Inspiration of the Bible: Prophecy
Inspired Prediction is Proof of Bible Inspiration
Why would anyone believe that the Bible is the Word of God, having been transmitted through men who were supernaturally guided by God? Because the evidence so indicates. One of the proofs of Bible inspiration is predictive prophecy. Men committed to writing detailed predictions that pertained to events several hundred years into the future. One such example is the prophecy recalled by the writer of the book of Hebrews in which he quotes from Psalm 40. He places the words in the mouth of Jesus, applying the prediction to Jesus’ incarnation and sacrifice on the cross. His citation is taken from the Septuagint version rather than the original Hebrew:
Therefore, when He came into the world, He said: Sacrifice and offering You did not desire, but a body You have prepared for Me. In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure. Then I said, “Behold, I have come—in the volume of the book it is written of Me—to do Your will, O God” (Hebrews 10:5-7, emp. added).
The Bible teaches that Deity came to the Earth in human flesh in order to offer Himself as an atonement for the sins of the human race (Galatians 2:20; 1 Timothy 2:6; Titus 2:14; et al.). The book of Hebrews was written in the first century A.D. But the Psalms were written several hundred years before that, with Psalm 40, written presumably by David, a thousand years earlier. That means that a thousand years separates the prediction from the fulfillment. Even the most liberal treatment of the Psalms places their composition prior to the first century A.D. The Greek Bible is generally believed to have been completed in the third century B.C., which means the Psalms had to have been completed prior to that time.
But how detailed was this prediction? Did it contain vague generalities and ambiguous phrases that can be bent to refer to just about anything? By no means. Among the details of the prediction, observe that the passage represents God (the Father) as being responsible for preparing/providing a body for Jesus (the Son) to inhabit. This body would replace the animal sacrifices and offerings contained in the Old Testament economy for dealing with sin. Such predictions are hardly vague or ambiguous. In fact, they are extremely specific and complex.
One of the great marvels of the Christian religion is the virgin conception in which Mary was impregnated by the Holy Spirit, enabling her to conceive a child (Matthew 1:18-25). That child was Jesus Christ who vacated the heavenly realm temporarily to fulfill the magnificent, incomprehensible purpose of sacrificing Himself for lost humanity (Philippians 2:6-8). A physical, fleshly body was necessary to accomplish this purpose. Hence, the need to be “born of a woman” (Galatians 4:4; cf. Genesis 3:15) by which Deity could inhabit a human body. Observe that the physical body was genetically derived from David via his descendent Mary (Luke 3:23,31; Romans 1:3)—in fulfillment of another predictive prophecy (1 Samuel 7:12). But Jesus Himself is not to be confused with His physical body. Jesus Himself preceded the preparation and formation of the physical body that He inhabited in first century Palestine. Jesus Himself has always existed since He is Deity and eternal (Colossians 1:16; 2:9). Jesus Himself participated in the creation of the Universe (John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:17).
How in the world could any mere human have predicted, hundreds of years in advance, that a person would be born who, unlike all other humans ever born, was in fact God inhabiting a physical body? No mere human could have predicted such an event. Hence, the Bible bears the attributes of a supernatural origin.