How are you keeping Christ at the center of Christmas? While Christmas originated to celebrate the birth of the Savior of the world, our culture has hijacked the importance of that Divine occasion by taking a back seat to shopping, Santa, the Elf on the Shelf, and busyness, etc.
Having two young kids and traveling out of state for the holidays, I can be guilty of getting swept up in the cultural hustle and bustle of the Christmas season myself. This year, I am thankful for a switch.
I took part in a small group studying a new book that stirred my faith and made me dive into a difficult topic - PROPHECY. In her book Predicting Jesus, Kim Erickson, lays out the Messianic prophecies found in the Old Testament book of Isaiah and shares how this transformed her own walk with Christ.
Though studying prophecy can feel like a daunting task, I highly recommend using a Bible study to help decode, demystify, and destress diving into difficult principles of the Bible.
Although there were many, I would like to share with you two that personally impacted me.
Bible scholars believe there are up to 129 prophecies covered in Isaiah. One that was profound to me was learning that the birth of our Savior was predicted over 600 years BEFORE His birth! “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a Son, and will call Him Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14
These details line up perfectly with the New Testament account of Matthew 1:23-25, “’Behold, the Virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,’ which translated means, ‘God with us.’”
The nativity is not just a cute story we tell children at Christmas; instead, it is prophecy that was fulfilled centuries after it was written about in the Old Testament. What better time than Christmas to use this fulfillment of Messianic Prophecy to share our faith with nonbelievers as evidence of the Bible being holy and God-breathed, beyond what any man could write without the power of the Holy Spirit.
Another powerful section of Scripture that I have a new appreciation for is Isaiah 43. Many Biblical commentaries share that this chapter points toward God comforting Israel as a nation as they face destruction and captivity; however, author Kim Erickson sheds light on how Isaiah 43 points to the redemptive work of Jesus.
“Since you are precious and honored in My sight, and because I love you, I will give people in exchange for you, nations in exchange for your life.”
Additionally, Isaiah 43:25 was transformative for Erickson’s faith as she felt it was the first time she personally grasped that Christ’s work at Calvary is not just about love, but more importantly atonement. Erickson explains it in depth on page 118 of her book,
“We need to beware of using love only to explain the cross or the forgiveness of sins. Jesus and the cross were all about atonement, about paying the price for the stated consequences of sin. God’s love, of course, is what prompted the atonement; but speaking about love apart from atonement doesn’t make sense to a pre-believer who has little knowledge of God’s majesty, holiness, justice, and absolute unwillingness to share His glory with anyone or anything else. Atonement, not love, cleanses us from our sins so that we can be reunited with God.”
For me, discovering these prophecies and the lessons found within this Bible study convicted me to be more intentional about sharing my faith. I'm taking cues from Erickson, who shared how she communicates her faith naturally. I have since shared with friends the nuggets I have learned about these prophecies that came true.
In what ways can you be intentional about your faith with others this Christmas season?
Does anyone specifically come to mind who would benefit from knowing the Bible predicted Jesus’ birth over 600 years before His arrival?
Take time this season to savor and share the Good News.
But the angel said to them (the shepherds), “Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!