According to the biblical commentary known as Barns there are well over 300 prophecies that were fulfilled the first time Jesus came to earth. If we take the time to examine just a few of them we will begin to understand how biblical prophecy is to be interpreted. These prophecies can serve as a case study to show us the proper way eschatology is to be interpreted. By comparing the Old Testament prophecies with the New Testament fulfillment we will see a model for the proper approach of interpreting prophecy for our day. We don’t have time to cover all of them on this page, but we can get general idea simply by examining several of them. We will cover more in part 2 Let’s begin
Prophecies Regarding his birth
1. We see that the Messiah will be born of a virgin. We also see another prophecy in this verse. Messiah will be called Immanuel (God with us)
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. –Isa 7:14
We see this fulfilled in Luke 1:26-35 and in Matthew 1:23
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). –Mat 1:23
2. The place of his birth is predicted. Messiah would be born in Bethlehem.
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, 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. –mic 5:2
The record of the fulfillment of this event is found in Matthew 2:1 and Luke 2:4-6
Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, -Mat 2:1
3. The lineage of the Messiah is outlined
There are several prophecies that outline the genealogy of the Messiah. Here is a small general overview. In Genesis 3:15 we see that redemption for mankind will be through one man. This man is known as the Messiah and he will be born of a Woman.
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” –Gen 3:15
Next we see that the Messiah will come through Shem. (Genesis 9:26-27) Noah had three sons Shem, ham, and Japheth. God eliminated two-thirds of humanity by revealing that Messiah would come through Shem
Now God eliminates all the families of the earth except for one! We see that Messiah will come through Abraham. (Gen 12:3, 22:18) Next we see that Messiah will come through Issac (Gen 17:19, Genesis 26:3-4) Now we see that Messiah will come from the family of Jacob. (Gen 35: 11-12 Num 24:17) Next we see that Messiah will come through Jacob’s son Judah also known as the tribe of Judah. (Genesis 49:10)
There were many family lines in the tribe of Judah. We see that God chose the family of Jesse to bring forth the Messiah. (Isaiah 11:1) Finally we see that Messiah will come from the house of David. (2 Samuel 7:12) According to scripture the Messiah has got to be a physical descendant of David the king. This eliminates much of humanity. There are many Prophecies in the Old Testament that deal with the lineage of the Messiah
We can see the fulfillment of every one of these prophecies as we read through the genealogy of Jesus on his mother’s side. This is found in Luke 3:23- 38
Skeptics will be quick to point out that verse 23 references Joseph.
“Jesus, when he began his ministry, was about thirty years of age, being the son (as was supposed) of Joseph, the son of Heli,”
They will also say that the genealogy found in Mathew is also Joseph and they conflict. They point out that according to Luke 1:36 Mary has a relative called Elizabeth. She is married to Zechariah. He performs temple work therefore he is from the tribe of Levi. Elizabeth is also from the tribe of Levi. (Luke 1:5) This means that Mary is really from the tribe of Levi. His adopted Father Joseph is from the tribe of Judah, but Jesus is not entitled to inherit the throne of David through adoption. Since Jesus was born from a virgin and Joseph was only his adopted father, you cannot say that Jesus is a physical descendant from the throne of David and these Prophecies have yet to be fulfilled. The claim is Jesus has no legal right to David’s throne if he is not a direct physical descendant from David.
This is one of the main reasons that the Jews reject Jesus as being the Messiah today. There are a lot of assumptions here. We will work through them all.
In the book of Luke the angel points out that Jesus is from the throne of David and that he will get the throne of David.
“He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” -Luke 1:32-33
Next we see that the apostles all believed that Jesus was a direct descendant from David. Paul wrote
“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh” -Romans 1:1-3
He also wrote Timothy and said “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel” -2Timothy 2:8
When Peter was preaching on the day of Pentecost He said this
“Brothers, I may say to you with confidence about the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption. This Jesus God raised up, and of that we all are witnesses. Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing. For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand” -Acts 2:29-34
Jesus healed a blind man in Jericho. The man who was blind called him the Son of David.
And they came to Jericho. And as he was leaving Jericho with his disciples and a great crowd, Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, the son of Timaeus, was sitting by the roadside. And when he heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, he began to cry out and say, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” And many rebuked him, telling him to be silent. But he cried out all the more, “Son of David, have mercy on me!” –Mark 10: 46-48
By calling Jesus the Son of David Bartimaeus was declaring that Jesus was the Messiah. When Zechariah the father of John the Baptist regains his ability to speak he begins to prophesy. Look at what he said.
“And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David” -Luke 1:67-69
Zechariah knew that Mary’s child is the long-awaited Messiah. Mary spent 3 months with Zechariah and Elizabeth.
If we look at the scripture throughout the New Testament we can see a pattern of evidence emerge. It is obvious that the New Testament declares that Jesus is the Son of David. He came directly from his throne and it had to be through Mary. As far as the mater of Elizabeth being Mary’s relative consider this. Elizabeth was from the tribe of Levi. (Luke 1:5) Mary could still be from the Tribe of Judah by her father’s side and related to Elizabeth through her mother’s side of the family. The law only forbids heiresses marrying into another tribe. If you have no inheritance to leave your offspring then you can marry into another tribe. The tribe of Levi had no inheritance and they were not given a portion of land. Therefore they could take wives from other tribes. Family members from the tribe of Levi and the house of David continually intermarried.
The genealogy found in Mathew Chapter 1 goes through Joseph who is the adopted father of Jesus. It starts from Abraham and descends down to Joseph. The Genealogy found in Luke goes through Mary’s side. It starts from Mary’s father Heli and goes all the way back to Adam. When you line up both genealogies side by side you see that they are identical from Abraham until they get to the house of David. They divide at that point. Mathew’s account traces the blood line down through David’s son Solomon. Luke’s account traces the bloodline down through David’s son Nathan.
I believe there is one thing we are overlooking here. The account in Mathew is actually Jesus’ genealogy on his adoptive father’s side. Only the men are listed because the genealogy is traced through men only. (men carry seed) The genealogy in Luke is actually the genealogy of Jesus on his mother’s side. Once again only the men are listed because it is traced through the males only. This is why Mary’s name is not mentioned. There is no name for grandfather in the bible. Let’s look at the story of Mephibosheth as an example,
And there was of the house of Saul a servant whose name was Ziba. And when they had called him unto David, the king said unto him, Art thou Ziba? And he said, Thy servant is he. -2Sam 9:2
Then the king called to Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said unto him, I have given unto thy master’s son all that pertained to Saul and to all his house. -2Sam 9:9
Thy master’s son is referring to Mephibosheth. Ziba’s master was Saul. Mephibosheth was Johnathan’s son and Saul’s grandson. The word son is used because there was no word for grandson in the text. When the bible is referencing Heli in Luke’s Genealogy it is referencing the grandfather of Jesus but it says “son of Heli”. The verse in question is about Jesus not Joseph. Jesus is the subject matter. Luke is simply saying that Jesus started his ministry at the age of 30 and people assume that Joseph is his father but he is the son of Heli. He references his grandfather on Mary’s side. Luke then goes on to show the real biological lineage through Mary listing only men because that was the custom of that day.
The genealogy in Mathew only goes back as far as Abraham, but the genealogy in Luke goes all the way back to Adam. You can see this line in greater detail. It is found in Genesis chapter 5. The blood line goes from Adam to Noah’s son Shem. Names have meanings and back in biblical days these meanings were emphasized. For example, Noah in English means rest or comfort. Methuselah in English means His death shall bring. In fact it was right after the death of Methuselah that the flood came. Let’s look at the English meaning of all these names according to the order of the genealogy or bloodline,
- Hebrew Name English meaning
- Adam Man
- Seth Appointed
- Enosh Mortal
- Kenan Sorrow
- Mahalalel The Blessed God
- Jared Shall come down
- Enoch Teaching
- Methuselah His death shall bring
- Lamech The Despairing
- Noah Rest, or comfort.
When all of the meanings line up in the order of linage they say this,
Man (is) appointed mortal sorrow; (but) the Blessed God shall come down teaching (that) His death shall bring (the) despairing rest.
Here we see the gospel resting in the genealogy of Jesus from his mother’s side!
There is no possible way that a group of Jewish rabbis conspired to hide the Christian Gospel right here in the genealogy of the Messiah within their venerated Torah! Those who are looking for valid reasons to reject God’s word will never accept this explanation. Skeptics will continue to dismiss these answers and choose to believe that both genealogies contradict each other. They are looking for reasons to discredit the bible.
There is one more genealogy to address, it is found in the Gospel of John chapter 1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. –John 1: 1-14
This is the genealogy of Jesus as related to his heavenly father. This is his real father!
First, the prophecies we covered were fulfilled literally! They were fulfilled exactly as they were written. Jesus was literally a descendant of King David, He was literally born in the city of Bethlehem, He was born of a virgin.
Jesus told the religious leaders to search the Scriptures and discover where they spoke about Him. The coming Messiah was to be born in one particular family. This would be through Shem, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, and David. The New Testament is very clear that Jesus was a descendant of David. The Old Testament prophet Micah predicted the Messiah would be born in the small town of Bethlehem. Matthew tells us that Jesus was born in Bethlehem. The prophecies that Jesus fulfilled were fulfilled literally. He was a literal descendant of David, and he was literally born in Bethlehem! There is nothing allegoric here. There is one last point to convey. Biblical prophecy is incredibly detailed!