LIFE OF THE MESSIAH – 002
DR. ARNOLD G. FRUCHTENBAUM
THE INTRODUCTION OF THE KING - Paragraphs 5-16
b. The Annunciation of the Birth of Jesus to Mary
Paragraph 5 – Luke 1:26-38
We come to paragraph 5, the annunciation of the birth of Jesus to Mary. Now Luke 1:26 says, “In the sixth month,” meaning six months since Elisabeth got pregnant with John, so the age differential between John and Jesus is a six month period. The same angel that appeared to Zacharias to inform him he will be the father of Messiah’s forerunner is now sent to Miriam to tell her she was going to be the mother of the Messiah. Her name actually was Miriam, the same name as the sister of Moses and the Greek even says Miriam, but when you go from Greek to Latin to English Miriam became Mary. And basically Gabriel’s message contains five elements.
First of all, the incarnation would be in a man, that God Himself would become a man for this purpose.
Secondly, this man’s name is to be Yeshua. Yeshua was His actually Hebrew name, not Jesus, which is the Anglicized form of the name, and Yeshua comes from the Hebrew root meaning to save, Yesha, to save. He’s given this name, as the angel will tell Joseph later, because “He will save,” He will yesha “His people from their sins.” He called Him Yeshua because He will yesha His people from their sins. And while this was a fairly common name, in first century Israel, for this one it carries the meaning that He alone is going to fulfill.
Thirdly, as to His essential nature He will be great, characterized by greatness.
Fourthly, He will be the Son of God.
Fifthly, He will be the one to fulfill the Davidic Covenant, God’s covenant with David. Again, the only (?) connect Him with the Jewish covenants. Now when God made His covenant with David He promised David four eternal things. First of all, an eternal house or dynasty. Secondly, an eternal throne. Thirdly, an eternal kingdom. And fourthly an eternal descendant. And the eternality of the house, throne, and kingdom is guaranteed because here David culminates in one who is Himself eternal, the Messianic God-man. And all four eternals (?) come out in Gabriel’s message. For example, the word “throne;” look at the end of Luke 1:32, “the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father, David.” The next verse, the word house, “He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever.” The word kingdom, “of His kingdom there shall be no end.” And again, the eternality of the house, and throne and kingdom is guaranteed because the seed David culminates the one who is Himself eternal, the Messianic-God man, and so in verse 32 He is called “the Son of the Most High,” and in verse 35 He’s called “the Son of God.”
Now she also raises the question in Luke 1:34, “How shall this be, seeing I know not a man?” It’s not a question asked to how can I know this will be true, a question of doubt, which was voiced by Zacharias, her question has to do with how can this come about since I am a virgin. And the answer is in verse 35, “The Holy Spirit shall come upon you, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow you; therefore also that which is born shall be called holy, the Son of God.” And the reason this will be the case is that the Holy Spirit will energize one of her eggs. As a result, what is born of her is going to be holy; it will be the Son of God.
Now there are some people teaching today that she was only a surrogate mother, that God did not use her egg to produce the Messiah, simply planted a fetus inside the womb and she was only a surrogate mother. The problem with that view is that it destroys the concept of the seed because certainly the Messiah must be of the seed of Adam, of the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the seed of David and so on. And we don’t have the option of her being a surrogate mother because He must have a direct bloodline. Adam, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, Judah, David and so on. Such a thing would actually negate His Messiahship, not authenticate His Messiahship.
Another thing we should note is a teaching that began with a very popular radio Bible teacher in the previous generation who was by training a medical doctor, then went into ministry. He began teaching the necessity for the virgin birth was that the sin nature is transmitted through the father and not through the mother, and therefore to protect Jesus from inheriting the sin nature of Adam, that’s why He had to be born only of her, not of him. But the Bible nowhere teaches that that’s the case and the fact is the sin nature is transmitted through both the father and mother, sometimes the battle focuses on the father, but sometimes on the mother as in Psalm 51, “In sin did my mother conceive me.”
What protected Jesus from inheriting the sin nature was not the lack of a human father. God was not suddenly stuck with only one way of doing things. There are certain advantages to omnipotence. One of the advantages is you can accomplish the same thing in many different ways. If He wanted to He could have produced a sinless child using both the male seed and the female egg. But He chose to do it this way because He chose to do it this way. That was His own free will, and furthermore it will be the means of authenticating His Messianic claims in keeping with Isaiah 7:14, one of the prerequisites of His Messiahship. What protected Him from having the sin nature of Mary is what’s found here in Luke 1:35, the over-shadowing of the Holy Spirit. Notice it says because of this overshadowing, “therefore,” what for? For that reason, that which is born shall be holy and the Son of God. Again he points out the sixth month in verse 36, the six month since Elisabeth got pregnant.
In Luke 1:38 Miriam puts herself in the safekeeping of God’s hand as well she might for three reasons. First of all, she’s already betrothed to Joseph and the Mosaic Law was that if a woman is found pregnant during her betrothal period, she’s viewed as being unfaithful and must be stoned to death; she has to trust the Lord she would not be stoned to death. Secondly, in times of Jewish history when they were not carrying out the death penalty, a betrothed woman found pregnant would be totally ostracized in the Jewish community, forbidden to have a Jewish wedding, forbidden to be buried in a Jewish cemetery, and she had to trust God concerning the reaction of the community. But further, she had to trust God concerning her relationship to Joseph, a true concern because as we’ll see in paragraph 9, when Joseph hears about her pregnancy he begins to follow a process of divorcement.
c. The Visit of Mary to Elisabeth
Paragraph 6 – Luke 1:39-45
Now paragraph 6, the visit of Mary to Elisabeth. Mary or Miriam now knows that her cousin, Elisabeth, happens to be pregnant. And so she goes down to visit with her, and we read in Luke 1:41, “And it came to pass that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb;” already inside the womb the babe is already doing the job of the forerunner; he was controlled by the Spirit even within the womb of his mother. At that point Elisabeth was filled with Spirit herself, and she gives off a prophetic utterance. And she places a blessing upon Mary; notice what she says about Mary in verse 43, “the mother of my Lord should come unto me,” and she recognizes that Miriam, her cousin, is going to be the mother of the Messiah.
Luke 1:45 says, “And blessed is she that believed,” and Mary is one who is characterized by believing; her own husband of course, was characterized by unbelief which is why he was still a mute at this stage of his life. The paragraph shows the extent of Miriam’s faith and faithfulness.
d. The Song of Mary
Paragraph 7 – Luke 1:46-56
Now in paragraph 7 we have the song of Miriam, the song of Mary and this shows the extent of Mary’s spirituality; also shows the extent of her knowledge of Scripture. Her song parallels in many ways with Hannah’s song and the song Hannah sung when she gave birth to Samuel. There are two parts to her song, in Luke 1:46-50. She praises God for what God has done for her and in Luke 1:51-55 she praises God for what He will do for Israel.
In Luke 1:47 she says, “my soul hath rejoiced in God my Savior.” Now what kind of people need Saviors? Sinners! And verse 47 (?) against the common teaching of Catholicism, that she herself was in a perpetual sinless state. She was not! She was spiritual, she was a strong believer, she was faithful but she was not sinless and needed a Savior.
The second part of this song she points out the one that’s coming is going to fulfill the Abrahamic Covenant, God’s promise to Abraham. Luke 1:54, “He has helped Israel, His servant, that He might remember mercy;  As He spoke unto our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed forever.” Here again the connection with the Jewish covenants. Verse 56 says that “Mary abode with her three month, and returned unto her house.” So she stayed with Elisabeth for three months, the last three months of her pregnancy and then left shortly before John was born.
Note in paragraphs 5, 6 and 7, we’ve had the strong role of women, this is all Luke’s Gospel and Luke again focuses on the special role of women in Messiah’s life and here are three examples.
e. The Birth of John
Paragraph 8 – Luke 1:57-80
We also have a fourth example in paragraph 8, the birth of Yochanan, the birth of John. There’s a principle I will begin mentioning now that we will trace as we go through the Gospels over the next two weeks as well; what happens to the herald, the herald of the King, will happen to the King. What happens to the herald will happen to the King. John is born. By Jewish practice a son is not named when he is born; a son is named on the day of his circumcision. And so the day of the circumcision comes. When she’s asked what will be the son’s name, she says the name is going to be Yochanan, John. Now the common Jewish practice now days, the Jewish families name their children after a relative that has passed away. In first century Israel, however, it was permissible to name your child after any relative if he was dead or alive. But the problem here is this, in Luke 1:61, “And they said unto her, There is none of your kindred that is called by this name.” And so to name the child, Yochanan, went contrary to the Jewish practice of that day, and while Yochanan, John, was a common Jewish name also in first century Israel, nobody in her family, and nobody in his family had such a name. It therefore contradicted Jewish tradition to name him this. And what they wanted to do is to name John after his father so his name would have been Zacharias, son of Zachariah.
And when the mother insisted the name would be Yochanan, they tried to go over her head. In Luke 1:62, “they made signs to his father, what he would have him called.” Notice that they made signs to his father; that shows not only was he a mute, he was also deaf; he was both deaf and mute, otherwise they were simply able to verbalize their question and not have to make signs. He, of course, at this point cannot tell them what the name should be. So he asks for a writing tablet in verse 63 and writes his name is Yochanan, “His name is John.” And that’s an act of obedience on his part, recognizing he’s doing something that contradicted Jewish practices of that day. At that point the curse that was placed upon him is removed and now he is able to speak again.
In Luke 1:65-66, again the general population in this vicinity recognized something supernatural was going on but they don’t know quite the know the exact nature of what is happening. And in verse 67 the father is now filled with the Holy Spirit; he gives a prophetic utterance. Also in two basic parts, inverses 68-75 he speaks about the Messiah, and in 76-80 he speaks about John himself. And here again there is a connection with the Jewish covenants.
First of all, the Davidic Covenant, look at Luke 1:69, He “has raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant, David.” Then the Abrahamic Covenant in verse 73, “That which He swore unto Abraham, our father.” And also the New Covenant in verse 77, “To give knowledge of salvation unto His people and the remission of their sins,” the promise of the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31:31-34. But here again you have the play upon the words of the meanings of the names Elisabeth and Zachariah; again, Zachariah, God remembers; Elishaba, Elisabeth, the oath of God. Notice the second line in verse 72, “and to remember His holy covenant,” there you have Zachariah; the next line,  “The oath which He swore unto Abraham, our father,” there you have Elisabeth. Again God remembers His oath, His covenantal oath, to the Jewish people. As for John, John is going to be like the morning star, that the morning star signals the coming of day. By the same token, he will be the forerunner of the Messiah and the herald of the King.
And because Luke is recording these events, not only is his concern about women but also about Gentiles. So in Luke 1:78, “Because the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high shall visit us,  To shine upon them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.” Notice the change of pronouns, “to shine upon them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,” a reference to Gentiles, because Isaiah chapter 8, and Isaiah chapter 9, the Gentiles living in the shadow and darkness of death, because they did not have the light of divine revelation. So “them that live in darkness and the shadow of death” upon them the Messianic light will shine. “…and to guide our,” the Jewish “our,” “our feet in the way of peace.” Jesus was coming to benefit both Jews and Gentiles.
Now Luke 11:80, “And the child grew and waxed strong in the spirit, and was in the deserts till they day of His showing unto Israel.” And (?) His life, we don’t know how early, how young He was, He went into the desert area of the wilderness of Judah. And there He would grow up to manhood. Now this activity in the deserts of Judah would separate Him from the Judaism of that day. It would separate Him from the Judaism of that day so when His message finally went public it was different than the message of the Judaism of that day.
f. The Annunciation of the Birth of Jesus to Joseph
Paragraph 9 – Matthew 1:18-25
Now paragraph 9, the annunciation of the birth of Jesus to Joseph. Now we switch over to Matthew’s account and here Matthew tells us the story from Joseph’s perspective. The emphasis on this paragraph is specifically on the virgin birth and that’s pointed out three times. First of all, the second line Matthew 1:18, “before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit.” The second time is in Matthew 1:23 where he quotes Isaiah 7:14, which shows the way Isaiah 7:14 was understood in the first century Jewish context. And then Matthew 1:25 says even after the birth of Jesus, he “knew her not until she had brought forth” her son. So even after the marriage ceremony there was no sexual relationships between the two until the child was born. The way the phrase reads it also means that once the child was born they did have relationships, and in fact, she produced six more children, minimally; maybe more than six but at least six more. We’ll see that in a later paragraph. Now when he hears about the pregnancy, assuming she’s been unfaithful he knows he could make her into a public example, but chose not to do so. He simply is going to do everything privately and the legal divorce was writing her a bill of divorcement and handing it to the woman and then the divorce was finalized.
But the message of angel to Joseph does three things. First of all, to fulfilled the marriage vow; to go ahead and fulfill the marriage vow. Secondly, to believe her story, to believe her that she was never unfaithful. And thirdly, all is according to plan, in accordance with the prophecy of Isaiah 7:14 this is the way the Messiah was supposed to be born.
In Matthew 21 it also specifies “you will call His name Jesus,” Yeshua, Mary was not told this; Joseph is because of the (?) theme that “shall save His people from their sins.”
g. The Birth of the King
Paragraph 10 – Luke 2:1-7
Now (?) to paragraph 10, small “g” on your outline, The Birth of the King. Now based upon what Luke tells us in his Gospel, and based upon what Matthew tells in his Gospel and based upon we know from historical sources like Josephus, a first century Jewish historian, we are able to pinpoint fairly accurately the actual year that He was born. We can deduct this from four specific clues. The first clue is based upon the year that Herod dies, and he dies in the year 4 BC, and the Gospels are quite clear that Herod was living when He was born. So since Herod dies in 4 BC that tells us that He was born sometime before the year 4 BC. The decree of (?) mentioned in this paragraph was issued in the year 8 BC; in Luke’s Gospel he makes it quite evident that He was born after the issue of this decree; because of this decree they have to travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem, so that gives a four year parameter: He was born somewhere between the year 8 and 4 BC.
The third clue comes from Josephus; the third clue tells us that Herod left Jerusalem in the year 5 BC and moved to Jericho; he spent the last year of his life in Jericho and never did come back to Jerusalem again and in Jericho is where he died. When the wise men meet with Herod, the wise meet with him when he’s still in Jerusalem, so the connection between the wise men and Herod had to come some time before the year 5 BC, the (?) year before that year, at least before he left for Jericho.
And the fourth clue coming in Matthew’s account we’ll see a bit later, the time that the wise men and Herod met Jesus was already two years old. So putting all of these four clues together we can surmise he was born between… what happened here? Computers are wonderful when they work. Well there’s a Jewish story about Adam and Eve I can tell you in the meantime. The story is that after they were thrown from the garden Eve developed a very suspicious attitude, she got to the point where she felt where maybe God would create a new wife for Adam as a punishment to her and she wouldn’t know about it. So every time Adam came to bed she would count his ribs. Another story is that one day Adam came home from work and Eve asked him a very wifely question; Adam, do you love me? Adam said, Who else?
Now putting these four clues together we can conclude He was born between the year 7 and 6 BC. In other words, Christ was born between 7 and 6 before Christ; there (?) could be contradiction because of some earlier miscalculations. Now as to why they would have to travel for taxation purposes, keep in mind, this was not income tax per se, it was the (?) paid at Nazareth, this was land taxes and apparently because of the house of David they did still have some ownership of property in the Bethlehem area and that would be the purpose for the traveling down into Bethlehem for that purpose.
h. The Announcement to the Shepherds
Paragraph 11 – Luke 2:8-20
Now paragraph 11, the annunciation to the shepherds. Now Luke 2:8 said, “And there were shepherds in the same country abiding in the field, keeping watch by night over the flock.” Around Christmas time every year in front of many church yards and lawns, even in front of many private homes and so on, you have certain things erected… I’ll come back to that point later. But also on radio, Christian radio and TV you always have some people coming out to preach their favorite Christian sermon which is the controversy that He could not possibly have been born on December 25th because you would not have shepherds and sheep out in the field in the month of December. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve heard people make such a statement. If you hear someone make such statement it gives only one fact away; that’s because they’ve never been to Bethlehem in December.
I lived in Israel for several years; I’ve spent more than one December in (?) there were sheep and shepherds all over the place. It’s a very good time for the sheep to be out there. Unlike America here that receives rain in all four seasons, in Israel the rain is fixed to a specific period of time. The rains begin to fall at the end of October, they fall in the months of November, December, January and February, they will begin to peter out in March and die out by mid-April. From mid-April to mid-October no rain falls. And by the first of October the hills of Israel have been burned dry by the sun. Once the rains begin to fall in October, by December the whole nation is a carpet of green, even the desert is a carpet of green. It’s a great time for the sheep to be out there.
So those of you who use verse 8 against a December 25th date are basing their conclusions on what people may do in Montana in the month December. That says nothing about what people may do in Bethlehem. Now mind you, I’m not arguing in favor of a December 25th date, I’m only saying verse 8 cannot be used against it. But again we enough information to date the time He was born somewhere between the year 7 and 6 BC; we do not have enough information to know when during the year He was born; we simply don’t know. He very well may have been born on December 25th, or He may have been born on July 4th in anticipation of American Independence Day, we don’t know during when that year He was born.
But more significance would happen on this occasion. In Luke 2:9 the Shechinah glory appears in one of its more familiar Old Testament forms, in the form of light. An angel also appears for the purpose of interpreting the appearance of the light. And (?) message to the shepherds is three things: number one, do not be afraid of what you are seeing. Secondly, what they’re shown is that a Savior has just been born. Jerusalem have many saviors in their history, the book of Judges, the judges of that book were all saviors, what makes this one different? That’s his third point at the end of verse 11, this one is “Christ the Lord.” This is the Messianic Savior.
And now these shepherds are instructed to go find the child but there will be many babes in Bethlehem, how could they know they found the right one. Luke 2:12 says, “And this is the sign unto you;” the word “sign” by itself does not always require the miraculous but minimally requires something unusual, something out of the ordinary to serve as a sign. There are two elements in this sign: number one, “you will find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes,” and number two, “lying in a manger.”
We’ll take these individually in reverse order; the fact the baby is lying in a manger tells the shepherds not to look into private homes, but look inside stables. The stables were not separate buildings like the western farmers have, but caves throughout the hill country of Judah where Bethlehem was located would be used for housing animals on bad weather days. If it was not a bad weather day they could be kept outside. And so look among the stable caves and being shepherds by profession they would know where these stable caves are. He’s using their profession to point out to finding these caves.
Now why was He born in a stable cave? As paragraph 10 shows, that when they came into Bethlehem looking for better accommodations, there’s no room for them in the “Holy Day Inn,” so they have to find different accommodations; what they found was a stable cave. That’s not the totality of the clue. The clue also says “you will find the baby wrapped in swaddling clothes,” that’s not really a baby cloth; the same wording is used of burial cloth, you’ll find the baby wrapped in burial cloth. Now why burial cloth? Because interspersed among the caves were the caves used for burial purposes, so in these stable caves, the niches and in the walls you can still see to this day, they would store burial cloth. If a person died within the town they would bring the body out, wrap the body up in strips of cloth from the cloth stored in the stable caves and then take them to be buried in a different cave, or in a cemetery below the ground. Because He was born in a stable cave, Joseph and Mary had to make use of that which was ready available, which was burial cloth. And the symbolism should not be missed. On the first day of His life He’s wrapped with the same kind of cloth they wrapped Him again the last day of His life, with burial cloth. And that shows the purpose of His birth; all of us here were born to live, this One was born to die and it’s signified by being wrapped in burial cloth.
At this point in Luke 2:13 a host of angels become visible with a two-fold message in verse 14 concerning God, “Glory to God in the highest,” concerning man, “and have peace among men in whom He is well-pleased.” Many of our popular Christmas hymns, while they’re rather a nice sound they’re not always accurate biblically. And one such hymn book says: “Hark, the herald angels sang,” notice it does not say they sang it in verse 13, they merely said it. It was a proclamation made but not put to music. I have nothing against music, I enjoy listening to music of various kinds, especially Messianic style music and Jewish music, I also enjoy other types of music as well. I was once asked if God ever sings and my answer was I don’t know if God ever sings but if He does it must be in three part harmony. But that was not the case here.
As a result of these two clues they were able to find the right child, and in Luke 2:15-20 we have the first recorded Jewish worship of the Messianic king, initiated, notice, by means of the Shechinah glory. Now verse 19 says “Mary kept all these things, pondering them in her heart.” And Luke is the one that records this from the woman side of things and later on she will reveal these things to Luke.
3. His Infancy and Childhood- Paragraphs 12-19
a. The Circumcision – Paragraph 12, Luke 2:21
Now on your outline we come to point 3, His Infancy and Childhood, comprising paragraphs 12-19. And in paragraph 12 we have the circumcision. And as it was with John, what happens to the herald will happen to the King, although they already know what the name is they do not officially give Him the name until He is eight days old. When eight days were fulfilled for circumcising Him, His name was called Jesus, Yeshua, which was so called by the angel before He was conceived in the womb.
Now circumcision was commanded under two Old Testament covenants; first of all, the Abrahamic Covenant and here again by the Mosaic Covenant. But nonetheless they carried the same meaning or persons involved. In the Abrahamic Covenant the circumcision was intended for Jews only or those to be part of the household of Israel. And circumcision in the Abrahamic Covenant was a sign of that covenant, and a sign of Jewishness. In the Mosaic Covenant it was obligatory for both Jews and Gentiles, so those Gentiles who wished to partake of the covenantal blessings would have to undergo circumcision. It was the means of submission to the Law. That’s why Paul warns the Galatian Gentiles that if they submit to circumcision they have to keep the whole Law, not just this one commandment. And He was circumcised under both covenants, the Abrahamic Covenant, which made (?) a sign of His Jewish identity, and then the Mosaic Covenant, the means of submission to the Law.
With Messiah’s death the Mosaic Covenant has come to an end; today there is no basis for circumcising anyone, either on the basis of Jews or Gentiles, on the basis of that covenant, the Mosaic Covenant. The Abrahamic Covenant is an ongoing eternal covenant; it still requires even Jewish believers today to circumcise their sons on the eighth day. So people condemned Paul for circumcising Timothy but the Bible itself makes no such condemnation. In Acts 15 he would not allow the circumcision of Titus; in Acts 16 he himself authorizes (?) the circumcision of Timothy? What’s the difference? Timothy had a Jewish audience and Titus did not, which put Timothy under different covenantal obligations.
Now one more thing about circumcision, it shows the faith and obedience of the parents, not the child. Again, it shows the faith and obedience of the parents, not the child. If at the age of eight days the child had a choice to make he would probably choose to forego the experience. That’s one reason why baptism is not the antitype to circumcision; baptism is to show faith in the one that’s being baptized, not the parents. And so in the Bible the antitype to circumcision of the flesh is the circumcision of the heart, not baptism.
b. The Presentation
Paragraph 13 – Luke 2:22-38
Luke 2:22 specifies this happens forty days after He is born. In view off (?) the Mosaic Law if a woman gave birth to a baby girl she is unclean for eighty days and then she undergoes the cleansing process; if she gives birth to a son then she is not clean for forty days and then undergoes the process of cleansing. Because also (?) her first born son she goes there for two basic reasons. The first purpose is the ceremony of purification of the mother and the offering she provides in verse 24-25 is a pair of turtle doves and two young pigeons; one was used for a sin offering and one was used for a burnt offering. But the fact that she offers a bird shows their economic status because you are only allowed to offer birds when you could not afford anything better. This shows they were on the poverty level. That fulfills, for example, Isaiah 11:1 as 11:1 prophesies Messiah appears only when the mighty house of David has been reduced to a stump from what it was in Jesse’s day.
The second purpose is for the redemption of the first born because the first born of humans, the first born of animals, belong to God and therefore for the kosher animals they would be sacrificed, un-kosher animals would be a substitute (?) for sacrifice and for first born of males there would be the payment of a price. That’s the purpose of this visit, to cleanse the mother and to provide the redemption of the first born.
But here they have an encounter with two individuals. Again this is Luke’s account, giving us a woman’s and Gentile perspective. The first one is Simeon in Luke 2:25 who “was righteous and devout, looking for the consolation of Israel,” he was a member of the remnant of that day, a believer, and God had revealed to him that no matter how old he might get he will not die till he sees the Messiah personally. He recognizes in this forty-day old baby the fulfillment of that promise. So now he is ready to die. It says in verse 29, “Now let your servant depart, Oh Lord, according to Your word in peace,  For mine eyes have seen your salvation,  Which Thou have prepared before the face of all peoples.”
Now keep in mind, he was not speaking English, he wasn’t speaking Greek, he was speaking Hebrew and there’s a play upon words here, because the play upon words has to do with “mine eyes have seen your salvation,” and again Yeshua, Jesus in Hebrew is Yeshua, means salvation as the name. As a noun just add another syllable, Yehshua (?) has the same root as Yeshua. So “mine eyes have seen your Yeshua, your Yehshua, (?) your Jesus. And notice that he’s coming to benefit the same two groups that Zacharias sang about in verse 32; number one, “a light for a revelation to the Gentiles;” again the Gentiles were all sitting in darkness and the shadow of death upon them, the Messianic light will shine. Then secondly, “and the glory of Your people Israel.”
Up to now all of this has been positive but now he has something negative to say to Miriam. In Luke 2:34, “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising up of many in Israel; and for a sign that is spoken against,” and the point is that as a result of this one’s coming He will result in being a new point of division in the Jewish family, for those who believe a “rising,” for those unbelieve (?) a falling, to prove to be the stone of stumbling and the rock of offence and one against whom people will speak. Then he says,  “(Yea, a sword shall pierce through your own soul), that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.” And the sword will begin to pierce when she sees in paragraph 61-64 the leaders of Israel rejecting Him. And it will pierce its deepest when she sees Him hanging on the cross, yet the death of Jesus is essential so the hearts of people could be revealed.
The second encounter is with a woman, as Luke would report, in Luke 2:36-38, “And there was one Anna,” Anna is the Hellenized form for the Hebrew Hannah, she was “a prophetess” and she was “of the tribe of Asher,” notice what tribe she’s from, Asher. This is supposed to be one of those so-called ten lost tribes; she’s not lost, she knows where she is. And the concept of ten lost tribes is simply a myth, (?) come from all twelve tribes. And notice how old she is; she is over a century old because she had been a widow for eighty four years, she was married for seven years previously to that, and so by this point of time she’s over a century old. And she also recognizes in this forty day old baby the Messianic person and verse 38 “spoke of Him to all them that were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem,” to the believing members of the remnant.
c. His infancy – Paragraphs 14-16
(1) In Bethlehem, Paragraph 14 – Matthew 2:1-12
Now we come to His infancy, small “c” in the paragraphs 14-16. Now paragraph 14, His infancy in Bethlehem. Again, around Christmas time every year people erect these little idolatry centers known as nativity scenes. They look somewhat the same as (?) a barn but no Jew in the first century recognized it to be that, there were no such barns in first century Israel. And then there would be three people inside the barn, Joseph, Mary and Jesus, sometimes with halos, sometimes no halos. Sometimes Jesus is still in the manger, sometimes on Mary’s lap. Facing this holy trio are the Jewish shepherds we talked about previously and on this side you have three kings. The next few moments we shall be destroying these nativity sets. The fact is the Jewish shepherds and the three kings never met each other; the events are separated by about two years in time.
There’s a popular Christmas song, “We three kings of Orient are,” and there are two mistakes just in the first line. First all, “we three,” but notice we don’t know how many there were, at least two, the word is plural; it may be two, it may twenty, it may two hundred, it may be two thousand, we don’t know. Enough of them were there to cause the whole castle to be stirred with excitement; that implies more than just two or three. It says “we three kings” but they’re not called kings anywhere in the passage, they’re called magi, or wise men; it’s a word that means astrologer. What we have here is an unknown number of Gentiles that are just coming from the East, from Mesopotamia, from Babylonia, to Jerusalem with a question, “Where is He that is born the King of the Jews?”
And this raises a bunch of questions, such as, being Gentiles how would they even know about a Messianic concept? Even knowing about the birth of a Jewish king why would they want to come worship Him. After all, there were Jewish kings in the Old Testament and Babylonian astrologers in the Old Testament didn’t want to worship Jewish kings then, why now? And does this passage really authenticate the practice of a form of Christian astrology that the Bible forbids any such dabbling.
So let’s answer these questions: first of all, how did they know, and the first clue is by the star they saw in the east, and the basis of interpreting the Bible is simply this: we always interpret the Bible literally unless there’s something in the context that tells us we cannot take it that way. And there are five things about the star that tells us it’s not an ordinary star. First of all, the star is called “His star,” notice there is a pronoun at the end of Matthew 2:2, “his star” a possessive pronoun. This was uniquely Messiah’s star; in a way that’s not true, any other stars that He Himself created, this was His private star. Secondly, the star appears and disappears in at least two or more occasions, (?) twice, appears, disappears, reappears, disappears, maybe more than that but minimally two times. Thirdly, the star moves from east to west. But fourthly, it also moves from north to south. And then fifthly, it comes down and hovers over one house in Bethlehem. Any little star that will hover over one house in Bethlehem will end up destroying this entire planet. If our sun came down and hovered over one house here in Houston this whole planet would become history.
It’s not an ordinary star as we think of a star. Now the Greek word for star has a root meaning which is radiance or brilliance. What we have here is what we had with Jewish shepherds: the Shechinah glory is a form of a light up in the heavens, somehow showing to them that this is the birth of the Messianic King. Now keep in mind that in those days astronomy and astrology were not separate disciplines. If you looked at one you looked at the other. If you were a student of astronomy you were also a student of astrology. These were not separate sciences. So if anybody would notice a new light up in the heavens it would be this men, this was this profession. And just as God used the profession of the Jewish shepherds to find the right stable cave, He now uses the profession of these astronomers to (?) the new light up in the heavens.
But being Gentiles how would they know about a Messianic King? All of the prophecies we have about the first coming, of which there are quite a few, only one gives a timetable for the first coming and that is Daniel 9:24-27, Daniel spells out how many years will transpire before the coming of the Messiah. Unlike other books of the Old Testament the book of Daniel was not written in Israel; it was written in Babylon. In fact, half of the book of Daniel is not Hebrew, the Jewish tongue, but Aramaic, the tongue of the Babylonians. As you read through the book of Daniel you will see two things that become relevant to Matthew 2. First of all, you will notice that Daniel became the head of Babylon’s school of astrology, not because he practiced astrology, as a loyal Jew to the Mosaic Law he would not dabble in astrology. He became the head only because of the lack of spirituality and insights of Nebuchadnezzar; Nebuchadnezzar noticed the unique ability that Daniel had, he had made the assumption that Daniel was a superior astrologer and made him the head of the whole Babylon school of astrology. But he never received any revelation from the stars, only the Creator of the stars, the God of Daniel.
The second thing is that one day Daniel saved the lives of all the other wise men of Babylon because when they could not interpret the dream that Nebuchadnezzar had he sentenced all of them to be executed. Among the ones that was sent to be executed and arrested (?) was Daniel. He asked an audience with the king and interpreted the king’s dream; by so doing he saved the lives of all the others. And no doubt as a result many of these turned away from worshiping the stars and began to worship the Creator of the stars, the God of Israel. And they had in their possession a book written by the former head, Daniel, giving a timetable for the first coming. So when they saw this new light up in the heavens and the timing was right, they figured that could be the sign that the King has been born. Now if Daniel did give a timetable for the first coming, Daniel did not connect the Messiah with the concept of a star.
(?) for that there is one other Babylonian connection. It’s found in the book of Numbers, chapters 22-24, the story of Balaam. Now Balaam’s reputation was that whosoever Balaam blesses will be blessed and whosoever he curses will be cursed. Because of his reputation the king of Moab hires Balaam to curse the Jews, and four times he is (?) upon a high mountain and looked down upon the Jewish encampment; four times he opened his mouth to curse the Jews; all four times God took over his tongue and he ends up blessing the Jews instead. In these four blessings we see several Messianic prophecies including the one in Numbers 24:17, a star will arise out of Jacob, and the Scepter of kingship will be given. It was Balaam that connected the Messiah with a star and kingship and as a result we have both the star connection and the kingship connection. And by profession Balaam was an astrologer. And twice we’re told he also came from Babylonia, Numbers 22:5 and Deuteronomy 23:4.
From the Balaam connection and the Daniel connection when they saw the light in the heavens they figured that to be a sign and they came to Jerusalem. Now why Jerusalem? As this context shows that while they had the knowledge of Daniel they didn’t have the book of Micah and Micah 5:2 prophesied Bethlehem, not Jerusalem, would be the place of Messiah’s birth. They did not know this; for them the logical place for the Messiah to be born would be the Jewish capital, and that was Jerusalem, not Bethlehem. And to Jerusalem they came, causing a stir, a stir that reaches the ears of Herod the Great.
Now for some reason he calls the wise men and in Matthew 2:5-6 notice he also calls in the Jewish leaders who tell him about the Micah 5:2 prophecy. And verse 7 says, “Then Herod privately called the wise men, and learned of them carefully what time the star appeared.” How long has it been since the star first appeared. As paragraph 15 points out in verse 16 it appeared two years earlier. So again by now He was already two years old.
For those reasons he sent them to Bethlehem to find the child and report back to him. But as they head down for Bethlehem, how do you find one two-year old? Do you go house to house, door to door, if you see one how do you know it’s the right one? Well, the star that previously disappeared in verse 9 reappears, “lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them,” it now moves north to south, “till it came and stood over,” literally in the Greek “hovered over where the young child was.” No need to go house to house, door to door, the light came down to show them where the child was now living.
Matthew 2:11 says “when they came into the house,” not a stable cave where the shepherds found Him, now in a private home. And here in verse 11 you have the first recorded Gentile worship of the Messianic King and both the first Jewish worship and the first Gentile worship was inaugurated the same way, by means of the Shechinah glory. (?) three types of gifts; each of which contains symbolic meaning. Gold is a symbol of kingship; He is a King. Frankincense is a symbol of deity; He is God. Myrrh is a symbol of death and sacrifice. The Kingship is found in Daniel 2; the frankincense in Leviticus 3:2; Leviticus 5:11; and the death and sacrifice, Mark 15:23; John 19:39. The first line of the Christmas song, again, is not biblical, “We three kings of Orient are;” the last line is: God and king and sacrifice.
Now they were to report back to Herod but in Matthew 2:12 they’re warned by God in a dream not to do so; return to Babylonia in a different direction.
(2) In Egypt
Paragraph 15 –Matthew 2:13-18
Now paragraph 15 is His infancy in Egypt. Now Matthew’s theme of kingship is Herod’s fear. While historically he’s called Herod the Great, I call him Herod the Paranoid. In his older age he became more and more paranoid, always afraid that somebody out there was trying to take his throne away. Because of his suspicions he killed three, maybe four, of his own sons. He also killed his favorite wife, Mariamne, because of suspicions of conspiracy. Now Caesar Augustus, who was Caesar in those days once said in light of Herod’s actions, it was safer to be Herod’s pig than Herod’s son. Herod was a nominal convert to Judaism and so he did not eat pork. So if you were Herod’s pig you were in pretty safe hands but to be Herod’s son, that was an occupational hazard. And now he’s concluded there’s a two year old boy in Bethlehem conspiring to take his throne away. So he sent his army to enter Bethlehem to kill every male child under the age of two years. And why two years? Because verse 16 tells us that’s the information he got from the wise men, how long the star first appeared to them.
This is Matthew telling the story from Joseph’s perspective; an angel appears to Joseph warning him to flee the city. And so they flee into the land of Egypt where they lived for the next year or two. Now we already know that they were under poverty level how would they get the money to travel and live there for that increment of time. Thanks to (?) the gold, frankincense and myrrh, they finally have some resources.
(3) In Nazareth
Paragraph 16 – Matthew 2:19-23
One more paragraph, paragraph 16, His infancy in Nazareth. Matthew’s account in Matthew 2:19, “When Herod was dead,” that was about a year to two years after this, once again Matthew tells the story, he informs us that an angel appears to Joseph informing him to return to the land. Now no single son of Herod got all of his inheritance but it was divided among three of his sons, one of which was Archelaus who received Samaria and Judea. As bad as Herod the Great was, Archelaus was considerably worse in many ways. In fact, at the time of his crowning he had 3,000 Jews killed. It was done in the temple compound during Passover.
Galilee was under the jurisdiction of Herod Antipas who was a milder man and so Joseph chooses not to go back to Bethlehem but to go back to Nazareth. And that creates a negativism later on because while Judeans looked down upon Galileans, (?) looked upon the people from Nazareth and the saying, can anything good thing come out of Nazareth, was a common saying of that day. The rabbis used to say if you want to get rich go north, if you want to get wise go south. There were no rabbinic schools in Galilee at that period of time; that began only after the fall of the first Jewish revolt failed. All the rabbinic schools were in the Judea, and that’s where you would get your wisdom. And so being from Nazareth would create a new negativism; even one of His future disciples will say “can any good thing come out of Nazareth.”
The other thing I want to do but I’m not going to do it right now, that’s to look again at paragraphs 14, 15 and 16 and notice how the different ways the New Testament quotes the Old; we’ll pick it up with this point tomorrow evening.
We’re going to take a few minutes to answer any questions, then I’ll conclude with another rabbi story. [Question asked] I use the American Standard Version, 1901. [What is the difference between that and the King James?] There are a lot of differences because the ASV is the most accurate translation in readable English today; it’s a lot more accurate than the King James; the King James some times relied too often on the Latin, like calling Satan Lucifer, well, Lucifer is a Latin Word. Isaiah didn’t speak Latin and there are other mistakes the King James has made. King James translation is not a bad translation but it’s not as accurate as the American Standard Version. And my preference is accuracy and some have preferred order is The American Standard Version, ASV of 1901; New American Standard Bible, New King James, Old King James would be my order of preference. The downside to the ASV that I use is that they do use archaic English forms like thee and thou, they also use doest and makest and so on, and if you can overcome that, when I read it I don’t read the archaic forms, I modernize it. That’s the only down side of that translation. The NIV is a paraphrase; it’s a very good paraphrase but it’s a paraphrase and paraphrases take liberties translations would not take and so if you’re going to study a book for the first time I would say you can read the NIV and get the basic argument of the book but if you begin to study you have to on the information I’m recommending. And my observations about believers that have not progressed from milk to meet, they’ve not gone from immaturity to maturity, have been tested NIV positive.
[Question asked, can’t hear] The (?) list was done not to determine what order would do it when, it was in the order itself which priest would do what; like Zacharias was chosen by lot to burn the incense; somebody else was chosen by lot to do something else and something else. [Someone said: I thought it was the same job done consecutively….] If we had that then we can determine… we have different records about which order was when and they contradict each other and plus it was not quite that, it was to determine what priest would do what function on a day to day basis. [Can’t hear] Oh they did, but they didn’t have a record to know which order did when. If we had a definite clear statement as to (?) unified but one section says this order did this at that point in time, and the later on it says somebody else did it at that point of time so it’s contradictory statements, enough that you cannot quite determine when He was born, so I really don’t know. Some people, many (?) try to say he was born on Passover, born on Feast of Tabernacles, but the Gospels always emphasize if He said something or did something on the feast day. If He was born on a feast day, at least Matthew would have made mention of it, I’m sure Luke would have done as well. The fact they don’t mention any feast in connection with His birth tells me whenever he was born was not a feast day, because if it was a feast day they would have definitely brought that out.
This is one of my favorite rabbi stories; the background is in Judaism we’re not to pray extemporaneously; all our prayers were through prayer books, we have a daily prayer book, a Sabbath book, a prayer book for every special occasion. And a rabbi who is now retired came to realize in his old age that he doesn’t know God any better now than he did when he was a child and he first began using these prayer books. He made a very unusual decision (?) he would close the prayer book and for the first time pray with his own words and then maybe God would answer. He had a few questions to ask this God to get to know this God better. So he began to pray, he stumbled a lot in the beginning but after he got smoother and more eloquent, and he went for a very long time and after he went a long time he finally heard a voice from heaven that said, yes sir, buy what you want. The rabbi says I want to ask you just a few questions to get to know You better and God says so ask. Well, my first question is what does time mean to you and God says time to Me is like this. One second is like a million years; a million years is like one second. The rabbi says ha; my second question is, what does money mean to you? And God said about the same, to me a penny is like a million dollars, and a million dollars to Me is like one penny. The rabbi says in that case, Lord, I have a third question; may I please have one of your pennies. And God said of course, just wait one second.