Article : Messianic prophecy and the resurrection
My class and I recently completed a wonderful Ph.D. seminar entitled Issues on Messianic Prophecy with Dr. Randall Price and Dr. Ed Hindson at Liberty University. Unfortunately, messianic prophecy has received less attention than in times past. Even in evangelical circles, hyper-critical views are being taken on the Old Testament which seemingly lessens any apologetic power when considering a future eschatological messiah (Note: I use the capitalized “Messiah” when referring to Jesus and the lower case when referencing the position). Other evangelicals are deemphasizing the importance of the Hebrew Bible (i.e., Old Testament). However, when keeping the prophecy in context, especially the context of the entire book, it is surprisingly clear that the prophet was speaking about a future blessed Redeemer who would bring forth a new covenant.
At Christmastime, we often ponder the prophecies of Isaiah when contemplating the Messiah’s miraculous birth and the prophecy of Micah when considering his birthplace. But as we approach Easter, did you realize there are prophecies pertaining to Easter? This article will examine a few of those prophecies.
“I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel” (Gen. 3:15, CSB).
Genesis 3:15 is the earliest messianic prophecy in the Bible. In this prophecy, God speaks to the serpent and notes that there would be hostility between him and the offspring of the woman. She would have an offspring that would crush the serpent’s head and the serpent would strike the offspring’s heel. While this prophecy may not explicitly reference the resurrection, it does so implicitly. The writer of Hebrews notes that through the death of Jesus the power of the devil was destroyed. John also denotes the same in 1 John 3:8. But the ultimate victory over death came by the resurrection of Jesus on the first resurrection morning. For victory to occur, death must be defeated. Jesus did just that.
“I will declare the LORD’s decree. He said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have become your Father.’ Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance and the ends of the earth your possession” (Ps. 2:7-8, CSB).
This prophecy may require a bit of explaining. In Psalm 2, the Messiah is coronated as the ruler of the earth. In verse 2, the psalmist shows that the rulers of the world conspire against Messiah. They conspire to destroy the Holy One of God. However, the Lord laughs from heaven. Verses 7-8 describe a time when the Anointed One’s identity is displayed before all. Paul, in an early sermon summary recorded in Acts, views this as being fulfilled in the resurrection of Jesus. After thoroughly reading Psalm 2, I would wholeheartedly concur.
“For you will not abandon me to Sheol; you will not allow your faithful one to see decay. You reveal the path of life to me; in your presence is abundant joy; at your right hand are eternal pleasures” (Ps. 16:10-11, CSB).
Psalm 16 is a psalm of David. In this psalm, David asks for God’s protection using the term shamar which means to keep watch over a person like a shepherd. At the end of the psalm, David notes his confidence in that God would not leave him in the grave. God’s holy one would not see decay. This not only points to David’s confidence in the resurrection but is ultimately fulfilled in the Messiah as is noted by Peter in an early sermon summary in Acts 2:25.
“But I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the end he will stand on the dust. Even after my skin has been destroyed, yet I will see God in my flesh. I will see him myself; my eyes will look at him, and not as a stranger. My heart longs within me” (Job 19:25-27, CSB).
Job had been met with a horrible fate. He had lost his family, his home, his farm, his family, and his health. Yet despite his suffering, Job was able to proclaim his confidence in the Lord knowing that his Redeemer lives. He placed confidence that he would be resurrected after his inevitable demise. The passage is prophetic in that he realizes that his Redeemer will stand on the dust at the end and would testify on his behalf. This points to a resurrected Redeemer who is Jesus the Messiah.
“He was assigned a grave with the wicked, but he was with a rich man at his death, because he had done no violence and had not spoken deceitfully. Yet the LORD was pleased to crush him severely. When you see him make a guilt offering, he will see his seed, he will prolong his days, and by his hand, the LORD’s pleasure will be accomplished. After his anguish, he will see light and be satisfied. By his knowledge, my righteous servant will justify many, and he will carry their iniquities. Therefore I will give him the many as a portion, and he will receive the mighty as spoil, because he willingly submitted to death, and was counted among the rebels; yet he bore the sin of many and interceded for the rebels” (Isa. 53:9-12, CSB).
Isaiah 53 provides a portrait of the Messiah’s life. It was not until recently that I came to realize that the latter portion of Isaiah 53 prophesies the resurrection of the Anointed One. Notice that the prophet depicts the Suffering Servant sharing a grave with the wicked and buried with a rich man at his death (Is. 53:9). The Servant was crushed which also points to his death. Yet, despite the death suffered by the Servant, he would have his days prolonged. How does one prolong the days of one who has died unless the person is brought back to life? How could the Servant see light and be satisfied without a resurrection? How could he possess a portion among the many and the spoil of the mighty if he is dead in the grave? All of these vividly points to the Messiah’s resurrection.
Some of the prophecies listed are more explicit in referencing the resurrection of the Messiah than others. Nevertheless, all of them point to a Redeemer who would overthrow the powers of Satan and defeat the doom of death. The resurrection of Jesus is not only historically verifiable, but it was also prophetically predicted to happen. Our Savior is one who gives life to all who ask. For, those who call upon the name of the Lord will most assuredly be saved (Ac. 2:21 and Rom. 10:13).