Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "While Shepherds Watched"1 (Lyrics)
Hebrews 1:1-2a – In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son. (NIV)
When we toured Israel as a group, our faith was reinforced as our experienced leader, a Christian minister, many times supplemented our Jordanian guide's orations of what we were seeing by telling us of further connections between these places and events recorded in the Bible.
Some people have the false idea that the Bible is a myth and that Jesus is a great hoax. These people are missing facts that can help them to discover the truths of Jesus Christ and Christianity and become secure and enthusiastic believers.
Some of our greatest reassurances of the validity of biblical Scriptures result from matching prophecies recorded in the Old Testament with the New Testament's reports of actual happenings hundreds of years later that fulfill each one. Early in Matthew's gospel, we find three examples.
In Old Testament times, Isaiah prophesied, "The Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel." (Isaiah 7:14 NIV)
Matthew 1:18-23 shows us that early in the first century AD, when the virgin, Mary, was pledged to marry Joseph, and was found to be pregnant by the Holy Spirit, the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, telling him not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife because she would give birth to a son that he must name Jesus, because the child born would save his people from their sins. The name "Jesus" means "the Lord saves", and "Immanuel" means "God with us".
In Old Testament times, Micah prophesied: "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times." (Micah 5:2 NIV)
We are told in Matthew 2:1-11 that when the Magi announced in Jerusalem that in the east, they had seen a star signifying one born to be King of the Jews, Herod, the early New Testament king over Judea, asked the priests and teachers of the law where the Christ was to be born. They quoted from Micah, and said, "In Bethlehem." So, Herod ordered the Magi to report back to him when they had found the Baby, pretending, "So that I too may go and worship him." The Magi found the Child in Bethlehem, as Micah had prophesied, and they worshipped Him.
In Old Testament times, Hosea prophesied, "Out of Egypt I called my son." (Hosea 11:1b NIV)
Matthew 2:12-23 tells us that after an angel of the Lord warned the Magi to return to their country by another route, an angel appeared to Joseph saying, "Take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him." After King Herod died, an angel told Joseph in a dream to take Jesus and Mary back into Israel. Now, they by-passed the Judean area because Herod's son, Archelaus, was reigning there, which frightened Joseph.
Hundreds of fulfilled prophecies are found in the Bible. But even these few examples of the double testimony of prophecy and fulfillment give us assurance of the veracity of the biblical reports of events surrounding Jesus' birth. Let us be thankful for these reassurances of the truth of God's Word, and let us share them with our friends and neighbours as we have opportunity.
Prayer: Our Lord, thank You for revealing Yourself to persons hundreds of years ago, then, closer to our present time. You have marvellously extended Your impact by speaking in and through Jesus to our world. Cause that through us, the good news of Your salvation will be received in our time. Amen.