Dec29TueDecember 29, 2015
I preached this message on December 13:
It doesn't work to start in the middle of a story. You can't crack open a novel and begin reading in the middle and hope to make any sense out of what is happening. Characters, conversations, plots don't make any sense. If you start in the Christmas season with the baby in Bethlehem, you're not starting at the beginning of the story; you're starting at the middle of the story, and there'll be things that don't make any sense. You have to begin in the roots of the story.
So that is what I want to do this morning - I want to look at some selected Scriptures in the Old Testament to help us understand the bigger picture of what is going on in the Christmas story and therefore give us a greater view of God and a deeper love and appreciation for our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
There are approximately 330 prophecies in the OT about Christ and a great deal of them were fulfilled in His first coming. Some are veiled and vague but others are quite specific and full of rich detail. Some we are quite familiar with but others we will look at are not quite so familiar.
What better place to start then the very beginning? God has created the universe and called it "very good" but now in Genesis 3 it is very apparent that something is wrong. Something terrible has happened: sin has entered humanity and instead of life and pleasure and abundance there is now death and pain and alienation.
At first glance this verse is very vague.
No doubt Adam and Eve did not grasp its full significance but it is rightly referred to as the protoevangelium for it is a prophecy concerning the incarnation and ministry of a Deliverer. As such it lays the foundation for many promises and prophecies to follow. It is the gospel and the whole Bible in one verse. As Scripture unfolds its truth becomes plainer and plainer. Scripture unveils the serpent is Satan and the seed of the woman is Christ born of the virgin Mary.
Notice it speaks of the seed of a woman. Biologically that makes no sense. It is impossible. A woman doesn't have seed, man does. This is why we understand it to point to the virgin birth of Christ who was conceived not by man but by the Holy Spirit.
Two things are stated about Satan and the Christ:
First, the Christ would crush the serpent's head. This clearly portrays a mortal wound which means the Christ would be victorious.
Second, Satan would bruise the heel of Christ meaning he would suffer, but it would not be mortal or lead to defeat.
Thus a deliverer who suffers, but is ultimately victorious is promised! Do you see the gospel in that? Most likely, Jesus death was his heel being bruised and Satan's head being crushed will happen when Jesus returns and throws him into the lake of fire.
The whole earth had fallen and been scattered across the globe (Gen. 11). The world lay in humanism, idolatry and unbelief. But just as in the days of Noah, God always his remnant and as a faithful and sovereign God he calls Abraham that he might fulfill his promises of a Messiah through him.
Fatherless Abraham is promised he will be the father of a great nation that would bless the entire earth.
See Galatians 3:16
See Galatians 3:8
See Matthew 1:1-17: It can be tempting to skip Jesus' family line but notice who it begins with - Abraham!
That's why the genealogy of Jesus is given in Matthew 1 so that we might understand that Jesus is the one through whom all the families of the earth will be blessed.
As you read through Genesis you see this promise unfolded as it passes first to Isaac then to Jacob who in turn passes it on to Judah.
Jacob is on his death bed giving blessings to his 12 sons but the one he gives to Judah is the most important. It is a prophecy that describes the future of Israel and tells us some things about the Savior.
Judah means "praise" and so God would do that which would cause men to lift their voice to him in praise.
Scepter refers to the right to rule.
Shiloh is a messianic title that most likely means "he to whom it belongs" or "the right to rule."
So from this we see that the royal line would extend through Judah and that out of Judah would come the future ruler of the world, the Messiah
What in the world are verses 11-12 about? They are about abundance and prosperity! Wine is the image of prosperity and blessing! So prosperous will that day be that even the choicest vines will be put to such everyday use as tethering the beast of burden and they will wash their clothes in wine!
You see, it is a picture of being ridiculously prosperous and blessed! It is a picture of abundant wealth. A golden age of future blessing. And it is a prophecy of the future heavenly kingdom that Jesus will usher in when he returns to live and reign in perfect peace and righteousness.
Jesus incarnation was a massive step in this direction for before Christ will rule in this way he must first provide a way of salvation.
See Luke 1:33
The immediate fulfillment of this passage is found in Solomon however it also extends far beyond him to our Lord Jesus Christ who is the son of David.
Isaiah 9:7: Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
Jeremiah 23:5-6: “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. 6 In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The Lord Our Righteous Savior."
It is of huge significance therefore that the angel Gabriel says to Mary, "The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David…" and Zechariah filled with the Holy Spirit says, "Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, because he has come and has redeemed his people. He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago)."
Of course I have to mention Psalm 2. This is a wonderful mission and christmas hymn. It speaks of the Messiah as the One whom God will install as His King over Israel. He will be given the nations as His inheritance, and He will rule over those who seek to oppose him. The nations are thus urged to worship God now, or face the wrath of His coming King.
That this is Jesus is made plain by Luke 3:22 where God says of Jesus, "This is my Son, with whom I am well pleased."
So Jesus lineage traces all the way back to Eve. He is the Son of Abraham, the Son of Isaac, the Son of Jacob, the Son of Judah, the Son of David, the Son of God!
By way of background, Syria and Israel waged war against Judah, striking fear into King Ahaz. In this hour of great calamity, the Lord urged Ahaz to be calm and trust in Him. The Lord also invited Ahaz to ask for a sign of divine protection in the present crisis. Wicked Ahaz, however, determined not to accept God's provision, feigned humility and secured military assistance from Assyria. The prophet Isaiah thus declared that since Ahaz had refused God's sign of divine assistance, God would give a greater sign that would guarantee the threatened kingly line of David: a virgin will give birth to a son named Immanuel "God with us."
While there is an immediate fulfillment to this text, the vision of the prophet is primarily looking far beyond the present, 700 years to the future.
See Mathew 1:21-23
Mary's conception of Jesus was a biological miracle. The Bible explicitly denies any role of a man in Mary's conception of Jesus. Instead, her pregnancy was due to an extraordinary creative act of the Holy Spirit. This ensures that Jesus is the God/Man - fully God and fully man yet without sin.
The OT also prophesies where Jesus would be born: the insignificant little town of Bethlehem. This was of course the hometown of David also. As David had been the least notable of his brothers, so Bethlehem was the least honorable among the town of Judah.
I love how God works - the most insignificant town would bring forth the most significant person.
Notice this verse also speaks of Christ being divine - he is pre-existent.
The NT identifies this as the birthplace of Jesus in Matthew 2.
We often miss the context of these verses. For her sins, Israel will face affliction but God's ultimate purpose for them was life not death, salvation, not enslavement (vv. 1-2).
So with verse 3 begins an explanation of how God would offer his people comfort.
Whenever there was an arriving monarch, somebody came before that monarch to announce to the citizens that he was coming and worthy of great honor. They were to make everything ready for his arrival.
That is what John the Baptist did for Jesus. Matthew 3:1-3.
In Israel's dark days came John the Baptist preparing the way for God's refreshment: the Lord Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 11:1-2 says, "A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
See also Matthew 3:16/Acts 10:38
In these verses, David, a man after God's own heart, recognized that God desires a committed life of obedience. Though David failed to fulfill this commitment daily, which is true of all of us as well, it was fulfilled perfectly in the earthly ministry of Jesus Christ.
John 8:28-29 Jesus says, "So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. 29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.”
Isaiah 61:1-2: The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn,
If there is any doubt that this refers to Jesus just look at Luke 4:14ff.
Notice also how Mark says Jesus began his ministry, "After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. The time has come, he said, The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" Mark 1:14ff.
God had originally spoken directly to the assembly of Israel at Sinai out of the fire. Out of fear, however, the elders of Israel asked Moses to be a mediator between God and them, receiving the message from God and delivering it to them. This marked the beginning of the office of prophet.
Moses was the first, and in many respects, the preeminent prophet.
V.v. 15, 18 - ultimately refers to Jesus. John 6:14; Acts 3:17-23; 7:37
But that’s not all. A search through the rest of Scripture would reveal dozens of other details prophesied about the Messiah, including the following facts:
He would enter Jerusalem on a donkey’s colt (Matthew 21:4–10; Zechariah 9:9).
He would be betrayed by a friend (John 13:18; Psalm 41:9).
The betrayal would be for 30 pieces of silver (Matthew 26:14–16; Zechariah 11:12).
The money would be used to purchase the potter’s field (Matthew 27:3–10; Zechariah 11:13).
The Messiah would die a sacrificial death for us (Matthew 27:50; 2 Corinthians 5:21; Daniel 9:26; Isaiah 53:8).
He would die with criminals but His burial would be with the wealthy (Matthew 27:57–60; Luke 23:33; Isaiah 53:9).
He would rise from the dead (Matthew 28:6; Psalm 16:8–11; Isaiah 53:10).
He would say certain words on the Cross. He would be mocked, and people would gamble for His clothes (Psalm 22:1, 8, 18).
Many other prophecies could be listed that were perfectly fulfilled in the life of Jesus Christ. These were not lucky guesses made by fraudulent prognosticators; they were precise prophecies made by the all-knowing God of the Bible who repeatedly demonstrated that He has perfect knowledge of all past, present, and future events
The primary point of application from this is that Christmas is the focal point of history! It was not a spur of the moment thing. From this flows a number of other points of application:
First, Christmas is not about you. Yes, by God's rich grace we are included in the grand plan, but we are not the center of God's plan. Christmas is about Jesus. I love how Ephesians 1 says Christ is the sum of all things. Christ is the sum and substance of Christmas.
Revelation 13:8 says Jesus is the lamb slain before the foundation of the world. The humanity of Christ, like the whole plan of redemption, was purposed by God before the foundation of the world. Human history is not random but demonstration that God is sovereign and in total control of the world. God has a master plan and he is carrying it out and at the crux of it is Jesus Christ incarnation, death, resurrection, and exaltation!
All of history centers on Jesus Christ!
Human history may be pictured as an hourglass with all prior happenings leading to the center of Bethlehem and all events subsequently flowing from the incarnation.
So this Christmas, let us cast ourselves totally and exclusively on Christ and Christ alone! This Christmas, may God give us a fresh vision of the wonder and supremacy of Christ! This Christmas, may the greatest gift be that we are each spurred on to a deeper love for Jesus the King. As the hymnist Elizabeth Prentiss simply wrote, "More love to Thee, o Christ; More love to thee!" May God forbid that any of us have a Christless Christmas. That is pretty useless. It is pretty easy to say "Jesus is the reason for the season" and yet not see Jesus or just go on autopilot. What are you going to do this Christmas to make sure Christ is at the center of it - not you or anything else? This year plead with the Spirit to interrupt your nice Christmas with the power of Jesus' gospel. This year may God give us a simple Christ focused on a simple message: Jesus Christ.
Second, live passionately for Jesus. How could we not? God's Word is faithful and reliable. He has fulfilled with incredible detail some amazing promises which assures us that God is faithful and powerful and able. Dwelling on God's promises fulfilled in Christmas should fill our hearts with hope and assurance and peace that also translates into righteous living. Thinking on all the OT Prophecies fulfilled we should be fully persuaded that God has power to do what he promised and therefore I can live without fear! I can give myself to him!
Third, live patiently for Jesus. God keeps perfect time. God is patient. He does not rush into swift judgment. He is bringing all things to their appointed times. We do not need to get caught up into the hectic craziness of our times. We live in a day of chaos and change. It is being ripped apart by strife, murder, war, moral breakdown, broken homes. But God is not powerless and God is not finished. Jesus came to usher history along. Jesus coming was a key event in the unfolding of God's redemptive plan. We don't need to nor should we ever panic. Left to ourselves we turn too quickly to the false gods of convenience. But Christmas reminds us that time is precious and that God is working things out perfectly. Wait upon him. Trust him.
Fourth, put your trust in Jesus. God's purpose in history is to sum up all things in Christ. God's purpose in history is to sum up all things in Christ. We are to cast ourselves totally and exclusively on Christ and Christ alone. He alone can save you. He alone can sanctify you. He alone can assure your entrance into his heavenly kingdom. He alone can sustain you. He alone is your hope, your joy, your comfort, your motivation. Every spiritual blessing comes from Christ. Trust in Jesus. Christianity is Christ. Christmas is about Christ. Have you personally trusted in Christ? Do you have a loving, saving relationship with the eternal Christ who became flesh? "though Christ be born a thousand times in Bethlehem be born, If He's not born in thee Thy soul is still forlorn." - Angelius Silesius