Christmas and the Prophecies of the Birth and Nature of Jesus

by
Christmas Prophecies of Jesus

Adoration of the Shepherds (oil on canvas) by Guido Reni (1575–1642)

One of the reasons that the Bible is thought by so many to be the inspired word of God is because it has writings which predict events far future from the dates of those writings. Through linguistics, archaeology and general historical analysis of various kinds, we can determine the approximate dates (sometimes very precise dates) of certain Old Testament (OT) writings, and we can clearly see the writings to have taken place long before the events they predict. To then be confronted by writings which predict things hundreds of years into the future is quite extraordinary. As they pertain to the birth of Jesus of Nazareth, the writings of the OT demonstrate the amazing quality and accuracy.

The OT writings, which were also canonized as the inspired word of God, contain many predictions of events to come. The main focus of these predictions rests on one central figure – the Messiah, the coming Savior. Judaism expected and continues to expect a future Messiah. However, those closest to Jesus, who became the earliest Christians, did at one point or another see the fulfillment of these prophecies in Jesus of Nazareth. The prophecies written centuries before were being fulfilled in their presence, and though they mostly recognized them in hindsight because of their otherwise inaccurate expectations of what the Messiah would accomplish, the fulfillment of the multitudes of OT prophecies were nonetheless quite staggering. So what were some of these predictions about the Messiah that they found compelling reasons to identify Jesus as that foretold Messiah? There are far more than we can look at. For this specific piece let’s look at some of the ones that pertain to his birth, the celebration that we’ve come to know as Christmas.

1. The Messiah (the Christ, the Savior) will be born of a virgin

The Prophecy:

“Then Isaiah said, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” – Isaiah 7:14

Isaiah wrote during the reign of Uzziah, Jotham and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. This puts his writings the latest at roughly around 700 BC. There is some indication that at least the early portions of the writings took place much earlier. For example, in chapter 6 Isaiah refers to the death of King Uzziah, which took place 740 BC. Isaiah is also mentioned repeatedly in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles. Thus Isaiah wrote this prophecy, along with all other ones, centuries before Jesus’ birth.

The Fulfillment

“This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.” – Matthew 1:18, 24, 25 (also Luke 1:26-35)

2. The baby will be the Son of God

Son of God refers to the one with the same nature as God.

The Prophecy

“I will declare the decree:
The Lord has said to Me,
‘You are My Son,
Today I have begotten You.”
– Psalm 2:7 (also 1 Chr. 17:11-14; 2 Sam. 7:12-16)

The Fulfillment

“And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”
– Matthew 3:17 (also Matt. 16:16; Mark 9:7; Luke 9:35; 22:70; Acts 13:30-33 John 1:34, 49.)

3. The Messiah will be Abraham’s seed

The Messiah would come from the Hebrew race through Abraham’s lineage, in effect narrowing down the possible Messianic candidates.

The Prophecy

“…and through your offspring[b] all nations on earth will be blessed,[c] because you have obeyed me.” Genesis 22:18 (NIV) (also Gen. 12:2,3)

The Fulfillment

“This is the genealogy[a] of Jesus the Messiah[b] the son of David, the son of Abraham”
– Matthew 1:1

“The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ.”
– Galatians 3:16

4. The Messiah will be the descendant of Isaac

Since Abraham had two sons, half the lineage is eliminated.

The Prophecy

“But God said to Abraham, ‘Do not let it be displeasing in your sight because of the lad or because of your bondwoman. Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice; for in Isaac your seed shall be called.”
– Genesis 21:12

The Fulfillment

“Jesus…the son of Isaac.”
– Luke 3:23,34 (also Matt. 1:2)

5. The Messiah will be the descendant of Jacob

Since Isaac had two sons, half the lineage is eliminated.

The Prophecy

“I see Him, but not now;
I behold Him, but not near;
A Star shall come out of Jacob;
A Scepter shall rise out of Israel,
And batter the brow of Moab,
And destroy all the sons of tumult.”
– Numbers 24:17 (also Gen. 35:10-12)

The Fulfillment

“Jesus, the son of Jacob.”
– Luke 3:23, 34 (also Matt. 1:2; Luke 1:33)

6. The Messiah will be a descendant from the tribe of Judah

Since Jacob had 12 sons, from whom the 12 tribes of the Hebrew nation were formed, the prophecy narrows the lineage down to one. It is in essence eliminating 11 out of the 12 candidates (excluding population numbers).

The Prophecy

“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.”
– Genesis 49:10 (also Mic. 5:2)

The Fulfillment

“Jesus, the son of Judah.”
– Luke 3:23, 33 (also Matt. 2:1; Heb. 7:14)

7. The Messiah will be from the family line of Jesse

This eliminates a vast spectrum of other family lines.

The Prophecy

“There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse,
And a Branch shall grow out of his roots.”
– Isaiah 11:1 (also Is. 1:10)

The Fulfillment

“Jesus, the son of Jesse.”
– Luke 3:23, 32 (also Matt. 1:6)

8. The Messiah will be from the House of David

Since Jesse had at least eight sons, at least seven-eighths of the lineage is eliminated.

The Prophecy

““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

The Fulfillment

“Jesus, the son of David…”
– Luke 3:23, 31 (also Matt. 1:1; 9:27; 15:22; 20:30, 31; 21:9…)

9. The Messiah will be born in Bethlehem

Though Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth, an incredible set of circumstances beyond their control led them to Bethlehem, where Jesus was born. Bethlehem, which means, “house of bread,” then fittingly becomes the birthplace of the one who is known as the “Bread of Life.” All other cities in the world are thus eliminated from being the birthplace of the Messiah.

The Prophecy

“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.”
– Micah 5:2

We know for a fact that Micah wrote roughly around 700 BC, most likely between 725-710 BC. Micah 6 is addressed to “Israel” and chapter 1 speaks of the downfall of Samaria, an indication that it had to have happened before 722. Also, Jeremiah’s quotation of chapter 3 (Jer 26:18 , 19 ) would date that section during Hezekiah’s reign. Micah’s description of the prevailing corruption and immorality would fit conditions in the reign of Ahaz (735-715). Therefore, it seems likely that the bulk of his recorded prophetic oracles were uttered in the period 725-710 BC, multiple centuries before the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.

The Fulfillment

“Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea.”
– Matthew 2:1 (Matt. 2:4; Luke 2:4-7; John 7:42)

10. The Messiah will be presented with gifts

Wise men from the east brought gifts.

The Prophecy

“The kings of Tarshish and of the isles
Will bring presents;
The kings of Sheba and Seba
Will offer gifts.”
– Psalm 72:10 (also Is. 60:6)

The Fulfillment

“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi(wise men) from the east came to Jerusalem..And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.”
– Matthew 2:1, 11

It’s also noteworthy that the Magi who had previously met Herod, who bore far more resemblance to a king than a mere child from humble beginnings born in a manger, did not treat Herod with as much reverence as they did this child, whom they gave such gifts of royal magnitude and worshiped.

11. Near the time of Messiah’s birth King Herod will murder children

Herod had set out to murder all male children under two years old in and around Bethlehem because he was threatened by the Messiah, who was foretold to be a great king.

The Prophecy

“A voice is heard in Ramah,
mourning and great weeping,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”
– Jeremiah 31:15

The Fulfillment

“When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi.”
– Matthew 2:16

12. The Messiah would preexist his human birth

The fact that the Son of God did not come into existence when He came in the flesh, but He has existed eternally.

The Prophecy

“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.”
– Micah 5:2 (also Ps. 102:25; Prov. 8:22-23; Is. 9:6-7; 41:4; 44:6; 48:12)

“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.
Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.
The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”
– Isaiah 9:6-7

The child was born, but a Son was given. The Son existed and was given. Upon the Son’s shoulders will be the rule of all things. There is no end to his rule or peace. Jesus is also referred to as Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace.

The Fulfillment

“And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.”
– Colossians 1:17 (also John 17:5, 24; Rev. 1:1, 2; 1:17; 2:8; 8:58; 22:13)

14. The Messiah is to be called “Lord”

The Prophecy

“The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.”
The Lord shall send the rod of Your strength out of Zion.
Rule in the midst of Your enemies!”
– Psalm 110:1 (also Jer. 23:6)

The Fulfillment

“For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”
– Luke 2:11

Jesus was to be called “Lord” even by his patriarchs, which makes little sense unless he was in some sense much greater than them:

“While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them, 42 saying, “What do you think about the Christ? Whose Son is He?”
They said to Him, “The Son of David.”
He said to them, “How then does David in the Spirit call Him ‘Lord,’ saying:
‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
Till I make Your enemies Your footstool”’?
If David then calls Him ‘Lord,’ how is He his Son?” And no one was able to answer Him a word, nor from that day on did anyone dare question Him anymore.”
– Matthew 22:41-46

15. The Messiah will be called Immanuel “God with us”

The Prophecy

“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

The Fulfillment

“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.””
– Matthew 1:23 (also Luke 7:16)

16. The Messiah will be a Prophet

The Prophecy

“I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among their brethren, and will put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.”
– Deuteronomy 18:18

The Fulfillment

“So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.””
– Matthew 21:11 (also Luke 7:16; John 4:19; 6:14; 7:40)

17. The Messiah will be a Priest

The Prophecy

“The Lord has sworn
And will not relent,
“You are a priest forever
According to the order of Melchizedek.””
– Psalm 110:4

The Fulfillment

“Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Christ Jesus”
– Hebrews 3:1

18. The Messiah will be a Judge

The Prophecy

“For the Lord is our Judge,
The Lord is our Lawgiver,
The Lord is our King;
He will save us;”
– Isaiah 33:22

The Fulfillment

“I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me.”
– John 5:30 (also 2 Tim. 4:1)

19. The Messiah will be a King

The Prophecy

“Yet I have set My King
On My holy hill of Zion.”
– Psalm 2:6 (also Jer. 23:5; Zech. 9:9)

The Fulfillment

“And they put up over His head the accusation written against Him:
THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”
– Matthew 27:37 (also Matt. 21:5; John 18:33-38)

20. The Messiah will be specially anointed of the Holy Spirit

The Prophecy

“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.”
– Isaiah 11:2 (also Ps. 45:7; Is. 42:1; 61:1-2)

The Fulfillment

“When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He[c] saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. 17 And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.””
– Matthew 3:16 (also Matt. 12:17-21; Mark 1:10-11; Luke 4:15-21, 43; John 1:32)

How do the prophecies of the Messiah relate to Christmas?

The OT prophets pointed forward to a Savior to come who would once and for all atone for the sins of all people. Jesus was not born to help us live better lives though he does help us do that through his teachings. Jesus was not born to give us mystical knowledge. Jesus was not born to be a good moral teacher, though he was that. His ultimate purpose is referred to within the writings of the old testament, which testify to his authority, mercy and love.

Christmas is all about the sinless innocent child – sinless God incarnated into human flesh, an innocent and ultimate sacrifice of God giving his very own son to be born as a human being and die a death undeserved to atone for the sins of the world. This is the Christmas message. Light has come into the darkness!

Other Significant Materials About Christmas

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