By George Bowers
One of the best marketing strategies for mail order businesses is to deliver exactly what is ordered by the date promised. Failure to do either of these will inevitably damage the company's reputation and hurt their future business. This Christmas, millions of packages have already been delivered to homes all across America, including our own, and hopefully most accurately fulfill what we ordered, although I'm sure some will need to be returned.
The very first Christmas present was also delivered to a particular address according to specific orders that had been placed hundreds and even thousands of years in advance. When Jesus was born to Mary in Bethlehem, many specific prophecies of Old Testament prophets were precisely fulfilled. These prophecies were not nebulous and hazy like those of Nostradamus or other astrologers who give vague approximations. Bible prophets were very specific and narrow, thus decreasing the odds that anyone would fulfill them all. Yet Jesus did.
Jacob prophesied 17 centuries before Jesus' birth that the future ruler would come from the tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10). Later, numerous other prophets narrowed that to the line of King David (Isaiah 9:6-7, Psalm 132:11, etc.). Of course, Mary and Joseph were both descendants of David, and thus Judah. Matthew begins his Gospel with Jesus' genealogy in order to prove his ancestry meets these prophetic requirements.
Seven hundred years before that holy night, the prophet Micah prophesied that the future savior would be born in the small insignificant town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). The fact that Mary and Joseph lived about 70 miles north of there in Nazareth required the Roman emperor to issue a decree demanding all residents of the empire to return to their place of family origin in order that Jesus might be delivered to the specified location. Of course, their return to Nazareth when Jesus was older allowed him to be called a Nazarene, fulfilling another requirement.
In addition, about 700 B.C., Hosea said that God would call his son out of Egypt. How could the same person be born in Bethlehem, be called a Nazarene, and still come out of Egypt? Matthew 2 clearly explains how it all happened as well as the reason for their abrupt unplanned Egyptian trip, and Jeremiah wrote about Herod's slaughter of the innocent baby boys in Bethlehem over 550 years before King Herod was even born (Jeremiah 31:15).
In Daniel 9:25, the timing of this special delivery was foretold some 530 years in advance. I would challenge any retailer today to promise the delivery of even one of their packages that far into the future in the year 2543, and yet Jesus arrived right on schedule.
Fulfilling any one of these prophecies would be wonderful, but not necessarily miraculous. However, to fulfill eight of them would have the odds of 1 in 100 million billion, according to mathematician Peter W. Stoner. Isaiah even went so far as to tell us that this special child would be born of a virgin, which of course he eventually was. And we haven't even touched on the prophecies concerning his ministry, death, burial, or resurrection. For one person to fulfill all of the 300-plus Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah, the odds are one in trillions of trillions. (This number is actually larger than the number of atoms in our universe!)
As we recognize the on-time, exact location, miraculous delivery of the promised son of God, may we join our voices with those of others to sing the praises of both the gift and his giver. Jesus is truly the promised Messiah, the son of God, and the savior of the world! O come let us adore him!! Merry Christmas, George
George Bowers Sr. is the pastor of Antioch Church of the Brethren in Woodstock and the author of four books, including his latest book of poetry, "Wit and Wisdom of the Woods." He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.