TRACING JESUS’ HISTORICAL ROOTS
T. PIERCE BROWN
The following are some prophetic references to Jesus that the Jews recognized as referring to the Messiah for whom they were looking. The New Testament shows the references to be fulfilled in Jesus.
Genesis3:15says, “and I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed: he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” Galatians 4:4 is one of the several references that indicate that Jesus was the seed of the woman who was to “bruise the head” of the Old Serpent, who is known as Satan.
In Genesis18:18God says, “Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him.” Acts 3:25 indicates that it was through the Jewish nation that the Messiah was to come that would bless all nations, “Ye are the sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Servant, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.”
Among many other passages, the Messiah was shown to be an heir to the throne of David in Isaiah 9:7, “Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to establish it, and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of Jehovah of hosts will perform this.” When we look at the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew 1:1, we find this to be fulfilled in him, “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.”
The place of the birth of the Messiah was prophesied in Micah 5:2, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephrathah, which art little to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall one come forth unto me that is to be a ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from old, from everlasting.” Matthew 2:1 shows this to be fulfilled in Jesus. “Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men came from the east toJerusalem.” Then in verses 4-6 we find, “And gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Christ should be born. And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judea: for thus it is written by the prophet, And thouBethlehem, land of Judah, Art in no wise least among the princes ofJudah; For out of thee shall come forth a governor, Which shall be shepherd of my peopleIsrael.”
In Daniel 9:25, we find the prophecy, “Know therefore and discern, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the anointed one, (The Messiah) the prince, shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: it shall be built again, with street and moat, even in troublous times.” This time was fulfilled in Luke 2:1,2 when it is said, “Now it came to pass in those days, there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world (Gr. the inhabited earth) should be enrolled. This was the first enrollment made when Quirinius was governor ofSyria.”
Although most of the Rabbis did not know what many of the prophets meant, when they were fulfilled in the life of Jesus one should consider that in no other life were they fulfilled as in Jeremiah 31;15, “Thus saith Jehovah: a voice is heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children; she refuseth to be comforted for her children, because they are not.” It is a matter of historical record that what is recorded in Matthew 2:17-18 happened, and thus fulfilled the prophecy, “Then Herod when he saw he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the male children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the borders thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had carefully learned of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying, A voice was heard in Ramah, Weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children; And she would not be comforted, because they are not.”
God had told Moses in Deuteronomy18:18, “I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.” There is no other person in all of history who fulfills that prophecy as Jesus did, and many of the Jews in Jesus’ day recognized it as we find in John 6:14, “When therefore the people saw the sign which he did, they said, This is of a truth the prophet that cometh into the world.” Also in John 1:45, “And Philip findeth Nathanael, and saith unto him, We have found him, of whom Moses in the law, and the prophets, wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.”
The Rabbis did not understand how the Messiah could be a king, yet be rejected, so many of them thought there would be two, but all admitted that Isaiah 53:3 referred to the Messiah. “He was despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and as one from whom men hide their face he was despised; and we esteemed him not.” Of course our own experience coincides with John 1:11, “He came unto his own, and they that were his own received him not.”
Zechariah 9:9 prophesied about the Messiah, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter ofZion; shout, O daughter ofJerusalem: behold, thy king cometh unto thee; he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, even upon a colt the foal of an ass.” It was fulfilled as recorded in John 12:13-14, “When they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, took the branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried out, Hosanna: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel. And Jesus, having found a young ass, sat thereon; as it is written, Fear not, daughter ofZion: behold, thy king cometh, sitting on an ass’s colt.”