Commentary

 

Prophecies About Jesus      

By Joe David

By Meister des Ludwig-Psalters [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons. Currently at Bibliothèque Nationale de France.

For Christians, Christmas time is one of the most sacred, most joyous celebrations of the year. What about for people who are thinking about it, but who aren't sure about the whole "reason for the season"? What do we really know about what happened in Judea, 2000 years ago?

We're going to try to approach this topic from a neutral standpoint, and see where that leads us.

It's well-established that Jesus existed. He was physically, historically real. There is voluminous evidence from Christian sources, of course. Jesus Christ was also mentioned in non-Christian historical documents that have survived from that period. He's referred to twice by Josephus, the Jewish historian, in his work "Antiquities of the Jews" published in 93-94 AD. Tacitus, the Roman historian, writing in around 116 AD, also refers to "Christus" being put to death by the Romans under Pontius Pilate.

Was Jesus special? Even skeptics would need to wonder why and how this man from a small village in Galilee could launch a religion which would become the biggest, most influential one for at least the next two millennia of human history.

One of the intriguing things about Jesus is that his birth and life seem to have fulfilled prophecies from the Old Testament, which date back to the time of Moses - at least 1500 years BC, and to far older stories in an oral tradition. Those prophecies existed in texts written long before the Christian Era started.

What were some of those prophecies? There are many of them! Swedenborg lists some here, Doctrine of the Lord 6. In this article, we're just going to focus on a few of them.

In this very early prophecy, it's indicated that the Messiah would be born as the son of a woman:

"And Jehovah God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, cursed art thou above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life, and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Genesis 3:14-15. This is confirmed in the story in Matthew 1:20.

In Micah, much later in the Bible, we read that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, in Judea:

"But thou, Beth-lehem Ephrathah, which art little to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall one come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting."
Micah 5:2. This is confirmed in the story in Matthew 2:1, and Luke 2:4-6.

In Isaiah, we read that the Messiah would be born to a virgin:

"Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." Isaiah 7:14. This is confirmed in the story in Matthew 1:22-23, and in Luke 1:26-31.

Lineage was an important factor, too. At least 5 forefathers of the promised Savior are named. First, he was prophesied to come from the line of Abraham, the progenitor of many of the peoples of the modern Middle East, including the Jews, the Arabs, the Lebanese, the Druze, and others. See Genesis 12:3, and Genesis 22:18. This prophecy is confirmed in Matthew 1:1, and Romans 9:5.

In the next generation, prophecy stated that the Savior would be descended from the line of Isaac, one of Abraham's two sons. See Genesis 17:19, and Genesis 21:12. This is confirmed in Luke 3:34.

For the third generation, the Word states that the Messiah would be a descendant of Jacob. It's prophesied in Numbers 24:17, and confirmed in Matthew 1:2.

For the fourth generation, attention focuses on the tribe of Judah, who was one of the twelve sons of Jacob (whose name was changed to Israel). See Genesis 49:10, and then Luke 3:33, and Hebrews 7:14.

Many generations later, in the second book of Samuel, and again in Isaiah, there are prophecies that the Messiah would be heir to King David's throne. Read 2 Samuel 7:12-13, and Isaiah 9:7. Then see Luke 1:32-33, and Romans 1:3.

There are many more prophecies, and we will look at more of them in a future article. But, to summarize these ones that we've just listed, what would Old Testament readers in the time of Caesar Augustus be expecting?

In Bethlehem, a virgin would bear a son. He would be descended from Abraham, through the line of Isaac, Jacob, Judah, and David. That's the way the story runs, in the Gospels.

It's clear that the Old Testament wasn't altered to suit the "facts on the ground". The prophecies are already there in pre-Christian scrolls. That leaves two possibilities:

1) Scenario A: The New Testament could have been written to twist the facts to match the old prophecies. Faithful Jews were awaiting the Messiah; they would have wanted to find matching stories. In this scenario, Jesus could have been just a regular man, but a standout leader and teacher and healer. He was so inspiring that his apostles endured hardship and death to spread what became a global religion. The stories about him were exaggerated or modified to help match the prophecies.

2) Scenario B: The Old Testament text contains deep inner meaning, and its prophecies were actually prophetic and true. The facts of Jesus' birth and life and ministry actually did match and fulfull the prophecies. In this scenario, Jesus was truly a miracle baby.

Which scenario is right? In both, there's a recognition that the teachings of Jesus contained wisdom, and that there is great value in them. In New Christian thought, the choice is for Scenario B -- that Jesus really was the Christ, the long-awaited Messiah, or Savior.

This of course requires some level of belief in miracles - prophecy, fulfillment, the virgin birth, angels bearing tidings, healings, feeding the multitudes. Can miracles really happen? Is it scientifically possible? Maybe they can... maybe as science advances, we will begin to understand those boundaries better.

At some level, don't most of us believe in miracles -- in the miracle of the very existence of the universe, and of living organisms that can reproduce, and of human life, and of love?

How to end this article? The whole subject of miracles needs more thought. And, here it is, December 22, and... instead of getting more analytical, I find that right now I just want to "be" in the holy days of Christmas.

If you're feeling skeptical, have a look at Arcana Coelestia 2568, and Arcana Coelestia 2588. They offer an interesting perspective!

---

One source for this article was "100 Prophecies Fulfilled by Jesus: Messianic Prophecies Made Before the Birth of Christ", by Rose Publishing.

(References: Teachings about the Lord 6)

The Bible

 

Luke 3:33

English: King James Version         

Study the Inner Meaning

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33 Which was the son of Aminadab, which was the son of Aram, which was the son of Esrom, which was the son of Phares, which was the son of Juda,

   Study the Inner Meaning
Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:


  Spiritual Topics:



Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Genesis 29:35, 38:29, 46:12

Numbers 2:3

Ruth 4:17

1 Chronicles 1

Word/Phrase Explanations

Phares
Phares,' which means 'breach,' in Genesis 38:29, signifies the apparent separation of truth from good.

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.


 Baptism of the Lord
Use felt tip markers to draw a picture of John baptizing the Lord in the Jordan River. Then dip a paintbrush in water and go over the picture to give the effect of watercolor. 
Project | Ages 4 - 14

 John the Baptist Prepares the Way
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 9 - 12

 The Baptism of Jesus
Connect the dots to make the dove appear in this picture of the Lord's baptism.
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 Years Have Their Beginnings
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

The Bible

 

Genesis 29:35

English: King James Version         

Study the Inner Meaning

← Previous    Full Chapter    Next →

35 And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, Now will I praise the LORD: therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing.

   Study the Inner Meaning
From Swedenborg's Works

Main explanations:

Arcana Coelestia 3878, 3879, 3880, 3881, 3882


Other references to this verse:

Arcana Coelestia 340, 2643, 3862, 3921

Apocalypse Revealed 349


References from Swedenborg's unpublished works:

Apocalypse Explained 430, 431

Other New Christian Commentary

  Stories and their meanings:



Hop to Similar Bible Verses

Genesis 30:9

Matthew 1:2

Luke 3:33

Revelation 7:5

Word/Phrase Explanations

bare
In a general sense, being "born" in the Bible represents one spiritual state producing another, usually some form of love or affection producing or "giving...

Son
'A son,' as in Genesis 5:28, signifies the rise of a new church. 'Son,' as in Genesis 24:3, signifies the Lord’s rationality regarding good. 'A...

said
As with many common verbs, the meaning of “to say” in the Bible is highly dependent on context. Who is speaking? Who is hearing? What...

the Lord
The Bible refers to the Lord in many different ways, which from the text seem indistinguishable and interchangeable. Understood in the internal sense, though, there...

lord
The Lord, in the simplest terms, is love itself expressed as wisdom itself. In philosophic terms, love is the Lord's substance and wisdom is His...

called
'To proclaim' signifies exploration from influx of the Lord.

name
It's easy to see that names are important in the Bible. Jehovah changed Abram and Sarai to Abraham and Sarah, changed Jacob to Israel and...

Judah
City of Judah,' as in Isaiah 40:9, signifies the doctrine of love towards the Lord and love towards our neighbor in its whole extent.

Resources for parents and teachers

The items listed here are provided courtesy of our friends at the General Church of the New Jerusalem. You can search/browse their whole library at the New Church Vineyard website.


 A Love Worth Waiting For
The innocence, peace and beauty of marriage are worth every bit of effort, even when we have labored long and find the ideal still beyond reach.
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Finding Your Marriage Partner
The beautiful story of Jacob meeting Rachel can be told in our own lives as well.
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 Finding Yourself and Your Heavenly Ideals
You have a journey in life—a journey to find yourself. You have to discover what you want to do with your life that is worthwhile, what use you want to perform for others.
Worship Talk | Ages 15 - 17

 Following Rachel
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Healing Our Broken Hearts
It is not easy to find a person to truly love in this world. And so there are many people who are brokenhearted.
Article | Ages over 18

 Jacob and Rachel Embrace
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Jacob and the Shepherdess of Haran
The Lord chose us for love. He shows us the way to that love by inspiring us to love beautiful truths.
Worship Talk | Ages over 18

 Jacob at the Well
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Jacob Falls in Love
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Jacob Finds Rachel
It takes a lot of work to have this kind of love. But it can happen. This is a promise that the Lord gives to each one of us.
Worship Talk | Ages 4 - 6

 Jacob Marries Leah and Rachel
Lesson outline provides teaching ideas with questions for discussion, projects, and activities.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 Jacob Meets Rachel by the Well
Make a collage of Jacob meeting Rachel by a well. By using a paper fastener for the stone covering the well, Jacob will be able to "roll" it away so that he can help Rachel water the sheep. 
Project | Ages 4 - 10

 Jacob Meets Rachel - Level A
Complete lesson with activity choices: act out Jacob meeting Rachel, make a mirror painting showing that the Lord made someone for you to marry, scripted story discussion, coloring picture, and a memory verse.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 Jacob Meets Rachel - Level B
Complete lesson with activity choices: make a book about the Lord's promise for marriage, make a pop-up picture of Jacob opening the well, scripted story discussion, coloring picture, and a memory verse.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 Jacob Meets Rachel - Level C
Complete lesson with activity choices: explore rocks and water--naturally and spiritually, map activity on the rivers of Canaan, and a scripted story discussion.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 14

 Jacob's Dream - Level D
Complete lesson with activity choices: look closer at the house of God, explore the gateway to heaven, and a scripted story discussion.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 15 - 17

 Jacob's Family - Level A
Complete lesson with activity choices: sing and dance to a song to help you learn the names of the 12 sons of Jacob, trace your hand to make a picture of your family, scripted story discussion, coloring picture, and a memory verse.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 4 - 6

 Jacob's Family - Level B
Complete lesson with activity choices: play a game to help you learn the wives and children of Jacob, choose an activity to practice patience, scripted story discussion, coloring picture, and a memory verse.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 7 - 10

 Jacob's Family - Level C
Complete lesson with activity choices: play family tree rummy to learn about the patriarchs of the Old Testament and their families, make a wordle (or word picture) to explore what kind of person you want to marry, and a scripted story discussion.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 11 - 14

 Jacob's Family - Level D
Complete lesson with activity choices: explore ways to cultivate patience, make a complex circular mural about the twelve sons of Jacob, and a scripted story discussion.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 15 - 17

 Jacob's Wives and Sons
A New Church Bible story explanation for teaching Sunday school. Includes lesson materials for Primary (3-8 years), Junior (9-11 years), Intermediate (12-14 years), Senior (15-17 years) and Adults.
Teaching Support | Ages over 3

 Memory Verse: Marriage of Good and Truth
Activity | Ages 4 - 14

 Overview of Jacob and Esau Levels A B C D for ages 3-18
An overview of the Youth Journey Program "Jacob and Esau", Levels A, B, D, and D, for ages 3-18.
Sunday School Lesson | Ages 3 - 18

 Prayers for Adults: The Marriage of Good and Truth
Activity | Ages over 18

 Prayers for Children: Help Me Be Kind and Just
Activity | Ages 7 - 14

 Prayers for Teens: Marriage of Good and Truth
Activity | Ages 15 - 17

 Quotes: The Marriage of Good and Truth
Teaching Support | Ages over 15

 Rachel and Her Flock
Coloring Page | Ages 7 - 14

 Rachel: Heavenly Ideals
You have a journey in life - a journey to find yourself. You have to discover what you want to do with your life that is worthwhile, what use you want to perform for others. 
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Lord's Love: Jacob and Rachel
The Lord's love for His church is life the love of a husband for his wife, like the love of Jacob for Rachel.
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Number Seven in the Word Crossword Puzzle
Discover stories that include the number seven in the Word.
Activity | Ages 9 - 13

 The Pearl of Great Price
We can find something beautiful and precious if we are willing to work for it.
Worship Talk | Ages 7 - 14

 The Twelve Sons of Israel (sheet music)
Song | Ages 4 - 14

 Work for the Ideal
Spiritual tasks offer a reflection on a Biblical story and suggest a task for spiritual growth.
Activity | Ages over 18

 Working for Rachel in Our Lives
What spiritual truths inspire you and make you want to work hard to make them a reality in your life?
Activity | Ages over 11


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