Know Your Bible—Part 5

God’s Plan of Salvation
– Jesus is Born

THE APOSTLE PAUL describes God’s plan of salvation as “the gospel of Christ.” “I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ:” he wrote, “for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth.” (Rom. 1:16) The word gospel means ‘good news,’ so Paul explains that the good news of salvation for a lost world is that God will manifest his saving power through Christ, that great personage who is referred to so many times throughout the Bible.

In Romans 1:1,2 Paul refers to this same good news as the “gospel of God, (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures.)” These promises are not to be found in orderly array in any one particular chapter or book of the Old Testament. Nevertheless, the Lord used each of his prophets to record one or more of his promises concerning the coming of Christ, the Messiah, and that through him salvation would become available to all mankind.


In Galatians 3:8, Paul speaks of the “gospel” as having been preached to Abraham, when God said to this faithful patriarch that in him and his seed all the families, or nations, of the earth would be blessed. (Gen. 12:3; 22:18) In Galatians 3:16 Paul informs us that when God made that promise to Abraham, “He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ.” Thus the apostle identifies the promise made to Abraham as being one of the first pertaining to the coming of a Messiah, a Christ, a Savior, a Deliverer.

That promise was restated to Abraham on a number of occasions, and finally was confirmed by God’s oath. This was after Abraham had demonstrated his complete faith in God by proving his willingness to offer his son Isaac as a burnt offering, believing that if he did so, God would raise him from the dead.—Gen. 22:10-18; Heb. 11:17-19

The same promise was reaffirmed to Isaac, and later to his son Jacob. Jacob, in pronouncing his blessing upon each of his twelve sons, said that there would come forth from the loins of Judah One whom he referred to as “Shiloh,” and that unto this ‘Shiloh’ would “the gathering of the people be.” Thus the Messianic hope was kept alive.—Gen. 49:10


The lawgiver, Moses, prophesied that there would come a “Prophet” greater than he, and implied that he would give to all who would heed his words that which they desired at Horeb, which was life. (Deut. 18:18,19) In Acts 3:19-23 the Apostle Peter quotes this prophecy and shows that it will have its fulfillment subsequent to the Second Coming of Christ, and during “the times of restitution of all things.”

David alludes to the coming Deliverer, when he asks, “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him?” (Ps. 8:4) Here he speaks of the coming to earth of the promised Messiah as a visitor representing the Creator. Thus the custom of visiting those in distress is utilized by David to indicate the great love of the Creator toward his human Creation, who, as a result of sin, are suffering and dying.

David refers further to the promised Messiah when, in Psalm 72 he writes, “He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor. … In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth. He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust.”—vss. 4-9


The Prophet Isaiah wrote much concerning the coming Messiah. In chapter 9, verses 6 and 7, he foretells his birth and explains the purpose of his coming, that it was to establish a “government,” the “increase” of which there would be no end. And then, to assure us that this great objective of the Divine plan through the promised Messiah would not depend upon human effort for accomplishment, the prophet added, “The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.”

In chapter 52, verse 10, Isaiah refers to Christ as the “holy arm” of the Lord, and prophesies that this ‘arm’ will be made “bare … in the eyes of all the nations; and all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God.” But after presenting this glowing prophecy concerning the glorious triumph of the Divine plan in assuring salvation to ‘all the ends of the earth,’ he raises the question, “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?”—chap. 53:1

The reason Isaiah asks this question is that in prophetic vision the One whom he first saw as the Arm of the Lord revealed to all the nations, he now sees as a lamb led to the slaughter. “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,” the prophet writes. (Isa. 53:7) Thus does Isaiah, together with the other Old Testament prophets, not only foretell the glorious triumph of the Divine plan of salvation through Christ, but also the suffering and death of the Redeemer and Savior as an essential prerequisite to the recovery of man from sin and death. The Apostle Peter refers to this testimony of the prophets as descriptive of the “sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.”—I Pet. 1:11

In Micah 4:8, Christ is prophetically referred to as the “tower of the flock,” and the promise given that unto him shall come “the first dominion.” This is the ‘dominion’ over the earth that was given to our first parents, and lost by them through their disobedience to Divine law. (Gen. 1:28; 3:17-24) By virtue of his faithfulness, Jesus inherits the right to this dominion; but according to his Heavenly Father’s plan, he will give it to the restored world of mankind when the due time comes. It is this that is referred to in the parable of the Sheep and the Goats when Jesus says to those represented by the sheep, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.”—Matt. 25:34

The Prophet Micah was also used by the Lord to foretell the birthplace of the Messiah. He wrote, “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.”—chap. 5:2

In Malachi, the last of the Old Testament books, Christ is referred to as the “messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, he shall come, saith the Lord of hosts.” (chap. 3:1) The ‘covenant’ referred to here is the one the Lord made with Abraham, by which he assured the patriarch that through his ‘seed’ he would bless all the families of the earth. Malachi refers to this promised seed as the ‘messenger’ of that covenant ‘whom ye delight in.’ The hope of Israel, based upon the covenant God made with Abraham, was indeed the delight of all those who put their trust in God.


That long series of promises, phrased in so many colorful and reassuring ways, beginning in Genesis and ending in Malachi, finally began to reach fruition, for Christ, the promised One, was born. He had a humble birth. There was no room in the inn, so when he was born he was laid in a manger. But the royal status of the Christ child was attested to by the fact that his birth was announced by an angel, with a mighty host of angels joining in the proclamation that his birth would bring “peace” on earth, and that it was a manifestation of God’s “good will” toward men—the ‘good will’ which had been implied in the many promises of the Messiah’s coming.—Luke 2:10,11,13,14

“Fear not,” the angel reassuringly said to the shepherds, “for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” From Judges 6:22,23 we discern that the Israelites considered seeing an angel as betokening serious consequences. Perhaps at times it did, but on this occasion it was different. The shepherds had nothing to fear, for the appearance of the angel was to announce ‘good tidings,’ the glorious tidings that the One whom God had been promising for thousands of years had now come—born that night in the city of David.

The appearance of the angel on this occasion did not mean death, as Gideon feared it did in his case. Rather, it meant life—life for the shepherds, Israel, and all nations. It was good tidings to ‘all people,’ for it was the beginning of the fulfillment of God’s promises to bless all the families of the earth. The One who was to redeem and restore man’s lost dominion was now born, just as the Prophet Micah had foretold.

He was born—He whose name was to be called “Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father,” and “The Prince of Peace,” was now lying in a manger in Bethlehem. (Isa. 9:6) The One who was destined in the Divine plan to be the ‘arm of the Lord’ who would bring salvation ‘to all the ends of the earth,’ had come, and fittingly that mighty host of angels sang, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”—Luke 2:14

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