Types and Shadows
In considering the prophecies regarding Jesus’s first coming, it is such an immense topic that it takes a while to wrap your mind around the immensity of it. Not only are there specific prophecies, such as the prophecy of Micah 5:2 that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem, but there are other indicators regarding the coming of the Messiah.
One type of indicator are types and shadows. These are stories within stories, stories with a hidden message. They come in many ways. Some are stories where the events that happen to the individual parallel events in the life of Christ. Other stories are found hidden in the meanings of words. Since the indicators of Jesus are found in varied ways from Genesis to Revelation, there is no one way to start in Genesis and end in Revelation using only one kind of indicator. Clues are sprinkled about the Old Testament in numerous ways.
“It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honour of kings is to search out a matter.” Proverbs 25:2
Beyond this, it is important to realize that language has degenerated over the years. Now people text without even fully spelling out words. YCLIU (You can look it up) here for examples.
But life was not always like this. There was a time when scholars knew several languages such as Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew. They dug into the root words of meanings. Nowadays, you would not know that languages have roots, but the fact is, their meaning and spelling usage evolved over time, and to correctly understand the meaning you need to understand how it was used at a particular time in history. Do you remember recently when there was a phase when people said “that’s bad” when it really meant that they liked it or thought it was good? That is why you cannot go by current understanding, but have to dig into historical meanings of words and even customs. That’s what Bible Dictionaries, Concordances, Maps, Atlases, Dictionaries and other study aids are all about.
Born at Bethlehem
One of the prophecies, that of the birthplace of Jesus, is probably one of the most well-known prophecies of all time even though people may not realize that Jesus’s birthplace is a matter of prophecy. We remember it through hymns such as “O Little Town of Bethlehem”.
Jesus was born in Bethlehem due to a census that required that Joseph, the guardian of the Holy Family, and Mother Mary to travel to Bethlehem for the census.
By whom and when was this prophesied? It was prophesied by Micah. Who was Micah and when did he live? Micah is called one of the twelve minor prophets, meaning his writings compose one of the twelve smaller books of prophecy found towards the end of the Old Testament. Micah lived approximately 737 to 696 BC. He was a contemporary of the prophet Isaiah, as well as two other prophets, Amos and Hosea. Minor prophets refer to the fact that their prophecies are shorter than those of the major prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel.
His prophecy concerning the birthplace of Jesus is this:
“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” Micah 5:2
Micah’s prophesy was fulfilled in the New Testament. “And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.” Matthew 2:6 If you have ever watched a movie dramatizing the birth of Christ, you will see King Herod questioning advisers as to the prophetic scripture regarding Jesus.
The long-awaited Messiah would be born at Bethlehem. It would be Jesus, who would be heralded by angels singing, shepherds visiting, and later, Wise Men bringing gifts.
This is why the study of Messianic prophecies is important. When it fully sinks in that about 737 years before Jesus came someone prophesied where He would be born, this is truly remarkable. What is even more remarkable is that there are 353 prophecies referring to Jesus. This article talks about the probability of just 8 prophecies coming to pass. Some of the 353 prophecies have already come to pass, and some are in the process of fulfillment. For example, Daniel 2:44 And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.
Probability is a mathematical study. While not everyone has taken a formal study of probability, many are familiar with the principle through games of chance, such as the probability of winning the lottery. To get numbers to match is virtually impossible. Game after game goes by with no one able to do it. There are signs on highways that will show the prize increasing week after week because no one wins the prize. This is for a game with matching numbers. Yet the probability of Jesus fulfilling all the promises is similar to getting 353 numbers to match. This is why the life of Christ, the message of Christ, and the claims of Jesus the Christ must be taken seriously. The odds are so impossible that only God Himself can fulfill them, which He did.
The First Prophecy – Genesis 3:15
The first prophecy as to the coming Messiah occurred right after The Fall of Adam and Eve. God was explaining what the new conditions would be, as they were about to be expelled from the garden of Eden.
When speaking to the serpent, the Lord said:
And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Genesis 3:15
In the Douay-Rheims Bible, it is written slightly differently.
I will put enmities between thee and the woman, and thy seed and her seed: she shall crush thy head, and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel. Genesis 3:15
In other versions, sometimes “he” is translated “it” or “they”.
Regardless, a woman and her seed are coming. We find that fulfilled in the New Testament with the virgin Mother Mary giving birth to Jesus. Notice in the scripture above it talks about the seed of a woman, not the seed of a man. This refers to the virginity of Mary.