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TWELVE EARLY INTIMATIONS OF THE IDENTITY OF CHRIST
ON EARTH, BEFORE HE WAS 30,
AND THE SETTING BEFORE AND AFTER
1) Luke 1:35 Incarnation specified to Mary cf. Matthew 1:25
2) Luke 1:46-55 Mary's Responsive Magnificat
3) Luke 1:67-80 John the Baptist's Pre-birth Commission
4) Matthew 1:20-21 Incarnation announced to Joseph,
with stress on salvation
5) Luke 2:33-35 Simeon's Personal Identification
of the Babe as the Lord Incarnate, Specified and now Sent
6) Luke 2:36-38 Anna likewise at Christ's circumcision,
indicated Him as the source of Redemption in Jerusalem, that Perpetual Locational Centre on earth till it goes, for the Saving and Ruling Work of God
7) Matthew 2:1-3,9-12 The Wise Men travel for Him "born King of the Jews," in order to Worship Him, and find, after a scholarly assemblage, that the predictive word of God had long indicated a site, so depositing treasures, physical wealth for physical babe; and being warned to return without seeing the King, in a dream, they did so.
8) Matthew 2:4-7 The Leading Question: Where did the word of God
Indicate that this King might even be worshipped ? babe though He then was? This was met from Micah 5, just as the flight of the Holy Family to Egypt and later return was implied in Hosea 11, and the massive and haunting slaughter of the babes (in fact, by the self-heralding King) in Jeremiah 30:15-17. As to the birth of the One drawing this international acclaim even in infancy (7), Bethlehem was spelled out in Micah 5:1-3 from many centuries before, the temporal launching pad of the Eternal on earth exhibited far in advance. That was the simple site for the Eternal God of heaven to visit the earth as smitten Judge: so it was written, and so was He smitten, for the sacrificial purpose noted in Isaiah 50-55..
9) Matthew 2:7-8, 13-18 Herod's foxy seeking for the babe lest his power and dynasty suffer, the Lord's warning to the Holy Family AND to the wise men, together with the scale of Herod's slaughter dramatically confirmed the significance of the visit of the magi from the East. The heights and depths of the events fitted the height to depth of the incarnation of the Lord, proclaimed in advance!
10) Luke 2:40-49 Jesus' Distinctive Awareness and Staggering Wisdom in Boyhood
11) Luke 1:5-25, Matthew 3:1-3 John the Baptist, specifically foretold both in Isaiah 40 and as recorded in Luke 1. This word came with his Preparatory Mission outlined as a Wilderness Herald for the coming of the Lord (Isaiah), and the definition of his role to his father (Luke); in introducing the mission of the Eternal Eminence, the Lord to come (Luke 1:76-79, Micah 5:3). Even in infancy, John leapt in his mother's womb, when Mary large with Christ, the babe, drew near to John's pregnant mother, Elizabeth. Such was an Enfolding, Consistent Cover both from history as vehicle for prophecy, and site for contemporary fulfilments. Christianity is the ultimate in non-dreams and divine, testable realities, unique in the clamour and profusion of such divinely donated data.
12) John 1:29 John directly points the Thronging Crowds to the Christ whom he identifies, declaring in a nutshell the thrust: "Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the World." Thus all things cohered and mutually reinforced for the greatest even in history: God come to earth to redeem sinful and spoiled man.
For some two millenia, God had been in communication with men concerning the coming of the Saviour, from Abraham on (Genesis 12-22).
Indeed, since CREATION, on the occasion of man's due test and fall, God indicated remedy to come (Genesis 3:15), and that through one to be born of woman, to destroy the power of the deceiver and to suffer in so doing, through the sheer force of the method of doing so..
In due course (Genesis 6), In a judgment on the playful impudence of self-assertive man, growing with time more chronic in type and ineradicable in his corruption in morbid continuation, God did more than blue-pencil sin. Indeed, as it would take blood (through the incarnation) to purge the sin, so blood was shed in the thrashing tumult of the purgative waters of the flood, which did not wash, as the blood of the Lamb would do. This flood was destructive of the incorrigible; that was constructive of the redeemable, in a personal action to come, where God Himself would do the necessary suffering, that any might in due time, freely be saved: but ONLY by faith, the function dislocated from the first (Genesis 3:4-6).
Israel had been called through Abraham, come of age in the day of David, become a centre for divine dealings, including discipline for a tendency to intransigent worship of nature, as in many lands including this one, now, despite the obvious fact that nature could not make itself before it was there to do it, and the One who had the eternal power to launch it, necessarily made what arrives and departs, and brings different species of ruin over time to different modes of desolatory defiance on the part of much of the human race.
This was epitomised in what many priests and rulers thought would be the epitaph of the Lord's work, thanks to their scheming to destroy the Saviour; but the Lord of power and purity breached death and so for the next two millenia has left no way for persecution available, in this lapse of their schemes, but persecuting Christians, a thing done with magnificent but evil flair and devilish flavour, an indirect and despicable assault on the Lord (cf. Acts 9:4). Now we turn to the case leading to the more contemporary.
THE ENCLOSING TESTIMONY SINCE HE CAME
The power of God has thus operated in fulfulling His promises, both of divine dynamic and of suffering, as faith has shattered the limits of nature, and attested the people of God, as for example, now so often and dramatically seen in suffering China (cf. The Heavenly Man, a book detailing one of many cases, often exposed).
The Protestant British Empire, in vast power say from the middle of the 16th century to the middle of the twentieth, an impactive 400 years, at last was quickly becoming corroded and corruptive, so that the deliverance after a prayer day, at Dunkirk by a miracle of weather and marine expeditions combined, may not be an example to be repeated, unless it repents!
The Land of Freedom, USA, at first a haven for liberty in the worship of God without persecution, engraven largely with Christianity, came to worship liberty more than the Lord, and so declines in staggering debt, already limiting her military equipment, in advanced aircraft for example. With its current stress on expanding democracy rather than the source of liberty in the Lord Jesus Christ, and in particular in President Obama's desultory declaration that the USA was NOT a Christian nation, there lies a second vast fall, unless it repents.
As predicted, false prophets, wars, moral incoherence, tempestuous and horrid scenes abound (Luke 21, Matthew 24). Thus the prelude before the incarnation and the raging passions since, interspersed with the light which many do not comprehend, hating truth, desiring what seems desirable become like two surfaces. They make a sandwich with Christ for the teeth of the blighting, in the middle. But He is no longer available for slaughter, so the world moves fast to its fatuous conclusion in self-will, self-worship, or fawning on its false gods, such as 'nature', an odd term about all the variety of the natures of the things made, and whatever seems comforting to complacency (for some), or an anodyne to horror (for others).
It is therefore, as the merry Christmas season arrives, occasion to realise that it is no nostalgic joy or merriment that is in order, but a worship of the One Incarnated who at the outset ousted the devil (Matthew 4), and in the onset overthrew his power (Luke 10:18-20). While none could ever resist His ineluctable power where He chose to use it (NOT at the arrest - Matthew 26:51-56,since He was sent as a sacrifice as He there indicated), just as He did not choose to use it when men sought to crucify Him, SO He does not dictate to the hearts of man. Love reserves His power from such use. Rather, He warns and calls, just as Martha did Mary when Christ came to raise their expired brother, gone several days, from the dead.
What did she say ? "The Master is here and He is calling for you!" What could be nicer or sweeter as loutish lords ruin the earth on all sides at this hour! There is the Lord Himself, suitable and sufficient for man, his Maker and his available friend.
Rejoice then this Christmas, yet not in the tinsel, but in the truth. As to that, it could not be better: sins forgiven, faith given scope and field, the Master not only available but calling, eternal life a gift (Romans 6:23).Let the unbeliever enter into the opportunity so costly to God, so free for man, by faith coming to the Lord Jesus Christ with repentance, and so rejoice. Again, let the believer be established in Christian character, formed by the Lord at conversion, conformed in life by love with obedience and to be consummated in the end, when eternity lifts the mists, and man's proper place comes as freely did the Gospel, for those who have found Him ... by faith.
It is great work, this salvation: all the work of God to achieve (Romans 3:23-27), and but of man, to explore and relish, knowing that He who calls, will also do it for those who have come by faith on His free terms! (Philippians 1:6, I Thessalonians 5:24, II Timothy 1:12, 4:8,17).