Sunday, December 2, 2012

Advent Relfections on the Ultimate Story

“Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:14

Isaiah 7:14 is one of the most used, abused and disputed verses of the Bible; especially around Advent time. Isaiah uttered the prophecy as a sign for Ahaz, telling him how long it would be until his troubles were over. A young woman would conceive, give birth and, before the child would reach an age of accountability, the threat would be resolved.

Later, Matthew—under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit—applied this sign to Jesus’ virgin birth.

Today, scholars and skeptics like to disdain the Bible and its Christian readers by pointing out that Isaiah did not intend his sign to predict the Messiah’s coming and certainly not the idea of a virgin conceiving a baby miraculously. They miss the point and raise such criticisms in at least two ways:

1. God, the Ultimate Storyteller/Creator

People who scoff at this prophecy still fail to recognize the fact that the short term prediction was effective. Prophecy was fulfilled. Of course the idea that God would be able to foresee events isn’t much of a stretch, though. The God of the Bible is more than just the creator of all. He is the ultimate storyteller/creator. He is active in creation and history. The fact that He plans and directs history makes prophecy not just possible, but expected.

The fact that God intended to intervene in Judah’s dilemma makes the fact that He could foretell its denouement unsurprising. The fact that He had planned to send His Son to become incarnate makes the longer prediction just as unremarkable. (From this perspective.)

God is like an author, or a film director, or better yet, a producer. He has a plan and He directs events to tell His story. (And the Gospel story is His ultimate story.)

It can be seen as a simple plot. God made mankind as a free creature to be in relationship with God. Man rebelled against God, sinned, and destroyed the relationship bringing death and evil upon himself. God sent His Son to become a man incarnate and show creation how it was meant to be, die for the sins of mankind, and rise again victorious over sin and death. Now everyone has the opportunity to trust God, receive His forgiveness and grace, and resume the relationship—life as it was meant to be lived.

However, that is a simple summary of the major plot points. A deceptively simple one.

Part 2

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