Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Immanuel, God With Us

No, it's not Christmas. But sometimes it's good to look at these scriptures without all the cultural and seasonal traditions attached to them.

Matthew 1:20 But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.” 22 Now all this took place to fulfill what was spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 “BEHOLD, THE VIRGIN SHALL BE WITH CHILD AND SHALL BEAR A SON, AND THEY SHALL CALL HIS NAME IMMANUEL,” which translated means, “GOD WITH US.” 24 And Joseph awoke from his sleep and did as the angel of the Lord commanded him, and took Mary as his wife,

You know, when God decides to come to earth, it is no small matter. An awful lot of preparation is needed in order to make room for the Infinite in a finite world.

Before the Infinite was conceived, a way also had to be made for His forerunner, John the Baptist. So an old priest serving in the Jewish Temple in the Holy of Holies was visited by the angel Gabriel and told that his aged wife would conceive. Instead of believing, he doubted and was struck dumb. But his wife, Elizabeth, conceived nonetheless. [Luke 5:5-25]

Later Gabriel went to visit Mary to tell her what was to come and she received it with joy saying, “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to your word.” [Luke 1:38]

Why all this review of Scripture? Because we need to see how God prepared the people involved with this greatest miracle of all -- Immanuel, God With Us.

If God really walked on the earth, then the words He spoke while He was with us are of the utmost importance. Understanding those words and perceiving the Heart that those words came from will help us gain a better grasp of who He is.

In some Bibles, the words of the Infinite are written in red. I desired to get to those words but became aware of the importance of the preparation that happened even before God walked among us. I began to see the orientation that occurred before the Infinite was born among the finite.

Mary, when she went to visit her cousin Elizabeth, the Holy Spirit came upon her and she spoke what is referred to as the Magnificat. [Luke 1:46-55]


Now, remember, Elizabeth's husband was struck dumb. And the child in Elizabeth's womb was the one who would "MAKE READY THE WAY OF THE LORD, MAKE HIS PATHS STRAIGHT. ‘EVERY RAVINE WILL BE FILLED, AND EVERY MOUNTAIN AND HILL WILL BE BROUGHT LOW; THE CROOKED WILL BECOME STRAIGHT, AND THE ROUGH ROADS SMOOTH;" [Luke 3:4&5]

So we have two pregnant women, one was an unmarried teen and the other one was far past the childbearing years, greeting each other in Luke chapter one. There was only one patriarch present. Zacharias also happened to be High Priest that year. But apparently the voice of a patriarch was not needed for that greeting or for the three months that Mary stayed with Elizabeth.

Pay attention to one of the things Mary said in her Magnificat:

Luke 1:51 “He has done mighty deeds with His arm; He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart. 52 “He has brought down rulers from their thrones, And has exalted those who were humble. 53 “HE HAS FILLED THE HUNGRY WITH GOOD THINGS; And sent away the rich empty-handed.

Already God is working to orient people to His heart concerning things. Already He is bringing down the mountains, like patriarchs and priests, and raising up the less important in society, like unmarried pregnant teens and barren women.

But don't worry about the dumb patriarch. He got to learn in quiet submission to his wife and he gained a whole lot of good, Holy Spirit theology from a couple women for three months. At John's birth he had the opportunity to come into agreement with his wife and submit to God on the name of his son, which he did. Then his tongue was loosed.

Luke 1:59 And it happened that on the eighth day they came to circumcise the child, and they were going to call him Zacharias, after his father. 60 But his mother answered and said, “No indeed; but he shall be called John.” 61 And they said to her, “There is no one among your relatives who is called by that name.” 62 And they made signs to his father, as to what he wanted him called. 63 And he asked for a tablet and wrote as follows, “His name is John.” And they were all astonished. 64 And at once his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he began to speak in praise of God.

After his voice was silenced and his heart was humbled God gave him the gift of prophecy and he prophesied in verses 67-79. He had the privilege of having his prophecy recorded in the same chapter as Mary's prophecy.

But none of this happened until after he was made silent and had to listen to two obscure women in his house go on and on for three months about the miracles of God and His love and mercy upon the lowly.

Perhaps I'm picking on Zacharias just a bit. But I believe that Zacharias was deeply blessed and moved by the experience. I also believe that he and Elizabeth were excellent parents to John, to help prepare him to prepare the way for the Lord.

2 comments:

kbonikowsky said...

"Already He is bringing down the mountains, like patriarchs and priests, and raising up the less important in society, like unmarried pregnant teens and barren women." That is a powerful sentence. Great insights as usual. I facebooked this post, had to share it!

Mara Reid said...

It's a powerful piece of scripture that demonstrates that God really does oppose the proud but gives grace to the humble.
People just gloss over it and miss the significance of it.
It messes with their ideas of order and structure and top down heirarchy and the importance of male authority.