The story of Jesus saturates the Bible narrative and prophecies of His first Advent are found throughout the Old Testament. One scholar, J. Barton Payne, found as many as 574 verses in the Old Testament that somehow point to or describe or reference the coming Messiah. Alfred Edersheim found 456 Old Testament verses referring to the Messiah. Conservatively, Jesus fulfilled at least 300 prophecies in His earthly ministry.
As one of the major prophets, the book of Isaiah has many of those prophecies, perhaps more than any other book of the Old Testament. In fact, Isaiah 53 is the most quoted Old Testament passage in the New Testament. Maybe that’s why Matthew quotes Isaiah in the story of Jesus’ birth (Matthew 1:23). Jesus himself quotes Isaiah when he announces who He is at the start of His ministry (Luke 4:21).
We just can’t look at the birth of Jesus without considering the many prophecies He fulfilled, and Isaiah is the best place to find those predictions. Known as the “Shakespeare of the prophets,” Isaiah has often been called the “evangelical prophet” because of his incredibly clear and detailed messianic prophecies – all written nearly 800 years before Christ.
Someone calculated that the 36 details about the Messiah in chapter 53 alone have a 1 out of 68,719,476,736 chance of fulfillment by one person. Jesus fulfilled all of them in His first coming. Yet, there are many more prophecies by Isaiah, and these are astoundingly accurate. Here are just a few found in Isaiah:
God promised to send a Son who would be "God with us" ("Emmanuel"). (Isa. 7:14, 8:8, 10)
God promised that a virgin would conceive. Mary was a virgin when Jesus was conceived. (Isa. 7:14)
God promised a "stone" that people would trip over. Jesus is our cornerstone.( Isa. 8:14-15)
God promised David His Spirit would rest on his offspring. Jesus is that offspring. (Isa. 11:1-2)
God promised a time when the blind would see. Jesus healed the blind. (Isa. 29:18, 35:5)
God promised a time when the deaf would hear. Jesus healed the deaf. (Isa. 35:5)
God promised a time when the lame would be healed. Jesus healed the lame. (Isa. 35:6)
God promised a time when the mute would speak. Jesus healed the mute. (Isa. 35:6)
God is the shepherd who tends His sheep. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. (Isa. 40:10-11)
God will send His servant as a light to the Gentiles. Jesus is a light to the Gentiles. (Isa. 42:6)
He will not be rebellious or turn away. Jesus obeyed God all the way to the cross. (Isa. 50:5)
Isaiah speaks of one who will be beaten and spit upon. Jesus was beaten and spit upon. (Isa. 50:6)
The Suffering Servant will be so abused He will not look human. Jesus was beaten, whipped, crucified, and pierced by a spear. (Isa. 52:14)
He will be despised and rejected by His own people. He will bear the abuse we deserve for our physical and spiritual healing. Jesus’ tormentors rejected Him and spit in His face. (Isa. 53:4-5)
The Suffering Servant will bear our sins. Jesus bore our sins. (Isa. 53:6)
The Suffering Servant is like a lamb that does not defend itself. Although Jesus spoke during His trials, He never offered a defense. (Isa. 53:7)
The Suffering Servant’s people did not protest His death. Only Pilate protested Jesus’ death. (Isa. 53:8)
The Suffering Servant will die with the wicked. Jesus died with the two thieves. (Isa. 53:9)
The Suffering Servant will be buried in the grave of a rich man. Jesus was buried in the grave of Joseph of Arimathea. (Isa. 53:9)
God ordained that the Suffering Servant would suffer and die. God sent Jesus to die. (Isa. 53:10)
The Suffering Servant’s sacrifice offers forgiveness of sins. Jesus’ sacrifice offers forgiveness of our sins. (Isa. 53:11)
The Suffering Servant will intercede for His abusers. Jesus asked God to forgive those who crucified Him. (Isa. 53:12)
God promises someone to declare good news for the brokenhearted, captives, and prisoners. Jesus is that someone. (Isa. 61:1 – verse Jesus quotes in announcing who he was)
In addition to his prophecies of Christ, Isaiah is where that famous verse we so often quote comes from: “Here am I; send me.” (Isa. 6:8). Are we ready to be sent?
Look Up – Connect with God
Read: Take any one (or 2 or 3) of these prophetic verses and talk about how they were fulfilled in Jesus. Discuss the probabilities any one man could fulfill even a small percentage of those prophecies. Marvel at God’s handiwork and wonder why it’s so difficult for people to accept the truth of who Jesus is.
Key Verse: “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
Pray: Lord, open our eyes to see, hear, and understand your truth. Thank you for providing such compelling evidence that Jesus is your son. Deepen our faith to believe what you say, always. We are ready to serve you.
Look In – Family Memories
Discuss: Which of the prophecies is most compelling to you? What does that do for your faith?
Advent Cards: select a card and see what the activity might be (i.e., watch a movie about Jesus). Family Activities
Look Out – Connect with Others
Bring a plate of Christmas goodies to a neighbor or two, along with an invitation for them to join you at Christmas services at your church.
ADVENT DAY 23: Dec. 23 – Lessons from Advent Devotionals
So far we've spent the month of December trying to see Christmas through the eyes of the people who actually lived it, and we've learned a lot about God in the process. We see:
It is always better to obey God, even when it doesn’t make sense. We can trust God. Even when we’re skeptical, when we can’t see how God can do what He says He will do, we can and should trust in Him. Just ask Gabriel, Zechariah, Elizabeth, Mary, or Joseph!
He works through ordinary people, not rulers or kings or rich people. He even works through government officials who don’t believe in Him. Zechariah was an ordinary priest, one of many. Elizabeth was an old woman. Mary was just a young girl in a small backwater village. Joseph couldn’t afford the cost of circumcision in the temple. If you think you’re insignificant, remember God knows your name. No matter what you’ve done or who you are, you can be made new in him. Caesar Augustus had no idea he was helping pave the way for Jesus.
When circumstances seem dire, don’t blame God. He may have planned it exactly that way. Remember Mary and Joseph wound up in the stable because there were no rooms at the Inn. Then they had to go hide in Egypt for a few years for safekeeping.
God chooses the humble over the important, proud, and rich. Just ask the shepherds. God didn’t announce the birth of his son to rulers or the religious elite but to the lowly shepherds. The church mostly advances along through the winding paths of the ordinary and the outcasts, the misfits, and mundane. If you feel like a misfit, be encouraged. God can and will use you.
God visits those whose eyes are fixed on Him. Simeon and Anna waited patiently for several years to see God in human form. And because they never wavered in keeping their eyes fixed on God, they had the privilege of meeting Jesus while Temple priests, scribes, and religious officials missed it entirely.
Age is not a requirement for God. He works through the young and old alike and everyone in between. Elizabeth was beyond child-bearing years and Zechariah was almost 100. Anna and Simeon were in their 80s. Mary was barely a teenager.
God often tells us ahead of time what He plans to do. Just check out the prophecies about Jesus. He’s not shy about proving the truth of what He tells us in his Word. Stories are great, and we love the Christmas story, but don’t lose sight of the fact that it can all be proven scientifically and mathematically!
He plans things out far ahead of time – decades and even centuries. Micah prophesied 700 years before Christ that He would be born in Bethlehem. Isaiah prophesied almost 800 years before Christ about the traits He would have. And the Wise Men were being trained to look for the star for centuries before they actually saw it. God is always planning and preparing for what He says will come to pass.
God always wins. No matter how bad the bad guys are, they’re no match for God. Just ask Herod.
God can reach anyone whose minds are open and searching for the truth. The Wise Men will forever be known as wise because they were searching for the truth. When it turned out to be completely opposite of what they assumed they would find, it mattered not. They had seen the real God and they worshiped Him.
If we want our prayers to be answered, faith makes the difference. God does reward those who depend on him. The story of Zechariah and Elizabeth builds our trust in God. When God proclaims something over our lives or we read something in the Bible, we need to trust Him.
Appearances can be deceiving. Faith grasps the truth. So much of the Christmas story is opposite of what people would have expected – the rulers and authorities were powerless and clueless; the simple, poor and ordinary were the heroes. David, as the youngest in his family, knows better than anyone that God looks at the heart, not the outside trappings. Always look for the truth and trust your faith to help you find it.
Let’s not just be hearers of the Word, but doers (James 1:22), always looking for how we can apply its truths to our lives today. Don’t ever open God’s Word without asking yourself what you learned from it and how your life should change to reflect that knowledge.
Look Up – Connect with God
Read: 2 Timothy 3:14-17; James 1:22-25
Key Verse: “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.” (2 Timothy 3:16)
Pray: Father God, thank you for your precious Word of Truth. May we always look for what we should do when we hear that word; help us to put it into practice every day.
Look In – Family Memories
Discuss: Which of these lessons learned resonates the most with you and why? Which gives you the most difficulty? Talk about what steps each of you can take to put this knowledge into practice.
Advent Cards: select a card and see what the activity might be (i.e, invite a neighbor to Christmas services at your church). Family Activities
Look Out – Connect with Others
Do you know anyone who may be alone this Christmas? Invite them over for dinner and share part of your family’s tradition with them.