Something happened in Bethlehem that solved an ancient mystery. The grand reveal began with an inglorious manger. The mystery matters because it was for you.
Adam and Eve first heard of a mysterious person to come. From a 15th C. BC document, we learn that the seed of the woman would bruise the serpent’s head, but the serpent would only bruise his heel. So, this person has power to crush evil, but not without pain. (Gen. 3:15)
In the 8th C. BC, Assyria tormented the people. During that time a prophet wrote that despite the gloom and anguish, they would be delivered. “A virgin will be with child and bear a son.” How could such a child come to be, and how would he effect their deliverance? The answer: “His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace” (Isa. 7:14, 9:6). It sounded encouraging, even if they didn’t know how a virgin-born child, the woman’s seed, could be eternal God.
Just as they sensed that their deliverance would be a display of God’s power, the clues take a turn. The same prophet said this exalted servant would suffer at the hand of men and God. “He was despised and forsaken of men, a man of sorrows. The Lord was pleased to crush Him” (Isa. 53). So, is this Deliverer a child, a man, or God himself? Does He conquer, or does He die? The mystery deepens.
Other prophets of that era proclaim his origins. Bethlehem is His birthplace, but “His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.” Another prophet said He would be from Egypt. (Mic. 5:2, Hos. 11:1). So is the ruler-son from nowhere (eternity), Bethlehem, or Egypt?
Daniel saw the mysterious person’s identity in a dream 200 years later. “One like a Son of Man was coming, and He came up to the Ancient of Days. To Him was given dominion, glory and a kingdom.” Two godlike Persons together. One appears human. Daniel also explained the timeline: Jerusalem is rebuilt; Messiah comes. But “the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing,” then the temple is destroyed (Dan. 7:14, 9:26). Historians say this happened in 70 AD, so the Messiah must have come by then.
God provided these clues to various people over the span of centuries. Then, “when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman” (Gal. 4:4). Jesus, eternal Son of Man, stepped into history via Bethlehem and Egypt as the revelation of the mystery. He is God’s gift to you. As the angel explained, “I bring you good news of great joy which be for all the people; for today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Luke 2:10-11). Mystery solved.