Jesus’ nativity is more than a story about the birth of the Lamb of God born as a perfect sacrifice for the sins of the world.
It’s also about some very special people chosen to be part of the truly miraculous and greatest story ever told, in which God condescends from the glory and perfection of heaven to a fallen world to bring about its redemption.
The first couple we meet in Luke’s most detailed description of this event is a priest named Zacharias and his wife, Elisabeth. They are described as “both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless.”
Let’s examine those words carefully. In many parts of the church today, we are told it is impossible to walk blameless in all the commandments of God. Likewise, we are confronted with Scriptures that seem to affirm such a belief:
- Romans 3:10: “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one.”
- Isaiah 53:6: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
So, is this a contraction in the Bible about Zacharias and Elisabeth? Are there righteous people or not? How could there be two people “blameless” one generation before Jesus and his cousin, John the Baptist, were born?
Yet, as it turns out, these “perfect” people were not alone, according to Scripture. In fact, it’s not inaccurate to suggest the Bible is replete with them.
There was Noah, described in Genesis 6:9 as “a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God.”
There was Abram, whom God called to the perfect standard at the age of 99 in Genesis 17:1: “And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.”
Then there is the mysterious figure Enoch whom we are told in Genesis 5:22-24 lived 365 years, “walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.”
There is also Job who is described in the book of his life as “perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil.”
And let’s not forget two others who found favor in God’s eyes before the time of Jesus’ birth.
Joseph is described in Luke as a “just man,” visited by angels at least three times to guide his steps in the protection of Mary and Jesus.
And what about Mary? The first words spoken to her by the angel Gabriel are these from Luke 1:28: “Hail, thou that art highly favoured, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.”
How do we explain how God has seen righteousness, holiness and even perfection in men and women in a fallen world – even before the birth of the Messiah?
Do you know who provides the answer?
Mary does – in a remarkably beautiful moment of prophecy, clarity and beauty as she speaks about her state of chosenness in Luke 1:46-55: “My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name. And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation. He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree. He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away. He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy; As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.”
How is it that people find favor and mercy from God from one generation to another? By fearing the one true God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Creator of the universe.
Mary accepted the words of the angel Gabriel who had told her about her Son in Luke 1:32-33: “He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.”
In fact, clearly she had accepted this about her Messiah before she ever knew it would be her Son.
Why did she accept those words?
Because she, as a believer, was eagerly awaiting the Messiah. He had been prophesied from Genesis through all the prophets from Isaiah through Malachi. She believed God. She loved God. She feared God.
That’s the secret – believing, in faith, in what God has told us from the beginning.
Like Abraham, whose faith was reckoned to him for righteousness (Romans 4:9), so did Mary witness something remarkable, miraculous, unique because of her faith.
But she did not experience everything she believed in – including Gabriel’s prophesy that her Son would inherit the throne of his father David. She did not witness His reign over the house of Jacob forever. She did not see His Kingdom of heaven on earth.
That is still the promise to come in the time of the restitution of all things.
Joseph Farah’s latest book is “The Gospel in Every Book of the Old Testament.” His previous work was “The Restitution of All Things: Israel, Christians and the End of the Age.”
Like what you read here? Joseph Farah is the author of what many are calling a “breakthrough Bible book,” “The Gospel in Every Book of the Old Testament.”
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