Sermon title:

Prophecy Fulfilled—Did You Miss It?

Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, June 14, 2020

 

 

Are we missing something?

 

Could there be something worthy of news headlines

that the media are not putting in the headlines?

 

Could significant Bible prophecies

be undergoing fulfillment right now

with hardly anyone noticing?

 

Could there be something prophetic

behind today’s coronavirus pandemic,

people turning away from God and the Bible,

civil unrest,  locust plagues,  

wildfires and other natural disasters?

 

From beginning to end,

the Holy Bible is filled with prophecy—

foretelling future events

hundreds or thousands of years

before they happen.

 

That’s because God knows the future.

 

At Isaiah 46:10 he says,

 

I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come.

But, when those prophecies come true,

people often miss the point

that God foretold these things.

 

That was the case with the Old Testament prophecies

that were fulfilled by our Lord Jesus.

 

Even the religious leaders of the day,

who knew the Old Testament inside and out,

missed seeing how Jesus fulfilled those prophecies

that identified him as the promised Messiah.

 

The religious leaders were blinded

by their love of the status quo,

which they didn’t want to see changed

by the coming of the Messiah.

 

They were happy in their positions of wealth,

power and prestige.

 

And they knew that the coming of long-promised Messiah

would change all of that.

They were also blinded by their own

mistaken theological interpretations of Scripture.

 

Even though Jesus fit the Scriptures,

he didn’t fit their interpretation of the Scriptures,

so they missed the fact that he fulfilled prophecy.

 

Could something like that be true today, as well?

 

Could today’s religious leaders be missing prophecies

that are being fulfilled right before our eyes today?

 

The New Testament tells us about the events

that will take place immediately before

the return of Christ.

 

Could our religious leaders be missing

the fulfillment of those prophecies in the news today,

because they love the status quo

and because the things happening

to fulfill Scripture

don’t fit their interpretation of Scripture?

--------------------------------

 

Let’s look first at a couple of prophecies about Jesus

that the religious leaders of his day missed.

 

Jesus fulfilled a great many prophecies:

 

That he would be born in Bethlehem.

That he would be born of a virgin.

That he would preach in Galilee.

That he would ride into Jerusalem on the colt of a donkey.

That his hands and feet would be pierced.

That they would cast lots for his clothing.

That he would die for the sins of mankind.

That he would be buried in a rich man’s tomb.

That he would rise from the dead the third day.

 

And there were many other prophecies,

all recorded in the Old Testament

hundreds of years before Christ

and all fulfilled by Jesus hundreds of years later.

 

The religious leaders of his day

were experts in the Old Testament,

but they missed seeing

that Jesus fulfilled all these prophecies.

 

First of all,

they didn’t WANT to see Jesus as the Messiah.

 

And, secondly, their interpretations of Scripture

led them to expect a conquering warrior,

rather than a quiet street-preacher

with a band of fishermen as his followers.

------------------------------------

 

Our chronological coverage of the Gospels

over the past many months

brings us now to two more prophecies

that relate to Christ being betrayed

by Judas Iscariot.

 

Written a thousand years earlier, Psalm 41:9 says,

Even my close friend,

    someone I trusted,

one who shared my bread,

    has turned against me.

 

King David wrote that

around a thousand years before Christ.

 

And the religious scholars of the Jews

viewed it as describing events

in King David’s own life—not as prophetic

of the coming Messiah.

 

But, like certain other Psalms King David wrote,

it was indeed prophetic of Christ.

 

How do we know that?

 

Well, the Jewish religious scholars didn’t apply that verse

to the coming Messiah,

but our Lord Jesus did.

 

When Christ spoke of his betrayer at John 13:18,

he said,

“this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: 'He who shared my bread has turned against me.'”

Judas Iscariot, who ended up betraying our Lord,

must have eaten meals with him often

over the 3 years, or so, that he served as a disciple.

 

And then, finally, at the Last Supper,

Jesus handed a piece of bread to Judas,

just before Judas left the table.

 

Prior to that, no one recognized that passage

as prophetic of the betrayal of the Messiah,

but Jesus pointed out that it was.

-----------------------------------------------

 

And then there is a puzzling passage

in the 11th Chapter of the prophet Zechariah,

beginning with Verse 12, which says,

 

12 I told them, “If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.” So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.

 

13 And the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the handsome price at which they valued me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter at the house of the Lord.

 

It is well-known that Judas Iscariot

betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.

 

But it isn’t widely known that Zechariah prophesied this

hundreds of years earlier,

and also prophesied what would happen next

to those 30 pieces of silver.

 

But, if we look at Matthew Chapter 27,

we read the following,

 

3When Judas, who had betrayed him, saw that Jesus was condemned, he was seized with remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders. 4“I have sinned,” he said, “for I have betrayed innocent blood.”

“What is that to us?” they replied. “That’s your responsibility.”

5So Judas threw the money into the temple and left. Then he went away and hanged himself.

6The chief priests picked up the coins and said, “It is against the law to put this into the treasury, since it is blood money.” 7So they decided to use the money to buy the potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners. 8That is why it has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “They took the thirty pieces of silver, the price set on him by the people of Israel, 10and they used them to buy the potter’s field, as the Lord commanded me.”  

---------------------------------------------------

 

Some people are confused or put off by the fact that

Matthew says it was “Jeremiah” who prophesied this,

when we actually find the prophecy

in the book of Zechariah.

 

Some people point that out, and say, “The Bible is wrong.

The Bible contradicts itself.”

 

But the likely explanation is found

in the way the Hebrew Bible was structured.

 

It was divided into 3 sections:

the Law, the Prophets and the Psalms (or writings).

 

And the section of the Prophets began with Jeremiah.

 

People referred to that section

by the name of its first book, Jeremiah.

 

And Zechariah was included in that section.

So, Matthew was simply referencing the prophecy

by the section of the scrolls where it was found.

 

There was no contradiction here.

----------------------------------------------------

 

But the astounding thing

is that the religious leaders of Jesus’ day

failed to notice

that they were fulfilling this prophecy.

 

They failed to notice that Zechariah’s prophecy

about valuing the Lord at 30 pieces of silver

was fulfilled when they paid Judas that price

to betray Jesus.

 

Those religious leaders back then were experts

in the study of the Old Testament,

but they missed the fact

that their actions were fulfilling prophecy.

 

Not just the payment of 30 pieces of silver

for Jesus to be betrayed,

but also what happened to that money

when Judas returned it to them.

 

Zechariah’s prophecy written hundreds of years earlier

spoke of the 30 pieces of silver being

‘thrown to the potter’ at the house of the Lord.

 

And, when they would not allow Judas Iscariot

to hand the money back to them,

he threw it into the house of the Lord,

and they used it to purchase the potter’s field.

 

It was an amazing triple prophecy,

but the expert religious leaders missed all of it.

 

They missed the fact that prophecy was fulfilled

ONCE in valuing the Lord at 30 pieces of silver

fulfilled a SECOND time when Judas

threw the silver coins into the house of the Lord,

and fulfilled a THIRD time, when the money

was given to the potter to buy his field.

The religious leaders of the Jews

didn’t realize they were fulfilling prophecy

in all these things.

 

But the Gospel writer Matthew did realize this.

 

Matthew was inspired by the Holy Spirit

to draw this connection

and point out how those events

fulfilled prophecy.

-----------------------------------------

 

So, what can we learn from this?

 

I believe it shows us

why we today hear so little

about today’s events

fulfilling Bible prophecy.

 

I believe it shows us that,

if the religious experts of that day

could miss such an amazing fulfillment of prophecy

that was taking place

before their very eyes,

the same thing could happen today.

 

The so-called Christian celebrities

that speak on TV

and who are quoted in the media

could be silent

on the fulfillment of prophecy

for similar reasons.

 

Could that be why we almost never hear of

the First and Second World Wars fulfilling prophecy,

even though Jesus spoke of

“wars and rumors of wars”

in connection with his return,

and even though Revelation 6:4 foretold

wars that would ‘take peace

away from the earth’?

 

Revelation 6:4 said that one of the

‘4 horsemen of the Apocalypse’ would have power to

“take away peace from the earth

and to make men slay one another.”

 

Could it be that highly-respected religious authorities

failed to see the World Wars as fulfilling prophecy

for reasons similar

to why the Jewish religious leaders

didn’t recognize Jesus.

 

Could that be why hardly anyone in church leadership

speaks of Hitler’s 3-1/2 year Holocaust

that killed 6 million Jews

as fulfilling prophecy, even though

Daniel 7:25 speaks of a fierce ruler who would

“oppress God's people . . . and God's people will be under his power for three and a half years”

and Jesus indicated at Matthew 24:22

that none of the Jews would survive

if their suffering had not been “cut short.”

 

Could that be why few popular Christian celebrities

speak of Pacific tsunamis

and hurricanes Sandy and Katrina

as fulfilling Bible prophecy,

even though Jesus said at Luke 21:25 that

nations will be in anguish and perplexity at the roaring and tossing of the sea”?

 

Could that be why no one in world church leadership

speaks of the wildfires that swept across

California and Australia in connection with

the prophecy in Revelation 8:7 that says,

“a third of the trees were burned up,

and all the green grass was burned up.”

 

Why is it that we don’t hear popular church leaders

connect the COVID-19 coronavirus crisis

with the Bible’s prophecies?

 

Christ is coming again.

 

And he warned that there would be disasters

in the days leading up to his return in power.

 

At Luke 21:11 he said,

 

“There will be terrible earthquakes, famines, and dreadful diseases in various places.”

 

Even though popular Christian celebrities

are silent on this,

many ordinary people

recognize the significance

of such a world-wide epidemic.

 

A major public opinion poll released last month

found that 2/3 of Americans who believe in God

see the COVID-19 crisis

as a message from God

telling people to change their lives.

 

Ordinary people are saying that.

 

Why aren’t more Christian leaders saying that?

 

It reminds me of the situation in Jesus’ day

when the ordinary people flocked to Christ,

while the religious leaders rejected him.

--------------------------------

 

But wouldn’t the end times events happen all at once?

 

Things like the Holocaust, the restoration of Israel,

the Pacific tsunamis, hurricanes Sandy and Katrina,

wildfires, the locusts and the coronavirus—

these have all been spread out

over a period of several years.

 

It’s difficult for us to put them all together,

to draw one message from them.

 

But God looks at time differently than we do.

 

Jesus indicated that his prophecy

about the Romans destroying Jerusalem

and scattering captive Jews worldwide

would take almost a generation to happen.

 

And it all did happen within that generation

of the people he spoke to.

So, it would seem reasonable

that the things he said would mark

his Second Coming and the end of the world

might also take up a whole generation.

 

In fact, the Apostle Peter wrote at 2 Peter 3:8,

 

8Beloved, do not let this one thing escape your notice: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9The Lord is not slow to fulfill His promise as some understand slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish but everyone to come to repentance.

 

Yes, God is calling people to repentance.

 

And he is allowing plenty of time for that to happen.

 

But, in the meantime, the whole world

is going through some very tough times.

 

Like others, we may tend to be depressed

or discouraged

by all the bad news we keep hearing.

 

But our Lord Jesus reminds us

that certain bad things

actually give us reason to rejoice.

 

At Matthew 5:11, he said,

11 Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me. 12Rejoice and celebrate, because great is your reward in heaven;

 

Yes, even suffering persecution can be a cause

to “rejoice and celebrate”

because of its greater meaning.

 

And, if these troubles

that this world is going through now

are part of the sign

leading up to Jesus’ Second Coming,

then we have reason to be encouraged.

 

At Luke 21:28, Jesus said,

“When these things begin to take place, stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near."

I pray that the troubles going on in this world today,

are an indication that the end is near,

and that Christ will soon come again

in Kingdom power.

 

Amen, come, Lord Jesus!