Prophecies of Christmas
Isaiah 7:14 & 9:1-7 (NIV)
2 Peter 1:19 (NLT)
19 Because of that experience (Peter was with the Lord and knew what He fulfilled), we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts.
The Christmas story in the Bible begins much earlier than you might expect; it begins in the Old Testament. The Old Testament prophets promised the coming Messiah who would redeem the people of God goes all the way back to Genesis. Let me highlight - Seven Prophecies Concerning the Birth of Christ:
THE MODE of HIS BIRTH - Be the seed of a woman who would bruise the head of the serpent – fore shadows the defeat of Satan and the offer of complete salvation that will come from the seed of a woman.
Genesis 3:15 (NIV)
- 15 and I will put enmity (hostility) between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel."
- Satan is our enemy. He will do anything he can to get us to follow his evil, deadly path. The phrase "you will strike his heel" refers to Satan's repeated attempts to defeat Christ during his life on earth. "He will crush your head" foreshadows Satan's defeat when Christ rose from the dead. A strike on the heel is not deadly, but a crushing blow to the head is. Already God was revealing his plan to defeat Satan and offer salvation to the world through his Son, Jesus Christ. (Life Application Study Bible.)
THE NATION – God chose Abraham’s seed to be the seed from which Christ the author of Salvation. God appeared to Abraham one day and promised to make his descendants into a great nation. Abraham's part of the agreement was to obey God. Through sharp testing and an incident that almost destroyed his family, Abraham remained faithful to God. (Life Application Study Bible.)
- Genesis 12:1-3 (NIV) 1 The Lord had said to Abram, "Leave your country, your people and your father's household and go to the land I will show you. 2 "I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you."
THE TRIBE – God had chosen Judah to be the ancestor of Israel's line of kings (that is the meaning of "the scepter will not depart from Judah"). Judah's line would produce the promised Messiah, Jesus.
(Life Application Study Bible.)
Genesis 49:9-10 (NIV) 9 You are a lion's cub, O Judah; you return from the prey, my son. Like a lion he crouches and lies down, like a lioness--who dares to rouse him? 10 The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.
THE FAMILY - A golden age is yet to come, a time of peace when children could play with formerly dangerous animals. Not all of this was fulfilled at Christ's first coming. For example, nature has not returned to its intended balance and harmony (see Romans 8:9-22). Such perfect tranquility is possible only when Christ reigns over the earth. (Life Application Study Bible.)
Isaiah 11:10 (NIV) 10 In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious.
THE MOTHER - Isaiah 7:14 (NIV) 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
- The virgin translated as young maiden in some translation means a young woman that has not been married but old enough to give birth.
THE NAME - … and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Matthew 1:21-23 (NIV) 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"--which means, "God with us."
- The name Jesus is Greek in origin, the Hebrew equivalent is Joshua which means God saves.
- The Immanuel, “God with us” who save us.
THE PLACE - Micah 5:2 (NIV) 2 "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times."
- This ruler is Jesus, the Messiah. Micah accurately predicted Christ's birthplace hundreds of years before Jesus was born. The promised eternal King in David's line, who would come to live as a man, had been alive forever — "from of old, from ancient times." Although eternal, Christ entered human history as the man, Jesus of Nazareth. (Life Application Study Bible.)
Listen as Michael reads this morning Scripture
The Prophet Isaiah writing nearly 600 years before the birth of Christ was able to see across the centuries and gave us an amazingly accurate picture of the birth of the Savior. He said, (7:14 NIV), "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 said that the birth of Jesus would be “a sign.” We find perfect harmony with this prophecy when the angels announced the birth of Christ in Luke 2:10-12 (NIV) for they said, "… 10 But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
- God has always used signs to get the attention and deliver His message to His people. In the birth of Christ we have a sign from God. What meaning are these signs? What does the birth of Jesus mean in the fulfillment of prophecies?
- First, It Is a Sign Of God’s Power. The Birth of Jesus was a normal physical birth, but it was a super-natural conception. He told us that “a virgin,” will conceive and bear a child. The word “virgin” used here denotes a woman who has never been sexually intimate with any man not just a young woman as some liberal theologians call it.
- The birth of Jesus was to be a miraculous event, unlike any the world has ever known.
In celebrating Christmas we celebrate the fulfillment of this prophecy. God became man. Jesus, being God in the flesh, came and dwelt amongst us, being born of the Virgin Mary.
- In Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 1:26-38 it is made very clear that Isaiah 7:14 had its ultimate fulfillment in the person of Jesus Christ.
- Matthew 1:18-25 (NIV) 18 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19 Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. 20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." 22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 23 "The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel"--which means, "God with us." 24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. 25 But he had no union with her until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
II. Not Only Is It a Sign of God’s Power, but Secondly, It Is A Sign Of God’s Love.
- Isaiah says that He was to be called, “Immanuel” which means “God is with us.” It is a promise that God himself will appear in human form.
- You probably remember from the Old Testament incidents when God appeared to people as a person.
- In Genesis we are told that God walked in the garden with Adam.
- Later God appeared to Abraham as a weary traveler.
- So what is so unique about the appearance of Jesus? Jesus actually became a person. In the Old Testament, God took on human form, but in Jesus, God became a person. The theological word is “incarnation” that is God become flesh and blood.
- In John 3:16, we are told, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” It was because of God’s great love for the plight of man that He was willing to allow his only son to come to the earth, take human form, in order that he might pay the debt that our sin demands.
- The Apostle Paul tells us the story from the viewpoint of Christ Philippians 2:6-8 (NIV)
6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!
- James Montgomery Boice wrote this in The Christ of Christmas:
- “Jesus endured a human birth to give us a new spiritual birth.
- He occupied a stable that we might occupy a mansion.
- He had an earthly mother so that we might have a heavenly Father.
- He became subject so that we might be free.
- He left his glory to give us glory.
- He was poor that we might be rich.
- He was welcomed by shepherds at His birth whereas we at our birth are welcomed by angels.
- He was hunted by Herod that we might be delivered from the grasp of Satan.
- That is the great paradox of the Christmas story. It is that which makes it irresistibly attractive. It is the reversal of roles at God’s cost for our benefit.” [James Montgomery Boice. The Christ of Christmas.(Chicago: Moody, 1983) p. 59]
- Not Only Is It a Sign of God’s Love But Also (Third), It Is A Sign Of God’s Faithfulness.
- “Dr. Charles Ryrie says that according to the laws of chance, it would require two hundred billion earths, populated with four billion people each, to come up with one person whose life could fulfill one hundred accurate prophecies without any errors in sequence. Yet the Scriptures record not one hundred, but over three hundred prophecies that were fulfilled in Christ’s first coming alone.” [Today in the Word, MBI, December, 1989, p. 7 - www.bible.org/illus/c/c-42.htm]
- In Micah 5:2 we are told exactly where Christ would be born, “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 of old, From everlasting."
- This verse begins with the word “but” and is the introduction to something new, something grand, that is about to enter human history. And surprise, surprise, the origin of this grand new work is not in one of the world’s capitals, not even in Jerusalem, but in Bethlehem.
- 2,000 years ago, Bethlehem was not a very well known place. It was similar to being from a small town, like Nettie or Craigsville – not even as big as Richwood. You have to be going there to really map quest.
- Micah proclaimed that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem...but a week before Christ’s birth, Mary was still in Nazareth... 80 miles away from Bethlehem... And in a day where they walked everywhere they went, that was a long way.
- But God was in control and He took care of that. Caesar Augustus order a census be taken, and this census required that Joseph be register in the city of his families roots (David’s).... Bethlehem. So Mary and Joseph at just the right time made the four day journey to Bethlehem. As we have seen Bethlehem was to the world a small insignificant village full of blue collar workers, nothing special... But Bethlehem was significant and the thing that made it special and the reason we still sing about Bethlehem today is, that Jesus Christ was born there.
Let’s make today’s message personal. Isaiah 7:14 (NIV) 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
- First and foremost, God is always faithful to His word. You can be assured that those promises made by God, will be kept.
- Second, Jesus was God coming to you as a man. You could not save yourself, but God loved you enough to come to you. Jesus came to set you free from the curse of sin. The gift God gave in Jesus was a gift of hope, a gift of freedom, a gift of salvation. This gift is PERSONAL. IT IS FOR YOU! Catch that?
- For all people. The Hebrew word “you” in Isaiah 7:14 is plural and means all of you! (You all or you’ns – if you are from Pgh.) Do you remember what the angel said to the shepherds who were watching their flocks by night? In announcing the birth of Jesus, Luke 2:10: “But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.¨
- God loves you so much that He sent you a personal Christmas present in the form of His Son. The baby Jesus grew into a man, and died upon a cross for your sins, and God raised Him from the dead. Today, if you will put your faith and trust in Him, you can receive the greatest gift ever given to anyone – eternal life.
Please click here for slides to accompany the sermon.