Monday, September 12, 2016

"And so it was fulfilled!"

Day #257

Scripture Reading:  Matthew 1-2 …

People today try and try to find something to satisfy the desire to be "fulfilled" … to find meaning in the daily existence we call "life."  But as you read Matthew's gospel record of Jesus' birth you will hear him often using the word "fulfill" or "fulfilled" with a somewhat different meaning.  As a Jew writing to his fellow Jews, Matthew was aware that many did not believe that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the "Anointed One," the "Christ," that He was, in fact, the fulfillment of the prophecies found throughout their holy scriptures (writings), what we call the “Old Testament.”  The same is true for many reading the Bible today.  There is often little understanding of what led up to Jesus' birth and why the circumstances of His birth are so important to know and to believe.  The truth is that you will never find the “fulfillment” you are looking for until you believe that JESUS is the fulfillment of all of God’s promises!!

Imagine not having the Old Testament Scriptures and reading the genealogy of Jesus Christ in Matthew 1:  "A record of the genealogy of Jesus Christ the Son of David, the son of Abraham" (vs. 1).  Who is David and who is Abraham?  And verse 2 is no better:  "Abraham was the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers."  So what?!  And then all of the names that follow.  Do we really need to read this?  What is there to understand??  Why are these names so important?  Because it is here that you discover who Jesus IS, why He came and what all of this has to do with you.  The first two verses of Matthew’s Gospel, the first two verses of what we call the “New Testament,” tie the past to the present and ultimately to the future for all who believe that Jesus IS the Christ, the promised Messiah, the Savior and Lord of His people!

It is here that many lose their way before they even get started, yet all this points to the fulfillment of promises made hundreds of years before, in fact, more than two thousand years before.  God's promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are recorded in the book of Genesis, chapters 12 -50, and it is in Jacob's blessing of his son, Judah, that we find these words:  "The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until HE comes to whom it belongs, and the obedience of the nations is HIS" (Genesis 49:10).  God had promised to send a King, one who would rule over His people forever and who would deliver them.  JESUS is that King!!

God had promised and so it had to happen as God said.  While the kingdom of Israel was divided and the rulers of the northern kingdom of Israel came from many different ancestral lines, the tiny nation of Judah was ruled over by ONE line, the line of the tribe of Judah, which included King David.  Even during and after the exile to Babylon, the line continued until Jesus was born.  In every detail leading up to His birth God was at work to FULFILL that which had been written … what God Himself had promised through the prophets.  “Christianity,” as the one true faith has come to be called, did not begin with the birth of Jesus.  All that was written before pointed to His birth.

After Adam and Eve had sinned in the Garden of Eden, God cursed Satan and said, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; He will crush your head, and you will strike His heel” (Genesis 3:15).  Through the descendants of Abraham God revealed both the depravity of man and the grace and compassion that would lead to God becoming man to take our place on the cross.  God revealed His law through Moses in order to reveal man’s inability to keep God’s law and to save himself from God’s just and holy wrath.

But God would keep His promise to send a Savior who would be King.  The Apostle Paul wrote to the Galatians, “When the time had fully come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under law, to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons” (Galatians 4:4-5).  And Paul explains to the Ephesians who believed in Jesus, “He (God the Father) chose us in Him (Christ) before the creation of the world ... In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 1:4-5).   God’s plan ... from beginning to end.

God had spoken through the prophet, Isaiah, “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.”   And so Matthew explains the conception of Jesus by the Holy Spirit and declares, “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:  The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” – which means, ‘God with us’” (1:22-23). He is "JESUS," which means "the LORD saves."  He is the One who was to be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2) and He is the "Branch" of Isaiah 11:1:  "A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse (David's father); from HIs roots a Branch will bear fruit."  The Hebrew word, "nazar" means "branch," so He grew up in Nazareth and Matthew writes, So was fulfilled what was said through the prophets:  ‘He will be called a Nazarene’” (2:23).  All details, planned by God so that there could be no doubt that Jesus was and IS the promised One.

Even the visit of the wise men from the east and Joseph’s dream and their trip to Egypt was foretold by the prophet Hosea when God said, “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called MY SON” (Hosea 11:1).  And the slaughter of the children in Bethlehem was foretold in Jeremiah 31:15.  And so it was fulfilled, over and over again!

Place your hope in Jesus today and know that through faith in Him you have peace with God, the forgiveness of your sins and life ETERNAL!!  If you believe in Him, He is with you now, He will be with you forever, and you are HIS.  "Rejoice in the Lord" for, indeed, "It was fulfilled!"  "For no matter how many promises God has made, they are 'Yes' in Christ Jesus" (II Corinthians 1:20).  True fulfillment comes in knowing, loving and serving Jesus!

"Father, as I read your Word I am amazed at Your wisdom in planning our salvation through the coming of Your Son, Jesus, into this world.  I believe that He came in fulfillment of Your promises and I trust You to keep every promise You have made.  May my life bring You glory as I live with You and for You, today and every day.  In Jesus' name, I pray.  Amen"

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