Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Meditations: Prophecies of Christ's birth

On Monday, I read several chapters from Mark Driscoll and Gerry Breshears's book Vintage Jesus. (By the way, I'll give a review of this book when I finish it. I have a few things to say about it . . . ) These chapters focused on the Messianic prophecies and the virgin birth and were especially appropriate for reading this week. I like the detail and organization of chapter three, "How did people know Jesus was coming?" They give the date of the prophecy and a short summary, the promise, and then the fulfillment. Here are a few passages that relate to Christ's birth:

1) 4000 B.C.: Adam and Eve receive the prophecy that the prophecy that the Messiah (Jesus) would be born of a woman.
PROMISE: "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel" (Gen. 3:15).
FULFILLMENT: "But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law" (Gal. 4:4).
2) 2000 B.C.: Abraham receives teh promise that the Messiah (Jesus) would descend from Abraham, through his son Isaac (not Ishmael), Isaac's son Jacob (not Esau), and Jacob's son Judah (not any of the other eleven brothers).
PROMISE: "In you [Abraham] all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Gen. 12:3); "God said, 'No, but Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac. I will establish my covenant with him as an everlasting covenant for his offspring after him'" (Gen. 17:19); " see him, but not now; I behold him, but not near: a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel (Num. 24:17); "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples" (Gen. 49:10).
FULFILLMENT: "The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham. Abraham was the father of Isaac, and Isaac the father of Jacob, and the father of Judah and his brothers (Matt. 1:1-2)
3) 700 B.C.: Isaiah prophesies that Jesus' mother would be a virgin who conceived by a miracle and that Jesus would be God who became a man.
PROMISE: "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel" (Isa. 7:14).
FULFILLMENT: "Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, 'Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.' All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: 'Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel' (which means, God with us)" (Matt. 1:18-19).
4) 700 B.C.: Micah prophesies that Jesus would be born in the town of Bethlehem.
PROMISE: "But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days" (Mic. 5:2).
FULFILLMENT: "In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn" (Luke 2:1-7).
5) 700 B.C.: Isaiah prophesies that Jesus would live his life without committing any sins.
PROMISE: "And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth" (Isa. 53:9).
FULFILLMENT: "For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth" (I Pet. 2:21-22).
6) 700 B.C.: Hosea prophesies that Jesus' family would flee as refugees to Egypt to save his young life.
PROMISE: "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son" (Hos. 11:1).
FULFILLMENT: "Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, "Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him." And he rose and took the child and his mother by night and departed to Egypt and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, "Out of Egypt I called my son'" (Matt. 2:13-15).
7) 400 B.C.: Malachi prophesies that Jesus would enter the temple. This is important because the temple was destroyed in A.D. 70 and no longer exists; subsequently, the prophecy could not have been fulfilled anytime after A.D. 70.
PROMISE: "'Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the LORD of hosts" (Mal. 3:1).
FULFILLMENT: "Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law" (Luke 2:25-27).
The rest of the Messianic prophecies discussed in this chapter relate to Christ's life, death, and resurrection, so I'll maybe mention those later.

As I was researching the Messianic prophecies, I found this website with a chart giving the prophecy, Old Testament scripture, and the New Testament fulfillment. He also gives a list of the 300 Messianic prophecies.

I've also heard before the odds that one person could fulfill all of the prophecies of Christ's birth and found the statistics here
Jesus would be a descendant of David.
104 (1 in 10,000)
Jesus would be born in Bethlehem.
105 (1 in 100,000)
Jesus would be a miracle worker.
105 (1 in 100,000)
Jesus would present Himself as King riding on a donkey.
106 (1 in 1,000,000)
Jesus would be betrayed by a friend for 30 pieces of silver.
106 (1 in 1,000,000)
Jesus would be crucified.
106 (1 in 1,000,000)
Jesus would first present Himself as King 173,880 days from the decree of Artaxerxes to rebuild Jerusalem.    

106 (1 in 1,000,000)

Total Probability (without God)
1038 (1 in a 100 billion, billion, billion, billion)

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