Prophecies of the coming Saviour
During the 2000 or more years since Abraham had lived, many prophets of God prophesied of the coming Messiah. We will look at just two of them:
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- Isaiah 9:6 For to us a child is born. To us a Son is given; and the government will be on His shoulders. His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
- Isaiah 53:3 He was despised, and rejected by men; a man of suffering, and acquainted with disease. He was despised as one from whom men hide their face; and we didn’t respect Him. 4 Surely He has borne our sickness, and carried our suffering; yet we considered Him plagued, struck by God, and afflicted. 5 But He was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought our peace was on Him; and by his wounds we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray. Everyone has turned to his own way; and Yahweh has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, yet when He was afflicted He didn’t open his mouth. As a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and as a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so He didn’t open his mouth.
The first prophecy describes how great and wonderful the Son of God Who would be born would be. The second prophecy tells us how the Jewish nation to whom He would be born, would treat Him. Although He would be a Jew like themselves, born from parents that were members of their own nation, they would not accept and honour, but despise and nail Him to a cross.
God involves two people in the birth of His Son Jesus
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Luke 1:26 Now in the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man whose name was Joseph, of David’s house. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28Having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, you highly favored one! The Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women!”
29 But when she saw him, she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered what kind of salutation this might be. 30 The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31 Behold, you will conceive in your womb, and give birth to a son, and will call his name ‘Jesus.’ 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, 33 and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever. There will be no end to his Kingdom.”
34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, seeing I am a virgin?”
35 The angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore also the holy one who is born from you will be called the Son of God. 36 Behold, Elizabeth, your relative, also has conceived a son in her old age; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. 37 For nothing spoken by God is impossible.”
38 Mary said, “Behold, the servant of the Lord; let it be done to me according to your word.”
The angel departed from her.
We read in Genesis 3:15 that God had promised that a Child from Eve’s descendants would be born Who would crush the head of the serpent, that is the devil. Many, many years passed during which millions of people lived and died. Then, at the right time, God fulfilled His promise and His Son was born as a human being.
Since He would be the Son of God, He could not have an earthly father. God, the Holy Spirit, would Himself come to plant the Holy Heavenly Seed of Jesus, the Son, into Mary. The Child that would then be born from her, would be the Son of God, but also the son of man, since He would have a human mother.
The angel said that the Son’s name was to be “Jesus” which means “Saviour” for He would deliver every person who would believe in Him, from the power of sin and of satan.
When all this was explained to Mary, she agreed that God could use her to bring His Son into the world.
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Matthew 1:18 Now the birth of Jesus Christ was like this; for after his mother, Mary, was engaged to Joseph, before they came together, she was found pregnant by the Holy Spirit. 19 Joseph, her husband, being a righteous man, and not willing to make her a public example, intended to put her away secretly. 20 But when he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take to yourself Mary, your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 She shall give birth to a son. You shall call his name Jesus, for it is he who shall save his people from their sins.”
22 Now all this has happened, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, 23“Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall give birth to a son. They shall call his name Immanuel”; which is, being interpreted, “God with us.”
24 Joseph arose from his sleep, and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took his wife to himself; 25 and didn’t know her sexually until she had given birth to her firstborn son. He named him Jesus.
Mary was betrothed to Joseph, and they would be married after some time. Because they were godly people, they did not sleep with one another before getting married.
Mary became pregnant as the angel said it would be. She apparently did not tell Joseph what the Lord intended to do in her. Perhaps she was afraid he would not believe her. When it became clear that she was expecting a child, she could no longer remain silent.
Joseph was shocked to hear that she bore someone else’s child. However, because he was a man of God and loved her, he decided not to tell others, but to rather divorce her. God then intervened, telling him in a dream what was really happening. He was relieved and then quickly married Mary.
In verses 22 and 23, we are referred to another of the prophet Isaiah’s prophecies made hundreds of years before about the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. (Isaiah 7:14).
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Luke 2:1 Now in those days, a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. 2 This was the first enrollment made when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 All went to enroll themselves, everyone to his own city. 4 Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to David’s city, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David; 5 to enroll himself with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him as wife, being pregnant.
6 While they were there, the day had come for her to give birth. 7 She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a feeding trough, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Jesus was not born as an earthly King’s son in a palace, but in a stall, in a manger where sheep, cattle and goats were usually kept and fed. God did it like this so the poorest of people can believe that God loves all people and not just the wealthy.
Shepherds are first to hear of Jesus’ birth
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Luke 2:8 There were shepherds in the same country staying in the field, and keeping watch by night over their flock. 9 Behold, an angel of the Lord stood by them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 The angel said to them, “Don’t be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be to all the people. 11 For there is born to you today, in David’s city, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 This is the sign to you: you will find a baby wrapped in strips of cloth, lying in a feeding trough.” 13 Suddenly, there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army praising God, and saying,
14 “Glory to God in the highest, on earth peace, good will toward men.”
15 When the angels went away from them into the sky, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem, now, and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 They came with haste, and found both Mary and Joseph, and the baby was lying in the feeding trough. 17 When they saw it, they publicized widely the saying which was spoken to them about this child. 18All who heard it wondered at the things which were spoken to them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these sayings, pondering them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, just as it was told them.
God openly announced the birth of His Son. The first people to whom He revealed this great news, were lowly shepherds who were out in the open fields during that night, guarding their sheep. He sent a messenger from heaven, an angel, to tell them. He also sent a heavenly chorus of angels to confirm it through a song of praise.
The shepherds then went to the stable and found it just as the angel had told them it would be. They were so excited that they went all over, testifying of what they had heard and seen.