Tuesday, December 21, 2010

You can see Christmas coming from a mile away

    This time of year the thought of Christ's birth is at the forefront of most of our minds, especially when we are reminded by the popular phrase, "remember the reason for the season."  We marvel at how miraculous this birth was.  We breathe new life into this story we hear year after year.  Through all of this, the Old Testamant is rarely mentioned.  Few people come to grips that the prophecy of this awesome and amazing birth was foretold all the way back in Genesis 3:15, (God speaking to the serpent in Eden) "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."  Much later, the prophet Isaiah wrote these words centuries before God became man: "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" (Isaiah 7:14).  I remember hearing a story of a pastor going around to his staff and asking them to read verses he had written down without citing the verses. The verses were as follows:

   "He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the Lord's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied ; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors."

What verses are these?  What book are they from?  If you guessed any book in the New Testament, you would be wrong.  These verses are from Isaiah, Isaiah 53:9-12.  When the pastor asked who these verses were talking about, every staff member said, "Jesus," but when asked where the verses came from all said a book in the New Testament.  How amazing is it that Jesus' story does not start in a manger, but in the garden of Eden?!? 
    When man first plunged into disobedience, evil entered into humanity, and we were forever changed.  Many struggle with God because they do not understand how a good God can allow evil and pain to continue.  The answer is simple: because He loves us.  He could have put an end to evil even before the forbidden fruit was plucked from the tree.  When saying that God should put an end to evil, do not forget that by saying that, you are also saying that you would have Him put an end to you and me.  Man is evil, and all have fallen short of the glory of God.  If God puts an end to evil, then all of humanity is doomed.  God must punish sin, and the punishment of sin is eternal death.  In order to carry out this sentence, God loses the very people He loves.  Just as one man led all of humanity into rebellion, another must reconcile us.  But who?  Who among us does not deserve the penalty of sin?  Only a human who is also God would be capable of bearing the weight of the sins of all humanity.  This is God's amazing and beautiful plan.  A plan that has saved you and me from the punishment we surely deserve.  One man saved us, and this man was Immanuel, "God with us."

God Bless