Story Overview: The birth and birthplace of Jesus were prophesied hundreds of years before they actually became fact. God promised that these things would happen and they did – exactly the way He promised. God always keeps His word. We can depend on God.
Suggested Emphasis: Keep your word. People should be able to depend on us doing what we say we will do.
|Background Study||Way to Introduce the Story||The Story|
|Review Questions||Craft and Activity Ideas||Other Online Resources|
Prophecy can be defined as knowledge of the future (usually said to be obtained from a divine source) or a prediction uttered under divine inspiration.
God inspired the prophets to give detailed information about the future. A prophecy of the Lord not only predicts but also proclaims.
Think about how little we really know now about the future, and about how impossible it is to predict what will even happen tomorrow. Self-proclaimed prophets sometimes guess correctly about what will happen, but they guess wrong often enough to show that they are only guessing. When we find Old Testament prophecies that were fulfilled centuries later in Christ, we know that more than human wisdom was used in giving the prophecies.
One of the messages God sent through the prophets of Israel was His decision to send His Son as Saviour, Messiah. The Old Testament contains many prophecies of the Christ. This lesson focusses on a few of those prophecies.
God’s plan to send his son to earth was first revealed in Genesis 3:15 when he told Satan that the offspring (seed) of the woman would someday crush him. Hundreds of years later the Lord told Abraham that the seed would come through him (the Jewish nation). Galatians 3:15-16 makes it clear that the “seed” spoken of since the book of Genesis was Jesus Christ. That is a long time to keep a promise!
Bethlehem, as the birthplace of the Messiah, is foretold in Micah 5:2. Again the long-term planning is mentioned. The phrase “from of old, from ancient times” (NIV) likely means from eternity, indicating eternal existence. Read Matthew 2:1 about the fulfillment of this prophecy.
The prophet, Isaiah lived in Jerusalem in the 8th century before Christ was born. Isaiah 9:6-7 is one of the most poetic announcements of the Messiah. These verses speak directly of the coming of Jesus Christ. The term “Mighty God,” used elsewhere of the Lord (Yahweh), reveals that Jesus embodies God Himself.
In Luke 1:31-33 the angel told Mary that the child she was to bear would be the prophesied Messiah. She was to give Him the name Jesus, which means “the Lord saves.” It must have been an awe-inspiring revelation when Mary realized that she was to bear the Saviour of the world! The language in Luke 1:33 is very similar to Isaiah’s description of the Messiah’s kingdom (see Isaiah 9:7). In both verses this kingdom is described as one that would last forever.
Luke 2:1-7 is the most familiar account of Jesus’ birth. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, just as Micah had prophesied. God’s plan for the sending of a Saviour was fulfilled, just as had been foretold through the prophets. God kept His word.
Isn’t it fun to make plans to do something exciting–like going on a holiday? At first, perhaps you and your parents just talk about it. You decide where you will go. Where would you like to go for a holiday?
After you plan where you will go then you might write for travel folders and read about places to visit. Will you go by car or fly? If you drive, which route will you take? When you have decided on the place to go, you talk about what you will do while you are there. For example, you might plan to visit a camp so you can go tramping and horseback riding.
Now you know where you are going. How will you go? What you will do when you arrive? You make more and more plans as the time gets closer. Sometimes it seems a long time before the day to go arrives! Still, when the holiday time arrives you know that it was worth waiting for.
The Israelites were waiting for something very important to happen, too. Their fathers and grandfathers had told them about a promise God made long ago. God had promised to send a Saviour into the world. After God made the promise, hundreds of years went by, but the Saviour still had not come. Throughout the Old Testament, however, is the message. “He is coming! He is coming!”
(words for young children) Long ago, God made a wonderful and exciting promise to the world. Someday he would send his own Son to the earth. His name would be Jesus Christ. Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, God promised that it would happen!
God used a special way to tell the world about his wonderful promise. How do you think he told the world? Over the radio? By television? No, such things hadn’t even been invented then. God had special helpers called prophets. A prophet is someone who has a special message from God. God would tell the prophet things and the prophet would tell the people. Prophets were God’s messengers and preachers. Some prophets also wrote down God’s messages and these are part of the Bible. The Old Testament is the part of the Bible where even today we can read the messages God told the world through His prophets. (Hold up your Bible and show the Old Testament.)
Hundreds of years before Jesus was born, God told a prophet named Isaiah about Jesus. He told Isaiah that Jesus would be a great ruler. God even told Isaiah about the mother that baby Jesus would be born to. Isn’t that amazing! God knew that this would happen hundreds of years ago!
And God told Abraham that he would become a father and then his son would become a father of many children, and then his children would grow up and have children. This would happen many times to that he would have many descendants. One of those descendents would be very special. He would bless the whole world. Who do you think that descendant might be? That’s right-Jesus!
Another prophet of God was Micah. God told Micah the name of the city town where Jesus would be born. He told Micah that Jesus would be born in the town of Bethlehem.
All of these promises were recorded. The messages have been saved for hundreds of years. Now we can read the messages in our very own bible. We are thankful that we have God’s Word, the bible, to tell us about Jesus.
God kept his promises for a very long time. Let’s see if we can read some of the promises that he made to Isaiah and Micah.
(Help the children find the verses and fulfillments in their bibles) Are you glad God kept His promise? I am, too.
- Isaiah 7:14 and Matthew 1:18 (about the virgin birth)
- Genesis 22:17-18 and Matthew 1:1-17 (Joseph’s ancestry through Abraham) and Luke 3:23-38 (Mary’s ancestry through Abraham)
- Micah 5:2 and Matthew 2:1 (Jesus to be born in Bethlehem)
- Name two Old Testament Prophets who prophesied about Jesus: Isaiah and Micah
- What is a promise? Saying something and really meaning it.
- In what city did Micah prophesy that Jesus would be born? Bethlehem
Craft and Activity ideas for the class (choose age appropriate ones):
- Define a promise: “Saying you will do something and really meaning it.” Using pictures from magazines of children helping others, talk about saying you will do something and then doing it. Example: Explain that the child has promised, “Mum, I will clean my room today” and then show a picture of a child picking up his or her toys.
- Provide students with a card on which they write one promise that they will keep that week.
- Write promise situations (Example: I will be at your home at 6:00) on separate pieces of paper and allow children to act out two different scenes. In one scene they keep the promise and in another they do not.
- Provide each student with a “detective notebook” (simply blank pads of paper) and ask them to investigate the prophecies of Christ and jot down clues that led up to the birth of Jesus. Use bible encyclopaedia or a commentary for scripture references.
- Sing “Standing on the Promises” from the church songbook or The Books of the New Testament.
- Use the inductive bible study method with older children. Encourage them to read Isaiah 9:6-7 and then respond to it. Click here for a printable worksheet.
- Planning ahead for other classes: If you plan on teaching lessons about the Birth of John the Baptist or the Birth of Jesus in the next few weeks then send notes home to parents now requesting that they send baby pictures of their children to you. It will be fun to look at those photos when you talk about babies in the Bible.
- Craft: Make a scroll and copy the name “Isaiah” onto it.
- Craft/Activity: Provide a list of Scriptures that prophecy about Christ and have the children place them on a timeline showing the prophecy and then the later fulfilment. For younger children you could use pictures instead of Scriptures.
- Use the Inductive Bible Study method to apply a prophetic scripture about Jesus. Here are some printable worksheets you can use:
- Check the Teaching Ideas page on this website for ideas that are adaptable to any lesson.
- Find other ideas on the Pinterest Board “Jesus- Birth & Early Ministry”
Other Online Resources:
- Colouring page and puzzle worksheets (Isaiah 9:1-7) at http://www.calvarycurriculum.com/pdf/childrenscurriculum/OLD/CURR143.PDF
- Colouring page of Isaiah 9:6 (NIV) at http://www.teacherhelp.org/pdf/Isaiah%209-6niv.pdf
- Colouring page of Mary, Joseph and Jesus with reference to Old Testament at http://www.christiananswers.net/kids/clrpg011.html
- Craft: Ideas and instructions for making timelines at http://www.squidoo.com/homeschooltimelines
- Song: The angel’s announcement sung to the tune of the Twelve Days of Christmas. I would suggest singing each verse with “Before the birth of Jesus…” instead of “One the first day of Christmas”. The song can be downloaded in a number of formats from http://www.puppetresources.com/index.php?scriptID=1318&what=viewscript&t=1281682254#sthash.rWGirJV3.dpbs
- List of Old Testament Prophecies concerning Jesus at http://www.westarkchurchofchrist.org/library/messiah.htm
- List of Old Testament Prophecies Fulfilled in Jesus’ Life with questions and answers at http://www.askapastor.org/proph.html
- Jesus in the 66 Books of the Bible at http://www.westarkchurchofchrist.org/library/66books.htm
- Jesus in Every Book of the Bible- chart at http://www.jesusplusnothing.com/jesus66books.htm