Month: November 2014

Advent 2014: Week 1

Old Testament Precedent For The Virgin Birth

This Advent I wanted to do a 4 week series on the virgin birth of Christ. This first week we will start our study with verses from the gospel of Luke:

Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the descendants of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming in, he said to her, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was very perplexed at this statement, and kept pondering what kind of salutation this was. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.” Luke 1: 26 – 35

Luke is clearly stating that Mary was a virgin upon the conception of Christ. Although the virgin birth is mocked by those who do not take the Scripture seriously, we as Christians ought to realize that according to Scripture the virgin birth is quite logical, for at least two reasons:

  1. The Scripture testifies that God is all-powerful.
  2. The Scripture testifies that there were numerous births specifically caused by God.

The first point needs little discussion – if there is an all-powerful God He can cause a virgin birth. Regarding the second point, the Old Testament lists at least seven ancestors of Jesus whose lives were specifically brought about by God’s intervention. Each of these seven men are referenced in either Matthew’s or Luke’s genealogies of Christ.

Ancestor Reference Quote
Adam Genesis 2: 7 Then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.
Seth Genesis 4: 25 Adam had relations with his wife again; and she gave birth to a son, and named him Seth, for she said, “God has appointed me another offspring in place of Abel, for Cain killed him.”
Isaac Genesis 18: 14 Is anything too difficult for the LORD? At the appointed time I will return to you, at this time next year, and Sarah will have a son.
Jacob Genesis 25: 21 Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren; and the LORD answered him and Rebekah his wife conceived.
Judah Genesis 29: 31, 35 Now the LORD saw that Leah was unloved, and He opened her womb, but Rachel was barren… And she conceived again and bore a son and said, “This time I will praise the LORD.” Therefore she named him Judah. Then she stopped bearing.
Obed Ruth 4: 13, 17 So Boaz took Ruth, and she became his wife, and he went in to her. And the LORD enabled her to conceive, and she gave birth to a son…So they named him Obed. He is the father of Jesse, the father of David.
David Psalm 139: 13 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb.

The Scripture makes it clear God played no small role in bringing about the birth of Christ. God planned for the Messiah to be human, so He created Adam, the first human. God planned for the Messiah to come from the offspring of Adam, so He intervened and caused Seth to be born to Adam through Eve, replacing the murdered son Abel. God planned for the Messiah to come from the offspring of Abraham, so He intervened and caused Isaac to be born to Abraham through Sarah. God planned for the Messiah to come from Israel, so He intervened and caused Jacob (who would be called Israel) to be born to Isaac through Rebekah. God planned for the Messiah to come from the tribe of Judah, so He intervened and caused Judah to be born to Jacob through Leah. God planned for the Messiah to come from the line of David, so He intervened and caused Obed (David’s grandfather) to be born to Boaz through Ruth. God formed David in his mother’s womb, anointed him as king of Israel, and gave him a promise that the Messiah would come from his line. Lastly, God intervened and caused Jesus the Christ to be born to Joseph, a descendant of David, through Mary. Mary conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit – the Child did not biologically belong to Joseph. And yet legally, because Joseph was a descendant of David, the Child was of the line of David.

When we consider all that has been said, it should be clear that the virgin birth recorded in the New Testament is in perfect harmony with the Old Testament record, which is full of examples of God causing particular children to be born to particular people at particular times.


The Third Day Series: Concluding Words

The goal of this series was to examine and explain why Jesus rose on the third day, as opposed to the second or fourth days. I feel this has been accomplished, and hopefully you do too. Two main reasons for a third day resurrection were offered, both of which derive from the Bible.

  1. Jesus predicted it.
  2. Jesus said that the Old Testament predicted it.

Jesus’ prediction is easy to prove. Simply read Matthew 17: 22. But it is not as easy to prove the way in which the Old Testament predicted a third day resurrection. For as previously mentioned, the Old Testament does not contain a statement akin to “The Messiah will die and be raised on the third day.” Rather than directly predicting such a thing, the Old Testament established and repeated a pattern over and over and over. This repeated pattern serves as a precedent for the Christ’s third day resurrection. Another way to say it is that Jesus’ third day resurrection was the ultimate manifestation and fulfillment of the well-established pattern documented in the Old Testament.

What is this pattern, and how does it establish the precedent for Jesus’ rising from the dead? The pattern we have discerned is as follows:

  1. There is an account featuring an Old Testament figure.
  2. In the account is a three-day interval of time.
  3. The three-day interval of time relates to an extraordinary event in the figure’s life.

To demonstrate the validity of the pattern, we examined Old Testament passages featuring Abraham and Isaac, Joseph, Moses, Israel, Rahab, Samson, David, Solomon, Elijah and Elisha, Jonah, and Esther. These people are not obscure characters. All of these people, and their stories, are well-known to anyone familiar with the Old Testament. The Holy Spirit was not secretive when placing the third day pattern in Scripture. He placed the pattern in the lives of the most well-known Biblical figures, during some of the most crucial times of their lives.

If you have never known how to evangelize a Jew, this is a good place to start. Explain to them the third day pattern. They have probably never heard of it. Sit with them and point out all the three day references in the stories of the major figures. If they ask you how you came across such a thing, tell them that the Messiah pointed it out to you. Tell them that the Messiah taught that such things were pointing to Him and His third day resurrection from the dead.

In the same way you would witness to a Jew, witness to yourself and to other Christians, so that your faith in Jesus Christ would be increased as you increase in your knowledge of His gospel. His death, burial, and resurrection were prophesied in the Old Testament. The Old Testament writings were concluded hundreds of years before Jesus came to earth. This is significant because it gives us the confidence to know that the New Testament is not a bunch of cleverly devised tales, but is rather documenting the activity of the Messiah whom the Old Testament said was coming.