The Issachar Report<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
1 Chronicles <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />12:32
Dennis A. Wright, DMin
The entire life of Jesus was unmistakably a fulfillment of prophecy. The Old Testament prophets accurately foretold His birth, His life, His public ministry, His death, His resurrection, His ascension, and His second coming. Many of the prophecies were proclaimed over 800 years before His birth. Some were made more than 1200 years before His birth. And the very first Messianic prophecy predates His birth by more than four millennia! This very first prophecy concerning the Messiah was made by Yahweh Himself and proclaimed to Lucifer in the Garden of Eden:
So the LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, Cursed are you above all the livestock and all the wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." (Genesis 3:14-15)
One can read about the fulfillment in: Galatians 4:4; Hebrews 2:14; and 1 John 3:8.
Many of these Messianic prophecies concern his Nativity. For example, the prophets said that Jesus would be from the Tribe of Judah in Genesis 49:8-10 and Micah 5:2. (Fulfilled: Matthew 1:1-3; Hebrews 7:14; and Revelation 5:5). He who would come would be born a king of the line of David. This prophecy is given in: Isaiah 9:7; 2 Samuel 7:12-13, and Jeremiah 23:5; 30:9. (Fulfilled in: Matthew 1:1; Luke 1:32, and Acts 13:22-23).
One of the most significant Messianic prophecies is that He would be born of a virgin:
Then Isaiah said, "Hear now, you house of David! Is it not enough to try the patience of men? Will you try the patience of my God also? 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 7:13-14)
And this was literally fulfilled in Matthew 1:18-23 and Luke 1:26-35.
In our modern era when the Christmas season has become so commercialized-and even viciously attacked by the secularists among us-one might be wise to pause and ponder why the Messiah came in the first place. Did Jesus come just to be a great teacher of morality and love, or, perhaps, to be a magnificent example to us regarding how we should live and interact with our fellow man? Was He some absentee landlord coming to inspect His real estate and see how well we are caring for our environment? After all He is the Creator and the earth is merely His footstool.
The answer is not found in these assumptions. Indeed, the Messiah is the greatest Teacher, the greatest Example, and the Creator of all things. But He is much more than that: He is our Redeemer. There is one Messianic prophecy of His nativity-and its fulfillment-that best describes the real reason why He came: Kings shall bring Him gifts and fall down before Him.
The kings of Tarshish and of distant shores will bring tribute to him; the kings of Sheba and Seba will present him gifts. All kings will bow down to him and all nations will serve him. (Psalm 72:10-11)
This was fulfilled by the visit of the Magi in Matthew 2:1-11 and what they brought exactly describes who Jesus is and why He came.
On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh. (Matthew 2:11)
They brought Gold-a gift for a King, Frankincense-a gift for a God, and Myrrh-a gift for a Savior. Here is the Reason why Jesus left His regal robes of royalty and stepped into the world through the womb of the Virgin Mary: HE WAS BORN TO DIE!
John MacArthur writes:
Here's a side to the Christmas story that isn't often told: those soft little hands, fashioned by the Holy Spirit in Mary's womb, were made so that nails might be driven through them. Those baby feet, pink and unable to walk, would one day walk up a dusty hill to be nailed to a cross. That sweet infant's head with sparking eyes and eager mouth was formed so that someday men might force a crown of thorns onto it. That tender body, warm and soft, wrapped in swaddling clothes, would one day be ripped open by a spear. (God with Us, 116)
Arthur W. Pink wrote,
It was not that an innocent person was smitten in order that guilty ones might go free, for that would be the height of injustice, but that an innocent Person, voluntarily, out of love, identified Himself with transgressors, and so became answerable for their crimes. How this should endear Him to us! (Exposition of Hebrews, 1:131)
Christ came to die . . . and the point of that death was to free you and me! Again, John MacArthur writes,
The death He tasted was the penalty of our sin. He received the full force of all that the devil could throw at Him. More than that, He received the full expression of God's wrath over sin. In a few hours on that cross, Jesus absorbed the full penalty of sin. If we were to suffer hell for all eternity, we would never pay the full price. But He gathered up an eternity of punishment, paid it all, and walked away from it a risen Savior. That is power! In every possible dimension, Jesus Christ took all the pain and agony of death and tasted every bit of it-for us. (God with Us, 119)
The writer of Hebrews says:
5Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said: "Sacrifice and offering you did not desire, but a body you prepared for me; 6with burnt offerings and sin offerings you were not pleased. 7Then I said, 'Here I am-it is written about me in the scroll-I have come to do your will, O God.' " (Hebrews 10:5-7)
When we read that Jesus tasted death for everyone it is important that we don't misunderstand what is being said. We're not saying that by Jesus dying on the cross everyone is forgiven. We often hear it said that Jesus died for the sins of the whole world. That is true . . . in one sense. However, we must make an important clarification. Jesus' death was sufficient for the sins of the whole world but His death was efficient only for those who believe.
Here's the distinction: The blood of Christ was more than adequate to pay for everyone's sin. But God has determined that only those who receive His Son will have this forgiveness applied to them. Jesus makes it possible for you and me to live beyond the grave. It is vital that we understand that it is only Jesus who makes this possible. We don't find forgiveness and new life by being good, or by being religious, or by going to church. We find new life by placing our faith in Christ and what He has done for us at Calvary. We find new life by following Him. He alone leads the way!
This is grace, and that is the real reason why Jesus came!
Dennis A. Wright, DMin, is Founder and President of Understanding The Times Ministries. An accomplished writer and educator, Wright has spoken in churches and conferences all over America on spiritual counterfeits and Christian Worldview topics. He can be emailed at Dennis@UnderstandingTheTimes.org and his new website can be found at www.UnderstandingTheTimes.org.
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