Category Archives: Fulfilled Prophecy

The Branch of the Lord

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“In that day shall the branch of the LORD be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the earth shall be excellent and comely for them that are escaped of Israel.” (Isaiah 4:2)

One of the fascinating titles of the promised Messiah is that of “the Branch.” Here He is called “the branch of the LORD,” along with “the fruit of the earth.” As the first, He is “beautiful and glorious.” As the second, He is “excellent and comely.” “And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem [or ‘stump’] of Jesse [that is, the father of King David], and a Branch shall grow out of his roots” (Isaiah 11:1).

In addition to the two references in Isaiah, there are two in Jeremiah and two in Zechariah. In both Jeremiah passages, He is a Branch of David. “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch” (Jeremiah 23:5). See also Jeremiah 33:15.

In Zechariah’s prophecy, He is called God’s servant and God’s man. “For, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH” (Zechariah 3:8). “Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD” (Zechariah 6:12).

This fourfold presentation of the Branch of David, the Branch as a servant, the man who is the Branch, and the Branch of the Lord beautifully corresponds to the fourfold gospel depiction of Christ as King (Matthew), Servant (Mark), Perfect Man (Luke), and Son of God (John).

Just as a branch when it first begins to shoot forth appears small and fragile and easily broken, so would the Messiah first appear to be inconspicuous and unattractive. “For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground” (Isaiah 53:2). Yet this same fragile branch will one day become a great vine with innumerable branches (John 15:5) that will spread its excellent fruit throughout all the earth. HMM

The Prophetic Reason for Christmas

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“And [Joseph] knew her [Mary] not till she had brought forth her firstborn son: and he called his name JESUS.” (Matthew 1:25)

The actual birthday of Jesus was sometime in the fall (September or October) rather than in December. The date is of lesser consequence, however, than the reason for the celebration (Isaiah 1:18). Heaven itself celebrated the birth (Luke 2:8-14). And after the shepherds got over their fear, they couldn’t stop telling the news.

Then there were the wise men from the east who came to worship the one “born king of the Jews” (Matthew 2:1-2). They got there well after the birth, having put their lives on hold, and willingly gave of their time and treasures to honor this great King while they rejoiced with “exceeding great joy” (Matthew 2:10). Surely all Christians should worship and rejoice as well as open our treasuries when we celebrate Christ’s birth.

But if we just focus on the birth, we may miss the greatest reason for the commemoration. After all, there was nothing uncommon about the physical process. The conception, now that was miraculous (Luke 1:35):

The eternal “Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). The great Creator and Son of God, “foreordained before the foundation of the world” (1 Peter 1:20), submitted to the will of the Father and “made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men” (Philippians 2:7). That was why heaven celebrated.

Counting back nine months from around September puts us pretty close to the end of the previous December. Perhaps our sovereign God has orchestrated events so that we would celebrate the real miracle of the conception: “God with us” (Matthew 1:23). HMM III

When God Became Man

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“Thou madest him a little lower than the angels; thou crownedst him with glory and honour, and didst set him over the works of thy hands.” (Hebrews 2:7)

We cannot comprehend what it meant for the infinite Creator God to become finite man, even coming “in the likeness of sinful flesh” (Romans 8:3). Nevertheless, we can, and must, believe it, for “every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God” (1 John 4:3).

The Scriptures have given us a glimpse of the “emptying” that His incarnation required—the setting aside of certain outward aspects of His deity. He had been “so much better than the angels” (Hebrews 1:4), but He had to be “made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death” (Hebrews 2:9)—“put to death in the flesh” (1 Peter 3:18).

The eternal Word “was God” (John 1:1), but it was necessary that “the Word was made flesh” (John 1:14). “The world was made by Him” (John 1:10), but “the princes of this world . . . crucified the Lord of glory” (1 Corinthians 2:8).

He “being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God” (Philippians 2:6). That is, He was not fearful of losing His deity and, therefore, did not have to cling to His divine nature and attributes as He became man. Thus, He “made himself of no reputation” (emptying Himself of the outward form of God) “and took upon him the form of a servant” (Philippians 2:7).

Yet that was only the beginning. “For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). He suffered hell for us, that we might enjoy heaven with Him.

Because He was willing to be so humiliated, He will one day be crowned with glory and honor. “God also hath highly exalted Him, . . . that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:9, 11). HMM

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