Christmas in Prophecy: The Scepter Shall Not Depart
By Nathan Jones
Did Jesus of Nazareth fulfill all 108 First Coming prophecies?
Jesus did indeed fulfill all 108 distinct Bible prophecies concerning the Messiah’s First Coming. Anyone who thinks that is an accident knows nothing — absolutely nothing — about the laws of probability. Prophecy is proof positive that Jesus is God in the flesh. On a recent television episode of Christ in Prophecy, Dr. David Reagan and Nathan Jones, along with guest Dennis Pollock, set out to demonstrate this amazing fact and in doing so revealed the life-changing impact such knowledge can make on a person’s life.
The Scepter Shall Not Depart
Dr. Reagan: Every year at Christmas I am reminded of the remarkable prophecies concerning the birth of Jesus, and how they substantiate His deity and the faithfulness of God. Let’s take a look at some of those prophecies. The first that come to mind are those that establish the general time period when the Lord would appear. There are two in particular I’d like for us to consider. The first in Genesis 49:10.
“The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people.”
Nathan Jones: When one thinks of a king, we usually think of a crown and a throne, but kings also wield a scepter. The one who holds the scepter is the one who also holds all the power in the land. The line of King David flowed from the tribe of Judah, and so Judah through King David and his lineage held the rightful power over Israel. This power included making laws and also the authority to wield capital punishment over its subjects.
The Jewish people throughout much of their early history held the right and power to put to death those who disobeyed their laws, that is, until Shiloh came. Who is Shiloh? Shiloh stands out as a Messianic term for the Messiah. Jesus the Messiah is Shiloh.
By the time Jesus had arrived on the scene, up to that point the Sanhedrin still wielded the power to put Israel’s criminals to death. But, when the Romans took over, they took that power away from the Jewish people. Hence, when Israel’s religious leaders plotted to crucify Jesus, they had to get Pontius Pilot’s ‘permission to kill Jesus because the Jews had lost the power to enact capital punishment. The scepter — the power — to rule uninhibited had been removed from Judah. The loss of that power occurred nearly the exact time Shiloh showed up!
Messiah Shall Be Cut Off
Dr. Reagan: Another prophecy predicting the general time period of the Messiah’s first advent can be found in Daniel 9:20-27. It concerns the prophecy of Daniel’s 70 Weeks of Years.
Dennis Pollock: What an amazing prophecy this is! The angel Gabriel personally delivered this message when he came and appeared to Daniel while he was deep in some intense praying. Gabriel declared a number of prophecies, but the one that we are focusing on here is that after “7 sevens” and “62 sevens,” meaning 483 years, the Messiah would be cut off. This amazing prophecy declared that the Messiah would one day come, and when He did, He was going to be “cut off,” meaning He’ll die. A lot of the Jews couldn’t accept a prophecy that foretold the death of the Messiah.
This prophecy pinpoints the timing of the Messiah’s arrival and departure. The 483 year countdown would commence once a command was given to rebuild Jerusalem’s walls. Mathematicians and theologians have done some complicated figuring to calculate the starting event that would lead to the general time period of the Messiah’s arrival. Once the command was given in 445 B.C. by the Persian King Artaxerxes through a decree issued to Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:1-8), take 483 years from that decree and we end up right at the time of Jesus, particularly right at the time of His death.
Such an utterly amazing prophecy! The prophecy leaves no doubt that only Jesus of Nazareth could be the Messiah the Angel Gabriel was referring to. Jesus arrived precisely on time to fulfill the 70th Week of Daniel prophecy.
Dr. Reagan: The world would shout “Coincidence, coincidence!” But, we all know better than that. Quite a lot of study in the Scriptures has been made over the centuries concerning whether a prophecy fulfilled is merely coincidence or probability.
Nathan Jones: It’s awfully hard to have a coincidence show up 483 years later when you need it to happen. I’m not a mathematician, but there was a mathematician who made such calculations. He has since passed away, but his name was Peter Stoner. The man possessed the most brilliant mind, and yet he demonstrated that rare gift of being able to take complicated mathematics and explain them in easy to understand illustrations.
For example, Dr. Stoner acknowledged that there are 108 distinct messianic prophecies made in the Bible that Jesus Christ fulfilled at His First Coming. He wondered what were the chances of just eight being fulfilled in the life of one man. Stoner performed all the mathematical calculations and he figured out that the possibility was 1 in 10 to the 17th power. That number is a 1 followed by 17 zeros! That number stands so big that the human mind can’t grasp it. And that calculation is based not on all of the 108 prophecies, but merely eight.
Dr. Stoner brought that ungraspable number down to the level where I am in order to explain it. He said this is what 1 in 10 to the 17th power would look like. Take the entire state of Texas, which is a very huge state, and fill it two feet deep in silver dollars. Mark one coin and throw it out of an airplane. Once the coin had landed, churn up all those coins statewide with bulldozers so that the coin is totally buried. Next, take a blind man and drop him in. When the blind man reaches down and picks up the very first coin, that would be the coin with the mark.
That is 1 in 10 to the 17th power! Impossible? It sure would be, unless something divine happened. That divinity was none other than the arrival of the Son of God, Jesus Christ! Dr. Stoner proved we are not talking about coincidence here when it comes to Jesus Christ fulfilling hundreds of year-old prophecies.
To demonstrate what Dr. Stoner’s illustration would look like, check out the first of our Bible Prophecy Insights video.
In the second segment of our study about how Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled all 108 distinct Bible prophecies concerning the Messiah’s First Coming, we will continue to look at some more amazing Christmas prophecies.