"We have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place" (2 Peter 1:19)
There are many reasons to study Bible prophecy. One of the most important is that it validates Jesus as God in the flesh.
There are over 300 prophecies concerning the First Coming of the Messiah in the Hebrew Scriptures. One hundred and eight of these are separate and distinct. The odds of only seven being fulfilled accidentally in the life of one person are 1 in 1017 or one in one hundred quadrillion. All 109 — not just 7 — were fulfilled in the life of Jesus.
Bible prophecy also helps us to better understand Jesus — to understand who He was and what He did.
One of the most remarkable prophecies about the Messiah is contained in Psalm 22. This psalm was written by David ben Jesse one thousand years before the birth of Jesus.
A Cry of Desperation
1 My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my deliverance are the words of my groaning. 2 O my God, I cry by day, but You do not answer; And by night, but I have no rest.
The psalm begins with an agonizing cry of despair. David cries out: "Where are You, God?" He bemoans the fact that although he has been seeking the Lord's help both day and night, all he has received in response is silence.
Have you ever had that experience? If you pray regularly, you have. It happens because God answers prayers in three ways — Yes, No, and Wait. Yes and no we can deal with. It is the waiting that wears on our nerves. We usually desire instant gratification rather than God's will in His perfect timing.
David had experienced this feeling before. An example can be found in Psalm 6:6-7:
6 I am weary with my sighing; Every night I make my bed swim, I dissolve my couch with my tears. 7 My eye has wasted away with grief; It has become old because of all my adversaries.
This type of statement is not evidence of a loss of faith. The psalmist would not even bother to cry out to God if he had lost his faith. It is more an expression of impatience and a verbalization of a sense of desperation.
A Reaffirmation of Faith
In fact, after issuing his cry of despair, David immediately reaffirms his faith in God. He reminds himself of God's faithfulness:
3 Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel. 4 In You our fathers trusted; They trusted and You delivered them. 5 To You they cried out, and were delivered; In You they trusted, and were not disappointed.
As if to preserve his sanity in the midst of his suffering, the psalmist reminds himself of God's faithfulness in responding to the desperate needs of his forefathers.
Now, it is one thing for David to cry out to God in desperation in his frail humanity, but how can the fact be explained that Jesus, the Son of God, exclaimed the same plaintive cry while hanging on the cross?
"About the ninth hour [3 p.m.] Jesus cried out in a loud voice saying, 'Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?' that is, 'My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?'" (Matthew 27:46)
Again, how can such words coming from the mouth of the Son of God be explained? I believe, as with David, this expression was not related to a loss of faith. Rather, it was a desperate cry of inexpressible agony and lament over the separation from God the Father that Jesus experienced on the Cross.
You see, the greatest suffering that Jesus experienced in His passion was not physical or emotional — it was spiritual.
Think of it — He had experienced eternally a perfect fellowship of love with God the Father. Then, suddenly, that sweet communion was broken because your sins and mine were placed on Jesus, and the wrath of God, which we deserve, was poured out on the Son. Here's how the apostle Paul put it in 2 Corinthians 5:21, "He [God the Father] made Him [the Son] who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him."
Again, for one brief moment the perfect fellowship between Father and Son was broken because our sins were placed on Jesus — and the holiness of God cannot countenance sin. God the Father had to turn His back on His Son, prompting Jesus to cry out from the depths of His soul: "My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?"
In the next part of "The Passion in Psalm 22" series, we'll look at the Crucifixion described in Psalm 22:6-10.