How do you present the Gospel to someone who places Christianity as one of many religious options?  Such a person might be an agnostic, a secular humanist, a Jewish friend, or a person practicing any number of religious beliefs.  We see our faith very differently from the way others see it.  From their point of view, Christianity is one of many options.  Most folks don’t oppose you practicing your Christian faith.  They may in fact celebrate various aspects of your devotion to Christ.  However, people in our tolerant society can become quite upset when we say that Christianity is Truth, and when we proclaim the Biblical teaching that everyone must believe in Christ in order to have a relationship with God.  In their minds, lots of people have a relationship with God.

So, the battle is really a battle for Truth.  If the Christian faith is not built upon Truth, then as the Apostle Paul says, “we are of all men most miserable” (1 Corinthians 15:19).

Here is the good news.  We don’t have to simply believe or hope that we are following the Truth.  While it is true that a person must believe the gospel “by faith,” it is also true that the evidence for the facts presented in the Gospel and throughout the Bible are substantially verifiable.  The Bible is a book unlike any other book.  It is far more than a repository of moral teachings.  The Bible is filled with historical information about people, places and events – information that has been consistently verified through archeology, linguistics, and other sciences.

One of the most important confidence builders in the accuracy of the Bible is the abundant examples of predictive prophecy.  Today, I would like to examine just a few of the Old Testament prophecies.  This brief overview will demonstrate the following:
The truthfulness of Christianity is made unbreakable because of the Old Testament.

#1.  Old Testament Prophecy Proves that the Bible is Supernatural (These examples are more thoroughly explained by Erwin Lutzer, Seven Reasons Why You Can Trust the Bible, 92 ff.)
The Prediction about Cyrus, King of Persia. Cyrus ruled from 559-530 BC.  Cyrus released the Jews from Babylon in 538 BC, in the first year of his reign.  Ezra records this release.  “In the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word of the Lord spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord moved the heart of Cyrus king of Persia to make a proclamation throughout his realm and to put it in writing:” (Ezra 1:1, NIV84)

But notice this prediction, given over 100 years earlier by Isaiah.  ““This is what the Lord says— your Redeemer, who formed you in the womb: I am the Lord, who has made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens, who spread out the earth by myself, who foils the signs of false prophets and makes fools of diviners, who overthrows the learning of the wise and turns it into nonsense, who carries out the words of his servants and fulfills the predictions of his messengers, who says of Jerusalem, ‘It shall be inhabited,’ of the towns of Judah, ‘They shall be built,’ and of their ruins, ‘I will restore them,’ who says to the watery deep, ‘Be dry, and I will dry up your streams,’ who says of Cyrus, ‘He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please; he will say of Jerusalem, “Let it be rebuilt,” and of the temple, “Let its foundations be laid.” ’” (Isaiah 44:24–28, NIV84)

Many have objected to this prophecy by claiming that the book of Isaiah was written after Cyrus was king, and that the author named him to make it appear that Isaiah had the ability to predict the future.  This approach of dating the writing of Scripture to a later period is the centerpiece of liberal theology.  For over 400 years, unbelieving liberal scholars have battled with Christian theologians over the date of writing of various books.  Isaiah has been a particularly heated battle ground, After reading this prophecy concerning Cyrus you now know why. While various attempts have been made to date Isaiah later, there is no evidence to indicate that anyone other than the biblical prophet Isaiah wrote this portion of the book.  The only motivation to date it later is because it contains a prediction that came true exactly as it was given.

A Second prophecy is the prediction about the destruction of Tyre.
“therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am against you, O Tyre, and I will bring many nations against you, like the sea casting up its waves. They will destroy the walls of Tyre and pull down her towers; I will scrape away her rubble and make her a bare rock. Out in the sea she will become a place to spread fishnets, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord. She will become plunder for the nations, and her settlements on the mainland will be ravaged by the sword. Then they will know that I am the Lord.” (Ezekiel 26:3–6, NIV84)
Specifically mentions Nebbuchadnezzar as the one who would destroy Tyre (v. 7).  More specifics are provided in in Eze 26:12-14
Nebbuchadnezzar destroyed the coastal city around 600 BC.  However, the people of the city escaped by boat to an island ½ mile off the coast.  There they built massive fortifications and survived until the time of Alexander the Great.  In 333 BC he  conquered Tyre.  He couldn’t overcome the great walls of the city by sea.  He built a causeway from the ruins of the coastal city destroyed by Nebbuchadnezzar, 300 years earlier.  The very words of the prophesy were fulfilled, “They will plunder your wealth and loot your merchandise; they will break down your walls and demolish your fine houses and throw your stones, timber and rubble into the sea.” (Ezekiel 26:12, NIV84)

While it might serve the liberal scholar’s interest to date Ezekiel’s prophecy to a later author, you cannot date any portion of the Old Testament much later than 300 BC.  We know from archeology and the discovery of manuscripts containing the Greek Septuagint and the copies of the Dead Sea Scrolls that the Old Testament was well established by 300 BC.  Even is someone other than Ezekiel wrote chapter 26, there is still predictive prophecy contained here because Ezekiel 26 states that a series of kingdoms would destroy Tyre, and that the final destruction would involve casting the stones of the ancient coastal city into the sea, exactly what Alexander did in 333 BC!

A Third example is the prophecies of Daniel in Daniel 2, 7, 8, 9, 11.
These chapters Four great world powers (Babylon, Medo/Persia, Greece, Rome).  The prophecies tell that Israel would eventually be restored to their Land and rebuild their Temple.  This is exactly how world events occurred in the time after Daniel!
Lutzer writes, “It has been estimated that there are 135 prophecies in Daniel 11:1-35, all of which were literally fulfilled” (Lutzer, 101)

Notice with me three elements that make OT prophecy such a strong evidence for the uniqueness and reliability of the Bible.
FIRST, The Uniqueness of OT Prophecy
It is Accurate
The OT provides specifics, not generalities.
Compare Nostradamus.  He was a soothsayer in the 1500’s in France.  He depended on astrology, occult and history.  His writings are frequently referred to as “prophetic.”  However notice how these examples differ greatly from the predictive prophecy in the Bible:
Some say Nostradamus predicted the rise of Hitler.  You be the judge
“In the year that is to come soon, and not far from Venus, the two greatest ones of Asia dn Africa, Shall be said to come from the Rhine and Ister.  Crying and tears shall be at Malta and on the Italian shore.  (As quoted by Lutzer, 88)
Supposedly, “Hitler” is Ister.
But in the context of his own prophecy, Ister is a river!
This prophecy is vague.  It could be made to apply to any number of historic events.

Supposedly, Nostradamus also predicted the death of Hitler.. “He who by iron shall destroy his father, born in Nonnaire Shall in the end carry the blood of the gorgon Shall in a strange country make all so silent, that he shall butn himself, and his double talk” (Quoted by Lutzer, 89)
Like the first example, this is general and mystical that it could mean anything.

Secondly, Tbe Bible is Attested
The Old Testament has been accurately preserved
Multiple sources of verification include the Hebrew Text, theGreek Text (LXX 200- 100 BC), and the Dead Sea Scrolls (100 BC – 70 AD).

Finally, the Old Testament is Ancient
Non-believers constantly promote theories to date the OT LATER, thus avoiding the confrontation with the Truth of Divine Prophecy.
But their theories are constantly proved false.

Notice these Prophecies about JESUS
The Lineage of Jesus.
Through the seed of the woman (virgin birth).  Genesis 3:15
Through Abraham’s seed (Genesis 12:1-3)
Through Isaac, not Ishmael (Genesis 17:19)
Through Jacob, not Esau (Genesis 27:26-29)
Through Judah, not Levi “The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.” (Genesis 49:10, NIV84)
Through David. “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.” (Isaiah 11:1, NIV84)

These prophecies were FULFILLED.
Matthew 1:7 from JESSE.
Luke 3:23-38

The Birth of Jesus
He would be born in BETHLEHEM.  “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” (Micah 5:2, NIV84)
He would be born in the SHEPHERD’S TOWER.   “As for you, O watchtower of the flock, O stronghold of the Daughter of Zion, the former dominion will be restored to you; kingship will come to the Daughter of Jerusalem.”” (Micah 4:8, NIV84)
These prophecies were FULFILLED.  “So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.” (Luke 2:4, NIV84)

The Life of Jesus
He would be Preceded by a forerunner.  ““See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty.” (Malachi 3:1, NIV84)
He would be a Priest like Melchizedek.  “I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind. I will firmly establish his house, and he will minister before my anointed one always.” (1 Samuel 2:35, NIV84).  “The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”” (Psalm 110:4, NIV84)
He would restore sight to the Blind, healing for the lame.  “Then will the eyes of the blind be opened and the ears of the deaf unstopped. Then will the lame leap like a deer, and the mute tongue shout for joy. Water will gush forth in the wilderness and streams in the desert.” (Isaiah 35:5–6, NIV84)
He would lead a Triumphant Entrance. “Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.” (Zechariah 9:9, NIV84)
The Death of Jesus
He would be Betrayed by a friend.  “Even my close friend, whom I trusted, he who shared my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” (Psalm 41:9, NIV84)

He would be Brutally beaten.  The Jewish people were not expecting their Messiah to suffer.  All the more reason to believe the authenticity of his death.    “Just as there were many who were appalled at him— his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness—” (Isaiah 52:14, NIV84)

His Garments would be divided.  “They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” (Psalm 22:18, NIV84)
No Bones would be broken.  “he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.” (Psalm 34:20, NIV84)
Many other details in Psalm 22, Isaiah 53 and other passages.

The Resurrection of Jesus.
Promise that the Messiah would “declare God’s Name.”  “I will declare your name to my brothers; in the congregation I will praise you.” (Psalm 22:22, NIV84)
Would not decay.  “because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.” (Psalm 16:10, NIV84)
Quoted by Peter.  Acts 2:25-31
Quoted by Paul.  Acts 13:34-37

A Convincing proof – the identity of the witnesses.
The gospels were written in the First Century.  Manuscript evidence dating to about 90 AD.
The gospel writers were NOT trained authorities in the Jewish Law, who would have the ability to manipulate the events to fit the prophecies
The Jewish leaders were NOT EXPECTING this kind of Messiah
The Jewish leaders were actively opposed to Jesus and his followers
JESUS was opposed to the Jewish leaders!
MATTHEW- Tax collector
MARK – protege of Peter, and washout from Paul’s 1st Missionary Journey
LUKE – A Gentile Doctor
JOHN – Galilee Fisherman
None of them were experts in the Jewish Law

APPLICATION
Do you have enough COURAGE to seek the TRUTH?
The Old Testament prophecies provide proof that someone other than a human wrote the Bible.  Search for the truth.  Don’t be afraid.  The Truth will set you free!
“Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”” (John 8:32, NIV84)