Christmas in the Old Testament

Posted by Naomi Vacaro on

Seeing Jesus’ Birth Declared Throughout Scripture
By Katie Stone

Recently, as I read through the gospels, I was struck by how many angels and prophets announced Jesus’ birth.

  • An angel told Zechariah he would have a son who would prepare the way for the Messiah.
  • An angel announced to Mary that she would become the mother of the Christ.
  • An angel appeared to Joseph affirming Mary’s baby was the Son of God.
  • Zechariah, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied about the Messiah after his son, John the Baptist, was born.
  • Angels announced the birth of Jesus to shepherds.
  • Simeon and Anna prophesied over Jesus in the temple.

Jesus’ birth was spoken of by angels and prophets. The prophetic declarations about the birth of the Messiah didn’t begin in the gospels. They began in Genesis.

Old Testament prophesies aren’t as common for us to read at Christmas as the gospels. But they are just as important for us to know. These are the promises that Christ’s incarnation fulfilled. When we reflect on the Old Testament prophesies of the birth of Christ, it gives us confidence Jesus is God’s promised Messiah and Savior, and it reminds us of the faithfulness of God.

Let’s look at a few of them.

The seed of the woman

The first recorded prophesy in the Bible is about Jesus. After Adam and Eve sinned in the garden, God cursed the Serpent saying, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” (Genesis 3:15)

God declared that the Messiah would be the seed of the woman.

“When the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law.” (Galatians 4:4-5)

Born of a virgin

Through the prophet Isaiah, God made a seemingly impossible declaration that the Messiah would not just come from any woman—He would be born of a virgin.

“Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)

Against all impossibilities, this is exactly what happened.

“Then Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I do not know a man?’ And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you.’” (Luke 1:34-35) The angel told Joseph, “that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1:20)

The Son of God

The Messiah was prophesied to be the seed of a woman and also the Son of God. “The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You.’” (Psalm 2:7)

Jesus fulfilled this prophecy being born of a virgin and conceived by the Holy Spirit. Fully God and fully man.

“And the angel answered and said to her…’that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God.’” (Luke 1:35)

“And we declare to you glad tidings—that promise which was made to the fathers. God has fulfilled this for us their children, in that He has raised up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm: ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You.’” (Acts 13:32-33)

From the lineage of David

God made a promise to King David that the Messiah would come from his lineage and be a king who would reign forever.

“I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom…I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be his Father and he shall be My son.” (2 Samuel 7:12-14)

Most of us skip over the long genealogies when we read the Christmas story. If you take the time to read them, we discover that Jesus was a descendant of David, from the kingly line. (Matthew 1:1-17)

Born in Bethlehem

God declared very specifically who this Messiah would be, and He was very specific about where the Messiah would be born.

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel.” (Micah 5:2)

Mary and Joseph didn’t live in Bethlehem, but that wasn’t a problem for God.

“And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered…Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem…with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son.” (Luke 2:1-7)

Called out of Egypt

“Out of Egypt I called My son.” (Hosea 11:1)

This prophecy confused Jewish scholars. How could God say His son would come from Bethlehem and at the same time say He would be called out of Egypt?

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem, “An angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, ‘Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.’ When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, ‘Out of Egypt I called My Son.’” (Matthew 2:13-15)

By the mouth of prophets

The Bible is full of many more prophesies that Christ fulfilled with His first coming. This is just a sample.

In the words of Zechariah, “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel, for He has visited and redeemed His people, and has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David, as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets, who have been since the world began.” (Luke 1:68-70)

Application Points:

  • When you read the Old Testament, look for prophesies about Jesus.
  • When you read the New Testament, notice how Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophesies.
  • When you find these connections, worship the Lord for His faithfulness to fulfill His word.
  • Ask yourself: How does seeing the faithfulness of God in every detail of the Christmas story strengthen your faith in His faithfulness over the details of your life?


  About Katie: Loves an urban cafe as much as the smell of campfire and pine. Works in communications while studying business and non-fiction writing, and is most happy when leading worship and discipling others.
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