Who’s ready for Christmas?
How long does it take your family to get ready for Christmas? The shopping, the cooking etc. can really occupy our time and energy for weeks.
But how are we preparing our thinking for the coming of Christ?
It can only be with God’s help.
“The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the Lord.”
~ Proverbs 16:1
Old Testament prophecies fulfilled…
How long did God take to get ready for that first Christmas? He got started really early–hundreds of years before the birth of Jesus, beginning with Moses (see Deuteronomy 18:18).
And of course there’s this prophecy of Jesus in the Old Testament: “the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Is 7:14)
This and many other messianic prophecies in the Old Testament were made to prepare mankind to be ready for Christ’s appearing. If the prophecies had not been given and fulfilled, if God had not prepared the hearts of the people, how would we know that what happened was the work of God?
Let’s move to the New Testament to the time just before Jesus’ birth. God had prepared people in general for the coming of the Messiah to the extent that many were full of expectation.
The angel Gabriel appears to Zacharias and tells him that he and his wife Elizabeth are going to have a son in their old age and to name him John. The angel says that John will “make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:17)
Zacharias has doubts about the angel’s message and is left unable to speak until after the birth of his son. Is God punishing him for his disbelief? I used to think that, but not anymore.
Come on, give the guy a break. The Bible says that Elisabeth was barren, so we can assume they had tried to have children and had not been able to. No wonder Zacharias was a bit incredulous.
I think it was God’s gentle way of preparing his heart and those close to him, (and us, 2000 years later) to accept this glorious unfolding and fulfilling of the divine plan. Think of how Zacharias must have pondered all these things in his heart while unable to speak. And think about the impact it had on those who knew him when he was able to speak again.
How would you have responded in Zacharias’ situation? Don’t just read the next sentence. Take a moment to think how God is preparing your heart right now for the appearing of Christ today.
What if God had not prepared Zacharias for this important event? It would have been quite a shock and probably frightening for Elizabeth, who had been unable to have children up to that point, to have a child in her old age. But more importantly, how would anyone know what God was up to if He had not prepared their hearts for it?
And as an adult, John the Baptist’s role is crucial because his mission is to prepare the way for Jesus’ healing and saving ministry.
What did the angel say to Mary and Joseph?
Now let’s look at Mary and Joseph. How did God prepare Mary for Jesus’ arrival? Six months after Gabriel appeared to Elizabeth, he came to Mary and told her amazing things.
• first he quieted her fear
• told her how wonderful she was
• told her she would have a son and what to name the child
• told her Jesus’ title (Son of the Highest)
• told his purpose–to reign over the house of Jacob forever
How would Mary have felt if the angel had not appeared to her and prepared her for all these things? You can imagine the emotional turmoil she would have gone through if she suddenly found herself pregnant with no explanation.
How did God prepare Joseph’s heart? In a dream, the angel appeared to Joseph in a dream and told him what the plan was. But how would Joseph have felt and acted if God had not prepared his heart in this way?
Well, we know exactly how he reacted. He was going to put Mary away privately. He was a good man; he wasn’t going to make a public display about it or anything. But he didn’t understand yet. Just imagine Mary trying to explain it to him. He just couldn’t swallow it. But when the angel appeared directly to Joseph, it was possible for him to accept.
It’s also interesting to think about why God told Mary first. It certainly shows how worthy she was in God’s eyes. And it shows how important women are in the fulfillment of Bible prophecy. This is just as true today as it was then.
How do you respond to the angels God is sending you?
Now let’s jump to today. How does God prepare us for the coming of the Christ? Are we listening for the angels? Are we obeying them? They are speaking to us all the time. And God is preparing our hearts so we can hear them. And just like Joseph, we need to hear the angels ourselves and not just take another person’s revelation just because they say God talked to them.
This Christmas season, take some time to listen for the angels, follow their leadings and let God prepare your heart for the appearing of the Christ in your life.
Are you ready for Christ’s appearing today?
What gift will you bring to the birth of Truth?
As always, please leave a comment below. I’d love to hear from you.