Just a few days ago was Christmas. Even though I’m an adult I still get excited with anticipation for Christmas to arrive. As soon as the trees start to lose their leaves, I start getting excited and counting down the days until Thanksgiving and Christmas.
I can remember the excitement as a young child waiting for Christmas to arrive.
I knew Christmas was getting close when the 12-pack of Coca-Cola would have a picture of Santa on the back that you could cut out and use as an advent calendar. Each day I would wake up and glue another cotton ball to Santa’s beard. I’ve not seen a Coke advent calendar like that since I was a child but now there are all kinds of advent calendars to choose from. My kids have several, a hanging one that has little pockets that you move a little stuffed mouse each day. They also have one that is made of two wooden blocks that you move to count down the days. My wife’s Christmas Village even has a tiny one on a sign that you can change the numbers on. Of course, you can’t forget my favorite advent calendar, a Lego Star Wars one that you open each day to find a tiny Lego set to put together.
Hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth people were expecting and looking forward to His arrival. They did not have an advent calendar to go by that would tell them the day, but they did have something better; a promise from God that He would send the Messiah. More than 680 years before the birth of Jesus, God told the prophet, Isaiah, that the Messiah would be born to a virgin mother and would be God Himself in the flesh. The prophecy in Isaiah 9:6 states, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
The accuracy of just that one claim alone is miraculous, especially when you look at how many years the world waited for the fulfillment of that promise. But this prophecy is only one of 108 that were fulfilled through the birth and life of Jesus.
In 1958, mathematics and astronomy professor Peter Stoner did a study and calculated the probabilities of fulfilling the Messianic prophecies. He determined that the probability of even eight of the 108 prophecies coming to pass is, one in 100,000,000,000,000,000. That’s one in one hundred quadrillion. Remember that is just eight out of 108!
I’m not going to list all 108 but I want to mention a few of the prophecies. We know Jesus was of Jewish descent and therefore was the seed of Abraham. In Genesis 22:18 we are told that “all nations on earth will be blessed through Abraham’s offspring.” We also know that He is from the line of Jacob, Abraham’s grandson. Numbers 24:17 states that “A star will come out of Jacob; a scepter will rise out of Israel.” We know He is from the line of Jesse, the father of King David as told in Isaiah 11:1, which states, “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit.”
Another prophet, Jeremiah, also states that Jesus is from the line of King David. Jeremiah 23:5-6 states: “The days are coming,” declares the Lord, “when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land.”
From the prophecy of Micah, we know He was born into the tribe of Judah in the region of Ephrathah, in the town of Bethlehem Micah 5:2 states, “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, 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 of old, from ancient times.” From Isaiah 7:14 we know that He was born from a virgin and that His name would be Immanuel which means “God with us.” Isaiah 7:14 says, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
These prophecies see their fulfillment in the birth of Jesus as told in Matthew 1:18–25 “This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife. But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.
The one hoped for has come, Jesus Christ the Messiah.
So, what does that mean for you and me? Jesus’ arrival is part of God’s plan to save us from our sins. We are told so in the Book of Acts. Acts 3:19–21 tells us to, “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you – even Jesus. Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets.” I hope that as you expectantly wait each year for Christmas to arrive you remember what all the waiting was about. That Jesus Christ the Messiah has come.
Rev. Jason Sheets is pastor at Avlon United Brethren Church in Bremen.
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