On April 13 this year, pop princess Taylor Swift began a 13-day countdown on her social media accounts. This countdown sent the world (or maybe just her “Swifties”) into a frenzy. The following days were fraught with cryptic clues from Swift—still images from what would turn out to be her upcoming music release. Increasingly far-fetched fan theories were spawned about what it all meant. The countdown culminated on April 26 with the release of a new single, “ME!” and, much to the pleasant surprise of her fans, the announcement of her seventh studio album.
Rumours about Swift’s next offering had been swirling since October 2018, with some devoted fans claiming that photos of everyday things—including palm trees!—contained significant symbolism. Seemingly ordinary pictures of Swift and her mother playing Scrabble became pivotal clues—keen code-breakers enhanced the image, looking for hidden meaning. But, despite their wild theories and tin-foil hats, the fans were essentially right: Swift had been leaving breadcrumbs relating to her new release for months.
It turned out that Swift’s official 2019 calendar also had the countdown start marked, as well as a few other dates on the 13th of each month (Swifties are waiting in eager anticipation to find out what these dates relate to). On her social media accounts the amount of emojis she had included in some posts related to the number of days left until the release. It appears that being a Taylor Swift fan is immensely hard work! Swift herself has said that leaving cryptic clues for her fans is her “love language”.
The ultimate countdown
This exciting countdown has nothing on the one seen in the Bible, which continued for more than 4000 years. And, again, there were clues littered throughout the Old Testament, some cryptic and some unmissable. You did not need to guess what the Old Testament was leading up to—scholars note that it contains 200–400 prophecies of a coming Messiah. The Old Testament tells the story of a God with a rescue plan for His people; a plan to send a Saviour.
The countdown kicks off at the very beginning of the Bible—in the book of Genesis. After sin infects the world, God reveals His plan. In Genesis 3:15 He spoke of a wounded victor; a descendent of Eve who would crush the head of the deceiving serpent. The victor does not walk away unharmed, however, but is struck on the heel.
This verse is hinting at the victory that Jesus would achieve over death through His crucifixion. That amount of detail would be enough for some, but there are many more specific prophecies about the coming Messiah in the Old Testament.
Isaiah 7:14 says, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” This prophecy is fulfilled 800 years later in Luke 1:35 with Mary, a virgin, being told that she will conceive.
The birthplace of the Messiah was also specified, this time by the prophet Micah around 700 years before Jesus’ birth: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathath, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times” (Micah 5:2).
Details about Jesus’ life are also disclosed in Old Testament prophecy, including His time as a child refugee in Egypt (Matthew 2:13–15; Hosea 11:1) and that He would perform miracles (Isaiah 53:4), teach in parables (Psalm 78:2) and have a triumphant entry to Jerusalem before His criminal trial (Zechariah 9:9).
There are also incredibly specific details about Jesus’ betrayal by Judas, including the price He was sold for (Zechariah 11:12) and how the money was used (Zechariah 11:13).
But by far the most powerful of the predictions about Jesus relates to the details of His death. Both Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 give incredible details about this pivotal event in earth’s history. A study through the following passage reveals parallels to Jesus’ life that cannot be ignored.
“He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
“By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished.
“He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth” (Isaiah 53:7–9).
These are details that could not have been guessed. The likelihood of one man fulfilling just eight of these prophecies has been estimated by mathematician Peter Stoner to be one in 1017. The prophecies about the coming Messiah in the Old Testament and their fulfilment in Jesus in the New Testament are powerful evidence of the loving nature of God and the carefully planned and far-reaching plan of salvation.
I challenge you to dive into the greatest countdown ever seen on earth and see what other prophecies you can find in the Old Testament that were fulfilled in the life of Jesus.
Unlike Swift, the clues provided in the Bible relating to the Messiah are precise and ultimately lead to something far more meaningful and long-lasting than the release of a new album.
Kira-leigh Josey loves reading and the time travel trope. She lives in NSW’s Blue Mountains and is working as a part-time high school teacher while she finishes her education degree.
This article first appeared on the mighty-warrior.org website and is used with permission.