Christmas in the Old Testament

The birth, the life, the death, and the resurrection of Jesus Christ is the most amazing drama of history. That drama was foretold in Scripture from before 400 years prior to His birth. One fact stands out. One person and only one person fits perfectly and completely the myriad of details recorded beforehand in Holy Scripture. Nowhere in either secular or religious literature is one able to find a parallel documentation for the miracle of  the pre-written life of Jesus Christ. If these prophetic details were studied honestly and carefully, there would be no unbelievers anywhere.

In the Old Testament there is a continuous and specific revelation of the Messiah’s or Christ’s coming. Such prophecies are counted dozens of times: “...behold, thy King cometh unto thee...” (Zech. 9:9); “...the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to his temple...” (Mal. 3:1); “The lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee...” (Deut. 18:15); and Isaiah said that He would be from the family of Jesse (Is. 11:1).

Then there are specific prophecies concerning Christ’s generation and birth. The line of the Seed comes first: the seed of the woman (Gen. 3:15); of Shem (Gen. 9:26,27); of Abraham (Gen. 12:3); of Isaac (Gen. 17:19); of Jacob (Gen. 28:14); of Judah (Gen. 49:10); and of David (2 Sam 7:12). Genesis 3:15 is further amplified by the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” The Hebrew word for virgin has been controversial, but its use in the Old Testament and the Greek of both the Septuagint (LXX - Is. 7:14), and the New Testament (Matt. 1:23) settles the matter. Both of the Greek texts (LXX and NT) can be translated into English only by the word “virgin.” Accompanying these specifics is Haggai 2:7: “...and the desire of all nations shall come...” (a messianic person).

There is a time set by Scripture for the coming of Christ. Balaam prophesied, “I shall see him, but not now: I shall behold him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob, and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel...” (Num. 24:17). Parallel with this is Galatians 4:4: “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, made under the law.” Jacob, in blessing his sons, said that Shiloh (Messiah) would appear before Judah lost its sovereignty as a nation (see Gen. 49:10). Daniel, in 9:26, predicted that Messiah would come before the city and the sanctuary (second Temple) would be destroyed (70 A.D.).

Finally, there would be a specific place. Psalm 72:10,11 related: “The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall render tribute; the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts. Yea, all kings shall prostrate themselves before him; all nations shall serve him” (Masoretic Text). Matthew 2:1-11 records the visit of these wise men of the East. They had been directed to Bethlehem when they inquired at Herod’s court, asking, “...Where is he that is born King of the Jews?” (from verse 2). The Jerusalem priests and scribes told them of Bethlehem and quoted Micah 5:2: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”

From those few Scriptures we glimpse the wonder of His Person when we recall the names we have seen: Immanuel, the Seed of the Woman, the Son of David, the annointed One, the Messiah, Shiloh, the Prophet, the Star out of Jacob, and the King of the Jews. There are many more to be found, but those in Isaiah 9:6 are wonderfully specific about the Child who was to be born:  For unto us a child is born. unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace.”

The Lord Jesus Christ came. He fulfilled every prophecy of His coming; and patiently He waits for men, women, and children to bow before Him, confess His name, and present Him with the gift of themselves.

Wise men still seek Christ!

Shofar Magazine, Winter Quarter, 1995