Monday, December 17, 2007

The Incarnation

Though I know the story, though I have pondered the texts, I simply cannot grasp the full significance of the Incarnation. How does the One who has always been and who always will be become a baby born at a given time, to die at the appointed hour; how does the One who created mankind, the Heavens, and the earth become a man to walk on His created earth; how does the One whose Home is Heaven be born in the animals' barn?

Everything seems backwards. The Messiah does not come in strength and power but in lowliness and humility. The King of Kings is not born in a palace but in a cattle stall. He is not raised as a king's son, but as the son of a poor young couple of Nazareth.

As a man, the Messiah was subject to the same temptations, hunger, cold, thirst that we know. He entered - willingly - into every aspect of what it means to be human. It is God who came and fully entered the human condition. Isaiah foretold that this child, this baby born of Mary, shall be called Emmanuel: God with us.

God comes to dwell with us; it is inconceivable mystery.

"Christ, by highest heaven adored; Christ, the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold him come, Offspring of the virgin's womb.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; Hail the incarnate Deity,
Pleased as man with men to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel."

- Hark! The Herald Angels Sing by Charles Wesley

Monday, December 3, 2007

Advent - The Coming of the Messiah, the Promised One

Since the fall of man, all creation has been restlessly waiting for the Promised One. God foretells of this Promised One when He declares to Adam and Eve the punishment for their sin. God says that One will come who will save His people from their sin. Since then, this expectation and hope has echoed through the pages of Scripture.

"As for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me." (Micah 7:7)

But generations were born and generations died - yet the promised Messiah had not yet come. God’s people “died in faith, without receiving the promises, but have seen them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having confessed that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.” (Hebrews 11:13)

As years turned into decades and decades into centuries, both the world and the prophets cried out, “How long, O Lord?” Men see the pain in the world and in their hearts, and they cry with Habakkuk and David

“How long, O Lord, will I call for help, And Thou wilt not hear? I cry out to Thee, ‘Violence!’ Yet Thou dost not save.” (Habakkuk 1:2) “How long, O Lord? Wilt Thou forget me forever? How long wilt Thou hide Thy face from me?” (Psalm 13:1)

But God did not forget; God was not delaying. The time had not yet come. To encourage His people, He gave the promise through His prophet Isaiah, “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)

Though the Messiah had not yet come, the hope remained burning within the hearts of the people. “We have waited for Thee eagerly; Thy name, even Thy memory, is the desire of our souls.” (Isaiah 26:8)

The pages of history fly by. The Promise is not forgotten amidst the pain and suffering on earth. Several millennia come and go since the Savior was promised. But then, in the darkness of the night, in a humble stable, in the small town of Bethlehem, Mary, a willing servant of the Most High God, delivers a child.

“But when the fullness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman.” (Galatians 4:4)

The Heavens shout out, “For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11)“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” (Luke 2:14)

The world sleeps, unaware of the momentous event that has just occurred. It is not just a baby who was born that night; it was the Son of God Himself, coming to fulfill the promise made long ago - coming to deliver the people from their sins!

The Promise is fulfilled! Immanuel has come.