Understanding Prophecy - D. Yamartino
 <<   <<   >   >>
Chapter 55 of  60

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)

Get Next Page

  Understanding Prophecy - D. Yamartino