God faithful fulfilled His promises to bring Jesus, our Lord, at the right time in history.

 

A Scandalous Gift

Matthew 1:18, 19

 

Our sermon today moves from the Old Testament to the New Testament.  Last week we discussed Malachi’s prophecies of the coming Messiah.  Today we see the fulfillment.  But from Malachi to Jesus there was 428 years of silence.

So I want us to hear God’s message during that time.  (Remain silent)

(If I was silent for 4 minutes and 28 seconds you might fall asleep)

 

We know God tells us to be silent before Him but we don’t like it if He is silent before us.

Psalm 46:10  “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” 11  The LORD Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

 

There is nothing wrong with silence – it is Heavenly

Revelation 8:1  When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.

If you can’t keep quiet for 30 minutes you won’t be allowed in Heaven.  (Better start practicing)

 

During this time of silence God’s prophecies were being fulfilled.

 

Daniel 2:44  “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, (Daniel 7:27 same)

 

Those kings refers to Rome – the fourth world power from the time Daniel gave the interpretation of Nebuchadnezzar’s dream. Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome

During Roman rule the “Rock” that crushes all kingdoms will come and endure forever.

 

Daniel 2:44  “In the time of those kings, the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. 45  This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands

 

We also have

Daniel 9:25  “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.’

 

Based on Ezekiel 4:5, 6 we learn that a day can mean a year.  So the 7, 7’s and 62, 7’s is 483.

We know that God says that from the decree the Anointed One – the Messiah – Jesus will come.

 

In 457 BC, Persian King Artaxerxes, decreed Ezra to return to Jerusalem (Ezra 7:11f) giving him instructions to rebuild Jerusalem and set up Jewish worship (Ezra 9:9).

 

457 BC minus 483 years is AD 26.  Do you know when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptizer in the Jordan River?  AD 26 – Coincidence or fulfilled prophecy?  (Jesus is the Anointed One – Luke 3:22; Acts 10:37, 38)

 

Remember what Paul said?

Galatians 4:4  But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law,

 

The time had come – God’s perfect timing

4,000 years of history (His Story) had passed since God promised to send Jesus (Genesis 3:15).

God may seem slow in answering our prayers and fulfilling His promises but it is all done in His perfect timing.  That is why we pray in Jesus’ name and pray that His will be done (John 16:26; Matthew 6:10; 26:39).

 

During this 428 years of God silence –

God was still in control but He was waiting for the fullness of time to send Jesus.

What was going on  in history?  (The Great Wall of China was completed, 206 BC which was started during the time of Isaiah, 700’s).

 

In Palestine and in the city of Jerusalem a lot takes place in those years.

The Persians (the second kingdom of Daniel) are the world power at the time of Malachi the priests are from the line of Aaron as God directed.

But when we open up the New Testament we see Rome as the world power (the fourth Kingdom of Daniel) and the priesthood has been taken away from Aaron’s descendants and sold to hired priests.

There is also a King on the throne but not from the line of David, from the line of Judah, from the line of Jacob.  This king is from the line of Esau, his name is Herod the Great.

 

The temple is still the center of Jewish worship. But now there are synagogues that have sprung up in every Jewish city that have become the center of Jewish life.  And we see the people of Israel split into factions. The Pharisees and Sadducees, and a smaller group called, the Essenes.

 

At the time of Malachi, 432 BC – Persia was the world power because they had defeated Babylon.

We know that world powers would change because we know Daniel’s prediction (Daniel 2:36-40). Two more nations would arise to power.  In 330 BC the Persians fell to the Greeks (Alexander the Great) and the world power moved from the East to the West.

 

After Alexander the Great died his kingdom was divided among his generals and Palestine was caught in the middle between the ruler of Egypt and the ruler of Syria.

 

Also during this time, 284 BC, in Egypt, the Hebrew Scriptures were translated for the first time into another language, Greek.  A group of 70 scholars translated and thus it is called the Septuagint, meaning 70.

 

During this time Grecian influence was becoming strong in Palestine. A party arose among the Jews called the Hellenists, who were very eager to bring Grecian culture and thought into the nation and to liberalize some of the Jewish laws. This forced a split into two major parties.

The Pharisees (to separate) – those who were strong Hebrew nationalist, who wanted to preserve everything according to the Mosaic order. They resisted all the foreign influences that were coming in to disrupt the old Jewish ways.

The Sadducees – The Hellenists, the Greek lovers, became more and more influential in the politics of the land.  The liberals of the day turning from God’s word and tradition – they became the rationalists of their day, ceasing to believe in the supernatural in any way.

 

In 171 B.C. Antiochus, King of Syria invaded Egypt. While Antiochus was in Egypt, it was reported that he had been killed in battle, and Jerusalem rejoiced. The people organized a revolt and overthrew Menelaus, the pseudo-priest. When report reached Antiochus that Jerusalem was delighted at the report of his death, he came back to Jerusalem with vengeance.

 

That is when Judas Maccabaeus, one of the priestly line rose up in revolt against the Syrian king and captured Jerusalem.  They cleansed the temple on the 25th day of December and they celebrated the Feast of Dedication, what we know today as Hanukkah.

 

Jerusalem was constantly under attack so the priest made an association with the rising power in the West, Rome. They signed a treaty with the Senate of Rome, providing help in the event of a Syrian attack.

The attack happened and Rome decided to take Jerusalem for themselves in 63 BC.  The Roman Senate appointed Antipater, a descendant of Esau, as the Procurator of Judea, and he in turn made his two sons kings of Galilee and Judea. The son who became king of Judea is known to us a Herod the Great.

 

That is a quick thumbnail of 400 years of history.

 

This is the situation of the time when Jesus, the scandalous gift, was born.

Jesus’ birth was the long awaited Anointed One – but so many missed it – it was not the gift they expected.

The Jewish people wanted a King who would throw off the tyranny of Rome but Jesus came as a seemingly illegitimate son of a carpenter.

 

Matthew 1:18  This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. 19  Because Joseph her husband was a righteous man and did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.

 

Mary getting pregnant while she was pledged to me married was scandalous.  It was worthy of being stoned to death under Jewish law (Deuteronomy 22:20, 21).  Joseph loved Mary and did not want to disgrace her so he was going to divorce her quietly.  This act shows he was not a vengeful person.  One character trait for a good father.

It was only scandalous because people did not yet know the truth.  We need the facts and we need God’s perspective.  That is why God sent an angel to Joseph in a dream.

 

Matthew 1:20  But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.

 

Don’t be afraid – but what about what everyone will think?  The gossip in Nazareth like any small town I am sure was quick.  Both Joseph and Mary would receive a bad reputation.  Then Mary went away for three months (Luke 1:56) – where did she go?  Was she hiding?  Again – we need the facts and we need God’s perspective.

 

Mary went to see her relative Elizabeth and stayed with her.

Luke 1:36  Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be barren is in her sixth month. 37  For nothing is impossible with God.”

 

A virgin birth seemed impossible but nothing is impossible with God; especially when it is prophesied 700 years earlier (Isaiah 7:14).

 

What was  Mary’s response to the angel Gabriel?

Luke 1:38  “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it be to me as you have said.” Then the angel left her.

 

How would you have responded?  In disbelief like Zechariah or as a willing servant like Mary?

 

Luke 1:18  Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.” 19  The angel answered, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20  And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their proper time.”

 

Zechariah did not believe the angel Gabriel.  Mary did.

Zechariah was an old priest of the Lord.  Mary was a young teenager.

Do you believe the Words of God or not?  Read God’s word and believe. Trust that God does not lie and all His promises are true like Mary – even if it seems impossible.

 

I want to point out two more things about Jesus.

Luke 1:39  At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40  where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41  When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42  In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43  But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44  As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45  Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord has said to her will be accomplished!”

 

John in Elizabeth’s womb leaped at 6 months of age when Jesus in Mary’s womb was days old.

These babies are alive and well not just some blob of tissue.

Jesus did not leave have to take human form in the manger but in the womb of Mary on day one.

 

Philippians 2:6  Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7  but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

 

Jesus was incarnate for 9 months in the womb.  Elizabeth also knew that the baby was the Lord.

Joseph knew the same thing because of what the angel said in his dream.

 

Matthew 1:21  She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

 

Jesus was the Savior of the World.  He is our Lord if we accept Him.

Thirty years after John leaped for joy in his mother’s womb at the arrival of Jesus John announced to the world what got him so excited.

 

John 1:29  The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!

 

Jesus takes away sin – all sin – your sin – my sin

That is why Jesus came to seek and save the lost.

 

Admit you are a sinner who needs Jesus

Repent of your sins and come today and be immersed into Jesus for the forgiveness of your sins and receive the gift of God the Holy Spirit.

 

Turn your eyes upon Jesus