The Old Testament contains over three hundred references to the Messiah that were fulfilled in Jesus. It has been calculated that the probability of one man fulfilling only eight of these prophesies would be one in ten to the seventeenth power which is 1/100,000,000,000,000,000 or one chance in one hundred quadrillion. The odds of just forty prophecies being fulfilled is one chance in 10 to the one hundred and fifty seventh power. That is 10 followed by 156 zeros. The number of atoms in the universe is calculated to be somewhere around 10 to the eighty-sixth power( 10 followed by on 86 zeroes). It would be far easier to pick out one atom, while blindfolded, in the entire universe, than to have forty prophecies fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. The odds of over 300 prophesies being fulfilled is unfathomable to imagine!
In the 49th chapter of the book of Genesis there is one specific prophecy regarding the time of the Messiah's coming. In this text, Jacob is well advanced in years and is about to die. Gathering all his sons together he blesses each of them, in different ways, and prophesies over each of them. When he arrives at Judah, his fourth son, he makes a very peculiar prophecy concerning Judah and the Messiah that would someday come.
The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. Genesis 49:10
This amazing prophecy has a few words that need to be defined in order to better understand the implications that are cryptically recounted. The word "scepter" has been understood by the Rabbis to mean the "tribal staff" or "tribal identity" of the twelve tribes of Israel. This "tribal identity" was linked, in the minds of the Jews, to their right to apply and enforce Mosaic law upon the people, including the right to adjudicate capital cases and administer capital punishment.
Secondly, it is well documented that the word "Shiloh" has been understood for millennia to be an idiom for the Messiah.
Therefore, according to this prophecy, the tribal identity or scepter of the tribe of Judah would not cease until the Messiah came. Judah was not only the name of the son of Jacob, but it was also the name of the southern kingdom of the divided nation of Israel.
This prophecy gives specific indicators regarding the time of the coming of the Messiah! The prophecy declares that he would come before the right to impose Jewish law (which includes capital punishment) is restricted and before the national identity of Judah is removed!
During the seventy year Babylonian captivity, from 606-537 B.C., the southern kingdom of Israel, Judah, had lost it's national sovereignty, but retained it's tribal staff or national identity. It is very significant that in the book of Ezra it is stated that during the 70-year Babylonian captivity the Jews still retained their own lawgivers or judges. The Jews maintained their identity and judicial authority over their own people even during seventy years of slavery. The scepter had not been lost during the Babylonian captivity.
During the next five centuries the Jews suffered under the yoke of the Medo-Persian, Greek and Roman Empires. Yet, Judah retained its tribal identity up until the first quarter of the first century A.D.
In the first quarter of the first century A.D., the Jews were under Roman domination when an extraordinary event occurred. According to the historian, Josephus, about the year A.D. 6-7, the son and successor to King Herod, a man named Herod Archelaus, was dethroned and banished. He was replaced, not by a Jewish king, but by a Roman Procurator named Caponius. The legal power of the Sanhedrin was then immediately restricted
With the ascension of Caponius, the Sanhedrin lost their ability to adjudicate capital cases. The normal policy toward all the nations under the yoke of the Romans was to remove their power to judge capital cases.immediately. The province of Judea had, however, been spared from this policy up to this point. Caesar Agustus, by this time, had had enough of the Jews and finally removed the judicial authority from them at the ascension of Caponius. Josephus recorded this transfer of power.
The power of the Sanhedrin to adjudicate capital cases was now removed. In the minds of the Jewish leadership, this event signified the removal of the scepter or national identity of the tribe of Judah!
When the members of the Sanhedrin found themselves deprived of their right over life and death, a general consternation took possession of them; they covered their heads with ashes, and their bodies with sackcloth, exclaiming: Woe unto us, for the scepter has departed from Judah, and the Messiah has not come!'
A little more than forty years before the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, the power of pronouncing capital sentences was taken away from the Jews.