Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Advent XVIII

Over the years there has been those who spoke of being a New Testament person to the extent that they had no use for the Old Testament.  As they would conclude, "It is the story of Jesus which is important, not all that Old Testament history."  If the New Testament writers had written with such an attitude what we know as Holy Scripture would certainly be different and, in some way, less believable.  These early Apostles and leaders of the early church who under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit wrote the Word often made mention of the prophetic writings as they told the story of Jesus and proclaimed the gospel message.    The Apostle Paul was such a one as he wrote at the beginning of his letter to the Romans, "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ,...which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the holy scripture..."
Paul and others far more versed in the Hebrew sacred writings than most of us saw much that pointed toward the birth and the life of Jesus.  The prophet Micah spoke of Bethlehem being the birth place.  The prophet Isaiah spoke of the one called "Emmanuel" and the son being given.  Some scholars even point to a verse that speaks of a virgin bearing a child.  Jesus saw in the writings of Isaiah an understanding of the purpose of his ministry.  It is also the prophet Isaiah who described the suffering of the Messiah and the ministry of the voice who would cry out in the wilderness.  What we read about in these days was not written in a vacuum, but was understood by those first century Apostles and believers to be nothing less than fulfillment of ancient sacred writings.
This act of God which we think of as the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem is a part of the plan that we see being developed from the earliest pages of what we know as Holy Scripture.  To read the entire Word is to realize that Jesus was not an afterthought on the part of God.  Jesus was not Plan B because Plan A went wrong.  The birth of Jesus as Savior was instead God's plan for handling the awful predicament we created for ourselves as a result of stubborn insistence on living life on our own terms.  The Savior did not just happen.  He was born.  He was sent.  He represents the intentionality of a loving and merciful God. 

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