Sunday, December 31, 2017

When God became man: A journey home

“Then after being warned by God in a dream, he left for the regions of Galilee, and came and lived in a city called Nazareth. This was to fulfill what was spoken through the prophets: ‘He shall be called a Nazarene’” (Matthew 2:22b-23).

When the murderous Herod died, God again directed Joseph through a dream – not once, but twice (Matthew 2:19-23). God led Joseph to take Jesus and Mary out of Egypt. After they arrived in Israel, He warned Joseph, who consequently took his family to Galilee. Joseph and Mary returned to Nazareth with a small boy, again fulfilling prophecy: The Messiah “shall be called a Nazarene.”

Joseph, Mary and Jesus finally were settled in a home they would call their own after a tumultuous time in their lives. God the Son was still a small Child, but His Father had provided for Him at every turn. Now, Jesus was prepared to grow as a boy into a man. And as a man, He would demonstrate how He was both a sinless man and God Himself – sent to be the Savior of the world.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

When God became man: The slaughter of infants

“Then when Herod saw that he had been tricked by the magi, he became very enraged, and sent and slew all the male children who were in Bethlehem and all its vicinity, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had determined from the magi” (Matthew 2:16).

Herod’s wickedness and viciousness were unleashed when he realized the magi were not returning to tell him the location of the King of the Jews. As a result, infant boys died and parents grieved. Herod ordered the slaying of every male child two years old and younger living in the vicinity of Bethlehem. The age range for his order was based on when the magi told Herod they had seen the star in their homeland.

Again, Matthew saw in the Old Testament a prophecy of Herod’s genocidal action. Jeremiah had written of this “weeping and great mourning” in Ramah (Jeremiah 31:15). While an undesignated number of sons died in this effort to destroy the King of the Jews, God the Father preserved the life of His Son so that at the right time He would “give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28).

Friday, December 29, 2017

When God became man: Protection for a King

"Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, 'Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him'" (Matthew 2:13).

God warned the magi in a dream not to return to Jerusalem and thereby aid Herod in his conspiracy against the new King. He warned Joseph through an angel's message in a dream to take Jesus and Mary immediately to Egypt in order to escape jealous Herod's murderous intent. God was protecting His Son, but He was giving Joseph the earthly responsibility for guarding the life of this Child born to his wife.

Again, Joseph acted obediently without delay, as he had done when an angel told him in a dream to take Mary as his wife. Joseph remained obedient, waiting until Herod was dead before leaving Egypt. In this, Matthew saw another fulfillment of prophecy, apparently citing Hosea 11:1, where it says God called His Son out of Egypt. God's promises continued to be carried out in the details of His Son's infancy.

-- Photo by Aleks Dahlberg on Unsplash

Thursday, December 28, 2017

When God became man: Gifts for an infant King

"When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh" (Matthew 2:10-11).

Magi from the east appeared in Jerusalem at some undisclosed time after the birth of Jesus. Much about the magi is left unreported in Matthew 2:1-12. We don't know their names or how many there were. The magi apparently were a priestly caste that had great influence among the Medes, Persians and Babylonians. Their appearance in Jerusalem greatly troubled King Herod and the people of the city. Herod directed the magi toward Bethlehem at the Jewish leaders' counsel, which was based on Micah's prophecy.

When the magi began the six-mile journey south, the star they had seen in the east appeared to them once again. It led them specifically to the house where the Messiah now lived. No longer was he in a stable. They gave Him gold and frankincense, lavish gifts fit for a king. Myrrh, however, was used at this time for embalming the dead. Even on this marvelous occasion, the sacrificial death of Jesus was foreshadowed.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

When God become man: A widow's thanksgiving

"At that very moment she came up and began giving thanks to God, and continued to speak of Him to all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem" (Luke 2:38).

Simeon was not the only devout Hebrew who recognized the Messiah that day in the temple. Anna, an 84-year-old prophetess who had been a widow for several decades, was present, as she apparently always was. "She never left the temple, serving night and day with fasting and prayers" (Luke 2:37).

That day Anna's hunger for God was rewarded. When she encountered the infant Jesus, thanksgiving to the Lord poured forth from her lips. She also spoke continually about this Child to "all those who were looking for the redemption of Jerusalem." It is easy to imagine how many times through the years Anna had shared with these other Jewish people who longed for God's promised redemption. They probably talked of their hope and of the faithfulness of the God of Israel. Now, at long last, they had seen His redemption in a tiny babe.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

When God became man: The end of a long wait

“[T]hen he took Him into his arms, and blessed God, and said, ‘Now Lord, You are releasing your bond-servant to depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light of revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel’” (Luke 2:28-32).

Joseph and Mary took Jesus to the temple in Jerusalem to dedicate Him to the Lord no sooner than 40 days after His birth, according to the law on purification. Their sacrifice – two turtledoves – indicated how poor Joseph and Mary were. They were required to give no less than two birds.

Into the temple while they were there walked a man, Simeon, as another witness to their Son’s glorious nature. The Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon he would not die until he had seen the Messiah. When he saw Jesus and held Him, Simeon knew the long wait was over.

Simeon held God’s “salvation,” one for Gentiles and Jews alike. He had a further message, however. He told Mary her Child would bring about both the rise and fall of many in Israel. He also warned there would be sadness ahead, telling her a “sword will pierce even your own soul.” Mary would understand this mysterious saying only years later.

Monday, December 25, 2017

When God became man: A mother ponders

"So they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart" (Luke 2:16-19).

When the angels departed, the shepherds could do no less. They agreed they must go to Bethlehem and find the One they and their ancestors had been waiting for. They excitedly found the Child and told Mary and Joseph what the angel had said about this newborn.

While their report produced outright wonder in others, it resulted in a quiet pondering for Mary. The word for "pondering" means "placing together for comparison." She apparently compared what the shepherds reported with what Gabriel had told her about nine months before.

Like nearly any other mother, she treasured her newly born child and His birth, but no other mother had heard said what was declared about her Son. She weighed in her own heart what was said, unaware of all that was in store for her firstborn as Savior of the world and Lord of all.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

When God became man: A glorious proclamation

"And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 'Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased'" (Luke 2:13-14).

The shepherds witnessed even more than an angel's announcement heralding the Messiah's arrival, as marvelous as that announcement was. A multitude of heavenly beings joined the angel and poured forth a message of joyous praise.

The heavenly host gave glory to God and declared there would be peace on earth. That peace, however, would come only to those "with whom He is pleased." Faith in the Savior sent by God was, and is, required to please God, and it is the only path to peace. The Holy One had come to earth to bring peace to those who were His enemies by their sin nature. How the angels marveled at this.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

When God became man: A majestic announcement

"But the angel said to them, 'Do not be afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will 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).

While the birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem was marked by no majesty, the announcement outside His birthplace certainly was.

No mere mortal was the first to publicize this boy's entrance into the world. An angel, accompanied by the "glory of the Lord," appeared to some shepherds in the region. Their fearful reaction was understandable. The angel sought to allay their fears by proclaiming joyous news with global ramifications.

These shepherds, possibly caring for sheep destined to be sacrificed at the temple, were the first to learn God had fulfilled His ancient promise. This Promised One born in the city of David had come to do what the blood of no sheep could do -- save His people from their sins.

Friday, December 22, 2017

When God became man: A humble entrance

"And she gave birth to her firstborn Son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn" (Luke 2:7).

What a simple way to describe the most important birth in history. In its simplicity, however, it seems we have a profound insight into what it meant for God to come to earth.

God the Son's birth was unremarkable except possibly for the inconvenience of it. He was wrapped in cloths like other children of the time, but His bed was not a normal one. Instead, His mother placed Him in a food trough, which is what a manger is. The bed was typically a provision for animals, but on this occasion it was a place for their Creator to lay His head.

He was born in this place "because there was no room for [Jesus, Mary and Joseph] in the inn." Even his birth may have demonstrated what the apostle John wrote of His life: "He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him" (John 1:11). Though God the Son humbled Himself to save the world, from the start there were places that were too full to make room for Him.

-- Photo by Aleks Dahlberg on Unsplash

Thursday, December 21, 2017

When God became man: A fulfillment of prophecy

"Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David" (Luke 2:4).

The Messiah would come from Bethlehem, God had declared in the Old Testament book of Micah. The time had come for the Sovereign Ruler of all to bring it to pass.

A decree from Caesar Augustus, the Roman empire's ruler, sent Joseph and Mary -- residents of Nazareth -- to Bethlehem to be counted in a census (Luke 2:1-5). Their trip was necessitated by Joseph's heritage. Everyone was required to be counted in the hometown of his family. Because Joseph was a descendant of David, Mary and he traveled to David's city.

Bethlehem was about 80 miles from Nazareth, a torturous trip for someone so near the end of her pregnancy. God was acting, however, to fulfill His purpose through not only two obedient people on a difficult journey but a powerful monarch.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

When God became man: A priest's prophecy

"And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare His ways; to give to His people the knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God" (Luke 1:76-78a).

Zacharias had been unable to speak since the angel Gabriel had told him his wife would give birth to a son in her old age. When Zacharias wrote on a tablet his newborn son's name would be John, he finally was able to speak.

Upon hearing his own voice once again, the elderly priest broke into praise to God. At the filling of the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:67), he offered a prophecy about his infant. God had provided salvation, and Zacharias' son would go before the Most High as His prophet, preparing the way for the One who would shine light upon those in darkness and direct people to peace. In several months, this One -- described as "the Sunshine from on high" (Luke 1:78b) -- would be revealed.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

When God became man: Joseph's obedient response

"And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife, but kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus" (Matt. 1:24-25).

The angel's visit to Joseph in a dream made all the difference. When he awoke, Joseph apparently was immediately committed to following God's directive. Love, obedience and sacrifice replaced the confusion, sadness and possibly anger produced by Mary's pregnancy that filled his heart before he slept that night.

Joseph "kept her a virgin until she gave birth." For Joseph, God's plan was pre-eminent. God's will and Mary's need came before his desire. Joseph had a great responsibility he was committed to fulfilling. Months later when this Son who was not his own was born, Joseph called Him the name revealed to him in a dream -- Jesus.

Monday, December 18, 2017

When God became man: Mary's song of praise

"And Mary said: 'My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave; for behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed'" (Luke 1:46-48).

A hymn of glorious praise flowed from Mary following Elizabeth's Spirit-filled proclamation and blessing. This song, as recorded in Luke 1:46-55, is known as "The Magnificat."

In this passage, both Mary's humility before God and exaltation of Him stand out. These verses provide a basis for rejecting the role some have attributed to Mary as a co-redeemer or someone to whom Christians pray. She realized her need for a Redeemer, describing God as "my Savior." She saw herself as a "humble bondslave" who had been graciously favored by the Lord. Like every child of man, she was dependent on the grace of God. She was overwhelmingly grateful when she received it in this form.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

When God became man: Faithful God, trusting maiden

"'And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what had been spoken to her by the Lord'" (Luke 1:45).

Elizabeth blessed Mary in her final recorded statement to her. She commended Mary's faith, saying her young relative had indeed trusted God would do just what He had promised. Mary had cast herself upon the mercy and trustworthiness of God, and He had shown Himself faithful.

Mary may not have been able to tell she was pregnant, but the response of Elizabeth and her pre-born son confirmed she was. Indeed, she could be certain the babe she carried was conceived by the Holy Spirit. Mary had trusted God's Word, and He had proven her faith well-founded.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

When God became man: Testimonies of mother, child

"And she cried out with a loud voice, and said, 'Blessed are you among women, blessed is the fruit of your womb! And how has it happened to me, that the mother of my Lord would come to me?'" (Luke 1:42-43).

Mary apparently traveled soon after Gabriel's announcement to see Elizabeth, a relative who the angel had told her was bearing a child. Two supernatural events took place when Mary greeted Elizabeth in her home (Luke 1:39-44): Elizabeth's son leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth immediately recognized Mary was carrying the Messiah in hers.

The Son in Mary's womb was not far removed from conception when these affirmations of His deity took place, based on the information we have in Luke 1. The embryo in the virgin's womb was God, and Elizabeth and her unborn son attested to this miraculous reality. Even then, as the smallest of human beings, Jesus' power and majesty were being manifested.

Friday, December 15, 2017

When God became man: A submissive response

"And Mary said, 'Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.' And the angel departed from her" (Luke 1:38).

Mary, a pure Jewish young woman, had received news that was both rapturously joyous and overwhelmingly frightening. She would become pregnant with the Messiah, but she would do so as a maiden only betrothed and not yet married.

She basked in the glow of the angel Gabriel explaining what would happen because God had chosen her, but she probably could sense some of the cost that would come as well. What would her betrothed, Joseph, think? What would others think? What would happen to her?

Yet, faced with all these fearful prospects, what was her response? "Behold, the bondslave of the Lord" -- in other words, "I embrace Your will for my life." And "may it be done to me according to your word" -- in other words, "do unto me just as You have said You will."

-- Photo by Aleks Dahlberg on Unsplash

Thursday, December 14, 2017

When God became man: To place adopted sons

"But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law, so that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons" (Gal. 4:4-5).

When God the Son came to earth, He lived a perfect life under the Law in order to be an acceptable sacrifice to His Father. The result of His atoning death following His righteous life was that sinners and slaves became sons of God by adoption.

In the great Old Testament chapter on God's Suffering Servant, the prophet Isaiah said this One "will see His offspring" (Is. 53:10). God the Son left Heaven to produce children for His Father. We who have passed from death into life can thank God that He has adopted us because His own Son was willing to come to earth as the child of a woman and place us in His own family.

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

When God became man: To save the lost

"For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost" (Luke 19:10).

God the Son came to earth as a seeker. He came seeking lost sinners who had earned God's wrath but would receive God's grace. The Son's seeking mission took Him to the cross and to a death with saving consequences for those who had no hope of finding their way to God. God acted to redeem the lost, and Jesus of Nazareth was His agent in purchasing our redemption.

The New Testament testifies to God's initiative in our salvation: "In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (I John 4:10). God the Son came to earth to seek souls on behalf of His Father and to bear His Father's judgment so we might be saved.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

When God became man: To serve others

"[T]he Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many" (Matt. 20:28).

If anyone deserved to be served, it was the God-man, Jesus. Yet, when His disciples squabbled over position and greatness, Jesus told them even He was not with them to be served. Instead, He -- though Lord -- was on earth as a servant.

The apostle Paul wrote of this mind-set of Christ in his letter to the saints in Philippi. He told them Christ, "although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped [clutched and held onto at all costs], but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men" (Phil. 2:6-7).

God the Son provided the supreme example of servanthood. The first steps in a life of service were willingly to be conceived in the womb of a poor Jewish maiden and to be born in a stable. The final step in a life of service was to give His life freely as a "ransom for many."

Monday, December 11, 2017

When God became man: To enrich the impoverished

"For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich" (II Cor. 8:9).

God the Son left the riches of Heaven, the position He possessed there, and the glory and intimacy He shared with God the Father there to lift human beings out of spiritual poverty. He impoverished Himself to make us rich. He exchanged His riches for poverty that we in our poverty might be truly rich.

He did all this by willfully becoming a human being.

The apostle Paul told the Ephesian believers God “seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6-7).

Through His incarnation, Christ came to give us the true riches that never pass away.

Sunday, December 10, 2017

When God became man: To glorify the Father

"I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do" (John 17:4).

When Jesus prayed to His Father on the night before He was crucified, even then He could speak of accomplishing what God intended for Him to do in becoming a man. In so doing, He had glorified the Father, the One who had purposed for the Son to come to earth.

Earlier, when Jesus compared His future death to a grain of wheat that must die before it bears fruit, He said, "Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, 'Father, save me from this hour?' But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name" (John 12:27-28a).

Jesus came to die. Even at His birth, this was His mission. In so doing, He would glorify His Father.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

When God became man: To do the will of the Father

"For I have come down from Heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent me" (John 6:38).

God the Son came not only to represent God the Father with exactness but to perform the Father's will at the Father's direction.

Jesus did not leave us confused about what He was referring to when He spoke in this verse of the will of God. In the two verses that follow, Jesus said, "This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day."

The Son came to earth as a baby because it was the Father's will. Even then, the Father had a people for His Son to resurrect as a result of their trust in Him.

Friday, December 8, 2017

When God became man: To represent the Father

"God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power" (Heb. 1:1-3a).

God had spoken to the people of Israel through His prophets in many ways over many years. There came a time, however, when He spoke through Someone like Him -- His Son, according to the opening of the letter to the Hebrews.

The writer of Hebrews described God the Son as the "exact representation of His nature." Jesus perfectly represented who God the Father is. In His time on earth, Jesus flawlessly portrayed for those who witnessed His life and ministry what the unseen God is truly like. One of the purposes Christ fulfilled in His incarnation was to demonstrate God's nature in human form.

-- Photo by Aleks Dahlberg on Unsplash

Thursday, December 7, 2017

When God became man: The promise to a groom

"Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins" (Matt. 1:20b-21).

Mary was betrothed to a man named Joseph when she became pregnant with the Son of God. Joseph knew he was not the father. Betrothal was more binding at this time than engagement is in our day. Because Joseph apparently had grounds to issue a divorce certificate, he sought to break the betrothal while at the same time guarding Mary and her reputation by discreetly sending her away.

God intervened. An angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and assured him he should take Mary as his wife. She had not been unfaithful. Instead, the child she carried was from the Holy Spirit. The angel told Joseph to name this son Jesus as an explanation of one of His purposes in coming to earth -- "He will save His people from their sins."

Two verses later (Matt. 1:23), the writer spelled out the meaning of the title, Immanuel, spoken in Isaiah long before: "God with us."

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

When God became man: The promise to a maiden

"And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name Him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end" (Luke 1:31-33).

The angel Gabriel delivered the next promise to a young woman named Mary in the Galilean city of Nazareth. It was the sixth month of Elizabeth's unfathomable pregnancy, but the conception and birth the angel promised Mary would be even more unbelievable. She would give birth though she was a virgin as a result of the work of the Holy Spirit, Gabriel said.

The son Mary would bear would be called "the Son of the Most High," the long-awaited Messiah. The virgin prophesied in Isaiah 7 as the mother of Immanuel was now revealed, and God would become man through this young Hebrew woman. To Mary's astonishment at how this could occur, Gabriel ultimately said, "For nothing will be impossible with God" (Luke 1:37).

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

When God became man: The promise to a priest

"It is he who will go as a forerunner before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers back to the children, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord" (Luke 1:17).

After hundreds of years of no revelation from God to His people, the angel Gabriel spoke to a frightened priest in the temple. This priest, Zacharias, and his wife Elizabeth were not only childless but without any realistic hope of becoming parents because of their age.

That changed when Gabriel told Zacharias his wife would not only bear a son to be named John but this miracle child would be a great man with a great mission -- to go before the Messiah and to prepare the people for His coming. God had again spoken. His promises from long ago were about to be fulfilled. A miraculous reproduction would prepare the way for an even more miraculous birth.

Monday, December 4, 2017

When God became man: The promise of His birthplace

"But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity" (Micah 5:2).

An earthly king would want his son to be born into elegance and prominence, but God promised His Son would be born in a location so insignificant it would find no place "among the clans of Judah."

This one whom God would send to be "ruler in Israel" would not reign over a temporary kingdom, however. Nor would He begin His existence on the date of His birth in the little town of Bethlehem. He also would not begin to exist at the moment of conception in His mother's womb. No, He had existed "from the days of eternity." There was no beginning to His existence. The One who would appear on that future day in Bethlehem would be the God of all ages who had made all things.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

When God became man: The promise of a unique ruler

"For a child will be born to us; a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace . . . " (Is. 9:6-7a).

God promised he would establish a never-ending government upon the shoulders of a tiny child. How could a baby bear such weight? The question is a natural one; the answer is a supernatural one.

This is God in the person of a little boy -- a child bearing one-of-a-kind titles. From the moment of His conception, God indwelt this embryo turned boy turned man. Because this was God in the flesh, we can trust His rule will never end. He will reign as a benevolent monarch, bringing a peace that will go on throughout eternity.

Notice to whom this son is a gift. This prophecy certainly applied to the Hebrews whom God had set apart for Himself, but it also is a particular promise to all of us who have received the gift of salvation -- He has been given to us.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

When God became man: The promise of a unique birth

"Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel" (Is. 7:14).

When God became man, it was through a conception and birth like no other. Isaiah prophesies a virgin -- a woman who has no natural means of procreation -- will give birth to a son. This impossible pregnancy and birth will constitute a sign -- a sign of the most miraculous kind.

The father of this child is not mentioned in this verse. Only later is it spelled out this son has God as His Father, but we certainly can deduce this reality from Isaiah's prophecy. Only God can do something so impossible. This child will be human and divine. In this baby boy, God would fulfill His promise from long before.

Friday, December 1, 2017

When God became man: The first promise

(In this Christmas season, I plan to post daily a revised version of each devotional Linda and I compiled in a booklet as a gift to the church in 2004.)

"And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise Him on the heel" (Gen. 3:15).

The initial promise of Christmas came at the moment when humanity's greatest need was realized. God pronounced judgment on the tempter, whose beguiling ways had persuaded the first woman and man to rebel against their Creator. But in His sentencing of Satan, God presented what is known as "the proto-evangelium," the first gospel.

The seed of the woman, not the man, promised by God was His own Son, who would appear in fulfillment of this promise thousands of years later. In humanity's darkest hour, God provided hope for a fallen race. He fulfilled that hope through an unborn child in a virgin's womb, through a baby born in Bethlehem, through a man who lived a perfect life, and through a suffering servant who delivered a crushing blow to the evil one -- though He would not escape unharmed -- through His crucifixion and resurrection.

-- Photo by Aleks Dahlberg on Unsplash