Saturday, December 10, 2005

Christmas in the Old Testament

Just now I’ve been watching the CBS “Early Show.” Discussing the Presidential Christmas cards, one of the anchors brought up the Old Testament and mentioned that it does not mention Christmas.

No, not by name. But then, neither does the New Testament. But they both talk about the birth of the Christ, or as He is called in the Old Testament, Messiah. Consider these Messianic passages in the Old Testament:
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)

For unto us a Child is born,
  Unto 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, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of His 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 9:6-7)
Now compare with the New Testament account:
Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her public example, was minded to put her away secretly.

But while he though about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name, JESUS, 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, saying, “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and the shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.”
(Matthew 1:18-23)
Consider also the testimony of the Magi, who learned the when and the where of Christ’s birth because they paid attention to these Old Testament prophecies:
The utterance of him who hears the Words of God,
  And has knowledge of the Most High …
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.
(Numbers 24:16-17)

But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
  Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler
  Who will shepherd My people Israel.
(Micah 5:2)
Compare again with Matthew’s Gospel:
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he inquired of them where the Christ was to be born. So they said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for thus it is written by the prophet:

“But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
  Are not the least among the rulers of Judah;
For out of you shall come a Ruler
  Who will shepherd My people Israel.”
(Matthew 2:1-6)
Christmas is there in both the Old Testament and New. For it is all part of God’s eternal plan to redeem His people. Wisdom recognizes this.

(See also Wise Men Discern Kings)