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God’s plan for humanity

Jan 4, 2012, 1:52 PM | Article By: Galandou Gorre-Ndiaye

“I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” (Luke 2:10)

Some 2,000 years ago, a great event occurred in Judah in Israel, precisely in the town of Bethlehem, that went unnoticed even to the trained and observant eye. A special child was born of a virgin. The couple had travelled from Nazareth and had no place to stay in. They settled for a stable where the mother delivered her baby and laid him in a crib.

Some 800 years before that event, prophets Isaiah and Micah under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit had predicted that the child would be born in Bethlehem and that his mother would be a virgin. The prophet Micah had predicted: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you were small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel.” (Micah 5:2) Such an important event was going to take place in an insignificant town.  

We learn much more from what the prophet Isaiah predicted however. He revealed the child’s gender and announced a virgin birth. “For unto us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulder. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:5-6) “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 him Emmanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)

These revelations were given some eight centuries prior to the event. Nevertheless speculation was rife. All the young maidens were hoping they would qualify for the position. In essence, in Israel everyone was looking forward to the coming of a Messiah who would relieve them from the yoke of oppression under the Roman occupation army.

However God had declared through the prophet Amos that He would not communicate through any channel for a period of 400 years. In this manner, God was cutting out any guesswork or speculation as to the timing of the event. “The days are coming when I will send a famine through the land – not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord.” (Amos 8:11) Thus when the event that was predicted was about to take place, it was shrouded in total discretion. Only the key actors that God used knew about it. God intended to carry out His plan to rescue humanity, irrespective. Paul sums it up thus: “But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.” (Galatians 4.4)

God had set the stage for the fulfilment of His plan. The Holy Spirit had already inspired prophets to announce what the event would mean. From the writings of Isaiah we hear; “Nevertheless there will be no more gloom for those who were in darkness.” (Isaiah 9:1) “The people that walk in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.” (Isaiah 9:2)

Mary had to give her consent to be the mother of the child that would be conceived by the Holy Spirit. Gabriel, one of His archangels, was charged with that mission. It was a sensitive issue since Mary was already engaged to Joseph. If Mary was to bear the child it would have been unfaithfulness on her part vis-à-vis Joseph. That could have been punishable by stoning. (Deuteronomy 22:23-24)

God’s plan involves personal risk

When Joseph knew about it he decided to secretly divorce Mary but Gabriel had to explain to him the circumstances. “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son, and you will give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:20-21) Being a righteous man, Joseph quickly understood and complied. Mary was too young and inexperienced to comprehend these things, but when the angel explained to her she responded: “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 2:38)

God promises direction 

Next, the Magi who came from the east, followed a star that led them to where Jesus was laid. “Where is the one who is born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east and have come to worship him.” (Matthew 2:2) They received direction and it was a joy for them to have found the baby king. They did not come empty-handed. They presented him with gifts of gold, incense and myrrh.

Then an angel announced the good news to a group of shepherds. “I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all people. Today in the town of David a Saviour has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:10) They were overwhelmed with joy. A host of angels joined them and they gave praise.

As all of these events went unnoticed, God’s plan was gradually being made operational. The Saviour of the world, Emmanuel (God with us), Jesus, had come in the flesh, had assumed the form of a human being in order to carry out God’s rescue plan. Human beings cannot save themselves from sin; it took Jesus who had no trace of sin in Him - although He was born of a woman - to come to our rescue. His coming to the world did not diminish anything with regard to His glory. He was both divine and human.

Jesus came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. (John 10:10) He did not come to make those who are bad good; he came to make those who were dead to live. That is the reason for His coming.

In Old Testament times God comforted His people with “…for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6) With the Incarnation, God comes to live among us - Emmanuel. In post New Testament times He comes to dwell within us; He is in us. 

“For 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 cares and Jesus loves you and me. We are His treasured possession and the apple of His eye.