Christmas provides us with the opportunity to celebrate the Father’s gift of His Son to the world. The story of our redemption begins with Jesus’ virgin birth, finds its basis in His death on the cross, burial, and resurrection, and will reach its climax when Christ appears to take us home to the place that He’s prepared for us.
This Christmas, I am particularly mindful of the integrity of God’s Word because, in the story of our Savior’s birth, we see the beginning of many of the prophecies Jesus fulfilled during His stay on earth.
My conviction regarding the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture rests on these four truths, which include fulfilled prophecy:
- Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. If Jesus rose from the dead, and He did, that means we can trust all that He claimed and told us. This includes His verification of the Old Testament Scriptures as well as His promise of future revelation to His disciples (John 16:12-14).
- The incredible fulfillment of prophecy. When one considers the astounding number of prophecies Jesus’ fulfilled with just His first coming, how can one not trust the words we read in our Bibles? The incredible supernatural fulfillment of prophecy also confirms the integrity of God’s Word.
- The inner witness of the Holy Spirit. I grew up in a Bible-believing home, and ever since I can remember, I have had a consistent inner conviction that what I read in Scripture is true. I do not attribute this in any way to myself or to my parents, but to the work of the Holy Spirit, who continually bears witness within me to the truths of God’s Word.
- The amazing cohesiveness and unity of Scripture. Despite being written by many human authors over a period of about 1,500 years, the unity and cohesion of the Bible’s message is miraculous; there’s no other way to describe it. From Genesis through the end of Revelation, the consistent message points to Jesus as our Redeemer and King.
I could write at length about any one of the above topics, but for now, I will write about the amazing fulfillment of prophecy that occurred with Jesus’ first appearance on the earth.
Christmas Reminds Us of Fulfilled Prophecies
Imagine the entire state of Texas covered two feet deep with silver dollars. If you have ever spent any time driving in Texas, you realize this is an extraordinarily large number of coins. Texas is a huge state; it’s second in size only to Alaska and comprises over 268 thousand square miles. California, another large state, lags far behind Texas in land mass.
Let’s say someone puts one coin, painted red, somewhere in the state amidst all the trillions of other coins. What are the odds that someone, with a blindfold covering his or her eyes, could walk into Texas and pick up the red silver dollar on the very first try? The chances of doing so would be exceedingly low, nonexistent for all practical purposes. Peter W. Stoner, the former Chairman of the Departments of Mathematics and Astronomy at Pasadena City College, placed the likelihood of doing so at 1017.
“What does this have to do with fulfilled prophecy?” Let me explain. Dr. Stoner joined with Robert C. Newman to write the book Science Speaks in which they calculated the odds of any one person in history fulfilling just eight key prophecies regarding the birth, life, and death of Jesus. Their calculation came out to the number equal to the odds of a blindfolded person walking into Texas and picking up the red silver dollar on the very first try amidst the entire state covered with the coins, an impossible task. [i]
Here are the eight prophecies they considered for their calculation of the odds.
- Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2; Matthew 2:1-6).
- Someone to prepare the way for Jesus’ ministry. Malachi, the last prophet of the Old Testament era, wrote this: “Behold, I send my messenger, and will prepare the way before me” (Mal. 3:1).
John the Baptist fulfilled these words with his ministry, calling people to repentance and announcing Jesus as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29).
- Jesus’ entrance into Jerusalem on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9; Matthew 21:1-10).
- Jesus’ betrayal by a close friend. The Old Testament predicted Jesus’ betray by a friend. Zechariah 13:6 speaks of the wounds inflicted upon him “in the house of my friends.” Psalm 41:9 also refers to Christ’s eventual betrayal by a “close friend.”
- The payment of thirty pieces of silver for betraying Jesus (Zechariah 11:12-13; Matthew 26:14-15).
- Judas throwing the thirty pieces of silver back into the house of the Lord (Zechariah 11:13; Matthew 27:3-9).
- Jesus’ silence while on trial for his life. Isaiah 53:7 says this, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to slaughter, and a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.” See Matthew 26:57-66.
- The piercing of Jesus’ hands and feet. Psalm 22:16 says this about manner of Jesus’ death, “For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet.” Remarkably, David accurately predicted Jesus’ death by crucifixion centuries before it existed as a form of execution.
Do you see how remarkable it is that the prophets could be so accurate regarding Jesus’ birth, early life, and death on the cross? By the time Jesus began calling his disciples, He had already fulfilled many things written about Him in the Old Testament. In all, Jesus fulfilled forty-eight specific Old Testament prophecies. It’s utterly impossible that this could be a coincidence.
Fulfilled Prophecies Affirm our Hope in Jesus’ Soon Appearing
Christmas reminds me that God keeps all His promises. Just as the Lord fulfilled many prophecies beginning with Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, so also, He certainly will fulfill all His promises and prophecies that have to do with the end times, including His return to take us back to His Father’s home and the Second Coming. Indeed, we now see the beginning of so many yet unfulfilled prophecies, which tell us they will certainly become a reality in the near future.
If such a being as the “spirit of Christmas future” exists, it would remind us of the certainty that God will keep all His promises contained in yet unfulfilled prophecies. It would point us to the imminent return of Jesus, at which time we will receive our immortal and glorified bodies (Phil. 3:20-21; 1 Cor. 15:51-55). The “spirit” would assure us of the Lord’s promise in 1 Thessalonians 5:9-10, “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.” We will not experience the wrath of the day of the Lord.
Of course, there’s no such thing as the “spirit of Christmas future”; however, we have something much, much better. We have the words of Scripture upon which we can rest our hopes and dreams of a glorious eternity because it’s the very words of God to us.
In contrast to the heartache and despair most of us have experienced in 2020, the incarnation we celebrate each Christmas reminds us that God keeps His promises. He sent His Son, the Messiah, into the world just as He promised long, long ago. In the same way, our hope in the rapture, our glorious immortal bodies, and our reign with Jesus in His kingdom are just as sure as the sunset today or the sunrise tomorrow. Those in Christ will experience this glorious future.
Your take-away blessing this Christmas season may vary from mine, but for me, the story of Jesus’ birth reminds me that we can absolutely trust the words of Scripture regarding our future. He may make us wait a little longer, but He will not fail to come for us at just the right time.
Our journey here below may grow even darker and more menacing in the weeks and months ahead, but the Christmas story reminds us that the Lord will keep His promises. And someday, hopefully very soon, we will fully experience the gift of eternal life that we already possess in Christ.
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[i] Illustration and stats taken from Peter Stoner, Science Speaks Today (Chicago: Moody Press, 1963), pp. 100-107.