Christians celebrating Christmas in the 21st century rightly focus on the night Jesus was born. With only a cursory reading of the gospels, some conclude that the account of the Nativity begins with Gabriel’s message to Mary. Mary’s response to the angelic announcement, however, acknowledges millennia of prophetic preparation for the event.
LUKE 1:46, 55
And Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior. . . He has helped His servant Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his seed forever.”
THE PROMISE TO ABRAHAM
God established that the Redeemer would come through the nation of Israel as promised to Abraham (Gen. 12:3).
At the end of his life, Abraham’s grandson, Jacob-Israel, blessed his fourth son, Judah, thereby confirming that the Redeemer would not only come through the people of Israel, but specifically through the line of the tribe of Judah (Gen. 49:10).
THE PROMISE TO DAVID
Approximately 640 years after Jacob conferred the Messianic blessing on Judah, God promised the Messianic line to one descendant of Judah, namely David, the king of Israel.
God told David,
“I will set up your seed after you . . . your house and your kingdom shall be established forever . . . Your throne shall be established forever” (2 Sam. 7:12-13, 16).
Next, the chosen lineage was revealed and reconfirmed in David’s heir, Solomon, to whom God said, “You shall not fail to have a man as ruler in Israel” (2 Chr. 7:18).
THE PROMISE TO MARY
Isaiah prophesied that Messiah would be born of a virgin leaving no doubt that He would be no less than God.
THE PROMISED BIRTHPLACE
Finally, the last prophetic revelation of the Hebrew Scriptures assures,
”the Lord, whom you seek . . . even the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. Behold, He is coming, says the Lord of hosts” (Mal. 3:1).
THE PROMISE FULFILLED
Four hundred years later, Bethlehem was crowded as never before. Guesthouses were full as King David’s descendants converged on the village in compliance with the Roman government’s decree to register in the census. It was during this period of mandatory registration that God’s ancient promise became a reality.
On that glorious night, the genealogies establishing birthright, God’s covenants and prophecies given to Israel concerning the promised Savior converged in the birth of Jesus the Christ.
God celebrated the event with a spectacular announcement as the night sky suddenly exploded into dazzling light. An angel accompanied by the heavenly host proclaimed the Good News:
“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which shall be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David [the] Savior, who is Christ the Lord” (Lk. 2:11).
The Nativity was the culmination of critical events planned and choreographed by God that climaxed in the birth of His Son.
God, who strategically planned every detailed event leading to the Incarnation and birth of our Savior, continues to intervene in world affairs to accomplish His purposes today. No matter how uncertain or turbulent world circumstances may be, we can take heart in that fact today!
EMBRACE THE PROMISE
May we as people of faith declare with the psalmist, “Even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God” (Ps. 90:2)! “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen” (Rev. 7:12).
1) The Annunciation, (1889). (Image and details used for illustrative purposes) (Photo credit: By Henry Ossawa Tanner (1859–1937)/[PD-US, PD-Art]/Wikimedia/Enhancement, MKM Portfolios)
Copyright © 2016 Charles E. McCracken, devotional comments only. Repost/Reprint with permission from the author. Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.