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The significance of Christmas – Part 1


Emeritus Prof. Mercy Olumide

Isaiah prophesied the birth of Jesus Christ centuries before Jesus appeared on earth.

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)
Matthew 1:23 quotes Isaiah 7:14 to show a further fulfillment of this prophecy in that a virgin named Mary conceived and bore a son, Immanuel, the Christ.

“a Virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son … Immanuel.” “Virgin” (Heb almah) can mean either “virgin” or “a young woman before marriage.” The ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy was realised in the birth of Jesus Christ by the virgin Mary (Mat 1:23). Mary was a virgin and remained a virgin until after the birth of Jesus (Mat 1:18, 25). The conception of her son came about by a miracle of the Holy Spirit rather than through the act of a man (see Mat 1:16,23; Luke 1:35). (3) The virgin’s son was to be called “Immanuel,” i.e., “God with us” (Mat 1:23); that name acquired a new depth of meaning in the personal coming into the world of God’s only begotten Son (cf. John 3:16).

Micah prophesied that the messiah would be born in Bethlehem
“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)

Micah prophesies that a ruler would come out of Bethlehem who would fulfill God’s promises to His people. This verse refers to Jesus the Messiah (see Mat 2:1, 3-6), whose origin is “from everlasting” (i.e., from eternity; see John 1:1; Col 1:17; Rev 1:8); yet He would be born as a human (v3; see John 1:14; Phil 2:7-8). Ephrathah was the district in which Bethlehem was located. This Ruler is Jesus, the Messiah. Micah accurately predicted Christ’s birthplace hundreds of years before Jesus was born. The promised eternal King in David’s line, who would come to live as a man, had been alive forever —“from of old, from everlasting.” Although eternal, Christ entered human history as the man Jesus of Nazareth.
“And this Man shall be the peace.” (Micah 5:5)

“this Man shall be the peace. Only Jesus the Messiah will bring everlasting peace to Israel. Even with His first coming, He gives peace with God, forgiveness of sin and the assurance of eternal life to those who repent and receive Him by faith (see Rom 5:1-11). Because they believe in His atoning death, true believers will not face condemnation (see John 14:27; Eph 2:14)
This chapter provides one of the clearest Old Testament prophecies of Christ’s coming. The key descriptive phrase is “and this Man shall be the peace.” In one of Christ’s final talks he said, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you, not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid” (John 14:27). Because of Christ’s first coming, we have the opportunity to experience peace with God with no more fear of judgment and no more conflict and guilt. Christ’s peace gives us assurance even though wars continue. At Christ’s second coming, all wars and weapons will be destroyed (4:3-5).
NT fulfilment

Jesus was and is Immanuel “God with us” (Mat 1:23). Jesus was to be called Immanuel (“God with us”), as predicted by Isaiah the prophet (Isaiah 7:14). Jesus was God in the flesh; thus God was literally among us, “with us.” Through the Holy Spirit, Christ is present today in the life of every believer.

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