How did the Psalms and Prophets prophesy of Isa al Masih?

The Taurat of Prophet Musa PBUH revealed foreknowledge of Isa al Masih PBUH through Signs which were patterned to the coming of the Prophet.  The Prophets which followed Musa showed Allah’s plan with oracles.  Dawud PBUH, inspired by God, first prophesied of the coming ‘Masih’ in Psalm 2 about 1000 BC.  Then in Psalm 22 he wrote an oracle about someone whose hands and feet are ‘pierced’ in tortures, then ‘laid in the dust of death’ but afterwards achieving a great victory that would impact all ‘the families of earth’.  Was this a prophecy of the coming crucifixion and resurrection of Isa al Masih?  We take a look here.

Prophecy of Psalm 22

You can read the entire Psalm 22 here. Below is a table with Psalm 22 side-by-side with the description of the crucifixion of Isa al Masih as witnessed by his disciples (companions) in the Injil.  The texts are color matched so the similarities are easily noted.

Crucifixion details from the Injil Psalm 22 – written 1000 BC
(Matthew 27: 31-48) ..Then they led him (Jesus) away to crucify him…. 39 Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads 40 and saying, “… save yourself! Come down from the cross, if you are the Son of God!” 41 In the same way the chief priests, the teachers of the law and the elders mocked him42 “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself! He’s the king of Israel! Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him. 43 He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him,…About the ninth hour Jesus cried…“My God, My God, Why have you forsaken me?” …48 Immediately one of them ran and got a sponge. He filled it with wine vinegar, put it on a staff, and offered it to Jesus to drink.Mark 15: 16-2016 The soldiers led Jesus away… They put a purple robe on him, then twisted together a crown of thorns and set it on him. 18 And they began to call out to him, “Hail, king of the Jews!” 19 Again and again they struck him on the head with a staff and spit on him. Falling on their knees, they paid homage to him. 20 And when they had mocked him, they took off the purple robe and put his own clothes on him. Then they led him out to crucify him…37 With a loud cry, Jesus breathed his last.(JOHN 19:34) they did not break his legs..., pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.…they crucified him… (JOHN 20:25) [Thomas] unless I see the nail marks in his hands ,…”…JOHN 20:23-24 When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they took his clothes, dividing them into four shares, one for each of them, with the undergarment remaining…Let’s not tear it”, they said,”Let’s decide by lot who gets it” My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest…All who see me mock me;
they hurl insultsshaking their heads.
“He trusts in the Lord,” they say,
“let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him.”Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast on you;
from my mother’s womb you have been my God.11 Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.12 Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions that tear their prey
open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted within me.
15 My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.16 Dogs surround me,
a pack of villains encircles me;
they pierce my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.

The Injil is written from the perspective of eye-witnesses who watched the crucifixion.  But Psalm 22 is written from the perspective of someone experiencing it.  How to explain this similarity between Psalm 22 and the crucifixion of Isa al Masih? Is it coincidence that the details match so exactly as to include that the clothes would both be divided (seamed clothes were split along the seams and passed among the soldiers) AND have cast lots (the seamless garment would be ruined if torn apart so they threw dice for it).  Psalm 22 was written before crucifixion was invented but it describes its specific details (piercing of hands and feet, bones being out of joint – by being stretched as the victim hangs). In addition, the Gospel of John states that blood and water flowed out when the spear was thrust in Jesus’ side, indicating a fluid buildup in the cavity of the heart.  Isa al Masih thus died of a heart attack.  This matches the Psalm 22 description of ‘my heart has turned to wax’. The Hebrew word in Psalm 22 which is translated ‘pierced’ literally means ‘like a lion’. In other words, the hands and feet were mutilated and mauled as by a lion when they were pierced.

Unbelievers reply that the similarity of Psalm 22 with the eye-witness recording in the Injil is perhaps because the disciples of Isa made up the events to ‘fit’ the prophecy.  Could that explain the similarity?

Psalm 22 and the legacy of Isa al Masih

But Psalm 22 does not end with verse 18 in the table above – it continues on. Note here how triumphant it is at the end –after the death!

26 The poor will eat and be satisfied; they who seek the LORD will praise him— may your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations will bow down before him,

28 for dominion belongs to the LORD and he rules over the nations.

29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship; all who go down to the dust will kneel before him— those who cannot keep themselves alive.

30 Posterity will serve him; future generations will be told about the Lord.

31 They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn— for he has done it. (Psalm 22:26-31)

This is not talking about details of this person’s death. That was dealt with in the beginning of the Psalm. The prophet Dawud PBUH is now looking further into the future and addressing the impact of this person’s death on ‘posterity’ and ‘future generations’ (v.30). That is us living 2000 years after Isa al Masih.  Dawud tells us that ‘posterity’ which follows this man with ‘pierced hands and feet’, who died such a horrible death will ‘serve’ him and be ‘told about him’.  Verse 27 foretells the extent – it will go to the ‘ends of the earth’ and among ‘all families of nations’ and cause them to ‘turn to the LORD’. Verse 29 indicates how ‘those who cannot keep themselves alive’ (all of us) will one day kneel before him. The righteousness of this man will be proclaimed to people who were not yet alive (the ‘yet unborn’) at the time of his death.

This ending has nothing to do with whether the Injil was made up to fit Psalm 22 because it is now dealing with much later events – those of our time. The writers of the Injil, in the 1st century, could not make up the impact of the death of Isa al Masih into our time.  The rationalizing of the unbelievers does not explain the long-term, world-wide legacy of Isa al Masih that Psalm 22 correctly predicted 3000 years ago.

One could not make a better prediction of the effect of the crucifixion of Isa al Masih than Psalm 22 does.  Who else in world history can claim that details of his death as well as the legacy of his life into the distant future would be predicted 1000 years before he lived?  Since no human can predict the far future in such detail this is evidence that Isa al Masih’s sacrifice was by “God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge“.

The other Prophets foretell the sacrifice of Isa al Masih

Just as the Taurat began with a mirror image of the events of the last days of Isa al Masih and then made the image clearer with further details, the prophets that followed Dawud clarified further details of the death and resurrection of Isa al Masih.  The table below summarizes some of those we have looked at.

The Prophets Speak  How it revealed the plan of the coming Masih 
The Sign of the Virgin Birth  ‘A son will be born from a virgin’ predicted the Prophet Isaiah in 700 BC and he will live perfectly without sin.  Only a perfect life could be offered in sacrifice for another.  Isa al Masih, born in fulfillment of that prophecy, lived that perfect life 
The coming ‘Branch’ prophesied the name of Isa and the removal of our sin  The prophets Isaiah, Jeremiah and Zechariah gave a series of prophecies of a coming one whom Zechariah correctly named as Isa – 500 years before Isa lived.  Zechariah prophesied that in ‘one day’ the sins of the people would be removed.  Isa offered himself as the sacrifice and so in exactly ‘one day’ sins were atoned for, fulfilling all these prophecies.  
The Prophet Daniel and the time of coming of the Masih  Daniel prophesied an exact 480-year timetable for the coming of the Masih.  Isa arrived exactly according to the schedule of the prophecy.
The Prophet Daniel prophesied the Masih will be ‘cut off’  After the arrival of the Masih, the prophet Daniel wrote that he would be ‘cut off and have nothing’.  This was a prophecy of the coming death of Isa al Masih as he was ‘cut off’ from life. 
The Prophet Isaiah predicts the death & resurrection of the coming Servant  The Prophet Isaiah predicted in great detail how the Masih would be ‘cut off from the land of the living’ including torture, being rejected, ‘pierced’ for our sins, led like a lamb to the slaughter, his life being an offering for sin, but afterwards he would again see ‘life’ and be victorious.  All these detailed predictions were fulfilled when Isa al Masih was crucified and then rose from death.  That such details could be predicted 700 years beforehand is a great Sign that this was Allah’s plan. 
The Prophet Yunus and the death of Isa al Masih  The Prophet Yunus experienced the grave when inside the great fish.  This was a picture that Isa al Masih used to explain that in a similar way he also would experience death. 
The Prophet Zechariah & the freeing of the prisoners of death  Isa al Masih refers to a prophecy of Zechariah that he would free ‘prisoners of death’ (those already dead).  His mission to enter death and free those trapped there was foretold by the prophets. 

With these many prophecies, from prophets who themselves were separated by hundreds of years, living in diverse countries, having different backgrounds, yet all focused on predicting some part of the great victory of Isa al Masih through his death and resurrection – this is evidence that this was according to Allah’s plan.  For this reason, Peter, the leader of the disciples of Isa al Masih, said to his listeners:

But God was fulfilling what all the prophets had foretold about the Messiah—that he must suffer these things.  (Acts 3:18)

Right after Peter said this, he then declared:

Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped away.  (Acts 3: 19)

There is a promise of blessing for us that we can have our sins ‘wiped away’.  We look at what this means here.