Rabbi’s Reflections – Sunday, December 15, 2019
Shavuah Tov *|FNAME|*,
Note from Rabbi Michael: I’m so thankful to Dr. Raymond Finney for guest writing on Sundays. This gives me a true Shabbat of rest. Please these Sunday messages he writes are of the highest quality. Thank you, Raymond.
Title: Prophecies About the Messiah’s Birth
INTRODUCTION: December 25 is traditionally celebrated by many Believers as Christmas (the day Yeshua was born). This RR is the first installment of a two-part series about Yeshua’s birth. As I will explain in the December 22 issue, Yeshua was PROBABLY NOT born on December 25. (If you feel otherwise, maybe you’re right) Since we see nativity scenes and hear non-stop Christmas carols at every turn, this may be a good time to explore what we know– and what we can reject– about Yeshua’s birth.
There are more than 300 prophecies about the Messiah (Yeshua) in the Old Testament. It has been said that the Old Testament is Yeshua prophesied; the New Testament is Yeshua revealed (prophecies fulfilled). Prophecies about Yeshua’s death are more common than prophecies about His birth. Why? Yeshua was born to die for the sins of mankind. In the Believers’ traditional calendar, “Easter” is more important than “Christmas.”
Rabbi’s Note: It is also true that in Jewish culture we memorialize the Yahrzeit (or anniversary of the date of death) much more that any date of birth celebration. We don’t find birthdays in the Bible, do we? End RN.
Following are some Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah’s birth. Scriptures typically prophesy the coming of the Messiah, rather than calling a specific Man by the name of Yeshua.
THE TWO MESSIAHS: Read Isaiah, chapter 53. This Suffering Servant chapter is a Messianic prophecy. Non-Believing Jews have difficulty understanding this chapter. The chapter is specifically omitted in Haftarah Shabbat readings in synagogues. If they must consider this chapter, debating rabbis have to make it about anyone except Yeshua HaMashiach. They may say the Servant was the prophet Isaiah himself, King Cyrus, King Hezekiah, Josiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah, Moses, Job, or an anonymous contemporary of Isaiah.
Two Servants of the people– two Messiahs– seem to be prophesied in Isaiah’s writing. Jewish rabbis, blinded to this truth of God, have tried to explain His grace as the coming of two different Messiahs. One Messiah, named HaMashiach ben Josef (“The Messiah, Son of Joseph”), would be the Suffering Servant Messiah, who would meekly die for His people. The other Messiah, named HaMashiach ben David (“the Messiah, Son of David”), would be the Warrior King Messiah, who would lead His people to victory over their enemies.
Having benefited from the Gospel, we understand that there is ONE Messiah, Yeshua, who comes twice. He:
** Was born more than two-thousand years ago in Bethlehem for the purpose of saving us from our sins through His death, burial, and resurrection, and who now sits at the right hand of Father God (First Advent, First Coming); and
** Will return in the clouds (at a future date known only to God the Father) to call Believers home to be with Him in Paradise and to go to Armageddon’s battlefield to defeat evil (Second Advent, Second Coming). After this victory, He, with Believers and angels, will establish His earthly kingdom– the Millennial Kingdom– followed by eternal life in Heaven.
Different titles are given in the Old and New Testaments for this Servant. In the Old Testament, He is HaMashiach (the Messiah); in the New Testament, He is Ho Christos (the Christ). Both titles translate to “the Anointed One (of God).” Both titles contain an article– Ha (Hebrew = “The”) or Ho (Greek = “The”).
Language study is poor in Americans, and even learned clergymen and Bible translators refer to Jesus as Jesus Christ. Christ is not Jesus’ surname, but a title. The Lord properly should not be referred to as Jesus Christ, but as Jesus THE Christ.
A MESSIANIC BLESSING FOR ALL PEOPLE PROMISED TO ABRAM:
** PROPHECY: [The LORD said to Abram] “… And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3b) <written ca 1440 – 1406 BC>
** FULFILLMENT: [Peter said] “You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’” (Acts 3:25) <fulfilled ca 6 – 4 BC> The Apostle Peter affirmed that part of the Abrahamic Covenant (Genesis 12:3) referred specifically to Yeshua, who was sent by God to die for the sins of all mankind, thereby blessing all of earth’s families.
THE MESSIAH TO COME FROM DESCENDANTS OF ABRAHAM:
** PROPHECY: [The LORD said to Abram, or Abraham] “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:3) – AND –
[The Angel of the LORD said to Abraham] “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice.” (Genesis 22:18) <both written ca 1440 – 1406 BC>
** FULFILLMENT: The genealogy of Yeshua shows that He is a “Son of Abraham.” See Matthew 1:1. <fulfilled ca 6 – 4 BC>
THE MESSIAH TO DESCEND FROM ISAAC:
** PROPHECY: Then God said [to Abraham]: “No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him.” (Genesis 17:19) – AND –
But God said to Abraham, “Do not let it be displeasing in your sight because of the lad or because of your bondwoman. Whatever Sarah has said to you, listen to her voice; for in Isaac your seed shall be called.” (Genesis 21:12) <both written ca 1440 – 1406 BC>
** FULFILLMENT: Yeshua was Son of (descended from) Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. See Luke 3:34. <fulfilled ca 6 – 4 BC>
THE MESSIAH TO DESCEND FROM JACOB:
** PROPHECY: [The oracle said] “I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near; a Star shall come out of Jacob; a Scepter shall rise out of Israel, and batter the brow of Moab, and destroy all the sons of tumult.” (Numbers 24:17) <written ca 1440 – 1406 BC> Clarification: “Batter,” in this verse, translates the Hebrew machats = “smite, wound, shatter.”
** FULFILLMENT: Abraham begot Isaac, Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot Judah and his brothers. (Matthew 1:2) <fulfilled ca 6 – 4 BC>
THE MESSIAH TO BE BORN OF A WOMAN:
** PROPHECY: [The LORD God said to the serpent– Satan] “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” (Genesis 3:15) <written ca 1440 – 1406 BC>
** FULFILLMENT: Satan’s seed are his followers, who fought/ fight against Yeshua. The woman’s [the Virgin Mary’s] Seed is Yeshua. See Matthew 1:20 and Galatians 4:4. Satan “bruised Yeshua’s heel,” when Yeshua was crucified. Yeshua will “bruise Satan’s head,” when He casts Satan into the eternal Lake of Fire (Hell) in our future. <partly fulfilled ca AD 30-33, at Yeshua’s crucifixion; partly to be fulfilled in the future, at the end of time, when Satan is cast into Hell (see Revelation 20:10). >
THE MESSIAH TO BE BORN OF A VIRGIN:
** PROPHECY: [The LORD said] “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14) <written ca 701 – 681 BC>
** FULFILLMENT: Yeshua was born to a virgin, Mary. This immaculate conception was first taught in Daniel 2:34-35. In Daniel’s dream, a Stone (Yeshua), cut from a Mountain (God) without human hands (immaculate conception), destroyed the clay-iron toes (Antichrist’s regime) of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream metal statue (man’s governments), and became a Mountain covering the earth (Yeshua’s Millennial Kingdom). See Matthew 1:22-23 and Luke 1:26-31. <fulfilled ca 6 – 4 BC> Note: The immaculate conception of Yeshua is essential so that Yeshua is regarded as being conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit. Otherwise, it might be assumed that Mary may have just been another unwed teenage mother. The virginity of Mary is questioned by enemies of the cross and even politically correct theologians. Isaiah uses the Hebrew almah to describe the Messiah’s mother, which can be translated as “virgin, young woman, maiden.” In the First Century, a Jewish maiden was expected to be a virgin, and almost assuredly such young women were virgins. Luke (Luke 1:27) describes Mary by the Greek parthenon, which is more definitively what we would consider a virgin– a woman who has never had sexual intercourse. Side note: The Parthenon (in Nashville) is a re-creation of the original Parthenon (on the Acropolis in Athens, Greece), which was a temple to Athena, a virgin goddess in Greek mythology.
THE MESSIAH TO BE BORN IN BETHLEHEM:
** PROPHECY: [Says the LORD] “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting. (Micah 5:2, continuing into verses 3-5) <written ca 750 – 686 BC>
** FULFILLMENT: Yeshua was born in Bethlehem, although Joseph and Mary did not live in this little village (see Matthew 2:1, Luke 2:4-6). <fulfilled ca 6 – 4 BC> Note: Bethlehem, a small village six miles southwest of Jerusalem, was King David’s childhood home. “Bethlehem” translates the Hebrew Beth Lechem (English = “House of Bread”) because wheat was extensively grown in this area. Hebrew Ephrathah (English = “fruitfulness”) was another name for Bethlehem. Rachel, wife of Jacob and mother of two patriarchs (Joseph and Benjamin), died and was buried here. Interestingly, Yeshua, born in a village named “the House of Bread,” said He is the Bread of Life (John 6:35, 48) and He chose unleavened bread (unleavened bread = symbolic of no sin) as the symbol for His broken body during the Communion meal (Matthew 26:26, Mark 14:22, Luke 22:19).
THE MESSIAH TO COME FROM THE TRIBE OF JUDAH:
** PROPHECY: The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people. (Genesis 49:10) <written ca 1400 BC>
** FULFILLMENT: Yeshua is called a “Son of Judah” (Luke 3:33) –AND–
For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood. (Hebrews 7:14) <both fulfilled ca 6 – 4 BC> Note: In this Genesis prophecy, “Shiloh” is a Messianic title. As a place name, it has been translated, “A place of rest.” As a title, it has been translated, “The Peaceful One.” A title for Yeshua is Prince of Peace, which comes from another prophecy: For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. (Isaiah 9:6) <written ca 700 – 680 BC>
THE MESSIAH TO DESCEND FROM KING DAVID:
** PROPHECY: “Behold the days are coming,” says the LORD, “that I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; a King shall reign and prosper, and execute righteousness. … He will be called: THE LORD OF OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.” (Jeremiah 23:5, 6b) <written ca 626 – 586 BC>
** FULFILLMENT: Yeshua’s genealogy is recorded in Matthew and Luke. In Matthew 1:1-17, Yeshua’s genealogy appears to be Yeshua’s legal line, through his adoptive father, Joseph. In this lineage, we read (Matthew 1:6): … and Jesse begat David the king. In Luke 3:23-38, Yeshua’s genealogy appears to be Yeshua’s bloodline through Mary. In this lineage, we find (Luke 3:31-32): … David, the son of Jesse,…. <both fulfilled ca 6 – 4 BC> Note: Yeshua descended from King David through His natural mother, Mary, and His stepfather, Joseph.
THE MESSIAH TO BE HEIR OF KING DAVID’S THRONE:
** PROPHECY: [Nathan said to David on behalf of the LORD] “When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for My [the LORD’s] name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father, and he shall be My son…..” (2 Samuel 7:12-14a) <written ca 925 BC> – AND –
Of the increase of His [the Messiah’s] government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:7) <written ca 701 – 681 BC>
** FULFILLMENT: [The angel said to Mary] “He [Yeshua] will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:32-33) – AND –
… concerning His Son [Yeshua HaMashiach] our Lord, who was born of the seed of David according to the flesh, and declared to be the Son of God…. (Romans 1:3-4a) <both fulfilled ca 6 – 4 BC>
THE MESSIAH TO BE CALLED IMMANUEL:
** PROPHECY: [The LORD spoke] “… the virgin… shall call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14b) <written ca 701 – 681 BC>
** FULFILLMENT: [The angel of the Lord said to Joseph] “And she [Mary] will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name [YESHUA], for He will save His people from their sins.” So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet [Isaiah], saying: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:21-23) <fulfilled ca 6 – 4 BC>
THE MESSIAH TO TRAVEL IN (TO COME FROM) EGYPT:
** PROPHECY: [The LORD said] “… And out of Egypt I called My son.” (Hosea 11:1b) <written ca 715 BC>
** FULFILLMENT: When [Joseph] arose, he took the young Child [Yeshua] and His mother [Mary] by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet [Hosea], saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.” (Matthew 2:14-15) <fulfilled in Yeshua’s infancy, shortly after His ca 6 – 4 BC birth; Herod died in 4 BC>
COMMENT 1: Other fulfilled Messianic prophecies about Yeshua’s birth could be cited (insufficient space in this RR). Statisticians have evaluated Messianic prophecies. The probability that a single Man could fulfill all Messianic prophecies, as written and without error, is astronomically high. Any mathematician, statistician, or scientist investigating the statistical analysis of these prophecies would concur that the Man described in these prophecies– Yeshua HaMashiach– is the One Man prophesied.
Be assured: Yeshua is real; God’s Holy Word is real; and Bible prophecies are real. Claims to the contrary arise from Satan (John 8:44): [Yeshua said] “You are of your father the devil [that is, Satan], and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.”
COMMENT 2: I comment on another part of the story of Yeshua’s birth. Read Matthew 2:1-12. “Wise men” (magi) – not kings, as a popular carol (“We Three Kings of Orient Are”) is worded– came from the East to worship the newborn King of the Jews. Thinking He surely must be born in King Herod’s palace, they first visited Herod and inquired about the newborn Prince. Learning of a potential rival for his throne, Herod was extremely disturbed.
The magi brought gifts appropriate for royalty. Unknown to the magi, I believe, these gifts may have saved Yeshua’s life. These gifts were (Matthew 2:11):
** Gold, for centuries a symbol of kingship, was appropriate for Yeshua, King of kings and Lord of lords.
** Frankincense, a tree gum incense used in the worship of God, was appropriate for the Son of God.
** Myrrh, a gum from small, thorny trees used in burial ointment, foretold Yeshua’s death– the reason for His birth. (Although Yeshua’s crown of thorns may have come from another plant species, the tree which produces myrrh bears wicked thorns.)
Importantly for Yeshua’s parents, these gifts were valuable. See a following paragraph for a thought how these valuable gifts may have saved Yeshua’s life.
Understand: From the very beginning, Satan has tried to kill Yeshua. He will continue this quest even into the future. In Satan’s evil, twisted mind, he can become the world’s god, if he can thwart God’s plan. If God’s representative prophesies something which does not come to pass, Satan can argue that God is a liar and a fraud. As time winds down, Satan will relentlessly pursue Yeshua and His followers to try to remove them from the face of the earth (Revelation 12:4b): … And the dragon [Satan] stood before the woman [Israel] who was ready to give birth [to the Messiah], to devour her Child [Yeshua] as soon as it [Yeshua] was born.
Herod “worshiped” the baby Yeshua by killing all newborn males in and around Bethlehem (see Matthew 2:16-18). Herod’s motive was to eliminate any potential usurper of his and his heirs’ throne. Herod’s barbaric act has been called the “Massacre of the Innocents.” This massacre fulfilled Jeremiah’s prophecy of Rachel weeping for her children (see Jeremiah 31:15). <written ca 585 – 580 BC>
Joseph had been forewarned by an angel of the Lord in a dream of the massacre and threat to Yeshua’s life. Mary, Yeshua, and Joseph fled to Egypt (Matthew 2:13-15) <fulfilled 6 – 4 BC>, where they stayed until Herod died. <4 BC> By Yeshua going to and returning from Egypt, an ancient prophecy was fulfilled: [The LORD said] “… And out of Egypt I called My son.” (Hosea 11:1b) <written ca 715 BC>
Then, the Holy Family returned to Israel, settling in Nazareth (Matthew 2:23), which fulfilled the prophecy that Yeshua would be called a Nazarene. Matthew’s prophecy is not clear, but probably refers to the genealogy of Yeshua through Jesse: There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots. (Isaiah 11:1) <written ca 700 – 680 BC>
In Isaiah’s prophecy, “Branch” translates the Hebrew Netser. “Nazareth” is of uncertain origin, but some claim is related to Netser. In Romans, chapter 11, the Apostle Paul explained more fully about God’s olive tree (Israel), with natural branches (Jews) and grafted branches (Believers/ Christians). In Romans 15:12, Paul confirmed that Yeshua arose from the tree of Israel through “the root of Jesse.” Jesse was David’s father. The King of kings, Yeshua, came from the lineage of King David. Paul eloquently captured the past and future history of Jews and Gentiles (Believers and Christians) in a few verses in this chapter.
Returning to the previously discussed gifts of the magi, I mentioned the gifts’ spiritual (prophetic) significance. The gifts also had practical significance. The young couple, Mary and Joseph, a carpenter just beginning his trade, would have been very poor. How could they afford to travel to Egypt; live there, until Herod died; and return to Nazareth? Stored in their meager possessions were valuable gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh from the magi. By selling these gifts, they could afford an expensive trip to and from Egypt. Truly, God was then, as He is now, Yehovah Yireh (English translation: “God will see and provide” – see Genesis 22:14). Yehovah Yireh (Jehovah-jireh) came to symbolize the place of a miracle given to Abraham: Mount Moriah. Shalom and Maranatha.
Father: We thank you for salvation. We gratefully acknowledge that salvation depends upon all three Persons of the Holy Trinity– the grace of God the Father, the sacrificial death of Yeshua, and the conviction of sin and calling to salvation by the Ruach HaKodesh. We are humbled that You would choose us out of the vastness of the Universe to care for us in such exquisite and loving detail. We thank you for Your sure word of prophecy, that You foretold the birth of the Messiah centuries before His birth and carried through with the birth of the little baby Yeshua to an ordinary man and woman, ordinary people like us (not powerful royalty as would seemingly befit a future King). We can never be worthy of Your love, but please accept us, as we come before Your throne with gratitude, praise, and love. Only You could love “filthy rags” like us. Amen.