The prophecy of Christmas

STREETLIFE - Nigel Paul Villarete - The Freeman

As we may all say, Christmas is just around the corner. A momentous event in history 2,000 years ago. Let’s give it to Filipinos to have an expanded Christmas season that starts during the “ber” months. And the celebration is observed worldwide, even in places which are not even considered Christian. But one of the more significant indications of the importance of Christmas is that prophets foretold it around seven centuries before it happened. That’s like someone in the 14th century writing about some who will be born today.

In that tumultuous time when Jacob’s descendants were divided into two kingdoms, Judah in the south and Israel in the north, and both were under threat from Assyria, Babylon, and Egypt, the people were longing for a messiah. While God’s promise is a “savior” who will save them from their sins, the people longed for a deliverer to save them from oppression. Two prophets then preached to them of the birth of Jesus, who will be the savior of the world.

When Ahaz, king of Judah wanted to appease Tiglath-Pileser of Assyria, the prophet Isaiah opposed him and counseled him to rely on the Lord God instead. He then gave this prophecy in Isaiah 7:14, “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.” This is the only prophecy for a virgin to give birth, in the entire world, and the whole of history, made 700 years before it happened. But it’s not just for a deliverer but for Jesus to be born as a man to save us from our sins.

Isaiah’s contemporary, the prophet Micah, also prophesied Jesus’ birth, especially where this would happen. In Micah 5:2, we read – “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.” Indeed, Bethlehem was just a small, peaceful, insignificant place a few miles from Jerusalem. Who would have imagined that the Lord of Lords and the King of Kings, God himself would choose to be born there. But it was foretold 700 years before it happened.

In the 53rd chapter of the Book of Isaiah, he graphically outlined the life and death of the Messiah. It’s a short chapter, only 12 verses long, but it eloquently and undoubtedly outlined the life and death of our Lord Jesus Christ. Foretold 700 years before he was born. It is so striking; I sincerely invite you all to read this chapter of the Old Testament.

Indeed, Christmas is a cause for celebration for the birth of Jesus. But more important than that is the realization of what that birth, life, and subsequent death on the cross means for all and each one of us. Jesus was born but with one important purpose which is to die for us as a sacrifice for our sins, that we may live. Christmas is a reminder of that eternal truth.

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