The birth of the Lord Jesus Christ in Bethlehem was not an unheralded event. The whole of the Old Testament, from Genesis to Malachi, spoke of the Coming One. He was to be the Anointed One, that is the Messiah to the Jews and the Christ to the Gentiles. The Jews had listened to the Old Testament prophecies of the coming Messiah read to them every Sabbath day in their synagogues. This is why there is in the Gospels a spirit of expectancy; many were waiting for His appearing.
Prophecies of His Lineage
He was to be a man, born of Adam’s race, ‘I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed, it shall bruise thy (Satan’s) head’, Gen. 3. 15. A man of the godly line of Seth, Gen. 4. 26. A line which produced such saints as Enoch and Noah, who walked with God, Gen. 4. 22; 5. 9. Through Shem’s descendant, Abraham, it was promised that the Coming One would bring blessing to the entire human race. ‘And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed’, Gal. 3. 8, quoting Genesis 12. 3. God chose Isaac, Abraham’s younger son, not Ishmael his elder son, to receive the covenant, Gen. 17. 19-21.
In the next generation God’s sovereign choice is again exercised in choosing Jacob, not Esau the elder. ‘The elder shall serve the younger’, Gen. 25. 23. Three of Jacob’s eldest sons, Reuben and Simeon and Levi, forfeited the blessing because of their sins, Gen. 49. 3-7. But Judah was chosen and of his tribe would be the One to hold the kingly sceptre, Gen. 49. 10. When the king of God’s choice came, David was informed that of his line the Messiah-King would come, 1 Sam. 16. 10. ‘Thy throne shall be established for ever’, 2 Sam. 7. 16. The angelic message to Mary was, ‘he shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David’, Luke 1. 32. Hence, the prophecies of the lineage of the Messiah are gathered together in the genealogy of Luke chapter 3 verses 23 to 38.
Prophecies of His Person
It is abundantly clear from the prophecies of His lineage that the Messiah was to be a man. ‘But when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law’, Gal. 4. 4. But this man was also to be God manifest in the flesh. In the dark days of impending judgement upon God’s people Judah, it was given to the prophet Isaiah to proclaim the glorious message that God would come in person! Isaiah gives to the coming king of David’s line the supreme title, ‘The mighty God’, Isa. 9. 6-7.
How could such a One enter the human race? By being born of a virgin, ‘Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel’, Isa. 7. 14. Immanuel meaning ‘God with us’. Isaiah continues under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, ‘The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God’, Isa. 40. 3. John the Baptist takes up this prophecy to declare that this One has come in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, Matt. 3. 3; Mark 1. 2-3; Luke 3. 4. So, Isaiah is able to proclaim, ‘Behold your God! Behold, the Lord God will come … He shall feed his flock like a shepherd’, 40. 9-11. The apostle John also directs our attention to the book of Isaiah in this matter. In chapter 6 and verse 5 of his book Isaiah records his vision of the glory of the Lord. ‘Mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts’. When John comments on this glorious vision, he says Isaiah saw the glory of Jesus, God the Son, ‘These things said Esaias (Isaiah), when he saw his glory and spake of him’, John 12. 36-41.
Prophecies of His Life
Ere the Saviour’s work began, Malachi prophesied that a herald would go before Him to announce His coming, ‘Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple, even the messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts’, Mal. 3. 1. First, the herald-messenger, John the Baptist, then the covenant-messenger , the Lord Jesus Christ. He, John, would be a prophet like Elijah, ‘Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord’, Mal. 4. 5. As the Lord Himself confirmed, ‘For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elias (Elijah), which was for to come’, Matt. 11. 13-14. The Roman Emperor, Augustus, no less, issued a decree that the whole Roman world should be enrolled so as to fulfil the prophecy that the Christ should be born in Bethlehem, Mic. 5. 2; Luke 2. 1-7. This lead to the fulfilment of another prophecy, ‘Called my son out of Egypt’, Hos. 11. 1. For the holy family returned from Egypt having escaped the wrath of King Herod, Matt. 2. 13-15.
The Messiah’s work would concentrate first in Galilee. ‘He (Jesus) departed into Galilee … that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, The land of Zebulon, and the land of Nephthalim, by the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; The people which sat in darkness saw great light’, Matt. 4. 12-16, quoting Isaiah 9. 1-2. The sign of His Messiahship, which no one could imitate, was the miraculous sign of divine power. ‘Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing’, Isa. 35. 5-6. ‘This beginning of miracles did Jesus in Cana of Galilee, and manifested forth his glory; and his disciples believed on him’, John 2. 11.
To be continued.
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