Tuesday, August 30, 2011

How God Prepared for Jesus' Arrival - Part One

Last week I had preached a message on "Scripture's Bird's Eye View - Part One - The Old Testament".  In that message we saw ten themes for the Old Testament - functioning as ten theological torches that mark the road of redemption running from Genesis to Malachi.  We noted the tone, the perspective of the Old Testament, to be that of "Pre-Cross". 

In this blog I want to explore the time that existed between Malachi to the beginning of the Gospel of Matthew.  In your Bible, you will find a blank page between those two books.  Trust me, that blank page was anything but blank in the plan of God.  Some 400 years lie between Malachi and Matthew, wherein God was preparing Israel and the world for the coming of Pre-existent God the Son, Jesus Christ. 

Many call that period "The Silent Years" - Silent because God did not reveal anything in terms of written scripture for that period of time.  Though God's voice was silent, though His face of glory remained hidden for that time, His hand of Sovereign guidance (that is, Providence) was clearly at work.  Below are some events and people God was orchestrating together to prepare the time for the coming of His Son.  Today we will note the first three of those events, with a continuation in tomorrow's blog.

1. How God set the right world climate for Jesus' arrival
Daniel predicts in his book about this period of time, as well as our current period, the massive change and shifting of empires and nations by God.  At the end of the Old Testament we see the ending of the Babylonians and the beginning of the Persians.  The book of Esther rounds out the Old Testament with the people of God being under the dominion of Persia.  Daniel saw a vision of these empires in the great statue of Daniel 2.  He saw a head of gold - Babylonia and he saw a chest and arms of silver - Persia.

2.How God prepared for the language of the New Testament
However Daniel saw two other features of this massive statue - namely a belly and thighs of bronze and legs made of iron.   History bears out that these last two features reference the empires of Greece and Rome.  Greece conquered Persia under Alexander the Great.  It was through Alexander that the spread of the Greek culture and language took place.  It was because of the spread of Greek that the Apostles would write the entire New testament in that same language.  Rome then came after Alexander's death and conquered Greece.  Rome would be used of God in the days of Jesus. 

3. God spares Jerusalem - the city where Jesus would be crucified hundreds of years later
History records for us an interesting meeting between Alexander the Great and Jaddus the Jewish High Priest in Jerusalem.  As Alexander was conquering the land around Israel, he and his army approached Jerusalem.  According to the first century Jewish Historian Josephus, Alexander the Great sent a message to Jaddus to surrender or face defeat.  Jaddus' replied that he could not surrender, due to the fact that he had submitted to Persian rule.

History then tells us that Alexander began to approach Jerusalem, and as he drew near, Jaddus came out to meet Alexander the Great.  When Alexander saw the High Priest and his fellow priests dressed in white, and the name of God stamped in gold on the High Priest's mitre (his hat or turban), Alexander's heart began to soften.  Apparently the High Priest had read in the book of Daniel about Greece conquering Persia.  Alexander was so moved by this man, and was so impressed by what he heard from the text of Daniel about himself, that he chose to spare Jerusalem. 

Application for your own life
The God of the Bible prepared from all eternity for Christ's arrival.  History is a demonstration of that fact, and the Bible is the flawless revelation of how God was to bring His eternal purposes and historic plan together in Jesus Christ.   Remember, dear friend, that God's silence does not always mean God's absence.  God's deeper work a lot of times is operating in our lives so that we can be prepared, through His word, for a more profound walk with Jesus Christ.  Tomorrow we will continue exploring how God has prepared for Jesus' arrival.