Micah 5:2-5 and various other of God's prophets. God Rules, O.K.?
The Old Testament prophets were men raised up to call people back to God and living His way. The people of God were constantly falling down on their calling and their promises.
God sent prophets as reminders.
The people abused the sacrifices. The offering of animals was God’s provision for lapses in obedience. The people used them as substitutes for disobedience.
Illustration: I take Diabetic medicine! Some people say who do say, ‘I’m on the medicine, I can eat what I like.’ Others, like me, say, ‘I must be careful what I eat and then the medicine will provide what my body cannot do for itself.’
Less than 2% of prophecy is messianic. Less than 1% describes events still to come. Prophets usually announced immediately future happenings rather than long term future. Their message was always the same – and it is appropriate for us for the end of 2002 and the start of 2003: ‘God rules in history. He calls men and women to repentance. Side with God – and you’ll always be on the right side’.
Illustration: My rugby team in UK and my soccer team – both bottom places and in danger of relegation. Often crowds of supporters’ drift away to other teams in tough times! Only the true supporters stay loyal!! Side with God and you’ll always be on the right side.
Illustration: Let’s imagine every missionary visa in Sudan was suddenly cancelled. All churches closed. A fundamentalist Islamic government like in Saudi Arabia prohibited Christian worship. The Bibles were banned – confiscated and burned. Popular Christian leaders were imprisoned or killed. The only church in Sudan was an underground church surviving while undiscovered. Only the true supporters of Christ would stay loyal. But, sided with God – they would ultimately be on the right side! Against all the odds.
True prophets know the companionship of God, the call of God and the regular consultancy of God. By unique inspiration they became God’s mouthpiece. “Men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit,” says Peter in 2 Peter 1:21. “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways …” Hebrews 1:1.
But there always was a limit to this revelation. It was of God. It served a purpose. But there was an underlying thread that something more is to come. God is going to speak a more definitive word: His spokesmen would be replaced by His sent Saviour; His sacrifices would be replaced by His given Son; His images would be replaced by His very own image!
Hebrews 1:1-3 “God in these last days has spoken to us by His Son.” The Son Mary bore, Joseph called Jesus. Jesus was God’s word in flesh and blood. Born to save His people from their sins. Not only to show people their sins (like the prophets) but to save people from their sins. Not a reminder – but a redeemer.
And the prophets all have this underlying theme – Jesus, the Saviour, the Son of God, is on the way. The Messiah is coming. “The Messiah” is the official title the Jews later gave to the central figure they expected.
Now it would be rather boring just to list the prophecies – Bible book, chapter and verse – together with their fulfilment – Bible book, chapter and verse. I have all the references here in my notes. You are welcome to ask me for them afterwards. Now, just see the amount of evidence there is in the Prophets that Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus: Son of God, Saviour.
We’ll begin with the events of His birth and then go on to His life, death and resurrection. All were prophesied 400-1400 years before they actually happened!
1. Isaiah said that a virgin would have a son, 7:14.
2. Isaiah said the child would be ‘God with us’.
3. Micah said that a ruler of Israel would come out of Bethlehem, 5:2.
4. The wise men followed His star. (Incidentally, the star did not govern Jesus’ birth. Jesus’ birth was signed by a star. His birth was to govern destiny and His birth was the reason the star appeared).
5. God used the Roman governor’s tax/military census to take Joseph and Mary to Bethlehem from their home in Nazareth, Matthew 2:23; Luke 1:26.
6. God used King Herod’s attempt to slaughter the young boy to fulfil Jeremiah’s words, 31:15, “weeping and great mourning is heard. Rachel weeps for her children.” All boys 2 years old and less were killed by the tyrant! Yet Joseph and Mary had fled to Egypt following God’s warning to them. They only returned after Herod was dead.
7. Hosea’s prophecy, 11:1, had said “Out of Egypt I will call my son.” The family went from Egypt back to live in Nazareth.
8. Jesus grew up there through boyhood to manhood – and Matthew’s reference to a Nazarene, 2:23, stating why ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ in Galilee, rather than ‘Jesus of Bethlehem’ was known. (There is no direct prophecy in the Old Testament on this).
So much for Jesus’ birth and early life! The evidence is mounting up. What will you do with this evidence? If Jesus is special, more than myth, more than a prophet, the Son of God and Saviour, do you honour and respect Him as such in your life? If not, how do you expect to get away with it?
Illustration: A man went into a psychiatrist’s office and said “Doctor, I have a problem, I’m dead.” – the doctor banged his knee, tickled his feet, fluttered his eye lash. Eventually he asked the man, ‘Do dead men bleed?’ The patient replied ‘No’. The Doctor cut his finger and made his finger bleed. But the patient’s conclusion was: ‘I guess dead men do bleed after all’! Please don't follow that man's mistake with this evidence of Who Jesus is.
The prophets pile up more evidence this time on Jesus’ life, death and resurrection.
9. Isaiah 9:2-7. Isaiah speaks of a future king – David’s successor. Isaiah 42:6. He also speaks of light in Gentile darkness, opening eyes and releasing prisoners from fear. “All the ends of the earth will see the salvation of God.” Isaiah 52:10. The Messiah will be a servant, unlike an earthly sovereign. He will be despised and rejected by many; but will still triumphantly achieve God’s will, 53:1-6.
10. Hosea 13:14. Hosea speaks of death being defeated when God Himself pays a ransom to Himself in order to redeem people from sin's consequences.
11. Amos’ championing of the poor finds fulfilment in Jesus’ reply to John the Baptist, “the good news is preached to the poor.” Matthew 11:4, 5.
12. Haggai 2:7. Haggai’s “the Desired of all nations (has) come.”
13. Obadiah’s “the Day of the Lord is near for all nations.”
14. Zechariah’s words in 9:9 ( concurrent with Jeremiah 23:5-6). Zechariah’s prophecy speaks of a King riding to conquer on a donkey, Matthew 21:5. Jesus so rode to His arrest and death in Jerusalem.
Zechariah’s words predict Messiah’s betrayal for 30 pieces of silver. Jesus was. Zechariah 11:12, 13. Matthew 26:15. (His hands and feet would be pierced. Zechariah 12:10;
15. He predicts the crucifixion, Zechariah 13:7, - sheep scattering from the struck down Shepherd. Jesus’ disciples left Him, Matthew 26:31.
16. The prophet Jonah, himself three days and nights in the belly of a fish, was a sign of Jesus’ death, burial and subsequent resurrection, Matthew 12:39-41.
17. Joel prophesied the Holy Spirit’s coming on people: poured out from God to declare His wonderful salvation in understandable ways to all people everywhere, Joel 2:28-21. When Jesus ascended to heaven God opened His blessing appropriately! I hope to look at it with you soon, as a series of sermons called, “Living in the Presence of the King.”
Evidence after evidence that Jesus is the Son of God and Saviour of the World.
Finally think about Micah 5:2-5. This “ruler from Bethlehem”, “(Who) will shepherd His flock in the strength of the Lord … and be their peace” is Jesus! The Christmas Jesus is Jesus the Christ, Jesus the Messiah, the Lord Jesus Christ!
Hebrews 1:1-3 sums this up perfectly. “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various way, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son.” Jesus!
This Word is the ultimate communication of God to people, becoming a human being of flesh and blood. God the Son, still being God, became son of Mary, a human being.
Illustration: I cannot speak, write or read Arabic. Black, red, green recently erected province signs, along with books, phone calls, conversations in Arabic – are all lost on me! God has spoken the language of Jesus. And that I understand, I embrace and I have learned to welcome more and more. How about you?
Illustration: Communication with another person in Khartoum – do you use a note, a spokesman on your behalf, or a personal visit. Which is best?
At Creation, God made light shine out of darkness.
At this Christmas and New Year I pray God will make His light shine in your heart and life. The “light of the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Christ.”
2 Corinthians 4:6.
Listen to God speak.
Learn what He wants.
Live His way, in His strength.
Lead others to Him.
Let me offer you a Gospel of John, for you to read. John 20:31 says, “These things are written that YOU may believe, and that by believing YOU may have life in His (Jesus’) name”. Believe now, I urge YOU.
God Rules, O.K.?
Khartoum International church 29th December 2002.