Imagine living in Israel 2,000+ years ago. For generations, God’s holy people had vacillated between devotion to God and wandering in sin. And between repentance and rejection. Many prophets had come to their ancestors, some with warnings of God’s judgment and others with assurances of God’s protection. Many of these prophecies had already been fulfilled, and God had always proven to be 100% accurate. But from generation to generation, the prophecy they anxiously awaited fulfillment of was the promise of a Savior. The mighty descendant of David’s line that would finally reign forever.
I bet over the years they began to draw their own picture of what this mighty Savior would look like. They may have even begun to weave their own descriptions in as they told their children of this promise of God that they were waiting on. Did they imagine a mighty warrior breaking onto the scene physically strong, armed and ready for battle? Did they suppose he would be an educated orator, schooled by the greatest Jewish leaders, taking his place at the head of assemblies announcing his rule to the Roman authorities? Did they assume that upon his arrival Rome would immediately relinquish power or that there would be a war to determine a new earthly king? No doubt they did what we so often do and painted a picture of how God would accomplish something based on our human understanding. Putting God in a box He never intended to fit in. Forgetting how big He is and how He can do things far beyond our human understanding. That could be why so many missed it when their Messiah, Jesus, finally arrived as a tiny baby boy. Even though this is precisely how God said he would come.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” – Isaiah 55:8-9
This Christmas, as we celebrate the birth of Jesus, the fulfillment of the long-awaited promise of a Savior, let’s remember that God will always accomplish what he says he will. But let’s not forget that he will do it his way. Let’s be sure we know his Word so we don’t start painting our own pictures of how things are going to go. Let’s be very careful not to try to change the story to something that “sounds better” to our feeble human ears. Whether we like it or not, it will always play out just as God proclaims it will.