The birth of the Messiah in the Tanakh. (old testament)

I have a question for new covenant believers. If you only had the old testament, could you demonstrate to a non-believer the truth of the Messiah as laid out by the Torah and the prophets? If a church conducted a nativity play, could you illustrate the birth story from prophecy? According to “Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy, J. Barton Payne itemized 127 Messianic predictions involving more than 3,000 Bible verses, with a remarkable 574 verses referring directly to a personal Messiah!” Let that sink in for a second. The Bible is saturated with messianic prophecy. 

Let's begin with the repeated story in the biblical narrative. How many stories are there about a promised son? Remember, that prophecy is a predictive pattern in scripture. 

Right from the beginning, at the fall of man, we find the first promise of the child who would come. Eve is lied to, Adam follows suit and the first couple find themselves separated from God with no hope. Yet, the father of Hope comes along and promises a son that will free them from the snake. 

Genesis 3:15  I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.” 

I find it interesting that the first promise of the Messiah is to the snake. How terrifying to know your time is up the moment you mess with God. This would explain the immediate conflict with Cain in the next chapter. The snake, afraid of being crushed, goes out of his way to slay Abel, the next possible candidate for snake crushing. 

And this pattern continues throughout the Torah. Abraham gets promised a son, and the snake does everything he can to thwart the promised child. Imagine if Sarah became pregnant in the courts of the gentile kings. Imagine if Abraham was slain by those kings for being her husband. Or killed when trying to rescue Lot. Almost every difficulty in the life of Abraham was to prevent the promised child from coming. 

Gen 11:30  Now Sarai was barren; she had no child.

Genesis 12:2-3  And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 
I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.

Gen 17:16  I will bless her, and moreover, I will give you a son by her. I will bless her, and she shall become nations; kings of peoples shall come from her.” 

Gen 17:17  Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?”

In this most central story the Torah paints the picture of a woman, unable to bear children, not only having a miracle child but a promised miracle event. Consider the following examples of a predictive pattern.

This pattern continues with Issac:

Gen 25:21  And Isaac prayed to the YHWH for his wife, because she was barren. And the YHWH granted his prayer, and Rebekah his wife conceived.

At the birth of Samson, 

Judges 13:2  There was a certain man of Zorah, of the tribe of the Danites, whose name was Manoah. And his wife was barren and had no children. 
Judges 13:3  And the angel of the YHWH appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold, you are barren and have not borne children, but you shall conceive and bear a son.”

Or Samuel,

1Sa 1:5  But to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the YWHW had closed her womb.

1Sa 1:11  And she vowed a vow and said, “O YHWH of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the YWHW all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.

There is one crucial, promised son prophecy, given by Samuel to the house of David. The details the messiah are very relevant. 

2 Samuel 7:11-15
Moreover, the YWHW declares to you that the YHWH will make you a house.  When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom.  He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him.

David incorporated the idea of a promised kingly son into his poetry. He was given direct revelation from God that a descendant of his would sit on his throne as the very son of God. This idea of divine son-ship is seen several times in the following psalms.

Psa 2:7  I will tell of the decree: The YWHW said to me, “You are my Son; today I have begotten you. 

Psa 2:12  Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.

If you take the time to read the entire poem, it is clearly a heavenly father warning the kings of the earth to recognize his anointed son. This pattern of son-ship is found in many of the messianic psalms.

Psa 89:26-27 He shall cry to me, ‘You are my Father, my God, and the Rock of my salvation.’   And I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.


Psa 72:1  A Psalm for Solomon. Give the king thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness unto the king's son.

Psalms 72 albeit written for or by Solomon, describes the rule of the messianic King on earth. The allusions to the millennial reign are too many to count. Even the book of proverbs offered the reader a hint of the divine son. 

Proverbs 34:4
Who has ascended to heaven and come down? Who has gathered the wind in His hands? Who has bound up the waters in His cloak? Who has established all the ends of the earth? What is His name, and what is the name of His Son—surely you know!

Notice how the son and the creator are linked in this proverb. Now that we have established the divine son idea, the prophets take this idea and develop it further. They have the promised son coming into creation itself. Being born as it were. The beginning of Isaiah expands the concept of a son being human and divine.

Isaiah 7:14  Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.


Isa 9:6  For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 
Isa 9:7  Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the YHWH of hosts will perform this. 


Isaiah 49:5-6
“And now the Lord says,
Who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant,
To bring Jacob back to Him,
So that Israel is gathered to Him
(For I shall be glorious in the eyes of the Lord,
And My God shall be My strength),
Indeed He says,
It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob,
And to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles,
That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth

The promised child in this prophecy is mutually human and divine in both examples. The virgin-born child is called Emmanuel, or God with us. And the birthed child is called the mighty God and everlasting father. The promised son is not only divine but human, and his identity is fused with the Father everlasting.  Even in the last example, the salvation offered to the earth is formed in the womb.

As we step back from the grand narrative in the scriptures, its clear to see a prophetic pattern emerging. First, the Bible establishes the impossibility of the barren, virgin, or old woman giving birth to a miraculous promised child. 
Next, the child gets equated with a messianic king that will rule the earth from the throne of David. This king is divine in nature yet related in his humanity to David. And finally, the prophets suggest this God-king would come through human means of birth but would be equated with God himself. 

There are many more specific prophecies about the details of his birth, from the king's birthplace of Bethlehem, of his flight and return from Egypt, and even down the incense presented at his birth to his parents. But suffice to say, there is a divine son who was promised to bring relief to the entire world, who would be born of impossibility, and would rule one day as a king. All hail the promised Son of the Most High God.


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