On the radio today I heard a rather new book being advertised about how the Old Testament predicted the coming of Jesus Christ! Really?!? Wow … who knew? Breaking news! Astonishing findings!
I jest a bit, as actually the book is probably pretty good, though it is not from a theological scholar.
In fact, there are multiple hundreds of allusions to Christ the Messiah in the Old Testament. And a number of these are especially familiar to us in the Christmas story, such as:
- Isaiah 7:14 — The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
- Micah 5:2 — “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.”
- Genesis 49:10 — The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he to whom it belongs shall come and the obedience of the nations shall be his.
There was great anticipation of the coming of a promised Messiah in Israel, though most people looked toward a political sort of power solution, not to a baby born to a common family in the garage of a Motel 6.
God spoke through the prophets over and over about the coming of the Christ, and finally the pinnacle moment arrived, and God was speaking not through prophets or ancient texts, but through the Divine Son …
Hebrews 1:1 — In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.
After centuries of waiting and anticipating, the time had come. And it was the occasion of great joy, as Peter wrote of it in his day and era, just years after the work of Christ …
1 Peter 1:8 — Though you have not seen him, you love him; and even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, 9 for you are receiving the end result of your faith, the salvation of your souls.
The joy was so great because the times were so dark. The promises of God were many, but the fulfillment was illusive and existed only in the faith and hope of those who believed in such assurances.
Even for God’s varsity “A” team — the Old Testament prophets, they had bits and pieces but not the whole picture. It was as if they had 300 pieces of a 1,000-piece puzzle, and no box cover! The pieces were REALLY interesting. But exactly how did they go together … and when … and what did it look like … and how did the “kingly” sorts of pieces fit in with the “suffering” fragments?
Peter continued in this writing …
10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.
Now, with the history of the coming of the Christ child, his life, death and resurrection, now it all came together. And wow — what a story of grace, redemption and eternal life. Even the angels are amazed to see and understand fully these truths. So it is no surprise that they broke out into song …
Luke 2:13 — Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”
Our series of Sunday themes and songs, and our devotionals over these two weeks, are to connect you intellectually and emotionally to the unspeakable joy of the Christmas message. You may recall the scene in the Chronicles of Narnia (a place that was always winter but never Christmas) where a change is happening to the long-standing order of things due to the curse of the white witch. The snow was melting and crocuses were seen coming to life. And finally came a sled with Father Christmas, and he said…
“I’ve come at last. She has kept me out for a long time, but I have got in at last. Aslan is on the move. The witch’s magic is weakening.”
And Lucy felt that deep shiver of gladness that you only get if you are being solemn and still.
Feel that deep shiver of Christmas joy this year … that unspeakable joy.