"And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me."
Fulfilled Prophecy = scriptural prophecy that is (was) fulfilled [finished, come to pass]
Before considering the historical arguments used by the advocates of eschatology to prove any fulfillment of scriptural prophecy, Bible readers should observe that Christ is the center of biblical history and of prophecy. Moreover, "the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (Revelation 19:10); so, "fulfilled prophecy" must also be judged according to the words of Jesus Christ, the life [spirit] of prophecy.
Furthermore, "fulfilled prophecy" must be interpreted in harmony with the whole prophetic design of God; likewise, every prophecy must be a part of the entire revelation of the Scriptures.
JESUS CHRIST IN FULFILLED PROPHECY
Let us now view some prophecies concerning Jesus Christ and their fulfillment:
The Ruler of Israel and his birthplace Bethlehem
"But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting."
"Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him. When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel."
The Great Light and his ministry in Galilee
"Nevertheless the dimness shall not be such as was in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict her by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations. The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined."
"Now when Jesus had heard that John was cast into prison, he departed into Galilee; And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up."
The Prophet and his coming into the world
"The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;"
"Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world."
"Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph."
A Man of Sorrows rejected by Jews during his generation
"He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not."
"He came unto his own, and his own received him not."
"But first must he suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation."
The King of the Jews and his crucifixion with sinners
"Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."
"And they bring him unto the place Golgotha, which is, being interpreted, The place of a skull. And they gave him to drink wine mingled with myrrh: but he received it not. And when they had crucified him, they parted his garments, casting lots upon them, what every man should take. And it was the third hour, and they crucified him. And the superscription of his accusation was written over, THE KING OF THE JEWS. And with him they crucify two thieves; the one on his right hand, and the other on his left. And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors."
The Lamb of God who died for sinners before his entombment with the rich
"He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth."
"The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world."
"When the even was come, there came a rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, who also himself was Jesus' disciple: He went to Pilate, and begged the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be delivered. And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock: and he rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed."
The Holy One and his resurrection
"For thou wilt not leave my soul in hell; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption."
"And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay. And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you. And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word. And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him."
The Author of Eternal Salvation and his ascension
"Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the Lord God might dwell among them. Blessed be the Lord, who daily loadeth us with benefits, even the God of our salvation. Selah."
"And he led them out as far as to Bethany, and he lifted up his hands, and blessed them. And it came to pass, while he blessed them, he was parted from them, and carried up into heaven."
"And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight."
"For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him."
(1 Thessalonians 5:9-10)
"Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;"
Fulfilled Prophecy and other Biblical Characters
While we are on this subject of "fulfilled prophecy," we should note also that we have now with us the complete "Holy Scriptures" [Old Testament and New Testament]. All God-breathed Scriptures are profitable for us today (2 Timothy 3:16-17); however, the "Holy Scriptures" were not written to us. The writers of the Old and New Testaments were directly giving their message to their own hearers in their own generations. The "Holy Scriptures" informs us as to what God communicated to certain individuals and groups within their own situation in time. With this in mind, let us learn what exactly occurred and what individuals were commanded to believe or do in their biblical periods.
Prophecy and Israel
We are not the original audience of the prophets who spoke in God's name and by his authority (Exodus 7:1). We are not born of Jewish blood, the ethnic and physical Israel, or physical descendants of Abraham; therefore, we have to make sure that we understand the written Word and not misinterpret the promises and prophecies that were originally addressed to God's chosen people in the Old Covenant period (Deuteronomy 7:6-8).
Recall that the nation of Israel received the Messianic promises, prophecies, and covenants. It was to the nation Israel that God originally revealed Himself.
"Hear this word that the Lord hath spoken against you, O children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying, You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities."
Romans 9 actually gave this as proof that there were physical Israelites [Jews according to the flesh]:
"For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen."
So, let us recognize that "the children of the flesh" [physical Israelites] were chosen first before they rejected Christ, before they became "vessels of wrath fitted to destruction" (Romans 9:22). Remember also that God showed mercy upon the Israel nation and saved a "remnant" (Romans 9:27) before He brought utter destruction upon them in AD70. Israel was cursed and lost its privilege. The kingdom of God was taken from them [Jews] (Matthew 21:43) and salvation was sent unto the Gentiles, "the vessels of mercy" (Acts 11:18, 14:27, 28:28; Romans 9:23-26).
Thus, Romans 9 also will help us realize that the physical Israelites were also rejecting "fulfilled prophecy" because they rejected Christ and His presence in the flesh at that time.
Prophecy and the Remnant
The remnant believers in the last days of Israel play an important role in the fulfillment of prophecy.
"Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved:"
Isaiah prophesied that among the vast number of Israelites only a remnant will be saved – this remnant is also known as the remnant of Jacob (Isaiah 10:21).
When Paul the apostle wrote to the Romans, there was already a chosen remnant of believing Jews around A.D. 57.
"Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace."
But who are "the residue of men" that were delivered to the sword in Acts 15:14-17?
"Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things."
Please look into Jeremiah's account:
"For who shall have pity upon thee, O Jerusalem? or who shall bemoan thee? or who shall go aside to ask how thou doest? Thou hast forsaken me, saith the Lord, thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting. And I will fan them with a fan in the gates of the land; I will bereave them of children, I will destroy my people since they return not from their ways. Their widows are increased to me above the sand of the seas: I have brought upon them against the mother of the young men a spoiler at noonday: I have caused him to fall upon it suddenly, and terrors upon the city. She that hath borne seven languisheth: she hath given up the Ghost; her sun is gone down while it was yet day: she hath been ashamed and confounded: and the residue of them will I deliver to the sword before their enemies, saith the Lord. Woe is me, my mother, that thou hast borne me a man of strife and a man of contention to the whole earth! I have neither lent on usury, nor men have lent to me on usury; yet every one of them doth curse me. The Lord said, Verily it shall be well with thy remnant; verily I will cause the enemy to entreat thee well in the time of evil and in the time of affliction."
Now, let us consider Christ's own words about "the people of Jerusalem" that were delivered to the sword:
"And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh. Then let them which are in Judaea flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto. For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people. And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled."
It is significant that Jeremiah highlighted "the residue of men" that was delivered to the sword and "the remnant" that was delivered from a time of affliction. Also, Christ emphasized in his prophecy that, when God's wrath will come upon his people of Jerusalem, some "shall fall by the edge of the sword" before their city will become completely trodden down by the Gentiles; however, this prophecy of Christ was fulfilled before the destruction of Jerusalem in the first century.
Prophecy and the Gentiles
Any non-Jewish nation is a Gentile but it must also be observed that God rules over the nations: "For the kingdom is the Lord's: and he is the governor among the nations."
Remember that the fulfillment of God's Kingdom was the "good news" of the Lord. From Heaven, the "kingdom" [rule or reign] of God had actually come first upon/unto the Jews [Israel nation] and later unto the Gentiles [non-Jew/all nations] (Acts 3:13-26, 13:16-52; Romans 1:16).
Prophecy and the Body of Christ
Jesus Christ prophesied that "there shall be one fold, and one shepherd" (John 10:16), and he prayed that "all [God's people] may be one" (John 17:20-21). This prophecy is fulfilled in the one "Body of Christ" wherein "There is neither Jew nor Greek [non-Jew]" (Galatians 3:28). Furthermore, Jesus Christ is the Head of his spiritual body (Ephesians 1:22-23, 5:23; Colossians 1:18) and our "one Lord" (1 Corinthians 8:6; Ephesians 4:5) is the great "Shepherd and Bishop of our souls" (1 Peter 2:25; Hebrews 13:20). Christ is the King of his kingdom and the author of its law (1 Corinthians 9:21; Galatians 6:2).
Prophecy and Bible Believers today
The Holy Bible was written FOR us, for our learning, but none of the books were written TO us.
"For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope."
The Holy Bible was written FOR us, for our learning, to make us wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
"But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them; And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus."
(2 Timothy 3:14-15)
Now, think about this, if there is no such thing as a "fulfilled prophecy," what assurance do we have today that would prove that God is true to His Word? How could we possibly trust God if He did not fulfill His promise of salvation to Israel through Christ?
It must, therefore, be a joy to share "fulfilled prophecy" so that everyone can test publicly any interpretation of prophecy out there. We, as believers of God's Holy Scriptures, with the great help of the Holy Spirit, must exercise our senses in this endeavour of naming every "prophecies already fulfilled" so that we can enjoy God more and glorify His Name.