Christmas: The World Blessed

After the fall of man and the entirety of creation falling under a curse, God chose Abraham to start the plan to restore the creation. God wanted to move forward with a grand plan to bless the world and He wanted to use Abraham to accomplish that purpose.

And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” Genesis 12:2-3 ESV

By way of Abraham God promised that all the families of the earth would be blessed. However the promise does not work out the way I or Abraham might have envisioned. The Old Testament documents the struggles of that chosen nation and only briefly in a few instances can we see where that vision for Israel to be a blessing or an ambassador of blessing is realized in some small way. Most of the energy of Israel is spent in rebellion refusing to be that blessing. God however being God has a plan that no child of Adam can undo and that plan is Jesus.

And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read. And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” And he rolled up the scroll and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. And he began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:16-20 ESV

Jesus is here to fulfill the promise God made to Abraham. Jesus is here to reconcile God’s creation to God. Jesus tells the people that it is in him that Israel will perfectly fulfill the promise of being the blessing to all nations and all people.

Peter one of the Disciples of Jesus and a thoroughly Jewish man grew up in that inwardly turned culture. In a famous narrative the Holy Spirit reveals to Peter a feast of food, animals that would not be acceptable in the Jewish diet. The Holy Spirit tells Peter that nothing is unclean that God has made clean and then the vision ends. That vision was preparing Peter not about food, but about being a blessing to other people and nations just as God had promised Abraham. After that vision Peter is asked to travel to a certain man’s home and breaking all social norms Peter enters the home of a Roman and is witness to God saving a non-Jewish family.

So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. Acts 10:34-35 ESV

Later Peter challenges the church reminding us that we are to be a blessing to all peoples of all nations confirming lessons he had learned and practiced throughout his ministry.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 1 Peter 2:9 ESV

This Christmas we remember that Jesus is God’s blessing and peace to all creation.

Mark 11:23

This Sunday the Pastor was encouraging the individuals of the Church to “partake” in the Church (2 Peter 1:3-4 ESV). One of the illustrations of the energy, time, and effort needed to be involved in the Church came from Mark 11:23. This is where Jesus tells Peter that if Peter prays for the Mountain to fall into the sea then it would be done.

Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Mark 11:23 ESV

The Pastor using the ESV translation highlighted the words “come to pass” and then asked how many of us would go back day after day believing and praying for the mountain to move into the sea. My heart was challenged by such words. I have never seen these words from Jesus in this light. I was raised on the NIV and there the translation says “will happen” and those words have always left on me the impression that the answer will happen right then. Yet that is not what Jesus said, but it is typical of western culture that expects instant results. Some prayers will be answered quickly, but some as monumental as a mountain falling into the sea may happen over time. This statement from Jesus is also found in Matthew 21 and the same word is used in both gospels – γίνομαι. The meaning of this word is “to become”, or “begin to be” conveying the idea of the start of a transformation.

The greatest “come to pass” moments are those of salvation and I have seen this transformation come about through persistent prayer and consistent love toward an individual who did not know Jesus. This transformation has taken months or decades for some, and I am still in prayer for others. Yet I come before God year over year prevailing upon Him and His promise that those He has placed in my life will be transformed. Once the prayer has started I know that the transformation is in progress and the “will come to pass” is only a matter of time.

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. 2 Peter 3:9 ESV

Father it is my prayer that I would not give up, because of rejections, hardship, or frustrations. I pray for your mercy to change me to love my neighbor so that I will desire to pray for them, serve them, and share you with them. I pray Father that you would break down the barriers that prevent them from hearing your gospel. I pray that they would see you for who you are, Creator, Savior, Father, and Lord. I pray that they will repent and turn to you for a relationship that abandons selfish desire, but puts you first in the life that you have given to begin with. Father work this out in your timing according to your perfect plans. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.