The Messiah of God’s “Eternal Purpose”
1. When did a rebirth of a land and of a nation occur?
RESURRECTION of a city that had lain dead in ruins for seventy years—in the year 537 B.C.E.! The city was Jerusalem that had been destroyed by the Babylonians in 607 B.C.E. When this holy city rose from the dust, there was a rebirth of the land of Judah, yes, the rebirth of a nation, the repatriated people of Jehovah God. (Isaiah 66:8) It was marvelous in the eyes of all observers.
2. (a) The coming promised Messiah was to be later than what anointed agent of Jehovah? (b) How were seventy years of exile fulfilled though Babylon fell in 539 B.C.E.?
2 Along with this national resurrection the hopes for the coming of the promised Messiah were revived. (Ezekiel 37:1-14) Even during the seventy years that the people of the kingdom of Judah were in exile in the land of Babylon the fixed time for the arrival of the Messiah was indicated to them. This Messiah was to be someone later than the Persian conqueror, Cyrus the Great, concerning whom the prophet Isaiah had been inspired to say: “This is what Jehovah has said to his anointed one [Hebrew: ma·shiʹahh], to Cyrus, whose right hand I have taken hold of, to subdue before him nations, so that I may ungird even the hips of kings; to open before him the two-leaved doors, so that even the gates will not be shut.” (Isaiah 45:1) As Jehovah’s anointed agent, Cyrus had come and got through the gates of the highly walled city of Babylon and had overthrown and killed its imperial ruler Belshazzar, the son of Nabonidus. That was in 539 B.C.E. But Cyrus did not at once release the exiled Israelites. He took over the kingship of Babylon and held the Jews captive about two years more, till 537 B.C.E. Thus seventy years were fulfilled!
3. How long did the desolate land of Judah keep sabbath?
3 This was just as had been foretold in Jeremiah 25:11. And 2 Chronicles 36:20, 21 made a historical record of this, saying: “Furthermore, he carried off those remaining from the sword captive to Babylon, and they came to be servants to him and his sons until the royalty of Persia began to reign; to fulfill Jehovah’s word by the mouth of Jeremiah, until the land [of Judah] had paid off its sabbaths. All the days of lying desolated it kept sabbath, to fulfill seventy years”—from 607 B.C.E. to 537 B.C.E.
4. (a) When did Daniel calculate that the end of the Jewish exile would come? (b) What information did Gabriel give Daniel about the time of Messiah’s coming?
4 Among the exiled Jews in Babylon was Daniel the prophet. From the inspired writings of Jeremiah, Daniel did not expect the release from exile to come for the Jews until at the end of the seventy years that Jerusalem lay desolate in sabbath keeping. (Daniel 9:1, 2) So during the first year of the new Medo-Persian regime over the Babylonian Empire, Daniel prayed about the matter. It was then that Jehovah’s angel Gabriel arrived and gave Daniel the following information regarding the time for Messiah to come:
“Seventy (year-) weeks have been appointed over you people and over your holy city, to restrain the apostasy and to make an end of sin, and to atone for the error, and to bring everlasting salvation, that vision and prophecy may be sealed, and the Most Holy be anointed.
“And you may know and understand: From the going forth of the decree to rebuilt Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the Prince, there are seven (year-) weeks; also sixty-two (year-) weeks, so market place and moat will be rebuilt, and that in the pressure of the times.
“And after the sixty-two (year-) weeks an Anointed One will be destroyed, and he has no (successor), and a people of the coming prince will destroy the city and the sanctuary, and his end is coming as by ripping, and war and desolation are ordained till the end.
“And he will conclude a strong covenant with many, for one (year-) week, and at the half of the (year-) week he will cancel sacrifice and oblation, and beside the wing (places) a frightful abomination, and that is until the desolation, the one firmly determined upon, is poured out upon the desolator.”—Daniel 9:24-27, Zunz; see also Moffatt.
“MORNING” OF SEVENTH CREATIVE “DAY” BEGINS, 526 B.C.E.
5. How is the calculation made of when the seven plus the sixty-two “weeks of years” ended?
5 The first half or “evening” period of God’s seventh creative “day” was now closing, 3,500 years from creation of Adam and Eve. The morning of this creative “day” was due to begin at 526 B.C.E. From then on things should brighten with regard to God’s purpose and for His people. According to Daniel’s prophecy, from a certain feature in the rebuilding of the resurrected city of Jerusalem seventy “(year-) weeks” or “weeks of years” (amounting to 490 years) would count. “Seven (year-) weeks” plus “sixty-two (year-) weeks” would run for a total of 483 years until the coming of the Anointed One (Hebrew: Ma·shiʹahh). Counted from when the Jewish governor Nehemiah rebuilt the walls of Jerusalem, these sixty-nine “weeks of years” would end in the first half of the first century of our Common Era. Counted from the twentieth year of King Artaxerxes (455 B.C.E.), the year in which Nehemiah rebuilt those walls, the 483 years would end in the year 29 of our Common Era. (Nehemiah 2:1-18) That was about forty-one years before the second destruction of Jerusalem, this time by the Romans. Did something historic happen in 29 C.E.?
6. How was the Persian Empire overthrown, and how did Alexandria, Egypt, come to play a part in Jewish life?
6 Both the first century C.E. and the first century B.C.E. were critical years for the Israelites in Palestine. In the fourth century B.C.E. the control of the repatriated Israelites or Jews had passed out of the hands of the Persian emperor into the hands of the Grecian Empire, due to the conquests of the Macedonian Alexander the Great. In the year 332 B.C.E. he gained control of Palestine and left Jerusalem untouched. Then he overthrew the Persian emperor and established the Grecian World Power, the fifth one of Bible history. In that same year Alexander gave orders for the city of Alexandria to be built in conquered Egypt. This became a flourishing city and a large Jewish population grew up there. These came to speak the common Greek language, which had now become a language internationally known and used as a result of Alexander’s conquests. They also desired Bible knowledge.
7. How did the Greek Septuagint Version come to be produced, and how does it read at Daniel 9:25, 26?
7 So, during the following century, about 280 B.C.E., they began the work of having their sacred inspired Scriptures, from Genesis to Malachi, translated into their own common Greek language. It was completed by the first century B.C.E. and came to be called “The Greek Septuagint Version.” In view of the wide usage of the common Greek even during the first centuries of the Roman Empire, this translation by those Alexandrian Jews could be used internationally. It reflected the Hebrew Bible text quite faithfully. For example, the Greek rendering of Daniel 9:25, 26 read (according to Bagster’s English translation) concerning the Messiah (Ma·shiʹahh):
“And thou shalt know and understand, that from the going forth of the command for the answer and for the building of Jerusalem until Christ the prince there shall be seven weeks, and sixty-two weeks: and then the time shall return, and the street shall be built, and the wall, and the times shall be exhausted. And after the sixty-two weeks, the anointed one shall be destroyed, and there is no judgment in him: . . . ”
8. (a) How did Jerusalem come under Roman control and later get destroyed? (b) For how long have the Jews had no temple at Jerusalem or not acknowledged a prophet as from God?
8 The common Greek continued to be the ancient world’s international language even after the Grecian World Power fell before the Roman World Power in the first century B.C.E. One wing of the Maccabean contenders for power in Jerusalem appealed for aid from Rome against the other wing, and so in the year 63 B.C.E. the Roman general Pompey invaded and took control of Jerusalem, and Palestine came under Roman control. In 40 B.C.E. the Jews regained kingship. However, in 37 B.C.E. Herod the Great, a descendant of Esau or Edom, attacked Jerusalem and captured it and ruled as king, as Rome’s appointee. In the first century C.E., the Jews rebelled again against Rome, in 66 C.E., but their short-lived independence was brought to an end in 70 C.E. by the destruction of Jerusalem and its glorious temple rebuilt by Herod the Great. Since then, or for more than nineteen centuries now, the Jews have had no temple at Jerusalem, even since the Republic of Israel was established in 1948 C.E. Besides that, the Israelis acknowledge no prophet as from God since Malachi of the fifty century B.C.E., or more than 2,400 years ago. Is that not strange? What is wrong?
FULFILLMENT OF BIBLE PROPHECY EXPLAINS MATTERS
9. When Jerusalem was reestablished in 537 B.C.E., what other city of importance was restored?
9 When ancient Jerusalem was reestablished in 537 B.C.E., another city was restored in the land of Judah—Bethlehem. In Nehemiah 7:5-26, the governor of Jerusalem tells us of the remnant of Jews who returned to their homeland in 537 B.C.E., saying:
“Then I found the book of genealogical enrollment of those who came up at the first, and found written in it:
“These are the sons of the jurisdictional district who came up out of the captivity of the exiled people whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had taken into exile and who later returned to Jerusalem and to Judah, each to his own city; those who came in with Zerubbabel, Jeshua [Greek Septuagint: Jesus], Nehemiah, . . . The number of the men of the people of Israel: . . . the men of Bethlehem and Netophah, a hundred and eighty-eight; . . . ”—See also Ezra 2:21.
10. (a) Bethlehem thus became available for the fulfillment of what prophecy? (b) Why should it not be unbelievable that the promised birth there should be announced by angels?
10 Thus there came into existence again the city of Bethlehem, “the city of David,” in which it was possible for the Messianic prophecy of Micah 5:1 (Leeser; Mic 5:2, Greek Septuagint) to be fulfilled. Since all independent human life from Cain and Abel onward begins at birth, Micah’s prophecy makes us look for a certain birth in the rebuilt Bethlehem. This is to be a foretold birth. Now, when Isaac, the son of Abraham and Sarah, was to be born by a miracle, three angels of God visited them and announced the birth for the coming year, the leading angel saying: “Is anything too extraordinary for Jehovah?” (Genesis 18:1-14) Centuries afterward, when Samson, the physically strongest man ever on earth, was to be born to a till-then barren Israelitess, God’s angel appeared first to the prospective mother and then to both her and her childless husband, to announce the coming birth of an outstanding judge in Israel. (Judges 13:1-20) Should anybody consider it strange, unbelievable, that what was to be the birth of all human births, the miraculous birth of the Messiah, would be announced to humans by heavenly angels?
11. According to Genesis 3:15, the one chosen for the earthly Messianic role would be taken from where?
11 According to Jehovah’s prophecy at Genesis 3:15, the “seed” that would bruise the Serpent’s head fatally was to be from God’s heavenly “woman,” that is, his wifelike organization of holy heavenly “sons of the true God.” From that organization God could choose the particular spirit son for the earthly Messianic role.
12. What questions now arise concerning the girl to be the human mother of the Messiah, and also concerning her husband?
12 What was the name of this favored son? An interesting question! But for the birth of this chosen son who was to be born into the human family at Bethlehem in the land of Judah, a human mother would be needed. Not only would she have to be of the tribe of Judah, but she would have to be a descendant of King David and thus be able to transmit a natural claim to David’s kingdom. What girl whose native city was Bethlehem in Judah met the requirements? And what about a human husband for her, also of the royal family line of David? And was there an angelic announcement of the birth of one greater than Isaac? The historical record, as written by personal friends of the girl, answers these vital questions.
13, 14. (a) Where was the suitable virgin Jewess found? (b) After greeting her, what did the angel Gabriel say?
13 The time is now toward the end of the first century before our Common Era. Herod the Great, son of Antipater II, was still king in Jerusalem. Heli, a man of Davidic lineage, had moved from Bethlehem in the province of Judea up north to Nazareth in the province of Galilee. There a daughter of his, named Miriam (Hebrew) or Mariam (also Maria) in Greek, grew to marriageable age. She became engaged to marry a man of David’s royal lineage, named Joseph, a carpenter in Nazareth but also a native of Bethlehem. This obliged her to remain virgin. But months before the wedding night, something remarkable occurred. To Maria or Mary there appeared an angel, who identified himself as Gabriel. After a greeting, he said:
14 “Have no fear, Mary, for you have found favor with God; and, look! you will conceive in your womb and give birth to a son, and you are to call his name Jesus [Hebrew: Jeshua]. This one will be great and will be called Son of the Most High; and Jehovah God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule as king over the house of Jacob forever, and there will be no end of his kingdom.”—Luke 1:26-33.
15. (a) What covenant made toward David was to be fulfilled in Mary’s son? (b) His being “Son of the Most High” meant what?
15 According to the angel’s statement, Mary’s son was to be really the promised Messiah. He was to be called with the same name as that of the high priest who returned with Zerubbabel from Babylon in 537 B.C.E., namely, Jeshua, or, in Greek, Jesus. Because of birth through Mary he was to be called the son of “David his father.” Accordingly, Jehovah God would give him the throne or royal seat of King David. As with David, his kingly rule would be over “the house of Jacob,” that is, over all Israel. Since his kingly rule would be forever and there would be “no end of his kingdom,” this meant that Jehovah God would fulfill in him the covenant that Jehovah had made toward David for an everlasting kingdom. He would thus need no successor. (2 Samuel 7:11-16) But how, and why, could he be called “Son of the Most High”? This one would not be the Most High God himself, who is Jehovah, but would be a Son of that Supreme One; and yet, how?
16. In answer to Mary’s inquiry as to how this could take place, what did Gabriel say?
16 Mary herself inquired about this, saying: “How is this to be, since I am having no intercourse with a man?” Gabriel answered: “Holy spirit will come upon you, and power of the Most High will overshadow you. For that reason also what is born will be called holy, God’s Son. And, look! Elizabeth your relative has also herself conceived a son, in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her, the so-called barren woman; because with God no declaration will be an impossibility.”—Luke 1:34-37.
17. When did the miraculous conception within Mary take place?
17 Did what was there declared to Mary prove to be an impossibility? This Jewish virgin was an example for us today in believing that it would not prove to be impossible for the Most High God. So she responded to the angel Gabriel: “Look! Jehovah’s slave girl! May it take place with me according to your declaration.” (Luke 1:38) Doubtless, at Mary’s acceptance of God’s will for her, conception took place within her, yet virgin. Holy spirit came upon her, and power of the Most High God overshadowed her. How was miraculous conception brought about thereby?
18, 19. (a) Why, at Mary’s conceiving, was it not the giving a start to an absolutely new creature without background? (b) Whose son could it rightly be called?
18 In this case an absolutely new living creature without any previous experience or background was not brought into existence, as in the case of ordinary human conception by means of a human father. God’s heavenly “woman,” God’s womanlike heavenly organization, had to be taken into account. Really from her the “seed” mentioned in Genesis 3:15 had to come. So she had to provide one of her spirit sons for this earthly assignment, for the “seed” to be bruised in the heel by the Serpent.
19 This did not mean that, for the Jewish virgin girl Mary to conceive, one of the heavenly spirit sons of God had to be sent to crawl into the microscopic ovum or egg cell in Mary’s body and fertilize it. Such a thing is unreasonable, an absurdity! Rather, the Almighty God, the heavenly Father, by means of his holy spirit, transferred the life-force of his chosen heavenly son from the invisible spirit realm to the egg cell in Mary’s body and fertilized it. In this way Mary became pregnant, and the child conceived in her was “holy.” It was indeed what the angel Gabriel called it, the “Son of the Most High.”—Luke 1:32.
20. (a) Which son of God’s heavenly organization was chosen? (b) How was he made available for the fulfillment of Isaiah 53:10?
20 Who, though, was the son whom God chose to be born as a perfect human creature? It was not the angel Gabriel, for he was the one that materialized and appeared to Mary and announced her coming motherhood. The Holy Scriptures do indicate that it was the one whom an angel, when speaking to the prophet Daniel, called “the prince of you people,” “the great prince who is standing in behalf of the sons of your people,” namely, Michael. (Daniel 10:21; 12:1) He had been acting as a princely supervisory angel in behalf of the nation of Israel, and he was doubtless the angel that manifested himself in the burning thornbush to Moses at the foot of Mount Horeb back in the sixteenth century B.C.E. He has rightly been called Michael the archangel.a His having his life-force transferred to Mary’s egg cell by Almighty God’s power that overshadowed Mary meant that he, Michael, disappeared from heaven. By human birth from Mary, the Jewish virgin, he was to become a human soul. This made him available for the fulfillment of Isaiah 53:10 concerning Jehovah’s “suffering servant”:
“Yet it pleased the LORD to crush him by disease; to see if his soul would offer itself in restitution, that he might see his seed, prolong his days, and that the purpose of the LORD might prosper by his hand.”—JPS; see also Zunz.
EYEWITNESSES TO THE MIRACULOUS BIRTH
21. How was Mary’s pregnancy explained to Joseph, and what action then followed?
21 In due time the surprising pregnancy of the virgin Jewish maiden became manifest to others in Nazareth. Mary’s fiancé found it out and was deeply disturbed. Her pregnancy could not be blamed upon him. Ordinary Jewish opinion there in Nazareth would doubt Mary’s miraculous conception; the strict Jewish adherents to the Law of Moses would condemn her to be stoned to death as an adulteress that violated her marriage engagement to Joseph. Who could come to Mary’s help and save her and her unborn child from death by stoning? Who could clear up things to Joseph? Listen:
“During the time his mother Mary was promised in marriage to Joseph, she was found to be pregnant by holy spirit before they were united. However, Joseph her husband, because he was righteous and did not want to make her a public spectacle, intended to divorce her secretly. But after he had thought these things over, look! Jehovah’s angel appeared to him in a dream, saying: ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife home, for that which has been begotten in her is by holy spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you must call his name Jesus [Hebrew: Jeshua], for he will save his people from their sins.’
“All this actually came about for that to be fulfilled which was spoken by Jehovah through his prophet, saying: ‘Look! The virgin [according to the Greek Septuagint] will become pregnant and will give birth to a son, and they will call his name Immanuel,’ which means, when translated, ‘With Us Is God.’
“Then Joseph woke up from his sleep and did as the angel of Jehovah had directed him, and he took his wife home. But he had no intercourse with her until she gave birth to a son; and he called his name Jesus [Jeshua].”—Matthew 1:18-25.
22. (a) Gabriel, in speaking to Mary, emphasized what feature about her Messianic son? (b) The angel emphasized what other feature about Mary’s son to Joseph?
22 By a comparison of what Gabriel told Mary and what the angel in the dream told Joseph, Gabriel placed the greater emphasis on the role that the Messiah would perform as a King descended from David in order to fulfill Jehovah’s covenant with David for an everlasting kingdom. The angel who appeared to Joseph laid the emphasis on the Messiah’s role as a priest, as a sin bearer and sin remover. This angel dwelt on the name to be given to the Messiah, the name which, in Hebrew, means “Salvation of Jehovah.” The Messiah would live up to his personal name in that he would “save his people from their sins.” This agrees with the fact that the Messiah, the Descendant of David, was to become a “priest to time indefinite according to the manner of Melchizedek!”—Psalm 110:1-4.
23. How was it that Jesus’ birth did not take place in Nazareth?
23 Did the birth take place in Nazareth after Joseph took Mary to his home there? No, not according to the inspired record. The birth occurred in David’s city, Bethlehem of Judah. How so? An imperial decree from Rome worked toward the fulfilling of Micah 5:2, concerning the birthplace of the Messiah. Here is the record:
“Now in those days a decree went forth from Caesar Augustus for all the inhabited earth to be registered; (this first registration took place when Quirinius was governor of Syria;) and all people went traveling to be registered, each one to his own city. Of course, Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to David’s city, which is called Bethlehem, because of his being a member of the house and family of David, to get registered with Mary, who had been given him in marriage as promised, at present heavy with child. While they were there, the days came to the full for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her son, the firstborn, and she bound him with cloth bands and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the lodging room.”—Luke 2:1-7.
24, 25. How is the approximate date of Jesus’ birth calculated?
24 The month and the day of birth are not given, even as the birthdays of the people of God are never given in the Holy Bible.
25 With good reason it may be said, however, that Mary’s firstborn son Jesus was not born on the fake date of December 25 nor about the time of the winter festival of Hhanukkah (Dedication), which began on the 25th day of the lunar month Kislev. (John 10:22) According to calculations based on Daniel 9:24-27 concerning the appearing, the public career and the cutting off of the Messiah, Jesus was born about the 14th day of the lunar month of Tishri. This was one day before the beginning of the week-long festival of Sukkoth (Booths, Tabernacles), during which festival the Jews would dwell outdoors in booths and the shepherds would be out in the fields guarding their flocks during the watches of the night. (Leviticus 23:34-43; Numbers 29:12-38; Deuteronomy 16:13-16) Since Jesus lived for thirty-three years and a half and he died on Passover day of 33 C.E., or Nisan 14 of that year, this locates his birthday toward the beginning of the autumn of the year 2 B.C.E., or about Tishri 14 of that year.
26. To whom was God’s angel sent to announce Jesus’ birth, and with what heavenly accompaniment?
26 This being the birth of the long-looked-for Messiah, it was too important to let it pass by without eyewitnesses thereto. God saw to that by sending his angel to announce the miraculous virgin birth. But to whom? To Herod the Great in his royal palace just six miles to the north in Jerusalem? Or to the temple chieftain, High Priest Joazar, who had been appointed by King Herod? Not at all. With security for the newborn child Jesus in mind, Jehovah sent his angel to men who followed the boyhood occupation of David, there in the fields near Bethlehem. He caused no so-called “Star of Bethlehem” to appear for everybody to see. We read:
“There were also in that same country shepherds living out of doors and keeping watches in the night over their flocks. And suddenly Jehovah’s angel stood by them, and Jehovah’s glory gleamed around them, and they became very fearful. But the angel said to them: ‘Have no fear, for, look! I am declaring to you good news of a great joy that all the people will have, because there was born to you today a Savior, who is Christ the Lord, in David’s city. And this is a sign for you: you will find an infant bound in cloth bands and lying in a manger.’ And suddenly there came to be with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army, praising God and saying: ‘Glory in the heights above to God, and upon earth peace among men of goodwill.’”—Luke 2:8-14.
27. What terms did the angel apply to the newborn Jesus, and how were they fitting?
27 The angel called the newborn baby lying in a Bethlehem manger a “Savior,” which was one of the reasons why his name was called Jeshua or Jesus, meaning “Salvation of Jehovah.” This baby was also to become Jehovah’s Anointed One, or Messiah or Christ (Greek). He was also to be “Lord,” the One whom even King David speaking prophetically under inspiration called “my Lord.”—Psalm 110:1.
28. To whom was glory due on that occasion, and for whom was peace meant, and also “good news of a great joy”?
28 Only Almighty God, by a miracle, could provide a child with such an assignment as Messiah. What wonder, then, that an angelic “multitude of the heavenly army” appeared and joined in chanting glory to God! This miraculous birth of all human births was a loving expression of His goodwill toward men whom He approves. Such men having God’s goodwill could be at peace in heart and mind. This birth will yet be a reason for “great joy” on the part of “all the people.” No wonder that the angelic report of the birth was good news, not alone for heaven, but also for men on earth!
29. How did the shepherds become eyewitnesses of Messiah’s birth?
29 The angel had given to the shepherds the identifying “sign,” and so now they could become eyewitnesses to Messiah’s birth.
“So when the angels had departed from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another: ‘Let us by all means go clear to Bethlehem and see this thing that has taken place, which Jehovah has made known to us.’ And they went with haste and found Mary as well as Joseph, and the infant lying in the manger. When they saw it, they made known the saying that had been spoken to them concerning this young child. And all that heard marveled over the things told them by the shepherds, but Mary began to preserve all these sayings, drawing conclusions in her heart. Then the shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all the things they heard and saw, just as these had been told them.”—Luke 2:15-20.
30. By rejecting this authentic “good news of a great joy,” how would we be affecting ourselves?
30 Thus this miraculous virgin birth is no myth. It has been testified to by heavenly angels, and has been confirmed by human eyewitnesses. The medical doctor Luke made a personal investigation and gathered this vital information for us. (Luke 1:1-4; Colossians 4:14) We are merely hurting ourselves if we do not accept this authentic testimony. We are only keeping ourselves unhappy by high-mindedly rejecting this “good news of a great joy.”
31. When did Joseph adopt Jesus as his foster son and then get purified with the child’s mother?
31 On the eighth day of his birth the baby was circumcised in the flesh, like all other Jewish boys born under the Law of Moses. (Luke 2:21; Galatians 4:4, 5) At that time, Joseph indicated his adoption of Jesus as his foster child. He adopted no illegitimate child, but protected Jesus against the false charge of being a child of fornication. On the fortieth day of Jesus’ birth, Joseph and Mary brought her firstborn son up to Jerusalem to present him at the temple to Jehovah and to have a purification sacrifice made for her and the baby’s adoptive father. (Luke 2:22-24; Leviticus 12:1-8) King Herod was not aware of all of this.
32. (a) Did Mary have other sons and also daughters? (b) The adopted Jesus now had what claims upon the suspended kingdom of David?
32 In due time Mary had relations with her husband Joseph and bore children to him. The record shows that for at least twelve years after Jesus’ birth Joseph continued living with Mary. This allowed for him to have children by her. The record tells of four sons, James, Joseph, Simon and Judas, and also of daughters by Mary. These became half brothers and half sisters to Jesus her firstborn. (Luke 2:41-52; Matthew 13:53-56; Mark 6:1-3; Acts 1:14) However, because Joseph adopted Mary’s firstborn son as his own, Joseph passed on to Jesus the legal claim that he had upon the kingdom of David his forefather. Also, by being the natural firstborn of Mary by God’s miracle, Jesus inherited a natural claim to the then suspended kingdom of David. In giving the genealogy of his foster-father Joseph, the historian Matthew calls him the Messiah, saying: “The book of the history of Jesus Christ [Hebrew: Messiah], son of David, son of Abraham.”—Matthew 1:1. See Luke 3:23-38, showing Mary’s lineage.
33, 34. Why did King Herod not succeed in killing the Messiah, and why did Jesus come to be called “the Nazarene”?
33 The birth of Jesus not long before King Herod the Great died was no good news to that Edomite ruler of Jerusalem. He had his attention called to the birth, not by Jehovah’s angel or by shepherds of Bethlehem, but by stargazing astrologers from the east, men under demon influence who are condemned in the Law of Moses.—Deuteronomy 18:9-14; Isaiah 47:12-14; Daniel 2:27; 4:7; 5:7.
34 At Herod’s court the astrologers had first to have the prophecy of Micah 5:2 pointed out to them before that luminous thing that they imagined was a “star” guided them down to Bethlehem and to where Jesus was housed. God gave them divine warning in a dream not to report back to murderous Herod. Not to be foiled in scheming to kill the Messiah, Herod had the boys two years old and younger in Bethlehem killed, but not Jesus. By angelic warning, Joseph and Mary had taken him down to Egypt. Herod died, leaving his son Archelaus as king of Judea, including Bethlehem. Hence, Jesus was not brought back to Bethlehem but was taken north to Nazareth in Galilee, where he grew up. That is why he came to be called Jesus of Nazareth, not Jesus of Bethlehem.—Matthew 2:1-23; 21:11.
A FORERUNNER INTRODUCES MESSIAH
35. The Messiah was to be introduced by whom, and what did this one preach?
35 The Messiah was to be introduced to the nation of Israel by a forerunner, according to the prophecy of Malachi 3:1. (Leeser; JPS) This proved to be the son whom the angel Gabriel said would be given to the aged priest Zechariah and his aged wife Elizabeth and whom Zechariah was to call John. (Luke 1:5-25, 57-80) In early spring of the year 29 C.E., during the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, “God’s declaration came to John the son of Zechariah in the wilderness. So he came into all the country around the Jordan, preaching baptism in symbol of repentance for forgiveness of sins.” (Luke 3:1-3) He preached to those who came out to hear him, saying: “Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens has drawn near.” (Matthew 3:1, 2) This preacher came to be called “John the baptizer.”—Mark 1:1-4.
36. When and why did Jesus go to John to get baptized, and what heavenly evidence was given of approval of this?
36 After observing John engaged in preaching and baptizing for about six months, Jesus took action. He recognized that he was to be the earthly representative of that “kingdom of the heavens.” By the autumn of that year, 29 C.E., Jesus became thirty years of age. He gave up carpentering there at Nazareth and left his mother there with her other sons and her daughters and went to locate his forerunner, John. He had in mind the prophetic words of King David as written in Psalm 40:6-8. (Hebrews 10:1-10) So he went, not to be baptized in symbol of repentance for forgiveness of sins, but to be baptized in symbol of presenting himself to do God’s will for him for the future. How did God show acceptance of him? We read:
“Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, in order to be baptized by him. But the latter tried to prevent him, saying: ‘I am the one needing to be baptized by you, and are you coming to me?’ In reply Jesus said to him: ‘Let it be, this time, for in that way it is suitable for us to carry out all that is righteous.’ Then he quit preventing him. After being baptized Jesus immediately came up from the water; and, look! the heavens were opened up, and he saw descending like a dove God’s spirit coming upon him. Look! Also, there was a voice from the heavens that said: ‘This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.’”—Matthew 3:13-17.
37. What did John testify to his disciples as to who Jesus was, and how did he refer to him as a sacrificial victim?
37 John the Baptizer saw what happened and heard the heavenly Father’s voice. Later on he bore witness to his disciples of what he had seen and had heard God say from heaven, and he testified, saying: “And I have seen it, and I have borne witness that this one is the Son of God.” John also pointed to the baptized Jesus as the one to be sacrificed for the salvation of mankind, saying: “See, the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29-34) Is not John the Baptizer’s testimony worthy of our acceptance and belief today? Yes, indeed!
38. (a) The descent of God’s spirit upon Jesus meant what for him? (b) What number of “weeks of years” ended there, and what was to occur during the further week?
38 That descent of God’s holy spirit upon the baptized Jesus meant more than just his becoming henceforth a spiritual Son of God with his restoration to heavenly spirit life in view. It also meant his being anointed with God’s spirit. Now in very deed he became the Anointed One, the Messiah, or, in Greek, the Christ. Here was the fulfillment of prophecy right on time. Here, in the year 29 C.E., the seven (year-) weeks and sixty-two (year-) weeks (a total of 483 years) ended with the producing of the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Christ. (Daniel 9:25) Now the seventieth (year-) week was to begin, at the half point of which the Messiah would “cause sacrifice and gift offering to cease” by offering his own self as a human sacrifice, he being “cut off” in sacrificial death as the Lamb of God.—Daniel 9:26, 27.
39. Where and on what occasion did Jesus Christ call attention to the fulfillment of Isaiah 61:1-3 in him?
39 So, too, the prophecy of Isaiah 61:1-3 was fulfilled concerning the anointing of the Messiah with Jehovah’s spirit. David had been anointed with mere vegetable oil, but here the Son and Lord of David was anointed with holy spirit. The following year, when Jesus returned to Nazareth, not to do carpentering again, but to preach in their synagogue, he called attention to fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy in him. The record in Luke 4:16-21 tells us:
“So the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed him, and he opened the scroll and found the place where it was written: ‘Jehovah’s spirit is upon me, because he anointed me to declare good news to the poor, he sent me forth to preach a release to the captives and a recovery of sight to the blind, to send the crushed ones away with a release, to preach Jehovah’s acceptable year.’ With that he rolled up the scroll, handed it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were intently fixed upon him. Then he started to say to them: ‘Today this scripture that you just heard is fulfilled.’”
40, 41. (a) Why did Satan want to break especially the integrity of the anointed Jesus? (b) How did the Tempter’s testing of Jesus end up?
40 The Great Serpent, Satan the Devil, knew that this anointed Jesus was the Messianic “seed” of God’s heavenly “woman.” Here, now, of all the “sons of the true God” was the particular one whose integrity the Great Serpent would like to break, to the greatest reproach upon God. So he approached Jesus out in the wilderness of Judea, where Jesus had gone immediately after his baptism and being anointed with Jehovah’s spirit, to spend forty days there. The Great Serpent tried to tempt Jesus: To prove by a demonstration to the Devil that he was a son of God he should miraculously turn stones into bread or should have the invisible angels carry him on their hands after he had hurled himself down from the battlement of the temple in Jerusalem.
41 Finally, in a third and last desperate effort, the Tempter offered Jesus “all the kingdoms of the world and their glory” in reward for just one act of worship from Jesus. For a third time Jesus quoted God’s written Word and said: “It is written, ‘It is Jehovah your God you must worship, and it is to him alone you must render sacred service.’”—Matthew 4:1-10.
42. How did Jesus’ experience here correspond with Moses’ spending forty days on Mount Horeb with God’s angel?
42 The angels were watching this testing of the Messiah’s integrity toward the Most High God. So now, when the Devil left in defeat, “look! angels came and began to minister to him.” (Matthew 4:11; Mark 1:13) Moses long previously had been forty days with Jehovah’s angel up on Mount Horeb in the wilderness of Sinai; and now Jesus the Messiah, after forty days of fasting and meditation in the wilderness of Judea, was ready to enter confidently upon his public career in the land of Israel.—Exodus 24:18.
a See Jude, verse 9; Revelation 12:7. For an earlier and fuller discussion of this, see the work by E. W. Hengstenberg, entitled “Christology of the Old Testament and Commentary,” Volume 4, pages 301-304 (published in 1836-1839 C.E.).