Isaiah 9:6-7: Can you see the insanity of these words? How could an Everlasting, Almighty God, be described as a Child that would be born? In a specific place, at a specific point of time, as a Man? And why on earth would He do such a thing? Today and for the next three weeks to follow, we are going to explore the answers to these questions. And in the process, learn so much about the heart of our God—what He asks of us as His people and how to be closer to Him than you ever in life.
The vast majority of people in Israel, lost in the darkness that surrounded them knew absolutely nothing about what was coming on that special night in Bethlehem. But, it was not because God hadn't revealed it. He had been revealing truth after truth about the details of this one night. Since the first days of rebellion in the Garden of Eden, people missed the most incredible event in history up to that time, for the same reason most people still miss it today. 1) Because they ignored the incredible, indisputable words that told the whole story, indifferent to truth, as long as they could live their lives (Like some here who’ve missed it, though the truth is all around—the Word). Or 2) Because some who even knew and looked for His coming were so desperately looking for a god they imagined a god that would meet their desires, and do things their way, and accept what they want. They wanted Someone to rescue them from their enemies who persecuted them, more than they wanted Him—and so the true God who arrived was completely rejected by them and they killed Him, removed Him from their lives in a selfish rage.
Many today, as then complain that truth cannot be known and there is no god. I say we are doubly guilty, if possible. Because, not only can we look back at undeniable proof of that awesome night of His first coming, and hundreds of other facts in the life of Christ, but we can also see all of the prophesied signs of His second coming—which are every bit as undeniable in their occurrence, as the prophesies of His first coming. And we are seeing them all around us today, but like those of the 1st Century, we are too blind, or too selfish to recognize truth. [I hope some of you will see truth today before it is too late this time.]
Let's begin one of the most important journeys you'll ever take, learning why the first coming was absolutely divinely orchestrated beyond human capacity or reason, and let's once again feel the awe this night should bring to our very souls, when we celebrate His birth. If I wanted to send you a letter, I could send it by email, or snail-mail right? But either way I sent it, I would have to have an address. And with each stroke of the key or pen, as we include that address, we would be narrowing the possibilities of who this letter was for until it was down to one. You receive mail each day, specifically naming you, above almost 7 billion other people and addresses all over the entire globe. God, through His prophets, and in His Word did exactly the same thing to direct us to a lonely, seemingly insignificant night with two dirt-poor, young nobodies, in the middle of nowhere. Through different prophecies, at different times, by different people, in different places, He gave us one piece of information at a time all placed together to give us this one place, one time, one person in history.
First of all, watch the very distinct lineage that God maps out over time, revealing the entire family line of Jesus: Genesis 22:18-19: God calls Abraham out of many people in Chaldea (Babylon) narrowing the Messiah to a Jewish descendant. Genesis 21:12: Then, God narrows it to one half of Abraham's descendants (Isaac, not Ishmael from Hagar). Numbers 24:17: Now, He narrows it to one half the descendants of Isaac (Jacob, not Esau). Genesis 49:10: Now, Jacob has twelve sons, of whom the Twelve Tribes of Israel originate and God names the single Tribe from which Jesus will come (Judah). Isaiah 11:1, 10, 12: This now shows that Jesus would rise from a geza, (Jesse was an insignificant remnant of the Royal lineage), and a choter (kho' ter), would sprout from there to carry the torch to the Messiah (which could include any one of at least eight sons). Jeremiah 23:5-6: And then, these sons of Jesse were narrowed to one (David). What was so significant about this? The lineage is given in Matthew (Joseph) and Luke (Mary) showing that both of these simple, nobody parents had the lineage for Jesus to be the Messiah. Don't just take the Bible's Word for it, listen to history. The son of a Roman centurion, Quintis Tertullian, (a Roman lawyer) made an incredible conversion to Christianity in about AD 185 (at age 40) partially due to his amazement of the Christians’ faith and courage while being slaughtered in the coliseums. Tertullianus used his legal skills and education to defend Christianity. He wrote a letter to Emperor Antoninus Pius stating that Jesus' lineage could be proven in the census archives from the reign of Augustus, if he would just look (An Exposition of the Gospel of Luke, by Rev. Dr. MacEvilly, pg47). Next, Scriptures told something very amazing and significant—that our Messiah would come supernaturally from a young virgin: Isaiah 7:14. And we all know the Gospel accounts of Mary, and her miraculous conception, but, did you know that in the Jewish Talmud—which is a Jewish collection of writings including the oral laws, interpretations of Scriptures and traditions from Orthodox Jewish history (painfully kept through history as sacred), the writers, the Sanhedrin, who were the religious and civil body of law in Jesus' day (Pharisees and Sadducees) despised Jesus, denied Jesus, and actually are responsible for His trial and death. Even they attest to the fact that Jesus was born to a young girl without a husband, like a hostile witness accidentally giving information in court that helped his opponent.
Some say they can’t be sure it was Jesus they spoke of—but listen to the description: Yeshu of Nazareth, who conjured up sorcery and was hanged on a cross for His crimes. From the Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin Yeb. IV 3;49a: "I found a genealogical roll in Jerusalem wherein was recorded, Such-an-one is a bastard of an adulteress." ( R. Shimeon ben Azzai)
Even in their spite and hate, they lay proof into history of our Lord's virgin birth as foretold. So, we know thus far that Jesus came through the entire line of prophesied lineage, and was even born to a young mother without a husband—proven through New Testament accounts and chiseled in history through secular writers.
Daniel, writing as a prophet over 500 years before that Little babe was born in a manger, wrote of an exact time he would come: Daniel 9:24-26= 7 weeks- 49 years to rebuild City and Temple, 62 weeks longer the Messiah comes. That’s 69 weeks (483 years) (1 week- or seven years left for the future= Tribulation) First of all, what sense does it make to say the Messiah is coming to save mankind and bring peace and righteousness once and for all, and in the same passage say He would die violently? This is one of the most astounding prophecies of the Bible. This passage boldly, unapologetically proclaims that from the time a foreign king gives permission to rebuild their destroyed city of Jerusalem, until the time the Messiah comes, will be exactly 483 years or 173,880 days. Artaxerxes, King of Persia (over the Israelites) on Nisan 1, 444 BC (March 28), gave the command to rebuild this City of Jerusalem (Nehemiah 2:1). This is after the time of the prophet Daniel and under a completely different Nation’s rule. This 173,880-day countdown ends at a very exact and significant time in mankind’s history—a time that split history forever. It ends on the day we see Jesus ride into Jerusalem on a Donkey as the crowd cries, "Hosanna" (Palm Sunday). So, we know that Jesus was born exactly when prophesied in all of mankind's history.
Now, are you ready for the nail in the coffin? We have the perfect lineage, proven as well as anything in history. We have the exact date in time, proven as well as anything in history… Micah, a prophet from Judah, wrote about one of the tiniest, and least known places on earth as the place of our Savior's birth. Over 700 years before He would be born: Micah 5:2. "Goings forth from everlasting", means this is obviously God, not a simple king. And, this "Little Town of Bethlehem" is correct because there were only about 300 to 1000 (at the very most) living in this town. Buffalo, WV (pop 1250) has way more people than Bethlehem did! (How would he know it would still be there?) Now realize, that Mary and Joseph lived in Nazareth. They had to travel a great distance to reach this town for a census—which is so awesome and significant of God to work this way—because we could assume as unbelievers, religious zealots had moved to Bethlehem to set this up. But remember, Tertullian charged Emperor Pius to check his records in the archives of Augustus concerning Mary and Joseph. These ancient records showed not only proof of Mary and Joseph’s lineage, but of the legal necessity for them to travel to Bethlehem at this exact time in history. So, there had to be historical proof they were in that town, at that time, beyond their control or choice. 700 years before Jesus laid in a manger, a prophet named one of the smallest, most insignificant places on earth as the birth place, and in the exact time given over 500 years before, a couple with the exact lineage prophesied by numerous people over hundreds of years was forced to go to this place (recorded in history) at this time. (So. none could dispute it was uncontrollable by man). The woman of whom, was known by the public to be with Child, before marriage. And this is just a handful of the over 300 prophecies concerning every detail of His life and death. Can you possibly think that these kinds of uncontrollable, intricate details could all accidentally come true in one person, at just the exact time written about by various, unrelated authors? And be confirmed by thousands who died proclaiming what they saw?
But the problem is most people only hide behind, "Intellectual" reasons for not believing, because if they would just look at the real evidence, with a truly open mind, it would be overwhelming. Many of the people in Jesus' day did know about the Scriptures we've quoted. They knew the time, place, and lineage. It was so well known, and prophesied that Magi from other countries came on the exact timescale to see the Messiah. After probably hearing the prophesies of Daniel and others, hundreds of years before, while they were there in captivity. So why would many Jews not follow Him as Messiah? For the same reason that many of you may be hesitant right this moment, to follow Him. For the same reason that society, and many, many churches are trying to change everything we know about our Jesus—they rejected Him because He wasn't what they wanted and needed to meet their own needs [so do we]. Even those that did follow Him had trouble seeing the world, and the lost as lovingly as He did [so do we]. Many who believed on Him, and wanted His blessings, miracles, and security did not want the cost of following and loving Him [nor do we]. They wanted a Jesus that would serve them, defeat their enemies, make life easier; not expect them to have to do anything in love. Jesus worked very hard to deter and discourage selfish and false followers, even though they may have intellectually believed, because He didn't care about numbers, or ministries—He wanted people who were as passionate for Him, as He was for them. He wanted those crazy enough to think He was more important than anything else—as He does about us. Are you willing to show Him that He is everything to you?
Of all the prophesies concerning Jesus' first coming—of which we only covered a handful—there are many more prophesies concerning His second coming. And we have the privilege of looking back on all of the prophesies fulfilled from the first coming as well as, seeing all of the beginning stages of many unmistakable, and amazing prophesies about the last coming, around us everywhere. Prophesies that Israel would reunite from every nation of the world miraculously in the last days to return to a land that is desolate and rejected, only to see it sprout and flourish again. To see every nation surrounding it become, "intoxicated" with Israeli's destruction until that hatred of Israel becomes a thorn to the whole world. That there would be a complete and utter moral decline and rebellion against God in the last days. That we would be able to buy, sell, and trade with a system of numbers only, in the last days. That Russia and Iran and others would be united in the Middle East against Israel in the last days. That a country East of the Euphrates would field an army of over 200 million in the last days (China). That we would be able to literally melt skin from bones before bodies fell on the ground, and destroy life on over 1/3 of the earth and sea with our ability to wage war in the last days.
On that first Christmas night, over 2000 years ago, many missed it [many missed it on purpose]. Most will miss it the second time as well for the same reasons. He came the first time as a humble, sweet child, who would die horrifically as a rejected criminal to give us a chance to accept a way out of our sins, to have a chance to love and be loved incredibly, to give us a hope and a future beyond imagination, but He won't force anything on us. When He comes back this time, it will be different (Lion of Judah). He will be coming to judge those that choose to live for self, and reject their Creator. He will be coming to rid His creation of all that choose to bring pain and division, and make this a perfect place as it has been before. He will not come next time as a humble servant, but as a ferocious warrior—not because He is legalistic, spiteful or judgmental—but because everything He's ever asked of us, was to show our willingness to love others perfectly—not just to demand obedience. And because of His crazy love for those that love Him, it gives Him no choice but to rid the world of those that would hurt them. Most of the world is about to miss it—miss Him. What will you do with the Evidence you have seen? What will you do with the Love you have realized?
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