I had someone ask me why God chose one people group over others (referring to the Jews). Chosen does not mean all Jewish people are automatically right with God, or more loved by God than Arabs or Americans or any other people group. Chosen means chosen for a responsibility. God created the nation of Israel for the sake of all nations (the prophets mention other nations 500+ times). Israel was to be a pencil in God’s hand, writing and preserving his words (if you compare the Dead Sea copy of Isaiah to our copy today—it’s 95% the same—amazing after 2300 years!). Each person is made right with God by faith alone, and God looks at each heart.
Israel was not always faithful to be a light to the nations, yet God still worked His plan for the sake of all nations and all individuals. The Old Testament prophets put signposts along the roadway of history, pointing to God’s self-revelation to come—Messiah—because God wants to be known by those willing to seek Him. Let’s look closer at evidential signs in Isaiah. Remember from two blogs back, we have carbon-dating proof Isaiah wrote this before Jesus’ birth.
Live in Galilee
“But in the future [God] will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan–The people walking in darkness have seen a great light…for to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:1-2, 6, 680 B.C.). This is clear—of all places on earth God could reveal himself—The Mighty God will come from Galilee.
The New Testament writers, who were eyewitnesses, write that most of Jesus’ ministry was done in Galilee. But extra-biblical history also confirms this, “Virtually all modern scholars of antiquity agree that Jesus existed…that Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist and was crucified by the order of the Roman Prefect Pontius Pilate…that Jesus was a Galilean Jew who was born between 7 and 2 BC and died 30–36 AD, that he lived in Galilee and Judea.” – Wikipedia
Be born a son, line of King David, yet called by God’s names
“And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne…with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever” (Isaiah 9:6-7). If you’ve ever wondered why Matthew (ch. 1) and Luke (ch. 3) go through boring genealogies—they are tracing Jesus lineage through both his mother and his father (Joseph) back to King David.
Jesus was crucified for blasphemy—claiming things only God can claim. Jesus criticized the Jewish Religious leaders for being greedy power-mongers, and they hated him for it. It’s significant to realize Jesus was crucified for blasphemy and sorcery. In the first century writings of these Jewish Leaders they say, “On the eve of Passover they hanged Yeshu [Jesus]. And an announcer went out… ‘he is going to be stoned, because he practiced sorcery and enticed and led Israel astray.’” (Babylonian Talmud: Sandhedrin 43a). Understand, this was written by the Pharisee Religious leaders who ordered Jesus’ execution (supposed to be by stoning), yet confirmed in their own writings that Jesus was hanged, crucified, on the eve of Passover in Jerusalem!
Heal the blind, deaf, and lame (Isaiah 35:4-6)
The fact that the Jewish Leaders had Jesus killed “for sorcery” shows they could not deny that Jesus did miraculous healing works—it’s why so many Jews proclaimed him Messiah—so they said his powers came from Satan/sorcery (Matthew 12:24). Ironically, their own writings testify to Jesus’ identity as the Messiah foretold by Isaiah: “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you. Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy” (Isaiah 35:4-6). How will you know God has come? He will heal the blind, deaf, mute, and lame. Not only do the New Testament eyewitnesses attest to Jesus’ healing miracles, so did his enemies, and other historians as well.
“Now there arose about this time a source of further trouble in one Jesus, a wise man who performed surprising works, a teacher of men who gladly welcome strange things. He led away many Jews, and many Gentiles. He was the so-called Messiah. Pilate…condemned him to the cross” (Josephus, Antiquities 18, A.D. 93). Roman/Jewish Historian Josephus reported common knowledge of Jesus as a wise teacher, who people claimed did miraculous deeds and was crucified on charges of blasphemy—for claiming to be Messiah, God’s self-revelation.
100 years after Jesus’ crucifixion, Justin Martyr writes to the Emperor of Rome: “That [Jesus] performed miracles you may easily satisfy yourself from the “Acts” of Pontius Pilate” (Justin Martyr, 150 A.D.). Think about this—he’s writing outside the Bible, telling the Emperor of Rome all these prophecies fulfilled in Jesus are chronicled by your Roman Governor—it’s in your public records.
Here’s the thing. Anyone can take each of these and say, “Yeah, but it could be….” There’s always a possible alternate explanation, but what’s the most reasonable explanation? One thread of historical/prophetic evidence may not hold much weight, but when you put 60+ threads of evidence like I’m showing (60+ exist), then you have a strong rope that will hold much weight.