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SUPERNATURAL EVENTS SURROUNDING THE SUPERNATURAL INCARNATION OF THE SUPERNATURAL SAVIOUR
is Saviour, and only Christ, Lord and Saviour,
is His Human Incarnation
God is ONE, manifest in Three Persons
Suppose you loved birds, and decidedly to become one. It would not help much since you would be too limited to act with the power that was yours, with which you hoped to be helpful when given avian format! When however God made man, He did a great thing. Man is able to ruminate, cogitate, investigate logically, formulate and function at the very level of the understanding of God, subordinate but sated, created but incorporated with a spirit of his own, a multi-functional marvel.
Hence when God made man, He made what was suitable for incarnation of Himself, if for any reason, He so desired. If He chose, into that system and that establishment He could pour His own Being, and operate at His own level, subordinate as a begotten Son, to His heavenly Father, unique as the only begotten Son, but inordinate in power because of His link
to the One who so loved as to send,
even He, and
as the One who so loved to be sent,
saying, "A body You have prepared for Me, in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You had no pleasure." That is found in Hebrews 10:5-6.
As in Isaiah 1, what was holy became nauseating when practiced formalistically in the midst of ancient Israel, in the presence of precisely what it was to remove, the sinuous reality of ruling sin. When the Messiah came, the heart was exposed as by X-ray.
Long before Christ came, we heard the witness of His voice in heaven. Then I said, "Behold I have come - in the volume of the book it is written of Me - to do Your will, O God," Hebrews 10:7 taking up the prophecies and applying them.
Indeed in the base of this prediction, He declares, "I delight to do Your will," Psalm 40:6-8. In the original, He also declares as Messiah to come, "My ear You have pierced."
No hearing obstruction occurred. He did not squirm, rationalise or seek to avoid duty and desire, to save many amid mankind in making an offering on behalf of all, effective where received as sent, that is, freely! (Romans 3:23ff.).
The term in Hebrew translated 'pierced' means to dig, pierce, penetrate and for such, it is a body is indeed which is required as seen in such agony, in Isaiah 50-53 likewise!
The Father loved enough to send, the Son loved enough to delight to come and do what was required; and the Spirit applied it to all whom it concerned. Such is the glorious work of the triune God, sending, sent and more than in mere formal word, in very deed, acting to fulfil all declared. It is as in Isaiah 48:16ff., in its divine intimacies and multi-functional marvels (cf. SMR pp. 532 - 560, All this rot about not believing, and Index).
Here is the background to the incarnation, so that God who in sundry ways had spoken in times past, now spoke through His Son (as in Hebrews 1:1-3), who having purged sin, returned to His celestial place in the Trinity, who not only IS love, but has within His own Being, lover and loved, yes and love is in the midst.
When therefore Christ was exhibited as the only-begotten Son of God, through the operation of the Holy Spirit on Mary, so that she conceived Him - this happened and THEREFORE He is called the Son of God as the text of Luke 1:35 declares: what happened ? There was not an array of fragments, as in an explosion, but a mass of marvels: indeed, there was a whole crowd of supernatural events surrounding, as one might indeed expect of the greatest display of love in all the history of creation, since it was first formulated, formed and despatched into being.
First of all, there were the predictions of yore, in such prophets as Micah (5), Isaiah (7, 9, 11, 12, 22, 29-30, 32, 35, 40, 42, 49-55, and so on), Zechariah 9, 11-14, Psalm 2,16, 22, 45, 72,110 and many more, in Malachi 3 and 4, in Jeremiah 16, 23, in Daniel 2, 7, 9, in figures, in pre-views, in imageries, in death date*1, in birth-pace*2, in tribe* 3,in bodily torture*4, in bold plotting to kill Him*5, in resurrection*6, in restoration*7, in power*8, in healing*9 and in the spirit of His dealings*10.
These were all fulfilled in the midst of a man-made zeal on the part of many, for His rejection and destruction that was almost to be compared with what is being done to Christians now in the Middle East, was done in the USSR, and has been done in China. Christians readily become intolerable to false prophets and their people, because truth is always intolerable if you hide from it (cf. SMR, TMR, Light Dwells with the Lord's Christ ...). Indeed, Christ whom they killed because He was, as He is, the Truth (John 14:6), declared that some would come who would kill Christians and in doing so, imagine that they were being serviceable to God (John 16:2): which has happened in all but innumerable cases, whether from some in India, the Middle East, in the Inquisition over centuries, or current Egypt, the USSR or Pakistan.
The place of the Saviour, Jesus Christ, has occasioned two giant movements. To dismiss Him, distil someone with the same name, change, evacuate, hate, dismember, recreate, imagine, redress or to turn simply into a name for various assorted experiences: this is one. To receive, accept, rely on, trust, follow, obey, rest in and hallow: this is the other. Since those who put their minds to actually follow the Bible cannot in terms of Christianity use violence to seek favour for their religion (though of course any State may wish to defend its shores from national or other pirates), Christians tend to become victims, ready to be rubbed out by internal forces within a nation.
The name of Christ has been used for almost anything, including violation of the prohibition of violence for the defence of the Gospel (as in John 18:36, Matthew 26:52-56, but even the Head of the Christian Church in earth as in heaven, Jesus Christ utterly refused to have any use violence to protect HIM! Such, He declared, is not the nature of His kingdom. Those who make other plans merely rebel, when His name is used, just as do those who make other christs, using His name.
Thus has this predictive element been fulfilled (John 16:2, Revelation 12,13, Matthew 24:9-14, Romans 8:35-39, cf. I Corinthians 4:11-13, Luke 21:12, John 15:20).
This was the PROPHETIC SUPERNATURAL SITUATION, BOTH DECLARING WHAT WAS TO BE IN ADVANCE, CONCERNING THE MESSIAH, AND THE RESULTS OF HIS COMING.
But let us number 21 of the salient supernatural episodes, interventions and overviews involved in the incarnation, with stress on events, to give the due awareness of an entire surround of dramatic and signal events, in order to gain a sense of the atmosphere and the depth, the spread and the accompanying wonder of it all.
21 SURROUNDS OF THE SUPERNATURAL IN THE INCARNATION
1. The Star in the East arouses the Magi, who are illuminated with the desire to come and worship (Matthew 2:1-2), at the impending birth of the King of the Jews. Obviously it was more than merely a king for Israel, which requires neither a trip from the East nor worship! However, this was a supernatural preliminary, and they having been led by the celestial luminary, were also warned by God to leave, after worship and gift presentation. Having first been arrested by God for this amazing preview of the birth of the babe, then led by Him, they were protected then by that same One who sent them, being preserved yet again after their worship, by a warning from God, so departing adroitly, just as they came openly.
So did the astronomical, the informative, the co-operative, each in its season (Matthew 2:1-6), the revelatory, as in many including the shepherds, the priest, the relative and the mother, and the carefully followed instructions for the parents, conspire against conspiracy and triumph over peril.
Their journey and Herod's checking with them, and later action against those up to two years old, meant that the star appeared first quite some time before their arrival. With God, planning is no problem, as the DNA eloquently evinces, drawn up for scores of generations, operative still, though like designs in general, subject to decay in time. The fashion of this world passes away, says Paul in I Corinthians, and the material universe will grow old like a aged garment, Isaiah is inspired to reveal (Isaiah 51:6), just as science confirms as to what is in fact the creation, in terms of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
While it is built, this present world, for a time and a purpose, with incineration its end (II Peter 3, Revelation 20-21), even at that, it is far from a merely temporary structure, the DNA being now found to be covered in large measure, bt staggeringly clever editing devices and correction techniques, all automated, to preserve textual purity in the code*11. Yet there is in the long run - and we have run a while - to be an ageing, as part of the plan, and of this Professor Sanford of Cornell University lends eloquent and elegant testimony (cf. Waiting for Wonder, Appendix).
All things have their appointed place, even the wicked for the day of judgment, to which their hearts at last drive them.
As to Herod did what he could to
destroy the Messiah; God did what was needed to incarnate Him. The forces do not
change, and will not cease their involvement till judgment as in Revelation 19,
II Thessalonians 1 and Micah 7, takes its course.
What had to be done, was done; and while violence abounded against the agents of this marvel of the Messiah, and His incarnation, it was not committed by them. Christ is the prince of peace (Isaiah 9:6). When judgment comes, this becomes an issue of justice, where mercy has been discounted together with its place of glory in the Messiah, Jesus the Christ. There is none other in historical competition or display, than He, to meet the publicly appointed criteria, the critical tests of authenticity in performance in word and deed, or the supernatural exhibition in spirit and in structure, testable to this day.
But let us turn now to the specific record as we number some of the elements in the particular realm of the incarnation.
2. The Message to the priest, Zacharias,
then follows in sequence in our list (Luke 1:10-24,57-79).
It came while both Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist, and Mary, used of God for the incarnation of Jesus the Christ, were pregnant. It was concerning the birth of his own son, John, that Zacharias was told of John as a messenger to go before the Lord came, in order that as, he might bring many to repentance and restoration. Even this prelude (later shown from Isaiah 40:3 by John to be his role), was supernaturally encompassed. Zacharias was given the message about his own son and his role, while serving in the temple, and he was late coming out, and dumb as well, until the birth of his son, because he had been slow to receive the message.
When the birth was fulfilled, his dumbness went and the light of life came to the son to play so great a role concerning the One for whom he came as a preparation.
Thus the message to Zacharias was not only concerning the post, the office of his son as a preparer of the way for divine action, but of the vast importance of it, that it was crucial to faith, and the impact because of the public events concerned, was great. Indeed, when John was born, not only was the dumbness of his father removed, but he uttered a hugely important prophecy (1:68-79). John would be one to "go before the face of the Lord to prepare His ways." Here at last was the provision of the Lord as spoken through the prophets "who have been since the world began," that God would "perform the mercy promised to our fathers."
Here was the
"horn of salvation," the Messiah for whom John was to be a singular
introduction! Such a change from being dumb to being prophetic, and not even
being able to speak to John was born and named, was very dramatic, much observed
and a portent singular as well as prophetic; and indeed, involving prophecy of
things to come, as well as fulfilling prophecy of things past.
3. The Message to Mary - Luke 1:26-38.
The visit of the angel Gabriel to the cit in Galilee, called Nazareth (sprout city, in accord with the Messiah to be a sprout, as in Isaiah 11:1), to a virgin betrothed to one Joseph (Luke 1:27) was in itself remarkable; but its full lustre came in the prediction concerning the Messiah for whom John was to be the forerunner. "Blessed," said the angel, "are you among women." Again, "Rejoice, highly favoured one," and he exhorted her not to be afraid.
Just as Noah found grace in the sight of the Lord for the deliverance of the human race from physical extinction (Genesis 6), so Many found favour in the sight of God, to bring salvation to the estate of man, otherwise of foul destiny (Ephesians 2:12, 4:17-19, John 3:18-19). Here was hope not only in this world, but beyond its day, eternally.
"He," said the angel of the child to be born, "will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end," as in Daniel 7:27, where He is seen given power and dominion over all races. Indeed, unlike all the other kingdoms, His is the one notable not least in this, that it will never be destroyed (Daniel 7:13-14).
society in those days was not secular! Despite Rome, they were immersed in the
word of God, however many abused it. Then, as foretold, so it was; and as told
to Zacharias so to Elizabeth, the identities were revealed, disclosed before the
works of each followed.
4. The Internal Messages to Elizabeth - Luke 1:39-45.
At the presence of Mary, on a visit to Elizabeth, with both pregnant with their singular babes, the one to introduce, the other to perform the work of salvation, something deep stirred in Elizabeth. She was in fact "filled with the Holy Spirit," and as if to reinforce the point, the babe in her womb leapt, a thing sufficiently singular in the occasion of their meeting. More so, is the conjoint testimony, the leap leading to impact! and the filling of the Holy Spirit to inspiration.
"Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb," said Elizabeth. She referred to Mary as "the mother of my Lord." No one can be the mother of God, since He is a Spirit, neither physical nor generated from anything or anyone, but eternal in the heavens (John 4, John 1, Hebrews 1, Psalm 90, 102); yet someone was the mother of the Lord Jesus Christ, for God did not forbear to send the supernatural equivalent of a fatherhood to Mary, and SO was the fruit of it called the Son of God. Transmission from heaven to earth thus came, and a format was provided for the One who was eternally equal with God, His eternal word (Philippians 2).
Elizabeth knew of the message to Mary, and declared, "Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfilment of those thins which were told her from the Lord."
So do the
spiritual and episodic surrounds of the incarnation accrue, the landscape
sharpening as before the rising sun.
5. The Proclamatory Message from Mary, Luke 1:46-55.
When God acts, it is singular in importance and intent. When God acts to become man, the format for the operation is singular, one woman, and the power is so, the Spirit of God. When the work is wrought, there are signals to those concerned as the Lord chooses. A new signal now came to Mary, and her Magnificat Message was the result.
"For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
for behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.
His mercy is on those who fear Him from generation to generation ...
He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever."
All these events with Zacharias, John, Mary, Elizabeth, both as happening and characterised by the working of the Spirit of God, are woven like a tartan texture, into a format of strength and beauty, integrated because there is one plan, that of salvation. Like the gathering of the armed forces in England, prior to the arrival of the Second Front, so are the spiritual forces showing themselves with the humility of the Saviour, the savour of His spirituality, the goodness of God and the significantly unspectacular mode of His entry. There is neither trumpet nor crusade; neither are there cheering crowds, nor scenes of glory for the outward eye: for it is all wrought as for Him, having meekness and salvation, later to be seated on an ass's colt, as He comes into Jerusalem to be lauded as Lord, before being dumped as undesired, all as foretold (cf. Matthew 21:1-27, Luke 19:28-48, Isaiah 49:7, Psalm 118, Zechariah 9:9).
6. The Proclamatory Message through Zacharias - Luke 1:67-79.
This has already been presented for integration's sake, in item 4, as its second part, but in chronological sequence, it fits here. The loosing of his tongue is another separable unit of the supernatural signals associated with the incarnation of the Messiah, but this will be left conjoined with the action side of the events of that priest.
7. The Arrival of the Magi at the birth period of the Messiah, to worship and give gifts to the coming King (Matthew 2).
In view of their long journey, this timing, like the finding of their target babe, was itself spectacular, a birthday gift indeed.
8. Their Further Help in Finding
the exact spot through the star (Matthew 2:9), and leaving safely.
This, for what was outwardly a very intimate and humble affair in a foreign land, was an matter of magnitude, astral aids supplied, as was their being divinely warned to depart speedily, and the choice of safe exit from the raging King Herod. The scene, the significance and the cast, all are providentially supplied for a work of infinite significance.
9. The Effective Practicality of the Prophetic Announcement of the Birthplace of the Messiah, in Bethlehem (Micah 5:1-3, Matthew 2:4-6).
It is one thing to have the answer; it is quite another in any work, war or wonder, to use it aptly at the right time. When it is supernaturally given more than half a millenium in advance, as is the case with Micah's prediction, the supernatural wonder is apparent.
It is all tied up by the God who plans and performs with total knowledge of all aspects, whether Herod's outrage, or the time of the arrival of the magi, and of their departure, and the mode of their guidance by star and prophecy. The latter through that same Herod's first call, leading to the successful provision of the Micah 5:1-3 text, signifying the Bethlehem birthplace of the Messiah. Of this, later, some amid the crowds were aware (John 7:40-44), though impassioned zealots seemed ignorant of His light foretold to impact mightily in Galilee (as in Isaiah 8:21-9:7, with john 7:52). This astonishing ignorance, at a time of immense biblical concentration and huge practical impact, is the way of evil passion; and it resembles the phases of forgetfulness, through the flashing of rage or the writhings of deep deceits, by which people often deceive even themselves.
What killed the babes is not nice, is still found in man, is still used viciously by those who aspire through such murders, to reach heaven the more securely, being duped (cf. John 16:2).
In fact, there are many elements in the case of the magi, the star with the recognition of its significance, the will to travel, the gifts transported, not without effort, the distance travelled, then the availability of the prophecy, its pinpoint accuracy, then the further action of the star, the success in finding the Messiah in so lowly a place, the deposit of the gifts after so much for so long, and the warning to depart.
However, these have been divided here simply into four sections in time, their call to come and the star, the prophecy and its use, the timing of their arrival, the further effectual action of the star, and their coming to and going from the stables with all its episodes as planned, enabled and sequenced safely.
10. The Shepherd's Auditing of the Song of the Angels, Believing it, Having Precise Information
concerning it, and arrival at the exact scene to verify and to praise the God of glory and practicality, vision and truth - Luke 2:8-19.
"born to you this day in the city of David," they
were told, "a Saviour who is Christ the Lord." The
vehicles of this repeated message, in various forms, are here lowly but
suggestive of the goodness of Him who is to be the Shepherd not of sheep but
man; and yet their message is as precise as the slaying of wolves, or the help
to lambs, and as warm in spirit.
11. The Phenomenon of Simeon - Luke 2:25-35.
Here was an aged man, "just and devout, waiting for the Consolation of Israel."
Thus he has long pondered, realised, understood and waited for the arrival of the Messiah. Like the wise men near the birth of the babe, so Simeon's coming to the temple just when Jesus was there for circumcision as prescribed, was not only remarkable, but divinely arranged, for indeed, "he came by the Spirit into the temple," as precisely the right time. This is both more remarkable (in that it was so precise), and less astonishing (in that he had been in communication with God over time about this matter, having received assurance that he would not leave this life before "he had seen the Lord's Christ." In terms of supernatural intervention and action, of course, the events are all mutually corroborative and magnify their impact.
First he was a man to wait; second he knew what he was waiting for; thirdly, as his words show, he understood well the prophecy concerned in Isaiah 42:6; fourthly, in his long-term communion with the Lord, he had a specific message.
It meant firstly that the Messiah would arrive during Simeon's life span on this earth, secondly that he would see him personally, and thirdly, in terms of it, that he was shown as one persuaded by faith of the significance of the arrival. It was nothing less or other than that of the Saviour, and moreover, this was as dear as life to him. With this divinely given assurance concerning seeing the babe who would become the salvation for man when His work was done, Simeon now felt in peace to leave the earth, thus supplied with its Christ.
It is the person of the babe, which is crucial. It is He who in due time is to bring salvation to the end of the earth, for He is identified as just that, just as He is the light to do it; and this One Simeon has identified in advance, specified in person amid all the multitudes of this earth, that this is He, even in the temple, even at the time of circumcision for the babe. So he has both identified and glorified the object of his desire, and of God's transmission to earth for this very purpose: a signal feat, testable and triumphant.
Simeon is therefore on record as having set Him and not another, as constituting that salvation in who He is and what He does.
It is easy to talk of what is back of some event; it is a very different thing to find the man, the plan, the performance, the arrangements of detail when many are involved, to organise a correct understanding: all this over much time and involving affairs of faith and glorious events of diverse categories. Here it is all together, woven like a tartan, now developing as the more ornate, step by step.
This is more than a fire-works display for a new year; this is a spiritual display of the work and communion, communication and inter-relation of God and man in multi-dimensional marvel and wonder, with precision and practicality, depth and understanding, simplicity and effectuality.
Supplemental Message of the Cost of Salvation - Luke 2:34-35.
With Simeon, this was not all.
A precious soul, in depth in his communion with God and pondering of His written word, as shown in his intense psychic involvement in it, knowledge of it and expectation concerning it, Simeon was ready to give more. This brings a message to all Christians. IF you abide in Him and He abides in you, if His word abides in you, vast are the open doors for action for His glory (cf. John 15:7).
Moving away, now, from the sense of the intense glory of God in this salvation, thus coming on its way through the babe, the child to be born as in Isaiah 9:1-7, Simeon is moved to give witness in a warning. Adding that "this child is destined for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and a sign which will be spoken against," he leaves the cost of victory for this same Jesus, with a smell as of gunpowder, in the very midst of its glory. As in Isaiah 49:7, the people, the ones with authority to act, will abhor Him! That is part of the road to sacrificial salvation as in Isaiah 50-55.
There is, secondly, to be an anguish for the mother, a sword to pierce through to her soul, and the truth of the Messiah will penetrate to and expose the thoughts of many. That is the purport of this second message from Simeon (Luke 2:34-35). This precision with prophecy, this tracing of nadir and zenith, cost and glory, personal sacrifice and wonderful securement, of repudiation and restoration, it is one more element in the fabric of the function of the Messiah, the way both of and to glory.
13. The Timely Message of Redemption, through Anna - Luke 2:36-38
Once again we come to an aged saint, this one a widow of decades, serving God with prayer and fasting in the Temple. Life is not matter, and what matters most is for what purpose you use all matters, mental, physical or moral, spiritual or godly, and in what manner. Anna like Simeon, came in the very instant of maximal relevance, while Jesus was still in the Temple, and the issues were being articulated by Simeon; and she gave thanks to the Lord, speaking of Him in terms of the redemption offered. Since it was at that instant, it seems clear that it was in terms of the same babe singularised by Simeon, that she spoke. and it was assuredly of what was to come to Jerusalem, the redemption in Him who was the Saviour; for it could come in no other way (Psalm 49, Isaiah 42,49, 43:10-11, 53-55).
Simultaneity and spiritual choreography are most prominent, along with prophecy, fulfilment and divine leading in all of these things, the awe, the worship, the witness and the sense of inexorable development with personal power and cohesion. Like a great landing of troops, here is the landing on this earth of ONE person, with one salient purpose which will fill the lives of many, provide spiritual surge and resurgence to millions, and provide this earth with the divine option, the one chosen by God, for its deliverance ? No, it will go, as will this world; but what is provided is the deliverance of those who delight in the landing and receive Him who came (cf. II Timothy 4:8).
Let us regard this closely: "Finally, there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that day; and not to me only but to all those who have loved His appearing."
How Europe longed for the arrival of the expeditionary force on its guarded shores, set to repulse, and how it rejoiced at its arrival and consolidation! How much more did those who loved the appearing of the Messiah, rejoice that not just a continent was to be delivered, nor from just one tyrant would the deliverance come, but that all peoples would have liberty to find His love, rule, reality, pardon, peace and empowerment in their lives. Moreover, it was not just a resurrection metaphorically, as in the nation of Germany and more of Europe, much at the expense of now deeply indebted United States of America; this, by far more, would lead to a resurrection of fallen, even the sinners, just as insurrection lead to man's sentence of death in the first place. On this, Romans 5 dwells, and I Corinthians sings.
Thus first came divine creation of the body; and then a duo, its condemnation to death and through faith in the Messiah, Jesus, its resurrection in eternal format, individuality intact as was His own (I John 3:1ff.). A spirit, said Christ, "does not have flesh and bones as you see Me to have!" (Luke 24:39). As is the way with the Lord, who loves testing and finding, He asked them to check it out physically and see!
Thus first by divine power, the physical body arrives, then through misuse of mind and spirit, it finds death; and lastly, the greater glory is this, that in and through this self-same Messiah, it also finds resurrection for ever, proof against all tyrants and tyranny, where truth dwells unimmersed in political fiddling, and love replaces bureaucratic substitution of endless laws to condemn, to please these or those, with the rules of reality, the desire of goodness and the ways of grace.
14. The Instruction to Joseph to Leave Israel for Egypt - Matthew 2:13-14.
Let us pursue now the sequence. The babe has come to Bethlehem, in the pregnant mother, whose arrival results from governmental census requirements. For the babe, a manger has been found. It is now born. The shepherds have given their message. Earlier the duet of the pregnancies, the intimations to both women, Mary and Elizabeth have been given. The magi have come and being warned by God, have left, Herod being a mass murderer and user of information for extortionate purposes, to fulfil his pathological ambitions and disquietudes. He is about to act in slaughter of children from two years down.
The divinely instructed magi have now left by a discrete route, for their return. Now the babe who is to die in torture, is to be removed from this political slaughter, so that when His day comes, He like John, can suffer as the service of the Almighty requires: for the one as a prelude attracting crowds, and for other as the centre of salvation personally. All is in readiness.
It is necessary that King Herod, the mad and royal mentor of Israel should be thwarted in his quest to kill the Messiah, whose death is for another time and a master purpose. Therefore God warned Joseph, just as for His purposes, He warned the magi. GO to Egypt. ARISE and go! was the instruction to Joseph. As later to Peter in prison with 16 soldiers to prevent a repetition of his earlier escape, though they were foiled, just as the resurrection foiled the Sanhedrin, and the embroiled haters of the light, so the message of the angel with the obedience of Joseph, foiled Herod.
Those of us who are Christians from this learn that when you find ground for believing a charge to be from the Lord, when the Bible does not flaw it and when prayer of faith precedes it and in peace it is confirmed, then be prepared to ARISE and to serve God as He will lead you. Joseph went. It might not have seemed a good idea to carry the Saviour for Israel, a babe, not long born, to a foreign country form the religious land of His birth; but Joseph did it. After all, there were passages in the Bible enough to confirm the danger in type, of acting for God but without His guidance, when the matter was the very incarnation of the Messiah, of deity! His own foretold death was testimony enough of that!
As to Joseph, then, so instructed, He went, and being told further by the angel to go to Egypt and to STAY there till word was brought to him, concerning the matter, this also he did.
could have had a ball game of negatives; but faith, seeing the scriptures
concerning the office of the Saviour, did not hesitate. It went, carrying
its possessor with it, and all was very well for the child's preservation that
it might, when become man, and when the Messianic Mission was complete, die as
vicarious sacrifice on behalf of all, a substitutionary sacrifice to those who
would believe the report (as in Isaiah 53:1, John 6:47, 5:24, Matthew 11:27ff.,
Galatians 1, 3, 5).
15. The Slaughter of the children (Matthew 2:16-18)
ALTERNATIVE to believing in the Incarnate King, and the wickedness of man then,
as later, has always shown no mercy whatever, in seeking to squash at any cost,
and in any way, those who serve the Lord. Herod symbolised this, a spiritual
pathology which became
like a plague: hate God and hate His children, even little ones! So a hacking
cough may be found in a syndrome to which it points, and here, a slaughter to be
much mirrored later, is a pointer to what was to follow, and follows
passionately to this day, namely man's war with God, because of other motives,
other desires, as limitless in evil as the skies above in beauty.
16. This Slaughter was Foretold
in Jeremiah 31:15, where in one Chapter, the word of God shows a sudden interruption of rejoicing in the land to which a restored Israel at that epoch came. It was Rachel, personification for Israel, "weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted for her children, because they are no more." The sudden contrast with what precedes in Jeremiah 31, and the reference a little later,
incarnation in Jeremiah 31:22 - reminding of Isaiah 7, 9, 40,
to the New Covenant in 31:31ff.:
this sets a scene, a tone and a schema.
It is seen in resultant in Jeremiah
23, where the Messiah is displayed as King ruling, after the false prophecy spiritual
syndrome has reached its height (Jeremiah 23:5 with 23:30). This warning
concernng the weeping of "Rachel" is
noted in Matthew 2:18.
Why does God allow such suffering ? some might ask. As shown above, it is in the heart of man to ruminate, consider, plan, evaluate, discern purposes, imagine dreams, depart from God in deep alienation, reject salvation, be assured in himself, for himself and by himself, for he is free so to act; but he may do otherwise. Life has great parameters when you are fashioned in the image of God, and your spirit is of this potentiality to act, envisage principles, seek power or purity. Man is not roboticised, but real. He may slay and enchain, or charm or disdain.
When he abuses this glory, being made in the image of God (who being spiritual has a spiritual provision for what is in His image, as a creation of His), so does the horror abound. He may, however, rather believe in the Lord, and being pardoned, have peace and fellowship with the Lord God, the Almighty. This is a thing more beautiful than beauty itself, for it is direct closeness to the Lord of glory Himself, who made not only man and beauty on earth, but their mutual facility and felicity. It is divinely presented, this scope for salvation, in publicly proclaimed terms (cf. John 15:21ff., John 16, Colossians 1:27, Philippians 3:8-10,20-21, Psalm 27, Galatians 1:6-9). Offered with sincere love to all as in John 3, it is brought to bear for His elect who are bought with His blood (Acts 20:28, Romans 3:23-27).
In His divine foreknowledge, God knows who are His, where His love has first reached, a love manifest in Matthew 23:37ff., and Luke 19:42ff., for the Lord did not weep for nothing, there did salvation come.
things are tested and exhibited and reported, as history the laboratory for life
turns, results accrue, either empty for emptiness or full for the fulness, so
eternal reality is shown. None is lost through oversight (I John 2:1-2), nor are
any found through deception (Psalm 18:26).
17. The Message to Joseph to return to his homeland - Matthew 2:19.
Joseph in fact stayed there till word reached him, as foretold, and believed (Matthew 2:19), and it did so when Herod was dead. The message was paired with the actual reality: it came when the time was ripe. A surveying satellite might have been trained on the case, if available, and have failed, but God never fails (Zephaniah 3:5). Man is given wisdom as needed, and is expected to use it as required. Joseph returned to the land, but where would he go ?
18. The Information Protection - Matthew 2:22-23.
On that occasion, seeing the son of Herod, Archelaus reigning in Judah, Joseph did not return to that site, but to Galilee, to the North, to Sprout city indeed, if such we may call it, that is, to Nazareth (cf. Number 3, above). It was scarcely a vehicle of culture or a place of prestige, it seems, but one of vigour and action. In this way, there was fulfilled an oblique but striking message from Isaiah 11.
This teaches us that God is faithful. Do not WORRY. If God sends you to a place, and you go in faith, according to His written word and the promises in that, then the requirements to be there, go or stay, will come also, as I have found in ministering in four nations, to not one of which do I go (or would I even have considered, as a Christian, going) for my own pleasure, planning or purposes, but only as I believed God desired this of me, amid my call to the Ministry of the word of God.
19. The Recognition Procedure - John 1:29-34.
How would John, son of Zacharias and Elizabeth, know the only begotten Son of God, when the work of preparation was being done ? How would the one who would become John the Baptist, wilderness prophet and minister to thousands who came to seek him, identify the One whose way He was by the prophecy in Isaiah 40, to prepare! It is, once more, one thing to know what to do, but quite another to get it successfully done!
In precise accord with the other supernatural elements surrounding the incarnation, this prima facie problem was taken care of through an adequate, indeed an appointed means. John knew God, and the Lord who sent him on his own mission, instructed him on this part of his responsibilities, that is, how to recognise the Messiah. He was shown specifically how to do this for the One way he was busy preparing, as crowds flooded the wilderness, to find him who was preaching repentance, and the coming of the Messiah. He was to be great, glorious, noble, awesome, the Lamb of God (John 1:29), but ... WHERE was He!
God, however, did not give to John a work without a provision, a task without truth, a path ending at a dead-end; but John worked, and God worked with him, until the place being ready, He gave him the necessary information.
I am not worthy to undo His sandal strap, John told the crowd. I baptise with water, he declared; but He will do so with the Holy Spirit.
20. The Faithful Identification - John 1:27-34.
The Lord who called him to his part, told him how to complete this identification. The one on whom he would see the Spirit descending and remaining, this was the One. John saw this, and attested both the criterion given to him for recognition, and the One concerned. More, he told them that he must decrease (having done the preliminaries) and the Messiah must increase (the way being now open, having been duly prepared). "Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world," he cried (John 1:29), given practical effect to the revelation which he had received. This led to some following the Christ, whose works then followed as they followed, and all followed in the divine choreography.
This teaches us not to remain assured of this and that only, but to put into practice the results of the information, knowledge, understanding or illumination given.
There is in this world indeed a Highway of Holiness (Isaiah 35), which the Lord supplies for the faithful; but above it is the celestial domain itself, the plenipotentiary domain of that God who is spirit, who is truth, whose majesty is indomitable, whose rule is to be perpetual, whose love is assessable in the mode of His redemption, whose power moves in His performance, from creation to curse, even to salvation. These are those heights to which His people go, imperially resurrected, as II Corinthians 4-5 explains, with all the reality of individuality conserved, the glory of redemption ineffaceable (Galatians 6:14), and all the purity of holiness like the clouds, over all (Revelation 21-22).
21. The Comprehensive Perspective is Provided - Revelation 12.
Part of a program, warfare, initiative, procedure is its capacity to be mentally structured, subjected to review, shown in perspective, evaluated masterfully in its significance.
Here, in Revelation, this is done in terms of the whole biblical view, and an overview sets it in place.
This exemplifies the glorious consistency and sufficiency of the Bible. Everything always fits, not as zealots distort facts to fit their fancy, but here the work is done in depth and in detail, in power and in wisdom, in wit and in continuity: it is all always there, and it does not change, whether the mode of communication be declaration, proposition, challenge, testimonial, verificatory, validatory or subtlety, nuance or nicety, as when a professor points out some aspect readily overlooked, with a smile.
Here we see that there is a fallen angel called Satan, emblematized as a dragon, figured as behind the frenzies on earth, by which the sinfulness of man becomes the madness of manias, the destructions wrought by political machines and the collaboration of fallen nations in stark evils.
Here is the underlying dynamic to make man's fallen nature mature into horror, when it foolishly does not follow the Lord, nor receive what He has provided for the salvation of mankind as in Titus 2-3. Instead, in its openness and callow self-exaltation, it becomes vulnerable, ready for infestation, often in a species of spiritual pandemic, affecting most of the world (cf. The gods of naturalism have no go! Deity and Design ...), which increasingly, as with an aged body, looks like it! Amid the tormented thoughts and twisted topics, it is conceived as if nature could make itself from nothing, when it was not even there to do it, or you just assume anything, for no reason, and lurk in the irrational premises which are the current philosophic address of much of humanity.
The fact that this, even if it were not self-contradictory, is not what is found in type, but law and precision, measure and logical orders and authorisation*11, seems merely like one more breeze playing as much of the race sun-bakes in its indifference to logical solecism, singularising itself in being at once emphatic on illusion, and illusory about reality.
Pictured is the fallen angel's following which taints the earth in terms of fallen 'stars', figures for spiritual luminaries, now joining to the extent of one third of the host, the mordant leadership of the lead angel, now devil indeed, as are those with him. He has not been idle, but is the prince of illusion, the cardiac stimulant of delusion (cf. II Thessalonians 2:10).
Like a dragon, this Satan, the adversary, is seeing standing next to Mary, ready to devour the babe to be born, for here lies man's salvation, and in his malignant schemes, the removal of that would do what so many nations right now are doing, in working to remove the testimony of Jesus, and killing those who have it, in endless murders.
However, while evil is given scope to show itself before its final and eternal damnation, for God does not rule by mere power, but with light and truth, in peace and reality, by contrast with the devilish lust to lord it over man, and to extract a fallen joy from the folly: yet it is blocked when attacking salvation. Its freedom to betray much is stopped when it comes to the only hope of man; for there is one God, one Trinity, one sent Saviour, one who paid, one who could pay, and one who freely, having paid, offers free salvation so that man, instead of being lured into final darkness and deviousness, might find truth and peace in love and integrity in the presence of his Maker.
That salvation, the Saviour Himself, the opportunity it gives, the light of this world, it is not extinguishable. Thus, even when the most bloodthirsty episodes, the cruellest tortures abound (as you see for earlier periods in Foxe's Book of Martyrs, or more recent books from time to time such as The Heavenly Man from one who lived from childhood in China), grace the more abounds.
Hence not only did the devil fail to devour the babe, none other than the child who unto us is given, on whose shoulders will be the government: he failed also to devour the body of Christ, His Church from the earth! It is not that he did not try.
God is stronger than man, wiser than any angelic, more loving in quality than any hate can be, and is never outwitted.
Having finished His work on earth, then, we see in Revelation the child, now grown to manhood, the Messianic mission for which He came to this earth entirely accomplished, with perfect success, being caught up to heaven, as in the ascension (Matthew 28). As He indicated would happen (John 16:18-28, 14:1-11), so it was. He told them He was to be reviled, to die, to be resurrected the third day, thus to rebuild the temple of His body after it was slain (John 2:19), return to the heaven from which as God He came (John 8:58, 17:1ff.). In Acts 3:19ff., we find that there He is to stay until the restoration of all things, a future episode, following the travail of darkness, as all are tested, all thoughts, ideas, plans and presumptions.
Then, when the long period of kingdoms rising and falling was over, amid a turmoil making earth no longer fit for man (Matthew 24:21-22), He indicated that He would return in power with glory, remove His people from the smitten earth (Matthew 24:37ff.), and judge its evils.
Revelation 12 gives an outline in much, focussing on the site of His incarnation, the fact of it, the results of it, the turmoil surrounding it amid the angels, the warfare and the woe as the adversary seeks to derail redemption and consume those redeemed.
Here it is indicated that the woman from whose being the babe was born, in this case seen as the nation of 12 tribes, Israel, the one to whom a Son was born, would be persecuted, and in particular those who had followed Him (Revelation 12:6,17). Stricken is the nation, the Church arising within it despite the official murder of the Messiah, and the body of Gentiles who follow His word, way and witness.
Meanwhile, the celestial finale of the fallen angels in heaven is seen in Revelation 12:7, the devil and his host stricken and sent to earth from their former glory, till their end arrives. In the interim, they are most active.
Testing times then come, and the assiduous devilries of those in the devil's camp, who in the darkness do not always realise who and where they are, these are shown, exposed here, for they seek to ruin the spiritual body of the resurrected Christ, His people, who despite their worst, would seek to give their best. This would be their way, or a vast courage at least, overcoming in this test above tests, the attempt by violence to violate their testimony, avoid their truth and crush their salvation. They would prevail, despite faithfulness even to death, "by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony," as in Revelation 12:11.
This surging against spirituality and the people of the Lord has been carried out in this world so often in so many empires and nations, groups and cliques, with such ferocity for so long, that it is a marvel amid marvels that there still is this same body, His, His people: while villages and churches, whether in Egypt or India or the Middle East, are smitten, people are stolen, and a ruthlessness of which the devil would not be ashamed is practised, whether in war or in Inquisition, in this land or in that. Yet the intimidation and the murder being done, the forces of violence fail and the citizens of the kingdom of heaven continue (Philippians 3:20ff.). So it was to be as in Revelation 12, and so it is. It is always so with the written word of the living God, the Bible, the book of the Lord (Isaiah 34:16).
What then ? The woman who gave birth to the male child (Revelation 12:13ff.), is persecuted, and Israel who played her own sad role, yet from whom the format of flesh was found for the incarnation, has been persecuted. This devastating routine of hatred and death however is not limited to loathing of the very people whose officials did not receive the Christ, as predicted in Isaiah 49:7, 53, though their restoration as a nation still stirs irrational fits of blitzes against them, from many quarters. HOW so many resent God's singular coming to earth as Saviour, His kindness, love, mercy and sheer competence; and whatever has contributed to the clarity of His charity, evokes ire. Whatever has the scent of God, the many like to send away, despatch, revile or remove.
Thus, even more, the evil work expands to those who follow the Christ (Revelation 12:17) throughout the entire world. Here recall this: that many of the people of Israel CONSTITUTED those of the early Church, including all the apostles; and the followers of this Christ, such as Paul found in one of the great missionary outreaches of this same Church, these and later aggregations from amid the Gentiles, nations who from time to time have drawn close to God, including many in them even when they did not (as in China now), have become a large aggregate. Here is the broader target for the ruinous renegacy of the reviling devil.
These then, the world-wide believers in Christ as in Revelation 12:17, became prey for the same evils from the same devilish source. Indeed, those who keep the commandments of the Lord (including seeking forgiveness through His blood when failing at any point - I John 1:7-2:2) are special targets for his ire. Just as Israel in its double issue, believers and unbelievers making one nation, is seen as fleeing into the wilderness, the devil pouring out a self-induced flood after them (Revelation 12:16), so are those who are His, in the whole world, the target of the anti-truth belligerence of the evil powers.
As to the former, the dynamics do not swallow them up, however, since the earth opens to absorb the flood (Revelation 12:16). This symbolism means that despite the sense of an overpowering work of a fallen supernatural character, a devil's work in this world, there is in it, through the grace of God who made it, scope for escape by many means. Israel whether in political form or in its contribution of followers of Christ is under assault. Yet it is not removed.
Frustrated in his effort to eliminate Israel (which however DID have to leave its country, having nationally forsaken its covenant in the murder of Jesus Christ), failing in his pursuit in the wilderness, as in his effort to eliminate the early Church in Israel, the devil still pursues the type of truth around the earth, seeking to smash the church as it has expanded throughout the world (Revelation 12:17). Angry because of failure despite his eminently tyrannical and planned pursuit of persecution, as also because he knows his time for such operations is strictly limited (Revelation 12:17, 12:12), the devil burns hotter his flames of torture, to torment, to humiliate and to incinerate; but it is he only who is in line for eventual incineration, not the people whom he persecutes with such lofty eyes and endless evil. His end is like that of a burning hulk, amid the ashes of limitation, as in Revelation 20.
God who built this earth and man, will rebuild a new heavens and earth, just as an author with more imagination than power, might write a new book. Since he could produce the first, it is no great wonder if he should choose to present a second one; since God could create the universe, cosmos and man, in parallel, well may He create its replacement. Especially is this so, when it overcomes what the first displayed, and presents a finale, as here! God the Creator has the power as well as the imagination.
All these things, predictive, propositional, explicatory, historical as depicted in Revelation and elsewhere in the Book of the Lord, are to come, the bulk of it having arrived already. The spiritual elements in history are exposed in their situation and sequence, in their meaning, and all this starts in a grand sequence in this Chapter 12, with the reality of what ? It is that of the incarnation, a vast event of immeasurable significance, and results.
Supernatural and without supernumeraries are the spiritual things involved in the plan of salvation, and in particular with the coming of God incarnate, for man and his salvation. It is a glory of intertwining events and principles, realities and scope for the future, and like a bridal train, it follows on from the first event, but this follow-on, it never stops, since God Himself is eternal, and as to Him, He does not change; and what he says, goes!
For His people, the consummation comes in collection, as in Revelation 11 (cf. Acme, Alpha and Omega Ch. 5), and Matthew 24:26ff., Isaiah 26:19, and the discontinuity in the finale of dismissal for the heavens and the earth as in Revelation 20-21, Matthew 24:35, II Peter 3. Throughout all this, and beyond is the spiritual continuity of those in Christ, resurrected now as was the Son the Saviour (I Corinthians 15, Revelation 19:8ff., I John 3:1-3). In a new heavens and new earth salvation is shown sublime in its consummation, a foretaste in Revelation 7:9ff..
So have we traced
sights to be seen clearly from the Highway of Salvation
(Isaiah 35). From this, it is not of God that man is excluded, for His offer is fitting for all, His initiating love yearns for all (Colossians 1:19, John 3:15-19), but His ticket is rejected by many amid mankind, even though it would allow entry to this Highway. The ticket ? the acceptance ? (Ephesians 1:6), It involves repentance to life (Acts 11:19, which needs to be received) , that is, awareness of the foulness of sin, of the truth of life in Christ, faith in Him, trust in His word and reception of His gift of eternal life. It is not grievous.
The beauty of this Highway is that it does not end. Mortality has its way for a day, till He returns, who made that Highway, who IS the way; and then immortality exhibits itself (Romans 8:30). This, His gift purchased by Him in His labours and received by many, continues in incorruptibility, in the domain of God, who making a new heavens and a new earth, lacks neither power not purity, purpose nor love, and is altogether lovely.
*1 See Daniel 9:24-27, with The Christian Prescription Ch. 2. Christ the Citadel... Ch. 2.
See Micah 5:1ff..
See Genesis 49:10 and Isaiah 11:1, where the Messiah comes through Jesse.
David was the son of Jesse, who was descended from Nahshon, chief of the tribe of Judah. See also Matthew 1:1-16. The prophecy of Isaiah in naming the list for Judah in its genealogy, confirms Genesis 49:10. The lawgiver and the Messiah were certainly to come from Judah, in which lay not only Bethlehem, but Jerusalem. As it was to be, predicted, so it was, fulfilled.
See also II Samuel 7:16,25-29.
See Isaiah 49-55 in sequence, and in particular, 50:4-9, 52:13-15, 53, Psalm 22, Zechariah 11.
See Psalm 69:9-23, Zechariah 11:11-17, Psalm 55:11-21. See also Psalm 109 and in this genre, 41.
The reason for the unremitting judgment on the betrayer of the Messiah is simple: mercy is found only in the Messiah, sent for this purpose, in the staggering act of the incarnation. Despatching Him is to despatch mercy, and despite His compassion, this renders Him an absentee in the overthrow of due judgment.
Instead of the Creator's marvellous lovingkindness, what He acted to prevent, namely judicial finality in the horror of true deserts, then comes to the sinner direct, for His mercy has been despised, ignored or distanced. What Christ suffered is by no means less than an enormity. The transference of guilt to Him being aborted through this unbelief and knowing denial, its full weight comes, like a missile no longer destroyed by an anti-missile missile, to the recalcitrant. These put their ideas, their hopes, their security in themselves, or their appointees, even at times in vagueness, in vice or moral self-acclaim, as if God could be satisfied with the devices of sinners, or heaven be heaven where folly ruled.
See Psalms 16 and 22, Isaiah 26:19..
See Matthew 23:37-39, Psalm 2, 110.
See the above Psalms, Isaiah 11, 59, Daniel 7:13-14, Revelation 19.
See Isaiah 35.
See Isaiah 11, Psalm 72, Isaiah 40.
Waiting for Wonder Appendix with
The Christian Prescription Ch. 8,
and index on DNA and genes.
See also Dr Michael Denton,
Evolution: A Theory
in Crisis, and the work at this site,
Deity and Design, Designation and Destiny.
Note Section 8 especially in the last of these.