It’s been said that we find what we look for, and we look for what we know. Perhaps that’s why God gave us prophecy: so when He rolled out His plan of redemption, we wouldn’t miss the Savior. (After all, a lot of the Messianic story—the virgin birth, resurrection from the dead, salvation by faith rather than works—isn’t what human instinct would think to look for.) But that’s just one way prophecy blesses us.
The kings of Israel and Syria wanted Judah to join their alliance so they’d be able to oppose a threat from Assyria. But Judah’s King Ahaz declined. Angered, the other two kings hoped to dethrone him and set up a government that would comply. When the fearful Ahaz considered allying himself with Assyria (2 Kings 16:7), God sent Isaiah to deter him, with reassurance that no invasion would occur (Isa. 7:1-9).
Isaiah 7:1-14; Micah 5:2
Prophecy can help us believe (John 14:29).
- God wanted Ahaz to realize the plot by Israel and Syria to dethrone him could never succeed. That’s because it amounted to an assault on the Lord’s unbreakable covenant with the house of David. Has confidence in God’s promises or prophecies ever affected the way you faced life’s challenges? How?
- Mistrustful Ahaz still needed convincing, so God sent Isaiah to say, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel” (Isa. 7:14 NIV)—a reminder nothing could derail the Davidic line prior to the birth of a virgin-born son, who would be “God with us.” Have you ever found it hard to trust a promise of God when your circumstances seemed dire? How did the situation resolve, and what was the effect on your faith?
- Today we know the virgin birth refers to Jesus. In Ahaz’s day, however, the people didn’t yet know His name. But they were familiar with Scripture and would have connected Isaiah’s prophecy to a much earlier one about a virgin: Genesis 3:15 (KJV) speaks of the “seed” of “the woman”—unusual wording for a book that typically reckons lineage through the male. In fact, that encouraging hint about God’s redemption plan was spoken in the wake of Adam and Eve’s sin. What hope does this give you about how God views sin in your life? About how He sees your relationship with Him?
CONTINUING THE STORY
Hundreds of years before Christ’s birth, Micah 5:2 named Bethlehem as the place from which a “ruler in Israel” would come forth—one whose origins are “from long ago, from the days of eternity.”
- Read Luke 2:1-7. Consider all that had to occur for Joseph and Mary to be in that very town at the time of Jesus’ birth. Caesar Augustus decreed that a census be taken, likely related to taxation. This required families to register in their city of origin, so Joseph—a descendant of King David—had to bring Mary, his betrothed, to Bethlehem. A precise arrival time would have been impossible to figure, as the 90-mile trip from Nazareth was no doubt arduous and slow for a woman at the end of pregnancy. What does this indicate about God’s will and His Word? How can you relate those insights to the way He works and speaks into your life?
- How does God’s precision in fulfilling prophecies affect your expectations about those still to be fulfilled?
The Old Testament progressively revealed rich details about the coming Messiah.
- God’s prophecies warn and encourage us, strengthen our faith, and deepen our relationship with Him.
Consider how this study applies to your life.
Over 300 Old Testament prophecies point to the Messiah. So by Christ’s day, the Jewish nation eagerly watched for and investigated any evidence of God’s anointed One. To force leaders to a decision about Him, Jesus openly taught and healed, even performing certain miracles the rabbis said only the Messiah would be able to do—like healing a man born blind and casting out a mute demon (John 9:1-41; Matt. 12:22). But because Jesus didn’t toe the line, religious leaders rejected Him (John 9:24), tragically failing to heed the prophecies they claimed to know.
- Jesus referred to prophecies often. He read Isaiah 61:1-2 in the synagogue and said, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:21). Imagine being there during His bold pronouncement. Would it be easy or difficult to believe? Why?
- On the way to Emmaus, two of Jesus’ followers spoke to the risen Christ without recognizing Him. They were disheartened, as the crucifixion had ruined their hopes for Israel’s redemption. Saying, “You foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!” (Luke 24:25), Jesus explained how the many scriptures about Him were fulfilled. Picture yourself with those believers—would you feel criticized or motivated by Jesus’ words? How can you apply them in your life?
- The literal fulfillment of biblical prophecies proves God’s omniscience, sovereignty, and love. What better response could we offer than joyful, heartfelt worship?