Jesus fulfilled over 350 prophecies. Some are clear and some are cloaked. What’s the difference? Let’s look!
J. Warner Wallace talks about “clear” and “cloaked” evidence in his book, “Person of Interest.” As a forensic investigator of cold cases, he works with “clear” evidence that “points specifically to a suspect with great clarity–fingerprints or DNA evidence, for example” (pages 50-51).
Some evidence, however, is less clear. “Cloaked” evidence is often confusing–it may not point to the suspect at all. Imagine finding a button at [a] crime scene, lying on the floor a few feet from the victim’s body. Does this belong to the suspect or to the victim? Did it arrive here as a result of the crime, or was it lying in the room before the crime occurred? The button may be useful evidence, or it may be a useless artifact. We won’t know for sure until we meet the suspect.
If one of the suspect’s shirts is missing a button that matches the one at the crime scene, this piece of evidence will become an important part of our case. While “clear” evidence points to the suspect from the onset (before he is contacted), “cloaked” evidence points to the suspect only in hindsight (after he is identified).
The same is true concerning prophecy. We have “clear” prophecy that speaks directly about Jesus and “cloaked” prophecy that is revealed in hindsight. Isaiah 9:6-7 is an example of “clear” prophecy:
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.
Isaiah 53:2-3 (and the entire chapter) is an example of “cloaked” prophecy:
2 He grew up before him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him,
nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.
3 He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.
- The Isaiah 9 passage speaks in future tense while the Isaiah 53 passage speaks in past tense.
- The Isaiah 9 passage speaks of government, God, and David’s throne while the Isaiah 53 passage speaks of the suffering of the Messiah–a message that was, and still is, rejected by Israel’s leaders, thus leading many Israelis astray.
The apostles used the Old Testament Scriptures to confirm their claim that Jesus is the Messiah. Peter said, “Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow” (1 Peter 1:10-11). They used the prophets as their main argument. Those prophets were Moses, Samuel, Daniel, Isaiah, Micah, Hosea, Malachi, Zechariah, David and Jeremiah. They all prophesied about the coming Messiah (see Mission Addiction: Ten Prophets and Prophecies that Point to Jesus). ALL of their prophecies came true in Jesus. In fact, “the gospel writers cited OT prophecy fifty-six times to demonstrate that Jesus was the Messiah, with nearly 300 more they could have used.
Tomorrow, we will look at Daniel’s prophecies and how Jesus fulfilled every one of them.
Abba, each time I read the prophecies about Jesus, I am amazed at Your great love that You showed by telling us beforehand what was going to take place. I just wish more people would believe You! May Your Spirit move across our land and this globe and ignite a spark and fan into flame Your Church, O God. May Your kingdom come and Your will be done even as it is in heaven. Amen.