Christmas Eve is a good time to remember – and to reflect. On Christmas Day, Christians celebrate the miraculous birth of a Savior, God Incarnate, who humbled Himself to come to earth as a baby, as the frailest form of humanity. But I think we often make the mistake of forgetting that the Christmas story doesn’t start in the book of Matthew, but it starts back in the book of Genesis. Throughout the Old Testament, a Savior was waited for – The entire Old Testament leads us to Christ.
It starts back in Eden, when Adam and Even were still the first people on earth.
In Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve rejected God’s command, God cursed the earth and increased the trials both men and women would face, but He also gave them hope – The hope of Someone who would come to earth to do battle with Satan.
In Genesis 13, God told Abraham that all families of earth would be blessed through Abraham. And in Genesis 15, God told Abraham, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them. So shall your offspring be.”
In Genesis 49, the last days of Jacob, Abraham’s grandson, are recorded. Jacob was nearing the end of his life, and he gave a blessing to each of his sons. This wasn’t a blessing of earthly proportions, but was prophetic in nature and from the hand of God. In his blessing to Judah, he says, “Judah, your brothers shall praise you…The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.”
In the second book of Samuel, chapter 7, the prophet Nathan came to King David, who was himself a descent of Abraham and Jacob, and told him, “….the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom….And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.”
And in the book of Micah, the prophet speaks about Bethlehem: “From you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.”
These five examples barely scratch the surface of the promises and foreshadowing of the Messiah in the Old Testament. These are just a few of the many promises and prophesies that God gave His people – These were signs by which they would recognize the Messiah. They were reminders that God hadn’t forgotten His promises. God had a plan, a perfect plan, a beautiful plan, by which He would bring Salvation into the world, by which all families of earth would be blessed, who would rule in righteousness and justice and mercy, who would establish His throne forever. The Israelites waited eagerly and probably wearily for the Messiah, a king who would come and free them from the various harsh oppressions they lived under. As is so often the case, our anticipation of God’s plan for our lives is so much less than what He actually has planned. They waited for an earthly king. God had a different plan.
Finally, as is recorded in the book of Matthew, a baby was born, given the name Jesus, born in the town of Bethlehem, to a young virgin named Mary, who was of the house of David (Luke 3), who conceived her Child miraculously through the Holy Spirit. This Child’s legal, adoptive father, Joseph, was also of the house and lineage of David (Matthew 1), making this Child both legally and physically of the house and lineage of David the King, and Judah, and Abraham. God always keeps His promises.
From Abraham’s lineage there did come whole nations of people on earth, but more importantly, from Abraham’s lineage was born the Messiah, through whom “all families of earth shall be blessed.”Abraham’s lineage is truly a magnificent lineage, and includes every single Child of God, every single person saved from their sins by faith in God’s Son and adopted into that glorious heritage. Even Abraham, who knew God with such a blessed kind of faith, couldn’t have comprehended that his legacy would include everyone adopted into God’s family through the saving work of the Messiah who would come from his lineage! What wonderful history!
And it continues today! The scepter hasn’t left the house of Judah. The never-ending throne of King David is still being ruled from today, because Jesus, the Son of David, is reigning in Heaven, risen and glorious, and will one day return to finish His battle with Satan. The king the Israelites expected was a king who would wipe out their earthly enemies, restore earthly peace, and give earthly justice. But the King that God had planned would be a King who would wipe away our sins, our tears, our spiritual enemies, who would provide the Gift of Salvation, who would come to earth as a Man, someone we can try to comprehend with our finite minds, someone who can sympathize with us in our weakness, someone to demonstrate a life of righteousness, love, faith, purity, joy, servanthood, humility, and sacrifice. A King who would restore Spiritual Peace, and give Spiritual Justice and Mercy. A King who would adopt us into His household and call us His children, His brothers and sisters, His family.
And all of this started back before Genesis 1. The Israelites waited for the coming of the Messiah. We wait for the second coming of the Messiah.
What a glorious heritage. What a glorious past, present, and future, in light of God’s gift to all mankind!