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Passover Plot Revisited|
Q.I've been reading through some things about how Old Testament prophecy was fulfilled by the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus. My question is…since the Old Testament was around in Jesus' time…how do I know he wasn't just some guy who happened to be born under the right circumstances, had read the Old Testament, and then decided to make one heck of an ego trip?
Great question. This is the "Passover Plot" revisited. The The Passover Plot was a book written by the noted scholar Dr. Hugh J. Schonfield decades ago who posited a similar theory. He put forth the idea that Jesus "plotted" his own death and resurrection and went out of his way to fulfill many Old Testament prophecies.
Prophecy in the Bible is "hard evidence" that Jesus is who He said He was. Even in Old Testament times God told us we could know He is really God because He knows and tells us the end from the beginning:
"I am God, and no one is like Me.
I declare the end
From the beginning,
And from long ago what is
Not yet done,
Saying: My plan
Will take place,
And I will do all My will"
(Isaiah 46:9b-10, HCSB)
In other words, God says "Only I can tell you the future before it even happens" (NLT).
300 O.T. Propheices about Messiah
Pertaining to the Messiah's life and death, there are well over 300 prophecies from the Old Testament!
Strangely enough, Jesus made "no bones" about the fact that He did some things "so that the Scriptures might be fulfilled." He wasn't hiding anything from anyone. It was "out in the open" when He said it.
This is one reason it is so puzzling when people throughout the centuries accuse Him of doing the very thing He said He was doing - at least in a few instances.
But, it was a grand impossibility for Him to "plot" (or purposefully fulfill) many other prophecies unless He really was who He claimed to be.
Here is just one example:
Daniel Predicted Exact Arrival Time 600 years Prior!
The prophet Daniel wrote his prophecies from around 605 B.C. We know this partly because of its inclusion among the Dead Sea Scrolls found in the Qumran Caves in Israel, in 1947. These scrolls and copies of the Old Testament were then dated hundreds of years B.C. after they found this treasure.
Before the discoveries of the Dead Sea Scrolls archaeologists dated the oldest texts we had from around 1,000 A.D. Before this find we could only theorize that Daniel was written before Christ was born. But, now there is proof the book of Daniel predated Christ.
One of Daniel's prophecies gives the exact time the Messiah would appear on earth! This was exactly 173,880 days from the decree to rebuild the temple and Jerusalem (Daniel 9:25).
Prophecy Date Calculated
This particular prophecy, made about 535 B.C., predicted Jesus' entry into Jerusalem to the very day. I am indebted to Ralph Muncaster, Ph.D. for this brief explanation:
Daniel 9:24-26 says,
-"Sixty-nine periods of 7 (years) will pass from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem until the coming of the "Anointed One" (Messiah - in Hebrew). This dates Jesus' entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.
-After that time the Anointed One will be cut off (Hebrew "yikaret," meaning a sudden, violent end - crucifixion).
-And after that time the city and the temple will be destroyed. (This happened in 70 A.D.).
Daniel, a Hebrew, received the prophetic revelation in 535 B.C. Using the Hebrew definition of year (360 days), we find:
69 x 7 years = 173, 880 days.
The actual decree to rebuild Jerusalem was given by Artaxerxes on March 14, 445 B.C. (first day of Nisan that year - Nehemiah 2:1-6).
Using the actual 365 day calendar along with adjustments for leap years, and the final scientific adjustment (leap year dropped every 128 years), we find this number of days brings us precisely to:
April 6, A.D. 32
History: Jesus' ministry began in the fifteenth year of Tiberius Caesare (Luke 3:1), whose reign began in A.D. 14. A chronological analysis of Jesus' ministry shows three years leading up to the final week, in A.D. 32.
The Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England, confirms the Sunday before Passover that year to be:
April 6, A.D. 32"
So this places Jesus the Messiah being "cut off" (an idiom for "killed") at Passover in 32 A.D. Remember that this prophecy was written over 500 years before it actually happened. Awesome!
There are many other prophecies which Jesus could not have "plotted" to fulfill. The statistical probabilities for these are staggering indeed.
Be sure to read Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 for yourself when you have a chance.
For example, Psalm 22:16-18 says,
…"they have pierced my hands and feet (written hundreds of years prior to crucifixion as punishment)…"they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots…" (Psalm 22:16-18).
The prophet Zechariah notes that "they weighed out as my wages thirty pieces of silver" (remember Judas?)… (Zech. 11:12-13.
Statisticians estimate that the probability of all these prophecies (around 300 of them) coming true is about one chance in 10 to the 99th power. Impossible!
And more Prophecies
Some other prophecies include:
-The exact place of Jesus' birth in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).
-The silver cast on temple floor, used to buy potter's field (Zechariah 11:13).
-He would have a forerunner (John the Baptist, Isa. 40:1-5).
-King David would be His ancestor (Psalm 132:11-12).
-He would descend from Abraham (Genesis 12:3).
Remember that all of the above were written hundreds of years before Jesus walked the earth.
(Note that there is more proof for Jesus' existence than for yours or mine. He presented us with his "pedigree" and employment records. Most of us can only produce a "stamped" birth certificate at best).
-During His crucifixion none of his bones would be broken (Exodus 12:46).
-The Messiah would be hung on a tree and become a "curse" on behalf of His people (Deuteronomy 21:23).
-The Anointed One would be betrayed by a friend (Psalm 41:9).
-He would be scorned by his enemies (Psalm 69:9, 19).
-He would be given gall and vinegar (Psalm 69:21 - see Matt. 27:34, 48).
-The famous teacher would speak in "parables" (Psalm 78:2).
-Miracles would accompany the Messiah's coming (Isa. 35:4-6).
-His actions are described (Isa. 42:1-13).
-The Messiah to Israel would become a "light to the Gentiles" as well (Isa. 49:6).
-The Lord's Son would be called out of Egypt (Hosea 11:1).
Remember, there are well over 300 of these prophecies. I suppose Jesus could have deliberately fulfilled some of these - He said he did. But, common sense dictates that most were beyond human control.
Could it Take More "Faith" Not to Believe?
After awhile, we begin to realize that it takes more faith NOT to believe He is who He said He was than to believe all of these bizarre coincidences.
There are numerous resources at your disposal if you wish to explore this subject further. Here are a few of our recommendations:
McDowell, Josh. 2002. New evidence that demands a verdict. (CD). Coeur d'Alene, ID: Compass Intl.
Muncaster, Ralph. 2004. Examine the evidence. Eugene, OR: Harvest House.
Strobel, Lee. 1998. The case for Christ. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Schonfield, Hugh J. The passover plot. NY: Disinformation Company (available from Amazon.com).
Authors Ken Emilio holds an M.A. in Biblical Studies from Louisiana Baptist University. Valorie received her M.A. in History from UCLA specializing in early church history.
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