The band of young shepherds corralled their lambs in a little rock enclosure on the hills overlooking their little village. There, they built a small fire. In the glow of fading embers, they talked about life, the weather, their families, and the twinkling stars in the night sky. They also mused over the parade of travelers that were in Bethlehem to register according to the Roman census.
In synagogue school they had been taught the significance of their local village. Bethlehem was the ancestral home of king David. Jesse, David’s father had lived in Bethlehem, “the house of bread.” Obed, David’s granddad had lived there, as had his great grandparents, Boaz and Ruth.
Bethlehem was also special because it would be the birthplace of the Messiah. These poor shepherd-boys could quote Micah 5:2. “Bethlehem Ephrathah, you are small among the clans of Judah; one will come from you to be ruler over Israel for me. His origin is from antiquity, from ancient times.” It was a source of great pride. These boys, like generations before them, lived with the passionate conviction that the coming King would be born in their little village. The birthplace of Jesus is one of the Old Testament’s Messianic prophecies that is clearly and correctly fulfilled in the New Testament.
That Jesus would be born to a virgin was also foretold. Isaiah, inspired by the Holy Spirit of God, wrote, “the Lord himself will give you a sign: See, the virgin will conceive, have a son, and name him Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14).
Have you ever stopped to think about what Isaiah, or his contemporaries, thought about this odd prophecy? The One whose name is Immanuel will come into the earth by way of a virgin’s womb? Humm? Seven hundred years later, “the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man named Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary ... The angel told her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Now listen: You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David’ ” (Luke 1:26–32).
The angel was also sent to Joseph. “An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, don’t be afraid to take Mary as your wife, because what has been conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins’ ... When Joseph woke up, he did as the Lord’s angel had commanded him. He married her but did not have sexual relations with her until she gave birth to a son. And he named him Jesus” (Matthew 1:20–25).
Two other Messianic prophecies are related to Christ’s nativity. When the Magi came from the east, they stopped in Jerusalem seeking the one “born king of the Jews?” (Matthew 2:2). Herod “flew into a rage” (Matthew 2:16) and murdered all of the baby boys born in Bethlehem.
“Then what was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; and she refused to be consoled, because they are no more” (Matthew 2:17–18). Here Matthew quotes Jeremiah 31:15, another Messianic prophecy.
Lastly, when Joseph took his young family to Egypt to escape Herod’s reach, he fulfilled the Messianic prophecy found in Hosea 11:1. Joseph “took the child and his mother during the night, and escaped to Egypt. He stayed there until Herod’s death, so that what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet might be fulfilled: Out of Egypt I called my Son” (Matthew 2:14–15).
The Bible is history... His story, written before time. Believe it!
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.