The Christmas story didn’t begin in a manger some 2,000 years ago, but in the Garden of Eden some 4,000 years before that—when the Fall of Man occurred and God foretold the future arrival of a Savior, the Messiah, who would redeem mankind (Genesis 3:15).
This was the first of hundreds of Messianic prophecies given by God throughout the Old Covenant, foretelling this future Messiah’s identity as well as myriad aspects of His incarnation, life, ministry, miracles, death, resurrection, ascension, etc. These prophecies were provably recorded hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of years before Messiah’s arrival on the world scene, including that:
He would be born in Bethlehem. “But you, Bethlehem, though you are little....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).
He would be born of a virgin. “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a Son, and will call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14).
He would be Son of God. Proverbs 30:4 describes the Almighty and inquires: “What is His name, and what is His Son’s name, if you know?”
He would be Immanuel (Isaiah 7:14), meaning “God with us,” equal to and one with God. “And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
He would be born to die. Hundreds of years before Christ’s advent, both King David and Isaiah were separately given visions of His execution on the cross. They recorded their visions, respectively, in Psalm 22 (details such as the piercing of His hands and feet, the gambling for His robe, etc.) and Isaiah 53 (the purpose of this deicide, the Innocent One dying in place of the guilty).
As God in human flesh who came to die for our sins, He would be the world’s only Savior. “Kiss the Son lest He be angry and your way leads to your destruction” (Psalm 2:12).
The Old Testament also contains numerous stories that uncannily foreshadowed significant events in the life of Yeshua (Jesus), including His substitutional death and bodily resurrection. For instance, the Genesis account of when God commanded Abraham to take his beloved “only son” Isaac, the “son of promise,” up on a mountain and sacrifice him (Genesis 22). When Abraham had Isaac on the altar of wood and was about to obey, God stopped him and revealed a ram whose horns were caught in a thicket (a crown of thorns). Abraham loosed Isaac and used the ram with the crown of thorns as a substitutional sacrifice as directed by God, just as Jesus wore a crown of thorns and was a sinless substitutional sacrifice on a mountain for each one of us on the wooden altar of the tree, or cross.
The Old Testament states that “cursed is anyone who hangs on a tree,” and Jesus literally became our curse upon that tree, the curse of our sin, and paid for it in full there. Thus, the free gift of salvation removes forever the stain of sin from the offense, man’s fall into disobedience and rebellion (Isaiah 1:18, Colossians 2:13-14, Romans 5).
Before climbing the mountain, Abraham told His servants that he and the boy would be returning together. That’s because God had already assured him that the Messianic line would continue through his seed (Isaac, the first natural-born Jew whose descendants would include Moses, King David and ultimately Jesus, the divine “Son of Promise”). Abraham had every intention of obeying God and sacrificing Isaac, as he demonstrated at the altar. So by telling his servants that the boy would be coming back with him, he was essentially saying he believed that God was going to raise his son from the dead.
Another example was Passover, when God’s people were saved by shedding the blood of the spotless lambs —a foreshadowing of the ultimate sacrifice that would be made by the true Spotless Lamb. Indeed, Christ was crucified on Passover. He was tried (tested) by Pilate even as the spotless lambs were being tried (examined) by the high priest in the temple. When the high priest declared that a lamb was spotless, the lamb was sacrificed; similarly, when Pilate declared of Jesus, “I find no fault in Him,” it meant He too was spotless (sinless) and could then be sacrificed.
It’s no wonder that some 2,000 years after His incarnation, as a babe in a manger, we still sing songs at this time of year about Him with words like these: “Hark the herald angels sing/ Glory to the newborn King/ Peace on earth and mercy mild/ God and sinners reconciled/ Christ by highest heav’n adored/ Christ the everlasting Lord!/ Veiled in flesh the Godhead see/ Hail the incarnate Deity/ Mild He lays His glory by/ Born that man no more may die/ Born to raise the sons of earth/ Born to give them second birth/ Hark! The herald angels sing, “Glory to the newborn King!”
“Real Answers™” furnished courtesy of The Amy Foundation Internet Syndicate. To contact the author or The Amy Foundation, write or E-mail to: P. O. Box 16091, Lansing, MI 48901-6091; firstname.lastname@example.org.