The Birth Of The Messiah
Each year, millions of people throughout the world celebrate Christmas, and the stated purpose for so doing is to celebrate the birth of the Messiah.
But in a world preoccupied with materialism - in a pop culture that inundates its citizens with a 24-hour barrage of Santa Claus, shopping malls, talking snowmen, and red-nosed reindeer - many seem to have forgotten the true purpose of Christmas: remembrance and celebration of the Messiah's birth.
What an amazing event this was!
Hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, a number of Old Testament prophets testified to His coming glory. In fact, many of the prophecies concerning the birth of the Messiah are so well known, even among atheists, that they've become synonymous with the historical life of Jesus only.
Because of this, many have forgotten, or else have never heard, that these historical events were preceded by Old Testament prophecies recorded generations prior to their fulfillment. As a result, these Messianic prophecies have lost the immense power and influence they should rightfully hold over the spirit and soul of mankind.
While millions pore over the writings of false prophets, astrologists, and historical figures like Nostradamus and Edgar Cayce, searching in vein for a glimpse at the mystery and power of fulfilled prophecy, they somehow manage to miss what's right in front of them. The celebration of Christmas is a celebration of fulfilled prophecy - the birth of the Messiah!
In light of this, each and every person should reexamine the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah's birth, viewing them through the eyes of history. When each of the Old Testament prophets wrote the following verses, they pointed to a day several centuries in the future. Their ultimate fulfillment in the life of Jesus of Nazareth nearly 2,000 years ago is truly astounding, and more than worthy of worldwide celebration! Below is a sampling of these prophecies:
1) The Messiah will be born in Bethlehem.
In the 8th Century B.C., the prophet Micah prophesied that the small village of Bethlehem would give birth to the Messiah:
"But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village in Judah. Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past." Micah 5:2 (NLT)
Over 700 years later, Jesus of Nazareth was born:
"Jesus was born in the town of Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod." Matthew 2:1 (NLT)
2) The Messiah will be a descendant of Judah.
Written over 1,000 years before the birth of Jesus, the Book of Genesis prophesied the Messiah would be a descendant of Judah:
"The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from his descendants, until the coming of the one to whom it belongs, the one whom all nations will obey." Genesis 49:10 (NLT)
In fulfillment of this prophecy, Jesus was born a descendant of Judah:
Two genealogies of the family of Jesus, recorded in Luke 3 and Matthew 1 confirm that Jesus is indeed a descendant of Judah.
3) Great kings will pay homage and tribute to the Messiah.
The seventy-second psalm, recorded approximately 1,000 years before the birth of Jesus, foreshadowed a time when foreign kings would travel from distant lands to pay tribute to the Messiah:
"The western kings of Tarshish and the islands will bring him tribute. The eastern kings of Sheba and Seba will bring him gifts." Psalm 72:10-11 (NLT)
Years later, the baby Jesus became the object of worship for wise men from distant lands:
"About that time, some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, ?Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We have seen his star as it arose, and we have come to worship him." Matthew 2:1-2 (NLT)
"They entered the house where the child and his mother, Mary, were, and they fell down before him and worshiped him." Matthew 2:11 (NLT)
4) The Messiah will be a descendant of David.
The one hundred thirty-second psalm, recorded approximately 1,000 years before Jesus, prophesied the Messiah would be a descendant of King David:
"The Lord swore to David a promise he will never take back: 'I will place one of your descendants on your throne. If your descendants obey the terms of my covenant and follow the decrees that I teach them, then your royal line will never end." Psalm 132:11 (NLT)
The prophet Jeremiah, writing approximately 600 years before the birth of Jesus, twice declared that the Messiah would be a descendant of King David:
"'For the time is coming,' says the Lord, 'when I will place a righteous Branch on King David's throne. He will be a King who rules with wisdom. He will do what is just and right through the land." Jeremiah 23:5-6 (NLT)
"At that time I will bring to the throne of David a righteous descendant, and he will do what is just and right throughout the land." Jeremiah 33:15 (NLT)
Following the birth of Jesus, the angel Gabriel declared:
"He will be very great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David. And he will reign over Israel forever; his Kingdom will never end!" Luke 1:32-33 (NLT)
5) The Messiah will be born of a virgin.
More than 650 years before the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the prophet Isaiah relayed the Lord's promise that the Messiah would be born of a virgin:
"All right then, the Lord himself will choose the sign. Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel - 'God is with us.'" Isaiah 7:14 (NLT)
This prophecy was fulfilled approximately 700 years later, when the virgin Mary, engaged to Joseph, gave birth to Jesus of Nazareth:
"But while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant by the Holy Spirit. Joseph, her fiancé, being a just man, decided to break the engagement quietly, so as not to disgrace her publicly. As he considered this, he fell asleep, and an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream. ?Joseph, son of David,? the angel said, ?do not be afraid to go ahead with your marriage to Mary. For the child within her has been conceived by the Holy Spirit. And she will have a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.'" Matthew 1:18-21 (NLT)
6) Children will be killed in an effort to kill the Messiah.
About 600 years before Jesus, the prophet Jeremiah recorded this prophecy on behalf of the Lord:
"This is what the Lord says: 'A cry of anguish is heard in Ramah - mourning and weeping unrestrained. Rachel weeps for her children, refusing to be comforted - for her children are dead." Jeremiah 31:15 (NLT)
Following the birth of Jesus, King Herod killed all the boys ages two and under who lived in and around Bethlehem in an attempt to kill the promised Messiah:
"Herod was furious when he learned that the wise men had outwitted him. He sent soldiers to kill all the boys in and around Bethlehem who were two years old and under, because the wise men had him the star first appeared to them about two years earlier. Herod?s brutal action fulfilled the prophecy of Jeremiah." Matthew 2:16-17 (NLT)
7) The Messiah will be taken to Egypt.
More than 700 years before Jesus, Hosea prophesied that the Messiah would be called out of Egypt:
"When Israel was a child, I loved him as a son, and I called my son out of Egypt." Hosea 11:1 (NLT)
This prophecy was later fulfilled in the life of Jesus of Nazareth:
"That night Joseph left for Egypt with the child and Mary, his mother, and they stayed there until Herod's death. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: 'I called my Son out of Egypt.'" Matthew 2:14-15 (NLT)
8) The Messiah will be the Son of God.
The second psalm, recorded approximately 1,000 years before Jesus, prophesied that the Messiah would be the Son of God:
"The king proclaims the Lord's decree: 'The Lord said to me, 'You are my son. Today, I have become your Father. Only ask, and I will give you the nations as your inheritance, the ends of the earth as your possession." Psalm 2:7-8 (NLT)
Following the Baptism of Jesus of Nazareth, a voice from heaven testified that Jesus is the fulfillment of Psalm 2:
"And a voice from heaven said, 'This is my beloved Son, and I am fully pleased with him.'" Matthew 3:17 (NLT)
9) The Messiah will be anointed by the Holy Spirit.
More than 650 years before the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would be anointed by the Holy Spirit:
"And the Spirit of the Lord will rest on him - the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and fear of the Lord." Isaiah 11:2 (NLT)
Following His Baptism, the Spirit of God descended on Jesus:
"After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, 'This is my beloved Son, and I am fully pleased with him.'" Matthew 3:16-17 (NLT)
10) The Messiah will bring light to Galilee.
Isaiah also prophesied that the Messiah would appear in Galilee, bringing light to those who live in darkness:
"Nevertheless, that time of darkness and despair will not go on forever. The land of Zebulun and Naphtali will soon be humbled, but there will be a time in the future when Galilee of the Gentiles, which lies along the road that runs between the Jordan and the sea, will be filled with glory. The people who walk in darkness will see a great light ? a light that will shine on all who live in the land where death casts its shadow." Isaiah 9:1-2 (NLT)
During His public ministry, Jesus traveled throughout the region of Galilee, bringing hope and peace to many He encountered:
"When Jesus heard that John had been arrested, he left Judea and returned to Galilee. But instead of going to Nazareth, he went to Capernaum, beside the Sea of Galilee, in the region of Zebulun and Naphtali." Matthew 4:12-16 (NLT)
The Messiah's Ultimate Purpose
As illustrated in the aforementioned biblical accounts, Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies of the coming Messiah, the Prince of Peace and Savior of all mankind.
But the people of His generation expected Jesus of Nazareth to arrive as a conquering Messiah, one who would overthrow Roman authority and establish God's Kingdom on Earth. They failed to understand the true purpose of His coming - to bear the sins of mankind.
For Isaiah also prophesied the immense burden the Messiah would shoulder on our behalf:
"Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God for his own sins! But he was wounded and crushed for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace. He was whipped, and we were healed! All of us have strayed away like sheep. We have left God's paths to follow our own. Yet the Lord laid on him the guilt and sins of us all." Isaiah 53:4-6 (NLT)
"From prison and trial they led him away to his death. But who among the people realized that he was dying for their sins - that he was suffering their punishment?" Isaiah 53:8 (NLT)
"But it was the Lord's good plan to crush him and fill him with grief. Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have a multitude of children, many heirs. He will enjoy a long life, and the Lord's plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of what he has experienced, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins. I will give him the honors of one who is mighty and great, because he exposed himself to death. He was counted among those who were sinners. He bore the sins of many and interceded for sinners." Isaiah 53:10-12 (NLT)
Isaiah's prophecies were fulfilled in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth. History testifies to this fact. Through Jesus, God can, in gracious kindness, declare us not guilty.
Paul, a man who once persecuted and murdered those who made such bold claims, devoted the latter part of his life to preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This is what he had to say on the matter:
"For all have sinned; all fall short of God's glorious standard. Yet now God in his gracious kindness declares us not guilty. He has done this through Christ Jesus, who has freed us by taking away our sins. For God sent Jesus to take the punishment for our sins and to satisfy God's anger against us. We are made right with God when we believe that Jesus shed his blood, sacrificing his life for us. God was being entirely fair and just when he did not punish those who sinned in former times. And he is entirely fair and just in this present time when he declares sinners to be right in his sight because they believe in Jesus." Romans 3:23-26 (NLT)
My fervent hope is that each and every one of us will come to understand the true meaning of Christmas. It's not about boxes and ribbons and bows. It's not about Santa Claus or reindeer or little elves. It's not about vacation time, and it's not about gifts. Christmas is about one gift - God's gift to us:
"Because of the covenant I made with you, sealed with blood, I will free your prisoners from death in a waterless dungeon." Zechariah 9:11 (NLT)
For God gave to us the gift of His Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall have eternal life. Because of the birth, life, death, and resurrection of the Messiah, fallen man is able to avoid the punishment of eternal separation from God. Because of the birth of the Messiah, God will one day dwell among men. And every day, not just December 25th, we have Jesus to thank for this greatest of blessings.
May glory and honor and power be given to His name forever and ever!
Britt Gillette is the founder of End Times Bible Prophecy and the author of Coming To Jesus and Signs Of The Second Coming. Receive his book 7 Signs of the End Times for FREE when you sign up for his monthly newsletter.
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