Thursday, December 3, 2015

Who Received the Promise?

What a precious thing to be the recipient of some divine communication of the coming Savior.  Over and again God revealed His intention of supplying the One who would take away the sin of the world.  Who was blessed to receive that news before the day of His arrival?

Simeon had been serving faithfully in his Levitical duties when “it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ” (Lk 2:26).  We might wonder how long before Mary and Joseph presented the purification offering that Simeon received this news. What a blessed longing until it came to fruition, and when Jesus was presented, he could give praise.
Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
    according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
    that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
    and for glory to your people Israel.  (Lk 2:29-32)
Not many days prior to the presentation, others received news while going about their vocations.  This particular night was no different than any other save for an incredible series of events when Jesus was born.
And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy that will be for all the people.  For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.  And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.”  (Lk 2:10-11)
Shepherds, watching their flocks by night, were privy to one of the most remarkable moments of the redemption story: God put on human flesh.  The great and wise men of Israel did not receive the news, but those who assumably were faithful and longing for His appearing.

Mary and Joseph
A betrothed couple received news that a baby was on the way.  This was most remarkable since the bride-to-be had never lain with a man.  Yet this young lady received the burden and joy of giving birth to the incarnate God.
And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” … And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.  And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus.  He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.  And the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”  (Lk 1:28, 30-33)
Such news was inconceivable.  When Joseph learned of Mary’s assumed adultery, he decided to put her away, yet in a loving way so as not to bring shame on her head.  He also received news of his own part in God’s good plan.
But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”  (Mt 1:20-21)
Old Covenant Prophets
These announcements are wonderful to consider, yet we have more times that our Lord revealed His intention to His covenant people.  Prophets like Isaiah and Micah received the promises to share with Israel.
For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given;
and the government shall be upon his shoulder,
    and his name shall be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the increase of his government and of peace
    there will be no end,
on the throne of David and over his kingdom,
    to establish it and to uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
    from this time forth and forevermore.
The zeal of the Lᴏʀᴅ of hosts will do this.  (Is 9:6-7)

But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
    who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
    one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose origin is from of old,
    from ancient days.
Therefore he shall give them up until the time
    when she who is in labor has given birth;
then the rest of his brothers shall return
    to the people of Israel.
And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lᴏʀᴅ,
    in the majesty of the name of the Lᴏʀᴅ his God.
And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great
    to the ends of the earth.
And he shall be their peace.  (Mic 5:2-5a)
Even King David was given prophetic insight concerning his own future King.
The Lᴏʀᴅ says to my Lord:
    “Sit at my right hand,
until I make your enemies your footstool.”

The Lᴏʀᴅ sends forth from Zion
    your mighty scepter.
    Rule in the midst of your enemies!
Your people will offer themselves freely
    on the day of your power,
    in holy garments;
from the womb of the morning,
    the dew of your youth will be yours.
The Lᴏʀᴅ has sworn
    and will not change his mind,
“You are a priest forever
    after the order of Melchizedek.”  (Ps 110:1-4)
As we continue to move back there are other, fewer glimpses of the coming Promised One until we reach the terminus which launches the momentum of redemption.  There was a day which introduced the salvific work to rescue humanity from its sinful condition and reconcile God with man.  Who had the honor of first receiving the promise of redemption?
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
    and you shall bruise his heel.  (Ge 3:15)
Satan, that ancient Serpent, was the first to hear the promise.  That seems counter-intuitive, the one who instigated the fall of mankind would get the most glorious news, but the promised needed to deal with Satan and his work by destroying them forever, as well as reversing the effects brought about through his cunning.  The Law given to Adam—do not eat of the tree—was broken, and because the Serpent was complicit, he is guaranteed to suffer the full wrath of justice as the bestowal of Gospel is delivered.

O, the greatness of His grace that I should be the recipient of such a lavish promise.

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