In years past, atheists have put up billboards in places like New York City to discourage people from attending church at Christmastime (or any time, for that matter). Now they’re bring their campaign to the Bible Belt.
A report from their own source (news.atheists.org, Dec. 1 – 2,014 years after the reported birth of Jesus) notes: “The billboards feature a young girl writing a letter to Santa; her letter reads, ‘Dear Santa, All I want for Christmas is to skip church! I’m too old for fairy tales.’ The billboards are located in Memphis, Nashville, St. Louis and Fort Smith, Arkansas.”
Of course, the premise of this whole campaign is that Christianity is supposedly a “fairy tale.” But, in fact, Jesus is “the Truth.” Here I’ll focus only on prophecies fulfilled by Jesus. Only God knows the future. Only God could have written the Bible.
I teach an adult Sunday school class of about 60 or so in a Presbyterian church in South Florida. Months before the beginning of the New Year (2014), I asked my class to take a moment and write down one prediction for the New Year. I also wrote down my own “prophecy.”
These were not to be fortune cookie type statements, such as “You will soon meet somebody interesting.” Instead, these were to be some sort of prediction of the future. In our class, how many of us made a correct prediction? There was none – no, not one. (You try it sometime.)
Yet in the Scriptures, we can see some 350 prophecies foretelling the coming of Jesus – including His ancestors, His place of birth, His ministry, His death and His resurrection.
One could argue that He fulfilled some of His prophecies on His own. (This is the essence of the skeptical book “The Passover Plot”). But try choosing your own parents. As to His horrible death, David wrote in 1000 B.C., “They have pierced my hands and my feet.” That was a few hundred years before the Syro-Phonecians invented crucifixion. The Romans later perfected it.
Christ is not the last name of Jesus, but His title. It comes from the Greek word, “Christos,” from the Hebrew word, “Meshiach,” (Messiah). The English translation is: “Anointed One.”
Jesus is the Anointed One described in Psalm 2, where it says that the kings of this world declare war against the Lord and against His Anointed One. (Even the war on Christmas was foretold.)
The Old Testament was written between c.1400-400 B.C., and it gives us a picture of Jesus from the Hebrew prophets.
Consider just a few facts about Christ in the Old Testament:
- “… in you [Abraham] all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3, c. 1400 B.C.). “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs” (Genesis 49:10, c. 1400 B.C.). The Messiah will come from the line of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and Judah.
- “I [i.e., God] will raise up your offspring after you [David], who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever” (2 Samuel 7:12-13, c.1000 B.C.).
- “The LORD said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you'” (Psalm 2:7, c. 1000 B.C.).
- “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel [God with us]” (Isaiah 7:14, c. 750 B.C.).
- “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days” (Micah 5:2, c. 720 B.C.).
- “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6, c. 750 B.C.).
- He will have a forerunner (John the Baptist): “A voice cries: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God'” (Isaiah 40:3-4, c. 750 B.C.).
- “Behold, your God … will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped; then shall the lame man leap like a deer, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy” (Isaiah 35:4-6, c. 750 B.C.).
- “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? … All who see me mock me … they wag their heads; ‘He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!’ my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death. For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet – I can count all my bones – they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots” (Psalm 22:1, 7-8, 15-18, c. 1000 B.C.).
Two chapters of the Old Testament are worth mentioning. Psalm 22 (written 1000 B.C.) has more facts about the crucifixion of Jesus than any one single Gospel. (Of course, if you combine the facts of the crucifixion found in the four Gospels, that exceeds the number of facts of Psalm 22.) Isaiah 53 (c. 750 B.C.) clearly talks about the crucifixion (for our sins) and resurrection of Jesus.
So, this Christmas, defy the atheist – by going to church to celebrate the Truth. Better yet, invite the atheist, so he, too, might learn of Him whose coming was foretold long before His birth.