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A Son Is Given–Birth Announcements in the OT

By Watchman | December 17, 2010

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”  (Isaiah 9:6)

“Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign:  Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.”  (Isaiah 7:14)

          Scholars have estimated that there are at least 60 major prophecies in the Old Testament that herald the coming Messiah, and over 270 lesser or supporting prophecies.  While the fulfillment of some of the prophecies are yet to come (at the time of the return of Christ), most received their fulfillment in the Person of Jesus of Nazareth.  In “Science Speaks,” authors Peter W. Stoner and Robert C. Newman estimated that the probability of one man in history fulfilling only 8 of the Old Testament prophecies was 1 in 10 to the 17th power:  that is, one chance in 100,000,000,000,000,000 chances!  Is Jesus indeed that man?  Setting aside all the other prophecies of the Messiah’s life and death, I’d like to take a look at some of the prophecies surrounding the birth of the Hebrew Messiah.

     First, according to Isaiah 7:14, the Messiah would be born of a virgin, and would be called Immanuel, which means “God with us.”  I was extremely surprised when I first read that the virgin birth was actually prophesied in Scripture as early as the 3rd chapter of Genesis:

…and I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head and you shall bruise His heel.”

I had naturally read the above passage many times, but never had seen that it hinted at a virgin birth.  However, “seed” always comes from the male of the species; in every other reference to man as a seed, he is considered the seed of his father.  This is the only place in Scripture that references the seed of the woman, signifying that there would be no biological father–only seed planted by the Holy Spirit of God.  It was well-known in the early church that the mother of Jesus was a virgin, “almah” (a word that truly signified a virgin as opposed to a young, unmarried woman), at the time of His birth, and was so recorded in the Gospels of both Matthew and Luke.  I find it interesting and sad but frankly, a bit humorous that it is more difficult for some Christians today to accept the truth of the virgin birth.  While most believers are able to comprehend that God created the universe, dark, light, angels, earth, heaven, stars, solar systems, animals and man, yet are there many who balk at the idea that God could supernaturally cause a pregnancy.  Talk about straining at a gnat!  It brings to mind a recent study I read that claimed that most younger Christians surveyed believe that if Jesus came back today he wouldn’t know how to use a computer! 

     Second, the Messiah would be descended from the family of Jesse :

There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots.  The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord… And in that day there shall be a Root of Jesse, Who shall stand as a banner to the people; for the Gentiles shall seek Him, and His resting place shall be glorious.”  (Isaiah 11:1-2, 10.)

    He would also be from the House of King David:

“Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “that I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A king shall reign and prosper, and execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.”  (Jeremiah 23:5)

Chapter 1 of the Gospel of Matthew chronicles Jesus’ lineage back to the time of Abraham, proving His rightful place in the family of Jesse and the royal house of David.  However, since Jesus was not the biological son of Joseph, would this mean that He had no right to the throne of David?  Probably.  On the other hand, a more detailed but harder for our modern understanding to comprehend genealogy exists in the third chapter of Luke.  At first read, it would appear that the Matthew genealogy and the Luke genealogy contradict each other; in Matthew, Joseph is said to have descended from David through his son Solomon; in Luke, Joseph is said to have descended from David’s son Nathan.  However, an obscure truth unknown to English speakers is in play here.  Women were rarely mentioned in any man’s genealogy.  Usually, if her “line” were to be charted, it would be under the name of her husband.  Could one of these actually have been Mary’s lineage?  Definitely.  In Luke’s Gospel, the original Greek places the article “the” before the proper names.  Although this usage is unknown in English, it is quite proper to do so in Greek.  In other words, names would have appeared as the Luke, the Levi, or the David.  The only name in this history written by Luke which does NOT have the article “the” in front of it is that of Joseph.  To us, this would have no significance, but to those of New Testament days it would signify that the genealogy was that of Joseph’s wife, not Joseph Himself. 

Third, the Messiah would be of the tribe of Judah:

The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet until Shiloh comes; and  to Him shall   be the obedience of the people.

Shiloh was another name the Hebrews called the coming Messiah.  It was most probably taken from the same root as “shalom”, and meant “the One who brings peace.”  As we can see from Mary’s genealogy in Luke, Jesus was indeed descended from the tribe of Judah.  This was certainly prophetic, as Judah was not the eldest of the sons of Jacob and no king would hold a sceptre until after the coronation of Saul. 

Fourth, the Messiah was to be born in Bethlehem of Judea:

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from old, from everlasting.  (Micah 5:2)

Do you realize how perfectly God set up the birth of Christ in order to fulfill the prophecies so that mankind could never say they had no idea Jesus was Lord?  Mary and Joseph would never have chosen to go to Bethlehem just as she was about to give birth if they had had a choice.  Yet Caesar Augustus chose that exact time to declare that all the Roman world had to be registered  for taxation purposes, and that all men had to return to the cities of their births–which in the case of Joseph was “the city of David”–Bethlehem.  This prophecy was not just recognized in hind-sight.  King Herod asked the chief priests and scribes where the Christ was to be born, and they answered him, “in Bethlehem of Judea.”   The priests had no idea that the Messiah had been born, but they knew where the birthplace was to be.

Fifth, Malachi, writing somewhere around 425 BC, tells us that the Messiah will be preceded by a messenger–a man of the wilderness–preparing the way of the Lord.  The Gospel According to Luke introduces us to the birth of John the Baptist who would be “filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb.  And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God.  He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah…to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:15-17). 

Sixth, Hosea shows us that Messiah would be taken to Egypt as a child:

“…And out of Egypt I called My Son.” 

Compare that to these words from Matthew:

“…an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, ‘Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.’  When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, ‘Out of Egypt I called my Son.’ “

     Seventh, Jeremiah 31:15 contains a terrifying prophecy:

Thus says the Lord:  ” A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.”

Jeremiah was surely seeing what came to pass in Matthew 2:16:

Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men.

 Eighth, we know from Psalm 110 (amongst many other examples) that the Messiah would be the Lord Himself:

The Lord said to my Lord, Sit at My right hand till I make Your enemies Your footstool.

Psalm 2:7 declares Him the Son of God:

“I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, You are My Son, today I have begotten You.”

In the beginning of John’s Gospel, he tells us:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.  …and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Later, as recounted in chapter 8, the adult Jesus said that “before Abraham was, I AM.” 

     Already, without touching the rest of Jesus’ life and teachings, except for His being the everlasting God, the Ancient of Days, we have been able to find eight prophecies that were fulfilled by Jesus or because of the first coming of Jesus.  Remember that Drs. Stoner and Newman said that the chance of any one man fulfilling only eight of the OT major prophecies was only 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000.  Can you even imagine the odds that that same man would fulfill the Old Testament prophecies that the Messiah would grant sight to the blind, heal the sick and down-hearted, forgive our sins, die on a cross after terrible torture and rise again triumphant on the third day? 

     Brothers and sisters, most of these prophecies were written at least 500 years before the birth of our Lord.  There would be no way to fake the fulfillment of them all.  Scripture provides us with the evidence that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father!  Those who say they simply CANNOT believe it actually mean they simply WILL not believe it.   How about you?  Will you worship Him this Christmas season as King of Kings, Lord of Lords; born of a virgin in a manger in Bethlehem?  Or will you shut Him out and spend the day singing songs about Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and Frosty the Snowman?  Please, my dear ones, if you have not yet opened your heart to Jesus to receive Him as your Lord, do it now!  He loves you so very much, and what a wonderful birthday present it would be for Him if He were to be invited into your life and heart!  Praise His name! He is our God, our Creator, our Saviour and our Reason for being.


Maranatha and a very Merry Christmas to you all!

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