He has spoken through the prophets
Fr RALPH DE HAHN takes us on a journey through the Old Testament which reveals ancient prophecies of Christ’s coming.
The Advent season is one of searching the scriptures, especially the Old Testament, to confirm one’s faith in the one and only Messiah promised by almighty God. Every Christian should find this season thrilling and intoxicating. We read in Hebrews 1: “At various times in the past and in various ways God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets.”
As we page through the Old Testament we find it absolutely amazing, almost unbelievable, what these prophets have to say about the coming Messiah. Jesus Christ is the only spiritual leader in all history to be pre-announced and for good reasons. In this serious matter there is no room for an imposter! God alone decided to have his Son, born a Jew, pre-announced through the Jewish prophets. I am dumb-struck by the accuracy of these ancient prophesies.
In Genesis 3, God already promises a new Adam and a new Eve – a saviour would be sent to reconcile man to his Creator. Isaiah offers a sign: “A virgin is with child, a son to be named Emmanuel;” Micah tells us that Bethlehem will be his birthplace.
The book of Numbers “perceives a star emerging from Jacob”; Psalm 71 and Isaiah 60 gladly announce visitors from the East carrying gifts of gold and incense.
We are reminded, over and over again that this Messiah will be a king, a descendant of King David, “a root from the stock of Jesse” who will possess a kingdom that will have no end. “The sceptre will never depart from Juda,” it declares.
He will be anointed with the spirit of Yahweh, sent to proclaim good news to the poor. Isaiah speaks of this light in the darkness, “a wonder-counsellor, mighty God, eternal Father, Prince of Peace”.
Zephaniah asks the Daughter of Zion to “shout for joy for the King of Israel is in your midst”.
And how will the people know him as the Holy One sent by Yahweh?
Here Isaiah is brilliant: “Look, your God is coming… He is coming to save you…the waterlands will rejoice and bloom, the dry lands will produce springs of water…the deaf will hear, the dumb will speak, the eyes of the blind will be opened…and the poorest of the land will delight in the Holy One of Israel.” He will be gentle but just: “He will not break the crushed reed, or snuff the faltering wick.”
We are reminded, more than once that this heavenly visitor will be a saviour, a redeemer and a teacher: “He who is your teacher will hide no longer…you will see your teacher with your own eyes.”
There is little doubt that the Messiah will be a Divine Person: “Your very God is coming to save you.” He is named “the mighty God, eternal Father, the Prince of Peace”. Isaiah also adds: “That day a man will look for his Creator…and his eyes will look to the Holy One of Israel.”
Isaiah is inspired, filled with the Spirit and wonderfully accurate. He also foretells the unique calling of John the Baptiser to “prepare in the desert a way for the Lord”. John is also chosen to point out the Lamb of God, the promised Messiah. Malachi will also speak of the “messenger to clear the way before me”.
What about the passion of Christ? It is Zechaniah who will foretell the first Palm Sunday – the King Messiah who will enter the Holy City seated on a donkey. How marvellously Isaiah paints the horrifying scenes in his chapter 53. This Messiah will suffer untold agony for his people. This chapter is incredible. Staggering. Depressing. Amazingly accurate.
The Psalms even offer the words and actions of Christ and the people on Calvery, his burial, resurrection and his ascension into glory.
Psalm 41 will mention the betrayal of a “a familiar friend in whom I trusted, the one who shared my bread”. And Zechariah tells us of the 30 shekels of silver, “the princely sum at which you have valued me”. And we know who that traitor is.
In this holy season every Christian should be immersed in the Jewish prophets. They are so illuminating. What more can one add to this thrilling acclamation? I have not dared mention the other 21 prophecies!