If given the option to know what your future holds, would you do it? According to a recent study, most people wouldn’t.
Given the chance to see into the future, most people would rather not know what life has in store for them, even if they think those events could make them happy, according to recent research published by the American Psychological Association (APA).
In a 2017 study the APA drew data from two nationally-representative studies involving two thousand adults in Germany and Spain, and found that 85 to 90 percent of people would not want to know about negative events in the future, and 40 to 70 percent felt the same about future positive events.
In fact, only one percent of survey recipients consistently wanted to know about the future, according to the study, which was published in the journal, Psychological Review.
The lead study author said in a news release. “Not wanting to know appears counterintuitive and may raise eyebrows, but deliberate ignorance, as we’ve shown here, doesn’t just exist; it is a widespread state of mind.” [Citation]
No doubt, there are limitations to this kind of study, for the “future” can mean different things. For example, there is a “circumstantial” future of events in one’s life, of which none of us can be sure, and there is an “ultimate” future, the future that lies beyond the grave. As one popular TV show in the 1990’s once quipped, “The truth is out there!” Regarding the veracity of messianic prophecy—indeed it is!
We, as God’s people, cannot only face, but embrace, our ultimate future with hope and joy because of the person and work of Jesus. Additionally, the Bible, the book of the future, gives us confidence that we can entrust our destiny wholly to the Alpha and Omega, the One who has promised us eternal life! To be sure, one of the dynamic aspects of the testimony of God’s Word that should also grant God’s people confidence is messianic prophecy.
What is messianic prophecy? It is the Bible’s predictions about Jesus written in the Old Testament centuries before He was born.
Why study Messianic Prophecy? It will strengthen your faith in the scriptures and help you connect biblical dots. Messianic prophecy also serves to help validate the claims of the Bible and is a credible witness for Jesus!
“All Scripture is God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16), including Bible prophecy, and considering that more than twenty-five percent of the Bible is fulfilled, or yet to be fulfilled, prophecy, it is good to study it.
Why is so much of the Bible dedicated to prophecy? There are many reasons, but ultimately, for the sake of a gospel witness, it is to direct the attention of humanity to Jesus Christ.
“For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (Revelation 19:10). The central tenet of both Old Testament prophecy and New Testament teaching is the gospel of Jesus!
Fulfilled prophecies lend unprecedented credibility to the Bible’s claim to be the word of God, and the messianic prophecies fulfilled by the birth, ministry, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus authenticate His claim to be the one true Christ. In essence, Bible prophecy is the most powerful witness to the divinity of Christ.
Messianic prophecy provides dynamic testimony supporting the veracity of God’s word and our future hope found in Jesus. If we study just seven specific prophecies that were later fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ, we’ll be amazed! It’s impossible on a human level—yet with God—all things are possible!
According to “conservative” estimates, here are the odds of Jesus fulfilling only seven prophecies: Jesus would be a descendant of David (1 in 10,000); Jesus would be born in Bethlehem (1 in 100,000); Jesus would be a miracle worker (1 in 100,000); Jesus would present Himself as King riding on a donkey (1 in 1,000,000); Jesus would be betrayed by a friend for thirty pieces of silver (1 in 1,000,000); Jesus would be crucified (1 in 1,000,000); and Jesus would first present Himself as King 173,880 days from the decree of Artaxerxes to rebuild Jerusalem (1 in 1,000,000).
The total probability (without God) of all of these prophecies being fulfilled by the same person is 10 to the thirty-eighth power, which in numeral terms is 1 in a 100 billion, billion, billion, billion! [Citation].
Powerful indeed! Here is a link to just a small sample of Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament and their fulfillment in the New Testament [Citation].
As we celebrate the birth of Christ during this Christmas season, here’s the backstory of one Christmas prophecy that packs a punch. I trust your faith would be strengthened.
Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. On the surface this prophecy about the birthplace of Jesus is straightforward. Upon further review concerning the timing and location of His birth, along with the circumstances surrounding His birth, there is certainly more than meets the eye.
Micah 5:2 established the prophecy, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.”
Note in verse 2 that the “goings forth” of this “Ruler in Israel” are “from of old, from everlasting.” The Hebrew word for everlasting in this verse is olam, which may mean a long duration, forever, perpetual, or in this case, everlasting. In the Old Testament, “everlasting” and “forever” are far and away the most common uses of the word olam. There is only one throne that is everlasting—that is the Throne of God! Therefore, the King of Kings, Jesus, will ultimately sit on this throne.
Roughly eight centuries later the prophecy is fulfilled in Matthew 2:1, where the scripture simply declares, “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem.”
Additionally, Luke 2:1-5 gives us a glimpse into the surrounding circumstances, namely a census, which dictated that Joseph and Mary, residents of Nazareth, had to make a trek to Bethlehem, “And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city. Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child.”
It was a ninety-mile trek from Nazareth to Bethlehem (the town of Joseph’s ancestors). People could travel twenty miles or so per day! Some scholars say Joseph and Mary may have only traveled around ten miles per day due to her pregnancy! However long it took, it was a number of days in transit!
The incredible reality is that they made it to Bethlehem at just the right time for the Son of God to be born. Mary could have given birth sometime prior to their arrival in Bethlehem, or Jesus could have been born anytime after they left Bethlehem. Yet God’s timing is perfect. He’s never late nor early, but has made “everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11). As the Apostle Paul affirmed in Galatians 4:4, “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman.”
There’s more! Bethlehem in Hebrew is Beth, meaning “house,” combined with the Hebrew word lechem, meaning “bread.” So Bethlehem literally means “house of bread.” If you remember, in John 6:35 Jesus referred to Himself as “the bread of life.” In other words, the “bread of life”—Jesus, was born in the “house of bread”—Bethlehem. Hallelujah!
While we understand unbelievers may want to avoid discussing an uncertain future, messianic prophecy is certainly a powerful tool to have in our evangelistic toolbox. For future evangelism is good news about the future. And not only good news, but the best news about an ultimate future in Christ. May we share with others this singular hope in the One Who holds the future in His hands, not only during the Christmas season, but in all seasons! Amen!