Understanding Prophecy - 1st Coming of Christ - David Yamartino - 28 Para

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea (55:1)

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem, (55:2)

Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him (55:3)

When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him (55:4)

And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born (55:5)

And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet, (55:6)

And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel (55:7)

Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, inquired of them diligently what time the star appeared (55:8)

And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also (55:9)

When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was (55:10)

When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy (55:11)

And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. (mat 2:1-11) (55:12) see

To many, these words of Matthew indicate that it was common knowledge where the Christ would be born. At first glance, then, it seems that the Bethlehem prophecy was indeed understood, and that as we can see here, it did lead people to the Christ (55:13)

Let's look closely, however, at how the Magi were led to Christ. First of all, they had somehow come to believe that the king of the Jews had been born. We are not told how they had come to this belief, but we do know that they somehow had knowledge of this. Had one of the wise men had a dream? Were they visited by an angel or the holy ghost? We do not know. And how were they inspired to know that the star that appeared in the East had anything to do with His birth? The New Testament does not say (55:14)

Furthermore, not only did they believe that He had been born, but they knew of His exalted station. They had come not merely to visit Him; nor to pay their respects: no, they had come to worship Him. They knew that He was divine. They had set out from their homes, traveling for a sacred purpose, and were so certain that they would find Him that they had prepared themselves for their expected meeting to the extent that they were carrying with them precious gifts to lay before Him. They had no doubt that they would find Him (55:15)

These men (and some assume that there were three, but only because the Bible mentions three gifts - it says nothing about how many men there were), in such extraordinary circumstances, possibly led by the star that had appeared, arrived in Jerusalem (55:16)

Now, consider, all this took place before the wise men had any knowledge of any prophecy referring to Bethlehem. So, was the cause of their belief in Him, the words of this prophecy? Hardly. Their belief was based on other things about which the New Testament says nothing (55:17)

The question does arise, of course, "Well, maybe they knew He had been born and that He was King, but didn't they still have to find Him? Could they have found the place of His birth without the prophecy?" Well certainly, they didn't know that the Christ was to be born in Bethlehem until after they had been told. We know this because they asked of the place of His birth. This seems to indicate the prophecy was necessary to their finding the Christ (55:18)

But, consider also, how did they actually find the Christ? Did they "Go and search diligently for the young child"? No. It was the star that led them to the precise location of the Savior's birth. Unless you feel that the star also required to be pointed in the direction of Bethlehem by the chief priests, the guidance of the chief priests did not decide the outcome of their journey. This seems to indicate that something other than the scriptures led them to find the Christ. If not for the star, if they had simply gone to Bethlehem without its help, could they have found Him? Could they have found Him by asking people, "Where is he that is born King of the Jews?" (55:19)

It's quite interesting to me that one could imagine that the Bethlehem prophecy could have led people to find Christ in the first place. I personally do not understand how this could be, even if one could have been sure that they had properly understood this prophecy (55:20)

Imagine someone searching for the Christ by this prophecy? What, for example, could they have done to find Him once they had arrived in Bethlehem? Could they have asked people where the "king" was? Could they have searched for all the newborn children and asked the parents regarding the circumstances of the birth? Could they have interviewed the townspeople to see if there was anything unusual at all of recent report, and by this try to find the child? I suppose this is possible, but was this what was intended by God? What would have happened if after their search, they had found nothing unusual about the recent births, and instead had merely caused the people, the government, and the religious leaders to think strangely of them? What would you, yourself, have done if you had searched Bethlehem and found nothing? (55:21)

Found nothing? (56:1)

Now, I am sure some readers considering what I have written above may question my line of reasoning. They may be thinking that surely, if one had searched earnestly enough, he or she would have come upon the holy family. After all, Bethlehem, could not have been large, and with effort and the help of God, and given the holy circumstances of the birth, He surely would have been found. Those who come to this conclusion, however, have allowed themselves quite a convenient assumption. And by this assumption they have removed, without basis, a dimension of life that would have complicated immensely the seeker's search. They have focused on an outcome and then shaped their "picture" to produce that outcome. But what they have done, is also nothing more than what we all do when we consider the past - and this by reason of our not having immediate access to the details of what we are trying to understand - we narrow the possibilities, simplify the circumstances, and generously whittle away at reality to fit into our own preconceived image (56:2)

The assumption is this: that the one searching for the Christ had arrived in Bethlehem at precisely the proper time. But how could one have known what the proper time was, and that he or she was living at that time? How could anyone searching for Christ have been sure that they hadn't arrived in Bethlehem eighty five years late? Or three hundred years early? The prophecy was given centuries before His Coming, and it gave no clue about the time it was to be fulfilled (56:3)

If the Bethlehem prophecy was indeed intended to lead the faithful to Christ, had God intended that they were to have settled in Bethlehem and spent the rest of their lives making their "inquiries"? Did God intend that they go to Bethlehem and wait? And after years, or generations, of not finding Him, then what? Wouldn't they possibly have felt that God would have to reveal the "ruler in Israel" in His own time? (56:4)

To me, it is clear that it would simply take much more than this prophecy to find the Christ. All those who worshipped Jesus at the nativity - His parents, the shepherds, the Magi - were given some kind of special blessing to be allowed to recognize Him. In the case of the Magi, we know that they were somehow in communication with God on a higher than normal level: God had led them to the knowledge of His Son's birth and greatness, had guided them by a star, and when they had completed their holy mission, we know that they were warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod (56:5)

Of course, we all have our own understanding of these events. I personally do not feel that the Bethlehem prophecy can take credit for the Magis' belief in and finding of the Christ. You may. If you do, then certainly you must consider this an outstanding instance of the power of prophecy and an exception to certain assertions that I make in this book. In any case, however, if this is an exception, as far as I can see, it is the only exception, for it is certain, that although the Magi may have been led by this prophecy, none of the Jewish people were led to Christ by way of this or any other prophecy (56:6)

To me, the incident of the Magi signifies a divine invitation to the people of Jerusalem to seek out their Lord. If you'll forgive my paraphrasing, basically, the Magi came and said "We know that your king is born, somewhere. Tell us where." The Magi announced His Coming (56:7)

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Understanding Prophecy - 1st Coming of Christ - David Yamartino