STRATEGIC PLANNING, 17.12.19
God Works To Prepare . …..
Although there are multiples of life lessons throughout Scripture; and although there are multiples of examples of how God works to prepare individuals, people groups, cities, and/or nations for certain of His plans, today’s STUDY TOPIC will focus in on what is commonly known as the CHRISTMAS STORY because it is timely, it is what is on most Christians’ minds right now, and it is so rich with examples of how God works to prepare individuals, as well as people groups, for things to come.
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.
God’s planning and techniques for alerting His people about specific situations, events, or happenings that will affect them individually is actually highly strategic. Consider how different things may have gone for Mary/Miriam (her Hebraic name), had God not sent an angel to prepare her mentally, and emotionally. When: “the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favoured one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” (Lk.1:28), Mary/Miriam must have been quite startled initially; but the angel proceeded to provide sufficient information to enable her to regather her emotions and respond out of trust and faith. It is impossible to know what might have ensued without this interchange, but there was potential for disaster. God knew exactly what Mary, and He strategically made provision.
Knowing what was to come enabled Mary/Miriam to prepare family members, and determine her best line of action. By sending the angel Gabriel, Mary/Miriam received comfort and was encouraged, knowing God was with her in this profound happening. 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 because of her belief in the God of Abraham, Isaac, & Jacob. She may have been a young girl, but she was mature in her faith. She was therefore able to choose to accept, and then rejoice in this very special calling of giving birth to the Son of God. “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. Little Mary was a GIANT in FAITH.
God strategically made similar provision for Joseph who, 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. Strategic warning is called for in urgent and critical situations. And God, of course, knows just what is needed, and that which is going to be effective with each individual He has chosen. For these individuals were Hand-picked by God Almighty Himself; there was no happenstance here. God had a plan for preparation, just as He had the plan to undertake His purposes. And God’s communication is always timely and purposeful; it’s always just what is needed – no more, no less.
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 obedient response.
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. For just as the signs for our Saviour’s first Coming, so are there signs now of His second Coming. Are you ready? Are those near/dear to you ready?
© 2015, re-edited 2018, revised 2019 by Verna Crowther. All rights reserved.
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