A Tale of the Prophetic Word

The Prophetic Word.  I want to teach you in a flyby fashion, the main Old Testament prophecies.  To do so, I am going to let you listen in on an imaginary conversation between two of the Magi and the Assistant Scribe to the Chief Priest in Jerusalem; who remains nameless.  Between the two Magi there is the Sr. Magi named Aheeb and his assistant Magi named Gabe.  Aheeb is a little bit of a know it all who likes to throw his weight around. Gabe is a submissive but smart Magi who lacks a little maturity.

The Assistant Scribe welcomes the Magi, Aheeb and Gabe, into the room….

Come in, come in my Magi friends.  You have travelled a long way.  Those camels can get uncomfortable on the backside, can’t they?  Maybe someday someone will invent a better way to get around. Yes. That would be fine as long as we Middle-Easterns are the ones who make all the money off of it!

So you came to Jerusalem looking for the King of the Jews?  That’s right.  What made you think he had been born?  We are star gazers. We watch the sky very carefully.  We saw something quite some time ago that was like nothing we had ever seen.  It was a star rising.  We have seen shooting stars and we have seen exploding stars.  This was a star that began on the horizon and rose high into the sky.  We all pondered what it meant until one of my fellow wise men said, I remember reading somewhere in the Jewish writings about a star rising.  We all remembered then because we were, after all, classmates at Babylon U (Go Magi!).  Well, we took Semitic writings 101 and studied the Jewish Scriptures.  But we could not remember where we had read that.  You must know how hard it is to find information.  Speaking of inventions, wouldn’t it be great if someday there was a way to search all the writings of mankind in like, a single second? My dear Magi friend that is a wild fantasy but what fun we could have with something like that!  We eventually found it in your prophetic writings. Numbers 24:17 says, 17 I see Him, but not now; I behold Him, but not near: a star shall come out of Jacob, and a scepter shall rise out of Israel; (Numbers 24:17)

A star would rise | prophesied Num. 24:17 | fulfilled Matt. 2:1ff.

Yes.  Of course!  We know that passage well but we never saw a star rise.  Perhaps you were not looking for it?  We discussed it and decided to pay you an official state visit.  We want very much to see Him.  We have a gift to give Him; very expensive myrrh to give Him, the best in all Babylon.  But you say He is not in Jerusalem?  We came here because we thought, “Where else would the King of the Jews be?”  And we also hear that you have wonderful gyros here so I personally voted for Jerusalem as our first stop.  Is there a gyro restaurant you would recommend?

Aheeb, could we stay on subject?  So you saw a star?  Yes. You think it might be the Num. 24:17 fulfillment?  We are most hopefulMy friend Gabe and I would like to know more about Him.  You have studied Him for centuries; tell us, what do you know about this promised King?  Like, where was He to be born?

You Magi are lacking some of our prophecies or you would know.  Every scribe worth his salt knows the Messiah will be born in Bethlehem.  Bethlehem.  Bethlehem.  I know that name from somewhere.  You know if they shortened that, it would make a really cool church name.

Aheeb, what’s a church?  We don’t know.  We’re just saying words the pastor who wrote this sermon told us to. Now, where does it say the King would be born in Bethlehem? In Micah 5:2.

Born in Bethlehem | prophesied Micah 5:2 | fulfilled Luke 2:15

2 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.  ( Micah 5:2)

Yes, of course.  Bethlehem is where Jesse was from.  We have heard this story many times.  The great prophet of Israel Samuel was told by God to go to Jesse’s house and to anoint his son as the next king.  Jesse lived in Bethlehem which means that Bethlehem is also the hometown of the most famous Israeli king of all, King David!

My dear Magi, it gets better than that.  This baby King you seek is to be a direct descendant of King David himself.  Really? Where do your Scriptures say that?  Isa. 11.

The Line of Jesse and David | prophesied Isa. 11:1-2/Isa. 9:7 | fulfilled Matt. 1:1,6

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit.  And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon Him.

We are unclear who this “Spirit of the Lord” is but He sounds very exciting.  We have not seen Him around here yet.  But if He ever shows up, wow, it would be as exciting as our Pentecost feast itself.  What a party!  Do they serve gyros at Pentecost? Aheeb, could we stay on topic here?

Of course, King David was promised that his throne would endure forever.  The prophecy is that the Messiah would come from the lineage of King David himself. Yes.  Here it is.  Isa. 9:7 7 Of the increase of His government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over His kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.

So this promised King comes from the hometown of King David and is a direct descendant of King David? Exactly.  Where is this Bethlehem? It’s very close.  In fact, you can see it from Jerusalem.  Only 6 miles or so from here.  Would you like to go there now?  No.  Not yet.  Please tell us more.

Well, there is one passage that we cannot figure out. Even my boss the Chief Priest can only shake his head at it.  My friend, it must be a difficult one. What does it say?  I almost feel silly telling you.  You are going to think I am a crazy man.  No.  Just tell us.

There is an ancient prophecy in Isaiah about this King that says He would be born from a virgin.

Silence.

A virgin?  That’s preposterous!  Gabe, did you hear that!  A virgin having a child?  Oh, you Jews and your ideas!  No wonder we conquered you!  Everyone has a father; there always is a father.  The whole thing requires a father. Excuse me, Aheeb?  Yes.  Gabe.  Didn’t God create the first Adam without a father?  Why couldn’t He do it again?  Silence from you!  Are you trying to make me look like a fool in front of our hosts?  Now my dear Jewish scribe friend, please tell me, what prophecy speaks of this virgin birth? It is Isaiah 7.

Born of a Virgin | prophesied Isa. 7:13-14 | fulfilled Matt. 1:18

14 Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign.  Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel.  Isaiah 7:13-14 (ESV)
What does that Hebrew word Immanuel mean? It means, God is among us.  Wow.  If such a miracle should ever happen, the whole world would worship this Child.  I suppose they could deny it but who in their right mind wouldn’t wish it be true? Yes.  I suppose you are right.  IF it ever happens.

Aheeb.  Yes.  Do not think me a crazy man but there are other prophecies.  Shall we say, incredible ones.  They talk of the Child having absolute authority.  Great authority in a child?  What child could handle it?  Who would give such power to a child?  What do they say?

A Child would be born | prophesied Is. 9:6 | fulfilled Luke 2:11

Here is what the prophecy says, 6 For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  (Isaiah 9:6)

Ohhh.  I like that.  Gabe, don’t start.  I like that.  Gabe! I hear a song in that verse.  Yes.  A melody.  “For unto us a Child is born unto us a Son is…”  Gabe, get a Handel on yourself!  Your musical ideas will take you nowhere.  It makes me want to sing hallelujah when you stop!

Pardon my impetuous assistant.  He is always singing.  Tell me, what do you make of these titles?  Wonderful Counselor?  Mighty God?  Everlasting Father?  And what did you say, Prince of Peace? Aheeb, my boss the Chief Priest, the greatest scholar in all Israel, thinks they can only be symbolic but some around here whisper that they are literal.  That this prophesied One will be so wise as to be truthful in all He says, like a Wonderful Counselor.  If He comes from a virgin, His source is divine; He would be the Mighty God.  If He is God, He is Everlasting Father to us all.  And we think Prince of Peace means He will lead Israel in a victory over Rome.  But I don’t know.  Peace with Rome seems like small potatoes for a Mighty God.  I think it might mean something much bigger.

Aheeb.  Yes, Gabe, what is it? Maybe since He is the Mighty God He can bring peace between us and Himself.  You told me just last night as we sat by the fire that you were looking for something and hoped this King of the Jews might give it to you.  Might what you are looking for be peace?  And wouldn’t the Prince of Peace have some peace to give?

(Sigh) Perhaps you are right, Gabe. If so, I hope I can buy it with the myrrh we brought Him.

Aheeb.  Yes.  Gabe.  If He is God, I don’t think He needs anything we have to offer Him.

Excuse me, my dear Magi, there is another more troubling prophecy.  It is not one we speak of much because none of us can figure out who this prophecy is talking about.  This prophecy is describing someone so different than the son of King David.  Really?  You have our attention. Isaiah 53.

A Sin-bearing Suffering Servant | prophesied Isa. 53:4-6 | fulfilled The Cross

4 Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed Him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.  5 But He was wounded for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His stripes we are healed.  6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.  (Isaiah 53:4-6)

The rest of the prophecy is even more graphic.  Whoever this is, He is going to suffer horribly.  What we can’t understand is how anyone could possibly bear our transgressions and sins?  We don’t get it.  We also don’t like it.  So we spend much more time studying the the King who will come.  This suffering servant fellow is confusing.

Well my Magi friends, I must go.  Let me show you where Bethlehem is.  If you look down the valley from here.  Look there.  Do you see those lights in the distance?  Those lights are Bethlehem.  There is a path from here, you can take all the way.  Good luck.

Aren’t some of you Jews going to come with us?  This could be really big!  You know we’ve come hundreds of miles to see this, why wouldn’t you go 6?

I wouldn’t mind but my boss won’t let me.  He says that if God was going to give a sign to anyone, he’d give it to us Jews, not to people like you.  Have a good one.

As the two Magi make their way out, Gabe takes a deep breath and asks, You know the prophecy about the Child born of a virgin who would sit on an eternal throne?  Yes. And the other one that said someone who would come and bear our sins and suffer for us?  Yes Gabe, what are you getting at?

What if those prophecies are not talking about two people but about the same person?  What if the King of all is also the Servant who suffers for all?  Could these prophecies possibly speak of the same person?

My dear Gabe, if the King of Kings is also the Servant of all, then the whole world would worship Him.  Remember, that’s why we are here.  We asked King Herod?  Where is He born, King of the Jews? We have come to worship Him.

But Gabe, I tell you what. If we find this Child, and I don’t have any idea how we are going to find Him after all these months.  But if we find Him, I’ll work you a deal.  If there’s nothing special about Him, you have to wash my camel every night on the way home.  But if we get the idea that the Kid might be the fulfillment of all those prophecies, I’ll not only give Him the myrrh; I’ll give Him all the frankincense and gold we have too.

Deal? Deal.

Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

© 2009 Steve DeWitt. You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that: (1) you credit the author, (2) any modifications are clearly marked, (3) you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, (4) you include Bethel’s web site address (http://www.bethelweb.org/) on the copied resource.

To hear the message of this excerpt in its entirety, click here

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