Advent – our God of design

Acts 13: 29

“When they had carried out all that was written about him, they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb.”

The Apostle Paul saw the higher purpose in Christ’s life and death. The higher purpose was found in the fulfilment of the Jewish prophecies.

More than any other gospel writer Matthew will refer to the Old Testament prophecies over 60 times. Here in the birth story:

“All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet (Isaiah) …” Matthew 1:22

“When Herod called together all the … teachers of the law … he asked them where the Christ was to be born. ‘In Bethlehem in Judea’ they replied, ‘for this is what the prophet (Micah) has written …” Matthew 2:5

Describing how Joseph took Mary and Joseph to Egypt until after Herod’s death: “And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet (Hosea) …” Matthew 2:15

Herod ordered the killing of the boys who were two years and under … Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled …” Matthew 2:17

Speaking of how Jesus went to live in Nazareth, “So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets (?) ‘He will be called a Nazarene’” Matthew 2:23. The (?) because no singular prophet is recorded as saying this phrase. But Matthew records it as plural, prophets, indicating that they would use the theme of that sentence in their sayings. It could also be Matthew recording Isaiah 11:1: “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit”. Though there is no mention of Nazareth anywhere in the Old Testament, the Hebrew word for Branch here in Isaiah is NZR and it could be that Matthew was referring to the branch as the coming Messiah.

Isaiah, Micah, Hosea and Jeremiah are all used by Matthew in the telling of the birth of Christ.

So why does Matthew do this?

He is keen to show that Jesus and the gospel story are built upon a strong foundation, that there is no other way to understand Jesus apart from the story of God in the Old Testament. The truth once hidden is now fulfilled in Christ:

Veiled in flesh the Godhead see, hail the Incarnate Deity!

If that is the truth of Jesus, then what of us? One of those same prophets, Jeremiah, at the beginning of his prophecy says that before we were formed God knew about us.

With this firmly in mind then the message becomes more about the fact that our lives are governed by Gods design. This is His story. We are here for him, for His good pleasure. We are here to serve Him with everything.

You are not here by chance, accident or mistake. But for His purpose. We were meant to be, no matter our status, circumstance or difficulties. This is our moment. We can bring glory to Him. He designed it to be so.

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