Understanding Prophecy - 1st Coming of Christ - David Yamartino - 23 Para

So there was a division among the people because of him (58:1)

And some of them would have taken him; but no man laid hands on him (58:2)

Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him? (58:3)

The officers answered, Never man spake like this man (58:4)

Then answered them the Pharisees, Are ye also deceived? (58:5)

Have any of the rulers or of the Pharisees believed on him? (58:6)

But this people who knoweth not the law are cursed (58:7)

Nicodemus saith unto them, (he that came to Jesus by night, being one of them,) (58:8)

Doth our law judge any man, before it hear him, and know what he doeth? (58:9)

They answered and said unto him, Art thou also of Galilee? Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet (58:10)

And every man went unto his own house. (joh 7:31-53) (58:11) see

These verses of John make clear that it was correctly assumed by the people of Christ's time that His birthplace would be Bethlehem. No doubt this thinking had been given them by the Pharisees who appear to boldly assert the same. At first glance then, to some it may appear that this prophecy did indeed lead people to the Christ. There was a division among the people; some believed, and some didn't. Some recognized Him as the Christ, while others questioned His fulfilling the prophecies (58:12)

Upon thoughtful examination of these verses, however, it becomes clear that there is not only no real evidence that anyone in the situation described above was led to the Christ by the prophecy of Bethlehem, but it actually shows that the prophecy was a barrier to belief in Him (58:13)

There is a subtle but important difference between, on the one hand, knowing the meaning of a prophecy beforehand and thereby using it to seek out the Christ, and, on the other hand, realizing that the Christ has come, and then going back and considering the prophecies that He was supposed to have fulfilled. The former is, according to my understanding, quite an unlikely possibility. The latter, however, represents the interaction intended by God between prophecies and man (58:14)

In the above verses that John has recorded, it is quite clear that no one in that situation was led to believe that Jesus was the Christ because they believed that the Christ would come from Bethlehem. These verses offer additional confirmation that everyone who believed in Him must have had some other reason for believing than prophecy. How do we know this? We know this because John makes it clear that the people assumed that Jesus was from Galilee. To paraphrase, the people said: "Is the Christ to come from Galilee? But our understanding is that He should come from Bethlehem." (58:15)

For the people of Christ's time, then, the prophecy of Bethlehem would be more of an obstacle than an aid in finding the Christ. If someone were looking for a ruler from Bethlehem, they would not have found Him. In the minds of the people, Jesus was Jesus of Nazareth, a Galilean, the leader of the sect of the Nazarenes. Jesus Himself said "I am Jesus of Nazareth" (Acts 22:8). There is no mention of Jesus of Bethlehem in the Bible. In fact, after the story of Christ's birth, that is the last we hear of any association of Jesus with Bethlehem. It is possible, of course, that during Christ's ministry, it may have been explained to some that Jesus was indeed born in Bethlehem, and that this may have confirmed some in their belief in Him. There is, however, nothing in the New Testament to suggest this. (58:16) see

Although it appears that none were led to Christ through the Bethlehem prophecy, a question still remains regarding the understanding of this prophecy, namely: Was it correctly understood before it was fulfilled? The Bible clearly shows that it was - half of it, that is. The religious leaders did correctly understand the part of this prophecy referring to Bethlehem. But does understanding part of a prophecy mean anything? Should they have been trusted to interpret the other half, the one referring to "ruler in Israel"? Did they really know what they were talking about, or were they guessing? If the answer to this question does not seem clear to you, then let's try asking another, more-to-the-point question: Should the people have followed the interpretation of the religious leaders, or not? (58:17)

To really understand the meaning of a prophecy requires some divine confirmation, as in the case of the prophecies we now understand regarding the First Coming of Christ. Since we see how God has fulfilled them, then we know what they mean; we're not guessing any more (58:18)

If the Pharisees had sought with humility from Christ Himself, the answer to their questions, they could have attained unto true understanding of the scriptures. But the New Testament reveals the fact that they essentially did not have any questions. "Search, and look: for out of Galilee ariseth no prophet", is not a question, and it betrays an attitude whose sole object is opposition. Having essentially no questions regarding Christ, they could receive no answers, and they were therefore, unable to attain salvation (58:29)

The people, however, had questions: "Hath not the scriptures said, That Christ cometh of the seed of David, and out of the town of Bethlehem, where David was?" They also had an interesting dilemma: where to find answers. Here the seeker had to decide whether to ask the religious leaders who had denounced the Person in question, or the Person in question who had denounced the religious leaders (58:20)

Of course, the religious leaders, who assumed that they correctly understood the prophecies, would have said that when He comes, there will be no questions: He will be a ruler, will save us from oppression, will promulgate the same glorious teachings which we now have, and will exalt us over other peoples. O, for the glory of that day! (58:21)

They thought they knew it all (58:22)

The fact that none were led to Christ through prophecies, does not mean that the prophecies did not influence the people of Christ's time. They certainly did. They did not, however, influence everyone in the same way. To those who disbelieved, the prophecies were a barrier; to those who believed, divine confirmation (58:23)

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Understanding Prophecy - 1st Coming of Christ - David Yamartino