There are many prophesies in the Old Testament that covers Jesus’ life from birth to death and resurrection. Looking at the ones surrounding his birth is just as important as the birth itself. They are the light of coming hope, pointing the way to Christ’s birth and the restoration He brings.
First up: Isaiah.
Isaiah holds probably one of the most quoted prophesies concerning the birth of Jesus:
“For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father [of Eternity], Prince of Peace.”
But the full prophecy holds so much more. If we look back at verse one, it clearly states that the Messiah will come from the regions of Galilee:
“…but in the latter time He will make it glorious, by the way of the Sea [of Galilee, the land] beyond the Jordan, Galilee of the nations.”
From the beginning, God gives us a promise of deliverance. A promise that He will make a way to end the separation between us and Him, and where does the way come from? The land of Galilee. While Jesus was born in Bethlehem, He came from Galilee.
Verse two is where most readings consider the prophecy of Jesus’ birth to begin.
“The people who walked in darkness have seen a great Light; those who dwelt in the land of intense darkness and the shadow of death, upon them has the Light shined.”
Up until His coming, the world was filled with sin, and that world was a dark one. In it, we have no hope for reconciliation with God. But Jesus, Who came from Galilee, pierced the darkness with the Light of God, showing us the way out of sin and away from death. Through His sacrifice, and our acceptance of it, we are brought into God’s family.
“You [O Lord] have multiplied the nation and increased their joy;”
Those who are called by His name, there can be no limit. It is open to all who believe and God’s nation–His family–ever increases. We are joyful and thankful because we have been set free from the darkness, Jesus won the war for our souls. It is through Jesus, Whose lineage is of God and David, that we have victory over every power that comes against us. Jesus is the Son of God, Who came to establish not the earthly Kingdom of Israel, but the heavenly Kingdom of God. A kingdom which has no end and will bring everlasting peace. His Holy Spirit is our Counselor, God is the Heavenly Father to all who enter into His family.
And by what sign shall we first know Him come? That His mother will be unwed–a virgin, as told to us in Isaiah 7:14:
“Therefore the Lord Himself shall give you a sign: Behold, the young woman who is unmarried and a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel [God with us].”
Jesus’ mother, Mary, was engaged but had not yet been formally married to Joseph when she allowed God’s Spirit to rest upon her, creating Jesus. Since Jesus was not born of a human father, His blood was not cursed with the fall of man. Only with His free blood could He break the curse and bring restoring freedom.
While there is at least one other prophecy in Isaiah (11:1-10) we’re going to head straight over to Jeremiah.
While the prophecy in Jeremiah seems to deal mostly with Jesus’ ministry, especially if you include verses 17 and 18, it does give us some clues about His birth as well. In verses 14-16, God speaks of fulfilling the promise He made to “the house of Israel and the house of Judah”. This refers to when David was King over both. God made a covenant with him that there would always be one of David’s descendants on the throne. By way of His mother, Mary, Jesus is a descendant of David.
“and He shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In those days Judah shall be saved and Jerusalem shall dwell safely. And this is the name by which it will be called, The Lord is Our Righteousness (our Rightness, our Justice).”
Throughout His ministry, Jesus acted in righteousness and justice according to God, not man. Jesus also didn’t save as His contemporaries thought He should. He is our Righteousness and our Justice because He makes us Righteous with God and brings justice for us and to us. This is the hope that the people of God held onto for so many years. Though Jesus didn’t save as His contemporaries thought He should or would, He did fulfill the prophecy and established a Kingdom in which the people of God are saved and will one day dwell in complete safety and peace.
Finally there’s the prophecy in Micah.
The prophecy in Micah is considered one of the clearest prophecies concerning Jesus’ coming.
“But you, Bethlehem Ephratah, you are little to be among the clans of Judah; [yet] out of you shall One come forth for Me Who is to be Ruler in Israel, Whose goings forth have been from of old, from ancient days (eternity).”
Bethlehem Ephratah is also known as the City of David. Thanks to an order for a census to be taken, it was in that city that Mary gave birth to Jesus in a lowly stable. The line of “ancient past” speaks of before time began, but also of the words God spoke in the Garden of Eden. (Gen. 3:15) Jesus’ coming was started at the willful sin of man.
“Therefore shall He give them up until the time that she who travails has brought forth;”
Between the end of Old Testament and the beginning of the New Testament, there are 400 years of silence. Between this prophecy and the end of the Old Testament, Jerusalem falls and the people came under the Roman Empire. Beyond that, everything that was established to bring glory to God was corrupted. From the government leaders to the priests in God’s Temple, few truly reflected the nature of God. One thing I have come to know is that the events the Israelites went through were direct reflections of their hearts. God did not abandon them but He did turn them over to their own free will. And then Jesus was born.
“And He shall stand and feed His flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God; and they shall dwell [secure], for then shall He be great [even] to the ends of the earth. And this One shall be our peace.”
Jesus brought the people back to God. He spoke of God’s true nature and forgiveness, feeding their spirits with God’s word. Jesus brought all of mankind back to God. Jesus was the One, the only One, to make that possible. He brought peace and established it between God and man forever.
Want to read the full prophecies for yourself? Good idea! You’ll find them in:
Isaiah 7:14; 9:1-7; 11:1-10
Jeremiah 33:14-16 (+verses 17-18)