Friday, December 24, 2004

The Prophesied Messiah

Earlier this month, posted an article entitled Fighting Back in which he lamented what has become of Christmas.

I was so taken by his post that I thought it worthwhile to make a further contribution to the subject. To me, it's no exaggeration to state that the birth of Christ is the single most important event in the history of the world yet the celebration of it has deteriorated into something much, much less that what it should be. It seems that it has become more of a time where the true meaning has been displaced by a time of frenzy and greed and commercialism that inclines people to believe that the significance of the event is in the gifts they get or give and somehow this will make them whole. The true meaning of Christmas has been displaced with a sleight of hand that would make David Copperfield look like an amateur.

Sure, we can blame the liberals, the ACLU and their ilk for protesting a Nativity scene in front of a town hall, and all those with commercial interests that see only an opportunity for massive profits during the Christmas season, but the problem is actually much closer to home.

The problem is that too many people today simply don't understand, or appreciate, or believe what has actually occurred. I can't help but think that if they fully grasped the significance of the birth of Jesus Christ, things would be very much different. To acknowledge that Christmas celebrates the birth of the historical Jesus is one thing. Even atheists could accept that. To believe in all that the birth of Christ implies is a very different thing. This passage from chapter 2 of the book of Philippians sums it up for me:

Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

There is substantial material presented in the Bible regarding the birth of Christ that should give any thinking person cause to pause and contemplate, especially during the Christmas season. I'd like to share some information that presents this special event from a different perspective - the first fulfillment of prophecy from the Old Testament that appears in the New Testament.

The prophecy is regarding the birth of Jesus Christ as given in the book of Isaiah chapter 7. Note that this was probably written about 650 BC.

Moreover the LORD spake again unto Ahaz, saying, Ask thee a sign of the LORD thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above. But Ahaz said, I will not ask, neither will I tempt the LORD. And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

And now, the fulfillment of this prophecy in Matthew chapter 1:

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was on this wise: When as his mother Mary was espoused to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Ghost. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily. But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins. Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us. Then Joseph being raised from sleep did as the angel of the Lord had bidden him, and took unto him his wife: And knew her not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.

So the take home message is: God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.(John 3:16).

And it appears this was all prophesied 650 years before it happened!

Merry Christmas,

P.S.If you're inclined to delve further into the subject of the fulfillment of the first prophecy in the New Testament, check out E.W. Bullenger's The Companion Bible, especially Appendix 103, page 147.