When I was a new Christian, I read several Christian apologetic books that stated there are over 300 Messianic prophecies that are all fulfilled in Jesus. At the time I thought this was a convincing evidential apologetic for the truth claims of our faith. But as the years have gone by, I have realized this approach to Messianic prophecy is not as effective as one might think. Now please let me clarify: I do think there is Messianic prophecy. Prophecy was one of the primary ways the apostles spread the faith in the first century. However, I think we need to tweak our approach. I have taught on this subject on several occasions. In my opinion, here are some helpful tips:
#1: Messianic prophecy does matter for the following reasons:
1. The Bible is considered to be God’s revelation to mankind. However, The Quran, The Book of Mormon, and other holy books are considered to be God’s word. Messianic prophecy has apologetic value in that it confirms the Bible as a true revelation.
2. Historical Verification: Has God revealed Himself in the course of human history? If so, when and where has He done this?
3. While prophecy does not prove the existence of God, it does show that unusual events predicted in his Name that come to pass are evidence of his special activity.
4. Fulfilled prophecy is a distinctively accessible and a testable kind of miracle. The prophecy was made and its accuracy cannot be explained either causally (for example, on the ground that it brought about its own fulfillment) or as accidental, and hence that it was probably miraculous (see J.L. Mackie in Swinburne, Miracles, 90).
5. Prophecy is used when God wants to demonstrate his true omniscience by demonstrating he is the one talking. He uses prophecy by declaring in advance what the course of future history will hold. This provides a verification test as to who the true God is and that such a writing is from him.
5. The majority of the Jewish community thinks the Messiah has not come. Is this correct?
#2: How do we define prophecy?
1. Prophecy is the foretelling or prediction of what is to come. People generally think of only prediction—-fulfillment. Not everything called “prophecy” in the Bible is predictive. Prophets forthtold God’s Word as well as foretold the future.
2. A prophet (Heb. nabi) is an authorized spokesperson for God with a message that originated with God and was communicated through a number of means. When God spoke to these spokespersons, they had no choice but to deliver that word to those to whom God directed it.