The Apostle Paul speaking to the church of the Galatians said, "But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a women, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons". Gal. 4:4. The fullness of time is the "perfect time" in history, the "time appointed" by God the Father. God was at work in his redemptive plan. Mary had traveled with Joseph to Bethlehem to register and was expecting a child. Did anyone know that God was about to enter into this world through the baby Jesus who was about to be born? Was there any expectation of this event? It is certain that the Roman world had no idea that the King of Eternity was about to be born.
God's perfect time in history had come but as John wrote in His Gospel, though the Light had come the darkness did not understand it. What about the Jewish people, the religious people of the day, did it catch them unaware also. I believe it is fair to say that on the most part it did. Yet, it was not because they did not have a clear Old Testament prophetic word of the coming Messiah. Many of the Jewish people were expecting their Messiah to come, they just didn't expect it to happen the way that it did. The place of birth had been spoken by the prophet Micah in 5:2. His name had been spoken of by the prophet Isaiah in 7:14. In Isaiah 9:6 the prophet spoke of Him being the Son of God. God also spoke of a very special sign that He would give so all could be certain that this would be the Messiah. That sign is found in Isaiah 7:14 and it reads as follows, "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign; The virgin will be with child and give birth to a son, and will call Him Immanuel."
As we now move forward about 700 years, Matthew tells us of the events of the birth of Christ. Matthew 1:18-22, tells us that Joseph was very troubled when he realized that Mary was with child. Joseph considered breaking off their covenant to be married, when an angel of the Lord appeared to him with the message that Mary's child was conceived by the Holy Spirit. This child will be called Jesus and He will be the Savior of the world. Matthew then tells us that this all happened as a fulfillment of Isaiah 7:14. Here was the sign, but how many read it or understood it.
How is it that God could give such a sign as virgin birth along with the place of birth, and the naming of the child, and yet most missed the greatest event on earth. One cannot say there were no expectations of the coming Messiah for the scripture reveals that there were. The problem they faced was twofold. First, most did not have access to the scriptures themselves and second their expectations were based in uncertainty because they did not understand the prophetic scriptural promises. The world we now live in has not changed very much. As we move into the next Millennium expectations are very high for what is ahead for each of us and for society as a whole. Is it possible that once again we are standing at the brink of the next greatest event on earth, the "Second Coming of Messiah."
Has God given another unmistakable sign that the prophet Isaiah and read this sign for ourselves. This sign is recorded in Isaiah 11:11-12 and the following verses. "He (God) will raise a banner (standard, sign) for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; he will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the earth." What is the sign? The footnote in my Bible says that this verse refers to yet a future re-gathering of the Jewish people at the Second Coming of Christ. History confirms that in 1948 Israel became a NATION occupying the same land a their forefathers had. History confirms that in 1967 Jerusalem became the capital city, the Holy City of God. History confirms that we are living in the days of second great exodus where Jews by the thousands are returning to their homeland. The sign has been given by God, but who will believe the report. You see we are not much different than those who did not recognize the sign of the virgin birth.
For many of us who are Christians, who have prayed, studied the scriptures and believe, there is a high expectation of what may occur at anytime. We believe that Jesus' return will constitute a disrupting intervention in a world that remains blind to God's grace. Shattered by His appearance, the world system of today will be replaced by the long awaited Kingdom of Righteousness. We are committed to sharing the Gospel of Grace until that time comes. But we will also be praying, and watching with great expectations of the coming of Jesus Christ our King.
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