Tuesday, March 14, 2017

What Are the Chances?

Image result for march madness

Every year, I get caught up in the college basketball bonanza that is March Madness. I love every second of the Cinderella teams making a run deep into the tourney, the buzzer beating shots, the Bracketology. By the way, have you filled out your bracket yet? This year I filled out five, just for fun. But like most fans, I find that after the first two rounds my bracket is busted.  

If you're holding out hope that this is the year you're finally going to break through and get that perfect bracket, you may need to wait a while. Like, a few billion years. The odds of you filling out a perfect bracket are a staggering: 1 chance in 9.2 quintillion tries. That's a nine with 18 zeroes. How big is that? It’s 500,000 times more than our $19 trillion national debt. You'd have a better chance of hitting four holes-in-one in a single round of golf. Using that number, if everyone in the United States filled out a bracket, we'd see a perfect one every 400 years.[1]  

As staggering as those figures are, crunching the numbers on Messianic prophecy is even more mind-boggling. Years ago, Peter Stoner a brilliant mathematician and professor turned his attention to the subject of prophecy, specifically the odds of an individual fulfilling numerous prophecies like Jesus. The result of his study was a landmark book entitled, Science Speaks.

                                       Image result for Peter Stoner

                                                                     Dr. Peter Stoner

He identified over 300 specific prophecies fulfilled in the life of Christ, 30 of which were satisfied in the last 24 hours leading up to His death on the Cross. Stoner selected 16 of the most prominent prophecies and then gave the following illustration of the chances that one man fulfilled them as Christ did.
“We find the chance that one man fulfilled all 16 prophecies is 1 in 1045.  Let us try to visualize this . . . Taking this number of silver dollars you could stack coins from the earth to the sun thirty times. The earth is approximately 93 million miles from the sun. If you can imagine randomly marking one silver dollar with red paint from one of the thirty stacks of coins reaching to the sun and then blindfolding a man and telling him to pick out one dollar, and expect it to be the marked one, you have somewhat of a picture of how absolutely the fulfillment of sixteen prophecies referring to Jesus Christ proves both that He is the Son of God and that our Bible is inspired . . . Any man who rejects Christ as the Son of God is rejecting a fact proved perhaps more absolutely than any other fact in the world.”[2]

If we let the facts speak for themselves it’s clear that Jesus alone fit the Messianic profile. Each Gospel writer highlighted Jesus’ unique identity as the one that the Old Testament predicted would be the sin-bearer of the world. In this way, we can see how the events that transpired on Calvary were simply history written in advance. The Cross was no accident, but the divine drama of redemption complete with a protagonist, supporting roles and prop pieces.

Not only does fulfilled prophecy confirm Jesus as the Son of God, but also the Bible as the Word of God. 2 Peter 1:19-22 says, “19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

Fulfilled prophecy down to the gnat’s whisker is what sets the Bible and Christ apart from all the phony prophets and their sacred books. Check it out and you’ll find that Muhammad, Buddha, Confucius and the rest of the world’s religious leaders don’t come close to meeting Jesus and the Bible in this arena. When it comes to Saviors, Jesus is the only safe bet. -DM  

[1] Chris Chase, “What Are the Odds of a Perfect NCAA Tournament Bracket?” USA TODAY Sports, 19 March 2013
< http://www.usatoday.com/story/gameon/2013/03/19/ncaa-tournament-perfect-bracket-odds-quintillion/1999795/>
[2] Peter Stoner, Science Speaks (Chicago: Moody Press, 1963), 100-112. 

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