Posted in christmas, incarnation, prophecy, second coming

We celebrate Christ’s first Advent, look forward to His Second Coming; prophecies fulfilled and to come!

“Simeon and Jesus. Russian Painter Andrey Shishkin

Prophecy: For unto us a child is born, (Isaiah 9:6a)
Fulfilled: For unto you is born this day (Luke 2:11a)

At Christmas we think of it as having begun. But it is finished. Christ was born a savior, Luke 2:11 says-

For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.

He did not become a savior or grow into a savior but was born a savior, and one who was born having to die, shedding His blood.

44 Prophecies Jesus Christ Fulfilled

Prophecies About Jesus Old Testament Scriptures, New Testament Fulfillment

1. Messiah would be born of a woman. Genesis 3:15 Matthew 1:20 Galatians 4:4
2. Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Micah 5:2 Matthew 2:1 Luke 2:4-6
3. Messiah would be born of a virgin. Isaiah 7:14 Matthew 1:22-23 Luke 1:26-31
4. Messiah would come from the line of Abraham. Genesis 12:3 Genesis 22:18 Matthew 1:1 Romans 9:5
5. Messiah would be a descendant of Isaac. Genesis 17:19 Genesis 21:12 Luke 3:34
6. Messiah would be a descendant of Jacob. Numbers 24:17 Matthew 1:2
7. Messiah would come from the tribe of Judah. Genesis 49:10 Luke 3:33 Hebrews 7:14
8. Messiah would be heir to King David’s throne. 2 Samuel 7:12-13 Isaiah 9:7 Luke 1:32-33 Romans 1:3
9. Messiah ‘s throne will be anointed and eternal. Psalm 45:6-7 Daniel 2:44 Luke 1:33 Hebrews 1:8-12
10. Messiah would be called Immanuel. Isaiah 7:14 Matthew 1:23
11. Messiah would spend a season in Egypt. Hosea 11:1 Matthew 2:14-15
12 A massacre of children would happen at. Messiah ‘s birthplace. Jeremiah 31:15 Matthew 2:16-18
13 A messenger would prepare the way for. Messiah Isaiah 40:3-5 Luke 3:3-6
14. Messiah would be rejected by his own people. Psalm 69:8 Isaiah 53:3 John 1:11 John 7:5
15. Messiah would be a prophet. Deuteronomy 18:15 Acts 3:20-22
16. Messiah would be preceded by Elijah. Malachi 4:5-6 Matthew 11:13-14
17. Messiah would be declared the Son of God. Psalm 2:7 Matthew 3:16-17
18. Messiah would be called a Nazarene. Isaiah 11:1 Matthew 2:23
19. Messiah would bring light to Galilee. Isaiah 9:1-2 Matthew 4:13-16
20. Messiah would speak in parables. Psalm 78:2-4 Isaiah 6:9-10 Matthew 13:10-15, 34-35
21. Messiah would be sent to heal the brokenhearted. Isaiah 61:1-2 Luke 4:18-19
22. Messiah would be a priest after the order of Melchizedek. Psalm 110:4 Hebrews 5:5-6
23. Messiah would be called King. Psalm 2:6 Zechariah 9:9 Matthew 27:37 Mark 11:7-11
24. Messiah would be praised by little children. Psalm 8:2 Matthew 21:16
25. Messiah would be betrayed. Psalm 41:9 Zechariah 11:12-13 Luke 22:47-48 Matthew 26:14-16
26. Messiah ‘s price money would be used to buy a potter’s field. Zechariah 11:12-13 Matthew 27:9-10
27. Messiah would be falsely accused. Psalm 35:11 Mark 14:57-58
28. Messiah would be silent before his accusers. Isaiah 53:7 Mark 15:4-5
29. Messiah would be spat upon and struck. Isaiah 50:6 Matthew 26:67
30. Messiah would be hated without cause. Psalm 35:19 Psalm 69:4 John 15:24-25
31. Messiah would be crucified with criminals. Isaiah 53:12 Matthew 27:38 Mark 15:27-28
32. Messiah would be given vinegar to drink. Psalm 69:21 Matthew 27:34 John 19:28-30
33. Messiah ‘s hands and feet would be pierced. Psalm 22:16 Zechariah 12:10 John 20:25-27
34. Messiah would be mocked and ridiculed. Psalm 22:7-8 Luke 23:35
35 Soldiers would gamble for Messiah ‘s garments. Psalm 22:18 Luke 23:34 Matthew 27:35-36
36. Messiah ‘s bones would not be broken. Exodus 12:46 Psalm 34:20 John 19:33-36
37. Messiah would be forsaken by God. Psalm 22:1 Matthew 27:46
38. Messiah would pray for his enemies. Psalm 109:4 Luke 23:34
39 Soldiers would pierce. Messiah ‘s side. Zechariah 12:10 John 19:34
40. Messiah would be buried with the rich. Isaiah 53:9 Matthew 27:57-60
41. Messiah would resurrect from the dead. Psalm 16:10 Psalm 49:15 Matthew 28:2-7 Acts 2:22-32
42. Messiah would ascend to heaven. Psalm 24:7-10 Mark 16:19 Luke 24:51
43. Messiah would be seated at God’s right hand. Psalm 68:18 Psalm 110:1 Mark 16:19 Matthew 22:44
44. Messiah would be a sacrifice for sin. Isaiah 53:5-12 Romans 5:6-8
(Source)

The prophecies are so specific there is no doubt Jesus is who He says He is, and that He accomplished what He said He will do. Since He came to atone for our sins, this means that you sin, I sin, we all sin. What will you do in the face of these truths? Ignore and suppress the truth of Jesus in unrighteousness? (Romans 1:18)? Or surrender to His sovereignty and plea for forgiveness of your sins, repenting and living for Him?

The joy of knowing Him is unparalleled, and the peace of soul and heart is inexpressible. The sweet Babe is also a fierce and victorious King. He is returning, and He will slay the wicked and exalt the righteous. We celebrate the past of His first advent. We look forward to the coming of the Second Advent. When He comes, which side will you be on?

Charles Spurgeon’s devotional for Christmas morning says:

He Came; He Is Coming

This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. (Acts 1:11)

Many are celebrating our Lord’s first coming this day; let us turn our thoughts to the promise of His second coming. This is as sure as the first advent and derives a great measure of its certainty from it. He who came as a lowly man to serve will assuredly come to take the reward of His service. He who came to suffer will not be slow in coming to reign.

This is our glorious hope, for we shall share His joy. Today we are in our concealment and humiliation, even as He was while here below; but when He cometh it will be our manifestation, even as it will be His revelation. Dead saints shall live at His appearing. The slandered and despised shall shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father. Then shall the saints appear as kings and priests, and the days of their mourning shall be ended. The long rest and inconceivable splendor of the millennial reign will be an abundant recompense for the ages of witnessing and warring.

Oh, that the Lord would come! He is coming! He is on the road and traveling quickly. The sound of His approach should be as music to our hearts! Ring out, ye bells of hope!

Posted in christmas, encouragement, incarnation

For to us a child is born…

All of this deliverance and joy will be based upon the incarnation and the birth of Christ (“Immanuel,” 7:14), 9:6, 7. Christ will be both human (“a child is born”) and divine (“a Son is given”). He will bear five names:

(1) “Wonderful” (He will do wonderful things);
(2) “Counsellor” (He will be able to advise all men in regard to all things);
(3) “The Mighty God” (He will be the mighty “El.” “El” is contrasted with man, 31:3; Hosea 11:9);
(4) “The everlasting Father” (“the Father of eternity”); and
(5) “The Prince of peace” (He will subdue all of His enemies and give peace to all of His friends).

He will do six things:
(1) He will sit upon the throne of David;
(2) He will set the kingdom of David in order;
(3) He will establish justice in this kingdom forever;
(4) He will bear the government of the world upon His shoulder;
(5) He will keep on extending His government (rule) until it covers all men (“of the increase of His government there shall be no end.”) All who refuse to come under His rule will be destroyed; and
(6) He will keep on bestowing His peace until it has been bestowed upon all men (“of the increase of His peace there shall be no end”).

Source: Gingrich, R. E. (1993). The Book of Isaiah (pp. 16–17).

Posted in christmas, encouragement, God, incarnation

The Remarkable Exclusivity of the Babe

As a student who was blessed with a classic education, I studied the Greek and Roman gods and goddesses. The entire genealogy of gods and goddesses in the Greek and Roman mythology are hard to keep track of. However, one thing that is not hard to discern is their character. As The British Museum puts it:

The ancient Greeks believed there were a great number of gods and goddesses. These gods had control over many different aspects of life on earth. In many ways they were very human. They could be kind or mean, angry or pleasant, cruel or loving. They fell in love with each other, argued with each other and even stole from each other.

They were always angry at something or other. For example, there was Eris, goddess of discord.

ERIS was the goddess or spirit (daimona) of strife, discord, contention and rivalry. She was often represented specifically as the daimon of the strife of war, who haunted the battlefield and delighted in human bloodshed. Because of Eris’ disagreeable nature she was the only goddess not to be invited to the wedding of Peleus and Thetis (parents of Achilles). When she turned up anyway, she was refused admittance and, in a rage, threw a golden apple amongst the goddesses inscribed “To the fairest.” Three goddesses laid claim it, and in their rivalry brought about the events which led to the Trojan War. (source)

Hm, ‘the golden apple of discord’. Sounds familiar. Anyway, one would have thought that a goddess possessing great powers and knowledge would have had a bit more self-control. I guess not.

Then there’s the story of poor Arachne. Ovid wrote-

Arachne was a shepherd’s daughter who began weaving at an early age. She became a great weaver, boasted that her skill was greater than that of Athena, and refused to acknowledge that her skill came, in part at least, from the goddess. Athena took offense and set up a contest between them. Presenting herself as an old lady, she approached the boasting girl and warned: “You can never compare to any of the gods. Plead for forgiveness and Athena might spare your soul.”

“Ha, I only speak the truth and if Athena thinks otherwise then let her come down and challenge me herself,” Arachne replied. Athena removed her disguise and appeared in shimmering glory, clad in a sparkling white chiton. The two began weaving straight away. Athena’s weaving represented four separate contests between mortals and the gods in which the gods punished mortals for setting themselves as equals of the gods. Arachne’s weaving depicted ways that the gods had misled and abused mortals, particularly Zeus, tricking and seducing many women. When Athena saw that Arachne had not only insulted the gods, but done so with a work far more beautiful than Athena’s own, she was enraged. She ripped Arachne’s work into shreds, and sprinkled her with Hecate’s potion, turning her into a spider and cursing her and her descendants to weave for all time. This showed how goddesses punished those human for wanting to be equals. (source)

It’s where we get the word for the class of spiders, arachnids. The gods were always either seducing someone or their wives the goddesses were always changing someone into something for being seduced. The Titans were the first set of gods, and like all others that followed, were subject to succumbing to human sins and passions. Though the premier gods, the Titans couldn’t even hold onto their power, and were usurped by their children, the twelve Olympians. I guess they weren’t so Titanic after all.

I used to wonder, what made them gods? Why did they seem like such humans? It is the same with Hindu gods, Native American gods, Chinese gods…decidedly not…god-like.

Of course we know that this is because these gods are made-up. Because their origin came from the mind of man, they are like man. These gods either were distant and removed from the petty squabbles of mankind, or were directly involved but not usually to humankind’s good.

Preceding all these was Yahweh. After Cain wandered away from God and the faith, departing in blood after killing his brother, he founded cities and these cities held people who also were not believers in God. So they made up their own. Lots of them. Some of these false gods were mentioned in the Bible- ancient gods like Amon, Asherah, Baal, desert gods like Dagon, Roman gods like Zeus and Hermes, Artemis, Castor and Pollux. Of course, since none of these gods were real, they were all a #fail and were constantly disappointing the people who foolishly believed in them.

Since these fake gods were like man, when man looked at these gods, they felt comfortable. Looking into a mirror of mercurial, petty gods was like looking at themselves, and all was well. I can understand a god like me, goes the thinking, I can handle a god with problems.

God has always been a God of perfection, holiness, goodness, justice. If He says it, it shall be done. (Ezekiel 12:28, Psalm 33:4, & etc.) In Him there is no shadow of turning at all. He is not changeable, mercurial, petulant, angry without reason (like changing people into spiders). Man could not conceive of a God as perfect and just as our God. Man cannot look upon His holiness and live. He is decidedly a God that mans sinful man uncomfortable.

Who is like God?

Who among the gods is like you, LORD? Who is like you– majestic in holiness, awesome in glory, working wonders? (Exodus 15:11)

For who in the skies above can compare with the LORD? Who is like the LORD among the heavenly beings? (Psalm 89:6)

Who is like the LORD our God, who is seated on high, (Psalm 113:5)

And then came the Incarnation. Our God, seeing the lost state of humanity and our need to be redeemed from sin’s bondage, sent His Son to be birthed into this terrible, dark world. He is King, who emptied Himself and became a baby, then an obedient boy, then a servant of men, then a sacrifice unto death. Who is like our God! Who is like Jesus, the firstborn of all creation!

Many babies grew to be kings. No king has ever become a baby. Yet God promised a Redeeeer from the beginning, and so it came to be. He is a God of promises kept.

The supremacy of our Jesus is unparalleled. His time on earth as God-man is an event which split history, reverberated through earth, heaven, and eternity, and broke sin’s bondage. Who is like our God!

No other petulant god, no other angry idol, no other petty deity exists. Only the perfection encapsulated in a baby born on earth, to the glory of God and to the praises of angels and shepherds.

Christ is born. And there is no other.

Posted in christmas, incarnation, joseph, nativity

The Christmas Story: Joseph

We rightly focus on the Incarnation at this time of year. And we rightly study the main people associated with it, Zacharias, Elizabeth, Mary, Gabriel the messenger, the Shepherds, the Wise Men…but what of Joseph? Here is a small scene which gives us much rich insight into the foster father of our Lord and Savior.

Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. 20But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:18-21)

–v. 18: “her husband Joseph“. Betrothals in ancient Israel were different than engagements of our day. They were contracts and the betrothal was as good as the actual marriage-without the consummation. That’s why in the next verse, Joseph is recorded as considering a divorce.

Compare Mt 1:20, “Mary, thy wife.” Betrothal was, in Jewish law, valid marriage. In giving Mary up, therefore, Joseph had to take legal steps to effect the separation. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

–v. 19: Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly. (ESV). The NIV says
Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

The Holy Spirit in His wisdom chose to include the word “just” here. Joseph is a just man. The Spirit didn’t inspire Matthew to write Joseph was a good man, or Joseph was a kind man, or Joseph, being a man, but notes that Joseph was “just”. What does this mean? Strong’s word definition explains that here, just, or righteous means “relates to conformity to God’s standard (justice; especially, just in the eyes of God; righteous).”

Joseph did not become angry, or run to his friends and complain about Mary, or immediately seek the rabbis. According to the Law in Deuteronomy 22:23-24, and Mary and Joseph were a couple living under the Law (Luke 2:22), this was supposed to happen:

If there is a girl who is a virgin engaged to a man, and another man finds her in the city and lies with her, 24then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city and you shall stone them to death; the girl, because she did not cry out in the city, and the man, because he has violated his neighbor’s wife. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you.”

Yet Joseph did not want to make her a public example. Matthew Henry says,

But he was not willing to take the advantage of the law against her; if she be guilty, yet it is not known, nor shall it be known from him. How different was the spirit which Joseph displayed from that of Judah, who in a similar case hastily passed that severe sentence, Bring her forth and let her be burnt! Gen. 38:24. How good it is to think on things, as Joseph did here! Were there more of deliberation in our censures and judgments, there would be more of mercy and moderation in them. Henry, M. (1994). Matthew Henry’s commentary on the whole Bible.

–v. 20a: “But as he considered these things,”

Joseph was thoughtful mulling over his responsibility as a husband, as a God-fearer, as a citizen under the Law. Joseph was just in the eyes of God so he…”resolved to divorce her quietly.” One can hardly imagine the spiritual and emotional distress of those moments. Here, Jamieson-Fausset-Brown have some words:

Who would not feel for him after receiving such intelligence, and before receiving any light from above? As he brooded over the matter alone, in the stillness of the night, his domestic prospects darkened and his happiness blasted for life, his mind slowly making itself up to the painful step, yet planning how to do it in the way least offensive—at the last extremity the Lord Himself interposes. (Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D., Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible.)

–v. 20b: behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.

Our Lord’s timing is gracious indeed. One may have suspected Joseph of feelings of betrayal or anger. Or we may also alternately suspect Joseph of knowing Mary’s character, believing her tale of conception by Spirit to bear the Messiah and thus perhaps Joseph was fearful of marrying a woman who was bearing the Messiah, and did not want to presume himself into such an exalted event. Is that why the angel said, “Joseph, do not fear to take Mary as your wife”? The word “fear” is the word phobos, meaning “I fear, dread, reverence, am afraid, terrified” according to Strong’s. Was Joseph’s reverence of the holy event part of his fear to continue with Mary? Or was his fear of taking on a harlot and assuming her guilt and reproach for her [perceived] immoral behavior? We do not know for sure, all we do know is the angel said that proceeding in marriage with Mary is something not to fear.

Our God salved Joseph’s heart with a confirmation of the message that the Messiah is within his Mary, and Joseph knew a great, Divine work was progressing. Joseph obeyed God and continued with Mary. Matthew Henry says, “Note, It is a great mercy to be delivered from our fears, and to have our doubts resolved, so as to proceed in our affairs with satisfaction.”

–v. 21: She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”

Matthew Henry again,

“He is here informed concerning that holy thing with which his espoused wife was now pregnant. That which is conceived in her is of a divine original. He is so far from being in danger of sharing in an impurity by marrying her, that he will thereby share in the highest dignity he is capable of. Two things he is told, (1.) That she had conceived by the power of the Holy Ghost; not by the power of nature. The Holy Spirit, who produced the world, now produced the Saviour of the world, and prepared him a body, as was promised him, when he said, Lo, I come, Heb. 10:5.
That she should bring forth the Saviour of the world (v. 21). She shall bring forth a Son; what he shall be is intimated,

[2.] In the name that should be given to her Son: Thou shalt call his name Jesus, a Saviour. Jesus is the same name with Joshua, the termination only being changed, for the sake of conforming it to the Greek. Joshua is called Jesus (Acts 7:45; Heb. 4:8), from the Seventy. There were two of that name under the Old Testament, who were both illustrious types of Christ, Joshua who was Israel’s captain at their first settlement in Canaan, and Joshua who was their high priest at their second settlement after the captivity, Zec. 6:11, 12. Christ is our Joshua; both the Captain of our salvation, and the High Priest of our profession, and, in both, our Saviour … he is therefore able to save to the uttermost, neither is there salvation in any other.

A righteous, kind, just, patient, thoughtful, responsible man was Joseph, foster-father to Jesus. A righteous, kind, just, patient, thoughtful, responsible God is our Jesus, a name given to Joseph by heaven and the only name under which there is salvation

And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. (Acts 4:12)

Posted in incarnation, swaddling cloths, undisturbed grave cloths

Merry Christmas

From swaddling cloths to grave cloths…

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)

The Anunciation, Henry Ossawa Tanner, 1898

And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. (Luke 2:7)

Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen cloths lying there, and the face cloth, which had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen cloths but folded up in a place by itself. (John 20:6-7)

And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. (1 John 5:11)

Merry Christmas!

Posted in christmas, incarnation, prophecy, shiloh, simeon

Simeon’s Song

Rembrandt: Simeon’s Song

One of my favorite parts of the Christmas Story of Jesus’ Incarnation is Simeon’s Song.

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem whose name was Simeon. And the same man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel: and the Holy Spirit was upon him.” (Luke 2:25).

Of those verses, Charles Spurgeon said it best:

WHAT a biography of a man! How short and yet how complete! We have seen biographies so wordy, full one half is nonsense and much of the other half too dull to be worth reading. We have seen large volumes spun out of men’s letters. Writing desks have been broken open and private diaries exposed to the world. Nowadays if a man is a little celebrated, his signature, the house in which be was born, the place where he dines and everything else is thought worthy of public notice.

Short biographies, which give a concise and exact account of the whole man, are the best. What do we care about what Simeon did—where he was born, where he was married, what street he used to walk through, or what colored coat he wore? We have a very concise account of his history and that is enough. His “name was Simeon.” He lived “in Jerusalem.” “The same man was just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel: and the Holy Spirit was upon him.” Beloved, that is enough of a biography for any one of us. If, when we die, so much as this can be said of us—our name. Our business, “waiting for the Consolation of Israel.” Our character, “just and devout.” Our companionship, having the Holy Spirit upon us—that will be sufficient to hand us down, not to time, but to eternity memorable among the just and estimable among all them that are sanctified!

At the time in Israel, faith was in short supply. Of course, Christianity didn’t exist yet, it would fully flower in their generation, but not yet. Judaism, which was supposed to have brought the light to the world, had become dark and corrupt- unrecognizable to the One it was supposed to point to. (Jeremiah 7:11). This was a time when what was supposed to bring the Light was at its darkest and most corrupt. Where was faith? Where was a right heart? Where was a mind with a right understanding of the promise of Israel? In a few people, and as we see here, it was in Simeon.

Simeon’s character was enumerated in Luke 2:25 gloriously and concisely. Note that his entire being was laying in hopeful wait for the Messiah. His old body tottered up to the temple each day, waiting and waiting, for what? To be with the Messiah that was promised, maybe even to say (as Spurgeon proposed) “Perhaps He will come today.”

We can learn from Simeon’s example. Despite the corruption ongoing all around him, despite national occupation and oppression by a hostile regime, despite widespread apostasy, despite greed, pride, and the blackened hearts of the priests, scribes and Pharisees who were supposed to shepherd the people, Simeon persevered in joyful expectation and faith.

He had the Spirit with him, but we have the Spirit IN us! We have the New Testament, knowing the second advent will occur, that the rectification of all that is evil will happen. We know that Jesus will return to take His place on HIS earth as rightful owner, finally and blessedly crushing the head of the serpent. (Genesis 2:15).

Upon seeing the Babe presented at the Temple, Simeon “took him up in his arms and blessed God”… Let us take Jesus up into our hearts and minds with all our strength and soul, and let us bless God for Him, Shiloh.

The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. (Genesis 49:10).