The Word gave life to everything that was created, and His life has brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. (John 1:4-5)
I am not a big fan of winter. Sure, I love a fire in the woodstove, and the first snow is always beautiful and quiets things down. But it’s dark so early! And every night around 10pm I realize it’s only 5:30. Ugh, how depressing! But against the darkness of the season are the tandem joyful and light-filled holidays of Chanukkah and Advent. And, of course, without the victory of Chanukkah, there would be no Christmas. Both, by the way, are Jewish holidays, since Christmas is all about the birth of the promised Jewish Messiah.
Tomorrow evening is ‘Erev Christmas’. So, is it “peace on earth” and “good will among men”? Not if you look at the map of current wars and conflicts across the earth. Why is the world so messed up? It goes back to the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve defied God’s warning, joined the rebellion of Satan and the fallen angels, and sin was introduced into the world. This is the verdict: light has come into the world (in the person of Messiah Yeshua), but people love darkness more than light, because their deeds are evil.
The Incarnation set in motion the remedy for mankind’s sin. God the Son took humanity upon Himself, lived a perfect life, died an atoning death, and now we have a future and a hope. This morning, let’s consider some truths about Messiah’s birth.
Truths about Messiah’s Incarnation
Reflections on Advent by Rabbi Glenn
It was God’s plan from all eternity
Yeshua said to them… “For I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me.” (John 8:42)
For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in these last times for your sake… (1 Peter 1:20)
Before the world existed, God knew that the man and woman He was going to create would rebel, and that humanity would die spiritually. It didn’t deter Him from creating, but He set in motion a plan to redeem fallen mankind. That plan involved sending His Son, the Messiah, to be born into the world.
It was desperately needed
For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God… For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now. (Romans 8:19, 22)
It’s like the whole world is saying, “Oy, I need some Motrin!” You know, these shortened days of winter also symbolize the spiritual darkness spreading over the earth in these Last Days. There are wars and rumors of wars. Nation is set against nation. Gross immorality and moral confusion are ever increasing. The world was, and is, in desperate need of Divine intervention. That’s what the Incarnation was – God, in the Person of Messiah, breaking into time and space for our rescue.
It was long-anticipated
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; and the government will rest on His shoulders; and His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace. There will be no end to the increase of His government or of peace, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and righteousness from then on and forevermore. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will accomplish this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)
Across all the generations, those who were the faithful remnant in Israel always had their eyes open and their hearts attuned to God’s iron-clad promise of the coming Redeemer. In Luke’s account of Messiah’s birth, we read about certain righteous people who were on the lookout for that one; people like Simeon, Anna, and even by some outside of Israel, such as the wise men from the east.
It was foretold by the Prophets
As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Messiah within them was indicating, as He predicted the sufferings of Messiah, and the glories to follow… (1 Peter 1:10-11)
The prophets of Israel, inspired by God, gave us ample warning, and clues for what to look for, so that when the Redeemer would come, we should know it, and not be surprised. Even the time and location of Messiah’s birth, along with His family ancestry were declared in advance!
- Time: Precise # of years after Artaxerxes’ decree to restore/rebuild Jerusalem
(457 BC Daniel 9:24-25/Ezra 7)
- Location: Bethlehem (Micah 5:1)
- Ancestry: Descended from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, through the tribe of Judah, and through the family line of David
It occurred in unexpected ways
(in obscurity, amid unlikely, humble circumstances)
This will be the sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” So the shepherds came in a hurry and found their way to Miriam and Yosef, and the baby as He lay in the manger. When they had seen this, they made known the statement which had been told them about this Child. And all who heard it wondered at the things which were told them by the shepherds. (Luke 2:12, 16-18)
Maybe you’ve seen this: the very first King-size bed! The point is, we would never have expected the King of kings, the Divine Messiah, to be born in such humble circumstances! This was entirely “under the radar”. But isn’t that often how God does things? Quietly, and only the few on the lookout are in the know.
It was witnessed by the humblest members of society, and those least likely to be believed
Shepherds – considered the ‘dregs’ of Israeli society. Regarded as unclean, as losers, and whose testimony would be considered unreliable. Luke tells us that the shepherds, having been visited by the angel, and having seen for themselves the infant Messiah, according to the sign given them, were very vocal about it. But in proper society who’s going to take the word of a shepherd? Perhaps this gives a new perspective on the words of Isaiah, ² Who has believed our report, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?
It brought God’s light into mankind’s dark world
He says, “It is too light a thing that You should be My Servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob and to bring back the preserved ones of Israel; I will make You as a light for the nations, so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it (John 1:4)
“I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)
It teaches us what God’s nature is like
The Incarnation demonstrates that God loves us and wants to reconcile us to Himself. It also shows that He values us so much that He took the greatest measures imaginable to see it accomplished. It shows us that Adonai is just – sin must be punished; a price had to be paid. And it shows us that He is merciful. Knowing that we were helpless to save ourselves, He Himself (in the person of Messiah) became our salvation.
It is just as significant now as it was 2,030 years ago
Messiah’s words still have the power to transform the human heart and mind. Each human being has a necessary decision to make: will you submit to Him? Will you give Him your life and your loyalty? And had it not been for that supernatural event, we would still be in utter spiritual darkness.
These are some of my thoughts about the Incarnation. One more thought, and it’s an irony. How ironic that for the past 2,000 years, the birth of the long-awaited, promised Jewish Messiah, has been celebrated mostly by Gentiles, and ignored by Jews. But that Day is coming when, as Rabbi Paul wrote, all Israel will be saved.
O Lord our God, thank You!
… for invading our world
… for illumining our lives
… for inscribing our names in the Lamb’s Book of Life
… for interrupting our routine with sacred days
… for inviting people from all nations to be with us
And thank You for the promise of Messiah’s Second Coming!