Monday, December 6, 2010

The Long Awaited King

“Time and time again I warned you about what was going to happen in the future.  Then suddenly I took action, and all my predictions came true.  I know how stubborn and obstinate you are.  Your necks are as unbending as iron.  You are as hardheaded as bronze.  That is why I told you ahead of time what I was going to do.  That way you could never say, ‘My idols did it.  My wooden image and metal god commanded it to happen!’” (Isaiah 48:3-5) NLT

Not bought in yet?  Have you heard the sermons but just can’t get your brain to sign off?  Or maybe you just have that nagging doubt in the back of your mind.  It’s understandable.  It’s easy to think of Christianity as a deep, dark hole that requires you jump in without being able to see the bottom.  We worship a God we've never seen with our eyes.  Some of the stories seem outlandish when you compare them to our own life experiences.  And yet there is evidence to support our faith, even though we may not be aware of it.  For the next few days we’ll look at some of that evidence and consider what it means. 

Jesus showed up at a time when 400 years had gone by with no prophets and no word from God,  God had historically given messages to the Jews through prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, and others.  During those years of silence, the Jews had continued to wait and hope for the promised Messiah (chosen one).  But what were they looking for exactly and why?  Hundreds of years before Jesus arrived on the scene, Old Testament prophets were pointing to his arrival.

The verses below were all written around 700 BC.

“All right, then, the Lord himself will choose the sign.  Look!  The virgin will conceive a child!  She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel—‘God is with us’.”  (Isaiah 7:14) NLT

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, are only a small village in Judah.  Yet a ruler of Israel will come from you, one whose origins are from the distant past. … And he will be the source of our peace.”  (Micah 5:2) NLT

Jesus was born in Bethlehem to a virgin mother.  Since Jesus was God even before He had skin on, His origins went as far back as you could possibly go! 

So now, read the entire passage below from the same author.  These verses clearly paint a picture of what Jesus’ mission actually was:  to be the sacrifice for our sins.

“Who has believed our message?  To whom will the Lord reveal his saving power?  My servant grew up in the Lord’s presence like a tender green shoot, sprouting from a root in dry and sterile ground.  There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him.  He was despised and rejected—a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief.  We turned our backs on him and looked the other way when he went by.  He was despised, and we did not care.  Yet it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down.  And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God for his own sins!  But he was wounded and crushed for our sins.  He was beaten that we might have peace.  He was whipped, and we were healed!  All of us have strayed away like sheep.  We have left God’s paths to follow our own.  Yet the Lord laid on him the guilt and sins of us all.  (Isaiah 53:1-6) NLT

This is just a sample.  Hundreds of prophecies have been identified that point to Jesus as the Messiah (see reference site below).  The early church saw Jesus in these verses.  Matthew referenced several of these prophecies in his gospel writings.  These verses should strengthen our faith enormously today!  God pointed to Jesus hundreds of years before he showed up so that we would recognize Him—so that we would follow Him.  Who could predict the future other than God?  Obviously I am coming from the perspective of one who is already bought in.  You have to consider all these things and decide for yourself.  For those of you who are followers, I hope this makes the Christmas story even more real to you this year as we celebrate the incredible gift we’ve all been given.

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