Every year during Advent we look at a few of the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah. I try to make sure to vary the scriptures each year, from Genesis, Deuteronomy, Psalms, Hosea, Jeremiah and others, not just revist the well-known, often quoted ones found in Isaiah. There is more detail and description of the Messiah than the fact that he will be born but let’s start at the beginning.
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
The sign will be a virgin birth. That should be distinguishable enough to narrow a perhaps otherwise crowded field. Other potential messiahs may have been born in Bethlehem, or spent time in Egypt, or have been of the lineage of David, but when we start examining candidates and applying all of these conditions, especially this one from Isaiah 7, we can make a pretty solid case. Matthew 1:18-25 connects the dots for the New Testament reader, asserting not only the virgin birth claim but translating the meaning of Immanuel as “God with us.” The sign of the virgin birth as well as his deity are prophesied in this single sentence in Isaiah which is quoted in the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament.
For to us a child is born,
to 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. Isaiah 9:6
The prophecy, describing his reign and referencing the throne of David, continues in verse 7 but let’s pump the brakes and consider these names for a moment. There is some speculation over the title Wonderful Counselor. The ESV translators took a common approach and use Wonderful as an adjective describing Counselor. Another school of thought is that Wonderful is one name and Counselor another, since the original Hebrew did not have punctuation. It is impossible to know for sure but we can say with confidence that either is pretty awesome. His name shall be called… Mighty God and also Everlasting Father confirms again the deity of the Messiah. Don’t get bogged down on Everlasting Father. God manifests himself to us in three persons. Jesus said the Son was of the Father, the Father was in him, and that anyone that had seen him had seen the Father.
These are a couple of well known passages from Isaiah that inform God’s people that a Messiah, or anointed one, is coming. (Christ is Greek for anointed one; when Peter said “You are the Christ” he was recognizing him as the Messiah promised in the Old Testament.) Isaiah also tells the reader what to expect him to do. We will continue into the nature of his ministry in Part 2.
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