In this study we take the Bible’s earliest prophecies of the Messiah and follow them through time to show how the Lord narrowed down the field of candidates from any one of several million male descendants of Eve to just one possibility. Irrefutable evidence that Jesus is exactly who He claimed to be.
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Well tonight we’re going to do something a little different. Rather than begin a new study, we’re going to look at the topic that we’re all celebrating, and that’s the birth of our Lord.
I’m going to hopefully give you some information you may not have heard before concerning the birth of our Lord, because what we’re going to do is take a look at the prophecies of the birth of the Messiah, entirely from the Old Testament.
And so, you’re used to this time of year hearing from Luke 2 and places like that, and you may get an occasional Old Testament Bible verse on a Christmas card from somewhere. But you know, they’re over 300 prophecies in the Old Testament concerning the First Coming of the Lord Jesus, many of them had to do with His birth.
And so what I’d like to do is just have us all look at some of those. Some will be familiar to you, and some you may not have seen before. So what I thought we’d do first is to just look at the way this whole idea of the Messiah was revealed to us through the scriptures.
We’ll start with the earliest known prophecies of the coming Messiah, and we’ll show how as time went on, the Lord became more specific, He became clearer, and He became more detailed in revealing these things to us through His servants, the prophets.
And so it could be a little different take than you’ve had before on the so called Christmas Story. But I’m sure we’ll hit on some things that are familiar to you as well. After all, Christians have been studying the Christmas Story out of the Bible for almost 2,000 years now so a lot of it’s pretty well known.
But you know how it is, some of the things that are most familiar to us also we see as we look at them, we see things that we didn’t consider before and maybe tonight will be one of those things.
So let’s just have a look, and we’ll have kind of a relaxing evening thumbing through the Bible and just picking out a verse here and there, and seeing how this whole thing came to be.
Earliest Prophecy of the Messiah
The very first prophecy, the earliest prophecy in the Bible of the Messiah is not found in the Book of Isaiah as you might expect, or in some of the other prophets, but in the Book of Genesis and in chapter 3. So let’s go there first.
Genesis 3 and we’ll see how this whole theme of the Redeemer developed. You know as you’re turning to Genesis 3 you remember the man and the woman were created by God, they were placed in the Garden, they were told that they had only one rule to follow, and that everything in the Garden was theirs except for the fruit of one tree, and they were to leave that fruit alone because it was poisonous to them and if they partook of it they would die.
And so Satan came along and in the form of a serpent, and he persuaded them that God had not been telling them the truth. Now that was only the first time that Satan tried that strategy, you know he’s worked that strategy very successfully multitudes of times since then. But this was the very first time he had used that strategy on humans, and it worked very well.
He persuaded them, and I won’t get into the details on the actual story we’ll do that some other night, but that bears study as well because there are some things about how that all came about that maybe would be new to you, but we won’t bother about that tonight.
In the Garden
Tonight we’re just going to look at Genesis 3 and we’re going to look at the pronouncement if you will, that God made after the fall.
You remember how the story goes, they ate of the apple so to speak, their eyes were opened and they suddenly looked at each other, they discovered that they were naked and it embarrassed them for the first time, and so they got together some vegetation of some sort and they made themselves some clothing, covered themselves up, and hid from God, from their Creator.
And He came looking for them, He found them, and He asked them why they were hiding. And they said, well Adam the man, said: We were naked and we were ashamed, and so we hid.
And God said: Well who told you you were naked? What have you done here?
And then the whole story came out.
He said: Have you eaten of the tree that I commanded you not to?
And of course Adam, like every man since him, blamed it on the woman!
He said: It was that woman you gave me! It was her fault.
And when we’re doing a study in Genesis like this, whenever I get to that point, I can say that the only credit that you can give Adam in that is that’s the very first time God had ever heard that excuse! But it certainly wasn’t the last.
And so, then God turned to the woman and she gave the second excuse that God had never heard before, but has heard many times since.
And her story was: The devil made me do it!
And so the both of them lied through their teeth, and the truth finally came out.
And so in Genesis 3:14:
So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,
“Cursed are you above all livestock
and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
and you will eat dust
all the days of your life.
And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your seed and hers;
Now if you have a modern translation it might say “offspring” there but the actual word from the Hebrew is “seed”. And this, if you look at it closely, He is saying: I’ll put enmity between your seed (Talking to Satan) and her seed.
Well, this is a biologically incorrect statement as you know, because the seed comes from the man. And so as we look back on this, I’m not sure that Adam and Eve comprehended all this in this way, but as we look back on this we can see that that is the very first place where a virgin birth was mentioned. Because the only time that the woman produces seed would be if there’s no man involved, and so you have there the first prophecy of the virgin birth.
And then He went on to say, speaking to Satan, to say:
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.”
And so there we have the first prophecy of the Messiah, the virgin birth, and that He would come and redeem mankind, defeat Satan, and put things back the way they were when all this took place.
Now of course none of them at that point knew how long He was going to take to do this, and so:
To the woman he said,
“You will have great sorrow in your childbirth;
There’s some awful misunderstandings in the way this part of the prophecy is given, and the way it’s been translated and the way it’s been interrupted.
For instance my Bible says there in verse 16:
“I will greatly increase your pains in childbirth;
There hadn’t ever been a child born at that time, and so there had never been a birth. Neither Adam nor Eve were born, in the sense that all of their progeny were born. And so if you just look at the prophecy on its face you can see that there’s some problems there, because how can you increase something that has never taken place before?
And so you look at it closely and you find out the word “pain” is incorrectly translated. The word is “sorrow”. I will greatly increase your sorrow.
The Coming Redeemer
Now what that means is if you look at it literally, He was saying to them: You will long for this redeemer. Each time there’s a birth, you will hope that the birth is of the redeemer. And so it will be something that you long for, and each time you have a child there will be sorrow associated with it because that child will not be…
(It’ll be a long time in other words, He is telling them, before this redeemer will come.)
So you get a hint there that there’s going to be some span of time. And if you stop to think of it can you imagine how these two felt, Adam and Eve, and can you imagine how things had changed for them in just the few moments of that action?
You know they’re the ones who saw things before, and now they’re seeing things after, after the fall, so to speak. And you can only imagine how they must have felt, the regret and the sorrow, that they must have felt about this. And so if you read down through the next few verses of chapter 3 and in 4 you’ll find out that each time Eve bore a child she was hoping that he would be the one to fix things.
Because how is it with humans, when we make a mistake we want to repair it immediately right? We want it fixed. We don’t want to have to bear the consequences of it for any length of time, we want it fixed we want it put back right. We want it erased, we want it gotten rid of as quickly as possible.
And so this is what is really meant by that, the prophecy of increasing sorrow in childbirth and so, there really isn’t any scriptural basis for pain in childbirth.
And it turns out (I’ve never experienced it myself) but those who have tell me that there isn’t any real necessity for the kind of pain in childbirth that is often characterized in our society. This is something that only parts of the world experience today, and only the parts of the world that do experience it have experienced it for a relatively short period of time as far as human history is concerned.
In third world countries women have babies while they’re working, and they continue working. And they don’t have these kinds of problems because a) they haven’t been told that they’re supposed to, and b) they’re letting their body and the baby’s body do what God intended for it to do.
And so this again is another study we can get into some other day, but I certainly don’t want to derail this because we’re going to have enough to cover anyway! But that’s just one of the things that we see right from the beginning here in scripture.
And so the prophecy was not that she would be punished (this prophecy by the way is sometimes called the curse of the woman) and it’s not a prophecy that the woman would be punished because of Eve’s mistake by having excruciating pain in childbirth, that doesn’t have anything to do with that.
The prophecy is every time you have a son, you will hope he is the Messiah and when he turns out not to be you will experience again the sorrow of your sin.
And that’s basically the way the prophecy is meant to come.
And so that’s the very first one, Genesis 3. Now a little later in the Book of Genesis you get down to chapter 12 and the Lord narrows it down, narrows the field down a little bit.
All He has told Eve so far is that there will come a redeemer and the redeemer will be an offspring of hers. And so that’s all we know so far, but we get down to Genesis 12.
And by the way Genesis 12 now is about 1,900 years later because you see the flood happened in the 1,656th year after Adam was created. The 1,656th year after Adam, we don’t know what the year would be on our calendar that Adam was created, most scholars placed it somewhere around 4,000 (in that area) BC.
But you can tell from scripture that there was between the day that Adam was created and the day the flood came, there were 1,656 years. So we know that, you can count them. You can count them by looking at the lifespans of the patriarchs. And so we know that.
And then we also know that Abraham came along 250 years after that, after the flood. And by the way Noah was still alive at the time when Abraham was born, and Noah didn’t die until Abraham was 50. And Shem, one of Noah’s sons outlived Abraham.
And so you can see that there was continuity all the way from the beginning, all the way through to this. And so in about 1,900 years we get to Genesis 12 and the Redeemer still hasn’t come, and now the Lord is going to narrow it down a little bit, and He calls Abraham (Genesis 12:2) and He says to Abraham:
“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.
I will bless those who bless you,
and whoever curses you I will curse;
and all peoples on earth
will be blessed through you.”
Now this is another hint that from the seed of Abraham, somehow from Abraham’s people, something will happen that will be a great blessing to all the people on Earth. And of course we look back again with hindsight and we say okay that’s another glimpse of this coming Redeemer. And so that’s in Genesis 12.
Redeemer from the Tribe of Judah
We get to the end of the Book of Genesis, we’re down to the end of Jacob’s life. He is giving a prophecy to his children, and in verse 10 of chapter 49, let’s look at verse 9 as well of chapter 49 he says:
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?
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 shall be his.
Alright, so this is another hint that somehow from the tribe of Judah will come someone eventually who will rule all the nations, and they’ll all be obedient to Him.
And of course later on in the scriptures we know that this again is a reference to the Messiah, because He is destined to become one day soon, the king of the whole Earth and all the nations will be obedient to Him.
So now we’ve gone from the Redeemer coming from mankind, to the Redeemer coming from the offspring of Abraham, (what we call the Jewish people) down to the Redeemer coming from the family of one of Jacob’s sons Judah. So now we know He’s from the tribe of Judah.
Promise to King David
Now let’s go over to 2 Samuel 7 and now we’re several hundred years later, and now we know about when it is. It’s now about 1,000 BC.
2 Samuel 7, and this is the promise to King David when we’re nearing the end of his life, and David reigned for 40 years, around 1,000 BC and then Solomon reigned for another 40 years after him and so the reigns of David and Solomon span about 80 years starting about 1,000 BC.
We get down to verse 2 Samuel 7 and we get down to verse 12.
There’s a parallel passage in 1 Chronicles 17:10 almost word for word, but this is the one where Samuel is recording this and in about the middle of verse 11 here is where I’m going to start.
I will also give you rest from all your enemies.
“‘The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you:
The Lord has told David that He is going to build a house, what we would call the temple.
And David said: Well I want to build it.
And the Lord said: Well you can’t. You’ve got too much blood on your hands. I need a man of peace to build My house because it is going to be a house of peace. And He said: You can’t build it. I’m going to have your son Solomon build the house for Me.
In fact David came back and said: Okay well then I’ll pay the bills in advance.
And he literally did. He gathered all the material, he drew up the plans. They call it Solomon’s temple but all Solomon did was dedicate it, it was all set. David designed it, David raised the money for it, he got all the materials together, he did everything except actually officiate in the construction of the building.
But the Lord was saying to David: I’m not going to let you build My house, but I will do something for you. I will build you a house.
That takes care of verse 11. He says in 12:
When your days are over and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring
There’s that word again.
to succeed you, who will come from your own body, and I will establish his kingdom. He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever.
Okay now right in the middle of that sentence this shifts from applying to only David’s son Solomon, to applying to David’s offspring, his progeny if you will, his successors.
And so now He is talking about what we have come to know as the Davidic line. This is the line from among the tribe of Judah (because David was of the tribe of Judah) the Davidic line was called the royal line. It began with David, it went through David to Solomon and then all the kings of Judah from that point forward for the next 400 years were descendants of David’s through his son Solomon. So that was the royal line.
And He said to David: This is going to go on forever. Your throne will be an eternal one.
And He is speaking of these successors, this progeny. Now in verse 14 He is saying:
I will be his father, and he will be my son.
Now in a sense He is saying: I have this special relationship with the kings who will come out of your line.
But we can also see here that He is talking about somebody specific because of the singular tense He uses, and the fact that He is going to call whoever this is His son.
And it says:
When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod of men, with floggings inflicted by men.
Now no king of Israel ever was punished that way, but a son of God’s was punished that way and so we again with hindsight can see what He was talking about here.
But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.’”
And so here He makes the throne of David, as we’ve come to call it, something that would be in place forever.
Now if you will take one little look into the New Testament, (I promise we won’t do very many of these) but one little look into the New Testament in the Gospel According to Luke you will see that when the Angel Gabriel is announcing to Mary the birth of the Messiah.
But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will be with child and are to give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.
Or in the Hebrew “Yeshua” which means God brings salvation.
In verse 32:
He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end.”
And so here Gabriel has promised to Mary that the son she is going to deliver will be a Davidic king, and He will reign as, Handel’s Messiah tells us, forever and ever.
But something had happened in the meantime here because for 400 years when this prophecy was given to Mary, for 400 years there had been no king in Israel. The throne of David did not exist on Earth.
The Davidic kingdom was on the Earth in form, but it was not according to what God had promised. Because you see, after Solomon the kings of Judah became, for the most part, each one more corrupt than the preceding one.
In fact if you read through 2 Chronicles which is the account of the kings of the southern kingdom of Judah, you’ll find that most frequent passage, frequently used sentence in the entire 36 chapters of 2 Chronicles, the most frequently used sentence is: And he did worse than his fathers before him.
It’s spoken about almost every one of the Davidic kings there. A couple exceptions, Josiah was an exception, Hezekiah was an exception, but most of them were very corrupt until you get down to Jeremiah 22 .(And there’s a reason for me giving you this because we’re going to get to one of the familiar prophecies in just a minute and you’ll want to have this background.)
Jeremiah 22:28 we read, the Lord having Jeremiah say:
Is this man Jehoiachin a despised, broken pot,
an object no one wants?
Why will he and his children be hurled out,
cast into a land they do not know?
O land, land, land,
hear the word of the Lord!
This is what the Lord says:
“Record this man as if childless,
a man who will not prosper in his lifetime,
for none of his offspring
There’s that word again.
for none of his offspring will prosper,
none will sit on the throne of David
or rule anymore in Judah.”
And so at this point this is 598 BC now, at this point the Lord has pronounced a blood curse on the Davidic line. He is saying no offspring of David’s will sit on this throne anymore. And so He is suspending the Davidic line at that point, 598 BC.
When Mary was given the prophecy by Gabriel, there had not been a king in Israel for 400 years. When you read about the post-Exilic time after they came back from Babylon? They never had a king. They had governors, they had high priests who ran things.
During the Hasmonean dynasty, which started about 100 years before the time of Jesus and ran up until the time when the Romans took over, the priests and the kings were kind of all muddled up and none of them were legitimate, is what I’m trying to say. There hadn’t been a legitimate king in Israel since 598, there hadn’t been a legitimate high priest in Israel since 170 BC, (the office was sold to the highest bidder) and the whole process was extremely corrupt.
But when Gabriel spoke to Mary he said: Mary, your son is going to sit on David’s throne, and He is going to rule over Israel forever.
That must have surprised Mary because had she known any history, she would have known that there was no king. And of course we all know that Jesus never sat on the throne of David. The throne of David wasn’t in existence, during the lifetime of Jesus the king over Judah was not even Jewish.
King Herod was somebody, what we would call a Jordanian today, he was from the country known today as Jordan. He was from Edom, Jordan. He wasn’t even Jewish, he was on the throne because he bought the position. He was a friend of the emperor in Rome and so he was there because he had been placed there by his friend, the emperor.
One of the reasons he spent all the time and effort and energy building the temple was to try to win favor with the Jewish people, because there he is, a foreigner on the throne of David. And Jesus died, and still there was no king in Israel.
And then the nation was scattered. And for 2,000 years ceased to exist altogether. Now it’s finally back together, but it’s not a kingdom. There’s no king in Israel. There won’t be a king until the Lord Jesus becomes that king and so now we’re moved off into Second Coming prophecies and I don’t want to spend too much time on that today. But I just want you to see how this is coming about, because the next prophecy we’re going to look at solves a problem that even Satan could not have figured out.
Because here’s the dilemma the Lord has, He has cursed the line of kings and He has sworn an oath that there would be no Davidic king in Israel after Jehoiachin. But then He’s promised Mary that her son would be the king, and yet the royal line is cursed.
Now way back in Genesis we read Jacob telling Judah that the kings will always come from you, all the way down to the point where the one to whom the kingdom belongs will receive it. We read that in Genesis 49. And so there’s a problem here, God has this huge problem.
He has to perform on His promise to David that there would always be an offspring of his on the throne, He has to perform to Mary whose promise He’s just made that her son would be the king in Israel, He has to abide by His promise that no man from the royal line of David would ever sit on the throne again.
How is He going to do this? Simple, if you happen to be God.
Ask for a Sign
Turn to Isaiah 7 and in this case the Lord is having Isaiah speak to one of these Davidic kings. We’re now backing up a little bit in history, remember the last king was in 598 BC. Isaiah wrote around 750 BC so we’re a couple hundred years earlier now, we’re going to back up a couple hundred years.
And Isaiah is giving Ahaz, the king of Judah, the opportunity to ask the Lord for a sign. Now we’re told not to do that right? And even in the wilderness temptations, when the devil says: You know jump off a building and see if the Lord doesn’t catch you, because He promised you’ll never get hurt.
And what was the Lord’s response?
You shouldn’t put the Lord your God to the test.
And so all the way through the Bible we’re cautioned, you don’t put the Lord to the test. You know, He says something you take His word for it.
But here, Isaiah is saying to Ahaz: Ask for a sign.
He says in verse 10 of Isaiah 7:
“Ask the Lord your God for a sign, whether in the deepest depths or in the highest heights.”
But Ahaz said, “I will not ask; I will not put the Lord to the test.”
Now you miss the sarcasm here because we’re coming into the middle of the conversation.
Then Isaiah said, “Hear now, you house of David!
He’s not talking to Ahaz anymore, he is talking to all the house of David.
Is it not enough to try the patience of men? Will you try the patience of my God also? Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign:
You don’t want to pick a sign for Him, He’ll pick the sign then, and He’ll give it to you. And that “you” by the way is plural in the Hebrew, so you can tell he’s not talking to Ahaz he is talking to all of the kings of Judah that are coming.
By the way I should remind you here that, (I don’t know if we’ve talked about this in the past) there’s a tradition, a belief, in the Jewish culture that all of a man’s progeny are present in his body. They have a saying, if you kill a man you’ve murdered a nation, because what you’ve done, you’ve not just killed the man but all of his descendants too.
And as we know, all of the nation of Israel came from one man right? From Abraham. And so had somebody killed Abraham, they would have destroyed the entire nation if Israel. And so they have this idea in their culture and so the writer to Hebrews make the point when he says that when Abraham paid tithes to Melchizedek, Levi was there. Because Levi was a descendant of Abraham’s, and so it was as if Levi himself was paying the tithe.
Of course the point he’s trying to make is the priesthood of Melchizedek was superior to the priesthood of Levi because the subordinate gives homage to the superior, not the other way around.
And so when Abraham gave tithes to Melchizedek, it was as if Levi was doing it, and it demonstrates that Melchizedek’s priesthood is superior to Levi’s priesthood.
And so the whole thought of that is that a nation is always present in each of us. Who would know whether any of us would see our progeny become some powerful important people in the history.
And so he used plural there because he is speaking to the entire house of David now, not just to king Ahaz. And then here’s the part of this verse you’ve already heard:
The virgin will be with child and give will birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Prophecy of the Virgin Birth
Now remember I said God had a problem, and on one hand He had cursed the line, but on the other hand He had a promise that was going to conflict with His curse? And so how do you get over that? You have to somehow find someone who can qualify to be king of Israel, and yet not carry the curse.
Somehow they had to find a way for the coming king of Israel to be in the royal line of succession, because that’s what the law required. The prophecies that we’ve read required that the kings would come from the house of David.
How do we find somebody that can be in the royal line, but not carry the curse? There wasn’t anybody like that, there hadn’t been anybody for 400 years. There hasn’t been anybody since, except for one person.
There is one person who is in the royal line, but doesn’t carry the blood curse, and that’s Mary’s son, Jesus. Because you see Jesus had a biological mother, but only a legal father from humanity.
However if you follow the genealogies, and we’re not going to take the time to do all this tonight, you can read our feature article on the website this week and we go into it in detail there, so we won’t try to do that here tonight because it’s way too complex.
But the summary paragraph is this.
If you look at the genealogies in Matthew you’ll find that Joseph was a descendant of Solomon’s. Joseph was a prince in Israel, like hundreds and hundreds of others. In the royal line of succession, but he carried the blood curse because he was biological descendant of king Solomon’s.
Mary was also a descendant of king David’s, but through Solomon’s brother Nathan. Nathan’s line could not be kings, but neither did they have the curse. When Joseph and Mary became husband and wife, her son became Joseph’s legal heir, his child, and therefore heir to the throne. But no blood curse, because Joseph was not His biological father.
You had to have a virgin birth in order to uphold your curse, and fulfill your promise. It’s the only way.
And since 598 BC, one man has walked on the Earth who has a legal claim, indisputable, to sit on David’s throne, and that’s the Lord Jesus. He is the only one since Jehoiachin in 598 BC. In the last 2,500 years He is the only one who has that claim.
Some people think that whether you believe in the virgin birth or not is immaterial. Not really! Like most things in scripture it turns out that it is critical, and it is very important. Because you see, God can’t break His law, He can’t break His promise, He can’t go back on His word. He has got to perform, once He says something He has to perform it, and so it took that in order for Him to perform.
There are other reasons why Jesus had to be born of a virgin, by the way. For example He had to be a sinless man, and so how can you have a sinless man when all men have the sin nature? How can you have a sinless man?
The only way you can have a sinless man is to have a man who has no Earthly father, because it turns out in chapter 20 of Exodus the Lord says: I will visit the sins of the fathers upon the children.
Not the parents. For some reason, somehow, the mother’s sin nature does not pass to the children, only the father’s. And so if you have a man, a human with no Earthly father, you can have a sinless human. And it took a sinless human to produce the blood to pay the price for our redemption.
And so there are very good and logical and legal reasons why Jesus had to be born of a virgin. If He wasn’t then it throws everything into question. In order to be our Redeemer He had to be 100 percent human. In order to forgive our sins He has to be 100 percent God. In order to sit on David’s throne He has to be a descendant of David’s, but He can’t have the blood curse and yet He has to be in the royal line of succession.
There are all these conditions that have to be met, and of course in all of history only one man has met those conditions, and that’s the Lord Jesus.
So that may be a little different slant on the Christmas Story than you’ve heard before, but we’re not anywhere near done yet.
We’ve been in Isaiah 7, let’s go to Isaiah 9. And this is, for people who don’t know any other verse in the Bible tend to know this one, because most people have received (sometimes on an annual basis, but at least more than once) a Christmas card with this verse written on it:
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
These are two different things. The child was born to Mary, the son was given by God. And so this speaks of the deity of Jesus in ways that sometimes we just think: Well look He’s repeating Himself! He is telling us this child is a male.
Well it’s a lot more than that. His son was given, the child was born. Two different things. And that ties these two things we’ve been talking about together. The idea of Jesus being all human, having an Earthly mother, and being all God, having no Earthly father.
And it says:
and the government will be on his shoulders.
Now that hasn’t happened of course, all that’s been on His shoulders so far is our sins. So between the comma after “given” and before “and the government” there is a 2,000 year (at least a 2,000 year pause there) that is still running, it hasn’t been fulfilled yet.
And the next sentence says:
And he will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Five names here. Modern translations tend to omit the comma between “wonderful” and “counselor” but there really should be one there. It’s two different things, “wonderful” and “counselor” are two different things.
And when you see it that way, “Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God” are names that are associated with the trinity.
In the Old Testament in Judges 13 the Angel of the Lord came to Samson’s father and mother and told them that the mother, although barren, would have a child and that the child was to be Nazarite set aside from birth to the Lord. One of only three in the Bible, Samuel, Samson, and John the Baptist are the only three Nazarites set aside from birth, and all of them foretold by an Angel by the way, and all of them to barren women also.
And at the end of this scenario when the father and mother of the coming child who would be known as Samson accept this and say: We want to make an offering to worship, what is your name so that we’ll know your name?
And the Angel said back to them: Why do you ask my name, seeing that it is wonderful?
Same Hebrew word, the word is “pele”. Now in some modern translations they’ll have the Angel saying: Why do you ask my name, seeing that it is beyond understanding?
But that’s not what the Hebrew said. He gave them the name, the name was Wonderful.
In the Old Testament when you have an appearance of the Angel of the Lord as opposed to an Angel of the Lord, you quite often have what’s known now as a preincarnate appearance of Jesus on the face of the Earth, whenever it is the Angel of the Lord. You can almost always see the Lord Jesus there, by what you know about Him and the things that you have.
When the Angel of the Lord came to Joshua outside of Jericho and Joshua said: Are you for us or for our enemies?
And the Angel said: Take off your shoes, you are standing on holy ground.
The very same things that God had said to Moses in the burning bush.
And Joshua knelt and worshiped him. No Angel permits that, that was a preincarnate appearance of the Lord Jesus.
The Angel of the Lord was a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day in the wilderness. By day He was a cloud that kept the hot sun of the desert from burning the Israelites to a crisp, by night He was a pillar of fire who kept them warm from the cold desert nights. It was the Angel of the Lord. He is the same one who went behind them and made it so that the Egyptians couldn’t see them when they got to the Red Sea until they got across.
And so you have these appearances of the Angel of the Lord. And in the Book of Judges the parents of Samson asked His name and He said: It is Wonderful.
So when you see that word “wonderful” there, that’s the Lord Jesus.
Now from our New Testament studies we know that the word “counselor” means the Holy Spirit. I’m going to send you the Counselor, the promised Holy Spirit.
And the third name “Mighty God” of course is an obvious one, that’s the name of God the father.
And so you have the trinity there, in that sentence. He will be called Wonderful, He will be called Counselor, He’ll be called Mighty God. He will also be called Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace.
These were names that the Hebrews knew only in relation to God Himself. And so what we’re seeing here is the Son that was given, the child that was born, was the father, the son, the Holy Spirit. He was the physical embodiment of the Triune God.
In verse 7 it says:
Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
Well that hasn’t happened yet.
And it says here:
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
And so this is the fulfillment of the Davidic promise that a son of his would sit on David’s throne and reign forever. But it hasn’t happened yet, but the promise at the end is that:
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.
So now it’s narrowed down. It started with some offspring of Eve’s, and then it went down to a descendant of Abraham’s, and then it went ot the tribe of Judah, and then it went to the family of David. And now we’re told it will be a virgin birth, God Himself will be the father.
Now we’re going to get one more piece of information, turn to Micah 5:2. This is another one that is very popular on the Christmas cards. Do they still send those out, Christmas cards? Does anybody get them anymore? We don’t have any mail service in Mexico so I don’t get any!
Micah 5:2. Micah was written at the same time as Isaiah. Micah and Isaiah were alive at the same time together, 750 years BC.
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah,
Now the reason they said that is because there were two Bethlehems in Israel, there was one up by Nazareth up in the north, and there was one in the south in the region that was called Ephrathah.
And so by saying “Bethlehem Ephrathah” it’s like saying “Las Vegas, Clark Country” (is that the name of the county here?)
Okay so it’s giving you the city and the county, and in case there’s another Las Vegas somewhere you’ll know which one they are referring to.
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 is another one of those interesting translations. The Strong’s Concordance says it a little differently, the King James says it a little differently. But basically what it means is when it says “origins” it means His beginning. (Where did He come from? What’s His family descent?)
And it says they are from “of old” or literally from “days of eternity”. When you read the Hebrew translation of this passage what it says is “whose family descent is from before time and is perpetual.” So that gives you the idea that whoever they’re talking about here is an eternal being. He’s not just somebody who’s going to be born, He’s going to grow up and be king, then He’s going to die like every other king ever has.
This one is eternal, He’s an eternal being. He comes from a family that existed before time, and His life is perpetual. He exists forever, in other words.
And so we learn from John 1:1 that says:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
And so you have John saying that the Word, it’s a name he uses for Jesus, was there in the beginning. He was with God, but He also was God. And in the Book of Hebrews we read a quote from Psalm 40 that says, the father prepared a body for the son.
In other words, made it possible for the son to become human so He could fulfill the law in redeeming us, because only a human can redeem a human. It takes a next of kin to redeem a person. If you and I lose something, according to Hebrew law if we lost our land or if we had a debt we couldn’t pay or something like that, our next of kin was required to redeem us from the bondage of that debt.
When Adam lost planet Earth to Satan, his next of kin was required to redeem it, that’s the law of redemption in Leviticus 25 I believe it is. The law of redemption required a next of kin to do this, and so it’s another reason you had to have a virgin birth because the redeemer had to be all God and sinless in order to have the price of our redemption, but He also had to be all human in order to qualify as our redeemer.
And so here is another issue here that the ruler of Israel is going to be someone whose family descent is from before time and perpetual.
Now so now we’re narrowed it down once more, haven’t we? And we’ve found out that this king who will sit on David’s throne, as promised to Mary, will come from Bethlehem. So we’ve gone from an offspring of Eve’s, to a descendant of Abraham’s, to the tribe of Judah, to the family of David, to having no Earthly father to be born in Bethlehem.
Now that narrows it down pretty well doesn’t it?
In an article I wrote sometime ago with some help, I calculated the statistical probabilities of these things happening by accident. Of even one of them happening by accident.
But then you put them all together and you multiply, every time you have, like if it’s 1 in a 1,000 over here and you put another 1 in a 1,000 over here, you don’t have 1 in 2,000. You have 1 in 1,000,000 because that’s the way mathematics works! So it’s 1 in a million.
And every time you add these prophecies together, (well I’ve just given you 5 or 6 here) any one of them the possibility of coincident fulfillment is beyond reason. But then you add them all together and you find out that there’s no possible way this could have been coincidental. There’s no possible way somebody could have arranged to fulfill these prophecies, or done it by accident, or just happen to be in the right place at the right time.
This could only happen by design. And it could only happen by the design of somebody who had absolute control over everything including biological functions. Now you may think you control a lot of stuff, but you don’t control any biological functions. But whoever put all this together did.
And so then it narrows down quickly from any one of the 12 billion descendants of Eve there have been, and I get that number from the fact that they speculate that about half the people that have ever lived are alive today. And if there are 6 billion people alive today that means there have been 12 billions members of the human race.
So to be the Redeemer, the odds are it came down from any one of 12 billion, let’s say half of those are disqualified because they’re female, so any one of 6 billion people is an offspring of Eve’s and therefore could possibly be the Redeemer. Then it comes down to Abraham’s descendants, it comes down to the tribe of Judah, it comes down to the family of David, it comes down to somebody born of a virgin, and in the town of Bethlehem.
Now you’ve narrowed it down pretty good haven’t you? And I think history can only show really one candidate for all of this. There’s only one person who could possible have to have fulfilled all of this, and it’s very clear from scripture we haven’t had to go anywhere except a handful of prophecies out of the 300 that exist about the birth of Jesus.
We’ve only taken a handful, and already we’ve found out that there’s only one possible candidate who could have fulfilled this.
Now the Jewish people knew their scriptures, they knew these things. The leadership in particular knew these things. About 500 years before (more like 600 years before) the birth of Jesus, the same Angel Gabriel that came to Mary had appeared to Daniel and had told Daniel when the Messiah was coming.
Priests from Parthia
You remember it was in Daniel 9 and it was 483 years from the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, that decree is dated in history. And so the 483 years expired on Psalm Sunday, the day that Jesus rode into Jerusalem proclaiming Himself to be king. And so they were aware of these things, they were part of their scriptures all through these years.
Daniel had told some of the Persian hierarchy who were persuaded about these thing, who had seen the miraculous work of God in the life of Daniel and in the Babylonian empire, and in the Persian empire. And they got together and they formed what we would call today a secret society, it was a priesthood.
And this priesthood was formed specifically to guard this knowledge and to pass it down from father to son over the 500 years, so that when the time came they would be able to tell the world. They would have hard evidence of the fact because it would have come from down through those 500 years from father to son, all this way.
This secret society was a priesthood. Daniel persuaded them into the belief in not only the God of Israel but in the coming Messiah. Tradition has it that Daniel took his considerable fortune, he was a wealthy man, and he gave this to them to hold for the time when the prophecy would be fulfilled.
They learned that they would see a star in the sky, and when they saw that star they were to follow it. It would lead them to the place of this king’s birth. And so they believed this enough to keep this alive for 500 years.
And when their descendants 500 years later saw the star in the sky they mounted up their camels, they gathered up Daniel’s fortune, and they set off from a country that was now called Parthia, it had been part of the Persian empire.
And they started off from Parthia, a journey of 800 miles on the back of a camel, to Jerusalem. And then when they got to Jerusalem the whole town was abuzz, the Bible says about this. Because it turns out there wasn’t just three of them, there was a whole caravan full of them and they were protected by armed guards.
The Parthians had just recently defeated the Romans who had tried to conquer Parthia, and Jerusalem was a Roman province now, and so these men represented an enemy government. And so certainly it stirred up the whole country when they rode into town.
They of course got an audience with king Herod, and the Bible says they asked him a question: Where is He who was born king of the Jews?
Now you imagine what that did to Herod, Herod had bought his place on the throne. He got there by influence, by friendship, he wasn’t even Jewish. And these Parthians who were a very powerful priesthood by then, many of the kings of the Middle East had depended on this priesthood to support their efforts to ascend to the throne. They were called the kingmakers of the day, we call them the magi by the way, but you guessed that already.
They are a Parthian priesthood, who in their day were the kingmakers of the Middle East. And they were in Jerusalem looking for the one who was supposed to become the king of Israel. They believed those prophecies sincerely enough to make that journey.
They brought Daniel’s fortune with them, they asked king Herod: Where is He?
King Herod says: Gee I have never heard of this.
He calls the priesthood, the Jews, the high priest’s trusted scholars, and he says to them: You ever hear a prophecy of a king being born around here, a king of the Jews?
And they said: Yes. And they pointed out Micah 5:2, and they said: According to this He will be born in Bethlehem.
The Parthians said: Great we’re going there.
They went, and they found the boy and his parents who by then lived in a house, that’s how you know they didn’t arrive on the night He was born because the Bible says that they went to the house where the boy and His parents were staying.
They gave gifts to the babe, these were the gifts that tradition says had been Daniel’s treasure of gold, frankincense, and myrrh had been the treasure that Daniel handed to them to their ancestors 500 years earlier to give to this boy when He was born.
And then, being warned in a dream not to go back through Jerusalem, they went back to Parthia by a different route.
When Herod found out, he was upset and you know that he got his army together and they went through the town of Bethlehem, killed all the male babies 2 years and younger. We believe it didn’t happen on the night of His birth, because why would you kill a bunch of 2 year old boys if the kid had just been born that night? So it was sometime afterwards, and Herod was just picking a range within with this child would be.
And he figured: If I kill them all, 2 years and younger, I’ll get Him too.
Mary and Joseph, now having the means to support themselves where they didn’t have before, remember they were 100 some miles from home. Their business and everything was up in Nazareth, and they’re down in Bethlehem. They were probably pretty much destitute.
But now they’re handed this fortune, they take the money, they run into Egypt, and they use the money to support themselves during the 2 years that they were in Egypt, waiting for king Herod to die to be told it was safe to come home.
Now here’s my question.
If these Parthian priests who had heard this prophecy believed it enough to undertake this journey into enemy territory to look for this king, if the king of Israel called the priests and they confirmed in their own scriptures where He was so that the Parthians were able to get there and spot Him, my question to you is, why didn’t Herod and the priests go to Bethlehem too?
It was their own prophecies! Written in their own scriptures! By their own prophets. Why didn’t they go?
This baby had come to save them, that was His purpose. They had been waiting since Eve for Him to come, 4,000 years probably. They didn’t even go check it out! You know why? Because like a lot of theologians today, they didn’t take the Bible literally. They didn’t believe in prophecy. They didn’t expect any of this to really be fulfilled.
They didn’t have enough faith in it to even take the 5 mile journey from Jerusalem to Bethlehem to check it out. There’s a lot of people walking around like that today, aren’t there? And I’m not talking about people who aren’t believers and don’t know anything about the Bible. I’m talking about people who, some of them claim to be theologians, they have letters after their names that says they are.
And yet they would probably fail in the same test, wouldn’t they? They would probably not take the 5 mile journey to check it out, because their whole theology would be shaken if it turned out to be true.
And so, they stayed home. And they missed the central event of human history, when God had made it so clear to them.
You see the thing I have about people who, and I get letters from people who say: Is God going to condemn me just because I can’t force myself to believe this?
Come on! There isn’t anybody who can’t believe this, it’s too clear! It’s too logical! It’s too easy to prove. It doesn’t take any faith to believe this, you just take those 6 things I’ve outlined here for you and you got an ironclad case that everyone who has ever done any research on has come to the same conclusion about.
How many of you know Simon Greenleaf, a famous Jewish professor of law at Harvard University in the early part of this generation? Simon Greenleaf. He was the man to have as your professor on the rules of admissible evidence in the court of law.
If you went to Harvard law school and you had the opportunity to study under Simon Greenleaf, that’s what you did, because he’s the guy who wrote the book on this. His students challenged him to apply his teachings on the rules of admissible evidence in a court of law, to the evidence that Jesus Christ is who He claims to be. And when he got done, Simon Greenleaf became a believer, and he wrote a book called “The Testimony of the Evangelists” which is the result of his study.
He, like C.S. Lewis, and the guy wrote “Evidence That Demands a Verdict,” Josh McDowell… they all started out to prove that Jesus was a fiction of somebody’s imagination, a dream, a legend, whatever. They all wound up, after their own research, being convinced that He is exactly who He claims to be.
And so it’s because they do not want to believe, these priests in Jerusalem during the time of the Magi. It wasn’t that they couldn’t have believed this, it was that they chose not to believe it because it would have made such a dramatic negative impact on their lives.
But the Lord had seen this, and I’ll give you one last verse and then we’ll be at the end of our time for tonight. One last verse, it’s in Isaiah and it’s in Isaiah 49.
This was always part of the Lord’s plan, and before we all get frost on our nose and crumble up and fall over from freezing to death, I will just give you this verse. The father speaking to the son here in verse 6.
“It is too small a thing for you to be my servant
to restore the tribes of Jacob
and bring back those of Israel I have kept.
I will also make you a light for the Gentiles,
that you may bring my salvation may reach to the ends of the earth.”
And in the Hebrew the word for “salvation” is the Hebrew name that Gabriel told Mary to give to Jesus, Yeshua, God brings salvation.
So His name in Hebrew appears in this verse, like it does in many places in the Book of Isaiah, especially those places that talk about the Redeemer.
This is the verse, by the way, that motivated Christopher Columbus to sail to the new world. He believed that because of a dream that his parents had, that it was his job to bring God’s salvation to the ends of the Earth. His parents named him Christopher to fulfill that dream.
Christopher in Latin means Christ bearer, and they believed that it was his calling, he was born to do this, and it was based on this verse that he took his 3 little ships and set sail for the new world. Amazing things had to happen for him to be able to do that.
And king Ferdinand had to win an impossible bet in order for, they had to win an impossible victory is what it turned out to be, in order for him to approve this voyage. And that’s another whole story that you won’t read in American history in your high schools, but it happens to be the truth about how this whole thing came to be.
God had foreseen this and He had always intended that even though Jesus was sent to the Jews, even though He was of the Jewish people, He was a son of Abraham, He was from the tribe of Judah, He was from the family of David, He was the fulfillment of the Hebrew prophecies for the Messiah. It was always intended that He would bring God’s salvation to the ends of the Earth.
And the most graphic example I can give you about how that worked out, is the Parthian priests who traveled by camel 800 miles on hearsay that this was the king that was to be born, when the Jewish hierarchy 5 miles away went back to bed and forgot all about it as soon as the priests had left. That’s the different slant on the nativity that I wanted to give you tonight.
So let’s have a closing prayer and then we’ll dismiss.
Thank you Lord for this night, thank you for giving us this fascinating glimpse of how You planned all this right from the beginning and how You made it so absolutely clear to us who You were sending and what He was going to do.
Thank you for giving us the faith to believe it, and thank you for making it so obvious to us that we can’t help but believe it. Because we know Lord, if we could find any wiggle room in this we’d find it and we’d try to hedge our bets. But Lord you just put us in a position where this has to be the only possible way this could have happened. And we thank you for making that so clear to us, so that men are without excuse.
And now Lord, we celebrate once again this incredible event. And we give you thanks once again for allowing this to happen, for setting this up so that that terrible mistake that was made back there in the Garden could be reversed. And those who have been lost can be saved, those who are in bondage could be freed. Those who are in slavery can be redeemed.
We thank you and praise You and give You honor and glory in Jesus’s name.