Most of Christendom is familiar with the prophecies of old which foretold of the birth of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Savior of the world. In like manner, they are also acquainted with the accounts of the Savior’s actual birth, as these are some of the main passages of scripture that are focused upon, especially during the Christmas season.
In that same vein, there are many who do not believe that Mormons (Latter-day Saints, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) are Christian and therefore they must have an entirely different understanding about the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ. However, a careful study of what Latter-day Saints believe and teach will reveal that their understanding of the events surrounding Christ’s birth is in direct line with what the Bible teaches.
Prophets Foretold of the Coming Messiah – the Savior of the World
Perhaps one of the most familiar passages of scripture in the Bible which reveal the coming forth of the Messiah is found in the Old Testament Book of Isaiah. In fact, the words of Isaiah are resounded in the well-known Handel’s Messiah. In Isaiah 9:6-7 we read these words of the prophet,
6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no bend, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
In the Book of Mormon, which Latter-day Saints testify is Another Testament of Jesus Christ, Nephi, the son of Lehi, proclaimed, “Yea, even six hundred years from the time that my father left Jerusalem, a prophet would the Lord God raise up among the Jews—even a Messiah, or, in other words, a Savior of the world” (1 Nephi 10:4.) And again we read in 1 Nephi 19:8, “And behold he cometh, according to the words of the angel, in six hundred years from the time my father left Jerusalem.”
Another Book of Mormon prophet, Samuel the Lamanite, also prophesied of Christ’s birth. In Helaman 14:2-5 are recorded these words:
2 And behold, he said unto them: Behold, I give unto you a sign; for five years more cometh, and behold, then cometh the Son of God to redeem all those who shall believe on his name.
3 And behold, this will I give unto you for a sign at the time of his coming; for behold, there shall be great lights in heaven, insomuch that in the night before he cometh there shall be no darkness, insomuch that it shall appear unto man as if it was day.
4 Therefore, there shall be one day and a night and a day, as if it were one day and there were no night; and this shall be unto you for a sign; for ye shall know of the rising of the sun and also of its setting; therefore they shall know of a surety that there shall be two days and a night; nevertheless the night shall not be darkened; and it shall be the night before he is born.
5 And behold, there shall a new star arise, such an one as ye never have beheld; and this also shall be a sign unto you.
Nephi also spoke of the signs of Christ’s birth, death, and resurrection, and how terrible those days will be for the wicked. In 2 Nephi 26:3 we read:
And after the Messiah shall come there shall be signs given unto my people of his birth, and also of his death and resurrection; and great and terrible shall that day be unto the wicked, for they shall perish; and they perish because they cast out the prophets, and the saints, and stone them, and slay them; wherefore the cry of the blood of the saints shall ascend up to God from the ground against them.
And in 2 Nephi 25:19 we learn:
For according to the words of the prophets, the Messiah cometh in six hundred years from the time that my father left Jerusalem; and according to the words of the prophets, and also the word of the angel of God, his name shall be Jesus Christ, the Son of God.
Perhaps we should make mention of the fact that it was prophesied that a child was born, but a Son was given. And who was this child? Latter-day Saints are in agreement with Christendom that this was no ordinary child. This child was, and is indeed, the Son of the Living God. This new born babe was God’s precious special delivery gift to the world, wrapped in His Divine and Eternal love for mankind. In the gospel of John in the New Testament, in 3:16-17 we read:
16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
He Shall Be Born of a Virgin, Most Beautiful and Fair
Returning to the prophecies of Isaiah, in Isaiah 7:14, the prophet of old proclaimed, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” In the opening chapter of Matthew’s gospel, in verse 23, we read of the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy, “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.”
In a vision, the prophet Nephi in the Book of Mormon, sees the mother of the Son of God and learns of the condescension of God. These are the words recorded in 1 Nephi 11:13-15:
13 And it came to pass that I looked and beheld the great city of Jerusalem, and also other cities. And I beheld the city of Nazareth; and in the city of Nazareth I beheld a virgin, and she was exceedingly fair and white.
14 And it came to pass that I saw the heavens open; and an angel came down and stood before me; and he said unto me: Nephi, what beholdest thou?
15 And I said unto him: A virgin, most beautiful and fair above all other virgins.
And then in verses 18 through 21 we read:
18 And he said unto me: Behold, the virgin whom thou seest is the mother of the Son of God, after the manner of the flesh.
19 And it came to pass that I beheld that she was carried away in the Spirit; and after she had been carried away in the Spirit for the space of a time the angel spake unto me, saying: Look!
20 And I looked and beheld the virgin again, bearing a child in her arms.
21 And the angel said unto me: Behold the Lamb of God, yea, even the Son of the Eternal Father! Knowest thou the meaning of the tree which thy father saw?
John in his gospel account taught us, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:14.)
The Son of God is born
Most everyone is familiar with the story of the birth of Christ as recounted by Luke in his gospel. In that account we are told of angels who appeared to the shepherds on that holiest of nights:
8 And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
9 And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid.
10 And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.
11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.
12 And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.
13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying,
14 Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men. (Luke 2:8-14)
In the Book of Mormon, Alma the Younger gave this account as recorded in Alma 7:7-10:
7 For behold, I say unto you there be many things to come; and behold, there is one thing which is of more importance than they all—for behold, the time is not far distant that the Redeemer liveth and cometh among his people.
8 Behold, I do not say that he will come among us at the time of his dwelling in his mortal tabernacle; for behold, the Spirit hath not said unto me that this should be the case. Now as to this thing I do not know; but this much I do know, that the Lord God hath power to do all things which are according to his word.
9 But behold, the Spirit hath said this much unto me, saying: Cry unto this people, saying—Repent ye, and prepare the way of the Lord, and walk in his paths, which are straight; for behold, the kingdom of heaven is at hand, and the Son of God cometh upon the face of the earth.
10 And behold, he shall be born of Mary, at Jerusalem which is the land of our forefathers, she being a virgin, a precious and chosen vessel, who shall be overshadowed and conceive by the power of the Holy Ghost, and bring forth a son, yea, even the Son of God.
Latter-day Saints follow the beliefs of the Christian world as to the events that led up to, and the culmination of, the birth of Jesus the Christ – our Lord, Our Savior, Our Redeemer, the light and the Life of the world. Modern day revelation as recorded in the Doctrine and Covenants 76:40-42:
40 And this is the gospel, the glad tidings, which the voice out of the heavens bore record unto us—
41 That he came into the world, even Jesus, to be crucified for the world, and to bear the sins of the world, and to sanctify the world, and to cleanse it from all unrighteousness;
42 That through him all might be saved whom the Father had put into his power and made by him.
Keith L. Brown
Keith L. Brown is a convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, having been born and raised Baptist. He was studying to be a Baptist minister at the time of his conversion to the LDS faith. He was baptized on 10 March 1998 in Reykjavik, Iceland while serving on active duty in the United States Navy in Keflavic, Iceland. He currently serves as the First Assistant to the High Priest Group for the Annapolis, Maryland Ward. He is a 30-year honorably retired United States Navy Veteran.