Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Countdown to Christmas/Advent (10/23/08)
- TITLE: Christmas has come
By Scott Sheets
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The man and woman feared the presence of their Holy Maker. He made them unique among His creation. He personally crafted and shaped them with His omnipotent hands. He had created the rest by His spoken word. They were different. He breathed life into them and formed them for fellowship with His own Triune being. Fellowship was now severed because of their sin.
Sin and wickedness multiplied as the generations passed. The Holy One mourned the wickedness of man and could no longer permit its continuance. He judged the world with a flood that swept away the wicked and spared but one family. Genesis 10 informs us that this family repopulated the earth and formed the nations. Nations still separated from God and needing a Savior.
Out of the nations, God chose Abraham to father one nation that would ultimately bless the world. God delivered Abraham’s descendants from slavery and promised them a land flowing with milk and honey. The Holy One established a priesthood to provide mediation between Him and the people. Sin continued to constrict relational flow between God and man. Leviticus 9 details the launch of priestly ministry in Israel. The priests shed the blood of a lamb as a substitute for the blood required of man for his sin. Yet, the blood of animals never truly satisfied Divine justice it was never adequate nor life changing. A greater, sufficient sacrifice was needed.
The people struggled in the desert with their Divine Sovereign. They often complained. “We want meat to eat,” they cried out. “We can’t defeat the Canaanites. We’ve been sent here to die.” Their cries grieved the Heavenly Father who cared for them. As a result, that generation would not receive the promise, but rather the generation that followed. Unfortunately, that next generation also failed to live up to the Lord’s commands and longed to mimic the heathen nations. “Appoint us a king to lead us, as all the other nations have,” the people demanded. I Samuel 8 details this rejection of their Divine King and longing for an earthly one.
The Holy One granted their misled request, but knew a mere earthly king would never meet their deepest needs. Sin still plagued the people and would even plague their kings. The great King David bested a giant, conquered armies, and feared God; but even he failed His maker. Man still craved that lost intimacy with God and God did not forget His people. He promised a descendent for David whose kingdom would rule forever in 2 Samuel 7.
The prophet Isaiah later affirmed this promise of a Messiah in chapter 9 verse 6,
“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government shall be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
God raised up other prophets who spoke of the Messiah. Micah recorded His birthplace in chapter 5. In Malachi 4, we are told about Elijah the forerunner. And in verse 3 of Isaiah 40, we discover that this forerunner of the Messiah would be “a voice crying in the wilderness.”
After Malachi’s ministry God seemed silent. Would man forever be distant from His Creator and plagued by sin? After four hundred years of silence, God spoke. He sent an angel to Zechariah the priest and promised the birth of John the Baptist. Six months later, God sent Gabriel to a young virgin named Mary and declared that she would bear the Messiah.
The people lived under the bondage of Rome and longed for a deliverer, but didn’t anticipate how He would come. Luke describes the journey of Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem in chapter 2. They found no room in the inn and were forced to stay in an animal shelter. In that setting the Christ was born. Yet, despite the humble surroundings the answer to humanity’s problem lay in that manger. John the apostle described it well in chapter 1 of His gospel. “The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us.” God became a man, and as the God-man paid for our sins on the cross. Jesus the Christ became the true priest, the true sacrifice, the true king, and the true answer to man’s problem. And man once again could have true fellowship with God. Christmas has come.
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