THE LAST WORD: Story of Christmas was predicted centuries before it happened
Who doesn’t know the story of the first Christmas?
Even Linus recited Luke 2: 8-14 in the Charlie Brown Christmas special in 1965:
And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”
“That’s what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown,” he concluded.
But how many realize that first Christmas was foretold centuries before it happened?
In the book of Isaiah in the Old Testament of the Bible, the prophet foretold the coming of the Messiah some 700 years before the pregnant Mary and her husband Joseph traveled 90 miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem to register in obedience to Caesar Augustus’ decree to conduct a Roman census.
The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call Him Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6)
The New Testament writer Matthew acknowledged Isaiah’s prophecy in the first Gospel, Matthew 1:23, when he wrote:
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” — which means, “God with us.”
The pastor of our church has been speaking about Christmas in recent weeks, and in one sermon pointed to the prophecy in Micah, another Old Testament book.
Specifically, he referenced Micah 5:2, also written some seven centuries before the advent:
But you, Bethlehem, Ephratha, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times.
Imagine! God foretold the coming of his Son, the promised Messiah, in amazing and unlikely details and circumstances, not the least of which was the specific fact he would be born in a nondescript little town called Bethlehem, an unlikely stage for a king.
As one Bible scholar wrote, the story of Christmas, as well as what would follow in the New Testament account of Christ, runs deep through the Old Testament. The coming of Jesus to earth as a human fulfilled more than a millennium of prediction. “And at the moment of Jesus’ birth, the entire scope and focus of the Old Testament came into sharp relief:” But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law. (Galatians 4:4).”
In light of such a significant, documented series of accounts, shouldn’t we take our appreciation of the real meaning of Christmas beyond just the celebration of the season? The book that chronicles the story of Jesus’ birth has a great deal more to say about his life and death. And in the immortal words of the late conservative radio broadcaster Paul Harvey, that’s “the rest of the story.”
Kerry Hubartt is former editor of The News-Sentinel.