Many Old Testament prophecies inform us about the Messiah. By comparing them with the New Testament, we can see that the true Messiah is Jesus Christ who was born of a virgin and is the biological son of King David of Israel. Here are a few of those prophecies.
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.
Messiah would be a descendant of the tribe of Judah, deriving His humanity through the nation of Israel. Luke 3:23–33 verifies Jesus’ biological genealogy, tracing Jesus’ descent from Judah, one of Jacob’s 12 sons. Revelation 5:5 refers to Him as “the Lion of the tribe of Judah”; and Romans 9:4–5 makes it clear Jesus came from the nation of Israel.
2 Samuel 7:12, 16: When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. And your house and your kingdom shall be established forever before you. Your throne shall be established forever.
God covenanted with David to establish David’s house—meaning his family, line of descent, throne, and kingdom—forever through his biological descendant, the Messiah. The Psalms also refer to this promise. In Luke 1, the angel Gabriel told Mary the unique Child she would bear would sit on the throne of His ancestor King David to rule; and the genealogy in Luke 3 traces Jesus’ descent directly to David.
In Acts 2 the apostle Peter confirmed that Jesus, in fulfillment of Old Testament messianic prophecies, is David’s descendant. And in Revelation 22:16, Jesus Himself said He is a descendant of David. It was almost as if, at the end of the biblical revelation, He was emphasizing, “I’m not yet finished with the world. I’m a descendant of David; I’m going to come back; I’m going to sit on his throne and ultimately fulfill the covenant God established with my ancestor David many, many years ago.”
Deuteronomy 18:18–19: I will raise up for them a Prophet like you [Moses] from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him. And it shall be that whoever will not hear My words, which He speaks in My name, I will require it of him.
God promised to produce another great Israelite prophet like Moses. That prophet would speak God’s words to Israel, and anyone who did not heed the prophet would suffer dire consequences. In the Gospel of John, people asked John the Baptist if he was the prophet foretold in Deuteronomy 18, and John said no (1:21; cf. v. 25). Later, in light of Jesus’ miracles, some said, “This is truly the Prophet who is to come into the world” (6:14; cf. 7:40). Repeatedly, Jesus indicated He spoke the words the Father gave Him and that He was God’s Prophet-Spokesman, declaring God’s Word to Israel.
Hebrews 1:1–2 says, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son,” referring to the Lord Jesus and indicating He is the ultimate Prophet of God to Israel and the world.
Psalm 2. Foretells how all the Gentile powers at the end of the future Tribulation (Time of Jacob’s Trouble, Jer. 30:7) will rebel against God and His Messiah to prevent God from setting up His Messianic Kingdom-rule. But God laughs at their puny opposition and grants His Son permis-sion to pulverize the rebels. He then sets up the Messiah in Jerusalem as King over all the earth. In Revelation 19 Jesus emerges from heaven at His glorious Second Coming to wage war. Pitted against Him are the Antichrist, the false prophet, and all the rulers and armies of the world. They are assembled to fight the Lord Jesus, God’s Messiah, when He comes out of heaven. Revelation teaches that Jesus will destroy these godless forces, in fulfillment of Psalm 2.
Psalm 2:7: I will declare the decree: The Lᴏʀᴅ has said to Me, “You are My Son, today I have begotten You.”
Foretells the day God would resurrect the Messiah from death, saying, “You are My Son, today I have begotten You.” Paul quoted this verse in Acts 13:33 and said it refers to God resurrecting Jesus. In Acts 2:24, Peter said God raised up Jesus, “having loosed the pains of death.” The word pains is literally “birth pangs,” meaning God gave birth to Jesus’ body via resurrection from the dead—removing Him from death’s womb. In Romans 1:3–4, Paul said Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.” When God raised Jesus, He was declaring to the world, “I don’t care if He died by crucifixion. He is My Son,” in fulfillment of Psalm 2:7.
Psalm 16:10: For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption.
God said He would not allow His Holy One to decompose. Peter quoted this Scripture in Acts 2, indicating God foretold He would raise Jesus’ body from the dead before it would begin to decay.
Psalm 22:1–18. Foretells Messiah’s suffering on the cross and the distribution of His garments. It begins, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” On the cross, Jesus endured tremendous agony and suffering, described graphically here more than 1,000 years ahead of time. The New Testament tells us the soldiers divided His garments among themselves and cast lots to see who would get His seamless cloak (Jn. 19:23). Psalm 22:18 says such a thing would happen when the true Messiah would be crucified.
Psalm 72:7–11, 17. Foretells Messiah’s rule as King over Earth and proclaims (1) the submission of earthly kings and nations to Him,(2) the enduring nature of His name, (3) the blessing His subjects will experience when He rules, and (4) His subjects’ gratitude to Him. Revelation 19:16 shows this prophecy is fulfilled through Jesus. Also, Revelation 21:24–26 indicates that in the future eternal state, earthly kings will exist under Jesus’ rule as He reigns over the new, eternal Earth. They will bring their nations’ products to Him at the New Jerusalem in worship. It also indicates how greatly people will be blessed while He rules.
Isaiah 7:14: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.
Foretells Messiah’s virgin birth. Matthew 1:18–25 records the angel Gabriel explaining Mary’s pregnancy to Joseph. Matthew said Jesus would be born of the virgin Mary, in specific fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14. Luke 1:26–35 records Gabriel telling Mary she would bear the One who would be called God’s Son, or the Messiah, even though she was a virgin.
Isaiah 9:6–7. This portion begins, “For unto us a Child is born.” Deity is not born. Deity is eternal. Humanity is born. So the Messiah would be human, coming into the world via a human birth. It continues: “Unto us a Son is given.” Whose Son is given? God’s Son. John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son.” Galatians 4:4 declares, “When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman.”
Calling Jesus God’s Son implies He has the same nature as God the Father: full deity. Isaiah 9 says Messiah would be a God-Man. He would be eternal deity incarnated in human flesh through a human birth. Isaiah 9:6 calls Him names that would be true of the Messiah: “Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” It speaks of His governmental rule on David’s throne when He will rule Earth on God’s behalf, again indicating His direct descent from David.
Isaiah 11:1–5. Foretells Messiah’s line of descent and governmental rule, using four major prophecies.
- Messiah will be a biological descendant of Jesse, David’s father (v. 1). Luke 3 traces Jesus’ biological genealogy to David and Jesse. Acts 13 reiterates Jesus’ descent from David’s father.
- Messiah will rule in the power of the Holy Spirit (Isa. 11:2–3). When Jesus emerged from the waters of baptism, the Holy Spirit descended on Him as a dove coming out of heaven (Mt. 3:16). John’s Gospel indicates Jesus ministered on Earth in the power of the Holy Spirit.
- Messiah’s governmental rule will be characterized by intense judgment (Isa. 11:4). The man of sin, the Antichrist, will be severely judged (2 Th. 2:8). Revelation 19:20 says when Jesus returns, He will cast the Antichrist into the eternal Lake of Fire where he will be tormented day and night forever. Jesus also will judge and destroy the wicked.
- During Messiah’s rule, all animals will be tame and herbivorous (Isa. 11:6–9). In Genesis 1, the animals ate plants and vegetables before the curse of man’s sin came on them. When the Messiah rules, animals will again be completely tame and vegetarian in diet. It is interesting that when Jesus prepared to make His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, He told the apostles to obtain a donkey that was wild in nature and had never been sat on. And He rode it with no problem from east of the Mount of Olives, up over the Mount of Olives, down through the Kidron Valley, up the other side, and into Jerusalem. He instantaneously changed the animal’s nature, demonstrating His power to tame all animals when He rules the world.
Isaiah 11:10–12. When Messiah returns to rule, the Gentiles will seek Him; and Jewish people who have been scattered the world over will be gathered to their homeland. Romans 15:12 says the Gentiles will seek after the Lord Jesus, the true Savior. In Matthew 24:30–31, Jesus said that, when He comes out of heaven in great glory after the Tribulation, “He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other” (v. 31). Elect refers to the Jewish people still scattered among the nations at His Second Coming. Several times the Old Testament calls the people of Israel “God’s elect,” or His “Chosen.”
Notice, Jesus said, they will be regathered with the sound of a great trumpet. In Isaiah 27:12–13 God foretold that when Messiah comes to reign, Jews will be gathered one by one from nations with the blowing of a great trumpet. Every part of Jesus’ statement in Matthew 24:31 comes from Old Testament passages that speak of God scattering the Jewish people in all four directions because of their rebellion. But in the future, He will regather them to their homeland from all four directions with the blowing of a great trumpet.
Isaiah 52:14: Just as many were astonished at you, so His visage was marred more than any man, and His form more than the sons of men.
Foretells Messiah’s abusive disfigurement. His face was to become so disfigured that He would no longer look human. Matthew 27:26 says Pilate had Jesus “scourged,” or whipped severely. Verses 27–30 teach that the soldiers spit on Him and pounded His head and face. Even the men in the Sanhedrin spit on Him and struck Him in His face (26:67).
Isaiah 53. Foretells Messiah’s rejection and substitutionary death for mankind’s sins. Here are some of its important points.
- Most Jewish people would not believe Messiah was on Earth, despite His powerful miracles: “Who has believed our report?” (v. 1). What report? That the true Messiah who can set up the future Kingdom of God is here.
- “And to whom has the arm of the Lᴏʀᴅ been revealed?” (v. 1) The “arm of the Lᴏʀᴅ” refers to God’s tremendous power, displayed through Jesus’ miracles. Each was a sample of miraculous changes He will bring to nature when He sets up God’s future Kingdom; thus each substantiated His claim to be the true Messiah. John 12:37 says, though He performed many “signs” (meaning “powerful miracles”), most people still did not believe. These miracles were intended to reveal His identity. Hebrews 6:5 says those who witnessed Jesus’ miracles with their own eyes sampled the powers of the “age to come,” meaning the Messianic age when Messiah will rule the world.
- People would not desire or esteem the Messiah (Isa. 53:2–3). John 1:11 says, “He came to His own [His own creation], and His own [His own people] did not receive Him.”
- Despite all Messiah would do for people, they would still consider His death to be God’s judgment on Him (Isa. 53:4). When Jesus was on the cross, even Israel’s religious leaders mocked and ridiculed Him. To paraphrase Matthew 27:21–43, “You claim to be the Son of God. If God believes that, let Him intervene and deliver You from this crucifixion. If You stay on that cross, it’s all the evidence we need to prove You’re not the Son of God. So if You’re the Son of God, You’d better come down here before You die by crucifixion.” They strongly believed that if God ever had a son, He would not allow Him to die on a tree because Deuteronomy 21:23 says anyone hanged on a tree is cursed. So they mocked Him despite the overwhelming evidence of His messiahship and clung to the opinion that God was punishing Him for making false claims about Himself.
- His death would be a substitutionary payment for mankind’s sins (Isa. 53:5). The New Testament stresses this point. A good verse is Romans 4:25: He “was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification.”
- Because all people go astray, God would lay their iniquity on the Messiah: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, everyone, to his own way; and the Lᴏʀᴅ has laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:6). Again, many New Testament references corroborate this verse. One is, “For He [God] made Him [Jesus] who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Cor. 5:21).
- Messiah would remain silent when falsely accused (Isa. 53:7). When on trial before the Sanhedrin and also before Pilate, Jesus did not defend Himself. His accusers were amazed at His silence.
- Scripture foretells that the Messiah would be buried with the rich, atypical of the circumstances (v. 9). Because He died with wicked men (Jesus was crucified between two thieves), He normally would have been buried with them. However, Joseph of Arimathea, a rich man, retrieved His body and laid it in his own new tomb.
- Because it would accomplish God’s purpose to sacrifice the Messiah as an offering for sin, God would resurrect Him; and Messiah would see the prosperous result of His substitutionary death, namely, the salvation of many (vv. 10–11). God also would prolong His days forever. Many New Testament references corroborate this text.
- Because of what Messiah would accomplish, God will exalt and glorify Him. Philippians 2 says that, even though Jesus died like a slave, “God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (vv. 9–11).
In other words, everyone will one day profess that Jesus is exactly who He claimed to be.