The Promise of a Messiah

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Prophecy and the Birth of a Messiah

Each December at the Hanukkah and Christmas season, we find a fresh opportunity to review God’s great promises concerning the Messiah who would come to save us from our sins.

The very first Messianic prophecy is found in Genesis 3:12-15 following the fall of mankind:

The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this, Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.”

From Genesis 3 forward, God had a plan and promise to deal with the fallen creation. He cursed the earth and the snake, but not the man and woman. Instead he promised a “seed” that would deal with the Satan head to head, in a fight to the finish. It’s a curse, so we know who would win.

A Virgin Birth

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. – Isaiah 7:14

God’s “messianic” promise relates to the line of those who were “anointed,” specifically the king of the house and lineage of David (2 Sam 7). This was the kingdom of God, entrusted to earthly under-shepherd /monarchs. The kings that followed were all too human, starting with David and Solomon. All too often they forgot that God was the true king and thought it was about them. There was a natural longing for the perfect king to come.

At the time of Isaiah, that line was also threatened by the nations, especially Assyria, who would take away the Northern Kingdom. Within a few chapters, Isaiah promised that the Davidic king line would continue. Isa 7:14 speaks of a child to be born of a virgin, Isa 9 speaks of a king who would combine human attributes with those otherwise attributed to God, and Isa 11 speaks of a “new David,” from the rootstock of Jesse, who would be that perfect king in a perfect world to come.

Later in Isaiah, the promise of the king is combined with the prophecy of a suffering servant (Isa. 53), who would bring justice and righteousness (Isa. 42) and deliver the poor and captive (Isa. 61).

The City of Messiah’s Birth is Foretold

But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times. – Micah 5:2

Like the little town and like David the shepherd boy, the messiah would have humble beginnings.

Just from these prophecies (and there are more!), we get the following picture: There would come a son of David, of the “house and lineage of David.” He would not be the normal king, but would have humble beginnings, born in little Bethlehem, of a virgin. Unlike David (and all the others), he would be a perfect king. He would not be a normal king, but would be known for his suffering and even death, but would be alive again. He would bring together attributes both human and divine. His kingdom would be mean the earthly manifestation of the Kingdom of God. He would fulfill the very first promise to deal with problem of sin, Satan, death, once and for all. Like the prophecies themselves, there is a sense that the king will lead his people into the future; thus the “new creation” of Isa 11 enters into the realm of this world but also speaks to a time beyond history as we know it.

Each of these promises and prophecies finds its fulfillment in Y’shua.

The great promise of God coming among mankind is contained in Isaiah 9:6-7:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 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.

The child born will be the one who carries the government on His shoulders. He will be the counselor who is wonderful; God who is almighty, the eternal father in human form, and the Sar Shalom - the price of peace who establishes peace with us and the Father through his ultimate payment for our sins.

Knowing that God has made his promises long before Messiah came gives us great hope. Most people are unfamiliar with even these basic prophecies, so this season is a great time to invite your friends to find out more by reading for themselves the Book of Matthew where promises are stated and fulfillment shown.

Written by Dr. Andy Bartelt