Although Peter was one of the eyewitnesses, he does not ask that we believe only his testimony. He says that we should examine evidence even stronger than eyewitness accounts. He says we have “the more sure word of prophecy” (2 Peter 1:19).
For over a thousand years, holy, godly men wrote down
the inspirations that God sent to their hearts, telling of One whom God would send to be the Savior of the world. They listed His birthplace, the circumstances of His birth, and the events of His life. They even predicted how He would suffer and the way He would die. Finally, they wrote of His resurrection.
Examining the records of these holy men of God, we find over 300 stipulations concerning the Messiah and what He would accomplish in His birth, life, death, and resurrection. It is fair to ask about the possibility of one person fulfilling all of the requirements by just “being in the right place at the right time.” There is a way to compute the chance factor of this occurring.
The scientific “Law of Compound Probabilities” allows us to accurately calculate the chance of any prophesied event taking place. Each stipulation added to the prediction lessens the chance of the event’s occurrence, because the possibility of several details coinciding is more remote than the possibility of one event occurring alone. When 300 details are considered, the chance factor becomes astronomical. Let’s look at the Law of Compound Probability by starting with just eight of the biblical prophecies pertaining to the Messiah and calculating the possibility of one man fulfilling all eight of those requirements.
For instance, Micah 5:2 said Christ would be born in the city of Bethlehem. The chance of an individual being born in Bethlehem is easy to determine by taking the average population of Bethlehem since the time of the prophecy in about 725 B.C.—it turns out to be about 7,000—and comparing it with the average population of the earth—about 700 million. Divide the second by the first, and you find there is one chance in 100,000 of being born in Bethlehem.
Then Malachi 3:1 said there would be a forerunner who would go before Christ to prepare His way. How many men have had a forerunner prepare the hearts of the people to receive them? Though I can’t think of any, let’s say one in 1,000.
Zechariah 9:9 said Christ would make His triumphant entry into Jerusalem on a donkey. How many of the great rulers of history have made their triumphant entries on donkeys? I don’t know of any others, but let’s say one in 1,000 again, to keep it conservative. Most triumphant entries are made on something like a majestic stallion or in a great chariot—certainly not on donkeys. But Zechariah said, “Behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.”
Zechariah also said He would be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver by a friend (Zechariah 11:12). How many men in history have been betrayed by a friend for exactly thirty pieces of silver? Again, keeping our estimates low, let’s say one in 10,000.
Then Zechariah 11:13 added that the thirty pieces of silver would be used to buy a potter’s field. What are the chances of that coincidence? Let’s say one in 100,000, though I don’t know of any others in history. Isaiah 53:7 says that, although He was innocent, He would make no defense. How many innocent men refuse to answer in their own defense when brought before a court? An innocent man falsely accused wants everyone to know about his innocence—that’s a natural reaction. Still conservative, we’ll say only one man in 10,000 would be silent in the face of false charges. Finally, Psalm 22 said that both His hands and feet would be pierced. On the average, how many men could you find with both hands and feet pierced? We’ll say one in 10,000.
Multiplying these chance factors according to the Law of Compound Probability, we establish how many men we would have to look at before we found one who met all eight stipulations. The number of men would be 10 to the twenty-eighth power, or 10 followed by 28 zeroes. And ours were just conservative estimates! (We can subtract the total estimated population factor of 10 to the eleventh power, but that still makes the chance factor one in 10 to the seventeenth power.)
If you had that many silver dollars, you could cover the entire state of Texas with a layer of silver dollars two feet thick—and Texas is a big state! If you marked one of these silver dollars and let someone roam through them blindfolded, his chance of coming up with that marked silver dollar would be the same as the chance of one person just happening to fulfill the eight requirements laid out in the prophecies we looked at. But there were over 300 stipulations contained in the prophecies! Let’s examine the chance of 16 requirements being fulfilled by one man.
Assuming the chance factors for another eight prophecies would be fairly equal to the factors of the prophecies we examined, there would be one in 10 to the forty-fifth power, or 10 followed by 45 zeroes. This is a number so vast that if you had this many silver dollars, you could make a ball of silver dollars with a diameter which would be 30 times the distance from the Earth to the Sun. Can you imagine marking one of these silver dollars and letting some fellow dive into the pile blindfolded? Can you imagine him grabbing the dollar you marked, just by chance? The coincidence of this is the same as the chance of Jesus fulfilling 16 of the prophetic requirements, just by accident. And again, remember, He fulfilled over 300!
Increase the number to 48 requirements. Now the chance factor increases to one in 10 followed by 157 zeroes, a number so huge our minds can’t really conceive it. There’s no way to make a ball this size of silver dollars. Even if there were enough silver dollars to make it, the universe is just too small. Let’s compare the number to one of the smallest things we know—an electron. If two and a half quintillion electrons were placed single file, the line of them would only be an inch long. That would be 2.5 x 10 to the fifteenth power. To count these electrons would take one person nineteen million years of counting day and night at the rate of 250 per minute. Imagine how many electrons there are in a one inch cube—two and a half quintillion times two and a half quintillion times two and a half quintillion. To count that many would take 6,859,000,000,000,000,000,000 years!
Ten to the one hundred and fifty-seventh power electrons make a solid ball the estimated size of our universe, which has a radius of approximately six billion light years. In fact, if you could go into mass production and somehow start manufacturing these balls at the rate of about five hundred per minute, you could go on making them for six billion years (the estimated amount of time that this universe has been in existence) and you could do that 100,000,000,000 times over. Now if you marked just one of the electrons you had used to make the balls and asked someone to find it, the chance that it would be found by random selection is the same chance that Jesus had of fulfilling forty-eight of the requirements set forth in prophecy just by accident. And Christ fulfilled over three hundred!
That is why Peter said: I was an eyewitness; I saw it all happen; I heard it all. But if you don’t believe me, look at something more sure than what I’ve seen and heard: evidence that is stronger than an eyewitness account. Look at the evidence of God’s sure word of prophecy fulfilled by Jesus Christ.
It’s Time for Your Verdict!
In the prophecies mentioned, I didn’t include Daniel 9:25, in which Daniel said: “from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince, shall be [sixty-nine sevens]…” (or 483 years). Because Daniel was computing with the Babylonian calendar, we refer to a year with just 360 days, so it was 173,880 days from the time of the commandment to restore and rebuild Jerusalem to the coming of the Messiah, according to Daniel’s prophecy. Artaxerxes, the Persian king, was the one to command the restoration of Jerusalem in the year 445 B.C. on March 14. We know this because the Persian record has been preserved by God so we can be sure of the exact date.
Starting then, on March 14, 445 B.C. and marking the next 173,880 days off the calendar, we come to April 6, 32 A.D. This happened to be a Sunday, the day that Jesus made His triumphant entry into the city of Jerusalem.
Luke 19:41 tells us that Jesus wept over Jerusalem that day as He beheld it. Now how many men made a triumphant entry into the city of Jerusalem that day? Just one man, the one who fulfilled this and all of the other prophecies concerning the Messiah…Jesus Christ!
Now you must make your decision based on the evidence set out for you. Jesus asked, “What think ye of Christ? Whose son is he?” (Matthew 22:42). Now you must answer that important question.
If your verdict is: “Yes, Jesus is the Christ, the promised Messiah,” then you should make Him the Lord of your life. There is something very interesting about your decision concerning Jesus Christ. Though you are the judge, what you conclude will not change HIS destiny at all. Your decision determines your destiny because you will eventually be judged by your decision concerning Jesus Christ. He is what He is, whether you believe it or not.
John said, “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life” (1 John 5:11–12).
It’s time for your verdict. You have examined the evidence. What will you do with Jesus who is called the Christ?
Taken from the chapter "The More Sure Word"
in the book "Answers for Today"
by Pastor Chuck Smith.
For further study:
by Pastor Chuck Smith.
For further study: