As has been shown in earlier entries on this site, prophecy provides proof that 1) the prophet of old prophesied truth, and thus 2) spoke of the future in a way that no man, apart from the power of an all knowing being, could. Therefore, we can deduce that if the prophets of old were confirmed by what they spoke, there must be a Higher power providing these men with the ability to foreknow. In II Peter 1:19-21 Peter explains this to us by saying,
And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.
Recently a gentleman asked, with regard to prophecies of Christ, “Could it not have been that Christ was able to stage a fulfillment of these prophecies, having a great knowledge of the Old Testament prophets?” Certainly Christ knew the law and the prophets more than any other man. However, many prophecies were fulfilled though Christ had no control over fulfillment. Those who did possess control, if they had known what they were doing, would have done everything in their power to prevent fulfillment.
Consider what the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 41:7-10,
All who hate me whisper together against me; against me they devise my hurt. ‘An evil disease,’ they say, ‘clings to him, and now that he lies down, he will rise up no more.’ Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me. But You, O Lord, be merciful to me, and raise me up, that I may repay them.
We find this very event take place leading up to the crucifixion. John records for us, in John 13:26, Jesus explaining to His disciples that it would be, “he to whom I shall give a piece of bread when I have dipped it”, who would betray Jesus. Jesus then handed the piece of bread to Judas. Later we find Judas bringing a large group (John 18:3) to help identify Jesus and abet his arrest. Consider who Judas was. He had been called, just like John, Peter, James, and the rest of the twelve. From the very beginning he had been with Jesus. Certainly he had witnessed the power of Jesus. He saw Jesus had power over nature and over human disease and death. Yet this familiar friend, whom Jesus had trusted with the money box (John 12:6), and who had witnessed the humility of Jesus as he washed his feet, willingly betrayed Jesus for money. It is no wonder that his name is synonymous with such words as “traitor,” and “betrayer.”
When Judas kissed Jesus, or even earlier, when Jesus gave Judas the piece of bread, there is no indication that Judas remembered the words of the psalmist. Judas was not interested in the fulfillment in scripture. All he cared about was money. Yet God was able, in His foreknowledge, to utilize the actions of Judas to fulfill His will.
Consider also Psalm 22:16:18,
For dogs have surrounded Me; the congregation of the wicked has enclosed Me. They pierced My hands and My feet; I count all My bones. They look and stare at Me. They divide My garments among them, and for My clothing they cast lots.
We read in the first verse of the same chapter, “My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me,” which is the same phrase Christ uses as He is hanging on the cross (Matthew 27:46), indicating to us that Psalm 22 is a prophecy related to Christ. Indeed, the very things recorded by the psalmist take place. Consider Matthew 27:35, “Then they crucified Him…” Just as the psalmist wrote that they would pierce His hands and His feet, so they did by crucifying Him. These soldiers and the people who had shouted “Crucify Him!” certainly had no intention of fulfilling prophetic words written nearly 1000 years before.
Continuing on in Matthew 27:35,
…and divided His garments, casting lots, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet: ‘They divided My garments among them, and for my clothing they cast lots.’
Here is quite a small matter really. How they divided garments was not nearly so important as Christ being crucified. He had a garment, they shamed Him by removing it, and now they were going to mock Him by assuming possession of it. To these men, the division may have just been an afterthought. Yet, even this very small detail, how the garments would be divided, was foretold many years before, proving to us that God is truth. His words will come to pass in the appointed time.
There are many other examples where men despised God and desired to obstruct Christ’s fulfillment of God’s will, but eventually, by their own hard-hearted actions, fulfilled prophecies concerning Christ.
In these men’s actions we find two very important truths about God. God foreknows the hearts of man, and is able to use their freewill choices to further His righteous plan. Thus we find these men casting lots for the garments of Christ, and proving to us that God divinely spoke truth through the psalmist. Therefore, we also learn that the words of God are true, and that what He says will take place. God, speaking through the psalmist, told us that a familiar friend would betray Jesus, and we find Judas fulfilling these words and proving their veracity.
Knowing this Peter writes in II Peter 3:9-12,
The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with a fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up. Therefore, since all these things will be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness, looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?
God has proved true in the past. Are we willing to bargain against the veracity of this promise? We would do wisely to head the words of Peter and consider, “what manner of persons ought [we] to be in holy conduct and godliness.”
What say you?