|Advent, A Time to Ponder...|
Every human life, through the simple fact of heredity, has an undeniable link to the human family of the near and distant pasts. Yet the anticipation of a new baby's arrival is usually confined to the relatively few months prior to his or her birth. However, in the case of Jesus Christ, four thousand years of Old Testament history is "pregnant" with the promise of His coming!
Much as a mother learns to know her child while it is yet being formed in her womb, so too, the tiny nation of Israel came to learn more and more of her "Promised Seed" as God’s progressive revelation was made known to her. God's words and promises to Israel were recorded as Scripture, where they eventually unfolded to become present reality and undeniable history. Beginning with Genesis 3:15, a Holy Seed is planted and the “womb” of the Old Testament begins to nurture a new life—that of a Redeemer, filled with the promise of salvation at His coming. And although the promised One is as yet a faint shadow, He is as real and alive as any newly conceived child could be.
As the Old Testament continues to unfold, a small but steady heartbeat can be detected throughout the narratives of Israel’s wanderings and eventual settling in the promised land. The expected Redeemer is the absolute perfection of the Levitical priesthood, and the ultimate fulfillment of every sacrificial offering, feast, and Tabernacle type. Throughout the Psalms the coming Redeemer's life of humility, suffering, death, and final victory is rehearsed time and again in the simple, everyday prayer language of a restless and expectant people. As centuries of seemingly endless time continued to pass, the child's "hands" and "feet" were fleshed out by the words of the prophets as they outlined the growing figure of the Messiah promised so long ago. Prophecy upon prophecy spoke boldly of His calling and ministry so that by the time of Malachi the Old Testament was set to burst with the life it patiently held within.
Four hundred years of prophetic silence followed as if to taunt the expectant people of God. Had something gone terribly wrong? Would the Promised Messiah still come after this unbearable time of silence? Or, perhaps time itself might deliver Him stillborn into a bed of humanistic doubt or rampant natural history. But at last, and with scarcely a warning, heaven's water broke upon the nation of Israel announcing the imminent presentation of Jesus Christ, her long anticipated Savior. It was the water of redemption poured out by the hands of John the Baptist, whose voice would later proclaim "Behold the Lamb of God which takes away the sins of the world!"
The birth of Christ was attended by sheep and cattle, angels and shepherds, wise men and common folk. These were summoned by the joyous voice of Heaven to witness the birth of a newborn King whose obedient life, death, and physical resurrection would free His people from the tyranny, guilt, and just punishment due for their sins. If you take time to still your heart and ponder these wondrous events, you will find the joyous voice of Heaven can still be heard.