Wednesday, December 20, 2017

“But when the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” (Galatians 4:4)

The Virgin Birth

In the book of Genesis, God, announcing the birth of the Saviour of the world who would be the ‘offspring of a woman,’ declared; “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will crush your head, and you will strike His heel.” (Genesis 3:15)  Though it seemed coded, the Virgin birth of our Saviour Jesus is first mentioned here. Note the woman’s offspring, making allusion to the virgin birth. 

The Messiah would be the offspring of Abraham. “And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.” (Acts 3:25)  He would also come through the offspring of Isaac, Jacob and will descend from the tribe of Judah to become the heir of the throne of David.

The prophet Daniel makes mention of His birth with emphasis on the timing. “Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the Ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens’ and sixty sevens.” (Daniel 9:25)

The above scriptures set the stage for the coming of the Messiah announced from the time of Adam and Eve, giving the lineage and the timeframe. The prophet Isaiah takes it up from there and sheds ample light. “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call His name Immanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14) “For to us a child is born, to us a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders. ....” (Isaiah 9:6)

The prophet Isaiah’s prophecy centres on a child and a son. A child was born in Bethlehem of a mother who was a virgin; but the Son was given. “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given and the government will be upon his shoulders.” (Isaiah 9:6) God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16) God confirms His gift to humanity.

The prophecy relates to His birth. The virgin will give birth to a child, but that child would also be the Son of God. His Son is given. He was not born. The gift is wrapped two-fold. ‘Immanuel’ means God with us. God comes in the form of a man. This unique event was made possible through the virgin birth when God gave His Son, who was born as a child.  Indeed, the birth was presaged; when it happened, it became first of its kind.

A twin event occurred with the conception of a barren woman, Elisabeth by name, the wife of the high priest Zachariah, who was already advanced in age. Both births are significant in that everything comes to life in the sterile woman overturning her barrenness--where everything seemed dead. All of a sudden, everything comes to life again in the lives of God’s people. The virgin birth unwraps God’s holy gift.

God chooses Mary, not from a noble or prestigious family. The communication is direct. The message is received in her house not through a dream as was the case with Joseph, but in a vision. This young maiden, Mary, is chosen by God and granted favour. It is not a reaction to a prayer request or a promise, yet she takes on the challenges amidst the risk of being disgraced and even stoned to death for an immaculate conception. She gladly offered herself; “May it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38) 

This package came with an appendage. The angel had revealed “... that the government will be upon his (the child’s) shoulders.” (Isaiah 9:6) It meant that Jesus would go through some ‘misunderstanding’ with the establishment. Indeed, His ministry was turbulent as He met with opposition from the rulers of the law–-the Pharisees, the Sadducees and Herod, the king.   

The Messiah is described as a shoot that “...will come out of the stump of Jesse; from the roots a Branch will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord---and He will delight in the fear of the Lord.” (Isaiah 11:1-3)

The Servant of the Lord

God’s elect. “Here is my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen one in whom I delight; I will put my Spirit on Him and He will bring justice to the nations. He will not shout or cry out, or raise His voice in the streets. A bruised reed He will not break, and a smouldering wick He will not stuff out. In faithfulness He will bring forth justice; He will not falter or be discouraged till He establishes justice on earth. In His law the islands will put their hope.” (Isaiah 42:1-4)

Though Jesus is a fulfilment of prophecy, His name goes beyond history and any timeframe for that matter. Jesus’ name is powerful and rooted in humankind’s spiritual upliftment. His name is exalted above all names for He came to deliver humanity from the dominion of sin.

The good news about Jesus however is that He came for all; with His blood He “... purchased men [people] for God from every tribe, language and people and nation,” (Revelation 5:9b) anyone with a heart to receive Him. 

Whatever expectation you come with to Jesus, believe He has accomplished it as He hung on the cross. He has paid the price of humanity’s sin in full and paved the way to peace with God. “.... the Sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its wings.” (Malachi 4:2)

As we celebrate the advent of our Lord Jesus who came as a child to earth, let us not lose sight of His glorious mission---to save sinners. (Matthew 1:21) He came that we might “have life and have it to the full.”  (John 10:10)

A blessed advent season to You!  

Author: Galandou Gorre-Ndiaye