The Purpose of Prophecy (3:1)
There were many, of course, at the time of Christ who were aware of the prophecies pointing to the Messiah, but the prophecies did not lead them to Christ. This is not to say that the followers of Christ failed to understand the prophecies of the Old Testament that referred to Christ; certainly they understood many of the prophecies, but only after they were fulfilled (3:2)
It was not their understanding of the prophecies that led them initially to believe in Christ; it was other things. Some were led to believe through dreams (Mat 1:20), some through visions (John 1:33), some through visits from angels (Luke 1:28-32) or the Holy Ghost (Luke 2:26). There were some who recognized that His teachings were from God (Mat 7:28-29), and some who witnessed miraculous things in Him (joh 7:31). And then there were some who having none of these blessings, simply followed Christ at His words "Follow me" (Mat 4:19), and this they did without the least hesitation. Thus, many people came to Christ by different paths, but none, as far as we know, came to Him by way of prophecies. This surprising truth becomes clearer, the more closely we examine scripture. (3:3) see
Christ himself explained the meaning of certain prophecies to His disciples; the meaning of other prophecies were revealed as the events of His noble Life unfolded. A careful look at these prophecies, as they are stated in the Old Testament, reveals the fact that, without exception, the prophecies referring to Christ's First Coming were fulfilled in a manner that could not have been, and indeed were not, predicted by anyone (3:4)
Now, this immediately raises some profound questions: Why did God give these prophecies? If the people who received them did not understand what they meant, if the prophecies did not light a clear path to the Christ, what were they for? Why, if none were to be led to Christ through them, wouldn't God have made them clearer, more obvious so that people could have figured them out? (3:5)
The problem here, of course, is our assumption that prophecies are given to lead us to Christ. This incorrect assumption causes us to ask such troubling questions - questions, however, that miss a vital point: although prophecies did not lead anyone to Christ, nevertheless, many hundreds of millions have understood the prophecies, and have, therefore, benefited from them. The prophecies have thus fulfilled their real purpose though it is a purpose different from what at first might have been expected (3:6)
What then is the real reason for the prophecies of the Old Testament, their true purpose? Why were they given to us?