In celebrating the birth of Christ it is beneficial if we become familiar with Old Testament prophecies about Him. Some of these writings blend the past, present, and future in astonishing ways. God’s purpose is not to confuse us. Instead, He wants to challenge us into realizing that whenever eternity projects itself into our realm of time and space that what we call past, present, future, may lose their identity.
 
Solomon said: "That which is has already been, And what is to be has already been; And God requires an account of what is past." Ecclesiastes 3:16.
 
Isaiah said God had declared: "The end from the beginning and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure." Isaiah 46:10.
 
Albert Einstein said: "The distinction between past, present, and future, is only a stubbornly persistent illusion."
 
The Greek word, aionios, translated in English as "eternal," is a condition of timelessness and shows how our past, present, future, are incased in a larger state of perpetuity. Aionios is also used to identify the most basic nature of God–the Eternal One–who has "always been, is always being, in an unchanging, ageless-now." God told Moses His name is "I Am."
 
The term, "endless," in contrast, speaks of something that has a point of beginning but continues uninterrupted from that moment on. "Immortal" simply means "not subject to death." None of these words describe "Eternal." Eternity has no beginning and no end. In contrast, "time" has a fixed beginning and a fixed end. While I would never regard Einstein as a theologian, he had a better grasp on this time-factor than many Christians. He actually saw time in its eternal context.
 
Why is this important? We calculate time by the rotation of the earth on its axis. Our planet is roughly 25,000 miles around, revolving at the rate of 1,000 miles per hour, and thus creating a 24 hour day. In other words, time for us is determined by the physical rotation of the earth–like rolling a ball. In that context, it can be compared to a line drawn on the floor–with the eras of Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, our present age, the end of the world, etc., identified at specific spots. Let’s imagine that the room around the line represents "eternity." If you were to roll a ball from one end of the line to the other you would have an idea about the movement of earth and the creation of time. Eternity surrounds the line, but exists independently of it. Is that an inadequate illustration? Yes. But it helps.
 
What would happen to "time" if we got off the earth, beyond its rotation, and into outer space?" Time as we now know it would cease to be. For this reason, astrophysicists use "light years," not calendar years to calculate time.
 
When Scripture says that "God declared the end from the beginning and from ancient times things that are not yet done," Isaiah 46:10, it is acknowledging His ability to roll the ball and view the full line on the floor at one time. In effect, He can walk around the line, examine it, and make changes as He chooses. As sovereign, omniscient Lord, His perspective is not dependent on the ball. He is the One who rolls it. His capacity–as the self-existent One–can transcend time-zones and behold all history as a flat-picture on the floor.
 
Because of this, the prophetic-gift operates independently of our time-frames. Here is the fact: There are dimensions in the spiritual realm for which we have no parallel or concept in the physical. We are without tools, capacity, or vocabulary, to comprehend them. In the Book of Genesis, as an example, the birth of Christ was acted-out prophetically in Bethlehem centuries before it happened actually. God used Jacob’s son Benjamin at Bethlehem to illustrate this.
 
Rachael was the wife for whom Jacob labored seven years–and the morning after the wedding (in which the Bride had been heavily veiled) he discovered he had married her older sister instead. He had been tricked.  His beloved Rachael was secretly put away while her sister took her place in the ceremony.
 
As Jacob romanced her through the night, telling her of his love, his words were falling on the wrong ears. Jacob and Rachael were later married, but their lives were stung with grief from the beginning.
 
There was a prophetic reason for the wedding-deception.: Leah represented the Covenant of Law; Rachael represented the Covenant of Grace. Leah was "tender eyed," that is blinded by the Light. Paul explained that "blindness in part is happened to Israel," Romans11:25. Rachael, in contrast, was "beautiful and well favored." Symbolically, we have God’s provision for "the Jew first," followed by his favor for the Gentiles. Rachael’s sudden death at Bethlehem brought Jacob horrendous pain. She was still young. But, prophetically, God had future plans for this brief marriage.
 
As Rachael lay dying, she named her new son Benoni, "Son of Sorrow!" "Not so!" the father corrected her. "He shall be called Benjamin, ‘Son of my Right Hand!’" In that dual-naming of Rachael's son we have one of the most profound prophesies of the Messiah. In Hebrew, the name Benoni, identified Him as the "Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief." Isaiah 53:3. His other name, and the one by which we remember Him, Benjamin, acknowledges Him not in grief, but seated in glory at the right hand of the Father. Centuries later when the disciple Stephen was being stoned and dying, he shouted out, "Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!" Acts 7:55,56. Rachael’s son had fulfilled his prophetic purpose.
 
1732 B.C. Genesis 35:16, 17-20: "Then they journeyed from Bethel. And when there was but a little distance to go to Ephrath, Rachel labored in childbirth, and she had hard labor. Now it came to pass, when she was in hard labor, that the midwife said to her, Do not fear; you will have this son also."
 
It was not accidental that Rachael gave birth to her son at Bethlehem. Her name in Hebrew means "Ewe"–"Mother Sheep"–that is, the one who gives birth to the lamb. She was the prophetic example of Mary, who brought forth the Lamb of God. The Genesis account continues:

Genesis 35:18-20. "And so it was, as her soul was departing (for she died), that she called his name Ben-Oni; but his father called him Benjamin. So Rachel died and was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem). And Jacob set a pillar on her grave, which is the pillar of Rachel's grave to this day."
 
Rachael’s death at Bethlehem brought Jacob horrendous pain. But, prophetically, God had future plans for that pain. In Jacob’s experience it was the mother who died and the son who lived; yet in Jeremiah and Matthew’s account, the prophecy reversed the order with children dying and the mother living. Such is the mystery of prophecy and Jeremiah becomes the voice that spans six centuries to connect the two.
 
606 B.C. Jeremiah 31:15-17. "A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted for her children, Because they are no more."
 
02 A.D. Matthew 2:18. "A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachael weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted, because they are no more."
 
The Gospel of Matthew describes the moment when Rachael and Mary step into agony together and their "Benoni-sons" join hands. The gospel of Matthew tells us:
 
(Mary) "Then Herod, when he saw that he was deceived by the wise men, was exceedingly angry; and he sent forth and put to death all the male children who were in Bethlehem and in all its districts, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the wise men.
 
(Rachael) Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying: A voice was heard in Ramah, Lamentation, weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, Refusing to be comforted, Because they are no more." Matthew 2:16-19.
 
John the Baptist was the first to recognize and announce the second Benoni: "The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, 'After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.' I did not know Him; but that He should be revealed to Israel, therefore I came baptizing with water." John 1:29-31. In this passage John identifies Jesus in both His Benoni and Benjamin roles.
 
In the years following Rachael's death, Jacob carefully guarded his son. While the other brothers were allowed freedom to travel, Benjamin was kept at home, close to the father’s "right hand." His only whole brother, Joseph, had earlier vanished, sold into slavery, while Jacob was made to believe that he had been killed by a wild beast. For this reason, when famine came and the older sons went into Egypt to buy grain, Benjamin was not permitted to go.

Jacob diligently kept his promise to the boy's mother. This son remained close to his "right hand." When the decision was forced upon Jacob to send Benjamin into Egypt, it was in great agony of soul that he allowed him to go. At that point, none of them realized that Rachael's prophetic name, "Son of Sorrow," was destined to fall upon this innocent young man with its deadly blow.
 
Benjamin accompanied the others into Egypt and unknowingly stood before his long-lost brother Joseph, who had become Governor of the land. They feasted together and then at Joseph’s command his silver cup was secretly put into Benjamin’s sack of grain. Hours later when the men were on their way home rejoicing, they were overtaken by Egyptian soldiers who accused them of stealing the cup. Then, we read:
 
1715 B.C. Genesis 44:10-13: "And Joseph said, Now also let it be according to your words; he with whom the cup is found shall be my slave, and you shall be blameless. Then each man speedily let down his sack to the ground, and each opened his sack. So he searched. He began with the oldest and left off with the youngest; and the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack.” 
 
Benjamin was totally innocent but in that moment, Rachael’s prophecy of his being the "son of sorrow" fell in a deadly blow upon him. He stared wide-eyed, unbelieving and terrified, as the finger of guilt pointed at him. Back in Egypt, the brothers stood trembling before the Governor. Benoni was innocent but judged guilty by the evidence; the others appeared innocent but were guilty of earlier kidnaping Joseph. Emotions in the room reached a point of suppressed-hysteria. In that terrifying moment in Egypt the brothers did not think of their own grief as much as they thought of the anguish awaiting their father at home.
 
They had promised to return Benjamin to him in safety. Instead, they were seeing God’s demand for payment of their kidnaping and enslaving their brother Joseph. The grief they now anticipate for their father is beyond description. Each of them would rather die in agony than face the old man. Which of them would tell him that Benjamin–like Joseph–was lost forever?! There is no record of Benoni opening his mouth in self-defense. The Bible is silent on this point. "He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth." Isaiah 53:7.  
 
Unknown to the brothers, the man who towered over them in frightening authority was also struggling, trying to restrain his own tears and love for them. Their terror was short-lived. Moments later the Governor–Joseph–commanded all Egyptians to leave the room; he then yelled–weeping–"I am Joseph your brother! I am Joseph your brother!" The next moment he grabbed Benjamin, frantically hugging and kissing him, embraced the others, kissing them, clinching them, and assuring them of his love and forgiveness. God had restored them! Never have human emotions experienced such transformation from terror to jubilation as on that day.
 
Though the two Benonis were separated by nearly 2,000 years they stood prophetically in the same spot. Time and space lost their distinction. The book of Genesis gives no details about Benoni’s reaction. Instead, we have to read the New Testament to hear his agonizing cry. It is the words of the second "Son of Sorrow" in the Garden of Gethsemane. The night is that infamous one of betrayal.
 
33 A.D. Matthew 26:39: "Jesus went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me!; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will."
 
With the first Benoni the cup of guilt was removed; with the second, it was not, but the mission for each was the same, and the price to be paid was one of self-sacrifice. The single purpose uniting both was that a lost family be reunited with its absent Brother. With Benjamin, it was the restoration of an earthly household in Canaan. With the Second, it was the restoration of a fallen race to the glories of Heaven. In both cases, the sons of Rachael and Mary fulfilled their work well. Bethlehem witnessed the grief of both women that the world might rejoice.
 
Benjamin returned to his father, riding in glory. The cup of grief was forgotten. The anguish of the trial was past. He had served both prophetic names well: He had been loyal to his father's right hand, and had obediently taken the cup of his mother's sorrow. Justly, he earned the tributes which were given him upon his triumphant return to the family home. Instead of bringing grief, the brothers bore the greatest message their father could ever hear.
 
"Joseph is alive!," they shouted, "Joseph is alive!" Benoni had been the price of that restoration. When the truth finally broke through old Joseph’s unbelief, he shouted over and over again, "Joseph is alive! Joseph is alive! I will go and see him before I die!"
 
Again, we must turn to the New Testament to find the description of that angelic scene. It is the one of the Messiah's restoration to His Father's right hand:
 
"And they sang a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.’ Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice:
 
"Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing! And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: Blessing and honor and glory and power be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever! Then the four living creatures said, Amen! And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever." Revelation 5:9-14.
 
In that awesome future-day, we will have been restored to our glorious Benoni/Benjamin with all the family of God around us. Time as we know it will have disappeared! The Past, Present, Future, will have become One Eternal Day! One of the old hymn writers said it this way:
 
"All o’er those wide, extended plains shines one Eternal Day, There God the Son forever reigns And scatters night away!"
 
Hallelujah! Celebrate the birth of Christ, however you choose—But Celebrate! He is restored to the Father’s right hand!

CC

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