Anchor On … Shouldering government
Saturday, December 24, 2016 5:03 AM
Scripture had not spoken since the book of Malachi, and now God breaks the 400-year silence with man via the pen of a physician. Doctor Luke begins with the pregnancy of Elisabeth, now having carried John the Baptist for six months. She and her priestly husband Zacharias “were now well stricken in years” (Luke 1:7) and had been barren of children to this time.
Zacharias belonged to the tribe of Levi and presently served in the temple when the angel Gabriel appears to him. The message given is: “Fear not, Zacharias: for thy prayer is heard” (1:13). He and Elisabeth “shalt have joy and gladness … For he shall be great in the sight of the Lord” (1:14-15). This would be so because John the Baptist would forerun Jesus Christ to turn “many of the children of Israel … to the Lord their God” (1:16).
Gabriel is then “sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph” (1:26-27). The angel greets the Virgin Mary in telling her that she is blessed among women because: “behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus” (1:31).
The literal language given can be misinterpreted only if one holds to an agenda that runs afoul of God’s. Mary is, at this time, a virgin. She and Joseph have been pure and innocent in their physical relationship (Luke 1:34). They would have four sons and at least two daughters later on (Matthew 13:55,56), but Joseph is not the biological father of Jesus Christ.
Jesus “shall be called the Son of the Highest … And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:32-33). Nearly 1,000 years prior to this time, King David and ruled Israel with a heart that was surrendered to God like none other. God had promised that the throne of David would be perpetuated eternally, beginning with the future return of Christ to rule with perfection on earth (Revelation 19 and
20). This reign for 1,000 years will dovetail into the eternal “new heaven and a new earth” that John the disciple writes about: “the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven” (Revelation 21:1,2).
God writes that: “the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them and be their God” (21:3). That is a great comfort to every soul who has received Christ as personal Savior and a great motivation to the one who has not.
The unbelievably good tidings wrought by God’s only Son get even better in Revelation 21:4-6: “And God shall wipe away all tears … there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain … Behold, I make all things new … It is done … I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely.” That source of spiritual water is the Lord Jesus Christ. He tells the woman of Samaria: “the water that I shall give him (the willing recipient) shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).
Therein lies the absolute joy surrounding the message of Christmas. Isaiah writes about the Messiah and His forerunner John: “The vote of him that crieth in the wilderness, ‘Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God’” (40:3). Wonderful changes begin to be established when our dark and dry hearts give room for God to work. Only the Lord can change our landscape and worldview the right way. The promise is given in Isaiah 40:4 that: “Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain.” Not only is this One that Mary carries able to give life for all eternity in heaven – He is also able to
give the child of God victory over the rough roads of this life. Jesus explains in John 10:10: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have more abundantly.”
The Virgin Mary was the first one to question the virgin birth of Christ. She asked Gabriel how this all could possibly be (Luke 1:34) and is satisfied with his answer: “For with God nothing shall be impossible” (verse 37). We commend her for the innocent willingness she expresses in verse 38: “Behold, the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” That same readiness of heart to obey God is what you and I need today.
Gabriel further explains that: “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee” (Luke 1:35). That shadow of mystery was kept in Mary’s heart until the morning she found out that her Son had come out of the tomb of literal death to walk again among the living. The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the grave walks hand in hand with His birth from the virgin womb. Neither event can be explained or
understood by natural minds because both are supernatural.
The Apostle Paul delivers the Gospel in 1 Corinthians 15: “How that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures” (verses 3 and 4).
The message of Christmas is recorded with victory and joy for the child of God in verses 55-57: “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” The resurrection of every true believer hinges upon the
resurrection of Christ, and His resurrection is fastened to the doorpost of the Virgin Birth. They are all inseparable and immutable.
“For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David” (Isaiah 9:6,7). Is it any wonder the child of God agrees joyfully with the mighty thunderings of Revelation 19:6: “saying, ‘Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth?’”
Anchor On … Shouldering government
R.D. “Bob” Hottle is a retired schoolteacher, farmer and pastor of the Anchor Baptist Church.