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Understanding the Gospel of Jesus Christ - Chapter 1, Part 2: The Promises Foretold In the Old Testament

I am a Christian teacher of God's Word. I value the Gift he gave us and wish to share that knowledge with many of the lost needing salvation

"...the people who sit in darkness have seen a great Light, and the ones who sit in the land and shadow of death, a light has dawned on them." - Matthew 4:16

"...the people who sit in darkness have seen a great Light, and the ones who sit in the land and shadow of death, a light has dawned on them." - Matthew 4:16

Disclaimer

Although this study is biblically-based, I draw my inspiration from multiple translations of the Holy Scriptures and ask you please read from your preferred translation. To help you to understand the material, I will include paraphrased verses. However, I will never omit what God has inspired into the Holy Scriptures, nor will I add to the scriptures any of my ideas and conjectures. You may share your answers in the comment section below.

Part 2: The Events, Circumstance, and Timeline of the Messiah’s Arrival

Now that we have learned who the Messiah is, we can now look at the time and place of His arrival, along with the circumstances necessary for His ministry. These were not just going to be random events at casual points in time in undetermined places left to chance for the prophecies to eventually be fulfilled. This was the will of God, and He does not play games. God had decreed a set timeframe with specific circumstances for His judgment that would not be altered.

Questions

1. Where was the Messiah going to be born?

2. Why did the Israelites expect the Messiah to free their nation from foreign rule?

The star coming out of Jacob

Balaam had a visionary encounter in which Yahweh revealed to him a ‘star coming out of Jacob’ (Numbers 24:15-19). This is echoed in Matthew 2:2 when the wise men announce their arrival to give honor to the newborn King, having followed His star. In Revelation 22:16, Jesus refers to Himself as the ‘bright morning star’.

The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, as prophesied by Micah around 750 B.C. (Micah 5:2-5a). That is the actual birthplace of Jesus Christ, when Joseph, responding to the Roman census decree, returned to his hometown with his pregnant wife, Mary, who was nearing childbirth.

The ruler Micah speaks of is Jesus. He predicted the actual birthplace of the Messiah several hundred years before the Christ child was born. Micah spoke of the promised Eternal King, a descendant of David, 'from old, from everlasting'. John would echo those meanings centuries later when he spoke of Jesus as the Living Word, with God, at Creation. Although our Lord is eternal, He entered human history as Jesus of Nazareth, born to Mary and Joseph in Bethlehem, Ephrathah, merely a minor town in Judah. It was the ancestral home of his Earthly father Joseph.

In this verse, Micah went on to prophecy that a ruler of Israel will come from Bethlehem, one, whose origins are from the distant past. Many Jewish people interpreted this to mean that the ruler was for Israel only. Steeped in tradition, the Jewish people held fast to the idea that they were God’s chosen people. It is easy to understand why they think that God would favor them with a powerful ruler who would lead them to victory over their enemies. It is also easy to understand their method of considering due to the link to David. Bethlehem is often referred to as the ‘City of David. Mary’s ancestry dated back to David, as did Joseph's. David could trace his roots back to Abraham.

Questions

3. What are the names that people associate with Jesus Christ and why do they relate those names with Him?

4. Can you describe why you connect different names with Jesus?

The meaning behind the name

The Messiah would be born of a virgin, who would call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us’ (Isaiah 7:14). When God created the Garden of Eden, He moved among his creation daily. When Adam and Eve committed the first sin, eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge, they caused the separation between humanity and God.

From then on, we continued to sin. Consequently, the gap between us and God has not widened; He loves all His creation and remains close enough to reconcile us to Him. He determined to send His Son, the promised Messiah, and Redeemer for His creation. The mother chosen to bear His Son needed to be as pure of heart and as close to perfect as humanly possible, uncorrupted by human hand or thought.

When the Messiah was born, John named the infant child ‘Jesus’ according to the command of the Angel of the LORD in his dream (Matthew 1:20-21). The name here has significant meaning in Jewish culture in which it represents, “He will save His people,”. This was a fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy of the virgin birth.

Isaiah prophesied that a Son would be given unto us and went on to give four other distinct and descriptive names of the Messiah (9:6): Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace. Jesus is the embodiment of these names. He provides the Holy Spirit to baptize our guilt-ridden souls and the advice to live righteously (consider His teachings to the disciples). He is the Son of God – He is Yahweh! His love for us is everlasting, and the Kingdom He brings the redeemed into is everlasting. His authority gives the repentant believer a comforting sense of peace.

Questions

5. What threat did the Messiah pose to King Herod that caused the king to respond with violence?

6. What threat does the Messiah pose to world leaders today?

Two-fold Messianic prophecies

Some Messianic prophecies are two-fold in that they reference an event in Israel’s past while pointing forward to the coming Messiah. In Jeremiah 31:15, Jeremiah’s Messianic prophecy pointed to the event following the visit of the Magi when Herod, enraged that he had been deceived, had all the baby boys in Bethlehem two years of age and under slaughtered to save his kingship from a perceived threat. Hosea 11:1 mirrored the exodus from Egypt when he spoke of the Messiah coming from the land of Egypt (Hosea 11:1). Joseph, having been warned by an angel of the LORD in a dream that Herod was plotting to kill the infant Jesus, fled with Mary and the baby to safety in Egypt. He remained there until Herod’s death and then returned.

Questions

7. What do you think God’s purpose is for having multiple accounts of the same event or similar prophecies, including Matthew and Luke’s account concerning the circumstances of the birth of Jesus; or like the following prophecies relating to the forerunner of the Messiah?

8. What was the forerunner’s purpose and who was he really?

Listen carefully

Listen carefully to the voice of the one crying out in the desert! It is not enough to only hear his words. You need to understand the message. Isaiah prophesied that the Messiah would be preceded by one who would be preaching repentance to the people of Israel (Isaiah 40:3-5). Quoted in each Gospel, this passage refers to the prophet John the Baptist. He was tasked with turning the hearts of Yahweh’s people back to Him so that they could be spiritually ready to accept the coming Messiah. Malachi echoed this prophecy when he addressed the broken-spirited nation of Israel after they returned from exile to Babylon (Malachi 3:1). Yahweh will indeed return to the Temple, preceded by the aforementioned ‘messenger’.

Questions

9. Can you imagine the excitement of the Triumphant Entry? Would it have been impressive to stand on the street as He rode in through the gates of Jerusalem?

10. Would you have ventured to change the course of events if you did not know what was going to happen?

The triumphant entry

Some scholars believe the timeframe for the epitome of the Messiah’s arrival was established in Daniel 9:24-26a, which is why it is included in this study. There is a differing hypothesis on the exact timing, but we will go with the literal rather than the figurative thinking. As mentioned in the introduction to this study, it is imperative that you read and meditate on the Holy Scriptures through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. That is the only way you will comprehend the truth God reveals to you.

In the message, Daniel receives from Gabriel, Yahweh has given a promise that judgment is coming at a set time 483 years after a decree to rebuild Jerusalem was issued. There is some debate among scholars on the timing of this prophecy, but it is issued with a warning for the Jewish people to stop sinning and repent. Most believe that the period of time began Nisan 1 (March 5), 444 B.C. when Artaxerxes issued a second decree to allow Nehemiah to rebuild the walls around Jerusalem. Then following the 360-day biblical/prophetic year, ended with the triumphant entry into Jerusalem of the Messiah on Nisan 10 (March 30), A.D. 33. The following Friday, Jesus was hung on the cross and crucified; a pointless death to those who did not believe His message.

Amen.

To continue to Part 3, follow this link.

If you would like to start this Bible study from the beginning, here is a link to the introduction.

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