Whenever we think of Israel’s anticipation of the coming Messiah, we do so with about as much zeal as we would have watching a video tape of the Dallas Cowboys’ loss last Sunday to the Cincinnati Bengals. We know who the Israel Messiah is, and thus there is no mystery or suspense about the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy regarding Messiah. Our fascination and interest is, however, stimulated by discussions pertaining to the unknown elements of the future–the identity of the antichrist, or of the “great harlot” of Revelation, or the nations which comprise the revived Roman Empire.
In the light of the fulfillment of the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament (at least those pertaining to His first coming) we fail to appreciate what it must have been like to be an Israelite looking forward to the arrival of Messiah. How, for example, every pregnant Israelite woman would wonder whether or not the child in her womb was a son, and if a son, if he might be the Messiah. While we read the gospel accounts of the Messiah’s birth, we cannot really fathom the depth of joy experienced by those godly few who had yearned for the Messiah’s arrival.
The purpose of this message is to focus on the progressive revelation of Israel’s Messiah in the Old Testament, and the growing expectation, which climaxed at the time of Christ’s coming. At some times in Israel’s history, the anticipation of Messiah’s coming was great, while at other times the sense of expectancy waned. In many instances, Israel’s hopes seemed to be dashed on the rocks of reality. It is only as we can appreciate the rising and falling hopes of God’s people that we can more fully grasp the greatness of the event of Christ’s birth.
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