Christmas, Love and Wrath
Have you ever struggled in your study of Old Testament scriptures, conflicted between the need for justice for the oppressed, but wondering how wrath, or judgment can also be a part of a loving God? Recently, I’ve noticed God’s Old Testament love proven in His search for a reason to restrain His wrath. I’ve seen Him pursue individuals who are available and listening, willing to be used for the purpose justice through an alternate avenue than destruction.
God petitioned Noah to save his family, Moses to bring mercy to the Israelites, Joseph to provide food in famine, and Hannah to bear Samuel, a priest whose ear was sensitive to God’s voice. Ruth’s life ushered Naomi from bitterness into blessing, Esther‘s liberated her people, and Abraham’s courage bargained for Lot’s life. Unfortunately, in Isaiah 59:15-21 we see that sometimes God can’t find truth/justice, or a person who would sacrifice their life for His purpose. This passage reads that God was “appalled that there was no one to intervene.” But, in verse 21, we see He will continue to try.
In Luke 2:1-20 this is fulfilled. Angels come announcing the birth of the Answer, the Ultimate Man whose life will be an intervention for righteousness, Jesus Christ. In Christ, both God and mankind will find peace when the unsettled wrath of God is poured out on Christ, our Ultimate Mediator of mercy and justice. “For he bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors.” (Isaiah 53:11)
The birth of Christ, celebrated by a host of angels with a group of simple shepherds. When I visited Israel, I saw this shepherd’s field was not far from Bethlehem. It probably did not take long for these men to find the holy family. However, I also wondered what exactly they asked to find the stable’s location. Did they inquire, “Hey, a host of angels just told us to look for a Savior wrapped in cloths in a manger. Do you know which cave they are in?”
This may be funny, but often I wish I knew more about the conversations, interactions among our heroes. For example, what specifically did Mary, Joseph and the shepherds speak about; what it was like to speak to God; to see angels? Did Mary and Joseph find relief meeting others who had seen angels, who believed in their Son? Were the shepherds relieved to know they weren’t delusional? As I sat in a “stable” in Israel, I wondered if this was why Mary treasured, pondered her conversation with the shepherds. Was her heart settled by fellowshipping with others who believed what God was doing through her?
I wish I could have been there, but I am also thankful to be here. Jesus intervened for us because there was no one else who could. But now I hope we will also intervene. When God looks at us, is He appalled, or does he see a group of people who are available, showing His love to ones not yet in His favor? I wonder?
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