
You may wish to expand your discussion by pointing out that Jesus validated Isaiah’s words by quoting Isaiah 61:1-2 in reference to Himself. In Luke 4:17-21, we read that early in His ministry on earth, He stood up and read these verses in the synagogue at Nazareth, and then told those present, “This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.”
In this prophecy, Jesus announced that He came to undo five types of damage that result from sin.
• “To preach the gospel to the poor.” Sin impoverishes, but the Messiah brought good news to the poor.
• “To heal the brokenhearted.” Sin breaks hearts, but the Messiah brought inner healing for the brokenhearted.
• “To preach deliverance to the captives.” Sin enslaves people, but the Messiah came to set them free from that bondage.
• “Recovering of sight to the blind.” Sin spiritually blinds people, but the Messiah came to heal and restore those with spiritual blindness.
• “To set at liberty them that are bruised.” Sin binds and harms its victims, but the Messiah comes to bring liberty and healing.
Only the Son of God himself could bring this kind of deliverance and healing.
4. Perhaps one of the most beautiful and familiar prophecies regarding the coming Messiah is found in our key verses, Isaiah 9:6-7. Four descriptive names are given for the Messiah in these verses. The words “Wonderful” and “Counsellor” could be linked together in translation as being “The Wonderful Counselor.” The other names ascribed to Him are “The mighty God,” “The everlasting Father,” and “The Prince of Peace.” What do these names suggest to you regarding the character and nature of the Messiah?
Your group may come up with a number of thoughts about the Messiah’s character and nature based on the names, including the following. “Wonderful” is indicative of that which is miraculously accomplished by God Himself, while “Counsellor” indicates that He will be the Authority and the people will gladly listen to Him and accept His guidance, for He will have the wisdom to rule justly. The term “mighty God” is the strongest of titles with reference to deity. This Child was to be God Himself! “The everlasting Father” alludes to the fact that though the Messiah would come as an infant, He is eternally one with the Father. “The Prince of Peace” indicates that His rule will manifest peace because He is the embodiment of peace itself.
5. Despite the Messiah’s peaceful and healing ministry, the prophets foretold that He would be rejected by His own people and that the rulers would plot to kill Him. The prophets warned that someone who had broken bread (eaten) with the Messiah would betray Him1 for thirty pieces of silver that would later be used to buy a potter’s field.2 Upon His betrayal, the Messiah’s closest friends would desert Him.3 How were these prophecies fulfilled at the close of Jesus’ earthly ministry? Matthew 26:14-16, 47-50; 27:3-10; Mark 14:50
As the prophets foretold, Jesus was betrayed by one of His twelve chosen disciples, Judas Iscariot, for thirty pieces of silver. Later, when Judas returned the money to the priests, it was used to buy a potter’s field. Also, after Judas’s betrayal, Jesus’ other disciples “deserted him and fled.” Point out to your class that betrayal and desertion by one’s friends is a very painful experience, but Jesus endured that for us.
6. The most detailed Old Testament prophecies about Jesus concern His death and resurrection — this was the pivotal moment in human history, and the most important event the world has ever known. Isaiah described how the Messiah would remain silent in the face of false accusations and would be beaten, mocked, and spat upon.4 The Psalmist foretold that the Messiah’s hands and feet would be pierced but His bones would not be broken.5 The Savior would die among criminals,6 and people would cast lots for His clothing.7 Also, onlookers would taunt the Anointed One by telling Him to ask the Lord He spoke of so often to rescue Him.8 Jesus fulfilled these prophecies of the Messiah’s death down to the last agonizing detail during His trial and crucifixion. What does the crucifixion of Jesus mean to you?
This question is designed to cause personal reflection, so your students will respond to this question in a variety of ways based on their age, Bible knowledge, and spiritual maturity. Guide the discussion to focus on the fact that long before the world began, God had planned that the crucifixion of Jesus would be the method of payment for sin — the only payment that would reconcile sinners to a holy and loving God. Our faith is built upon the reality of Christ’s death and resurrection, because Jesus’ death made a way for the barrier of sin between God and man to be removed, and made reconciliation with God possible.
You may wish to conclude your discussion of this question by reading the familiar words found in Isaiah 53:5-12. How grateful we should be that Jesus gave His life as an ultimate offering for sin so that we could be redeemed!
7. King David foreshadowed the Messiah’s resurrection by proclaiming in Psalm 16:10 that God would not abandon the Messiah to the realm of the dead or let the Messiah’s body decay. He also wrote that the Messiah would ascend to Heaven and sit at God’s right hand (Psalm 110:1). What proof do we have that these prophecies were fulfilled by Christ? Matthew 28:5-10, 16-17, and Acts 7:54-56
Matthew 28:5-10 records that Jesus conquered death by rising from the dead. Subsequently He appeared to His disciples (Matthew 28:16-17) and many other believers prior to His ascension (see also 1 Corinthians 15:6). The fact that Jesus is now in Heaven at the right hand of the Father was made visible to Stephen as he was martyred by stoning. He saw the glory of God and Jesus the Messiah standing at God’s right hand (Acts 7:54-56).
8. The only reasonable way to explain the many fulfilled prophecies regarding Jesus Christ is that they were of divine origin. We read in 2 Peter 1:21, “For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” The Old Testament, written hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth, contains over three hundred prophecies that Jesus fulfilled through His life, death, and resurrection.
Mathematicians have figured that the odds of any one person fulfilling this number of prophecies are staggering. From a mathematical perspective alone, the conclusion is obvious — Jesus Christ of Nazareth truly was the Messiah, the Son of God, who came to this earth in fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies. Why is it so crucial for us to grasp what the Old Testament foretold about the Messiah?
Your students may come up with a variety of responses to this question. The discussion may ultimately bring out the following three points.
God can use Old Testament prophecy to strengthen the faith of wavering believers. We find an example of this in Matthew 11, when John the Baptist began to struggle with his faith after being imprisoned by Herod. John sent a message to Jesus, asking, “Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” Jesus responded by directing those who delivered the message to tell John, “The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them” (Matthew 11:5). Jesus was using two separate Messianic prophecies, from Isaiah 35 and Isaiah 61, to indicate that He was indeed the Messiah.
A second reason why it is crucial for us to understand what the Old Testament foretold about the Messiah is that Christ’s fulfillment of those prophecies is central to the New Testament Gospel. It is clear from the Book of Acts that the Apostles relied on two key points in their preaching: that Jesus Christ had been raised from the dead, and that He had fulfilled the predictions of the Old Testament. These two points were central to their message, and it was upon these truths that the New Testament church was established.
Another reason it is important for us to understand prophecies about the Messiah is that they are key tools in evangelism. Most secular people do not believe the Bible is a divine revelation. Yet it is impossible to explain how all the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament could be fulfilled in Jesus Christ if they were not divinely inspired. Thus, understanding these prophecies and their fulfillment in Christ is a great way to encourage faith in the supernatural nature of the Bible.
Old Testament prophets offered a wide range of details about the Messiah’s life, death, and victorious resurrection. Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled these prophecies so precisely that there can be no doubt that He is the promised Messiah.
1. Psalm 41:9
2. Zechariah 11:12-13
3. Psalm 31:11, Zechariah 13:7
4. Isaiah 50:6
5. Psalm 22:16-17; 34:20
6. Isaiah 53:9
7. Psalm 22:18
8. Psalm 22:8