Today: Thursday, November 21, 2019

Christmas promises: the Old Testament    (12/11/2011)

Throughout history, God has made some pretty amazing promises to us. Sometimes, he makes those promises hundreds or even thousands of years before they are fulfilled. But we can still believe those promises!

Did you know that Jesus’ birth was foretold at least 1,000 years before that first Christmas? There are countless prophesies in the Old Testament (the time before his birth) which point to his coming. Here are just a few of them (and you can check the Bible references for yourself at websites like

Old Testament prophecies (1000-500BC)

New Testament narrative (0-33AD)

Micah 5:2
“Bethlehem… out of you will come.. one who will be ruler over Israel”

Matthew 2:1
“Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea”

Isaiah 7:14
“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 [‘God with us’].”

Luke 1:30-35
“The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary… You will be with child and give birth to a son… He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High…” “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you… the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.”

Zechariah 9:9
“Rejoice greatly… Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on the foal of a donkey.”

Matthew 21:1-2, 7
“As they approached Jerusalem… Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, ‘Go to the village ahead of you, and at once you will find a donkey tied there, with her colt by her. Untie them and bring them to me.’ They brought the donkey and the colt, placed their cloaks on them, and Jesus sat on them.”

Isaiah 53:2-3
“He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”

Matthew 27:39
“Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads
Matthew 26:3-4
“Then the [Jewish] chief priests and the elders of the people assembled in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and they plotted to arrest Jesus in some sly way and kill him.”

Isaiah 53:10
“Yet it was the Lord's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering”

Matthew 26:39
“[Jesus] fell with his face to the ground and prayed: ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.’ ”

Isaiah 53:2-3
“He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities”

John 19:32-34
“The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus' side with a spear”

Isaiah 53:7
“He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.”

Matthew 26:62-63
Then the high priest stood up and said to Jesus, “Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?” But Jesus remained silent. 

Psalm 22:18
They have pierced my hands and my feet… They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.”

Luke 23:33b, 34b 
“There they crucified him… And they divided up his clothes by casting lots.”

Isaiah 53:8b
“for the transgression of my people was he stricken.”

Matthew 1:21
“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”  

Isaiah 53:8a
“He was cut off out of the land of the living”

Mark 15:39
“And when the [Roman] centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, heard his cry and saw how he died, he said, ‘Surely this man was the Son of God!’ ”

Isaiah 53:11a
“After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life.”

Matthew 28:7-9
“Then go quickly and tell his disciples: 'He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him’… Suddenly Jesus met them. ‘Greetings,’ he said.”

Pray: "Lord, you have a plan that lasts from the beginning of time until the end of time, and yet we always want instant answers. Help me to rely on all your promises - and please keep making promises to me. Amen."

Think about: Christmas is a wonderful time, and cause for real celebration for Christians. But is it the most important day in the Christian calendar? Which day do you think might be more significant?

Challenge: One prophesy about Jesus (about 1000BC, in Isaiah 53:2b), says: "He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him.” Why do you think it mattered that Jesus was so ordinary-looking?

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