Calvary Road Baptist Church

“HIS ARRIVAL”

 

The day after tomorrow we celebrate His arrival, the coming on the scene of Him “whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”[1]

Who is He? A best selling author once said, “Almost everyone who has heard of Jesus has developed an opinion about Him. That is to be expected, for He is not only the most famous person in world history, but also the most controversial.”[2]

“In the 1974 edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the contributor writing about Jesus Christ uses twenty thousand words to describe Him, more space than was given to Aristotle, Cicero, Alexander, Julius Caesar, Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed, or Napoleon Bonaparte.”[3]

“Concerning the testimony of the many independent secular accounts of Jesus of Nazareth, the author [of that entry] resoundingly concludes: ‘These independent accounts prove that in ancient times even the opponents of Christianity never doubted the historicity of Jesus, which was disputed for the first time and on inadequate grounds by several authors at the end of the 18th, during the 19th, and at the beginning of the 20th centuries.’”[4]

C. S. Lewis was a professor of literature at Cambridge University in England, and one of the outstanding scholars of the 20th century. Though he had been an agnostic for most of his life, the influence of his good friend J. R. R. Tolkien resulted in a reconsideration of the facts. He came to be a professing Christian, and wrote a very good book titled Mere Christianity, in which he surveyed some of the evidence related to Jesus Christ.

In Mere Christianity he writes,

 

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: “I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.” That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a mad man or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.[5]

 

I do not think we have anyone in attendance this morning that is on a level with a man who says he is a poached egg. Therefore, let us acknowledge that throughout the last two thousand years the Lord Jesus Christ has been the preeminent figure in human history. In other words, He is important. Since only stupid people pay no attention to important things, we should pay some attention to Jesus Christ this morning.

In particular, we will pay attention to only one facet of His life and ministry this morning: His arrival. Turn in your Bible to Luke 2.4, and stand with me for the reading of God’s Word:

 

4      And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

5      To be taxed with Mary his espoused wife, being great with child.

6      And so it was, that, while they were there, the days were accomplished that she should be delivered.

7      And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

8      And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.

9      And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.

10     And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.

11     For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.

12     And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.

13     And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,

14     Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

15     And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

16     And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.

17     And when they had seen it, they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child.

18     And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds.

19     But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.

20     And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

 

These, obviously, are some of the up-close details surrounding the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ that we have concentrated on examining over the last few weeks. This morning we will step back and take a panoramic glimpse of His arrival.

We will not consider His retinue of angels who appeared and sang that night. We will not consider so much the purpose of His stepping from eternity into the time-space-matter continuum that we live in. The single facet we will address this morning related to His birth are the predictions.

To be sure, we have not the time to deal with each of the more than 300 references to the Messiah in the Old Testament that was fulfilled in Jesus. However, I would like to raise four points to stimulate your thinking:

 

First, WHERE?

 

Consider all the notable and prominent men who have ever lived. Consider all the philosophers and religious leaders who have ever lived. Who other than Jesus was predicted at all? Buddha was predicted by no one. Mohammed was predicted by no one. Zarathustra was predicted by no one. Confucius was predicted by no one. Only Jesus was predicted, at the very dawn of human history, back in Genesis 3.15. However, for our purposes this morning, let us concentrate on something verifiable. Where was Jesus predicted to have been born?

Turn in your Bible to the prophetical book of Micah. Conservatively thought to have been written between 730 and 700 BC, Micah’s prediction of the place where the Messiah was to be born was given seven centuries before the fact![6] Read Micah 5.2 with me:

 

“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”

 

There were two Bethlehems in Micah’s day, this Bethlehem, located about 13 miles south of Jerusalem, within the tribal territory of Judah, and the a Bethlehem to the north, in the territory of the tribe of Zebulun.

Think of it, my friend. In an era when weather forecasters with sophisticated computer models and a hundred years of regional data to refer to can perhaps predict the weather a couple of days in advance, with far less than complete accuracy, we have before us a prediction made 700 years before the fact, and fulfilled to the letter.

To restate, then, Jesus Christ was born where He was predicted to be born. First of all, no one predicted where you would be born, or years in the future that you would be born. That the birthplace of Jesus Christ was accurately predicted seven centuries in advance should quiet some of the laughter and ridicule directed at Biblical Christianity.

 

Next, WHO?

 

The Lord Jesus Christ is not the only person whose birth was predicted. Though we were not told where Isaac and John the Baptist would be born, their births were predicted, about a year in advance. However, about the same time Micah was predicting the place the Messiah would be born, some seven hundred years before the event, another prophet was used by God to tell us Who this was whose birth was predicted.

Turn to Isaiah 9.6: “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, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.”

Sadly, we have insufficient time to do this verse any real justice, so take a look at the last three descriptions of this Messiah who will come into the world as a child in Bethlehem: The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

These three descriptions alone, paying no attention to the preceding ones, show the identity of the child born in Bethlehem and placed in a manger beyond any scriptural shadow of doubt. He is The mighty God. He is the everlasting Father. He is the Prince of Peace. What a staggering assertion by the prophet Isaiah.

Were it possible to discount anything else he wrote as being less than prophetically perfect, you might write these descriptions off as wildly improbably, if not impossible. However, when you consider that every prediction of Isaiah, as well as every other Biblical prediction, has been fulfilled to the verifiable letter, then you can see why C. S. Lewis said what he said about the Lord Jesus Christ.

I would not suggest that you play with or discount The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Discount and dismiss me, but you discount and dismiss Him at your eternal and everlasting peril.

 

Third, WHEN?

 

If I say Jesus is born of a virgin, you cannot verify that. If I say that Jesus is the Son of God, you cannot verify that. Not that His virgin birth and eternal Sonship are not real. It is just that you have no way to verify those two realities. However, there is a powerful prediction about Jesus Christ’s birth that can be verified: When He was born.

Two passages:

Genesis 49.10: “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” This prediction from the mouth of the Jewish patriarch, Jacob, basically means that a certain kind of authority, represented by the word “sceptre,” will not be lost from the tribe of Judah until Shiloh come, or until the Messiah comes. In other words, the Messiah has to arrive on the scene before Judah loses the sceptre, or before Judah loses a certain kind of authority. Just so you will know, that occurred shortly after the Lord Jesus Christ was born, when the Romans took away from the Jewish Sanhedrin the authority to execute punishment on wrongdoers. Thus, when Shiloh came, the sceptre, the rod of authority, was removed from the hands of the Jewish leadership and retained by their Roman occupiers. Listen to what one rabbi wrote:

 

When the members of the Sanhedrin found themselves deprived of their right over life and death, a general consternation took possession of them; they covered their heads with ashes, and their bodies with sackcloth, exclaiming: “Woe unto us, for the scepter has departed from Judah, and the Messiah has not come.”[7]

 

Oh, but He had come. They just refused to recognize Him because they were blind to the Old Testament predictions concerning Him coming twice. The Jewish hierarchy rejected Jesus because He did not defeat the Romans and establish His kingdom here on earth. What they did not realize is that there are two sets of predictions concerning Christ’s coming.

The first set of predictions show Him coming as the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world. His first coming culminated in His death on the cross for sins and His glorious resurrection from the dead three days later. The second set of Old Testament predictions concerning the coming of the Messiah is related to His second coming, in power and great glory, to vanquish His enemies.

Thus, many Jews these days are looking for their Messiah to come the first time, when they are blind to the reality of His first coming, and should be looking for Him to come the second time.

Then there is Daniel 9.24-26:

 

24     Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

25     Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times.

26     And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined.

 

This prophecy, coming more than 500 years before the birth of Christ, concerns a total of 69 weeks of years. We are familiar with weeks of days, but Daniel spoke of weeks of years. Sixty-nine weeks of years is exactly 483 years. According to Daniel’s prediction, written five centuries before the fact, from the commandment issued to rebuild the destroyed city of Jerusalem following the Babylonian conquest until the time when Messiah is cut off, exactly 483 years would pass. Do you realize that when Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the donkey’s back took place it was exactly 483 years, to the day, following the decree of the Persian ruler, Artaxerxes, given on March 4, 444 BC.[8] So you see, He had to be born when He was born, so that He could enter Jerusalem on that precise date as an adult, the King of the Jews come into the city of Jerusalem on the foal of an ass, in fulfillment of yet another Old Testament prediction, Zechariah 9.9.

 

Finally, WHY?

 

The place of Jesus Christ’s birth was predicted. The identity of Jesus Christ, His nature, the fact that He is God, was predicted. Then we saw that the very timing of His birth was predicted, coming shortly before the Sanhedrin lost their authority, and yet in time to fulfill the amazingly precise prediction of Daniel, and in the manner foretold by Zechariah. These predictions are astounding, when you think about them, defying all probability and against all odds. The question to be asked is why?

Why would God predict events to take place from five to ten centuries in advance, so that even with the ebb and flow of civilizations, and the rise and fall of empires, the predictions are exactly fulfilled? What is He seeking to accomplish in fulfilling such dramatic and precise predictions? Allow me to suggestion three reasons why God makes use of predictions concerning Jesus Christ in away that no other religion or religious figure in history can lay claim to:

First, in order to provide a basis for faith. God, the king of all glory, has seen fit to deal with mankind by means of faith. However, faith of the kind found in the Bible is anchored in historical events and real facts. Therefore, let no man say that Jesus never lived, for we know that He did. As well, let no man suggest that He was not born in a certain place, in a certain way, to achieve a certain end. Bible Christianity has at our disposal more than 300 predictions dating centuries before their fulfillment, to provide a real basis for faith. The only way a person can claim Christianity is not true, is not based up historical reality, is to ignore the facts of history, including the fulfilled prophesies related not only to His birth, but also His life, His miracles, His death, His resurrection, His ascension to heaven, and the as yet unfulfilled predictions of His second coming. The prophesies gave those who lived in ancient times something to look forward to. The fulfillment of these prophecies gives us something to look back on. In each circumstance a basis for genuine faith.

Next, to guard against deception.

·         Matthew 7.15: “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”

·         Matthew 24.11: “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.”

·         Matthew 24.24: “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”

 

There is only one person whose birth, whose life, whose death, and whose resurrection, was predicted. Not Buddha’s. Not Mohammed’s. Not Confucius’. The reason there are no predictions concerning those men’s births, those men’s lives, those men’s deaths, and those men’s resurrections, is that those men are frauds, counterfeits, liars, and deceivers, who cannot save sinners from their sins. The predictions found in the Bible point us to the real Savior, the true Savior, the genuine Savior, the only Savior, Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God, the unique Savior of sinful men’s souls. If you look to another for relief from your sins, even someone named Jesus, who is not the Jesus of the Bible, you will be disappointed. Only the Jesus of the Bible can and will save you from your sins.

Finally, the reason for these prophesies is to demonstrate divine power. How can more than 300 predictions come to pass centuries after they were recorded unless there is a divine intellect behind them? How can it be asserted that there is no God with the probability of only eight of the 300 predictions being fulfilled being an astounding one in 1017?[9] Consider the rise and fall of the Babylonians, the Assyrians, the Egyptians, the Macedonians, and then the Romans. Each of these empires swept over the land where the Jews and Jesus lived, completely transforming the landscape and culture. Yet the predictions came to pass. How can any other explanation be attached to this besides the unseen hand of the invisible God, moving in the affairs of men to bring His will to pass by fulfilling predictions made by His prophets?

 

Maybe you are not prepared to embrace this person named Jesus Christ. There are a great many details I have not dealt with which are of great importance, that you have not had opportunity to consider.

Understand that I am not pressing you to do anything you do not want to do. However, you have heard enough today to realize that this man named Jesus is worthy of your consideration. How can an intellectually honest person simply dismiss as unimportant the single most significant man who ever lived, whose birth and birthplace was predicted centuries in advance, whose identity was predicted centuries in advance, as well as the timing of His birth?

After His birth, He grew to manhood and then died on a cruel Roman cross in fulfillment of centuries old predictions. He did that for you. However, that is another sermon.



[1] Micah 5.2

[2] Tim LaHaye cited in Josh D. McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999), page 137.

[3] Josh D. McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999), page 135.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Cited in Josh D. McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands A Verdict, (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999), page 157.

[6] Hobart E. Freeman, An Introduction To The Old Testament Prophets, (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1968), pages 219-220.

[7] McDowell, pages 195-197.

[8] McDowell, pages 197-201.

[9] McDowell, page 193.

Would you like to contact Dr. Waldrip about this sermon? Please contact him by clicking on the link below. Please do not change the subject within your email message. Thank you.

pastor@calvaryroadbaptist.org