The Theology Of Christmas – The Promise

The fact is, Jesus Christ being born on this earth was certainly not an event that randomly happened or was unplanned or unhoped for. Indeed, as we will see, there is a lots of  Old Testament passages which very specifically prophecy about the coming Christ. Many of them. Although most of them were not always explicitly understood by the original audience, especially in terms of timing, we with the benefit of hindsight can clearly get a picture of what God meant when He foretold certain things, or declared that this mysterious person who was coming would do this or that. If what I’ve just written is a little unclear, let us look at some of the passages which predict Christ’s incarnation in Bethlehem two thousand years ago.

The very first glimpse we have of the Messiah to come is in the book of Genesis

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” Genesis 3:15

This is the third chapter of the bible and its already had quite a lot going on. God had created the universe ex nihilo; ordered it; created a planet which He filled with plants, animals and two people. We’ve also had a rebellion in heaven and Satan fall to earth. Finally we’ve had this crafty serpent  Satan, successfully temp Adam and Eve to break the one command God had given them, “Don’t eat from this tree…”

OTscrollIn Genesis 3:15 we pick up the story where God is cursing Satan, that serpent. Part of his curse is that a person would come, offspring of the woman, who would be at war with the serpent. During the course of their engagement he (Satan) would bruise that person’s heal, but He (Jesus) would crush the serpent’s head.

From this point Satan knew His days were numbered. One day this person would come and when He did, it would spell disaster for the Serpent. Neither the Serpent, nor Eve knew when this person would come and neither had any more details than this. For all they knew, it could be Cain, her firstborn son who was to be ‘the enmity’ although that was proved not to be the case. (Genesis 4:8).

That by way of introduction, let us look at several other passages:

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
He shall eat curds and honey when he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good.
For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land whose two kings you dread will be deserted. Isaiah 7:14-16

IsaiahThis is a fascinating passage. It is the sign given to King Ahaz of Judah by God during the time of great national peril. Two kings had invaded the land and was attempting to lay siege on Jerusalem, Rezin the king of Syria and Pekah the son of Remaliah the king of Israel (Isaiah 7:1). And frankly poor King Ahaz and his people were afraid. Now God offers Ahaz a sign. He says that “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Immanuel as we all know means “God with us” and Matthew 1:23 quotes this exact passage in specific reference to Jesus Christ.

Now we as Christians rightly get very excited about this particular passage, but lets not forget its point to King Ahaz, which is made in verse 16. For before the boy knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land… will be deserted. This phrase is a euphemism for an infant, a child who is as yet unable to discern right from wrong. We can debate what specific age that is (I am not a parent, so I haven’t had a chance to observe this firsthand), but lets say a ballpark figure of 3 years. So God is promising that they would be delivered in the same time as it would take for this child to grow a little.

My purpose in laboring the point is to show you that the passage had a very direct and near meaning for the people at that time, and a distant meaning for a future event, and the future events did not in the least made sense to the people at that time.

So far we have a promise of an “enmity” and a promise a child called “God with us” who would be virgin born. Lets look at another passage.

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.
Therefore he shall give them up until the time when she who is in labor has given birth; then the rest of his brothers shall return to the people of Israel.
And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth. Micah 5:2-4

Micah was a contemporary of Isaiah and he gives us one very clear and specific prophecy about the Messiah to come. Firstly, that the Messiah would be from Bethlehem, a town too small to muster enough troops to be sent to the army for the defense of Jerusalem, out of this small dorpie would come a ruler. But not only that, but from a particular clan, Ephrathah one of the clans who lived in that town. If nothing else, this limits the number of people to could possibly be the Messiah. But the passage goes on, it describes this ruler who is to come. Firstly it calls Him, “from ancient days” in other word, a preexisting being, a person who existed long before the events described in the passage. Also the phrase ‘ancient days’ is a term that refers specifically to God (Daniel 7). So this person who comes from God. Also the passage says whose coming forth is from old, Implying that this event was planned beforehand, it wasn’t a random or improvised event, but a preplanned one.

Some other characteristics of this ruler is that He will be a shepherd of the people and He will protect His people. One final passage, back to Isaiah:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6

This prophecy is thrown in among a number of different prophecies about various things. But it is a shocking statement. There is a child (think Isaiah 7), now listen to some of his names: Wonderful counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Say what!! This passage just said that a son would be born on earth, He would take over the government (something yet to happen) and His called God, four times. The second time, in such a way to leave us with no doubt. The Hebrew word for God here is el. One of the most common words used when referring to the Lord in Hebrew. This child would be el, He is God.


Lets put it all together:

On-The-Way-To-BethlehemThe New Testament claims that Jesus Christ is the Messiah, the long promised, long awaited one who fulfills every condition and prediction of Messiahship. He is the enmity with the serpent, His heal was bruised at the cross, but He crushed Satan’s head at the same time (Genesis 3:15). He was born of a virgin (Luke 1:34) and was called Immanuel (Matthew 1:23). He was born in Bethlehem, just as Micah predicted (Matthew 2:6) and finally He claimed to be God explicitly (John 8:58), something that all of the Gospels demonstrate, and proved by, among other things, doing miracles beyond any seen before.

These four prophecies are by no means exhaustive. For example we have the two predictions about the Messiah found in Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22, both of which deal with numerous aspects of Christ’s crucifixion and His work therein, not to mantion many other smaller references throughout the Old Testament.

In conclusion, let me encourage you Christian. You serve a sovereign God, who preplanned the entire work of salvation long before you existed. But not only did He fulfill this plan, but before the events took place, He told His people How He would do it. We can rejoice in the knowledge that ‘he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.’ (Philipians 1:6) and ‘he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”‘ (Hebrews 13:5)

To the unbeliever, Repent of your sins to day, and put your faith in Jesus Christ, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:2). Understand that Christ’s atoning death wasn’t just a random event, but one preplanned to gather people together as children of the Most High God. The beginning of the fulfillment of these prophesies is what we celebrate at Christmas, won’t you join us?

Merry Christmas everyone


A nice list of Old Testament prophecies fulfilled in Christ can be read here

For Unto Us A Child Is Born

For Unto Us A Child Is Born

Bearded gentleman, Christ follower, Christian and theologian blogger. Owner of Havelock the cat. Reader of Tolkien lore

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