About 430 years pass between the book of Malachi (the last book in the Old Testament) and the book of Matthew (the first book in the New Testament.) Throughout the Old Testament, the theme of recurring human sin runs rampant.
In Genesis, Adam and Eve were provided with everything they could desire or need. They were given one simple commandment and broke it; they sinned. God provides the Israelites with the Ten Commandments and plenty of food and water to survive in the desert. They took God's love and provision for granted and worshipped other gods. The rest of the Old Testament is a record of the hideous sins that reside in the human heart contrasted by some acts of kindness, love and compassion. It seems God figured that the people needed not only prophets, commandments and provision. His people needed Him, in person, so that they could relate to Him more personally. God came to the world as Jesus Christ with the purpose to give people the chance to change their wayward hearts and spend eternity with God. God came as Jesus to give the world hope and teach us to love one another.
The book of Matthew begins a new era of hope for humanity. Matthew was one of Jesus' disciples. He left his job as tax collector to follow Jesus. He seemed knowledgable about Jewish prophesy. He provided good arguments to the Jewish people that Jesus is the Messiah, showing the numerous prophesies that Jesus fulfilled. Below are some of the fulfilled prophesies presented in the book of Matthew.
1. Through his lineage (ancestory) Jesus fulfilled the Davidic covenant and Abrahamic covenant mentioned in the Old Testament.
2. Mary, a virgin, gives birth to Jesus. Matthew 1:22-23 reads "All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: 'The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel' --which means, 'God with us.' "
3. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, another fulfilled prophesy. Matthew 2:6 states, "But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel."
4. Herod, in fear of the news that Jesus was king of the Jews, ordered that all male children in Bethlehem be put to death. Matthew 2:18 reveals, "A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted because they are no more."
5. Joseph and Mary flee to Egypt and later return to Israel, taking up residence in Nazareth. Matthew 2:23 tells us that, "...and he went and lived in a town called Nazareth." 'So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets: "He will be called a Nazarene."
6. John, providing sinners with the opportunity for baptism fulfilled another prophesy. In Matthew 3:3 "This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: 'A voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.' In fact, John that Baptist was that very kind of man, living off of the land in the desert. And, John baptizes Jesus, in consecration to God and sets His loving ministry in motion.
7. Jesus personally experienced temptation (though He didn't give in to it) so that He could relate to it, for our sake. In Hebrew 2:17 it's stated that a "merciful and faithful high priest" will, Hebrew 2:18 "be able to help those who are being tempted."
8. Jesus takes up residence in Zebulun, Matthew 4:15 states more fulfilled prophecy as spoken through Isaiah, "Land of Zebulun and land of Naphtali the way to the sea, along the Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles-the people living in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned."
Beginning in Matthew 4:23 continuing through 16:20, Matthew gives readers a view into the ministry, teachings and purpose of Jesus. He was sent to show us God's love for human beings, in person. Jesus healed, taught the importance of acting on kindness and love and emphasized adherance to God's laws. Throughout Matthew, Jesus' message as servant through God is one of love, faith, healing, provision, saving through God's grace and a promise of life everlasting with God.
9. Matthew 12:17-21 states, "This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet Isaiah: 'Here is my servant whom I have chosen, the one I love, in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on him, and he will proclaim justice to the nations. He will not quarrel or cry out; no one will hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out, till he leads justice to victory. In his name the nations will put their hope.' "
Jesus informed the disciples of His physical death and that he would rise again after three days. He did indeed appear to them after three days and, in Matthew 18-20 tells us, "Then Jesus came to them and said, 'All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore, go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.."
Truly, the love of Jesus, God and the Holy Spirit bless all who believe throughout our lives. Jesus brings hope to us and changes our hearts so that we are willing to obey, eager to walk in the ways God chooses for us. He provides the sweet and special free gift of salvation, everlasting life with God and forgiveness from the bondage of our own sins. God loves us, each and every one, so much that He wanted us to know Him, in person. That's why He showed us who He is through Jesus. He treasures us!