PREPARATION FOR MESSIAH, 17.12.18
Throughout Scripture, we can find many occasions where God sent angels, prophets, dreams, or visions to prepare His people for disaster or special events. For our purposes here, we will study those pertaining to the arrival of Jesus Christ/Yeshua Ha-Mashiach.
Several threats against the birth of Jesus Christ/Yeshua Ha-Mashiach were successfully averted due to special warnings and signs provided through God’s messengers, and the obedience of their recipients.
Had God not sent an angel to the young virgin Mary when: “the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favoured one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” (Lk.1:28), it is uncertain what might have ensued, but it could have been disastrous. Mary needed some information in order to prepare physically, mentally and emotionally for what was to come.
Knowing what was to come, enabled her to prepare family members, and determine her best line of action. By sending the angel Gabriel, she had the comfort of knowing God was with her in this happening, that it was not some terrible mistake or affliction, or something she should dread. Even though she could not possibly have understood the full impact, or details of what this meant, knowing it was from God was sufficient for her. She was therefore able to choose to rejoice in this very special calling to give birth to Messiah. “Then Mary said, “Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word” (Lk.1:38). Mary cooperated with God’s plan, even though she could in no way understand the big picture of what was involved. Much like Abraham, Mary walked in faith.
Joseph, without having received some explanation/advisement when “an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit”(Matt.1:20), might very well have responded in a way that would have been detrimental to the rearing of the Son of God, to say the least. Again, God gives warning in critical situations in order to prepare the individual(s) involved, that they may be able to cope with the circumstance about to engulf them, as well as to avert, or avoid danger. God’s communication is always purposeful.
God needed witnesses to the event, so He sent a messenger to alert the shepherds and “an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger”(Lk.2:9-12). So it was that the shepherds, “when the angels had gone away from them into heaven”(Lk.2:15), chose to “go to Bethlehem and see this thing. And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child” (Lk.2:15-17).
A second set of witnesses was recruited: “behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him”(Matt.2:1,2); and “behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was” (Matt.2:9). God provided a sign, a clear guideline for them to follow. An even more critical warning came when, after having “come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. Then, being divinely warned in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed for their own country another way”(Matt.2:11,12), for they knew that King Herod intended evil against the young King. This truly was divine intervention, and the life of the Messiah was spared because of this warning. Once again, the avoidance of imminent danger was dependent upon the recipient’s obedience in responding.
Another critical warning/divine intervention immediately followed when “an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, flee to Egypt, and stay there until I bring you word; for Herod will seek the young Child to destroy Him.” When he arose, he took the young Child and His mother by night and departed for Egypt, and was there until the death of Herod, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, “Out of Egypt I called My Son”(Matt.2:13-15). Without this alert, and without Joseph’s immediate obedience, once again, Messiah’s life was in imminent danger.
After Herod’s death, “an angel of the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt, saying, “Arise, take the young Child and His mother, and go to the land of Israel, for those who sought the young Child’s life are dead.” Then he arose, took the young Child and His mother, and came into the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea instead of his father Herod, he was afraid to go there. And being warned by God in a dream, he turned aside into the region of Galilee. And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, “He shall be called a Nazarene”(Matt.2:19-23). Another strategic warning; another response of obedience; another evasion of imminent danger.
This warning served a dual purpose: (1) to avert danger; and (2) to fulfill prophecy.
Just as John the Baptist came before Christ to prepare the way for Messiah, Jesus came to prepare the way for salvation, for the kingdom of God had come down from heaven to man, bringing a way to eternal life. We again, now, need to prepare for Messiah’s return. Many signs in the world today are indicating that His return is imminent. Jesus/Yeshua said, “when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (Lk. 21:28). Are you prepared for Messiah’s return? God gives His people signs/warnings so we can be prepared. Let us make ourselves ready for the Master’s return.
© 2015, re-edited 2018 by Verna Crowther. All rights reserved.
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