Life. It’s teeming with the mysterious. Scientists spend decades, even centuries, trying to figure out the inner workings of our physical bodies and our mental capacities. We’ve created machines that take us soaring higher than eagles. Computer technology allows us to know about events halfway across the world within minutes of them happening. We can communicate with each other across thousands of miles while sitting in our cars or hiking in parks. With all of these technological advances, the message of the cross to those who don’t believe seems…out of touch. Who ever heard of someone coming back to life after being dead for three days? Who would ever believe that a virgin could give birth to a child?
Yet that’s exactly what happened! Our God often choses the underdog to perform supernatural events, from creation all the way to the present time:
- He chose a Moses, a murderer, to persuade Pharoah to free the Israelites. Moses was not even a great communicator; he talked God into letting his brother Aaron help him with the speaking part of his leadership duties…but God used him for mighty things…and He caused miraculous things to happen around his chosen leader. Manna and quail from heaven. Water out of a rock. Parting the Red Sea. Turning a staff into a snake. Instantly striking dead those who turned to false gods.
- He chose a shepherd boy to slay a nine foot giant. This boy later went on to become one of the greatest and most powerful kings of Israel. David was just a boy. He couldn’t even wear a real suit of armor because he was so small. Yet God still used him. In fact, God’s plan for mankind included David’s ancestors…Mary, Joseph…and Jesus.
- He chose a simple virgin to birth the Savior of the world. A virgin? How can this be? Yes, it’s another one of God’s miraculous, supernatural events. It can be because God planned it to be.
I have been reading some Old Testament prophesies about Jesus. This one from Isaiah 7 is perplexing to some:
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.
Immanuel means “God with us” or “with us is God.” How could a child be God? It is a mystery…yet what the Potter wills, is done.
Isaiah wasn’t the only prophet who spoke of the coming Immanuel. Daniel not only spoke of him, but he told us when the Messiah would come! In Daniel 9, Daniel had been urgently praying and asking God to forgive Israel’s sins when the angel Gabriel appeared to him in a vision and said:
22 He instructed me and said to me, “Daniel, I have now come to give you insight and understanding. 23 As soon as you began to pray, an answer was given, which I have come to tell you, for you are highly esteemed. Therefore, consider the message and understand the vision:
24 “Seventy ‘sevens’ are decreed for your people and your holy city to finish transgression, to put an end to sin, to atone for wickedness, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy and to anoint the most holy. 25 “Know and understand this: From the issuing of the decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem until the Anointed One, the ruler, comes, there will be seven ‘sevens,’ and sixty-two ‘sevens.’ It will be rebuilt with streets and a trench, but in times of trouble. 26 After the sixty-two ‘sevens,’ the Anointed One will be cut off and will have nothing.
Many Biblical scholars and people who study Biblical prophesies point to a mathematical mystery in those verses. The Hebrew word for “weeks” can be translated to mean a group of seven years. Then we have 62 and 7 more make 69 groups of seven….which is 483 years. It gets a bit more mysterious…and complicated, to those of us who weren’t blessed with mathematical know-how. The Jewish calendar was based on 360 days a year instead of our usual 365 days. We can get around that by figuring out how many days 483 years represents in a 360-day year (173,880) and dividing this number by the number of days in our calendar (365.25 days). Our answer is 476 years, according to our calendar. So Gabriel told Daniel that the Annointed One would appear 476 years from the time of the command given to restore Jerusalem.
Guess what? King Artaxerxes gave the decree to rebuild Jerusalem to Nehemiah in 444 BC (see Nehemiah). Remember, we count backwards in BC to zero, then start counting up in AD. If we add 476 years to 444BC, we end up with Jesus the Messiah entering the streets on a donkey in the year 33AD! Which is when it happened! This prophesy also tells that the Messiah would be “cut off.” Did you know that the Hebrew word for “cut off” is karath, and it means “to cut a covenant?” God planned a long time ago for Christ to be cut, sacrificed for our sins. The entire vision is in response to Daniel’s plea for God to forgive his people for their sins…a sin offering was made by cutting an animal, spilling blood. God cut a covenant with us when he sent Jesus into the world. Christ is how God answered Daniel’s prayer.
The world is full of mysteries. A baby, born of a virgin. This child grows up, performs amazing miracles, and is then “cut off.” And it was foretold 476 years before it happened.
The message of the cross is foolish to those who are headed for destruction….So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. 21 Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. 22 It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom. 23 So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense. (isn’t that still the truth??!!) But we who are being saved know it is the very power of God. 24 But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength.
1 Corinthians 1
As a quick political aside, I saw a recent article that wondered about the cause of Mike Huckabee’s recent “surge” in the polls. He is becoming a “top-tier” candidate…he who was the underdog is now ahead or in second place in the national polls. To those who like Mike and believe he would be a great leader for our country but hesitate to support him because of his underdog status…I challenge you to remember how God works. Mike Huckabee, like David the shepherd boy, speaks the truth, even when “political correctness” dictates that candidates skirt the issues. David spared no words when he challenged Goliath. Huckabee spares no words, either. And like David, he is a man who loves God. Hmmm. I wonder what mystery God will unveil next?
Thank you, Heavenly Father, for keeping me on my toes. I love the mysteries you have wrapped up for me in your Word.