This thought sent me on a mathematical quest. Now, I am not one for figures and calculations, so I let the internet do the dirty work for me! And lo and behold, the probability that Micah would accurately predict the birthplace of the Messiah turns out to be 1 in 2.8 times 10 to the fifth power or roughly 1 in 7,150/2,000,000,000 that Bethlehem would be pinpointed as the birthplace. If you understand math, you are probably thinking, “Impressive!” right now. If you’re like me and struggle with numbers, you’re thinking, “WOW!!!!” The truth is though, that this is only one of hundreds of prophecies concerning the Messiah. Alfred Edersheim, the well-known scholar counted 456 of them! Imagine the probability factor with any number combination of points fulfilled and the “chance” of them all occurring is staggering.
The most ground-breaking documentation of this nature was conducted by Professor Peter Stoner* at Westmount College. Working with a group of students, Stoner took eight of the most well-known prophecies concerning the Messiah and calculated that the ability of one man to fulfill all eight of them would be 1 in 10 to the 17th power. Just how big is that number? Well, 10 to the 17th power contains 157 zeros! That’s astounding. But let’s put a picture with it. If we were to take 10 tickets, put a mark on one, put them in a basket, blindfold a man, and then ask him to pick out the ticket with the mark on it, his chances of doing so is 1 in 10. But in the realm of Messianic prophecy, the picture looks more like this. The BIG number with the 157 zeros represents a pile of quarters, with one quarter bearing some sort of mark buried within the pile. Even without a blindfold, what do you think your chances would be of pulling out the one with the mark the first time? Probably as close to how accurate William Hamilton would have been in predicting where his 7th generation grandson would be born!
There are a number of prominent prophecies concerning the Messiah’s birth. First, he was to be a descendent of David- Ps. 110:1; 2 Sam. 7:12; Mic. 5:2. The fulfillment of this prophecy is found in Mt. 1:1-17, 22:43-44; Mk. 12:36; Lk. 3:23-38, 20:42-43; and Jn. 7:42. Secondly, the Messiah would be born to a virgin- Is. 7:14 (and also noted in the Septuagint- Is.8: 8, 10) which is recorded as fulfilled in Mt. 1:20-23 and Lk. 1:34. As we have already noted, the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem- Mic. 5:2 and the Gospel writers take note of that in Mt. 2:4-6; Lk. 2:1-5 and Jn. 7:42. Three other notable prophecies concerning the Messiah’s birth (but often overlooked) include the flight to Egypt (Hos. 1:1; Mt. 2:13-15), the slaughter of innocent children in an effort to deter the Messiah’s mission (Jer. 31:15; Mt. 2:16-18), and the Messiah’s Divine Sonship (Ps. 2:7; Lk. 1:35; Acts 13:32-33; Heb. 1:1-6). Undergirding these prophecies are the great promises of God found in the Adamic Covenant (Gen. 3:15), the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12:3), the Mosaic Covenant (Dt. 18:15 in particular) and the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7:16). While the prophecies concerning the Messiah are important, perhaps the more important issue behind them is God’s faithfulness to fulfill the things He has promised to His people, both Jew and Gentile alike. And finally, as Stoner concluded, “Any man who rejects Christ as the Son of God is rejecting a fact, proved perhaps more absolutely than any other fact in the world.” The “odds” make it clear. No man could possibly fulfill all of the prophecies as well as Jesus did unless He was God and that is the whole point of Matthew’s Gospel.
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
https://www.annhlefevre.com/, https://www.linked.com/in/annhlefevre/, https://www.facebook.com/ann.h.lefevre/
*Stoner’s ground-breaking book, Science Speaks, c. 1957 Moody Press, might be difficult to find in print but there a number of articles on the internet which quote the work extensively. See www.israelsmessiah.com/prophecy/messiah/probability.htm for starters.